Principia Belicosa. Word Bearers Legion Tactica: Tactical Overview and special units.

“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes”.


In this Principia Belicosa, Jan Dewet gives an overview of the Legion and highlights special units that will shape your collection. Take it away Jan!

Let’s start with the rules that shape the army.

True Believers:

This one of the more interesting base-line Legion rules, as it lets you roll 3D6 for moral tests and remove the highest. This not only saves you points on things like Legion Vexillas across your whole army, but you’re less likely to break during swingy moments in combat. This gives you an amazing resilience and staying power while being immensely satisfying to play. It really does feel like you are playing a host of fanatics that can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject.

Cut Them Down:

Simply put, re-roll a result of 1 when rolling for sweeping advance. Viciously cut down the nonbelievers! This doesn’t come up too often, but it always puts a smile on my face when I remember to use it!

Charismatic Leadership:

Charismatic Leadership is both a blessing and a curse. You must take a second compulsory HQ, that must either be a centurion or a chaplain.

At lower point games it does feel like a tax, making some builds harder to construct. However, as a true believer, you should rejoice by having more enlightened souls participate in your crusade.

Underglow and black tutorials.


Tainted Weapon:
Saturated in the tide of the warp, the metal of these blades contains the foul essences of that which resides outside of reality. Used in the foulest of acts, these weapons were prolifically distributed through the legion at the time of the Heresy war.

Replace a power weapon at no cost for a STR user, instant death specialist weapon with no AP. 

I have on the odd occasion used this to his take out some scary Mechanicus units. It’s hard not to be drawn to old reliables like the power fist or power axe in its stead. It packs a nasty surprise for the unwary and a sprinkling across your force is equally as tempting as its so thematic.

The Psyarcana section in book 8 is a treasure trove of narrative weapons for us. However, this needs a section in itself and well return to this in a later article.

Special Units


An embrace of the powers and gifts of the dark gods, the diabolist is a twisted soul charged by the Gods to bring the primordial truth of reality to the ignorant.  

This character upgrade is ridiculous fluffy and fun and a great consul upgrade for your army. A combination of Preferred Enemy and Daemon means in close combat, you are swinging with a Fear causing, 5++, Preferred Enemy, character. That’s a bargain for a 35 point upgrade. However, its what they can do to your army that makes them so special.

Dark Channelling:

This is the fickle nature of chaos incarnate. The Diabolist calls on the favour of the gods and can bless units throughout the army. A unit pays an additional fee to manifest the blessing in 1 of 3 ways by rolling in the pre-game sequence:


They automatically pass Pinning, Fear and Regroup tests. They may also re-roll to hit rolls in the first turn of combat. An excellent bonus to any unit in your army, but of course this favors those legionnaires that would want to be in combat.

+1 strength.

Excellent bonus for close combat troops and is straightforward to implement.


The unit counts as destroyed for VP and no longer scoring. They gain a 5+ invulnerable save and gain fear. While you feel good for your boys ascending the ranks to daemon hood, it stings when your 20 man unit bought to sit on an objective no longer counts as scoring.

Overall a good gamble on a terminator squad, or assault squad, but I wouldn’t go crazy due the points and the potential of losing VP to your opponent.

Burning Lore:

For 30 points, a Praetor, Centurion or Chaplain becomes a level 1 psyker in Biomancy or Telepathy. This can be a huge bolster for your army such as having a Praetor’s significantly boosted in a chalange when taking Biomancy. Burning Lore also plays nicely into Charismatic Leadership as have access to upwards of potentially four unique psychic powers (if your maxing your HQ slots), can provide some sweet buff, debuffs, and  overall  swing games in your favour. This like Dark Channelling does add up significantly be cautious.  

Mhara Gal Tainted Dreadnought

That which was blessed, but now stands beyond the sights of gods.

A thematic choice with a great miniature, the Mhara Gal can hurt your army as much as the enemy! You see, all Daemons, Psykers and members of units targeted by blessings within 6” at the end of your turn, take a str 5 AP 2 hit.

This creature is so unstable it corrodes your army! Do not run this alongside your army. It is a lone wolf. Put it out on a flank, or away from your stronger units. Having a Diabolst, Gal Vorbak, or a praetor die because the Mhara Gal is within 6” is a gut punch you don’t want to experience.

Another cool ability that reflects a daemons ability to phase through the medium is the Earth Recoils rule. This means it ignores difficult /dangerous terrain and can pass through obstacles 1” across without penalty. This phasing can be quite fun in games of ZM where you phase through a locked door. The tainted claw can be fun with re-rolls on successful invulnerable at str 10 ap 2, meaning you can line up some instant death blows. The Warpfire plasma cannon forces a leadership test at -1, and is a plasma weapon!

Overall a great fluffy choice, and while this guy is quite expensive coming at about double the cost of a standard contemptor dreadnought, he can be used as an amazing distraction because when you’re faced with a daemon dreadnought that can take a huge beating and dish it back, you put the fear of the gods into them.

Gal Vorbak

The holy synthesis of flesh and unborn spirit, the Gal Vorbak are mankind ascended. The new man of a new, terrifying age.

There’s a reason why there’s at least one unit of these in every Word Bearer force.

This unit is a powerhouse. Tough, strong with an output of attacks that would make a World Eater blush, but you get it all for the low price of 200 points!

On the charge for a base unit of 5, you will generate 26 str 5 rending attacks at initiative 5. They are also very survivable with a toughness of 5, 5+ Daemon save with ws5 to weather any incoming attacks. 

The biggest downside to this amazing unit is mobility. The Gal Vorbak do not have the option to take a dedicated transport unless you are taking the Last of the Serrated Sun rite of war. Sure, the unit does have the ability to Deep Strike, but this does limit your ability to charge and take the initiative. And that is where the Gal Vorbak thrives, in the midst of close combat. 

Save for narrative considerations, this unit is a must-buy for any word bearer force. Gorgeous miniatures, amazing rules and a wonderful back story. It exemplifies the very best of the heresy. 

The Ashen Circle

The cleansing flame of the unholy, the alien, and the false deity the Ashen Circle are a cadre of Iconoclasts.

At the time of writing, there are two sets of rules for this unit. The red book version and an official faq that can be found on via the Warhammer community site. 

Red Book:

The Red Book Ashen Circle are a difficult unit to get the most from. These guys are Jump Infantry with hand flamers and always gain hammer of wrath at str 5 regardless of whether they charged that turn or not. A hand flamer area of effect deep striking ability, at 175 points all make for an ok-ish harassing unit that got better in ZM. The downside is AP 6 melee attacks, and while they give the user a +1 strength. You will struggle to finish off units.

In all of my games with these rules, they act as a great distraction but always die in combat, even on the charge. They are just unable to get through basic power armour. I wouldn’t recommend taking these guys in this current state, however…

Playtest Rules:

The most recent FAQ gave this unit some “Playtest Rules” and holy crap it was the lifeline they needed. Not only did this unit get a 30 point decrease, but the upgrades also dropped in points. The biggest change? The one that has me buying my own body weight in these miniatures? The axe-rake is now AP3, with +1 to Initiative for Sweeping Advances. 

I lost my mind when seeing this. You are looking at a highly mobile, high damage potential, reasonably costed harassing unit. It gets even better because they can be joined by a Legion Moritat and Legion Chaplain (previously no independent characters could join).

A versatile unit that will yield some wonderful moments on the battlefield.

Miniature Painting Course Library.


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