The March to Terra: Goonhammer Paints the Heresy

The release of Horus Heresy 2 has the Goonhammer writer’s room buzzing with excitement. 12 of us are either just starting or are returning to the heresy, and while we’ll all be painting at somewhat different speeds (damn you Rockfish) we’re all pushing for the same goals.

Our first push is based off the Zone Mortalis rules in White Dwarf 477, with each of us planning out a thousand point force. At only 1000 points and using minimal vehicles, ZM is a fantastic way to get started. Games can be played on a slightly smaller table and go super fast, so are perfect for us to learn or relearn the rules.

Our intrepid Praetors have all selected their legions, and there’s definitely no bias here at all.

  • MasterSlowPoke: III Legion – Emperor’s Children
  • Soggy: V Legion – White Scars
  • Bair: VII Legion – Imperial Fists
  • Rockfish: VII Legion – Imperial Fists
  • Jack: IX Legion – Blood Angels
  • Liam: IX Legion – Blood Angels
  • Beanith: X Legion – Iron Hands
  • Lenoon: XIII Legion – Ultramarines
  • Contemptor Kevin: XIII Legion – Ultramarines
  • Serotonin: XIV Legion – Death Guard
  • RichyP: XVII Legion – Word Bearers
  • Lupe: XX Legion – Alpha Legion

With everyone’s legion selected, here are their first thoughts on their plans.


Returning to the Horus Heresy brings me back to my first (and most favorite) army, Blood Angels. I’ve been painting them ever since I first started playing 40k back in third edition, though these days I’m not using Model Master glossy guards red to paint them. Their rules in this edition are the best I’ve ever seen them, doing a fantastic job of leaning into their shock-and-awe tactics and deep strike assaults. They aren’t necessarily optimal for ZM with their love of jump packs, but I’m going to make it work anyways.

I’ve already been working hard on building out the core of my force with some new MkVI tacticals, though I’m not 100% sure what else I’ll be putting in the list. At least one contemptor for sure, and this feels like a good spot for me to try out using Crimson Paladins. I haven’t been impressed with them in the past, but the cramped hallways may make their durability more important and make up for their inability to sweep.

Blood Angels MkVI Tactical Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter


In my gaming circles, the launch of the new Age of Darkness box has caused a lot of people to agonise over which legion to play. Some people are taking the decision out of their own hands by getting others to vote on a Legion for them, one is painting a model from all 18 to see which scheme they like most, a few are bravely insisting they’re going to just do three different forces simultaneously, which is a plan I’m sure they’ll stick to.

For me, this was all much easier. I got into Warhammer when I was ten years old. By far the coolest Space Marines, in child me’s eyes, were the Blood Angels, because they were bright red and they liked to fight things in melee. The army of my youth was inconsistently planned and horrendously painted; the early 00s were not a kind time for a pre-teen of very limited artistic ability to be trying to paint things red. When I came back to Warhammer at university, I decided against the Blood Angels because of the scars of those earlier painting efforts, and ended up with a Crimson Fists force instead (after a brief and inglorious attempt at Imperial Fists – why would I think yellow was going to be any easier?)

Those Crimson Fists have grown and grown, and I have a deep connection to them, but I never quite let go of the Blood Angels; when the Age of Darkness box landed on my mat I knew there was only one Legion its contents were destined for.

I’m typically more of a gamer than a painter, but I know almost nothing about how the 30k rules work, so I’m in the dark as to what “good” or “bad” choices are. Instead I’m enjoying myself by just picking stuff that seems cool, and trusting the assurances of my Goonhammer colleagues that the pile of models in this boxed set is a pretty solid base for any Legion. I did indulge myself slightly before the box arrived by buying and painting the pre-existing Blood Angels Praetor (he’s cool!) so I had him ready and waiting, and since then I’ve painted up a mighty three Legionaries in MkVI and the Contemptor Dreadnought. The initial plan is just to get a ZM-sized force ready, probably based around a core of these guys and their as yet unfinished Tactical Squad brethren, plus some of the box Cataphractii and maybe a Despoiler and/or Breacher squad or something. Maybe just another Contemptor, who knows. I like Contemptors. Also I bought Sanguinius, who doesn’t fit into this initial plan at all but is incredibly awesome and I have wanted an excuse to get him ever since the model was first announced. He’ll come in handy when the bigger games arrive.

Corrode’s 30k Blood Angels, June 2022.

