- Legion Traits
- Advanced Reaction
- Warlord Traits
- Rites of War
- Konrad Curze
- Sevatar “Prince of Crows”
- Contekar Terminator Elite
- Atramentar Terminator Elite
- Night Raptor Squad
- Terror Squad
- Paint Scheme
- List Examples
Blog Cover Art Credit: L J Koh, Artstation.
The Night Lords were the Imperium’s weapon of terror during the Great Crusade. Whole worlds cowered at the mere mention of their approach, and those that didn’t were made an example of in the most brutal and horrific manner possible. The Night Lords would often lay waste to a single city on a planet, skinning their victims alive in huge pits and crucifying their remains to buildings or their own vehicles and broadcasting their dying screams planetwide via video and audio. This often brought about swift compliance, with relatively minimal cost to both the world and the Legion, when compared with the total war that other Legions wrought.
The Night Lords favour asymmetric warfare – deliberate warfare for them is always weighted heavily in their favour. Some Legions declare them cowardly, however there is brutal honesty in withdrawing from a fight you know you cannot win, to fight another day with the odds stacked in your favour to assure victory. This method of warfare can be seen originating from Nostraman Gang Culture.
The Night Lords started off as any other Legion did, with Astartes put through rigorous acceptance testing to ensure they were not only capable of coping with the geneseed, but also that they were the best possible candidates who would not bring the Nostraman gutter culture into the Legion. When Konrad Curze was found by the Emperor, he took him unto the Great Crusade. Nostramo began a slide back into criminality without the Night Haunter present on its surface and gangs once again took hold of the cities. It didn’t take long for these gangs to begin to pollute the Legion recruitment pool. Notably, the Skraivok gang took the Legion candidates into their gang and swapped them out with rejects from the selection process, assuring the gangs dominance and the Legions eventual degradation.
The Night Lords became a Legion of mixed quality, all with an undercurrent of violent aggression and sadism that eclipsed even the World Eaters. Those brought into the Legion due to the Skraivok’s mismanagement of recruitment were given a blank cheque to conduct activities to satiate their own desires, which often led to inter-Claw battles as they were brought to heel. At worst, Curze himself conducted his own decimation of Legionaries or Claws that did not fit his ideals.
Curze himself did not fit into his own ideals however. Effectively shaped by the dark, violent environment he grew up in, and further imbued with a sense of justice coded into his genetics by the Emperor, Curze became a figure of vicious justice – The Night Haunter. He never knew the name the Emperor gave him, and the Night Haunter was effectively his name and persona until the Emperor found him.
He had also been imbued with a prescient ability – but one that was not refined and could not be effectively controlled. He could see the potential future paths, but his mindset, shaped by the environment, always saw only one path – the most bloody, violent and negative outcomes. Indeed, when the Emperor of Mankind found Curze, he lapsed into a brutal prescient vision when the Emperor found him and spoke to him using his given-name, stating “Be at peace Konrad Curze”. At the end of this vision, the Night Haunter declared “That is not my name, and I know full well what you intend for me father”.
After a period of time, these prescient visions and the often conflicting nature of them caused a mental imbalance to occur within him. Curze became more erratic, violent and predicated on causing fear and pain in his targets. Often, these period of darkness would be counterpoint to moments of regal lucidity, where he would embody a Primarch fully. This speaks to the divested character of him. On one hand, he could be Konrad Curze – Primarch of the VIII Legion, a regal leader of a terror Legion. On the other hand, and growing more frequently as the Heresy went on, he was The Night Haunter, a godlike creature that enjoyed causing pain and terror in the name of “justice”. In later years, Curze became focused on the fact that his prescience was truesight, the future was written and could not be changed – despite being shown by Sanguineous that was not the case. This led him further down the dark path where he believed his father would ultimately kill him, and that “Death is nothing compared to Vindication” in this fact.
In this entry, we will look at what the Legion’s strengths and weaknesses are and how to start your own Company of the Night Lords in Horus Heresy 2.0.
As with all Legiones Astartes in Heresy 2.0, the Night Lords have their own Legion Trait, taking the form of A Talent For Murder.
|A Talent for Murder||When a unit made up entirely of models with this special rule attacks during the Fight sub-phase or makes a Shooting attack against an enemy unit that is pinned, falling back or outnumbered by the attacking unit, in gains a bonus of +1 to all To Wound or Armour Penetration rolls made during the shooting attack or assault.|
This trait is a very good one indeed, although it has taken a sideways-knock from it’s 1.0 version, being only to wound in melee and shooting instead of to hit and to wound in melee. What is odd is that it also takes the Night Lords from being a wholly melee focused army, as it was in 1.0, to being an effective generalist army, with a core focus on melee via specialist units. That may seem one and the same at first glance, but it really isn’t. In 1.0, A Talent for Murder could make your generic units pseudo WS5 if they outnumbered, which meant you almost entirely favoured melee action over shooting, which took the more supporting role. In 2.0, you’re encouraged by A Talent For Murder to build into a more combined arms approach, using the shooting elements to setup the battlefield for specialist melee units to benefit from, instead of merely in a fire support role. As a result, the armies that do well to exploit this trait build-in the shooting into baseline tactics, instead of using it to merely support the battle.
Vehicle and Dreadnought shooting is slightly less well supported in game however. Dreadnoughts are now their own type and only count as 1 per model, whereas a Vehicle counts as 10 per model. Effectively, you’re not going to be using things like Deredeo Dreadnoughts, or even Leviathan Siege Dreadnoughts to bully Vehicles, or even Infantry to death. Vehicle Squadrons aren’t in a wonderful place right now due to the Vehicle Squadron rule allowing damage to roll over to Squadron-mates, and Vehicles themselves have a survival time in-game measured in minutes. It’s why you see a lot of armies using Heavy Support Squads in place of Heavy Support Dreadnoughts or Vehicles as a result.
It’s not an always on trait, as you need to prepare the battlefield for it to work – but we aren’t the Imperial Fists, so that was expected. It’s fun as a result – because it requires grey cells to get the best from. Remembering things like Deep Strike Assault can pin units upon arrival, and using other units to support that assault being able to bounce from combat to combat is a great thing when pulled off. It can be a little galling when it doesn’t go to plan and you grind to a halt in a combat that sees you lose your expensive units, but as with the Sons of Horus, I’d rather that than play easy mode Heresy (like the Imperial Fists or Dark Angels).
The Night Lords advanced reaction is called The Better Part of Valour and is a great play on words for the way the Legion operates.
This Advanced Reaction may be made once per battle during the Assault phase when any enemy unit declares a Charge targeting a friendly unit under the Reactive player’s control with the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule. Before the Charge is resolved the target unit Falls Back, as if it had failed a Morale check, but immediately Regroups once that move is completed and suffers none of the usual restrictions for a unit that has Regrouped and may Move, Run, Charge and make Shooting Attacks as normal. If this movement causes the target unit to Move more than 12″ from, or out of sight of, the Charging unit then the Active player may re-direct the Charge to target another enemy unit within range, but if the target unit remains within 12″ and within line of sight of the Charging unit, the target unit must attempt the original Charge. If the Fall Back caused by this Reaction forces the Reacting unit to reach the edge of the battlefield, it immediately stops moving and Regroups, but suffers none of the usual restrictions for a unit that has Regrouped and may Move, Run, Charge and make Shooting Attacks as normal.
This is a glorious reaction and perfectly thematic for the Legion that hubs around tactical cowardice.
It’s definitely got strength when used well, and even when used poorly can draw the enemy further into a position that compromises their control of the battlefield. Ultimately, that’s what the Night Lords want – to weight the battle in their favour – so every piece of movement that gets the enemy unit closer to a position whereby you can charge in other units is great. It can also be used to force an enemy to end up charging a unit that they don’t want to – be it a sacrificial lamb, or one that is nastier and potentially more damaging. Timing is definitely the key here and takes some significant practice to get right. But then again, this isn’t an easy mode Legion, so getting it right and watching an enemy unit charge into something it didn’t want to, or fail a charge and then get butchered in your turn is exceptionally rewarding.
