STARTING HORUS HERESY 2.0: XVI LEGION, SONS OF HORUS

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

The Sons of Horus; poster boys for the Traitors in the Heresy. Resplendent in their sea-green, with contrasting black armour, the main component of the Sons of Horus are an adaptive force that covers all areas of the Astartes combat doctrine. Clad in menacing black with contrasting red, their elite components; the Justaerin and the Catulan Reavers are the speartip, the decapitation strike, the hammer against the anvil of sea-green. The Sons of Horus excel at brutal teleportation assaults and precision strikes against enemy Commanders.

In this entry, we will look at what the Legion’s strengths and weaknesses are and how to start your own Company of the Sons of Horus.

LEGION TRAITS

As with all Legiones Astartes in Heresy 2.0, the Sons of Horus have their own (now much reduced from 1.0) Legion trait. This takes the form of Merciless Fighters.

Merciless FightersDuring a turn in which a unit made up entirely of Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) special rule successfully charges, or are successfully charged, the strength of all melee attacks made against any model in that unit that does not have Vehicle unit type suffers a modifier on -1. Models with the Vehicle unit type and this special rule instead inflict an additional 3 hits (for a total of 1D6+3 hits, or 2D6+3 hits if it is Super-heavy) on units comprosed of models that do not have the Vehicle unit type when conducting a ramming attack.

This trait is terrific and it’s down to one simple fact. The enemy’s Instant Death weapons are now most likely not Instant Death in the first round of combat (the one after you charge or are charged). However, your Instant Death weapons still very much are. A quick vignette, for proof of concept;

Justaerin charge into an enemy unit of Inner Circle Knight Cenobium, triggering the Legion trait. Both squads are armed Thunder Hammers as melee weapons. This takes their basic Strength of 4, multiplies it by 2, making them Strength 8 (9 for the Justaerin due to Furious Charge) and therefore all successful wounds are at or above the threshold for Instant Death. The Inner Circle Knight Cenobium swing and score 6 hits, but when it comes to wound, their Strength 8 weapons are now Strength 7 – removing Instant Death. One Justaerin dies and the another is reduced to 1 wound due to failing 3 Invulnerable saves, but when the others swing and score 6 hits, they remain at (or above due to Furious Charge) the Instant Death Threshold, removing 3 of the Inner Circle Knights due to failed Invulnerable saves.

The benefits of Merciless Fighters.

It’s clearly wonderful when you look at it in these terms, but you need to remember it only applies when successfully charged or has been successfully charged – which generally only occurs once. It’s beneficial to force the enemy into charging in multiple units over multiple turns into your squad or to repeatedly charge your own units into combats on the bounce. Both tactics are equally suited to generic and Legion-specific units; but you’ll get more legs out of Justaerin and Reavers – due to their hyper-aggressive nature. When you’re looking at Reactions, this pairs very nicely with Advance or Withdraw, either pushing towards or luring an opponent into a position where you can maximise your charge potential, but mainly works great with Hold the Line, whereby you can force a Disordered Charge; making the enemy not only less lethal in the strength of their attacks but reducing their overall amount of attacks too.

As part of having Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) you also gain access to a unique Centurion called the Dark Emissary – but we will cover that later.

Finally, Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) gain access to the Advanced Reaction Death Dealers. This once-per-battle reaction is made in the opposing players shooting phase when an enemy unit declares a shooting attack targeting a friendly unit under the reactive player’s control – composed entirely of models that have the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) rule. With me so far? Games Workshops writing has seeming become convoluted. Before the enemy unit resolves any to hit rolls, the reacting unit may make a shooting attack at +1 BS at the unit that triggered this reaction. You can’t fire indirectly, even with Barrage weapons, must have line of sight and vehicles can only fire defensive weapons. Templates can only be used if the unit is within 8″ and the Wall of Death rule must be used instead of firing normally. After the shooting attack is resolved, and casualties caused by it are removed from play, the enemy unit may resolve its own shooting attack; though models removed as casualties due to this reaction may still attack.

That last line is critical – as it’s not an oppressive reaction like the Imperial Fists counter-charge can turn out to be – instead you still get shot by the invisible models you just killed. It doesn’t really make sense and frankly for a once-per-battle reaction, removing the final sentence wouldn’t make it Broken.

ARMOURY

The armoury of the Sons of Horus isn’t expansive, or even great, but it does have some decent options for you. First up, a melee choice!

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Carsoran power axeUser3Melee, Breaching (5), Specialist Weapon

At an initial glance, being able to exchange a Power Weapon for the Carsoran power axe for no additional cost doesn’t seem too great. However, let’s look at it in a bit more depth. Most Power Weapons either are AP3/4 at Initiative. Almost all of that delicious AP 2 is locked behind Unwieldy or is on the roll of 6+. Well, here you’ll strike at Initiative and AP 2 triggers on a 5+ (though it won’t help against Dreadnoughts or Vehicles that you can’t wound because it isn’t Rending), which is pretty good. Sure there’s no Shred and it’s Specialist Weapon, meaning you’re not getting the additional attack for fighting with two melee weapons (unless the other has Specialist Weapon too); and the lack of an additional Strength isn’t great considering most other axe-based weapons have +1 Strength base. It’s well balanced and offers itself as a genuine alternative to generic Power Weapons – but comparatively, it’s a bit beige considering what is available to other Legions.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Banestrike Bolter18″54Rapid Fire, Breaching (6+)
Banestrike Combi-Bolter18″54Rapid Fire, Twin-linked, Breaching (6+)

Banestrike rounds in 1.0 weren’t amazing, and neither are these in general – but again, they offer some genuine options. Firstly, the detractions; If you take these on anything that doesn’t have Relentless you’re not charging after shooting them – take note of your HQ choices. Independent Characters are charged +5pts for a Banestrike Bolter/Combi-Bolter whereas Legion Seeker Squad or Legion Veteran Squad are charged +2pts per Banestrike Bolter. Regardless, you’re still fishing for 6+ rolls, which isn’t amazing, but that AP 4 will at least outright murder its way through Mechanicum and Solar/Militia baseline troops. On Seeker Squads these aren’t really better than the ammunition types you already have access to, but on Veteran Squads they’re definitely a fairly tasty upgrade for those after a cheap weapon upgrade; considering you’ll be wounding most enemies on rolls of a 3+.

