Getting started with Legiones Astartes in Legions Imperialis

You’ve probably heard of these guys so I’m not going to waste too much space telling you who Space Marines are. This article is going to be long enough.

We know we don’t have the rules for all the models Astartes are going to have eventually. Indeed, we saw a batrep in White Dwarf featuring models and whole Formations that aren’t in the core rulebook. Drop Pods, Bikes and Land Raiders are among the models we’ve seen previewed but which we have no rules for. There are whole categories of Detachments, like artillery and light armour, that we haven’t even seen models for at this scale. More Infantry is probably coming, too.

So is this actually a good time to get started with Astartes in Legiones Imperialis at all, or should you wait for the rest of the army to appear? Well, due to how the rules for Legions and Formations work I’d argue you can go right ahead and get started now with what we have.

We’d like to thank Games Workshop for sending us a copy of the Legions Imperialis rules to review.

Mustering a Legiones Astartes Army

Fowler’s World Eaters

The first thing to note is that this is a “Legiones Astartes” Army and not, for example, a “Blood Angels” or “Sons of Horus” Army. What this means is that once you decide to make a Legiones Astartes Army you have pretty free access to any of the Legions, not just one. Instead, the Legion choice is made at the Formation level, so all the detachments within each Formation have to be from a particular Legion.

If you’re new to Legions Imperialis then Formations are pretty much the key building blocks of your army. Each one is made up of several Detachments, which operate independently. A Formation will have a number of compulsory Detachments and also some optional ones you can add. So for example a Legion Demi Company is a Formation that includes a minimum of a HQ Detachment, two Tactical Detachments (each of 20+ Legionaries) and a Support Detachment that can be all kinds of things. Then you cna optionally add a wide variety of other units if you want, or start again with a new Formation.

This has all sorts of implications for how you build your army, which I’ll talk about later on. But it means that you can actually start building your army now. You don’t have to worry that you’ll be wishing you’d picked White Scars when you get to see the rules for bikes, or whatever. If that turns out to be a good combination you can just add a formation of them to your army. And your Imperial Fists with missile launchers and Blood Angel Terminators will still be just as good as they are now, though new formations will probably give you some more ways to field them.

You may well be reading this and thinking that actually you do want to field just a single Legion, because you like their background or colour scheme, or for any other reason. You can certainly do this of course but will often end up being less effective than tailoring Legions and Formations that work together well. 

You also get to spend up to 30% of your points on the Solar Auxilia you’ll probably have from the starter set, as well as Knights and Titans. We’ll talk about these in other articles.

The 18 Legiones Astartes

I guess I’d better try and review all these Legions then. As you would imagine, they all have their specialisms that reflect their character. Some of them are fairly general and could benefit a whole army, while others are very specialist. In some cases there is no benefit in taking more than one Formation of a particular Legion.

I don’t really like how these rules work. For a start, some Legions are clearly more powerful than others. The benefits of mixing and matching are considerable, which effectively penalises anyone who wants to make a force from a single Legion.

Dark Angels

Formations of the Hexagrammaton are little complicated – so much so that I’ve had to edit this, twice now, due to misunderstanding it. If a Formation has at least three different Detachment Types (say Infantry, Walker and Vehicle) then you can choose one of three benefits. Either have the Infantry get Phosphex and Implacable (good at assaulting troops in buildings and don’t run away from fights), Cavalry get Outflank or the Vehicles get Nimble (move through difficult terrain freely). The Walkers in my example above would get nothing, though they’d still help “unlock” the benefits for everyone else. Dedicated transports don’t unlock the bonuses, or benefit from them, which is a shame as Nimble Rhinos would be useful.

This is pretty good I think. We don’t know what the cavalry units actually do yet but sneaky Ravenwing bikes sound good. It’s fairly easy to unlock the benefits too – though an Armoured Company can only include Vehicles for now, so you can’t unlock Nimble to let all those tanks speed through difficult terrain. This means you’ll probably just end up with Phosphex for your infantry, as the mixed detachments don’t include many Vehicles (or cavalry, since none exist yet). That’s still a pretty good ability as marines don’t yet have many ways to destroy buildings, so capturing them is a solid option.

Emperor’s Children

If you’ve got a Formation of these Exemplars of War in a Legion army you get to choose to automatically win initiative once per game, before rolling. This is quite a big bonus as initiative determines more than just which units activate first. It gives no direct benefit to your models though so there’s no reason at all to take more than one Formation.

This is a bit of a  shame. An EC army could look great but there’s no real reason you’d make one, though single Formations could be quite common. I’d probably go for a small Armoured Company, as vehicles don’t tend to benefit much from Legion traits, so you wouldn’t be losing out on much.

