“You are my unbroken blades;
You are my Death Guard;
By your hand shall justice be delivered;
And Doom shall stalk a thousand worlds.”

Mortarion, Primarch of the 14th Legion, Death Guard at the moment of reunification with his Legion.



The XIV Legion, Death Guard. The Legion embodies resilience and stubbornness. Originally formed from Terrans and known as The Dusk Raiders, the Legion changed when their Genesire took control. The XIV fought in constant battle, barely stopping to resupply between campaigns. Nor did they take a part in the rebuilding of the cities and worlds they brought to ruin – for that is not the Death Guard way. Instead, they represent a cold, determined force that inexorably advances on their enemy, with only victory in mind.

Despite being a resilient Legion, they took catastrophic losses. Mortarion chose to simply advance to contact the enemy like a Tsunami of ceramite, eschewing other tactics that would inevitably save Legionary lives, but take longer to achieve victory in a campaign. In fact, only the World Eaters and Iron Warriors exceeded the XIV in losses and occasionally the XIV matched them. This is a horrific toll of battle, especially considering that Angron and Perturabo regularly conducted Decimations of their own forces.

Swifty, the XIV adapted tactics of scorched earth, utilising munitions en masse that other Legions chose to use sparingly. Phosphex, Radiation and Chemical weapons were merely another tool to achieve victory with – and to hell with the repercussions. The Terminus Est, Calas Typhon’s battle barge even carried it’s own store of Life Eater Virus for judicial application on particularly tough targets.

Unfortunately, the Death Guard are another Legion that is pretty sparse when it comes to Lore despite being one of the original Traitor forces.

We have The Flight of the Eisenstein of course, where the Legion is effectively a key player in the book, and The Buried Dagger, which serves as a solid read and depicts the downfall of the Legion to Nurgle. Those aside, the Legion plays second fiddle in most other books, with Calas Typhon appearing in Angels of Caliban and Mortarion fighting Jaghatai Khan in Scars. Calas Typhon also appears in Exocytosis a short story about the world of Zaramund and further fleshing out the inevitable end-state that we all know is coming for the Death Guard. Nathaniel Garro’s story arc does lead him away from the Death Guard after Flight of the Eisenstein meaning that his arc isn’t really going to flesh out the Legion hugely. Finally, Distant Echos of Old Night, another short, offers insight to the Death Guard conducting a Destroyer heavy purgation mission against the survivors of a downed Imperial Fists vessel and is a nice little departure from the main Heresy series.


With regards to rules, for Death Guard players, you’re looking to purchase the Age of Darkness Rulebook for the core rules, the Legiones Astartes Army List book for the common Units and Rites of War and the Legiones Astartes Legions book for the unit and Legion rules you require. That’s £120 of books alone, so the common thought is to go on eBay and strike up a bargain – however buyer beware! There are some of the older books, named identically. These aren’t a bargain as they’re missing a swathe of entries. Buy once, buy right.

Being one of the earlier Legions to release, you’ll find a lot of the additional lore, artwork and units of the Death Guard in Campaign Book 1: Betrayal and Campaign Book 2: Massacre. At the time of writing, these books are available from Forgeworld in a mix of hardback and softback, costing between £40 and £74.

Death Guard lines come under withering assault from Daemons of the Ruinstorm.


The Death Guard aren’t really similar to their Warhammer 40,000 brethern in playstyle, which can be a little disenfranchising for those who have come from 8th or 9th Edition. What you get instead is a Legion that is incredibly well reflected from their lore in the game system. The Legion is very infantry centric, having access to some of the strongest infantry in the game and favours overmatching your opponents firepower.

The army is a slow moving one in the main; brought about mostly by its core Legion Traits and specific Rites of War. That said, fast moving builds are entirely possible, but they’re not as internally synergistic as they would be with say, Night Lords or Emperors Children armies.

Armoured Infantry builds with vehicles like Landraider and Spartan Assault Tank are commonly seen, as are outright Infantry builds, favouring Heavy Support Squads and Veteran Tactical Squads.

Legion Traits

Legiones Astartes (Death Guard)

As with all Legiones Astartes, the Death Guard units with this special rule may always attempt to regroup regardless of casualties.


