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Horus Heresy: Fast Attack

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

Greetings one and all,


Continuing on with our series on the Horus Heresy and the Legiones Astartes units, this week we're going to dive into the fast attack options and see what they're about.



For any 40k player, you might expect to see Assault Marines or really fast vehicles and, don’t get me wrong, you're going to see at least one of those things (it’s the fast vehicles. Assault Marines are a troop choice in HH). But if I was going to sum up the Fast Attack section of the Legiones Astartes, I’d describe it as a lot of glass cannons and what I mean by that are, units with little Armour or real Toughness, but carrying really big guns. These units are all about getting the maximum amount of firepower to where to need it, wiping out their targets and then most likely, dying.


A bold statement I’m sure you’ll agree, so let me go ahead and prove my point.


Units


Model and Paintwork property of Devildog Gaming


Legion Seeker Squad - This squad of Marines is specially chosen to identify and eliminate enemy Commanders, Leaders and Support Characters. The basic unit is 1 Legion Seeker Sergeant and 4 Legion Seekers and comes with Kraken Bolters and Bolt Pistols as standard.



Looking at their stats, the thing that stands out the most is that tasty BS 5, meaning these Marines hit on a 2+ which is very nice. They also have some rather interesting special rules: Legiones Astartes (which I’ve explained so much at this point), which basically allow them to take one of the Legions rules. For example, they can be Dark Angels and will have access to the Dark Angels rules Marked for Death (which is a perfect rule to represent the fluff for this squad). It works like this: once both players have set up all their units, the controlling player may select a single enemy unit. This unit is now considered Marked for Death. If the unit with the Marked for Death rule attacks the unit Marked for Death, they may re-roll all failed To-Wound rolls of a 1. Next, we have Precision Shot (4+), meaning that if you roll a 4+ with a unit that has this on their Weapons, you can decide who is taking the Damage for the shot. If you don't roll 4+, then it’s treated like normal. Finely, Infiltrate allows a unit to be deployed after both players have set up their armies. The unit can even be within 9 inches of an enemy unit, as long as they cannot draw a Line of Sight to them. Otherwise, it's 12 inches as with any other case.


So those are a nice bunch of special rules, but what about upgrades? Well the squad can have an extra 5 Marines for a total of 10 for 15 points each, and the entire squad can be given Melta Bombs for 5 points each, so a good start. Furthermore, the squad can take a Legion Vexilla, Augury Scanner and a Nuncio Vox for 10 points each (if you want to know what they do, follow this link as I covered them in detail in my Troops article). Any model may exchange their Kraken Bolter for one of the following: Magna Combi-Weapon or Minor Combi-Weapon, Chainsword, Heavy Chainsword, or Nemesis Bolter, and any model armed with a Bolter can take either a Bayonet or Chain Bayonet.


Like most squads, the Legion Seeker Sergeant can take a few more items. They may exchange their Chainsword or Kraken Bolter for a Power Weapon, Power Fist or Lighting Claw and they may also exchange their Bolt Pistol for a Plasma Pistol, Hand Flamer or Volkite Serpenta… Oh, and they can have Artificer Armour.


When I run Seeker Squads I tend to kit them out for the unit I want them to kill. The upgrade to having all Nemesis Bolters is a no-brainer for me if I’m expecting them to be killing infantry-sniping Characters and all that good stuff, however, if I’m using them for the Anti-Armour role, I’d take a Combi-Melta and slap a Power Fist on the Sergeant. Overall, a really good squad and a nice start to the Fast Attack section.




Legion Outrider Squadron - Space Marines on really beefy Motorbikes. Their role is similar to the Legion Seeker Squad: they get in, do their damage and if they're lucky, get out again. The standard unit is 1 Outrider Sergeant and 2 Outriders with Bolt Pistols, Chainswords and riding a Legion Spatha Combat Bike.



