In this installment, we’re going to discuss the Chaos cards and Upgrades available to the Lord of Decay, and then some final pointers on how to make every game a pandemic.
A Great Foul Consumption: Sticking to my “alphabetical order” agenda has stabbed me in the back, as I’m leading in with one of the more confusing cards in Nurgle’s arsenal. First, what it does: At the end of the corruption phase, after corruption tokens have been placed but before checking for ruination, remove all of your figures from this region. Place a corruption token here for every two units removed this way. Pretty wordy card. The short version is that it gives you a burst of extra corruption at the cost of killing all of your dudes in the affected region. At first, you may ask “why would I do this?” but the truth is, that cost is a moot point if you’re playing it correctly. The best use (and the only reasonable one, in my estimation) for this card is to play it on the turn the place is going down, which would render your figures there pointless anyway. You’re going to have to pay to move them again, so you might as well milk them a little on the way out. This kinda lets your Plaguebearers drop corruption too, which takes further advantage of one of Nurgle’s strengths in that he can swarm the board with cheap figures. You want to use this where there’s some question as to whether or not you’re going to score Top Ruiner to put you over the top, but you most certainly do NOT want it to be the first slot. Nurgle is already a powerhouse in point gains without tricks like these to muscle out the other players. Playing this with an open slot still available is simply begging Tzeentch to cancel it, or worse, for Khorne to drop a Battle Cry, which he may already be considering if the region is that close to ruination anyway. This is a second slot or not at all card that is kinda tricky to play. It has the potential to swing big points, so it’s a powerful card to be sure, but it takes some finesse to pull off properly. Additionally, depending on what your opponents are doing its value may go down some. If Tzeentch and Slaanesh are not competing for top spot in your areas of interest, then it’s not going to swing much of anything. That doesn’t completely remove its usefulness as a card though. You can still drop a few Cultists in a place that’s going to go down that you didn’t really have much to do with and between their own tokens and a few more squeezed out of this, it’s not unreasonable that you can score 2nd Ruiner in a place that you barely put any effort into. Not too shabby.
All Things Decay is a flexible card, but not an terribly effective one. At the cost of one Power, it allows you to remove one corruption token belonging to any player from this region when the card is played. There are only a few windows of opportunity to play this card. A. That jerk Slaanesh has played a Perverse Infiltration to sneak in a single Corruption token that could potentially give him 2nd place Ruiner points. For one lousy token. What a slap in the face. Slap back by kicking this freeloader off the point train. B. You’re in a hotly contested Region and the removal of a single token could mean the difference between Top Ruiner and 2nd, or 2nd and not. This does actually happen from time to time, but anywhere you have a collection of different Cultists fighting over a juicy region, you can pretty much count on that drunk asshole Khorne showing up and getting belligerent. C. You’re crunching numbers and you realize that the removal of a single token could delay Ruination for a turn and let you score an extra round of Domination. That’s about it. While these can be useful, 1 Power is a bit of a steep price to pay.
Influenza: Solidly good card further exploiting one of The Nurg’s strengths. It reduces the resistance of the affected Region by 2 for the turn. Adding the cost of 1 Power, this is a dominating dynamo. Be careful though, other players can benefit from the reduced Resistance, so if there’s a flu outbreak, don’t be shocked if some other people show up to the “relief effort” This can also be used with other high power cost Chaos cards to dominate a region without actually having a physical presence there. Which may sound like a novelty, but any time you can score points and completely eliminate the Khorne tax for doing so is a good thing.
Plague Aura: Now you’re playing with Power. First, you get 4 of them. You don’t draw extra cards, so you’re never guaranteed anything, but 4 is the most you get of any card, so you want your good ones to be the ones you get the most of. Second, it’s free. Boom. Good for stall, good for efficiency, and we haven’t even talked about what it does yet, which is super sweet. Each of your corruption tokens in this region adds one to your domination value in this region. If you don’t immediately understand why this is one of Nurgle’s best cards, you are completely beyond my reach. It’s free, and if played right, gives you a damn near auto-Dominate on the place you play it. Domination of course, being a slow, solid, steady honey-like flow of Victory Points. It also allows you to get these Domination points without the heavy concentration of dudes, so Khorne isn’t as likely to come breathing down your neck. I mean, he will anyway, but this isn’t going to draw undue attention to you. Except from Tzeentch, who will be attracted by the Magic Symbol on Plague Aura and might throw a wrench into your plans by means of Change of Ways, which would not only stymie you a bit, but give him an opportunity to score on the Threat Dial on account of there being 2 Magic Symbols. Hopefully he prefers to save his Change of Ways for more crucial things that impact him directly, but this is something that could (and I’m sure at some point will) happen.
