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Unit of the week series: Plague Marines


Plague _Lord
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The above series has had great success in the necron forum for a long time now. Basically every week we can discuss the pros and cons of a unit - both tactically and fluffwise if you so choose. The format makes it easier to get to possibly educational info than reading through other, often bloated topics.

 

What say you? Would you like a series like this?

 

PL

 

Death Guard Unit of the Week Index

Edited by Xenith
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I like it. There's not many of us DG players in here, will be nice to hear from the same group of people on all the different units. Let's give it another week or so though so we all get a chance to go through the codex with all the shipping delays in countries and maybe a few of us might get a couple games in for the first few units.
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Having picked up the UotW duties from my fellow mod NTaW, I can say that I do believe they are quite useful to the codex forum, and I will always endorse a new subforum starting their own UotW series. If it does start in the next couple of weeks, while there are still codex concerns, my recommendation is that whoever runs it starts with an older and iconic unit, like plague marines (we started out 9th ed run with Necron Warriors, the staple of any list), so that everyone still has some experience with the unit in question. That way, the new and exciting stuff can wait until the codex has hit general global release in the wake of Papa Nurgle's, ahem, blessings, and the associated shipping delays.

 

Anybody can pick it up if they like, it doesn't have to be a mod (though asking a mod to sticky a compilation/link thread at the top might not be a bad idea), as evinced in other subfora (I think the Grey Knights UotW is being run by Valerian as opposed to an active GK mod).

 

I hope the Death Guard picks this practice up; it's a great way to increase community engagement in an otherwise quiet forum.

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I think Daimyo-Phaeron Lenoch has the right idea, let's start with Plague Marines. The most versatile unit in the codex, basic with alot of options. We have to take them now and can't just spam poxwalkers or cultist (I always took them, rule of cool). They get the most out of the codex, alot of strats, have the core keyword, and probably are the only unit to benefit from the DR change. With the 2W and wargear change there is alot to talk about when we get our books and thinking caps on.
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Yeah, this is a fantastic idea and sounds like a lot of fun. It is also educational, not all of us can get many battles played these days and it is valuable to share insight and also jolly good fun.

 

So where to start with this unit ? To call it basic would be to lie, it may be a common troops choice, but the Plague Marines are fairly elite in nature. While it is sad that we lost the previous version of FNP, let us waste no time with the multiple of "what could have been" in regards to this topic. It serves no purpose, just added negativity that we don't need. So I suggest we talk about only what is (but just a suggestion, as I am no moderator, so if you want to write a page where you describe how awesome PM's would be with the old FNP while still costing approximately the same, then I can't stop you).

 

Anyway, maybe Jannis video can be helpful for some of you, he goes into detail on this unit exactly and various weapon configurations. Important of course, to note that he mostly looks into what is efficient and cost effective. Although bare basic Plague Marines is the most cost-efficient unit, it will be greatly outperformed in a battle against certain units by having more powerful upgrades in it.

 

The obvious ranged one I like, is the quite costly 270 squad consisting of champ with plasma gun, 2 plasma in squad and 2 blight launcher. I also have a PF on champ for that price. This unit is very expensive, but it does have bite. You can further "improve" it by taking flails, as the bolter fire you then lose will be relatively negligible. The Great Cleaver is also an interesting option, perhaps better against certain tough armies.

 

Further on, well, I have to say that I kind of think the Plague Marine squads you get when you make a list and have to save points (cutting down on models and upgrades) seem very, very good for the points. 5-6 Plague Marines with maybe power fist, a flail and a cleaver, can actually deal with a lot all by themselves and get a terrible spike if you have a Biologus around them for Mortal Wounds on 6's. As for the Biologus, I think it is a very good unit (certainly better than the crap label a certain other poster in this sub forum gave it) and only  mention it in passing because it will spike PM damage in melee very easily when even bolter marines have 2 attacks with plague knives but crucially 3 if you use Trench Fighter. Hell, considering how good a plague knife is in this edition we may not really need that many melee special weapons against many targets. Knives are quite okayish alone, and particularly with a Biologus. The previous awesome weapon from 8th, the flail, is still an incredible choice, giving you 6 A on an AP -2, while previously, the Great Cleaver was a bad choice due to low attacks, but now sailing up as a very interesting weapon you can take on a marine or two to add extra punch.

