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Horus Heresy: Troops

Greeting one and all,

Today we’re going to continue our look into the Horus Heresy series. This time, we’re going to cast our gaze upon those that made up the bulk of the Legions and look at Troop choices. We’ll do this by going over the shared rules and equipment of each so I’m not repeating myself too much, then we’ll look at each of the Troop entries, much like I did in the Elites article I wrote a few weeks back.

So without further ado, let's hop into it.

Shared Core Rules

Many of the troop choices have a couple of shared rules that are worth a look at, so I’ll cover them early so as not to repeat myself in the Troop entries.

Legiones Astartes - This rule basically allows you to attach the Legion-Specific rules to a unit/vehicle/character. For example, you can attach the Blood Angels Legion to the model and it will gain all the rules of the Blood Angels.

A model may have only ONE Legion attached to them, so no Sons of Horus Ultramarines for example. Rules for each Legion and their Special Rule can be found in the Liber Astartes for Loyalists or Liber Hereticus for the Traitors.

Heart of the Legion - A unit with at least one model in it that has this rule, and has at least half its models within 6 inches of an objective gains the rule Feel No Pain (FNP) 6+ and become stubborn. Quite a nice combination, as it makes these objective scoring units harder to push out. However, there’s more, if the unit already has FNP and Apothecary in it with a Narthecium, which grants a FNP 5+, it becomes a FNP 4+ instead which just makes these units even harder to remove from an objective.

Line - These are the only scoring units in an army. You want to capture that object? You need Line Troops. If you want to deny an enemy scoring points on an object? Then you still need Line troops.

Core equipment

Legion Vexilla - If you're planning, or even slightly expecting that a unit is going to get into Combat, I can’t recommend having one of these in your unit enough. It gives the unit a +1 to the Wounds scored to determine if they win Combat. On top of this, before any fallback roll is made, the player can choose to fall back only a distance equal to the roll of a D6, instead of 2D6 or 3D6 of a Cavalry unit and furthermore, won’t run off the board edge, instead finishing the units fallback move at 1 inch from the board edge instead.

Augury Scanner - A great bit of kit with a couple of really useful rules.

  • Enemy models can’t be deployed using the Infiltrate special rule within 18 inches of a model with an Augury Scanner

  • A unit that includes at least one model with an Augury Scanner ignores the 24 inches limit to Line of Sight when making Shooting Attacks while the Night Fighting rules are in effect

  • When any enemy unit is deployed to the battlefield from reserves, the unit with an Augury Scanner may make an Interceptor Advanced Reaction

Nuncio Vox - A little situational; while a model with a Nuncio Vox is present on the battlefield and not embarked in a vehicle or building, the controlling player can re-roll Scatter rolls made (as either an attack or deployment). As well as this, it also removes the -1 penalty to Leadership Tests imposed by the Night Fighting rules.

With those Core rules and equipment now covered, let's get into the units themselves, shall we?


Legiones Astartes - This is a core unit. No, seriously, this unit has both the Line and Heart of the Legion Sub-Types, so they make excellent scoring units. The basic unit has 10 Marines, all armed with Bolters and Bolt Pistols. They have no ability to equip Special or Heavy Weapons with only the Sergeant able to take a few equipment options.

But it’s not all bad, the Legion Tactical Squad does have the Fury of the Legion special rule which allows them to fire an extra shot if they haven’t Moved or Run. So this grants them 3 Shots at Ranges between 0-12 inches, and 2 Shots above 12 inches to their Maximum Range, which is 24 inches. Furthermore, they can take up to an extra 10 marines at 10 points each (nice and cheap) and can take the whole suite of Legion Vexilla, Augury Scanner and Nuncio Vox.

But wait, there's more. Any Legionary can take a Bayonet for a single point which grants them a +1 Strength in Combat, but is Two-Handed. Or they can take a Chain Bayonet for 2 points, which does the same as the Bayonet, but also grants Attacks Shred. If you really want to though, you can give them a Chainsword but at 5 points each, that's going to get costly very quickly. But it would allow them to gain an extra Attack from having two Close Combat Weapons.

