“Because the Wolves kill cleanly, and we do not. They also kill quickly, and we have never done that, either. They fight, they win, and they stalk back to their ships with their tails held high. If they were ever ordered to destroy another Legion, they would do it by hurling warrior against warrior, seeking to grind their enemies down with the admirable delusions of the ‘noble savage’. If we were ever ordered to assault another Legion, we would virus bomb their recruitment worlds; slaughter their serfs and slaves; poison their gene-seed repositories and spend the next dozen decades watching them die slow, humiliating deaths. Night after night, raid after raid, we’d overwhelm stragglers from their fleets and bleach their skulls to hang from our armour, until none remained.”Jago Sevatarion, 1st Captain, VIII Legion
- Legion Traits
- Legion Specific Rites of War
- Legion Specific Units
- Generic Unit Tips
- Example Lists
Book 9: Crusade is out, bringing with it a wealth of updated rules and Rites of War. Instead of updating the older article, I’m writing a new one because I feel the changes are worth the effort.
Over the years, the Black Library has provided us with slivers and glimpses into the VIII Legion and how it operates – even as I write this article, I’m listening to John Banks narrating Pharos. We are a Legion of ruthless murderers and masters at guerrilla warfare combined with tactical cowardice.
In 2012, we saw our rules for Battles in the Age of Darkness took this narrative and ran with it. We saw the true faces of the Spectre of Judgement manifest in a set of highly narrative rules with strength in forced-asymmetrical warfare and tactical cowardice.
There were problems with the rules, points cost of our units was but one complaint routinely projected from the community. This was exacerbated as those units that the Night Lords specialists were based on were reduced in points cost; whilst the Night Lords received no such reduction.
Death is nothing compared to vindication – and vindicated we have been in Book 9.
With regards to those starting Horus Heresy, there are actually three books you need to properly play the Legion:
Age Of Darkness Rulebook – £40
This book contains all of the core rules for the gaming system and a lot of the universal special rules that apply throughout the Legions. It has a quick reference section that most certainly is useful, even for more veteran players.
Legiones Astartes Army List Rulebook – £40
This book contains all of the generic units core rules and a lot of the universal weapons rules that apply throughout the Legions.
Horus Heresy Campaign Book 9: Crusade – £84
This is the most expensive black book to date, but as a resource for the Night Lords players it is worth the cost, having all of our Legion units in their most up to date form. Additionally, the artwork contained within is genuinely great and would be a good start to draw inspiration from.
Frequently Asked Questions & Errata
Further to the rulebooks, there are current FAQ & Erratas for both the Legiones Astartes Army List and Drop Pods. There are still points within these articles that you need to be aware of, especially when using Drop Pod Assault rules for entering play.
First off, we need to say one thing. Don’t expect a top tier army, one that is incredibly strong and has near-broken or overly-versatile units; or something with overpowered excess denied to you only by a meager points cost.
The pages containing the Night Lords rules and rites are firmly within the realms of narrative. This is a great thing as its the core of the Horus Heresy game system. That doesn’t mean the Night Lords don’t have teeth, we have plenty of teeth and plenty of ways to bare them.
This is also a Legion where you can genuinely play the army you want to play. If you want an elite force that’s infantry heavy; you can build it and the narrative his behind you. If you want a heavy armoured company with specialized light and heavy infantry supporting; again, you can build it and the narrative is behind you. After all, the mostly unknown Armoured Caradara Claw (featured in Book 2: Massacre) is exactly what that is about. Finally, if you want an air assault force, that’s based out of gunships and has fast moving elements; the narrative is behind you.
Our core Legion Traits are for the most part unchanged from their 2012 counterparts. We are still and rather oddly for a Terror Legion, missing Fear from the Legion Traits. Mechanically, it’s inclusion here would not have been game-changing; but it would have been very nice to see and certainly a lovely narrative nod to the fact the Legion is supposedly the premier Terror Force in the galaxy. Maybe this will be revisited in an FAQ.
So, what do our Legion traits look like?