Going with the BA makes me a sucker in this series because a full third of us are doing the same, and I will be the third-best painter of three in every round-up. Whatever. These are my guys and I am thrilled to be diving in and getting them painted up. Despite most of the paint here being pretty GW-style Basic, I am trying to push myself a bit, chiefly with the use of weathering; I normally hate to get my pristine little guys dirty, but it does add a lot to them to be battered and bruised, and it’s fun to add all the dust and dirt and scratches (and also helps to cover any mistakes, like my none-too-clean edge highlighting). I had a go at a better-than-usual face on the Praetor, too:

Blood Angels Praetor
Blood Angels Praetor. Credit: Corrode

Between now and the next update, goal #1 is simply to finish the rest of the Tactical Squad; after that, to figure out the rest of that initial ZM list and lock in some choices for what to paint next. Serotonin and his Death Guard are nearby and he owns a ZM board, so hopefully we can get together for a game and I can try seeing how the Age of Darkness works on the table.


I’ve played Horus Heresy in the past (with Salamanders) but I moved those models onto someone who wanted them more a while back so I returned to Heresy with a blank slate. I decided on Alpha Legion, as I’ve detailed elsewhere, and started putting a Zone Mortalis list together. So uh, check.

Lupe’s Alpha Legion progress so far…

So next up is to actually get the list to table, and then to crack on getting to 2000pts. That’ll involve more dreadnoughts, a named character, some fancy specialist marines and mayyyybe a tank.


As I’m frequently reminded by other esteemed contributors to this site, I’m as old as dirt, and as such well remember the first mentions of the Horus Heresy way back in the fluff in the original Rogue Trader and Adeptus Titanicus books. The first edition ruleset totally passed me by, but I devoured many of the Black Library books, and the launch of a  new edition has totally pulled me in.

My first plan was to build a 1000 point force for Zone Mortalis, having heard from many veterans of first edition how much fun it was. Being a keen hobbyist 3d printer, I immediately started printing a ZM board before I’d even decided on a Legion. With the printer busy whirring away in the background I sat down to the difficult choice of which Legion to pick. Five minutes later I’d settled on Death Guard (I’m impulsive, OK?).

I’ve always loved the look of Mk3 armour, and for me, Death Guard really shine in Mk3. Well probably not shine, that’s the antithesis of how Death Guard should look. The thought of all that lovely weathering, damage and general grime was the main attraction and got my creative juices flowing. That and the fact that for someone who isnt the world’s greatest or fastest painter, all that dirt hides a multitude of painting sins. Ive done a few test models and have a basic scheme that im very happy with and can knock out reasonably quickly and Im really excited to do some more.

Serotonin’s test tac squad Death Guuard

My very sensible plan to stick to a couple of units of tactical marines, some terminators and a Contemptor for Zone Mortalis went straight out of the window following my first ever visit to Warhammer World’s Forge World store a couple of weeks ago. My mind was whirring at the selection of models and the many ways I could theme my force. The Grave Wardens and Deathshroud terminators just look so iconic and from what I can gather from the previews are equally as effective on the table. My plan is now to lean heavily into the fluff and what Death Guard do best; hordes of foot slogging, grimly determined infantry and terminators marching resolutely onwards, backed up by massed artillery fire. As others have said, the rule of cool is everything in terms of force selection and I’ve got my eye on a couple of Arquitor Bombards as the centre piece of the army.


I haven’t played a heresy force, or actually put a space marine down on the table since the third black book came out, but it’s probably about time to get back to it. Deciding a legion was easy – there’s a blue legion, with a massive empire, mustered en masse, led by the greatest tactical and strategic genius of the age and going on a desperate trek half way across Europe the Galaxy, all for the glory of L’Empereur? Sounds like my cup of wine.

Theoretical: Heresy Box hasn’t arrived for me yet Practical: use an old picture

All historicals nonsense aside (though isn’t this just even-more-pretend historicals anyway?), since reading Abnett’s Know No Fear I’ve thought Ultramarines were pretty great, and the rage-filled Guilliman punching the head off a Word Bearer while screaming into the literal void is my favourite piece of Horus Heresy writing. So a post-Calth, enraged, dirty, bloody and broken Ultramarines force it is. A force that rips and tears, assassinates, bombards, pulls every dirty trick it has just learnt and does so with finesse. Because if you attack an Ultramarine, you had better kill him first time. If you don’t, you are dead. You are dead, Lorgar.

