The December 2023 Horus Heresy FAQs Hot Take

Games Workshop surprised us with the release of a handful of new FAQs for the Horus Heresy this week, making a number of changes to the game. We’re taking a look at those changes, what they mean, and how they impact your games.

We’ve just had a pile of updates for 30k affecting everything from the core rules to individual units. Let’s dive in to see what’s changed and the impact it will have on the game.

Core Rulebook

Reactions are changed to get rid of some silly stuff. There are various things in 30k that can be done instead of firing a weapon. Previously you could do these things as reactions, meaning a battlesmith could repair a nearby tank when returning fire, or an Esoterist could summon a unit of Daemons as part of Overwatch. Nobody really did this but it was silly that you could, and now you can’t.

There are some other changes that are tightening up quite minor issues. Zooming flyers that get stunned move straight forwards. Independent Characters can now join units that can infiltrate if they decide to set up in your deployment zone, for example. Shock pulse now explicitly affects just the next time a unit fires.

There’s now a whole section on exactly what you can and can’t do when you arrive from reserves, covering things like when interceptor reactions occur and whether you can assault – which you basically cannot unless you were in a Kharibdys… and I think also Terminators disembarking from a Caestus. This area of the rules has been genuinely unclear so it’s good to have it clarified, even if it feels odd you can’t assault out of a Land Raider that outflanks. It’s pretty odd that a Land Raider can outflank at all, to be fair.

White Scars Land Raider


Liber Astartes

More clarifications here, mainly fixing things you probably never noticed were an issue. Damocles Rhinos are Infantry Transports like normal Rhinos. Deathwing Companions’ Cytheron Pattern Aegis is fixed so now only people engaged with the unit, and not their entire detachment, lose a point of initiative. Unique characters don’t benefit from the Sagyar Mazan Rite. Medusan Immortals get breaching charges.

In the FAQ section we learn that Chaplains only get a “normal” power weapon master-crafted (which continues to be pretty irrelevant as they get full rerolls from Hatred). Characters with Bitter Duty can join any units they like and can potentially have retinues. This is quite impactful because Moritats have Scout and can buy Rad Grenades, bringing useful buffs to units they join.


Liber Hereticus

The same changes to Damocles Rhinos and other generic stuff, as you’d expect. Units of ICs can use Achean Force weapons after all, Zardu Layak can leave his blade slaves (though he has to start with them) and can have a Retinue Squad as well if he wants, which they all join and then can’t leave. SoH Merciless Fighters now does work during disordered charges. You can’t stick a bayonet on a Shrapnel Bolter, or a Banestrike or whatever.


Liber Mechanicum

Armigers have always been really odd because they created a new unit type with zero thought for how that would affect (or not) the many rules in 30k that reference existing unit types. So they were immune to grenades and haywire, for example.

Here they make an attempt to fix this by saying Haywire, Detonation, Armourbane and Battlesmith affect them as if they were Dreadnoughts. Actually they refer to the “Mechanised” Unit Sub-type, whatever that is, but it’s probably fair to assume they mean Armigers.

Seriously though, how hard is it to get this right? All they needed to do in the first place was make Armigers a Dreadnought Sub-type that’s stubborn instead of fearless. Instead they’ve created a bit of a mess here, which they seem unable to tidy up. For now then you can use Melta Bombs on Armigers but not Krak Grenades. Haywire works but Disruption doesn’t.

Imperial Knights - Armiger Helverins
Imperial Knights – Armiger Helverins
Credit: Pendulin

Oh and they clarify that Paragon units can’t make reactions.


Liber Imperium

Quite a few changes for Sisters of Silence, and particularly Knight Vestals. They lose their 2+ saves and go to just 3+ and now instead of all deploying together you can add them to other units from the same Detachment. This prevents some shenanigans in which you could attach a Vestal to a unit of Custodes to grant them Scout. Vestals will now mostly just do their actual job of healing Sisters of Silence, rather than handing out buffs to other units.

Additionally, the Anathema Sub-type is changed so non-anathema units can’t use their LD. This is a necessary fix because Sisters of Silence reduce the LD of units they join, which never used to matter because you could just use the very good LD of the Sister herself.

A couple of unit fixes include removing the option to give Execution Blades to Cyber Caimans (bonus points if you ever realised you could!) and Subjugators now have both the Anathema and Light unit types. 

Meanwhile Solar Auxilia Russes get their turret options re-clarified.


Exemplary Battles of the Age of Darkness

A bit of clarification on Legiones Hereticus, including changing references in wargear from Legiones Astartes to Legiones Hereticus. You can’t use non-Corrupted Rites of War but you can use Inductii.

The Imperialis Militia

The only change is that now if you have the Survivors of the Dark Age Provenance and upgrade your recon squads to be Voidjumpers, they have to have two pistols. I’ve no idea how these guys actually managed to survive the dark age but jumping towards Legionaries while firing laspistols is not a recipe for long life in 30k.


Legacies of The Age of Darkness Legiones Astartes

Actually quite a lot of changes here, some of which are fairly significant. One is a real crowd pleaser.

A bunch of little balance changes here. Attack Bikes finally get their second wound and attack. Tarantulas make a bit more sense now as they run away and can make the Interceptor Advanced Reaction. Indomitus Terminators are only Line if taken in compulsory troop slots when using Pride of the Legion. Thunderbolts, Lightnings and the Land Raider Achilles see points reductions. 

The Caestus is changed quite a bit. It now has a Magna Melta Cannon like Predators get, rather than the Siege melta array from the Mastodon. It has a capacity of 16. It has lost the assault vehicle rule but instead it has “Misericord”, which allows Terminators to charge after disembarking. Unlike Assault vehicle, Misericord has nothing to stop you charging after you come in from reserve, so I’m fairly sure you can – assuming you come on in skimmer mode so the terminators can get out.

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

There are loads of big tanks, which get rules changes that won’t be enough to make anyone use them in Legion armies. The Malcador has a sort of quasi-PotMS now. All the different kinds of Baneblades get points drops and now cost the same as the obviously superior Felblade variants. The Macharius Omega is sort of interesting at its lower price.

There a few changes to Legion-specific units, mostly limited to points and saying that various unique characters count as things like Siege Breakers or Chaplains to satisfy Rites of War. Rylanor gets a hefty price drop and WS6, which is a substantial buff.

Fulmentarus Terminators are judged to have sinned most grievously and the wrath of the holy nerf bat has befallen them. Praise be! Alpha Legion players throughout the land can be seen wailing and gnashing their teeth, to the great amusement and satisfaction of everyone else – except for Ultramarines players I guess. Some may argue that it’s a bit harsh to take their power weapons away as well as crippling their ranged output but if any unit deserved this kind of devastating over-correction it was Fulmentarus. 

Alpha Legion Fulmentarus Terminators courtesy of the Rewards of Treachery. Credit: Lupe.

Legacies of the Age of Darkness: Solar Auxilia

All the plastic Baneblade variants see significant points drops. Now they are merely bad and not ludicrously overpriced and bad. There’s still definitely no reason to use them but you now won’t auto-lose by doing so. The Praetor launcher still doesn’t launch real Praetors, but at least it’s cheaper now and makes a slightly bigger bang.


Final Thoughts

There’s a ton here, and it goes well beyond what’s necessary for an FAQ & Errata doc to address some long-standing balance issues with the game. There are still some things we’d like to see addressed, but there’s a lot to like here and a number of things which close some of the game’s dumbest loopholes.

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