The Goonhammer Hot Take: Exemplary Battles Visions in the Flames

Games Workshop have just released their latest Exemplary Battles document for Horus Heresy, this time covering units from the Alpha Legion and the Salamanders. The Battle of Nyrcon City: Visions in the Flames provides some background material for the clash on Beta-Garmon II which involves a number of legions but focuses in on XVIIIth and XXth as they battle for Nycron.

The fluff is worth a read over if you’re a big fan of the Salamanders in particular – they don’t get much love and it’s nice to see some additional world building for the faction. There’s a lot less about the Alpha Legion, but the overall sweep is engaging. But let’s jump to looking at the units themselves, because both of them actually have a lot going for them, and they’re both likely to feature in armies of their respective legions more than some of the other Exemplary Legion units might.

Alpha Legion Effrit Disruption Cadre

Alpha Legion Effrit Disruption Cadre. Credit: Games Workshop

This Elite slot choice is an effective recon and infiltration unit designed to perform backfield tasks to disrupt enemy units and kill vulnerable targets. The stat line actually reflects this, with BS5 2 wounds and 2 attacks base, and a veteran leadership of 9 for the Principal (sergeant equivalent). This makes them tougher than Headhunters but more shooting focused than Veterans, and is a genuinely interesting distinction from other available units. They also get the Infiltrate and Scout special rules, making them a good vehicle for fast advances and shock tactics, as they can get into place easily. They come with five models base, but can be expanded to ten at a discount per model.

In terms of equipment they come standard with Banestrike Shotguns (nasty Shred and Breaching (6+) shotguns which are a distinct improvement over the base model), bolt pistols, krak and frag grenades and shroud bombs. Shroud bombs are always a fantastic addition to an Alpha Legion unit as the range shift stacks, and on an elite unit like this it’s great. Bolt pistols are actually very important because you can give the entire unit Power Daggers for a fixed cost of 25 points, which means they get the bonus for two weapons in combat.

Power Daggers aren’t the only option available either – you can buy meltabombs for the whole unit at 5 points a model. This makes both a minimum size unit (for vehicle hunting) and a large one (for unit hunting) viable and interesting. The reason I say a large unit is with ten models you’re hitting at 4 attacks on the charge with power daggers, and they’re Breaching (5+) and Sudden Strike, so you’re knifing a lot of guys to death before they have a chance to do anything about it.

You can also switch out the shotguns for Nemesis Bolters, and this is actually another decent option: the draw of shroud bombs and two wounds and BS5 is strong on snipers. You cannot take artificer armour on anyone, so they’re stuck at a 3+ save, but they are skirmish so you get the better cover saves. Hard to dislike this.

The last little twist to them is the Hydra’s Wail Disruption Array. This is a ranged weapon all models get which is Assault 1 with a 12″ range like the shotguns, and which on a hit inflicts a -1 Leadership penalty and switches off voxes and augury scanners for a turn. This is actually pretty nasty, especially during night fighting. You probably want a couple of models to ping this into the target just to make sure it goes off, but the penalty can’t stack from multiple wails so there’s no need to do more than that.

All in all a great unit that can be deployed in a bunch of ways: as a vehicle hunting force, as a larger backline unit hunting squad, or as elite snipers with a lot of the benefits of the best units for that job.

Salamanders Adherents Squad

Salamanders Adherents Squad. Credit: Games Workshop

A surprisingly elite Troops choice, the Adherents are kind of like a tactical support squad tuned up to 11 and razor focused on the Salamander’s iconic flamers. With 2 wounds and 2 attacks a piece, plus a better leadership than normal Troops choices, these are a tough bunch. You pay for it, with the unit clocking in at 140 points for five models base, but when you realise each model comes with a dragon’s breath combi-flamer making them equivalent to a tactical support squad you realise they’re not at much of a premium at all. Especially when each model gets a chainsword for free!

There’s a limited selection for loadouts, basically letting you bulk out the unit to 10, swap one combi-flamer for a heavy flamer in every five and then upgrade your sergeant (artificer armour, some weapon options and meltabombs are all available). But this limited selection is honestly all you need.

This would be a rock solid Troops choice even if it weren’t for best part: Guided by Prophecy. This ability lets you roll a Leadership test at Ld7 at the start of any Assault Phase and if you pass you get a Feel No Pain (6+) and improve their Weapon Skill to 5 for that assault phase. This goes off a little better than half the time, and there’s no downside to using it at all. It makes them a little unpredictable, but god damn are they going to be brutal when they get it off.

If this squad was not a Support Squad you would be filling your Troops slots with them. You almost certainly want to swap any Flamer Tactical Support Squads you have in your list for them right away. They’re as effective in shooting, better in stats, and much scarier in combat, and on top of that they can bring a Land Raider or a Rhino as a dedicated transport so you can play them in either role. What a fantastic unit.


The Exemplary Battles units are often a mixed bag. Some of them are very good, but mostly they’re units that are fluffy and interesting but not ones you’re likely to actually take in your army. However this time round they’ve hit it out of the park – both units are great and while not overpowered are very likely to see play.

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