Welcome back to Goonhammer’s series for aspiring Praetors. We know that the Horus Heresy system can seem intimidating to players unfamiliar with its particular quirks, but this series aims to equip you with everything you’ll need to play out epic clashes on the battlefields of the far future with your very own army. In this series, we’ll be walking you through how to build your force and command it to glory, including everything from units to tactics to lead your army to victory.
You thought we were doing this in Legion order? Surprise sucka, the Alpha Legion are here. They’ve been here all along. You think that’s your spouse/roommate/coworker/pet in the room with you right now? I’m afraid it’s been an Alpha Legion operative all along. Maybe your cat is, in fact, Alpharius.
The Alpha Legion is certainly full of tricks, but if you’re coming here looking for lots of special skills and abilities to pull out of a bag, then you’re in the wrong place. Indeed, the Alpha Legion are unique for their complex and subtle, but extremely flexible, approach to war. They are crafty and duplicitous, but they don’t apply it in big bold gestures, but in small ways all the time to create a war machine as varied as you want, while benefiting always from their peculiarities.
Legion Special Rules
Lies and Obfuscation
The Alpha Legion trait is, at its heart, very simple, but like many things about this legion the reality of dealing with it is much more complex. Put plainly, all Alpha Legion units are considered to be 2″ further away for the purposes of Shooting Attacks, Charges and any reactions. This is cumulative with any other modifiers and we’ll come onto this a little more in a minute.
At range this is a relatively small change, but with clever play this can be enormously impactful. 2″ is enough to put you just out of range, or just outside of half range and thus escape rapid fire or melta armourbane. Of course this means being acutely aware of exactly how far away all your units are from the enemy at all times, and ensuring that you put them in a position where they can attack but not be attacked back. With practice this can be devastating, allowing you to duck some of the worst consequences of Return Fire.
Charges are where this really shines though, because 2″ is a lot when you’re rolling 2d6. It’s enough to make even the safest-seeming charge a gamble, and beyond about 7 or 8″ you’re suddenly really putting your fate in the hands of lady luck, thanks to that probability curve. Since overwatch happens no matter if you succeed or fail, it has an enormous psychological impact on your opponent when you have an Assault Phase reaction left – is it worth pushing my luck and maybe eating fire in return? Against Alpha Legion the calculus is always a bit further towards “probably not” than for anyone else.
It’s worth saying that though the unit is considered 2″ further away for the purposes of depending charges, that doesn’t mean that the unit charging moves less distance, whether on a surge or on a successful charge. The modifier is to determining the success of the charge, in effect.
It’s also worth remembering that this works against Reactions, so Movement Phase reactions, that require a unit to end their move within 12″ actually need them to end it within 10″ and that’s a surprising amount of extra room to manoeuvre, and lets you put some units (like meltagun support squads) in range without triggering those moves when really they would want to Withdraw if they can.
It does not work, however, with other effects that rely on range, such as Psychic Powers, so be cautious of that.
Finally, remember that this stacks with other sources that do the same thing. Though there are a few sources of this, the big one is Shroud Bombs. Alpha Legion Reconnaissance Squads are effectively 8″ further away for the purposes of shooting, an absolutely staggering distance that turns shooting at them into an exercise in frustration. Of course this only works against shooting (which is probably good, otherwise any World Eaters players would simply refuse to play) but it’s still a tremendous boon and makes Reconnaissance Company armies an Alpha Legion specialty.
The Rewards of Treachery
One of the greatest benefits of the legion is The Rewards of Treachery, which allows you to choose another legion and then select a single unit only available to that legion (that is not unique) and field it as a normal part of your own army, including giving it Legiones Astartes (Alpha Legion) instead of its normal special rule. According to the rules you do not get access to that legion’s special rules (so you can’t give it their armaments if it’s not on the sheet) but you can give your panoply to it, so feel free to a throw a power dagger on a legion specialist terminator for an extra attack if that’s an option.
There are honestly so many possible units to choose from for this and if you’re using this without a Rite of War and so are only including a single unit, you should pick a unit that reinforces your battle plan and helps shore up some of your own weaknesses. You can also pick a unit that gains a special benefit from one of the special rules or warlord traits that the Alpha Legion possess, making them more effective than they would be in their original legion. Here are my five picks for a unit granted by The Rewards of Treachery – they’re not necessary the best one, but they’re fun and interesting and add a dimension to Alpha Legion play not well served by their legion specific units:
- Inner Circle Knights Cenobium: For sheer murder potential these hefty lads courtesy of the Dark Angels are hard to beat. They can be your tip of the spear, able to go toe to toe with even Legion Champions and come out on top.
