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 take a look at the Traitor Legio Mordaxis “Deathdealers”, who were added to Titanicus in the Shadow and Iron Supplement. They excel at grinding down their enemies in protracted skirmishes, leveraging their superior resilience to push through incoming fire that would cause catastrophic damage to lesser legions. However, the Techno-Toxin that gifted them with this unnatural durability has also robbed them of their flexibility, making them the slowest legion in the game. Read on to see how you can use their unique rules in your own games.
Who are Legio Mordaxis?
The Imperial records on Legio Mordaxis before they declared for the Warmaster are quite sparse. Their homeworld was wreathed in toxic gases, where the Legio would only leave their hermetically sealed manufactoria to destroy whoever was foolish enough to pose a threat during the Age of Strife.
After their reunification with the Imperium, the Deathdealers joined the expeditionary fleets of the Great Crusade. During this time they often fought alongside the Word Bearers, who would ultimately bring their downfall.
Unlike other Traitor Legios, Legio Mordaxis did not side with the Warmaster on their own accord. Just before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the Dark Mechanicum with assistance of Word Bearers dark apostles implanted Legio Mordaxis Titans with a chaotic machine plague which tainted their machine spirits. The corrupted machine spirits overwhelmed their principes and moderatii, stripping away their minds and free will. The toxin made its mark physically on the Titans, oozing tainted oils with every lumbering step.
Legio Mordaxis would go on to wreak havoc across the 500 worlds of Ultramar in the Shadow Crusade and the Crusade of Iron.
Painting Legio Mordaxis
We asked Knotley (twitter @VincentKnotley, IG @knotleypaints) to share his Battlegroup and the approach to paint them up with us.
Beginning with the skeleton, I followed the typical path of leadbelcher drenched in Nuln Oil before painting some components in Balthasar Gold and Warplock Bronze before a liberal Agrax bath and some Necron Compound drybrushing. Next up for the black panels I went Corvus Black given a slight highlight of Eshin Grey in places to maintain the darker look. The purple is just as simple, Naggaroth Night kisses with Xereus Purple at the highlights points. Drybrushing these on for the curved front panels is absolutely your friend.
Now the trim. That was a bit of a nuisance. Not so much for the obvious side of it being a truly titanic (geddit) endeavour, but for the amount of trial and error it took. In the end I settled on Retributor Armour shaded with Agrax and Nuln (leaving any runoff to shade the edges where panel and trim meet) and highlighted with Runefang Steel.
The only other key part was that vivid green which bounces so well of the purple. After basing the whole element — be it gunbarrel or eyelense — Corax White, apply no small amount of Plaguebearers Flesh then follow up with a little glaze of Waywatcher Green. Sure it ain’t exactly the easiest thing to find these days but if you can, that glaze enlivens Plaguebearer Flesh like you would not believe!
Fun fact: splashing Plaguebearer Flesh around some of the joints and skeleton components helps to add some flavour and interest to what is an otherwise fairly dark and foreboding scheme.
Mordaxis in Adeptus Titanicus
Mordaxis Titan’s machine spirits are overcome with eternal agony from the poison flowing within them, and are Inured to Pain that would cripple other God-Engines. Your Titans shrug off and ignore the effect of Concussive or Quake weapons, making it nearly impossible for your opponent to halt your advance. There’s a trade-off, though: your Titans can’t push their reactors for extra speed or turns. This is a significant cost to pay, as it makes all of your Titans less agile in a game where maneuvering is vital to success.
Soggy: Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace zombie titans. You’ll probably want to avoid taking a Warlord without the Swift Killer trait, which can mitigate this lack of maneuverability a wee bit.
Bair: This is playing Nurgle titans without being Nurgle titans. I love this. As someone that takes 1-2 quake cannons most games straight up ignoring its effects is huge.
Condit: The downside of this trait means you probably won’t want to take many melee weapons – it’s hard to close to within 2” without boosting speed unless your opponent wants you there, so you might as well just shoot at range.
Their other trait is Techno-toxin, which delivers an automatic D3 S4 hits to any non-Mordaxis Titans within 2 inches of one during the end phase. This may not seem like much, as S4 isn’t going to do much to undamaged Titan armour, nor can it ever strip shields due to the range requirement.
You’re unlikely to be using this offensively due to your limited speed, but it can be useful when you are playing with your Titans in very close proximity such as in Warhound squadrons or in a Regia or Fortis maniple. With this ability occurring in the end phase, it may allow you to do the last pip of damage to the track on a Titan or Knight Banner.