 

As for range options, the Blight Launcher is the weapon I like the best by far (and as Jannis points out, it is the best ranged weapon mathematically), but I can also see a use for more arcane stuff like the Heavy Plague Spewer due to Inexorable Advance. Not that I expect most people to go Mortarion's Own, but if they do, that Strat to give plague spewers, belchers and that Death Shroud weapon Dam 2, is a very good stratagem that might surprise your enemy.

 

I think what we got with the Plague Marines unit is a unit that is exceptionally versatile. They can almost be compared to Chaos Chosen, and while it is a shame that we can't spam cheap knives, when run in 10, you get most of the weapon options you want and then some. But they are really strong at holding objectives for the points with no upgrades at all. Precisely how strong, I am not the correct person to say, as I rely on people like Jannis to do the math for me, though I can approximate like most people with a decent head of course.

 

As for useful stratagems that one should be aware of when playing Plague Marines, Trench Fighter is highly obvious, Haze of Corrupton (old flail rule on entire unit) is definitely worth 2 CPs in many situations. Eternal Hatred/Veterans of the Long War is still good, now probably priced more balanced at 2 CPs. Perhaps Sickly Corosion is a strat that many pass on when they first see it, but note that it corrodes a unit for an entire turn. That can absolutely be worth it sometimes. Cloud of Flies is obvious in some situations and as good as before, just more expensive. But the 1 CP strats Overwhelming Generosity (from War of the Spider, +6 to plague weapon range) combined with Virulent rounds (while these are even better on terminators, they are still good on Plague Marines) makes you rapid shoot plague bolters at 30 inches. Not horrible. Maybe not amazing either, but at least you have the opportunity to fire away if you feel you need to. Finally, we have the odd man out, the 2 CP Flash Outbreak, which when combined with your favored contagion can give you extra omph in a melee and perhaps at times, even shooting (but mostly melee due to range restrictions). Depending on your contagion it can certainly be powerful and your Plague Marines can stack up some pretty crazy buffs and debuffs when you combine multipliples of strats. Notably, our guys have a far greater damage potential in melee than we do in shooting.

 

As a bonus strat it is worth mentioning the Blightening, which is pretty nasty when combined with the Biologus aura. 18 STR 4, AP-1, Dam 2 pistol plague auto hit is rather good.

 

Finally, Pathogens doesn't seem worth it at all on 3 attack Plague Marine champions. I would maybe if I had the points, buy one for a Blightlord champion (or maybe the relic sword), but never for the 2 W 3 A Plague Marine champion. Much too expensive and horribly cost-inefficient. However, if you can spare a CP, which you may be more liberal with than points, than maybe you can give the plague marine champion the relic sword instead of a powerfist, but even this will probably be rarely worth it. But it might be in some situations and it can create a fun and fluffy powerful champion with some extra bite (because it is some what sad that most of the plague marines can get better weapons than the champion to be fair).

 

That's all I got for now I think. Will be interesting to read what you guys write :smile.:

Edited by Iron Sage
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Wow eager responses! Nice!

 

I see some of you have already started so let's give this week and the next to plague marines (I bet some of you will get a game in with them next week, we already know the rules) and from then on I'll put up unit of the week posts, starting with stuff that hasn't changed that much datasheet-wise but could still have different uses in our new playstyle.

 

As for plague marines, I see a few possible builds that I could use:

 

A) Mobile Firebase - this would be the full 10 man squad consisting of 3 plasma and 2 blight launchers. Their firepower is great in the midrange but their durability is their real strength. Give the other marines bolters just to keep em cheap. This uint puts out a nice ammount of shots in 12'' - 6 plasma shots and 4 blight launcher shots are dangerous to both  MEQ and GEQ, while also could potentially pop a transport. I'm torn as to giving the champ a powerfist - while I love having all my champs with  fists, this type of unit ideally doesn't want to be in combat. They want to sit on a midfield objective after one of our heavy hitters clears it. 260 points wihtout the fist is fine for the ammount of firepower and durability they bring to the table.

