While I was at Miniwargaming this last weekend, one of the hosts, Josh, was on a recruiting drive. He was trying to convince the Clubhouse folks to try out both Adeptus Titanicus(probably because we were playing Battletech), and to try the Horus Heresy. Most of us resisted the call, since they are heavily committed to Warhammer 40k or simply don’t want to. However, I was curious.
The Horus Heresy is a great setting, and while I’m sure most people who read this blog are at least aware of it, let me summarize. I do apologize for the lack of pictures; with Games Workshops new IP policy I tend to be very, very careful, and without myself owning many Heresy models I cannot simply take pictures of them!
The Horus Heresy is set 10,000 years before Warhammer 40k, and for many years existed mostly as a backstory event. The original Adeptus Titanicus was set in this timeline, and the Heresy was devised as a way to allow Imperial Titans to fight each other. A successful novel series eventually led to Forge World releasing a tabletop version.
The Horus Heresy tells the story of the worst Civil War in Imperial history, when fully half of the Space Marine Legions turned traitor and fell to Chaos. The Warmaster Horus Luprecal, Primarch of the Sons of Horus, led his fallen brothers to make war on the rest of the Imperium. The Martian Mechanicum, the ancestors of 40k’s Adeptus Mechanicus, were split in two trying to decide who to back, and fell into open warfare as well. The Imperial Army, the regular human combat arm of the Imperium, was similarly divided, although most followed whatever Legion they were attached to in terms of picking sides.
The Imperium of Man at the time was not what it is in 40k. It is an entirely secular institution, with the Imperial Truth being its defining moral compass, a belief that there were no Gods, and to believe such was outrageous superstition. The Emperor walked among mankind, a being of immense psychic might, and a charismatic if not manipulative leader. Efficient and on a mission of galactic conquest, the Imperium was in the midst of the Great Crusade. Technology was actively being invented, and while humanity as a whole was recovering from a period of technological regression, it had vehicles and wargear that would make a 40k era player green with envy.
It was not to last, and much was lost in the war that followed Horus’s betrayal. The Imperial Truth was revealed to be an absolute lie, with the four Chaos Gods corrupting the galaxy wherever the Traitors made war. Some Legions fell quicker then others, some resisting and some gleefully accepting their patron god’s gifts. The Legions that turned at Istvaan III were entirely different in form when they besieged Terra itself, riven with mutation, religious zealotry or blood-madness.
The Imperium was also changed, as a growing faith in the Emperor blossomed into a full religion, and the remaining Loyalist Legions being split into smaller Chapters.
As a tabletop game itself, the Horus Heresy has a reputation for being outrageously expensive. It is a Forge World led game, with FW itself doing the majority of the models and all of the rules. It is based on the older 7th Edition ruleset. That alone turns many players off; 7th Edition was an absolute mess, with the inclusion of Formations that allowed free models without paying points, among its many, other sins.
However, 7th was at its core the evolution of 3rd Edition, and had decades of balancing tweaks and whilst complicated, had a good core set of rules. The Horus Heresy uses 7th as a base, but it’s really 7.5, with all the garbage gone but keeping the good stuff. Being that most armies are Space Marine based, it is very balanced aside from odd skew based lists. The inclusion of Armour Values is particularly nice, as it means small arms usually cannot shoot a vehicle to death; you need anti-tank.
When Josh made his case to me about playing the Horus Heresy, he did mention that I could play this very expensive game quite cheaply, as I own a sizable Imperial Guard collection. I didn’t realize at the time just how easily my 40k list could adapt, and indeed thrive in this environment, until I picked up the Crusade Imperialis Army Lists book from the Max Aggression store at the MWG Bunker.
The Crusade Imperialis book contains a list for the Imperial Militia and Cults army, a force based on the Imperial Army and the Chaos Cults that some turned into. You can play it as loyalist or traitor, with Traitors getting some gribbly options. The sheer amount of options available to a Imperial Army player is simply astounding.
It starts simply with a Force Commander, a cheap HQ unit who can take what is called Provenances of War, which are army wide special rules. These allow you many options to tweak your army to your specific tastes, from having medieval style melee focused units, to having almost Space Marine level of elite units, which can even take Land Raiders or Rhinos as transports!
Now, I have chosen a middle ground. A semi-elite force built from my Vostroyan army, with 3 units of Grenadiers. These have a 4+ armour save, which is what Vostroyan models were meant to have back in the day when 3rd edition Regimental Doctrines were a thing. They can be kitted out with a simply bonkers amount of weapon options, from “Auxilia Rifles”, which can be anything from muskets to modern day style rifles, to Lasguns of three different kinds, to even Bolters!
This army is a kitbashers dream. I might eventually go that route too, but for now I’m sticking with the Vostroyans, and whatever vehicles I can kludge together.
The Crassus’s are not in the Army List, however a simple rule called Panoply of War allows you to take them from the old Imperial Armour Apocalypse book, along with a range of other Super-Heavy options.
The Leman Russ’s are in the process of being repainted, so I might look at doing them in a more Heresy style. I can bolt Multi-lasers to them as a pintle mount, which might look hilarious.
The Malcador can be a solid anti-tank option, with all its lascannons. But unlike 40k, weapon facings are a thing so I’m going to have to be careful about positioning it, and I won’t ever be able to train all of the firepower onto a single target at once.
Now my Vostroyans lore-wise don’t fit at all; Vostroyan Firstborn regiments were a post-heresy punishment for not sending troops to aid the Imperium…
However, they wear ancient style uniforms, which in an interesting twist, were from GW production artwork. From the Horus Heresy. The Imperial Army, while a diverse and varied faction with a multitude of uniforms, were originally depicted with fur hats and long red uniform jackets. While I risk the wrath of GW, lemme show you what that looks like!
See! And since GW reused that artwork to make the Vostroyan metal models, I conveniently have a very good representation of the Imperial Army! And I get to use larger squads of them as well. A win all round.
I have almost convinced a few people to at least try the Horus Heresy with me, with two being Custodes players and one player being a friend who bought both my Betrayal at Calth and Burning of Prospero Marines from me…he needs to pick a Legion however.
Well, anyways, that is all I have for today. As I add things to this army I will definitely post about it! I do want to expand into the Solar Auxilia, but that is an entirely separate army list and definitely a New Year project.
Thanks for reading! Happy Wargaming wherever you are, and don’t let the galaxy burn!