The Goonhammer Roundtable: Horus Heresy Reveals From Warhammer Fest 2023

After a, shall we say, somewhat less than generous preview from Adepticon, the Forges of Mars have clearly been running red hot in order to get us this deluge of Horus Heresy content from Warhammer Fest 2023. Read on to find out the thoughts of our resident Praetors, Magos, and poor deluded mortals.

Today’s Roundtable:

  • Magos Sockbert
  • Lenoon
  • Lupe
  • NotThatHenryC

Plastic Cerastus Knight Lancers

Plastic Knight Lancer Warhammer Fest
Plastic Cerastus Knight Lancer, which would be cooler if it was an Atrapos. Credit: Games Workshop

Lenoon: An interesting one, this. Did we need a Knight Lancer? Probably not. Do I want one? Absolutely. It looks like a fairly solid adaptation of the Forge World Lancer, and I’m hoping that it heralds a plastic version of the Acheron and Castigator. Having a (nearly) full Knight range in plastic is excellent and I’m sure the Lancer will get picked up in massive numbers for 40k fans, 30k fans and people that are just wanting a new big centrepiece kit.

But the issue is – and the question I’d really like to find an answer to – is why. This is a massive kit and a huge release, but why this, why now and why ahead of really fundamental, basic kits?

Magos Sockbert: Because I need to buy three of them, Lenoon, that’s why.

Lupe: It’s definitely surprising, but from the perspective of production costs and potential sales I do get it. Knights are popular in both games, the Cerastus masters for resin production must be coming up on ten years old now and presumably need a decent amount of work, and so there’s a crunch point where you go “should we just redo the masters to modern standards, or should we make a plastic kit?”. Especially if, as seems very likely, we get the other variants soon enough, that’s a lot of tooling (steel molds for plastic sprues) you can reuse between them and a decent player base you can rely on buying them.

More fundamental, “basic”, kits are going to be things that have, actually, a much more niche market and also probably be a lot less efficient to produce.

Lenoon: That is very helpful, thanks Lupe.

NotThatHenryC: I’m a bit torn on this one. I get why they’re making this but I think it highlights the several issues with the Knights army list for me. That said it’s a great model and will hopefully promote the game. Everyone has access to them as well, which is nice. On the other hand, you’ll be able to get a plastic Lancer before you can get a plastic Space Marine with a chainsword for Heresy, and that’s just utterly bizarre to me.

Annoyingly, I want one. I’m actually quite tempted by the idea of a Chaos Knight army, which is really stupid as I’ve already got a Taranis one. But I much prefer the chaos Armigers. I will try to be strong and keep my wallet closed.

Lupe: “Annoyingly, I want one” is why they’re making it, I think.

NotThatHenryC: Ok now I’m definitely not buying one.

Evander Garrius and Vheren Ashuraddon, Commanders of the Siege of Cthonia

Evander Garrius 30k Imperial Fist Warhammer Fest
Evander Garrius, chosen here because Fists are cooler than Sons of Horus. Die mad. Credit: Games Workshop

Magos Sockbert: Winning the award for “name acquired by face smashing into a keyboard,” Vheren is a really nice take on the line between “noble Legiones Astartes warrior” and “broken Chaos Space Marine”. There’s never been any issue running CSM as late stage Sons of Horus (or, hell, even early era for many Legions), and this guy would fit in both 30k and 40k. His Fist buddy looks brutal, and somehow nailing that “heavy” look that, honestly, Games Workshop struggled to achieve for years.

There’s been a bunch of, shall we say, less than enthusiastic web denizens about these two Legions getting more content, but c’mon, they’re the poster children for this edition. That’s… honestly the best defense I can give here, and as an Iron Warriors player with zero infantry characters in production, count me as a little peeved as well.

Lupe: I think these guys are fine? I suspect that the reaction would have been more positive if they hadn’t been a tentpole part of this preview, ultimately. From my perspective these guys are cool, but I’m not going to buy them (and this really does highlight one of the ongoing issues with the game, where “ok but this only sells to 1/18th of our player base at best” is a serious concern).

