The Horus Heresy – Legion Overview – The Word Bearers

The Space Marine Legions of the First Founding make up the core factions and conflict of the Horus Heresy. In this article – the third in this series – we look deeper into the background and the rules for the most iconic Heretics of all: the Word Bearers, who lit the flame that would burn the galaxy. 

Credit: Forge World

The First Heretics

“If there is a hierarchy of treachery, then the Word Bearers sit in its highest circle. Once the most devoted and rigorous of warriors, it was not enough that they fell, but they pulled their brother Legions into the abyss with them.”

The Word Bearers are the Seventeenth Legion Astartes, previously known as the Imperial Heralds, or the Iconoclasts. They were led by Lorgar “The Urizen”, also known as “The Aurelian”, a being who had such an unshakeable faith in the divinity of the Emperor that it led him to forsake everything and turn on the Imperium, bringing the Heresy crashing down on the galaxy. 


The Word Bearers were known at their Founding as the Imperial Heralds, and they held a unique role in the growing Imperium at the outset of the Great Crusade – they were to wage the ideological war, as well as prosecute vicious combat against the foes of mankind. Grim Astartes clad in black, bearing skull helms, would be dispatched to any worlds who resisted the Imperium for religious or superstitious reasons, and would deliver an ultimatum: “recant or be destroyed.”

If a world refused to accept the secular Imperial Truth, the Imperial Heralds would be responsible for tearing down their idols, burning their sacred texts, and purging incorrect thought from the subjugated populace. It may be their close involvement with the wychery and warpcraft practiced on these doomed worlds that helped hasten the fall of the Word Bearers; we will never truly know.

Lorgar himself had been raised as a Priest of the Covenant on the world of Colchis, an arid planet deeply steeped in religion and old gods. The Aurelian had risen to be a ruler of the world, and worshipped as divine by his people – yet he dreamed of the return of a golden “onegod”, which he prophesied would one day come to pass. When the Emperor arrived on Colchis with Magnus the Red, Lorgar knew his time had come, and his faith had been rewarded. 

Credit: Games Workshop

Lorgar quickly turned his legion into a blazing sword in the Emperor’s hand, sweeping across the galaxy at the head of the Crusade, each Imperial Herald a warrior of zealous fury and unshakeable faith in their Primarch and Emperor. These efforts had a dark side – some say Lorgar was throwing his Legion into warzones to “filter out” the older recruits through combat casualties, allowing him to swell the ranks with newer, freshly indoctrinated, Legionaries who would be more pliable to the Word of Lorgar rather than the Imperial Truth.

Whatever the reality, the Imperial Heralds were swiftly renamed the Word Bearers. Shortly after this, troubling news reached the Throneworld of Terra – Lorgar was openly espousing worship of the Emperor as a divine being, in direct conflict with the atheist teachings of the Imperial Truth. 

Worse, they had taken the world of Khur and raised the “perfect city” of Monarchia, which was full of graven idols of the Emperor as a god, where the populace sang hymns of worship to His name. 

The Emperor could not allow this to continue, and took His son Guilliman to chastise Lorgar for these foolish beliefs. In the Censure, Monarchia was levelled by the XIII Legion, and the populace reduced to ash. Lorgar and his Legion were forced to kneel before Guilliman and the Emperor, and accept that their belief was wrong, and the Emperor was no god. 

Lorgar seemed to accept his humbling punishment, and fought ever harder afterwards in the name of the Emperor. However, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the razing of Monarchia was the first domino to fall in the Heresy, and Lorgar would stop at nothing to prove the Emperor wrong, and that divine beings did exist among the stars. 

During the Heresy 

“For over four decades the XVIIth Legion wore the false face of loyalty and planted the seeds that would eventually bloom into civil war…”

After Monarchia, it is clear that Lorgar spent a significant amount of time systematically purging his own Legion of any dissenters – a slower, more methodical version of the betrayal at Isstvan III. He rapidly increased Legion recruitment to swell his ranks, and evaded the oversight enforced on him by the Emperor, in the form of an Adeptus Custodes sodality. 