- Gal Vorbak: Despite being a little held back by the fact you can’t run an Independent Character in with them (thanks to Corrupted) these murder machines are still very much worth considering, especially given that the Alpha Legion have a few neat ways to infiltrate them, getting them up close and personal ready to engage sooner than the enemy might like.
- Angels Tears: Load these guys up with Illastus Assault cannons and you will do a lot of damage. They also benefit a lot from the Alpha Legion legion rule, since they don’t really want to get charged, and they absolutely want to Overwatch if they do.
- Iron Havocs (Expanded): The premier shooty murder unit, these guys fit right in with the Alpha Legion thanks to your Precision Strikes and ability to do some absolutely horrifying damage in ways you wouldn’t expect. BS5 heavy support squad? Don’t mind if I do.
- Fulmentarus Terminators (Expanded): If you don’t know and hate them yet, then I promise you that it’s coming. These terminators are not as broken as some would make out, but are exceptionally good at taking on the things that dominate the edition so far the most (terminators and dreadnoughts), and so because of that they’re enormously valuable.
Advanced Reaction: Smoke and Mirrors
The Alpha Legion Advanced Reaction is Smoke and Mirrors that lets them, in the Shooting Phase, making an unconventional move when the attack is declared and which takes place before the attack is resolved. This makes it an extremely unusual defence against ranged attacks able to save a key unit before it suffers any damage.
You “move” (redeploy) the unit by placing one of its models within 12″ of its starting location then scattering it d6″. The rest of the unit is then placed within coherency as long as there’s space. When that’s done the firing unit carries out the Shooting Attack, if it can, and if it can’t it wastes the shooting.
This can be a game changer but it’s not without risk, and it relies on the move actually being enough to move the reacting unit out of harms way. It’s best if there is line of sight blocking terrain nearby, but putting a unit out of range is also decent. There’s no point using this to get into cover (use Evade instead), but do be aware that this can actually be worthwhile doing even if it doesn’t stop the ranged attack if you’re careful – putting the unit out of charge range of other units is a valid use of this, even if they eat the ranged attack.
A Subtle Panoply
The armoury of the Alpha Legion is made up of three key elements, though none of them are hugely impressive. This is the weakest part of the Alpha Legion – they don’t get much of anything that you’re really picking out as exciting or impressive in terms of wargear. Despite this everything has some use to it, and you can find ways of making the most of these options.
Power Daggers are cheap (5 point) power weapons that can be given to any character and which are fixed to Strength 3, AP3, Sudden Strike (1) and Breaching (5+). This means that you’re going to struggle to wound with them, but you actually might get a chance to hit an enemy before they hit you or, if they are higher initiative, you might get a hit in before they wipe the floor with you. They’re an odd niche weapon, but they can be very effective en masse (sadly only available to Headhunters).
Their real use is as an offhand weapon on models that can’t normally take one – specifically, terminators. One of these on a Lernaean Sergeant is very effective, or on a Terminator HQ choice. As it’s only 5 points it doesn’t matter if you’ll never actually use the weapon itself – you’re paying for the extra attack.
There is one other somewhat niche use for it – on the Contemptor Ancient that leads a Fury of the Ancients list. There’s no restriction on giving them one, so a gun and fist dreadnought with a power dagger strapped to the gun lets them take the extra attack and still have some ranged punch. Is this is a niche and silly use? Yes. Is it Alpha Legion as hell? Also yes.
Banestrike Bolters can’t be given to any Character, just Independent Characters so you’re not likely to see many of them just in squads. You can also give them to Seekers (don’t their guns are better) and Veterans (which is the actually interesting option). Banestrikes have a little less range but higher Strength, and Breaching (6+). They’re a strong upgrade for bolters and 2 points per model makes them a great choice for vets.
Finally we have Venom spheres which are available to Characters, like Power Daggers are, for 10 points, a pretty hefty price when you consider that’s how much you’d pay for a fully fledged power weapon. It’s somewhat disappointing to discover then that they’re an 8″ range one shot weapon with Poison (3+) (we’re assuming here this is meant to be Poisoned and is a typo) and no AP. Even with 6 shots this is a damp squib for 10 points. It’s hard to imagine a situation where this would be really convincingly useful. Maybe against Militia? But then 10 points feels like a hefty price to pay.
The Saboteur is a 15 point consul upgrade, making it one of the cheapest consul upgrades and comes with some really neat special rules and options. They gain Infiltrate and Scout and they can (only) join Seeker and Headhunter squads, but this is actually great, as there’s a really limited number of character options to go with those squads so this is a boon. However you really aren’t going to want to run them in either of these squads most of the time thanks to the False Flag special rule. This rule stops enemy units targeting the Saboteur with ranged attacks until they’ve made a Shooting Attack of it own or successfully Charged. This means you can have your Saboteur wander around in full view of the enemy and as long as you’re far enough away to not be charged you can be pretty secure in your model’s safety.