ARMOURY (PANOPLY OF SLAUGHTER)
The armoury of the Night Lords is fairly standard fayre for those who have played the Legion before. It’s effectively a selection of melee weapons deriving from Nostramo.
|Nostraman Chainblade||–||+1||3||Melee, Breaching (6), Shred||+10|
|Nostraman Chainglaive||–||+2||3||Melee, Breaching (6), Shred, Two Handed||+10|
|Headsmans Axe||–||x2||3||Melee, Breaching (6), Shred, Two Handed||+15|
|Escaton Power Claw||–||x2||2||Melee, Shred, Murderous Strike (6), Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon||+10|
Let us get the negative parts out of the way first – Nostraman weapons are expensive in most cases. This is because they are offered as an upgrade to Power Weapons; thus you need to purchase those first, then add the cost of the Nostraman weapon atop to upgrade it. This ranges from +20-25 points across the choices.
The Escaton Power Claw is a 10 point upgrade to a model with the Independent Character rule, that is equipped with a Power Fist. This is normally around 20-25 points as it stands and is roughly equivalent to a Paragon Blade in points. That’s a big decision there if you’re only running one “big” weapon upgrade on a model like a Praetor. A dual purpose melee loadout Praetor rocking a Paragon Blade and an Escaton Power Claw costs a pretty penny, but offers some really solid dual purpose work. For most enemy targets, Shred and Murderous Strike is probably overkill, but it does mean they become concerning if not outright threatening to units such as Contemptor Dreadnoughts.
Both the Chainglaive and the Headsmans Axe offer the same sort of benefits for the same detractions. Namely, you’re wounding most things on 2+ even without outnumbering, and the detraction being that it sacrifices an attack due to Two Handed. AP 3 isn’t amazing, but at least they both hit at initiative, which can’t be sniffed at.
The Headsmans Axe will tear through Armour 3+ saves, but you’re really fishing for 6+ rolls to wound with Murderous Strike to get through the ubiquitous Artificer Armour. Again, it hits at Initiative which can be terrifying when used against softer targets.
The Chainblade is a good choice for all round mayhem; effectively being a Power Sword with Shred. Equally, if you’re playing the VIII Legion game properly, you should be getting off A Talent For Murder to help with your wounding rolls. It’s pretty good and has been my go to for a while out of all of the Nostraman Weapons.
The Panoply of Slaughter is pretty well stocked, but the weapons are expensive and don’t have a huge amount of difference between them. In my personal opinion, you’re probably looking at Chainblades primarily for a squad loadout (only considering Nostraman weapons) with a Headsmans Axe on the Sergeant equivalent. It pretty much depends on what you’re facing. T6 and above, you probably want a Chainglaive or Headsmans Axe, anything below and you’ll be fine with Chainblades.
One thing to note is that on some specialist units, these weapons are notably cheaper – but that’ll be covered in more depth later in the article.
In Heresy 1.0, Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) models had Night Vision. Unfortunately, this hasn’t carried over into 2.0, so all of the Darkness dwelling Legionaries from Nostramo can only see as well as the rest – a break in the lore to game transition there. It’s a fairly costly upgrade that needs to be applied to each unit separately to have that unit benefit.
This may seem an obvious statement, but be aware that it doesn’t confer to a Dedicated Transport purchased for a unit with Prey Sight.
All models in a unit composed entirely of models with the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule may be given the Night Vision special rule for +15 points per unit.
So why is this so good? Well, because for just over the price of the average Augury Scanner, you Ignore the effects of Night Fighting; -1Ld and BS modifier and not being able to draw Line of Sight over 24″. The Augury Scanner only ignores the Line of Sight limiter. Noting that the Night Lords prefer to fight at night, it makes sense that they lose Night Vision as a core rule in 2.0 and have to pay for it per unit – as this is a very powerful rule when all goes well.
Lords of Murder / Bloody Murder
This rule is a parent rule for the Bloody Murder rule. Any model with both the Independent Character and Legiones Astartes Night Lords) special rules that does not also have the Unique Sub-type may be given the Bloody Murder special rule for +5 points. It’s an inexpensive upgrade that adds value significantly.
When a unit composed entirely of models with this special rule declares a Charge targeting a unit that is Pinned or Falling Back, the Charge roll gains an additional +1 modifier, and if the Charge is successful then all models in the Charging unit gain +1 Attack for the duration of the turn in which that Charge is made.
This rule is great, especially when combined on fast moving units such as Night Raptors. It requires setting up and preparation of the battlefield, so is rewarding to play and doesn’t feel like easy mode Heresy as a result. It’s an auto take for me, because I feel it just adds a nice set of rules in a narrative manner.
Trophies of Judgement
With the Night Lords being a Terror Legion, the enemy need to fear them. Luckily, Trophies of Judgement has that covered. Any model with the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule and the Character Unit Sub-type may be given the Fear (1) special rule for +10 points. A model that already has any version of the Fear (X) special rule may not be upgraded with Trophies of Judgement.
This means that when you’re not running Terror Assault, which gives your units Fear (1), you have a handy way of bumping the rule onto your units. Now, not every unit needs it – such as a Lascannon Heavy Support Squad who are unlikely to have enemies within 12″ of them, so it’s worth applying a bit of common sense to where you spend this upgrade. It gets expensive otherwise. That said, it’s a really good way of getting Fear into an army using no, or a generic Rite of War.
Just remember that units such as Terminators with Stubborn simply ignore the effects of Fear (X) and Fearless units automatically pass the tests. You’ll need to consider whether its worth taking during list building.
The Night Lords have three Warlord traits, one Traitor affiliated, and two neutral. Arguably, considering the Legion lore, you might as well make them all Traitor affiliated.
Warmonger (Traitor Only)
|A Warlord and any unit that he has joined gains +1 to all To Hit rolls when targeting enemy units that have one or more models with the Independent Character special rule and Loyalist allegiance. Furthermore, if the army that includes a Warlord with this Trait also includes a Detachment with the Legiones Astartes (Sons of Horus) faction, the Warlord and any unit it joins gains the Fearless special rule. In addition, an army whose Warlord has this Trait may make an additional Reaction in the Shooting phase as long as the Warlord has not been removed as a casualty.||This is an interesting trait with definite benefits if, especially if you have Sons of Horus in your collection too. |
Arguably most players plough their Warlords into other Warlords so in games where you know you’re always going to face off against Loyalists, its definitely a good choice. The issue comes if you aren’t facing Loyalists – which can be more common than initially considered. In this, you’re losing the majority of the benefits from the trait.
It can also be argued that the allied detachment requirement causes a watering-down effect to occur within the Night Lords detachment, as you’re trying to fit in around 300 points of minimum requirement to gain Fearless on the Warlord and the unit he joins.
I can’t remember the last time I personally took this trait, which should say enough by itself.
|A Warlord with this Trait and all models that are part of a unit he joins gain the Counter-Attack (1) special rule and ignore all penalties to movement and charge rolls due to terrain and may re-roll all failed dangerous terrain tests they are called upon to make. In addition, an army whose Warlord has this Trait may make an additional Reaction during the opposing player’s Movement phase as long as the Warlord has not been removed as a casualty.||This Trait is tied to The Swift Blade Rite of War that this article will cover later. It’s an ok Trait that in isolation doesn’t seem too great, though the movement benefits are certainly good in themselves. Frankly, outside of The Swift Blade Rite of War you’re probably not taking this Trait as it just doesn’t do quite enough to be genuinely useful in an army not building into that Rite of War.|
|A Warlord with this Trait gains the Fear (1) special rule, and each time that Warlord is part of a combat that results in all enemy units being destroyer, by having al their models removed as causalities or as part of a sweeping advance, or that is part of a challenge in which the enemy combatant is removed as a casualty, it increases the value of that special rule by +1 (up to a maximum of Fear (3)). In addition, an army whose Warlord has this Trait may make an additional Reaction during the opposing player’s Assault phase as long as the Warlord has not been removed as a casualty.||This Trait is currently my go to Trait for most of the army builds that don’t include named characters. |
Fear is a really useful mechanic for the Night Lords, despite the smattering of Fearless units in the Loyalist ranks. Combining this rule with the effects of Night Fighting make it genuinely worrying for your opponent, and knowing that it’ll only get worse to face the more your Warlord rips and tears through squads or characters enhances its psychological effect.
