Thursday, 14 February 2013

Lores of Magic: The Lore of Nurgle

Continuing with our review of the Lores of Magic in the new Warriors of Chaos book, next we will look at the Lore of Nurgle. As with the Lore ofTzeentch, many of the spell names found here already exist in the Lore of Nurgle in the Daemons of Chaos book, although the effects are often different.

The Daemons of Chaos were re-released shortly after the Warriors of Chaos, and they use the same Lores of Magic. However, their Lore Attributes are different. I will include both in this review.

What does it do?
Lore Attribute: Warriors of Chaos
The Lore Attribute for the Lore of Nurgle is Bloated with Disease (as you would expect with all things Nurgle, the spells and effects here tend to conjure up delightful images that are best not considered whilst eating). Whenever a spell from this Lore is cast successfully, the caster rolls a D6. On a 6, he permanently gains +1 Toughness and +1 Wound.

This is a remarkably powerful Lore Attribute, especially if the caster is a lord-level character. Daemon Princes in particular will love this rule. They are dangerous characters, however their resilience doesn't quite match their damage potential. The Mark of Nurgle goes some way to improving the situation, making them -1 to hit. If you start stacking Toughness and Wounds on top of this, the Daemon Prince rapidly becomes unkillable.

Lore Attribute: Daemons of Chaos

The Nurgle Lore Attribute for Daemons is Children of Nurgle. Whenever a spell from the Lore does one or more unsaved wounds, you choose a unit of Plaguebearers or Nurglings within 12” of the caster. Roll a dice for each wound inflicted. If you chose Plaguebearers, the unit gains a model for each roll of a 5+. You get a new Nurgling bases on any rolls of a 6.

If you could create new units with Children of Nurgle, it would be far more significant. As it is, it's probably a poor relation to the Lore Attribute for Warriors of Chaos (which is especially outrageous when being cast by an important Sorcerer Lord or Daemon Prince). There are only a couple of spells in the Lore of Nurgle that are likely to inflict a real number of wounds when they are cast, with the best candidate being Plague Wind. Under the right circumstances, you could find yourself rolling a significant number of dice to create more Daemons. Whether you're better off going for Nurglings or Plaguebearers will probably depend on the situation. In general however, this Lore Attribute probably won't do a great deal.

And all the rest...
From here on in, the Lore of Nurgle is the same for both Warriors of Chaos and Daemons of Chaos. On we go...

The Signature Spell of the Lore of Nurgle is Stream of Corruption. Cast on a 7+, it places the breath weapon template in contact with the caster. Models under the template must take a Toughness test or suffer a wound with no armour saves. It's a direct damage spell, so you can't use it on engaged units, and there is no option to breathe in close combat (as it's not actually a breath weapon attack).

Spells like this can be frustrating. It has practically no range, but cannot be used in combat. This means a Sorcerer on foot is unlikely to ever have a use for it – he'll either be out of range or fighting something. What you really want is to breathe down the line of an elite unit, making a mockery of their armour and crippling their combat effectiveness due to losses. To get into such a position, you're really looking at a mounted Sorcerer or better yet, a Daemon Prince. With that sort of speed, you can bleed your target whilst avoiding their charge, and if they persist in advancing past you, you can then charge then in the flank or rear. Stream of Corruption is the ideal spell to cripple your target as you position yourself for the kill.

Next we have Miasma of Pestilence. It's an augment spell with a range of 18”, lasting one full turn and cast on a 5+. Enemy units in base contact with the target subtract 1 (or D3 if you boost the spell for a 10+) from their Weapon Skill and Initiative, to a minimum of 1. Whether this spell will be predominantly offensive or defensive will depend on the situation. Against ideal opposition (or with a good roll on the boosted version), you may get the best of both worlds – improving your chances to hit, making it harder for your opponent, and allowing you to swing first.

