It’s been a bit since the last major release for everyone’s favorite wargame, but the AT team is back with Loyalist Legios, which they bill as “the essential reference for all Loyalists, full of background and rules.” But do they deliver? We had the chance to take a look through it, and we have to say: Yes. Yes, they do..
What’s in the book?
We’re going to be upfront here: nearly all of what’s in this book is reprints of stuff that’s been previously released elsewhere. From the rules on assembling a battlegroup, to the various maniples, to (nearly) all of the Titan legions and Knight households, to the various stratagems on offer, most of this is stuff that you’ve seen before in previous releases, collated and organized into a single reference.
So what’s new, then?
First up, there are rules for including the Warmaster Heavy Battle Titan in your battlegroups. This is pretty straightforward, and works as we expected based on the previews we’ve seen to date: you get a single Warmaster as reinforcements per maniple in your battlegroup.
There’s also an entirely new Titan Legio: the Iron Skulls of Legio Metalica. We’ve honestly been wondering whether this classic legio was going to make the cut and join the game, and it’s good to see them finally get their day in the limelight. Backing them up are four new Knight Households, complete with art showing their heraldry and a table of Knightly Qualities for their seneschals.
Not only that, but there have been a good number of changes to rules for several of the Titan legions, as well as revisions to some of the more “notorious” stratagems – if nothing else, you can stop cowering in fear at the prospect of having to face Scatterable Mines, and Vox Blackout is a lot more of a commitment now.
Sandwiched between the weapon charts and the stratagems is an entirely new section: Titan Upgrades. There are two full pages of new upgrades on offer, with some available to all Titans and a solid set that can only be taken by Loyalists. Most of these are really cool: take Plasmatic Binders, and your Titan can activate them once a game during the Damage Control phase to vent heat on 2+ rather than 4+. A must-have for aficionados of fucking around who would honestly prefer not to find out. Or maybe the Spark of Vengeance is your bag: for a measly 10 points, your Titan will always apply the Wrathful result instead of rolling on the Awakened Machine Spirit table.
Some of these are pretty powerful, and we’re curious to see how they shake out. Crusade Legio-favorite Tracking Gyroscopes is now available to any legion at the increased cost of 25 points. It’s likely no longer an auto-take on every Titan, as smart play will still see you able to line up shots with longer-ranged Titans fairly effectively – and because the 25 point cost now pushes even budget options north of 40 points – but on mid-ranged brawler Warlords it will be well worth the points. Similarly, Hunter Shells is pricey at 30 points for a gatling or macro-gatling blaster or 60 points for a Warlord’s carapace gatlings, but gives you a once-per-game Targeted Attack at no penalty, letting you just pile hits onto a damaged location and all but guarantee a kill.
These new options really open up list-building. Prior to this book, you could pretty easily wind up with a handful of unused points with nothing to spend them on. No more – now you’ve got a full suite of options that you can choose from to eat up those last few points in your lists.
There is one upgrade here we’re a bit concerned about, though: for 20 points, Vortex Payload upgrades a Warp Missile to exchange its Warp trait for the Vortex trait. This sounds fine, until you look at the Vortex trait: it drops a template on the board that deals d6 strength 10 hits ignoring voids, then in the End phase has a 2/3 chance of moving d6” in a random direction, dealing another d6 hits to anything it runs over. Taking into account the +2 accuracy on the weapon, you can expect an average of 4.6 strength 10 hits, ignoring voids, on your target between the initial impact and the end phase scatter. In other words, your expected value here is more damaging than the Warlord-Nemesis’s Sinistramanus Tenebrae. We’re willing to see how it shakes out, but being able to shove one of these on any Reaver for a total of 30 points seems a bit much.
The Iron Skulls are here, rounding out the number of Loyalist legions to 16. Their Legion trait, Victories Beyond Measure, is a doozy, letting them double up on activations whenever they want for the low cost of 2 heat. Compared to squadron gimmicks like the Lupercal’s maniple trait or Legio Venator’s One Mind, it’s got some advantages – you only choose to use it at the moment when you want to, and you won’t be forced to double-activate in the movement phase if you’re trying to double-dip in the Combat phase. However, there’s a tradeoff as well – you can’t make Coordinated Strikes, and you can only do it once per round. It’s still pretty cool, though, and on its own it means Metalica will be at least in the conversation.
