Horus Heresy: Building Militia and Cults

Welcome to Horus Heresy Tactica, our series that provides a deep dive in a specific mechanic, interaction or aspect of play in Warhammer: the Horus Heresy.

Like most of the Heresy world, we’ve been very excited about the possibilities in the Imperialis Militia army list, unleashing at long last, every possible flavour of imperial and chaos weirdo on the Heresy. If you’re like everyone working on Heresy content here at Goonhammer, you’re champing at the bit to get building some of the weird and wonderful possibilities of the new list. In this article, we’re going to offer a few options and ideas for kits you can use to get started.

General Recommendations

A lot of militia and cults lists are going to be heavy on the infantry, and I mean HEAVY. 20 model infantry squads, up to 50 model levy squads and even the relatively elite Grenadiers can run 20 strong. With that many infantry, you might be tempted to look outside of the GW model range for your kits, particularly if you’re thinking about 60+ infantry models. Consider the massive range of Historicals kits instead – Napoleonic, Second and First World War, Franco-Prussian war and American Civil War models give you a massive range of high quality plastics to build from. The top general recommend then has to be Wargames Atlantic plastic ranges – their Scifi Death Fields collection, Great War or World Ablaze ranges will give you a fantastic base to convert from, and you get a lot of models for a good price.

These French Wargames Atlantic WW1 infantry are an idea base for distinctive militia. Credit: Wargames Atlantic

Other recommendations for base kits look to fantasy ranges, particularly Frostgrave Plastics. Frostrgave models are heroic scaled 28mm, making them perfect for GW based kitbashes. Kits like the Soldiers, Barbarians and Wizards also have female boxes so you can have the same style of models in gender-balanced squads. Others – like the fantastic Gnolls bring a really unique styling if you wanted to go for Hyena-based abhumans. The wide (and versatile) range mostly comes with flat plane shoulder joints, so conversions are quick, easy and varied.

Frostgrave Cultists. Credit: Northstar Figures

Total Weirdoes

The amazing and exciting possibilities of the Militia list are unlocked via Provenances – a massive list of 16 themes for your army with accompanying rules and occasionally list-building implications. In this article, we’ll give you a couple of options for each Provenance, ranging far and wide across the wargaming world to explore what you could do with plastic, metal, and a heart filled with hatred for the Emperor/Warmaster delete as appropriate.

Warrior Elite

The warrior elite provenance removes Support Squad from Militia Grenadiers, letting you take the best, bravest and toughest infantry of the army, with the option for two special weapons in each squad. Let’s start off with a simple suggestion – Cadians! GW’s new Cadian kit is perfectly armed for Grendaiers and is built to GW’s new-ish scale and the larger size and imposing stature makes for excellent Grenadiers in the traditional Napoleonic sense. They’re also mixed gender models which is really nice!

Shock Troops. Credit: Rockfish
Shock Troops. Credit: Rockfish

Legacy of the Great Crusade

Representing troops that are Grizzled veterans of crusade actions – or descended from regiments settled after crusade actions – Legacy of the Great Crusade units get an enhanced ballistic skill. You could go with anything here, but I’m going to suggest Wargames Atlantic Grognards – French themed scifi infantry. They come with a variety of special weapons (and one heavy), and are accompanied by a heavy weapon box in the same style. They’re easily painted and modelled to look particularly grizzled and each box comes with a bewildering number (and variety) of heads you can use to mark out different squad types in the Militia list. The heavy weapon box also comes with female heads, command options and pieces for medic upgrades, letting you easily take the Medicae Detatchments.

The beginnings of my Imperial Army – another couple of kits and I’ll have a massive force to ally to my Ultramarines

Clanfolk Levy

Clanfolk Levy is the cavalry option, unlocking Cavalry squads as compulsory troops and giving you an extra four fast attack choices – provided all of those choices are cavalry. If you’ve always wanted to do 30k Charge of the Light Brigade, well, here you go!

Cavalry opens up so many options that I can’t give you just one. From GW you’ve got Rough Riders, Ash Waste Helamites, and Cawdor Ridge Walkers to name a few. Depending on your other provenance choice, you’ll know the theme you’re going for (the new Raptadons might just be perfect).

Ash Waste Nomads Helamite Dust Rider by Jonathan Polley

If you’re really going all-in on the cavalry though, you might want some larger boxes with more guys in them, and so I’ll recommend Oathmark Human Cavalry. Unlike a lot of historicals cavalry, the scale of these guys is a little chunkier, so they can mix well with GW components. This is a simple kit of unarmoured cavalry (and you’ll need some spare guns, spears and other scifi bits to turn them into militia cavalry), but it’s 15 horses, a lovely banner, and the poor, brave bastards who are going to use them to charge straight into a Space Marine gunline!