To add further pain to enemy squads and charge the Warlord up more effectively, it’s useful to snipe characters from the squad, making the Fear bonus more effective. One point to remember is that it doesn’t stack naturally, so you won’t get a bonus and start at Fear (2) by taking Terror Assault as a Rite of War.
It’s a fairly narrative set of Traits, with one that is more beneficial than others for sure. I think you’ll commonly see Flaymaster out in armies as a result. Jadhek Clanlord is tightly tied into one of the Rites of War and as a result I think it’ll be least seen out in the wild, which is a shame.
RITES OF WAR
Similar to the Armoury, we don’t see a huge list of specialised Rites of War for the Night Lords – in fact just two from Heresy 1.0.
The Swift Blade
In 1.0 this Rite was the lesser-seen, mainly because it was reliant on quite expensive and ineffective platforms (Bike) in game. Unfortunately, nothing has really changed from this point of view.
|A Detachment using this Rite of War may take up to five HQ choices, regardless of the Force Organisation chart in use. One of these HQ choices must be a Legion Praetor and all other HQ choices selected must be a Legion Centurion and must select a Legion Spatha combat bike or Legion Scimitar jetbike (a Legion Centurion may select an upgrade from the Legiones Consularis as per the normal rules). No single HQ choice is selected as the Warlord, instead all HQ choices are treated as the Warlord. These HQ choices do not choose a Warlord Trait but instead gain the Jadhek Clanlord Warlord Trait. All of the HQs in this|
Detachment must be slain to fulfil the conditions of any rule or objective that requires a Warlord to be removed from play as a casualty, however the bonus Reaction granted by the Jadhek Clanlord Warlord Trait is only added once per turn, although the army retains this bonus until all Warlords with this Trait have been removed as a casualty.
|This makes the Rite of War. It’s a single, solid benefit that ensures your enemy will struggle to earn a VP that otherwise might be a fairly easy one to achieve. That said, it does make the HQ component of this Rite of War incredibly expensive. |
Note that you can still select Consul choices for the Legion Centurion, so you’re not locked into up to five standard Legion Centurions, which is good.
When you consider that all of these Warlords now have Counter Attack (1) and exceptional movement, it does make for quite a fast moving and “carefree” army – that gains attacks whether it charges or is charged. Some good opportunities for whittling down the enemy exist by moving, shooting and then not charging, before shooting in overwatch as they charge you, but resilience is always a major consideration for bike-equipped models in 2.0.
|Legion Outrider Squads may be taken as Troops choices in a Detachment using this Rite of War.||Although they’re compulsory troops choices, they don’t gain Line which means you’ll still be after some scoring.|
|This Rite of War may only be selected for a Primary Detachment||No major shakes in most games. Though it limits choices in doubles.|
|A Detachment using this Rite of War may not take any model whose rules state that it must be the army’s Warlord, including, but not limited to, the Legion’s Primarch.||Effectively, this means you can never take named Legion Characters such as Sevatar either, which is a bit limiting and frankly wouldn’t make a huge difference in this regard. Not being able to take Curze does mean you’re forced into paying for Prey Sight, Lords of Murder and, if you want Fear, Trophies of Judgement however.|
|A Detachment using this Rite of War may not take any units that include one or more models with the Heavy, Bombard, Slow, Super-heavy or Artillery Unit Sub-types.||This is extremely limiting, with you losing access to a swathe of models that can bring critical combined arms support such as Deredeos, Leviathans etc. This, coupled with the cost of the HQ units is pretty much the killer reason as to why the Rite of War isn’t seen often. It makes the Rite have too many detractions that outweigh the positives. |
Predators, Sicarans, Sabres, Kratos (oddly), Scorpius are some of the Heavy Support models you can still bring as they are neither Heavy nor Slow (or other denied sub types). At least you can still take Contekar or Atramentar as they do not have the Heavy sub type.
Overall, The Swift Blade just has too few positives to really bring outside of running it for pure fun, and even then it can be a tad underwhelming. For clarity here, I haven’t mentioned the performance (outside of no Line) of bikes in the game at all – because I don’t really believe they’re that bad. They’ve been nerfed from 1.0 – but that isn’t the issue with this Rite. The cost of the HQs for a fairly tame trait is the main stumbling block – as is the limitations on Heavy, Super-Heavy and Artillery sub types specifically.
Lascannon Heavy Support Squads are the meta right now, and you can’t run them with this Rite, forced instead to take the more fragile vehicles. Frankly, if you were to run this Rite, I’d consider a Scorpius or Arcus – potentially a Venator and a pair of Neutron Sabres to help debus Infantry from their transports and murder the more problematic units.
In 1.0, this was pretty much the staple Rite for those looking to run a Night Lords specific Rite of War. It’s an incredibly narrative Rite, with Terror Squads being the staple veteran troops of the Night Lords force, effectively seeking to ambush the enemy at night. Nothing much has really changed this edition with regards to how often it’s taken – though it has been needlessly nerfed.
|When any Detachment in a battle is using this Rite of War, the Night Fighting rules are always in effect at the start of the first Game Turn of the battle and remain in play until the end of the second Game Turn. At the start of the third Game Turn, before any Reserves rolls are made or any models are moved, the controlling player of a Detachment using this Rite of War may have the Night Fighting rules automatically end, or may roll a D6. If the result of the roll is a ‘4’ or greater, then the Night Fighting rules remain in effect for the duration of the third Game Turn. If the result of the roll is a ‘3’ or less, then the Night Fighting rules end immediately. At the start of the fourth turn the Night Fighting rules are automatically removed from play, regardless of the affect of any other special rule||Much the same as 1.0 from Book 9 Crusade, but much more powerful as a result of the new effects of Night Fighting. |
It amplifies the effect of any Leadership test being taken by the enemy, and works well in conjunction with units causing Fear (X) or other leadership debuffs.
|Terror Squads and Night Raptor Squads may be taken as Troops choices in a Detachment using this Rite of War.||No line, which is a galling mistake by the rules team. Considering other Legions, such as the Imperial Fists get Line for their specialised troops, and even Sons of Horus get it for Reavers in Black Reaving, it’s absolutely preposterous that Terror Squads as a minimum don’t get it in this Rite of War. There’s no reason for it, as it’s a narrative choice.|
|Any model with the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule and the Character Unit Sub-type in a Detachment using this Rite of War gains the Fear (1) special rule.||This not only saves you a wedge of points, but also ties in nicely to the Rites primary bonus of night Fighting. Sure it doesn’t apply to the whole unit regardless, meaning you need to protect those Sergeant equivalents, but it’s still very useful.|
|This Rite of War may only be selected for a Primary Detachment.||No major concerns, outside of doubles.|
|Detachments using this Rite of War may only take a single Heavy Support choice as part of their Force Organisation chart.||The first real limitation is a carry over from Heresy 1.0. Most players will find solace in the fact that the Heavy Support platforms are often able to be taken in Squadrons or Talons now, and a lot of Fast Attack platforms can help with harder to destroy targets (Sabres/Javelins).|
|An army whose Primary Detachment has this Rite of War may not include any Lords of War choices or models with the Super-heavy Sub-type.||A frankly unneeded change to the Rite of War. The Compulsory troops choices cost so much in this Rite that you’re generally sacrificing something significant to bring a Lord of War and Lords of War in this edition are by and large rubbish – so you’re further making the game harder for yourself by tying in up to 750 points in a Super Heavy.|
So Terror Assault has taken an unnecessary hit with the nerf bat through poor rules consistency in 2.0 in general (Line) and Super-Heavy Limitations. You’re taking expensive and fragile troops choices, so them having Line wouldn’t be a deal breaker, and as discussed already, the Super-Heavy limitation is simply unneeded. What it means is that Terror Assault doesn’t scale well for those larger games around 4,000 points and above, as you quickly fill the slots you have available and hit the glass ceiling imposed by the limitations.
