Tag Archives: Horus Heresy

A Newcomer’s Guide to the Iron Warriors

The Iron Warriors are the unequaled masters of siege warfare. Their pragmatic and bitter approach to combat led them to capture and garrison strategic worlds throughout the galaxy, before descending on Terra with Horus and their Primarch, Perturabo. Perturabo was at the helm of the IVth Legion, and led the spearhead into the solar system, obliterating the Imperial defenses and opening the way for Horus to make his way to the Emperor.

Wrack and Ruin

This approach to siege warfare is present in the Iron Warriors legion trait: Wrack and Ruin. Wrack and Ruin allows for any Iron Warriors model to increase the strength of any ranged or melee attacks by 1 if that attack targets a Dreadnought, Automata, Vehicle, or Building.

This small bonus may seem minor at first glance, but the ability to more easily punch holes in Dreadnoughts slightly reduces the intimidation factor of those units. Dreadnoughts are by far the most powerful units in the game, and allowing your basic infantry to wound them in melee (even if only on 6’s) can be a huge boon. The other item to keep in mind is that the Land Raider Spartan that comes in the Age of Darkness box (meaning that a huge portion of the game’s player base will come sporting one) can only be threatened by weapons with S8 or greater. The ability to punch holes in armor with S7 guns gives the Iron Warriors access to mass-fire weapons that can threaten enemy heavy armor. Weapons with higher strength values, such as Lascannons or Melta weapons, will absolutely melt Rhinos and Predators, leaving your opponents exposed.

The Iron Warriors advanced reactions, Bitter Fury, is essentially a boosted Return Fire. Once per battle in the opposing player’s shooting phase you can fire at an enemy unit that just shot one of your units. When making this reaction you double the number of shots that the unit would normally make. This will make your opponent think about range and target very carefully while you hold this card in your back pocket. No one will want to be on the receiving end of 10 plasmaguns double-firing for 40 shots.

Warlord Traits

There are three Warlord Traits available to Iron Warriors Praetors. The first, Tyrant of the Apolokron, provides your warlord with the Fearless special rule, but enforces a requirement that your warlord and any unit he joins shoot or charge the closest enemy unit in each phase, if possible. Fearless is a strong ability, but the restriction on this rule seems to outweigh the benefit, since you generally want your warlord to be more flexible than what this allows.

The second trait, Tyrant of the Dodekathon, allows your warlord to pre-bomb an area of the battlefield, nominating one area terrain or building. This terrain either becomes difficult and dangerous terrain, or it becomes weakened (in the case of buildings and fortifications), forcing higher rolls on the damage table.

Tyrant of the Lyssatra provides your Warlord and any infantry unit he joins to add extra dice to ranged attacks, but the guns used for the attack gain Gets Hot, potentially backfiring on your squad. Gets Hot is an interesting rule, and generally is worth the risk of taking the hit, but it adds a layer of complexity to the army, forcing you to choose to potentially sacrifice members of your squad to ensure the enemy dies.

Rites of War

There are only two Rites of War for the Iron Warriors. Both of these provide army-wide buffs affecting both tanks and infantry. The first, The Hammer of Olympia, allows your infantry to fire an additional shot with shrapnel weapons (discussed below) following the same restriction as Fury of the Legion. This rite also allows some of your tanks to ignore the effects of Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned. The final item is an accuracy boost in the form of re-rolling 1s to hit for all shrapnel weapons (which you absolutely should be taking as many as possible).

The Ironfire also provides some buffs to all units in your army and adds some spicy army-build options. The first point is that this allows you to run Arquitors as non-compulsory Troops (although they don’t get Line). There are some general improvements to scatter when using Barrage (which your Arquitors rely on). This also allows some boosts to infantry to protect them from the inevitable moment that your Arquitor barrages go awry and land on top of your own units.

Either Rite provides some overall positive improvements to standard list building, with The Hammer of Olympia being what I expect to see more often. The pure joy of placing up to 21 Arquitor Bombards on the table would be worth seeing, however (almost 4000pts, all told, so you would have to play some truly massive games to hit that level). If you can afford that many Forgeworld models you should absolutely do this, take pictures, and share on our discord so I can tell you how wonderful you are.

Unique Units and Equipment

Legion-specific Enhancements

The Iron Warriors have limited Legion enhancements. There is only one character upgrade, allowing a foot Praetor to gain a bunch of enhancements allowing him to repair vehicles and gain some extra utility equipment for whatever unit he joins. Depending on how many vehicles, dreadnoughts, and automata you run this upgrade will be well worth the 20pts.

Iron Warriors characters also have the ability to replace select power weapons with Graviton weapons. These weapons aren’t an improvement over their default version unless you expect to be in melee with Vehicles, where the Haywire rule will come into play. As interesting as these weapons are, why would you want to rely on punching a tank when you’re the Iron Warriors and can bring your own tanks to the field?

The final upgrade is stand-out great, and you should absolutely spend the points any time you have the opportunity. For two points per gun, any bolter, bolt pistol, or heavy bolter can be replaced with a Shrapnel weapon. Shrapnel weapons lose some range and AP from their standard versions but gain the Pinning keyword. Any time you are given the opportunity to pin your opponent’s units you should take it, and with so many weapons on the field that can take this you should be forcing multiple pinning tests on your opponents every turn. This bonus also gives the opportunity to shut off a charge with some lucky overwatch rolls, as a Charge is cancelled if the charging unit becomes pinned.