When the box eventually lands on my doorstep, I’ll start building it according to the excellent building your Heresy army article. Two Tactical squads and a big, fat unit of Terminators. Ultramarines were pioneers of Indomitus pattern Terminator armour, so they’ll join a squad of ten I’m retrofitting for Heresy games, giving me a comedic amount of chunky guys. I already have a Contemptor built to bring close-range pain to other Contemptors, so my second one is going to be a little longer ranged.  I want this army to display the breadth of the Ultramarine legion, so I’m going to judiciously sprinkle it with whatever units I like the look of. Jetbikes? Yeah why not. Assault squads, sure, let’s have them. A goddamn plane? Absolutely. But the thing I like most is Dreadnoughts. Lots and lots of Dreadnoughts.


As a fellow old as dirt poster and proud owner of my original copy of Rogue Trader, the concept of doing a rebooted Horus Heresy is super appealing to me. I painted up some Sons of Horus using the Cataphractii and Mk VI Tactical models (ahhh nostalgia) from the new Age of Darkness box and was really torn between them and Word Bearers, to the point where I ended up rolling a dice to decide which one I should focus on.

Sons of Horus Terminators and Tactical Squad – Credit: RichyP

In the end the Chaos Gods intervened and I’m going to do everybody’s love to hate legion. The Sons of Horus models won’t be wasted though as both legions are best buddies in the ally chart.

I’ve already painted Argel Tal, the old plastic Contemptor, a converted a Diabolist from a mixture of 40k and 30k plastics, and some Mk III and Mk IV models in various stages of Word Beariness.

Word Bearers – Credit: RichyP

This still didn’t stop me ordering:

  • A complete Age of Darkness Box (to start again, instead of the Sons of Horus models)
  • A Kratos
  • A Rhino
  • Special Weapons box,
  • The Forgeworld Word Bearers Praetor
  • Some Word Bearer doors
  • Transfer Sheet
  • Various resin heads from Forgeworld

In addition to 30 years of space marine bits that have been gathering dust, so you could say I’m going all in with this project.

Word Bearers appeal to me as they really are the most Chaos of Chaos in terms of Warhammer, and besides their lore, they also have a really diverse range with the potential for a tonne of kit-bashing potential for daemonic and Gal Vorbak units.

Trying to come up with a 1,000pt list is going to be really hard because there are so many cool options, but I’m probably going to go Praetor, Dread, Kratos, Tactical Squad / Cataphractii (depending on RoW choice), and a Support Squad. Then hopefully at the 1k-2k point, the plastic possessed will be with us and ready for some Gal Vorbakification.

Here’s the test Mk IV Word Bearer scheme that I’ll be using, but the basing my change with the final paint job.

Word Bearer Mk IV Tactical Marine – Credit: RichyP

While I wait for the delivery of models and the Zone Mortalis rules to arrive in this month’s White Dwarf, I’m off to listen to “The First Heretic” audiobook by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.

Here’s my First Heretic, a Legion Preator:

Word Bearers Legion Praetor – Credit: RichyP


Like some others I’m returning to the Horus Heresy, having played throughout 7th Ed 40k before selling off armies for other projects. That means I’m starting fresh and while I considered a Legion I hadn’t played before I couldn’t give up the yellow of Imperial Fists. I’m building my army “slowly” which of course meant buying Breachers before the box was on pre-order along with Phalanx Warders, the power armour Praetor, and then pre-ordering far too much.

I’m building my force in stages, first building up to a Zone Mortalis (come on White Dwarf subscription, turn up please) army of 1,000 points and then bulking that up to 1500, 2k and 3k+ lists as I go. Some of those points jumps will be easier than others with expensive units like Land Raider Spartans and attaching a rhino to every infantry squad I can!

Progress shot of my Zone Mortalis force

My 1,000 point army is a Stone Gauntlet (yes, I hear you, yawn) because of how thematic it is for zone mortalis games. I’ll probably play around with a similar amount of models but as a Hammerfall force instead to deepstrike things in. It’s lead by a Delegatus with boarding shield and power sword, a Legion Champion, and has 10 Breachers, 10 Phalanx Warders and 5 terminators. That’s a lot of shields and not a lot of models.

I’ve managed to catch up on the Siege of Terra series via audiobook while painting these so far and need to find something else now while I paint up the remainder…

After these I’ll be working on my big box of goodies once it’s out and far too many rhinos to put them all in!