This Rite lends itself to be a good psudeo Drop Pod Assault Rite with the use of Legion Drop Pods, which cause a Pinning check to be taken upon arrival, amped by Fear (1) and -1 Ld caused by Night Fighting. The lack of Assault Vehicle on those Pods is an issue that irks most players with a decent collection of Pods (Legion and Dreadclaw) – though you’ll still be able to wither the enemy with some fire; so consider the use of a Kharybdis if you really want to maximise the potential of a single squad landing in.
Infiltrating Terror Squads is good in this Rite as it means you get to prepare the battlefield for your non-infiltrators. Just remember that Independent Characters must have the Infiltrate rule themselves to be able to Infiltrate with the Terror Squads – it doesn’t confer to anything besides their dedicated transport.
LEGION SPECIFIC UNITS
Konrad Curze, The Night Haunter
The Night Haunter is a fairly costly Primarch at 450 points, a whole 25 points more than he way in 1.0. His stat line is around about average for Primarchs with higher than average Initiative and Attacks. In fact there’s no Traitor Primarch that strikes before him with as many attacks outside of Fulgrim. As he has the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) and Primarch rules, Curze counts as 4 models for the purposes of outnumbering (A Talent For Murder), meaning he adds a chance to get the Legion Trait working.
He was always a good addition for buffing in the past (bringing in automatic Night Fighting in Heresy 1.0) but now, he is even better, and this is where the majority of that cost increase really come from in my opinion. Due to the Sire of the Night Lords rule, all models with the Infantry, Dreadnought or Cavalry Unit Type and the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) special rule in the same army as Konrad Curze gain the Night Vision and Bloody Murder special rules and are immune to the effects of the Fear (X) special rule. In addition, an army with Konrad Curze as its Warlord gains an additional Reaction in the Movement phase as long as Konrad Curze has not been removed as a casualty. The question you need to ask yourself here is simple; do I want to pay for a lot of Prey Sight and Bloody Murder or is it worth me simply taking Curze in the army to make an effectively Fearless, Night Vision equipped, Bloody Murder focused force? Arguably, if you’re spending around 100-150 points on those upgrade, including Curze is worth it in my opinion.
He comes with the Nightmare Mantle, offering him a 2+ Armour Save, 4++ Invulnerable Save and 6 Wounds. Due to the Nightmare Mantle Curze is also among the fastest with 8″ movement, ignoring any penalties to his movement from any source. He can choose to run 12″ instead of adding his initiative to the movement characteristic; offering a whopping 20″ per turn movement. This is a bone of contention however, as he has lost the Jump Pack rule from Heresy 1.0 and so doesn’t really work neatly in any squad you put him in. So how to best make use of him? Well, you can make Night Raptor Squads run and activate their jump packs:
“When making a Run move for a model with an activated Legion Warhawk jump pack, add the Initiative Characteristic of that model to 12 to determine how far it may move – the model ignores terrain and models from other units while making a Run move with a Legion Warhawk jump pack as previously noted, but may not make Shooting Attacks or declare a Charge in the same turn in which it has Run as per the normal rules for Running”Liber Hereticus, Page 145, Legion Warhawk Jump Pack
This gives you 16″ of movement for that Squad. Still 4″ out from Curze’s top speed. However, Raptors have Skirmish and when moving models with mixed speeds you simply need to maintain coherency. This means that you’re still slowing Curze down, but only by 1-2″ per turn. In short, Night Raptors are still a good choice for him to pair with. It just means you’re not charging after running – but it works for prepositioning in Turn 1 for a Turn 2 Charge.
Curze comes with Hit & Run for when you really don’t want to stick around in combat, and has Bloody Murder and Fear (3) baked in. Let that sink in a second. Fear (3) is very good, especially if Night Fighting is still around – it almost assures that a squad will run if their Sergeant equivalent is murdered (and that’s likely), however it’s Bloody Murder that is more terrifying here. As long as you fulfil the criteria for Bloody Murder, Curze will hit at Initiative 7, with 9 Attacks (7 Base, 1 for charging, 1 for two weapons, 1 for Bloody Murder). So, what about his melee weapons I hear you cry? Well, he isn’t the best, but nor is he terrible – he has a niche.
|Mercy||–||User||2||Melee, Shred, Murderous Strike (4)|
|Forgiveness||–||User||2||Melee, Shred, Murderous Strike (4)|
He will absolutely murder his way through most things on the table with a 2+ and force Invulnerable saves on those that have them, if those wounds are on a roll of 4+, it doesn’t matter how many wounds they have, they’re leaving once they’ve failed a roll (unless they’re Sigismund with Eternal Warrior). He also has some opportunity for harming Dreadnoughts but it really isn’t an advised tactic. Remember that Murderous Strike doesn’t auto wound, so you’re actually still wounding T7 on 5+ and then getting Murderous Strike from that.
His resiliency can be measured by your tactics. Invulnerable saves will ultimately be the deciding fate for his survivability and a lack of Brutal on Curze means the odds are stacked in the enemies favour if they have it on their weapons. In short, you want to avoid piling him into Contemptors or Cataphractii Terminators with Brutal weapons; as even with Hit & Run, it won’t turn out well.
Curze is a Psyker in 2.0 defined under the rule A Death Long Foreseen, which helps out his melee combat no end – if you get it off. For one, he doesn’t test against his base Leadership, instead using Leadership 7. This is to indicate that he never masters his “gift” in the lore. He gains access to one power called the Glimpse of Death, which if passed in the Assault Phase, give him Feel No Pain (4) and +1 Attack. Yes, that’s 10 attacks if passed on the charge into a pinned or falling back unit. The Feel No Pain (4) is ok, but likely won’t help with the attacks coming back in with the Brutal Trait, especially from those with multiplier strength such as a Thunderhammer or a Dreadnought. Of course, with that modified Ld 7, if he fails, he experiences Perils of the Warp, which is D3 wounds with only Invulnerable Saves able to be taken. You can however pass on wounds to an attached squad, making oversized Night Raptor Squads a tempting inclusion in an army with him.
Better yet, thanks to the King of Terrors ability when Curze and any unit he has joined ends a combat by removing all enemy models as casualties or destroying an enemy unit due to a Sweeping Advance, all enemy units that are not locked in combat and can draw a line of sight to Konrad Curze must immediately take a Pinning test. It’s good when units can draw Line of Sight outside of 12″, but pop him in the middle of enemy units within 12″, win a combat and watch the absolute carnage unfold. Manage this during Night Fighting and that Leadership is suddenly at -4. If you’ve done some tactical play in your turn, you might even have removed enemy Sergeant equivalents from surrounding squads. This isn’t super easy to pull off however, as you’re risking a lot of incoming fire and potential loss of Curze if your placement isn’t great.
If you want to take advantage of his BS 7, Curze also has deadly sharp throwing blades called the Widowmakers.
|Widowmaker Volley||12″||4||5||Assault 3, Rending (4)|
Gone is the built in ability to pick out Sergeant equivalents at range on the weapons but instead Rending (4) is in place. Remember that any hits inflicted by a Primarch are allocated by the Primarch controlling player and not the Target units owner – so losing Precision Strikes on the weapons themselves isn’t an issue.
