Part 17 – Pestbringer
Center-stage is a series of articles spotlighting a particular model or unit in Godslayer. In this article we will look at the character model from the Banebrood starter-box – the Pestbringer. This model can seriously power-up any Beastspawn warband. I will show you how.
Certain creatures which formed from the mutated spawn of the Baneplague emerged from the biological cesspool with immunity to almost every disease in existence. As the centuries passed these beasts reveled in pestilence, collecting all manner of diseases, for they represented a natural defense mechanism, keeping foes at bay. Within a few millennia some enterprising misanthropes among them began employing plagues as an offensive weapon, deliberately infecting enemies. Of the various Beastspawn breeds, the goat-head Ramscourge are the most plague-resistant and consequently the most infectious, and among them live the foulest of the foul – the Pestbringers.
This 10ft tall hate-filled creature possesses the bulk of a Minotaur and is covered in rotting, diseased bodily fluids. The stench of decayed flesh surrounds them, and even the mere touch of a Pestbringer can cause a tortured, agonizing death. Indeed, their prized possessions are the hosts (both living and dead) of their latest biological marvels. The eyes of the Pestbringer are gaping black pits reaching down into a psyche of exultant evil.
By infecting rats, bats, and dogs, Pestbringers introduce plagues into the cities of civilized cultures. Flees then communicate the disease to mortals and death sweeps through the community. After six months of plague, even the most impregnable fortress cannot mount a defense against an unsophisticated horde of Banebrood. Not only do these sinister creatures work to spread current diseases, they also concoct new strains by mixing existing pathogens, often inside a host which is undergoing mutation. Occasionally Pestbringers create such an impressive masterpiece that they wipe out the local Banebrood herd. For this reason, they are feared even by their own kind, and live apart from the pack.
The Pestbringer has sight-value 2, so he can see over Mongrels and Reaver Tribesmen, which is important for his missile attack. He is a regular infantry character with a deployment limit of 2.
In most cases 1 Pestbringer is enough, but for a large themed warband two might be interesting.
Let’s start with a look at his profile.
MOV 4 – Awesome; this is as fast as many cavalry models!
MEL 6 – Not bad, but certainly not a melee character
MIS 6 – proficient with missile attacks.
MAG 3 – Poor magical defense
DEF 13 – Average
ARM 6 – This is poor but reflects the Banebrood’s more primitive nature with less available armor
LEAD 8 – Not bad for Banebrood
ACT 5 – Standard for a character
Life-points – 17
This guy is fast, offensive and a little squishy – sounds like many other Beastspawn models so what’s different about him?
The melee weapon of the Pestbringer is the Morning Star which is a 2ACT attack at range1 at POW4
From first glance it is nothing special, but when used against the right enemy it is pretty effective (see the section below Ignore Shields).
The Pestbringer also has a missile attack, but this does no damage on its own and relies on the plagues it carries for its effects.
Abilities and Tactics
Furious charge – His sub-faction ability gives him +2 inches on his charges. That is better than you might imagine, because he has a MOV of 4, so he has a charge range then of 2X4 +2 +2 = 12 inches. That’s 4 inches more than an average infantry model.
Fear – The Pestbringer is a foul, contagious source of abomination feared by most. Fear is a rule you should not forget, and is especially useful when facing starterbox units and other basic militia troops. If the enemy fails their Fear test you essentially gain the equivalent of +2 DEF.
Infectious Bite – Pestbringers fight with all available weapons, including biting with infected teeth. This rule enables the Pestbringer to infect enemy models with plagues every time he makes a successful attack.
Plague Master – The Pestbringer carries with him rodents infected with his virulent creations. This rule enables the Pestbringer to carry up to 2 plagues. If you are going to deploy this model, then always buy him at least one plague, otherwise he’s like a spell-caster without any spells.
Reek – The putrid smell of rotting corpses causes opponents to retch and vomit uncontrollably. This is an ace up the Pestbringers dirty sleeve. Enemy models wishing to attack him are forced to pass a LEAD test in order to do so. So most models will need to pass a Fear test once and then pass a LEAD test every time they want to attack the Pestbringer. This gives him good survivability when facing basic troops, but does not help against high-LEAD elites units and most individual models who have high LEAD and are often also Fearless or have Hardened Will.