That’s it. Nothing that’s auto-take, but some well-balanced, genuine options.

WARLORD TRAITS

The Sons of Horus have three Warlord traits, one Traitor affiliated, one Loyalist affiliated and one neutral.

CHOSEN BY DARK GODS (TRAITOR ONLY)

TraitRemarks
At the start of each of the controlling player’s turn, roll a D6. On the roll of a 2-5, the Warlord’s Strength and Toughness characteristics are increased by +1 until the start of the controlling player’s next turn and on the roll of a 6, the Warlord may also regain a single Wound (not above its starting amount). However, on the roll of a 1 the Warlord suffers a single Wound instead that cannot be negated by any saving throw or damage mitigation (but may be regained by this trait or other special rule that restores wounds). In addition, an army whose Warlord has this trait may make an additional reaction in the opponent’s movement phase as long as the Warlord has not been removed as a casualty. Chosen by Dark Gods is one of those rules that works well if you roll well. That might be a fairly obvious statement, but let’s look at it in isolation against a character such as a Centurion. At the start of your turn, you have 2 wounds as per their wound track. Roll a D6. On a 1 you’ve automatically halved your wounds. It’s a huge risk and I’ve seen Warlords be removed from play by poor rolls – especially in the later game stages. Even on a Power/Artificer Armoured Praetor, you’ve removed a third of your wounds. You’re almost exclusively going to get better legs by using this trait on a Cataphractii/Tartaros equipped model; preferably a Praetor. That said, the benefits you get to this make your Warkird significantly more powerful than the opposition; think here of Strength 9 Power Fists, or Strength 6 Paragon Blades. Think again about the Legion Trait; not only are the enemy no longer doubling you out due to your Legion Trait, but they’re also not doubling you out due to the Toughness bonus (Strength 10 needed to double out). This makes your Warlord much more resilient and deadly – at the cost of that risk of rolling a 1. The fact you can choose the turns in which you roll for D6 is great though, making sure that the worst rollers amongst us aren’t automatically denied their Warlord by Turn 3.

This currently is the trait I take most.

WOLF OF LUNA (LOYALIST ONLY)

TraitRemarks
A Warlord with this Trait may only join a unit composed entirely of models with both the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) rule and Loyalist allegiance. Both the Warlord and any unit it joins gain +1 attack on any turn they successfully charge or are successfully charged by an enemy unit that includes any models with both the Legiones Astartes (X) rule and the Traitor allegiance. These increases are in addition to any other bonuses granted by other special rules. In addition, an army whose Warlord has this trait may make an additional reaction during the opponent’s assault phase as long as the Warlord has not been removed as a casualty. This trait is a solid performing trait that can be coupled with some of the nastier Legion-specific units to great effect. It absolutely reeks of Istvaan 3-style games. Units such as Reavers, coupled with your Warlord will be able to drop an obscene amount of attacks on an enemy unit (at Initiative with Chainaxes and a Paragon Blade for instance) whether charging or having charged. Better yet, the rule synergises perfectly with the Legion Trait, protecting you from being doubled out in return. Finally, if you let your unit gets charged – declaring Hold the Line will deny the enemy the +1 attack on the charge whilst gaining an attack yourselves. The only major issue I can see with this Warlord trait is the fact it’s locked to going off against Traitors only. It’s highly narrative, but means against a fair few matchups out there in the world; you’re simply not getting any bonus.

THE ARMOUR OF PRIDE

TraitRemarks
The first time in any battle when a Warlord with this trait is reduced to 0 wounds for any reason, the controlling player must immediately make a Leadership test for that model. If the test is failed then the Warlord is removed from play as a casualty. If the test is passed then the Warlord is not removed, but remains in play and regains D3 wounds. This has no effect against attacks or rules which remove the model as a casualty without inflicting wounds or attacks with the Instant Death special rule. In addition, an army whose Warlord has this trait may make an additional reaction in the opponent’s player in the shooting phase as long as the Warlord has not been removed as a casualty. This trait is a good one to choose if you think you’re going to try to get your Warlord stuck in early on in the game and want to assure some longevity. Considering that you’re rolling against Ld9-10 for most HQ choices, it has a high probability of going off. The fact your model isn’t removed but is left in play with D3 wounds can be a trap though; especially if you get killed at Initiative and have yet to see the rest of the enemy step in at Initiative 1 – though at least the enemy won’t be scoring “Slay the Warlord” twice. Equally, it adds tactical flexibility to tie up units in combat over multiple turns by effectively sacrificing your Warlord twice.

It’s a good trait still, and being allegiance agnostic, can be taken by either Traitors or Loyalists.

RITES OF WAR

Similar to the Armoury, we don’t see a huge list of specialised Rites of War for the Sons of Horus; in fact, there are the same two Rites of War from 1.0. However, they have changed somewhat rules-wise.

The Black Reaving

In 1.0 this Rite was the lesser-seen, mainly because it was reliant on a mechanic that didn’t quite work as well as it theoretically should have and had fewer benefits overall than its alternative options. In 2.0 we have a refreshed Rite that adds in some additional flexibility but overall remains mostly unchanged. It also has some hidden issues that we will explore.