Lastly, we come to the Sergeant, which has many options available to them. In the Ranged category; a Magna Combi-Weapon or Minor Combi-Weapon, Plasma Pistol, Volkite Serpenta or a Hand Flamer. The Melee options (which are just as expansive) are; Chainsword, Heavy Chainsword, Power Weapon, Power Fist, or Lighting Claw. The Sergeant can also be given a suit of Artificer Armour, which might be nice for Tanking Wounds and saving other members of the squad. And, they can be given Melta Bombs for that Anti-Tank work.

So how do I run them personally? Well, it depends on what I want them to do. If I want them to take objectives, I use a big 20-Marine unit with a Legion Vexilla and Augury Scanner, and I’ll throw in an Apothecary to make the FNP roll really work for me. But, if I just want to deny my opponent's objectives or the ability to Infiltrate and/or Deep Strike, then 10 Marine units with Augury Scanner and maybe Nuncio Vox instead. Lastly, you can just keep them cheap. Don't do anything to them, keep them at 100 points for the squad and have them follow your breakthrough units, holding objectives while your better units move on. But it’s all up to you and your Legion.

Legion Despoiler Squad - An entire squad of Limp Bizkit fans, these Marines have ditched the Bolters and picked up a Chainsword. Much like the Legion Tactical Squad, they have Heart of the Legion and are Line, so are a scoring unit. The basic unit has 10 Marines and they’re armed with a Chainsword and a Bolt Pistol.

The Legion Despoiler Squad also has its own special rule Spite of the Legion; which grants one additional Attack if the unit they Charge is Pinned, Falling Back, or includes no models with the Character Sub-Type or Chosen Warriors special rule. This only applies to the Assault Phase in which the Charge was declared.

In terms of upgrades, this unit has a fair few options. Firstly, it can have upto 10 additional Marines at 10 points each. Secondly, each Marine can exchange their Chainsword for a Heavy Chainsword for 2 points, which grants the user +2 Strength and Shred, but is Two-Handed. Oh, and you can also have another Bolt Pistol, so they can have two for 1 point… Shrug. Lastly, for every 5 models in the unit, one model may replace their Chainsword for a Charnbal Blade or a Power Weapon, and their Bolt Pistol for a Plasma Pistol, Volkite Serpenta or a Hand Flamer. This means you can effectively have a 20 Marine death-blob running around the tabletop armed with 5 Power Weapons and 5 Plasma Pistols, depending on how you arm the Sergeant… And talking of the Sergeant.

The Sergeant gets a few toys themself as they can pick from the following list; Heavy Chainsword, Power Weapon, Power Fist, Lighting Claw, Plasma Pistol, Volkite Serpenta or a Hand Flamer. They can also have a suite of Artificer Armour and Metla Bombs for good measure.

As for how I’d use them, the before-mentioned death-blob is appealing (if not expensive). I’d likely add a Chaplain, but most importantly, I’d make sure I had a unit backing them up which could inflict Pinning, or snipe characters to get the Spite of the Legion special rule off.

Model and Paintwork property of Devildog Gaming

Legion Assault Squad - It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an Assault squad of Space Marines! Yes these are basically a Legion Despoiler Squad but with Legion Warhawk Jump Packs, so their fast. And like the Legion Despoiler Squad their Line, so are a scoring unit. Unfortunately, they don’t get Heart of the Legion, so they miss out on the FNP and Stubborn that special rule gives you.

Looking at the basic squad they come in, a 10 Marine unit, armed with a Chainsword, a Bolt Pistol and the aforementioned Legion Warhawk Jump Pack. I covered Jump Packs in my Horus Heresy Movement Phase Article, which can be found Here. but the short version is, the Assault Marine can use their Jump Pack to Move up to 12 inches in their Movement Phase and they can jump over Friendly and Enemy units as well as terrain. As well as this, they can also run which gives them a Movement of up to 16 inches (not that they can Shoot or Charge that turn if they do).

