Chaos Knights (Abaddon and Dogs) vs. Deathguard – Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report

I’m a die hard 2 Titanic 7 War Dog player, and I’ve had good success with that build for most of the last six months.

As the holidays approach though, it’s time to think about what I’m practicing for a couple of upcoming GTs in early 2023, and with that I decided to spend the time converting three more War Dogs so that I could try out the Abaddon list that has taken the internet by storm.

My version is a little different than most that I’ve seen floating around.

++ Super-Heavy Detachment -3CP (Chaos – Chaos Knights) [83 PL, 1,525pts, 2CP] ++

+ Lord of War [92 PL, 1,700 pts, -1CP] +

War Dog Brigand Squadron [24 PL, 465pts]: Iconoclast Dreadblade, Worthy Offerings
. War Dog Brigand [8 PL, 155pts]: Avenger chaincannon, Daemonbreath spear, Diabolus heavy stubber
. War Dog Brigand [8 PL, 155pts]: Avenger chaincannon, Daemonbreath spear, Diabolus heavy stubber
. War Dog Brigand [8 PL, 155pts]: Avenger chaincannon, Daemonbreath spear, Diabolus heavy stubber

War Dog Executioner Squadron [9 PL, 170pts]: Iconoclast Dreadblade, Precision Cruelty
. War Dog Executioner [9 PL, 170pts]: Diabolus heavy stubber, Tzeentch – Mirror of Fates [1 PL, 15pts], 2x War Dog autocannon

War Dog Karnivore Squadron [25 PL, 440pts, -1CP]: House Herpetrax
. War Dog Karnivore [9 PL, 160pts, -1CP]: Character (Traitoris Lance), Diabolus heavy stubber, Helm of Dogs, Reaper chaintalon, Slaanesh – Beguiling Majesty [1 PL, 20pts], Slaughterclaw, Stratagem: Relic [-1CP]
. War Dog Karnivore [8 PL, 140pts]: Diabolus heavy stubber, Reaper chaintalon, Slaughterclaw
. War Dog Karnivore [8 PL, 140pts]: Diabolus heavy stubber, Reaper chaintalon, Slaughterclaw

War Dog Stalker Squadron [25 PL, 450pts]: House Herpetrax
. War Dog Stalker [9 PL, 160pts]: Daemonbreath spear, Diabolus heavy stubber, Khorne – Collar of Infernal Brass [1 PL, 15pts], Reaper Chaintalon
. War Dog Stalker [8 PL, 145pts]: Daemonbreath spear, Diabolus heavy stubber, Reaper Chaintalon
. War Dog Stalker [8 PL, 145pts]: Daemonbreath spear, Diabolus heavy stubber, Slaughterclaw

War Dog Executioner Squadron [9 PL, 175pts]: Bold Tyrants, Iconoclast Dreadblade
. War Dog Executioner [9 PL, 175pts]: Daemonbreath meltagun [5pts], Undivided – Warp-borne Stalker [1 PL, 15pts], 2x War Dog autocannon

++ Supreme Command Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [15 PL, 300pts, -1CP] ++

Legion: Black Legion

+ Primarch | Daemon Primarch | Supreme Commander [15 PL, 300pts, -1CP] +

Abaddon the Despoiler [15 PL, 300pts, -1CP]: 3. Merciless Overseer, 5. Eternal Vendetta, 6. Paragon of Hatred, Drach’nyen, Stratagem: Warlord Trait [-1CP], Talon of Horus, Warlord

++ Total: [107 PL, 1CP, 2,000pts] ++

The notable points about my list that I think are slightly unique are the Brigands, specifically putting them into Worthy Offerings over something like Bold Tyrants or Precision Cruelty which is what I’ve most commonly seen.

The other piece of my list that I’m probably just stuck on for life is the double Executioner build – these guys have been staples of my list since I first put them on the table a few months back – and the Chaintalons on the Stalkers. I’ll admit I’m mostly doing this because those particular models were part of my first batch of War Dog conversions and I didn’t magnetize the tails, but I’ve been actually really liking the very high AP on the charge.

