It would be fair to say there were more than a few parts of the Horus Heresy 2.0 rules that weren’t entirely clear. The community has therefore been waiting with real anticipation for the new edition’s first FAQ to drop. And here it is.
The Heresy team at Goonhammer contains a number of Grognards with responsibilities for childcare and work, so we’re sorry this probably only counts as a somewhat tepid take by the time it’s published. Also, it honestly took us a little while to get our heads around exactly what all these changes mean. We think we’ve managed it.
There are several documents so we’re going through them in turn.
Age of Darkness Rulebook
Shooting reactions have changed a lot, and mostly to work more straightforwardly, but also (even) more powerfully. It’s very different because you now react before the firer shoots, not simultaneously.
There are some big implications of that. It’s much easier to resolve Evade (and it now works on vehicles! Hurray!), but if you Return Fire you now resolve it before the firing unit shoots (the reaction comes before any hit rolls are made – so just before step 4 for the resolution process).
This is huge because models killed by Return Fire will be removed and probably are unable to shoot (the number of d6s you roll seem to be counted in Step 4 so models that have been removed presumably can’t fire). That makes firing at a target with a vehicle extremely dicey – one lucky lascannon in response and your vehicle doesn’t get to fire (and is dead). You could also potentially pin a whole unit before they shoot you, forcing them to shoot with Snap Shots. Tactical marines won’t want to shoot at each other because they’ll take a fury of the Legion reaction and no infantry will want to shoot at them.
This also means you can return fire to shoot a telepathy librarian before he pins you because he hasn’t rolled to hit yet. He can do his start of phase thing to stop you reacting but he can only prevent one unit returning fire, not two. On the other hand if you shoot at him in your shooting phase he’s likely to react and pin you first.
There are also some quality of life changes to Overwatch meaning that you can only use it against the unit that triggered the reaction – pretty much how everyone was using it anyway, but it’s explicit now.
You can also now withdraw or advance and embark into a transport. That feels like a major improvement to transports as units will be able to unload at short range (after hopefully not dying to reaction fire) and then embark again if nearby enemies move – which they’re pretty likely to want to do.
There have been some changes to the fearless and shrouding rules that honestly confused us a lot at first. Shrouding has been rewritten and now, somewhat bizarrely, fearless models can’t benefit from it. Corax is too brave to use his 4+ shrouding rule! However, at the same time they have removed the rule saying that units containing fearless models aren’t allowed to make reactions that grant damage mitigation rolls.
The key thing here is that models that a fearless model doesn’t grant the fearless rule to others in its unit (instead, units are immune to morale and pinning if there’s one fearless model). This means that a unit containing Corax could in theory evade or do the Raven Guard advanced reaction and all the non-fearless models could benefit from shrouding. Likewise a herald doesn’t stop his unit from evading, though the guy holding the big flag would still be easy to shoot (which kind of makes sense).
Or at least that’s how we think it works – they sometimes refer to a “fearless unit” without defining what that is.
This is also good news for Death Guard, whose fearless units previously couldn’t use their advanced reaction to gain a 4+++. Now they can and, unlike poor Corax, Mortarion can benefit because fearless models are allowed to feel no pain.
Most of the rest of this is just cleaning up of various loose ends: demons have a defined amount of Fear; fortifications can now contain models, which is nice; ramming has been tweaked to make sense; and so on.
Though most of these changes are good there are some bad omissions. Armigers still aren’t vulnerable to krak grenades, etc that Automata and Dreadnoughts are, which is pretty damn silly. The change to Return Fire is a little wonky. Otherwise it generally makes things clearer.
Nothing too strange in the Errata but some fixes, as follows:
The Kharbydis can indeed deep strike. That was always a pretty obvious omission, but they don’t gain the fancy drop pod doors, so you still can’t actually use it like a drop pod outside of a Drop Pod Assault list. Likewise the Thunderhawk’s heavy bolters are twin-linked.
The Armoured Spearhead Rite of War has been fixed so that any infantry whose transports get blown up in turn one don’t themselves spontaneously die, which is nice.
The Primus Medicae can have a needle pistol and we get rules for it. It’s kind of fun. Vox disruption arrays can now be turned on and off, but for whole game turns. A couple of other rules have been tightened up but not changed.
The FAQ section clarifies that Fury of the Legion can be used for reactions, and that it generates 3 shots for each bolter at short range. This is pretty much what we expected (and what we said would be the case in our Ruleshammer FAQ). Nothing very shocking to be found in the rest of this section.
Not everything we hoped for is in here. Some obscure stuff like the Talons of the Legion rule are unchanged, so Xiphons still uselessly snap fire when they intercept enemy aircraft. Could that be intended? Perhaps, but there are also silly omissions – there’s no clarification on if the +1 attack for Contemptors in their entry is a reminder or not, for example, so once again we’re in silly town where maybe a Contemptor with two fists has 6 attacks on the charge. That’s not a town we wanted to live in, people, it’s very silly.
The Liber Hereticus gets the same quality of life changes for shared units a Liber Astartes, but there’s a few extra bits in here because of course Traitors have to be Complicated.
The consul choices granted by the Legion special rules are confirmed to be consuls and honestly was anyone arguing they weren’t?
Thousand Sons get a nice little boost, as their ICs, techmarines and apothecaries can now join units with different Proserpine Arcana, making it a little more flexible than it could have been. It also means you have a way of effectively gaining the benefits of two of the Arcana, which is nice.