Iron Warriors

Infantry and Walkers from the IV Legion hold objectives in midfield and their own deployment zones to The Bitter End. In theory it’s amazing to get to claim objectives that the enemy might otherwise have held but I’m not sure how often this will matter in practice. You have to be within 3” of an objective to hold it and the chances are one side or other will significantly outnumber the other, after the fight that probably results from being so close. You might go several games without this making any difference, then have a game you win entirely because of it.

White Scars

White Scars Legion Special Rule. Credit: Warhammer Community

These guys are Born in the Saddle (or possibly cockpit) and so get +1 to any Jink saves. So far the only models that have Jink saves are Flyers, meaning this only helps a small fraction of your army. Legion aircraft are all pretty well-armoured, so you’d need to be hit by a weapon with AP-2 or better before you’d want to use the Jink save. Few Skyfire weapons have that kind of AP but this will help your Storm Eagles and Thunderhawks survive as they land troops in skimmer mode.

I think Scars will start to come into their own when we see the rules for cavalry. I expect that they’ll have Jink saves too, and probably worse armour saves than the planes, so their Jink saves will be relevant more often. Even so I think the best play is probably to have Formations of these guys rather than a whole army, as their infantry and tanks get no benefit whatsoever.

Space Wolves

The Preternatural Sense of the Space Wolves prevents enemies from infiltrating within 16” or outflanking within 8”. This is a major benefit as normally infiltrators only have to stay outside of 4”. A player will probably have built around infiltrating quite a bit of stuff ithey are using it, so to then find that they can’t start the game in shooting or charging range is likely to mess up their plans a lot.

Again though, one formation is probably enough to give you a decent amount of coverage against enemy infiltrators. Adding more Space Wolves doesn’t improve things all that much.

Imperial Fists

Legions Imperialis Imperial Fists. Credit: 40khamslam.

The Sons of Dorn like nothing more than standing still sending Disciplined Fire down-range – except when they’re going all templar-y and pretty much the exact opposite of that. This is represented by making the guns their infantry comes with Accurate, which lets you reroll hit rolls, when on First Fire orders. This is especially good for missile launchers, which are already excellent against most targets and have enough range to make First Fire viable. Bolt pistols don’t benefit so much.

They list the weapons this works on and it’s basically the guns that your Infantry Legionaries carry, like bolt guns and missile launchers, but not Rapiers or Tarantulas. It includes a number of heavy weapons like lascannons and autocannons that we haven’t seen yet, so it looks like we should expect some more Legionary infantry with different weapons in future at some point.

Night Lords

Night lords sew Seeds of Dissent, killing HQs so spectacularly that people nearby die of fright unless they pass a morale check, which is kind of hilarious. It only affects detachments within 4” of the HQ but some of the buffs HQs hand out encourage you to bunch up, so it might sometimes do quite a bit of damage. Knights and Titans are immune to this.

The effectiveness of this is a bit dependent on how your opponent sets up their army and probably won’t do much in some games. It would be interesting if snipers or something similar was released in future to let you pick out HQs. There’s currently a “Precise” weapon rule but no units that have it, so these might be on the way.

Blood Angels

Encarmine Fury overtakes Blood Angels who win a combat. They can move 3” and potentially fight again if they make contact with an opponent that hasn’t fought that round. It affects all Blood Angels, including vehicles, though they probably won’t choose to use it that much.

This is a pretty huge buff that’s going to let Blood Angels kill more stuff in melee and also do all kinds of movement-based shenanigans. They might well be able to get onto objectives after killing their enemies, for example. Advance fire happens after melee, so being able to get back into combat, or perhaps into cover, should help to protect you from it.

Iron Hands

Inviolate Armour means Iron Hand Infantry can use FNP vs Light AT weapons like autocannons and not just Light weapons like everyone else. If their vehicles are on first fire but haven’t fired yet, incoming fire against them has one less AP.

This is quite a nice little buff that will make your army marginally tougher. I think Light AT will be fairly rare but saving your infantry from it will be nice. If your vehicles shoot they lose the protection from this though, so sequencing might be tricky, as firing early is kind of the point of going on First Fire in the first place.

World Eaters

World Eaters Legion Special Rule. Credit: Warhammer Community

The Incarnate Violence perpetrated by World Eaters Infantry, Cavalry and Walkers lets them reroll one of the dice in a combat. You roll 2D6 in a fight and compare it to your opponent’s score to see who wins, adding in your model’s Close Assault Factor. This reroll is going to change the result of fights pretty often.

This is awesome and means that World Eaters are unquestionably the best melee faction in Legions Imperialis. Watch out for little white and blue people coming out of land raiders, drop pods and aircraft. They will hurt you.


Interlocking Tactics lets Ultramarines reroll 1s if a model in the same Formation has already landed a hit on the target. This slight increase in damage output across the board is quite effective and quite boring, which suits Ultramarines perfectly.

