Visions of Treachery (Part 1)


So much death. So much tragic / brilliant death

The Seeds of Heresy are sown

There’s a reasonable chance that if you’re reading this you probably fall into one of two categories: WHFB player or WH40K player. Sure, you might also throw some dice in Privateer Press games, or Warlord games, but for the most part the big two systems are our mainstays. Which is cool: most of us would listen to Black Flag or Minor Threat more often than we’d throw on that Bl’ast record. But, for those who haven’t dabbled yet, I’d like to try and introduce WH30K – The Horus Heresy.

When I first became aware of 40K, The Horus Heresy was confined to excerpts in rule books and White Dwarf, or now partially ‘retconned’ Index Astartes articles which I didn’t read until much later. Ever since Black Library published Horus Rising in 2006, however, the interest in the heresy setting has been growing. Now at around book 30, and still nowhere near the siege of Terra, the books keep coming and the fluff gets fleshed out more and more. What was once a passing reference related to an old legion name is now a well defined trait, a rich character or a fully outlined unique unit.

And the best part is that thanks to Forge World we have miniatures. Jaw-droppingly good miniatures, in all their glorious resin detail. On top of which, we have rules bringing the 18 Legions of the Great Crusade to life like never before. We have multiple books of 300 pages describing characters, exemplary battles, legion structures, preferred tactics and preferred looks. From Terra to Isstvan, there is a lot of work and effort spent to immerse you in the galaxy of 10,000 years prior to the grimdark norm of 40K.


I DARE you to call me vanilla one more time

But understanding where to start when looking back 10,000 years is not easy – just ask any Magos of Mars with an STC in front of them and they’ll tell you. Turning up on one of the HH dedicated forums without a little guidance in the right direction is like turning up at your first hardcore show without having even picked up a Sick Of It All CD in HMV. I’ll briefly try and put my arm on your shoulder, a Gorilla Biscuits tape in your pocket, and offer some guidance on getting involved.

Let’s start with the essentials. 30K is a serious investment. If you haven’t encountered Forge World before, and thought that Games Workshop’s prices were reaching breaking point, you will need to think twice before committing to a Legion army. Legions are big, and due to the points structure you don’t really get into utilising the more fun toys until you reach 2000+ points. Price wise I’d say you’re looking at around £300 per 1,000 points, so to get a cool 3,000 point army you’re going to be shelling out about £1,000.

Still with me? Awesome.

First things first, empty your cart of resin figures, and go to the Books section. Like any game system, you need to start with some form of army list and rules, but I don’t think it’s immediately obvious what is needed. Forge World have recently released a Crusade Army List book, and an Istvaan Campaign Legions book. The first is the equivalent of Codex Space Marines. It’s the generic army list which allows you to play 30K games, and contains all non-Legion specific entries from the Horus Heresy Books 1-3. More on those later. Put this in your cart, you want it.


Will probably use that severed arm for funsies later.

The second is the Istvaan Campaign Legions book. You probably need this if you are planning on fielding one of the Legions covered so far: Sons of Horus, Death Guard, World Eaters, Emperor’s Children, Alpha Legion, Word Bearers, Raven Guard, Iron Warriors, Salamanders, Iron Hands, Night Lords and Imperial Fists. The remaining 6 Legions have not yet been covered, so if you are planning on fielding one of them, you don’t need this book. You need to wait a while I’m afraid, potentially a year or two. Of the covered legions, each receives roughly the same amount of Legion specific goodies: A couple of special characters, 2-3 unique units and rules for the Primarch.

But choosing which Legion is for you is tricky unless you already know in your heart. A great thing about the time of the Legions is that each of them really did have everything. You want to do a gunline but love the World Eaters? Go right ahead, they aren’t the frothing madmen they will become, and they embraced big guns almost as much as any son of Perturabo. 30K seems to attract almost entirely fluff players, and there is so much scope to work with, you can really take an idea and run with it. People often visit Bolter and Chainsword asking for advice on choosing a legion, and the advice is often similar. Read up on each of them, who sounds like your type of Astartes? Really consider if their colours are what you want to paint (you really want to paint 3,000 points of yellow? Sure about that?). Think about which of them you’ve liked most from the Black Library series. These kind of questions will help you find your Legion.


Nobody ever expects YELLOW marines.

If we assume you’re going to do one of the Legions already covered, you have a choice to make. If you just want the rules to be able to field them, then grab the Isstvan Campain Legions book too. If you want all the fluff that goes along with them (and you do at some point, even if you think you don’t), then you need to look at Books 1-3: Betrayal, Massacre, Extermination. Some of the legions (the first four) have unique units across books 1 and 2, so it’s a little more expensive there.

Let’s make a second assumption and assume that you just picked up the rule books. For those lucky enough to live in the UK where shipping is cheap (get them shipped to your local GW store if needed), you should check out now. You should pour over the books and come up with an approximate army list which you might use. The reason I add this is because it’s due to the scope on offer as I mentioned. Most armies will have tactical squads as the core, but it is entirely possible to run terminators as troops, or assault marines as troops, or even Legion specific units. Given the cost involved, you should have a rough idea of your basics.

Next up I’ll go into building that first Heresy army and some resources to help along the way.

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