Warlord Wednesdays: Legion Focus – Legio Atarus

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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.

[Editors’ Note: This article was last updated on May 7, 2021, and includes updates through the Loyalist Legios book and the accompanying FAQ.]

This week we’re looking at Legio Atarus, a young Legio with a lot to prove and their fresh mindset gives them a fresh perspective to Titan warfare, introduced to the game in the Titandeath supplement. Combining their nearly-unmatched tactical flexibility with some updated rules in the Loyalist Legios book, the Firebrands are back with a vengeance.

Legio Atarus Warlord. Credit – Peter Martin (IG: @waaagh_uzgub)

Who are Legio Atarus?

One of the younger members of the Collegia Titanica, the Firebrands were largely untrusted by their peers and the Mechanicum at first during the Great Crusade, due to their Phaeton heritage.

Phaeton was the most productive Forgeworld after Mars and was fiercely independent, leading to increasing tensions which nearly reached a breaking point – until Phaeton gave in to tithe a third of their forces to Mars. Instead of following through, the Techpriests of Phaeton sent the force on a random vector. These forces eventually settled the Forge World Atar-Median, where Atarus were founded.

During the Great Crusade they took part in numerous compliance actions, most notable at War of the Shedim Drifts. Atarus were fielded by the Warmaster as a diversionary attack and ultimately the full demi-Legio was used as a sacrificial pawn while the Warmaster struck elsewhere. During this last stand, Legio Mortis and the Fureans refused to come to their aid – a grudge they didn’t have to wait long to claim on.

At the Istvaan Dropsite Massacre they became the first Loyalist Legio, blaring their warhorns eager to settle the score with Legio Mortis. The maniples present made the traitors pay a costly toll becoming legend, their names being recommissioned and kept in constant service within the Legio.

Legio Atarus Battlegroup at Legio Walks WHW. Credit – Peter Martin (IG: @waaagh_uzgub)

Painting Legio Atarus

We asked Peter Martin (IG: @waaagh_uzgub) (who Soggy and Bair had the pleasure of meeting at The Legio Walks event at Warhammer World) how he painted up his battlegroup

Preparation & White Paneling

Start with grey car spray undercoat, then airbrush a gradient from Karak Stone up to Ushabti Bone over all panels that are going to have white on them. Wash and panel-line with thin seraphim sepia (hard to avoid tidemarks so I may swap this for spraying enamel pigment and dabbing off in future). Then added an airbrushed white layer to the gradients for higher contrast on white panels

Red Paneling

The red panels are then done by airbrushing a pre-shade: white over upper parts of panels and black over lower/shadowed parts of panels. Then it’s thinned Fleshtearer’s Contrast paint by airbrush (the Contrast range flows so beautifully through an airbrush) to get that deep red gradient effect.

The rest of the owl

The Metals are nothing special – silver spray, leadbelcher, contrast paints to tint some metallic components bronze/copper etc

Legio Atarus Warhound. Credit – Peter Martin (IG: @waaagh_uzgub)

Atarus in Adeptus Titanicus

The Firebrands’ heritage and relative youth is represented in their rules, their fierce independence and flexibility giving them a number of interesting tricks and powerful Personal Traits. 

Tactical Overview

Legion Traits

The Firebrands’ legion trait, Seizing the Initiative, has improved from the initial release. It still lets you re-roll their initiative roll once per game so long as you rolled lower than your opponent, and you’re still forced to take the Opus if you win on the re-roll. However, it’s no longer restricted to the first battle round, which is a significant power boost. If you find yourself wanting to ensure you’re going to go first on a particular turn, this will help you do that. This gives a similar (though less powerful) effect to Dominant Strategist, but frees you up to take another Personal Trait.

Condit: Or you could take Dominant Strategist as well and have one turn of guaranteed first player and another with a decent chance. If you want to run a melee-heavy list in Atarus, this could be pretty cool.

Stratagems

For 1 point, Impetuous Machine Spirit gives you a way to mitigate the impact of an awakened machine spirit. Rather than rolling on the machine spirit table, you instead automatically apply the “Impetuous” result, and add 2” to the distance it moves you. This won’t come into play often, but when it does, you could be thankful for it – avoiding a lost activation is always nice. Particularly interesting on a Warlord, where the average of 5”-6” is the distance you’d be able to move with a push anyway. Just make sure you’ve set yourself up with a clear route.