Looking at their stats they’re not much to write home about. Sure the Movement of 14 is nice for getting them where they need to go, but everything else is just very average. That said, they do have a fair few special rules so let's see if any of these redeem them. They of course get Legiones Astartes (look above for what that does), Relentless, which is a great rule that means you can move and fire Heavy and Ordnance Weapons and still count as stationary. Furthermore, you can Charge in the same turn you fired said Heavy and Ordnance Weapons. They also get Scout, which allows the player to re-deploy units after both armies have been set up. Interestingly though, Outriders also get Firing Protocols (2), which means they are able to fire 2 Ranged Weapons they are armed with. In this case, the Bikes Twin-Linked Bolters and the Riders Bolt Pistol. Carrying on, Outriders also get Hammer of Wrath (1) which basically grants them an additional Attack at Initiative step 10 that automatically hits, but is resolved at the model base strength and AP-. It also doesn’t include any special rule like Rending or Furious Charge. Think of it as if your Space Marine is body-slamming their opponent. Lastly, Outriders get Hit and Run, which allows a unit engaged in Close Combat to try and leave Close Combat. To do this, the unit must make an Initiative test; if they fail, nothing happens and they stay locked in Combat. However, if they succeed the unit picks a direction and rolls 2D6 and adds their Movement. If the distance rolled would allow every model in the unit to be Moved at least 1 inch away from all enemy models, then the unit breaks from Combat and Moves the full distance rolled (which was the 2D6+M). So a nice list of special rules I’m sure you’ll agree.


With the special rules covered, let’s move on to the upgrades the squad can have. So, first things first, you can have up to an additional 7 Outriders at 20 points a model, for a maximum total of 10. The squad can also take a Legion Vexilla and Nuncio Vox for 10 points each. The entire unit can also upgrade their Twin-Linked Bolters for either a Twin-Linked Flamer, Twin-Linked Meltagun, or Twin-Linked Plasma Gun. It should be noted that the entire squad has to be upgraded with the same Weapon, so you don’t get to mix and match. As well as this though any model in the squad can exchange their Chainsword for one of the following Power Weapons; Charnable Weapon, Lighting Claw, or Astartes Shotgun. Finally, any model may exchange their Bolt Pistol for a Hand Flamer or a Volkite Serpenta, so there are lots of options for equipping your Outriders.


The Sergeant of course gets a few extra bits of kit. Namely, they can exchange their Chainsword for a Power Fist and they can exchange their Bolt Pistol for a Plasma Pistol… Oh, and of course, they get Artificer Armour (I’m seeing another pattern forming here).


When I’m running this unit, I find I have to do a cost-versus-reward calculation in my head. It is very easy to spend a ton of points on this unit and if I’m honest, they will struggle to make it back. The Twin-Linked Metlagun and Sergeant with a Power Fist is the way I like to run them, and at 135 points the unit should kill a tank or two, therefore making its points back. But I think Assault Squads and Sky Hunters are just so much better at this role.


Model and Paintwork property of Devildog Gaming


Legion Sabre Strike Squadron - It is an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, little death-dealing mechanie… Okay, I’ll stop singing now, the Sabre is typical of a Fast Attack choice. It’s fast, not very well Armoured, but carries a really big gun. The Sabre comes equipped with a Centreline Mounted Anvilus Snub Autocannon and a Hull-Mounted Heavy Bolter.



Looking at the stats, the Speed stands out and is incredible. A Movement of 16 means this thing zips around the battlefield and can bring its big gun to bear on the side of enemy Armour. Its only special rule is Legiones Astartes (as previously covered above and in prior articles), so we’ll skip right into Upgrades.


Firstly, you can buy 2 additional Sabres for 70 points per model, which means it’s cheaper to buy another tank than another Squadron as the base unit cost is 80 points. Its Hull-Mounted Anvilus Snub Autocannon can be exchanged for either; a Hull-Mounted Neutron Blaster or a Hull-Mounted Volkite Saker. The Hull-Mounted Heavy Bolter can be exchanged for either; Hull-Mounted Multi-Melta, Hull-Mounted Volkite Culverin or a Hull-Mounted Heavy Flamer. Furthermore, the Sabre may take one of the following upgrades; Pintle Mounted Twin-Linked Bolter, Pintle Mounted Combi-Weapon (any type) or a Pintle-Mounted Havoc Launcher. Lastly, any Sabre may take Searchlights and up to four Hull-Mounted Sabre Missiles (this was upgraded in the Liber Astartes Errata).


As you can see, you really can tailor this little tankette to any type of enemy you want. I tend to slap on the Neutron Blaster and Multi-Melta when I’m hunting Vehicles, while if I’m planning on using it in the Anti-Infantry role, I’ll keep the Sabre as it is stock. Depending on the size of the game depends on how big a Squadron I’m going to bring; in a 1K match I’m only bringing one, but at the 2K and above, three can be quite viable.


