My spikey friends, I’m excited to share a tournament report with you today. I’ve been working on a competitive Nurgle list over the last few months. I recently got to take it to a local tournament after it had a long undefeated streak between practice games and an online event. After taking a break from writing over the holiday season, it feels great to be spreading the good word of Chaos again.
I won another local tournament since my last written tournament report, but that was with Emperor’s Children. At this point I’ve written plenty of articles on them already. It’s time to get dirty and get Nurgley!
“Thicc Garden” List
- Death Guard Supreme Command Detachment
- Mortarion (Miasma of Pestilence, Plague Wind, Curse of the Leper, Gloaming Bloat contagion)
- Nurgle Daemon Patrol
- Great Unclean One (Revoltingly Resilient, Virulent Blessing, Fleshy Abundance, Plague Flail and Bilesword)
- Be’lakor (Penumbral Curse, Pall of Despair)
- 2 x 3 Nurglings
- 1 x 5 Furies
- Mixed Nurgle Outrider
- 2 Plagueburst Crawlers with Entropy Cannons and Rapid Fire guns
- Foetid Bloat Drone with Fleshmower
- 2 x 5 Furies
- 1 Chaos Spawn (Word Bearers Legion, Mark of Nurgle)
This list took a few rounds of playtesting to refine, but I’m extremely happy with where it is now. This really is a 5-1 at a big tournament level list. If you run Mortarion you unfortunately cap yourself because there is eventually going to be a matchup you lose because you brought him. You have to accept that. But Chaos (outside of Thousand Sons) as a whole isn’t exactly full these days of strong lists. Bringing something like this and rolling the dice on matchups feels about as strong as most Chaos players can hope for these days.
I know this is a competitively focused website, but I have to make one thing clear. This list is so much fun to play. I get to push three monsters with incredible models around the table. What Chaos player doesn’t feel warm inside seeing all these hulking daemons together? It’s also very synergy focused and positioning focused, so it keeps me mentally engaged while playing it.
The layers of synergy just go so, so deep. The idea from the list came from seeing the Nurgle soup lists Malte Hoefs and Franco McDonnell ran. I saw those lists and thought they would make a great shell to optimize a Great Unclean One.
You’d think Plagueburst Crawlers are vulnerable to getting tagged, but they’re really not in this list. The Great Unclean One really helps with that. His whip is able to fire into other combats and spills damage over, and of course he can smite into other combats. And then my Plaguebursts have the rapid fire guns, so they’ll shoot 6 shots on 3’s rerolling 1’s into combat. So I’m able to extremely reliably clear 5-10 bodies off my Plaguebursts every turn before they shoot their big guns and mortars. He consistently surprises me with how killy he is once Epidemius’s tally gets going.
The GUO’s psychic powers also synergize extremely well with the rest of the list. His first power is Fleshy Abundance, which heals d3 wounds on any of my Nurgle Daemons. Putting d3 wounds back on Mortarion, Be’lakor, or himself is always great. His second power, Virulent Blessing, just puts my damage output through the roof. Virulent Blessing gives a Nurgle Daemon unit +1 to Wound and double damage on a 7+ to Wound (now a 6+). The Nurgle Daemon locus means all Be’lakor and the GUO innately do +1 damage on a 6+ to Wound, which becomes a 5+ to Wound. And the real spice is Be’lakor can use Locus of Grace, which gives him an additional attack on a 6+ to Wound… which becomes a 5+ to Wound. So Be’lakor comes in with 6 attacks which basically auto-hit. Then on a Wound roll of a 5+ he does 4+d3 damage and generates an additional attack. On a Wound roll of a 6+, he does 7+2d3 damage and generates another attack. And then he can fight again for 3CP. Neat.
One of the key pieces of his list was Mortarion’s 9″ or 12″ aura of no hit or wound rerolls allowed. This not only kept him safe, but also kept anyone nearby safe from melee attacks. Be’lakor is pretty vulnerable to things like Lightning Claws, but hanging out near Mortarion takes away that weakness. Whenever Be’lakor is within 8″ of Mortarion, opponents cannot be within 1″ to engage him in melee without being in Mortarion’s debuff range. In turn, Be’lakor has a 1CP stratagem to reduce the attacks of opposing units by 1 within 3″, and keeping them close by means that opponents that can’t charge Morty within ending within 3″ of Be’lakor are going to whiff hard. Belakor also has two psychic powers which help debuff opposing melee further. He has one to give a unit -1 to Wound in melee 18″ away, which doesn’t even require Line of Sight. His other power requires a Leadership check, but can make a unit fight last. Getting both off in the same turn is hard, but as long as one goes off I am confident I’ll just run over opposing melee threats.
Epidemius’s tally was very nice for quickly getting reroll 1’s to Hit on the Great Unclean One and Plagueburst Crawlers. The +1″ Move is always fun, and +1 Strength is beautiful on the Foetid Bloat Drone to get S8 sweep attacks. T9 Mortarion is hilarious, but getting +1T on Furies, Be’lakor, Foetid Bloat Drones, and the Great Unclean One felt much more important. Bringing 3 Furies in the list felt like an important breaking point, because I could max Raise Banners or do Retrieve Data for a solid score consistently.