You can maximise the effect by having a small detachment, such as your rhinos, try to land a hit. Then a bigger detachment, such as the marines who got out of those rhinos, fires with rerolls.

Death Guard

Sons of Barbarus get to move safely through Dangerous terrain. Also, you get to make some areas of terrain or structures anywhere into Dangerous terrain.

Dangerous terrain is quite nasty. The ability to create it and to freely move through it will give you a bit of a boost, especially if it’s around an objective where your opponent is forced to go. However, this is another Legion where there’s only limited benefit in taking extra Formations after the first.

Thousand Sons

Kine Shields are projected by Thousand Sons Commanders, giving a 6+ invulnerable save to anyone within 6”. This is kind of rubbish I think as it’s so difficult to pass a 6+ save even when it applies, which won’t be very often. 

Most of the time your infantry will be better off using their own armour saves or a cover save. There aren’t many weapons that would give your infantry a -2 save modifier and your opponent would often prefer to fire them at tanks. Infantry will also be in cover a lot. So you’ll rarely find that this 6++ is the best save available to you, and  of course you’ll fail it most of the time anyway.

Sons of Horus

These Death Dealers get to reroll 1s to hit if they’re on an Advance order, are within 6” of their target and are firing a Light or Light AT weapon. That’s quite a lot of conditions on getting your rerolls but it should still apply quite often. You want to get pretty close to use bolters because then you get a second shot, so that combines nicely. 

There are some fairly powerful guns in the Light AT category, like the Fire Raptor’s gatlings. It isn’t going to help you kill tanks though. Overall it’s kind of decent, for something like a Demi-Company in Rhinos or the Drop Pod detachment we saw in White Dwarf.

Word Bearers

True Believers get to issue any order while Broken, letting them First Fire or March if they want. They also aren’t affected by the Dread Aura (X) rule, which doesn’t matter because  only the Psi-Titan has that.

This is fairly useful as you can expect to get Broken. The option to March away from whatever has caused you to break in the first place might be pretty useful and there might be times when First Fire is the best choice too. 

You aren’t likely to have that many Broken troops at any time so this won’t affect very many models. Or if you do have loads of Broken stuff then things are probably going very badly!


Salamanders Legion Special Rule. Credit: Warhammer Community

Strength of Will allows Salamanders to roll two dice for Morale Checks and pick the one they want, which is excellent. They are also Implacable, meaning they don’t even have to take a check if they lose in melee.

These are great bonuses that benefit pretty much every model in your army. Salamanders won’t let you down by running off.

Raven Guard

By Wing and Talon, Raven Guard Infantry who don’t have dedicated transports get Infiltrate. This allows them to set up anywhere outside of 4” (yes, four inches), apart from the enemy deployment zone.

You might be thinking “hey, that sounds kind of useful”, and you’d be right. Legions Imperialis is a game with progressive scoring and lots of midfield objectives. Having a bunch of infantry who can start the game already on those objectives, and likely in decent firing positions, is fantastic. Rapiers and Tarantulas are Infantry, so those can be set up ready to start blazing away.

Oh and Infantry who do have Dedicated Transports, Cavalry and Walkers get Forward Deployment, which is basically a pre-game Scout move like you’re probably used to from 30/40k. 

Alpha Legion

Employing Mutable Tactics lets you take three Detachments from each Alpha Legion Formation and give them Infiltrate, Forward Deployment or Outflank, as you see fit. 

This is very like the Raven Guard tactic except that it works on everything apart from Flyers. You can Infiltrate a bunch of Leviathan Dreadnoughts or a squadron of 6 Kratos if you like. Outflank is a great option too.

As it can only affect three Detachments per Formation, this tactic encourages you to take smaller Formations. That means those Formations will break a bit more easily, though with more formations overall it’s likely somebody will still be in the fight.

Legiones Astartes Formations

So far we have rules for four Astartes Formations. These make use of the units in this book but are future-proofed to cover other things as well, including some optional detachments of types we don’t have yet. We know more formations are on the way as we’ve already seen a Sky-hunter Phalanx and a Drop Pod Assault in a White Dwarf battle report.

Legion Demi-Company

The Demi-Company is probably the main Legion Formation. As you can see, the structure of a Formation is that you have three or four compulsory Detachments, then a few optional ones and finally perhaps one or two limited optional Detachments, like here where you can have a detachment of Light Armour or Air Support, but not both.

Demi-company Formation. Credit: Warhammer Community

So here the Core is an HQ, two Core Detachments that have to be Tactical Detachments (currently the only Core Detachment we have, so not a major limitation) and one Support Detachment. Everyone has the option of Rhino transports and interestingly there are a couple more optional Transport Detachments available, which implies that in future we’ll get other kinds of units to put in them. Land Raiders, maybe?

