40K Deep Thought: Ending The Horus Heresy

The Horus Heresy has run it’s course – it’s time to give it a proper send off and call it done!

The Horus Heresy is the pivotal event in the Grim-Dark Universe. It’s the war that launched a thousand ships (probably a few more than that). Brothers fighting brothers. A Father fighting his sons. And the fate of countless lives in the balance. We’re still feeling the impact in the 40k universe to this day. That said, it might be time to call it done and move on. Games Workshop has announced plans to end the book series already – so what about the future of all things 30k?

A Marathon, Not A Sprint

When the Horus Heresy was first introduced (as a book series) it was an amazing and inspiring time to be in the hobby. 30k, as it came to be known, was a fun way to get creative with conversions and painting. You could really sink your hobby teeth into making one of the Pre-Heresy armies and it was a blast. As the book series went on, Games Workshop and Forge World started to take note and slowly started to roll out 30k kits. Different style dreadnoughts from the era, big tanks, shoulder pads, different marks of power armor, and (almost) all the Horus Heresy Era Characters. All of those things are still available from Forge World and are excellent kits to add to your collection.

However, it’s been 10 years and +45 books (and counting) and, if we’re honest, somewhere along the way the series has felt like it wouldn’t end. Maybe it was a pacing issue. Maybe it was a direction the series just started drifting toward. However, now that GW has come out and said, “yes, we’re going to end it” we can all collectively see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s given me a second wind and I know more than a few other folks have perked up and taken notice. “It’s finally coming to a close? I guess I need to go back and figure out what’s going on again.” Yes. Me too…but now we know that this is a Marathon and not a Sprint.

The Ending Is Key

The meeting that the writers had should be taken as a GOOD sign. It shows that the writers are taking this seriously. The ending needs to finish strong and put a perfect bow on the end of the Heresy. It’s been such a massive undertaking that it deserves to end with a bang and not a slow spiral towards oblivion.

Now, that’s easy for me to type – I’m not the one writing it! I’ll be the first one to come out and say what a challenge it’s going to be. I don’t envy the writers at this point. There is so much history to chew through and the expectations are so high the pressure must be pretty intense. The real kicker here is that everyone already knows the ending! How can you possibly surprise anyone with twists and turns when everyone already knows that Horus loses, the Emperor is mortally wounded, and the Imperium of the Grim-Dark is born? At least they know where it’s going. To the writers of the Horus Heresy: Good Luck!

It’s All About 8th Now

As far as on the tabletop side of things 8th Edition Warhammer 40,000 has really taken the wind from the sails of Horus Hersey. Towards the end of 7th, people were ready for a change and 8th has delivered in spades. It’s the newer, shiner, more entertaining upstart on the tabletop and folks are gravitating towards it with a fervor we haven’t seen in a while. The reaction that the Horus Heresy was going to get a 7th Edition book has been somewhat mixed now that 8th is actually out (and popular). And where is that Horus Heresy rule book at anyways?

We know that the passing of Alan Bligh had a big impact on The Horus Heresy line. We don’t want to downplay that – it caused a major hit to the design team and slowed it’s development. Due to that tragic loss, the Heresy is in a rough spot.

8th Edition has all the momentum now and it’s getting most of the attention from the design studio. It makes sense – when you have a new stud horse ready to run, you run that horse! You don’t put your money on a horse that’s ready to be retired. Sure, it might have a good race or two left but that’s not going to carry your company into the future. I’m sorry to say (and also sorry for the horse/race analogies) but it’s time to keep it moving to the new hotness.

What About The Models

If you think I’m saying to stop producing the newer “old school” Power Armor Marks, that is not at all what I’m getting at. I’m saying that those kits need to keep coming but the Horus Heresy needs to conclude. We’re always going to have Space Marines and those extra Marks can really help give armies a unique look – GW, never stop making the Horus Hersey kits!

If anything I think the old kits are should become more important. The reason is that a giant warp scar has torn the galaxy in half! We’re not sure what the properties of Warp Space really are but I know that time dilation and warp anomalies are not “uncommon” in the Grim-Dark. Warp Travel has always had an element of Time Travel so what’s stopping entire companies of Marines re-appearing from the Warp to re-live these epic battles all over again. It’s a Grim-Dark Groundhog Day, baby!

