Codex World Eaters 9th Edition: The Crusade Rules Review

Codex: World Eaters releases this weekend and in addition to our massive review of the Codex’s Matched Play rules, we’re reviewing the book’s Crusade rules as well. So join us as we sit down and talk about the ways you can pave the road to your warlord’s personal growth with the skulls of your enemies.

Before we dive in we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the book for review purposes.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Skull Harvest

Khorne is either incredibly easy to please when it comes to gifts or – in a far more likely scenario – once made the mistake of mentioning that they like skulls in a group setting and like any ‘car/cat/teddy bear/dog person’ is now forever doomed to continue receiving gifts of skulls and skull-themed products until the end of time because cash is “too impersonal.”

Rob: Note that Tzeentch loves giving cash as a gift and will typically ask that you “keep the change” every single time they do it, then flash a big shit-eating grin. Powerful dad energy on that one.

Luckily for Khorne, they’ve managed to convince the World Eaters that not just any skull will do – they need to be Worthy Skulls to be considered worthy of a possible Reward… of the Worthy.

Beanith: The more I type “Worthy” the less sure I am that it’s spelt correctly. Wur-the? Wor-ee?

During each battle, World Eaters will need to keep track of enemy units they destroy with melee attacks on a Skull Harvest Tracker (This is pretty easy since that should just be “all your kills”). Characters’ (excluding those of Monsters or Vehicles) brain pans have a Worthy Skull Value of 2; Monster & Vehicle ‘skulls’ are worth 3; and all other units will have a member of the squad that had a Worthy Skull with a Worthy Skull Value of 1. Terrible people that run named characters will find out that their Worthy Skulls will have an additional 1 Worthy Skull Value.

Once the battle has ended and the dust has settled, you now need to work out which of your unit gets to lay claim to the pile of skulls by Claiming Skulls. This process is mostly straightforward; the Worthy Skull Value simply goes to a surviving unit with the highest Leadership characteristic. Ties are handled with a D6 roll-off and units with the highest Crusade points total getting a +1 to their roll.

This is where the wheels might fall off unless you feel like spending Requisition Points on Iron Rule (covered later). The Juggernaut Lord and Master of Executions both have a Leadership of 9 – as do most of the various unit Champions and Land Raiders – so the Worthy Skulls could end up with almost anyone. The Daemon Prince would be a shoe-in sitting on Leadership 10 but somehow World Eaters Terminator Champions also have Leadership 10. We can only imagine how that conversation would go.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Judgement of the Blood God

Have you ever wondered what a 40K Gachapon would look like? Well wonder no more as you’ll find out Khorne’s method of handing out rewards might be a bit too Chaotic for your tastes.

When you’ve decided that a particular World Eater unit has amassed enough Worthy Skulls, they can dedicate their skull pile to Khorne. However, Khorne is quite picky about the quality of the skull and will immediately deem a certain amount unworthy. How many skulls deemed unfit will depend on the unit’s current rank:

  • Battle-ready or Blooded will lose D6 skulls
  • Battle hardened or Heroic lose 2D6 skulls
  • Legendary units lose 3D6 skulls

Rewards of the Worthy

Once you have your final total of Worthy Skulls, if that total is 1 or more, Khorne has deemed the offering to be worthy, tosses the skulls onto the skull pile, and directs the unit towards various Khorne Gachapon machines depending on just how many Worthy Skulls remained.

  • 1-10 Skulls will net that unit a random Lesser Reward.
  • 11-20 Skulls will allow you to choose a Lesser Reward; or roll for a random Greater Reward.
  • 21+ Skulls. Khorne is very impressed and will allow you to choose any Lesser or Greater Reward… OR you can take a punt on the Exalted Reward Gachapon!

No matter the end result, once you have made your choice for the unit, their Worthy Skull Value is reset to zero and they get to start a new harvest of skulls.

Now the Rewards themselves are pretty cool but sadly the Lesser and Greater Rewards have some tiny fine print to deal with. Only World Eater Character units get to pull the bigger lever and roll a D6 on either of the two tables, whereas everyone else only gets to use the little lever and roll a D3 on both tables.

