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 walking you through how to build your battlegroup and command it to glory, including everything from which Titans to include and how to equip them, through to how to command them on the field of battle to secure ultimate victory.
This week, we’re looking at the powerful Warlord Titan, which brings a potent combination of overwhelming firepower and incredible durability to your battlegroup, albeit at a steep cost. Bringing one of these monstrosities to the battlefield is a huge commitment, but if you build it right and play it well, that point investment will pay off with dividends.
Warlords in a Nutshell
Warlords didn’t get that name for nothing – the presence of one on the field will cause your opponent to adjust how they play due to the amount of threat these models project. Their weapons tend to be longer range and higher strength than similar ones carried by other Titans, letting them put out incredible amounts of hurt at nearly any range. This is offset by the fact that they are very slow. Like, incredibly slow. We’re talking a lack of speed that’s approaching “Why did they even bother giving them legs?” levels of slow here. Thankfully, they have the reactor track to push more often than other Titans as well as the servitor clades to keep the rapidly-building heat under control, but you’ll need to plan ahead and play carefully to ensure you’re getting the most out of your Warlord each round.
- Firepower: Warlords have a prodigious amount of firepower and one can happily vaporise any unlucky Titans or Knight banners caught in its sights. Their weaponry pushes them towards two roles – fire support or mid-range brawler.
- Powerful Reactor: The Warlord’s reactor track is one space longer than the Reaver’s, adding another orange space on the track before redlining. You can take 4 points of heat before having to roll on the reactor overload table, and it’s not until your sixth that you’ll find yourself redlining. Add to this the Warlord’s generous 4 servitor clades, and heat management is much less of an issue than it is for other Titans. Which is a good thing, because you’ll need to be able to push your reactor to get this Titan where you want it to be.
- Durability: Warlords have the longest void shield track in the game. Together with its large reactor track and 4 repair dice, this allows you to push your Voids to Full! more frequently, allowing you to shrug off fire that would make any other Titan wither. The target values for each of its structure locations are also higher across the board than other Titans’, meaning that your Warlord can afford to take a shot or two at its armor without having to worry too much about a devastating or critical hit.
- Slow and Lumbering: Leviathans of the battlefield, Warlords are ill-equipped to deal with flanking units when they get close as they have to push their reactor to pivot a mere 90 degrees. This lack of maneuverability means that of the two roles above, they fit most naturally into long range fire support. This is made worse by their inability to bring their carapace weapons to bear on more agile foes – even if you’re able to move to where a flanking Warhound or Reaver is more than 10″ away, chances are you’ll be unable to tag them with the “corridor” firing arc. There are ways to get around this, the most obvious being pushing your reactor for additional speed or turns during the movement phase. Keep your eye open for others like the Swift Killer personal trait, which allows a Warlord to pivot an additional 45 degrees as it fires in exchange for a -1 to hit rolls. This is isn’t without risk, but tricks like these are nice to have in your back pocket if you’re concerned about getting outmaneuvered.
- Cost: Everything has its cost, and in the case of a Warlord you could be looking at a third of your points of your force in one piece – most Warlord loadouts will average somewhere north of 475 points, with the more expensive options pushing toward 500 points. Including a Warlord in your battlegroup will often mean that you’re giving activation advantage to your opponent, further increasing the chances they’ll be able to outflank you or dodge out of firing arcs. You can mitigate to some extent by bringing Knight Banners or other low-cost options, but once you put your Large Plastic Child on the board, there’s only so many activations you’ll have at your disposal.
Piloting Your Warlord
The Warlord is slow, so you’ll generally be playing yours in one of two ways: either sacrificing your combat phase to move forward aggressively and take control of the middle of the board in early turns, or posting up in the backfield and flinging hot death at your targets from considerable range. Both options have their merits, but you’ll need to build your Warlord to take advantage of it.
Regardless of how you build, reactor management is going to be key. You’ve got some room to play with here, but the size of the Warlord and amount of damage it can dish out when it gets a target in its sights will make it a tempting target for your opponent, despite its relative durability. Think about when you use Voids to Full, as it may make sense to use it to stay in the top half of the void shield track – the difference between a 3+ and a 4+ over a full Warlord AML salvo is the difference between an average of 2.2 and 3.3 failed saves respectively. In other words, against most weapons, your voids are more likely than not to stay up as long as they’re at the 3+ level, so an early push that could keep you in that range is worth considering.
