Welcome back to Goonhammer’s series for aspiring Titan Principes. We here at Goonhammer’s own Collegia Titanica know that Adeptus Titanicus 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 Titan Battlegroup. In this series, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the various Legios of the Collegia Titanica – exploring their origins and how to use them on the tabletop, from maniple selection and their loadouts, through to how to command them on the field of battle to secure ultimate victory.
We’re back! I know it’s been a while, and thanks for bearing with us over our extended holiday break. This week, we’re here with a deep dive into the War Griffons themselves: Legio Gryphonicus.
Introduced in the Adeptus Titanicus core rulebook, the War Griffons have something for everyone – a cool paint scheme, some flavorful rules and a few tricks to boot. They favor aggressive play focusing around self-sufficient Titan builds like melee Reavers and mid-range Warlords. And let’s be honest: if they’re good enough for Duncan, they’re good enough for you.
Who are the War Griffons?
One of the strongest Legions of the Collegia Titanica, the War Griffons have a long and distinguished history which might even predate the Age of Strife. They hail from the forge world of Gryphonne IV, which had become its own interstellar empire spanning eight worlds before their reunification with the Empire of Man. One of the largest Titan Legions not hailing from Mars, recounting their many exploits would take far more space than we have here. As a testament to their long and storied history, more than half of their complement of Titans is made up of the oldest STC from before the Age of Strife: the venerable Reaver-class Titan. Immediately swearing fealty to the Emperor, they joined expeditionary fleets to reclaim and expand the Empire’s borders. With the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, they remained true and fought in some of the most notable campaigns of the setting including Molech, Tallarn, and Beta-Garmon.
Unlike many other Legios which were utterly destroyed at Titandeath on Beta-Garmon (or at later battles in the Heresy), Gryphonicus survived. However, M.41 wasn’t kind to them, seeing the complete overrun of Gryphonne IV by Hive Fleet Leviathan. This wasn’t their last stand: Some survived to fight another on the Fortress World of Cadia during Abaddon’s 13th Crusade. As you’re probably aware, though, that didn’t go so well for them either. The fate of those Titans is currently unknown, though we have a sneaking suspicion that the War Griffons fight on somewhere, bloodied but unbroken.
Painting Legio Gryphonicus
We asked our resident Gryphonicus player Zach for the approach he took to paint his first Legio.
Titanicus uses so few models that I wanted to go a bit out of the box with some of the paints I used for them, using this as an excuse to use paints I had wanted to try before but didn’t have the chance or didn’t want to because it would have been too much hassle for a full army in another system. I also fully assembled before painting because I’m terrible at losing pieces. Still, it’s a pretty simple scheme all said and done and could definitely be added to for more detail. The paints used are a mix of Games Workshop (GW), Coat d’Arms (CdA), and Vallejo (V).
Whole model: Chaos Black Undercoat (GW)
Leadbelcher spray to make the skeleton nice and easy (GW)
Drybrush Necron Compound over the leadbelcher spray (GW)
Heavy dose of Ink Wash Armour (CdA)
Field Blue (CdA) 2 coats over the silver for a solid tone
Mix 1:1 Nuln Oil (GW) and Thinning Medium (V) focusing into the crevices
The lighter grey in places is in Uniform Grey (CdA)
The teal colour in some places is Ahriman Blue (GW)
Two coats of thinned Averland Sunset (GW); legitimately the best coverage yellow I have used
Mix 1:1 Agrax Earthshade (GW) and Thinning Medium (V) again focused into crevices, this also gives a dirtier look which I was aiming for
Vallejo Liquid Gold – Old Gold colour:
So this stuff is not easy to use. It’s alcohol based so you need to be careful using it. Use an old crappy brush that will still be able to paint the trim, and have a pot of isopropyl alcohol to hand to clean the brush regularly because it can dry fast on the bristles. This definitely requires more patience but the results are gorgeous, and honestly didn’t photograph half as well as they look. Bright, shining, realistic golds that contrast the darker scheme beautifully.
A very carefully applied shade of Agrax goes over top to dull the tone slightly.