EffectRemarks
Models with the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) special rule taken as part of a Detachment using this Rite of War gain Rage (2) special rule when they successfully charge an enemy unit which is already locked in combat with one or more units, or an enemy unit that is the target of at least one other charge in the same Charge sub-phase. This is an improvement over Cut them Down from 1.0 due to the addition of “the target of at least one other charge in the same Charge sub-phase”. It means you don’t actually have to make the charge, but just have two units try to charge the unit. It’s still tricky to pull off, especially with Reactions being what they are, however, if you can assure the charges it’s brutal – especially if you’re charging two units of Reavers into the same enemy unit. Cthonian Gang Culture in a single, glorious rule.
Reaver attack squads may be chosen as Troops choice for Detachments using this Rite of War, and when chosen as Troops choices gain the Line Unit Sub-type.This is genuinely a great thing as Line is missing on most of the Traitor Rites of War. Having scoring Reavers is nothing to sniff at – though they can become quite costly. It does kind of push you into an elite build, but even when you consider 40 reavers with 20 Power Fists and 20 Chainaxes will set you back 1,270 points; that’s one hell of an army core. That said, there’s no reason to not pop in the odd Tactical Squad either.
Justaerin Terminators chosen as part of a Detachment using this Rite of War gain the Deep Strike Special rule.This seems to be a great thing, but it comes with a massive hindrance and that comes in the form of the first limitation.
LimitationRemarks
Detachments using this Rite of War must take a Legion Centurion with the Master of Signal upgrade as an HQ choice, in addition to the Legion Praetor or other characters whose presence allows for the use of a Rite of War.At first glance, it seems that it’s just an HQ tax, but actually, whilst the Master of Signal has a Vox disruptor array, which causes the enemy Deep strike, Subterranean assault, Drop pod assault or Area denial drop to become disordered on a roll of 1-3, it also messes with yours due to its wording. So, if you are looking to Deep Strike those Justaerin – you’ve got to factor in the Master of Signal’s effect. In short, don’t bother trying to Deep Strike – it isn’t worth the risk.
A Detachment using this Rite of War must include more Fast Attack than Heavy Support choices.At first glance, this might seem a bit punitive, but frankly, it isn’t terrible. not that it’s choices, not models – so it’s effectively units.

Overall, The Black Reaving is still a good Rite of War, as long as you can deal with the added tactical calculation of getting those combined charges off and craft your army to still operate well with the restriction on Heavy Support choices. If you’re looking to run a Reaver heavy force, this is the way to do it.

The Long March

In 1.0, this was pretty much the staple Rite for those looking to run a Sons of Horus-specific Rite of War. In 2.0 it’s been neutered significantly and now is a pale imitation of its former self. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom.

EffectRemarks
Units made up entirely of models with the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) rule and the Infantry or Dreadnought unit type as part of a detachment with this Rite of War gain +1 to their movement characteristic in the movement phase, only when moving normally and choosing not to run (gaining no bonus to charge distance rolls, even if conducted in the movement phase). +1″ in the movement phase only is still good, making units like Reaver Attack Squads move 8″. This extra inch is useful for engineering the second turn charges in or even drawing in units in feints. The biggest shame is that you’re not benefitting from the extra inch in any other phases. That said, Contemptor Dreadnoughts that can move an extra inch (up to 9″) aren’t anything to sniff at.
Legion Cataphractii Terminator Squads, Legion Tartaros Terminator Squads and Justaerin Terminator Squads may be chosen as non-compulsory Troops choices in a Detachment using this Rite of War.The first real major benefit, though the lack of Line means that you have an expensive unit that can’t score in a Troops slot. It’s still useful for those looking to load up on other Elites choices though.
Any Legion Cataphractii Terminator Squads, Legion Tartaros Terminator Squads or Justaerin Terminator Squads selected as Troops choices in a Detachment using this Rite of War gain the Outflank special rule.Bam! A decent effect. Outflank is pretty good for causing major issues with the enemy’s mind knowing that there is a force of Terminators waiting on the flanks – better yet if they’re in a Land Raider or Spartan.
LimitationRemarks
A Detachment with this Rite of War must be of the Traitor Allegiance.No major issues for most players here.
A Detachment with this Rite of War may not include any models with the Heavy sub-type unless they enter play from Reserves or begin the battle embarked upon a model with the Transport sub-type.No Terminators walking, no Breachers walking etc. It isn’t a massive drawback considering the Outflank bonus for Terminators. Undoubtedly there will be armies that are affected by this, however.

The Rites of War have had significant changes, and really the underpinning question for deciding which one you want to use is; do you want outflanking Terminators with extra movement, or Reavers and an ungodly amount of attacks?

In Heresy 2.0 I prefer The Black Reaving, which is a total reversal from Heresy 1.0 – where I prefered The Long March. That said, Pride of the Legion still works very well for the Sons of Horus – especially since you can take Justaerin with it as Troops. You can’t really go wrong with the Legion Specific Rites of War, they’re just as flavoursome and useful as the generic ones.

HORUS LUPERCAL

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Horus88677766102+

I won’t be going into Horus Ascended, as I haven’t had enough time on the table to play him and gain a greater understanding of him; however, the first criticism of the Warmaster is holy hell is he expensive. At 600 points you get the trinity of Strength 7, Toughness 7 and 7 Wounds. This immediately marks him out amongst his peers as being a tough nail to crack.

Gone are his old rules with that glorious narrative lance strike; instead we have Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus), which means yes – he is wounded at -1 Strength if successfully charged or when charging in. Wonderful! He has Master of the Legion and those two rules combined allow him to take a Justaerin Retinue – which you’ll want because he confers Deep Strike to them. Master of War allows you to increase the reaction allotment of an army that includes Horus by +1 in every phase, though this ability is once per battle and activated at the start of your turn. This can be devastating – but it relies on timing. If you’re out of place and activate it, it may only really work for a few units, but if you can tie in your tactical play to get everyone on board with it – it’s lovely.

