Warlord Wednesdays: Adeptus Titanicus Legio Focus: Legio Mortis “Death’s Heads”

Warlord Wednesdays: Legion Focus – Legio Mortis

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.  

This week we’re looking at one of the most infamous of all Titan Legions, Legio Mortis. With a sick paint scheme and a useful toolbox of abilities available to them they are a solid choice that can be built in almost any direction, making them a great choice for anyone wanting to start a traitor force.

Legio Mortis Warlord. Credit – James @cheesehammer40k

Who are Legio Mortis?

Legio Mortis are one of the Triad Ferrum Morgulus, the founding three Legios of the Collegia Titanica. Their ancient history leads back to the Age of Strife where they played a vital role in uniting Mars for the Cult Mechanicum. Guardians of the Fabricator-General, they were first amongst the legions and brought countless worlds under compliance during the Great Crusade during which they were attached to the Warmaster Horus’ 63rd Expeditionary Fleet. They were present at so many of the key points of the entire setting from the start to it’s culmination on Terra including:

  • The Ullanor Crusade, where Horus was crowned Warmaster
  • The battle of Davin’s moon where Horus fell
  • Istvaan III, where they were responsible for killing any survivors of the virus bombing
  • Istvaan V Dropsite Massacre
  • Schism of Mars, where they rallied Mars under the Fabricator-General Klbor-Hal
  • The Doom of Molech
  • Beta-Garmon III Titandeath
  • Siege of Terra

Seriously, there is a good reason they are the foremost traitor legion. As the Heresy went on they descended more towards Chaos and the taint of Nurgle became more obvious, becoming grotesque monsters of war.

Painting Legio Mortis

We asked our resident Goonhammer Legio Mortis princeps Alfredo (@bonds0097) to cover how he is painting his battlegroup up for Adepticon.

Titanicus approaches the realm of historical gaming for me, and so when I decided to go with Legio Mortis, I knew I wanted to base my Titans off documented ones in the fluff and match their heraldry as best as I could. Fortunately, Mortis has been featured a fair bit throughout the Titanicus material as well as Forgeworld’s Horus Heresy Black Books. When I first started preparing for Adepticon, I planned on running Reavers and Warhounds (though that has since changed) and so this was perfect inspiration:
Ferrum Mani of Legio Mortis Credit: Games Workshop

Ferrum Mani of Legio Mortis Credit: Games Workshop

For my first model, I decided to paint Blood Wolf the Warhound Titan as his scheme was reasonably simple and would help me lock in my colors.



I sub-assembled the warhound significantly, leaving the head, torso, legs and weapons separate. I also left the shinplate that would get the stripes separate for easier painting. The weapons both got magnetized of course.



Mortis are “black” and red but the actual color of that black varies significantly by illustration. As you can see above, it’s really more of a dark blue and that’s ultimately what I went with. So for my main colors I went with black highlighted with Vallejo Model Air Blue Grey to get me the bluish black I wanted and then Vallejo Game Air Gory Red and Bloody Red for the contrasting red. For all my gold I used Scale75 Viking Gold to get a reddish gold tone that I though would contrast nicely with the blue-black. In terms of how I actually painted the model, it was reasonably simple. First I sprayed all the panels, black for the body and red for the head. Then I used a stencil (Deathray Designs makes good ones) to spray red over the black on the left shin-plate. I went with a single-stage highlight approach on all of the panels, applied with the airbrush. After spraying the panels, I masked them all with a combination of MIG Masking Putty and Vallejo Masking fluid and then sprayed the entire skeleton with Valejo Metal Color Magnesium and then drybrushed it with a bright silver. After that it was just a matter of removing the masking and hand-painting all the trim with gold plus any other details. Once basecoats were on I gloss-coated everything, applied a couple Forgeworld decals and then pin-washed all the panels in black with an enamel wash and hit the rivets on the trim with a dark brown oil wash. Finally, after a matte coat, I did a bright edge highlight on most of the trim and painted the eyes with Tamiya Clear Yellow.



Capturing the titan’s scale was important to me, so I sourced some resin bases from Unreal Wargaming Studios and am using them for all my titans. They have appropriately scaled rubble and buildings to help convey how big the titans actually are. For these I just went with a basecoat, wash and drybrush, nothing fancy. And here is the finished Blood Wolf ready for battle!
Blood Wolf, Warhound of Legio Mortis Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Blood Wolf, Warhound of Legio Mortis Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Mortis in Adeptus Titanicus

Given their fearsome reputation and the fact that they were present at nearly all of the major battles of the Heresy you can think of, Legio Mortis are the the poster children of Traitor Legions – they’re on the back of almost every box, and there are plenty of pictures of them in the Core Rules, despite not actually getting Legion Traits until Titandeath.

