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Total War: Warhammer 3 – Nurgle Beginner Guide

Quick Links

  • Nurgle's Playstyle
  • Unique Mechanics
  • Plague Cauldron
  • Legendary Lord
  • First Ten Turns

The Lord of Pestilence, Nurgle is the Chaos God of disease, decay, death, and rebirth. In comparison to his rivals, he brings a slower, more strategic style of play to Total War: Warhammer III, and can be a difficult faction to master.

This beginner's guide will describe the best way to utilize Nurgle's strengths, including army and campaign advice, unique mechanics, Legendary Lord, and how to play the first ten turns.

Nurgle's Playstyle

Best Matchup: Khorne – He may excel in melee, but you fare equally well in absorbing melee damage. You can hold his lines while using magic to turn the tide of the battle.

Worst Matchup: Tzeentch – There could not be a harder counter to you, as his high damage ranged units will gun down your army while you struggle to catch him or beat his cavalry options.

Nurgle's primary strengths are his unit durability, ability to inflict plagues, and instant unit recruitment. This makes you challenging to attack on the campaign map, as even the strongest enemy army will struggle when afflicted by your deadly diseases. Your general playstyle is a slow one, relying on slowly expanding your territory and Corruption while buffing your armies with the nefarious concoctions out of your Plague Cauldron.

However, you come with some major weaknesses, and Nurgle is not a recommended faction for beginners, as he can seriously struggle if played incorrectly.

Your economy is, in a word, trash… The life cycling of your buildings can be nice for unit recruitment, but can seriously hinder your income, and you are not able to operate well at a deficit like more aggressive factions such as Khorne.

Having multiple armies running around raiding and sacking is not the Nurgle way, and you need to think carefully about how cost-effective your units are, to retain military strength as well as sufficient income.

Battlefield Tips

When it comes to the battles, Nurgle has a slow, yet durable roster at his disposal. Units that provide either speed or ranged capabilities are vital for you, as your slow, low damage Infantry are going to struggle to bring down your enemies in a timely fashion.

What they will do, however, is to hold. Much like playing the Dwarves, Nurgle relies on a frontline that will not crumble under pressure and can tank for an extremely long time. High health values on units such as Plaguebearers of Nurgle means you can reliably defend the line, while you focus on micromanaging either a spell caster or flanking cavalry.

The Lore of Nurgle also has some strong spells. A well-placed Blight Boil is going to inflict huge damage to blobbed enemies, and Fleshy Abundance is a great healing spell that further strengthens your unit's ability to endure.

With your ability to grind out a fight, you can slowly overcome more powerful factions, as long as you are fully aware of their key threats. Tzeentch in particular will obliterate your units, tanky as they are, and you will need to be proactive in getting your flanking units on top of his ranged as quickly as possible.

Campaign Tips

On the campaign map, Nurgle can also struggle to impose himself, and you need to be cautious in overextending in the early game. Taking safe battles and slowly building up your economy is the best way to achieve success. Nurgle is a growth monster, but without the Weeping Creepers Infrastructure building you are going to struggle with your casualty replenishment rate, and you will not have the early game income to create multiple strong armies.

The key to understanding Nurgle's campaign playstyle lies within the Plague Cauldron. Making use of his various maladies can start to get the ball rolling for you, and you can effectively cripple stronger enemy armies with the right Plague. However, for this, you will need to acquire Infections and to do that, you will need to win battles.

Keeping a Pox up right from the start of the game can help greatly, as it will strengthen your Nurgle Corruption in your starting province, and provide you with a small amount of much-needed growth.

Unfortunately, Nurgle's playstyle is quite weak in the Total War Warhammer III base campaign, which relies on quickly acquiring Daemon Souls by entering various Chaos Rifts. The slower, more methodical way Nurgle likes to play is at odds with this style, and factions who can establish a strong early game force that can quickly enter and exit a rift will do much better. Your late game is very strong, as you will have enough income to instantly create multiple full stacks, but it will take a long time to get there.

Investing heavily in your starting army is recommended, and you may need to rely on your Plagues and instant recruitment to defend your lands whilst you are away in a Rift.

