Warlord Wednesdays: Legion Focus – Legio Defensor

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 June 11, 2021, and includes updates through the Loyalist Legios book and the accompanying FAQ.]

This week, we’re looking at the Nova Guard of Legio Defensor, who fought their battles with a combination of overwhelming firepower and a stubborn refusal to give even an inch to their enemies. Few legions can match their determination to see their mission through, and no one can put as much firepower down range as a Defensor opening volley. If you want to start your games of Titanicus off with a real blast, read on to find out how.

Legio Defensor Maniple. Credit – unity_paints_stuff (twitch/insta)

Who are Legio Defensor?

The Imperial records contain sparse information about the founding of the Legio Defensor “Nova Guard”. It is speculated that they were founded during the Age of Strife in the binary star system of Satyraes.
After their reunification with the Imperium, they quickly returned the favor and joined the Great Crusade. It was near the end of the Great Crusade that the Legio encountered the budding Imperial Creed. Principes and serfs alike quickly became followers, believing the Emperor was the god of Mankind. Titans were adorned with religious icons and wards and prayers were made before battle. 

With the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, this devotion turned into righteous fury. When facing forces of the Arch-Traitor, the rage of a Nova Guard Princeps would echo throughout the MIU of their Titan, stoking reactors and the machine spirit. Warlords were often equipped with special war sirens, which would broadcast chants and sermons in the Emperor’s name to rally the faithful. Their utter devotion would often lead to martyrdom rather than yielding ground to the traitor.

Legio Defensor Warlord. Credit – Greg

Painting Legio Defensor

We asked resident Goonhammer computer janitor Greg “Greg” Chiasson to walk us through how he painted his Legio Defensor Titans.

Greg: Hell yeah.

Defensor owns because you can easily do a bad job, or go deep down the rabbit hole trying to do a good one. Shading your blacks and highlighting your whites are the two coolest and most possible things in painting, and it can make highlighting all the trim start to feel like a vacation.

Priming: All of the AT models have divided the frames up in a way that does a lot of this work for us. Prime the armor sprue white, and the weapon and skeleton frames metal. In this case I used Army Painter Matte White and [hurriedly checks can] Krylon Shimmer Metallic silver? OK, yeah, that seems fine. Whatever.

Skeleton: Do what you want, it’s outside the scope of this post. For me, I assemble, wash Nuln Oil, drybrush VGC 54 Gunmetal, and pick out some details with VGC 52 Silver and VGC 57 Bright Bronze.

Panels: Before getting into it, I like to look at completed models (either on Instagram or in the rulebooks) and try to figure out what colors are going where, and then note which part numbers are getting painted what (I stuffed this up on my Reaver, which is why the toes are black even on the white leg). In general, I do the left arm/leg in white, the right arm/leg in black, and arbitrarily vary the torsos/head to keep it interesting. 

The head and weapons are generally in black, for a couple of reasons: lore-wise, the color plates in the book are pretty consistent with this, and on a practical level those parts are usually on the weapon sprue, and it’s easier to paint black over the metallic primer than it would be white. 

Brace yourself, because it’s Heresy Time: I paint these bad boys on the sprue. 

Pre-Trim panels

For the white panels: Mix Agrax Earthshade about 50/50 with medium – I use Vallejo Glaze Medium, which is probably the same thing as Lahmian – and give it the most even coat you can manage. The brown glaze will still read as white from a distance, but it tints the panels toward the warmer/dirtier color we’re looking for, and does some pin washing where it runs into panel lines. You are now done. This is actually the only layer, it’s straight up just glazed primer.

For the black panels: Start with a couple of coats of VGC 51 Black, to cover the white primer. When that’s dry, I take a piece of discarded KR case foam and stipple heavily with VGC 68 Smokey Ink. The sponge roughs up the texture – VGC Black seems to come out too glossy, almost a piano black, which isn’t what we want – and gives it a brown tone to match the white, while still reading as black. I’m not totally sure if the sponging is necessary – possibly a regular brush would work fine, or I could glaze this the same way I do the white – but this worked and I didn’t want to change the process.

Trim: VGC 57 Bright Bronze, washed Agrax earthshade, and another layer of VGC 56 Glorious Gold. Shortest description for longest step. 

When those steps are done, I paint the backside and outside edges of the panels black (it really doesn’t matter which, since you can’t see it, but I use either VGC 51 or Contrast Black Templar, depending on which bottle is closer and what I have more of), and assemble the panels onto the skeleton. 