So what should you do with this sneaky lad? They get melta bombs, breacher charges and shroud bombs for free, and can take a nemesis bolter for just 5 points, so the sniper boltgun is a definite take. You can then decide exactly how you want to run them for what targets you want them to take out. If you’re looking to hit vehicles you could just keep the melta bombs and call it a day, but it seems a waste to not use all of the consul’s attacks and a powerfist will do fine for lighter vehicles (though use the melta bombs for anything heavier). If you want to tackle terminators and so on then a Thunder hammer is probably a good shout, albeit expensive. If you just want him to jump out of the shadows and kill vulnerable units like heavy support squads then twin lightning claws is a way to maximise the number of attacks.
Sons of the Hydra
There are three warlord traits available to the Alpha Legion, one of which is Loyalist only with the other two being available to either allegiance.
The Mobius Configuration is one of the most interesting and fluffy warlord traits available to Alpha Legion players. It allows an allied detachment of another legion to count as Fellow Warriors no matter the normal relationship. The allied detachment is less effective than normal though, unable to use reactions at all. However, your opponent gets no Victory Points for destroying them regardless of the mission used, and the rest of your forces get the first reaction they use for free in the turn (usually a Movement one). On top of this, if the allied detachment is entirely destroyed by the end of the game you (the Alpha Legion player) gets a bonus Victory Point.
This is a really fun warlord trait and rewards you using an allied detachment as a suicide force – a small group of units to throw at the enemy knowing full well they’ll die but not before they make up their points. It also, like all allied detachments, lets you get access to a third legion’s special units (thanks to Rewards of Treachery giving you a second), so absolutely feel free to lean in and go nuts with this. World Eaters, Night Lords, Blood Angels, Raven Guard and Dark Angels all have fun little splashes here. My pick for when I run this warlord trait is a single Dark Angels despoiler unit in a rhino with a Paladin – they can hold an objective if I need them too, they’re going to be very dangerous to anything unprepared, the paladin might actually do some serious damage, and the whole thing is a small enough allocation of points that I don’t mind not having the reactions.
Master of Lies grants a Movement phase reaction but also lets you get up to some shenanigans in deployment. Once all deployment is complete (including infiltrators and so on) you can redeploy up to three of your units, including pulling them off the board and putting them into reserves, Deep Strike, etc. This is best used to really screw with your opponent’s deployment, and the best way to use it is to purposefully weight your deployment in one location of the board (so for example placing all your tanks on one flank) to bait your opponent to put their anti-tank over there… only for you to move them to a completely different place. Or to have your opponent overcommit troops to take on large Assault Squads… only to put them in Deep Strike. Of course, if your opponent wises up then you can just not redeploy those units or, indeed, any units, and just use the whole thing as an elaborate mind game. The impact of your opponent not knowing exactly where your forces will be, especially when they’re heavily reliant on infiltrators, is absolutely devastating and this is a subtly potent warlord trait that you should definitely consider.
Finally, Hydran Excursor grants a Shooting phase reaction, and gives a substantial buff to your Warlord and a unit they join. You choose a Legiones Astartes rule that’s not Alpha Legion at the start of the game and your warlord and friends get a +1 to hit them. This is nice because it’s ongoing, and applies at range and in melee. This is particularly good if you’re rocking up the battlefield with a combat-focused praetor and a large unit of Lernaeans, because they have their own version of this meaning that they can really make something’s life miserable in close combat. Other choices include putting the warlord in a full sized Heavy Support or Tactical Support unit for that sweet effective BS5, though since you can accomplish this via the medium of Techmarines it’s perhaps a bit overkill.
Not at all a bad choice, but less tricksy than other options, and also runs into a few issues. First, it’s absolutely useless in mirror matches which is thematic but also a bit of a blow. Second, if your opponent is running a relatively even mix of legions via an allied detachment, you’re going to have to be very selective about what units you shoot at and engage with to get the benefit, as you can only pick one of the two legions for this to count against. Worse you pick it before deployment, so your opponent can in theory box you in with units this doesn’t count against.
Alpha Legion Rites of War
The Alpha Legion have two Rites of War available to them, both open to both Traitors and Loyalists.