|Legiones Astartes||Units with this special rule may always attempt to regroup at their normal Leadership value, regardless of casualties.|
|A Talent For Murder||If any units with the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule outnumber one or more enemy non-vehicle units during any Initiative step in which they fight in an assault, they gain +1 to Hit and +1 to wound (to a maximum of 2+ -note that this only affects to Hit and to Wound rolls and not other rules, such as rending). Bulky models count as two models. Very Bulky models as three models and Extremely Bulky models and Monstrous Creatures count as five models on both sides for the purposes of working out when the Night Lords outnumber an enemy unit they are locked in combat with.||✓|
|Nostraman Blood||All models with this special rule fall back +1″ further than normal. If they fail a Pinning Test, they may, if the controlling player wishes, fall back instead of becoming pinned – just as if they had failed a Morale check for taking casualties in the shooting phase.|
|Night Vision||All models in a Night Lords primary detachment (not just those with Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule) have the Night Vision special rule.||✓|
|From The Shadows||All models with this special rule have a cover save of 5+ on the first game turn, even in open ground. This rule can be combined with the effects of Stealth, etc, as normal, but other forms of cover the model might be in which provide a higher save supersede it.||✓|
|Seeds of Dissent||If an army’s Warlord is slain, each unit in the army with this special rule must make an immediate Morale check as if they had suffered 25% losses from shooting|
The lack of Fear is a genuinely odd decision. Still, salt must not flow freely as the minor modification made to our strongest trait, A Talent for Murder, is not to be sniffed at. The change was simply to delete “outnumber one or more enemy infantry units” and to replace it with “outnumber one or more enemy non-vehicle units”. That simple change increases the amount of targets that we can effectively muller into submission by a fair number. Mechanicum Battle Automata for instance, are no longer truly safe.
Furthermore, a clarification was added. A Talent For Murder has never affected the threshold of Rending; it’s something I have firmly stood by, despite the vocal minority (power-gamers) claiming otherwise. Now, it’s written as an inescapable fact.
Realistically, with the genuine power that A Talent For Murder offers, you need to build your army around it – hence it being a key tenet. If you don’t, well, you might as well play another Legion. It’d be like having the largest, most effective nuclear bomb and upon the outbreaks of nuclear war; not using it.
We are, as best I can think of the only Legion that can potentially hit on 2+. As such, you’re looking to always outnumber; be it by armour or equipment types or purely by taking enough bodies to absorb casualties en route for melee and still be able to outnumber. It’s a lovely narrative way to allow the player to really dig into the way that the Night Lords fight from the off.
The second key tenet to remember is that everything in the Primary Detachment gets Night Vision. This means that you’re shooting at the enemy during Night Fighting as normal and they don’t get a cover save from Night Fighting. This is the only rule that doesn’t apply purely to the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule and is very useful at offsetting the balance in your favour in the early turns of the game. It’s again a narrative rule as it makes no sense for those Nostramans incarcerated in Dreadnoughts or serving in Tanks to not have the night vision they’re renown for having.
The third and final key tenet to remember that From the Shadows awards Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) models and units with a 5+ cover save during the first game turn, even in the open. Another lovely rule that’s based on the narrative that the Night Lords tend to fight in the gloom; or other environments that their force disposition isn’t immediately clear. It’s fairly strong too, working with the bonus of Night Fighting, Stealth and Shrouded. For instance, Konrad Curze and a squad he attaches to will have a 2+ save under Night Fighting in the first turn due to this rule and Curze’s rules combined effects.
The remaining Legion Traits are still narrative, and some can help you; even though they might seem punitive. For instance, Nostraman Blood effectively reinforces the Tactical Cowardice narrative, but it also can save you from being pinned and simply gunned down.
Seeds of Dissent is genuinely the only true negative trait. This is still in the realms of the narrative; showing how fractious the Night Lords were. It merely places more emphasis on ensuring your Warlord isn’t taking extreme risk – as if they die, your entire force can lose the initiative and end up being pushed back off a few poor dice rolls. It couples up with Nostraman Blood, adding +1″ to the distance you fall back too. This can seriously unseat the control of the game – so keep that Warlord safe!
LEGION SPECIFIC RITES OF WAR
Rites of War are a lovely method of changing the way that the Legion plays to suit a narrative. What you do need to have to run an RoW is a Master of the Legion. This most notably comes in the form of Praetors and Legion specific characters.
For instance; normally you’d have Dedicated Transports consisting of Rhinos for Tactical Squads. However if you chose a specific Rite of War you would be able to take Legion Drop Pods instead. In the extreme; you can even take Predator Tanks as Troops choices. Rites of War are flexible solutions to form a narrative for your game. The Night Lords can actually do fairly well out of these Rites; especially those who use Terminators or Jetbikes as troops; remember A Talent For Murder is your friend.
Legion Specific Rites of War take this one step further. They generally take a hard look at the way the Legion operates in the lore and allows mimicry of this in the game. It really is a big change to the immersion level of the game – far more detailed and fun than anything on offer in Warhammer 40,000.
The VIII Legion has a total of four Rites of War. Each allows you a genuinely different approach to the game, based on a narrative component of the Legion. These are:
This Rite is pretty much the most commonly seen and used Rite of War for Night Lords players. It’s hugely narrative; being based off the core method of fighting for a classical Night Lords army. Rites of War are not without their imposed limitations and Terror Assault is no different. In fact, it has the single largest limitation of all of the Legion Specific Rites.