Soggy: In a world where that 1 point could be Long Retreat or another Obscuration Barrage, I find this really hard to justify and bank on.

Maniple of One is a unique effect that can be a nasty trick if it’s played right. Choose a Titan, and replace its maniple trait with another one of your choice for the round. It doesn’t count as being part of any maniple for that round, but using this stratagem opens up some unusual tricks that could be very useful for you with the right timing – not to mention frustrating for your opponent. Unfortunately, not all of the maniple traits will work here – about half of the maniple traits only work if the Titan is in a maniple with another Titan.

Here’s the the list of options you have, starting with the most useful (many thanks to Peter Martin for his invaluable insight on this):

  • Ferrox: Add +1 to armour rolls within your scale in inches (10″ for a Warlord, 8″ for a Reaver, 6″ for a Warhound)
    • Peter: Extermigus gives a bigger strength boost, but this would make hits within 2” more reliable while keeping your reactor cool. Combine with Unconventional Thinker to spring a nasty close-combat attack from a Titan your opponent thought was outside range.
    • Condit: If you really want to ruin somebody’s day, you could use this on a Warmaster to choose a target within 2″ and immediately punt them into low orbit.
  • Extergimus: Add +2 to the strength of a ranged weapon attack at the cost of 1 reactor heat (or 2 heat if the weapon has more than 5 dice)
    • Peter: Try combining with Shedim Drifts Veteran and/or Overcharged Cannon to really crack open a shield-less titan. It’s also of potential use in trying to create that first breach in the nigh-impregnable armour of a Warmaster. Be wary of reactor heat, especially with high dice-value carapace weapons – making this best suited to larger battle titans. Against lighter targets, it could be overkill on weapons with high base strength such as Warmaster Plasma Annihilators.
    • Condit: Reactor heat will be a big issue here, especially on small Titans, but don’t ignore it for Warhounds: taking the heat definitely isn’t ideal, but if it lets you trade up for a Warbringer or Warlord it’s SP well-spent. Otherwise, this will likely be one of your go-to choices.
  • Corsair: Choose any Titan (not just a Reaver!) to move at its full non-boosted speed outside its front arc.
    • Peter: Play this on a Warlord to really shake things up. Combine with Unconventional Thinker for another d6” movement AND a 90 degree turn when your opponent activates a Titan (but not a knight). shifting a Warlord an average 7.5” in any direction. Move into combat, dodge into a side arc, skip away from a close combat Titan, dash around a corner or dive into cover.
    • Condit: Don’t count out Warhounds with this – it’s a lot easier to outflank things with a plasma/bolter Warhound when it can move 8″ in any direction for the turn. Just keep in mind that if you know going in that you’re going to want this effect, you can get it cheaper for your entire list with The Long Retreat.
  •  Precept: Choose an order and issue it on an unmodified 2+.
    • Peter: Not a lot for 2SP, but could help a titan under heavy command penalties to ensure that a vital order goes off. You can get the same effect for First Fire/Split Fire from the Myrmidon, but you might as well use Precept..
    • Condit: As with the Corsair, if you know you want this available to you you can get a better version of the effect with Iron Resolve. However, as a troubleshooting option on the off-chance you need to issue an order to a Titan that’s 
  • Perpetua: Issue Emergency Repair orders on an unmodified 2+, and gain an extra Repair die in the Damage Control phase if the Titan didn’t move.
    • Condit: Most of Atarus’s other rules lend themselves to a more aggressive playstyle, helping you move across the board and take the initiative when you need it, and this effect can help you keep your Titan alive when you need it. If you’ve gotten your Titan to where you want it but it’s a little worse for wear, putting it in Perpetua for the turn might be just the trick you need to hold out for another turn or two.

In addition to those effects, you can also get some use out of the following, thought they’re a bit more situational:

  • Janissary: Immediately activate a Knight Banner within 6″ of the Titan during the Movement phase.
    • Peter: Activating a knight banner early for 2 SP isn’t great. Could be used to double-tap an enemy with a titan and knight combo before they get a chance to respond.
    • Condit: While we were somewhat down on this effect as a maniple trait, having it as a one-off trick to follow up a chainfist charge with a banner of Lancers or Atrapos could be pretty spicy. Consider bringing some Cerastus and keeping this in your back pocket – I can nearly guarantee your opponent won’t see it coming until it’s too late.
  • Ruptura: Move a Reaver at its boosted speed without pushing its reactor.
    • Peter: This isn’t a great benefit for 2SP.
    • Condit: It does have some edge case uses, especially if you’re playing a mission like Acquisition and your Titan carrying the objective is riding the hot edge of its reactor track.
  • Ignus: Add +1 to dice values and re-roll armour rolls for Firestorm weapons.
    • Peter: Not an enormous benefit for 2SP, but could allow a twin-flamer Warhound to bite above its weight.