The last step is the green stripes. Gaudy as hell, this is another case where you’ll want to consult reference images and try not to overdo it, while you sort out where the green goes. I like one stripe heading up the leg and something on the carapace or shoulder, but you can do entire panels, diagonals, checks, I mean just go nuts really. Do note that because of how we did the whites, cleaning these up is kind of a nightmare, so be careful. Best I’ve found for cleanup is a mix of white and Agrax applied with a steady hand.

Green stripes: Start with thinned VGC 32 Scorpion Green. Make a thin line in the middle of where you want, or follow a panel line, and expand from there. When you have the basic shape down and a couple of smooth coats, starting at the top of the panel, paint a layer of much more thinned VGC 33 Livery Green. You want to go thin with this, and slowly build it up in intensity as you approach the top edge of the panel, or wherever else the light might be catching it (which is why I wait for this to be on the model before I paint the stripes). If you’ve painted a lot of power swords, it’s the same kind of idea. 

I should note that, according to some of the art, this should technically go all the way up to yellow, but I’m not good enough at blending to pull that off, plus also I think it would look stupid, so neon green it is. Re-shade the edges where your green intersects the trim with a bit of Agrax, if you need to, and call it done.

Legio Defensor Reaver. Credit – unity_paints_stuff (twitch/insta)


Defensor in Adeptus Titanicus

Legio Defensor likes to start things out with a bang, and they’ve got the potential to lay down the single most powerful turn one alpha strike in the game. Then, once that’s taken care of, they follow up with reliable command checks letting them lay down consistent fire to ensure things keep going their way.

Tactical Overview

Righteous Fire is a straightforward but powerful effect: each of your Titans can advance its reactor track by 2 to fire one of its guns twice in the first battle round. Basically, you’re getting Legio Fureans’ Offensive Surge for 0 stratagem points and one more heat, but you can only use it in the first round. Obviously, this isn’t as flexible as Offensive Surge, so you’ll need to build around it more explicitly to get mileage out of it, but it definitely has legs.

The question here will be which weapon to use with Righteous Fire, and that’ll depend on the Titan. This has changed slightly in Loyalist Legios (and the FAQ) and now works in only the Combat phase of the first turn, which is still good and means that you’re tearing shields off much faster than normal and getting to armour rolls quicker than other Legios would. Generally, you’re firing Apocalypse Launchers twice for 20 shots from a Warlord to obliterate shields, though if you’ve got a Titan with a belicosa or mori, you’ll want to save that until later in the round, since a second shot with one of your heavier guns could score you an early kill.

Indomitable Resolve is a neat ability that gives Defensor Titans in the maniple +1 to command checks so long as at least one of your Titans have been destroyed. Given that you’ll be leaning toward larger Titans to take advantage of Righteous Fire (and possibly A Day of Retribution), the relative increase in reliability will be noticeable, particularly if you combine it with Devotional War Sirens. This will help you keep up your long-range barrage with consistent First Fire and Split Fire orders, or make Emergency Repairs in a pinch.

The Nova Guard have two legion-specific stratagems. The first, A Day of Retribution, costs 2 points and lets one of your Titans fire one of its weapons at an enemy Titan before the game starts, doubling its range characteristic for the attack. However, doing so causes the Titan’s reactor track to advance three places. This is a bit expensive to also have a massive downside of nearly orange-lining your Warlord or Reaver, especially when you’re likely going to want to take another 2 heat in the Combat phase. Doubling the range could be amusing, though, especially on a Warlord with a vulcan mega-bolter array – firing 12 shots with Rapid at 40″ range is going to do horrific things to the voids of whatever poor sap you point them at. Situationally useful, but you’re not always taking it with all the other options for strats that exist. 

Their other stratagem, Blessings of the Emperor, is more straightforward: for 2 stratagem points (down from the 3 that it used to cost), you can simply ignore a hit that would cause you to roll on the Catastrophic Damage table. Wait for your opponent to shout “Engine Kill!” in excitement, then smirk, shake your head, and say “I think not.” No longer as expensive as it was, but still just as satisfying. 