8th Is The Continuation Of The Horus Heresy

For the first time since Epic 40,000, we have honest-to-goodness Primarchs on the battlefield again. We have Guilliman, Mortarion, and Magnus running around leading their sons in battle. We have a focus of Chaos vs the Imperium and the battle lines are drawn. 8th is the story of the HH continued and things are actually progressing. It’s time to pass the torch to the next “generation” and let them run with it!

I would like to take a moment to say one thing about this transition: I don’t think the shift was done in malice. I think that the success and excitement for 8th has genuinely surprised Games Workshop. But at this point it’s pretty clear the directions the customers want to move. At the same time, I think it would be an amazing olive branch to the dedicated HH fans out there if GW/FW/BL finishes the Heresy strong. Give them an ending that blows them away and leaves them with a sense of completion. I want the Heresy to end with an amazing capstone on the series – a capstone that folks can point to and say “that is why I still love the Horus Heresy.”


What direction do you think GW should take the Horus Heresy series? Should they just give it a great ending and be done? Should they do a reboot? Should they update it for 8th? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Corey Montgomery

    One of the biggest things that hurt me when 8th came out was that the Horus Hersey didn’t get 8th edition rules. I went from craving all the custodes I could get from forgeworld to having almost no drive to do anything with the models.

    I even stopped playing for a bit just because I didn’t have anyone to play against from the horus hersey and not having rules to use against someone in 8th. On top of a good chunk of my models just not having rules(grav tanks) for 8th.

    Though as of now I’m slowly gearing back up and finding new ways to play with the armies that I do have (Pre-Hersey Death Guard, Custodes and Sisters of Silence).

    • I_am_Alpharius

      I’m starting to think that the “delay” in the formal FW Horus Hearsay rule book is possibly down to a change of mind within the guys and girls that make the decision of products.

      Now, Tony Cotterell, during a WH-Tv interview, did say it was in the pipeline and said it was coming. However no truly firm month or number of weeks was given. Just the stock response of keep your eyes peel for more information.

      I’m sincerely wondering if with 40k 8th release, all things considered, it being received very positively, by a vast majority of hobbyist. I ponder if FW change their mind and make the steps to have the HH use 8th rules. They could easily have rule book full of HH stratagems and artifacts or even the list for all 18 locations, custodies, sisters and mechanism in; and then do separate campaign books.

    • vlad78

      Honestly if they don’t finish the heresy with the same set of rules, this would be the biggest rippof in existence. They can feel free to convert everthing to 8th once it is finished.

      Besides, it’s a matter of taste but 8th is much too streamlined. It’s not a wargame anymore.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        8th just doesn’t suit HH. HH is for adults and veteran players who like constancy and tactical depth not chasing the meta and the latest hot combo…

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          7th edition doesn’t even have that depth.

          We want to go back to 5th edition but with flyer rules.

          • I dunno, 5th and 7th aren’t *that* different

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            i enjoyed 5th a lot more, I will tell you that much. 🙂

          • Yeah, I didn’t really enjoy 5th, but that was partially the chaos codex of that era. 6th gave me zombies and other fun things that made the game more fun lol.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            I can see that.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            HH is a lot like 5th in its army construction rules (since many Rites of War disallow allies). I think I prefer 7ths other core rules to 5th, particularly the wound allocation. Wouldn’t mind being able to charge from a stationary rhino again though!

          • What I play is a custom blend of Third and Fifth, with extra stuff like The Ghostkeel Suit and the Ironclad Dreadnought in it. No flyers, Imperial Knights {As you may know by now, is one of my main hates in 40k} or Initiative stat. Fifth was my personal favourite and always will be. The last from the golden age of GW…

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Its great if you can homebrew stuff in your group.

          • It’s very hard. There’s five in my group, of which I am one. One of us can’t be bothered to finish his Necrons. Another refuses to play anything but seventh edition, persuasion still goes on. This makes games quite hard, but a club should be on it’s way in the future…

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Necrons eh? Buy him a can of Leadbelcher spray and a pot of nuln oil for Christmas?

            As for the other guy at least its seventh and not eighth!

          • If I get him paint, he won’t use it. It will lie on the back of a shelf along with his unpainted box of Warriors, his unpainted Start Collecting! kit and his unpainted Immortals. These are also all unassembled. He has had them for three years.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            I guess you could just paint them for him. At least its necrons not harlequins ☺

          • I like this idea but he won’t let me. He always says he’ll glue them eventually. He is VERY problematic.