Model and Paintwork property of Devildog Gaming


Legion Sky-Hunter Squadron - Combining two of mankind's favourite things: bikes and rockets. The Sky-Hunters are fast, tough, and carry a big gun. The standard unit comes with 1 Sky-Hunter Sergeant and 2 Sky-Hunters. The squad is armed with Bolt Pistols, Chainswords, and Legion Scimitar Jet Bikes which, themselves, carry a Heavy Bolter as well.



Looking at the statline I’m rather impressed; a Movement of 16 was expected, however, the 2 Wounds were not and are a nice addition (I’m not sure why the Outriders don’t get two Wounds as well to be honest). Sky-Hunters get a fair few special rules; Legiones Astartes, Relentless, Firing Protocols (2), Hammer of Wrath (1), Hit and Run and Deep Strike. Most of these I’ve covered in the Outriders Section above, so I’m going to focus on Deep Strike so as to not to repeat myself too much. Basically, while a unit such as the Legion Outrider Squadron has “Scout”, this rule has been replaced for the Sky-Hunters with “Deep Strike” instead. Which, as you’d expect, allows them to Deep Strike as per its special ruleset. (If you need to know more about this rule you’ll find it covered in detail in the Age of Darkness main rulebook on page 310.)


Okay, now I’ve dragged that out, let's talk options. You can have up to an additional 7 Sky-Hunters at 30 points each (a steal IMO), and they can take Legion Vexilla and a Nuncio-Vox. Any model may exchange their Scimitars Heavy Bolter for one of the following; Volkite Culverin, Multi-Melta, or Plasma Cannon. Any model may exchange their Bolt Pistol for a Hand Flamer or a Volkite Serpenta.


As we all know by now, the Sergeant gets extra toys, in this case, they can exchange their Chainsword for a Power Weapon, Power Fist, or Lighting Claw, and again may purchase Artificer Armour.


When I run this unit I tend to equip the whole squadron with the same Weapon. No point firing a Heavy Bolter at something you need a Multi-Melta for, and vice-versa. Also, I like to decide what the unit will be hunting to tailor the unit to that goal, but the Plasma Cannon can be a nice “all-rounder” if you’re not too sure what you're going to be facing. I also avoid getting this unit caught up in Close Combat unless I know I can clean house in the first round of Combat. Overall, it’s a very nice unit and it pairs well with the next unit on our list.


Model and Paintwork property of Devildog Gaming


Legion Javelin Squadron - When you need guns, lots and lots of guns, call in the Javelins. This unit can best be described as a fly tank with more guns added for good measure. It’s like an Ork was allowed to design this thing, and I love it. The standard unit comes armed with Bolt Pistols and Chainswords and is Mounted upon a Legion Javelin Land Speeder, which itself has a Heavy Bolter and Cyclone Missile Launchers.



Looking at the stats, Movement 14 is very nice and the Javelins Toughness 6 basically makes them immune to Bolters (or any other Strength 4 Weapons tbh), and then there are the 4 Wounds which I must say was a pleasant surprise. The Javelin also has a plethora of special rules; Legiones Astartes, Deep Strike, Outflank, Relentless, Firing Protocols (4), Harbingers of the Legion and Hit and Run. I’ve already spoken about most of these so I want to focus on the ones I haven’t written about already in this article, those being Outflank and Harbingers of the Legion. I do think Firing Protocols (4) needs to be looked at a little closer, but I’ll explain why later. So let's start with Outflank; this special rule allows the unit to perform a Flanking Assault which is kinda nice and suits the Javelin to a tee, because it basically allows you to come into the battlefield on the board edges and strike at your opponent when they’re a lot less prepared. (A full explanation of the Flanking Assault rules can be found on pg 311 Age of Darkness rulebook.) Harbingers of the Legion on the other hand means that the unit cannot join or be joined by another unit that does not also have this special rule, so no TechMarines or Apothecaries. Furthermore, a unit with this special rule never counts as a Scoring or Denial unit. But, a unit with this special rule may re-roll all failed Shrouded Damage mitigation rolls, which certainly adds some survivability. Lastly, we have Firing Protocols (4), which we have already covered somewhat, but it’s worth noting that the Javelin can pack 5 guns onto its frame. So while you will not be able to use them all in the same turn, two of those Weapons are “Hunter-Killer missiles”, so once you’ve fired one of those, you’re golden to fire everything every turn.


