Principia Belicosa. Word Bearers Legion Tactica: Introduction.

Wise men have interpreted dreams, and the gods have laughed.

H.P. Lovecraft

We continue the Shadow Crusade with a full tactica of the prime instigators of the Heresy: The Word Bearers. Join Jan Dewet as he leads us down the road of damnation, and the ugly truth behind reality.

To play the Word Bearers you are playing the villain. You are the bad guys, with all the perks that come with it. The Word Bearers are a legion that has extremely rich lore, intertwined with the very fabric of the Horus Heresy and of Warhammer 40,000.

The rules for the Legion are elegantly designed by the master, Alan Bligh. You can run different styles of the army, from drop lists, mass infantry assault, to summoning hordes of daemons!

Overall all this is an amazingly fluffy, flexible, easy to grasp army with amazing modeling opportunities.


Word Bearers (or Imperial Heralds before the coming of Lorgar) started with a simple purpose: to purge divergent ideologies from the Imperial Truth. If a world rejected the Imperium due to their gods, superstitions, or religion, the Imperial Heralds would cleanse it, rebuilding a compliant civilization fanatically loyal to the Imperial Creed.  

This streak of zeoltary permeates throughout the legion and is reflected in their battle doctrines. Mass infantry assaults backed with powerful specialized units and support of a more esoteric nature only enhanced this trait.

As the Crusade progressed, Lorgar could no longer reconcile his father’s doctrine with the evidence of the Universe. There were forces at play beyond the physical. Sentience lurked within the Warp. The Emperor, able to project his mind across the universe and bind a species to his will was a God. There were Gods. And they were laughing.

Required Reading

  • First Heretic, Aaron Dembski-Bowden.
  • Know No Fear, Dan Abnett.
  • Betrayer, Aaron Dembski Bowden.
  • Forge World ‘Black Books’ 2 & 5, Massacare and Tempest.
  • Visions of Heresy, Alan Merrett.
  • H.P. Lovecraft (a good start would be a Penguin’s Collected Stories.)

First Heretic (Aaron Dembski-Bowden): 

After reading this book, if you don’t want to collect a Word Bearer force, start from page 1, and try again. This is the book charts the evolution of the legion from pious zealots to arch heretics.

Know No Fear (Dan abnett):

While the Ultramarines are the protagonists of this book, the Word Bearers are the antagonists. It has a compelling narrative that branches out into several novellas and short stories. This book also contains the deaths of over 100K Ultramarines which is always fun to read.

Betrayer (Aaron Dembski-Bowden):

Arguably the literary pinnacle of the Heresy series, this book is set during the Shadow Crusade. We get an amazing insight into the Primarchs motivations and how their philosophies shape the setting. At the end of the book ask yourself, who is the Betrayer?

Black Book 2: Massacre & Black Book 5: Tempest

The Horus Heresy Forge World black books offer an incredible amount of lore, references, and historical scenarios to build their legion. You learn about the birth of the Legions, the Modus Operandi of each force and full-colour plates for each faction. Expensive, yes. Worth it? Every penny.

Visions of Heresy (Alan Merrett):

Visions of Heresy is an amazing tool to look back at the history of the Horus Heresy and give a visual library to detail your collection.

H.P Lovecraft:

The work of H.P Lovecraft has influenced the narrative of the Warhammer Universe a great deal, playing with concepts the Primarchs grapple with in the unfolding drama. It offers some wonderful colour commentary to your force. Plus it’s fun spotting the references the Black Library authors use when you’ve read a few short stories.

What books do I need to start playing?

The Horus Heresy Legiones Astartes Age of Darkness Legions – £32: This gives you every specialist unit currently available for the Word Bearers. However, with the upcoming release of the Dark Angels in Book 9 it is more than likely this will be replaced soon.

The Horus Heresy Age of Darkness Rulebook – £40: A reskinned version of 7th edition 40k, this book provides the rules for playing games in the Horus Heresy. It might be worth discussing amongst your group to buy one copy between you. Alternatively buying the old small game copy of the 7th edition rules will give you a good basis to begin gaming as little changed between editions.

In order to have the most up to date legion rules, you’ll need the Legiones Astartes: Age of Darkness Legions and Legiones Astartes: Age of Darkness Army List books. Any models released after book 6 (notably the later Sicaran variants, Sabre strike tanks, and Arquitor Bombard) aren’t included in these books so you’ll need to find the PDF rules on the Forge World website or the later campaign books they feature in. 

Miniature Painting Course Library.


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