            Damn. Harlequins… Ouch… So many diamonds…

        • Exactly

        • BadMrPumpkin

          lol wtf

  • ZeeLobby

    IMO the ending was already ruined because the perpetuals will be there…

    • Fergie0044

      Huh? What’s wrong with the perpetuals? Granted I’ve only read some of the books. But that fellow in Legion was fun.

      • ZeeLobby

        Legion was a good book, but more thanks to the writing than the actual plot, haha. Perpetuals were just never really necessary. It’s like they wanted to complicate the whole universe to add another layer. What was wrong with having it just be a battle between father and son?

        And I was referring to the whole story line past that point where clearly they’re going to play a crucial role in the final duel between Emperor and Horus.

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          Perpetuals are not complicated. They are just mostly immortal beings.

          • ZeeLobby

            Right, I never said their concept was complicated, but they were added to complicate the HH backstory.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            I don’t see how they add depth. Its just another thing that exists.

          • Carey_Mahoney

            That’s part of the problem.

          • ZeeLobby

            Not a good depth. But an attempted one. The quest to find a weapon that can kill the emperor. Just so unnecessary.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            Its a fantasy setting. Stuff like that is basically a trope.

          • ZeeLobby

            Oh. Totally agree. I never said it wasn’t, just that it was poorly and unnecessarily executed. You already had a great dichotomy of father/son, order/chaos, science/worship, etc. It was all there, a great divide. You even already had great elements of humanity sprinkled throughout. And then you throw in magic immortal beings… Sigh. They’re truly the midichlorians of 30K.

          • BrianDavion

            it’s also possiable that the perpetual plot is something that will pay off later. some times series are like that, they introduce something early and you’re like “thats random” and towards the end becomes a key item

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean it will be a key development, my guess it’ll just be an unnecessary one. Never once did anyone, at least that I knew, ask why the emperor was immortal. I never heard anyone desire an additional subplot to Horus’s rebellion. I think my description below is pretty apt. Perpetual are the midichlorians of 30K. The mystery would have been fine without it, and imo actually stronger.

          • lemt

            Yeah, I mostly like the whole “the Emperor is the most powerful, but not the ONLY nigh-immortal being”.

        • Fergie0044

          Fair enough. i vaguely recall that one of them is the guy who horus kills just before the big E finally kills him.

          That whole final fight will need to be re-done now anyway. Originally E couldn’t bring himself to kill his fav son but ‘The master of mankind’ cements the idea that E doesn’t care about his ‘sons’ at all. Merely tools in his eyes. So now we need an answer for why does he initially hold back? Or (more likely) the whole fight dynamic will be different.

          • Simon Flack

            I dont think he does hold back, I always thought that the true story was that the Emperor was finally hopelessly outclassed. Once Horus had crippled him permanently, Chaos withdrew their power/support from him making him vunerable again to what was left of the Emperor.
            Chaos always knew what would happen, the powers got a galaxy spanning empire full of human grimdark misery to feed off for at least 10000 years, exactly as planned

          • Fergie0044

            Ooooh I like that. Suitably grim-dark!

    • Carey_Mahoney

      7th ed. minus Psi-Phase and Random Charge Range but plus extra points costs for Formations. That would have pretty much fixed it for me, at least as far as core rules go.
      (Yes, I know, Formations are technically no core rules.)

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        Formations should never have been created. They were just a money making tool.

        • Carey_Mahoney

          Absolutely. Wouldn’t dare to disagree with this.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    What nonsense. The Facebook HH groups are full of new players and existing players starting new projects. The plastics have made starting easier than ever and actually a lot of folk dislike 8th and are moving into HH to escape it.

    There is loads of timeline for the HH rulebooks to cover yet. They do not move apace with the novels!

    When the HH setting is mapped out that will still be no reason to end FWs game. The 40k setting did not change for 30 years but that didn’t stop new releases!

    Actually I hope in maybe 5 years time for FW to start their Unification Wars range!

    • I’m hoping they do a 3rd HH box this year and flesh out more of the plastic linen

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        I am hoping for Breacher Squads.

        • Plastic breachers would be nice, I really don’t care what they make in plastic, I just want the HH support to keep up

        • ZeeLobby

          Oooo. That’d be sweet!

        • Same. I don’t want destroyers squads though, just because of the name.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        Assault marines and breachers would be cool!

    • DoctorBored

      I don’t see this happening. In my local groups, people are flocking to 8th from HH and using all their Marines to represent 8th edition squads.