In the first turn of the game, consider whether it makes more sense to issue the Full Stride order, the First Fire order, or just push your reactor to get some extra movement. Dedicated fire-support Warlords will either want to First Fire or, if they’re not in a good position, push for the speed or turns they need to line up a target. If your armament is more mid-ranged, you’re going to need the speed, so consider whether you want to push for extra movement, move at Full Stride, or even both – if you need to get in close and are giving up your shooting anyway, you might as well move 10″ (or even 12″!).
Consider activating your Warlord later in the round than your other Titans so you can be sure to line up at least one target in its carapace weapons’ arc of fire. Many opponents will prioritize dodging your Warlord’s firing arcs over that of your other Titans, so reserve its activation to deny them that as much as possible.
Once you get your Warlord where you want it, you’ll want to use your other more maneuverable models to try to cut off your opponent’s ability to move and funnel them into your Warlord’s kill zone. Make good use of the Split Fire order to make sure each of your weapons are pointed at the best target for them, and if there’s an enemy without voids that won’t be able to clear your forward arc this turn, consider issuing First Fire orders and going for the kill. Finally, don’t forget about your Ardex-Defensor Cannon rule: anyone foolish enough to stray within 6″ of your Warlord in its front or rear arc automatically takes d3 strength 5 hits. Considering that most of the targets likely to find themselves in those areas are at risk of taking damage from those shots, it’s important to remember to roll for them. Just remember that they occur “[w]hen the Titan is activated in the Combat phase,” meaning they happen before you resolve any of your other weapons.
These are all excellent choices, but the mori quake cannon and macro gatling blaster are only available from Forge World. You’re probably going to want at least one of each for your armory, so it’s something of a shame they’re not included in the base kits.
- Belicosa Volcano Cannon: The king of kings when it comes to Titan weaponry, the Belicosa strikes fear into unshielded targets and Knights alike. The most expensive Warlord weapon, at 55 points, it drops a 5” blast template at strength 12 within 60”. Its strength 12 gives it a solid chance to cause critical hits on all targets, forcing Knight players to play accordingly if there’s one on the table. While its Blast trait makes it fantastic for clearing out Knights, it can often become a liability when it comes to finishing off crippled targets since you can’t call shots with it. Take advantage of the weapon’s 60″ range and set up in a fire-support role in the backline, setting up targets so your other models can knock them down. Think twice before mounting two of these on the same Titan, though – having to push for every shot you take will tax even the Warlord’s powerful reactor.
- Mori Quake Cannon: A fantastic complement to the Volcano cannon for a Warlord in a fire-support role, the Quake cannon also drops 5” blasts but doesn’t have draining – allowing you to keep your reactor under control. The strength 9 of the weapon is not to be ignored, but the weapon’s traits make it even better: Quake and Concussive. This can result in a slew of useful debuffs, including halving your target’s movement in the next movement phase, knocking it back or forcing it to turn 45 degrees in a random direction, or causing a Knight Banner to be automatically shaken without a command check, all of which drastically reduce the threat your target poses the next turn. Its Blast trait also gives it some upside into voids – if you don’t have any other targets, you might as well try for the double-tap on a successful hit. Combine all this with an impressive 72″ range and fire-sale pricing at 20 points and any fire-support Warlord should strongly consider taking one of these.
- Sunfury Plasma Annihilator: The workhorse option of the Warlord’s armory, the sunfury is an all-round monster with 4 dice at strength 10 when using the Maximal Fire trait. If the dice are on its side, it’s not uncommon to see one destroy a smaller unshielded target in one volley. Unlike the Warhound’s plasma blastgun, there’s no blast trait here which stops it from doubling up hits, but there’s also no penalty for firing at long range, letting them absolutely shred exposed targets. With 4 dice, they can even contribute to shield breaking duties in a pinch and can pose a serious threat when calling shots into vulnerable structure locations. The trade-offs for this power are a high cost of 45 points and a relatively short range of 24”, which can make it easier for enemies to get inside the minimum range of your carapace weapons and outflank you. Also, keep in mind that with 4 dice, you’re more likely than not to roll at least one 1, which will advance your reactor on Maximal Fire.