Other options are pretty much 0-1 of most other types of Detachment, so you can have a bit of everything but you can’t have loads of any one thing. Notably, you can only have a Battle Tank, Heavy Armour or Artillery Detachment. We’ll see only limited armour options in Astartes Formations, other than the Armoured Company that has nothing else. You can’t legally field all the models in the core set because this Formation can’t have the two Battle Tank Detachments you’d need to run the Predators and Sicarans.

I think this is a great Formation to build around. Rhinos are really good, with a low cost and surprisingly effective anti-personnel shooting. In this Formation they also benefit from the rule that gives them +1 to Objective Control if you have other infantry nearby. Overall you get a bunch of infantry and vehicles that are ideal for taking and holding midfield objectives, which tends to be how games are won.

Legion Garrison Force

The compulsory selections here are similar to the Demi-company, though one Core Detachment is replaced by a Bastion Detachment – currently Deredeos or Tarantulas. As options you can have two more bastions, a Core, Air Support, Two Support and an Artillery, plus either Heavy Armour or another Artillery. You don’t get dedicated Rhinos and there are no Transport Detachments here.

As the name suggests, this is a fairly static detchment with lots of firepower. You can fill up those Bastion slots with Deredeos and Tarantulas and you can bring a Kratos squadron if you want, but not Sicarans or Predators.

A Bastion Force could also work really nicely for Raven Guard or Alpha Legion. Rapiers and Tarantulas are Infantry, so Raven Guard ones get Infiltrate, and Alpha Legion can potetially sneak up on people with anything they want, including a squadron of 6 Kratos. Infantry that can’t infiltrate will probably miss the Demi-company’s Rhinos, though Terminators and Assault Marines don’t need those.

Legion Armoured Company

Just three compulsory Detachments here: two of Battle Tanks and one Heavy Armour. You can add to this a Detachment of Light Armour (whatever that is), Heavy Armour and two of Battle Tanks, plus one more of either Air Support or Heavy Armour – if you really want to send 3 Kratos Squadrons at someone. The Formation gets no special rules.

So this is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a load of tanks. There are an awful lot of Astartes tanks in 30k so we can expect to see all sorts of options become available for this Formation in future. Super-heavies like the Felblade are likely to fit in Heavy Armour slots, as that’s where you find Baneblades for the SA.

The advantage of sticking all your tanks in one Formation is that you can make them belong to a Legion that benefits vehicles, which not all of them do. I don’t think any of the Legions provide huge buffs to vehicles though, or at least not to the ones we’ve seen so far. I might be tempted to go for something like Emperor’s Children or Death Guard for the benefits their Formations provide.

Legion Aerial Assault

A Demi-Company that flies! An HQ, two Core and a Support Detachment, plus a couple of optional Support, one Core, one Vanguard and two Air Support Detachments. Detachments in this Formation can get Storm Eagles or Thunderhawks as Dedicated Transports – indeed they have to start the game inside them unless they’re flyers themselves.

Having to take two Core Detachments means you’re going to be bringing quite a lot of marines in this Formation, carried in multiple aircraft. Smaller Detachments will fit in Storm Eagles but a reinforced one will need either a Thunderhawk or two Storm Eagles.

Flyers can move really fast so this is a great Formation for getting assault troops across the board. Actually, while we wait for Land Raiders and Spartans, planes are the only assault transports currently in the game.

As such you’ll probably want to go with a Legion that provides benefits to assault infantry like World Eaters or Blood Angels, to the planes themselves like White Scars, or perhaps to short-range firing like Sons of Horus.

The optional Vanguard Detachment implies that there must be some kind of infantry Vanguard Detachment coming down the line, which can fit inside a plane.

Legiones Astartes Detachments

I’ll go through the list in types of Detachment in the order they appear in the book. So far we don’t have any Vanguard, Artillery or Light Armour Detachments but those will presumably appear in future, as you get slots for them in some of the Formations.

Something you’ll often find is that a detachment can be increased in size at a significant discount in points. There’s certainly an advantage in having more detachments, meaning you have more activations and can delay more important moves till you know what your opponent is up to. It’ll be interesting to see where the right balance lies here – whether it’s worth having bigger Detachments with more models on the board but fewer activations.

HQ Detachments

The Legion Command is basically a slightly improved tactical base with a 4+ save, Accurate gun and better CAF. The interesting thing isn’t their fighting ability though, it’s the stack of special rules they come with and the buffs they give to units nearby.