The Coils of the Hydra
One of the most complex rites of war, The Coils of the Hydra leans into the Rewards of Treachery rule and bumps it up a few notches. You get to bring three units (from the same legion, the one you picked with Rewards of Treachery), but they do all have to be legion specific units again and they have to start on the battlefield. The rest of your army, the real Alpha Legion stuff, has to start in reserve (or Deep Strike or whatever). Until another friendly unit deploys in from reserves the Rewards of Treachery units get Fearless (nice), and all the units in the detachment not them get +1 to hit on the turn they arrive (very nice). While this is fun, you’re going to be left with the Rewards of Treachery units on the table without support from your main army for at least a turn, and that’s a tough sell. Worse the recent FAQ confirmed that these all have to be the same unit rather than different ones from the same legion. This clarification shifts this Rite from niche but interesting to pretty hard to wrangle into useful. If there’s a path forward, however, it’s that you don’t leave them without support.
You see, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you bringing an Allied detachment that’s the bulk of your points (there’s no cap on the points allied detachments can be) and keeping your primary detachment nice and small. Sure, you don’t have any Sworn Brothers factions to ally with other than Imperial Army (and when we get rules for those it’ll be my go-to for this) but Fellow Warriors works perfectly well. You can absolutely play an Alpha Legion army without putting any Alpha Legion on the table.
Here’s a theoretical sketch of an army list for this:
- A primary detachment with an alpha legion praetor with a jump pack, a couple of assault squads, and some veterans in a drop pod. These start in deep strike.
- Also in the primary detachment are three units of Iron Havocs.
- In the optional allied detachment is basically an entire army of its own, let’s say a Salamanders detachment, with tactical squads, a praetor, dreadnoughts, tanks, the whole nine yards. They begin play on the table too.
Is this good? It would have been better with a variety of rewards units, but it’s super fun. One note: you could bring along any legion you like with the Mobius Configuration, but I probably wouldn’t. Just because then most of your army won’t get reactions.
The rite of war for if you just love killing the important guys, Headhunter Leviathal is an interesting one that gives you some solid bonuses with few downsides. You can bring Headhunter Kill Teams as Troops and Fast Attack choices (meaning you can very much fill your compulsory slots with them), but they don’t get Line so this is a mixed blessing at best (and that’s putting aside if they’re good or not, we’ll come onto that later). The main benefits are getting an extra 2 VP on Slay the Warlord and all your Infantry getting Shrouded (5+) in the first turn if they’re more than 12″ from the enemy (actually 12″, you don’t get to Lies and Obfuscate your way out of this). However the downside is you have to bring along more Fast Attack than Heavy Support, and vehicles start in reserves.
So, right off the bat, it’s worth noting here that you don’t actually need to bring a single unit of Headhunters to use this Rite of War which is interesting, but actually a boon (for reasons we’ll come onto when we look at that unit). You can absolutely just bring a pretty normal looking army and not worry about it. Vehicles being forced into reserves is a bit rough, but the Shrouded makes footslogging a little less dangerous, and Alpha Legion does have various ways of not caring as much about having to footslog (especially if you bring Armillus Dynat or Alpharius along to infiltrate some stuff). Also remember that dreadnoughts are absolutely not vehicles, so you can 100% bring those along. The Fast Attack slot requirement sounds a little onerous at first, but Seekers are premier units and you’ll probably want a unit or two in order to snipe out that Warlord and earn your VP.
This is a pretty solid Rite, especially if you’re not a treadhead. Obviously, the vehicle rule is a little bit of a hindrance and it’s an interesting mirror to Reconnaissance Company where you can bring Vehicles but not Heavy units.
Something of an odd duck among elite legion-specific terminators, they kind of do a different thing to most of the other legion’s heavy infantry. Though they’re very tough (adding It Will Not Die onto the 2+ save, 4+ invulnerable save platform) they’re hampered by WS4 and BS4 making them not any better in terms of fighting skill than the standard Cataphractii. However, they do have the Hydran Exemplar special rule letting you choose a Legiones Astartes special rule before deployment and get +1 to hit them with the Lernaeans (exactly the same as the Hydran Excursor Warlord Trait). This is nice, but definitively worse than just being WS5. They come stock with Power Axes and Volkite Chargers which is a pretty good setup, making them good at chewing through power armour, but the lack of Strength on them stops them being as scary to Terminators and the like. You can upgrade them to a power fist or chain fist, but 15 points (20 points for chain fists) a pop is a lot to add on top of an already expensive unit – five of these lads will cost 250 points. Heavy weapon options abound, and it’s a very interesting selection. Alongside the usual heavy flamer and plasma blaster, you also get the conversion beam cannon and the Volkite culverin. The conversion beam cannon doesn’t seem initially to be an amazing choice because the Lernaeans really want to be on the move taking contested objectives and getting stuck in (volkite chargers have a range 15″ and especially if you paid for power fists you’ll want them in combat). However, the real gold is that it has Blind and that’s a hell of a way to even the playing field against other elite units. Few units have an initiative above 4, so a single hit (very likely) gives you a one in three chance of dropping their WS and BS to 1. Volkite culverins kind of interesting as well, and despite my general antipathy towards volkite for its piss poor stopping power, a couple of these in a ten-marine squad generates a decent number of shots. Militia will be quaking in their boots when the rules for them drop, no doubt.
