Principia Belicosa. Sons of Horus Legion Tactica: Special Units.

“‘I was there,’ he would say afterwards, until afterwards became a time quite devoid of laughter. ‘I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor.’

Garviel Loken

We get into the juicy bits now with our own chronicler of the damned Darren Winter. This issue takes a look at the elite of the Sons of Horus.

Justaerin: The terminators that everyone else looks up to! The famous sable-clad bodyguards of Horus himself. 

All are equipped with Cataphractii Terminator plate but have the added bonuses beyond normal terminators of WS 5, Stubborn (meaning that it will be extremely difficult to break them), Furious Charge (meaning that they gain a bonus to strength when charging) and Chosen Warriors (this allows the Justearin to act as characters for challenges – representing their ability to protect their leader). Finally, all Justearin have 2 wounds meaning that your opponent has to work twice as hard to kill your unit (but they can still be doubled out when attacked by str.8 weapons and above).  Justaerin are found in the Elites section of the army list but can also be taken as a Command Squad for anyone with the Master of the Legion rule such as Preators or Delegatus-Counsuls.

The Justearin have access to the usual terminator wargear of combi-weapons, heavy flamers and reaper autocannons, lightning claws, powerfists, and chainfists.  They also have the unique ability to take a multi-melta (but think carefully what targets you will be sending these after before you purchase, a combi melta might achieve the same end). Combining these rules with the Sons of Horus Legions Astartes rules means that the Justaerin are a hard-hitting unit that excels in a close-range firefight or assault. Equipped with combi-weapons, such as combi-plasma or melta, and AP2 assault weapons a unit of Justaerin on the charge can shred nearly any unit in the game – even the vaunted flare-shielded Spartan!

Equipped with power-weapons, the Justearin will decimate power-armoured units and murder militia or Solar Auxilia. A healthy mix of weapons that strike at initiative and weapons that strike at ap2 and increase strength is preferred. They are one of the only units in the game that benefit from using a single lightning claw as it activates with the merciless fighter. Keep in mind that power fists, chain fists and power axes cannot take advantage of this, so many sure to throw a few claws in the unit to bulk out the attacks.

These are truly the point of the spear, and you will be forgiven from loading up on combi plasma on your units. Deep striking in with Abaddon is an option, but using a Kharybdis or Dread Claw is preferable as it will protect you when you land, and you can launch an assault the turn after. Use the old adage of Lupercal and strike for the throat, but make sure your spear is sharp. It doesn’t get much sharper than the Justaerin!

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Reavers: Narratively the Reavers were a development of the Despoiler Squad – a Tactical Squad with additional close combat weapons designed by Horus himself to exploit gaps in the enemy lines. 

The Reavers were also a throw-back to the gangs of Cthonia and formed around strong chieftains who had proven themselves in combat. As the Heresy drew on, Reaver Squads became more common and slowly replaced the Tactical and Despoiler Squads and further represented the decline of the Legion into warbands focused around strong leaders.

The Reavers focused on gang and speartip style-fights and their rules allow them to represent this: they all come with Outflank (allowing them to encircle the enemy and strike at weakened areas) together with both Precision Strike and Shot.  These two oft-forgotten rules allow the Reavers to pick out models within the enemy units on `to-hit` rolls of a 6 – this allows the Reavers to target sergeants, vexillas, nuncio-voxes or even apothecaries or attached characters. This allows the Reavers to focus on weakening the enemy units by removing key models that support the whole. The Reavers also come with more attacks than a standard Tactical or Assault marine that emphasis their wish to close with enemy units in assault.

A word of concern here. Reavers have a lot of options available to them and each Reaver can be customised to a wide degree.

This can dramatically increase their cost – and some of the upgrades they have are already expensive!  This can lead to a squad with the ability to take on all-comers but horribly expensive that doesn`t lead to regaining its points in enemy kills over a game. 

Rather it is better to equip a Reaver squad for one purpose – bearing in mind the Legiones Astartes rules that the XVIth have.  An assault unit equipped with power weapons and chain-axes will cause serious damage; a close-ranged squad with volkite chargers or Banestrike-equipped bolters will harm a lot of power-armoured units using the Death Dealers rule.  A lot of XVIth players argue that veteran squads are more efficient in their points cost and usefulness – this is likely to be true but the Reavers are uniquely XVIth Legion and Rule of Cool is one of the main reasons we play this game so it’s not always about efficiency. After all, a veteran squad can’t be equipped with jump packs and plasma guns to create a floating psuedo gun boat can it?

Dreadclaws: Not uniquely Sons of Horus as all Legions can take a Dreadclaw as part of the Fast Attack option of the army list.  However, the Dreadclaw is a XVIth Legion unit and has a special place in the Sons of Horus army list due to its heavy usage in Speartip actions.

For the Sons of the Warmaster, certain units can take a Dreadclaw as a dedicated transport.  These units include Seekers (this really plays into the narrative of a kill-team of Sons of Horus hunting key enemy squads or characters); Command Squads in power armour (all Legions can take a Dreadclaw for a terminator-equipped command squad); standard dreadnoughts (the old `box dreads` of the classic 40k-style) and finally Reaver squads.

How does this play out in army selection?.  Firstly, it frees up Force Organisation slots – although the Fast Attack units are not the most used in a Legion army, certain army builds especially in a Black Reaving Rite of War, quickly use up those slots.  By having a Dreadclaw for certain units as a dedicated transport, it enables a wider selection of units.  Secondly, it also helps to emphasize the Reavers as a close assault unit as by combining the Reavers with a dedicated Dreadclaw, it only uses one Fast Attack slot rather than two enabling you to select Jetbikes, Outriders or Javelins as other choices.

The Sons suffer from being one of the very first legions to be produced and do not enjoy the range of unique units later armies do. Looking into my crystal ball we may see possessed marines (the Lupercai) in the mid to late heresy era as these are mentioned in the Black Library books. You may want to use the possessed marines from the daemon army list to represent these with your opponent’s permission or look to ally them fully. At time of writing the Dark Angels are about to be released, and I would anticipate the design team to review the older legions and hopefully bulk them out.

Other units of note are Tactical marines and Terminator squads to supplement the Justaerin and Reavers. Horus put great faith in these and the bulk of the legion consists of these units to break the back of alien empires.

Thank you so much Darren. The next article is one I’m dying to read as it covers the main man himself: Lupercal! Sons of Horus Special characters.

Sons of Horus Principia Belicosa Articles.

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