Legion Specific Units

Perturabo, the Primarch of the Iron Warriors is an odd unit. His Battlesmith (2+) makes him one of the best options in the game at keeping tanks alive but requires him to hang out in the back of an army with your predators or sicarans. Master of Automata is only present to allow him to take his Iron Circle retinue. His damage output is nothing to write home about, and without line his inability to be killed (T7 with a 3+ invulnerable save is incredible) makes him better at keeping other units alive by absorbing shots, rather than really dealing any damage himself. Even his cortex controller, which makes an excellent buff for your Tyrant Siege Terminators, can be obtained cheaper from a Forgelord Centurion.

Ultimately, for the points, you’re better off with a few Centurions and a Lord of War. Perturabo can make a great centerpiece, but you could argue that he isn’t completely worth his points. At the end of the day, if your opponent brings a Primarch, Perturabo is going to get tied up for the whole fight, and if your opponent doesn’t bring a primarch they will just play keep-away with their tanks and infantry for the whole fight.

The Iron Circle Maniple is an equally disappointing unit for the points cost. For slightly less than a Contemptor Dreadnought you get an automaton with several 7s in its stat line, a graviton maul, and a shrapnel cannon. What hurts the unit is the low WS and BS, hitting with that cannon on 4s, and with WS4 it can’t fight any better than a basic tacital. These units really shine when attacking tanks in melee with the Haywire rule on their maul, but with only 3 attacks (4 on the charge) you could get pretty similar output from a lascannon-equipped predator. The big draw for this unit is the ability for Perturabo to take them as a retinue, so long as you commit to taking three of them (bringing the cost of Perturabo + the maniple to around 900pts, around 33% of you points in a standard 3000pt game).

The final unique unit for the Iron Warriors are the Tyrant Siege Terminators, a group of 5-10 Cataphractii Terminators with cyclone missile launchers strapped to their backs. These boys are possibly one of the best flexible ranged threats in the game, with the ability o punch holes in tanks, infantry, or aircraft from 48” away. The addition on an Omni-scope on the Siege Master means that they do not suffer from the negative effects of Night Fighting and allows a free use of the Interceptor advanced reaction. While they are expensive (300 pts for the first 5, and 55pts for each additional) they make up that cost by being durable infantry with great damage output. For some additional reliability, you can support them with a Master of Signals to get the additional hit bonus from the cognis-signum.

Final Thoughts

While the unique units and some of the wargear options fall a little flat, the Iron Warriors have some very strong Rites of War to make up for them. Wrack and Ruin makes them one of the best tank-killer legions in the game and the addition of shrapnel bolters forcing pinning checks constantly will help keep your opponent’s infantry in check as well.

What’s Next

As this article is part of a series, I will spend the next few months going into more detail about the rules of the game and the specifics of each legion. I would like to know if there is specific content our readers would like to see, so leave a comment or join us in the Woehammer discord to let us know what points you would like to see discussed.

Book Review – Sons of Selenar

A Novella for The Siege of Terra by Graham McNeill

With The Siege of Terra in full swing, Graham McNeill takes us down a little cul-de-sac to close off the story-arc of the ‘Sons of Selenar’… or the Shattered Legions. This is an interesting departure from the other Siege of Terra books, in that it has characters from the Horus Heresy series who have been with each other for some time and gone through a number of adventures together.

Sons of Selenar from Black Library

From the book:

The Shattered Legions crew of the Sisypheum, broken and at the end of their endurance, find themselves divided – torn between following their resurrected captain on a suicidal mission or obeying orders to return to Terra and rejoin their Legion brothers.

Following a series of garbled messages intercepted by the Kryptos, the divided warriors descend to the shattered surface of Luna. Here, their bonds of loyalty, duty, and their devotion to one another will be tested as ancient horrors of the earliest days of gene-manipulation are unleashed, and a long-buried secret is revealed.

A secret that will have far-reaching consequences for the future course of the galaxy, no matter who eventually claims Terra.

The Shattered Legions – a group of loyalists separated from their own legions, find themselves hiding in the solar system following a void battle, when they receive a call for help from the surface of Luna. Ancient technology is under threat from the Sons of Horus and they are being called to help.

This is a strange – but I imagine essential – addition to the Siege of Terra, and I can understand why it is a novella and not part of the main story arc. The characters have all been introduced in some depth in the Horus Heresy series and – as I note above – have already have adventures, battles and close-calls within that series. This then left the writers of the Siege of Terra books in a quandary – the need to close this particular story-arc, but not confuse people who are just reading the Siege of Terra – like me!

And they have succeeded – sort of. This story has what you need in a Horus Heresy novella, but it should probably have been released under that series and not the Siege of Terra series. There is only a minimal link to the Siege of Terra proper – they are on Luna – and Black Library could easily have released it alongside.

The writing is of course good as we’ve come to expect from Graham McNeill but the characters are already developed, and I would have liked to have a little more description of them, even if it would have been superfluous for those who’ve read all the Horus Heresy novels. They fly, fight, kill and die whilst struggling to save the secrets of Gene-manipulation… and there’s some more history about the Emperor thrown in for good measure.