Death Guard are Immune to Fear and automatically pass any Pinning Tests they are called upon to make. This is a pretty good rule, especially against Legions such as Night Lords and Emperors Children who have multiple ways of using fear against you. But it’ll really come alive when you face off against forces with multiple sources of pinning; Iron Warriors, we are looking at you here.

Sons of Barbarus

Death Guard models with this special rule may re-roll failed Dangerous Terrain Tests, gain Feel No Pain (4+) against any wounds inflicted by Poison or Fleshbane type abilities. This Feel No Pain cannot be stacked – however it still is quite good against Iron Warriors, Dark Angels and Mechanicum players fielding radiation, poison and phosphex weapons.


When making sweeping advance tests, models reduce their score by 1. A Thematic addition that reinforces the Legions slow moving waves of infantry. It’s not a genuine negative in my opinion as it rarely raises its head.

Legion Special Equipment


Offered at no additional points cost, any Flamer, Hand Flamer, Combi-Flamer, Flamestorm Cannon or Heavy Flamer may be upgraded to use Chem-munitions. Upgraded weapons gain both Shred and Gets Hot! It’s a lovely upgrade that adds some extra bite to your flame weapons without adding significant risk. If you imagine that a well placed Heavy Flamer template from a single marine may cover 5-6 enemy marines; Strength 5, AP4, rerolling the failed wounds. Multiply that output by the rest of your squad and reap the benefits. Even if you lose one or even two marines – the enemy will suffer far more. Flamestorm cannons on Castaferrum Dreadnoughts in Drop Pods are fairly cheap and wih this upgrade go from fairly terrifying to a valid threat that needs to be dealt with.

Power Scythes

Any Character or Independent Character with the Legiones Astarte (Death Guard) special rule, who are eligible to take a Power Fist can take a Power Scythe instead for the cost listed. The Power Scythe gives Strength +1 at AP 2. There is a caveat however – Reaping Blow and Two-handed. This means that the model strikes at -1 Initiative. If the model is in base to base contact with more than one enemy model at Initiative, it gains +1 attack. Two Handed means that the model never gets +1 attack from fighting with two melee weapons. This means that the Power Scythe is a fearsome weapon. Even equipped on lowly Sergeants, it’s a thematic and useful way to bully those enemy Power Fist wielding Sergeants who are unlikely to be still around at Initiative step 1. Whilst it won’t be causing Instant Death and will struggle to dent a Dreadnought; it’s by and large a better choice than other melee options available.

Power ScytheMelee+12Melee, Reaping Blow, Two-Handed
The Power Scythe is both good value and powerful. Though it does have comparative drawbacks.

Legion Specific Rites of War

The Reaping

This Rite of War focuses on a formation used within the Death Guard that focused on a “Reaping” attack pattern. This approach to warfare was suited to urban environments and shattered battlegrounds. A heavily reinforced column would drive into enemy territory and slowly and steadily, it would purge the area. None who opposed were left standing by the application of this methodical approach to Formation Warfare.

Superior FirepowerLegion Veteran Tactical Squads and Legion Heavy Support Squads may be taken as non-compulsory Troops choices.
ImplacableAll units in a detachment using this Rite of War gain Move Through Cover special rule.
Dark ArsenalAny Character or Independent Character model chosen as part of a Primary Detachment using this Rite of War with Legiones Astartes (Death Guard) special rule may take Rad Grenades for 10pts.
Limit 1Models and Units taken in a Detachment using this Rite of War may not make Run or Flat Out Moves.
Limit 2Detachments using this Rite of War may not deploy by using Deep Strike (and units that must deploy by using this rule cannot be chosen as part of the detachment).
Limit 3Detachments using this Rite of War may only have a single Fast Attack choice on their Force Organisation Chart.