This makes those 3 sharp tools quite the vicious weapons. They won’t set the world alight, but they’ll do a job in a pinch on average.
So Curze has quite the potential on the tabletop. There’s no bullshit in his rules like with Rogal Dorn (shock) or the Lion (shocker) and he is appropriately costed (unlike the aforementioned). He’s a great army buffing character with the ability to be monstrous on the table against the right targets. Ensuring he gets to and survives past those targets is the actual issue in hand.
He’s a great choice and is an improvement on his 1.0 form, but still retains the resiliency issues that require him to be played with a modicum of tactics – and thus is innately balanced.
Sevatar “The Prince of Crows”
Sevatar, The Prince of Crows, The 1st Captain costs 220 points base. What is shocking is when you consider Sigismund is 230 points and Abaddon is 250 points and realise how undercosted Sigismund is as a result. News just in: Imperial Fists written too well! Easy mode Heresy? Anyway…
Sevatar has had a bit of an upgrade from his 1.0 version. He no longer has the old statline with non-Artificer armour, Iron Halo (4++ Invulnerable Save) and no Night’s Whisper as an option – this is the standard Sevatar now with a 2+ Armour save and a 4+ Invulnerable save. He comes with Fear (2) which is great and Relentless, which isn’t (there’s no rapid fire, heavy or ordnance weapons on Sev). His Initiative and Weapon Skill are the stand out characteristics for him with Initiative 6 and Weapon Skill 7 he is genuinely terrifying in combat.
He still does Precision Strikes on a 4+, which is really useful for trying to plink out specific targets – either in general melee or with a bolt pistol en route into melee. General melee isn’t really where you want Sevatar to be however, as he has the Dirty Fighter trait.
Dirty Fighter comes into it’s own when Sevatar is engaged in a Challenge with a model whose Weapon Skill is 5 or more. Sevatar gains the Instant Death special rule on all attacks made during that Challenge. This means you want to pile him into Legion specific unit Sergeant equivalents (if you haven’t removed them from the squad in other ways already) or Warlords. This is doubled down on with the fact that Night’s Whisper has Duellist’s Edge (1), increasing his Initiative to 7 in a challenge.
|Night’s Whisper||–||+2||2||Melee, Two-handed, Duellist’s Edge (1),|
Murderous Strike (6+), Master-crafted
With regards to the other features of Night’s Whisper it is a fairly good weapon with AP 2 at Initiative, at Strength 6, Master-crafted and Murderous Strike (6) for Instant Death. Two-handed brings balance to Sevatar, giving him only 5 attacks on the charge, but if you can get Bloody Murder into play that takes you to 6 attacks. But that isn’t all there is to Sevatar, after all we see several scenes of suppressed prescience in the lore…
He has the Psyker sub type too, same as his Primarch, and due to his rule, Shadows of Past and Future, at the start of any Assault phase, a Psychic check may be made for Sevatar by the controlling player: this Psychic check must be made against a Leadership of 7. If this Check is passed, Sevatar gains +1 WS and Attacks for the duration of that Assault phase. If the Check is failed, Sevatar suffers Perils of the Warp. Again, if he suffers Perils, you can try to tank it on his Invulnerable save, but can also pass it off to his Squad.
That’s a maximum of, if you can tactically pull it off; 7 Attacks at Initiative 7 (6 when not in a challenge), with Weapon Skill 8, with a Strength 6, AP 2, Master-crafted weapon, with all of those attacks being Instant Death (on to wound rolls of 6 when not in a challenge). Remembering that when in a challenge wounds don’t spill out, that’s quite strong – especially against the one guy he’s in a challenge with, but then again he is 220 points base – 235 points if you’re taking Prey Sight. In those terms, it’s clear he is well pointed.
Sevatar isn’t just a great combatant, known amongst the Legions for being so; he’s also Master of the Atramentar. When Sevatar is your Warlord, any units of Legion Cataphractii Terminators and Legion Tartaros Terminators (including Atramentar) included in the same Detachment as Sevatar gain the Deep Strike special rule (Sevatar himself does not). When any units of Legion Cataphractii Terminators, Legion Tartaros Terminators or Contekar Terminators that are part of the same Detachment as Sevatar are included as part of a Deep Strike Assault that does not include Sevatar, they gain the Preferred Enemy (Everything) special rules for the duration of the turn in which they are deployed. In addition, an army whose Warlord is Sevatar may make an additional Reaction in the opposing player’s Movement phase, as long as Sevatar has not been removed as a casualty. That’s a fairly decent Warlord trait, buffing the army you’re likely to bring along with Sevatar and can make some nice builds in Rites of War like Pride of the Legion, or even within Terror Assault as a Deep Striking element.
The issue with Sevatar is, as always has been, how you get him to where you need him. He doesn’t have Deep Strike, can’t infiltrate and so you’re limited to popping him into a Rhino, or Land Raider. Walking him up the table unfortunately is a non-starter with the prevalence of Nemesis bolters. Other than that, Sevatar has a well balanced ruleset that is appropriately costed for his resilience and capabilities on the table.
Giving him Deep Strike as a part of his rules wouldn’t have been a problem for his cost. It would have made him stronger, for sure, but his offensive capabilities still lie in Challenges or fishing for 6+ Instant Death rolls – providing balance. What’s important to remember is that his Warlord trait only provides Deep Strike to Terminators if you want to be a bit gamey and get Sevatar in a Squad of Contekar/Atramentar and Deep Strike him by using a Warmonger Consul. Furthermore, clarification is needed, as if you Pod him in via Deep Strike Assault, technically again, those units lose out on Preferred Enemy (Everything) as he is a part of that Deep Strike Assault.
Sev is good, expensive and potentially missing a rule or two but good. He won’t win versus characters like Sigismund, but then most characters outside of Primarchs won’t.
Contekar Terminator Elite
Contekar are the bastard-children of the Night Lords fanbase. We wanted Atramentar and were given Contekar, then told by a rules team member to “suck it up” on Facebook at the time. Well, now they have some lore due to Book 9 Crusade, and they haven’t really changed since their inception in Heresy 1.0.
They’re 225 points for five and can still be taken to a max of 15 in a squad for 40 points per model. They’re still Chosen Warriors, so can accept Challenges like they were Characters, and still have Lords of the Night, enabling a single Contekar Terminator Squad numbering no more than 10 models may be taken as a Compulsory HQ choice in an army in which neither Sevatar nor Konrad Curze are present. This does mean you can’t take a Warlord Trait or a Rite of War however. I’ve done this, and it wasn’t amazing, but wasn’t terrible – definitely an option if you want to do something different from the normal HQ choices.
In addition, a Contekar Terminator Squad may be selected as a Retinue Squad in a Detachment that includes Sevatar, instead of as an Elites choice. A unit selected as a ‘Retinue Squad’ counts Sevatar as the Contekar Terminator Squad’s Leader for the purposes of this special rule. A Contekar Terminator Squad selected as a Retinue Squad does not use up a Force Organisation slot and is considered part of the same unit as the model selected as Sevatar. A Contekar Terminator Squad selected as a Retinue Squad must be deployed with Sevatar deployed as part of the unit and Sevatar may not voluntarily leave the Retinue Squad. It’s an expensive method of ablative wounds for both direct action and Perils of the Warp, but hey… it works and also has the added benefit of being able to do a bit of preparation of the battlefield by drowning the target of a charge in firepower.