So then, lets look at what you have to do and what bonuses you get for taking Terror Assault:
|Cover of Darkness||The force may impose Night fighting for the duration of the first game turn of any mission automatically. Night Fighting imposed in this manner carries of to the second game turn on a roll of 3+ and on to the third turn on a roll of a 6. Whilst in effect, Night Fighting grants all models with Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) +1 initiative and +1 to their run distances.|
|Terror Tactics||Night Lords Terror Squads and/or Night Raptors must be taken as the Compulsory troops choices for a force using this rite of war and may be taken as additional troops choices if desired.|
|Claw Assault||Legion Tactical Squads, Legion Veteran Tactical Squads and Terror Squads may take either Dreadclaw Drop Pods or Legion Drop Pods as Dedicated Transports so long as their number does not exceed the vehicles transport capacity and they begin the game held in reserve inside the transport|
|Limit 1||Detachments using this rite must take an additional compulsory troops choice in addition to those normally required on their Force Org Chart.|
|Limit 2||Detachments may only take a single Heavy Support choice as part of their Force Org Chart.|
|Limit 3||The controlling player may not take a Fortification or other Space Marine Allied Detachment|
Cover Of Darkness is a genuinely nice rule that ties in nicely with out Legion Traits (Night Vision especially) from the off to swing the battle in our favour. Whilst the additional +1 to Initiative and +1″ to run distances doesn’t look appealing at first glance, it has the effect of seriously improving your melee. The system works by “stepping in to fight” at a chosen Initiative number. If you have a Terror Squad or a Tactical Squad; they both “step in” at Initiative 4. Regardless of who rolls first, all models that step in at the same time fight – making casualties taken irrelevant.
However, with this bonus to Initiative, the Terror Squad would step in before the Tactical Squad, at a whole different number; therefore casualties would not be able to fight back. This means that you can generally cause a significant amount of damage at a far lesser risk of taking significant damage back. It’s also a part of the Rite that tends to be easily forgotten and remembered later on when it’s too late! You want to be trying to get those Squads into melee sooner rather than later to take advantage of the buff to initiative; which is why Drop Pods can provide that much needed turn 2 early charge.
Terror Tactics allows you to take Terror Squads (normally Elites) and Night Raptors (normally Fast Attack) as compulsory troops choices. This makes the army quite elite due to the points cost, but with a high damage output potential. With both of these units you’re mainly aiming to get in, overpower the enemy with a bit of shooting; followed up immediately with melee and move on. You’re looking at majority 3+ armour so we don’t have the legs for a stand up fight and you want to be taking advantage of that +1 Initiative. It also makes the Rite very good for those looking to combine benefits to the Legion narrative and combine fast moving elements and/or Drop Pods into their army.
Claw Assault allows Legion Tactical Squads, Legion Veteran Tactical Squads and Terror Squads may take either Dreadclaw Drop Pods or Legion Drop Pods. Normally, the only Dedicated Transports available to these units are Rhino Transports, or in the case of Terror Squads; Rhinos or Dreadclaw. This means you gain quite a lot of flexibility in your deployment choices.
Drop Pods have Drop Pod Assault, which means you count the number of Drop Pods you have, halve it (rounding up) and choose that number of Pods to come in on the first game turn. This means you have the potential to null-deploy if you’re willing to take a risk. The risk here is that if you don’t have any units left on the table by the end of Turn 1; you lose. The benefit is that you are dictating the game terms. You’re also limited by reserve rolls for the remaining Drop Pods so it can be a double edged sword.
That rounds out the bonuses and requirements for the Rite. It’s solid performing and narrative based – allowing you the room to adjust and fine tune the narrative to suit you more. However, as mentioned, there are limitations applied to you too.
Limit 1 – By forcing you to take an additional Compulsory Troops choice, you’re awarded with more objective scoring (remember that only troops score in Heresy), at the limitation of available points in the rest of the army. This makes building your army more difficult when it comes to countering all of the potential threats.
Limit 2 – This is the big one – quite literally. Only one Heavy Support slot is a heavily-punitive limitation in a game system that has incredibly vicious firepower outputs. I normally run a Leviathan Siege Dreadnought in a Dreadnought Drop Pod – but I have a Drop Assault theme for my Terror Assault Army – it might not be the choice for you. In truth, you can build around this limitation but using the Fast Attack slot quite effectively. You’ll find many options including, but not limited to, Primaris-Lightning Strike Fighters or Javelin Attack Speeders, which are perfect for completing your limited anti-tank.
Limit 3 isn’t really a limitation for the Night Lords. As you’re a melee Legion, sitting in fortifications is anathema to your Legion traits. The allied Space Marine Detachment is a similar non-limiting factor as you generally don’t have the points to make up a detachment that fills your lack of heavy support.
If Pods and Infiltrating doesn’t float your boat, you can build an Armoured Caradara Claw with this Rite quite convincingly too. You’re also able to take choices of vehicle with certain units that would normally be in the Heavy Support slot. Dedicated Transports don’t use up a slot on the Force Organisation Chart, but count as having the same roles as the unit they were bought for in regards to all other rules purposes. This means you can bring Land Raiders with Contekar and Spartan Assault tank with Legion Terminators; all whilst still having your choice of Heavy Support available.