There’s a reason The Reaping is one of the most commonly seen Rites of War for Death Guard armies. It’s incredibly thematic and adds a solid boost to the army – like any good Rite should. First off, Rad Grenades are genuinely the best part of this Rite, causing -1 Toughness to an enemy (until the end of the assault phase) when a unit equipped with them launches an assault. Whilst the option is there to take Legion Heavy Support Squads and Legion Veteran Tactical Squads as non-compulsory Troop; you should ask yourself if that’s genuinely what you want. Both are expensive and can be quite the points sink when list building. That said, Missile Launchers offer lovely dual purpose and there’s certainly something to be said for having twenty Lascannons facing off against the enemy.

Death Guard Heavy Support Squad with Missile Launchers can be taken as troops with The Reaping Rite of War

Creeping Death

This Rite of War focuses on the forbidden chemical weapons Arsenal available to the Death Guard. These weapons would be deployed into a specific area and the Death Guard would march through the toxic mist, seemingly unaffected by it.

Mist CladInfantry models in the Detachment gain a cover save of 5+ when in open ground and no enemy is within 12”.
Bio-Phage Bombardment Before the game begins and after both sides have deployed (including Scout and Infiltrate), roll a D6 for every piece of terrain representing a wood or jungle on the table. On the roll of 4+ the terrain is reduced to a fetid chemical mire. Any cover save afforded is reduced by -1, and it counts as Dangerous Terrain to any who do not have the Legiones Astartes (Death Guard) special rule.
Toxin WeaponsAll Frag Grenades and Frag Missiles in the Detachment are increased to Strength 5.
Limit 1This Rite of War is only available to Traitor factions and cannot be used with Shattered Legions special rules.
Limit 2This army must include a Legion Siege Breaker Consul.
Limit 3In games where one side is to be the attacker and the other the defender, this army must be the attacker.
Limit 4Detachments using this Rite may not take a Fortification Detachment or Allied Detachments.

Honestly, this Rite of War is rarely seen. The reason for this is fairly evident; the benefits it provides are simply too situational. The Mist-Clad rule is nice, but the weight of the Rite is really in Bio-Phage Bombardment. This is the weakest part of the Rite, offering no real, tangible benefit unless you’re playing on a forest table. Indeed, Eskatron Imperative for Dark Angels in Book 9 makes an absolute mockery of this Rite. The missiles and grenades Strength boost is ok, but doesn’t redeem this Rite.

Legion Specific Characters

Section Leader Crysos Morturg

Morturg is a Praetor level Independent Character who will set you back a not-cheap 175 points. He is a survivor the the Isstvan 3 betrayal and thus only availiable to the Loyalists.


His statline is typical early-Black-Book, especially with the 3+ Sv value on his armour. He has Hardened Power Armour which grants a re-roll of failed armour saves against Template and Blast weapons. However, it does reduce his distance rolled for run, charge or sweeping advances by 1″. This is important as having Legiones Astartes (Death Guard) his sweeping advance distance is already reduced by 1, taking a non-point detraction and turning it into something that can actually cause you to suffer situationally.

He isn’t lightly armed by any means, having a Bolt Pistol, Power Sword, Combi-Flamer, Frag, Krak and Rad grenades. Equally, that isn’t a stellar loadout – so don’t expect Morturg to be outright winning battles by himself. Couple that with his 3+ Sv and you don’t really have a front line HQ. That isn’t what Morturg is about though.

His Warlord Trait is Master of Ambush meaning he and three non-vehicle units of the players choice have the Infiltrate special rule. This makes things very interesting as horrifically, Grave Wardens fall into this category. On the less horiffic scale of the game, this makes the Death Guard suddenly quite a fast army. Remembering that Infiltrate confers to Dedicated Transports and you have a whole new avenue to explore. He also has Mastery Level 1 and Endurance from the Biomancy psychic chart. This is a blessing type of power that costs 2 Warp Charges. If successful, you select a single friendly unit within 24″. Whilst the power is in effect, all models in the unit gain Eternal Warrior, Feel No Pain 4+ and Relentless. It’s an ok blessing and if used on something like a unit of Deathshroud makes them fairly terrifying.

Morturg is very much the supporting character and one that you want to keep very well protected. You’ll note there’s no invulnverable save for him, which is pretty bad and if we are being honest, you’re only ever going to take him for a narrative reason.