      • ZeeLobby

        Personally I saw them flock there and then quickly return.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        I agree with Zeelobby. I go to quite a small club. There was a little bit of fresh interest in 8th but no actual new players. Now we can’t decide what to play as a few of us prefer 7th and a couple (well one really) likes 8th.

      • Corey Montgomery

        I saw everyone flock to 8th in my area and they love it, I’ve seen new people come in and generally everyone stopped playing 7th and HH.

  • Talos2

    I suspect fw balance sheet suggests otherwise. What tony cotterell has often said is that they won’t release stuff for it just to get lost in what gw were doing release wise, 8th itself and with all the 8th codex updates there’s not been a window to release anything major into that isn’t just going to get lost in the mess. What’s the point trying to build excitement around a time plastic daemon primarchs are released for a book or something important? They’ll have there time before xmas, but I wouldn’t expect much before that.

  • Admiral Raptor

    Move 30k to 8th. Better rule set, quick to play, and far more fun. 30k is hamstrung by staying in 7th. I haven’t had the motivation to do any painting or playing with my Heresy armies since FW announced that they wouldn’t be keeping up with the new edition. What a waste of a great setting.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      But 8th edition has a lot of flaws that would need to be accounted for and adjusted. I would not like a raw translation.

    • They need to finish the proper 7th rules for all the legions first, otherwise they invalidate the existing books, makes more sense to allow collectors of the current books to have a complete collection before changing editions (or as I hope, coming out with their own rule set)

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        They could easily alter the next Black Book to star BAngles, Dangles, White Scars and Night Lords. then every legion would have rules.

    • Marc Berry

      Except for the lack of tactical depth with vehicles.

  • Krijn van Alten

    Al a lore fan I wonder it they will come up with a similar book series after the HH? I wouldn’t mind 50 books about the Great Scourge!

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      For the Black Library? I am betting they will do an entire series of books about the aftermath of the Horus Heresy

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        Or about Vandire. Or better still the Unification Wars.

        • Unification Wars would barely even be 40k anymore. They’d also have to dance around a lot of details that’d just screw with things. Flashbacks during the Horus Heresy series where relevant are enough, if you ask me.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Two words: Thunder Warriors!

          • I don’t consider them that interesting, not enough to warrant a series. The interest in them comes from their becoming obsolete and getting eradicated, which has already been featured thematically in a Horus Heresy novel, and we’ve seen the Unification Wars in snippets as well.

            Nevermind that the novel also allows for continuation and deeper exploration during, for example, the Siege arc or even after. Some people have been hoping for Fabius Bile to pick them up, even. More potential than going back in time again.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            There are some VERY cool descriptions of outlandish troop types and war machines dating to the Unification period hinted at in the FW HH books.

  • I would really like FW to develop their own rules for 30k, if they switch to the 8th ed rule set I just don’t see myself ever playing HH again (other than with other people who hang on to the 7th ed rules)

  • carlisimo

    The Black Library HH series started years before FW’s HH game, and FW’s HH game will continue years after the Black Library HH series has ended. I don’t see any need to conflate the two.

    I just hope they don’t rush the novels. By all means stop writing stand-alone books outside the general story arc, but do write enough books to finish everything that’s been started. We don’t even have much information about the latter half of the Heresy before Horus reaches Terra. Take the time to flesh that out.

    • There’s still a few coming before the Siege, but most plotlines right now are either already addressed to the point of being Siege-ready or about to reach that point (Death Guard getting a novel still, Old Earth ends the Salamanders arc, Corax ended the Raven Guard arc, the White Scars arrived on Terra already, Ruinstorm will likely end with Sanguinius and his red shirts reaching Terra. All that’s left as far as ongoing storylines are concerned is the Wolf Cull and a potential Beta Garmon novel.

      Wolf Cull will likely not be a novel, or a short one if so, ala Tallarn: Ironclad, and release bundled with Wolf King. Curze’s escape will probably be covered with Ruinstorm too, and Old Earth has the Meduson plotline heading to an end it appears. Ollanius and friends don’t need to reappear before the Siege arc. The reconquest of Mars isn’t something that happens before the Siege, the Emperor’s Children got primed with The Soul, Severed and really everything is in place.

  • DoctorBored

    GW loves their new hotness, and so do the customers. Why should Horus Heresy get 8th edition rules when they already have a ruleset? Yeah it’s an old ruleset, but it seemed to have worked for a long time, so why the sudden desire in Heresy players for change?

    They want to be part of the new hotness, that’s why. New game, new rules, new opportunities to explore their armies, make new strategies work.