All of this may leave you a little confused as to exactly why they’re so expensive, and that’s because I’ve not mentioned until now that they are Line. That’s right, this is a scoring terminator unit without you needing to make them a command squad or add in a herald or any of those other tricks. This is actually an enormous boon, and a block of these on an objective will hold it and really earn their points, especially on progressive scoring missions.
Overall these aren’t the killiest of specialist terminators, and you shouldn’t go in expecting them to hold their own against Cenobium and other nasty murder types. But they’re flexible, surprisingly tricksy, and can score you Victory Points. Very Alpha Legion.
Headhunter Kill Team
The Alpha Legion specialist assassins and infiltrators, the Headhunter Kill Team is kind of like a more specialist version of the Seeker Squad dedicated to killing Independent Characters. So let’s see how well they perform in this role, and how they compare to the Seeker Squads they’re jockeying with for a slot.
The units are, at a basic level, very similar indeed. Headhunters have one higher Leadership but otherwise an identical statline to the Seekers. They also share almost all the same special rules, with the exception that the Headhunters lose Marked for Death but gain Relentless, Preferred Enemy (Independent Characters) and Scout. This certainly makes them a little more flexible, able to move around at speed and still fire shots, which helps when we get to their weapon selection, while they are a fair bit better at killing Independent Characters at a cost of not being able to Mark a unit for death. Scout is also helpful but relatively minor, given they have infiltrate anyway, but it does mean they can relocate out of Line of Sight if enemy infiltrators set up shop close by, or get closer to a target that’s blocked out by Augury Scanners and the like.
However, the basic units are very similar, and so the real test of if they unit is worth it comes down to the wargear and points. The Headhunters are 20 points more expensive than the Seekers, and come with Banestrike combi-bolters rather than Kraken bolters, while each marine also gets a power dagger and the Prime gets a Venom sphere. The Banestrike is a decent number of shots (and twin-linked is good) but ultimately it’s just not as effective as the Kraken bolter thanks to those Scorpius rounds. Sure the Kraken gets more, and more reliable, shots, but Breaching (4+) is such a boon it’s hard to compete with when you’re targeting characters. The power daggers are fun and a shock assault could work well, but don’t expect it to be anything other than a last desperate sally forth towards the enemy – you’re unlikely to kill much with them. Also remember they don’t have Precision Strikes, so you can’t pick out enemy characters in melee. Finally that venom sphere… and I’ve made it clear that those are a bit of a disappointment, but I guess at least it’s free.
So on the face of it, with the basic squads without upgrades, the Seeker Squad is probably the better bet. If you’re keeping the bolters that the units come with, then the Kraken is just better. However, when you start playing with different equipment options things get more interesting.
Headhunters only pay 5 points for magna combi weapons, meaning you can outfit 5 of them with combi-meltas for only 25 points, and at that stage the point disparity between the two disappears entirely. On top of that the headhunters can actually bring some heavy weapons – a Multi-melta is a great add to a five-marine unit of these, and precision strikes is a hell of a thing on one. This suddenly elevates them to much more competitive, and I think a few small five-model headhunter teams all with combi-meltas except one marine with a multi-melta will do work. You can easily get them in position, and blast away a couple of key HQ units in the first turn, and then after that it’s really a bit moot if they do anything else. That first volley is what counts. You can’t add more heavy weapons in that just one, so don’t bother adding more headhunters, and you can’t take nemesis bolters so there’s no way to make use of that relentless to run and gun snipe. That makes a headhunter squad for 175 points (4 combi-meltas, a multi-melta and artificer armour on the prime) a great… headhunter squad. If you just want to bring some flexible infiltrators, pick a seeker squad instead.
An unusual option, Exodus is a legion-specific character model that isn’t unique, meaning you can bring along more than one. In theory the best sniper in the Alpha Legion, this unit in fact has some key weaknesses that limit his utility and make him quite overcosted, despite the impressive weaponry he brings to the table.
Exodus has a centurion statline with a few tweaks. He has BS6 which is extremely unusual, and he’s always firing at it thanks to his Assassin’s Eye ability. That means this is one of the handful of units you’re going to have to dig out the “BS above 5″ rules for (if you roll a 1 to hit then you reroll only hitting on a 6). He also has an extra wound, but this is slightly mitigated by the fact that he’s apparently not in artificer armour, and so has a 3+ save.