Previous iterations of Terror Assault saw you having to roll a 2+ for Cover of Darkness to come into effect on the first turn, only allowed Terror Squads to be taken as Compulsory Troops and also limited you to “A single Consul Choice” in the army. This is since removed in Book 9: Crusade and is quite a nice buff to the Rite.
The Swift Blade
If you like the idea of Nostraman bike gangs, then this is the Rite of War for you.
The Jadhek Clans were among the last of the Clans to acquiesce to the rule of Konrad Curze on Nostramo; therefore Curze gave them remit to conduct their battle actions in the guise of their gangs modus operandi. It’s a lovely, narrative Rite that internally balances through the limitations imposed on you.
|No True Leaders||Detachments with this rite of war must take a minimum of three compulsory HQ choices and may take up to five HQs, regardless of the Force Organisation chart in use. Instead of the normal rules for selecting a Warlord, all of the HQs in this detachment are the Warlord. These HQs do not roll for a warlord trait but rather all gain crusader and hatred (loyalists) special rules. All of the HQs in this detachment must be slain to fulfil the conditions of any objective that requires a Warlord to be removed as a casualty.|
|Jadhek Clans||HQ choices must be equipped with a Space Marine bike. Legion Hussar Squadrons in this detachment must be taken as compulsory troops choices and Legion Outrider Squads may be taken as troops choices. Vehicles of the Tank type may only be taken if they have the Fast type.|
|Encirclement||Units wholly comprising of models with Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule in this detachment add +2 to their total unit size when determining whether they outnumber for A Talent For Murder.|
|Limit 1||Detachments using this Rite of War must take an additional Compulsory troops choice in addition to those usually required on their Force Org Chart.|
|Limit 2||Detachments may not take a unit that states it must be the armies Warlord|
|Limit 3||Detachments using this Rite of War may not take units with the Heavy or Immobile rules, or Fortifications or Allied Detachments|
|Limit 4||This Rite of War may not be taken by a Detachment belonging to the Loyalist faction.|
No True Leaders offers something genuinely interesting and different to the more generic bike-orientated Rites of War. The simple bonus-but-also-a-limitation of 3 HQs minimum and 5 HQs maximum is good for denying what can be a quick Victory Point for the enemy. If you went points heavy with the 5 HQs; the enemy would potentially have c.15 wounds to get through before they could claim Slay the Warlord – and that’s before you factor in that they won’t necessarily be near each other or in the enemies reach.
Both Crusader and Hatred (Loyalists) is a lovely narrative nod to the warband-nature of the Rite and also to the viciousness of the Legion. Crusader means that you roll an additional D6 when making Run moves and use the highest result and adds D3 to your Sweeping Advance rolls – further building the fast moving narrative of the Rite. Additionally with Hatred (Loyalists) you get to re-roll all failed to hit rolls in the first round of combat. This is definitely a bonus for a melee Legion as you’re getting something genuinely good baked into your HQs that normally can only be somewhat-buffed by taking another HQ (Chaplain).
Jadhek Clans confirms exactly how this army is built. HQs must be on Space Marine bikes and the Compulsory troops must consist of Legion Hussar Squadrons. Hussar Squadrons are new additions in Book 9: Crusade. They’re an average unit, with some interesting options and the Hit & Run special rule. This means that they can choose to leave combat at the end of each Assault phase. This means that you can get in, do some damage and get out; instead of being locked in combat where you can potentially end up being ganged up on. The Hussars are made better by A Talent For Murder due to the fact they’re Very Bulky. They’re cheap enough at 150 points base with extras costing 30 points per model; so loading up on these units shouldn’t be a huge concern – but taking their optional wargear is a personal choice.
Encirclement takes the bonus applied to A Talent For Murder for the Space Marine Bikes being Very Bulky and enhances it further by adding +2 to your total unit size for working out if it triggers. When you consider that a full squad of Hussars (base configuration) costs 300 points for ten and that gives you 30 models equivalency as standard, and 32 with Encirclement; you’ll see that outnumbering is pretty much assured – even when against enemy Hussars. When considering their weapons, this means that you’re looking at 3+ to hit and 3+ to wound on most targets. That’s not bad at all.
Limit 1 forces you to take an additional Compulsory troops choice; so another Squad of Hussars. Whilst this will limit your pool of points for the rest of the army, but it will also serve you well in the amount of bikes you have on the table – similar to how Terror Assault operates.
Limit 2 is fairly random at first glance; denying Sevatar and Curze from being taken (Ophion has may be the Warlord on his sheet and Thole has no stipulations) in the army. This works to cement the narrative and should be viewed as such instead of merely a limitation.