Marshal Durak Rask

The Siegemaster. One of Mortarions most loyal subjects, Rask became the Siegemaster of the Death Guard due to the penchant for siegecraft he showed. Setting you back a solid 165 points for a Siegebreaker/Praetor level HQ, Rask is another of the earlier additions.


Rask has Artificer Armour, granting him a 2+ Sv that goes some way to making him slightly more suvivable than Morturg is. That said, there’s no invulnerable save here either. Clearly a narrative choice, seeing as Rask dies on Isstvan III. He has some fairly hard hitting weapons in the form of a Thunder hammer, Volkite Serpenta, Frag & Krak grenades, one Phosphex Bomb and a Nuncio Vox. That said, much like Morturg, Rask really isn’t for the front line, but more suited to the middle ground than rear echelon duties. This is due to the fact he has a Warlord Trait of Target Priority. This allows Rask and all friendly units within 12″ to re-roll To Hit rolls of 1 when shooting at an enemy unit that is within 3″ of an objective. This is seriously nice, meaning he has genuine application in sitting in the midfield, attached to a heavy weapons squad and blowing enemies from freshly captured objectives. Being a Siegebreaker, he has Art of Destruction, meaning any unit he joins gains Tank Hunters – re-rolling failed armour penetration rolls.

Overall, Rask is a nice HQ whos traits and wargear suit sitting in the midfield, probably with a Missile Launcher equipped Heavy Support Squad and outright removing enemies from objectives. There’s certainly a niche way to getting the best out of his loadout, but you’ll need to think laterally to do so.

Calas Typhon

The First Captain himself needs no introduction. The Death Guard are well reknown in the Heresy for rejecting the Librarius fairly early on under the direction of Mortarion. Typhon was previously one of the Librarius, however was forced to supress his latent powers to serve as the First Captain instead. He commands the Terminus Est; a ship of unique viciousness, being a viral weapons platform.

Typhon will set you back 200 points and is a Praetor level HQ.


WS 6 is a nice bonus for Typhon over the other named Death Guard Praetor level characters in the Legions book. Coupled with Initiative 5 this initially seems quite good – but there’s both a catch and a bonus to this stat and it is in relation to his mastercrafter Deathshroud Power Scythe. We’ve already covered how they work, and the addition of that WS 6 and mastercrafted only makes it better. Reliable AP 2 at near Initiative is nigh on unheard of for a Praetor level HQ that isn’t rocking Paragon Blade or Divining Blade, you just need to remember you’re actually swinging at Initiative 4. Just in case you do find yourself against one of those pesky praetors however, Typhon has Cataphractii pattern Terminator Armour giving him a solid 4++ invulnerable save. Most importantly, in melee he has Rad Grenades reducing an opponents toughness by 1 when in they assault or are assaulted.

Typhon also comes equipped with a Hand Flamer with Chem-munitions, which won’t set the world alight, but can be useful for plinking off wounds. He also has a Grenade Harness and a Nuncio Vox, the latter coming in useful for pulling line of sight of anything with Barrage – which lets face it, you probably will have as this is Death Guard.

So he can be quite useful and quite the weapon on the table in melee. Typhon also has Chem-bombardment, which is a once per game ability that can be used in the Shooting phase when he has not moved in the previous Movement phase.

Unlimited4Ordnance 3, Barrage, Large Blast (5″), Poison (4+)

It’s certainly useful for removing Tactical squads from objectives late in the game and cements Typhon as a bit of a generalist supporting HQ.

As discussed, he is a repressed Psyker who has Mastery Level 1 and may utilise a power from the Telepathy discipline when Mortarion is not present on the battlefield or when Mortarion is represented in a game as having fallen to Chaos. This means you have a narrative decision on how you approach his psychic abilities.

Finally, his Warlord Trait of Comes The Reaper is simply that he counts as a denial unit and no enemy within 3″ of him can claim an objective. Again, very much a last turn buff that he can offer you.

Calas Typhon is not only the bearded beast of the Terminus Est who singlehandedly brings about the fall of the Death Guard to Chaos, but he is also quite a nice narrative choice for a player. Sure you can make a slightly better generic praetor, but Typhon adds a lovely bit of narrative fluff to your game without sacrificing a large amount of capability.