Lesser Rewards

  1. Favoured Killers – Re-roll future Judgement rolls.
  2. Lessons of Slaughter – gain 1 additional XP from Dealers of Death.
  3. Bloody Destiny – Auto-pass Out of Action tests.
  4. Boon of Khorne – Gain one Chaos Boon at random.
  5. Slayer of Champions – Enemy Warlord skulls are worth 1 additional Worthy Skull Value when slain by this unit.
  6. Martial Cunning – Once per game, you may use a Strategic Ploy Stratagem that will cost 1 less CP.

If you’re not a character, the 1-3 options here aren’t great, save to get re-rolls on future Judgement rolls, though the extra XP could be nice. Martial Cunning is somehow worse than you’d think, thanks to the small number of Stratagems World Eaters get. If it could go on a non-character it would be great, since it would give you access to three solid stratagems. But because it can only go on a CHARACTER, it can only get you the Scorn of Sorcery Stratagem as a once-per-game free use. Which isn’t bad, it’s just stupidly limited.

If you’re running Disciples of the Red Angel you get a few more options – 4 different Stratagems that your Daemon Prince or Juggalord can use, making this a much better reward for those armies.

Greater Rewards

  1. Murderous Clarity – at the end of a battle add 1 to any Agenda-based tallies.
  2. Chosen Head-takers – Once per battle reduce the Blood Tithe Point (BTP) cost of a Blessing of the Blood God by 1.
  3. Dominating Presence – The unit gains Objective Secured or if they have it already then each model in the unit counts as two models.
  4. Greater Boon of Khorne – You may choose any Boon that you don’t already have.
  5. Skull Collectors – Increase their Aura ability by 3” If they don’t have an aura then they gain the Daemon Prince’s Lord of the World Eaters aura.
  6. Scarred Murderers – When you gain a Battle Scar, roll a D6; on a 4+ you don’t gain the battle scar and instead you can choose to either gain 3XP or gain a random Chaos Boon.

These are all pretty solid and that Skull Collectors aura is fantastic if you can get it on a Master of Executions. Dominating Presence is great on Eightbound.

Exalted Rewards

Here is the reason for stockpiling all of the skulls and making use of the Iron Rule Requisition to funnel all of those brain boxes to the one unit. All six of these Exalted Rewards unlock a different Blessing of the Blood God that you can spend your Blood Tithe Points on to unlock army-wide abilities to make your Angry Killy Red Lads even more Angry and Killy.

  1. Bloodthirst – for 2BTP, all World Eaters can consolidate an extra 2”
  2. Furious Determination – 5BTP will mean every unit below Half-strength gains Objective Secured and if they have it already then each model in the unit counts as two models.
  3. Virulent Fury – for a mere 5BTP, no melee attacks against your World Eaters can be rerolled.
  4. Gory Revitalisation – 4BTP will let you heal a model for D3 wounds each time they destroy a unit in melee.
  5. Desperation to Slay – for a whopping 6BTP all of your World Eaters can Advance and Charge.
  6. Blood-soaked Nightmares – Ending the list on a low note, for 2BTP you can give your army an aura that all engaged enemy units will subtract 1 for their Combat Attrition tests.

Now we’re on the real good stuff; getting your own special Blood Tithe rewards is huge and these are all solid adds, but they’re also all balanced according to their BTP costs – Desperation to Slay is the strongest in terms of raw power but you will rarely if ever have 6 BTP before your first Movement phase. Virulent Fury and and Bloodthirst end up being the best of the lot just because they’re the most likely to get used in more games. Don’t sleep on Bloodthirst – that extra 2″ of Consolidation can be really big, especially on units of Exalted Eightbound that can stop units from falling back.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


World Eaters have two Agendas to choose from. Well, technically they have four but one is used to turn your Master of Executions into a Daemon Prince and the other exists to give Jakhals something to do.

