A Tale of 3 Primarchs

Hey all, Danny here as usual, and today, let’s take a look at how Mortarion and all the primarchs stack up against each other.  So far, Chaos leads the pack with 2 to 1, but is quantity more important than quality?

So, in case you’ve not paid any attention to 40k in the last year or so, we’ve seen now 3 primarchs appear in the game itself, and good god, each one is a meta-warping beast. My usual warning: This is all quick napkin math, so I am rounding quite a bit, so don’t expect super precision.  Let’s dive in:

The Stats:

So, by a mile, Roboute Guillman is the weakest of the bunch here.  With S and T 6 and only 9 wounds, he cannot compete with the S8 and T7 of Morty and Magnus or the 16 wounds of Magnus/18 of Mortarion.  Magnus actually wins in the attack race with 7 while Bobby and Morty sit at 6.  It is important to note that both Magnus and Mortarion have weapons that are strength times 2, so really, they hit at S16 rather than Bobby’s max of S12 with the Fist.

Of course, raw stats don’t always reveal the whole picture for obvious reasons. Roboute does win a few ways: he has a 3++ stock without any tricks, and while that is slightly worse than Magnus’ optimum 3++ rerolling 1s, you do have to cast some spells to get it (and who knows how long Magnus will have access to that spell tree).  Bobby also has a native 2+ armor save, so he can weather low quality attacks just a bit better than either. He is also the cheapest at 360 points compared to Magnus at 415 and Mortarion at 470.

All told, I’d give the edge to Magnus as he is far cheaper than Mortarion for roughly the same stats, losing 2 wounds for +1 attack, but the difference in points makes him far easier to integrate into an army.


This is an interesting question as to who is more survivable.  In one sense, the clear winner is Rowboat as he is a character under 10 wounds, so he can be screened by other units, so while he may not have 16+ wounds, but he can’t be shot so long as there is a lone Scout in front of him.  Really though, that only matters in shooting, so Bobby wins the shooting defense game.  It is a closer fight between Morty and Magnus.  We are going to look at both optimal and alpha-struck stats here and how much expected damage a lascannon will do:

Magnus:  At optimal power, so a 3++rerolling 1s with the Changling nearby, a Space Marine lascannon has a .077 chance to put wounds on Magnus. At an average 3.5 wounds per hit, that means it takes, on average, 59 lascannon shots to kill Magnus when at full power. Damn.   What about being alpha-struck with no buffs (so stock standard defense?).  Well, it will take 17 lascannons to kill Magnus.  That’s a hell of a huge difference.

Mortarion: At optimal power, so a 4++, 5+ Disgustingly Resilient, -1 to hit from Miasma of Pestilence, and we will count a unit of 3 Deathshroud terminators as extra hits for simplicity’s sake, it takes 54 lascannons shots to kill Morty.  Again, looking at worst case (so being seized on or whatnot), it takes 39 lascannon shots to kill Morty.  So just raw stat-wise, Morty is much more resilient to ranged damage than Magnus, BUT Magnus is slightly more durable when he has his full buffs up.


Ok. so no BS character targeting rules here, so Rowboat is way at the bottom of the pack.  While he has a 3++, his T6 and only 9 wounds makes him far easier to kill.  We are going to look at power hits here, namely S14+, Dmg D6 on a WS 3+ chassis (big monstrous creatures/vehicles rather than volume of attacks).

Bobby G:  14 attacks.  Really, this is more because on a 4+, he gets back up, so 3 out of 4 times (if you use a CP), you have to fight him again, and he’ll get to charge in one last time as well.

Maggy: 45 attacks (all buffs)/18 attacks (no buffs)

Morty: 40 attacks (all buffs)/27 (no buffs)

So, we can see that in terms of sheer tenacity, Mortarion is the winner.  He is just so damn hard to kill, without his buffs up.  That Disgustingly Resilient really adds up, especially since he is the only one that has any innate defense against Mortal Wounds.  It takes 24 mortal wounds to kill Morty compared to Magnus’ 16 and Guillman’s 9.  So yes, Magnus can be more resilient than Morty, but Morty is far more resilient on his own, which matters in games where you don’t go first.

Damage Output:

So, who is going to actually kill the most points in a given turn?  Who carries the biggest stick? Let’s take a look at two things:  Against brimstones and against Knights.


Brimstones: 2.78 (shooting) and then 4.09 in melee with the sword, so 6.87 dead brims.

Knight: 1.9 wounds (shooting) and then 12.62 wounds with the fist,  so 14.52 wounds to a Knight.


Brimstones: 4.2  (smite) and then 2.80 with the blade, so 7 dead brims.

Knight: 4.2 wounds (smite) and then 16.78 wounds with the blade, so 20.98 to a Knight.


Brimstones: 1.1 (smite) and then 8.32 with the wide sweep, so 9.42 dead Brims.

Knight: 1.1 wounds (smite) and then 19.32 wounds with the big hack, so 20.88 wounds to a Knight.