Mortarion The Reaper

The Pale King, The Traveller, The Dread Liberator of Barbarus. Mortarion is a sinister individual, hewn into a spectre of death on the nightmarish deathworld of Barbarus. One of the Warmasters most staunch supporters, Mortarion can often be seen in the lore as acting as Horus’ right hand man, or chosen Commander.

Mortarion is represented in game with a fairly generic stat line for his 425 points:


Notably, he is Toughness 7, making him tougher than the Warmaster himself and he is also provided with an additional wound taking him to a total of 7. It’s a lovely nod to the lore of Nurgle and the Death Guard themselves as well as making him a bit of a survivor when it comes to hard fought battles. To assist him in this, he has The Barbaran Plate which is a war panoply of his own design. It grants him a 2+ armour save and 4++ invulnerable save. It’s the standard save pattern for Primarchs and works well here. Mortarion is also equipped with a nightmarish arsenal that is fairly generalistic in nature.

Armed with Silence, a huge two-handed battle scythe that is rumoured to be the xenos weapon his adoptive father brandished, this is probably single handedly the thing that makes Mortarion Very Bulky.

SilenceMelee+12Melee, Instant Death, Sunder, Two-Handed, Reaping Blow

Yes, you’ve read that right: Instant Death. To be honest, with a weapon as large as it is, it could hardly not have this rule. Reaping blow is the balancing factor here, reducing his Initiative 5 to 4 and boosting his attacks by +1 if in base contact with more than one enemy model when he steps in to fight. Further limiting his horrific output is Two-Handed meaning he can never recieve the +1 attack bonus for fighting with two melee weapons. Not that this is really an issue for Mortarion as he only has one. This does mean you’re getting 6 attacks on the charge, plus one for being in base contact with more than one enemy model. So that’s 7 attacks on the charge at Strength 7, AP 2 and all with Instant Death. Sunder is really the only rule here that is mostly pointless, as Mortarion simply does not have the strength to wound things like Contemptor Dreadnoughts and anything lesser normally folds fairly easily. So it’s safe to say Mortarion is a monster in melee, though he can be stopped in his tracks when facing off against high AV vehicles.

This is where The Lantern comes in. A huge, double barrelled brass energy pistol of unknown origin, The Lantern is fairly nice.

The Lantern18″82Assault 1, Sunder

If you do find yourself facing off a Dreadnought or the likes, then The Lantern can really come in useful. Strength 8, AP 2 with Sunder gives you a chance of at least glancing even the toughest Astartes platforms. If you are feeling especially mean, you can also turn its baleful light on a marine level unit and watch it Instant Death them a model at a time per turn.

Mortarion carries an unlimited stash of Phosphex Bombs too, so worst case, you can always unleash chemical warfare upon your defiant enemies troops choices.

Mortarion isn’t just a smash unit however, he has some incredibly solid capabilities and can really assist the Death Guard on the tabletop. Firstly, with Sire of the Death Guard, all models with Legiones Astartes (Death Guard) special rule gain the Stubborn rule. This means that you ignore negative modifiers for taking Morale Checks or Pinning Tests. When you remember that Legiones Astartes (Death Guard) are already immune to Fear and automatically pass Pinning Tests, then you can see that they’re pretty much going to force you to kill them to the last man. As part of Sire of the Death Guard, Mortarion also gives Poisoned (4+) to Frag Grenades, Frag Missiles and Havoc Launchers. This actually makes a nice little difference to the lethality of those weapons and is a nice narrative nod to the Death Lord’s penchant for all things chemical weapons.

Mortarion has Preternatural Resilience, meaning he re-rolls any failed Toughness tests or It Will Not Die! rolls. He automatically passes any Dangerous Terrain rolls and any weapon which wounds based on a flat dice roll result rather than a normal To Wound roll against his toughness (such as Poison, Fleshbane etc) only affect him on a D6 roll of a 6+. Most useful of those traits is the It Will Not Die! re-rolls as he will inevitably be the target of focused fire, though being able to automatically pass Dangerous Terrain rolls also opens up a larger tactical playstyle to you.