- Macro Gatling Blaster: Commonly seen paired with the sunfury, the macro gatling has the same range of 24” with a bonus to targets within 8″. Each volley brings 6 dice, letting it contribute to pounding down shields and perform called shots to locations weakened already by other weapons – the Ordnance trait here is pure gravy, and will help you secure an engine kill despite its otherwise-mediocre strength 7. Another workhorse option at midrange that doesn’t get near the respect we believe it deserves.
- Arioch Titan Power Claw: Having a melee weapon on something that moves 4” may not sound great, but if anything is foolish enough to get within melee range, 3 dice at strength 12 with a called shot (with +2 accuracy) to any location is going anyone’s day. This makes the Power Claw a huge deterrent for any Titan wanting to close within carapace range. If anything does survive the Power Claw, the concussive trait can knock them out of position or turn them to a facing that’s inconvenient for the next turn. Just be sure to perform your smash attacks first as there is a 1-in-3 chance you could knock your target back d3″, leaving them outside 1″.
As with the Reaver’s carapace weapons, these can’t hit anything closer than the scale of the Titan they’re mounted on. In this case, that means that at close ranges you won’t be able to target anything smaller than another Warlord with any of the below weapons. Keep that in mind when evaluating the shorter-ranged options. Finally, there are currently no official models for the paired turbo laser destructors, paired gatling blaster, or vulcan megabolter array. You could convert a set of the turbo lasers or gatling blasters using bits from the Reaver kits and a set of paired laser blasters from the sunfury/power claw Warlord box, but the megabolter array will take a bit more work – the Warhound’s megabolter is a bit of an odd fit for the Warlord’s shoulders. Keep this in mind when you’re picking your loadout.
- Apocalypse Missile Launchers: A Warlord staple, the Apocalypse launcher is the best long-range shield breaking weapon in the game with 10 dice and +1 to targets outside of 30”. With strength 4, it’s not going to be doing any damage to armour unless if it has previously been damaged by Volcano cannons. The biggest downside here is the “corridor” firing arc, which can be tricky to line up at extreme range – try to avoid finding yourself in the situation where you thought you had lined up a long shot only to find that you’ve just missed due to player error. If you’re taking these long shots from across the board, take the time to make sure you’re pointed in the direction you think you are.
- Paired Turbo Laser Destructors: At 35 points, the Turbo Lasers are one of the more expensive carapace weapons, but are fairly versatile with their long effective range of 32” and 4 strength 8 hits. The Shieldbane (Draining) trait isn’t amazing here, but can come in handy if your target has a point or two of shields left when the time comes around to open up with a mid-range Warlord.
- Paired Laser Blasters: The laser blasters are the turbo lasers’ more expensive sibling, costing 15 points more (for a total of 50) for 6 strength 8 hits with the same range of 32”. The trade-off here is that you will suffer a -1 outside 16″. You also keep the Shieldbane (Draining) trait, though, which will let these weapons contribute fairly well to pounding down voids if you’re willing to push your reactor. The biggest problem with these weapons is that there’s only 6″ band where they can hit something that’s not a Warlord and not fire at -1 to hit.
- Paired Gatling Blaster: The gatling blasters are formidable with their 12 shots at strength 5 with a 24” range allowing you to drop shields quickly or follow up on weakened locations with the ordinance trait. The weapon does benefit from a +1 within 8”, allowing you reliable called shots, although only at other Warlords due to the Carapace rule. Keep in mind that it’s been FAQ’d to have the same “corridor” firing arc as the other Warlord carapace weapons.
- Vulcan Megabolter Array: The megabolter array throws even more lead downrange with 12 dice and the Rapid trait. If you want to drop voids on something immediately, this is your best chance to get the job done. Compared with the gatling blaster, it has a slightly shorter range at 20”, is 10 points cheaper and is weaker at strength 4. It also benefits from the same +1 at targets within 8”, giving you a decent shot to reliably drop the shields on an enemy Warlord, assuming you can get close enough.
Warlord Titans often take a fire support role due to their absurdly powerful long-ranged weapons and the fantastic strength value offered by the belicosa volcano cannon, but that’s not the only way you can build your centerpiece model. Here are a few options to consider when you’re deciding what weapon options to build on your Titan.