Soggy: At 2 points it may initially seem overcosted compared to other stratagems, but what you are paying for is flexibility. Other Stratagems don’t have this many different effects you can pick from once the game is underway.

Wargear

Infernus Missiles have gone up in points to +25 points per Titan. This might sound dire, but they picked up a powerful new rule: in addition to the “burning ground” template gimmick it had before, this upgrade also confers the Voidbreaker (2) trait. This means that a Reaver with this upgrade will force an average of 6 void saves, while a Warlord will force an average of 10, assuming they’re outside 30″ and the target is unobstructed. And if you’re using the Barrage trait outside 30″, those numbers drop to a still-respectable 5 and 7 saves, respectively. These are definitely worth taking now, particularly on Reavers where the upgrade is more effective.

Condit: It may also push the Warmaster’s otherwise somewhat lackluster Apocalypse Missile Arrays to something more interesting for a gunline-oriented list, though you’ll probably still want to stick with the megabolters. It’s worth considering if you find that you have trouble tracking down your targets, though.

Personal Traits

Headstrong lets your Princeps keep the order it was issued from the previous turn without making a command check. This initially sounds kinda cool, at least until you see what else Atarus has on offer.

Unconventional Thinker fills a similar niche as Swift Killer in that it lets you reposition when it’s not your turn. When an enemy Titan declares an action in the movement or combat phase, your Princeps moves d6” in any direction and rotates up to 90 degrees. You can only use it once a game, but it’s a very nice effect. You can use the movement to retreat, close, or even duck behind cover, and the 90 degree turn lets you cover unexpected moves from your opponent in a way that other legions just can’t.

Condit: I can’t stress enough how powerful this can be when played right – in addition to the obvious repositioning gimmicks, you can even use this to take away the flanking bonus to armour rolls in a key situation, potentially denying your opponent an engine kill.

Shedim Drift Veteran lets your Princeps choose a weapon each round and re-roll all armor rolls from that weapon. Reliable sources of re-rolls are always good to have in Titanicus, and this one is worth it. As an added bonus, if you’re across the table from Legio Mortis or Legio Fureans, you can re-roll armor rolls from all your weapons, not just one. This sounds situational until you get out there and see the sheer number of Mortis and Fureans battlegroups out there – you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this. And even when you can’t use it for all your weapons, the base effect is still very good.

Legio Atarus Reaver. Credit – Peter Martin (IG: @waaagh_uzgub)

Maniple Choice

Unlike some of their peers, the Firebrands’ traits don’t really promote the use of one Maniple over another. This flexibility allows you to assemble a battlegroup and play the way you want. That said, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind while building your battlegroup.

First, Maniple of One gives you some flexibility to try something different and fall back on staples like Knife Fighters when it’d be most impactful, as well as letting you give maniple traits to chassis that wouldn’t normally be to use them, such as letting a Warlord benefit from the Corsair’s trait. You can add to this flexibility with Swift Killer or Unconventional Thinker to let your princeps cover gaps as well.

This flexibility is also best paired with a list that offers you a variety of options in engaging your opponent to best take advantage of your ability to focus tightly on a particular tactic in a crucial phase. Make sure to bring at least one fire-support Titan and at least one close-range brawler, then fill out the rest of your list to taste.

On the equipment side of things, Infernus Missiles are now definitely worth the points, especially on Reavers. You’re taking them for Voidbreaker, but the blast template gimmick gives them some potential upside later on, especially against Warhounds and Reavers whose legs have taken some structure damage.

Shedim Drift Veteran is one of the strongest Personal Traits in the game and is almost worth building a Maniple around by itself. It’s best on “hybrid” weapons, like the Sunfury plasma annihilator, laser blasters, or a macro-gatling blaster, making it a better fit for larger chassis. If you’ve got room for a strong single-shot weapon on the same chassis, so much the better, as having the choice to all but guarantee a decent hit from a melta cannon can be devastating.