Master of Weapons ensures that no matter what the opponent’s Weapon Skill, he can never be hit better than a 4+ and that Horus can split his attacks between Worldbreaker and The Warmaster’s Talon in melee. It’s lovely that this rule has carried on – noting that because he has two melee weapons he also gains +1 attack for this too (regardless if you use both or not). That said, with a WS of 8, there really aren’t that many opponents that would hit him on higher than a 4+ anyway.

His suit of armour, known as The Serpent’s Scales provides him a 2+ Armour Save and a 3++ Invulnerable save. Couple this with his It WIll Not Die (5+) due to the Primarch rule and he becomes quite the stubborn Warlord. It’s still worth tying in a Primus Medicae for the more competitive games however, as against opponents such as the Lion he still ends up in a boring slog-fest.

The Primarch rule is found on page 196 of Libre Hereticus and gives him Eternal Warrior, Fearless, Bulky (4) and Relentless as well as the aforementioned It Will Not Die (5+). All Primarch models also count as Characters – which means you can offer and accept challenges, not suffer fear checks, take up four seats in a transport vehicle, fire Heavy and Rapid Fire weapons and charge; and should you take some horrific firepower or hits, you won’t be killed by Instant Death weapons. He also cannot have his characteristics negatively modified (other than his wounds) and he takes Snap Shots at his normal BS.

It gets better – with his Warlord Trait Sire of the Sons of Horus. With this all models of the Infantry type in the same army as Horus, regardless of faction gain +1Ld and the Stubborn special rule. This is a wonderful little trait meaning that Morale checks or Pinning checks ignore any negative Ld modifiers. It doesn’t even have to have Horus on the table; he can still be in reserve and this trait still works due to the wording. Recently, I’ve seen brutal combats dragging on, allowing more Sons of Horus units to pile into ongoing fights down to this rule. Inevitably, it means the Sons of Horus usually win those combats and move forwards relentlessly. It’s easy to misunderstand how good this rule is on paper, but in-game it’s great.

What about his offensive capabilities I hear you cry? Well, he isn’t a slouch in combat.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Worldbreaker102Melee, Unwieldy, Brutal (2), Master-crafted, Sunder
The TalonUser2Melee, Shred, Deflagrate

In short, you’ll be wanting to use The Talon against normal foes (ala the Trailer). Where you will be absolutely melting squads due to his innate Strength and WS, before topping out with Shred and Deflagrate adding to your total wounds tally. It won’t do much to the more tough foes however and it’s lost Debilitating Strike that it had in Heresy 1.0 – which would have been made redundant by the new Primarch rule anyway.

Worldbreaker is naturally the weapon you’ll be using on other Primarchs, Dreadnoughts and even Vehicles. With 7 attacks (8 on the charge), not even a Contemptor Dreadnought will survive a round with Horus though Sunder only re-rolls failed armour penetration. It doesn’t have Concussive, which means if for some reason you roll poorly, the opponent will be swinging as normal next turn; but combined with his other rules, it’s a brutal way of murdering the enemy assets.

If you want to take advantage of his BS 6; The Talon also has a shooting profile.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
The Talon24″53Assault 3, Twin-linked

There’s no broken bolter BS here (cough, Dorn). It’s just an amped-up Banestrike-style stat-line that offers some fairly solid shooting performance.

His Wargear is similarly supported with some solid options such as the Cognis-Signum, which gives him Night Vision, in addition to providing a +1BS to all models in the same unit for their shooting phase. This means that he can really buff a wide variety of units in your army, not just a typical Justerain Retinue playstyle. Finally, he comes with Frag Grenades, which mean you step in at your normal initiative step when you’ve charged through Difficult or Dangerous Terrain.

Horus is quite the army buffing general, who has a definite and brutal presence in melee. However, I really don’t think he is worth 600 points. For one, when you Deep Strike, you are reliant on reserve rolls and still scatter; gone are his old options. This is especially troublesome when you consider other Primachs still have their old abilities in regards to movement, such as the Lion, who keeps his free 8″ movement/charge. It’s also the Lion who amps up this costing issue Horus has. He costs a mere 460 points and can quite comfortably hold his own against Horus. Overall, I think most players would palette his original 500 points being pushed to 550 at max; but he simply is over-costed.

Will he still do the work? Sure thing. But you’re putting a lot of points (two average load out Kratos or three Sicaran Venators) for that work. It’s just too much, even with the buffing potential factored in.

EZEKYLE ABADDON

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Ezekyle Abaddon67544455102+

Abaddon is the First Captain of the Sons of Horus and he is well represented in-game. Costing 250 points, he doesn’t come cheap, though having Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) and the Master of the Legion special rules, he can take a Justaerin Retinue and have them Deep Strike into battle. This is solidly one reason why you want to take him.

He has Relentless and Bulky (2) which is pretty redundant considering he is now listed as wearing Legion Cataphractii Terminator Armour – they already have those rules. Where things start to get tasty with Abaddon is Battle-Hardened (1). This rule sees him add (1) to his Toughness value for the purpose of working out Instant Death thresholds. This means that Abaddon can only be smashed with Instant Death using weapons that are Strength 10 or higher (where the weapon doesn’t have another rule to trigger it). This, coupled with the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) trait, means that even Horus can’t Instant Death Abaddon if he charges him, or is charged by him.