Oathmark Human Cavalry. Credit: Northstar Games


Vat-grown or just heavily roided, Gene-Crafted infantry have the potential to be massive hulking monsters or fleet, night-vision equipped, skittering weirdoes hovering on the edge of catastrophic genetic collapse. What better kits to represent them than Goliaths (definitely the former) and Delaques (the latter). Both kits are on the larger side – one wide, the other tall – but they definitely sell the idea of genetically modified infantry. The Goliath kit might look a little weird with lasguns, but combining it with one of the other Provenances that give you combat benefits (possibly Feral Warriors) gives you genetically unstable roided out combat monsters and that’s never a bad thing.

Necromunda Goliaths. Credit: SRM


Infantry bristling with cybernetic augmetics or tech-zombies herded to battle by unrelenting, remorseless Mechanicum – totally up to you. Feel no pain and slow and purposeful might be a little hard to model effectively, but one idea would be to combine Skitarii or even Necron  components with another kit – if you’re thinking loyalist or vaguely human that could be Imperial Guard, or if you’re all in on the Warmaster try Plaguebearers for tech-zombies and to create the Gellerpox Infected look en masse without buying 40 kill teams per troops choice.

Gellerpox Infected: Gellerpox Mutant
Gellerpox Infected: Gellerpox Mutant
Credit: Pendulin


Remember the Salvar Chem-Dogs? Turns out their ancestors are here – stimm-using, drug addicted infantry with a fair immunity to falling back and the potential for frenzon injectors giving them furious charge. There’s a lot of options you could go for here – Goliaths again would be pretty great – but a simple recommendation would be rebreather or other closed mask heads on whatever infantry bodies you want to use. Anvil Industries have a massive range of head components, from the bulky Hazmats to extremely creepy Millennium Gas Masks which will easily sell the chem look.

Millennium Biohazard Masks. Credit: Anvil Industries

Survivors of the Dark Age

There are two really exciting bits to this Provenance – Militia in Land Raiders and Rhinos (Guard raiders are BACK!) – and double-pistol equipped jump pack squads. Elysian drop troops – who would have been perfect – are long off sale. You could go absolutely all-in on those jumppacks by using Van Saar Grav-Cutters for a truly high-tech look with lots of pistols, or slightly less insane with Orlock Wreckers who have perfect backpacks. Anvil Industries have another good choice for backpacks, but again this is another provenance where I think you want to consider what else you’re taking. Combining it with Cyber-Augmetics opens up what I think is the best looking option – Pteraxii Skystalkers

Pteraxii Sterylizor
Pteraxii Sterylizor. Credit: Pendulin

Or, if you combine it with Kinfolk Helots, go fantasy with the Kharadron Endrinriggers to give you Squats attached to Bronze Balloons, a sentence I am very glad to be typing.

Armoury of Old Night

This provenance gives you access to Volkite Chargers and Assault Needlers on your Grenadiers and Command Cadres. The kit recommendation is pretty easy – the Volkites from the Special Weapons Upgrade set (a lot of marine players have the Volkites hanging around – which we’ve acknowledged might be a bit of a missed opportunity). Assault needlers are a little trickier – the Escher Upgrade Sprue contains a few, and gives you a good template for converting up more.

Escher Upgrade Sprue. Credit: Games Workshop

Feral Warriors

Feral Warriors gives all your eligible infantry an improved weapon skill on the charge, and opens up Chainaxes for a lot of your infantry units giving you the option to have an extremely brittle but surprisingly hard-hitting infantry horde.

Chaos Marauders might be a good shout for your infantry base – they certainly have a feral look to them! They’re a fairly ancient kit, but with a very flexible multipart base, they’ll mix in well with many other kits. Warcry warbands give you more modern sculpts, and usually come with a variety of hideous weaponry that will really sell the combat look.

Rotmire Creed. Credit: Fowler.

Human-scaled chainaxes are harder to find, but luckily the Corpse Grinder Cult Gang contains not only loads of appropriately terrifying looking axes, but also loads of other bits and bodies that would work well for Feral Warriors.

Kinfolk Helots

Squats are well and truly back, ten thousand years before their reemergence as the Votann. If you’re thinking of running Kinfolk with the Votann kits you may quickly run into the problem that highly armoured and heavily armed troops aren’t all that common in the militia list – unless you’re also running Warrior Elite. Even then, the more industrial and slightly lower tech Ironhead Squat Prospectors might be the best way to go.