Prove Your Worth is your Agenda that is used to turn your Master of Executions or World Eaters Lord (you know, the one you don’t want to be a DP, the Lord on Juggernaut) into a Daemon Prince. This Agenda can only be used in conjunction with the Ascension in Blood Requisition purchased before the battle. Doing this means your character will need to start a Prove Your Worth tally:

  • Add 1 to the tally for every model destroyed
  • Plus 1 more if the model was a Character.
  • And another 1 on top of all that if you managed to murk the Warlord.
  • Lastly, Khorne still has beef with Slaanesh so a Slaanesh Warlord grants another 1.

At the end of the battle, if your Prove Your Worth tally is 1 – 7 then you haven’t cut the mustard as far as Khorne is concerned but you can try again next time. 8 or more than you have succeeded in your Ascension in Blood and now get to update the job title on your business cards to Daemon Prince. However if your character completely whiffs on the assignment and ends the battle with 0 points on the Prove Your Worth tally, then congratulations on your new Chaos Spawn.

Beanith: Hopefully the stars will align for you and there is a Slaanesh player in your campaign when you decide to give this one a go. Otherwise aim your character into a horde of gribblies and wail away for those tasty tally points. Maybe don’t do this with Knights?

Running around the battlefield killing things is World Eaters 101. World Eaters 102 is Anoint the Field where you run around the battlefield killing things but ideally spreading it around all four battlefield quarters.

  • Doing so in two battlefield quarters means a bonus experience point for all surviving World Eater units.
  • Three Battle quarters means 2 bonus experience points for all surviving World Eater units.
  • All four nets the survivors 3 bonus experience points and 2 Requisition points.

A Brutal Harvest rewards you for killing enemy units in melee whilst within range of an objective marker. Each unit that does so will receive 1 experience point for each enemy unit murked this way to a maximum of 3 experience. If the combined total of units bumped off this way is 5 or more then each of your World Eater Characters will gain an extra Worth Skull to add to their collection.

Lastly and leastly is Raise Icons which as stated earlier is there so your Jakhals can feel useful and included too as they lurk in the back holding objectives while the bigger boys run up and hit things angrily. World Eater Infantry can attempt the following Raise Icon Action where at the end of your at the end of your Movement phase, if they are in range of an objective marker that hasn’t already had an icon raised on it, raise an icon. This action will be completed successfully at the start of your next command phase or end of battle whichever comes first. However if your World Eater Infantry has an icon then the action is considered successful at the end of your turn. At the end of a battle, each unit that successfully raised any icons will gain 2 experience points.

Beanith: Sure Berserkers have icons too but who has time to light incense candles on a mound of non-worthy skulls when that squad of Howling Banshees looked at them funny?

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


World Eaters have four Requisitions on offer and even with only a couple of minor downsides, all of them will see some play in your Crusade army.

Turns out nobody digs scars more than World Eaters. When a World Eater Character gains a Battle Scar, you can spend 1 Req to make it a Hideous Scar to show any friendly World Eater Core units that they are a Worthy Warrior (6” Aura of autopass Morale tests).

The Iron Rule states that all forms of organisation, regardless of how democratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop oligarchic tendencies.

Beanith: No wait sorry, that’s the Iron Law of Oligarchy. My bad.

The actual Iron Rule costs 1 RP and allows you to choose which of the surviving units gets all the Worthy Skulls from that battle. That said, there’s still a catch. The Worthy Skulls still have to go to the surviving unit with the highest Leadership value so if you want the skulls to go to someone other than your Terminators or Daemon Prince you may need to get a little creative by slapping a giant target to their backs.

Beanith: Just remember, cover is for sissies and making sure to end up within the short range of melta weapons builds character.

Rob: I hate this rule but I guess they mitigated it by making it super random thanks to even Leadership values across the army. Meh.

Brutal Acquisitions is a very useful Requisition that allows you to transfer Worthy Skulls from one unit to another for 1 RP. But because this is the World Eaters and sharing is not caring, these two units are going to be throwing hands. Rolling a D6, on a 2+ the Challenger will walk away with up to 8 Worthy Skulls from the Challenged leaving them with a Battle Scar. Of course on a roll of a 1 it’s the Challenger that ends up with the Battle Scar.