Devotional War Sirens are a powerful piece of wargear for your Warlord Titans that lets them and any other Legio Defensor Titans within 8” roll two dice and keep the highest whenever they make a Command check. This will help you issue orders more consistently and keep your machine spirit under control, increasing the reliability of your Titans and letting you pump out firepower at a terrifying rate. This is an incredibly useful upgrade that will not only increase your chances of successfully issuing First Fire and Emergency Repair orders when you need them, but can also help you pass command checks after awakening your machine spirit, making it that much more likely that your belicosa will actually fire when you want it to.

Bair: This is probably the best piece of wargear available to any Loyalist legio. Defensor already lean towards taking one, if not two, Warlords to make use of their Legion trait effectively and 8” from the large Warlord base is barely a hindrance. Regia, Extergimus, Perpetua, and Fortis Maniples love this upgrade.

The standout personal trait is Crusade Veteran, which once per game allows you to issue a second order to your princeps immediately after it resolves an Emergency Repairs order. However, you have to take the downsides of both orders, not just the second one. This is a little weird, as it means if you issue First Fire as your second order, you’d have to choose between firing a single weapon in the movement phase or all your weapons in the combat phase. This might be a trade-off worth making in some situations, but generally you’ll want to look at either Split Fire, a second Emergency Repairs, or Charge if you’re in a pinch. 

Enduring Hatred is also interesting, but requires you to have taken critical damage to your Princeps in order to re-roll 1s to hit. A solid effect given that you’re likely to have some bigger guns on your Princeps, but it probably won’t come into play until later in the game, and by the time it does you might not have long to try to use it.

Icon of the True sounds interesting but ultimately probably isn’t worth it – Knight Banners already get a bonus to Command checks from having their Lord Scion alive, and souping in other Titan legions to take advantage of this will give your opponent 2 stratagem points. In either case, this doesn’t compete with the good traits in the core book.

Defensor Warhounds. Credit – Greg

Maniple Choice

The Nova Guard ideally want to take Titans with reactors big enough to contain their Righteous Fury. The loadouts need to consider the massive reactor drain of their trait and stratagem while maintaining a sense of urgency to drop void shields as soon as possible to turn their incredible alpha strike potential into a reality.

For this reason we suggest looking at maniples with fewer Warhounds, which immediately put themselves in danger if they opt to use Righteous Fury – the mandatory 2 points of heat instantly puts them into the orange, leaving them one bad roll away from redlining and potentially just exploding. Larger Titans also have longer-ranged guns, letting you squeeze every drop of value out of your opening barrage.

Axiom – The Axiom trait combined with Indomitable Resolve and Devotional War Sirens will give you the most reliable orders in the game. Look at Swift Killer for your Princeps Seniores in a Brawler Warlord to lead from the front. Take the second Reaver before adding in the optional Warhound.

Myrmidon – We normally wouldn’t suggest taking a Myrmidon, due to struggling with some mission objectives and the somewhat lackluster maniple trait. However, these Titans will unleash a terrifying amount of firepower in the first battle round with Righteous Fury. With all-but guaranteed Split Fire and First-Fire orders between the maniple trait and Devotional War Sirens, your AML-equipped Reavers can lay down 15-20 missiles each in the first round, and a pair of Split Firing Warlords will deal grievous damage to any target whose shields you’re able to drop.

Corsair – Reavers can do anything, and in this case each of your Reavers will have a Warlord’s Apocalypse Missile Launcher for the first round to help drop voids. First Fire turn one to overwhelm your opponent’s shields, then lay down fire with volcano cannons and meltas as you close to mid-range. Alternately, take a bunch of lasers and the Cursed Earth stratagem and drown your opponent in Shieldbane shots over the course of the match.

Regia – This maniple works wonders with the Devotional War Siren upgrade. The Warhounds act as shield batteries as per usual for a Regia, and in doing so will always be in range to issue orders at extreme efficiency, especially after one dies. 

Fortis – Defensor’s traits can favour more long ranged gunline play, which pairs perfectly with the Fortis Maniple. Warlords equipped with Devotional War Sirens will help ensure your Split-Fire and First-Fire orders come off. Plus, the maniple trait lets you castle up to get some added durability in a pinch.

Extergimus – Speaking of long-ranged gunlines, the Extergimus lets you add some more offensive firepower to your late-game barrages at the expense of your reactor track. You won’t want to do it in the early game due to the heat load from your legion trait, but once you’ve vented that heat being able to spend it again to deal even more damage is always nice. This is a risky strategy, but one that could really pay off.

Perpetua – The right mix of heavy Titans and better repairing goes hand in hand with Defensor, extra servitor clades dice when standing still and ordering Emergency Repair on unmodifiable 2+ means your Titans will be venting much easier and much faster than normal, assuming they can afford to sit still!