Not much is known about precisely how Lorgar fell to Chaos, but it is known that after the Censure he and some of his Legion went on a pilgrimage into the Eye of Terror, at the urging of his lieutenants Kor Phaeron and Erebus. When he emerged, it was at the head of a changed Legion, with horrifying possessed Gal Vorbak, and dark apostles openly preaching heresy. 

Lorgar, with the help of Erebus, would oversee the corruption of Horus, and participate in the Drop Site Massacre. Most famously during the Heresy, the Word Bearers under his direction prosecuted the Calth Atrocity, betraying the Ultramarines at one of their jewel-worlds in the heart of Ultramar. The slaughter at Calth was used to kill a sun and birth the Ruinstorm, a warp-storm of unprecedented size which trapped vast numbers of Loyalists in the eastern part of the Galaxy. 

Credit: Games Workshop

Lorgar then orchestrated the ascension of several of his brother Primarchs to Daemonhood, and played the “orchestra” of the Warp to the benefit of the Traitor forces as they pursued their objectives. However, as the Heresy reached its climax, he found himself cast aside by his brothers – particularly Horus, whom he tried to lead a coup against before the attack on Terra. Rejected and alone, Lorgar fled into the Eye of Terror, where he remains to this day as a Daemon Prince. 

Legion Special Rules

The Word Bearers benefit from the following Legion Rules: 

  • True Believers – Word Bearers roll 3d6 for Morale checks and pick the two lowest dice.
  • Cut Them DownWord Bearers must always make Sweeping Advances when possible, and must re-roll Sweeping Advance roll results of “1”.
  • Charismatic Leadership – Any primary detachment from the Word Bearers Legion must take a secondary Compulsory HQ choice where this is allowed in the Force Organisation chart, and this must be either a Centurion or a Chaplain Consul. 

To start with, True Believers is an excellent rule – you are unlikely to break and run as Word Bearers, which gives them a lot of reliable staying power and means in dicey combats where you’ve lost by a few points you have a better chance of hanging on. 

Cut Them Down is interesting in that it forces you to Sweep, when I can’t think of a situation where you wouldn’t want to Sweep – but in any event, rerolling “1s” is nice, and means you usually finish your opponents off in close combat where you have emerged victorious. 

Charismatic Leadership can be a bit of a pain, as it forces you to take a “tax” HQ. However, in the round, a Chaplain is usually a great addition to any force, and so I don’t think this is too bad all in all – and, in many ways, is very fluffy. 

Credit: @the_unspeaking

Legion Special Equipment & Upgrades

The Word Bearers have access to a wide range of unique upgrades, allowing for some real flavour to be added to any force. 

One key thing to note is that Word Bearers have to be Traitors – all the options discussed below are Traitor only. Loyalist Word Bearers do not exist in the Heresy outside of lone individuals like the occasional Knight Errant. 

  • The Diabolist – a unique 35 pt upgrade for a Legion Centurion, the Diabolist gives the Centurion the Daemon special rule, with Preferred Enemy (Loyalists). It also grants access to Dark Channelling. This is an interesting upgrade, as Preferred Enemy is really strong in close combat, but conversely having Daemon can be a mixed blessing, given the new range of Psy-Arkana in Book 8 – it does, however, mean you cause Fear and benefit from Daemonology psychic Blessings.
  • Dark ChannellingA 25 pt upgrade for certain squads (primarily Troops choices) if you have a Diabolist. This applies one of three random results to the entire squad – either they get Zealot (incredible! Basically a free Chaplain!), +1 Strength (also great – S5 Assault Squads and S6 power axes?) or Daemon (5+ invulnerable, Fear, and benefits from Daemonology – but you count as “destroyed” for VP purposes). This is, as you would expect from the fickle gods of Chaos, a mixed bag – don’t build your strategy around a certain result. 
  • Burning Lore – Any Praetor, Centurion or Chaplain can take this upgrade for +30 pts, turning them into a Level 1 Psyker with access to Biomancy or Telepathy. For Praetors, Biomancy can be potent – a decent upgrade all round. 
  • Tainted WeaponYou can swap any character’s power weapon with one of these, which is Specialist Weapon and Instant Death. It’s a bit niche, as it has no AP or Strength bonus, but I have been on the receiving end when wielded by Gal Vorbak against Ogryns – very nasty!

