“So perish all who stand against me”

The Warmaster Horus Lupercal, on the surface of Molech.

Contents

Introduction

The XVI Legion, The Sons of Horus were originally known as The Luna Wolves. Harking from a planet in Segmentum Solar called Cthonia, they were brutally efficient warriors with a tactial leaning built from gang warfare and honed into signature Spearhead assaults, aimed at decapitating an enemy command structure with sudden, overwhelming force.

When the Emperor of Mankind departed the Crusade to work on his project in the webway, he named Horus Lupercal the Primarch who would lead in his stead. This saw Horus given the title of “The Warmaster”. The Luna Wolves were rebranded too, as suggested by the Emperor himself to “The Sons of Horus” to honour the Warmaster.

Shortly after their renaming, The Sons of Horus were recalled to Davin to force it into re-compliance after the Imperial Commander stationed there, Eugen Temba, had turned Traitor. Finding Temba on the Plague Moon of Davin, Horus lead The Sons of Horus onto a fateful Campaign that would see the galaxy in flames.

The Sons of Horus are effectively core to the Horus Heresy Black Library, being key players in the first five novels; Horus Rising, False Gods, Galaxy In Flames, Flight of the Eisensteiin and Fulgrim. They’re further fleshed out in later books such as Vengeful Spirit. Conspicious by his absence in the series, Horus has yet to receive a Primarchs series novel; arguably he doesn’t particularly need one however!

Rulebooks

With regards to rules, for Sons of Horus players, you’re looking to purchase the Age of Darkness Rulebook for the core rules, the Legiones Astartes Army List book for the common Units and Rites of War and the Legiones Astartes Legions book for the unit and Legion rules you require. That’s £120 of books alone, so the common thought is to go on eBay and strike up a bargain – however buyer beware! There are some of the older books, named identically. These aren’t a bargain as they’re missing a swathe of entries. Buy once, buy right.

Being one of the earliest Legions to release, you’ll find a lot of the additional lore, artwork and units of the Sons of Horus in Campaign Book 1: Betrayal and Campaign Book 2: Massacre. At the time of writing, these books are available from Forgeworld in a mix of hardback and softback, costing between £40 and £74.

Playstyle

The Sons of Horus are a Legion that is well reflected in the game system, although it has suffered from power creep over the last few Campaign book releases.

The army is in the most part elite; with costly, but hard hitting specialist units that are encouraged to be taken due to rules imparted by their special characters. Alternatively, the army can be run in a more Legion-generic form as The Sons of Horus core rules do add some nice buffs to anything with Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) keywords. Spearhead assaults work well, utilising Drop Pods such as the Anvillus Dreadclaw or even Terrax Pattern Drills to execute brutal engagements at close range.

Legion Traits

Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus)

As with all Legiones Astartes, Sons of Horus units with this special rule may always attempt to regroup regardless of casualties.

The Edge of the Spear;

Units with this rule that are held in reserve may, if the controlling player wishes, reroll results of ‘1’ when making reserve rolls. For those looking to run Drop Pod or Flyer heavy armies, this is a great rule that can buy out the requirement for a Deimos Pattern Command Rhino to assure those all-important Drop Pods or Flyers come in when needed. It’s also good for those looking to use Outflank to maximise fire angles on platforms such as the Javelin Attack Speeder. Sure, it doesn’t help with those rolls of ‘2’ but it adds some inbuilt tactical flexibility.

Bitter Pride

Units with this special rule cannot benefit from the Warlord Trait of an allied character or use an allied Independent Characters Leadership score. Honestly, I’ve never considered this anything more than a purely narrative rule that seems to have very little input into the game system in the main. I guess if you want to run mixed armies with an allied detachment of Emperors Children or World Eaters in an Isstvan type of battle; it might come up.

Merciless Fighters

If the number of Sons of Horus infantry models in a particular close combat is greater than that of the enemy during Initiative step 1 of the Fight sub-phase, then each model with this rule that has already fought may make a single additional attack. The first of the truly meaty rules for the Sons of Horus; Merciless Fighters is a rule that encourages you to take models who fight at high initiative. This rule only allows one extra attack per model that’s already fought during the Initiative 1 step, but it can be fairly vicious. Don’t forget that Praetors with Paragon Blades will have already fought and therefore get the chance to unleash yet another potentially Instant Deathing hit. It is tempered by the fact that anything that hits at initiative 1 cannot take advantage of the rule. It’s very specific in it’s wording of “that has already fought” – whereas any model armed with an Unwieldy weapon or fighting at Initiative 1 for any other reason clearly has yet to fight. Regardless, it’s a nice rule that if built around can have some fairly strong output.