The rest of the rules here are somewhat less broadly useful, but still worth considering. Their stratagem, Harmony and Order, lets them stop a Titan’s Machine Spirit from awakening. They also bring two pieces of wargear. Bastion Armour negates the Fusion trait and makes Rending only add an additional 1 to armor rolls of 6 rather than D3, all for 15 points. This is a bit less useful than it might seem at first, as most Fusion weapons are already pretty powerful, and if you’re taking hits from a chainfist, Rending is probably the least of your worries, but it’ll probably delay the first Crit you take by a turn or so, which is always handy. More useful when it’s applicable is the Auditory Barrage, which forces enemy Knight Banners within 8” of the Titan equipped with it to take a Command check or become shaken when the Titan fires a non-Melee weapon once per round, even if the Banner wasn’t the target. This is really cool, and provides a potentially extremely useful trick, so long as the other list has Knights. Unfortunately, if they didn’t bring any Knights, you just spent 10 points on nothing.
In addition to the new content, this book includes significant changes to some of the returning content that will really change how you play. Some of these changes are relatively minor, but nice to see, others actually change our opinions on various Legios quite heavily.
Legio Atarus caught some of our favorite changes with this book – they’re likely to have a huge impact on how the legion plays. Their Seizing the Initiative trait now works once per game for any round, not just the first (when it really didn’t matter that much anyways), making it actually useful. Also, Infernus Missiles now cost an extra 10 points BUT now gain the Voidbreaker (2) trait without losing the little bit of damage they do in the end phase. Reavers with Apocalypse launchers can now sit back and reliably inflict 3-7 void saves. Not as big for the Warlord Apoc launchers, but still worth taking for back-field support Warlords that wouldn’t get close enough to use paired gatlings.
Gryphonicus also sees some hefty changes, the biggest being that they can now swap any Warlord or Warhound for a Reaver rather than just one. Additionally, any of their Reavers can now take Gravatus Plating or Motive Sub-Reactors, even if it wasn’t subbed in for another Titan. You still can’t take both on the same Reaver, but now there’s a reason to actually take a Corsair maniple in Gryphonicus. Let’s be real, though: it’s all about the 4-Reaver Extergimus and the 5-Reaver Ferrox now.
Bair: It cannot be understated how stoked I am for this.
One of the smallest changes, but with a potentially big impact, is the Warp Runners who now get to re-roll 2 repair dice each damage control phase for each Titan with a scale of 10 or larger. The only thing this affects is the Warmaster of course, but that thing sitting with 6 Servitor Clades re-rolling 2 every single turn is just wild. You’re going to have to crack it in one turn or just watch all its shields come back up. Or ya know, hit it with a claw-lord.
Condit: You read my mind.
Legio Defensor got a relatively minor tweak, namely bringing their Blessings of the Emperor stratagem down to 2 SP from 3. This makes it a bit less of an investment and probably elevates it to near “must-take” territory.
Like green and red Titans and running Warhounds? Solaria players can now run Wolf Packs of up to 5 instead of only 4. If you’re big into alpha strikes and don’t care about high-activation lists then this could be interesting, but it’ll be hard to find a useful place to run it. A real buff though is the strat Fog of War sees a huge change, only costing 1 point and the ability to take multiple times, each time you take it simply redeploy a Warhound. Their expensive Cameleoline Shrouding Wargear also sees a significant change, imposing a -1 to hit their Warhounds so long as they move at least 6” and are more than 10” away from the attacker. This will let you move in closer to longer-ranged Titans before they can get a clear shot at you, and combining it with hiding behind terrain to force -2 or even -3 to hit penalties on incoming shots will be great.
Legio Fortidus’s Lost Sons trait has been changed to work a little more cleanly with Warbringers, allowing them to swap any single mandatory Titan in a maniple with another Titan of scale 10 or lower. There are a lot of neat tricks this opens up, like a dual Warbringer Arcus, or a Fortis with a Warbringer for a more durable firebase. Dauntless lists are going to be even more unpredictable than they already were, and this also future-proofs against any future potential releases that are smaller than the Warmaster. In addition, their Broken by Treachery Princeps trait is now actually relevant, as you can use it once per round, rather than only once per game on the first shot your Titan fires. It’s still an all-or-nothing re-roll, but getting it every round could be very strong.