Rejoice Word Bearers: Zardu Layak can leave his Blade Slaves (though he has to start play with them).
Despair Alpha Legion: When you include Rewards of Treachery units as part of the Coils of the Hydra Rite of War you have to select the same unit up to three times. This is, frankly, absolutely stupid and makes this Rite considerably worse than the more obvious interpretation (up to three different units from the same Legion).
Honestly considering how many issues people felt there were with this liber, there are surprisingly few fixes. Make of that what you will (the book was not as bad as many people made out).
It’s mostly tweaks and wording changes and typo fixes and so on. Scoria has had a bit of an overhaul, and is now a Character. They’ve also fixed Battlesmith for Reductor, which is nice, and there are little quality of life fixes like Warlord Battle Titans being able to see at night.
The Warhound Turbo Laser gets a substantial buff, gaining S12, AP2 and ignores cover. It’s now strictly better than a Reaver’s laser blaster. There are a few other tweaks to weapon statlines, mostly just to make sure everything is in parallel between libers.
Legacies of the Age of Darkness: Legiones Astartes
Only a handful of changes in the legacies document, but some of them are much appreciated.
The only real addition is the Palatine Blade Aquilae Squad, which are jump pack Palatine Blades. This will be a welcome addition for Emperors Children players, and they’re suitably scary if not cheap.
Indomitus Terminators just became the mainstay of a Pride of the Legion list – they lose Support Squad and gain Line when in such a force, which is bonkers. Welcome to the horrorshow that is 6 scoring terminator units as troops. Another change to what can be included with Rites of War are Reaver Aggressor Squads, that can now be Troops and Line in The Black Reaving.
Apart from this it’s all minor fixes and additions. Tarantulas still can’t shoot at anything except the closest unit so they’re still mostly as useless, but at least they can fire both of their guns when they do waste their shooting. We now know what the weapons included in this document do! Battlecannons have rules (they’re fine) which is a blessing for the two legion players running a Malcador. Skystrike missiles get stats too, but they’re worse than hellstrikes and locked to skyfire so they needn’t have bothered. They’ve helpfully referred us to Liber Imperium for the special rules we were missing which is nice, although the book isn’t actually out yet so results vary.
All in all mostly minor, though the change to Indomitus Terminators is just asking for trouble.
Legacies of the Age of Darkness: Mechanicum
It’s finally here! It’s very short!
Anyone hoping for Skitarii or Big Knights are out of luck, sadly. This is a really really short Legacies document, with just eight units in it, and three of them are ones already available to the Legions. It’s so short they don’t even bother giving it a contents page.
Inar Satarael is your go to if you wanted an HQ choice that floats about the place, and is certainly very tough but beyond that not thrilling. The Adsecularis Tech-Thrall Certus Covenant conveniently lets you actually use the Mitra-lock thrall models that Forgeworld still sells, so that’s generous of them.
The other obvious an bizarre absence from the Liber is here in the form of the Termite Assault Drill, but it being relegated to the Legacies document means that it’s taking up your Fast Attack slots and there’s nothing here to stop that sucking.
The Mechanicum also get the terrible Tarantula Sentry Gun, lucky them, but hilariously it’s not even got the partial fix the Legions did and so it can fire one of its two Heavy Bolters only at the nearest unit.
The Mechanicum do also get the Landraider Phobos, which is potentially actually a good addition, and they can even put some wacky Mechanicum weapons on it. Probably one of the best additions in the document.
The Macrocarid Explorator and the Ordo Reductor Artillery Tank Battery are both here which is a welcome inclusion for those folks who have a bunch of them hanging around in their collections. Both are expensive for what they are, but you sure can pack a lot of thralls into the Explorator. If this is good use for the unit or not is up for debate, but it’s certainly very funny.
Finally we have the Ordo Reductor Minotaur Battery that is distinct from the Artillery Tanks because it’s… backward? It’s as bad as the Legion one.
All in all this is a bitter disappointment. It’s good to see some staples back in the fold for Mechanicum, but the lack of some of the obvious inclusions is pretty harsh. Do you not want to sell big knights GW? Do you not want money?
Lupe: This fixes the majority of the immediate issues with the books, but leaves a few things by the wayside and isn’t in any way intended to be a balance fix. Despite this it has shifted game balance considerably in a couple of places. Pride of the Legion is now going to be monstrous, and the changes to Reaction Fire make it a very very nasty proposition. It was already very good and this makes it even better, perhaps unintentionally. We also have the Legacies document for the Mechanicum, and that’s pretty rough reading – very light, and not going to make many players happy.
NotThatHenryC: I can’t say I’m super-impressed by this FAQ. It feels rushed and, while it fixes some simple omissions, it creates new problems of its own. The return fire reaction is now so powerful that it could create a sort of Mexican stand off situation, where whoever opens fire in their own shooting phase will take a lot more damage than whoever reacts and shoots them first. Imagine moving a tactical squad forward and firing at an enemy tactical squad, which will shoot first and have fury of the legion. Your best option would be to do nothing and see if they dare to fire at you in their turn. Also, they should have given a non-zero amount of thought to the effect of creating Armigers as a new unit type in the first place (nothing that’s keyed to specific unit types affects them). It’s silly they haven’t fixed that, or Xiphons, Contemptors and so on. Still, it’s a 1.0 document so, see you next time I guess.