They still have Fear (1), Deep Strike, Stubborn and Relentless and can still only take a Legion Proteus Land Raider or Dreadclaw as a Dedicated Transport. They still have Chainblades and can take a Heavy Flamer or Volkite Cavitator and the Dissident is still the only one who can upgrade their Chainblade to an Escaton Power Claw.
|Volkite Cavitator||10″||6||5||Heavy 4, Deflagrate|
The Volkite Cavitator is still probably the best choice of weapon for them to wield and can pump out some heavy firepower. It doesn’t rely on templates that can be fouled by your own models during Deep Strike and congestion on the battlefield. It’s incredibly short ranged still, which doesn’t make sense rules wise or aesthetically, but if you can get them in close in a sizeable blob, it can be functionally devastating to 3+ Armour save units. For total hilarity, run a blob of 15 with Volkites, Deep Strike Assault and laugh at how ludicrous it gets to see an enemy pinned and then receive 60 Strength 6 Volkite shots at 10″ range. Sure it’s expensive, but you’ll probably still be chuckling en route home from the game.
Contekar are still in a poor health in game though. They do ok for softening up a target prior to a charge, but you really need Sevatar to make them “good” – and even then, he can’t be with them to make that happen. You can’t even pod him in with them, because his Master of the Atramentar rule specifically calls that out.
They don’t really help with preparing the battlefield for other elements to use the Legion Trait as none of their weapons are Pinning, but at least they outnumber and Volkite can do some work to assist in forcing this. Their arrival by Deep Strike Assault might Pin an enemy unit, but there’s significant risk to that tactic too with the amount of mishaps that seem to occur in game these days.
They would be good if you were able to give them all Escaton Power Claws, Power Fists or Thunderhammers for 5-10 points each – but you can’t. Similarly, if the Volkites were 30″ or even 15″ as they look like they should be, they’d be good – but they’re not. These are 1.0 era woes and they simply haven’t been addressed.
Ultimately, they still do very little better than, say, Night Raptors or Terror Squads in either melee or at range other than a bit of enhanced survivability.
It feels like the rules team, when they introduced them into the game made a bit of a mistake. Instead of telling the community “Here’s something you didn’t want, that doesn’t do anything very well” and then struggling to write the rules for Atramentar, they could have FAQ’d the Contekar to be BS5 instead of WS5 and fixed the range on the Volkite to create proper close support Terminators for 225pts for 5.
Instead there’s a weird juxtaposition of rules going on here, where the Contekar can’t be good generalist Terminators because they’re not Atramentar and don’t have the options. Nor can they be good supporting Terminators because they don’t have the rules and ranges. They’re a hodgepodge, mishmash of unwanted and unneeded abilities as a result.
I take them because… Well, they’re WS5 Terminators and have cool models. Their weapons are comparatively rubbish and add no value to the tactical game I’m playing, but I try to prepare the battlefield for their debus from a Land Raider or Deep Strike Assault with other assets to make them better than “eh”. At the end of every game I have the thought that for the price of the Land Raider and Contekar, I could have brought another 10 strong Night Raptor Squad and had better effect in melee, or a 10 strong Terror Squads for better effort at ranged. Or, a Contemptor for better versus everything because Contemptors are too cheap for what they do (another Heresy 2.0 problem).
So what’s the best way to use them? They’re good for Deep Strike down to clear and hold an Objective of lesser foes (Generic forces, no Legion Specific forces or other Legion Specific Terminators) and do have a slight edge over generic Legion Tartaros Terminators. Be wary of Legion Cataphractii Terminators though, and anything packing more than Lightning Claws. Alternatively, use them as ablative wounds for Sevatar and to plink off a few bodies from a squad that he wants to charge.
It’s really strange that Night Lords historically suffer at fighting against Terminators, and that the Liber Hereticus writers chose to change nothing of the Contekar Terminator Elite – the only Night Lords Terminators in the actual Liber.
As a result they can’t add one iota of benefit towards fighting against them, and that’s why you probably won’t see Contekar on the table often. Just accept the fact that they aren’t great and double down on the coolness and deploy them via Dreadclaws. If you’re going to run less than effective units, do it in less than effective style.
Atramentar Terminator Elite
The Atramentar were introduced in Heresy 1.0 as part of the Exemplary Battles Series, this was notably post the introduction of the previously unknown of Contekar and being told “like it or shut up – you don’t know what you want” by the rules team on Facebook. 1.0 Atramentar were WS5 Terminators who had Deep Strike and a narrative set of rules that rewarded players for using them with Sevatar. They were expensive, but fun and narrative.
In 2.0 they’re problematic to put it politely. They were released in the 2.0 Supplementary document for Exemplary Battles. The same one that gave us Imperial Fists Huscarls and Raven Guard Deliverers.
The Atramentar’s Sworn Loyalty rule makes Lore sense – whereby if Sevatar is the army’s Warlord, Night Lords Atramentar Squads may be selected as non-Compulsory Troops choices and count as Legion Terminator Squads for the purposes of the Master of the Atramentar Warlord Trait. So that isn’t terrible – it makes sense to have them gain Preferred Enemy (Everything) when deployed in a Deep Strike Assault, as that’s lore reflective.
However, for whatever reason, the rules team decided they were Weapon Skill 4 now.
Then they decided that the Atramentar would charge and hit better only when their rule Cloaked in Murder was active. This occurs when a unit composed entirely of models with this special rule declares a Charge targeting a unit that is already engaged in combat. The Charge roll gains an additional +1 modifier, and if the Charge is successful then all models in the Charging unit gain +1 To Hit for the duration of the turn in which that Charge is made.
This would be fine if it made any sense whatsoever in the lore of the Atramentar, but it doesn’t really make sense from any angle. These are 1st Company Terminators – they are the Night Lords Elite warriors.
The fact they’re bulky sees these outnumbering for the purposes of A Talent For Murder – But that doesn’t make them any better at hitting, and doesn’t really help with wounding either as these are generalist Terminators, determined by their options, so likely rocking Power Fists etc. Therefore, they’re likely to be facing off against other Terminators – and Legion Specific WS5 Terminators.
To make matters worse they’re noticeably more expensive than Legion Tartaros Terminators too, even at minimum size unit strength. So to stand any chance of doing well with these you have to either get two MSU Atramentar units up the table and into a single target to get them to allow one of those units to hit better, or pop another unit that probably doesn’t want to be in combat with Terminators first to get the Atramentar to do anything useful.
Their 1.0 rules made sense. Cloaked in Murder meant any charge made against them was disordered and Sworn Loyalty meant they could be taken as troops, but no longer score if Sevatar was removed as a casualty. THAT is how you write narrative rules for a long-standing, deep lore entwined unit like the Atramentar.
There’s a lot of moaning done by the Night Lords community about the Atramentar in 2.0. They’re somehow worse than the Contekar, because they’re tangibly no better than Legion Tartaros Terminators aside from the fact they have Deep Strike built in and to make the best of them, you need to wrangle some bullshit on the table to get an expensive unit to work the way they should have from the off.
There was no need for the ground up re-write. They could have left the 1.0 rules as they were, roughly, and reduced their points slightly and they’d be good, but not Deliverer good and people would be happy.
I’m a firm believer in the reason that the Atramentar are so terrible, is because the Contekar exist. Contekar have better WS and better Leadership. But that’s not a good comparison start point, because they’re objectively worse than any other Legion specific Terminator in the game. They also have no defined niche within a Night Lords army that couldn’t be done as or more effectively by another generic or Legion specific unit. So here we have doubly-poor Atramentar Terminator Elite that should be the Night Lords anti-Terminator Terminators, yet they can’t even hold a candle to that task.
So, how would I get the best from them? They’re probably best used in Pride of the Legion lists, frankly, in a massed Terminator army, adding some manoeuvrability to a fairly slow list. The cost of that force would probably mean taking two units at Minimum Strength to facilitate getting Cloaked in Murder off in the Deep Strike Assault. Just take a Master of Signals to try to get them in without issue. It’s just a lot of hoops to jump through to get a meagre bonus that should be a hard-coded stat. Cloaked in Murder should have been left as it was.