He has an absolutely dizzying list of special rules making him able to pick through terrain without penalty, benefits from Shrouded at all times (meaning he is actually surprisingly tough given he has a 5+ invulnerable save from his refractor shield, though not as tough as a proper praetor), ignores basically any penalty to his shooting of any kind, and has a unique deployment ability called The Hidden Hand. This lets him deploy within any distance if in area terrain, or further than 9” if he’s not. However he loses this and gains Scout and Infiltrate if he chooses to deploy with a Recon or Headhunter squad (the only units he can join), which you’re going to want to most of the time because no matter how sneaky a character like this on his own is easy pickings.
His equipment is also impressive, with Shroud bombs (which means he gives a big benefit to Headhunter squads he joins), Melta bombs, a power dagger and The Instrument. This big dumb gun is the prize possession, and has two firing modes both at Strength 7. The rapid shot is shorter ranged but is still ap2, has sunder and pinning and fires three shots. The execution shot has a very long range, ap1, sniper, sunder, pinning and Deadly Aim but is a single shot weapon. Deadly aim makes it Brutal (2) if he didn’t move. Now you may notice that the rapid fire mode doesn’t have sniper and Exodus doesn’t have Precision Shots and yes, that means that he doesn’t get to allocate shots when he fires it, making him much worse at sniping out characters and specific models than the headhunters he might roll around with. The execution shot is ok, but the chances are high you’re going to want to move with the headhunters, so you’re not getting the brutal rule, and at that point isn’t not any better against infantry than a vigilator with a nemesis bolter since they get Rending (2+) on their shot, as well as Shell Shock.
And that’s really the summary problem with Exodus. He’s 165 points, which is a lot, and he doesn’t really do any of his jobs better than something else. Sure, he can fire some nasty rapid fire shots but he can’t be precise with them like a Headhunter kill team can be. Sure, he can fire decent sniper shots, but then so can a Vigilator and the Instrument isn’t high enough Strength to be instant death. Brutal (2) is nice enough, but you’re very unlikely to actually down a centurion or consul in a turn of shooting thanks to their invulnerable saves, and so most of the time a Seeker Squad with nemesis bolters and a vigilator are going to do a better job. Exodus wants to be in a Headhunter kill team to give them shrouded, but probably isn’t very good in what is basically a suicide squad. He can be in a recon squad but he doesn’t grant them any additional bonuses, stops them getting save bonus (he’s light, not skirmish) and isn’t that impressive a sniper anyway. All over this is a huge block of points to drop on a model that, sadly, isn’t going to do as much as you’d hope.
Harrowmaster of the Alpha Legion, Griefbringer, Instar-nine, Armillus Dynat is in effect an Alpha Legion flavoured praetor with a few special rules and an unusual weapon. His statline is exactly that of a Praetor, and he has the usual standard equipment too, alongside a venom sphere, phosphex bomb (weird addition, but cool) and his signature weapons the Prince and the Prophet. He also has Precision Strikes (4+) which is cool as hell, though less useful since any canny opponent is going to challenge him if at all possible – if you can have a sergeant in the unit Dynat is with challenge or accept a challenge for him (or have a member of the command squad do it if you’ve given him one) so he can assign wounds where you want. He also has his special Weapon Master rule, that lets him split his attacks between the Prince and the Prophet as you like.
His warlord trait, The Harrowing, is honestly why you bring him along: select up to three friendly units that are infantry and Alpha Legion and grant them one of Infiltrate, Scout or Counter-attack (1). This is a great way to get units upfield fast, and Infiltrate is definitely the default choice here. Infiltrating a large unit of terminators, or a melta support squad, or something similar is a great way of catching out your opponent. If they’re blanketed in augury scanners or the like, the consider scout to get a bit close, or even Counter-attack for heavy units like Lernaeans who want to be stood on objectives and really discourage others from attacking. You do have to pick the same rule for all of them.
This only affects infantry, but remember that if a unit in a dedicated transport infiltrates, so does the transport. So yes, you can put ten Lernaean Terminators in a Spartan and infiltrate the whole damn thing. This is basically a less-good version of the rule Alpharius has – if you’re bringing a Primarch don’t bother with Dynat. That said, if you’re not, he’s a fantastic addition for the warlord trait alone.
