I’ve noticed many people on /r totalwar are having difficulty with Ku’gath’s campaign and 0.1% of people have the achievement I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt and some traps that should be avoided since I’ve been quite successful on very hard. This was originally posted on Reddit but since it was helpful it was suggested I also publish it here for further visibility. Enjoy!
1. Cultists are your MVP
Cultists are love, cultists are life. Given your limited number they are far superior serving in your army than on the campaign map.
Nurgle cultists are ridiculously tanky, decent fighters and fast on a warhorse. They can summon 3 units of plaguebearers behind lines/on archers and can summon great unclean ones. They fill so many weaknesses of the nurgle army it’s honestly staggering.
They provide the punch needed to get through warsleds and boyars and be safety charged into groups of archers/infantry to tie them up.
Summons (or even the cultists themselves) are great for bunching units for grinders or blight boils or to slow down the advancing enemy to bombard them further.
They also increase mobility allowing you to move between your starting settlement provinces in a turn to shadow armies sailing in.
Aim for 2 in each army (they require trade resource buildings so prioritise those). Maybe it’s worth traversing rifts to an area with a few trade resource settlements and taking them for the cultist cap increase before leaving.
2. Soulgrinders will carry you far
Soul grinders of Nurgle are amazing – Bee line for these as quick as you can. The faster you have them the quicker you are on the initiative and can start pushing out. Aim for 4 in each army.
Don’t be deceived, unlike other demon factions Soul Grinders are only tier three for Nurgle. Despite coming from the fifth rank of their building, a complete cycle of this building only requires a tier 3 settlement.
With tech + the cycle time reduction building + the cycle time reduction plague, you can get them down to 1-2 turns per stage and be adding a healthy number of grinders to your recruit pool every few turns.
Keep them at ranged and bombard advancing enemies or groups and they will acrue tons of value.
3. Plaguebearers are a trap unit
Plague bearers are a trap unit. They are only really good for providing mass to pin war sleds but summoned ones do the job. Nurglings with Kugath are faster, more spread out, have regeneration and are cheap as hell to build, maintain and replace. They can also be force pathed through the enemy front line to get a surround.
The only time I’d recommend plague bearers is as a cannon sponge in non-Kugath armies because Kislev will happily waste all a cannons ammo to bring 1 unit of plaguebearers to 10% allowing your grinders to mulch the enemy army.
Don’t get me wrong, they are not add per se – They have decent weapon strength and hold forever against infantry I just don’t think you should recruit them. Having them in garrisons where enemies come to you or summoning them in with cultists solves all of their weaknesses.
4. Rotflies/plague drones for harass
1-2 units of rotflies for ranged harass. Decently tanky. They won’t kill fast but you don’t need them to. You just need the archers tied in melee or running. They also serve to destroy towers and rear charge units Furies die way to fast imo and toads are vulnerable to cavalry and struggle getting in the front line. A lord on a rot fly is also more versatile than a bullet magnet exalted great unclean one and can tie down a group of ice guard no probs.
Same with the plgueridden, without a fly he’s durable but not my favourite – on a fly he pretty good and can support your buzzing swarm. Use these to chase off routing high value/heavily armoured opponents if you can, especially against Kislev because they rarely break and will return even on a few models and minimal leadership.
5. Unlock the crumbling ague recipe ASAP
The crumbling ague plague is amazeballs. Vanguard deploy for all units + casualty replenish rate for your army and attrition and minus replenishment for the enemy. Unless you are facing a difficult siege this is what will be blighting your armies on the offense.
6. Avoid the mortis engine
I specced into Kugath’s yellow line for the mortis engine – This is a bad idea since it brings him in range of archers. The only time it was useful was on the final survival battle. It’s not bad but 90% of your fights will be against dwarves, Kislev and if something goes wrong, Tzeentch which all are ranged and tend to spread out. This lowers the value of the drain and Ku’gath is too slow to reposition.
It’s best to prioritise his magic for fleshy abundance/blight boil, his special skills buffing nurglings and the blue and red lines to optimise your battle and campaign mechanics.
If you want the drain effect, bringing in (or summoning) faster, smaller great unclean ones can provide it with less risk and opportunity cost.