Gryphonicus in Adeptus Titanicus
The War Griffons favor an aggressive play style, which shows in their Legio and Personal Traits. Let’s explore how to make the most of these:
Lust for Glory
Any Gryphonicus battlegroup should be built around their Lust for Glory trait. This has some serious implications for how you’ll build your list. Where most players will try to focus down one target at a time to remove the threat from the board before moving on to the next, War Griffons players will want to choose a target for each of their Titans in order to re-roll 1s on hit rolls and add 1 to armor rolls. This is a powerful bonus – re-rolls of any sort are hard to come by in AT, and adding 1 to armor rolls is always nice. You’ll want to build to get maximum advantage of it.
This means building self-sufficient Titans that can take some punishment and threaten targets on their own without requiring support from other Titans. As a result, you’re going to want to focus on Warlords and Reavers, then choose targets you think you’ll be able to trade blows favorably with. Mid-range Warlords equipped with plasma and gatling weapons become utterly terrifying with this benefit, though you have to be careful not to allow your quarry to escape. These weapons are also effective at all three stages of attacking Titans, allowing your Warlord the best chance of winning its duel. For Reavers, you’ll generally want to pair one of the melee weapons with a melta cannon or laser blaster. Use the ranged weapon and your carapace weapon to drop shields and start working on armor, then close with the melee weapon and exploit the most damaged location track.
To that end, you’ll want to avoid Warhounds to the extent possible – while they can be utterly terrifying in many lists, that threat usually comes from working together with other Titans, whether from piling more shots on the same target or exploiting the Coordinated Strike rule with another Warhound in the same squadron. If you do decide to take a Warhound, consider taking turbolasers – the standard plasma/bolter loadout is decent at most stages, but the inability to call shots with the plasma blastgun can be troublesome, and the increased effective range of the turbolasers will let you hide it from other Titans more effectively while still keeping its prey in its sights.
Keep in mind that you only lose your claim if another Titan attacks a called target – this means that Knight support banners won’t cause you to use your claim. Acastus are even better for Gryphonicus battlegroups than for other legions (making them even more mandatory than they already were), and Questoris with RFBCs and rocket pods are tempting as fairly cost-effective ways to pound down shields.
Mainstay of the Legion
Gryphonicus also allows you to replace a Warlord or Warhound in your maniple with a Reaver using your Mainstay of the Legion trait. When you do, you can give that Reaver a wargear upgrade depending on what sort of Titan it replaced.
In most situations, you’re going to want to choose a maniple that will let you swap out a Warhound for a Reaver so you can slap Motive Subreactors on it. Getting free boosts to your movement and maneuvering without having to push is great, and the downside is very manageable – if you’re taking repeated critical hits to your Titan’s legs, you’ve got bigger things to worry about than a point or two of heat. This is great for short- and mid-ranged Reavers, and pairs nicely with a melta cannon and your choice of melee weapon.
Gravatus Plating isn’t quite as good, but has its uses – replacing a Warlord with a Reaver equipped with this upgrade saves you 115 points and buys you significantly better mobility. The upgrade increases the AV of each of the Reaver’s structure tracks by 1, making it tougher for “hybrid” weapons like gatling cannons and lasers to cause damage early on, though it won’t do much against dedicated anti-armor weapons at S10 or higher. You won’t use this often, as you’ll generally want to take Warlords if you have them available to you, but if you’re strapped for points or just really want the maniple trait from a particular maniple, this will let you bring a slightly more durable Reaver. In most situations, though, you’ll just want to go with the more agile build due to hope vital the movement phase is in this game.
Unlike many of the other Titan Legions, all three of the War Griffons’ personal traits are useful. The most obviously powerful of these is Reckless Maverick. This trait allows the Princeps Senioris to immediately activate a second time within either the movement or combat phase at the cost of raising your reactor three times. This can allow for some incredibly powerful activations, like moving a Reaver at a dead sprint 24″ across the field using their boosted movement or a Warlord Titan moving 12″ and being able to fully turn around in a phase. It also allows for some interactions which aren’t immediately obvious: for example, if you have charge orders and activate twice in the movement phase, you can perform two charges, letting you pile on the attacks with a melee or slam attack.
