Warlord Wednesdays: Legion Focus – Legio Venator

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 Legio Venator, the now-displaced Titan Legion hailing from the Forge World Arachnus. They’ve got an interesting kit that rewards clever play and honestly takes some finesse to get the most out of, but which can really come through if you set it up correctly.

[Editors’ Note: This article was last updated November 22, 2021, and includes rules from the Loyalist Legios and Traitor Legios supplements, as well as the FAQ that accompanied the Loyalist Legios supplement.]

Legio Venator Warlord. Credit – Warhammer Community

Who are Legio Venator?

During the Age of Strife the God-Engines of the Forge World Arachnus protected their people from the native mega-arachnids and invaders from outside the system. When discovered by the Great Crusade, Arachnus insisted that they remain sovereign which saw the start of a bloody  compliance action which would see Arachnus losing the majority of it’s small empire and the depletion of the Legio Venator “Iron Spiders” Titans. 

The Legion was divided into two, those who would join the Great Crusade and those who stayed home on Arachnus. The Legio Venator elements who took part in the Great Crusade found themselves integrating with the Imperium. However those still on Arachnus resented their conquest, seeking to reinstate their empire made the most of Imperial rule by expanding their sphere of influence throughout the Belt of Iron. 

The outbreak of the Horus Heresy would see Legio torn asunder, those loyal to the Imperium and those to Arachnus. The latter became known as Legio Tritonis, named after the three bodies of Arachnus.

Legio Venator would prove themselves time and again in Heresy and when the time came were given the honour to deliver the sentence to their traitorous brethren.

Painting Legio Venator

This week, Condit shows off how he painted his Legio Venator Reaver.

The “skeleton” of the Titan is pretty standard: I start by priming black, then do a sort of faux-zenithal with rattle-can Leadbelcher over top to create some depth. A quick wash of thinned Nuln Oil and some minor drybrush highlights brings you to something workable.

Legio Venator Reaver | Credit: Garrett “John Condit” Severson

The armor panelling is a bit more work. I wanted to shoot for a cooler “ice white,” and think I did a pretty good job achieving it with this recipe:

  • Prime Grey Seer
  • Wash Drakenhof Nightshade thinned 50/50 with medium
  • Thin layer Ulthuan Grey
  • Wash Drakenhof Nightshade thinned 60/40 with medium
  • Thin layer Ulthuan Grey, avoiding recesses
  • Trim painted Darkstar Steel

As for the metallic panels, those use the following process:

  • Prime Grey Seer
  • Wash Drakenhof Nightshade thinned 50/50 with medium
  • Layer Darkstar Pewter
  • Wash Drakenhof Nightshade thinned 60/40 with medium
  • Layer Darkstar Silver

The Darkstar Silver is a very light color, and you honestly may not notice it on the first coat. I did 2-3 layers of the stuff over the metallic panels, basically just enough to make it so that the blue shade isn’t quite so “forward” anymore.

The spider webs are freehanded with a Gundam Marker, which I find invaluable for panel-lining and this sort of work, but you could use a micron pen or similar tool. I used the edge of a piece of cardstock to get the straight lines, then just sort of did my best on the curved ones in between.

Each of the armor panels has a thin coat of Pledge Future Floor Polish on it to varnish it and give it a slightly glossy look.

The detail work on the top carapace is pretty standard as well – a few different metallics with appropriate washes over them and the GW-standard parchment recipe – Rakarth Flesh, thinned Agrax, then Pallid Wych Flesh over top. I’m planning to put some more detailing on that once I come up with a name for the thing.

The weapon glow on the lasers is accomplished by laying down a base of off-white (I used VMA Light Gull Gray), then using Contrast Blood Angels Red washed with Carroburg Crimson, and finally adding a strip of a brighter color in the middle to sell the effect.

Legio Venator in Adeptus Titanicus

Tactical Overview

Legio Venator are dutiful to the end with the Loyalty Above All trait. This trait gives all Legio Venator Titans a +1 to any command checks while within 6” of any Legio Venator Princeps Senioris, which is nice to have the ability for Titans that will be working in concert with one another, like those in a Regia or Ferrox Maniple. This trait also allows you to ignore the Princeps Wounded status – this will rarely trigger, but could be the difference between going down in a blaze of glory or involuntarily shutting down at the eleventh hour.