  • Commander means they have to be attached to one of your other infantry detachments if possible. If they’ve got a Dedicated Transport it joins that Detachment’s Transport Detachment.
  • Inspire means that friendly Detachments within 8” can use its 2+ Morale. This works on anything, not just Detachments in the same Formation and not even just Astartes.
  • Invulnerable save 6+ doesn’t really do anything. It’s not likely you’ll be shot by anything AP3, you might well have a cover save, it doesn’t help in melee and you probably won’t roll a 6.
  • Master Tactician lets you change the order of a friendly Detachment within 6” that hasn’t yet activated this round when this unit’s Detachment activates. So you could change a unit from March to Charge, for example. Unfortunately it doesn’t work on his own Detachment. I think there might be some interesting tricks here, like having a unit’s order switch to charge after they’ve disembarked from Rhinos. I’m not sure if that’s allowed but I can’t see why not.
  • Medicae gives 5+ FNP to Infantry within 4”. FNP only works against Light weapons and not in melee, but unusually it is a second chance to ignore a wound if you fail your armour or cover save. 

Transport Detachments

Rhinos are the only Transport Detachment we have so far, and they turn out to be pretty excellent. They can move 9” or March 18” before the Infantry inside Disembark and then go on to make their own moves, though they won’t be able to charge. 

Surprisingly, Rhinos have quite respectable firepower. The basic load-out is identical to a base of Legionaries with bolters, but actually slightly better as you get the Point Defence rule. 2 extra points buys you a Havoc Launcher, which has a 15” range, hits on a 4+ and is Light AT as well as Point Defence. Multimeltas are 4 points and rather a different proposition with 6” range, hitting on a 5+ but with -3AP and Anti-tank – crucially losing Point Defence.

These Point Defence weapons mean that Rhinos are quite dangerous in the movement phase. A Rhino on Advance orders can Overwatch with no penalty. Assaulting empty Rhinos with Infantry probably isn’t going to be worthwhile and they offer great protection from assaults for the Detachments they carry. Havoc-equipped Rhinos are even a threat to vehicles, which they can potentially kill before they move. It’s a shame you only get one Havoc per sprue.

Core Detachments

There’s only one of these, The Legion Tactical Detachment, but it’s complicated because you can add pretty much any kind of Legionary to it.

You start with 4 bases of tactical marines with bolters and you can add up to 6 more bases. These can be Tacticals with Bolters, Plasma Quns or Missile Launchers, Assault marines or Terminators. You’ll have to do this initially if you want to use these models, as you don’t get enough of them in the main box set to make a 4-base Support Detachment.

Your bolter guys have a 5” move, 5+ save, 3+ morale and +2 CAF, which is all pretty average. Bolters are Assault, so they get 2 shots at 4”.

Adding extra bases to a Core Detachment is quite a bit cheaper than buying them separately. A detachment of 4 Tactical and 4 Terminator bases costs 65 points, while a Detachment of 4 Terminators on their own cost 50. I think you’ll always prefer to add something other than guys with bolters, as they’re barely any cheaper (12 points for 2 bases instead of 15 for most specialists).

You have to give some thought to what models you’re adding to a Detachment and how you plan to use them. Missile launchers and Plasma Guns can target vehicles, for example, but if you do that your bolters will be wasted. That may be worth it if you want to provide some bodies to protect your precious missile launchers from enemy shooting and assaults.

Terminators and Assault Marines are awkward in that they aren’t allowed in Rhinos, making the Detachment trickier to move around.  Thunderhawks help and land raiders might in future. A detachment containing terminators won’t flee from melee, which is pretty great. 

Assault Marines may be the weirdest option as they have the Independent rule. I’m not going to try to attempt to explain this, other than to say that it lets them kind of do their own thing and the rules covering it use up a whole page of the book.

The effect of all of this is that you can do a lot of different things with one of these Detachments. You can build a firebase, a solid assault force or a mobile shooting threat.


Support Detachments

There are loads of these. The first four are units of 4 Infantry bases.

Legion Plasma Gun Support Detachment

20 dudes with plasma guns. These are Light AT guns with a 10” range, hitting on a 4+ with ap-1. They don’t blow up. Otherwise they are identical to Tacticals, even costing the same amount of points, reflecting that one plasma shot isn’t much different to or better than having a bolter. I’m not a huge fan of Light AT as a weapon type. It’s mainly good against armoured infantry, dreadnoughts and softer vehicles like rhinos, but I’m not sure these really need their own specialist weapons to hunt.

Legion Missile Launcher Support Detachment

These are a whole different thing, for only 5 points more than Tacticals. They actually lose a pip of CAF but you won’t care because their guns are phenomenally good. 20” range with either 2 shots on a 4+ with Ignores Cover and Light or 1 shot, also on a 4+ with -1AP and Anti-tank.

So this is actually a versatile weapon you can use to target anything. Ignores Cover is particularly excellent as it lets you ignore both the hit modifier and cover save the target receives. Troops in buildings get -2 to be hit and 4+ cover saves but they lose that, and very probably their lives, if frag missiles come at them. And Krak missiles are basically lascannons, which are good for any other target. A fantastic unit.

