Unless you’ve been hiding under a proverbial rock, you’ve no doubt heard all the buzz from Warhammerfest on the weekend – be it amazing Golden Demon entries, huge queues or news about upcoming releases.
Instead of re-treading that ground, I’m going to share how I got on with the Horus Heresy events over the weekend. Warhammerfest was spread over three days, with a different event for each day: solos, doubles and a mega battle. As I wanted to have some time to check out the show and hang out with folks, I signed up for the first two events.
Deliberating on a List
I initially planned to zip around the battlefield on jetbikes, using the Chogorian Brotherhood rite of war. Unfortunately, the jetbikes I preordered on the 11th of February are yet to ship. *shakes fist*
Plan B was to run a Pride of the Legion featuring a Storm Eagle full of terminators – as per the wording in the Horus Heresy FAQ, a transport can Deep Strike Assault and units dismount via the Assault Ramp on the turn it arrives. I had seen others do this at several events and wanted to give it a go myself (as it makes it actually playable), but decided not to in the end as I wanted to avoid having to rules lawyer and make my case on the day.
In the end this left me with the rite of war I’ve been using since starting Heresy last year, the Sagyar Mazan. For those who aren’t familiar it is incredibly powerful due to it’s theme – the warriors have committed a sin and need to redeem themselves in battle*. This is represented in game by disallowing reserves, granting Fearless on the turn that you charge, a Feel no Pain and most importantly – all infantry grant no kill points.
As this last point often breaks most of the missions, I tend to only just use it to ignore Slay the Warlord – as otherwise it also impacting Attrition feels like outright abuse given how low scoring games of Horus Heresy are.
*It turns out I subconsciously leaned into the suicide warriors theme via gameplay, but we’ll get into that shortly.
I was happy with the army I took in the end, feeling it could deal with a bit of everything and featured some newly painted models such as Qin Xa with command squad and three Kyzagan assault speeders I did in the nights leading up to the event.
Game One – Onslaught versus Mike’s Word Bearers
I always seem to be paired against Word Bearers and this event would prove no exception. I’m still yet to figure out how to deal with Gal Vorbak – Mike had a big block of ten of them, along with three dreads, 20 tacticals, some tanks and 10 cataphractii – giving me some serious target priority issues.
Mike and I agreed to meet in the middle, with our objectives opposite one another and after a bit of trading, neither of us managed to break through to the other side. In what would be a recurring theme, Qin Xa lead a suicide charge to slay the enemy warlord with precision strikes – getting him down to a single wound before being pasted.
The game ended on a knife’s edge – we both scored the same number of first blood kills and failed to secure the opposing objective. If I remember right I won in the end by a single attrition point. Mike was a great opponent and would start the chain of good games that weren’t taken too seriously over the weekend.
Game Two – Dominion versus Lee’s Word Bearers
Next up was Lee from Heresy Hammer with his Word Bearers. We both deployed rather aggressively due to corners deployment and got ready to rumble. I got seized on, but thanks to Night Fighting not too much happened on the first turn.
This changed pretty quickly and became incredibly bloody in the middle of the battlefield as our units met and traded evenly.
Two memorable moments come to mind
- My Stormseer and his Ebon Keshig used Chasing the Wind to embark into a Spartan to avoid being charged by Dreadnought – the Spartan got immediately destroyed in the following shooting phase, immediately disgorging them. It serves me right for running from a fight.
- Qin Xa charged a lone Contemptor Dread and got it down to a single wound! He managed to survive the return attacks, but failed to finish the job and got pasted in the final turn.
It was one of those great games when each side only has a handful of models left on each side. We ended up tied on Dominion objectives – leaving us both a D3 to roll, my Slay the Warlord to Lee’s Attrition – I managed to snag a win, which by all rights should have been a draw or loss for me.
I’m always a big fan of the doubles format, as it can lessen the mental load while also providing some interesting combinations you wouldn’t see otherwise. Speaking of, I partnered up with Toby’s unique Night Lords. We’ve previously played doubles before and I was glad to do so again as he always brings out the right energy to the table to balance out my dry demeanour.