 

B) Splash Brothers - If you thought Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were masters of offense you should take a look at these guys - 2 cleavers, 2 flails, 2 maces, 2 double knife, 1 regular bro and champ with powerfist. These guys bring the hurt to anyhting they face. The splash stratagem is what they live on and it works wonders. I've done the math - on average this squad is taking out 36,6 ork boys in 1 round of combat. If they are facing meq, then they are dishing out 24,1 dmg. So if you get a full squad into some infantry, they are probably going to die. I'm not sure if this is intentional but vectors of disease states that every plaguemarine that has 2 melee plague waepons has 3 attacks on his profile. You change out boltguns for flails, cleavers etc so they still have thier knives and get a boost in stats. What's dumb is that this rule give nothing to the champ, who isn't a "plague marine". 250 points for the squad I've mentioned. Well worth it for a tough and killy objective clearer. I've also done the math on points effectiveness of all the weapons and sadly it looks bad for the powerfist - against both orks and MEQ it has worse points:damage ratio than a double knife marine... only the boltgun marine has a worse effectiveness ratio. Of course if the plague marines run into tougher stuff then the powerfist become more cost effective so it still has it's merits.

 

C) Min-max - Minmizing the cost for maximum damage. So that's 2 plasma guns and 1 blight launcher. A good choice if you don't want to invest heavily in plague marines. They cost 135 , bring 10 wounds to the table and dishout decent supplementary firepower. 2 squads of these cost 270, so as much a squad A) with a powerfist but net you an extra plasma gun, while at the same time lose out on 2 ablative wounds and buff potential. Most of our Virion's support abilities are auras however so they can still get extra power from those. I think it's more of a choice: do you plan to potentially buff your plague marines' firepower with strats or not?. Solid choice.

 

d) Bare bones - Just 5 plague marines with bolters for 105pts. They can sit on a backfield objective pumping out 10 bolter shots or can advance and try to get scramblers or other action based VPs. For a slightly higher price you can upgrade to 1x dual knife  1x knife and axe for 108pts just for some extra oomph in close combat. It's not my style but it's the cheapest way to fill out our troops.

 

Their are obviously other loadouts that might work, and a lot depends on what support charachters you are taking. A whacky one might even be 10 bolter plague marines with the sigil od decay, next to a tallyman with tollkeeper and a lord for rerolls nets you nearly 8 autowounds, which while not great, with good roll could do some damage to gravis marines.

 

 

All in all I love the new plague marines but am finding that I'm putting a lot of points into them. I will probably test them out next week and see what they do in reality.

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Just watched that video posted earlier (or listened to it anyway). It was quite interesting. I was wondering if there was still a place for melta guns and I think there could be.

 

10 Plague Marines, 2 plague spewers, 2 melta guns and maybe a power fist champ. Have them in a rhino.

 

Not optimised but it does give the squad the role of a close range tool box. I imagine you'd be able to add some special close combat weapons, but I'm old fashioned. I like my plague marines to just have knives and bolters ay?

 

I'd maybe have a second squad of 10 with 2 blight launchers and 3 plasma guns as a mid range unit. I suppose then fill out a baddalion with a squad of 5 with just bolters. 

Edited by Verbal Underbelly
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One option I am working on is the 'objective secured' squad

 

10 man with 2 plague spewers and 2 plague beltchers

That 4d6 auto hits on a unit either sitting on an objective or trying to steal it.

 

Once sat on that objective people are going to be leary of charging into possible overwatch fire.

If supported by a Foul Blightspawn they run the risk of being flamed on the charge and not being able to strike first when they get there.

 

A few plague cc weapons of your choice and pow you have a unit that will not be shifted easily

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One option I am working on is the 'objective secured' squad

 

10 man with 2 plague spewers and 2 plague beltchers

That 4d6 auto hits on a unit either sitting on an objective or trying to steal it.

 

Once sat on that objective people are going to be leary of charging into possible overwatch fire.

If supported by a Foul Blightspawn they run the risk of being flamed on the charge and not being able to strike first when they get there.