4. Death Dealers; Models with this special rule gain +1 BS when shooting with Pistol, Assault and Rapid Fire weapons at a range or 12″ or less away. This rule does not apply when making Fury of the Legion, Chain Fire or Snap Shots. Now we are talking. This rule simulates the brutal nature of the gang warfare on Cthonia and the vicious decapitation spearhead strikes that the Sons of Horus are reknown for. This rule favours those willing to bring Drop Pods, Termite Drills or anything that gets you in super close, fairly unopposed. +1 BS doesn’t sound too amazing until you consider what weapons are contained within that bracket. Then things start to get spicy!

Legion Special Equipment

Unlike other Legions, the Sons of Horus do not have any special equipment or wargear. Boo, hiss. They do have a Relic; called the Cataphractii Primus. This is a +50 point suit of Cataphractii Terminator Armour that gains +1 Toughness against shooting attacks and the wearer gains Eternal Warrior. It’s not a bad upgrade for those games that allow the use of relics.

Legion Specific Rites of War

The Long March

This Rite of War represents the Sons of Horus as they fought across multiple battlefields as they advanced on Terra.

Relentless MarchInfantry units with the Legiones Astartes (Sons Of Horus) special rule gain one of the following special rules from the beginning of its own player turn until the end of its opponents next player turn when the majority of its models begin that player turn in the area indicated:

Relentless – In friendly deployment zone.
Fleet – In no mans land (i.e neither its own or its opponents deployment zone).
Crusader – In the enemies deployment zone.
The Warmasters PortionAs Horus’ own; the Legion beneffited from the finest equipment and the greatest surplus of arms and munitions of any Legion. On the first turn of the game, a detachment using this Rite of War may re-roll all to hit rolls of a 1. In addition, Legion Terminators may be chosen as non-complusory troops choices.
Limit 1This Rite of War may only be used by a Sons of Horus army belonging to the Traitor faction and may not be used in conjunction with the Shattered Legion special rules.
Limit 2The detachment may not include any models with the Slow and Purposeful special rule, unless they deploy via Deep Strike or begin the game carried in a transport vehicle.
Limit 3Detachments using this Rite may not take a Fortification Detachment or Allied Detachments.

The first of two Rites of War for the Sons of Horus; The Long March is a tabletop tacticians wet dream. Relentless in your deployment zone allows the protective deployment of your infantry forces with heavy weapons, whilst still allowing them to then move from the relative safety of their cover and engage at full ballistic skill. Once the majority find themselves in no mans land, fleet allows you to re-roll one or more dice when determining run or charge distances – meaning you’re far more likely to get the charge off on an enemy, or able to move up the table significantly quicker. Finally, once you make it into the enemies deployment zone, Crusader allows you to roll an extra dice when making run moves, using the highest result and add D3 to Sweeping Advances. Crusader is the weakest bonus of the three, but still worth it for the chance to more easily sweep an enemy unit. The only other bonus the Rite provides is that on the first turn of the game, the entire detachment can re-roll to hit rolls of 1. This affects the entire detachment, so you have everything from a lowly Astartes to a Arachnus Lascannon Deredeo, to a Stormblade Lord of War. It’s a really nice rule that helps weight the battle in the Sons of Horus favour on turn 1 and forces a savvy opponent to deploy more conservatively than they otherwise would.

Frankly, the limitations associated with the Rite aren’t really limitations in the normal use of the word. In fact, only Limit 2 which forces anything Slow and Purposeful to be in a transport or in Deep Strike reserve really affects the way you build and play your army. Overall, it’s a really good Rite for the Sons of Horus and is one of the most commonly seen ones in game.

Sicaran Venator “Kerberos” of my 26th Company

The Black Reaving

This Rite of War represents a highly organised strike force that encircles its target and annihilates it like the nightmarish predators the Sons of Horus are.

EncirclementAny non-vehicle unit which is part of a detachment using this Rite of War which enters play from reserve (other than deep strike) has the Fleet special rule on the turn it arrives.
Cut Them DownUnits with the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) special rule taken as part of a detachment using this Rite of War gain the Rage special rule when they successfully charge an enemy unit which is already engaged in an ongoing assault.
Reaver OnslaughtSons of Horus Legion Reaver squads may be chosen as Troops choices for detachments using this Rite of War.
The Eye of The WarmasterJustaerin Terminators chosen as a part of a detachment using this Rite of War gain the Deep Strike special rule.
Limit 1Detachments using this Rite of War must take a Master of Signal as a Compulsory HQ choice, in addition to the Praetor or other characters whose presence allows for the use of a Rite of War.
Limit 2Detachments using this Rite of War must take more Fast Attack choices than Heavy Support choices from the Force Organisation chart for the mission type they are using.
Limit 3Detachments using this Rite of War must take an additional Compulsory Troops choice as part of their Force Organisation chart.
Limit 4Detachments using this Rite may not take a Fortification Detachment.