The Pestbringer is also immune to the Reek effect of other models, so he is an ideal guy to throw against the Moloch since he can ignore the Reek of that creature. He also has POW4, so when he uses Powerful fighting style, he can ignore the Deadflesh rule of the Moloch. When you have the Gorelord nearby, the Pestbringer can also gain Hardened Will, so he need not test against the Horror of the Moloch. In the worst case, the Pestbringer causes Fear, so even if he fails a LEAD test against the Moloch, he will only suffer Fear not horror. If your opponent likes to play lots of Molochs, then consider taking 2 Pestbringers.
Plague Infector – Comrades which come into close contact with the Pestbringer are exposed to his cloak of fleas and mosquitoes which are carriers for the diseases he hosts. This is the key defining rule of the Pestbringer – enabling him to pass diseases on to friendly models with the Plague Host rule. As mentioned in the Scrolls of victory part 3 article Hidden Mechanics, one of the most important rule mechanics players need to use to reach more victories is leveraging effects. Each time the Pestbringer buffs a unit with a plague you leverage that effect. Because instead of simply passing the effect to another single model, you can multiply the effect by passing it to a unit of 5-10 models. So try to focus on infecting your units as top priority. In wave-1, that means Maldire Mongrels and Fomorion Guthackers.
Ignore Shields – The morning-star weapon he carries swings over and around shields. The morning star has the ability Ignore Shields, which means opposing models lose their DEF and ARM bonus from their shields. This is particularly great when facing models with awesome shields like the Legionnaires and Hoplites. In effect the Pestbringer gains +2 to hit and +1 POW against Hoplites or +1 to hit and +2 POW against Legionnaires. Since the Demarchon and Centurion also rely very much on their shields, this means the Pestbringer is also a threat even to those warlords.
Other units particularly prone to the Pestbringer’s morning star are Legio Mortum (who are reduced to DEF10 and ARM5), Kinswords (who are reduced to DEF12 and ARM5), and Fjell Warriors (reduced to DEF11 and ARM7). This makes the Pestbringer very effective against many regular troops of opposing factions.
Carrion Guts – The Pestbringer rips out the rancid, semi-liquefied guts from one of his corpses, in which he has been culturing a malignant virus, and throws this mass at a nearby foe.
The Pestbringer’s Rotting Corpse attacks count as 3” AOE missile attacks. Target models hit suffer no damage, but are immediately affected by one plague the Pestbringer currently hosts! So you can already start hurting the enemy with plagues from 8 inches distance (using long range). Try to use this on densely packed units like models using Phalanx, Testudo, Shieldwall and Hedgehog.
The cool thing is that the Pestbringer may make Rotting Corpse attacks even when he is engaged in melee. You can use this for example to knock down enemies he is facing by using the Black Plague.
The Pestbringer can be equipped with up to two plagues.
Before proceeding further we should take a deeper look at their plague-carrying function. Most models in the Beastspawn subfaction can host the plagues that the Pestbringer brings to the battlefield and infect enemies with them. This is accomplished when a host model makes a successful attack on a living enemy model. This is important because plagues do not work against undead and non-living models.
Mongrels form the ideal agent for delivering the warband’s plagues to the enemy since they are relatively cheap and can infect a model with every one of its (potential) three attacks per round!
Guthackers don’t need plagues to be effective, but it certainly does not hurt to give them plagues too if you have them in your warband.
Looking at the various plagues on offer we have:
Bubonic Plague – This one causes 1D3+1 points of direct damage. That’s an average of 3 points of extra damage which go directly onto the opposing model, ignoring armor. Against mediocre infantry which generally have 5 life-points, this is a devastating bonus combined with the regular attacks. It represents a great way to finish a model off.
For example, when Mongrels are attacking with their POW3 weapon against a model with average armor (7), and making an average damage-roll of 7, they will typically score 3 points damage, so the D3+1 points direct damage from the plague will probably finish the victim off. And so it becomes realistic for a Mongrel to slay an average model with a single attack, which is fantastic for such cheap troops.