For this game I was playing into Death Guard!

++ Battalion Detachment++
Plague Company

+ HQ +

Malignant Plaguecaster [5 PL, 90pts]: 1. Miasma of Pestilence, 4. Putrescent Vitality Typhus [9 PL, 165pts]

+ Troops +

Plague Marines [12 PL, 210pts] .
-Plague Champion: Plague knife, Plasma gun
-2x Plague Marine w/ blight launcher: 2x Blight grenades, 2x Blight launcher, 2x Krak grenades, 2x Plague knife
-2x Plague Marine w/ cleaver: 2x Blight grenades, 2x Great plague cleaver, 2x Krak grenades, 2x Plague knife
-2x Plague Marine w/ flail: 2x Blight grenades, 2x Flail of corruption, 2x Krak grenades, 2x Plague knife
– Plague Marine w/ mace and axe
– Plague Marine w/ special weapon: Meltagun
– Plague Marine w/ special weapon: Meltagun

Plague Marines [6 PL, 105pts] .
– Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Power fist
– Plague Marine w/ blight launcher
– Plague Marine w/ cleaver
– Plague Marine w/ flail
– Plague Marine w/ special weapon: Meltagun

Plague Marines [6 PL, 105pts] .
– Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Power fist
– Plague Marine w/ blight launcher
– Plague Marine w/ cleaver
– Plague Marine w/ flail
– Plague Marine w/ special weapon: Meltagun

Poxwalkers [3 PL, 50pts] . 10x Poxwalker: 10x Improvised weapon

+ Elites +

Deathshroud Terminators [9 PL, 150pts, -1CP] . Deathshroud Champion: Champion of Disease, 2x Plaguespurt gauntlet . 2x Deathshroud Terminator: 2x Manreaper, 2x Plaguespurt gauntlet

Foul Blightspawn [6 PL, 95pts, -1CP]: Revolting Stench-vats, Stratagem: Relic, Viscous Death
Tallyman [4 PL, 70pts]

+ Fast Attack +

Foetid Bloat-drone [7 PL, 120pts]: Fleshmower

+ Heavy Support +

Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 145pts]: 2x Entropy cannon, Heavy slugger

Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 145pts]: 2x Entropy cannon, Heavy slugger

+ Dedicated Transport +

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 85pts]: Havoc launcher

++ Supreme Command Detachment +3CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [25 PL, 450pts, 2CP] ++
+ Primarch | Daemon Primarch | Supreme Commander +

Mortarion [25 PL, 450pts, -1CP]: 1. Miasma of Pestilence, 1. Revoltingly Resilient, 2. Gift of Contagion, 2. Living Plague, 4. Arch-Contaminator, 4. Putrescent Vitality, Gloaming Bloat, Stratagem: Warlord Trait, Warlord

++ Total: [112 PL, 3CP, 2,000pts] ++

I’ve played into this list a few times now, and it was actually giving my 2/7 build a fair amount of difficulty (I’ve got a couple battle reports that got lost to time due to bad picture taking). My shooting largely bounces off the -1 to hit Mortarion, which is a bit of a problem, and the Desecrator in my other list averages something like 5 to 8 damage in combat with the big guy so finishing him off that was is extremely unreliable. I’ve lost the last two games I’ve played into this matchup due to a combination of bad placement (giving up 2 Karnivores in a turn to Mortarion) and good tactical acumen on my opponents’ part.

I won the roll off and opted to place terrain first. The scenario we were playing is Data Scry-Salvage, a scenario that the 2/7 build has traditionally hated. This scenario gives you extra primary points for performing an action on your “home” objective which gives you points equal to the number of objectives you control in No Man’s Land at the end of the turn, and Knights just can’t afford that loss of efficiency.

This scenario also has “sticky” objectives, meaning that if you control an objective with an Objective Secured model, you can move off of it and keep it under your control until the opponent takes it over.

I took Grind Them Down, Ruthless Tyranny and Storm of Darkness for my secondaries. Chris took Spread the Sickness, Warp Ritual, and Bring it Down.