Key Units

Unit Description Tips
Nurglings
  • Cheap, adorable, numerous, and surprisingly tanky
  • Having both magical and poison attacks on extremely cheap, durable, infantry is fantastic
  • Very useful for cheap army spams or for absorbing damage and bogging down enemy infantry
Soul Grinder of Nurgle
  • Best of its kind, ranged, strong damage, very durable
  • The King of Soul Grinders, this variant brings much needed ranged firepower to Nurgle's roster
  • Best used to attack armored single entities, thanks to its armor-piercing missiles
Rot Flies
  • Very fast-flying cavalry, with magical, poison, and armor-piercing attacks
  • Nurgle severely lacks speed, and these flying monsters give him a strong aerial presence to threaten enemy artillery
  • While not as powerful as Plague Drones, they are cheap and will fulfill a similar role at a much lower cost
  • These units adhere to Nurgle's strengths but also are crucial in mitigating his weaknesses.

Unique Mechanics

Infections

Infections are your bread and butter currency, used for creating Plagues and summoning the Plague Cultist Hero, they can be acquired via battles, sacking settlements, spreading Plagues, or especially from your cultist buildings, and Nurgle is probably the faction most reliant on creating multiple cultist settlements across the map.

Building Life Cycles

Nurgle's settlements buildings are one of a kind. Instead of upgrading them with income, as with standard factions, Nurgle's buildings will grow over time, supplying units to your recruitment tab, and strengthening their effects. After reaching the maximum tier, they will 'die' and shrink back down to their base tier, ready to begin the cycle all over again.

This mechanic synergizes nicely with your instant unit recruitment, as you can build up a good supply of certain units, and have them ready to go at a moment's notice. However, it can mess with your income, and your settlement output is going to fluctuate greatly.

Findings ways to shorten the growth cycles are very powerful, as they allow you to quickly build up unit supplies. Indeed, Infrastructure buildings are fantastic, as they will regularly supply you with large amounts of Nurglings, a cheap and expendable unit. Gathering income is crucial for you, as you will need it to strengthen your starting army.

This mechanic propels Nurgle's late game into the stratosphere, as you will be churning out endless amounts of high-tier units thanks to your multiple settlements. The only problem is getting there…

Plague Cauldron

Styled after Grom The Paunch's Cauldron mechanic, the Plague Cauldron is where you will be role-playing as an evil twisted chef, mixing and matching various ailments to your liking. There are many Symptoms to unlock via the Technology Tree, or by spreading a certain Plague several times.

Nurgle's most powerful Recipes lie at the bottom of the Cauldron and must be unlocked by previously unlocking each component. These Plagues are truly devastating, and structuring your Plague spreading around unlocking these is a great way to optimize your unlock pathways.

Unholy Manifestations and Corruption

As with all Chaos Daemon factions, Nurgle possesses four Unholy Manifestations. Similar to Rites in previous titles, these can be used to deliver powerful effects, and later Manifestations can be unlocked when you have accumulated enough of your Corruption. Your Manifestations will become empowered when you are the Ascendant in The Great Game.

  • The Great Game: The Chaos Gods will cycle through who is currently the Ascendant, granting the holder stronger Unholy Manifestations. There is currently no way to influence this.

Nurgle's Manifestations are:

Manifestation Description Tips
Pestilent Growth
  • Give an increase to casualty replenishment rate to an army for two turns, while disabling their campaign movement.
  • Very nice to heal up after a tough battle, but the cooldown is fairly long
Blessing of Nurgle
  • Increases the chance of plagues spreading in the local province for three turns, but disables campaign movement.
  • This can help kickstart a Plague spread, generating valuable Infections
Exponential Growth
  • Increases growth in the local province and decreases recruitment cost for target army for three turns.
  • Unlocked too late in the game to be very powerful, the reduced recruitment cost is something Nurgle can make a lot of use out of, via his instant recruitment
Nurgle’s Visitation
  • After three turns, give a random plague to every army and settlement in the same province as the target army. Disables campaign movement for the army while it charges.
  • Disgustingly strong yet very random, this can be a great option if enemies are knocking at your door, or if you have amassed multiple armies before entering a Chaos Rift

Cults

While not normally an impactful mechanic, Nurgle's cultist buildings are a very strong way of generating Infections. Spamming multiple Plagues is important for Nurgle, and so Cults should not be overlooked. The go-to building will be the Shelter, but if the region possesses enough growth, then the Refuge will be better to build.