Tactical Overview

Reaper’s Tally. Credit – Games Workshop

Reaper’s Tally increases the potency of your Titans the more engine kills they score, letting you re-roll a single 1 during each shooting attack a Titan makes for every enemy Titan it’s destroyed this game. This is a simple and useful effect, and since it applies to each “shooting attack,” you can use it on either the hit roll or the armor roll. You’ll also get the re-roll separately for each weapon the Titan fires, since each weapon attacks separately. A larger self-sufficient Titan with three ranged weapons will get the most mileage out of this ability. Lean toward Warlords or Warbringers that combine the firepower to rack up a few kills with the durability to make use of the re-rolls.

Bair: This on Warlords/Warbringers with one dice weapons like Quake and Volcano cannons can be massive. I think we’ve all been there when we need anything other than a 1 to make the killing blow on an enemy engine after rolling the right location and what do we roll? A 1. Of course. 

Condit: We’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: there aren’t a lot of reliable sources of re-rolls in Titanicus, so every one you can get counts. A Warlord with 2 or more stacks of Reaper’s Tally can be a terrifying late-game threat.

State of Decay allows your Titans to ignore the effects of critical damage to the head for a round. In exchange, any Titan that takes advantage of this trait is not allowed to allocate any repair dice to its head that round. This is kind of a risky option, but the critical effects on the head location can seriously impair a Titan’s ability to contribute to the fight later in the game and leaves you vulnerable to further headshots. Having this option available could give you the extra push you need to tilt the later stages of a game into your favor. It also gives you some breathing room to potentially squeeze one last round of shooting out of a wounded Warlord’s Reaper’s Tally bonus. 

Bair: A really strong ability actually…when you get to use it. The head is definitely the least-targeted area if given choice due its much higher armour value, but if you are in a position where it has been critically damaged this can be the difference between making order rolls and hitting as you go down.

March of the Dead is the Death’s Heads’ biggest party trick, letting each of your Titans make a free non-boosted move during the first Strategy phase. This is a very powerful stratagem that will let you move aggressively in the first turn to bring your weapons to bear or close on objectives. It’s expensive, though: not only does it cost 3 stratagem points, you also give up the Opus if you had it.  It’s worth every bit of the cost, though. There’s some incredible synergy here with any build that needs to close the gap – melee Reavers, brawler Warlords, Warhounds, and Ferrox Maniples all benefit from the extra move. Getting that initial move can let you define the shape of the battle before it’s even begun, making this stratagem worth at least considering in every game.

Bair: The fact that the FAQ has now gone back to rulebook wording for number of command points means that if you’re playing 1 legion against 1 legion then you’re not giving up all of you me strat points for this any more. This is obviously great for getting hounds and Reavers closer quicker, but also a good tool to be able to run to cover, get out of First Firing Warlord corridors, etc. I think if you’re playing Mortis you’re taking this strat 90% of the time.

Remains of the Fallen is worth considering if you’re building for aggressive play – penalties to opposing Command checks can be really painful, but having to be within 8” to take advantage of it means it won’t work well on fire-support Titans. Consider taking it on plasma/bolter Warhounds or mid- to close-ranged Reaver builds. It’s still not clear if this effect stacks with itself, but given the wording (within 8” of “a Titan with this upgrade,” not “any Titan with this upgrade”) we think it probably does.

The Warmaster’s Beneficence gives a bonus to lasers, bolt weapons, and missile weapons the first time you fire them. This is definitely not an auto-include, but could be an interesting for certain loadouts. The most obvious way to take advantage of it is with either a dual turbo-laser Warhound or a “laser vomit” Reaver, Warbringer, or Warlord equipped with laser blasters and at least one volcano cannon. A free round of Shield-bane fire followed up by a handful of reactor-neutral volcano cannon shots is going to do some damage. Interestingly, this upgrade can also let you hedge against unusually good dice rolls to improve the effectiveness of Titans you intend to activate later in the round. For example, a fire-support Warlord with a belicosa and apocalypse missile launchers might normally be somewhat disappointed if its chosen target’s voids drop before it gets a chance to activate – S4 missiles into armor aren’t going to do much into most targets. However, with Beneficence, those missiles hit the S5 breakpoint, making them that much more likely to inflict a few points of damage to a Warhound or Reaver. It’s not a lot, but it could make the difference when following up on that free belicosa shot.  

