Howdy everyone (I’m trying a new salutation, what do you think?), Danny here for my ever constant article on formations. This week, let’s look at something out of the hottest of hottest books, Traitor Legions.
Formation: Plague Colony
1 Chaos Lord or Typhus
3-7 Units of Plague Marines
This is a Death Guard Detachment
Fear: So much suck. So worthless.
Enervating Pesitential Aura: Enemies within 7 inches of a unit from this formation (at the start of the Fight Sub-phase) suffer -1 WS and Initiative until the end of the Fight Sub-phase. If this formation started with the maximum number of units, then enemies also suffer -1 Toughness until the end of the Fight Sub-Phase.
Ok, so right off the bat, 7 units of Plague Marines doesn’t seem all that scary, but the trick is that -1 Toughness is actually huge. T3 characters are suddenly insta-killed by Strength 4 attacks, and T6 monsters are instakilled by S10 attacks. -1 Toughness is so good.
Ok, so a debuff seems good.
You bet it is. Papa Nurgle shines his light here, and while on the surface, this formation doesn’t scream amazing, its ability to combo off with the rest of Nurgle in Traitor Legions or even with Chaos Daemons is a legit threat.
First, let’s look at what this formation can do on its own. Plague Marines are pricey, but they are a unit that just won’t die. They are T5, 3+ armor, FnP, and Fearless. It takes a lot of small arms fire to whittle them down, and even big hits have a chance to just be ignored by FnP. Let’s not forget they have Blight grenades, so nobody ever gets charging bonuses on them unless they are already locked in combat, and they have 4+ poison. This combos already with the formation’s -1T rule as they wound other Marines on a 3+ rerollable thanks to poison. Even just a squad of 5 is tough, and since they can take two special weapons regardless of size, 2 meltas for tank hunting or 2 flamers to absorb charges are legit.
Chaos Lords are just good. They are super customizable and absolutely beat sticks on their own. If you don’t want Typhus or want to save points, you can get a T6 character with 3+, 4++, and FnP that is S8 with a powerfist. Oh and remember, if you get the full formation benefit, he now insta-kills Thunderwolves or standard characters on mounts.
Of course, if you want Typhus, you get a lot here. The big benefit is that he is a psyker, so you get 2 levels, and on the new and expanded Nurgle powers, there are two chances for a further -1T debuff, meaning you can theoretically drop a unit’s toughness by -3 in the Fight Sub-Phase. This means that standard S4 dudes are instakilling Thunderwolves. Sweet baby Nurgle! Even just being able to apply a -2T buff is a huge swing in combat. He also brings a S6, AP2, Daemon weapon to the table, and he can make plague zombies. All in all, he costs points, but he opens up a lot of tek.
Speaking of, this formation absolutely loves Chaos Daemons and their sweet -1T item. This formation combos so well with a debuff heavy army that you can realistically get bolters to start instakilling cavalry models. Hot damn!
Ok, so this is broken, right?
Well, the Good Gardener Above giveth and taketh, and the big issue here is cost. This formation will at minimum be 1000 points if taken to get the -1T debuff, and that is where it is sweetest. This is just for 7 5-man squads of Plague Marines and a reasonably kitted Lord. That doesn’t leave too much else to play with, and well, this formation doesn’t hit that hard at the end of the day. While the combo potential is scary, it doesn’t have a lot of room to make that happen. Leaving only about 800 points to factor in some heavy hitters isn’t necessarily enough.
It also slow as hell. You have a bunch of dudes walking, and as Travis/Adam have said many a time, walking marines don’t really go anywhere. Any army with any real speed will stay far away from combat with the Plague Marines, and with a Nurgle character on a bike is tough, he isn’t tough enough to ride solo.
So the fatal flaw so to speak is that this formation is costly and it lacks the speed to capitalize on what it wants to do. This doesn’t make it bad, but it means that a savvy player has some solid counter-moves against it. You want to stay out of close combat with them, and use any speed you may have to keep them at a safe distance.
So there you are ladles and jellyspoons. This is a great formation that is characterful and can be super strong, and if nothing else, it is a great way to honor Grandfather Nurgle. He loves you. He also loves you when you check out that TFG Patreon.