Being a hater of psykers, Mortarion has Witch-spite, which sees any Malediction power affecting Mortarion or a unit he has joined being negated on a roll of 4+ on a D6. This can be fairly useful against psyker heavy armies but I can count the number on one hand how many times i’ve used it.

Finally, and most importantly is the Shadow of the Reaper. Firstly, any Leadership test taken against him for Fear is at -1. Secondly, most Primarchs rely on a transport method, usually heavily armoured to get them to their targets. Some, such as Curze or Sanguineous, leap or soar above the battlefield. Mortarion moves through the shadows in a way that even Curze and Corax can’t. As long as Mortarion is not within a transport, reserve or locked in combat, in the players shooting phase (in lieu of a run move or shooting attack), Mortarion can redploy him by passing a Leadership test. This redeployment can be anywhere within 10″ of his starting position as long as there is space for his model. He may not be placed within 3″ of an enemy model and may not be placed within impassable terrain or inside a vehicle or building. This is not counted as a move and intervening terrain does not affect him. The downside to this? You make a disordered charge (no charge bonus attack) if you chose to charge in the same turn this ability was used. Lets look at a quick snapshot of the terror this can evoke. Mortarion moves his 6″ in the movement phase, detaches from his Deathshroud after passing the Leadership test in Shooting Phase to perform his Shadow Step. Suddenly, in a single turn he has already moved 16″ and can also charge into a unit. If the dice gods align, this means Mortarion could feasible move a solid 28″ in a turn including a 12″ charge. Even if you look at averages, you’re still roughly around the 20″ mark. That is genuinely terrifying and can turn the tide of a game, especially if you’ve used a Spartan or Land Raider to get him up the table first.

Overall, Mortarion isn’t as strong as Horus, but nor is he middling. He is tough, resilient and has a strong set of melee and ranged rules that give him a generalist approach to the game. He buffs the Legiones Astartes (Death Guard) units and operates as a horrifically fast moving high threat target that the enemy needs to constantly be concious of. This means the rest of your army can generally get on with business as usual. He costs a fairly large 425 points, but frankly is worth every one of them – just avoid being tarpitted by Dreadnoughts, or have something with him that can deal with them.

Mortarion uses Shadow of The Reaper to appear behind Alpha Legion Tactical Squads and makes a disordered charge into them. This move turns the tide of the battle and leads to the clearing of the Death Guard flank of all Alpha Legion forces.

Legion Specific Units

Deathshroud Terminators

Deathshroud are the elite cadre of warriors in the Death Guard who have given up their identity to serve as Mortarions silent personal guard. Those selected for service in the Deathshroud may never reveal their faces to anyone bar Mortarion once clad in the terminator plate and are declared as having died in the records of the Legion. In the lore, there must be at leat two Deathshroud must be within 49 paces of Mortarion at any time.

Deathshroud start at 90 points for 2 and can be taken as an Elites choice or as an HQ, though they must be painted differently if done so. You can take up to 8 additional Deathshroud at a cost of +40 points each. This isn’t a bad cost for them. They have a fairly standard stat line with a low WS and Initiative, though they do have Ld 10 and 2 wounds.


Their wargear list is started off by them having “Terminator Armour”, which allows the player to choose whether they’re in Tartaros Terminator armour, Indomitus Terminator Armour or Cataphractii Terminator Armour. The official models come in Tartaros, which gives them a 2+ armour save and 5++ invulnerable save. This is nice because Tartaros also allows them to run and perform sweeping advances. If you fancy something that has a bit more staying power, take them in Cataphractii, granting you a 2+ armour save and a 4++ invulnerable save at the cost of not being able to run, sweeping advance or overwatch. Finally, if you wanted none of the resilience or mobility bonuses, you could take Indomitus for a 2+ armour save and 5++ invulnerable save. Personally, I tend to opt for Tartaros, as the Death Guard tend to suffer with mobility as it is.