Fashion Sense is not the Nurgle Lore Attribute
Given the good Weapon Skill and Initiative of a Chaos Warrior or Knight, it should be pretty easy to get good mileage from Miasma of Pestilence. In fact, even Marauders have decent stats in these areas and stand to benefit from the spell. The fact that it can be so easily coupled with the Mark of Nurgle means that your opponent could frequently find himself needing 6s to hit. The spell might be slightly less effective when you're looking at an army of Chimeras and Chariots (which look like all the rage with this book), but that's not to say it won't have its uses.

Blades of Putrefaction is an augment spell with a range of 12”, and grants the target Poisoned Attacks. Anything that already has Poisoned Attacks will instead poison things on a 5+ instead of on 6s. The spell is cast on an 8+ and has no boosted version.

I'll be honest with you – I don't think this spell will see all that much use. Unless you're using a lot of Marauders or something, Chaos armies to tend to readily sprout zillions of attacks at Strength 5 or more. Frequently enemy armies will contain nothing tough enough that you actually need to grant one of your units Poisoned Attacks. More often than not, I would expect to see Blades of Putrefaction cast not for its effects, but because the Daemon Prince or Sorcerer Lord is looking for a cheap spell to further boost his resilience through Bloated with Disease. There might be the odd time when you want your Warriors to cut through an enemy monster a little quicker, but by and large this is not where your power dice would normally go.

The next spell is Curse of the Leper. It's a spell with incredible potential to affect the outcome of a game. It can be used either as a hex or an augment, depending upon whether you want to target your own unit or an enemy one. When cast as an augment, it adds D3 Toughness to the target for one full turn. Cast as a hex, it subtracts D3 from the target's Toughness for a full turn. The spell has a range of 18” when cast on a 10+, and 36” if boosted to a 13+.

A single spell with the flexibility to either boost one of your units or cripple an enemy one, and with a statistic as important as Toughness, is very unusual. It's effectively 2 spells in one. With a good roll you can make a unit or monster practically invincible, or you can drop an enemy to the point where things such as moderate breath weapons (or heaven forbid, Rancid Visitations or Plague Wind) will all but wipe them out. I can't imagine a player not choosing Curse of the Leper if given the choice – it's incredibly powerful.

Rancid Visitations is an 18” magic missile, cast on a 10+. The target takes D6 Strength 5 hits, and then another D6 hits each time it fails a Toughness test. So basically, if you fail enough tests in a row, the unit is gone. As with many things, the effectiveness of this spell will depend on the target. Against a unit with Toughness 3, the spell could do significant damage. Against anything with Toughness 4 or more, you might get lucky and get 2D6 hits, but really you're only expecting 1D6 (which would make it an expensive magic missile). If you've managed to get off Curse of the Leper on the target, the damage could be catastrophic.

Next we have Fleshy Abundance, which is an augment spell that is cast on 11+, with a range of 18”. Alternately you can boost the spell to affect all friendly units within 18”, but that doubles the cost to 22+. The spell lasts for one full turn and grants Regeneration(5+) to affected units. If a target already has Regeneration, the spell improves it by +1, to a maximum of 2+.

Throgg and his friends like the idea of 3+ regeneration...
This spell costs a lot for a reason, the boosted version in particular. Granting an effective 5+ ward save (provided the enemy doesn't go past with Flaming Attacks or Killing Blow) to a unit is good. To have the option to upgrade Chaos Trolls or Chimeras to 3+ Regeneration is ridiculously so. The effect the boosted version of the spell could have on an army built around Throgg and a Core section of Trolls is more than a little scary. In general, the boosted version of the spell is amazing. There are few spells with a boosted version that reaches more than 12” away, as anything more than that has the potential to affect an entire army. Fleshy Abundance is such a spell. Unless your enemy has a lot of Flaming Attacks, this spell has the ability to swing a whole set of combats in your favour, all at the same time.

The final spell in the Lore of Nurgle is Plague Wind. It's a magical vortex that travels a distance equal to the roll of an artillery dice times the caster's level (so up to 40” for a Level 4 caster). As usual, a misfire ends up planting it on the caster's head and moving it from there. Models touched by the template take a Toughness test or suffer a wound with no armour saves. The spell uses the small template on a 15+, or the large template on a 25+.