This trait is absurdly powerful and can ensure a quick and decisive engine kill to weaken your opponent when they least expect it. Be mindful of the tax on your reactor, and avoid use of draining weapons or pushing your reactor for movement beforehand. Motive Sub-Reactors can turn a Reaver with this trait into an absolute terror, all but guaranteeing its quarry’s destruction.
Your other two choices are nothing to sneeze at either. Hunter Without Equal lets you re-roll all failed hit rolls against your Princeps’s claimed target, forcing your quarry to break line of sight if it wants to be safe from your attacks. Master Duellist lets your Princeps re-roll failed hit rolls against targets within 8″, allowing a melee Reaver or another aggressively-positioned Titan to pose a threat to any enemy so long as it can close the distance. Hunter Without Equal will give a fire-support Titan powerful bonuses without having to close the distance, while Master Duellist will make a close- or mid-ranged Reaver into a serious threat even after its claimed target has gone up in flames.
Given the War Griffons’ love of Reaver-class Titans, you might be thinking that they’d excel with a Corsair, but that’s probably not their best choice. Gryphonicus doesn’t get access to its special wargear unless it uses Mainstay of the Legion to take a Reaver in place of something else, and Motive Sub-Reactors are honestly too good to pass up.
Instead, you’ll want to lean towards maniples that let you swap out a Warhound. Venator and Ferrox are both excellent choices that still allow you take advantage of their maniple trait. In a Venator, taking a second Reaver gives you two options for your free shot whenever a Warhound collapses a target’s shield, though you still only get to fire with one of the Titans each time it activates. However, having a pair of them gives you more choices on what weapons to fire with as well as better coverage of the board – it’s much harder to hide from two melta cannon Reavers than just one. It’s also useful for managing heat if you take a volcano cannon, since you can alternate which Reaver gets the free shot to keep your reactors under control.
In a Ferrox, you’re more concerned with the Motive Sub-reactors wargear – since you want your Titans to be in close to take advantage of the maniple’s bonus to armor rolls, getting free boosts to movement and maneuvering is huge. Bring a healthy complement of power fists and chainfists to take full advantage of the maniple’s Knife Fighters trait.
Things get really interesting when you take a maniple with Warlords, though. Mid-range “brawler” Warlords are already one of the strongest builds in the game, with the macro-gatling blaster/sunfury plasma annihilator build posing a serious threat to any target at all stages of the game. But what if you could re-roll 1s on hit and armor rolls for both weapons? The sunfury in particular benefits massively from Lust for Glory, both being less likely to miss and making any hit against a target with AV 12 or less all but guaranteed to cause damage. As a bonus, a macro/plasma Warlord packs enough firepower to take down its Lust for Glory target all on its own even without the trait, making it a serious threat even after you flatten its chosen nemesis.
If you’re looking to bring a Warlord, an Axiom will let you bring a Warlord and 2-3 Reavers, including one equipped with Motive Subreactors. It also gives you the security of being able to keep issuing orders even if you miss one, which can be vital for ensuring a charge on your quarry. And as a bonus, you don’t have to take any Warhounds, meaning you don’t have any pieces that have difficulty taking advantage of Lust for Glory.
The new Arcus Battleline Maniple is also interesting, letting you bring a Warbringer-Nemesis, a Reaver, and a Warhound to the fight. It also gives the Warhound a defined battlefield role as a spotter for the Warbringer, allowing you to bring a quake or volcano cannon to bear even if your chosen prey is able to hide completely out of sight. There’s also something to be said for the Ruptura even though there’s no Warhound to sub out – the maniple trait’s free boosted move each turn takes the edge off of not having access to Motive Subreactors, and the bonus move if one of your Warbringers kills something is all upside. In either case, we think you’re probably better off with a maniple that lets you bring a Warlord, but we’re excited to see what players will do with these new tools.