A Rite of War that has both benefits and detractions in equal numbers. Encirclement is an ok rule for the Rite, but what appears to be a solid benefit is rapidly depleted by the fact that it applies to very little that is genuinely useful. Cut Them Down is a solid benefit, providing +2 attack on the charge instead of the usual +1; but you’ll need either the sun and the moon to align or be a master tactician to get it working regularly and reliably. Reaver Onslaught allows Reavers to be taken as troops and is really the core reason for taking this Rite of War. Reavers will be covered later in the article. The Eye of The Warmaster is something that quite frankly should come as a Wargear option for the Legion – but is oddly missing from The Sons of Horus and instead given to the Imperial Fists (calling fanboism on this one). Justaerin gain Deep Strike, meaning you don’t need to use a Warmonger Consul, Abaddon or Horus to play the game as the Sons fight in the books.

When it comes to limitations, it’s an odd one. Having to take a Master of Signal isn’t really a limitation if you build the force to have elements that can benefit from his bonuses, but if you just want Reavers as Troops – there are better options than wasting points here. Limitation 2 is quite interesting as it effectively limits you to a maximum of 2 Heavy Support choices – as there are 3 Fast Attack slots in a Crusade chart; and you must have more Fast Attack than Heavy Support. It’s something that isn’t really an issue – because like with the Night Lords Terror Assault; there’s plenty of Anti-Tank in Fast Attack. Better yet – the Termite exists as a Fast Attack choice, meaning Saturnine is easily achievable using this Rite! Having to take another compulsory troops choice isn’t really a limitation either – as the game revolves around them.

The Black Reaving is a mixed crate of mediocre bonuses and mediocre limitations; but the outcome is a mediocre Rite of War. It’s difficult to engineer the battle to get the Rage bonuses repeatedly in normal games, let alone against a savvy player. If you want Reavers as troops there is a better option and the same for Justaerin deep striking. The Rite doesn’t really provide much in the case of genuine benefits over taking the better options in other Rites of War.

Legion Specific Characters

Maloghurst The Twisted

Maloghurst The Twisted is introduced to us early on in the Horus Heresy. A victim of the “Emperor of Mankind” that the Sons of Horus eventually bring to compliance, Maloghurst is left crippled; twisted as much in body as he is tactically brilliant in mind. His model might not be to everyone’s tastes – being slightly larger and more truescale than the heroic scale miniatures that make up most peoples armies; but it is lovely to behold.

Maloghurst is 140 points, which is pretty much par for the course for Legion Specific Characters of average utility. His stat line is roughly that of a Legion Praetor.

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The real mark of his rules age is the 3+ Sv. If Maloghurst is your Warlord, you really need to make sure he is wrapped up in a protective bubble as that 3+ will cause issues otherwise. When you look at his model and consider the injuries that he suffered, it makes sense that he would actually be in Artificer Armour; but instead he has Power Armour. There’s no option to upgrade this either. He does come with a Refractor Field for a 5++ save against those AP3 and better weapons, but again, this is an average save at best. So it’s safe to say you aren’t taking him for his survivability; he’s only slightly better than a normal Tactical Marine in this regard.

Offensively, he’s weak too. He has Frag & Krak Grenades, a Power Sword, Bolt Pistol and a Bolter with Banestrike Rounds. Banestrike Rounds have been widely regarded as fairly weak for years and are rarely seen and his Power Sword is vanilla; there’s no additional rules to make it better for him. At least he does have a Bolt Pistol to give him the additional attack, though it is at Initiative 4. So, he isn’t that survivable and isn’t really very useful in combat of any sort, it doesn’t look very good for him so far.

Maloghurst is an Independent Character with Master of the Legion, meaning he is a fairly cheap way of taking a Rite of War that also provides a narrative boost by being a named character. Really though, you’re taking Maloghurst because of the fact he is the Bearer of the Eye. Due to his stature in The Sons of Horus, where Maloghurst goes, the power of Horus goes with him. When Maloghurst is present (note not limited to being its warlord) in a detachment, Legion Veteran Squads and Reaver Squads may be taken as troops choices. This means you can really get flexible and push the tactical mindset of army building with him. For instance if you take Pride of the Legion, you can add in those Reaver Squads as troops choices alongside the Veterans and Terminators just by adding Maloghurst to the detachment for 140 points. That’s good because flexibility is great in the game. So this is really why you take him – tactical flexibility. Combined into the fact he has a large Eye of Horus for a Standard is the Legion Standard rule; this makes any unit within 6″ of him Fearless.