Rounding out the Requisition is Ascension in Blood for 2 RP, which is paired with the Prove Your Worth Agenda. This allows you to take your World Eater Lord or World Eater Master of Execution and take a shot at impressing Khorne for a chance to become a Real Boy Daemon Prince. There are some requirements before you can do this of course. They need to be either Heroic or Legendary and have one or more Chaos Boons but once you’ve passed this low bar of entry, succeeding in the Prove Your Worth Agenda should be a piece of cake and you get to replace that unit with a World Eater Daemon Prince who comes with the additional reward, Brutal Ascension, which adds 1 to the models Strength and Attack characteristics.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Crusade Relics

World Eaters have three character that you can give Crusade Relics to but Games Workshop has accounted for this, because barring the Skullseeker bolt pistol, all of the relics can be taken by the Juggo Lord, Master of Execution, or Daemon Prince.

Artificer Relics

The Bloodstep Blade is a fancy little penknife that gives the bearer the Warp Strike ability (Beanith: Or Deep strike as it’s better known to cranky old men). A great choice for all three characters but we suspect it be very useful on Daemon Princes.

Witchskull Totem gives the bearer a 12” aura that inconveniences enemy psykers with a -2 to their Psychic tests. It’s not terrible but there are many better options out there.

Skullseeker is a tasty little bolt pistol that has three Strength 5 -5AP 2 Damage shoots that also ignore Invun saves. This is almost a mandatory upgrade for your Master of Executions if you plan on ascending them into Daemonhood because Prove Your Worth counts models destroyed in shooting as well as melee.

Antiquity Relics

The Brazen Rune is the bootleg version of the Blackstone Shard Amulet from the main rule book. You can’t be targeted or affected by psychic powers. Little lazy but since they’re slightly different, you can run both Relics on different characters on your Order of Battle.

Blood-soaked Mantle will boost the wearer’s Strength characteristic by 1 for the rest of the battle after destroying a non-vehicle enemy model in the fight phase. Beanith: Little weird on the non-vehicle part not counting, surely Necron Warriors bleeds the same various liquids as most tanks right?

You’re going to see a Mighty Skullrack bearer in every single World Eater Crusade list and they’ll almost certainly have the Bloodstep Blade tucked away in their boot. This exceptional piece of kit gives the bearer a 6” aura to let friendly World Eater Core units reroll 1s to wound. Even better, once you’ve slain a model in melee, the aura is increased to 9” for the rest of the battle.

The Legendary Relic

Gorefather is an immense chainaxe that Angry Ron used to run around with back in the old days alongside Gorechild. When Angron decided to upgrade his gear , he tossed both into the trash and then wandered off to thrash a Slaanesh daemon with an iron rod. Kharn snuck in afterwards and managed to upcycle Gorechild but Gorefather was lost to time… Until your character hits Legendary status and upgrades their melee weapon with this newly found Gorefather that is Strength x2, -3 AP, 3 damage and unmodified wound rolls of 6 just flat out causing 3 mortal wounds. You’re at -1 to hit of course but could you imagine this on your Ascended Daemon Prince hitting things on a 3+ at Strength 18?

Beanith: Clearly this is meant for your second character, the first one clearly wants the far superior Vortex Grenade.

Chaos Boons

Beanith: It’s the exact same chart used in the Death Guard, Thousand Sons and Chaos Space Marines Codexes. To be fair they do mix it up a tiny bit with suitably thematic names for each result but at the end of the day, whether it’s Clawed Feet; Temporal Distortion; Unholy Speed; or Bestial Limbs; it’s still just “add 3” to this model’s Move characteristic.

Currently as it stands, until GW remembers that they gave away a heap of Azrakh the Annihilator models to their Warhammer+ subscribers and may want to let World Eaters players field Terminator Lords (or any other flavour of Lord for that matter), the only characters that can really make any use of these Boons will be your World Eaters Lord on Juggernaut or the World Eaters Master of Executions.

Azrakh the Annihilator – Source Warhammer Community

It’s unlikely you’ll want to run the risk of Spawndom’ing your Juggernaut Lord so the Master of Executions will probably be your target of choice for possible future tentacles and Ascension in Blood.