Deathshroud each have Hand Flamer with Chem-munitions, which is useful for plinking off a few wounds at range, but this is a unit that is entirely focused on the melee aspect. Each has a Deathshroud Power Scythe, which works nicely for them. They might start with Initiative 4, but you’re still hitting with an AP 2 weapon at Initiative 3, often well before the enemies AP 2 weapons can strike. Add in the fact if you’ve ploughed them into a formation of enemy that number more than one when they step in to fight and you get extra attacks. If you’re concerned about having to deal with Dreadnoughts, or looking to crack open armour to get at the infantry inside, then you can take Melta Bombs for 5 points per Terminator. Deathshroud are therefore downright vicious in melee against most targets.

Once they’ve cleared the enemy troops, they can score an objective thanks to them having Implacable Advance. If you’re building your lists right, this means that nigh on everything you have that’s on two legs is scoring – a powerful gambit to have availiable to you. Finally, the Favoured of Mortarion rule means you can take them instead of a Command Squad as a body guard for any Terminator armour equipped Praetor or the Primarch himself.

Deathshroud have access to a Land Raider Phobos as a Dedicated Transport, which does limit who you can put in with a squad of them. However, the bonus is you can make lore-friendly decision in peace by simply chucking two or three in with Mortarion in a Phobos if you choose.

Deathshroud aren’t invincible however, even in Cataphractii plate and serious consideration needs to be taken about those units toting Instant Death weapons, as they’ll rinse wounds from Deathshroud.

Grave Warden Terminators

Originally a name for members of Calas Typhon’s Terminus Est that embarked upon chemical warfare missions in Tactical Dreadnought Armour, the name Grave Wardens became a specialised unit outright.

Starting at 200 points for a Chem-master and 4 Grave Wardens, these are well pointed, but highly specialised terminators that can only be taken in the Heavy Support slot. No Pride of the Legion Troops for these terminators. That said, they do have Implacable Advance, so they’ll be scoring for you regardless.

Grave Warden444414282+

Unlike Deathshroud, Grave Wardens are 1 wound terminators that come in Cataphractii terminator plate only. Should you choose, you can take an additonal 5 Grave Wardens for +35 points each, something which is fairly nicely priced. Arguably, there’s a point to taking 5 terminator strong squads as they fit into the Land Raider Phobos that they can take as a Dedicated Transport, though if you wish to take full size squads, the Spartan Assault Tank is also a Dedicated Transport for them.

Grave Wardens are close-mid ranged chemical warfare specialists and as such are equipped an Assault Grenade Launcher.

Assault Grenade Launcher (Krak)18″64Assault 2
Assault Grenade Launcher (Toxin)18″*4Assault 2, Blast (3″), Poison (3+), Ignores Cover

Frankly, for the most part you’ll be firing out Toxin rounds as they’re the best muniton for the Grave Warden’s target demographic – infantry. Each Grave Warden fires out two 3″ blasts, so a full size squad of ten will fire twenty of them. That’s a metric tonne of toxins and it does take a while to resolve. There usually isn’t much left of even the largest sized squads by the end of it. Clearly these weapons work wonders in enclosed spaces, so in Zone Mortalis these are genuinely horrific. You can take a Heavy Flamer with Chem-munitions for one in every five models, costing +10 points each, or a Combi-weapon on the Chem-master; but there’s generally no reason to.

Should you find yourself on the end of an enemy charge with the Grave Wardens, the Death Cloud is the chemical close-in defence system of their Cataphractii armour. Originally the only Cataphractii that could conduct overwatch (before Dark Angels Cenobium could, just because) the Death Cloud works in two manners. First, it forces the enemy to make a Disordered charge. Secondly, it works as a wall of poisonous gasses.

Death CloudTemplate*4Assault 1, Poison (3+)

This is actually quite effective and once an enemy is witness to it, they generally won’t charge them again unless they are forced to. Once in combat, Grave Wardens have Power Fists, though any may take a Chainfist for +5 points.

Grave Wardens are best taken in either a Squad of ten in a Spartan in a shock assault style approach, or in Squads of 5 in Land Raider Phobos for a more tactical approach to battle. The Krak munitions can be useful when engaging lightly armoured targets, but you’ll mostly be dropping toxin on your enemies. They’re quite effective at clearing blobs of infantry or concentrations of infantry in enclosed spaces, though resolution of the shots can take quite some time.