You’re also probably wondering “Wait… why is that random Chaos Spawn from Word Bearers instead of Death Guard? What kind of brilliant synergy did Mikey P have planned there? ”
Here is the honest reason the Chaos Spawn had the Word Bearers keyword: I just thought it was hilarious to bring a 3rd codex into the soup for absolutely no reason. On to the games!
Round 1: Blood Angels (W, 94-26)
- Blood Angels Battalion + Vanguard
- Librarian Dreadnought
- Sanguinary Priest
- 2 x 5 Intercessors
- 1 x 5 Incursors
- 1 x 10 Sanguinary Guard
- 1 x 3 Bladeguard Veterans
- 2 x 5 Death Company with a mix of Hammers and Chainswords
Scoring: Primary (45), Stranglehold (12), Retrieve Data (12), Assassinate (15)
The opponent was a very friendly guy, so I was a bit disappointed the game ended quickly.
As deployment went along I saw he had most of his army on one flank, so I basically just deployed Mortarion and Belakor on that flank along with some Furies and a Nurgling unit and kept my Plaguebursts and Great Unclean One on the other side.
He went first, which was fine with me as I had deployed conservatively. I had deployed so that the Death Company were only going to have decent charges into the Great Unclean One or Nurglings. The Death Company went into the Great Unclean One and only did 3 Wounds after my invuln and 4+++ feel-no-pain, losing most of the squad on the swing back. He moved his Sanguinary Guard behind a midfield wall, and nearby moved up the Character ball and the Impulsor with the Bladeguard to support that flank.
On my turn, I moved up Mortarion and Be’lakor right next to each other to prepare for the incoming tidal wave of Blood Angels. Be’lakor got -1 to Wound off on the Sanguinary Guard, and the Great Unclean One and Plaguebursts cleaned up the Death Company and Librarian Dreadnought on that side of the field.
On his turn, he hit Mortarion with everything. Absolutely everything. 4 Characters and the max block of Sanguinary Guard went in hard. He couldn’t avoid Be’lakor’s intervention while getting everything in, so Be’lakor was able to join the fun. When the dust settled, Mortarion had taken 9 Wounds and basically everything on the Blood Angels side was dead. The Sanguinary Guard activated and did surprisingly little between the -1 to Wound and -1 Damage. Be’lakor then interrupted, and piled into a place where he could fight 2 Characters and picked them both up. Mortarion let a few more Characters bounce off of him, and then beat up some Sanguinary Guard in return. Be’lakor then activated again and wreaked even more devastation. We played until the end of turn 2 and then called it.
An army with an extremely deep set of anti-melee tricks is not what Blood Angels wanted to see.
Round 2: Drukhari (W, 62-42)
- Realspace Raid Battalion (-1 Damage Coven, Black Heart Cabal, Red Grief Cult)
- Court of the Archon
- Archon, Fight Last, Animus Vitae
- Haemonculus (Master Regenerist, Poisoner’s Ampule)
- Succubus (Precision Blows, Blood Glaive)
- Wych Squad
- Kabalite Squad
- 4 x 5 Wracks
- 2 x 5 Mandrakes
- 2 x 5 Hellions
- 2 Cronos
- 2 x 3 Talos
Scoring (through turn 3): Primary (25), Stranglehold (9), Grind Them Down (9), Direct Assault (9)
This game was a valuable learning experience about time management and making sure you get all your points, which I’ll discuss at the end of this section. First, let’s talk about the game.
We were playing Direct Assault, so it was basically going to be a scrum over the central objectives. He had a lot of mobile units but his mobility wasn’t ObSec, so I set up Nurglings against a wall with a Foetid Bloat Drone nearby so it could use its 6″ Intervention stratagem to protect them from Hellions going on joyrides. The main bundle of Mortarion, Be’lakor, and the Great Unclean One headed towards the center objective.
I don’t remember much of the details of the game, but I remember that Be’lakor absolutely feasted on Talos and Cronos. Mortarion’s no reroll coverage kept the big boys safe from Talos in combat (who benefit greatly from a stratagem to reroll wound rolls), and Belakor fighting twice just mowed down Covens units like crazy. I was fortunate this build didn’t have a swarm of Wracks. 40-60 Wracks can really bog Be’lakor down. The fact that all three of my big boys could heroically intervene made the central objective a death trap for his units. The Plagueburst Crawlers didn’t do much killing of important stuff, but were a great way to plink open random Venoms or clear chaff off an objective I couldn’t afford to send one of my big monsters towards.
The Foetid Bloat Drone did a great job playing goalie and punishing Hellions that went around the flank and tried to hit my weak objective. It was really fun to see every part of the list come together and do their job against an objectively stronger codex.