My nitpicking aside, I still really enjoy this system for turning spare useful Characters into powerful solo Chaos Spawn that just run around the board and make a nuisance of themselves. Unlike the Death Guard and Thousand Sons, you will be taking a leaf from the other Chaos Marines and won’t be needing three Boons before getting the promotion to Daemonhood.

Speaking of the Chaos Space Marines Codex though, might I suggest that the Death Guard, Thousand Sons and World Eater players ask your Gaming group/organiser/manager about adding in the Sacred Boons for your respective deities to add a little bit more variety and maybe delay Spawndom for one more game.

Battle Traits

They skimped out on the Traits on offer. While there are four tables, three of them cover your CORE units and the other exists to give you a chance to make your World Eater Land Raider into a Daemonic Lander Raider (which is always a good thing).

Khorne Berzerker

  • Peerless Fighters improves the Weapon Skill characteristic by 1 to a tasty 2+ which I assume without asking Maths boffin Primaris Kevin to be a good thing.
  • The Aspiring Champion adds 1 to the Attack, Wounds and Leadership characteristics to the units Champion… thus throwing their hat into the ring for Worthy Skulls with the Terminators and Daemon Prince. Something tells me these guys might run ahead of everyone with a kick me sign.
  • Warp-touched grants the unit a 5+ Invulnerable save.


  • Pack Slayers will give the entire unit an extra attack once you drop below their Starting Strength.
  • Skull-takers rewards them for killing an enemy Character by increasing their Strength by 1 for the rest of the battle. But by also improving the rest of their day, they’ve also potentially ruined the enemy Character’s day by subtracting 1 from their Out of Action test at the end of the battle.
  • Soul-marked buffs the unit by boosting the experience earned from Marked For Greatness by an additional 2 XP

Daemon Engines/Machine Spirits

  • Ascended Spirit gives the Land Raider the Daemon and Daemon Engine keywords which in turn grants them the Daemon Engine ability of a 5+ Invun save and healing 1 wound in the command phase. Daemon Engines get an extra attack and heal for D3 wounds now.
  • Burning Runes lets you re-roll a failed Out of Action test… useful but boring.
  • Brass Ornamentation is bling that increases the model’s Wound characteristic by 2.


  • Anointed grants the Jakhals purpose in death by granting an extra Blood Tithe point when they are destroyed.
  • Enhanced Chemicals improves their Stimm ability to only cause 1 Mortal Wound and grant them an additional Attack on top of the increase of Strength.

Beanith: The Jakhal table is largely forgettable. I would have preferred to see a table for the Terminators. The Eightbound and Berzerkers have some very excellent upgrades to collect and I can definitely see a reason to roll more than once on each table.

Name Generator

We all love a name generator, especially Beanith who will otherwise default to calling all of his characters Steeve. Whilst nowhere near as large and descriptive as the Name Generator found in the IMPERIAL GUARD codex, you can still end up with some cool names.

Beanith: My future World Eater character is/was Orbak Damaskar briefly before turning into Steeve the Chaos Spawn.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Final Thoughts

Beanith: Not my favourite set of Crusade rules to date. I love the theme of the Skull Harvest with your demented band of murderous sociopaths completely at odds with everyone when it comes to collecting Worthy Skulls and very unwilling to share. But it does mean you’re going to have to keep that in mind while in the middle of a battle that if the Terminators survive the game then you’ll need to spend Req on transferring skulls to the unit you actually want them on.

The Rewards are good but you’re going to spend a lot of time building up a sufficient pile of skulls to unlock those very tasty Exalted Rewards or at the very least choose a specific Greater or Lesser Reward. As amusing as it would be to have a Jugger Lord with Scarred Murderers, accidentally nullifying all that hard work with Bloody Destiny would be a massive pain in the butt.

I’m a big fan of how they handled the Relics for your three Characters that can actually take them and especially that, apart from the bolt pistol, your Master of Execution or Juggo Lord can keep the same gear when they succeed in proven their worth to Khorne and ascend to Daemonhood.

Rob: These are just OK. I mean it’s what I guess I should have expected from World Eaters but aside from the focus on melee kills I think I was hoping for something a little more personal than just collecting lots of skulls, where it might matter whose skulls you collected, but then that runs aground of the issue with actually killing things in Crusade.

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