Abaddon is also Fearless, meaning he automatically passes morale checks, pinning tests and regroup tests. Basically, he is a bit of a tank. This gets better when you take him as your Warlord, where he gains the trait The Vengeful Spirit. This rule grants him and any unit he joins Feel No Pain (4+) during the movement and shooting phases of any turn in which they are deployed via Deep Strike Assault. Your army can also make an additional reaction in the movement phase, as long as Abaddon has not been removed as a casualty. It’s a really nice and thematic trait for him though it can be limiting in playstyle when you want to use him without using Deep Strike Assault.

His wargear got an upgrade too. He still has the Combi-Bolter, though now it has Banestrike automatically, and alongside that Cthonian Power Claw (renamed and upgraded from Heresy 1.0) he has… drum roll please.. a Paragon Blade. Yes, finally Abaddon ditches his Power Sword and goes full-fat to the Paragon Blade.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Paragon Blade+12Melee, Murderous Strike (6+), Specialist Weapon
Cthonian Power Clawx22Melee, Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon, Shred, Master-crafted

Note that both weapons have Specialist Weapon, meaning you don’t lose attacks – and that both offer real viability when it comes to threats. The Paragon Blade has long been a staple and remains unchanged in 2.0 – striking at Initiative with AP 2 and Instant Death on to-wound rolls of 6+.

The Cthonian Power Claw is a bastard-blend of a Power Fist and Lightning Claw and works wonderfully due to having that Master-crafted, Strength, AP and Shred reliability.

Overall, Abaddon is well priced for what he can do, especially for those players who want to buy into Deep Strike Assault. You can do far worse than having Abaddon and a sizable squad of Justaerin in a Retinue drop down and murder their way through the enemy. A great update for an old, and previously very over-costed favourite.

MALOGHURST

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Maloghurst the Twisted65544253102+

Mal is a bit of a mess. Not only in the lore, but in the rules. First off, for 140 points, he comes with Line stock – which isn’t bad, but his Warlord trait, Bearer of the Eye, also gives units joined by Mal the Line sub-type too. It does also make it that enemy denial units cannot contest an objective that he and his unit control. Which is seriously nice, if not a little mismatched.

You see, virtually everything else about him means that you don’t want him up front as your Warlord. Or anywhere truly dangerous. Broken in Body means that he (or the unit he joins) cannot run, or make sweeping advances. So putting him in combat, even successful combat means you can’t reliably clear out enemy units, even basic ones. He does at least have It Will Not Die (5+) to try to keep him alive that little bit longer, but even in combat, he has a paltry amount of attacks, at a slightly higher initiative with a Power Sword and a 5++ from the Refractor Field. He at least has Artificer Armour, but if you put him near an enemy Praetor, he is long dead.

He has Frag and Krak grenades to give him some mixed ability punch, and a Legion Standard to make it a total of three ways to have Line in one character.

Overall, Maloghurst is a bit of a weird one. He’s got the sort of trait that you want for a brawler, mixed with the stat-line and special rules of an old age pensioner. He’s lost the ability to tailor Force Organisation charts like he did in 1.0, and that should come as no surprise – as stripping narrative components from characters is well defined in 2.0. If you want the best from him, I’d suggest popping him in with an Apothecary and a squad like Justaerin or Chieftans (from the PDF) and sitting on the middle objective, baiting the enemy, and hoping your rolls serve you well.

GARVIEL LOKEN

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Garviel Loken76644355102+

Garvy, the man, the myth, the legend. He costs 175 points, which is exactly what he cost in 1.0. In the interim years however it seems he’s become better at shooting and has mastered an additional attack.

Loken is very much straight up and down, with a Praetor-esque stat-line, Artificer Armour, Iron Halo, Frag and Krak grenades, a Bolt pistol and Paragon Blade. He comes with Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) and Master of the Legion, as you’d expect, and is also firmly a Loyalist locked Independent Character.

Where he really steps out of the shade of that generic Praetor is in his Warlord Trait, Wolf of Luna and Born Survivor rule. Now, Wolf of Luna we have already explored in the Warlord Traits section of this post, but Born Survivor; well that is pure narrative gorgeousness.

Born Survivor triggers when Garvy is reduced to 0 wounds for any reason or removed as a casualty. You make a Leadership test and if passed, he is not removed as a casualty and instead remains in play with D3 wounds. Something, Something, Cerberus. It’s really nice to have a rule that works neatly with a warlord trait to provide a bit of derisking in-game, and doubly so when it’s such a narrative-formed one.

Overall, Garvy is pretty much as expected. Fairly unexceptional wargear and rules, but a great trait and interaction with a special rule that makes re-enacting Isstvan 3/Saturnine a truly special experience.

DARK EMISSARY

The Dark Emissary is a Sons of Horus special Legion Centurion. They can also be equipped with Cataphractii or Tartaros armour with a cost of 85 points (Power Armour), 95 points (Tartaros) or 105 points (Cataphractii).

For that +25 points increase you gain the special rule The Warmaster’s Eye. This only works when your Dark Emissary is selected as a compulsory HQ in an allied detachment that is part of an army with the Traitor allegiance. Now you’ve jumped through those hurdles, all models in the allied detachment gain the Stubborn special rule.

This is odd. In most regards to this, you’re building your allied detachment more like a primary detachment to get these mini-Horus benefits. They’re not small or quizzical benefits either; Stubborn pan-detachment is nothing to snort derisively at. I could imagine this rule would be better if the benefit worked pan-army – and I kind of hope it’s a typo as this would make him worth taking. Right now though, I just can’t see any serious application to it outside of some very niche gameplay scenarios.

He gains the Staff of Dark Authority for no extra points – which increases units Ld to 10 when within 6″ of it for Morale checks and pinning tests, and cannot take a Legion Jump Pack or Combat Bike. So he’s foot slogging or in a transport, in an allied detachment.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Staff of Dark Authority+13Melee, Unwieldy, Murderous Strike (6+)

It’s not a bad Power weapon, having a decent buff to Strength, and causing Instant Death on a to-wound roll of 6+. That said, Unwieldy feels a little needless considering it’s a Centurion upgrade, but I guess it’s narrative; waving a giant staff about is probably quite difficult.