So, what about upgrades? Well, the unit can have an additional 2 Javelins for 90 points each for a maxim of 3 in the squad. Any model may exchange its Cyclone Missile Launchers for either a pair of Lascannons or a pair of Volkite Culverins. The Heavy Bolter can be exchanged for a Heavy Flamer (though I have no clue why you’d take this) or a Multi-Melta. Lastly, the Javelin can have up to 2 Hunter Killer Missiles.


Now I think you all know what's coming next: how do I use this unit on the tabletop? Well, it’s simple. Javelin with Lascannons and a Multi-Melta using that Outflank rule to get into the weakest Armour of enemy vehicles and blowing them apart. This is made even better by the fact that if this unit uses the “Return Fire” Reaction, it fires all of its Weapons. In fact, it can use all of the Reactions. So it’s a really strong unit and one of the exceptions to the glass cannon statement I made at the start of the article.



Legion Proteus Land Speeder Squadron - There once was an ugly duckling… This is basically a stripped-down version of the Javelin. The poor man's Land Speeder as it were. The Proteus is armed with a Bolt Pistol, Chainsword, and is Mounted in a Legion Proteus Land Speeder Squadron, which in itself is armed with a Heavy Bolter.



Looking at the stats a couple of things stand out: firstly, the Movement is 16 which is bloody fast, and it has a Toughness 5 is rather nice. The Proteus have exactly the same special rules as the Javelin so I won't go over them again, but I will list them here so you can look it up above. The special rules for the Proteus are; Legiones Astartes, Deep Strike, Outflank, Relentless, Firing Protocols (4), Harbingers of the Legion and Hit and Run.


Moving on to the upgrades, the Squadron can take an additional 4 Legion Speeder Proteus at 60 points each, resulting in a maximum of 5 Proteus per Squadron. In terms of Weapons, the Proteus Land Speeders Heavy Bolter can be exchanged for; a Heavy Flamer, Havoc Launcher, Multi-Melta, Volkite Culverin, Plasma Cannon or Graviton gun. Furthermore, any Proteus can take one of the following Weapons in addition to the standard Heavy Bolter; Heavy Flamer, Havoc Launcher, Heavy Bolter, Multi-Melta, Volkite Culverin, Plasma Cannon, or Graviton gun. Any Proteus can take up to 2 Hunter Killer Missiles which adds to the amount of firepower the Proteus brings to the battlefield.


I don’t really think much of this model if I’m perfectly honest, but if I was to use it I would again make sure that I specialise the Weapon loadout to deal with one type of target: either anti-tank or anti-infantry as there is little point having a Multi-Melta and Heavy Flamer on the same vehicle. At least, that's what I believe. Overall, I would always, if I had the points, take the Javelin over the Proteus. The extra Toughness, Wounds and Weapons make the base 30 points more than worth it.


Legion Storm Eagle Gunship - Ah yes, another one of the Space Marines flying bricks. This comes armed with Hull (front) Mounted Heavy Bolters, Hull (front) Mounted Vengeance Launcher and 4 Hull (front) Mounted Tempest Rockets.



This is a really nice transport looking at the stats, especially that Movement of 18! And a Transport Capacity of 22 is really nice. Armour is a bit pants though, only being 12 and 4 hit points won’t keep it in the air for long versus dedicated Anti-Vehicle Weapons. It comes with a few special rules which are the following; Legiones Astartes, Power of the Machine Spirit, Assault Vehicle and Deep Strike. I’m going to focus on Power of the Machine Spirit and Assault Vehicle as I’ve covered the other two rules in this article already. Power of the Machine Spirit allows the vehicle to attack different units with each Ranged Weapon it carries, which is pretty nice. Assault Vehicle, though, allows a unit to perform a Charge action the same turn in which they disembark, which is a very useful ability, especially for Assault units.


The Strom Eagle can exchange its Hull (front) Mounted Heavy Bolters for either a Hull (front) Mounted Mutli-Melta or Hull (front) Mounted Missile Launcher (with Frag and Krak Missiles). Furthermore, it may exchange its 4 Hull (front) Mounted Tempest Rockets with either 4 Hull (front) Mounted Hunter Killer Missiles or 2 Hull (front) Mounted Twin-Linked Lascannons.


If I’m 100% honest though, the purpose of this vehicle is getting its cargo where it needs to go and then if it survives, it’s good for providing fire support. As such, I don't bother upgrading the Weapons on the standard variant as I think the points can be better spent elsewhere.