    I’m ready for the Horus Heresy to end. I’m ready for ForgeWorld to start making something that isn’t for 30k. Let’s get some exciting new models out that aren’t just relics of the past.

    • Dimitri Harkov

      No, I don’t want to.

      I sincerely hope GW does NOT move HH to 8th ed rules. At least not until all the books are out.
      I detest 8th edition and luckily all the people in our group feel the same. Too streamlined indeed.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      Er, nope.

    • DJ860

      You’re right, there’s the fact that it’s the new “hotness” and an element of tagging along for the ride.

      I would imagine though that it would add an awful lot of admin overhead and work to maintain a second ruleset, rather than just adapting an existing one.

  • ieyke

    The finale of the Horus Heresy was written before the novels started.
    All they have to do is close the loop and reprint it.
    Bill King nailed it the first time. It would be stupid to do anything different.
    And I think having the ending fully written out before the novels even started was smart.
    We were never hungering for the end.
    We already knew where we were going, so we were there for the ride, not the destination.

    • A lot of fans would disagree. They’ve been clamoring here, on B&C and elsewhere, for the series to get to the Siege already. Many folks weren’t interested in anything but the few key events we already knew about, I’m afraid.

      • ieyke

        Then they should go read the ending.
        I think I literally posted the whole thing on the B&C, if not an extremely detailed summary to escape Kurgan’s gaze.

  • Corran


  • effinger2

    Its seems FW has been ‘out to lunch’ for months now. Sure we have a few nice new models but we STILL need the primarchs to be completed!! They should have been working on them while they were sleeping doing side jobs like the Custodes, Sisters and more Dread-types. Get the Legions done!

    The book series have missed their way. Endless stories about minutia. It seems that BL may finally be getting the message.

  • Dhalgren Schroeder

    As someone who has read most of the HH books, and the End Times fantasy books, I really hope the ‘final’ battle on Terra is not crammed into one book.
    The HH series has done a great job of telling the highlights and the secondary events, and covered so many cool things. Sure, some books are better than others, but everyone will enjoy something there.
    On the other hand, the End Times series, just 5 main books, felt quite rushed and forced to me. Especially the last book, when every single character ever (just about) is mentioned and dies somehow.

    As to the question at the end of this article..WHY does the series need an update? It has been 10k years after all. They could never hope to list everything major that has happened since then..and shouldn’t need to. Just end it and have done.

  • Calarax

    Plot twist: Horus isn’t really dead and the emperor is? How would matt ward and m.knight shamalyan write a Horus Heresy ending plot twist…

    • Sonic tooth

      Simple. Gulliman and the smurfs arrive on Terra just in time, and papasmurf kills horus

      • DJ860

        With a bare-fisted uppercut, to the stomach.

    • Inian

      What if it was Horus on the throne all along?

      • DJ860

        As much as I hope it isn’t this, because, logic, it would be bloody hilarious if they somehow threw a big twist into what is the most well-defined and predictable ending imaginable.

        • Inian

          But then it turns out Horus is not a traitor, he just pretended to be one because he knew the emperor would be killed either way and this way he would be able to take the throne and protect mankind.

  • Fredddy

    The biggest issue with HH was that FW almost completely stopped supporting 40k because of it- some of the releases seeped into the already humongous marine arsenal, but thats all of it. They didn’t even bother giving Admech and Imperial Guard their HH predecessors stuff, and the other races were even more hopelessly forgotten. To me the Vraks siege of IA 5-7 was the zenith of Forge World, and I hope these glory days to return with the HH series finally over.

  • Vachones

    When HH first came out it was niche game that attracted the hobbyist rather than the competitive gamer, someone I know called it a “gentleman’s game” and I think that is appropriate. Its grown a lot since then. Before 8th there was a nice scene here locally and at tournaments like the LVO because it offered that narrative experience that was missing in the age of the Riptide wing and the Bark Bark star.

    With 8th, there are only a few players left locally who have stuck with HH, everyone else has moved on. I don’t think that is a bad thing though. I have come to appreciate the split between the two systems. HH is perfect for 7th; it’s an older chunkier ruleset for the gamer less likely to abuse it. I’ll never play it again, but I appreciate that people might prefer it and why not have options?

    I would not count on many more plastic HH releases though. And frankly, FW can just stop with the 40k releases right now; their index books are terrible.

    • Marc Berry

      Still got Hh blood angels / darkness angels to come and just the thought of seeing sangunius in resin 🙂