Principia Belicosa, World Eaters: Allies & Tactics.

“You served well, Gharte.” Khârn disengaged the seals at the warrior’s throat, lifting the helm clear. There wasn’t much left of the sergeant’s face. Something must have reflected in Khârn’s expression, for Gharte made his devastated face into something like a grin.

“That bad, eh?” he asked. His gurgling laughter became another cough.

Khârn’s reply was solemn obedience. He held the gladius above Gharte’s left eye, its point a finger’s breadth above the dilated pupil.

Any last words?’

“Aye. Piss on Angron’s grave when he finally lies dead.”

Khârn wished he’d not heard those words, either.

Betrayer. Aaron Dembski Bowden.


World Eaters have several opportunities for really cool themed allied detachments.


The Dark Mechanicum of Sarum is closely linked to the XII Legion in the fluff, having developed their iconic Sarum-pattern helmet with the distinctive grille faceplate (see the Khârn model or the 40k Khorne berserkers). They also had a hand in the production of the inductii on Bodt. There is definitely an opportunity to theme a Dark Mechanicum force around this alliance, using lots of thralls with heavy chain blades and castellax/thallax with chain blades and spiked attachments.


The Gun Clans of Bodt provided the stock for forming the augmented inductii. The aspirants would fight each other for the chance to become Astartes and the World Eaters would use the Clans as meat shields in battle. A militia list using the Dark Compliance theme or the sacrificial offering rite of war would be very thematic. Large squads of levy or militia with feral warriors, alchem jackers or gene-crafted provenances would be thematic with large vat-swollen rejects (goliath/ogryn models?) as ‘ogryn squads’ could be cool. 


In late heresy, Khorne daemons would be very thematic allies. The daemons of the Ruinstorm list using the crimson fury aetheric dominion works perfectly. Lesser daemons with crushing claws/flensing talons (hell blades) make good bloodletters and brass collars emanations on beasts/cavalry make flesh hounds or blood crushers.

Word Bearers

During the Shadow Crusade, the World Eaters and Word Bearers teamed up to ravage Ultramar’s 500 worlds. The Word Bearers can bring some longer-ranged firepower or psychic powers which would otherwise be out of character for the XII. Take a praetor with jump pack (wings) and a paragon blade (guardian spear) to proxy Argel Tal and team him up with Khârn for one of the greatest bromances in the heresy. 

Collegia Titanicus

Legio Audax (the Ember Wolves) allied with the World Eaters and Word Bearers during the Shadow Crusade. This Legio utilises exclusively lighter warhound-class scout titans making them easier to fit into your larger games of 30k. 

Game Tactics

World Eaters tactics are pretty simple- charge the enemy and butcher them in melee combat! 

The tactical advice I would offer would be that in Horus Heresy games, victory is decided during list building and deployment. Identify quickly which targets you want your squads to attack and deploy them as close as possible. 

The frontline sample lists I’ve included below each contain a leviathan in a drop pod. This should smash down on turn 1 and the dreadnought should disembark immediately, unleashing his firepower on the biggest threat (an armoured vehicle if armed with melta lance or a large squad of infantry if armed with phosphex and storm cannon). From there, they are a real pain to crack and should keep a portion of the enemy busy while the rest of your line close.

If using an armoured list, rush your tanks forward 12” on turn 1 and then either snapshot the guns or use smoke launchers if the enemy has a lot of anti-tank weapons. Then on turn 2 you should be in a good position to move 6” and disembark for a charge. After this, the land raiders or rhinos with pintle multi-meltas can be a nuisance while your infantry do their bloody work.

The Red Butchers excel against enemy heavy infantry. Target them at the enemy elites such as terminators, veterans or legion specific units. They will have the resilience and killing power to win the war of attrition. They will also munch through tactical squads. 

I’ve seen Red Butchers run as bodyguards for Angron, but they’re so powerful I prefer to run them as a separate killer unit, forming the one-two punch with Angron and his 20 chainaxe boyfriends. 

Firstly they slow the big man down- he can’t run and make use of his fleet special rule or perform sweeping advances when held back by cataphractii terminators. Secondly, it’s not in character- the Devourers, Angron’s personal terminator bodyguard are often left behind and mocked in the stories as out-dated and unnecessary (I know Red Butchers are different to Devourers but still, doesn’t feel right to me). Finally, I feel they work better on their own; the Butchers are so strong that they can hold their own in combat and Angron benefits from large numbers of ablative wounds in the form of tactical marines (who, as I have shown are very competent themselves). 

Angron himself should be launched at the enemy’s HQ. He will slaughter anything short of a top-tier Primarch. If you are going up against Space Wolves, Sons of Horus or Blood Angels, then this is possibly the only time I would consider taking Red Butchers (or legion terminators) as a bodyguard for Angron as he might need the help to defeat the enemy Primarch. 

Things to watch out for

An enemy who knows the World Eaters will prepare for the inevitable deadly charge by taking out your transports, forcing you to slog across the table through massed bolter fire. If your transports are threatened, use smoke launchers or target their anti-tank weapons first. If you don’t have transports then often the best thing to do is to run as fast as possible and hope that the warp is in your favour! Terminators or dreadnoughts can also be used to screen your softer troops.

High-strength blast weapons which are capable of bypassing your apothecaries’ feel no pain will also carve swathes out of your infantry before they can bring their axes to bear. Against such foes, try to angle your charges so that they pass through some sort of cover to save more of your warriors or present so many targets that the enemy simply cannot shoot them all. 

With your killer units like Red Butchers, beware thallax or other multi-wound models which cannot be killed with a single attack as these will whittle down these expensive troops. Also avoid enemies who inflict instant death (power fists, psykers with force and Str 8+ AP 2 shots) or attack them with other troops first.

Fliers are a problem unit for an army which relies on close combat. A lot of flying units are just transports and they have to land to disgorge their troops, making them vulnerable. For the fighters who remain in the sky, taking potshots with Spartans and land raiders often works as the re-rolls from twin-linked make snapshots more likely to hit. I also take a Deredeo in many lists (mostly because I love the model) which has good anti-air capabilities but also can provide a strong fusillade against light armour and infantry on the ground. 

We will be concluding the series with sample army lists and decide what legion you’d liek to see covered next! If you would like to see Dan’s work check out his Instagram feed!

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