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Friday, January 8, 2016

Choosing a Legion


As I mentioned in my last post, my wife gave me Betrayal at Calth for Christmas, and I want to use the miniatures to start a new army that I can play in both 40K and 30K (if it takes off at my store). However, that means that I need to pick a Legion. My criteria are:

1) It needs to be a Traitor Legion. I've got two loyal Space Marine armies already, and I feel like I need an evil army. Not only does it allow me to play a different style of army but it also allows me to play a different role in narrative games and campaigns.

2) I want it to be visually striking. I'm a much better painter than player, so I should work to my strengths. While any army can be done well, I feel that some color schemes just have more room for impressive painting.

3) It should play differently from my existing Space Marine armies, Blood Angels and Executioners (using Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics).

Right away, I was able to eliminate Thousand Sons, World Eaters, Death Guard, and Alpha Legion. I understand why some players really like each of those armies, but they just never appealed to me in their backgrounds or playing style. After some consideration, I also eliminated Sons of Horus. While the sea green paint scheme is beautiful, I'm just not that enthralled by their background and I really don't like Horus. That leaves me with four possible Legions.

I decided to write out this list of pros and cons to help me get everything straight in my head. I would also love to get some feedback/suggestions from you. If you really love/hate one of these Legions, let me know why!



Iron Warriors



The Iron Warriors have one big pro: I love their background! Perturabo is one of my favorite primarchs, and I love the idea of a Legion that treats war like a science. I also really like their unique units. Tyrant Siege Terminator units are a whole unit of Cataphracti Terminators with cyclone missile launchers, which is absolutely awesome! Iron Havoc squads are basically Devastator squads, but their heavy bolters cause pinning and they reduce the cover save of their target by 1, which sounds both solid to play and fun to use to me. An extra benefit is that these units can easily be converted from basic troops, saving me a bunch of money on Forgeworld kits.


The Iron Warriors have some equally big cons, largest of which is their paint scheme. No matter how nicely I paint dark silver armor, it's not going to be very eye catching. This is why they added the black and yellow hazard striping to their models. Otherwise, they just look very bland. While the hazard striping looks nice, it's just an accent and Iron Warriors still make for a poor painting showcase in my mind. Second, I feel like they'd play very similarly to my Executioners as a heavy firepower Space Marine army using lots of Devastators and artillery. In addition, the Executioners already have a metallic paint scheme, so I worry that building an Iron Warriors army would just feel like building a slightly more sinister copy of my Executioners. Also, I would really want to use lots of Mk 2 and 3 armor for Iron Warriors, not the Mk 4 that I have.

Emperor's Children

Slaanesh is my favorite Chaos god, and the Emperor's Children are the only Legion dedicated to a specific power that I really like. In addition, their purple and gold paint scheme is one of the most striking in the Heresy. I really think that I could do some great work with them.  I also think that they would play differently from my existing armies. They're quick on their feet, with some elite assault and shooty unit.

Their con is an offshoot of that. Their Legion trait is simply Crusader plus a requirement to issue challenges. Not particularly exciting to me, nor do they seem like they'll change the way I build an army. Being able to run faster seems nice, but it means giving up both shooting and assault, so I'd probably still take transports in most cases. Their unique units have beautiful models but don't seem that interesting either. I like the idea of the Palatine Blade squad, a unit of expert swordsmen that hunt down and challenge enemy champions to display their skills. However, in game terms this basically comes down to a unit of Veterans armed with Rending chainswords that can all accept and issue challenges. I guess their ability to take cheap power swords and artificer armor on the champion are cool, but the unit doesn't inspire me too much beyond the models. Pheonix Terminators are even more bland, just being Terminators that gain +1 Initiative, Strength, and AP on the charge. This is all pretty good, but they lack any increase to their durability and they have no shooting weapons at all. This seems like a huge weakness from a 40K point of view, but maybe they're okay in 30K. I've heard AP2 is rarer there. The Kakaphoni are the exception; they're early Noise Marines, and they pack a ton of firepower but lack mobility. I think I would really like to use them, and they cross over into 40K easily.

Night Lords

The Night Lords are another of my favorite Legions in the background, mainly due to the excellent stories by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. In addition, they have another great paint scheme, with their lightning and terror markings providing a lot of opportunity for freehand. Their unique units also seem like a lot of fun. Terror Squads are Veteran Infiltrator squads with the option to take some interesting weapons. Night Raptor Squads are just a somewhat better Raptor Squad (they get more weapon options and +D3 attacks on the charge), but they seem useful in game and have awesome models. The Night Lords also have some characters that I'd be excited to run. First and foremost is Sevatar, who is both an amazing character and model. Flaymaster Mawdrym Llansahai also appeals to me; an insane Apothecary that specializes in torture and performs unnecessary vivisections is just the tone I want for my first evil army.

The Night Lords' major con is that I feel like I would play them similarly to my Blood Angels. I'm a big fan of jump infantry, and I'd probably build Night Lords as a jump heavy army (even though they can be built other ways).