Overall, he’s an odd one, though at least he is a viable choice for those wanting to do Sons of Horus as an allied detachment for their main army. Even then, depending on your local “meta” (using the term loosely to describe your local scene) a normal Centurion or even a Praetor might be a better choice, considering the points aren’t wildly off the Dark Emissary cost. The ability to be a mini-Horus is great though, and I can’t say that enough. I just wish it worked for Sons of Horus primary detachments too.

JUSTAERIN TERMINATORS

MWSBSSTWIALdSv
Justaerin 6554424392+

Outfitted in Cataphractii Terminator Armour, the Justaerin gain a 4++ Invulnerable save alongside a tasty 2+ Armour save. This, coupled with 2 wounds makes the Justaerin quite a solid unit to be able to bludgeon their way through other units.

A unit of 5 comes in at 275 points, with the Justaerin outfitted with a basic loadout of Banestrike combi-bolters and Carsoran Power Axes. You can take an additional 7 Justaerin for 50 points per model. This basic loadout isn’t terrible – with no loss to additional attacks as you tend to get when outfitting Carsoran Power Axes on squads like Reaver Attack Squads or Veteran Squads. They come with Relentless, meaning they can move and shoot Rapid Fire or Heavy weapons with no effect to ballistic skill and still charge afterwards.

Justaerin also have the Furious Charge rule, meaning they gain +1 Strength on the turn they charge. This can be utterly horrific to face – making Power Fists or Thunder Hammers Strength 9 on the charge. This couples neatly with Chosen Warriors, which means they effectively gain the ability to issue and accept Challenges as if they had the character keyword. This is useful for calling out enemy Characters in order to outright murder them with the aforementioned amped-up weapons.

If you are more interested in taking your Justaerin alongside a model with Master of the Legion and Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus); they also have the Justaerin Retinue rule. They can be taken as a Retinue multiple times in a Detachment (as long as they have Master of the Legion and Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) rules) instead of an Elites choice. A Justaerin Terminator Squad taken as a Retinue must be deployed with the model selected as its leader and the leader may not voluntarily leave the Retinue squad during play. If this leader has the Deep Strike rule then it is conferred to the Retinue. Any Justaerin Terminator Squad taken as a Retinue may have one Terminator exchange its Banestrike Combi-Bolter with a Legion Standard for +15 points – gaining Line and Ld10 within 6″ of that banner. This is a solid option, and you’re going to want to always look to pay that extra +15 points where possible.

Rounding out the special rules, Justaerin are Stubborn, meaning they ignore any negative Leadership modifiers – meaning units of these are not only able to smash in as a Retinue via Deep Strike, but if they don’t murder their target into non-existence, then they’re definitely able to stick around and irritate the opponent.

Justaerin can take a Land Raider Proteus Carrier or Legion Dreadclaw Drop Pod (when numbering no more than 5 models) as a Dedicated Transport. When working with The Long March, Outflanking Land Raiders is a fairly solid prospect, but the Dreadclaw is utterly trash as the rules currently stand. Irritatingly, the Spartan Assault Tank is still not an option for the Justaerin; meaning you’re limited for army flexibility in some Rites of War when running large squads of them.

Justaerin have access to Combi-weapons and Volkite Chargers. Magna combi-weapons cost +5 points each, with both Minor combi-weapons and Volkite Chargers being free. The problem with Justaerin and Magna combi-weapons is that they add up really quickly. That being said, Combi-melta and to a degree, Combi-plasma has a place in certain situations – notably when you’re lacking some anti-tank or need to get a mixed-crate ranged AP 2/4 on the table to try to melt some key targets.

Speaking of ranged choices, every one in five Justaerin may take either a Heavy Flamer for +5 points each, a Reaper Autocannon for +15 points each or a Multi-melta for +25 points each. Frankly, those Multi-melta are excessively costed – even if they offer you an option of slagging Dreadnoughts or burning enemy troops out of their own transports. The Heavy Flamer and Reaper Autocannon are interesting choices that may work for some players, but in reality; you probably don’t want to sink up to half the cost of a single Justaerin in heavy weapons.

This is especially true due to the fact that you probably want to run them with melee upgrades from the quite plentiful list they have access to:

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Power Fist (+10 points)x22Melee, Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon
Power Sword (Free)User3Melee, Rending (6+),
Power Axe (Free)+12Melee, Unwieldy
Power Maul (Free)+23Melee
Power Lance (Free)+13Melee, Reach (1)
Lightning Claw (Free)User3Melee, Shred, Rending (6+), Specialist Weapon
Two Lightning Claws (+5 points)User3Melee, Shred, Rending (6+), Specialist Weapon
Chainfist (+15 points)x22Melee, Armourbane (Melee), Unwieldy
Thunder hammer (+15 points)x22Melee, Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon, Brutal (2)

Virtually every choice has its place on the Justaerin, but if you have the points, you are definitely wanting to take the AP 2 weapons and tank out the wounds en route to Initiative step 1 on that 2+/4++.

I tend to run my Justaerin with Power Fists and Thunder hammers with either Banestrike Bolters or Volkite Chargers. This is principally down to the fact that they work incredibly well as a melee unit and there are other options for bringing in heavier firepower. This means that my average cost for 10 Justaerin is around 625-675 points. No small investment, but an effective one nonetheless.

REAVER ATTACK SQUAD

MWSBSSTWIALdSv
Reaver7544424283+
Reaver Chieftan7544424383+

Reaver Attack Squads invoke the Cthonian gang culture mentality. Starting in a squad size of 5 for 135 points and having a stat line that reflects, in many ways, Veteran Squads; they’re pretty hefty. Each additional model is costed at +22 points each, but you can take up to an additional 15 Reavers for a total of 20 in a full size squad.