The same is true when Guthackers are facing elite troops like Einherjer, Sons of War, Carnifexors and Trolls.
Bubonic Plague is a must when facing high-ARM models like Hoplites, Legionnaires, Einherjer and warlords, since the D3+1 completely bypasses the target’s armor.
Gutrot Plague – Moving on, we come to this plague which is more useful when fighting models which will go many rounds in the ring. Gutrot Plague causes the target to suffer -1 to all stats including ACT. This is particularly useful against elite units like Carnifexors, Sons of War, Hill Ogres, Ironhide Brutes (keep in mind that at least half of a units models must be infected to reduce ACT), and characters. Robbing them of one action token will often mean they can make one less attack per turn. It is also great against creatures, since many tend to have relatively average stats except for their life-points. Think about it another way, the -1 to all stats suffered by the target is equivalent to your troops gaining +1 DEF, and +1 POW. That’s a decent bonus.
Heartkill Plague – This is another great advantage, ideal against characters, warlords and creatures. The effect is to cause the victim to spend an extra +1 ACT for all actions they make, that means Warlords will struggle to make 2 attacks per turn, creatures and characters will probably only manage 1 attack per turn. It also affects other actions, including movement, charging, spell-casting, shooting and using tactics! This essentially cripples a model. Heartkill Plague can also be effective against units of elite troops, but you will need to infect at least half of the target unit to switch the effect on – this is a very realistic possibility when you have a large unit for example Mongrels, making 2-3 attacks per turn.
Black Plague – Any model affected needs to take a LEAD test at -2 or become knocked down. Knocked-down models cannot make attacks, use tactics, or make counter-attacks, and suffer -2 DEF. This is great against any model, but particularly against high-points models like Warlords and creatures.
There is another aspect to Plagues which should not be overlooked. All of the above are continuous toxic effects, which means that if the model becomes affected, the effect can be suffered again next round when the model activates again.
The target model making its Affliction Test must score 5+ to escape the effect, so you have a 66.66% chance of making the plague work when you first use it on the target with the affliction test, and then a 66% chance they suffer again with the Expiry Test.
In this way small effects can add up to serious advantages over a few rounds.
The chances of getting rid of the plague during an Expiry Test can be improved by the victim by spending action tokens, but this is not a bad thing for the Banebrood player, since it encourages the opponent to waste his ACT to remove the effects instead of attacking your troops!
Viral Dominance on the Battlefield
What if I told you there was a way to take down elite enemy units with continuous plague effects that cannot be removed?
Well there is such a way!
The Banebrood have an underrated and often overlooked spell called Viral dominance this spell causes enemies to suffer -2 on their Expiry rolls. So with a basic 7+ on a D6 your enemies don’t have much chance. They will need to spend 2 ACT just to get back to the 33% chance of succeeding in an Expiry Roll.
But it gets better than this!
Both the Fallow Shaman and the Bistoaur Shaman possess the spell Upgrade Mutation. When you cast this on a unit that already has Viral Dominance on it, the unit then may not make expiry tests for plagues!
So imagine you are facing a unit of Elite troops or high-ARM troops and all you have is a small unit of say 6 Mongrels.
0) Give your Mongrels the Bubonic plague at the start of the game (which causes D3+1 direct damage)
1) Wait till the elite unit has activated and spent most of their ACT moving forward.
2) Cast Viral Dominance on the enemy unit and Upgrade the mutation.
Order the Gorelord tactic Howling Mad to the Mongrels, giving them +1 MEL and +1 POW for charges. Assign them an extra action token so they will be able to make 3 attacks each.
3) Charge the enemy elites with your Mongrels (who have a basic charge range of 13 inches!)
4) In your turn, make your 18 attacks and be sure to focus attacks on models which have not yet been infected. If the enemy Elites have enough ACT left for a counter attack, then be sure to use the Mongrels ambidextrous 12 attacks first because each model gets two attacks in at the same time as the Enemy unit counter attacks (you will probably lose 3-4 mongrels on the counter attack). Your Mongrels will have MEL7 and POW5 attacks, so you will cause plenty of regular melee damage even against ARM9.
