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Starter Death Guard 500 Point Army List

With the School League about to kick off again, I've been busy putting together a starter list for student neophytes who might like to use the contents of Dark Imperium for their tournament army. I will be doing Space Marines a little later on, as they don't fit so comfortably into the usual format.

School League rules so far:

  • 650 points
  • Battleforged (unconfirmed)
So, let's get started!

8th edition 500 point death guard army list starter chaos
Half painted Nurgle's Gardeners Death Guard
Here's the list:

Patrol Formation: Minor Lurgy


Malignant Plaguecaster: Bolt Pistol, Corrupted Staff 


Plague marines: Champion (w/ Power Fist. Bolt pistol, Plague Knife), 6 Plague Marines (1x Plasma Gun)

Pox walkers: 20 Pox Walkers


Noxious Blightbringer: Plasma Pistol

Fast Attack

Foetid Bloat Drone: Plague probe, 2x Plague Spitters

Total: 648 points

To go down to 500 points, drop the Pox Walker unit and two Plague Marines. This will give you a list of 486 points. If you get one of the easy to build packs of Plague Marines, like from First Strike, you can give the Champion a plasma gun to come up to 499 points. 

You can also swap the plasma gun on the regular Plague Marine for a Blight Launcher in both lists... a much better choice in my opinion, as you won't be killing yourself with overcharged shots.

The use of this army is really simple.
  • Move towards the enemy, and don't stop.
Here's the break down for the use of each unit.

Advance the Pox Walkers and Blightbringer until they're in combat. It's a big blob, and your opponent can't ignore a potential 40 attacks landing on them. They won't lose units to Morale failures, and with a 5+ Feel No Pain, they're actually fairly tough as a blob. The Blight bringer will make them zip up the battlefield faster than the enemy will expect.

Zoom and advance with the Bloat drone up to the enemy, and shoot at the enemy (remember, Assault weapons can advance and fire with a -1 To Hit, but Plague Spitters never miss anyway!). Charge if you can. After that, Fall Back and keep spitting plague at the enemy, daring them to charge into your overwatch. Be bold with this guy, as it is ridiculously tough for it's points cost (basically even with a Riptide!!)

The Plaguecaster and Plague Marines form a nice solid base in the middle of your line. Their job is to get objectives whilst the other units distract or kill the enemy. They're very goo at this, as they effectively ignore 1/3 of the wounds they take, and the Plaguecaster can make them even more difficult to hit with psychic powers!

In smaller 500 point matches, the same strategy applies. use the Bloat Drone to distract the enemy. It's so tough that even a Hellblaster squad has difficulty doing damage to it... 5+ invulnerable save and a 5+ Feel no pain care nothing for the good AP and damage output of even plasma guns! That makes this unit a real Distraction Carnifex, and if the enemy chooses to ignore it, you can pump out 2d6 auto-hitting strength 6 shots a turn... which re-roll 1s To Wound.


Death Guard are an uncomplicated, but deceptively strong and quick army. Use them as fluff suggests... an inescapable tide of plague and disease, bringing Nurgle's Tranquillity to them. 

What do you think? Need to make any changes? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time!

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  1. These are great to read, thanks for taking the time with these. I came here after reading your more recent post about the basics of Patrol Detachments. I bought the new 8th Edition Boxed set and will be concentrating on growing the Death Guard army part of it. One of the things I was going to ask related to both your posts - Death Guard seem to lack the equivalent of devastator squads as fire support. Is it possible to create a support unit of nurgle marines using their options? Or do I need to be looking at something else to provide the heavy guns?

    In looking at building my army I've already got hold of 3 Helbrutes - 2 as power fist and multi melta - would setting up the third with lascannons etc as a stand-off support platform work? Or is that missing the point of the Helbrute?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Thanks for commenting! Death Guard have a big edge in surviving damage, so when you see slightly less firepower coming out of them compared to other armies, remember they'll be soaking up more than them as well.

      Death Guard actually have quite a few options for fire support, but they are vehicles rather than infantry. The Plagueburst Crawler works well, but even the Foetid Bloat Drone can do a wonderful job of laying down firepower.

      if you want Infantry fire support though, you can multi-role your Plague Marines. Rather than a power fist, you give the champion a combi-weapon or a plasma gun, giving you two special weapons in a unit. That's not great, but you could field two such units, both doing troop and fire support roles.

      The downside is that you'll have half your firepower stuck in a scrap over objectives rather than doing damage. But as long as you know that'll happen, you can work around it!

      Shooty Helbrutes are actually fairly good thanks to the new crazed rule, which means you may get an extra round of shooting out of them whenever they get hurt! For small lists they'll do a decent job of Fire support with a missile launcher and twin-lascannon.

  2. Great lists and well presented so thanks for these! I recently got back into Warhammer and had been beginning to start a nurgle army when I stopped, so to come back to new Death Guard units and codex was a blessing. I think youve hit the nail on the head with the tactics here and whilst its arguably quite basic stuff its certainly worth remembering the core values of a force when scaling it up to a 1000/1250pt force so it doesnt become too lopsided.
    Its easy to get distracted by the vehicles, but ultimately its that body count that can take objectives as well as absorb some damage. Out of interest, how would you scale up this list to 1000/1250points?

    1. Apologies for the hideously late response, and thank you for commenting! My current formula for upscaling the army would be to keep the same ratio of 1 Troop-1 Skirmisher- 1 Fire support.

      For the above army 650 point I would then go for a Plagueburst Crawler and a Terminator unit, to give the army some ranged punch and heavily armoured Deep Strike screen.

      Your lone HQ might be getting a bit stretched in supporting your army, so another leader might be a good investment at that point.


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