Paint Scheme

The Dusk Raiders wore armour that was of an unpainted grey, with a crimson coloured pauldron. Once Mortarion had taken command, a subtle colour change occurred in their armour; it became an ivory colour with a green pauldron. They also wear their battle damage with pride.

I really wanted to replicate the soiled whitish cream colour I’ve always imagined them in. There are multiple recipes out there, but I wanted something that would be simultaneously a challenge, but also easily reproducible once the knack had been understood.


Washed and cleaned with warm water and a semi-hard brush.

Primer: Vallejo Mecha Black.


Base: Vallejo Charred Brown.
Mid: Vallejo Rust.
High: Citadel Typhon Ash/Vallejo Dead Flesh.


Vallejo Metal Colour Bronze.

Vallejo Metal Colour Burnt Iron.


Weathering: MIG Chipping Colour.
Weathering: AK067 Streaking Grime for DAK Vehicles.


Base: Citadel Khorne Red.

Drybrush: Citadel Evil Sunz Scarlet.

The Vallejo Primer and Base paints go down wholesale over the entire mini. If you want to preshade, feel free to with a white. Once those initial two are down and dry, I start to target the areas that are exposed to the light. Vallejo rust is perfect for this. Targeting those areas, I apply a wider patch of colour, with the aim being to reduce the width of subsequent passes of other colours. This means that you end up having naturally occurring shade. There’s no wash applied until the end, and actually this is just the AK067 – adding a lovely amount of grime tone.


The Death Guard are a lovely Legion, with rules written that have their narrative firmly in mind. Their rules are one of the older sets, but they don’t suffer untowardly for it. Their specialist units are all Terminators, which speaks volumes that the Legion means business. That said, they’re not the puss spewing, super resilient Death Guard we see in Warhammer 40,000 8th and 9th Edition. Horus Hersey Death Guard will die to concerted effort as easily as other Legions, and aren’t superbly mobile; so thinking in the tactical and strategic realm will certainly set you on the path to victory.

Their Rites of War are limited and really only one is solidly viable; The Reaping. This does make the Legion slower on the table, but should result in you easily overmatching the enemy in firepower. Mobility is always the problem with Death Guard, so Dedicated Transports are pretty much auto-includes. If you’re considering marching across the table, Creeping Death doesn’t really give you a workable benefit.

No matter how you build your army, when you include Mortarion, consider using a transport platform to protect him and move him into a postion in turn one where he dismount in turn two and best take advantage of Shadow of the Reaper. It’s terrifyingly effective, but always keep an eye on where the enemies Dreadnoughts are as they’ll ruin Mortarions day.

With all the rumours of Heresy 2.0 abound, I hope the Death Guard don’t change too much in points, rules and traits. It’s an older ruleset, but one that still checks out all this time later.

Example Lists

This is an Army based off of a strike force from the Terminus Est and as such has Calas Typhon leading it. Taking The Reaping Rite of War, the two Heavy Support Squads are non-compulsory troops choices. The missile launchers allow me to switch between hitting armoured or soft targets with ease – though the former can be enhanced by putting a Siegebreaker in with the Squad to gain Tank Hunters. The two Tactical Squads are effectively being used in game to secure midfield targets, with the Terminator clad cohorts pushing forwards in the AV14 transports to prosecute difficult objectives. The Vindicators have Machine Spirit to allow them mobility whilst retaining full BS, whilst the Leviathan is used to provide fire support – though i do tend to switch between Grav Flux or Melta Lance and Claw and a twin Storm cannon loadout. Alternatively a Deredeo with Arachnus Lascannons would fit in neatly to this army in place of the Leviathan, or two would fit in should you wish to forego both the Leviathan and the Vindicators. That would suitably maximise the armies anti tank capacity without significant loss to its generalistic nature. The only thing the above list lacks that a single or twin Deredeo list would provide is anti aircraft fire.


  1. Hi, Your series of articles about legions tactics is one of the best I ever read (You did much better jobs than goonhammer team). May I ask if can I expect the article about Iron Warriors? I just jumped into HH and honestly I have some problems with listbuilding. I know which units should I have but composing them with the others is realy problmatic for me now.


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