Ironhead Squat Prospectors. Credit: Fowler

If you’re planning on lighter arms and armour, Rogue Trader style Squats or simply Space Dwarves in a Horde, I’d recommend the Einherjar kit from Wargames Atlantic – another high quality high volume Scifi infantry kit that will work very well for Militia units and gives you a choice of Saxon inspired helms or Beard-and-Goggles 1980s styling.

Einherjar Infantry, Credit: Wargames Atlantic

Abhuman Muster

Who can even begin to comprehend the variety of human and abhuman subspecies pressed into the apocalyptic war of the Heresy? Abhumans opens up a huge range of modelling options for you, which, depending on exactly how abhuman you want to be, could be as simple as headswaps or footswaps or using full bodies, mutated weirdness or arming literal monsters. The rules for Abhumans points you in a big and bulky direction, but don’t let that limit your actual freak flag flying.

Ungors – Credit: RichyP

The most obvious recommend is to use Age of Sigmar Beastmen, possibly just the Gors and Ungors, both kits crying out for some lasguns in sufficiently hairy arms (try an ancient set of Catachan spares and some green stuff), but chaos centaur cavalry sounds (and would look) completely awesome too. There’s a very simple conversion that’s a human body with a beastman head, but let me introduce something else: Lizardmen.

Abhuman troops with Saurus or Skink tails, heads and feet on Historical or Imperial Guard bodies, upcoming mounted options for your cavalry, big monster options converted up to represent Ogryns or even Leman Russes? The possibilities are endless, and the future is lizard-shaped.

Debased Rabble

Finally, you can back up a dump truck full of Chaos Cultists to the table, push them out and say “that’s my army”. Debased Rabble are the warp-touched, maddened crazies that the later stages of the Heresy drowned the loyalist defenders in – done exceptionally well in Echoes of Eternity and the End and the Death.

Word Bearers Chaos Cultists – Credit: RichyP

The obvious go to is Chaos Cultists, a really nice modern kit that works ideally for this one, and mixing it in with any of the fantastic Warcry kits will let you add a little theming around one or more of the Chaos Gods.

Spire Tyrants. Credit: Fowler

Tainted Flesh

Taking the debased rabble even further into hideous mutant territory, there’s a huge range of models that might fit right in with this provenance. The entire Warcry range might feature, or mixing in Chaos Demon pieces into a more human looking kit. As you’re going very, very big on Levy here though, the recommendation really has to be Poxwalkers and Games Workshop Zombies – if you want many, many zombies for cheaper, try the Mantic Zombie Horde. All three kits are lovely sculpts, though less conversion friendly than you might want. If you want masses of zombies that are a little easier to convert, with flat arm joints you can very easily stick gun-holding arms to, I’d go with Fireforge Games Living Dead Peasants, which are fun to work with and come with a fantastic bird pecking out an eyeball.

Fireforge Living Dead Peasants

Ogryn Conscripts

Of all the Provenances, I like this one the most – unleashing the biggest, largest lads of the Imperium on traitor marines to lay about them with club and ripper gun just pleases me in a way thats hard to explain. Most of the options in the Ogryn unit list entry are found in the Ogryn kit. Sprinkling in some part and weapon diversity with the Necromunda Servitor Ogryns kit is a must (because it’s a fantastic kit).

Love this guy

If you’re wanting a lot of Ogryn (and you do with this provenance), you want to go back to Wargames Atlantic for the Landsknecht Ogres box. Don’t be fooled by the fantasy styling – the box is 9 fantasy renaissance styled Ogres with plenty of options to turn them into Science Fiction Ogres, complete with guns, helmets and grenades and honestly, they just generally rule.

Landsknecht Ogres, built with Scifi options. Credit: Wargames Atlantic

Industrial Stronghold

You definitely don’t need a recommendation here – just go buy a dozen Leman Russ kits and have an absolute blast. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Unending Horde

The provenance when you not only want to flood the board with models, you want to bring them all back on a 4+ when they’re inevitably destroyed. You’re not needing any additional models here, think of it as an insurance policy that your loving kitbashes and conversions get to stick around on the table a little longer!

Hordes of the Strange

Are you building up Cults and Militia lists? Do you have any must-buy kits that have sparked your imagination or are long-term staples in your bits box and kitbash plans? We’d love to see them and hear about your plans as we pour over the miniature games world looking for inspiration. Let us know in the comments below or via contact@goonhammer.com