Limit 3 & 4 are again reinforcing the narrative rather nicely, seeing that the Jadhak were comprised of vicious, unflinching criminality it is highly unlikely that they’d be Loyal to anyone but themselves.
It’s a really solid performing and narrative Rite that shows it’s distinctly different and beneficial when compared to the more generic bike and jetbike orientated options available to you; though those also have their draw in their own ways.
When you consider that you can get four ten man Hussar Squads and a tooled up Praetor for 1,500 points, you can see that this Rite has some serious potential to it.
In short, if you want a Legion Rite that gives you solid performing bonuses to the core Legion trait in a bike-orientated build; you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s clearly orientated towards getting into melee early on and pulling out when things get too hot for you. This is a Rite that really stands out to me as something genuinely lovely and that I’m likely to build towards.
The Cross of Bone
When this Rite was initially previewed by the Warhammer Community; I thought it was overly-punitive and made no sense as to why. Well, if there’s one thing that needs to happen with future previews, it’s to include context.
Nakrid Thole, who is the new character added in Book 9, is the Leader of the Cross of Bone; which in effect operates as a Warband due to the shadowed and aggressive nature of their Leader. He has a habit of murdering Commanders when he feels they’re incompetent – and boy has he been busy. Amazing narrative aside, The Cross of Bone does offer some solid traits, but still has a few questionable benefits:
|The Aristocracy of Ruin||For every Non-Compulsory HQ choice included as part of this Detachment, the maximum number of Elites choices available is increased by +1|
|The Strong Are Strongest Alone||As long as a model from this detachment with the Independent Character special rule is either alone or in a unit with no other Independent Characters, it gains +1 attack.|
|The Tithe of Gore||The Slay the Warlord Secondary objective is worth an additional +1 Victory Point for the player that has selected this Rite of War if the enemy Warlords final wound is removed by a friendly model with the Independent Character special rule.|
|Limit 1||Detachments using this Rite must take an additional Compulsory Troops Choice in addition to that normally required on their Force Org Chart.|
|Limit 2||Detachments using this Rite of War may not take Konrad Curze as a Lord of War choice.|
|The Rampant Blade||Any unit from this detachment that makes a Consolidation move must move the full distance allowed towards the nearest enemy unit within line of sight. If no enemy units are in line of sight then the consolidation move must be made towards their opponents deployment zone.|
The Aristocracy Of Ruin still doesn’t fully make sense to me. At high point games (4000+) It makes more sense to have access to additional elite slots. However, when you consider that you start with a fairly large 4 elite slots in Crusade Force Organisations which the majority of people tend to take – you have to ask why this is a benefit.
Whilst the true cause of this “bonus” appears to be shrouded, the Win At All Costs community, however small, have certainly been busy. This week I saw a post relating to what can only be described as “Rapier Spam of a 40K variety” utilising this Rite. I’d be very surprised if Forgeworld’s intent was to provide the “That Guy” group of 30K a Rite all to themselves. However, there is also potential to be Terminator heavy by using Contekar in the HQ slots – but again, I’m not entirely sold on that approach just yet.
The Strong Are Strongest Alone is plainly different. It’s incredibly clear what the benefits to running it here are; and I’ve got to say – it’s nice. People coming from Warhammer 40,000 tend to see +1 of something here and there as “not a big improvement”. Actually, it’s fairly large as it’s normally +1 more absolutely vicious thing to attack with. Remember that Paragon Blades are Murderous Strike; so on a 6+ to wound, it counts as Instant Death. This is another chance to do that. Its a solid rule.
The Tithe of Gore to me works perfectly with The Strongest Are Strongest Alone in forging the narrative of this Warband-esque Night Lords element following their Commander as he goes butchering through the enemy Commanders. It makes you want to play to the Rite, hunting down enemy command elements, which is something I always advocate anyway.
Limit 1 – You’re taking another Compulsory Troops choice with this Rite. It seems to be a running theme that Night Lords Rites force another Compulsory troops choice. It still works nicely by giving you more objective secured, but that’s less for your Elite slot; this is why I’m not sure of the real bonus The Aristocracy of Ruin provides.
Limit 2 – This was initially one of my “why?” questions when the Rite was previewed. Its fully narrative driven, with Thole seeing Curze’s departure as a bonus and not a detraction. In this context, it makes full sense to not have him in the force. I can always get behind genuine narrative reasons.
Limit 3 – The Rampant Blade. Ok, so there needs to be some errata to this as it could be quite the punitive rule for a melee Legion. “Full distance” can be interpreted as:
- Roll D6; Full distance is what you’ve rolled.
- 6″ Flat movement.
If it’s the former, then this limitation is random and isn’t as big an issue as first thought. However, if its a flat 6″ movement, as the full distance that can be rolled on a D6 is 6″, then this is quite bad. Savvy players will be able to draw you from where you want to be on the table by your own consolidation moves. 6″ is quite the distance, even with 40mm bases considered.