Overall a good book, but you really need to have read the Shattered Legion novels from Horus Heresy first.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

— Declan

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

A Newcomer’s Guide to the Emperor’s Children

The Emperor’s Children were the only legion to bear the Palatine Aquila, the Emperor’s standard. The Emperor’s Children embodied all aspects of what the Emperor expected from the legiones astartes. They were noble, loyal, strong, and civilized. These expectations drove the third legion to seek absolute perfection. This desire for perfection led to their twisting of pride into a desire for excess and hedonism. Once the legion began to follow the Warmaster their martial prowess saw massacres and brutality against the Imperium performed by the hands of a once-loyal legion.

The IIIrd Legion’s Primarch – Fulgrim

Flawless Execution

The martial prowess of the Emperor’s Children is represented through a tremendously powerful legion tactic. When an Emperor’s Children unit performs a charge make their melee attacks one initiative step higher than normal. Note that this expressly works after any initiative modifiers are taken into account. Any Vehicle units gain +1 to hit when firing with defensive weapons during a reaction.

At first glance this seems very minor, but the execution of this rule is extremely powerful. Because wounds and casualties are determined at the end of each initiative step, if a model is removed as a casualty before it has the chance to fight in a combat, that model’s attacks are lost. If two opposing models have the same initiative, all the wounds and casualties are considered to happen simultaneously, so a model removed as a casualty still has the opportunity to deal damage on the way down. This rule gives the Emperor’s Children the ability to severely reduce the amount of incoming damage following a charge, by removing a threat before it has the chance to strike.

This also greatly improves the use of Unwieldy weapons, since this increase happens after initiative modifiers are calculated. A powerfist hitting at Initiative 2 allows an Emperor’s Chosen Cataphractii squad the chance to hit opposing terminators with valuable Instant Death attacks before they are allowed the chance to die in kind. This also increases the ability for the Emperor’s Children to build expert duelists through Centurions and Praetors, who already strike at higher Initiative than most units. A high-value character issuing a challenge can potentially kill the enemy warlord before they have the chance to strike back.

At the end of the day this trait will make the third legion a dangerous melee threat. Not because they hit harder, but because they can reduce the risk of incoming damage. Overall, this cements the Emperor’s Children as a powerful melee faction.

Warlord Traits

There are three warlord traits to choose from for the Emperor’s Children, and they highlight an interesting dynamic for the game as a whole. The game does not dictate loyalty to the Emperor simply from the choice of legion. Yes, the Emperor’s Children are considered a traitor legion, but they can be played as loyalists. The warlord traits reflect this by providing one trait that can only be taken by traitors, one that can only be taken by loyalists, and one that is alliance agnostic. Each trait is solid, and they provide huge benefits with some key restrictions.

The first trait, The Broken Mirror, is restricted to warlords with the Traitor allegiance. It allows some morale mitigation for multi-model units within 12” of the warlord. If a unit that meets the conditions fails a morale check, instead of falling back, it takes a single wound that can’t be negated in any way and is then considered to have passed the morale check.

The second trait requires you to play a loyalist warlord. A warlord with the Martyrs of Isstvan trait makes any unit locked in combat with a legiones astartes unit with the traitor allegiance gain a bonus to hit. Consider this in context with the legion tactic and you’ll see that this can force your opponent to be careful about how they choose to engage a key unit with your warlord attached. The only issue is the target restriction, especially since the release of the latest books may see more games played where this warlord trait would not come into use.

The final warlord trait, Paragon of Excellence, can be played by either allegiance. This trait combines some function of the previous two by improving units’ combat abilities through morale. Every unit that passes a morale check within 12” of the warlord gains a bonus to their Weapon Skill until the end of the Emperor’s Children’s player’s next turn. Given the relatively high leadership values of marine armies, and the ability to improve that morale by attaching independent characters to key units, you will regularly trigger this ability.

Rites of War

The Emperor’s Children have two Rites of War. Both rites focus on generally improving the function of your infantry, either by adding a bonus to movement and positioning or by providing access to unique enhancements.

The first rite, The Maru Skara, will provide you with movement buffs that place you on par with the White Scars. By taking this rite, you have the option to place four of your Elite, Troop, or Fast Attack units into reserves. The units that remain on the battlefield gain a +1 to their Move characteristic until the turn that the reserve units are brought in. This is important to note, since your standard marine gaining a +1 to Move also means that they gain +1 to Charge rolls.

The second Rite, IIIrd Company Elite, allows you to take Kakophoni squads as troops. It also allows you to give all models in any given Infantry unit a surgical augmentation. The bonuses from these augmentations do a lot to offset the points cost of the equipment. You also need to have a good system of tracking which unit has which enhancement. Variety is nice, but your game can move at a snail’s pace if you increase your bookkeeping load too much.

Legion-specific Enhancements

Speaking of surgical augmentations: there are three to choose from. All of them require the Traitor allegiance and can only be placed on Character models. Sonic Shriekers provides a to-hit penalty to your opponents any time they are charged or charge your unit, so long as that enemy unit isn’t immune to Fear(X). Sub-sonic Pulsers remove the penalties to Leadership and Ballistic Skill imposed by Night Fighting. The final augmentation, a Sonic Lance, provides your model with a Template weapon with Breaching and Pinning, although the low strength value will limit its effectiveness against many opponents. The Lance can be effective on a large unit of Tactical Marines or Despoilers in a IIIrd Company Elite force, providing as many as 20 template weapons in a squad for a mere 30 points.