I deployed with all of my Brigands on the top left and the Karnivores on the bottom right. I opted to deep strike my Executioner. My thinking here was that I could send the Karnivores to the right and Abaddon to the left where he wants to be providing re-roll 1s to the Brigands anyway.

Chris put his Rhino with the large number of Plague Marines inside of it up north with another small unit of Plagues, and then hid his Plagueburst Crawlers behind a house because he knows I hate them and will kill them at all costs if I can. His bottom right side is his Deathshroud with Typhus, another unit of Plague Marines, and the Bloat Drone which is the model in his list I actually hate fighting the most.

Chris won the roll off, and we went off to the races.

Round 1:

Death Guard

His army rolls up with some spicy advance rolls (Chris turn 1 advance rolls with Death Guard average somewhere between 4 and 5 with remarkable consistency, it’s an inside joke between the two of us) which puts him on 3 objectives. He pops his big unit of Plague Marines out of the Rhino so that they can perform Spread the Sickness on the second from the top objective. His Tallyman performs the mission Action.

During the Psychic Phase, Warp Ritual successfully completes, and nothing else of consequence happens.

The shooting phase sees my War Dogs weather the Plagueburst Crawlers guns reasonably well. I was surprised at how few targets he had, as almost my entire list was hiding behind obscuring terrain. No joke, this feels a bit like cheating after my entire 40k career using Titanic models.

Chaos Knights:

CP were dispensed, and we slipped peacefully into the movement phase.

I had good prospects to take most of the zones, or at least enough to limit primary scoring to four only here.

The Brigands all scootched up the field on the left side, and the wounded Stalker moved up to take over the second from the top zone.

On the bottom, I snuck a Karnivore into the center right zone, and I moved the red Stalker in the middle, took this picture, and then went “wait I want him central to make the Warp Ritual harder” so I scooted him up to the tower.

My shooting phase was fairly anemic, and I barely managed to kill anything. I dropped four Plague Marines out of the little unit at the top, and whiffed a bunch on the Plagueburst behind the tower, bracketing it but leaving it alive.

My charge phase saw me make entirely points focused choices, with the damaged Stalker up top charging into the single remaining Plague Marine from the small unit, and the Karnivore opting to try for the risky charge into the bottom right zone, making it, and killing all but one Plague Marine there too. The red Stalker charged into the Rhino and bounced off a bit.

I played Abaddon way too cautiously here, he should have been right behind that longways central building with a War Dog providing him with Look Out, Sir so that he could bully the table a bit more.

At the end of the round I scored three on Ruthless Tyranny, another three on Grind Them Down thanks to that small Plague Marine unit up top, and then started a Storm of Darkness on the top left Objective with the pink Brigand.

Round 2:

Death Guard

Chris scores four on Primary. The Rhino falls back to open up a space for Mortarion to charge my Stalker. The big unit of Plague Marines moves up to threaten the already dinged up Stalker on the top, and the Bloat Drone comes to pay the bottom edge Karnivore a visit. The Deathshroud have to sit still and do Spread the Sickness which is kind of a win in my book.

The psychic phase mostly falls flat because of the -2 to cast from Collar of Infernal Brass, but Chris does pull off another Warp Ritual.

The shooting phase is also surprisingly anemic, with some damage going onto the dogs that are about to get charged and killed anyway, but nothing else taking noticeable wounds.

The Charge phase sees the Bloat Drone into the bottom Karnivore, Mortarion into the red Stalker, and the big unit of Plague Marines goes into the Stalker in the corner.

I opt to put the -1 damage stratagem on the top left Stalker because the other two models basically have no prayer of survival. Unfortunately, though he lives through the big weapons with a healthy 5 wounds, I completely flub my armor saves against the Plague Knives and the Stalker goes down. Mortarion naturally obliterates the red Stalker, and the Bloat Drone takes the Karnivore down.

Chris ends the turn with 4 points from Spread the Sickness, another six from Bring it Down, another tic on Warp Ritual, and then it’s my turn!