In terms of upgrades and options, they can have up to 10 additional Marines at the cost of 12 points each and the entire unit can take Combat Shields at 2 points per model. For every five models in the unit, one model may replace their Chainsword for a Heavy Chainsword, Charnbal Blade, or a Power Weapon, and their Bolt pistol for a Plasma Pistol, Volkite Serpenta or a Hand Flamer. And again, this squad can be turned into the murder-blob like the Legion Despoiler Squad if you want to.

The Sergeant gets the same fair that we’ve been seeing the other sergeants able to take; Heavy Chainsword, Power Weapon, Power Fist, Lighting Claw, Plasma Pistol, Volkite Serpenta or a Hand Flamer. They can also take a pair of Lighting Claws as well, which is rather nice. Oh, and they also can have a suite of Artificer Armour and Metla Bombs... I’m seeing a pattern here.

So how would I use them? As much as I’d love a run a 20 Marine murder-blob for the memes, I think a 10 Marine squad doing pinpoint strikes on weak points in the enemy lines is far better. So give the squad two Power Weapons and the Sergeant a Power Fist. The Plasma Pistol might even be nice if you have the points to spare, and then get into those Support and Heavy Support squads.

Picture provided by TheMiniaturesApothecary


These are thematically my favourite troop choice and it’s a shame their so damn expensive to buy (in both points and pounds). These are Line units, but are also of the Heavy Sub-Type, meaning they can’t run. But they do get to re-roll failed Armour Test vs Blast and Template Weapons.

The basic squad is 10 Marines, all with Bolters, Bolt Pistols and Boarding Shields (which give the Marine a 5+ Invulnerable Save). Unlike the previous entries in the list so far, they don't have any other special rules. I think I would have liked to see them have Heart of the Legion, but I must admit, I understand why GW didn't give them this rule as it would have made them nearly unkillable on an objective.

As for options, it's a mixed blessing. They can take up to 10 additional Marines for 15 points each and take the standard triad of Legion Vexilla, Augury Scanner and Nuncio Vox. For every 5 Marines, one may exchange their Bolter for: A Flamer, Meltagun, Graviton Gun or a Lascutter. These aren’t great options in my opinion, but, what is fun is that every member of the squad can exchange their Bolter for a Volkite Charger. Now that’s spicy, and at 2 points each I think that might be the way to go.

Moving on to the Sergeant, they get a choice of a Magna Combi-Weapon or Minor Combi-Weapon, Plasma Pistol, Chainsword, Power Weapon, Power Fist, Lighting Claw, or a Thunder Hammer. They also get access to… Wait for it… A suite of Artificer Armour and Metla Bombs (no way! Really?).

Honestly, I’d personally only run Breachers when I knew that the map was going to be Short Range, and then I’d go full Volkite with the Sergeant having a Thunder Hammer and Plasma Pistol. Maybe I’d also throw in an Apothecary to make them even harder to kill.

Legion Tactical Support Squad - Do you need fire support? Then these are the Marines for you. The Legion Tactical Support Squad is not a Line unit and due to the Support Squad rule, do not count as fulfilling one of the Compulsory slots in your Force Organisation Chart. Which makes sense, as they are literally called a Support Squad.

The basic squad is 5 Marines, all armed with Flamers. But it’s what they can be upgraded with that makes them worthwhile (unless you really like Flamers).

The Squad can take an additional 5 Marines at 12 points each for a total of 10. The squad can again take the standard triad of Legion Vexilla, Augury Scanner and Nuncio Vox, and an array of Special Weapons. Every model in the unit may take one of the following; Rotor Cannon, Volkite Charger, Volkite Caliver, Plasma Gun or Meltagun. If one of these upgrades is taken though, the entire squad MUST ALSO take the same upgrade, which means no mixing Weapons.

The only break in this rule is the Sergeant, who is allowed to take the following: Chainsword, Power Weapon, Power Fist, Lighting Claw, Hand Flamer, Plasma Pistol or Volkite Serpenta, instead of the Weapon the rest of the squad is armed with… Oh, and of course a suit of Artificer Armour.