Word Bearers

Word Bearers are another Legion that appeals to me based on their background (you say their books are by Aaron Dembski-Bowden? What a coincidence!). If I'm going to play an evil army, the Word Bearers are as evil as they get. I love the idea that they're not traitors for selfish reasons. They are prophets of the Chaos gods, and they can have all the fervor and self-sacrifice of a Loyalist marine (though there are certainly selfish Word Bearers. Looking at you, Erebus). The Word Bearers also allow two color schemes, the original grey or the later dark red. The symbols and text carved into their armor also provide some visual interest and room for freehand. The Gal Vorbak are awesome models as well as beasts on the table, and the Ashen Circle are really unique jump troops that fill an interesting niche. Finally, Word Bearers let me add Daemons to my army, so expand the models available and more easily slot into 40K.

The biggest downside of the Word Bearers would be that it is another predominantly red army. Sure, they're a darker red than my Blood Angels, but similar enough that I feel like painting them could be a drag. Also, I'm not sure I could tolerate playing such unredeemable jerks. All the other Legions have some likable characteristics, but Word Bearers (with the exception of Argel Tal) are mustache twirling villains. They definitely provide a bad guy that people can love to hate, but could I love to play them? I'm not sure.

So those are my thoughts on each Legion. Anyone got any advice?

11 comments:

  1. I like all of your thoughts there and generally agree. I dislike the Iron Warriors immensely, myself, and I'm not a fan of the Night Lords either. Both of those armies seem like 'loyalists with spikes' in play style.
    All that being said, I'm a Word Bearers guy myself. They don't have a 'play style' (in fact, they were known to be the weakest and least strategic of all the legions), so they're very open. The fact that they're all red is a pain (same problem here, I already painted Blood Angels!), but the army does have some options (like the insane amount of silver trim on the Chaos armor and the black shoulder plates at random covered by tons of parchment), so you might be able to avoid that disadvantage. Other than that- adding daemons and stuff is the best!!! Word Bearers are the only chaos marines that actually make sense allied with daemons right out the gates, and in both 30k and 40k! That means less limits...
    That's my thinking- from a biased point of view! ("Have you allowed the warp into your heart this day? May we introduce you to the universal truth?...")

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    1. I agree that Iron Warriors seem more like Loyalists that just hate the Emperor. They're rapidly falling in my ranking. Night Lords feel pretty Chaotic to me. Almost like they should be dedicated to a Chaos god of Fear that GW just hasn't codified yet.

      Word Bearers definitely are at the top of the list for having a distinct play style that is very different from my other armies.

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  2. I like all of your thoughts there and generally agree. I dislike the Iron Warriors immensely, myself, and I'm not a fan of the Night Lords either. Both of those armies seem like 'loyalists with spikes' in play style.
    All that being said, I'm a Word Bearers guy myself. They don't have a 'play style' (in fact, they were known to be the weakest and least strategic of all the legions), so they're very open. The fact that they're all red is a pain (same problem here, I already painted Blood Angels!), but the army does have some options (like the insane amount of silver trim on the Chaos armor and the black shoulder plates at random covered by tons of parchment), so you might be able to avoid that disadvantage. Other than that- adding daemons and stuff is the best!!! Word Bearers are the only chaos marines that actually make sense allied with daemons right out the gates, and in both 30k and 40k! That means less limits...
    That's my thinking- from a biased point of view! ("Have you allowed the warp into your heart this day? May we introduce you to the universal truth?...")

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  3. Of the choices presented, I'd cast my vote for the Emperor's Children, a force I rarely see outside of GW's own studio.

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    1. They are definitely rare. I think most players can't get past the purple armor, but I think it could look really impressive.

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  4. I have the same problem as you have, received BaC for Xmas from my wife and need to decide on a Legion or legions. The three I am looking at are Sons of Horus, Night Lords and Alpha Legion.

    For your criteria of painting over playing I would suggest Emperors Children or Night Lords.

    Good luck!

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  5. For both loyalists & traitors, how bout Alpha Legion?

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    1. I've already got 2 Loyalist Marine armies, so I feel like I'm set with them. I could certainly use my Blood Angels in 30K if the mood took me. I'm looking for dedicated Traitors with this army.

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    2. Sorry I missed that first go round, I was pressed for time and just skimmed your post missing that bit. As such I'd say Night Lords as they've always struck me as just plain evil, and their atrocities had already landed them on the renegade side before the Heresy even really began...

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    3. No problem. The Night Lords are definitely a front runner.

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  6. Just as an update, Emperor's Children and Night Lords have emerged as the front runners. The main downside for the Emperor's Children are that their rules don't look very interesting to play, but I read that Forgeworld announced that they new that there was a problem with their rules and will be updating them when they print the second edition of the rules. No word on when that will be, but I'm hoping I can trust Forgeworld to make them fun to play.

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