- Apocalypse Missile Launcher
- Belicosa Volcano Cannon
- Quake Cannon
Often seen skulking in its deployment zone the whole game, this Warlord wants to keep its distance and open up at maximum range. Use the AML to pound voids from afar, then follow up with the volcano cannon and quake cannon to cripple unshielded Titans and swat away Knight Banners with contemptuous ease. Only taking a single volcano cannon helps keep its reactor drain under control, while the quake cannon offers solid supporting firepower with added benefit from its Quake and Concussive traits. That said, this loadout does require additional support from other elements to finish off weakened targets while you tear into your targets’ armor from afar due to its lack of ability to call shots with anything but the AMLs.
- Paired Gatling Blasters
- Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
- Macro-Gatling Blaster
This loadout is seen in the middle of the fray, annihilating anything foolish enough to stand in their way. A Warlord with this kit poses a serious threat to even a fully shielded Titan, assuming it can bring all of its weapons to bear. This does require some deft maneuvering on your part, since you’ll have to draw a bead while avoiding being obstructed or outflanked by smaller Titans. Consider the Swift Killer princeps trait or similar tricks to compensate for your low manoevure values and make that extra turn when your opponent least expects it.
- Vulcan Mega-Bolter Array/Paired Gatling Blaster
- Arioch Power Claw
- Sunfury Plasma Annihilator
Going melee on the lumbering Warlord may seem counter-intuitive compared to taking another fantastic ranged option, but the main benefit you’re buying with the power claw is the psychological effect of being within charge distance of that terrifying weapon. The remaining weapons can still quite happily ruin anyone’s day while making your opponent think carefully about closing with it – anything eating a full 6″ charge from this Titan will suffer horrendous damage and is probably looking at a roll on the catastrophic damage table. Play aggressively in the first few turns to get within range of your sunfury and carapace weapons, then position to threaten a charge if flanking enemies stray too close.
If you don’t want to try to source a mega-bolter array or paired gatling blaster (there are currently no official models for either), you could replace them with the laser blaster to replicate the Titan on the sunfury/power claw box art. It’s still a fine choice, albeit 20-30 points more expensive.
Legio Astorum – “Warp Runners” (Titandeath, p 19)
All the wonderful things we’ve said about Astorum to this point hold true here, but even more so. Veteran Princeps applies to 2 repair dice for Warlords rather than 1, and the extra 2″ of boosted movement from War March lets your Warlord double its movement to 8″ when it pushes its reactor in early rounds. This makes them an excellent choice for mid-ranged Warlords to get into the thick of things with sunfury plasma annihilators or macro gatling cannons.
Legio Defensor – “Nova Guard” (Titandeath, p 24)
The Nova Guard want to stand firm and unleash an incredible amount of firepower in the first round, and Warlords offer both the firepower to get the most out of that early salvo as well as a long enough reactor track to soak up the heat that will be generated. In addition, the Blessings of the Emperor stratagem and Crusade Veteran princeps trait are both great when used on a Warlord, letting you keep your most expensive models in the fight that much longer. As a bonus, the Devotional War Sirens wargear lets Titans within 8″ of the Warlord equipped with it roll two dice and keep the higher for command checks, giving them a better chance of successfully issuing an order to Warlords than a Titan in a Myrmidon.
Legio Krytos – “God Breakers” (Titandeath, p 45)
If you really want to run three Warlords, Krytos has got you sorted with their modified Myrmidon maniple. Think carefully before you do this, since being limited to 3 activations at 1500 points is tough, but this is the cheapest way to get three of these monstrosities on the board. The God Breakers also offer Earth Breaker Missiles for your AML-equipped Warlords allowing you to level the battlefield to stop those pesky Warhounds from hiding behind cover and, perhaps more importantly, giving you another source of the powerful Quake rule, helping you shut down your opponent’s movement once their shields are down.
Legio Crucius – “Warmongers” (Doom of Molech, p 17)
While Legio Crucius is in a bit of an odd spot, if you really want to bring as many belicosas and sunfuries as you can pack into a list, they present an interesting way to get that done. Forgeborn and Pride of Ryza combine to let you keep your reactor track lower than most other legions, and their unique wargear encourages them to ride their reactor’s redline aggressively and keep firing with these otherwise risky weapons. Plus, the Black Banner princeps trait will net you 5 VP at the end of the game if you can keep your princeps alive, making it an excellent choice for a backfield Warlord and tempting your opponent to overreach in an effort to deny you those points.