That’s not the main attraction though: for that, look no further than One Mind, which allows Titans within a maniple to form temporary squadrons (which can’t share voids) for the battle round. The ability to adjust your number of activations mid-game is a powerful ability and was previously only the remit of the Lupercal Maniple. Run your Titans up as singletons for the most intel during the first turn while you maneuver into position, then group up into pairs for more powerful Combat phase activations with Coordinated Strikes.

Bair: As a Vulcanum player this makes me mad. This is differently better in my opinion than Twinned Machine Spirits. Not being able to share shields is a minor downside to being able to make combined shots for extra damage where you need it, flexibly throughout the game. 

If that wasn’t enough, Legio Venator have a third trait to represent how they adjusted tactics after losing their Forge World. Mobile Force allows Legio Venator maniples to substitute a Reaver in the place of a Mandatory Warlord. Being able to reduce the cost of a maniple by using a smaller engine is a nice trick to have up your sleeve and allows for some funny combinations which we’ll go into further when looking at maniple options.

Legio Venator’s Blind Launchers wargear allows them to shroud themselves with a pocket Blind Barrage. For 20 points a Titan can pop the launchers once per game any time during their combat activation – including after they fire – to give -1 to all hit rolls made by or against the Titan until the next combat phase. This is a great list filler and will always be of use in your games – pairing this with One Mind will allow you to quickly deny promising targeting solutions to your opponent.

Condit: The cool thing about this is that you’re paying 20 points for a copy of a useful stratagem, and the thing you buy can situationally be better than the stratagem it replaces. Use this and obscuring terrain to impose a -3 to hit your Titans until you’re ready to spring the trap, at which point it should be too late.

Bair: These are fantastic, however when wanting to use these you are going to be wanting to activate in a certain order in the combat phase so that the Titans don’t take a heap of incoming fire before getting to use it. 

The Princeps Senioris of a Legio Venator maniple can choose from one of their legio specific traits – the most straight forward of which is Superior Tactician, which gives you another stratagem point to play around with. An extra stratagem point opens up many combinations not available to other battlegroups, so make the most of it. This is in the running for first Princeps Trait in any Legio Venator maniple, and should almost certainly be included in any list with two or more maniples.

Legio Venator Reaver | Credit: Garrett “John Condit” Severson

Crusade Veteran allows the Princeps Senioris to change their order after performing an Emergency Repair, although they can still only activate in either the movement or combat phase. This has some solid utility depending on which role your Princeps Senioris is filling. Similar, but different, to the Adaptive Tactics available to Loyalists, allowing the Princeps to change orders immediately after an E-repair means that you can switch to a charge order on a Reaver and make a devastating hit after repairing damage to legs which was hindering its movement, or bringing a melee weapon back online, etc. If the Titan is filling a fire support role then switching to a Split Fire can be useful in some situations. 

The Burning Hatred trait is a flavourful mix of risk and reward – once per round after causing critical damage to a Titan, the Princeps Senioris can attack again with one of it’s weapons – however afterwards has to roll a D6 on the Reactor Overload table. It can always be disheartening to nearly pull off an engine kill only to find that you’re one or two pips short, and this trait lets you finish the job, at a cost. Consider using this on melee engines who have a great chance of landing the extra hit on the critically wounded location, or a Titan under Split Fire orders to start pounding down your next target after killing something with a critical hit. 

Bair: As long as you haven’t suffered much damage to the body yet then there’s not too big of a risk here realistically, you won’t die from a D6 roll on the Overload table with no previous damage taken unless you’re a Warhound and roll super poorly. 

Condit: Consider also that this trait is once per round, and isn’t restricted to the Combat phase. This means that not only can you use it to fire the same weapon twice in a phase, you can trigger it on First Fire orders in the Movement phase to put in the last point or two of damage against a key target before it has a chance to try to bring up its voids.

Your basic strategy here is to divide and conquer: maneuver your Titans to isolate a single target, then when it’s time to go in for the kill, pair off your Titans to frontload your damage and push the strength of your weapons up by one.