In combat Dynat fights with the Prince and the Prophet. The Prince is a completely ordinary power sword while the Prophet is a kind of odd cut-price thunder hammer, hitting at strength 9 (which is great) and ap2 (also great) but retaining Unwieldy and losing Brutal. It does have the Thunderstrike rule though, which gives you an extra attack with the Prophet if you scored at least one hit (whether or not it wounds) with the Prince. This is neat, and the chances are that given his WS Dynat can probably land a hit with one attack, so even if you want to throw all your weight into the hammer throwing one die on the power sword is probably fine, and it might even do something.
Overall Dynat isn’t a monster in combat like some of his legion-specific praetor peers, but he’s a perfectly capable Praetor replacement with an interesting, if not fantastic, weapon, and an exceptionally good warlord trait that’s very flexible. He’s expensive at 185 points, but if you’re not bringing Alpharius it’s hard to not see it as worth it for three infiltrating units alone.
Autilon Skorr (Expanded)
Consul-delegatus of the Alpha Legion Autilon Skorr isn’t actually a delegatus, so you can bring him along if you want and still have a Praetor in command. He also lacks the Rallying special rule a delegatus comes with, which is a shame, swapping it out for Honour the Legion, which is basically the same but you have to pass a Leadership test at Ld10 before it works. This actually makes him one of the few ways to be able to clear Pinning in your force without sacrificing bringing a Praetor along. He’s otherwise just a centurion with a fancy axe (it’s just a master-crafted power axe) and little more for 125 points. Considering a delegatus with a slightly less fancy axe would cost you 100 points it’s not a bad get for a larger force. Unremarkable but fine.
Do not forget though that he is a Traitor, the only special character the Alpha Legion have with a fixed allegiance.
Primarch of the Alpha Legion, the Aleph Null, the Hydra, the Threefold Serpent, The Final Configuration, Alpharius is a subtle and misleading primarch, able to unleash enormous destructive power while also granting bonuses and improvements to his army that other primarchs envy.
In terms of statline Alpharius is pretty middle of the road. He’s WS7 so able to keep up with most of his brothers, but lagging behind the true combat monsters like the Lion. He also strikes at Initiative 6 which really hurts if he goes up against one of them, as they’ll land all their blows before he gets a chance. That makes him pretty middle of the road when it comes to Primarch combat (read: a total monster) but he does bring the usual primarch package along plus Adamantium Will (3+) which is nice. Alpharius also gets the Crusader rule which is very good for rolling less powerful units, and two special rules unique to him: Insidious Mastermind and Everywhere and Nowhere.
Insidious Mastermind gives him three once a battle boosts chosen at the start of a turn – you pick one of the three and you can only use each one once. These affect all units with Legiones Astartes (Alpha Legion) including Alpharius, and these are really the key to him fighting on a more level pegging with his more buff brothers, as well as powering up the rest of his forces too. These buffs are all extremely good.
The least potent is probably Fleet (2), which makes the entire army faster on the Run, in reactions and, importantly, on the charge. A +2″ to all charges in a turn is a huge boost, and in the first turn this can also really help footsloggers get into position quickly. This is a great opener when running a Headhunter Leviathal.
Next up in the ranking is Sudden Strike (1), a buff to initiative that makes Alpharius able to strike at the same time as the Lion, and also gives all your units a really good chance of getting the drop on their enemies in assaults. You do only get this on the turn you charge though, and disordered charges cancel it, so be sure to time this right and do all you can to prevent reactions.
Finally we have Preferred Enemy (Everything). On your whole damn army. That’s absolutely bonkers. On a volley of fire and then some key assaults this is going to add up when spread across your whole force, and massively improves the chances of your key combatants of getting the upper hand. To say nothing of your snipers really getting to go to town on the enemy. Absolutely brilliant.
Everywhere and Nowhere is the other special rule that Alpharius uses to level the playing field. You give Alpharius one of three special rules (Infiltrate, Scout or Deep-strike) and then he also gives it to three other Alpha Legion units. Not infantry like Armillus Dynat does, just any Alpha Legion unit. Deep Striking Kratos tanks? You can (don’t, it’s silly). Deep Striking Leviathan Talons? Yes, and it’s horrifying. Infiltrating Contemptor talons? Absolutely. This is absolutely fantastic. Give Alpharius a command squad so he grants the Infiltrate ability to them as well if you’re going to (we think that’s how it works, hopefully an FAQ will clear it up shortly) and off you go. Otherwise you can embed him in a unit that he grants this power to, or a unit that has it natively. All in all this is tremendous and an absolutely ludicrous piece of theatre that’s glorious to see play out on the battlefield.
