As I continue to review the new Traitor Legions options, I think it is becoming clearer and clearer that Death Guard is one of the most competitive Legions with its “Chapter Tactics” and, more specifically, that Death Guard CSM are one of the best Troops choices, pound-for-pound, in the game.
Let’s take a look… basic “Nurgle Marines” get the following:
-Free VotLW (so Ld10 for things like Psychic Shriek)
-Fearless, FNP, and Relentless
-Must take Mark of Nurgle (so T5 at +3 points/model) and have -1I, so I3 compared to most MEQs
Outside of this, “Nurgle Marines” have access to all the normal upgrades/options of basic CSMs and, importantly, are Troops choices, so they get Objective Secured in a CAD, Allied Detachment, and Chaos Warband.
Comparing this to, say, White Scars (who have arguably the best Chapter Tactics in the game) Tactical Marines and, for 2 points more per “Nurgle Marine” than for a “White Scar Marine,” you have:
-Ld10/Fearless (vs) Ld9/ATSKNF
-FNP/Relentless (vs) Hit & Run/Ability to re-roll Run distances
-T5/I3 (vs) T4/I4
-Access to Autocannon/CCW upgrades (vs) access to Multi-Meltas/Plasma Cannons/Grav Cannons
-Access to Rhino DT (vs) access to Rhino/Razorback/Drop Pod DTs
Overall, the “White Scar Marine” is slightly cheaper and has some better mobility options, like Hit & Run and access to Drop Pods, but the “Nurgle Marine” is SIGNIFICANTLY more survivable, with improved toughness, built-in FNP, and a guarantee to never fail morale tests (sometimes a bad thing, like when you need to Go to Ground). Since Troops are generally all about taking and holding Objectives and, in most cases, providing some supporting firepower, I think “Nurgle Marines” come out on top here, especially with their advantages in durability and their Relentless USR, which allows them to shoot their Heavy Weapons on the move and/or Rapid Fire and still charge in the same turn.
In terms of durability, it takes on average the following to kill a single “Nurgle Marine”, compared to a single “White Scar Marine:”
BS4 Bolter — 20 shots (Nurgle) vs 9 shots (White Scar)
BS4 Heavy Bolter — 14 shots (Nurgle) vs 7 shots (White Scar)
BS4 Plasma — 3 shots (Nurgle) vs 2 shots (White Scar)
BS4 Grav Gun — 4 shots (Nurgle) vs 3 shots (White Scar)
BS4 Scatter Laser — 10 shots (Nurgle) vs 6 shots (White Scar)
BS3 HYMP — 7 shots (Nurgle) vs 5 shots (White Scar)
BS4 Lascannon — 3 shots (Nurgle) vs 2 shots (White Scar)
As you can see, the difference in survivability is quite significant, especially against Small Arms like Bolters or Scatter Lasers. Combine this with the ability to ride in Rhinos and still shoot Heavy Weapons out the hatch at full BS when moving and you really have a versatile, tough-to-kill, efficient unit on the battlefield.
On top of all this, if you end up taking the special Death Guard “Sons of Mortarion” detachment, then these basic “Nurgle Marines” also get to re-rolls 1s for the FNP rolls and get Stealth for any ranged attacks 18″ away or further, making them even better at camping on Objectives in terrain and shrugging off all kinds of enemy combat power that is not S10 and/or Instant Death.
Based on all this, I think “Nurgle Marines” are going to be a go to choice for many CSM players and that they will be right up their with Eldar Jetbikes, Deathwatch Veterans, White Scar Bikers, Skitarii Vanguard, GK Terminators, and Genestealer Cult Acolyte Hybrids as some of the best-value Troops options in the game.