Maloghurst is Broken in Body due to his injuries, meaning he can’t make run moves or sweeping advances – but as we’ve already seen; if you’re looking to use him like that you’re playing dangerously with him. You really want him close enough to the front to buff the units around him, but not so close that he is actually doing all of the fighting himself.

Maloghurst is a great army buffing character, but not one you want in the thick of the action.

Tybalt Marr

“The Either” is another character introduced to us early on in the Black Library; however his rules only dropped with Book 6: Retribution. Marr will set you back 175 points to field in your army and is roughly based off the Legion Praetor stat line.

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There’s nothing truly exciting to write home about here, although he does at least have a 2+ save. He also has an Iron Halo, conferring a 4++ invulnerable save. Overall, he is more survivable than Maloghurst is; but we still haven’t established what makes him so costly.

To start, being the Captain of 18th Company means he certainly was vicious. He has Preferred Enemy (Loyalist Legiones Astartes) granting him re-roll of 1s to hit and to wound against, funnily enough, Loyalist Legiones Astartes. This is quite nice, but still doesn’t really explain the 175 point cost of him.

He is armed with a Mastercrafted Bolt Pistol with Banestrike Rounds and a Cthonian Culling Blade. The Bolt Pistol is only slightly better than a normal Bolt Pistol and we have already discussed Banestrike Rounds; so won’t dwell on them. The Cthonian Culling Blade is a special weapon that is a little odd at first glance.

WeaponRangeSAPType
Cthonian Culling BladeMeleeUserMelee, Master-crafted, Rending, Duellist’s Edge, Murderous Strike

It’s a cut-price Paragon Blade for the most part, crucially lacking in any AP. Duellist’s Edge means that when fighting in a challenge, Marr gains +1 Initiative. At Initiative 6, it means Marr can bring the pain early to an enemy – something that is important with the severe lack of AP. This is somewhat bought out by the fact that the weapon is Rending; so to wound rolls of 6+ are resolved at AP2; this is then made fairly pointless due to the fact that Murderous Strike makes to wound rolls of 6+ Instant Death. So it is very much a cut price Paragon Blade – something that is narratively fun, but if Marr is your Warlord you’re going to have issues beating a generic Praetor.

Marr has a Warlord trait called By the Hunters Moon. This forces any models deployed within 24″ of him to take a Pinning Test at the beginning of the first game turn. Initially this seems quite nice, but actually when you consider the fact that most will be testing Ld9 on 2D6, it’s fairly poor.

He comes with Master of the Legion, enabling Rites of War to be taken, but overall I find Tybalt Marr a bit of a problem child. He doesn’t buff the army, isn’t overly great on the table in combat and has a middling Warlord trait. When you consider that Maloghurst is 140 points and does so much for the army, 175 points for Marr seems a little expensive for what you could build a similarly costed Legion Praetor for – but with a full-fat Paragon Blade.

A narrative choice, and one I have planned to include in a Saturnine-esque army; but one that definitely has shortfalls that generic choices don’t have.

Garviel Loken

Garviel Loken is one of those characters many love for the simple fact he stood up to the Warmaster. He is also the first character many are introduced to. In game, he is a praetor level Independent Character that costs 175 points.

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The last Captain of the Luna Wolves has a rather basic set of wargear comprising defensively of Power Armour that provides a 3+ Sv and an Iron Halo for an all important 4++ invulnerable save. That 3+ Sv is what makes Loken slightly less survivable than a generic Praetor built and similarly costed in the region of 175 points.

Offensively, Loken has a Paragon Blade, Bolt Pistol and Frag & Krak Grenades. There’s a distinct lack of Mastercrafted here; something that again limits his effectiveness against the aforementioned generic Praetor. That said, he has some nice rules that set him apart.

Born Survivor perfectly embodies his narrative in the fact that the first time Loken is removed from play as a casualty, the player rolls a D6. On a 2+ he lives on with a single wound. This only happens once a game, but certainly increases his survivability; unless you’re incredibly unlucky at rolling dice.

Finally, Loken has a custom Warlord trait of Inspiring Presence meaning that friendly units within 12″ can use Loken’s leadership value.