So, the question is, why are Reaver Attack Squads a whole 20 points more expensive than Legion Veteran Squads? Those points come in a smattering of rules that the Veterans don’t have. Reavers come with Relentless and Chosen Warriors like their Veteran brethren, but also have Counter-Attack (1), Precision Shots (6+) and Precision Strikes (6+).

Counter-Attack (1) gives you +1 attack when you are charged. This is exceptionally good for Reaver Attack Squads as they already have a high amount of attacks to start. Effectively whether you charge or are charged – each Reaver is putting out 2 attacks base, +1 for fighting with two weapons in melee, and +1 for Counter-Attack (1) or charging – for 4 attacks, with the Reaver Chieftain bringing 5 attacks to the fore. That’s 21 attacks for the base squad size, 41 attacks for 10-strong and 81 attacks for a full-size squad.

Precision Shots (6+) and Precision Strikes (6+) allow you to allocate wounds to models that you specify on the roll of a 6+ in melee (Strikes) and shooting (Shots). Shooting isn’t a great bonus anymore seeing as the Reaver Attack Squad has had many of its properly useful shooting options taken off it by the rules team (squad-wide Magna-combi weapons and Volkite Chargers). Precision Strikes (6+) is a decent bonus though. Despite fishing for 6+ rolls, this will still allow you to get rid of those Artificer Armour Sergeants and Apothecaries in the enemies squads.

Reavers can take Rhino Transports or Dreadclaw Drop Pods as dedicated transports. As with the Justaerin, the Dreadclaws just aren’t really worth it right now so you’ll be looking mainly at the Rhino or other options (like a Spartan). Termite Assault Drills aren’t an option, so there will be no running them like in Saturnine. A massive shame.

Speaking of options, Reaver Assault Squads come stock with Bolt Pistols and Chainaxes. If you want to up your game with their melee or shooting options, there’s still enough to tailor the squad to a core mission or task. The Reaver Chieftan can take Artificer Armour for +10 points and Melta Bombs for +10 points too. Additionally, one Reaver may take a Nuncio Vox for +10 points and/or a Legion Vexilla for +10 points. There are times you could look to pop these options on the squad; but again it makes an already expensive unit, more expensive. Any model can exchange its Chainaxe for any of the options in the table below – but lets quickly talk about the Chainaxe. It’s lost AP 4 from Heresy 1.0 and now is simply Melee, Shred. That’s not terrible and with the number of attacks you’re putting in; you’re sure to get a fair amount of wounds through. You certainly don’t have to upgrade a Reavers close combat weapon to get the best from them.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Chainaxe (Free, Stock)+1Melee, Shred
Charnabal Sabre (+10 points)UserMelee, Breaching (5+), Duellist’s Edge (1)
Charnabal Glaive (+10 points)+1Melee, Breaching (5+), Duellist’s Edge (2), Two-Handed
Charnabal Tabar (+10 points)+2Melee, Breaching (6+), Duellist’s Edge (1)
Power Sword (+10 points)User3Melee, Rending (6+)
Power Axe (+10 points)+12Melee, Unwieldy
Power Maul (+10 points)+23Melee
Power Lance (+10 points)+13Melee, Reach (1)
Power Fist (+15 points)x22Melee, Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon

Charnabal Weapons increase your Initiative by the indicated value in the Duellist’s Edge rule. They sacrifice AP, but you get Breaching smattered across them too to help balance out. They’re a nice and fun option, but for +10 points there are better options in my personal opinion. Power Weapons pretty much fill that slot – and don’t forget that you could pop in the Carsoran Power Axe if you really want here – though Specialist Weapon will reduce their attacks. Any model can exchange both their Bolt Pistol and Chainaxe for a Pair of Lightning Claws.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Two Lightning Claws (+15 points)User3Melee, Shred, Rending (6+), Specialist Weapon

Although you’ll overcome the shortcomings of Specialist Weapon attacks limitations by taking a pair of claws, and certainly do damage at Initiative; AP 3 can really start to hurt what would swiftly become a very expensive unit. In short, if you’re looking for some solid thumping capability – you’re probably looking at talking Chainaxes and a smattering of Power Fists for the points.

You’ll note we haven’t discussed shooting options – this is mainly because with a bias of WS5/BS4 it’s fairly obvious that you’re probably wanting to pour your points into melee options over shooting ones; there are simply better units out there to be your gunnery platform. The options below are one per five models. Hand Flamers can be taken in exchange for Bolt Pistols by any Reaver; but again are limited by the Template they hit using. In larger-sized squads, you’re simply not going to be able to use all of those weapons (because you can’t touch any of your own models with a template). That said – if you’re shooting at models, you’re inevitably making your own charge longer too.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Meltagun (+15 points)12″81Assault 1, Armourbane (Melta)
Plasma gun (+10 points)24″74Rapid Fire, Breaching (4+), Gets Hot
Flamer (+10 points)Template45Assault 1
Plasma pistol (+5 points)12″74Pistol 1, Breaching (4+), Gets Hot
Hand flamer (+5 points)Template3Pistol 1

I tend to take a 10-strong Reaver Attack Squad with Artificer Armour on the Reaver Cheiftan; with five Power Fists and five Chainaxes. This ends up around 330 points for that configuration. Chuck in a Rhino Transport and you’re touching 365 points for a Squad that will dish out 20 Chainaxe attacks and 16 Power Fist attacks whether charged or not. The comparison against a Veteran Squad with a similar loadout (Power Fist on the Sergeant and Power Axes) will see you set back 270 points, or 305 with a Rhino. You’d get 36 Power Axe and 4 Power Fist attacks but only on the charge, dropping to 27 Power Axe and 3 Power Fist attacks if you get charged. Quite the drop – and frankly the Veteran Squad is outclassed by the Reavers here in most situations.