Outside of these augmentations, there are two power weapon upgrades: a sword and a lance. The lance is usually a better upgrade on the units that can take it, since the combination of Murderous Strike, Breaching, and a strength bonus will see more utility. There is something to be said about the benefits of a power sword with Rending and Murderous Strike, since your 6s to wound are going to be devastating when they happen. The upgrade on the sword will also make your Word Bearers friends jealous, since they pay 10 points for the same upgrade.

The Emperor’s Children also gain access to the Phoenix Warden, a unique consul upgrades for your centurions. Think of the Phoenix Warden as a modified champion, with rules focused on improving melee efficiency for himself and other units around him. The issue is that any bonus he gains from the Skill Unmatched special rule always reduces his attacks or Weapon Skill, and his Living Icons ability can more easily be attained through Legion Vexillas. Overall not a bad option, and decently flavorful, but the rules could use a tweak, given the points cost for the upgrade.

Lord Commander Eidolon

Legion Specific Units

As Primarchs go, Fulgrim is relatively straightforward. He’s a melee beatstick, with a collection of tools and rules to exceed in that role. Ost standard units are going to have a hard time dealing with him once the combat begins, but, as with most Primarchs, he can be played around simply by keeping him out of combat. He doesn’t have any real movement buffs and his increased Bulky value when compared to other Primarchs (Fulgrim demands more legroom) means that he will need something akin to a Land Raider Spartan to carry him and a retinue.

Past Fulgrim, the third legion brings along a pair of melee units, Phoenix Terminators and Palatine Blade Squads which are melee-oriented, buffed versions of Tartaros squads and Veteran squads, respectively. The final infantry squad available is the Kakophoni Squad. These are a sort of Heavy Support Squad with special weapons and surgical augmentations unique to the Emperor’s Children. Overall, an Emperor’s Children player should feel pleased with the units here. None of them will blow you away, but all three have solid rules and equipment.

In addition to the above units, there are three unique characters: Lord Commander Eidolon, Captain Saul Tarvitz, and Captain Lucius. Eidolon is a mildly upgrades jump-pack Praetor with some flavorful wargear. His warlord trait provides bonuses to fight a selected “Rival” at the cost of limiting his ability to declare reacitons. Saul Tarvitz is another upgrades Praetor, but significantly cheaper than the other two. He has a bevy of rules that ultimately break down to make him very good at fighting other Emperor’s Children. If your local meta has a bunch of other third legion players he may see some use, otherwise you’re probably better off with a Phoenix Warden Centurion.

The final character, Captain Lucius, is designed to be an excellent duelist. You want him in melee immediately, and you want him issuing and responding to challenges as often as he can. His warlord trait allows any unit to which he is attached to benefit from the Fearless special rule so long as he is engaged in a challenge.

All three of the characters are interesting, but I don’t see Eidolon or Tarvitz fitting into every list. Model collectors and painters can’t go wrong here, though, as all three models are stunning. The detail present on each model does a fantastic job of displaying exactly how obsessed with decorum the third legion was.

Final Thoughts

Given the above, the Emperor’s Children make a mean melee legion. Gaining combat advantages on the charge can be played around, however, and a savvy opponent will know to focus down the right targets at the right time. Positioning and timing are important, but the Emperor’s Children demand perfection, and they are certainly capable of attaining it.

What’s Next

As this article is part of a series, I will spend the next few months going into more detail about the rules of the game and the specifics of each legion. I would like to know if there is specific content our readers would like to see, so leave a comment or join us in the Woehammer discord to let us know what points you would like to see discussed.

Hobby Update – Horus Heresy Blood Angels

Space Marine Spartan Tank

With 40 Space Marines completed I now need to move onto the remaining four models. As one of them is quite big (very, very big), I realised I needed to get started on the Spartan.

As I’ve been playing mostly Fantasy and Age of Sigmar in the last decade I haven’t painted many tanks, so I needed to go back to basics and remind myself how to do it!

Assembly was a long process, but very straight forward apart from a small error with one of the top hatches. Once I’d worked that out it was completed and ready for undercoat.

Undercoat / Step 1

All my models have a black undercoat as I like the slightly darker affect it has on Mephiston Red. It also means there are no grey / white spots left even if I miss a bit! So I can always pretend it’s deliberate shadow.

I decided I would mask off the tracks and some of the weapons to ensure that these remained black as building back over red is a little pointless when it’s already there. If you’ve not done this before just make sure you take a little of the ‘stickiness’ off so that it doesn’t remove the paint when you take them off!

Step 2 – Red Undercoat

With the Mephiston Red undercoat on, and the masking tape removed it’s starting to look a lot like a Blood Angel tank. Next up is some pin washing (which I’ve never done before) with Nuln Oil and a little tidying up of the tracks where the red undercoat has snuck through!

I also need to finish the Lascannon Sponsors of course but they fit on very nicely to allow some movement of the model.

What’s Next

I need to finish the tank, and complete the remainder of the Age of Darkness Box Set. It’s great to be getting close to finishing a starter set!

— Declan & Eeyore

Hobby Update – Horus Heresy Heavy Support Marines

Legion Heavy Support Squads.

The last of the normal marines… having painted 10 Terminators and 30 Space Marines I am now on the final stretch (before characters, Dreadnought and tank).

And what a final stretch… for these I cheated a little bit and bought a second box set.

Missile Launchers and Heavy Bolters

I selected these, because the Missile Launcher is iconic from the RTB01 box set and my first foray into Warhammer 40k, so long ago.