Legion Assault Detachment

World Eaters Assault Marine Squads. Credit: Fowler

A 7” move and Jump Packs are the highlights here. When charging doubles your move and marching trebles it, that extra 2” over normal infantry really matters. Jump packs work as you’d expect, letting you ignore most obstacles, troops included. They let you disembark from a plane without it having to switch to hover mode, which is very nice except that they’re Bulky, so one of these Detachments would require two Storm Eagles or half a Thunderhawk (which ignores Bulky) to be carried. Your transport would therefore be worth at least five times as much as its cargo, which seems excessive.

The only problem is that they aren’t much use in combat, with only 1 better CAF than tacticals. It’s true their speed means they’ll often be charging, and may let them pick on weak targets, but there are lots of scarier things on the battlefield – especially at this scale. Use carefully.

Legion Terminator Detachment

World Eaters Terminators. Credit: Fowler

Terminators are great with 4+ saves, and 6+ invulnerables (that don’t matter to be honest, but are nice). They don’t break in melee and get +1 to Obsec. They are better than normal marines at melee and similar at shooting, though with rerolls to hit.

Deep Strike is probably why you’re taking these. It’s pretty useful but you need to be careful with it. The key issue is that troops can’t be put on Charge orders while in deep strike reserve, only March or Advance. You can’t just drop in and charge, which means spending a turn stood around being shot at.

Legion Rapier Battery Detachment

These come in tiny Detachments of two, probably reflecting that you only get two of each type in the support box. They are Infantry and have great guns. The Laser Destroyer has 2 shots on a 4+ with -2AP and Anti-Tank, which is great though its short range of 15” will be a massive issue. The Quad Launcher can fire from out of sight at up to 30” and kill buildings at 16”, though only with direct fire.

Of the two, I rate Quad Launchers more highly, as shooting things you can’t see is always so useful. The Lasers would be great in the right position, such as a building overlooking an objective, but being slow, short-ranged and fragile is not a good combination. They are radically better for Legions that can make them Infiltrate.

Leviathan Siege Dreadnought Detachment

As Walkers, Dreadnoughts can move through difficult terrain at full speed. They are no faster than foot infantry though and expensive to transport, though you can fit four of them inside a Thunderhawk. Dreadnought Drop Pods will become an option but note that you can’t be on charge orders inside one.

The question is whether you can get your Detachment of 4-8 Leviathans to where they’re needed. If you can, they’re absolutely murderous little things with 3D6+5 in Melee and Wrecker (2), letting them tear down buildings, as well as pretty effective, but short-ranged, guns. 

The two gun options, the Storm Cannon Array and Melta Lance, are very different. The Storm Cannon is Light AT wiht 2 shots and pairs well with the Light Volkites to strafe infantry at 10-12”. The Melta has 6” range but AP-3 Anti-Tank and Demolisher. So a Detachment of four would have a decent chance of blowing up a 2-wound building after coming out of their pods.

I hope you get enough of each gun to choose your favourite for each Leviathan, as they’re really very different. You don’t want to be wasting Storm Cannon fire at Structures that they can’t affect, for example. You could legitimately get two of the Support box when it gets released and run a Detachment of each.

Legion Dreadnought Talon

World Eaters Contemptor Dreadnoughts. Credit: Fowler

4 Contemptors plus up to 6 more Contemptors or Leviathans. I think you probably shouldn’t be mixing the two, as Leviathans are pretty specialised. This does offer a way to get them at a significant discount though.

Unfortunately the Kheres is terrible, the Lascannon is pretty good, but you only get one gun per Contemptor, so you’re going to be building some with Kheres. The lascannon is much more accurate and longer-ranged so it’s simply going to get far more hits during a game regardless of what you fire at. 

Like Rhinos, Contemptors have unreasonably good combi-bolters, including Point Defence to let you split fire, meaning each contemptor has almost the same firepower as a Las/bolter Predator. They look to me like a really useful unit to provide some fire support and also some melee strength where needed, at a budget price.

Bastion Detachments

Legion Tarantula Battery

A Detachment of four Automated Sentries, armed with lascannons or Skyfire missiles. These are classed as Infantry but can’t move at all. You could put them in a building to be safe and they’ll hold an objective reasonably well if you can find one to put them on. They’d benefit enormously from getting to Infiltrate, as Raven Guard or Alpha Legion.

They can’t be given orders, meaning they aren’t able to overwatch. However,  they fire when activated in the movement phase, which is before even First Fire. Their guns are pretty nasty for their price so they will make an impact I expect.

We’ve only seen previews of the Support box. It implies that you’ll get two of eac kind of tarantula in the box. That isn’t really ideal as you’d want to give have batteries armed the same way I think. We’ll see when the box arrives but it might be worth getting two of those boxes when they appear.