Loken is a nicely written character who can definitely take advantage of the Paragon Blade he comes equipped with. He is hurt by the fact that none of his weapons are Mastercrafted and the 3+ Sv. He is a character to be wary with, able to dish out the pain but one who isn’t quite as resilient as his generic peers. That said, who doesn’t want him to go down fighting, only to survive using Born Survivor and murder the enemy the next turn.

Ezekyle Abaddon

The First Captain of the Sons of Horus needs no introduction. He is a Praetor level character for the Sons of Horus and comes in at a solid 215 points, regardless of options taken.

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Abaddon is clad in Justaerin Warplate, a suit of black Cataphractii armour that grants him a 2+ Sv and 4++ invulnerable save. It does mean that he cannot run, make sweeping advances or overwatch, but he is at least quite survivable. He comes stock with a Grenade Harness that is a one-shot weapon that counts as having assault grenades and has a Mastercrafted Power Fist. This means that with the Power Fist you almost always have Instant Death on your attacks. Abaddon has an option of taking either a Combi-Bolter or a Power Sword. Noting that the latter isn’t a Specialist Weapon and is only AP 3, there may not be many times you choose to strike with it at initiative instead of wait out the blows and weigh in with the Mastercrafted Power Fist. The Combi-Bolter is also fairly lukewarm and cannot be swapped out for something more useful like Combi-Plasma for instance. It’s a better choice however, due to the fact it can plink off a few wounds over the duration of the game against soft targets.

Abaddon is Fearless, automatically passing Pinning, Fear Regroup tests and Morale checks. He also has the Precision Strike rule, meaning any to hit rolls of 6+ can be allocated against an engaged model of your choice, which is great for removing troublesome models/abilities from squads.

Most importantly for your army design and play is Teleporter Assault. There are very few ways of getting Terminators to Deep Strike; but this rule allows Abaddon and any Terminator armour equipped unit to do just that. Whilst this is still subject to scatter, they may re-roll any Deep Strike Mishap results too.

Abaddon is Marked by Dark Fates; a rule that is specific to campaign games. It means you can re-roll results in campaigns were character casualties or injuries is a factor. It’s a nice rule that doesn’t really do much for the majority of times you’ll use him, but for those campaigns, it’s good.

The First Captain seems a bit of a pricey choice when you consider that a Combi-Plasma, Master Crafted Paragon Blade Terminator Praetor is around 207 points. The Teleporter Assault rule is worth the extra cost alone. Abaddon is very binary to play – there’s no nuance to his rules, you simply point him at an enemy and get him and his unit into them. Being an early-book character, it’s likely he will eventually get the Sevatar treatment.

Ezekyle Abaddon faces off against Garviel Loken.

Horus The Warmaster

A character whose name adorns the Heresy itself, Horus is a monumental figure.

He also has a monumental costing of 500 points. For this costing, you get an absolute unit of a Primarch though:

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His stat line differs significantly from most Primarchs in the fact that he is Weapon Skill 8 with Strength 7 base. This means that you’re definitely flexing on the likes of Sanguineous and Curze for Strength at WS 9 and 8 respectively; and only really concerned with the crazy (some say fanboistic) stats of the Lion, who matches Horus in WS and S, and has Initiative 7.

Horus has the normal Primarch ruleset of Eternal Warrior, Fear, Adamantium Will, Fleet, Fearless, It Will Not Die, Master of the Legion, Precision Strike and Precision Shot. In short, he can’t be one shot killed, forces enemies to take fear tests, has +1 to deny the witch tests, can re-roll run or charge distances, can gain back a wound at the end of the player turn, can take a Rite of War, and can target specific models that he is engaged with or shooting at.

It’s Horus’ wargear that is easy to get hung up about, because his armour and weapons are so cool. The Serpent Scale is the name of his unique Terminator armour and provides him with a solid 2+ Sv and 3++ invulnerable save. If that were not good enough, the armour also negates any psychic attack that is directed at Horus that would adversely modify his characteristic profile on a roll of 3+. This means he is about as resilient as you can get in the game system.

Horus enjoys vicious tactics and the cruelty of war; so when he fights a unit or character with a Weapon Skill of 4 or less, he gains +D3 attacks as part of the Sire of the Sons of Horus rule. He is also able to elect to come down from reserve from turn 2 without having to roll as would normally be required – meaning he can dictate the battlefield before ploughing into his target and using his weapons to great effect.