As you can see, the Sons of Lorgar have a really wide range of possible upgrades, many of which augment and amend existing unit types in interesting ways. Personally I would lean towards Burning Lore as a strong option to take, and if you are going to go for Dark Channelling I would take it on everything or nothing. 

Legion Rites of War 

The Word Bearers have access to two unique rites of war – The Dark Brethren and Last of the Serrated Sun

The Dark Brethren

This Rite is intended to evoke the cults and warp worship which took over the Word Bearers as they fell to Chaos, and emphasises use of warpcraft and Daemons. 

To take this Rite you have to take at least one Diabolist – not too big of a “tax” as they give you Dark Channelling anyway. You can also only have one Heavy Support choice in your primary detachment, which is a bit of a blow but something you can work around (a Leviathan Dreadnought or Sicaran Arcus are good “all rounders” here). There are also no allied Legions or fortifications allowed, and any ally other than Daemons (e.g. Solar Auxilia) are “Desperate Allies”. Again, this is not a crippling restriction, as you probably won’t be using these anyway.

The bonuses you get are powerful. Daemons can be taken as allies (the Red Books say Codex: Chaos Daemons, but you should now read this as Daemons of the Ruinstorm), and all independent characters gain Preferred Enemy (Loyalist Space Marines), which really boosts their combat potential. 

There are, however, some unusual “benefits” – the Signs & Portents rule means you pick a single Troops choice and roll a D6 – on a 1-3 all enemy units get Preferred Enemy against it, and on a 4-6 that unit gets Preferred Enemy against all enemies. Don’t pick anything too important, as a 1-3 is very bad! I personally have had an unlucky Word Bearer opponent roll poorly on this rule for a large unit of Assault Marines, and this allowed me to take them apart with ease. 

Finally, you have Hell follows with Them – Perils of the Warp wounds suffered by the enemy have Instant Death. This is great for dealing with enemy psykers, and will make your opponent more cautious about using Santic powers against your Daemons, due to the higher risk of a Perils.

All in all this Rite is not a “must-take”, but it has some nice benefits and makes for a fluffy force if you use Daemons of the Ruinstorm alongside your Legionaries. 


The Last of the Serrated Sun 

This Rite of War is probably one of the most unique in the game, and I absolutely love it on paper – sadly I have never seen it used in practice! If I was going to collect Word Bearers, this is what I would go for. 

Gal Vorbak can be taken as Troops Choices, and get access to Drop Pods and Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw Drop Pods as Dedicated Transports, which they must take. Any other units who can get a Rhino instead can instead get a Drop Pod. You’re unleashing howling horrors of the warp via a “steel-rain” drop pod attack – what could be better?

Well, when any Drop Pod or Dreadclaw lands, enemy units within 12” of the final landing zone have to take a Pinning Check. This means, realistically, you’re going to be forcing a ton of Pinning Checks on enemy units as you deploy your forces – and if anyone fails one, they’re a juicy target! Don’t forget Dreadclaws also have a chance to damage things around them with Fire Sweep as they land as well.

The limitations here are, unfortunately, quite stringent – all infantry units have to deploy by Deep Strike, either in a Drop Pod, teleportation or a Flyer (no jump packs). You can’t take any fortifications or allies either. The “hidden” issue to consider is that Gal Vorbak cannot score – so loading up on too many of them means you won’t be able to score objectives. 

However, if you think about it, drop enough Gal Vorbak in, and you won’t need to worry about scoring…

Credit: @the_unspeaking

Legion Special Units 

Just as a preliminary note – the Word Bearers currently have the most special units and characters of any Legion. You can really go wild with these! 