Maniple Choice

The key thing that makes maniple construction different in a Venator maniple is their Mobile Force trait: being able to swap Reavers in for any number of mandatory Warlords lets you take what would be the more expensive maniples in the game while being able to shave off a little less than 200 points per replaced Titan. This lets you reliably increase your activation count and bring more Titans in maniples that usually force low-model count lists. Unfortunately, a few of the maniples you might think would be interesting here have abilities that are keyed to the actual Warlord Titans in the maniple, so your substitute Reavers can’t benefit. In our opinion, you’re left with the following options that are worth considering:

  • Fortis: The big thing you’re missing in your One Mind squadrons is the ability to merge voids. This maniple lets you do that, giving you some additional survivability on a mobile platform.
  • Extergimus: Three Reaver swaps here drops the average cost of the maniple down to a little over 900 points, meaning you can take all of your mandatory elements and still have room to shove in a bonus Warlord or Warbringer at 1500 points. On top of that, the Extergimus trait is legitimately interesting on Reavers, as they’ve got just enough reactor space to be able to use the maniple trait when it counts as well as plenty of weapons that can make effective use of it to push their weapons’ strength through the roof.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at a 1750 point list which takes advantage of the unique rules Legio Venator offers. This one’s a bit different than usual, but can be downright nasty in the right hands.

Legio Venator Battlegroup – 1750 pts

Extergimus Heavy Maniple

Warlord Titan – 565points

  • Princeps Seniores: Burning Hatred
  • Paired Turbo Laser Destructor
  • Macro Gatling Blaster
  • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
  • Wargear: Blind Launchers; Tracking Gyroscopes; Plasmatic Binders

Warlord Titan – 555points

  • Apocalypse Missile Launchers
  • Volkite Destructor
  • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
  • Wargear: Blind Launchers; Tracking Gyroscopes; Plasmatic Binders

Reaver Titan – 310

  • Apocalypse Missile Launcher
  • Melta Cannon
  • Gatling Blaster

Reaver Titan – 320

  • Vulcan Mega-Bolter
  • Melta Cannon
  • Laser Blaster

Replacing two of the mandatory elements in an Extergimus with Reavers gives just enough points to slam a second Warlord into 1750 points, which is something I’m more than happy to take advantage of. Plenty of lasers across the maniple gives me a lot of strength 8 firepower that can push to 10 if I’ve got reactor room, and pairing Titans up for Coordinated Strikes will let me get them up to strength 11 if I really want to pour on the damage. And the Warlord with Burning Hatred will absolutely shred whatever it’s looking at, since it’s all but guaranteed to deal critical damage with the Sunfury. Toss in Split Fire orders and I’ve got a hell of a brawler that will shrug off a couple strength 9 hits to the body.

This list isn’t built to have any specific pairings, but instead will create ad hoc squadrons depending on how the game plays out. Each of the Titans has pretty respectable anti-void output, and any of them can put some serious hurt on exposed armour if they get a shot. This is very much going to be a “divide and conquer” list.

As far as stratagems go, Concealment Barrage and Long Retreat are going to see play in most of my games. Long Retreat is an obvious one, since it will let me reposition if I get outflanked, or keep space between me and an advancing melee Titan while still pouring the fire on. Concealment Barrage may seem like an odd one for a ranged-focused list, but having it on hand will allow me to carve up the board and move in to take out my chosen target while minimizing the chance of suffering retribution.

The remainder of my points will go into different stratagems depending on the matchup. Experimental Weapon is an interesting one, though it will increase the heat load on an already hot-running list. Less risky is Overcharged Cannon, which will let me fire the Sunfury at up to strength 14 if I’ve got the reactor room to take the risk. Finally, Martian Servitor Clades might be worth a look in the Extergimus, as it’ll let me push a little more aggressively and still have a decent chance of venting. It’s expensive, but could be a game-changer.

Playing against Venator 

Legio Venator have a mix of strengths to lean on and how you will play against them will be decided in what combination they have on the day. The persistent threat to be aware of is One Mind allowing them to spike their damage and get it in quicker than otherwise possible – and that’s before you take into consideration Coordinated Strikes increasing the strength of their attacks. Take advantage of the terrain and stratagems like Obscuration Barrage to prevent being engaged by multiple Venator engines in the combat phase.

Blind Launchers will no doubt make an appearance, during the movement phase bare in mind that you may need to focus down engines more if they have these equipped. Better yet: if you have the Opus, kill vulnerable engines before they get the chance to pop smoke.

Weave a Web of Destruction

The Iron Spiders have a flexible but powerful kit that lends itself well to many strategies, and lets you surprise your opponent with powerful alpha strikes when they least expect it. They favor a sort of hit-and-run playstyle with their Reavers, and can deliver devastating counterpunches to destroy any enemy target that finds itself out of position. Set your trap, then trick your opponent into stumbling into it, and strike without mercy.