Model and Paintwork property of Devildog Gaming


Legion Xiphon Interceptor - They fly through the air in their flying machines, the Xiphon is the first and last word in Aerial Interception within the Legion's arsenal. It comes with 2 Hull (front) Mounted Twin-Linked Lascannons and a Hull (front) Mounted Rotary Missile Launcher.



Looking at the stats of this thing it’s really fast with a Movement of 20, which is incredible, though its Armour and HP leave something to be desired. And in terms of special rules, it gets two. One we’re all too familiar with by now: Legiones Astartes. The other is Talons of the Legion. I’ll not go into the Legiones Astartes special rule because it has already been covered, but I will have a dive into the Talons of the Legion. This special rule allows you to put any unit that also has this special rule into a Combat Air Patrol at the start of the battle, before any models have been set up. Models in the Combat Air Patrol are placed in Reserves, but are not rolled for like normal and instead use the Combat Air Patrol Advanced Reaction as per page 125 in the Legiones Astartes rulebook. Without typing it word for word though, the Combat Air Patrol Advanced Reaction allows you to bring in the units assigned to your Combat Air Patrol in reaction to any enemy model that has both the Unit type Vehicle and the Flyer Sub-Type, that enters the battle via Reserves. Once the enemy model had finished its Movement, the model assigned to your Combat Air Patrol enters the field as if from Reserves, makes it move, and then can fire upon the enemy that triggered the reaction.


There is only one upgrade that the Xiphon can take and that is the Ramjet Diffraction Grid for 20 points. This reduces the Strength of any Weapon fired into your side and rear armour, which is kinda nice.


There's not really much to say about how I use this, if I’m lucky I can swoop in a knockout on something like a Strom Eagle (and everything it's carrying), but the issue is if you do deploy via the Combat Air Patrol Advanced Reaction, the enemy is about to have their Shooting turn and you’re likely to get blown out of the sky. It's a high-risk strategy and I’m not sure it’s worth it. The model looks cool though.




Legion Dreadclaw Drop Pod - The Chad version of a Drop Pod; it falls from orbit, drops off its cargo, and then flies around the battlefield burning everything it flies over. Technically the Dreadclaw is unarmed, but in reality, it has massive jet engines that allow it to move around the battlefield and burn stuff, so it is 100% armed.



Looking at its stats it’s got a nice Movement of 15 and to be honest, the Armour isn’t too bad either. (Okay, dedicated anti-tank Weapons will do serious damage, but it’s not a high-priority target in most games.) It has a reasonable Transport Capacity of 12, so seems great for getting elite troops into position with a character or two. As for the special rules, the Dreadclaw has many that I covered in the last article concerning Decated Transports when looking at the two Drop Pods' variants. But, I’ll list them here just for clarity's sake. Legiones Astartes, Deep Strike, Dreadnought Transport, Inertial Guidance System and the one most interesting to us, Heat Blast. And it’s the Heat Blast special rule we’ll be focusing on here. There’s a saying I like which is “There’s no such thing as an unarmed spacecraft”, and the Dreadclaw certainly lives up to that with the Heat Blast special rule. When the Dreadclaw deploys onto the battlefield via Deep Strike but before its cargo disembarks, it inflicts everything with 3+3D inches of its landing zone (friend or foe) with a Strength 6 Ap 5 hit. If this hits a vehicle, then it is counted as hitting the lowest Armour facing of the vehicle. Then once its cargo has disembarked the Dreadclaw can hover around the battlefield inflicting D6 Strength 6 Ap 5 hits on units it passes over and again, if that enemy is a vehicle, it hits the lowest Armour value of that vehicle.


It’s quite an interesting vehicle, though I do wish it was assault as it seems perfect for it; swooping in and blasting the landing zone with flames before the Marines inside jump out and charge anyone that survives. Though I could see that as being unbalanced.


Conclusion


And so that's the end of our look into the Fast Attack choices of the Legiones Astartes. I think I can be fairly safe in saying my assessment of them mostly being glass cannons is correct, with maybe two/three exceptions. Not the kind of Fast Attack choices we’re used to in 40K but I think that's a good thing.


In two week time, we’ll be looking at the Heavy Support choices and I get the feeling that it's going to be a long one, so I might break it into two parts just for my sanity. But we’ll see. Until next time, have a great week.




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