Mhara Gal Tainted Dreadnought

This… thing is unique – a half-melted, corrupted, daemonic Dreadnought with “fire-blackened armour running like molten wax”. The model for this is absolutely stunning, albeit complex to paint – a mixure of flesh, bone and ceramite which takes some colour planning before you tackle the project.

Credit: Forge World

To start with, the price tag for this unit is steep – 305pts before you start to upgrade it. However, it has a bevy of special rules, and in Zone Mortalis it is probably too good to be allowed. 

First of all, it has the Daemon rule – this means you can buff it using Daemonology powers, with the double-edge to this sword that Santic powers and Psy-Arkana could hurt you. It also has It Will Not Die, and 4 Hull Points, with WS7 – so better all round then a normal Contemptor right off the bat. 

Next is Shroud of Dark Fire – the corrupt antomantic reactor of the Mhara Gal causes it to be engulfed in warp-tainted flames at all times. This reduces the strength of heat, fire or plasma based weapons by 1 (good luck using combi-meltas against this – outside of Melta range they’re glancing on 6+ on the front arc), and anything with a Toughness of less than 7 or a front AV of less than 13 fighting this takes -1 to hit in close combat. 

And on top of that, if it explodes, its S6 AP5 in a seven inch (“Massive”) blast with Soul Blaze. This makes the Mhara Gal a terror in close combat, as the usual Contemptor-killers like Cataphractii are swinging on 5+ to hit it, and a lot of the “usual” anti tank weapons are blunted.

Then you have Accursed – the Mhara Gal, as a Daemon, causes Fear at -2 to the check. It also means it never scores, but this is not much of an issue. The problem with this rule is that Daemons and/or Psykers and/or units which get given any Blessings within 6” of the Mhara Gal suffer a S5 AP2 Ignores Cover hit – friend or foe. This makes you have to keep this thing on its own – as a lot of your own forces are going to be Daemons and/or Psykers! 

Finally, the big one – The Earth Recoils. This allows the Mhara Gal to completely ignore terrain, and move through obstacles up to 1” across without penalty. This means you cannot block this beast off, and in Zone Mortalis it will just stroll across the battlefield to annihilate whatever is in its way. I have fought it once in Zone Mortalis, and found my mighty unit of Imperial Fist Terminators with Stormshields were hewn down like chaff – a humbling experience. 

Its weapons are even unique as well – its power claw is a standard Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon on paper, but it has the horrifyingly good rule Ghost Razorreroll successful Invulnerable saves from this weapon. If you want to clear out Firedrakes, this is how you do it. Its boltguns even cause Blind!

The Mhara Gal then has access to a unique Plasma Cannon which forces any unit who has taken a casualty from it to take an instant Morale Check at -1 Leadership. 

Now that I have written all this out, I do have to ask myself – why would you not take this? It can’t be dropped in by Drop Pod, so generally has to walk across the field, but overall it is a real unholy terror, and cannot be ignored. The price is high, but you really get what you pay for!


Gal Vorbak Dark Brethren

These are “the” iconic Word Bearers unit – Heresy-era Possessed marines, and in my top 3 of Horus Heresy models. These sons of Colchis looked into the Eye of Terror… and it looked back at them.

Credit: Forge World

These can be taken in squads of up to 10, and start at a unit of 5 for 200 pts. This is very good value – they come with Rending, Deep Strike, Rage, Stubborn and the Daemon special rule, which gives them a good base for strong close combat performance. The basic Dark Brethren have 2 wounds each, S, T, WS and I 5 on top of that – they will outperform basic Marines in every way. The Dark Martyr does one better, with 3 Wounds and the ability to take a S10 Power Fist. 

Just watch out for the fact they only have a 3+ save – the Daemon invulnerable isn’t great at 5++ – and they can be doubled out by Demolisher cannons and Dreadnoughts in close combat. Rending is also good, but won’t guarantee kills against 2+ save units, so pick your battles. They also can’t score, but you aren’t going to be camping objectives with these. 

