A question was posed to me recently – ‘what’s your favourite unit ever in the game?’ and I answered instantly, without any hesitation or delay; ‘Nurglings’. Always Nurglings. From their look to their fluff to how they operate on the battlefield, these little monsters are at the top of the tree for me and as I rather fancy updating this blog today, I shall now tell you why.
Fluffy and Slimy
We operate, as participants in the narrative of the 41st Millennium, in a universe that is decidedly ‘Grimdark’. From the sinister ranks of the Inquisition to the military might of the Space Marines and Astra Militarum. From the Green menace ravaging world after world to the slow, drawn out death of the Eldar. From plotting heretics to the denizens of Commorragh who delight in pain, it can all get a bit much, even when it’s also a bit awesome. Daemons too are, in general terrifying, including many of Nurgle’s scions, but there are one or two children of the Lord of Decay that make life a little happier. The grandfatherly figure of the Great Unclean One, though disgusting, still smiles a friendly smile, and the Beasts bound around boisterously like big, slobbery, slime-covered dogs. For me though, Nurglings are the real charmers of the far far future.
Born in rather revolting circumstances – either bursting from boils or guts – they have a clownish outlook on life. They adore their hosts as children do their grandfathers, and prefer an existence filled with gambolling, giggling and silliness in Nurgle’s garden. The fluff says that they’re usually only prompted into attack when something threatens the ones they love, and I like that. It givers these little rotters a strange sort of nobility that not many other units in the game possess. They are prat-falling, protective pests, and that’s just great.
Indeed, in a galaxy where so many are quick to the fight, it’s refreshing to have these loyal, grinning little gits around. They add some comic relief and also a viable tactical option (but more on that later) to any daemonic incursion.
Gribble, Slobber and Puke
I imagine the above words would be the names of Nurglings, based on the way they look. They’ve gone through an interesting evolution in terms of the minis that GW has produced over the years. Though once they were an eclectic collection of lead/white metal shapes with tiny distended guts and ghoulish faces (see the image at the top of this post), when they were released in plastic, they changed for the better. Initially, I wasn’t a fan, but, like the Nurgling itself, festering in the belly of a Great Unclean One, they have grown on me. They are impish, silly and almost cute, and yet they are still disgusting, bloated, bilious and covered in boils – true children of Grandfather Nurgle.
It’s a testament to GW’s sculptors and designers that they’ve taken what was very much an old style of swarm and turned it into a taller model with real presence and the feeling that they’re scrambling over each other to get to their enemy. Kudos to the team for those changes.
Down and Dirty
What with all the silliness and gribbliness, it’s sometimes easy to forget that these fellas are actually exceptionally useful from a tactical perspective. Ok, so they’re a daemon with a daemon’s Invun save, and a relatively low toughness value, especially for a follower of Nurgle. However, they have loads of wounds and lots of attacks too which, though they’ll struggle to bring down particularly tough opposition, the sheer weight of attacks can make them a real nightmare for your opponents.
These guys pretty much own the ‘tar pit’ tactic and in units of six, they can tie up an elite opposition unit for a turn or two at least. It may not sound like much, but a player hoping that their Banshees or TH/SS Termies can take out something big and important will get incredibly frustrated trying to wade through a mess of Nurglings. And the wee daemons’ ability to deep strike into the field means you can get them up close to your opposition’s key units and weather plenty of damage while they’re waiting to charge in.
These little guys won’t win you games on their own, but they’ll help your bigger, scarier units to do just that. They’re cheap as chips too, costing not much more than some pieces of wargear in other codices. From a tactical standpoint, if you’re planning on taking a mono-Nurgle list or a blended list, you want a blob of these guys in your ranks. Yes, there are more impressive units out there and in a completely ‘optimised’ list you probably won’t see them, but they’ll be heaps of fun and, if used correctly, they can be proper game-changers too.
Nurglings make me smile. While the nightmare of the grim, dark, grimdark future happens all around them, they smile and cheerfully get on with trying to eviscerate things much larger than they are. I’m painting up a batch now and, though they’re taking a little longer than I thought they would, watch this space – they’ll be here soon. Oh, but above is one of my lil’ ones, recently hatched from a nightmarish blight drone. Charming.