Plague Wind is the sort of spell that can do a lot of damage to most armies, and can absolutely brutalise some in particular. Unlike spells of this type that work on Initiative, you will rarely find anything worthwhile with a Toughness worse than 3 (sorry Skinks, but you don't make the cut). On the flip side, you also don't find many decent units with a Toughness greater than 4. This means that you should never wound more than about half the models you touch, but it also means that you should always be looking at getting about a 1 in 3, even against enemies with good Toughness. It makes the spell consistently useful, without doing anything truly demoralising to certain targets (unless you were mean and cast Curse of the Leper first, or just roll like some sort of sinister dice god). Of course, I say that you shouldn't do anything too demoralising, but if you're hitting several units and killing half the models in each, it's fair to say your opponent may be giving the game up as lost.

As an aside, the most powerful and terrifying spell of this kind is Purple Sun of Xereus in the Lore of Death. It seems to be a recurring theme that the magical vortices in 8th edition army books are less dangerous, almost as though GW realised it was too powerful and toned all the subsequent ones down. No other vortex kills multi-wound models outright if they fail their tests, although they tend to cost much the same to cast. That to me is a sign that they went overboard and are deliberately keeping a lid on newer spells of the same type. If this is really the case, and they are wishing they could take back Purple Sun, they should really just change the thing in an Errata and be done with it. As it is, the situation doesn't feel balanced.

How will it be used?
So that's it for the Lore of Nurgle. Is it worthwhile? I would think that it definitely is. Like most Lores, it has a few underwhelming spells. The worst of these is Blades of Putrefaction, but Stream of Corruption is not the best Signature Spell we've ever seen either. On the other hand, the other spells range from useful to very powerful – and that is a very good ratio.

When you consider that the Lore Attribute that seems custom-made for Daemon Princes, and that they are one of the few things quick enough to really make use of Stream of Corruption, I think that the Lore of Nurgle would have to be the most powerful choice for the big guys. Most of the spells can be cast whilst in combat (where Daemon Princes like to be), which further reinforces this.

Sorcerer Lords will be less excited by the Lore Attribute, as they're probably less exposed than Daemon Princes to begin with. That said, they're not soft targets at the best of times, and the odd boost would go a long way to making them too hard for most opponents to bring down. Of course, the Lore of Nurgle also offers a pretty formidable array of spells, so that alone may swing things in its favour.

I do think, however, that we won't see many lowly Sorcerers using the Lore. The Signature Spell really doesn't suit their situation, and the Lore Attribute will be little more than an amusement to the player on relatively unimportant characters such as these. 

You can read about more Lores of Magic here.


  1. Lore Attribute for Warrior's is OP for festus, place him in a unit of.. 23 CW/ with additional hand weapons M/Champ/Ban. hang back pop off them spells if u get lucky n end up with 1 or even 2 extra T/W by the end, well between the start and laying low using magic, charging in and just killing. I have another 23 CW/ with shield's and an Level 4 Sorc Lord m/c/b poping spell but mor agreesive to start then fetus group. Chaos knight's 10 of them Blarstard Banner with Mark of Nurgle m/c/b enscrolled weapons shields....they are going to hold there own and just Kill/Hold/Kill. and then a vortex beastly lol to cast some much need spells. Love your Work iv learn't alot about the lores and use's from ur teaching's. Well Done

  2. Yep, tried the lore with a flying Nurgle Daemon prince sorcerer at lv 4 and it caused quite a massacre! Curse of the leper has to be my favorite here but the signature spell also was a unit killer!!! I got in on some dark elves archers in their flank and released it to see practically the whole unit gone ( they got curse of the leper first off course, lol)
    The lore attribute got me up 4T/W by the end of the game too
    I never would've dreamt of using such tactics in my game without reading your stuff, so thanks a lot!

    1. I'm glad it was useful. Those poor Dark Elves...

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