I would definitely find room for these in any Word Bearers army, and probably run them quite cheap – give the Dark Martyr Artificer Armour and a Power Fist, and put them in a Land Raider or Dreadclaw. 

credit: @the_unspeaking

The Ashen Circle 

Like some other units, the Ashen Circle have benefited from a set of FAQ “playtest” rules. Everyone uses these, so pick them up on Warhammer Community. 

Under these rules they start at 145 pts for 5 Ashen Circle, who have Assault Marine stats with WS5 – so not bad – along with hand flamers and S5 AP3 Axe-Rakes which strike at initiative and at +1 to Sweeping Advance rolls. These are outstanding for their points, and allow you to absolutely cull basic enemy troops. 

On top of this, if the unit Deep Strikes then units within d6” suffer a S3 AP5 hit – average – but also they can always use Hammer of Wrath, even if they used their Jump Packs to move. This adds up to a very hard hitting combat unit, and the Sergeant can take phosphex bombs as well, which makes them all round very threatening on the table. 

I think a squad of ten of these can find their way into any Word Bearers army – and their models are outstanding on top of that. 

Credit: Dave Barfield

Legion Special Characters

High Chaplain Erebus – Child of the Primordial Truth

Erebus needs no introduction – he is the First Heretic, and the true architect of the Horus Heresy – his teachings are what corrupted Lorgar, and his theft of the Anathame triggered the events which led to the fall of Horus on Davin. 

You only wish you could look this smug. Credit: Forge World

On the battlefield, Erebus starts with a basic Praetor statline, with some special rules layered on top. Conveniently, he counts as both a Diabolist and a Chaplain for the purposes of Rites of War and similar for Word Bearers, so he represented a significant points saving in this regard – and he comes with Burning Lore for additional Psychic powers. He also unlocks Daemon allies and Dark Channelling without the need for anything extra in this regard.  

Lastly, if he is the Warlord, all enemy units within 12” must use their lowest Leadership value, not their highest – this can be quite nifty for attacking units containing Characters and forcing them to flee. 

Overall, he is never a bad choice for a Word Bearers army, as all of his abilities segue with generally all the good choices for this Legion – whether it is large numbers of Dark Channelling troops, Daemon allies, or using one of the Rites of War. 


Kor Phaeron – First Captain of the Word Bearers

Curiously, Kor Phaeron is a First Captain who isn’t a Space Marine – he’s only Toughness 3! 

Unfortunately in the Horus Heresy this is a massive handicap – plenty of weapons have Strength 6 or better, so you are risking your Warlord (the Jealous Command rule means he will be the Warlord, unless Lorgar is present) to things like Volkite Culverins, Autocannons, etc. 

Overall Kor Phaeron is… merely OK, even if you set aside the poor Toughness. His Cataphractii Terminator Armour gives him 6+ Feel No Pain, he has a pair of Lightning Claws with a One Use hand flamer (average – he will struggle against enemy characters with 2+ saves and only has 2 Attacks base), and unlocks Dark Channelling. When Kor Phaeron is on the field, Word Bearers Legionaries also have +1 Leadership, to a maximum of 10. These are all alright, but aren’t going to set the world on fire or mitigate the poor Toughness. 

All in all, I would not recommend him unless you are going for a fluffy list – you’ll still have to take a Chaplain alongside him, he’s rubbish in combat, and you’re just going to be handing Slay the Warlord to your opponent. 


Zardu Layak, The Crimson Apostle 

Another fantastic model by Forge World – and a character with mysterious origins. Zardu Layak is a possessed, mutated herald formerly of the Ashen Circle, with an insectoid head and daemonic banner.

On the tabletop he has Centurion stats, but Toughness 5 and Daemon – a nice bonus. Beyond the stats, the true meat to this character comes from a range of equipment and special rules which set him apart from the pack. 

