Principia Belicosa. Sons of Horus Legion Tactica: Allies and Tactics.

The Age of Darkness’ very own Darren Winter starts to weave the threads together with sample tactics and allies for use with the Sons of Horus.

I would prefer a sword to fight duel, but a pen to plan a war.

Robert Thier – Storm and Silence.

From the outset, the Sons of Horus are one of the more challenging Legions to play.  They don`t have an obvious `method of play` such as the World Eater`s assault focus; the Alpha Legion, or Raven Guard infiltration techniques. They’re mutable, adaptaple, but above all vicious. Don’t be afraid to equip your Justaerin with combi plasma, or take ‘harder’ lists. Your a son of Horus, you have a license to be a git.

We also have the factor that the XVIth Legion rules, and many of our special characters, are from the earlier stages of the Black Books when the Forge World team were finding their feet in how to portray the Age of Darkness.  This earlier rule setting is reflected in a lack of special character or unit wargear and many of our special units – especially the Reaver squad, are over-costed compared to other Legion units.

So, how can you play the Sons of Horus then? Well, how do you like to play the game?

Sons of Horus Legion Praetor

The Sons of Horus operate best as a mobile, medium-range gun line with a vicious follow-up assault. A lot of our rules encourage us to get in close (Merciless Fighters, and Death Dealers) where the lore encourages a lot of deep striking units to the heart of the enemy command structure.

What units best enable this style?

Tactical / Despoiler Squads.  These are units that are often overlooked but can be some of the more useful. Seizing objectives, using the Fury of the Legion to blast away opponents and then, if you have additional close combat weapons, finish off the enemy in melee with our Merciless Fighters rule. A little note here: the creation of Despoiler Squads (i.e. Tactical Squads with additional close combat weapons) was a creation of Horus to exploit gaps in the enemy line so by using them, your army is even more thematic!

Seeker Squads.  The epitome of the speartip; focusing on a single enemy unit or character to destroy.  Don`t forget as Sons of Horus, these can be given a Dreadclaw as a Dedicated Transport and loaded with their special ammunition and combi-weapons can be a real threat. Their Marked for Death rule against a specific character or unit can also be extremely useful to ensure that units’ destruction.

Terminator Squads. We don`t always have to deploy the Justearin.  The XVIth were always equipped with the best equipment and were said to have one of the largest caches of terminator-armor amongst the Legions. By deploying these, once again it’s a strong thematic choice and in Rites of War such as Pride of the Legion, you can field a sizeable number if you choose to. Think about what you want them to achieve in-game before equipping them. Do you want to go tank hunting? Thunder Hammers, combi meltas, chain fists are just the thing. Want to wade through infantry? Combi bolters and lightning claws. Elite marksmen? Combi plasma’s. The Sons of Horus are blessed with one of the most adaptable units in the game: The Reavers. With terminator squads, we multiply that advantage.

Landspeeders (all varieties!). The ability to deep strike close to enemy armor and support your fast-moving troops is a godsend. They either help neutralise armour or provide mobile gunboats to soften up enemy units.

Legion Sicarans – Fast vehcles that support your mobile army. Are you detecting a trend? The Sicaran Arcus has a fearsome repuatation and is equally as adept at killing armour as infantry, a mainstay in most people’s armies. However, I have a soft spot for the humble base line Sicaran model. Cheap, effective, ubiqitous. And a gorgeous model to boot.

Legion Hussars – A brand new unit to incorporate into the line of battle, the hussars are a bike unit available in the troops section. They operate much in the same way as regular bikes, and espouse the swift-moving assaults the Sons are famous for. Grab objectives, harry the opponents backline as the Justaerin break the back of the enemy elite. Tehy also help with Mercliess fighters as they count as 3 models each, so could come in handy tipping the assault in your favour. Much more playtesting is needed, but they look like a promising addition to the list.

Sons of Horus Reavers.

Please take this statement in the spirit it was intended – this is a broad generalization of a legion that excelled in ALL forms of warfare. The Long March rite of war opens up the possibility of a rather mobile gun line for example.

Most importantly, plan ahead.  While this is true of most armies (an army with a plan is always more successful than one without – even if it’s a bad plan), with the Sons of Horus due to the cost of our special units, it’s even more important to think about what you want to achieve.

With the Sons of Horus it`s also important to consider how the units work together. Many of our special rules, either the Legiones Astartes rules or the rules granted by our unique Rites of War, encourage units to be working in co-operation reflecting the pack or gang mentality of the Legion. If you want to be successful then you also need to think of this.

Play to our strengths – the Legiones Astartes rules of the XVIth focus on close-range fighting and out-numbering the enemy.  Our reserves are naturally more reliable so use those strengths; large numbers of models in units, use of transports to close quickly to the enemy; units in reserve ready to pounce on units that have already been weakened through the close-range firepower.

Sons of Horus Sicaran.

Keith from the Mournival Podcast has also kindly weighed in on the subject:

Effective units:

Jump pack units, Terminators, mainly Justaerin, make use of the Merciless fighter rule. Don’t go all AP2 weapons (as they often ngatively impact on your initiatve) as they don’t take advantage of this rule. A healthy sprinkling of Lightning Claws will help chew through the enemy, even if they have a 2+ save.

My preffered load out of terminators is as follows: 1 power fist, 2 Chainfists and 2 lightning Claws, all with combi plasma.

This units becomes extremely dangerous when you use The Long March Rite of War. You hit on 2’s rerolling 1’s on the first turn.

Bikes with plasma guns is also great for the same reasons. Twin linked Plasma hitting on 2’s rerolling. And when they charge the ragged remnants of whatever was shot they count as 3 miniatures each in assault.


Anything with rapid fire weapons or assault weapons are also an ecellent choice.

The best thing with the SoH is that there rules are really good but not to crazy. My overview is that they just make units slightly better. Your tactical marine won’t all of a sudden become a game changer, but with Death Dealer making them hit on 2’s within 12 and the Merciless Fighter making you want big units, so you out number your opponent, can make a high difference.

Then you can take Dreadclaws a dedicated rransports for certain units mean that you can take advantage of the The Edge of the Spear trait. This means you get to reroll 1’s for your reserve’s if you combine that with a command rhino, you can dictate your reserves and control when you want things to arrive.


The Sons of Horus had a vast newtwork of influencers througout the imperial war machine. the Warmaster stood at the apex of the chain of command, save form the Emperor himself, and so would have alliances with nearly every conceivable asset in the Imperial arsenal. The Davainte lodges would only exacerbate this influence.

In game terms, it’s a tricky one. Because of bitter pride, they don’t get benefits from allies, so if you were to take one, a Militia force and use a Sacrificial Offering would be a good choice. That way you can make use of the Edge of the Spear Rule.

For lore reasons, most Traitor Legions would fit perfectly. In fact, how about using a Word Bearers chaplain instead of a sons of Horus one – no need to warp the allies chart, just paint it as a Word Bearer.

Knights, Solar Aux, Mechanicum and True Mechanicum (known by Dark Mechanicum by the ignorant) would all be fitting choices for the Sons to ally with.

My thanks to both Darren and Kieth for thier insights! Next we go onto a little list hammering with Kieth!

Sons of Horus Principia Belicosa Articles.

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