Alpharius also has some serious kit to bring with him. The Pythian Scales give him a 2+ save and 4+ invulnerable save, and also lets him flat out ignore Fleshbane and Poisoned, which is a nice boost. The Pale Spear is his melee weapon, which is two-handed which stops him getting an extra attack which is a shame, but is ap1, armourbane and instant death (and pegged to his own strength of 6) which is enough to really hurt a lot of stuff. Even Strength 6 can punch through a tank if you give it armourbane. His ranged weapon is a fancy xenos plasma gun called The Hydra’s Spite which is short range but gives him two shots at strength 8, ap3 and has Rending (4+), and is master crafted, which is actually pretty tasty. Something is gonna die if you shoot it with that.
Overall Alpharius can certainly hold his own, but you need to use him carefully and time his assaults well if you want to best another Primarch with some certainty. Better to use him as a roaming, unpredictable threat that can skirting the battlefield slicing through units and empowering the rest of his army to greatness.
Putting It All Together
Alpha Legion is very flexible because its core rules are just so applicable to so many units – being a bit further away from the enemy than they thought is just universally applicable. That said, the Rites of War, Warlord Traits and Legion Units all build a clear picture of what Alpha Legion is intended to be best at. They’re a brutal close to medium range alpha strike army, who misdirect and deceive your opponents into making errors and then exploiting them brutally. They excel at taking out key units normally safe, and then benefiting from that massively. They also have an unusual level of flexibility, bringing unexpected units from other legions along, and having a somewhat unique relationship with allies that brings something novel to the table.
Here are my key takeaways for playing Alpha Legion to their most optimal:
Combine your specialisms together. Don’t be afraid to use one effect from a warlord trait and another from special unit and another from a Rite of War to create a more substantial, far nastier effect. That’s where Alpha Legion shines. Stack the benefits and buffs you get from every source, and put them together how you can.
Sprinkle in your legion specialist wargear, don’t rely on it. The armoury of the Alpha Legion is probably their weakest part, so don’t get caught up in giving it to as many models or units as you can. Apply it carefully and for maximal effect, to get the biggest benefit from it. Certainly don’t splash dozens of points on wargear that’s all about exploiting edge cases.
Bring some “friends”. Even if you don’t bring any optional detachments you can always bring along a Reward of Treachery, and you should. There are some amazing units in the other legions and getting access to them is an insanely powerful boon. Go nuts adding into whatever best adds to your plan, or shores up your weaknesses.
Be careful with positioning and ranges. So much of the potency of the Alpha Legion trait, as well as many of the special rules they rely on like Infiltrate, are all about careful positioning and ensuring you’re the right distance from your enemy. Be hyper aware of the position of your units, don’t be afraid to measure things, and try and occupy the sweet spots where you get maximum effect and they don’t.
Example List: Harrowing (3000 points)
This list runs without a Rite of War, showing you how you can take a pretty ordinary, middle of the road army without much skew, and turn it into an Alpha Legion classic.
Armillus Dynat (Warlord)
Cataphractii Librarian (force axe, power dagger, telepathy)
Lernaean Terminators (10 of them, with 2 volkite culverins, a power dagger on the harrowmaster, and then riding in a Spartan with a hull lascannon and flare shield)
Contemptor Dreadnought (lascannon, fist with meltagun, havoc launcher)
Fulmentarus Terminators (power fists on all models)
Tactical Squad (chain bayonets, vexilla; power sword, plasma pistol and artificer armour on the sergeant)
Tactical Squad (artificer armour on the sergeant)
Tactical Support Squad (all with meltaguns, artificer armour on the sergeant)
Seekers (10 of them, with artificer armour on the sergeant)
Seekers (5 of them all with nemesis bolters, artificer armour on the sergeant, and an augury scanner)
Kratos (Melta blast gun, pintle multi-melta, hull autocannons, sponson heavy bolters
The Librarian runs with the Lernaeans in the Spartan, while Dynat joins the tactical squad with vexilla, and the vigilator runs with the larger seeker squad. The Tactical Support Squad, Lernaeans and Librarian are given the Infiltrate special rule by The Harrowing (so the Spartan gets it too). The Lernaeans will take a key central position and hold it, with the Librarian pinning units that get too close and the Spartan laying down anti-armour fire the Lernaeans can’t. The sniper seeker squad is put in a high nest, while the larger seeker squad and the vigilator roam – both are putting out pinning checks on units. The Kratos and Contemptor offer some heavy fire power, while Dynat hangs back with his squad only advancing to plug the gap if necessary. The melta squad will tank or terminator hunt, while the last tactical squad will find an out of the way objective and hold it, or shore up the lines where needed.
That’s is for the Alpha Legion the last but not least legion of the heresy. We hope you’ve found this article useful; if you have any comments or feedback, please let us know here or on email@example.com.