Chaos Knights

I’ve lost a good chunk of stuff, but everything is exposed now and I can probably do good work here. I score 4 on Primary.

The congregation of War Dogs moves to the top left corner, the damaged Karnivore moves closer to the Bloat Drone, and the REALLY messed up Green Stalker moves back into the semi protection of distance and cover that my home zone provides.

I also deep strike my Executioner You can see his little tail poking into the frame on the bottom right of the picture.

My Storm of Darkness on the top left zone finishes up, and my shooting phase is really interesting. I try to up Mortarion, but the dice just won’t cooperate with me.

The Executioner on the bottom right takes care of the Plague Marine and bashes up the Bloat Drone a bit, and I have a Karnivore there so I know it’ll be able to kill it in the charge phase. I do good work into the big Plague Marine unit, and I have both a Karnivore with Helm of Dogs ready to tango with them as well as Abaddon himself.

The problem is I really need a fourth thing to die to score Grind Them Down, so my last couple of shooting models put their fire into the Rhino which is much more likely to die than the Plaguebust Crawler, and the transport goes down.

My charge phase plays out perfectly with both Karnivores finishing off their targets, and I use my Consolidate moves to body block Abaddon on the top and hold the bottom from the left zone with my Karnivore. In hindsight, if I had charged slightly onto the bottom objective, I would have been able to take that away from Chris (who got to keep holding it because his Plague Marine was there earlier) and then consolidate in to prevent him from scoring any primary points at all, but I goofed.

I sore 3 on Ruthless Tyranny, another 3 on Grind Them Down, and start a Storm of Darkness on the “home” objective with my Executioner.

Round 3:

I keep moving down the Despair track of Harbingers of Dread, this time making actions harder to complete. Chris scores another 4 on Primary.

Death Guard

Mortarion moves aggressively to the left to go after the Karnivore and one of the Brigands. The Deathshroud move onto the bottom right zone to hold it down, and Typhus scootches up to menace the Karnivore there. The Poxwalkers in the back perform another Spread the Sickness.

The Plaguecaster hiding behind the tower finishes a third Warp Ritual and the rest of the Psychic phase is pretty inconsequential.

Both Plagueburst Crawlers shoot at the Brigand that Mortarion is eyeing, dropping it to 4 health.

Mortarion charges both War Dogs, and then Typhus makes it into combat with my Karnivore on the bottom. The Deathshroud try to charge my bottom right Executioner but fail the 9 inch attempt. Everything dies.

For this turn, Chris scores six more on Bring it Down, maxes out Warp Ritual, and gets three for Spread the Sickness.

Chaos Knights

I score 4 on Primary again. Abaddon moves up to fight Mortarion, and the Executioner on the right puts its life on the line to try and hold that zone.

My shooting phase actually goes absurdly well, and Mortarion dies to a Brigand and my Tzeentch marked Executioner. This frees up the rest of my list to take down the damaged Plagueburst Crawler and the Plaguecaster. Sadly, the Executioner on the bottom right does nothing to Typhus (a common theme).

Abaddon charges and does about 30 damage to the Foul Blightspawn to take the objective back for me, and I have nowhere to start a Storm of Darkness so my turn ends with scoring 3 from last turns’ Storm, another three from Grind them Down, and another three from Ruthless Tyranny.

Round 4:

I end up in the fourth round Despair aspect, stripping Objective Secured from things within 12″ of War Dogs. Chris scores 4 on Primary.

Death Guard

With very few models on the table, Chris moves his Plagueburst Crawler up and kills my poor shattered Stalker with it. His Deathshroud charge my Executioner and thanks to the -1 damage stratagem looming over them, fail to kill it.

Chaos Knights

I score 12 on Primary here, which goes a long way to catching me up.

Abaddon decides to hijack the Red Corsairs legion trait which lets him advance and charge and count as two models for contesting purposes.

He advances, and then most of my guns go into Typhus, who doesn’t get scratched, and the Plagueburst Crawler, who only takes three.