Meanwhile on the other side of the coin we have Raven Guard Deliverers and Imperial Fists Huscarls? Genuinely, whoever wrote the Atramentar rules, you need sacking and banning from writing rules for any game series ever again. It’s a travesty that such obviously overpowered Loyalist Terminator units exist yet such flagrant disregard to lore-based Traitor units has occurred.
Nothing makes sense on their datasheet, and they’re not worth the deep upset of seeing such a great lore-based unit, beloved by the community, shafted so badly that running them brings. Apparently, only Imperial Fists and Raven Guard are allowed exceptional Terminators. Know your place Midnight Clad Traitors, you’re not even allowed acceptable ones.
Night Raptor Squad
After the absolute debacle of the Night Lords Terminators, we come to the Night Raptor Squad.
Starting at 5 for 185 points and up to 10 additional Night Raptors for 25 points per model, they aren’t cheap. Compared to their sister unit in the Sons of Horus, Reavers they’re 50 points more expensive as a Squad and 3 points more per model after – and Reavers are already costly for what they do.
Compared to the Blood Angels Dawnbreakers or Raven Guard Dark Furies, who are notably better than both Reavers and Raptors in every way, Night Raptors are so awfully overcosted it’s embarrassing. But we can’t compare Loyalist to Traitor – as it’ll always leave a terrible taste in the mouth; such is the difference between most of the overruled and undercosted Loyalists to the overcosted Traitors. Not off to a great start then…
Night Raptors aren’t an auto-take, despite seeing them in most lists. They’re expensive, fragile but can hit like a train when targeting the right units – anything that isn’t a Legion Specific Terminator (Loyalist). They revel at tearing apart anything without Artificer Armour (avoid Deathwing Companions, Suzerain) and are fast too boot. This means that if you need something to fill that role, that is also WS5; they’re pretty useful.
Night Raptors come with Night Vision, something that is entirely absent across the Night Lords units with the exception of Curze. This is explained simply due to the fact that whilst they can take some interesting ranged choices, really they’re a melee focused unit. It also means that you’re not suffering in Night Fighting and don’t have to pop another instance of Prey Sight on them.
They move 7″, and can activate their Warhawk Jump Packs to increase that to 12″. Further, they can run with an activated pack, maxing out at 16″ movement in a turn. Night Raptors have Relentless, so they can move and shoot heavy and rapid fire weapons, but you need to remember they can’t run and charge. This is good for prepositioning moves in Turn 1, ready to get involved with the enemy up close in Turn 2.
Speaking of their ranged options, they can take a 1 in 5 option of Plasma Pistol, Hand Flamer, Flamer, Plasma Gun, Meltagun. Really the only useful choice from these is a Meltagun – it allows you to pop transports or prepare the battlefield for outnumbering by simply waxing a member of the target squad. These cost 15 points each, so you’re effectively costing a whole extra Night Raptor to do this effectively in a Squad of 10. It’s a tough decision. Plasma weapons, whilst ok, are still expensive for a swingy option. Night Raptors have Relentless so you can use them without penalty if you that’s your poison.
Night Raptors have Bloody Murder built in which is lovely – it also speaks to the fact that these definitely aren’t a generalist unit but one that needs to be in melee to do its best work. Night Raptors come armed with Chainswords and Bolt pistols standard, but really you want to be spending a refined amount on maximising their potential – whilst trying to keep them cheap as they are overcosted from the off. To that end, Chainblades and Lightning Claws are pretty much the go-to right now as they offer a neat blend of cost versus results.
Depending on your loadout, you’re likely looking at somewhere in the region of 400-430 points per Squad of 10 Night Raptors. These will dish out a maximum of (loadout and Bloody Murder dependent) circa 40 attacks at Initiative 5. If you’re targeting Loyalist Legion Specific Squads, and their either pinned, falling back or outnumbered these attacks will be hitting on 4+ and then wounding on 2+ (using Chainblades, 3+ to wound normally, +1 for A Talent For Murder) with Shred and Breaching (6).
So, they’re good in isolation, suffering from the same thing that all Night Lords specialist units suffer from – points cost versus output (a similar Dark Furies squad is 100 points cheaper and has better resiliency and output). They’ll do work for you, but ultimately there’s been movement in the community recently gravitating towards using Assault Squads instead of Night Raptors – because you get roughly similar results for less points. That’s a shame, because Raptors are a wonderfully narrative unit that can do great things when everything goes to plan.
If you are running Night Raptors you need to try to keep the cost down and be wary of their fragility on the table. Gone are the days of running up the table, tearing into a unit, then another before going down in a storm of fire. Firepower is generally more vicious due to the amount of shooting your opponent can do in your turn and then in their own turn, so make sure you make use of cover saves where possible (Skirmish increases the cover save by 1).
It’s also worth preparation of the battlefield by using other units such as Terror Squads to either diminish the numbers in the target Squad and/or Pinning them to ensure A Talent For Murder comes into play for the Night Raptors. If you’re facing armies with excessive firepower, or oppressive always-on/unit-rules such as Imperial Fists, it’s worth running a Librarian to turn off reactions on the target unit before charging the Night Raptors in – otherwise you’re just going to eat 2+ Overwatch and lose a wedge of your expensive unit. This obviously depends on your tactics – but is worth considering as a backup. Especially as you’ll be within 12″ so the enemy will have Fear (1) to account for too.
Terror Squads, the staple of Night Lords players world over have had a rework in Heresy 2.0. They’re now 20 points cheaper than they were for a Squad of 5, now coming in at 115 points, and this is where the problem starts. See, that’s the same price as a Veteran Squad. This comparison becomes even less flattering when you realise the Veterans are WS5 and have 2 wounds, whereas the Terror Squad is WS4 and 1 wound. At least each model in a Veteran Squad costs the same +18 points per model base. Terror Squads can also go to a maximum of 15 models in a unit.
Terror Squads come with Fear (1) as standard, Precision Strikes (6), Infiltrate, Bloody Murder and Preferred Enemy (Infantry). More on this in a minute.
Terror Squads come with a Bolt Pistol and Chainsword base, which isn’t a wonderful loadout, but it means you have some tools to work with. It also means that every ranged option costs more than their Veteran alternative due to the fact those come with Bolters. Ok, Bolters are +1 point each, but that’s still 10 points more in an average sized squad. You could also choose to take a Flamer, but really the juice worth the squeeze is the Volkite Charger for +2 points and the Rotor Cannon for +5 points each. Any member can take one of these and they work nicely with preparing the Battlefield for A Talent for Murder.
Tying in Precision Strikes (6) with Infiltrate and Preferred Enemy (Infantry) means that you’re typically going to be able to get close and drown a target with firepower that will likely reduce them in number or result in them being pinned. On average, 2 Rotor Cannons firing will cause a Pinning result. If you’re lucky with your rolls, or Preferred Enemy (Infantry) pulls a blinder out of the bag for you, one of the deaths will be the Squad Sergeant equivalent, making Fear (1) much more dangerous in the following turn as you move closer. Bloody Murder works well for when you’re mopping up and potentially making that charge on a Pinned unit the following turn – Rotor cannons are Assault, so this works well too – if they can survive that long.
The problem with Terror Squads is that even if you go for a split of 5 Volkite Chargers and 5 Rotor Cannons (to ensure the job gets done and has some flexibility), that’s a ten strong Squad that costs 240 points with no further upgrades. Nostraman weapons cost +10 points each on Terror Squads and are therefore cheaper than normal. If you start bolting on multiple weapons or upgrades then the unit price begins to spiral and they just don’t have the survivability. Sure you can take a barebones squad with 3 Rotor Cannons in it for 220 points, but it’s also carrying the risk of a whiff roll and then cascading issues through the army.
Terror Squads should therefore be outfitted to do one job well, rather than two jobs poorly for their cost. Chainswords come stock on them, and you would do well to decide whether that’s an infiltrating squad to hit with ranged weapons and attempt to mop up afterwards, or an infiltrating squad being set up by other squads to raise hell in melee.