All in all, Atarus wind up having some surprising flexibility for a legion that’s supposed to be headstrong and impetuous. They can have an answer for every situation, though it will take some finesse to get the most use out of them.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at a sample 1750 point list that takes advantage of the unique rules Legio Atarus offers.

Legio Atarus Battlegroup – 1750 pts

Ruptura Battleline Maniple – 1580 pts

Reaver Titan – 340 pts 

  • Princeps Senioris – Shedim Drift Veteran
  • Apocalypse Missile Launcher
    • Infernus Missiles
  • Chainfist
  • Laser Blaster
  • Bastion Shielding

Reaver Titan – 375 pts 

  • Apocalypse Missile Launcher
    • Infernus Missiles
  • Melta Cannon
  • Gatling Blaster
    • Hunter Shells
  • Bastion Shielding

Warbringer Nemesis Titan – 445 pts 

  • Belicosa Volcano Cannon
  • Gatling Blaster
  • Laser Blaster
  • Tracking Gyroscopes

Warbringer Nemesis Titan – 420 pts 

  • Mori Quake Cannon
  • Volcano Cannon
  • Laser Blaster
  • Tracking Gyroscopes

2x Cerastus Knight Lancers – 170 pts

The Ruptura Maniple isn’t something you’ll see too often at this point bracket, but with the Firebrands traits this is a fun list that will give some opponents pause. You’ve got 4 fairly durable Titans with a load of firepower which will require your opponent to focus fire if they want to reduce your number of activations.

The Reavers will push up the field using the free boost each turn, together with the burst of speed whenever one of the Warbringers manages to take something down. The Princeps Senioris is a Shedim Rift Veteran, with two weapons that will make good use of the trait – the Laser Blaster and the chainfist. Consider taking Maniple of One to give it the Knife Fighters trait to do some serious damage when it gets into charge range, or the Janissary maniple’s trait to coordinate charges with the Lancers. And with your updated Seizing the Initiative trait, the odds are pretty good that you’ll have the opus when you need it.

The Warbringers will drop pie plates everywhere, levelling terrain and vaporizing Knight Banners. This’ll be even more fun with terrain destruction rules, as the sheer amount of firepower combined with the Reavers’ Infernus Missiles will set the table ablaze, making for an interesting stiuation, especially once voids are down. You’ve also got multiple great targets for Maniple of One to shift into the Extergimus trait to tear down exposed armour with contemptuous ease.

Try to drop voids with the Reavers first to allow the Warbringers the chance to make the most of their anti-armour weapons and trigger the free movement. The boosted move from the Ruptura’s maniple trait will give you a little more room to push for Shieldbane on your Princeps to chip away at those voids, and the nearly-guaranteed 4 extra saves per round (assuming neither Reaver goes on First Fire) from Infernus Missiles will rack up quickly.

Playing against Atarus

While not as immediately strong as some other members of the Collegia Titanica, there are a number of things to consider when facing the  Firebrands. They will more likely than not get first turn if they want it due to Seizing the Initiative. It’s unlikely you’ll want to pop Dominant Strategist immediately, but something to bear in mind during deployment.

Watch out for their Princeps Seniores as their traits can decide the outcome of a battle. A Shedim Rift Veteran will chew up any targets without voids, so try and deny them shots before you can take them down. An Unconventional Thinker is a wildcard, a challenging target when you get close as they can avoid charges or move into your flank before you fire – try and focus them down from range to avoid being caught out.

Lastly, be aware of shenanigans from Maniple of One. While certainly not game breaking, your opponent could choose to put one of their Titans into their own Corsair or Ferrox for the turn, making them a dangerous target up close.

Legio Atarus Warhound. Credit – Peter Martin (IG: @waaagh_uzgub)

Prove Your Worth

Upstarts before the Istvaan Dropsite Massacre, the headstrong Firebrands’ approach to the battlefield comes with some powerful tricks up their sleeves between Maniple of One and their Princeps Traits. Their rules can work well with any force you want to run, but will require a little bit more finesse than some other Legios. Fortunately, the updates they’ve gotten in the most recent release are really cool, giving them a new lease on life and letting them pose a serious threat in the right hands.

Have any questions or feedback for us? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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