Warlord Wednesdays: Legion Focus – Legio Praesagius

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.

Introduced to Titanicus in Shadow and Iron, Legio Praesagius, or the “True Messengers,” are strong contenders for being one of the best Loyalist Titan Legions. Survivors of the Betrayal at Calth, they share a lot with the Ultramarines beyond their livery. If you want to play the good guys or you simply want to utterly destroy your enemies with superior accuracy, Praesgius is for you.

True Messengers Titans. Credit – Patrick Robins

Who are Legio Praesagius?

Legio Praesagius have the longest service record in the Collegia Titanica outside of the Triad Ferrum, the founding three Legios. Originally based on Mars, they were on the forefront of many expeditionary fleets during the Great Crusade as the fledgling Imperium sought to reunify mankind. 

Unlike many of their peers in the Collegia Titanica, they recognised there was more to the Great Crusade than conquest and were fully committed to delivering the Imperial Truth to the Galaxy. This devotion earned them the Low Gothic name “True Messengers” although it came with a heavy cost. By the 31st millennium the legio was below a third of its original fighting strength. 

Having fought alongside the Space Marines’ XIIIth Legion on many campaigns, Roboute Guilliman recognised the True Messengers’ achievements and granted them the newly constructed Forge World of Gantz to rebuild their losses and contribute to his growing realm of the 500 Worlds of Ultramar.

It was while recuperating and restoring their numbers that they honored the Warmaster’s call to muster at Calth. If you want to read more, we recommend Know No Fear by Dan Abnett to get a full picture of the Betrayal at Calth and the ordeals faced by the Legio in the early days of the Horus Heresy.

In what can only be called a Pyrrhic victory there, they rebuilt and fought in in the Crusade of Iron, which the Shadow and Iron supplement covers and provides rules to reenact yourself.

True Messengers Reaver Titan. Credit – Games Workshop

Painting Legio Praesagius

This week we asked occasional contributor Patrick Robins about how he mustered his Praesagius Battlegroup in advance of their official rules coming out.

Praesagius have some particularly nasty rules what with being extremely likely to just drill holes in the same spot until your opponent dies, but they pay for it by having everything about them being utterly hateful to paint. You more or less have to freehand the badge which is complicated and asymmetrical, the majority of their armour is white with gold trim which is an unending hell of touch-ups, and the recurring motif for their titans is diagonal stripes on titans’ curved armour plating which considering I’m not an airbrush painter and have no experience with masking was a pretty big ask. But then they’re the Ultramarines if they were a titan legio, are heavily involved with the Ultramarines, are based in Ultramar and I have a brand, fight me.

He’s not kidding about the brand.

There’s little in the way of official models to base things off when going for Praesagius (Forge World model art pictures of 28mm titans in the Heresy being being the only thing that springs to mind), and next to no art when I made the decision to run them prior to the announcement of Shadow and Iron, but you have some flexibility in how to handle them with which sort of white, blue and gold you go for. I hewed close to what was at the time one of the only clear shots of a Praesagius titan in the Reaver titan Gryfalcon from Horus Heresy Book 5: Tempest, which meant shooting for a warm white and pretty much Ultramarine blue. I did however go for a less pale gold as my wheelhouse has generally been the dark and brassy Balthasar/Gehennas/Runefang process (thank you Duncan) though I wanted to give Retributor a go as it’s just a smidge brighter and has much better coverage for the sheer amount of trim involved in titan painting. Tempest also shows some profile shots of Warhounds with blue trim and all white plating but that never really grabbed me as much as Gryfalcon’s scheme. I mean look at it, it’s so cool. Though now that Shadow and Iron exists and the legio have a lot more recognition you have a surfeit of colour plates to take inspiration from.

I’ve gotten consistently horrified responses from it but every titan painted for the Axiom maniple that I started Titanicus with had the armour plating glued on and a black undercoat, I can’t really defend this and it’s a horrible idea that meant it involved somewhere in the realm of 6 coats of white per titan, I keep doing it almost as a point of pride at this stage. 

I settled on Pallid Wych Flesh as the warm off-white that would be the bulk of the painting and while it produced good results eventually its coverage is staggeringly bad, after applying shade and whenever you make a mistake you’re looking at painting 2-3 more coats over that spot before the mark is hidden. Given the sheer number of coats of white involved you have to commit to the titan’s heraldry pretty early on though if worst comes to worst you can still swerve into making a given plate be a striped one.