The iconic RTB01 box for the original plastic Space Marines

Missile Launchers

Missile Launchers with Sergeant

Heavy Bolters

Space Marines with Heavy Bolters (including Sergeant)

It was great to have a bit of a change following the 30 Tactical Marines and the weapons themselves are easy to paint – especially given the simple scheme for the Blood Angels. Fortunately Black and Red go together!

What’s Next

I am halfway through the Praetors and Dreadnought and they will hopefully be finished before an October trip to Warhammer World. Meanwhile I have also started my Land Raider Spartan – more on that later!

— Declan & Eeyore

Hobby Update – Horus Heresy Tactical Marines

Legion Tactical Squads.

To say that the Age of Darkness box set is bursting with value, is doing it a disservice. With 40 Mark VIs, 10 Terminators, 2 Praetors, Dreadnought and Spartan Tank; it has got everything you need to have a fun game.

I’ve previously finished my Terminators, and have now completed the Sergeants for the Tactical Marines.

As there are 40 Tactical Marines the obvious answer is to build them as 4 units of 10 to give a good backbone of any army, but I picked up a box of missile launchers and heavy bolters… so I have 3 units of 10 Tactical Marines.

Unit 1

Tactical Squad, including Sergeant with Power Fist

Unit 2

Tactical Squad with Chain-Bayonets and Sergeant with Power Sword

Unit 3

Tactical Squad with Sergeant with Lightning Claw

I really enjoyed painting these models. They have enough detail to be Space Marines, whilst not having too much to paint… no trim! Of course they do have the studded shoulder pads which took a while to get right, but I batch-painted them so got used to it by the 40th Space Marine!

What’s Next

I have finished the Missile Launchers and Heavy Bolters, so the next article will show some pictures of those!

— Declan & Eeyore

Book Review – Echoes of Eternity

Book 7 in the Siege of Terra Series – by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Siege of Terra is reaching it’s climax, having been promised 8 books in the series although it does appear that book 8 will be in a number of parts! Such is the difficulty of writing an ending.

Echoes of Eternity from Black Library

From the book:

The walls have fallen. The defenders’ unity is broken. The Inner Palace lies in ruins. The Warmaster’s horde advances through the fire and ash of Terra’s dying breaths, forcing the loyalists back to the Delphic Battlement, the very walls of the Sanctum Imperialis. Angron, Herald of Horus, has achieved immortality through annihilation – now he leads the armies of the damned in a wrathful tide, destroying all before them as the warp begins its poisonous corruption of Terra. For the Emperor’s beleaguered forces, the end has come. The Khan lies on the edge of death. Rogal Dorn is encircled, fighting his own war at Bhab Bastion. Guilliman will not reach Terra in time. Without his brothers, Sanguinius – the Angel of the Ninth Legion – waits on the final battlements, hoping to rally a desperate band of defenders and refugees for one last stand.

Wow… how do you fit all that in? There are so many Primarchs still left on Terra or interacting with Terra, and there must have been a strong temptation to tell these stories, but Dembski-Bowden doesn’t – or rather he does, but through the eyes of others.

The book starts with a setting of the scene of war – which is essentially a series of short stories of those fighting. The author gives a superb view of the war, with pockets of soldiers fighting, tanks under attack, titan deaths and attacks on the Eternity Gate. These short stories bring the war to the gates, as the defenders (mostly Blood Angels) prepare and await their fate.

The second part is the attack itself, interspersed by the story of Vulkan and Magnus, and has the fight between the Blood Angels and Ka’Banda; and between Sanguinius and Angron. Meanwhile the Eternity gate is still under threat and the Emperor’s shield against the forces of the warp (The Neverborn) starts to weaken under constant assault.

It’s a great addition to the series – and my favourite one so far. We are approaching the end, and it’s great to have the iconic fights included but still see the battle and fighting from the view of more normal people — if ‘normal’ includes the Space Marines!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

— Declan & Eeyore

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

A Newcomer’s Guide to the Dark Angels

The noble knights of the First Legion were too far to intervene at Istvann and were drawn to Thramas to stop the atrocities being committed by the Night Lords. This misdirection occupied the legions for years, leading to the destruction of several inhabited sectors. Lion El’Johnson, the Primarch of the Dark Angels, embarked on the Passage of the Angel of Death, a campaign meant to punish the traitor legions by targeting strongholds and home worlds. This campaign ended once the Siege of Terra began, redirecting the Dark Angels to the defense of the Imperial home world.

In the lore, the Dark Angels are the archetypical legion. They have the tools and resources for any task, and the sectioning of their legion leads to flexibility on the battlefield. This is reflected in the rules through their legion trait, rites of war, warlord traits, and specific units.

The Dark Angels Primarch – Lion El’Johnson

The Hexagrammaton

The Hexagrammaton represents the flexibility of the Dark Angels. Every unit you choose to be in your army must be assigned to one of six “wings”, with each wing providing different effects. There are additional restrictions concerning transport, independent characters, apothecaries, and techmarines, explained in detail in the Liber Astartes.