7. This campaign is slow
This is a slow creeping death kind of campaign. Take the first province (maybe the dwarf one if they get wrecked but likely not) and tech up/build infrastructure. You’ll only need rotflies and nurglings for a while. Focus on growth and cycle time plagues and spread corruption for unholy manifestations. The time for further expansion comes later and you have techs that grant +3 surplus on new settlements to help you catch up. If you are surviving with that province you are not behind and your recruitment means you can take a loss and rebuild a nurgling stack quick in your territory.
Having the east is a bonus but I did fine not taking it until later. If Tzeentsch takes a settlement you want I found trading it with an offer to join a war with someone (especially a human faction that will auto-war declare anyway) has high weighting and most factions you’ll be at war with when you discover them anyway).
Short of a lucky confederation on turn 167 of my 172 turn campaign I only really had the starting province and the one to the east which I basically just used as a buffer.
8. Don’t fight demons
Grandfather loves all his children! Don’t fight demons if you can help it. Focus on the dwarves, ogres and kislev if you discover them in the first rift. Let them come to you and take attrition from corruption and plagues. If you see them coming send a plague cultist on a plague ship to hit them with attrition damage before they land. If you abstain from fighting demons everyone loves you and you can easily get military alliances with most chaos factions providing you with outposts that grant units with range/killing power and take the pressure of you.
Beyond the ones in your starting province try not to piss off too many ogres since they don’t auto declare war on you (limits your enemies) and their armies, camps and settlements clustered are good for spreading plagues.
9. Stay reliable
Keep your reliability high or your grand demon alliance will crumble like a house of dominoes. Checkmate. You need it intact because it gives you line of sight on incoming threats and you can send an early plague welcome party. The ice court can snowball and send multiple stacks you need to weather until she’s drawn into war on all fronts by discovering more demons and they subside. Knowing when and where helps you prepare. You can also spend allegiance to control their armies strategically.
At all costs avoid fighting Tzeentch. Souldgrinders and forsaken help but still it’s rough in a balanced fight.
10. Debt isn’t so bad
Being 1-2k in debt isn’t so bad with the favour plague with increased spread and the commandment to further raise the chance. It grants 150 favor per spread and with your starting province of 4 settlements and 2 armies I average about 4-6 spreads a turn (600-900 favour) effectively converting infections to favour at a decent rate to offset the debt. Have that second army in ambush stance next to your middle city.
You’ll take a growth hit but Nurgle has a metric ton of growth bonuses and for most of the game you’ll be using tier 3 units anyway.
11. Abuse the terrain
In open field battles use terrain to cover your flanks or funnel enemies into grinder kill boxes. Use cultist summons to tie them up on approach. Anything that blocks line of sight so they have to move their army around is good to reduce incoming damage or bunch them up to increase your DPS. In settlements your max rank towers are strong. Don’t be afraid to set your ranks a bit deeper to lower damage taken if its safe to.
12. Treat buildings as permenant
It’s better to treat Nurgle buildings as one and done deals rather than building all growth and replace them later since Ku’gath gets an insane amount of growth modifiers and the buildings are prohibitively expensive. If you try the usualy total war approach you’ll find yourself tanking your treasury right when you need it mid game to try reconfigure your province and still them have to wait 10-20 turns to see any return. Choose the buildings you want and build them first time.
13. Defensive sieges
You will spend a lot of this campaign under siege in your own province. This is ideal because the AI will split it’s larger army into small parts where towers can take them apart and they have to move through your meat grinder. Find somewhere to block with rotting bodies and slam the choke point with soul grinders. If you manage to break a seige (if only for a moment you can basically replenish your army with recruitment).
Boyars just don’t die or break, it’s better to army loss them by flanking the archers and killing their troops (against kislev you will need to mostly kill them them since their leadership is high so reducing their models is the only way to reduce incoming damage)
Don’t be afraid to play battles the autoresolve says are losses. AR favours armour and ammo and you have niether, besides AR inflicts high causalities as a form of war exhaustion to fix the WH2 problem of beating 1 army and rolling all their settlements.