In terms of Personal Traits, there aren’t any auto-includes, which is nice from a balance perspective although we would have liked something a bit more interesting.

Rotten Heart lets you ignore the effect of an awakened machine spirit by advancing your Titan’s reactor track two places instead of one. This isn’t an incredible effect, but if you’re in a Warlord that you expect to be pushing a lot, the added reliability may be worth considering. This trait’s utility is held back by how unusual it will be for your Princeps to fail the resulting command check in the first place, but if you want to be absolutely certain you can keep control of your Princeps’s god-engine when you need it, this will let you do that.

Condit: This is such an edge case that I can’t recommend it. The other two traits are interesting for a second Princeps, but you’re better off going with one of those or something from the Core Rules choices over this one.

Pitiless can work well with lists that bring a lot of Blast weapons – their high strength and inability to call shots means enemy Titans will likely wind up crippled before they die, and this trait will give you the extra punch you need to confirm a kill.  Ancient of Terra makes the Princeps’s Titan always roll a d6 on the reactor overload table, even if it’s redlining. If you expect your Princeps to be pushing aggressively, this will help mitigate the consequences until you can vent the resulting heat. Either of these are interesting choices for a second Princeps, but you’re going to want Decisive Strategist or maybe Swift Killer from the core rules if you’ve only got one maniple. 

Credit – Thundercloud @toomanymetalmen

Maniple Choice

Legio Mortis has several tools at its disposal that work with any composition, allowing you to build a force that suits your own playstyle. Want to get close? March of the Dead will allow you to blitz across the table. With that in mind, the Ferrox Maniple is an outstanding choice, allowing you to get within scale even quicker to make the most of the Knife-Fighters trait. While you’re there, Remains of the Fallen will benefit from your Titans’ maneuverability, hopefully allowing you to trigger its effect multiple times. Want to go big and shooty? While the Reaper’s Tally trait is a nice bonus for everyone, it favors having a heavier chassis which is capable of finishing off Titans and will survive long enough to use it. For this reason, we think the Mandatum Maniple introduced in Shadow and Iron is a great pick. A brawler warlord will be able to get in close thanks to March of the Dead and start working up a tally. The Warhounds will be getting +1 to hit on anything within the Warlord, enabling you to do 4+ called shots to weakened armor. Whether The Warmaster’s Beneficence is worth taking depends less on your maniple choice and more on the loadout of the Titans within it. Being able to indiscriminately use Shieldbane 2-3 times on a Warhound or Reaver without blowing your reactor on the first turn is a nice trick to have up your sleeve to get those shields down faster. Once those shields are down, a Warbringer Nemesis or Warlord can go to town with volcano cannons and laser blasters.

Legio Mortis Warhound. Credit – James @cheesehammer40k

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at a 1500 point list which takes advantage of the toys Legio Mortis offers. This list has a little bit of everything while still having some room to tweak to suit your taste:

Legio Mortis Battlegroup – 1490 pts

Mandatum Battleline Maniple – 1150pts

Warlord Titan – 490 pts 

  • Princeps Senioris – Dominant Strategist
  • Paired Gatling Blasters
  • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
  • Macro Gatling Blaster

Warhound Titan – 220pts

  • Plasma Blastgun
  • Vulcan Megabolter

Warhound Titan – 220pts

  • Plasma Blastgun
  • Vulcan Megabolter

Warhound Titan – 220pts

  • Turbo Laser Destructor
  • Turbo Laser Destructor

Support Titans

Reaver Titan – 340pts

  • The Warmaster’s Beneficence
  • Turbo Laser Destructor
  • Laser Blaster
  • Volcano Cannon

We’ve opted for the Mandatum Maniple with a Reaver support to capitalise on Mortis’ abilities; March for the DeadReaper’s Tally and The Warmaster’s Beneficence.

Soggy: I was very tempted to go double minimum Ferrox again, but the same Titans three weeks in a row at 1500 is a bit much, even if it is a great combination with March of the Dead. That said, the more I look at it the more I want to have a few games with this list.

Bair: This list is frankly terrifying. The Warlord wants to be close anyway with its weapons so those hounds are hitting hard and with March for the Dead it closes in quick. The laser hound maybe wants to hang back with the Warlord sometimes not in a squadron with the other two hounds so it can pick off the last shield or two, or take a couple high strength shots where needed while the other two rush up the board. Also this gives you one more activation too, always nice to have. On a “standard” 6” deployment that’s 2 hounds over halfway down the board in the first turn, weapons in range of enemy of choice. 