  • What matters here is that Morty can potentially do as little as 5.56 wounds to a Knight or as many as 33.37, so there is far more variance here than initial numbers would suggest.

So, Rowboat still pulls up the rear.  He is going to do about half the wounds of a Knight in a single round, and he is only going to kill a few Brims, so he is definitely number 3.  Magnus actually is the most consistent damage to a big target, damn near killing a Knight in a single round if you include Smite.  Morty is the best at shredding through infantry thanks to having two separate attack modes, and he can theoretically do the most damage, but he is also prone to rolling some sweet 1s on damage. His average against a hard target is almost as good as Magnus, but again, Magnus just does a flat damage 3, which is far more reliable.

Overall, I am gonna give the decision to Morty.  I’d say that Magnus is a damn fine choice here as consistency wins games, but Morty has far more explosive potential and can handle a variety of threats while Magnus has to be sent at a high value targets.  This is also not factoring in that Morty does an additional .75 mortal wounds to everyone within 7, and if with Blades of Putrification, he can start to dish out more mortal wounds, and with Plague Wind, he is going to kill 16% of a unit with a single spell, which against chaff hordes, that’s huge.  That’s just too much math for me.

Special Rules/Army builds:

So, we have to also look at what special tricks each bring to the table. Being a big beat stick is one thing, but how do they mesh within and enhance an army?

Maggy doesn’t do much other than rerolls for Thousand Sons, which is…subpar.  Maybe when their codex drops there will be a reason to give them reroll 1s to hit.  The +2 to cast and deny is a big deal though as it mostly ensures Smite happens and gives you decent chance of a 2d6 Smite, but can you build an army around him? He has Warp Time for a first turn charge, but really, he is more of an isolated missile than the bastion by which you win.  When paired with other mega-threats, he can definitely work, and as part of an army with a large screen and/or Smite spam, he works wonders, so it is not like he is bad in this regard, just one-dimensional. His best non-damage utility is the +2 to deny as it really stacks the deck that you are going to stop roughly 2 powers a turn, which can save your bacon.

Morty has a nice aura of get REKTD, especially for character spam as once he is deep in the lines, you can start to stack up mortal wounds, particularly with the Death Guard stratagem, which is essentially repeating the ability.  If you plan it right, you can do be doing 2d3 mortal wounds to half the units within 7 of Morty, and that means sniping out a lot of characters.  Back this up with exploding rhinos, and you can suddenly do a huge burst of mortal wounds in a wide area.  You do need to take a Pure Death Guard detachment to get these though, so you are investing in points that maybe you don’t want, and it takes up detachments, but there could be a build that few expect to help counter character-spam, especially since most character spam armies aren’t going to gun Morty down from a distance.  Morty in a supreme command with 3 DG characters and a few rhinos could be a nice mortal wound bomb. Not cheap, but it could compliment another standard Chaos army, and it is only 1 detachment.

The winner here is Bobby G, hands down. The fact that he gives a reroll to hit and wound aura makes him the absolute center of an army. Whether it be Devastators or something more esoteric, the re-roll mechanic is just uber-powerful.  He is more of a force-multiplier than a solo ass-kicker, but he can still kick ass.  To put it in perspective, let’s go back to gunning down Maggy or Morty on turn 1.  It takes only 13.7 Bobby G Lascannons (or missile launchers) to kill Magnus on turn 1 before his buffs are up. With Morty, it takes 21.8.  That’s a lot, but still, that’s a huge improvement. Seeing as how Bobby G usually packs at least 4 squads of Devastators, that’s 16 missile launchers (functioning the same as Lascannons in this scenario) and that’s not even all the other dakka.   In short, Bobby G makes already great units better, and that means you can build an army around him that will win and win big.

There is a definite design philosophy here that is quite true to fluff, namely that the Imperium focuses on combined arms and Chaos is all about individual power.


So if you’re wondering, who wins in a straight up fight between these 3?  Let’s just do stock for now with no buffs up. Well, let’s take a look:

Bobby G Against Magnus – 7.58 wounds inflicted, suffering 6.42 wounds in return.

Bobby G Against Morty – 6.64 wounds inflicted, suffering 6.42 wounds in return.

Magnus Against Morty  – 5.59 wounds inflicted, suffering 8.17 wounds in return.

So, Magnus will drop Bobby G in 2 rounds of combat, Morty will drop Bobby G in the same time, but Morty will drop Magnus in 3 rounds or so.

So Bobby G doesn’t drop either a level, but he survives a round.  He will die in the next, but keep in mind that he will essentially get to charge against after that if he passes his revive roll.  This means that really, he is going to get 2 shots in at least, and well, either Morty or Maggy making it to Bobby G without damage on him is unlikely.

So final ranking:

I don’t know. It really depends what you want to do.  Morty is more durable and can handle more threats, but Magnus is great as a guided missile that can just do massive damage in a single turn on a consistent basis.  Bobby is all about creating a unified army of dick punching, so really, all that matters is that you build to their strengths.  Don’t expect Bobby G to collapse a flank himself or for Magnus to be the all-powerful buff machine.

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