If I were to run this Rite, I’d look to run Nakrid Thole and a few Terminator Praetors; looking to populate a few of the Elite slots with Contekar or Legion Terminator Squads. Tactical Squads will be used to do the basic objective take and hold game, whilst the Contekar and their Independent Characters either Deep Strike in or rush across the table in transports to engage and kill enemy Independent Characters. Your biggest enemy with this Rite is points and transportation however – so that sort of build and it’s effectiveness will rely on your meta.
The Cross of Bone is another Rite clearly rooted in the narrative. It has two good bonuses one suspect bonus, that I think will take more play testing to truly reveal its potential. The Rite rewards narrative play and is 100% a good choice for a player wanting a more Warband-esque approach to the Night Lords.
The Bloodied Gauntlet
Holy moly this is one hell of a narrative Rite. Congratulations Forgeworld – you’ve proven in one double page spread; finishing out with this glorious bastard that you can still write narrative rules.
The more I read this Rite, the more I love it. Bloodied Gauntlets were the mark of the Night Haunter. If you had red hands, you were pretty much only alive because you were still useful to the Night Haunter. The second your usefulness elapsed – so would your life. The Bloodied Gauntlets were also a mark of those whose loyalty to the Primarch was supreme. They cared not if they died, only that they did so for the cause of Konrad Curze.
This Rite effectively bands together those that are fated, doomed and abandoned and throws them into the maw of battle with a singular goal: Victory, through death.
|The Bloodied Gauntlet||All Compulsory choices in this detachment must begin the game deployed on the table, or enter play on the first game turn. These units gain the Zealot special rule and if destroyed do not grant the opposing player any Victory points regardless of the mission used.|
|Through Death, Victory||If the game ends as a draw, or with the player who has chosen this Rite as the loser, then that player gains D3 Victory points if all of their Compulsory choices have been destroyed.|
|Outflank||Units in this Detachment entering from Reserve after game turn 3 gain Outflank|
|Limit 1||Detachments using this Rite must take two additional compulsory Elites choices. These must be infantry units and not equipped with Terminator armour of any kind.|
|Limit 2||Compulsory choices in a detachment using this Rite may not hold or contest objectives of any kind and never count as scoring units. No Compulsory choices may select a Dedicated Transport and a Compulsory HQ choice may not be selected as the Army’s Warlord.|
|Limit 3||All Non-Compulsory choices must begin the game in Reserve.|
The Bloodied Gauntlet forces all your Compulsory choices to start the game deployed or enter the first game turn. This starkly defines the fact that most of your army isn’t going to survive the battle; but gives them buffs to make them more effective. We’ve already seen that Zealot means that you automatically pass Pinning, Fear, Morale and regroup tests, but cannot go to ground or choose to fail a morale check. Additionally you get to re-roll all failed to hit rolls in the first round of combat. This is a nice little start to the Rites bonuses.
It goes one step further in narrating to you that your Compulsory choices are by mere pawns in a bigger game. Numbers that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things as long as they do their job. It also reinforces this to your opponent who won’t score points under attrition if they destroy them.
Through Death, Victory further enhances the disposable nature of this army. Effectively, this is a Rite of War that you want to aim to lose or draw with from the off. Furthermore, it makes you play to the narrative by forcing this disposable screen of compulsory choices forwards to die. Not many armies in the game would aim for a victory to come about in those terms – that’s for sure.
From game turn 3 all units in reserve gain Outflank. This is a nice rule that enables you to quickly pick up the pieces when all of your Compulsory units are dead or dying in their droves.
Limit 1 – The first limit is fairly odd for a Rite, forcing you to take 2x compulsory Elite choice; before further defining them to be infantry that isn’t in Terminator armour. This leaves you with Terror Squads, Destroyer Squads, Nulificators, Veterans and Tech Marines. Remembering that the Compulsory choices must die to earn you Victory Points; I’d be potentially looking at Terror Squads. This way you can infiltrate them in fairly early on and fight a slow and punishing war through the enemy lines. A Squad of five is 125 points base with a Squad of ten only costing 185 points barebones – making their loss a little more acceptable.
Limit 2 – This is one that is a little crazy. First, you’re forced to use 1x HQ, 2x Troops and 2x Elites as cannon fodder (if you’re using Crusade Force Organisation). Now, they don’t even score. Heresy being an objective game, you’ll probably be looking at taking an additional two Tactical Squads to capture objectives in the backlines just to stay in contention. That said – if you’re going all out balls-to-the-wall, anything with Implacable Advance can pull double duty here too.
