The Horus Heresy: Dominion Zephon, the Bringer of Sorrow

The Black Library celebration is upon is, and it brings with it two of the Siege of Terra’s great heroes. Alongside a brand new model, Dominion Zephon dives into action for the Loyal IXth Legion.

Dominion Zephon. Credit: Rockfish
Dominion Zephon. Credit: Rockfish

Who is he? 

The Bringer of Sorrow, Dominion Zephon was a highly ranked Blood Angel of the First Host, dedicated to bringing about ultimate destruction to the enemy in ways so terrible they made the Great Angel weep. Crippled by an alien blade during the Great Crusade, a quirk of his biology meaning his replacement bionics refused to take. Unable to fight and protect his brothers, he was given the dubious honour of becoming part of the Crusade Host, a ceremonial guard of Astartes from each Legion. Repaired by one of Techno-archaeologist Arkhan Land’s more unethical experiments, he fought in the War Within the Webway as a canary in the coal mine for daemonic possession, before serving his Legion during the Siege of Terra.

Where can I read about him? 

Dominion plays a starring role in Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Master of Mankind and the short story Bringer of Sorrow. He returns to the field in Saturnine by Dan Abnett.

Blood Angels Angels Tears
Blood Angels Angels Tears. Credit: Jack Hunter

What does he do in-game?

The Exarch of the High Host starts with a Praetor’s stat line and costs 185 points, 85 more than a base Praetor. For that, he gets the Spiritum Sanguis sword, an Iron Halo, his pistols Lament and Grief, melta bombs, a jump pack, and rad grenades, representing his work as a former Destroyer. He brings with him Furious Charge, Stubborn and Gunslinger as generic special rules, with Paragon of Restoration his unique trick and Exarch of the High Host as his unique Warlord Trait.

Starting with the rule that will affect army construction, Exarch of the High Host allows Zephon to take a Legion Destroyer Squad as a Retinue Squad he may not leave, with the Destroyers themselves gaining the Chosen Warrior rule, meaning they can issue and accept challenges as if they were characters. That’s… it. Fluffy, but given the strength of the other Warlord Traits available, even if randomly assigned, and I’m not super wowed by it. If this option is chosen, Dominion can’t leave the unit, and if it isn’t, he can’t join another unit, locking you in to some pretty strict list building conditions if you’re taking him. However, if Dominion Zephon is not your Warlord, and thus doesn’t have a Warlord Trait, he can join and leave any unit he damn well pleases, which is an odd situation. I’d probably take advantage of it, partly to avoid being locked in like this and partly because it feels more fluffy to me to have him operate outside of the command structure, being the perfect warrior he was bred to be.

As the Paragon of Restoration, Dominion has a 5+ Feel No Pain save, and upon suffering his last wound can roll a 4+ to remain in play. This is… good, but not interesting. With a 2+ save, a 4+ invulnerable save and a 5+ Feel No Pain, he’s a tanky boy, but in general threats to Praetor characters come from Instant Death, which he is very much not immune to. I would have preferred to see something enhance the Angels around him.

Jumping to his pistols, Lament and Grief, we get a pair of volkite serpenta pistols with the Blind special rule. A unit or model hit (but not wounded) with a Blind weapon must take an initiative test or reduce their Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill to 1 until the end of their next turn. Yes, most marines only fail their Initiative test on a 5 or a 6, but think of it this way: you have a one in three chance to cripple your opponent every time you fire these, and really sets you up for the combat phase with…

The Spiritum Sanguis! Given this and Fafnir’s rules, it looks a little like we’re moving away from the default option of a Paragon Blade for something a little more interesting. In this case, we’ve got a Strength +1, AP2, Master-crafted two handed sword with Sweeping Strike, granting Dominion +1 attack if he’s in contact with more than one model when he fights. This, friends, is what we refer to as “overkill”. Imagine this good man versus another Astartes – he’s Strength 5, reduces his opponent’s Toughness by 1 with his rad grenades, and, given the Encarmine Fury special rule from being a Blood Angel, he gains +1 to Wound, meaning he’s wounding on a 2+ against almost everything you’ll see in the 31st millennium, and he’s brutal.

Ending on a bit of a weird note, Gunslinger is a special rule that means that models with two pistols can fire both in the shooting phase. All models with two pistols have it by default (it’s actually part of the Pistol Weapons rules), so I’m not sure why it’s included in his special rules, especially since Lament and Grief count as a single weapon…

Blood Angels Primarch Sanguinius
Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels. Credit: Jack Hunter

What happens to him? 

While the Exile hasn’t appeared in print since Saturnine, I have a sneaking, Mechanicum inspired suspicion that we haven’t seen the last of him.

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

The Horus Heresy continues to ramp up, with two great loyalist character models being just the tip of the spear. If you’re looking to strike down the False Emperor or defend the last scraps of true humanity, you can check out the rest of our Horus Heresy content here!

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