When I run squads of these I tend to arm them either with Rotor Cannons to get the most out of their ability to pin units (which is a lovely combo with the Legion Despoiler Squad), or if I’m hunting Tanks, then Metlaguns and a Rhino works wonders. Either way, I tend to keep the groups small and cheap so they enhance the tactical situation for other squads. The only time I run a full 10 Marine unit is if I’m running Plasma Guns, and that's mostly because PLASMA BABY! (Side note, this isn’t a good reason/idea, but I like doing it anyway.)

Model and Paintwork property of Devildog Gaming

Legion Reconnaissance Squad - These Marines use more WD-40 than any other Marine, cause how else can you be stealthy in Power Armour? Much like the Legion Tactical Support Squad, this unit is a Support squad and so don’t fill a Compulsory slot in your Force Organisation Chart. However, unlike the aforementioned unit, the Reconnaissance Squad does count as Line, so that's kind of nice.

On top of that, they have the special rules Infiltrate and Scout. 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 in any other case. Scout however allows the player to re-deploy units after both armies have been set up. As this unit has both, it can deploy via the Infiltrate rule and then use the Scout rule to re-deploy (which is somewhat dirty).

As for the unit itself, the basic squad is 5 Marines, all armed with Bolters and Bolt Pistols. The squad can have up to 5 additional Marines at 12 points each, and it can take Legion Vexilla, Augury Scanner and Nuncio Vox like most squads. The Marines with Bolters may be given Bayonets or Chain Bayonets, but if you’re using this unit you will most likely be taking one of the other options in the form of the Nemesis Bolter, which cost 10 points each. So why would you take this Weapon?

That's a really nice Weapon for sniping characters and again, pairs up nicely with the Legion Despoiler Squad and their Spite of the Legion special rule. And every member of the unit can have one. Oh, or you can have an Astartes Shotgun or a Chainsword which is erm… Nice?

On to the Sergeant, Yeah okay by now we all know what they're armed with, so I’m just gonna copy and paste from an earlier example.

“The Sergeant gets a few toys themself as they can pick from the following list: Chainsword, Power Weapon, Power Fist, Lighting Claw, Plasma Pistol, Volkite Serpenta or a Hand Flamer.”

But, they don’t get the Artificer Armour. I guess there's no way to make that stealthy?

When I’ve run a Legion Reconnaissance Squad, I’ve focused on the Nemesis Bolter. Having a unit of 5 with an Augury Scanner just picking off Sergeants, Apothecarys and other characters embedded in units, while also inflicting Pinning, what’s not to love?

Legion Scout Squad - At least these Marines aren’t bathing in WD-40 to keep their Armour silent. Again, like the last entry, this squad counts as a Support squad. But unlike our last entry it’s not a Line unit, which is a shame.

The unit has the Infiltrate and Scout special rules which I briefly went over above. But the Legion Scout Squad also has the Move Through Cover special rule, which means they suffer no penalty for Moving or Charging through Difficult Terrain.

The Basic unit is 5 Marines in Scout Armour, Bolters, Bolt Pistols, Grenades and Shroud Bombs. The squad can have an additional 5 Marines for 8 points each, which is kinda cheap… In terms of upgrades, they get the same as the Legion Reconnaissance Squad. In fact, the only major difference is that they don’t get the option to take an Augury Scanner and the Sergeant can’t take a Chainsword or Lighting Claw. In every other way these two units are basically the same, bar one thing: Armour Save.

So, I’m not really sure why you’d take this unit if I’m honest, as the Legion Reconnaissance Squad is better in nearly every way and costs only an extra 20 points. But if you’re really tight on points, then maybe this squad could fill in as a budget version Legion Reconnaissance Squad? But I’d rather just drop 20 points elsewhere and field something good.

And on that rather scathing note, that all of the Legion Troop Choices covered.

This was a lot longer than I thought I was going to be, but I feel I've gone into a lot of detail and I hope some of it is useful. Next week, I’ll do a short piece on dedicated Transports, but until then, thanks for reading, and have a great week.

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