Forcing your Warlord to be a non-compulsory choice actually opens up a lot of narrative options. Especially considering Tholes lore. I can see me running a Praetor and whole heap of Bloodied Gauntlet bedecked troops, backed up by Thole, some Contekar and Tacticals. For a Commander who has a disdain for Curze, there’s some viciousness in the narrative in having him be their Commander and send the most loyal of Curze’s warriors to their deaths.
It’s lovely in a way, because it forces you to play to the narrative whilst still playing a “normal” game – it’s just that your non-compulsory component becomes the real elite core of your army.
Limit 3 – This is here to simply hammer home the fact that your real army component is the one that is yet to arrive – it’s lovely, providing you with more tactical choices than are immediately apparent – especially with Outflank being conferred from Turn 3.
I really like this Rite of War. It hammers home the excess bloodshed of the Heresy period, whilst also conveying the general scorn Curze had for his own Legion. If you want to run the narrative hard and fast; there is a lovely opportunity to run Nakrid Thole to be simultaneously conducting Legion purges, or alternatively create your own character narrative to drive home the loyalty to Curze aspect.
I’ll be running this one at times despite the fact I feel it might be difficult to win with. The fact it offers so much choice, forcing you to play to the narrative and aim to lose makes it such a departure form the typical Rites of War available to the Legiones Astartes makes it fun.
You’re effectively utilising the vast majority of your army as a screening element for the real, elite core of your army. That said, it doesn’t mean that this screen has to be cheap and ineffective. Massed Assault Squads and infiltrating Terror Squads will definitely give you a lot of bang for your buck in this Rite of War I feel.
This is definitely a Rite that probably won’t see too much table-time, but if you build and play to the Rite it offers you some genuinely exciting tactical prospects.
That’s it for the Legion Specific Rite of War. There is not a single Rite that even comes close to being broken, overpowered or oppressive. They’re all firmly in the narrative mindset and there to enhance the story being told on the table. Each offers some genuinely nice builds opportunities for your army and more importantly, each one is significantly different.
I think we will still see Terror Assault as the de-facto go to Rite for Night Lords players, with The Swift Blade and The Cross of Bone completing out the top 3. As much as I love The Bloodied Gauntlet it is such a departure from the norm that it probably won’t see widespread use. However, it is still significantly better than Horror Cult used to be.
Mentioning Horror Cult for the first time brings me onto the note at the start of the Night Lords Appendix. Horror Cult is a Legion Specific Rite of War that was Night Raptor centric. Unfortunately, the note on the title page reads “This section updates and replaces the rules found in the Legiones Astartes Legions and Legiones Astartes Army List and should be considered the most up to date rules for the Night Lords at the time of printing”. As such, as Horror Cult is absent from the book; it can be determined that it no longer exists. This is further confirmed by the fact Night Raptors have moved across as Compulsory Troops for Terror Assault.
However, should you feel that you still would like to run Horror Cult, I’d suggest speaking to your gaming group. It certainly isn’t a broken Rite or even a strong one – so it probably won’t be a problem on a local scale. I just wouldn’t plan to use it at events.
LEGION SPECIFIC UNITS
Throughout the life of this Blog, I have created tacticas to detail to potential or current players the narrative, use, strengths and weaknesses of the varying Night Lords Legion Specific Units. These have all been updated with the Book 9: Crusade Content recently.
The VIII Legion has a total of eight Legion Specific Units, further broken down into five Characters and three Units:
GENERIC UNIT TIPS
Jetbikes. Legion Skyslayer jetbikes can be just as effective as a well positioned Leviathan in a drop pod. You can take 5 of them in that single slot and run them with multi melta, plasma cannons or Volkite culverins. They’re ok at shooting then. But the real noise comes from melee. This applies to all Jetbikes. Jetbikes are very bulky and Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) therefore you’re pretty much assured of getting A Talent For Murder off.
Factor In they have bolt guns and chainswords too and you have a fast moving wrecking ball that can do both Anti tank and Anti infantry. The one thing you need to be careful of is Nostraman blood kicking in, as Jetbikes fall back 3D6. There is a Generic Rite of War that supports the fielding of an army comprised pretty much entirely of Jetbikes; Sky Hunter Phalanx. This enables Legion Jetbike Sky Hunter Squadrons as troops and allows you to leave the table and re-enter via Outflank, providing a huge amount of tactical flexibility. It does lock you into Skimmer or Flyer type vehicles, but this isn’t really a big issue.
Dreadclaw Drop Pods. Offering a solid redeployment ability to Terror Squads, Contekar and Legion Terminators and a level of protection they don’t normally have (Jink) is pretty solid. Expensive – but still good. If you’re looking for a cut price alternative, Legion drop pods do a similar job for turn 1, but you can suffer in later turns. If you’re using the Orbital Assault Rite of War – these are a valid option for Tactical Squads to take too.