Condit: Don’t count on this coming into play very often, and keep in mind that in games with multiple legions on the same side (whether in your own battlegroup or in a team game) this trait will hit friendly non-Mordaxis Titans as well as enemies.
The standout feature that Mordaxis bring to the table is their Legio-specific Wargear, Toxin Nodes. For an additional 20 points per 3” blast weapon, you can upgrade to a 5” blast, though it’ll reduce the weapon’s strength by one. Given you’ll be using this trait on weapons that are already high strength, this is a small cost to pay. In an Arcus Maniple you can opt for a Warbringer dropping three 5” templates which only deviate 6”, wreaking havoc over the battlefield and all but guaranteeing a hit against most targets.
Unstopabble is a pretty apt name for this Legio in general, and this strategem takes this a step further. For 3 stratagem points, during a single damage control phase you can add 2 Servitor Clades to all Mordaxis Titans. Your repair protocols will make short work of critical damage, letting you shrug off damage that would destroy softer legions. It’s expensive, but can be worth it.
Condit: Given that you’re unable to move around the board as quickly as other legions can, Unstoppable will let you push through critical damage if your TItans get caught out between terrain features.
Despite being mostly consumed by their Titans’ machine spirits, the Deathdealers’ Princeps Seniores still have some traits to choose from.
Proud Protector allows your Princeps Senioris to push their reactor to fire a weapon when a friendly Mordaxis Titan within 3” suffers damage. To make it work, you’ll have to take some risks, but if you’re running a maniple that requires your Titans to be near one another anyway, such as a Regia, a Fortis, or a Mandatum, enemies will think twice about attacking your Princeps or any nearby Titans.
Bair: This is super cool, and would work the best in a slow and large maniple, the Fortis makes best use by far since you want to bundle up anyways.
Dulled Mind allows the Princeps Senioris to ignore most of the effects of taking critical damage to the head. Taking damage to the head normally only happens by chance as it isn’t usually prioritised due to its higher armour, although the effects can be completely crippling. Given you have Unstoppable up your sleeve, we feel this one is pretty iffy.
Harbinger of Decay improves the Techno-Toxin trait on your Princeps Senioris to perform D3+1 S5 hits instead. Techno-toxin is pretty hard to use offensively due to Inured to Pain slowing you down, so this one isn’t going to be much use on Larger Titans. And as cool as Techno-Toxin is as a legion trait, it’s not so good that it’s worth leaning into heavily even on a smaller, faster Titan that might be able to make better use of this trait.
Legio Mordaxis have some different choices to make than their other peers in the Collegia Titanica. Mostly this is due to the Inured to Pain trait, being unable to push their reactors for more speed or mobility will limit your movements and in turn the roles that you would consider otherwise. For example, close-combat Titans will find it harder to get into melee and less agile Warlord Titans will find themselves easier to be flanked with only a single 45° turn available to them.
Soggy: The flipside of this is your reactors will have more capacity for draining weapons or powering your void shields, so you can go full-ham on volcano cannons.
This leans towards a playstyle that holds back and engages at range. With the addition of Toxin Nodes, you have easier access to large templates to devastate any Knight Banners that break cover. It is a moderately expensive upgrade that needs to be done on a per weapon basis, so you might want to use it on your more durable Reaver or Warbringer-Nemesis chassis over your Warhounds.
Taking this into account, here are some maniples worth keeping in mind when assembling a Mordaxis Battlegroup:
- Corsair – Reavers can make great use of the Toxin Weapons wargear and have great unboosted mobility. The Fighting Withdrawal trait goes along way to giving you a bit more mobility.
- Arcus – Lets you have a Warbringer with three 5” template weapons that only deviate d6 inches if they miss, which is pretty hilarious.
- Fortis – Allows for a very strong gunline, ignoring your opponent’s modifiers to armor rolls in flank, rear, and from the damage track. Generally the undoing of a Forits maniple is quake cannons hitting your castle jostling the titans around to devastating (and often hilarious) effect. But since Mordaxis ignore the Quake trait entirely this shakes out to be a very solid option.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at a 1500 point list which takes advantage of Toxin Nodes and works around Inured to Pain. This list is a bit of a departure from the usual lists at this point bracket but has a load of durable firepower for your opponent to deal with.