Speaking of stripes, if you’re one of those masking and/or airbrushing wizards then this stage of painting is nothing to you but I should touch on it since one of the most common things I hear when it comes to freehand is “oh I could never do that”, but I’m here to tell you it’s not as bad as you think and to just start doing it. Contrary to what people think, being neat has little to do with good freehand, it’s largely about slowly refining what’s there until it looks right, with looks being key there. Nobody is going to pull out a pair of callipers and a ruler and check that everything is correctly proportioned and perfectly straight. For the warlord’s left shoulder it came down to looking at one of the Praesagius warlords in a model art picture and seeing that there were 7 white stripes and aiming for that, so after painting the plate one coat of blue to start from (Macragge in this case as I was aiming for Gryfalcon, though now the book’s out they seem to be going for a more vibrant blue) I roughed in stripe 4/7 more or less in the middle and worked out either side from there.

Looks shit doesn’t it? That’s a couple of coats on there too. That’s fine though, it’s all about refinement; if a line is too thick or thin then you add to it or the line next to it bit by bit, fraction of a millimetre by fraction of a millimetre until it looks right.

Not to paint the owl too much at you but there aren’t pictures for every step over the fortnight or so of painting it, but that looks much sharper, not perfect by any stretch but I’m still reasonably pleased with it.

Anyway, after blocking the colours in, several times as necessary, I went for Agrax Earthshade as my shade for this as it kept with the warm off white and used it for the superstructure of the titan too as its slightly dirty look showing through the Runefang drybrush was more to my taste than the usual Nuln Oil with these colours, something about it fits the massive scale.

After that it’s the laborious process of blocking the colours back in while trying your best to avoid the white, if you over spill into the recesses your two best friends are Kantor Blue for the macragge plates as its an almost perfect match when dry for shaded Macragge Blue and something like 2 parts water to Rhinox Hide for the white plates. At this stage you’re probably thinking “cripes that’s an orange gold” but stick with it, the highlights what saves it.

I didn’t go particularly far with the highlights, just single stages of Calgar Blue, Skull White and Runefang and I ended up walking them back from here and leaving highlights on only the hardest edges in the final shot elsewhere in this article.

I haven’t yet worked out how to paint the legio’s badge as I was running out of time in the run-up to Adepticon, but I’ll be looking into that when work commences on the Warbringer and then revisiting the core maniple. Also if it strikes you as odd that I’m running the mid to long range snipey legio with two brawly melee titans, when I started painting them the plan was to run Gryphonicus rules, and I’m not even slightly disappointed at losing out on Reckless Maverick.

True Messengers Reaver Titan. Credit – Patrick Robins

Praesagius in Adeptus Titanicus

As Patrick mentioned, Praesagius are somewhat taller Ultramarines in the lore, preferring precision strikes and tactical stoicism to defeat their foe, as well as a stringent chain of command so that losses in battle are less crushing on the force.

Tactical Overview

The True Messengers are well-known for their precision gunnery, and this shows through in their legion trait, Pinpoint Accuracy. Being able to re-roll the location die at long range makes a Praesagius Titan more likely to hit its target’s body or legs at long range than most other legions’ Titans calling shots. They can also apply this bonus to Blast weapons, making them much more effective at reliably dealing damage to particular locations with those powerful weapons. This table shows the chance they have to hit various locations compared to other Titans calling their shots:

Keep in mind that this table doesn’t tell the entire story: when shooting at 2+, a Praesagius Titan using Pinpoint Accuracy to fish for the legs or body will only hit that location 46.3% of the time compared to the 50/50 chance of landing a called shot to one of those locations, but keep in mind that that means that there’s another roughly 37% of the time where your shots hit your target but the location die doesn’t give you what you want. This may sound a bit academic as most legions don’t have a reliable way to get to 2+ to hit, but keep this in mind; it’ll be relevant later.

Soggy: As if I needed any more excuses to fit Melta cannons cannons into my lists.

Bair: This makes the shorter ranged blast weapons like plasma blastguns especially deadly. Already a very strong weapon, with only an 8” short range you’ll happily be able to keep far enough away to land those S10 hits (with +1 from coordinated strikes even higher) where you want them.

Against the Impossible is another powerful trait, letting you take a free Emergency Repairs order out of sequence when one of your Titans takes Critical Damage. You can only do this once a game, but it’s a very powerful effect that could be the difference between life and death, potentially raising shields to protect against the next attack or removing the critical damage you just took. There’s just one catch – if the attack caused you to take Catastrophic Damage, you can’t use it, so be sure not to wait too long or it might not be available when you need it.

Bair: Having played a little bit against this Legio already, this rule alone has more than once saved a Titan from death. Being able to reignite shields after that Melta cannon hits before the gatling blaster can make called shots is just so good, when it works. 