Chainsword equipped Terror Squads can cause an amount of carnage in melee, even with WS4 significantly hampering them, especially if you can pull off A Talent For Murder and Bloody Murder; which is a reason you often see them equipped for ranged combat primarily.
Ultimately Terror Squads really could do with either WS5 or 2W for their cost. I’m firmly of the inclination that they’re just too expensive to not have 2W. WS4 would act as a balance for this. It’s a shame that a squad that has long been the narrative staple for the Night Lords community has seen such a comparatively poor hand dealt to it. That said, they’re still core to the Night Lords modus operandi in my opinion. Just run the minimum amount of units you need, and those units barebones for single mission in mind – then expect to lose them once that sole job is done.
There are plenty of paint schemes out there from Games Workshop through to Medders Miniatures fantastic metallic scheme. I’ve been through plenty of repaints over the years, originally starting with a Vallejo Arctic Blue Metallic with Drakenhof Nightshade filter, moving onto a brighter scheme for my debut on the30kchannel and now on a slightly different muted scheme:
Primer – MIG Black One Shot.
Base – Vallejo Black.
Preshade – Vallejo Pure White.
Layer – Vallejo Imperial Blue (50/50 thinned).
Filter – Citadel Drakenhof Nightshade.
Edge Highlight – Vallejo Magic Blue.
Base – Vallejo Metal Colour – Burnt Iron.
Wash – Citadel Nuln Oil.
Edge Highlight – Vallejo Metal Colour Silver.
This article seemed to start so well. By the end I felt fairly downtrodden and this all from reading through the book and recalling my experiences accrued since 2.0 release. This article has been a long time coming because the Night Lords were my first Legion in 1.0 many moons ago and have been a stalwart presence in my games ever since and I didn’t want to do them a disservice.
Book 9 Crusade made them strong in certain meta, and no change from middling in others. I feel the Night Lords are among the strongest Traitors currently, but that’s not really an indication of realistic strength in the game. If I were forced to place them in a tier, they’re probably just in the top third of Legions in the game overall, but only just.
That’s the problem with this edition in my opinion and why this post degraded so quickly. There are so many good units in isolation in the Traitor Legions arsenal, not just for the Night Lords – it’s just some of the Loyalists tend to have undercosted and overruled versions in their arsenal by comparison and those Legions that have them seem to have definitely grown their playerbase since the release of 2.0.
There’s plenty of Legions and Armies out there that can absolutely wreck the Night Lords. There are plenty of Reactions that make the Night Lords significantly weaker. There are plenty of units out there that ignore Fear or the effects of Fear. It’s still a stronger mechanic in 2.0 than it was in 1.0 – but don’t bet on it going to plan when you need it to. Just use it to massage and shape the battlefield into your favour.
That said, the Night Lords can still swing the battles as the games go on, in dramatic ways. It’s worth noting that the Night Lords and their Legion Specific Units are a more Alpha-strike style army than one that can weather a battering over the course of a game. Resiliency isn’t a keyword in the Night Lords vocabulary.
You’ll need to start having an effect in Turn 1 or at least positioning for a damaging strike in Turn 2 to stand a chance of winning by anything more than the skin of your teeth. Our specialist units simply melt under the gaze of more powerful and resilient Loyalist units. It’s not to say that winning against certain armies is impossible. It’s really not, but it definitely depends on how WAAC your local group is.
Despite the annoyance and aggravation in this blog post, every unit in the Night Lords arsenal IS usable – just to wildly differing degrees and it’ll majorly depend on your local meta how effective those units are.
I’ve played a multitude of army styles. Stuck with my 1.0 lists (ported directly over to 2.0) to see how they directly translated and then evolved them into good 2.0 lists. I’ve also experimented with things, recently adding in Lascannon Heavy Support Squads with Master of Signals and removed them again after realising how wrong that can feel on the table from a narrative playstyle point of view. Some of the more Armoured Caradara style armies work incredibly well for the Night Lords – arguably better than Terror Assault and are well worth experimenting with.
The Night Lords have a flexible set of Warlord Traits, but realistically due to how poor the Jadhek Clanlord Rite is, you’re only ever choosing from two, and Flaymaster IS objectively the better Trait of those.
I don’t think the status quo will change vastly. Terror Assault is still the sweet spot for Night Lords players. It offers enough positives (just) over the heavy limitations that sometimes I find I’m convincing myself that “The enemy cannot score if I just kill all their Troops”. It never works out that way. Terror Assault, and any Rite of War that makes a unit a compulsory Troops choice should mean those units score. It’s ridiculous that mechanic is locked mostly behind Yellow and Green Loyalists Rites.
Terror Squads are still a solid pick – noting to keep them cheap, as they interact with the rest of the force you want to take really nicely, by preparing the battlefield for them. Night Raptors are good in isolation, but be wary of them facing against the obvious suspects on the Loyalist side, it’s just too skewed to go well for you. Alternatively, consider some big blob Assault Squads if you don’t fancy an expensive and fragile Night Raptor unit. Sabres, Landspeeders and Javelins work nicely with Terror Assault too. If you’re going for a generic Rite of War, I can offer the suggestion of following in the footsteps of the Armoured Caradara Claw and The Bleak Cohort (lore armies) and going for an Armoured Spearhead. It just works really nicely with the Legion Traits in my opinion. As always, there’s a shout for Pride of The Legion and Drop Pod Assault – staple favourites from 1.0 that continue to be good in 2.0.
Ultimately, if you want a Legion that isn’t easy-mode, makes you work to gain benefits in every regard and can pull a few cheeky tricks out of the bag – the Night Lords are a great Legion to start collecting and playing. You’ll definitely learn the benefits from playing with tactical cowardice with them.
This list is based off an evolution of one of my original Night Lords army lists from 1.0. Gone is the orginial Fourth Claw, which was a Terror Squad, and instead a Legion Reconnaissance Squad takes their position. These sit back on a decent vantage point and work in unison with the Infiltrating pair of Terror Squads to prepare the battlefield for the Night Raptors moving up the field with Curze and Contekar in the Land Raider with Sevatar. The Legion Proteus packs a hull mounted lascannon to add to the weight of fire coming in from the Neutron Sabres and the Twin Arcus Sicarans. There’s three units with Pinning weapons in them, adhering to my rule of 1 Pinning capable unit per 1,000pts. Curze gives the whole army (vehicles aside) Night Vision and Bloody Murder, leaving the Vehicles the only ones to take Prey Sight. Finally, the whole Rite of War gives Fear (1) to the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) units with Characters in them.
This list is an variant of the above, using no named characters. It adds a Jump Pack Librarian to work with the Night Raptors and a Vigilator to work with the Reconnaissance Squad. Otherwise the list remains virtually identical, aside from the addition of a few bits of wargear on the Contekar and Arcus pair and an additional Neutron Sabre. The addition of the Librarian offers the ability to add a bit more pinning into the army. Moreover, if you time it right, you can effectively cause an enemy army to draw up stumps. As with all Terror Assault Armies, it’s light on Heavy Support, so you’re looking for those Sabres to pull their weight. For those worried about Squadrons, then you could pop out the Sabres into three individual slots, but you’d need to dial back some points to equip them with Prey Sight. Removing the Escaton Power Claw and Skypear warheads would go some way towards making this a reality. Alternatively, don’t forget normal Land Speeders with Grav weapons can cause an unruly amount of carnage for their cost.
This list is an variant of the above list with a Jump Pack Praetor in place of the Tartaros Terminator Praetor. Due to the additional points spent on his wargear, one of the Neutron Sabres is removed and one Arcus loses its Skyspear Warheads. The remaining points are spent on Third Claw, gaining an additional Night Raptor and giving the Vigilator Lord of Murder.
What’s your opinion on running Night Lords without a rite of war?
I think they work well enough, but the theme you can craft in with the RoW is too lovely to pass up personally.