Here is where I learned my listen about protecting my time. I was on pace to mostly table my opponent by the end of turn 3, with just a cluster of weak MSU units on his back objective. As the game got out of hand in my favor, I noticed my opponent was getting frustrated. He stopped to think for a very long time at the start of his second and third turns (which I didn’t mind, it gave me time to wander around and see how friends were doing). I thought it was bad etiquette to ask the guy to play faster when I was winning the game by a landslide. My assumption was that we could clearly see what was happening, and talk out the score at the end. With 25 Primary points at the end of my 3rd turn and a guaranteed 9 Secondary each turn (Stranglehold, Direct Assault for holding the center objective, and Grind Them Down), I had locked in 100 (62 + 20 Primary left + 18 Secondary) points.
My opponent chose not to talk out the score, and chose dice down when we didn’t have enough time to start a new round. And that’s totally their right! I’m not upset at that. I should have said something round 2 when I saw them getting frustrated and the game was starting to drag. Something like “Hey man, not trying to rush you but want to make sure we score the entire game. Are you okay either speeding it up or agreeing to talk out any rounds we don’t finish?”
It ironically cost me some store credit because their Drukhari stomped the other two opponents they faced and they finished 3rd, right ahead of me in points. That’s totally fine, no big deal. I had won the last two tournaments at this store. It was time for me to spread the love around in terms of prizes. They did nothing wrong, and it wasn’t some master plan to lower my score so they could finish higher. I learned a valuable lesson to protect my time and score, which is worth more than a single tournament’s prize.
Congrats to my opponent for playing very well in his other two games. I look forward to testing my list against Drukhari again sometime. Thicc Garden definitely has a lot of game into Thicc City.
Round 3: Metallica Veteran Cohort (L, 59-84)
Scoring: Primary (20), Warp Ritual (12), No Prisoners (4), Stranglehold (6)
AdMech, specifically Metallica, has a relic called the Metallican Lung. Their entire army gets to reroll Wounds against any enemies within 3″ of that Character. That’s just it. There is no catch. If the Character gets within 3″ of your unit, all of their shooting from anywhere on the board gets full Wound rerolls against your unit. It’s as good as it sounds.
When I won the rolloff, my highest priority was making sure I didn’t move Mortarion into the threat range of his Metallican Lung before he was able to strike. So I premeasured his Character’s movement + 6″ for the auto advance + 3″ for the Metallican Lung range, and moved Mortarion right outside of that distance. Mortarion is very tanky… but full Wound rerolls on an entire AdMech army will bring him down. I made sure they didn’t get their main buff.
And then Mortarion died to AdMech shooting turn 1 anyway.
My dice did me no favors here (I lost 13 wounds off of Mortarion before making my first feel-no-pain roll), but this is fundamentally my issue with running centerpiece units. Sometimes your big thing just doesn’t do what you need it to do. I maxed out Warp Ritual, scored decently on No Prisoners and got some Primary points, but my big boys getting slaughtered meant it was only going to end one way.
I have to give my opponent Taylor credit for keeping the pressure on and locking up the win. We always have a blast playing and joking around when we get paired up. Congrats to him on winning this one, and I know we’re going to have some more fun battles going forward.
It was fun to play something different. Mortarion, Be’lakor, and a Great Unclean One are such a beautiful and thematic collection of models on the tabletop. I highly recommend any Nurgle fans with most of these models try this list out! I doubt Daemons will provide as many cross-codex buffs in their next book, so there is no better time to run your Nurgle Daemon and Death Guard/Chaos Space Marine soup lists. The interactions are so much fun for any creative Chaos players to explore.
Competitively speaking, this tournament was a great reminder of a few lessons. Don’t be afraid to discuss time with your opponents. You’re not a bad person for making sure you get your full time and points. In fact, it’s your own responsibility.
It was also a great reminder of the dangers of investing so heavily in a few big models. It’s a beautiful thing when it works. But you’re also going to be much more vulnerable to swings in dice and bad matchups. I had been on a long win streak with this list across a few practice games and an online pod. It was good to get a reality check on its upside.
With LVO around the corner, it’s time for me to refocus on Chaos Space Marines. To be honest, I have no clue what I’m going to run. Every army around us seems to keep getting better and leaving us further in the dust.
Here’s my fundamental question I’m struggling with as Chaos Space Marines. With a Psyker in the list, the Grey Knights and Thousand Sons matchups are just ridiculously uphill battles. But without a Sorceror for Prescience and Death To The False Emperor explosions, we don’t have the ridiculous damage output to push through Drukhari and Nids. And you know how fickle the 40K gods are. If I tech into one direction, that guarantees I’ll get paired into the hard counters over and over.
I think Disciples of Be’lakor are sneaky good into the field right now, but I’ve already made it this far with Chaos Space Marines. I’m not going to stop waging the long war now.
As always, stay safe, have fun, and may the Dark Gods bless your rolls.
Note: Excited to get your Chaos army on the tabletop? Me too! I’d love to work with you on making your fun or weird Chaos idea into a competitive list. If you’re interested in supporting the growth of Warphammer and quality 40K writing, feel free to check out Patreon.com/Warphammer and join the team. Additional benefits and coaching are available.
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Article Published: January 10th, 2022
Last Updated: January 11th, 2022