Horus Heresy Hot Take: Legacy and Exemplary Unit PDFs

The initial release of Horus Heresy 2 had some much-loved units missing from the already chunky Liber books, generally because there isn’t a specific model currently being produced for them. Some of the most notable were the good old castaferrum (box) dreadnought, various baneblade variants that the legions can take, and special characters that never got a specific model. With this week’s release of two PDFs, GW has brought back rules for all these units, as well as the Exemplary Battle units being released towards the end of first edition.

Legacies of the Age of Darkness

Imperial Fists Caestus Assault Ram
Imperial Fists Caestus Assault Ram. Credit: Jack Hunter

This big PDF (over 100 pages) covers all the previously missing units that can be taken by one of the Legions (except the ones needed for the Brethren of Iron rite of war). There are 31 different generic units that can be used by any legion, mostly different inducted Imperial Guard vehicles, but also a handful of no-longer-produced Marine kits, and the nullificators that were added in Malevolence. There are 38 characters, units, and vehicles that can be taken by specific legions, and a couple fortifications (including one from 10,000 years in the future, the Hammerfall Bunker).

Overall these feel like they were a bit of an afterthought produced in a rush after the main rulebooks. Compared to first edition they’re often missing a bit of flavor, and at first glance mostly seem balanced to be a little worse than the core units. Here are a couple of my favorite highlights:

Legion Warmonger Consul

The warmonger returns from Malevolence as a way to add deep strike to any unit, and does it in a somewhat risky way. Only usable by a centurion on foot (in artificer armor or either variety of terminator armor), the warmonger and any unit he’s attached to are required to deep strike, and on arrival each model has a 1/6 chance of taking a wound only savable with an invulnerable save. They’re also required to declare charges if there’s a valid target, so are particularly high risk. Don’t leave them as your only assault unit unless you really like eating overwatch.

Casta Ferrum Dreadnought Talons

Imperial Fists Venerable Dreadnought
Imperial Fists Venerable Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

The box dread is remarkably similar to the contemptor in function, though slower and weaker. It’s got a fairly wide range of weapon options, though strangely is missing the ability to take an assault cannon, which baffles me given its presence in the plastic kit and how it features in the most iconic image of a boxdread (the Dawn of War 1 intro cinematic). Another significant difference compared to the contemptor is only being initiative 2. At T6 it’s much more vulnerable to higher initiative attacks, so getting stuck into melee isn’t a great place for a box to be. As it’s BS5 I’d stick to running it as a gun platform where you can have a comparable amount of firepower to a contemptor for 50 points less.

Indomitus Terminators

Night Lords Terminators – Credit: RichyP

A half-way point between tartaros and cataphractii, indomitus terminators combine the worst of both worlds. They’re a 6″ move like cataphractii, with a 5+ invulnerable save like tartaros. In exchange, they end up a bit cheaper than either, as their power fists are free. Their weapon options expand out beyond just what you can take in the plastic boxes, with the ability to take a storm shield with any of power fist / chain fist / thunder hammer, or bring a gun and thunder hammer. Regardless of the weapon options, their biggest difference to other terminators is that they’re non-compulsory troops. While they aren’t Line, this still keeps your valuable elite slots open for other units while allowing you to take terminators (though do note that Pride of the Legion won’t give them Line).

Exemplary Battles of the Age of Darkness

Contrary to the expanded units in the other PDF, these do seem to have been fully fleshed out with plenty of special rules (possibly because they were originally designed for Age of Darkness and back-converted to be released in first edition). Including the exemplary battle released earlier this week, 11 legions currently have exemplary units.

While I’m not going to get into writing about all these units in this Hot Take, they all stand out to me as being fun choices that are thematic to their armies, though I’d say that the Emperor’s Children Sun Killers seem extremely terrifying at BS5 ignoring cover saves and wound re-rolls if you took a super heavy.