I am entirely new to 30k and I know jack and squat about the game. I ended up choosing executioners as my scheme at the suggestion of Jack after a chat back when Fafnir Rann appeared on the horizon where I didn’t want to paint a vanilla fists scheme when a few other authors were too. I had a lot of fun with that model, and when the other heresy models came around it was a obvious choice to go with!

Ok, now as for making a list suitable for Zone Mortalis, I genuinely have no idea what I am specifically going to be running. I have twenty tacs, a Praetor and a Contemptor as a core already, plus I am doing a bunch of Cataphractii terminators at least and after that I will probably do a random collection of support and heavy squads but I am having trouble deciding what else makes its way into the list. Some of my problem is that I am pretty wedded to sticking to plastic where I can, so a ZM force might take longer for me then for a 2k+ list! I already have a Spartan and a Bombard done after all…

Beanith’s Beloved Robots – Iron Hands

I too am new to this 30k shenanagains but finally I have an excuse to post about my weirder Dreadnoughts and vague plans to use them as a basis for an incredibly silly Zone Mortalis army.

I’ll be sticking with my Iron Hands as it’s been my goto Chapter since they were released with the easiest to remember Chapter Tactic waaaay back in 5th I think? It’s also so I can continue to use the same models in 40k.

I’ve missed the boat on the Age of Darkness set this month but I will try and rectify that come late August or early September so I can field a ‘match legal force’ with some actual infantry… or ignore in favour of building another dreadnought and a tank.

Beanith’s Chonky Lads

I’ll need to dust the lads off and fix the bases at some point. The arms are magnetized on the Contemptor and the Melee Chonker so I can switch out weapons and take fun things like Twin Lascannons and Grav-flux bombards and then do a lot of touch up paint work before breaking out the transfers.

As mentioned I really need to pick up some infantry and maybe assemble the Kratos tank that I picked up on a whim.


I never was really able to get into Heresy 1st edition. I can remember excitedly going to the game store the day before my wedding to pick up my Prospero box set (though I can for sure say it was not the highlight of that week). It was a great kit and I loved the models in it, especially the Mark 3 marines and the Tartaros terminators. However, a short time later I moved to an area with no game stores, a lack of a 40k presence, and somehow less than zero Heresy support. I got a grand total of two Blood Angels painted before I shelved it to get into Deathwatch instead.

Two Blood Angel Tartaros Terminators by Craig 'MasterSlowPoke' Sniffen
Blood Angel Tartaros Terminators by Craig ‘MasterSlowPoke’ Sniffen

Blood Angels in Heresy seemed really cool to me: assault cannons out the wazoo and vicious close combat prowess. I had big plans for doing the army – I have a jump pack praetor with Relic Blade and Powerfist I adore, and I even went so far as to build the notorious Dreadnought Drop Pod. Hopefully the glue on that thing still holds.

Unfinished Blood Angels Praetor by Craig "MasterSlowPoke" Sniffen
Unfinished Blood Angels Praetor by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen

However, seeing as I have a grand total of two models painted for them, I’m not 100% set on Blood Angels. Seeing how what feels like half of my fellow authors are doing them, and the prospect of competing with Jack’s paintjobs has me looking in another direction. I can keep the pretty boy feel by looking into the dark mirror and seeing the Emperor’s Children, another close combat legion that fortunately no one here is doing. I also want to push myself a bit with painting purple. Purple has always been a real jerk to paint for me; it’s tied with orange for when I dread painting gradients on my Rainbow Warriors.

I’m planning a late-heresy look to them, full of garish purples and pinks and mismatched armor paintjobs over the flat pre-heresy purple I see most Age of Darkness Emperor’s Children doing. What actually sold it for me was this 40k Emperor’s Child featured a few days ago on Warhammer Community. I love that pink and want to try to figure out how to recreate it – if anyone has ideas, sound off in the comments. I feel like the Mark VI marines will lend themselves well to the third legion, and will take to Chaos-ing up well.

Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marine from Warhammer Community
Emperor’s Children Chaos Space Marine from Warhammer Community

As for army comp for this 1000pt Zone Mortalis force, I think I’m going to focus mostly on the line infantry came in the Prospero and the new AoD starter boxes. I’ve not yet had the chance to peruse the rules, and hopefully I can jam a Leviathan Dread in there somehow…


Credit: Kevin Stillman

So up until a test game with a friend a couple of weeks ago, I never played Horus Heresy or Warhammer 40K prior to the 8th Edition. That being said, what got me into the hobby were the Heresy-era Ultramarines – Roboute Guilliman, the Suzerians, Contemptor Dreadnoughts, and the Dan Abnett novels “Know no Fear” and “The Unremembered Empire”. When a new edition of the Horus Heresy was announced, alongside new plastic versions of many iconic units, I knew I was going to be going in hard on this game. Which was great, since I actually already had a 3000 points Heresy Ultramarines Army.

