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FW: The Horus Heresy Essentials

5 Minute Read
Dec 29 2017

So you want to play in the Horus Heresy but don’t know where to start? Let’s chat.

The Horus Heresy is a pretty epic setting for fans for Warhammer 40,000. Mechanics wise, it’s basically 7th edition 40k – but with some tweaks and changes. But if you’re completely new to the setting, getting started can be a bit overwhelming. So here is a quick guide on how to get into The Horus Heresy side of 40k (aka 30k).

Step 1 – Get the Rulebook

The Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness Rulebook £40

If you’re not just wanting to collect an army, you’re going to need to bite the bullet and get the rulebook. We don’t recommend getting one of those fancy Hard Back books…yet. Start here. You’re going to need the rules anyways.

Step 2 – Pick Your Side: Traitor or Loyalist

This might be a spoiler but you’re going to want to know this going in: The Horus Heresy is about the battle between the Loyalist forces vs the Traitor Legions and their allies. You’re going to want to pick a side at first. If you’re not sure where to even begin with that, hop over to the Lexicanum and read-up on the Horus Heresy. For the purposes of this “guide” we’re going to choose Traitor so that we can continue – but if you choose Loyalist, you can still follow along.

Step 3 – Pick your Legion

Now, you could pick Mechanicus or the Solar Auxillia – that’s fine. But if you’re completely new, we suggest sticking to a Legion. The Horus Heresy revolved around Marine vs Marine action and so it’s your basic bread-and-butter type situation. You could pick something besides a Legion, but that’s like adding in Jelly or Peanut Butter. It works…it’s just not quite the same.

As far as Traitor Legions go, you’ve got 9 to choose from. And if you don’t know which legions those are, again, check out the Lexicanum for a detailed run down for each one. For the purposes of this example, we’re going with the World Eaters because, well, that’s my Legion and I’m writing this guide.


Step 4 – Get The Red Books

Now that you’ve picked a Legion there are two more books you’re going to want to get:

The Legiones Astartes Army List Collection £55

Why do you need these two books? Well, one is the “basic” army list – it has all of the unit stats, wargear options, etc. for a Space Marine Legion. The other book has all of your Legion specific rules with special units and things that give your army some character/flavor/spice and make it different than a “basic” army. Theoretically, you could just buy the basics and start from there…but you’ve already picked a Legion at this point so just dive in!

Step 5 – Build An Army

Lots of folks will have different opinions on how to start this process. That’s all well and good – but our recommendation it pretty simple: Get a boxed set and buy shoulder pads.

The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth $150

The Horus Heresy: Burning of Prospero $150


Both of these boxed sets are really great deals. You’ll get a TON of miniatures that you can use to create your Legion. Now, these aren’t everything you’re going to want (eventually) but again, this is just getting you started. Oh and get Legion Shoulder Pads. Do yourself a favor and just get them. Trust me. They didn’t exist when I first started with my World Eaters and if they had…well, I’ve regretted not having them ever since.

Forge World even sells bundles where you can get a boxed set WITH a ton of Legion Specific accessories:

World Eaters Task Force £225

These are nice kits. But I’m also a bit of a purest and would have preferred to use the chest plates already included but had the right Legion Should Pads. When you’re shopping for those, be sure you get the right Power Armor Mark. So folks like to mix and match, some don’t. It’s all personal preference.

So now you’ve got your books and your first batch of models. From here, it’s up to you. Forge World has a TON of options in terms of vehicles, upgrades, and fancy kits to choose from. I suggest you build out your army list further and plan out your purchases before you go any further. Each Legion has their own “thing” so you might want to load-up on Jetbikes or Rhinos or special weapons…It all depends.

At the end of the day, if you do this right, you’re going to end up with an amazing looking army. And they are still Marines so I don’t see any reason you can use them in 8th edition 40k, too! Congratulations, you’ve just gotten two armies for the price of one! Okay, sure – not everything transfers over …but a lot of it does! So get out there and have some fun with your 30k army.


If you were starting fresh with a 30k army, what suggestions would you have? Have you collected a 30k army already? What tips on buying do you have?



Author: Adam Harrison
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