14. Don’t worry about the souls race. Period.
he rifts are not a ticking time bomb, contrary to popular sentiment. The chance 1 faction gets 4 souls in 4 rifts unimpeded is not high and we will be impeding them. If you have time left after your soul, or if you wish to skip a soul use the rift to go to their base and wreck them. If you have the growth surplus techs you can build them to tier 3 and build corruption and control buildings. Getting ones with trade resources also nets you another cultist (I’m wondering if the first rift is best spent doing this). Recruit a lord with nurglings – The province will pay for the lord. Then before the rifts close head back home. They are pretty easy to defend and still sets your opponent back if you lose them.
You can even close your home base rift after heading through to be safe and then spend 2 turns when you return walking north into the chaos warrior territory because there is another rift there.
If you traverse to an enemy province take the less useful (until they get a fly mount) plagueridden heroes in your army with you through the rift and drop them off their to close the enemies rifts when they next spawn – You know where and when and it effectively slows them down/denies them while lowering control of nugle rebels and that sweet juicy corruption.
You can also spawn camp ambush in Nurgle until the rift closes and no one else can enter then complete it at your leisure or leave and do the same indefinitely to stop any ai getting the last soul like an intervention in vortex. It massively prolongs the campaign. Since you don’t take attrition in Nurgle’s realm like everyone else you are more mobile and can just hit the armies with palsy + palsy symptom plague cultists, cast crumbing ague on yourself then stomp them on the field.
If you find yourself facing an army you can’t beat in the demon realm just goon the legendary lord and kill them (not rout) and retreat. If the LL is not leading the army that army will be removed from the demon realm.
With these tricks I finished the campaign and the nearest AI had a measly 2 souls.
15. Other money tips
We already covered plagues but as nurgle you get a ton of useless followers from battles, make sure to salvage them.
Keep an eye out of sea treasures on your coast too since we are staying home. Decent exp, some bonuses and money.
Finally, If you choose to not contest a soul on the rift I advise going into slaneesh, spend a few turns going down then take the reward for a massive treasury and growth boost. If you are waiting for the rift by glut port you can be in and out with 6-8 turns to go ♥♥♥♥ someone else up. Nurgle’s buildings are expensive and this helps massively.
Rotflies can beat seekers/early flankers and most of the maps in there have nice places to have a wall of nurglings against terrain and the edge to deny flanks and bunch them for spell and artillery killing. (the khorne one has a nice 90s CD aoe weapon called raven spear that is great but you lose it at the next rift and early you want to be growing and defending anyway.
Bonus points, if you have already completed the slaneesh soul battle when you reenter next rift no armies will spawn to oppose you until someone else enters the rift. This means you can send a small token force with your LL and trade your main stack to a second lord for home defence.
16. Final battle advice
Nurgle can cake walk solo the final battle on very hard.
Remember the cultists and grinders I raved about earlier? They will do the entire battle for you with the aid of defensive towers.
Park your army in the bottom right and let the towers kill everything (make sure to manually attack horrors with them). Then just have your 2 cultists and 5 soul grinders (upgrade their ranged damage and replenish their ammo) run forward, capture the point and kite the next wave into the prior towers and bombard them.
Your back army will tank the back add spawns as long as you check every so often and tell the towers to kill the furies and horrors since they can kill the towers.
Once Belakor comes do the same and summon two units of plague bearers and 2 great unclean ones to trap him between towers in point 2. Once he is dead the demons from the forge stop spawning and can be whittled down nice and controlled, no panic just microing those seven units.
Who knew Nurgle was a kite build?
17. Army comp
My armies generally look like:
Nurgle caster lord, 2x cultist, 4x grinders, 2 x rotflies/plague drones, 1 beast of nurgle (replace with unclean), 10 nurglings. Maybe a plagueridden on a fly depending on rifts.
Final army comp:
Kugath, 2x Cultists, 5x Soul grinders, 1 x Plague drones, 1x Exalted plaguebearer (they saved my a*s in my second army so I kept them as a trophy over another plague drone), 2x great unclean ones, 8 x nurglings.
Fighting Tzeench try have some forsaken since nurgle forsaken beat Tzeench ones.
Make liberally use of fast forward in battle for your own sanity!
Good luck, have patience and make grandfather proud.
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