Fluid Command Structure is a nice bonus, but not anything amazing – if your Princeps dies, you can nominate another Titan in its maniple to become the new Princeps Seniores. It doesn’t get a personal trait and doesn’t count for victory points or other effects, but it does benefit from the +2 to Command checks. This will improve the effectiveness of one of your Titans when your Princeps goes down by improving their chance to take orders, letting you hit back more reliably after losing a model. This ability can trigger multiple times, helping you make key orders until the very end.

Finally, their legion-specific stratagem, Precision Volley, adds 1 to all Hit rolls for your Titans at long range for 2CP. Combined with Pinpoint Accuracy, the True Messengers are able to unleash absolutely devastating firepower at long range, allowing them to focus down the legs or body of an opposing Titan with devastating effectiveness. Save this stratagem for when you have at least one target either without voids or on their last point so you can make it count.

Praesagius have a unique Princeps Seniores with Crusader, allowing you to fire during the combat phase with a -2 modifier when under Full Stride orders. At first this may sound odd or underwhelming compared to the traits in the core rules, however we feel it has one solid use case: a melee Titan (whether that’s a Reaver or Warlord is your call). 

Close combat with a Warlord typically suffers from two major disadvantages: the Warlord’s ponderous 4”/6” movement, and its somewhat unreliable WS of 5+. Crusader gives you a solid way around the first of those by allowing you to fire even while moving at Full Stride across the board. Take a vulcan megabolter array or paired gatling blasters on your carapace to unload 12 shots hitting on 5+ at whatever you can line up, keeping in mind that the second move from your Full Stride order comes complete with another turn you can use to line up your chosen target. Once you’ve closed the gap, the claw’s phenomenal strength 12 and accuracy of +2 will let you absolutely obliterate whatever you close with, letting you hit on 5+ after a Full Stride activation and 3+ in subsequent rounds.

Noble Legacy is a personal trait that gives you a tertiary objective granting 5VP if your Princeps Seniores isn’t destroyed or structurally compromised at the end of the battle. While this is a giant “Kick Me” sign for your opponent, this could work well with more durable options such as a Regia or Fortis Maniple. Against the Impossible is a great trick to leave up your sleeve to aid in this strategy. Just keep in mind that you won’t gain the points if your Princeps is structurally compromised, meaning you’ll need to keep all 3 of its structure tracks out of the red.

The last choice for personal traits, Natural Commander, means that if the Seniores rolls a 9 or 10 on their order roll when issuing an order then any Titan within the same maniple can be given that order without need of a command check. In a 5 turn game this is, on average, will happen once. Maybe. It’s a cool little ability but it’s not really worth giving up something more guaranteed like Iron Clad Tyrant from the Rulebook.

Bair: This trait could also work as a kind of distraction. Stick this on a backfield Warlord making your enemy really go to him to get that kill, while you’re running around the table with the rest of your engines completing your actual mission. But, not sure if worth taking over another trait.

In terms of spending stratagem points, The Long Retreat is a great choice as it will allow you to move outside your front arc at normal speed, allowing you to keep your targets at optimal range. If you take a Corsair, this is obviously unnecessary due to the maniple trait, but for other lists it can make the difference between another round of shooting at long range or losing access to your powerful legion trait.

True Messengers Warlord Titan. Credit – Patrick Robins

Maniple Choice

Praesagius has a phenomenally strong collection of rules at their disposal. To make the most of Pinpoint Accuracy and Precision Volley we will be wanting to engage our opponents at long range. While the first thing that comes to mind is sitting in the backline of the battlefield with long range weapons, we feel the best way to make use of this trait is to use weapons with short-to-moderate range to make both abilities easier to trigger. Being able to consistently hit a Titan’s body with a belicosa or a quake cannon is impressive, but the chances that you’ll be able to make use of that trait more than once or twice before the opponent closes to within 30” or 24” is pretty slim. Instead, weapons like melta cannons and gatling blasters are excellent choices that can reliably pour on the firepower while keeping their targets at long range.

Generally speaking, most maniples will work well for a Praesagius list so long as they’re bringing weapons that can benefit from their rules. However, there are some fun combinations we wanted to highlight:

Mandatum maniples are able to stack the Pack Master trait +1 to hit ability with Precision Volley, allowing for some very accurate called shots. A coordinated strike from some hounds with turbo laser destructors hitting the location of your choice on a 3+ is nothing to sneeze at. The Warlord would either have the standard Swift Killer Brawler loadout or be equipped with an Arioch power claw and the Crusader trait mentioned above.

Corsair maniples are a great choice with Fighting Withdrawal enabling you to keep your distance so that your battlegroup can engage at the optimal range. The Reaver is a great choice for Praesagius, with a good number of mid ranged weapon choices such as the Gatling Blaster, Melta Cannon, Lasers and Vulcan Megabolter.