The wings provide different bonus allowing you to tailor each unit in your army to the job it’s meant to perform. As an example, the Stormwing provides a hit bonus when firing bolters, combi-bolters, or bolt pistols, making it a decent choice for tactical marines to take full advantage of the extra shots provided by Fury of the Legion. The Firewing, on the other hand, applies bonuses to wound rolls when targeting an independent character, making it a potent bonus to the units that you want to take character hunting. One of my favorite wings perfectly highlights the flavor present in the ruleset of the Horus Heresy: the Deathwing allows a bonus to Hit rolls for all types of swords, including any close combat weapons modeled as swords.

The Dark Angels’ advanced reaction, The Angels of Death, provides a unit the ability to respond to an enemy charge by becoming harder to shift. The reliance on a Leadership test makes the reaction slightly weaker, and requires more careful planning on unit selection to get the maximum benefit, but the use of Fear(X) and Fearless/Stubborn can come in clutch when trying to defend an important mid-board objective.

Warlord Traits

The Hexagrammaton provides for an immense degree of flexibility and is an excellent rule allowing for tons of flavor and performance from the legion.

Then there are the warlord traits.

There are two to choose from that are specific to the Dark Angels. The first, Marshal of the Crown, provides a minuscule leadership buff to any unit of the same wing as the warlord that has at least one model that can draw line of sight to the warlord. The second, Seneschal of the Keys, allows the controlling player to select a faction, and then state that a turn is decisive. During the decisive turn, the warlord and any unit to which they are attached gain a small buff to their WS or BS (not both) when targeting a unit of the chosen faction for the duration of the turn.

There are certainly uses to both of these traits; depending on what army your opponent is running your mileage will vary. There is an argument to make, however, that the Horus Heresy is not a competitive game, but a narrative one, in which case either of these options will add flavor to the game, but probably won’t be the reason you win a battle.

Rites of War

To make up for the slim number of warlord traits there are six Rites of War for the first legion. Each Rite is tied to an individual wing of the Hexagrammaton and provides appropriate buffs and restrictions to emphasize building your army around whichever wing you feel would be the most fun to put on the table.

If you want to run nothing but tanks, that is an option by running The Steel Fist, allowing you to take Predators as troops, Kratos tanks as elites, and gives the option to take Land Raiders as dedicated transports for your infantry. Opposite of that is The Storm of War, which pushes the use of massed infantry, giving you the option of filling your fast attack and elite slots with troops units.

The Eskaton Imperative gives you great board control, making everything outside of your deployment zone difficult terrain and allowing you to take Destroyer and Interemptor squads as troops, but providing your opponent with extra victory points if they can keep a unit in their deployment zone at the end of the battle that isn’t Pinned or Falling Back. The Unbroken Vow also provides you opponent with the chance at getting more victory points based on objective control but allows you to take Terminators as troops.

The final two Rites emphasize the use of fast attack slots. The Seeker’s Arrow giving you Sky-hunter and Outrider squads as troops, while providing some buffs and movement shenanigans to your cavalry units. The Serpent’s Bane allows you to take Seeker Squads as troops and allows you to select three priority target units in your opponent’s force, giving your Firewing units bonuses to hit against them.

Overall, every Rite of War is solid, and will have a major impact on your list building. Two Dark Angels armies will play vastly differently from one another, with all possibilities being viable, flavorful, and fun.

Unique Units

The unique units available to the Dark Angels include their Primarach, Lion El’Johnson, two characters, and three infantry units. As with every Primarch, the Lion has a ton of rules that could be covered, but to sum up you can think of him as a very flexible leader and duelist. His warlord trait, Sire of the Dark Angels, provides your army with the ability to reliably perform sweeping advances and provides a small Leadership buff for those units that can draw line of sight to him more reliably. He also is the only unit in the first legion that does not select a wing of the Hexagrammaton at the beginning of the battle, but chooses a wing at the start of the controlling player’s turn that will last the remainder of the round. This provides him with a level of flexibility to perform whatever function you need from him in the moment.

The two characters, Corswain and Marduk Sedras, are each powerful martial combatants. Corswain is the Champion of the Dark Angels, carrying a sword called “The Blade” which gains the Instant Death keyword on 50% of all wound rolls. His armor provides a 3+ Invulnerable save against close combat attacks allowing him to outlast many opponents once a melee begins. Marduk Sedras provides slightly more utility than Corswain, as he provides the Preferred Enemy special rule. This utility does not hamper his damage output, however, as he has an Unwieldy close combat weapon that hits at Strength 9 with the ability to reduce enemy invulnerable saves. It’s worth noting that at the time of writing this article Corswain does not have a model on the Forgeworld store, so if you want to run him in your army you will need to be prepared to kit-bash him from a praetor model.

The first of the three unique units are the Deathwing Companions, an HQ unit meant to act as a retinue for your praetors with a special rule equivalent to bodyguard, ignoring Precision Shots and Precision Strikes. The second is an Elites unit, Inner Circle Knights Cenobium, which are heavy-hitting terminators with the ability to tailor their strengths to the opposing army at the start of a battle. The final unit is the Dreadwing Interemptor Squad, a unit of Elite Dreadwing marines carrying special weapons which act as a combination of plasma guns and flamers.

Final Thoughts

Overall the Dark Angels meet the expectation of being an extremely flexible legion. The wings of the Hexagrammaton allow you to increase the function of each unit, increasing their ability to excel in the role chosen for them. I feel this may open the door for a crafty opponent to play around this, meeting Stormwing units in close combat, or destroying Deathwing units at range before they can make use of their improved swords. While the warlord traits are not the strongest showing, they certainly aren’t bad, and the Rites of War and unique units more than make up for whatever weakness may be in the army.

