The next post in this ongoing series is for the Nurgle Daemon Engines in the Lost and the Damned list – the Plague Tower and the Contagion Engines. Nurgle in EPIC continues the same kind of game themes seen in 40k – resilience, decent FF and CC capabilities, slow speed – but also adds in a flavour of cover ignoring barrages and anti-infantry firepower to expand Nurgle’s role a little bit.
The Lost and the Damned list has two options for Nurgle Daemon Engines – either the artillery type Contagion Engines or the larger Plague Tower war engine. Unlike the Lord of Battles / Lord of Skulls, neither of these have made their way over to mainstream 40k, although there have been a number of very cool Plague Tower conversions.
Contagion Engines: Contagion Engines are big catapults that throw gobs of nurgle-y stuff at the enemy – pretty straight forward! Stat-wise, the Engines are a formation of four for 325pts (the same price as a Basilisk formation, discussed here) and are an armoured vehicle with 15cm move, 5+ Armour, 5+ CC, and 5+ FF. This makes them slightly slower than the comparable Basilisks, but with a better CC score. Both pretty much irrelevant stats when it comes to artillery pieces! Weapon-wise, the Contagion has an indirect firing 45cm 1BP weapon with Disrupt, and a 30cm AP4+/AT6+ weapon with Disrupt. This means that the formation can throw out two templates with Disrupt to a range of 90cm, along with some token short range firepower, making the additional blast markers give by Disrupt a trade off for the Basilisks increased range.
Plague Tower: Next up is the Plague Tower, a filth-filled monstrosity that unleashes barrages of slime across the battlefield while transporting the followers of Nurgle. Being a DC6 war engine, the Plague Tower is the equal biggest thing in the Lost and the Damned with the Lord of Battles, and with its 4+ Reinforced Armour save and Invulnerable Save it is equally resilient – although like the Lord of Battles it also lacks any kind of Void shielding, making it more susceptible to anti-titan weaponry than comparable war engines from other armies. Coming in a formation of 1-3 Plague Towers at 325pts each, they are not cheap (a formation of three being a whopping 975pts!) but each individual Tower is roughly equivalent to either the Contagion Engine formation, or the Traitor Artillery Battery formation. They also fill kind of the same role as these two other formations, with one interesting tactical addition, with their armament being broadly in the same category – a 60cm 3+D3BP Disrupt Plague Mortar (note no Indirect Fire, which seems strange for a mortar…), two 75cm AP/AT 4+ Battlecannons, and one 90cm AP3+/AT5+ Ignore Cover Rot Cannon. This gives them comparable to better levels of firepower to the two alternative formations (3+D3BP vs. 4BP, plus all the long range secondary weapons), while also being much more resilient and approaching decent in FF and CC.
The other interesting aspect of the Plague Tower is that each one has a transport capacity of 16 stands – meaning, as it is a war engine, that it can transport units outside of its formation. This means that you can easily load up each Plague Tower with a Cultist Coven, keeping them safe behind the 4+ Reinforced Armour save. However, while this might give you the idea of using them like heretic Gorgons, the 15cm move of the Plague Tower gives them no extra mobility over being on foot. For this reason, I think the best use of a Plague Tower is probably as a replacement for either a Contagion Engine or Traitor Artillery formation. While the range on their barrage may be shorter, it is on a far more reliable platform and produces more firepower than either of the alternatives.
In the context of the wider list, I just don’t see a place for the Contagion Engine as it seems to be outclassed by the Basilisk on range, and by the Plague Tower on firepower and survivability. While Disrupt is undoubtedly nice, I am not sure it makes up for the shorter range and relative fragility of the formation. The Plague Tower, however, seems to me to be a good alternative to an Artillery or Contagion Engine formation and seems to have two or three worthwhile roles. The first is as a straight forward artillery piece – 3+D3BP is more barrage firepower than either of the alternative for the same price, without including any of the shots from the Battlecannons and Rot Cannon. 60cm range might be a bit painful, but the second use of plonking a cheap Cultist Coven in it and moving it up in the first turn onto an objective to sit their protecting it makes this less of an issue. Thirdly, perhaps in combination with some faster mechanised covens, the Plague Tower could be used to grind forward transporting a CC orientated Coven (an additional 3 Big Mutants, or 2 Big Mutants and a Daemon Prince), to put pressure on the opponent and unload the Coven in an assault. Still the 15cm move of the Tower makes this tricky to make work, and I think either of the other two options is probably a better bet.
Next up Tzeentch Daemon Engines!