The Mandatum is a great way to field a Brawler Warlord, and with a bonus 4” beyond your deployment from March of the Dead, it should be in position to start melting faces on turn one. The last place your enemy will want to be is close to the Warlord, due to its overwhelming firepower and the fact that your Warhounds will get +1 to hit targets within 12″ of the Warlord. Warhounds being able to do called shots on 4+ is nothing to sneeze at. In terms of the hounds, there are some choices to be made:

  • Squadrons – Pairing up Warhounds for an alpha strike is an attractive option, although you will want to ensure you don’t give up too much initiative advantage and allow your Warlord to be out maneuvered. Take a look at the battlefield and what you’re facing as you rack up and decide accordingly.
  • Whilst the plasma/megabolter is the typical go-to loadout for its flexibility against all targets, a double TLD hound is the same cost and will be able to take advantage of those easier called shots. Swapping one of the plasma/bolter Warhounds for another laser Warhound could be a good shout.
  • You could drop the Reaver in lieu of another hound and equip them all with Remains of the Fallen to really give your opponent a hard time with command checks, or let your laser Warhounds feel the Warmaster’s Beneficence for a round of free Shieldbane attacks.

Speaking of the Reaver, this loadout is expensive but has plenty of opportunity to make an impact with its first volley. With two Shieldbane laser attacks, your opponent will consider having to use Voids to Full! twice and potentially lose some shields anyway. Follow up after your Warhounds have weakened your target’s voids and the lasers can collaps them entirely, opening up for a prime volcano shot to weaken the armour. This loadout is pretty good against all targets, although will run hot if you want to use Shieldbane in subsequent turns – use your bolter hounds first to ensure that shields are not a problem. Assuming you are playing another titan battlegroup, you should hopefully have 5 stratagem points, allowing you to invest 3 points in March of the Dead and take other stratagems depending on the battlefield on the day. The new Warp Displacement stratagem could be used to really surprise your opponent by sliding your brawler Warlord out of arc and back into carapace range.

The Warlord is the Princeps, and we’ve taken the Dominant Strategist personal trait. The trait is strong in its own right, but helps Mortis a little bit more – if you decide to take March of the Dead it’ll let you hedge against a sneaky Vox Blackout in the first round and make sure you get the free move.

Legio Mortis Reaver. Credit – Thundercloud – @toomanymetalmen

Playing against Mortis

Given that most players will have 5 stratagem points since the February FAQ, Mortis players will take March of the Dead even more than they used to. With this in mind, it does leave them vulnerable to shenanigans – if you’ve got the Opus at the start of the first Strategy phase, you can pop Vox Blackout and deny your opponents both a powerful 3-point stratagem and the opportunity to issue orders in the first Strategy phase. Think carefully before you do this, though – most AT games are played narratively, and losing access to a list-defining 3CP strat because you spent 1CP on Vox Blackout could create a serious “feel-bad” moment for your opponent.  That aside, March of the Dead is something you’ll need to consider happening – when deploying, keep in mind that there’s a good chance that all of their Titans will be 4-8 inches closer during the first Strategy phase. Also bear in mind that any Titans equipped with the Warmaster’s Beneficence will want to make the most of their first shot – if you can deny them the ability to bring all of their weapons to bear through careful positioning and playing with ranges, you can force them to choose between waiting another turn to fire or losing some of the effectiveness of that initial volley.

While critical damage to the head is usually very powerful, you can’t count on it here – if a Mortis player’s plan for the turn requires shots at full BS or a key order being issued, State of Decay means they’re never out of the fight, and they can just ignore the Princeps Wounded result, meaning they don’t have to risk random shutdowns. On the flip side, if they take advantage of this, they won’t be able to repair that damage, so you’ll be guaranteed a chance to take out a Titan with a wounded Princeps, assuming you can activate before it in the Combat phase.

Legio Mortis Reaver. Credit – James @cheesehammer40k

Don’t Fear the Reapers

The Death’s Heads have some useful abilities that let them maintain effectiveness as the game goes on despite mounting critical damage effects and the demands of reactor management. The Warmaster’s Beneficence and March of the Dead let you give some punch to your earlier turns, and as you start to rack up engine kills, your Titans will get more and more dangerous as the game goes on. None of their options are particularly incredible on their own, but all have their uses and come together nicely over the course of a game.


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