With an eye towards a Zone Mortalis Force, I already have 5 Invictarus Suzerians, 5 Tartaros Terminators, two squads of 10 Tactical Marines, and one squad of 10 Assault Marines. I can back that up with a Fist/Kheres Assault Cannon Contemptors. I am likely to tweak this by adding in another squad or two of Infantry and figure out which Praetor I want to use. I suspect it may be a good idea to pull the Assault Marines out and replace them with a cheaper Despoiler Squad. From my Big Box, I plan to make the Contemptor, 5 Cataphractii and two 5 man squads of Ultramarines, either as Seeker Squads or Veteran Squads. I also have another five Heresy Ultramarines that will likely become Combi-Melta Veterans.

Word Bearers vs Ultramarines
Credit: Kevin Stillman

However, I also want to have a full-fledged Sons of Horus army that can do double-duty as a Chaos Space Marines Army for 40K. I already have finished there:
Horus, Abaddon, the Sons of Horus Volkite Praetor, 5 Justaerian Terminators, a Contemptor Dreadnought (with dual C-Beam cannons), and a Sicaran Battletank. From both the Big Box and a Chaos Space Marine Battleforce I picked up a few years back, I plan to make the following:
1. 5 additional Cataphractii as Justaerian Terminators
2. The Spartan as Horus’ Heresy Party Bus
3. One squad of 10 Tactical Marines/Chaos Legionarries
4. One squad of 10 Despoilers/Chaos Legionarries
5. One squad of 10 Rotor Cannon Tactical Support Squad/2 Havoc Squads

I also picked up a Kratos Battle Tank to aid the armies of the Warmaster.

While waiting for my big box to arrive, I had some time to paint a few additional models. I picked up a second Kratos Battle Tank to add to my Ultramarines Armory. I also painted a model I bought awhile back – Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars.

Credit: Kevin Stillman

As the DC area is going to be a bit hot and humid for a bit, and I will not have the opportunity to rattlecan prime my Big Box models until July, I have some other Heresy models to tide me over. I have an Ultramarines Missile Launcher Heavy Support Squad, and a Word Bearers Tactical Squad. Once I finish this Word Bearers squad, I will be able to play people in a fully-painted game of “Betrayal at Calth”. Yes, I was able to get ahold of the various bespoke gaming pieces from Betrayal at Calth to play that!


While I’ve been playing games set during the Heresy for years now via Adeptus Titanicus, I am a complete and utter newbie to 30K. As an ex-WHFB player I never dipped my toe into 40K until 8th edition, so while I have heard many people talk fondly of vehicle facings and templates it will all be new to me.

Ever since the first rumours of Heresy 2.0 floated around, I was torn with which Legion to run with. For the longest time, after reading Betrayer many years ago Word Eaters was the leading candidate – the tragedy that befell Angron and their sick blue and white livery. It was only recently that I saw some of their dated sculpts such as the Rampagers kit and decided against it.

Thousand Sons Air Wing. Credit – Soggy

The Legion that others were expecting me to pick, given my first AT Legion was Xestobiax (who took part in the defence of Prospero) and that my main 40K army is Blood Ravens* was Thousand Sons. It was really tempting. I did paint up my Aeronautica planes as 30K Thousand Sons to go with my Titans and experience of working Tamiya Clear Red was enough to put me off using the approach on a wider scale army
*Blood Ravens are totally a loyalist Thousand Sons successor truther. fite me.

I felt like doing something different and who better than a legion known for operating a little different. Chris Wraight’s Scars focuses on the often overlooked fifth legion and made me want to find out more about them.

I’m an idiot as I’ve somehow managed to talk myself out of painting one white legion for another.
I’m game for the challenge.

So far I’ve done a single test model, which was reasonably quick to paint up and doesn’t look too crap. I have a Necromunda board which will do nicely for Zone Mortalis board, so I’m aiming to paint up the starter and aim for a Sagyar Mazan force while I try and find someone with Rhinos in stock.