Abaddon obliterates the Plagueburst Crawler in the fight phase, and sadly I cannot score Grind them Down. I do, however, start a third Storm in the second from the left objective and score a further three on Ruthless Tyranny thanks to the sticky objectives letting me count as controlling the two left-most objectives.

Round 5:

Death Guard

I head into the final Doom turn and Chris scores zero on Primary.

Typhus has some nasty mortal wounds in the Command Phase thing, which combine with Smite to finish off Abaddon.

Chaos Knights

I move up to take the zone away from Typhus with my Tzeentch Executioner.

Typhus finally dies, and I am able to tag the Tallyman with the top left Brigand so I score Grind Them Down, finish my Storm, and then score another three to max out Ruthless Tyranny.

When all the results were in, it was a nail biter of a game with a final result of 72 – 78 (we miscounted how many points Chris got on the action for rounds 1 and 2 in the moment as we only realized he should have been doing it in turn 3, so he got an additional 3 there).

Post-Game Thoughts:

First I want to talk about this particular scenario. Data Scry-Salvage is traditionally an absolute nightmare for my lists, making me play from the back foot at every moment. Between the massively spread out objectives and the action that I cannot really afford to do every turn, I lose out on a lot of primary points when I play with a 2/7 build.

This list flips all of those conventions, as it has so many Objective Secured, fast bodies. I would be curious to try out the other 6 objective maps with this build now, as I cannot help but feel like Knights go from significantly disadvantaged on them to quite possibly advantaged in many matchups.

Second, nothing in the list is particularly durable, but you also have a lot more things than you usually do which leads to a really strange targeting priority system for your opponent. Obviously the Karnivores are dangerous, but what about the Brigands? The Stalkers are also a multi-tool of problems, and then hiding in the middle of it all is Abaddon himself.

The redundancy is really quite something, and being able to relatively easily brush off 2-3 War Dogs a turn as acceptable losses is very strange. Coming from a place where the goal is to force your opponent to deal with a souped up Abominant for the first three turns of the game while the remaining 1500 points of the list remains unmolested, this style of play is very odd.

Next, the entire army being obscurable legitimately feels like cheating. I’m so used to terrain doing literally nothing for me that now that it does, even with the absurdly large War Dog conversions I play with, my army feels an order of magnitude more durable just from enemy fire not having the option to shoot at me.

Also, breachable terrain and cover applying to Abaddon – a model that hits harder than a Karnivore – feels pretty weird.

Abaddon himself is a very consistent murder machine, but what I actually liked most about him in this game was letting all of my War Dogs re-roll ones to hit regardless of house. This is what the Desecrator does but better since the dreadblades can get in on the action, and what the Rampager would do but better for the same reasons. I did not know about the Chaos Space Marine Stratagem that would let him deny on a 4+, but the next game I played it came up and I was able to utilize it quite nicely (this report coming soon).

The Brigands with Worthy Offerings were legitimately stand out models. I’ve felt in the past that Brigands were frankly just bad, but being able to hit enemy characters, vehicles, and monsters on 2s usually is such a ridiculously huge amount of increased efficiency, especially with Abaddon around.

When you only miss your Thermal Spear shots one thirty sixth of the time, that feels much more worth playing than something which misses Thermal Spear shots one third of the time. That’s a 1000% increase in hit percentage (33% missing to 3% missing), and it’s definitely noticeable on the tabletop.

Even against something like -1 to hit Mortarion, they go from missing 50% of the time (no re-rolls) to missing 44% of the time (re-roll 1s) to missing only 19 and a bit percent of the time (missing on 1,2, re-roll 1s).

With Worthy Offerings, Brigands feel like the real deal, and I am even considering a full on Worthy Offerings list at some moment. As the game grinds down, Characters tend to be the things left on the other side of the table, and being consistent at killing them late game is huge. On the flip side, the most dangerous ranged threats to Knights tend be strapped to Vehicles and Monsters, so being able to kill the quickly is in our best interest there as well.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the way the list feels to play, which annoys me fiercely because I don’t really want to paint four more War Dogs and approximately ten more War Dog weapons. We’ll just have to see how much this holds up into other matchups.

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