Legion Terminator Squad. With a distinct lack of true Atramentar, you’ll end until fielding the generic Legion Terminators in their place. Whilst Tartaros armour can run, Cataphractii armour has far more survivability. Look at how you’re going to get them where you need them. Deep strike is a novel legion ability, but comes with risks. If it goes seriously wrong, they gone. Also, neither can really cover distance well on the table. There’s certainly a level of viciousness about 10 Combi-plasma, Powerfists wielding Terminators. They come to the same price as Contekar too with Teleportation Transponders.
This brings us to Transports. Dedicated transports like Landraiders tend to limit your ability to outnumber, Spartans are nice, but a bit WAAC at times when you’re fielding 2-3 of them. what about a Storm Eagle? There’s risk, if it dies big, it’ll generally be the end of what it’s carrying. But if it gets to where it needs to be; it can do damage. Bear in mind though, you won’t be assaulting until T3 at the earliest. This can work in your favour, but if you fail the Storm Eagle reserve rolls, it can work against you too. Just something to consider. Want to go big? Thunderhawks and Storm Birds are the top dogs – but both are overcosted and a narrative choice over any actual gameplay benefit. Saying that, I adore my Thunderhawk.
When it comes to weapons, Volkite chargers really give you weight of fire, and deflagrate always helps. But you could also start decking your Terminators out with Plasma/Combi-Plasma too for that nasty one turn rain of destruction. Remember, grenade and volkite aside, all other combi weapons are one use. For melee, if you’re running Cataphractii then you can’t go wrong with Power Axes or Chainfists. Though Chainfists do cost a sweet packet to field, it does give a nice anti armour capability with armourbane. Lightning claws are ok, just don’t expect great things from them against other terminators. Generally, I run Cataphractii with 1x Chainfist, 9x Power Axe and 10x Volkite Chargers. This comes in at 405pts for a squad that has a good chance of dealing with most threats.
They do even better when you consider the Generic Rites of War, more specifically Pride of the Legion. This allows you to take Terminators and Veteran Tactical Squads as Troops choices, so you can load up on Terminators until your hearts content. Regardless of the Rite you choose, as long as you can outnumber and trigger A Talent for Murder, they can be exceptionally good.
Javelin Attack Speeders: Missile speeders are cheaper, but in the world of Spartan Flare shields, the Las Cannon is king. 75pts gets you a twin linked Las cannon and melta on a Javelin speeder chassis. If you want to push out the boat to 85pts you can take two Hunter killer missiles too. Up to three per Squadron, but they’re very effective and can reposition very quickly. Cheap, effective and fluffy in virtually any Rite of War; Legion Specific or otherwise.
The Night Lords are 100% a narrative Legion with some sharp teeth backing them up. There’s no bloated rules or craziness – there’s nothing overpowered here. To some, that may seem an odd declaration to make for a Legion that I love and want to sell to others – but this is Heresy.
Whilst there is a Power Gaming/Win At All Cost cohort sneaking around in the community; the majority of players are here for the stories they tell when they play the game. I’m very happy with the majority of the Book 9 rules for Night Lords – because we aren’t suddenly bloated and crazy with power. We are an acceptable evolutionary step up – not a revolutionary, game altering army – and all the better for it.
Our tool set is a fairly narrow focused one; Power Armour. We can absolutely mulch Power Armour.
Even though we do have AP 2 in among our rules, you still need to be very wary of other Legion Specific Termintors; as the Contekar, Night Raptors and Terror Squads just cannot deal with them reliably. However, there’s normally more than one way to skin a target; and there are plenty of options in the generic tool set that can at least help out if your meta happens to be Legion Specific Terminator heavy.
Overall, we are in a good place what with the great fix to Night Raptors and Terror Squads and the genuinely good, solid performing Rites of War we have. Sevatar is now what he should have been from the off – a genuine 1st Captain that reflects his badassery in the lore. On top of that our other characters, in the form of Thole, Ophion and Llansahai are full of marvelously written narrative rules that set them apart from just being the latest hot ruleset because “reasons” or “latest book”. It’s genuinely refreshing.
If you haven’t already, I’d go back and read the Character pages – specifically Curze. If you have any notion of Curze versus the Lion going well, I genuinely believe you’re on a road to disappointment. He doesn’t even have the ability to keep pace with his own elite troops due to what can only frankly be called lazy rules writing (why change rules when you can just reprint and outdated Primarch eh). Though, it’d be one of the very few instances I’ve noticed in the book.
Those starting out shouldn’t be dissuaded by the Curze reprint and the clear power-gap that exists there. After chucking some dice and playtesting them, I feel the Contekar are probably going to be a more prominent issue in most games for the Night Lords – but again – don’t be dissuaded, they do have their niche!
We can but hope for minor updates to Curze in an FAQ. But in the meantime, the rest of the Legion is in a rather good position and able to fight well in multiple, narrative backed ways in the manner that only the VIII Legion can pull off; dripping in Trophies of Judgement.
AVE DOMINUS NOX!