To start with, he is a Level 2 Psyker – very helpful – and his Force Stave, while merely AP4, gives him +2 Strength and allows him to reroll one failed psychic test per game. If he’s the Warlord, then you can take Ashen Circle as scoring troops (great!) and must give them Dark Channelling (which is also great – extra Strength or Zealot? hello!). You also get Daemons of the Ruinstorm as allies, which is another very nice bonus.

On top of all this, he counts as a Diabolist for the purpose of Legion rules and Rites of War, and grants Dark Channelling with a +1 modifier. The latter actually isn’t great – it makes the Daemon result more likely, as opposed to the arguably “better” Preferred Enemy or +1 Strength. 

Finally, he has the Panoply of Flame, which is a great-looking banner which gives +1 modifer to assault results within 12”, +1 to Sweeping Advance (on top of your re-rolls of 1!) and you can use it once per game as a Heavy Flamer.

For 175 pts, Zardu Layak is a real steal – he has a great range of rules, and allows for very interesting army builds, while being not bad in a fistfight if called upon.

Credit: Forge World


Anakatis Kul Blade-slaves 

A real swing and miss for Forge World with the rules here – the models for these are gorgeous, but I rarely, if ever see them taken. 

The reason why is simple – you buy them for 100 pts as an upgrade for Zardu Layak, but then they form their own unit which you cannot merge with other units – so you have 3 guys at 275 pts walking around, with no ability to deliver them into combat, or properly take advantage of things like the Panoply of Flame or Zardu Layak’s psychic abilities. Very frustrating! 

On paper they are pretty good – S6 and T5 with 3 Wounds and Initiative 5, with Rage and Daemon on top. Their Anakatis Blades – weird Daemon swords from the Ghoul Stars with some chilling fluff – are AP 3 with the possibility to rend on a 5+ and inflict double wounds, which is pretty devastating. 

Mindless Killers means if Zardu is dead, then they become “mindless” and have to go towards the nearest enemy and charge – which is pretty crap as they’re footslogging. They also have plasma pistols, which I guess is OK.

Great models, poor unit rules. Use them as alternative Gal Vorbak, which is what almost everyone I know does.


Hol Beloth – Chapter Captain of the Graven Star 

A fast-strike specialist who oversaw the Battle of Calth, Hol Beloth is a Praetor level character who can ignore the first failed save of any game (really good!), and can increase all Word Bearers Legionaries to WS5 (if they aren’t already that or better) for one turn once per game. This can lead to some devastating charges, particularly as he causes Fear if he is the Warlord. 

Otherwise he’s fairly standard, with a Master Crafted power fist and plasma pistol, but with his stats he will still hit like a truck.

He does not stand out from the crowd, but if you build a list with his special ability in mind (e.g. massed Assault marines or Tactical Marines with extra CCW), you could really do some work. 


Lorgar – Master of the Word Bearers, Aurelian, The Golden, The Voice of Truth 

Lorgar unfortunately has a poor reputation amongst his brother Primarchs – he is usually thought of as the runt of the litter, and not someone who is going to stand toe to toe with any of his peers. 

Credit: Forge World

In some ways this is true. While he has a Primarch’s statline – so nothing to sniff at – he is not focused on combat and lacks some of the special abilities which make, say, Leman Russ so strong in a straight fight. 

What Lorgar does bring to the table are a number of buffs for his sons. While he is on the field and not in a transport, he confers Crusader to any unit he is in, and allows all Word Bearers to use his Leadership 10 for morale checks – combine that with rolling 3d6 and picking the lowest, noone is running wen he is around. In addition, any Word Bearers unit who can draw line of sight to him get +1 to charge distance, immunity to Fear and +1 to assault resolution, making everyone generally better!

Dark Fortune is an incredible rule – Lorgar can reroll failed Deny the Witch rolls for Lorgar (OK, but not great – psykers are not that common in Horus Heresy), but on top of this, once per game Lorgar can force a single enemy model or unit to re-roll all rolls of a 5 or 6 to Hit and to Wound Lorgar and the unit he is with in a player turn. 