Legion Deredeo Dreadnought Detachment

Very shooty dreadnoughts with Plasma or Autocannons, which are actually pretty similar Light AT weapons that you could mix without causing problems. Their Aiolos Missile Launchers are a rare AP-2 Skyfire weapon and a really major threat to enemy aviation. Somehow their hull heavy bolters are far less effective than the combi-bolters on Contemptors and Rhinos.

These guys have Tracking Arrays, giving all their guns Skyfire if they go on First Fire. They’re probably your go-to Anti Aircraft unit and also very capable of engaging enemy ground units, particularly armour.

Battle Tank Detachments

Legion Predator Squadron

These can have either Autocannons or Lascannons in the turret and Lascannon or Heavy bolter sponsons. I think I’d probably go with all-lascannon, using their range to try and keep out of trouble as your 3+ save isn’t all that great. All the options are fine though for this functional, if not very exciting, medium tank.

Legion Sicaran Squadron

The Sicaran is a little faster than the Predator and its hull heavy bolter is as good as a second set of sponsons. With heavy bolter sponsons each Sicaran will get 4 Point Defence shots, which is quite a threat to enemy infantry. I think this is the way to go with these things as you’ll want to advance them to get their turrets into range.

The turret guns are both quite fun. The Autocannons get 3 shots at ap-1 with Tracking but not Skyfire, with which they have a reasonable chance of hitting a plane through the spray and pray approach. The plasma gun has a straight AP-2 against all targets, though only 1 shot at 12”. It’s Accurate, so will usually hit and do damage, if it can get there. They still just have a 3+ save so don’t expect them to live all that long up close to things.. 

Heavy Armour Detachments

Legion Kratos Squadron

A radical increase in durability over the Battle Tanks, Kratos have a 2+ save and 2 Wounds each. A squadron of 6 of these, with 12 2+ save wounds, will not be easy to kill and might be a real bargain at 350 points.

They have pretty good damage output too, with multiple hardpoints for sticking your choice of guns to. I think I prefer either Lascannons for engaging tanks or Heavy Bolters to have a load of Point Defence firing, rather than the Light AT Autocannons.

In the turret you can have a battlecannon or melta, and the battlecannon seems much better. You get effectively 2 more lascannon shots at 20” or a single very scary Armourbane AP-4 shot at 10”. The melta basically swaps the option for the 20” battlecannon shots for the ability to hurt buildings, though with only 8” range, one shot and a slow speed I don’t think it’s going to be all that effective.

I think most people will run Kratos as lascannon/battlecannon batteries, hammering through enemy units with volume of fire. It might be worth running a couple with heavy bolters and meltas, as they will make anyone in buildings feel very unsafe.

Air Support Detachments

We get four types of plane, as the models already existed for Aeronautica. The Xiphon, Storm Eagle and Fire Raptor all have the same 3+ save and 5+ Jink, which isn’t a lot of durability for models costing around 100 points each. They’ll rely on the enemy needing 6s to hit them while they fly, and using their speed to avoid threats.

Legion Xiphon Interceptor Squadron

Blood Angels Xiphon Interceptor for Aeronautica Imperialis. Credit: Jack Hunter

You can have 1-4 of these but I think you’d be better off running them singly to avoid the risk of losing them all in one go. Each one has the firepower to easily kill an enemy plane o two but not a lot of durability.

The Interceptor rule allows Xiphons to fire a single weapon at an enemy aircraft at the end of its move, needing 6s to hit (but with rerolls). It might get to drop an enemy plane in the movement phase, leaving it free to take out other targets when it comes to the Advance Fire phase.

Xiphons have pretty long range and a speed of 30”. They can hit targets from safely on your side of the board, out of range of enemy AA. You may also be able to use their speed to hunt down enemies who are hiding behind terrain, though that isn’t without risk.

Legion Storm Eagle Squadron

You can have 1-3 Storm Eagles in a squadron but most likely you’re getting them as Dedicated Transports as part of a Legion Aerial Assault Formation.

The Vengeance Launcher doesn’t have skyfire, so it will have to target something on the ground if you’re firing at enemy aircraft. That’s no problem as the Skyfire rule lets you split fire. Annoyingly though, the heavy bolters do have Skyfire so you have to fire them at planes even though they can’t damage them. You can get round this by firing them in the Movement Phase as Point Defence, or you could just not worry about it.

A transport capacity of 5 is very useful. It lets you have a detachment of four bases and the formation’s HQ. As an Assault Transport, your cargo of 25 angry Astartes can have Charge orders, with almost limitless reach on the battlefield. Unfortunately, switching to skimmer mode to land troops is really dangerous for a Storm Eagle unless it’s out of sight somewhere. That might be possible if you’re disembarking troops into a building. Assault Marines are Bulky, so you can only fit 2 bases in one of these and that definitely isn’t worth it.