Lenoon: The Imperial Fist guy absolutely slaps, and I agree with the heavy, brutal look where you know the guy is going to be able to build up some serious momentum. It looks to me like you could take off a lot of the fist iconography for it, making it a pretty perfect Terminator Consul or Praetor.

NotThatHenryC: It’s fun how they’ve done the fluff of these guys, sort of inverting the classic themes. The Sons of Horus guy Vheren is the noble one and the Imperial Fist Garrius is brutal and uncompromising. It’s nice to have characters that are individuals and not just typical of their Legion. I love the models too.

New plastic infantry

Warhammer Fest new plastic infantry
Oh boy, model renders! Credit: Games Workshop

Lenoon: It’s very funny to me that we got renders of two assault marines with a near year long lead-in. They look good, just like the general Mark 6 kits look good (they look great – absolutely my favourite GW models at the moment), and they’ll do the job. It is hard to get excited about them, to be honest. We also, finally, have a definitive guide for what Mark 6 jump packs might look like – I will continue to use my mark sevens regardless!

The teased Mark 3-ish guys though, now those I’m excited about. I love my Mark 4s but they’re very obviously differently scaled, so big, huge, chunky mark 3s are very much something to be excited about (but wouldn’t some mark 5s look good?).

Magos Sockbert: The 30k community, including ourselves, hasn’t been quiet about the infinite tanks GW seems to be ramming down our throats and the lack of new plastic infantry to go alongside, and the fact we’re only seeing renders doesn’t get my hopes up. The preview also included an image of what looks to be new MKIII, which, as someone who lives in a country where the damn things are apparently seized at the border and burned, given the dire state of availability, I’m hella on board for an updated and higher production volume kit.

Lupe: The fact that in the stream itself they said they’ll “hopefully” be ready for the end of the year was a bit of a worrying moment. The renders seem fine? It’s good to see evidence that plastic infantry are coming, though it is a little odd that they have chosen to go with these jump pack designs when there’s already a fantastic looking jump pack design in plastic for this armour mark (Dominion Zephon) – why not strip off some of the greebles and use that as a basis for the design?

NotThatHenryC: The key takeaway here for me is that they never considered making our basic troops and are now scrambling to catch up. So we have the resin Despoiler upgrades and they’re working on Assault Marines, with still no sign of Breachers, Recon squads, Destroyers and so on. All of these apart from the Assault Marines could have been done as upgrade sets like the many heavy weapons they made. Instead, people who wanted to play assault armies are out of luck for something like 18 months after the game is released.

This of course creates a great market for anyone with a 3D printer, which is exactly what GW doesn’t want to do. And it’s in the context of them investing large sums in making plastic versions of models we aren’t likely to buy very many of, like the infinite tanks and now the Knight Lancer.

The new armour mark is interesting. I have a MkIII Imperial Fist army from 1.0. My infantry look too short (to me) and my painting has improved since then, so I’d be tempted to redo the army using these, as what the world really needs right now is more Imperial Fists. I wish I trusted them to take the obvious opportunity to make breachers.

The roadmap ahead

Warhammer Fest 30k roadmapd
I believe I can see the future, ’cause I repeat the same routine. Credit: Games Workshop

Lupe: It’s curiously vague. From an outsider’s perspective I suspect it wouldn’t seem materially different to, say, the Warhammer 40k roadmap (other than in terms of the quality of graphic design), but when you actually stop and think about it it’s strangely mysterious. A new plastic dreadnought? Well, there’s pretty much just the one kind left to come over to plastic, so uh… sure buddy. “Armour Mark Update”? Why so vague?

Honestly, it’s so confusing to refuse to give any details. Just tell us the factions involved, at least! I don’t think that they’re cautious because they don’t think it’s good, that’s not the vibe I get, so why? I fear they think it’s exciting to not know what’s happening in the game you spend a lot of time playing and hobbying for.