5) In this round you will likely have infected all of the enemy unit, and each will have suffered D3+1 direct damage (awesome against ARM 9). By this time the Enemy unit will be either dead or almost dead.
6) Next round, activate your Shaman first, then sustain Viral Dominance and cast Upgrade mutation again. Take care to make sure he cannot be engaged by the enemy.
7) When the enemy unit activates this round, they will have no chance to make an expiry roll because of the upgraded Viral Dominance, so will suffer another D3+1 direct damage.
8) By the end of this round you will likely have lost all of your Mongrels unit, but the enemy unit will all be dead too, even with Resilient rolls, protection rolls and regeneration. If any survive, then just upgrade the mutation spell again next round.
For even better results, buff your 8 Mongrels with the Gigantic Jaws spell, giving them +1 MEL.
6 Mongrels cost 70 points. Even if you lose them all in the fight, you could take down a unit with double the points with this strategy.
Gorelord or Pestbringer?
The Talisman item Bubonic Fleas allows a warlord to carry and spread diseases just like the Pestbringer. It also allows him to infect enemy models with Infectious bite. In this way you spend 10 points on the flees, but you save around 40 points by not buying a Pestbringer and a plague.
The downside is that Bubonic Fleas takes up the warlord’s only talisman item, and that can be a tough choice since there are other talismans which can help the warlord stay alive longer. If you use the Gorelord primarily as a melee-warlord, it makes sense to give him a protective Talisman and leave the Bubonic Fleas to a support warlord (Bistoaur Shaman).
The Pestbringer also has good fighting skills and is able to affect many more enemy models through his AOE attack. And it gives possibility of two different plagues (=more tactical options and more devastation if an enemy suffers both…).
Plagues in General
Remember, your models, once infected, will carry these deadly diseases for the entire game.
Additionally, Plagues do not count as ordered tactics, so troops can additionally benefit from a tactic from your warlord simultaneously.
To get the most out of your plagues attack units and models that have not already activated. In this way they suffer the effect during the affliction and then again as soon as they activate in this round. In effect you get the effect twice if you hit models who have not activated.
Overall, Plagues are a huge advantage that Beastspawn models can employ and so it makes sense to always include the Pestbringer in order to gain access to them.
Combining the Pestbringer with other Models
Various models in the Banebrood faction have useful synergies with the Pestbringer.
• Maldire Mongrels – these guys are ideal because they can get in fast with their long charges and Wildwalker ability, then deliver two plague attacks with a single ambidextrous attack. Besides that, they are also cheap and can make up to 3 attacks per turn
• Fomorion Guthackers – These thugs are ideal because of the huge number of attacks they make with their circular Slash ability.
• Fallow Shaman and Bisotaur Shaman – These guys can buff your Pestbringer. More importantly, they have the Viral Dominance spell to make your plagues truly nasty.
• Gorelord and Skulleaters – both have tactics to reduce enemies LEAD which works fine with Fear and Reek
Putting it all Together
Here are a few example strategies for using a Pestbringer.
This is the Pestbringer’s primary role. It’s rather simple, just place your troops close together at the start of the game and then start dishing out plagues to every unit and model who can host one. Keep in mind the intended role of the unit, and assign them the most useful plague for that role.
The Pestbringer can only give away one plague per turn so start in round-one, and do one every turn thereafter.
Basically the effects you have to choose from are:
• Black Plague = Knockdown if test if failed on -2 LEAD
• Bubonic Plague = 1D3+1 direct damage
• Gutrot plague = -1 to basic stats
• Heartkill Plague = enemy model pays +1 ACT for any action
Once your troops are infected you need to get the most out of your Plagues.
1) Always assign the units extra ACT so that they gain an extra attack. Mongrels can then make 3 attacks; Guthackers can then make 1 heavy and 1 light attack with Circular Slash.