His personal arsenal is a great one too, starting with The Warmasters Talon;

WeaponRangeSAPType
Lightning ClawMeleeUser2Melee, Shred, Disabling Strike
Bolter24″53Assault 3, Twin-Linked

Rumoured to have been developed during the Dark Age of Technology, The Warmasters Talon is a dual weapon in itself, with each component amped up to 11. The Lightning Claw may look like an AP 2 version of a normal one, but the Disabling Strike rule ensures that any model that is injured but not slain by the weapon suffers -1WS and -1S for the rest of the game. Better yet, and somewhat more cruel; this is a cumulative effect that keeps whittling down the statistics of his opponents as the assault phases continue. It’s a great rule that really drives the narrative of him beating down his opponent to the floor, continually hammering away until they shuffle off their mortal coil. Honour be damned. The Bolter isn’t even the basic weapon; being Strength 5 and AP 3 is a pretty substantial upgrade, but the fact it’s Assault 3 and Twin-Linked means you have a genuine ranged threat on your hands (or his hand).

This leaves Worldbreaker; which is his only Mastercrafted weapon.

WeaponRangeSAPType
WorldbreakerMelee102Melee, Master-crafted, Concussive, Unwieldy

At Strength 10 and AP 2, there isn’t much out there you aren’t causing Instant Death on; however if you are facing something with Eternal Warrior then you’re still able to concuss them fairly resoundingly. Worldbreaker is pretty much the weapon you want to use for pummelling other Primarchs, but wouldn’t it be great if you could have Disabling Strike taking effect too?

Well, Horus has the Weapon Mastery rule. This means that he has two close combat weapons and is able to use both at the same time, splitting attacks between them as the player sees fit. So you really can try to have your cake and eat it.

So, being a master tactician, a monster in close combat and having a bit of upgraded ranged firepower is all well and good; but Horus isn’t simply a beat stick. He has a Cognis-signum, which he can activate instead of firing a weapon in the shooting phase. Once this is done, he can nominate a single unit within 6″ of him that isn’t a Super-Heavy or Independent Character and gain +1BS for that shooting phase. Note that this isn’t limited to Infantry, and you’re starting to get the picture of the carnage this can offer up. Sure, it’s situational – but still a nice little buff.

It’s odd that in the game we don’t have Sons of Horus with Teleport Transponders, but alongside Abaddon, Horus can also attach to a Terminator Squad (any type) and Deep Strike. However, unlike Abaddon, Horus and the Squad do not scatter. This is pretty good – assuring things like Death Dealers without ever having the concern of scattering out of range or into a less than advantageous position.

Where the real army buffing occurs is in The Point of the Spear and God Of Battle rules. The Point of the Spear allows Veteran Tactical Squads and Justaerin Terminator Squads to be taken as Troops choices in a detachment with Horus as its Warlord. This is irrelevant of the Rite of War in use; meaning you can really change up the dynamic to benefit you tactically.

If Horus isn’t engaged in combat, he can also call down a Lance strike, which is Strength 10, AP 2, Ordnance 1, Large Blast (5″), Lance and Twin-Linked. Often these abilities are forgotten about, but Horus has one that is genuinely vicious with the Lance rule counting any Armour Value above 12 as 12. There’s very little on the table that won’t take this as a worrisome threat.

God of Battle is the icing on the dictating the battlefield cake. Any unit part of a force containing Horus placed in reserve gains outflank. This isn’t platform type limited – so let your imagination run riot here. All models with the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) keyword gain +1Ld when Horus is present in the same force – giving a sizable bonus to morale tests etc. Finally, and quite frankly most importantly; A force containing Horus may Seize the Initiative on a 4+. In short – if you’re not going first, you stand an average chance to.

Horus is a monster. There’s no arguing that fact, but if you’re careless with him, he can die. Pick your battles carefully with him and consider the fact that although he allows you to Deep Strike without scattering; this might not suit every battle.

Legion Specific Units

Reaver Squad

At 135 points for 5 Reavers and the ability to take up to 10 further Reavers at +15 points each, this is a squad that can get expensive really quickly.

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Equipped with Power Armour, Reavers can be a bit of a glass cannon and certainly won’t stand up to directed firepower from dedicated anti-infantry weapons. The Reaver Chieftan can take Artificer Armour for +10 points, granting a 2+ save, which is pretty much an auto-include in my opinion.

Reavers aren’t your core troops, and this is affirmed in their wargear and rules.

Assassins Eye is a rule that combines Precision Strikes and Precision Shot in a single rule – meaning that on to hit rolls of 6+ you’re directing which engaged model your shots/hits are hitting. The fact they come with Outflank pretty much puts the hammer to the nail – Reavers are the hunter killers of the Sons of Horus.