What’s Next

As this article is part of a series, I will spend the next few months going into more detail about the rules of the game and the specifics of each legion. I would like to know if there is specific content our readers would like to see, so leave a comment or join us in the Woehammer discord to let us know what points you would like to see discussed.

Hobby Update – Horus Heresy Terminators

Blood Angel Cataphractii Terminators.

With the standard marines finished (just special equipment and Sergeants to go), I decided to try to finish off my Cataphractii Terminator Squad.

I needed them to pop a little and then I saw what Mengel Miniatures had done over on twitter.

Putting aside that they are the wrong legion, I loved the breakup of the single colour and the use of gold goes nicely with Blood Angels as well. As if to reinforce the hint, I bought the Astartes (Loyalist) book, and veteran marines in Blood Angels use gold (who knew).

The sergeant already had black shoulder pads to designate him, but a full gold helmet definitely doesn’t look out of place, and I’ve once again taken Mengel Miniature’s idea of white on the legs but moved it down to the knee. This has allowed me to use the black transfers for the legion number, although they are small, so it was fun getting some of them on.

I then added gold trim to all the models in places that felt appropriate and … hurrah they are finished.

10 Cataphractii Terminators for Blood Angel Horus Heresy

And some more pictures for details:

What’s Next

I need to finish the Sergeants and special equipment troopers, the Praetors, a Contemptor and the Spartan Assault Tank. Lots to get to, but happy with progress so far.

— Declan & Eeyore

A Newcomer’s Guide to Horus Heresy, as Presented by a Newcomer

Since its inception in 2012, the Horus Heresy has been a largely inaccessible wargame to the general community. While wargaming in general would not be considered a cheap hobby by anyone, the steep price of Forgeworld models (the source of the vast majority of Horus Heresy-compliant models) has been a blocking point for entry to many gamers, myself included. The game required either very deep pockets, or a huge time investment to kit-bash and customize entire squads of line troops. This was vastly more difficult before the advent of cheap, available at-home 3D printers.

The release history saw a few plastic models over time, primarily the MkIII and MkIV tactical squads, cataphractii and tartaros terminators, and a contemptor dreadnought with very few weapon options. Beyond these few minis, if you wanted to field an army in Horus Heresy that used any legion-specific units or Heresy-era vehicles you needed to be prepared to shell out for them. You could see a price of $20 per model in a five-man infantry squad, $50 for a single jetbike (noting that you need at least 3 to make a minimum-sized unit), and as much as $1,500 for the largest vehicles.

Enter Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Age of Darkness, a $300 monstrosity of a box meant to be a starter set for the second edition of Horus Heresy. The release of the box, along with the first two faction books, Liber Astartes and Liber Hereticus, saw the promise of a more accessible game. The massive reduction in cost of entry suddenly saw an uptick in interest for the game, and while the current state of the game still requires some kit-bashing or purchasing of Forgeworld resin, there are new plastic kits introduced almost weekly.

In This Corner…

When Age of Darkness was released, the community in my area immediately sprung to life. There were about seven of us that bought the box on day one, and several others joined in later. The new ruleset was refreshing when compared to 40K, and the first two books promised a game focused on flavor over competition. The factions, while limited to the original 18 Space Marine legions, promises more books to come, including Mechanicus, Titan Legions, Daemons, and Imperial Troops, which all appear to play like their lore counterparts.

The Loyalist Legions

The First Legion: Dark Angels

The Dark Angels face off against the Nightlords

The Dark Angels, both in lore and rules, are meant to be the archetypical legion. While all other legions are specialized to one degree or another, the first legion is more balanced in all aspects of war. Their rules focus around the Hexagrammaton, which allows each individual unit to be assigned a ‘wing’ of the legion, providing distinct bonuses depending on what their assigned role is in your army.

The Fifth Legion: White Scars

The White Scars

The fifth legion are bult for speed. White Scars tend to be built to get the most out of the movement phase since the legion trait gives your army a blanket increase to movement, and their advanced reaction allows for massed movement in the enemy movement phase, assuming your units are placed in such a way to take the advantage.

The Sixth Legion: Space Wolves

Geigor Fell Hand

Before the Space Wolves became the overdone wolfiest wolves who ever wolfed in 40k, they were based on Vikings and berserkers, and their rules reflect this by encouraging a fast and aggressive playstyle. The sixth get access to a mass of unique war gear, and their legion trait has them getting the most out of movement to get them into melee as quickly as possible by combing run and charge tactics.

The Seventh Legion: Imperial Fists

Imperial Fists deploying for battle

The Imperial Fists are the masters of siege warfare, and as such make one of the best “stand still and shoot” armies in Horus Heresy. Their legion trait gives a bonus to hit rolls when firing any of the basic line weapons like bolters or battle cannons. This is the closest you might get to playing a ‘vanilla’ legion, but they have some tricks and war gear that allows them some additional flavor beyond what is seen at the surface.

The Ninth Legion: Blood Angels

Blood Angel Tactical Marine

Another melee-centric legion, the Blood Angels specialize in fast shock troops, jump packs, and deep striking. Like their 40k rules, the ninth get a bonus to wound rolls after charging, and their rites of war allow you to either lean heavily into deep strike or allow your units to become stronger as they suffer casualties.