2) Buff their MEL so they are more likely to score a hit. Remember you need to hit enemies to have a chance of infecting them, but you do not need to wound. So to accomplish this you have Offensive fighting style, charge bonus, Howling Mad tactic of the Gorelord and Gigantic Jaws spell. Ideally you can combine two of these, like Howling Mad and charge bonus.
3) Concentrate attacks on models who are not yet infected. If you are using Heartkill or Gutrot plague against an enemy unit, you will need to infect half the models in order to get the full effect, so focus most of your attacks on uninfected enemy models in MEL range.
The Pestbringer has a range of 8 at long range with the Rotting Corpse attack, but that means he has a -1 to hit. Ideal is to place him right behind your melee troops and hit enemies within 4 inches. If you cast Atrophy on the enemy unit, then they will suffer -1 DEF, so at close range, the Pestbringer will need only 6+ to hit DEF13 models with his MIS attack. If the enemy’s unit is bunched up, you should seriously consider doing this because you can potentially hit 6 models with the 3-inch AOE template.
Even if the attack misses, you could still hit some models, because the template will deviate. In fact it deviates a number of inches equal to the number the attack roll failed by. If the enemy warband is closely packaged together (as many are) for synergies, passing orders and supporting each other, you will almost certainly hit some enemy models with each attack.
Don’t worry if your deviated attack hits your own Mongrels or Guthackers, because these guys are immune to the effects of plague due to their Plague Host ability. Try to not hit your other models though
If you assign your Pestbringer an ACT, he can make 3 MIS attacks each turn.
The best options are usually to use Bubonic plague to soften up the enemy with direct damage.
Even better is to use Black plague so several models will be knocked down, and this is perfect against enemies with great armor. If you use Rotting Corpse attack 3 times on a unit with Black Plague, then probably most of the unit will be knocked down. Then as part of the same turn you can immediately activate one of your units hosting bubonic plague, and charge the knocked down models, giving you an effective +2 MEL bonus, not to mention that their defensive tactics are no longer valid and they cannot counter attack. Most attacks will hit, and you will get 1D3+1 direct damage on every attack that hits, even if you score no regular damage. That should pretty much finish off any unit.
Offensive Melee Fighter
With basic MEL6 and POW4, the Pestbringer can be used to take on low-quality enemy troops (ideally with shields), like Bladeslingers, Hoplites, Reaver Runts, Xisteri Bombers etc. He only has DEF13 and ARM6, so try to put him in base contact with no more than 2 enemy models to reduce counter-attacks.
Remember the Pestbringer can also use his plagues directly on enemies during melee with his own attacks.
So try to keep your Pestbringer facing the weakest of your enemy’s models when you really need to get him into the fight, because these guys will have low LEAD and will need to pass a Fear test, and then will also need to pass a Reek LEAD test every time they want to attack the Pestbringer.
And of course use him against enemies that have shields because of the bonuses he gains from the Morning Star weapon. So ideally you should use him against Hoplites, Legionnaires, Fjell Warriors, Kinswords, and Ironhide Brutes.
For the most part it makes sense to keep him out of melee if he can make effective missile attacks. But his primary duty of infecting friendly models with plagues is normally done by Round one or round 2, so don’t be afraid to lose him. Far better to lose your Pestbringer than to lose a Shaman, because the Shaman’s support role continues throughout the game.
Several scenarios require characters to fulfill scenario objectives. Keep in mind that the Pestbringer has MOV4, so he can move up to 16 inches per round! That makes him ideal for exploring areas, checking objective tokens or claiming table quarters etc.
The Pestbringer is just valuable enough and useful enough to convince opponents to charge him, even when he is clearly bait in a counter-charge trap. This is especially true in smaller games like starter-box level.
Move him forward and assign him an Action Token so he should be able to make at least two counter attacks before he goes down. Again remember to use him as bait against the most suitable enemies – that means low-LEAD models who will most likely fail Fear and Reek tests.
Because of Reek and Fear and because he can use his own plagues in melee, the Pestbringer is a useful model for binding poorer enemy units in melee, especially if you can place him advantageously near terrain where only a couple of enemy models can reach him.