Armed with a Bolt Pistol and Chainsword/Combat Blade as standard, they’re not going to set the world on fire. This means you’re almost always upgrading them. The most obvious upgrade (and the cheapest) is to give them all Chainaxes for 1 point per model. This is pretty much an auto-include as whilst that +1 Strength and AP 4 doesn’t set the world alight, it will serve you better than AP- in the wider game system. You can choose to give any model in the squad a Power Weapon or Power Fist but at +10 points and +15 points respectively, there is a limit of what you can reasonably expect this squad to achieve for the points you invest in them – a full squad of 10 with Power Axes is around the 310 points mark with no Artificer Armour or ranged weapons upgraded. Smattering them about can work, but again is risky if you’re not fighting first.

For Ranged weapons, each model may take one of the following:

WeaponRangeSAPType
Boltgun with Banestrike shells (+5 points)18″45Rapid Fire, Banestrike
Volkite Charger (+7 points)15″55Assault 2, Deflagrate
Combi-Weapon with Banestrike shells for its Boltgun component (+10 points)18″45 Rapid Fire, Banestrike

Frankly, if you’re not going for Volkite Chargers or Combi-Weapons (Plasma or Melta to suit your own taste) then you’re probably going to be a little upset with their performance. Sure they really amp up the price of the squad – but you are more likely to get a return of investment with these weapons than a stock bolt pistol. Alternatively, if you fancy taking a one in five Reavers option to keep things a bit cheaper, you can select from a Flamer, Meltagun, Plasma Gun or Plasma Pistol.

Only the Reaver Chieftan can take Melta Bombs, which is a little odd considering their generic counterparts can take them as a squad. This limited the multi-threat capability of Reavers to almost entirely anti-infantry though; further tying them into their hunter killer role.

Finally, the entire squad can take Jump Packs for +50 points. Whilst this gives them an increase to their manoeuvrability and offers up the ability to Deep Strike – there are better ways to get them to their target – for instance a humble Rhino or a Dreadclaw Drop Pod. The other option would be a Terrax Pattern Termite.

Reavers are in need of a bit of TLC from Forgeworld and take a bit of effort to be anything other than a smidge underwhelming on the table. That said, they can do good work, but need to really be used as assassins hunting down enemy characters or heavy support teams instead of being used as line troops.

Justaerin Terminator Squad

Starting at 255 points for five, and up to seven more at +40 points each, Justaerin need to be upgraded to really bring the pain.

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Their stat line is typical of early-book Terminators, but don’t let the 2 wounds fool you – these aren’t infinitely survivable Terminators. Outfitted in Cataphractii Terminator armour, the Justaerin have a 2+ Sv and 4++ invulnerable save. This does go some way towards keeping them alive, but comes at the cost of not being able to run, sweeping advance or fire overwatch.

Justaerin have the Implacable Advance rule, meaning that they count as scoring in a mission where troops are counted as scoring. They also have the Furious Charge rule, providing +1 Strength on the turn they charge. Couple this with Stubborn means they’re quite tasty for charging onto, clearing and capturing objectives from the enemy.

Being Favoured of Horus, Justaerin Terminators may be chose instead of a Command Squad to be a bodyguard unit for any Terminator armour equipped Praetor of the Sons of Horus (or Horus himself). Adding to this narrative, Justaerin have the Chosen Warriors rule, allowing them to issue and accept challenges as if they had the Character type.

Equipped as standard with Combi-Bolters and Power Weapons, they are fairly middling. The Power Axe is the key choice within the realm of Power Weapons; but to really get the Justaerin to shine you need to upgrade their ranged weapons and consider some more exotic melee weapons.

Really, this upgrading comes down to your own choice of how you want to use them. Every Justaerin Terminator can upgrade their ranged weapon to a different type of Combi-weapon and one in five can replace their ranged weapon with a specialist ranged weapon:

WeaponRangeSAPType
Combi-Weapon (+10 points)24″45 Rapid Fire, Banestrike
Heavy Flamer (+10 points)Template54Assault 1
Reaper Autocannon (+15 points)36″74Heavy 2, Twin-Linked
Multi-Melta (+15 points)24″81Heavy 1, Melta

Melee weapons are no different, with the ability to replace their Power Weapon with a Power Fist (+5 points), Lightning Claw (+5 points) or Chain Fist (+10 points). If you wish to go all-melee, then you can replace both the Combi-Weapon and Power Weapon with a Pair of Lightning Claws for +15 points.

If you’re wanting to punch holes in tanks, then Combi-Meltas, a smattering of Chainfists and a one in five choice of the Multi-Melta is probably your go to loadout. If murdering your way through 2+ Sv is your aim, Combi-Plasma and Power Axes are available to you.