Legio Mordaxis Battlegroup – 1465 pts
Corsair Battleline Maniple – 1050 pts
Reaver Titan – 370 pts
- Princeps Seniores – Devoted Servant of the Machine
- Melta Cannon with Toxin Nodes
- Melta Cannon with Toxin Nodes
- Vulcan Mega Bolter
Reaver Titan – 350 pts
- Melta Cannon with Toxin Nodes
- Laser Blaster
- Turbo Laser Destructor
Reaver Titan – 330 pts
- Volcano Cannon with Toxin Nodes
- Laser Blaster
- Apocalypse Missile Launcher
Warbringer-Nemesis Titan – 415 pts
- Volcano Cannon with Toxin Nodes
- Laser Blaster
- Mori Quake Cannon
This list is a Knight Household’s worst nightmare as it features four fairly durable Titans, brimming with large blast templates thanks to Toxin Nodes. As a result, this battlegroup will want to keep a moderate distance from its targets to avoid any friendly fire. You have a few tools to help with this: the Fighting Withdrawal Corsair trait will help you keep at optimal range, and the quake cannon can help shut down your enemies’ advance by slowing them down and knocking them backwards.
Since you’re unable to push for speed or maneuverability, you can use this excess power to push for draining on your laser weapons to help drop those shields as quickly as possible to follow up with your blast weaponry. Your Reavers should probably think about going on Split-Fire orders to focus down voids, which works nicely with the Fighting Withdrawal trait.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: yes, that’s a double melta cannon Reaver you’re looking at. This loadout certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but if anyone can make it shine, it’s Legio Mordaxis. Try to use them after you’ve dropped voids, then follow up with called shots from the mega-bolter after your meltas crack open their target’s armor. Even if you roll poorly on the hit roll, the 5″ template from Toxin Nodes gives you a decent chance of picking up at least one hit.
Soggy: I’ve been wanting to fit one in for a loooooooong time.
Bair: DOUBLE MELTA WHOOP WHOOP.
The Princeps trait is a bit of a toss up. Proud Protector is a great trait, but doesn’t mesh well with the Corsair maniple as you want your maniple to split up and take advantage of Fighting Withdrawal. Instead, we’ve opted for Devoted Servant of the Machine to add 1 to one of your repair dice each round. This will help you keep your voids up on your Princeps and repair off critical damage as it occurs, letting you potentially keep it around another round or two. You could also take Swift Killer or Dominant Strategist if you want a more offensive option.
We’ve added a support Warbringer to back up the Reavers and lay down some covering fire. While you might be able to squeeze in a Warlord if you shuffled some points around, the Warbringer’s slightly better speed and maneuverability will let you line up shots in situations where the Warlord wouldn’t have a firing solution. It’s a little less durable, but with the addition of Unstoppable you can stretch out the survivability of your Reavers and your Warbringer to put out a ton of damage while using your solid reactor track to fuel your offense and push voids to full.
Aside from Unstoppable, look for stratagems that will help with maneuverability. Warp Displacement is an excellent way to pick up 2d6″ worth of movement for a key Titan when you need it, and can be used at any time. You may also want to look at Experimental Weapon or Overcharged Cannon to get some additional firepower – since you won’t be pushing for movement, you can afford to take the extra heat from the Draining or Maximal Fire traits. Finally, Aetheric Infusion, while not without risk, could give you an out-of-sequence repair with 2 extra dice right when you need it, which could be the extra bit of durability you need to stay in the fight against a particularly canny opponent.
Playing against Mordaxis
Mordaxis are going to be less maneuverable than you, take advantage of this and dodge firing arcs where possible. Try to eliminate an activation as quickly as possible to press this even further and try to avoid splitting your fire due to the threat of the Unstoppable strategem negating your progress. If you have taken any Knight banners then try and keep these spread out as much as possible, while still hugging cover. A 5” template on a successful hit can still only do 2 hits if you have used your 3” coherency.
Avoid bunching up your units so that Mordaxis can’t make use of Toxin Nodes, and do what you can to get into your opponent’s flank – you might even consider taking Outflank to deploy some Knights or a Warhound into your opponent’s flank. Once you’ve gotten around the side of one of their Titans, it’s going to be difficult for them to bring their guns to bear. Just make sure you make it count.
Grind Them to Dust
Mordaxis’s ponderous movement and terrifying durability combine to create a compelling set of rules that lends itself well to a war of attrition. As your Titans keep up their implacable march across the table, they’ll lay down devastating barrages while withstanding firepower that would destroy other legions. And if your opponent is foolish enough to get in close, they’ll have to deal with your Techno-Toxin. With a steady hand and some clever play, you can guide the Deathdealers to victory.