NotThatHenryC: Call that a deluge? That’s eight plastic releases for the next year or so: the Vindicator, Knight Lancer, “More Lords of War” (I assume the other Cerastus, each with one new sprue), Deredeo, Mk2/3 marines and the assault squad, with the command squad and melee weapons early next year. On top of that is the “Mystery Army Release”, which could actually be a ton of stuff but we’ve got no idea what.

Magos Sockbert: “New Characters and Upgrades” is the kind of wishy-washy, oh-god-we-have-nothing-to-show answer that doesn’t fill me with vast confidence. The last upgrade being resin bits to turn Tacticals into Despoilers killed a lot of faith in the community, more than doubling the cost of a basic infantry squad, but that final spark of hope in me still burns strong, particularly when you look at the plastic releases. Sure, they said that the new Primarch model is someone who changed substantially over the course of the Heresy, but who cares? “Mystery Army Release” is exactly the kind of phrase that gets my credit card screaming.

Lupe: I suspect if they’d said “plastic Mechanicum” you’d be selling all your other possessions in preparation though.

Lenoon: It’s great to have a roadmap, finally, it’s very weird for the roadmap to be very vague, and even weirder that we still have a couple of armies with few to no options – Sisters don’t even have 75% of their stuff in resin, let alone plastic.

I don’t know how much goodwill GW have burned with Heresy – there’s an element of “well they’ve released a lot!” which I totally get, but the Despoiler squad issue and the vagueness of the roadmap doesn’t quite sit right with me.

I enjoy Heresy gaming, but the proliferation of fan and house rules to correct fundamental issues with rules interpretation and balance doesn’t bode well for the long-term health of the game. The big worry for me, the really massive worry, is that there’s no “Balance Pass” on the roadmap.

Lupe: Realistically, I’m not expecting one.

Magos Sockbert: Hell, at this point I’d take an errata that actually fixes things…

That secret teaser…

WHFest Epic teaser
Tiny toy hype generator 30,000. Credit: Games Workshop


Lupe: Look, I make no secret of the fact that I like a little Heresy…

Magos Sockbert: Once I came down to planet Earth after the hype that video generated, two other possible answers came to mind. First, possibly Apocalypse rules? A lot of 30k events run big events (shout out to the Big Blam at NOVA this year, come say hello), and the most recent edition of Apocalypse was incredible, and we still mourn its loss. More depressingly, I’m kind of expecting yet another mobile game to come from this…

Lupe: Heresy-era Epic is the only kind that’s ever made sense to me as a potential future product, so I’m not at all surprised that this is where this tease comes from. I’m pretty damn sure it’s Epic, honestly, I don’t think the other possibilities are anywhere near as likely. They don’t really announce mobile games in streams like this, and Heresy isn’t really the kind of game able to support an apoc ruleset (if 40k couldn’t, then…). Which leaves epic.

Epic Horus Heresy makes a ton of sense. It can be a limited, box-led, release – three or four sprues in the big main starter set that allows you to build the majority of space marine legion stuff; planes and titans brought in from their other specialist games; and then very limited resin releases to support (upgraded to plastics if it sells really well). It’s a simple, appealing, game-in-a-box proposition with comparatively small tooling requirements.

NotThatHenryC: My reaction to this announcement was initially confusion, as I happened to look in the wrong direction and miss it. But after checking the website on my phone, I got genuinely excited. Epic was awesome and I’d love to see the legions fighting at the scale the stories talk about, with updated models and terrain. This will be wonderful, at least as long as they do the rules reasonably well.

I have a couple of Titan Legions ready to greet small-scale marines with a friendly barrage of quake shells, apocalypse missiles and mega bolters. Maybe I’ll even finish building my AT knights and/or paint the Legion aircraft I have from Aeronautica in a box somewhere. Now it finally makes sense that they only made models of the heresy-era planes. I suppose maybe I’ll even get a few little space marines too. Hooray!

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