Whatever you wind up taking, leave some room for some Knights. Since they’re not Titans, they won’t cause your War Griffons to lose their claim on anything they attack, so you can use them to help drop shields early and put in a few points of structure damage here and there so your god-engines can really go in for the kill. Knights Acastus and Questoris are generally best here. If you decide to go with Questoris, kit them out with rapid-fire battle cannons and rocket pods, and fill out with melee weapons to keep their points cost manageable, as well as giving them some serious punch if they manage to close. Use the Knights to pound down shields, then let your Titans take out their called target with impunity.
Using this knowledge, let’s make an example 1500 point list and look at the decisions made to make this force:
Reaver Titan – 340 pts
- Princeps Senioris – Reckless Maverick
- Melta Cannon
- Vulcan Megabolter
- Motive Subreactors
Reaver Titan – 305 pts
- Laser Blaster
- Vulcan Megabolter
Warlord Titan – 490 pts
- Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
- Macro-Gatling Blaster
- Gatling Blaster Carapace
Acastus Knight Banner – 190pts
- Porphyrion x2
Cerastus Knight Banner – 170pts
- Lancer x2
For 1,495 points, this is an incredibly aggressive list with a lot of medium- to short-range punch. The Axiom Maniple benefit is a nice one, allowing you to ensure your charge orders go off on your Reavers. Just remember to issue your orders to your knights last, to keep the benefit to your Titans.
Rather than giving command to the biggest titan on the field, Princeps Senioris will go to our Reaver which has subbed in for a Warhound with Mainstay of the Legion, allowing them to use Sub-motive Reactors to move at boosted speed without pushing the reactor. This will help ensure your Princeps can close the gap to bring both the chainfist and the melta cannon’s Fusion trait to bear. The Reckless Maverick personal trait will allow them to double activate in a single phase, posing the threat of multiple moves (potentially combined with the charge order) or an absolutely devastating combat phase with two activations each of the chainfist and melta cannon. As this Titan won’t push for movement or weapons, we should have ample reactor plasma to pay the cost for the double activation.
The second Reaver is nothing too exciting compared to the others, but still fully capable of making the most of Lust for Glory for their chosen target. The brawler Warlord is more than capable of taking out smaller foes without the assistance from Lust for Glory, letting it start working on the rest of your opponent’s battlegroup after fulfilling its vow.
The Knight Banners are here to fill two roles: be a distraction that cannot be ignored and drop shields without causing your Titans to lose Lust for Glory. The lancers will draw attention in some shape or form, so keep them in cover as they cross the board. If you can cross the gap, aim for the body and hope for critical hits to disable shields. The Acastus will do what they do best and drop an unreasonable number of hits onto enemy Titans, stripping the shields off of targets of opportunity before your Titans activate to ensure maximum damage.
Playing against Gryphonicus
Most of the time in Titanicus, you’ll be focusing fire on your priority target while trying to deny your opponent the ability to focus their fire. Lust for Glory forces your opponent to split their fire if they want to make the most of their trait – abuse this. Maneuver your Titans so that your opponent has to work for their vow by hiding behind cover to dodge arcs, or hide behind cover yourself to make them choose between not capitalizing on Lust for Glory or giving it up entirely. Remove their Knight Banners fast so that your shields only have to worry about one Titan firing at them a turn. You want them to deny them the benefit of their legion trait while exploiting its weaknesses.
Be mindful of their Princeps Seniores, as any of their personal traits will allow them to pose a serious threat to your game plan. The main trick to be aware of is Reckless Maverick, as this allows for frankly unreasonable maneuverability or shooting when it goes off, but either of their other traits will add some serious punch as well.
The War Griffons March to War
Despite being released with the core rules, Gryphonicus still have fun and competitive rules three supplements later. They can pose a serious threat against any list while still requiring smart list building and clever play to get the most out of. However, their traits force you to think about your Titans’ loadouts in a different way and equip them so that each one is a legitimate threat standing alone. If you want to take the honorable approach to Titan warfare and wouldn’t dare disgrace yourself by ganging up on an opponent when there’s a perfectly good duel to be had, you may find yourself at home with the Legio Gryphonicus.