With the ability to take multiple weapons of both the ranged and melee type across the squad, Justaerin can get really expensive really quickly and just as with Reavers; you need to apply some common sense to avoid not being able to recoup your investment in them. That said, they can comfortably boost your armies output in specific areas (try not to mix and match capability within a squad) and are fairly reliable when used tactically. They’re not fast – but can benefit from a Land Raider or Dreadclaw Dedicated Transport when teleportation is not available to them.

Paint Scheme

The Sons of Horus have a sea-green armour colour with coppery brass trim in the main; though the artwork in the Campaign books shows them with iron trim too. HQ and Veteran units are normally shown in artwork as being clad in black armour with coppery brass trim.

Preparation;

Washed and cleaned with warm water and a semi-hard brush.

Primer: Vallejo Mecha Black

Armour:

Base: Vallejo IJN Deep Green
Mid: Vallejo RLM Hellgreen
High: Vallejo RLM Hellgreen/Dead White 60:40 mix

Metallics;

Trim Base: Vallejo Metal Colour Copper
Trim Wash: Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber Oil
Trim High: Vallejo Gold

Metal Base: Vallejo Metal Colour Burnt Iron
Metal Wash: Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber Oil
Metal High: Vallejo Metal Colour Burnt Iron (Drybrush)

Weathering;

Knicks: Vallejo RLM Hellgreen/Dead White 40:60 mix
Armour Wash: Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber Oil mix (removed after tinting)
Rust Base: Vallejo Game Air: Charred Brown
Rust Layer: Vallejo Game Air: Vallejo Game Air Rust
Rust Powder: Forgeworld Rust Weathing Powder
Streaks: Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber Oil (neat, using a brush with White Spirit to drag down)
Hull detritus: Vallejo Sienna Weathering powder (applied scrappily to tracks and lower regions, brushing down and off the model)

Basing;

Base Base: Vallejo Game Air Ivory (Sand)
Base Layer: Vallejo Game Air Pale Flesh
Base Oil: Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber Oil mix
Shrubbery: Army Painter Deadland Tufts.

Summary

The Sons of Horus are without a doubt an elite Legion. You can build a more generic army comprising a metric tonne of tactical marines; but the sheer amount of character traits or Rites of War that allow you to take specialist units are a nod to the elite aspect of them.

Though they are the archetypical Traitor force; those lusting after an elite force of Loyalists are catered for by Loken and won’t be found wanting. In fact it’s incredibly easy to build a narrative force focused on Istvaan around him.

It’s easy to get tied into having named characters in an army, but the Sons of Horus also do well using generic HQs. You just lose those additional aspects the named characters bring. Both of the Rites of War are more than flexible enough to use regularly; and the staple that is Pride of the Legion really shines with the Sons of Horus, so don’t think that you must run them with their named characters to get them to work for you – as you really don’t.

Key to remember is that Merciless Fighters doesn’t apply to those who haven’t fought yet – so at initiative weapons are key here if you want to benefit from it. Really though, Death Dealers is the true gem of the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) traits – especially when combined with Deep Striking or Outflanking/Scout Combi-Weapon fielding squads, of which the Sons have plenty of access to.

They are still a Book 1 Legion; so there is some tidying up and points reductions that could take place here and there; but overall the Sons of Horus have the ability to bring the pain on an enemy and have more than potential to be cruel.

One can only hope that any revisiting that occurs in the near future from Forgeworld adds further narrative taste to this deliciously narrative Legion.

Example Lists

This army list focuses on mechanised forces; using Pride of the Legion to bring Veteran Squads and taking a squad of Justaerin who will enter play via Abaddon and his Teleporter Assault rule. If you so considered; the Xiphon could be swapped out for Maloghurst (and a few choice upgrades) allowing for The Long March to be taken as a RoW whilst preserving the Veterans being able to be taken as troops. You could also strip the side sponsons from the Sicarans and look to provide the Veterans Squads with Melta Bombs to further build in AT capability. The army itself is fairly mobile, resilient and once disembarked is fairly vicious with large swathes of plasma distributed throughout the army.
This list takes the previous core army list and makes a few minor changes in order to fit in a Reaver squad in a Termite. This immediately forces the enemy to reconsider target priority; do they hit the Venator or do they target the Reavers and the Drill in their midst. As before, no resilience is really scarified here, but the Reavers are pretty much as maxed out as I will tolerate them to be. Alternatively, you could run 10 Destroyers in their place and have points left over to run side sponsons and auxiliary drives on some of the Sicarans. This has the added benefit of them having Rad Grenades, making their enemies -1T when in base to base contact. They’re quite effective and goes some way to highlight the excruciating cost of Reavers.