Overall I think the Storm Eagle is outclassed by the Thunderhawk, which has much more firepower, durability and transport capacity for only 50% more points.

Legion Fire Raptor Squadron

Fire Raptors are a pretty nasty threat to Infantry and Walkers, though not so much to Vehicles as the Avenger Gatling Cannon is Light AT. It has slightly less range than the other planes, meaning it’ll have a harder time reaching its target while avoiding AA fire.

They’re fine I guess, but probably not something you urgently need. Their weight of fire means they’ll do way more damage to infantry than the other options, while still being very bad news for any plane they fire at. They just probably don’t do anything you can’t do with ground troops.

Legion Thunderhawk Gunship

Blood Angels Aeronautica Imperialis Thunderhawk. Credit: Jack Hunter

Wow ok, this is a bit of a departure from the other planes. For starters we have a 2+ save and 2 Wounds. Then, in addition to the lascannons and heavy bolters we’re used to finding on Legion planes, we find a damn great Turbo-laser Destructor on the roof. This is identical to the guns various titans have, but here it is on an aeroplane, for less than half the price of a Warhound, and only 50% more than a Storm Eagle.

Skyfire weapons tend to have AP-1 or 2 at best so the Thunderhawk’s 2+ save and 2 wounds makes it much more likely to make it through overwatch than a Storm Eagle. It then gets to deliver 8 infantry stands (ignoring Bulky, so Assault Marines and Terminators fit in fine) or 4 Dreadnoughts, which can assault if you want them to.

A Thunderhawk in skimmer mode is still probably dead if your opponent sends significant fire at it, but not before it gets the job done, dropping off its troops. If Thunderhawks stay up high then they’ll be extremely hard to kill. Spamming them might be a nasty skew list so I’d avoid doing that in friendly games.

What guns should you pick?

Legion vehicles often have quite a few choices for weapons. Most of the time these choices don’t add to the cost of units, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are equally good, as I’ll discuss.

Often, you have a choice between an Anti-tank weapon like a lascannon and a Light, Point Defence weapon like a heavy bolter. These work very differently so it’s a more complicated choice than simply which is most effective.

Anti-tank weapons can damage any target but lose their AP against Infantry and Cavalry. They tend to have ranges around 20” and hit on a 4+. Losing their AP against infantry isn’t a huge problem for things like lascannons, since they only have -1AP anyway, while Infantry tends to have bad armour and good cover saves, making AP irrelevant… and Light weapons generally don’t have any AP either.

Point Defence weapons tend to have ranges around 12”, hit on a 5+ and be Light or occasionally Light AT. So they aren’t much of a threat to vehicles and have to be close to infantry to hurt them, putting your tank in danger. But the advantage of them is the firing sequence: you can fire them during the movement phase before or after you move, or on Overwatch with no penalties to hit.

This means a vehicle armed with Point Defence weapons can hurt infantry before they can hurt it, either by charging it or shooting. They can also interrupt infantry with overwatch before they can scamper into cover or out of sight.

So which should you pick? Probably some of both. I’d suggest having some detachments set up to engage enemy armour and Titans from long range, covered in Lascannons. Those that you’re sending into midfield will probably achieve a bit more with Point Defence weapons.

Expanding from the core set

One of the first things you’ll find in the core Legions Imperialis set is that it only comes with two bases of all your specialists, like terminators and missile launcher squads. That’s not enough to make detachments of any of them, meaning a unit of Contemptors is the only support detachment you’ll have. You’re going to need at least a box of infantry to fill out all those guys into proper detachments of four bases.

Having a base of every specialist on each sprue means you’ll end up with a collection of all of them, whether you want them or not. So you may as well try and design a balanced force with assault marines, missile launchers and so on.

Other than with your infantry, you have a lot of freedom in the way you go. Personally I’ve ordered some Kratos, which I’ll use with the tanks in the core set to make a Legion Armoured Company. I’ve also gone for a couple of Thunderhawks and some Rhinos so that I’ll have a few options for transporting my guys around.

If you have collections for Adeptus Titanicus or Aeronautica Imperialis you’ll probably find you have more than enough titans and planes for your army. These will fill up your points very quickly.

Legio Astorum
Legio Astorum. Credit: NotThatHenryC

At first, I think it is sensible to use the Solar Auxilia from the starter set, along with maybe a Titan, to help fill out your points, rather than going for a full 3000 point list of Astartes. At the moment there are some fairly large gaps in capability like the Assault Transport tanks, drop pods or building-killing Vindicators and Typhons. Sooner or later you’ll want some or all of these so it makes sense to take things relatively easy at first, leaving room for additional units as they become available.

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