Plague Touch: Ooooh, another Plague card! It’s gotta be good! Oh wait. It reduces the defense value of each enemy figure in the region by 1, to a minimum of one. The most likely interaction you’re going to have with the defense values of enemy figures is Khorne. Who already has flimsy 1 defense units. How you say…womp womp? So, failing that, if Slaanesh and Tzeentch are dropping Warriors into your territory (a battle of attrition they can’t possibly win) then it makes it a little easier for your Plaguebearers to push them around. That’s a very specific situation and moreover, not a very common one. The good news is, it’s free. You’re not paying for this, you’re sucking up a slot somewhere and delaying an action that’s actually important to you, which are not things you want to overlook. And truth told, there is another use for it, but the effectiveness of said use is questionable at best. Slaanesh will likely upgrade his Seductresses early, which gives them a 2 Defense. This upgrade gives Khorne a sadface. You can temporarily disable this upgrade and bring them back down to regular Cultist life expectancy, which should delight Khorne to the point of charging into Slaanesh’s current sex palace to crack some skulls. Which I find is fairly delicious payback for when he hit you with that Perverse Infiltration earlier.
Rain of Pus. Ah, let the name and accompanying mental image of that card title sink in for a moment. This is a solidly strong card, and one of Nurgle’s relatively rare defense options. For 1 Power, it increases the defense value of each of your figures in this region by 1. This card allows you to pile on your cheap figures with impunity for sweet sweet Domination and Ruination points while Khorne sits there and watches it happen. This is Nurgle’s version of Field of Ecstasy and you’re going to wish you had more of it than you do. There are 3 in the deck, and you have no card draw, so don’t waste it by playing it before there is reason to.
The Final Rotting: Final is right. This little time bomb costs 2 Power and at the end of the Battle Phase (which you are reminded happens BEFORE the Corruption Phase) you kill one enemy Cultist or Warrior in this region for each of your corruption tokens here. So it’s definitely not a first turn card, but once you’ve set up camp, there’s no better deterrent for other players to avoid that space. Khorne may want to find someone to kill that will not guarantee his own death in the process. Slaanesh may suddenly not be all that interested in the Noble in your turf. It doesn’t even have a Magic Symbol for Tzeentch to come sniffing around for. What it does have is the promise of death for anyone who is trying to piggyback on what is yours.
The Stench of Death: Oof. 3 Power cost. That’s a Great Unclean One. That’s half a turn’s worth of power in a single action. And it has a Magic Symbol for Tzeentch. Ugh. What does it even do for that cost? If you dominate this region, place two corruption tokens here. Uh…well, okay. That’s not terrible, but man what a cost. This card’s strengths, expensive as they are, are playing them as a combo to Influenza or Plague Aura, which can give you Domination without the necessity of presence. Which is cool, but this is a very costly way to accomplish this. Skaven tokens can be the spoonful of sugar that helps this medicine go down. In the end, there are uses for it, it can allow you to sneak in domination in places where you would normally get murderized, but you’re pretty much always getting a better return on your investment by playing your dudes, who are your bread and butter. If you’ve played all of your dudes already, this isn’t such a bad option.
Onto Upgrades! Or more appropriately, Upgrade!
I’m not going to bother with alphabetizing these, because there’s only one that warrants discussion. If you’re trying to win with Nurgle, that is. I’ll talk about all of them, some of them are even neat and make you think they would be fun to play with. You might even be right. But none of them should ever eclipse Provender of Ruin if you’re serious about winning with Nurgle.
Provender of Ruin – You score 3 Victory Points each time a region is ruined. BOOSH. Is it exciting? No. Is it neat and flavorful? Not at all. Is it the single best upgrade in the game across any of the Ruinous Powers? Oh hellllllll yeah. This is the one reason for Nurgle to rush the dial. The sooner you get this upgrade, the more valuable it is. Potentially worth 15 Victory Points (!!!). Even if you only pull 6-9 out of it, it’s highly possible that that’s what pushes you into the winner’s circle before someone else wins on the dial. Step 1. Corrupt Populous regions. Step 2. Acquire Provender of Ruin. Step 3. Profit. It’s really that simple. Don’t think that Provender of Ruin is a free win, you still have to work hard for it, but this is key to a successful Nurgle strategy against experienced players and that’s what you’re here for, right? That, and the clever quips. Or Healthy Gamer pieces. Or Clever Monkey Games announcements. Or maybe you go and look at the pics of our writers and imagine us shirtless under a waterfall. Just me? Huh.
Here’s some other “Upgrades” you may see from time to time.
Power of Pestilence – Gives you +1 Power. Not terrible. I don’t generally run into a lot of Power shortage issues with Nurgle, but more power is more options. Not nearly as effective as Khorne’s upgrade which does the same thing. Onto unit upgrades!