Bair: This is my favourite option really. Reavers are my favourite of the 4 engines available to us currently and being able to sidestep and backstep at full 6” gives you the ability to go on Split Fire Orders very effectively and stay at whatever range you want. 

In addition to these standouts, there are a lot of interesting options for the True Messengers. The Warbringer in an Arcus maniple can make good use of Pinpoint Accuracy and Precision Volley as it fires away with deadly blast weapons and noscopes enemies hiding behind terrain. The Reaver in the Venator maniple will be able to land the Opportunistic strike into somewhere more useful as the hounds chip away at shields, especially if it takes that shot with a melta or volcano cannon. The humble Axiom maniple can make your gunline more reliable with more First Fire or Split Fire orders, letting you get the most out of all your guns in the turns before your opponent can get inside long range. And if you want to go heavier, the Fortis and Regia maniples can both be built to make the most of True Messengers’ incredible gunline potential.

For once, we don’t recommend taking a Ferrox: while the maniple’s Knife Fighters trait will let you hedge against an enemy who pushes too close for your legion rules to work, you’re better off playing to your  strengths. Take a maniple whose trait will synergize with the True Messengers’ rules so you can get the most out of them.

With this all in mind, let’s take a look at a sample 1500 point list that makes good use of the Praesagius’ precision in the form of a highly mobile and flexible gunline.

Legio Praesagius Battlegroup – 1750 pts

Corsair Batteline Maniple – 1250 pts

Reaver Titan – 310 pts

  • Princeps Seniores – Ironclad Tyrant
  • Melta Cannon
  • Gatling Blaster
  • Vulcan Megabolter

Reaver Titan – 310 pts

  • Gatling Blaster
  • Melta Cannon
  • Vulcan Megabolter

Reaver Titan – 320 pts

  • Gatling Blaster
  • Melta Cannon
  • Turbo Laser Destructor

Reaver Titan – 310 pts

  • Laser Blaster
  • Volcano Cannon
  • Apocalypse Missile Launcher

Support Titans

Warlord Titan – 500 pts

  • Apocalypse Missile Launchers
  • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
  • Macro Gatling Blaster
  • Upgrades – Tracking Gyroscropes

While many maniples work well for Praesagius, we wanted to look at the Corsair with a support Warlord Titan. The melta cannon is easily one of the best weapons available, and it’s even better for Praesagius. Usually if you see a host of enemy melta cannons your first instinct would be to stay further away to deny the Fusion rule in short range, but in this case staying further back grants the Praesagius engines their free reroll for location with a very strong blast weapon. It’s a tough decision for your opponent which to take and either is still good for you.

The Reaver acting as Princeps Seniores has opted for Ironclad Tyrant from the rulebook. A trait that allows your maniple to go on orders more often since the others need a 4+ to be successful. We’ve found that the Corsair most often wants to be on a Split Fire order, able to lend firepower where needed more often without wasting any shots since the titans can side-step and walk backwards without slowing down. 

The Warlord acts as a mid-field brawler, keeping general pace with the Reavers but being a heavier, meatier threat able to lend more shield stripping power for the Reavers and giving your opponent a tough decision to either aim for the weaker, easier to kill Reavers or focus more firepower on the Warlord to bring it down. 

Playing Against Praesagius

The True Messengers want to keep you within their weapons’ long range, which is easiest to do with mid-ranged weapons. This means you either want to move aggressively to get within short range and play there, or outrange them with weapons that can hit from beyond 24” or so. Fire-support Warlords and Warbringers can be surprisingly effective against a Praesagius force bristling with 24″ weaponry.

Against the Impossible gives them a good chance of shrugging off a point or two of critical damage before a Titan dies, and is especially strong on Warlords and Warbringers. If you’ve identified a key target that you want to guarantee goes down and they haven’t used this trait yet, make sure you’ve got some weapons to spare in case they heal off a point or two of damage.

A Praesagius Warlord with power claw can be a serious threat and will bring that weapon to bear sooner than you might expect with Crusader, since the player will likely issue Full Stride 2-3 times during the game thanks to their ability to take a few potshots with their carapace weapons. And whatever you do, don’t get caught out by the claw after that extra move – even a single hit is likely to cause heavy damage.

True Messengers Titans. Credit – Patrick Robins

Hit Them Where it Hurts

Praesagius’s traits make what are already some of the most powerful weapons in the game into consistent game-winners, so long as you can maintain optimal range. Use your legion traits and stratagems together with powerful mid-ranged weapons to lay down the hurt, but be careful you don’t get caught out by aggressive counterplay.