Legio Crucius has one change, dropping the cost of its Bi-Folded Power Containment wargear to 20 points. Knocking the price down on this makes it a bit easier to build around, which is cool: their ability to get more mileage out of their reactor tracks than other legions is what sets them apart, and it’s not so game-warping that it really needed to cost 30 points in the first place.
The only maniple change to note here is that Lupercal Light Maniple no longer makes Coordinated Strikes at +2 to armor rolls. The squadroning gimmick remains identical, though. While you are losing a little damage, which honestly is completely fine since Warhound guns hit hard enough already (looking at you plasma blastgun) and probably didn’t really need the extra buff to put in the damage when you will be flanking your prey already.
There are a good number of changes here, but there are two main categories of changes that are particularly impactful:
First, Vox Blackout shifts to costing 3 points instead of 1. Good. This was incredibly strong and too easy of an auto-take. It’s still incredibly good in the right match ups, but now you’re actually going to second guess taking it every game.
Condit: I still expect to see this pop up in most of my games, but it’s now more of a commitment for my opponent to ruin my fun than just casually saying “Nope.”
The other big change is that most of the recurring stratagems now only go off once per game. A few of them, such assuch as Scatterable Mines and Quake Shells, also move from 1 to 2 stratagem points.moving from costing 1 point to 2 points, and also being useable once per game instead of happening every turn. Strafing Run, while also now only once per game instead of every turn, hits at S6 making it somewhat more deadly (especially if it deals its hits to your target’s rear arc), so it’s potentially worth saving to do damage instead of just being used to strip shields. These changes probably make most of these stratagems tough sells, but there might still be a case to be made for taking Strafing Run in the right circumstances.
Ah, the Ursus Claw. A terribly funny – but also just plain terrible – weapon on release, now updated to be slightly less bad: now, you can only hurt your own Titans on a natural 1 on the armor roll. If you don’t roll a 1, but also don’t beat your target’s Scale value, you’ll just yank them around for 90-degree turn. It’s now a lot more reliable, and lets singleton Warhounds harass larger Titans without being all but guaranteed to kill themselves. We’re not convinced that the weapon is “top-tier”, but it’s now likely a defensible choice in the right list.
The Shock rule is also changed, affecting how Shock Lances work as a weapon. This weapon sees a small buff, if it scores any damage on the target then it will temporarily shut it down on a 3+ instead of a 4+, and if it failed to do any damage then you still have the chance to cause the temporary shutdown on a 6. Unfortunately, you still have to push your reactor to activate the lance’s Shock trait, which is really the only thing keeping it from being worthwhile on a Warhound. On the other hand, at least it has some utility now, and if you have some way to manage the reactor die from the Draining trait, you could really ruin somebody’s day.
So, is this worth picking up? The short version is “Probably, yes.” The long version is a little more complicated.
If you’re new to the game or don’t yet have all of the books, and you’re planning on playing one of the Loyalist Legios, this is a no brainer. It’s got literally every rule you’ll need to play the game that isn’t in the core rulebook.
If you don’t check all those boxes, it really depends: do you want to have all of the generic stratagems and universal wargear upgrades in one book right now? If so, mash that mf preorder button. However, we’d be surprised if there wasn’t a Traitor Legios compendium coming down the pipe, so if you’re a Traitor player and don’t mind lugging around all the books for the foreseeable future, you can probably get by without it. That’s not to say there’s nothing in here of value for you, but it’s definitely not as much of a “must buy” for Traitor players as it is for Loyalists. Just be sure you’re playing with updated stratagems, and don’t forget you can include the universal wargear in your lists.
This is the biggest revision AT has seen since launch, and we’re happy to see that GW is continuing to actively support this game and taking active steps towards making it the best game it can be. While our endorsement of this book might not seem as full-throated as for some previous releases, don’t be fooled – that’s only because some players will want to hold out for a Traitor version. If this book is a sign of what’s to come, we’re as excited as we’ve ever been.