 

A few plague cc weapons of your choice and pow you have a unit that will not be shifted easily

Interesting, I would probably only go for the belchers if I was fielding Mortarion's Own (which ironically is what my army is painted as). Maybe your squad can work, particularly if the objective is not out in the open where long range fire can batter them. Certainly, Plague Marines do look very cool holding belchers. Something to be said for the rule of cool as well ! :smile.:

Certainly an interesting idea !

Edited by Iron Sage
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I'm currently planning to run 10 man squads with 2x flails, 2x blight launcher, and maybe a fist on the champion. Keep 'em cheap and make the most of all the stratagems boosting bolters. MSU has a lot of merit, as usual, due to how damn tough these fellas are.

 

The real question for me is how many squads to take! I really like Poxwalkers - the zombie horde imagery is just so cool - and they're very appealing as currently stands. If I'm pouring lots of points into Terminators, that may come at the expense of the humble Plague Marine. But it's great that PMs can form the core of lists now.

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My initial plan is for a cheap as chips 10 man unit....Champion with Plague Blade and Plasma Pistol, 7 Bolters, 1 Icon, 1 Sigil. I think the Sigil making Bolter shots cause mortal wounds on 6's, especially if getting a re-roll aura, could cause a world of hurt.

 

Then maybe add 2 other 10 man units....Champion with Fist and Plasma Gun, 4 Bolters, 2 Spewers, 2 Blight Launchers, 1 Icon.

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My initial plan is for a cheap as chips 10 man unit....Champion with Plague Blade and Plasma Pistol, 7 Bolters, 1 Icon, 1 Sigil. I think the Sigil making Bolter shots cause mortal wounds on 6's, especially if getting a re-roll aura, could cause a world of hurt.

 

Then maybe add 2 other 10 man units....Champion with Fist and Plasma Gun, 4 Bolters, 2 Spewers, 2 Blight Launchers, 1 Icon.

The Sigil makes 6s to hit automatically wound, but I am afraid it doesn't dish out Mortal Wounds. The Icon does on a 4+, it dishes out a single Mortal Wound to every enemy unit within 6 inches (you got to roll for each of them).

Edited by Iron Sage
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Having run just bolters in a squad hurt me. Had I had just a couple melee weapons I could have cleared quite a bit. I did drive them then run this unit onto far off objectives, which I managed to hold for a couple turns. Yet, had they been equipped better they would have done so much better.

Also not remembering to use more strats, after a few more games and remembering all the new stuff will also help.

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It is flail and you have the knife still, which is why plague marines have 6 attacks and not 4, with a flail. Trench fighter will give them one extra attack, but only with the knife.

 

Jgascoine, they have 6 attacks with the flail without the use of the trench fighter strat.

Edited by Iron Sage
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Plague marines almost have too many options haha. It's tough, a group of 10 sitting on a back objective might only want 2 blight launchers to help with shooting but keep it cheap. But the second something deep strikes or advances to charge at them, you'll wish you had some flails and maybe a fist. I still want to run three groups of 10 in my first list but doing their wargear has my head spinning in circles haha. Edited by Putrid Choir
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So I currently have 2 squads of 6 with the same loadout - fist on champ, 1 blight launcher, 1 plasma. I also have 5 guys on sprue that I was thinking of making into a melee squad that either runs separately, or fill out the other two squads depending on the needs of the list. I was looking at the books yesterday and my head is spinning with all the options, so this thread has been invaluable because it looks like pretty much any combo will be good for something.

 

Might need to get another box of Plague Marines to take them all up to 10 man squads. I think you definitely want a cc squad at 10 so you can take full advantage of the 'damage carries over' strat.

 

Dragonlover

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SNIP

10 Plague Marines, 2 plague spewers, 2 melta guns and maybe a power fist champ. Have them in a rhino.

 

SNIP

 

Call me crazy, I actually like this setup myself. Even though the DG mono benifits are great, I think a DG patrol for soup with CSM will be neat. Basic CSM will go to 18pts, DG are what 20 now? 2-3 x5 man CSM MSU with heavy + combi plas, PM's via a DG patrol is a solid troops base. I would rather spend the rhino points on the PM's, a few less CSM. No commitments yet, waiting on the new CSM codex.

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