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Getting Started with Horus Heresy Gaming

6 Minute Read
Sep 5 2016
Today I have some basics to get started in 30K gaming and put together your first Legion army.

Often I get way caught up in this fantastic game while working on my second army and forget that a lot of people are looking to simply start their first army. It’s easy to do if you start off simple and you really only need two books if you want to build a Space Marine legion – one book has the rules for the current legions available now and the other book has the rules for all the various units such as tactical Marines and the various veteran units. Note that a new rulebook was recently released for all the generic units – many units got a nice buff and nothing really got nerfed.

It’s very important to select a legion you’ll really like a lot and not lose interest. My first army is a Sons of Horus first company (i.e., all terminators)… I got into 30k when it was first released. I always have wanted to play Imperial Fists and they are my second army slowly coming along now. There’s a lot more depth to a 30k legion compared to a 40k chapter – it’s seemingly endless what you can do with any legion and of course each is can also be highly specialized if that’s what you’re into doing with your army.


So here is my advice how to get started if you’re really interested and want to play. Some people are simply collectors and that’s okay too.

Getting Started

If you are just starting out I recommend building a 1000 point army first to get your feet wet. Start off with one HQ and two troops… Later on down the road you can invest in more exotic units such as the new Mastadon. Start simple at first to learn the rules and your legion. You can flesh out your 1000 point army with support and veteran units. I have provided a 1000 point sample army at the end of this article you can use as an example.


You will need to decide which legion you want to field and they are all good. Units particular to a specific legion give an army character and help to specialize. For example Iron Hands have an infantry unit referred to as Medusan Immortals. Immortals are an infantry unit designed for boarding actions that typically take place in spaceships… They have hardened armor and boarding shields for better protection to fulfill this unique role. They also have a 6+ Feel No Pain and can swap their bolters for Volkite chargers amongst other things. Immortals are a very interesting unit that exude what it is to be a True Iron Hands which is a big plus over playing a 40k Iron Hands army. Volkite weapons are the new hotness since they can generate additional wounds and have higher strength than the bolter equivalents. Iron Hands also have access to an Iron Father special character (Autek Mor) that is S5 T5 with 2+ armor and a 3++ invulnerable save. How often have I heard 40k Iron Hands players stating they wish they had their own special character… Too many times to count !!! There are also other special units including their Primarch Ferrus Manus who is a true beat stick.

I chose Iron Hands as an example because I wanted to show that every legion is good… Too often players look on longingly wanting to play some brand new legion such as I’m sure will be the case with Space Wolves and Thousand Sons. It’s amazing the level of detail put into the Horus Heresy rules and we can already start to see the crossovers to 40k because of its growing popularity. The release of the box set Betrayal at Calth has really helped to boost its appeal.

Force Organization Chart (FOC)

There are several FOCs to choose from and I recommend you start with the Age of Darkness (AoD) which is very similar to a combined arms detachment (CAD) for 40k.


Rites of War

HQ that have the Master of the Legion (MotL) special rule have access to choosing a Rite of War (RoW) which is similar to a specialized 40k detachment and there are many to choose from to help build a unique army to your own liking. Praetors are the 30k equivalent of a 40k Chapter Master and have the MotL special rule. Some of the special characters such Primarchs also have this rule. There is also a Consul (Delegatus) which has the rule and requires the least amount of points to field a RoW.


One of the most popular RoW is Pride of the Legion (PotL) which allows you to field Legion terminators and veteran squads as compulsory troop choices. This is a great starting point for a new player just getting their feet wet to build their first army. Terminators are much better in 30k compared to 40k and the ability to field them as a compulsory troop choice is awesome. Veteran squads harken back to Space Marines prior to the advent of Sternguard and Vanguard veterans… 30k veteran squads can field a mix of melee and ranged weapons plus they have access to veteran skills to better boost their overall abilities on the battlefield.

Putting It All Together

30k is more about having a good time as opposed to fielding the most competitive beat stick army that breaks all the rules. Sure you probably want a competitive army which is fine too. While some will say it’s only for those that like Space Marines all the time you also have access to other armies such as Chaos Daemons, Mechanicus and a 30k equivalent to Astra Militarum plus there are even more. I often play against 40k armies and it can still be a good time. Obviously some xenos races such as Eldar and Orks were in existence back during the Heresy… While there are no 30k equivalent rules for any xenos you can put together some fun historical games – probably best to just steer clear of formations if you catch my drift.


998 point Iron Hands Sample Army List

Here is a sample list using the AoD FOC and PotL RoW for Iron Hands…

++ Legiones Astartes: Age of Darkness Army List ++

+ HQ (240) +

Iron-Father Autek Mor (240)
Cortex Controller – Cyber-Familiar

+ Troops (553pts) +


Legion Terminator Squad (278) /Tartaros Terminator Armour
4x Legion Terminator
2x Chainfist – Plasma Blaster – Power Fist – Thunderhammer – 3x Volkite Charger
Legion Terminator Sergeant – Chainfist – Combi-Weapon – Cyber-Familiar

Legion Veteran Tactical Squad (275)
9x Legion Veteran Space Marine
2x Combi-Weapon – Heavy Bolter and Suspensor Web – Plasma Gun
Legion Veteran Sergeant – Power Weapon
Legion Rhino – Extra Armour – Dozer Blade – Combi-Bolter (Pintle Mounted)
Rules: Outflank – Sniper

+ Elites +

Apothecarion Detachment (45)
Legion Apothecary – Narthecium

+ Heavy Support +

Legion Heavy Support Squad (160)
4x Legion Space Marines
4x Missile Launcher
Legion Sergeant – Missile Launcher

+ Legion +

Legion Astartes [Loyalist, X: Iron Hands]

Welcome to the Heresy. What Legion do you play?


  • FW: Legion Tactical Sets Inbound