Legio Defensor Warlord. Credit – unity_paints_stuff (twitch/insta)

Having looked at all of that, here’s a sample 1750 point list that aims to take advantage of Legio Defensor’s unique strengths:

Legio Defensor Battlegroup – 1750pts

Fortis Battleline Maniple – 1750pts

Warlord Titan – 570

  • Princeps Senioris – Crusade Veteran
  • Apocalypse Missile Launchers
  • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
  • Macro-Gatling Blaster
  • Devotional War Sirens
  • Tracking Gyroscopes
  • Bastion Shielding
  • Plasmatic Binders
  • Aquila Benedictus

Warlord Titan – 520

  • Apocalypse Missile Launchers
  • Mori Quake Cannon
  • Mori Quake Cannon
  • Devotional War Sirens
  • Tracking Gyroscopes
  • Bastion Shielding
  • Plasmatic Binders

Reaver Titan – 325 pts 

  • Apocalypse Missile Launcher
  • Gatling Blaster
  • Laser Blaster
  • Plasmatic Binders

Reaver Titan – 335 pts 

  • Apocalypse Missile Launcher
  • Melta Cannon
  • Gatling Blaster
  • Plasmatic Binders

During the opening turn you will look to go for a quick kill to tip the game in your favour with a terrifying alpha strike thanks to Righteous Fire. On the first turn your maniple will be going on a combination of First Fire and Split Fire orders and look to engage the most vulnerable targets of opportunity. Don’t be too picky with your targets – eliminating a Titan in the first turn not only reduces the return fire you’ll receive, but also can give you an activation advantage for turn 2. Doing this is going to make your Titans run hot straight from the start, though, but will be well worth it to remove an enemy Titan or two before they’re able to get into range. This is where the Plasmatic Binders come into play – when turn 2 comes around and you need to go on Emergency Repairs with basically everything, you’ll able to vent heat aggressively, all but guaranteeing you some serious heat venting before you’re even required to roll on the Reactor Overload table in the damage control phase, potentially saving your Titans from spontaneously combusting. If you’re nervous about those orders being issued successfully, consider taking one or two copies of the Iron Resolve stratagem (since it can be purchased multiple times) for when you definitely fail that order on the first Titan. 

The temptation to go First Fire on everything is strong, but keep in mind that you’re already going to be firing all those Apocalypse launchers twice anyways for double the shield stripping round one, so consider Split Fire instead. With Tracking Gyros giving the Warlord shoulder guns full front arc firing solutions you shouldn’t need to do much turning, and you want to make you’re not losing out on firing any guns. Remember that concealment barrages won’t prevent your AMLs from finding their mark – they’ll simply be at -2 to hit from Barrage – but make sure to deploy to minimize the number of restricted firing lanes your opponent could potentially take away anyway.

For stratagems, look at ones that align with killing the enemy as quickly as possible. A Quick Kill is worth considering for some extra victory points if there is a valid target on the other side of the table. Cursed Earth makes both sides’ voids weaker, which could potentially pay off if it helps you cripple your opponent before they can return the favour. Blessings of the Emperor is expensive but worth considering for the look on your opponent’s face alone and can work well with certain mission objectives. For a more standard choice, Long Retreat will give your lumbering Titans a bit more agility if the enemy manages to close. Also consider stratagems that help you manage heat or give you additional servitor clades to vent the extra heat you’re going to rack up round 1. 

Playing against Defensor

Hide. Look at the positioning of hostile Titans on turn 1 and assume they will mostly be going on First Fire or Split Fire orders. Always pack a Concealment Barrage and/or Blind Barrage to try to neuter the opening volley and place it somewhere between midfield and their biggest threat to deny them the most options. You will most likely be more nimble, so take advantage of this to keep out of carapace arcs and flank where possible. It’s worth considering using the Outflank stratagem, especially if they are playing a Fortis to mess up their formation and to super effectively hide that unit of Lancers or that Warhound from the first turn onslaught.

Legio Defensor Warhound. Credit – unity_paints_stuff (twitch/insta)


For the Emperor

Legio Defensor were zealous defenders of the Imperium even before the 41st millennium, and it definitely pays off with an incredibly powerful alpha strike and superior reliability on command checks. If you want to overwhelm your opponent with a powerful turn one alpha strike, look no further.