Toby’s Pride of the Legion leaned heavily into a deepstrike and large footslogging units to take advantage of the Night Lords outnumbering ability. I took a cut down version of my list, running the Sagyar Mazan with some potent threats of a Dreadnought, Qin Xa’s party bus, Telepathy Stormseer and a 5 man Lascanon squad.
Our army got an unintentional buff in the morning, where it was announced that each army would be treated as Sworn Brothers, with only one Warlord and respective trait. Qin Xa’s Master of the Kaghan trait allows you to guarantee a deepstrike roll – worthless when your rite of war forbids you but a godsend if your partner can use it.
Game One – Blood Feud vs Harry’s Word Bearers & Andrew’s Sons of Horus
Our first game was against Harry and Andrew, two great lads who were new to Horus Heresy and had been painting into the small hours of the morning that day. This mission played lengthways and both sides had a significant deepstrike component- Andrew committing 10 Justaerin and Abaddon into Outflank and Harry committing some Ashen Circle.
Thankfully for us, we managed to go first – meaning our Deep Strike Assault would land first and we would suffer less shooting from the Scorpius parked in the back out of range of our anti-tank weapons.
As a result of all the reserves, the second turn was off the hook and incredibly brutal. Toby’s deepstrike initially went wide before rerolling into perfect position and pinning a number of Harry’s squads. An absolute mess took place in the middle of the battlefield as Toby engaged from both sides – I was slightly out of position, holding Qin Xa back and keeping an eye out for their reserves.
The whole game we had been talking about having a first captain showdown, although I suspected I knew this would end poorly for Qin Xa. Not wanting to let everyone down, I charged in and committed the challenge.
Qin Xa would strike first but would be hitting on fives. I rolled well, but not well enough – taking him to a single wound. Abaddon returned the favour, taking me down to a single wound. Sadly I completely fluffed the following turn and got crushed by Abaddon.
We (mostly Toby) managed to secure a convincing win this round – his 10 man terminator and volkite squads putting in some serious work.
Game Two – Carnage vs Aodhan & Nathan’s Emperor’s Children
Toby may have slightly rigged this match up, grudging two players from his club that were attending with their Emperor’s Children. I was grateful as this worked out well, locking in a good game to end the day with.
In this game we went second, so I took a severe beating while waiting for Toby’s deepstrike to turn up. We had another first captain showdown in this game, with Qin Xa facing down Eidolon*. Generally speaking, you want to shoot Emperor’s Children and not face them in melee as they will likely go first and have some powerful wargear and abilities to make you miss.
*SPOILERS in the books, Qin Xa loses this fight and dies from his wounds
For the fourth time this weekend, Qin Xa took his target down to a single wound and got pasted the following turn. At this point I realised I was actually playing the Sagyar Mazan thematically, running my Warlord into critical fights he is unlikely to win. Surely I should get narrative bonus points for this?
Toby convinced Nathan to charge his lone Praetor at his, in order to have an honourable duel on the final turn which wasn’t going to change anything – and then used overwatch to combi-melta him to death. It seemed like a very Night Lords thing to do.
At the end of the battle there may have been four or five units left, going right down to the wire. We managed to squeak out the closest of wins on this game, with Toby’s terminators managing to outrun the last dreadnought on the table to secure the enemy’s deployment zone.
The final day of the campaign featured a mega battle, with duelling warlord titans and hundreds of models on both sides taking part. The Loyalist faction was lead by Ferrus, Valdor, the Lion and Gulliman versus the Traitors lead by Typhon – I feel the Loyalists overcommitted a tad! It looked like everyone had a blast and was an incredible spectacle to observe.
If I was to change one thing about the event for next time it would be to have more staff. Jamie, who was running Heresy, was doing a great job and always had time for any queries but I feel he was a bit run off his feet – we had over a hundred doubles players, which is a crazy number of people to manage by yourself. There were a number of things that were a bit confusing or could have been smoothed over with a little bit more manpower.
All in all, I had a great time gaming at Warhammerfest. I had four good games against six great opponents, all with their own memorable moments. I was very pleased to be nominated for the best painting shortlist for both solos and doubles – which was nice to be put up there amongst some of the nicest armies you’ll come across anywhere.
I’ll be back for the next one, although next time I might be giving 10th edition a go!