The Tenth Legion: Iron Hands

Iron Hands Tactical Marine

Iron Hands are built around fielding the toughest units in a game of tough units. Their legion tactic reduces the strength of incoming attacks and provides some additional hardiness to their vehicles through the addition of It Will Not Die. These rules make basic line troops hardy enough to stand up to mass plasma fire and usually marine-killer weapons, forcing your opponent into having reduced wound rolls, or wasting high-strength weapons on shooting your line troops when they would be better served punching holes in tanks or dreadnoughts.

The Thirteenth Legion: Ultramarines

Ultramarines in combat

In the lore, the Ultramarines contend with the Dark Angels on who is the better all-around legion. Their legion tactic gives them an edge at range so long as you mass your fire at a single unit, and their advanced reaction allows you to have two units return fire rather than just one. They make up for the lack of melee in these traits by having some excellent melee war gear, allowing you to hit with high armor penetration without sacrificing your initiative.

The Eighteenth Legion: Salamanders

The Salamanders led by their Primarch ready for battle

The eighteenth legion are the second hardy legion in line with the Iron Hands. Their legion tactic allows them to reduce the wound rolls for marine-killer weapons, like plasma and volkite, while giving their tanks and multi-wound models It Will Not Die. True to their lore, Salamanders also get access to improved flame weapons and some unique units built around hitting your opponent with as much flame as possible.

The Nineteenth Legion: Raven Guard

Raven Guard arrayed for battle

The Raven Guard represent the loyalists’ guerilla fighters and provide some of the best tools to pull off alpha strikes. Another multi-parts legion tactic, much like a less flexible version of the Dark Angels, Raven Guard units are split between one of three branches providing the pre-game moves, bonuses to wound on the charge, and/or damage mitigation from incoming fire through the generous provision of the Shrouded rule.

The Traitor Legions

The Third Legion: Emperor’s Children

An Emperor’s Children dreadnought

The fanciest legion comes with a host of traits that allow them to get their attacks in assault in before their opponents and provide some strength bonuses to defensive weapons on their tanks. The advanced reaction allows you to pull out the ultimate Uno reverse card, cancelling an opponent’s charge and responding with a charge of your own.

The Fourth Legion: Iron Warriors

Iron Warriors terminators attack Imperial Fists lines

If the Imperial Fists are the experts at siege warfare, the Iron Warriors are the legion built for breaking those sieges. The fourth legion get advantages to cracking open vehicles and fortifications, and their unique war gear allows for punishing rolls to pin your opponents or hit tanks with Haywire weapons.

The Eighth Legion: Night Lords

Night Lords Marine

The Night Lords are built around using fear tactics to force their enemy to flee before shooting them in the back with their unique war gear. They gain bonuses to wound units that are pinned, falling back, or outnumbered, encouraging you to run large units of Bulky models to make sure that you can always outnumber your opponents.

The Twelfth Legion: World Eaters

A World Eaters dreadnought

There is no subtlety from the World Eaters. The twelfth legion is built for aggressive melee combat, and their legion trait allows them extra attacks following a charge, even if that charge is disordered. With this in mind it is not difficult for a despoiler squad to reach up to four attacks per model on the charge, causing your basic line troops to become a real threat against any opponent.

The Fourteenth Legion: Death Guard

A Death Guard Tactical Marine

The Death Guard fight battles through consistent violations of the Geneva Convention. Their slow plodding pace allows them to maintain steady heavy weapons fire while moving using their legion trait. Their unique war gear gives them access to chemical weapons that are particularly effective at dealing with enemy infantry.

The Fifteenth Legion: Thousand Sons

The Thousand Sons are the chief psychic faction in Horus Heresy. They benefit strongly from the rework to psychic rules, and their legion trait assigns all infantry and cavalry as psykers, with access to minor arcana for these units. This allows for some huge flexibility in your units, with the only downside being the high risk of suffering Perils of the Warp, given the volume of psychic tests you will be making.

The Sixteenth Legion: Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus

The Sons of Horus cleanse Orks from Ullanor

The Sons of Horus behave similarly to the Blood Angels in melee. Instead of increasing their own wound rolls, they reduce the strength of their opponents during the first turn of combat following a charge. Their rules, war gear, and unique units don’t lean them too heavily into ranged or melee combat, but rather support a blend of the two while making the most of elite units.

The Seventeenth Legion: Word Bearers

The Word Bearers take on Blood Angels

The Word Bearers are a force of heretics and corrupted psykers and marines that could ultimately take the blame for the start of the Horus Heresy. Their legion trait is not particularly strong, giving them some resistance to leadership reduction and winning ties in assault, but their unique war gear and unit modifiers more than make up for this weakness, giving you access to the corrupted subtype and power weapons that gain Instant Death with some lucky wound rolls.

The Twentieth Legion: Alpha Legion

The Alpha Legion have some odd tactics, which makes sense, given their lore. The legion trait comes in two parts, the first providing them additional protection from shooting attacks, and the second allowing an Alpha Legion player to select a different legion and have access to the unique units from that legion. There are some interesting options and counterplays that this creates for the legion, and makes for very flexible list building, but you have to be careful that you don’t spend your year’s paycheck on unique units from 18 different legions.

What’s Next

As this article is part of a series, I will spend the next few months going into more detail about the rules of the game and the specifics of each legion. I would like to know if there is specific content our readers would like to see, so leave a comment or join us in the Woehammer discord to let us know what points you would like to see discussed.