Legendary Lord

Nurgle's Legendary lord is Ku'gath Plaguefather. Officially the tankiest Legendary Lord in any Total War: Warhammer title, Ku'gath is a defensive behemoth, absorbing huge amounts of damage while fighting back with powerful spells and lord skills.

His Lord effects are:

Effect Tips
Halved Infection cost for Lord's army
  • Good for the early game, where Infections are harder to acquire
Increased Nurgle corruption in local province
  • Low impact, but always useful
Increased chance of plague spreading for Lord's army
  • Synergizes well with Nurgle's playstyle

Ku'gaths Lord effects are pretty mediocre, all of them synergize with the way you will be playing, but it takes him leveling up a lot of his skills before he can begin to shine.

Important skills to level on Ku'gath include:

  • Unholy Resilience
  • Children of Nurgle
  • Fleshy Abundance
  • Blight Boil
  • Arcane Conduit
  • Pestilent Decay
  • Pustulant Abundance
  • Lord of Stench

Ku'gath has a wide variety of good skills, and pumping his health via Scarred Veteran is very high value, thanks to his massive base health pool.

First Ten Turns

When playing as Ku'gath Plaguefather, you will bring your campaign in The Cliffs of Death province, holder of the Sunken Sewers settlement.

Turn Objective
One
  • Apply Pox to Ku'gath's army from the Plague Cauldron
  • Attack and destroy Morg's army (manually fight the battle to preserve your army, else the Plague Drones tend to take high damage)
  • Level Miasma of Pestilence on Ku'gath
  • Attack Glut-Port (again, manually fight) and then Loot and Occupy the settlement
  • Level Route Marcher on Ku'gath
  • Move your new Plagueridden hero to join up with your army
  • Recruit five Nurglings and a Beast of Nurgle into your army
  • Repair Glut-Port and build a Microbial Bog in The Sunken Sewers
  • Research Spore Diffusion in the Technology Tree
  • Offer Military Access to Maggot Kin (to the West)
  • (Optional) If you took heavy damage use the Pestilent Growth Manifestation on Ku'gath
Two
  • Move half of your movement allowance, and Encamp to heal
Three
  • Assuming you used the Manifestation you will not be able to move, if you did not, then follow the instructions one turn ahead
  • Research Viral Incubation
Four
  • You should be fully healed by now
  • Move close to Stormvrack Mount (irritatingly you won't be able to attack)
Five
  • With a fully healed army, attack and occupy Stormvrack Mount
  • Level Children of Nurgle on Ku'gath and Training on your Hero
Six
  • Build Weeping Creepers in Stormvrack Mount
  • Infect Ku'gath with another Pox
Seven
  • Move to the Southern edge of your border
  • Occasionally enemy Dwarves can show up here, ignore them for now
Eight
  • Attack Dharko Wharf and Occupy the settlement
  • Level Stream of Corruption on Ku'gath and Spread Control on your Hero
  • Restock your army if you lost any units
  • Choose Plague God's Greenhouse as your Provincial Commandment
Nine
  • Choose Plant it in the Fields for your dilemma
  • Move Ku'gath back North, your next target will be Fort Dolganyier
  • Research Highly Infectious
  • Infect Ku'gath with Pox, and apply the Bleeding Ears Symptom
Ten
  • If you are healthy, there may be a Dwarf army in range again, attack and destroy them
  • If you are not healthy, move instead to Stromvrack Mount
  • Depending on your income, fill out your army with any available units and prepare to march upon the remaining Ogres

Further Tips:

  • This is a conservative strategy, and if you are a confident player, you can attack Stromvrack Mount earlier than stated, but it can be a tough battle especially if the AI decides to reinforce the settlement
  • The major goal is to establish control over your starting province and then slowly push outwards. Waiting to heal is fine if it means you can keep hold of a good unit
  • On higher difficulties, you might get a rebellion, which will be good to farm more Ku'gath experience

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