Lepers – I think it’s a universal truth that the Cultist upgrades are all pretty strong, and Nurgle is no exception. It’s a shame that this upgrade can’t compete with Provender of Ruin, ’cause it looks pretty solid on paper. It allows you to summon a Leper into a region where you don’t have any other figures at 0 cost. Each Leper can only be summoned that way once per turn (although I’ve never seen that “restriction” be an issue…but maybe that’s because I’ve never seen this upgrade see play). Theoretically, this can be an irritation to the other players, and give you access to other regions while also acting as a stall with a multiple use 0 cost action. Here’s the problem. How does that help you in your bigger picture? You’re already in the regions you need to be in most. You might be able to extend into that other Populous region that you haven’t spread yourself to yet at no cost, but how can that in any way, shape or form compete with Provender of Ruin? You only get 1 free Cultist per region and that lone figure is easy pickings for Khorne or even the warriors of Slaanesh and Tzeentch. Feel free to try to prove me wrong, and by all means, if you do, I want to hear all about it. I just can’t imagine a situation where I’m trying to play to Nurgle’s strengths and Provender of Ruin is not the optimal choice.
Plaguebearers– When an an opponent kills one of your Plaguebearers in battle, inflict one hit on any figure in the same region belonging to that opponent. Every god has at least one upgrade that’s total garbage, and this is Nurgle’s. So when your Warriors get poked, they explode into virulent gore that takes something with them. Someone explain to me how this is worth one of the two (if you’re lucky) upgrade slots Nurgle may see in a game. Your Cultists are the preferred targets, not your Warriors. Taking this upgrade reinforces already solid choices for your opponents. This makes it more of an upgrade for them than it is for you. Choose at your own risk, dummy.
Great Unclean One – This is another one that almost looks tempting. Whenever the Great Unclean One is summoned, he drops 2 Corruption Tokens. That’s a Threat Dial counter. If there was a Nurgle Dial strategy, this would probably be a big piece of it. It’s fun to think about as an unlockable accomplishment. Claiming a Nurgle Dial win probably says more about your opponents than it does about your skill though. It can be helpful if you’re desperate to drop some corruption tokens, but 3 Power for 2 Corruption tokens isn’t good math. Especially if that cost you Provender of Ruin.
So that does it for Nurgle’s Chaos cards and Upgrades. Here are a few closing statements on how to infect the realm with Boogie Fever.
Nurgle is the indisputable King of Points. Khorne is King of Punching. Slaanesh and Tzeentch are both switch hitters. Don’t play their game. Know your strengths and play to them. This means you care about Victory Points, and the acquisition thereof by Domination and Ruination. You have the tools to do that.
Again, Nurgle is the Points guy. Don’t focus on the dial. If you’re doing it right, you should get 1 safe Dial spin per round, which should get you to Provender of Ruin in a reasonably timely fashion. Fighting over the dial will likely cost you point scoring opportunities and with the longest dial, this is a losing proposition for you.
Again, NURGLE IS THE POINTS GUY. Spread the love. If you’re firing on all cylinders, there should rarely be a region that collapses without you scoring on it somehow, and more often than not, in a good position. Also, holing up too hard in one place consistently begs Khorne to come and paint the walls with your brains. You can do it every now and again hiding under a Rain of Pus or The Final Rotting, but most times you should have your fingers in a couple of different pies.
Khorne happens. He’s going to start in the high value areas that you want. Don’t egg him on by contesting him off the bat unless you have money riding on a Khorne dial victory. Set up camp in one of the other good regions. and bide your time. When he moves into you, you can move where he was. You can’t just run from him forever, but you can make him remember that he has 2 other fish to fry and a whole world to fry them in.
Speaking of those other fish, don’t overlook them. Tzeentch and Slaanesh both are every bit as capable of winning by VP as you are. They’re certainly not as good at it, but they’re no slouches. If your game isn’t tight, they can and will overtake you and have shorter dials to boot. Khorne may be your biggest problem (he’s everyone’s biggest problem) but you can throw them off balance pretty easily. Toss a cheap Warrior into their camp and make them fuss over the non-Khorne battles that are now happening there. They don’t want to blow their good defense cards on something that isn’t the Crimson Tide so they might just have to suck it up and have you plink off some guys which may cost them dial counters or make Domination just that little bit more difficult. It’s the little things that give us the most pleasure.
Like Khorne, don’t get tied up in a grudge match. You have the tools to push people away from you, but don’t go looking for fights. That’s Khorne’s job. Once you make someone feel picked on, they may make it their goal to antagonize you, which will make winning a lot more difficult and likely give the game to one of the others not involved in your ill-fated Hatfield and McCoy blood feud.
Learn to mind the timing on Dominations and Ruinations. Make sure that when places collapse, they’re doing so at a time that benefits you most. You have the best equipment to manipulate when that happens. Milk as much Domination as you can safely before letting a place go up in biohazardous flames.
That’s it for Grandfather Nurgle. Heed my advice and you should do pretty well with him. Alternately, feel free to sound off and tell me how wrong I am.
Next time: Tzneaking with Tzeentch.