With MOV4, he can reach enemy units 17 inches away and bind them by getting into melee range of a single model. That unit cannot then charge. Alone this simple trick can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
When playing the Bisotaur Shaman warlord the Pestbringer can be kept behind the front lines and used as a last resort defense to protect your expensive Bisotaur Shaman warlord.
Tired of offensive play? Take a bunch of Guthackers, Skulleaters and buff them with Exoskeleton and Bugstalk Eyes spells. Then take a couple of Pestbringers to skulk around behind the battle line, throwing corpses at enemy units who have been hit by Viral Dominance spells.
• When facing lots of Undead, Shadow Trolls or Tuathan, plagues will be of no use to you. Similarly against non-living models like war-machines. In that case you should rather invest in a Fallow Shaman to buff your models with magic, and leave Mr. Pestbringer at home.
• The more attacks you make, the more chances you have to infect enemies. Maximize your model attacks by giving out action tokens. For example, when Mongrels are assigned an extra ACT, they can potentially make an extra attack each round. Multiply that by 8 Mongrels, and that’s 8 more chances to infect enemies with plagues!
• Give Guthackers a plague and Howling MAD, plus offensive fighting-style/charge-bonus, +1 assigned ACT, then throw them at a unit while using their Circular Slash tactic. In this way they will each be making 2 attacks with Circular Slash at MEL 9. They will hit almost every time, and each hit = an affliction test for the plague they carry. With 5 Guthackers making 2 attacks and hitting 3 models with each attack, that’s around 30 chances to infect the enemy unit.
• Watch out for Halodyne warlords with the Halo Ward Ring because it can negate continuous effects within 4 inches (which means an 8-inch diameter zone of negation). If a warlord has that item and you have a warband based heavily on plagues, then concentrate your efforts on killing that warlord.
When the Banebrood were first conceived, we wanted to explain why there were so many man-beast creatures. It seemed rational that they had once been men and had been cursed or something. It was decided that the Banebrood would be a rather dark faction and somewhat evil from the viewpoint of other factions. As part of the development of the Mythology, the Baneplague was introduced as the origin of the Beastspawn, and the Urghast was created. With further consideration and re-writes, the Urghast developed from a form of energy into a semi-sentient creature and force of the cosmos. Its true nature we decided would remain a mystery, with several realistic explanations for its existence proposed, including one that the Banebrood themselves believe.
As part of the now properly conceived faction, it was clear they would be violent, and the Baneplague suggested also that they would be diseased and mutated. In that way the Banebrood gained Mutations magic and Plagues in their arsenal, raising them up from simple melee brutes. It was never really planned from the start, but the Banebrood developed during initial testing into a buffing faction simply due to the fact that we the spells were created based on the background of the faction. So the rules of the faction truly grew organically from the background and ultimately from the faction’s initial concept.
To fulfil the plague side of the faction we decided on a character who would be brewing plagues to infect mankind. The idea of infecting own models who would then transmit the plague was a natural progression. At first we were not sure how the infection should take place. A tactic was considered, but that seemed to take away from their offensive nature because models would be just making attacks instead. Then we considered it as separate free attack, then settled on just making it an affliction test for any melee attack.
Since the Pestbringer was chosen to be part of the Banebrood starter-box, he was one of the first models tested. Not much changed during the play-testing. Originally the Rotting Corpse was a tactic, and the Pestbringer had MIS5. So we changed that to a MIS attack with the weapon ability to standardize it with other models. It was clear that MIS5 was kind of useless for a 2ACT attack of a character, so we raised it to 6. After some more play-testing in which the Pestbringer made some cowardly sprints for his table edge, we increased his LEAD from 7 to 8, and he gained Fear. The only thing which changed after that was his points – reduced from 40 to 33.
Such a deliciously repulsive model deserves to be painted and used frequently. Considering its versatility and the tremendously powerful affect of plagues when properly used, the Pestbringer is a great model to have in your warband. Of course some people will always prefer to use the Bubonic Fleas item for the warlord to save the 25 points, but in a larger warband the points are less of an issue, and the Pestbringer becomes more necessary for the other roles he can perform in addition to the plagues he carries.