Legio Vulcanum – “Dark Fire” and “Lords of Ruin” (Doom of Molech, p 23)
Legio Vulcanum have two very interesting items of wargear that open up some interesting tricks:
- Twinned Machine Spirits: This upgrade allows you to squadron any two titans, which will cut down on your activations during the movement phase, but allow you to pair up and use the Coordinated Strike rule with your already-devastating armory. The prospect of a Warlord firing in the same activation as another titan (or, Emperor forbid, another Warlord) is terrifying, assuming you can set it up.
- Janus Pattern Missiles: This enables your AML-equipped Warlords to drop shields on multiple targets. Rules-As-Written, only the weapon’s primary target needs to be in the “corridor” arc of fire, letting you put 1 missile and both of your arm weapons into a single target, then dropping the other 9 missiles on another nearby target. This lets you get the most out of your AMLs when you’re targeting a Titan whose voids are already down without having to issue the Split Fire order.
Myrmidon Battleline Maniple (Core Rules, p58)
The Myrmidon is the quintessential Warlord maniple, although it suffers from low activation count due to it’s prohibitive cost. This puts you at high risk of being out-maneuvered and, together with its somewhat lackluster bonus makes it difficult to recommend.
It does have its place, though. Legio Krytos can make use of it to take a third Warlord without having to take any Reavers in larger games, and starting with a pair of Warlords and a Reaver, then filling out with Knight Banners isn’t the worst idea for a legion like Defensor or Crucius (although Defensor can buy a more effective version of its bonus for 20 points). In most lists, though, you’re probably just better off with an Axiom.
Regia Battleline Maniple (Titandeath, p64)
As we mentioned in our commentary of the Regia maniple, it is quite unconventional and does require a bit of different thinking to make the most of its bonus. The Warlords need to be agile to keep up with their Warhound courtiers, and will require abusing their reactor to achieve this. Given that your Warlords are unlikely to be hiding out in the back if they’re keeping pace with the Warhounds, you may want to consider giving one or both midrange loadouts, like our “Brawler” suggestion above. Consider taking one Warlord with a fire-support loadout anyway – even though it won’t get the benefit of the maniple trait, it will do respectable damage in its own right, and your opponent might well be more concerned about that giant ball of hate rolling up the other side of the board to devote much firepower to the Titan hiding out in the back.
Warp Runners are a good candidate legio for this maniple as War March will allow you to your Warlords into position with an extra 2” – doubling your movement from your base speed and letting you match pace with un-boosted Warhounds.
Fortis Heavy Maniple (Doom of Molech, p30)
The Fortis is a solid go-to if you want to field a Warlord in your maniple. Not only does it give you access to two Warlords if you want them, it doesn’t burden you by forcing you to take them both in smaller games. The maniple trait is also useful, especially if you get outflanked – being able to ignore the most common bonuses to armor rolls might buy you the extra turn you need to take down your opponent’s main battleline before turning to deal with the annoying flanker. Plus, while merging voids is a risky proposition in any situation, it’s a lot more reliable when the Titans involved are Warlords and Reavers.
I know it sounds odd, but many battlegroups may have room for a support Warlord outside the maniple that helps to fill in some of the gaps in its gameplay. For instance, an aggressive light maniple like a Ferrox or Lupercal might benefit from some added firepower to soften up targets as the smaller Titans march across the board and to open up armor locations for deadly called shots. With its superior durability and 3+ Command value, a fire-support Warlord is self-sufficient enough to fill this role without having to rely on a maniple trait to get it done. Think about whether you really need your Warlord in your maniple if you’re going to field it, as the strategy you want to enact might well be better served by having your Warlord play second-fiddle to another, more aggressive maniple.
We’ve talked about all of the classes of Titans, so next time we’ll talk about the little guys: the unsung heroes of the Knight Household Support Banners. Join us next time as we talk about the incredible power of the Knight Acastus, the sheer aggression of the Knight Cerastus, and the rugged determination of the Knight Questoris.