This can be pretty savage if used correctly – depending on who he is fighting, they could need 5+ or 6+ to even Hit or Wound in the first place, forcing your opponent to reroll all successes. Add Lorgar to a unit like Gal Vorbak, and watch your opponent bounce off them as you bring the punishment!

His armour is standard – 2+/4++, with a 3++ invulnerable against psychic attacks – and the Illuminarum, an ornate sceptre-maul, makes him Str 8 AP2 in Close Combat – good, but not exceptional. 

Finally, however, there is a great upgrade for Lorgar called Lorgar Transfigured – which I think is a must take for this Primarch. For 75 pts (he starts cheaper than most as it is – so this isn’t too bad), he becomes a Level 3 Psyker who can select powers from Divination and Telekinesis, and manifests on a 3+ rather than a 4+. If you don’t take this, the Erratic Psychic Power rule is used instead, which makes Lorgar a terrible Level 2 Psyker choosing randomly and manifesting a 5+ – this is absolutely dreadful, so take this upgrade!

Choosing powers is absolutely broken if you combine Lorgar with the right units. Put him with Gal Vorbak, and give them Prescience for rerolls… The possibilities are endless, and being able to choose the powers gives you much-needed certainty to build strategies. 

Sample Army List 

I set out below a suggested starting force for Word Bearers of 1,500 pts. This force is intended to use mainly plastic kits, with some upgrades from Forge World or third party sellers (I would recommend Spellcrow and Anvil Industry). It is not intended to be a “perfect” list, but rather what I would probably take if I wanted to get into Word Bearers on a sensible budget. Note that this points bracket is a little bit tricky for Word Bearers due to Charismatic Leadership forcing a second HQ. 

Rite of War – None 

  • HQ – Chaplain with Jump Pack, Artificer Armour, Refractor Field, Axe Crozius
  • HQ – Chaplain with Artificer Armour, Refractor Field, Axe Crozius
  • ElitesMhara Gal Tainted Dreadnought with two Tainted Power Claws
  • Elites – Gal Vorbak Dark Brethren, Power Fist and Artificer Armour
  • Troops – Assault Squad with 12 men, Melta Bombs, Artificer Armour, Power Fist
  • Troops – Tactical Squad with 15 men, Artificer Armour, Power Fist, Extra Combat Weapons
  • Heavy Support – Land Raider Phobos with Dozer Blade

This army is small, but designed to combine a number of very high priority targets in 1,500 pts, while taking advantage of large Troops squads to maximise the morale benefits granted by the Word Bearers Legion special rules. The Gal Vorbak and Mhara Gal push up the board, supported by the fast-moving Assault Squad, while the Tactical Marines hold an objective or push up to hold ground.

Expanding this force is fairly simple – max out the Assault Squad and Tactical Squad with 20 men, and add another Troops Choice, like more Tactical Marines. Then it is a case of working out which direction you would like to take. Chainfist Terminators in an Anvillus could be a good complement, along with some Cortus Contemptors.

The good thing about Word Bearers is that they are flexible in what you can bring – I have seen people run a lot of Rapier platforms (as they don’t run away as easily), or go heavy on the Gal Vorbak, or equally decide instead that Daemons of the Ruinstorm allies is what they want to invest points in. The Arch-Traitors can make a lot of things work! 


The Bearers of the Word are a Legion with a lot of choices and scope for different builds, all of which will have good morale, strong psychic abilities, and access to things other Legions don’t have, like Daemon allies. I think they are a good Traitor Legion if you are not sure exactly what sort of force you want and don’t want to commit to a Legion with a specific playstyle (like, say, World Eaters). 

They are also well supported in the fluff and have a lovely colour scheme which is quite forgiving with the new Contrast paints. 

For the Dark Gods!

Check back in the New Year when we go through the Word Bearers’ staunchest foe – the boys in blue: The Ultramarines. And in the meantime, if you have any feedback, questions, or notes, drop us a message in the comments below, or email us at