Overall, the Reaver Attack Squad is a nice unit – probably a little bit overpriced (c.20 points would be more palatable). They have a reliable attack output, and fishing for 6+ to remove troublesome models is pretty useful. They’ve lost some of their options from Heresy 1.0 and the lack of a Termite Assault Drill as an option for a Dedicated Transport limits them narratively. I still love them though, often finding myself struggling to decide whether I want to run Justaerin or Reavers.

PAINT SCHEME

There are plenty of paint schemes out there from Games Workshop to The Cult of Paint through to Dorns Arrow. I use a scheme that has blended from quite a few sources. Effectively, there is no “one way” and “one scheme” for the Sons of Horus; every army is slightly different from the next.

Black Armour

Primer – MIG Black One Shot.

Base – Vallejo 71.056 Panzer Dark Grey.

Layer – Vallejo 71.304 AMT-11 Blue Grey.

Edge Highlight – Vallejo 69.039 Mecha Grey Z.

Sea Green Armour

Primer – MIG Black One Shot.

Base – Vallejo 71.310 IJN Deep Dark Green.

Layer – Vallejo RLM25 Hellgreen.

Bases

Primer – MIG Black One Shot.

Base – Vallejo Sand 71.075 (Ivory).

Wash – AK Interactive Streaking Grime (Reductive).

Leather

Primer – MIG Black One Shot.

Base – Vallejo 72.745 Charred Brown.

Wash – Citadel Nuln Oil.

Layer – Vallejo 71.271 German Red Brown.

Highlight – Vallejo 71.080 Rust.

Copper Trim

Base – Vallejo Metal Colour – Copper.

Wash – Citadel Nuln Oil.

Layer – MIG Metal Gold.

SUMMARY

The Sons of Horus are underpinned by some really nice, narrative-driven rules. Then there are some weird ones. The Legion trait for example is one of them. If you read that trait out to any fan of the Horus Heresy who isn’t aware of 2.0 traits; they’d be hard pressed to identify its owner as the Sons of Horus. The worst bit is, I can’t think of a better one that doesn’t revolve around some form of Deep Strike Assault benefits and/or giving Preferred Enemy (Characters) or Preferred Enemy (Infantry) to them. That would also bring its own balancing nightmares either in the fact the army gets shoehorned into one playstyle or just becomes chaotic to play. That said, the trait is powerful, especially when you get tactical with it and Rites of War like The Black Reaving.

Their armoury is short and to the point; there’s nothing overly powerful, just some options that have their uses. It’s a tad vanilla for my tastes – and their options often translate weakly against other Legion armouries – especially Legions in the guise of the Imperial Fists. But don’t they all.

Similarly, though there is a clear benefit to the Advanced reaction, Death Dealers, it doesn’t quite compare to Counter-Charge in terms of the ruination you can avoid with it and inflict on others as a result. It really wouldn’t matter if you removed the models as a result of the reaction before their shooting action – as it’s a once-per-game trigger.

The named characters are in general, pretty damn good, though Horus is over-costed by at least 50 points, especially considering most Primarchs got better than they were in 1.0 and are around the 460 point mark.

The Centurion upgrade Dark Emissary is absolutely off-the-wall weird and isn’t nearly as good as he could have been by dint of the fact that he doesn’t affect the primary detachment too. I’m more certain that it’s a mistake or short-sightedness the more I read it. Equally, he doesn’t really compare to other Legion’s options, such as (sigh) the Castellan.

Enough Imperial Fists bashing (we know they’re OP and a problem).

The Justaerin hit like a truck barreling into a bus stop full of pensioners – but you still need to be careful with them. Reaver Attack Squads have definitely had a nerf with regards to their shooting options, but I quite like them in 2.0 – though they seem to have a nasty habit of either wiping a unit out or bouncing horrifically for me. Though I haven’t covered the Chieftan Squad here, they’re actually a really good alternative option to Justaerin or Reavers with their invulnerable save and load-outs.

I think all considered, the Sons of Horus seem to be a Legion that was clearly written for early on in the gestation cycle. They’re well balanced, having no absolutely crazy BS rules, or hate-inducing interactions. I enjoyed playing them in 1.0, I enjoy their lore and that hasn’t really changed – though clearly there are a few things I’d like to see fettled. They’re a nice Legion for multi-role armies; with their units and rules somewhat flexible to fit into most Rites of War without major issues.

Their paint scheme is lovely and unique amongst the Legions – and new, revisiting or expanding players can do worse than choosing the Sons of Horus as an army.

LIST EXAMPLES

This army is designed to be themed around a Saturnine style force. Functionally, it starts off with a Drop Pod Assaulting Contemptor Dreadnought causing problems in the backline, with a Subterranean Assault occuring shortly after full of Veterans. The Deredeo Dreadnoughts are there to debus troops from heavy transport and provide protection from Aircraft or other Drop Assault forces. Abaddon brings in the Justaerin by giving them Deep Strike and targets a valuable enemy – such as a recently debused HQ going after a “Vulnerable” Veteran Squad.
This army is designed around a theme of massed armoured infantry in a Reaver Company. Although the Reavers hit like a train, they’re defensively weak when outside the Rhino Transports – so the Seekers are there to force decisions to be made over targeting the Reavers. The Vindicator Laser Destroyers are an amazing looking model (I have two converted ones and an official one) and have some nice rules that enable them to do some heavy lifting with regards to the anti-tank role. The Javelin Attack Speeders supplement this and add some extra threat onto the table – forcing the enemy into making errors with regards to target priority across the entire army.

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