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The Great Crusade > XII: World Eaters/War Hounds > Using Blood Angels 5th Edition to represent Pre-He

Title: Using Blood Angels 5th Edition to represent Pre-He

Pacific - February 3, 2011 06:49 AM (GMT)
This is an article I wrote for my blog, but thought it would be useful for anyone who doesn't read it there but wants some ideas.

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Previously, I considered the White Dwarf Blood Angel codex to be pretty useful for representing Pre-Heresy World Eaters. There were other options (see my previous article), but for the type of force I was representing, that codex had far more positives than negatives. Please note that this article follows on from the now defunct article featuring the previous White Dwarf codex, linked above.

Fast forward a few years (and then a delay of over 6 months until I actually got hold of a copy!) and now we have, what in my mind, is perhaps the ideal codex to represent the 12th Legion on the tabletop. This article will go into depth as to why I think this is the case, and how the versatility of the codex can be used to represent a variety of different PH WE forces, from both the beginning of the Crusade to the Heresy itself.

I will note when I am writing my own opinions on background, everything else is referenced from the Index Astartes: World Eaters article, the Horus Heresy: Collected Visions book and the Horus Heresy book series itself. I will also welcome any comments on the article, and will amend any of the inevitable errors or omissions!

It should also be noted that when talking about Pre-Heresy, much of it comes down to personal interpretation. The fact that, despite the HH book series, so much of it remains a mystery means that this kind of article can only ever be advisory in the loosest possible sense. It is purely my own opinion, built upon reading the books and my own background in war gaming. It's quite possible that some people reading this will have an entirely differing viewpoint on any given situation. If that is the case, then I think it's something which should be celebrated; Pre-Heresy modelling gives us an opportunity to create something truly different, away from the increasingly defined and catalogued game universe of Warhammer 40,000. If you want to use Codex: Orcs to represent your Pre-Heresy World Eaters, while I might find it questionable, far be it from me to stop you!

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A note on the character of the World Eaters

For anyone planning on creating a Pre-Heresy World Eater force, I think it's really important to establish early on exactly what type of force you want to represent. Is it the 'War Hounds', the fresh faced legion of Terrans who are just embarking on the Great Crusade, or is it the crazed and frenzied berserkers of Angron pounding on the gates of Terra? Is it something in between, where the first vestiges of madness are beginning to grip the Legion after the discovery of their gene-sire?

As I wrote in the previous article on this subject, it's important to note that the character of the Legion varied a great deal from it's initial creation to it's fall to chaos. We have now had it confirmed that the 'War Hounds' (as they would have been before the discovery of Angron) were already an assault-orientated Legion, and they engaged in brotherly rivalry with the Blood Angels who were of a similar nature. After Angron was reunited with his Legion, the introduction of 'bio-implants' (the medical procedure which turned gladiators into raging psychopaths on his home world) steadily transformed the Astartes into the blood-spilling monsters they would later become. Therefore, it is possible to characterise your WE force, using the BA codex, by how far along this 'path' the Legion is. However, it should be noted that by no means is this exclusive; remember that the Legions were massive. I imagine it would have been quite possible for distant elements of the Legion which were part of different expeditions to have had less changes made to the character of their force, while other force commanders might have embraced Angron's doctrines whole-heartedly. So, in any case, this observation of the armies 'character' should only be viewed as advisory.

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Why the Blood Angel Codex?

In time I will write special character and rule profiles for the various part of the codex, but for now here are some general components of how the BA codex is especially applicable to the World Eaters:

The Red Thirst
This special rule will potentially give squads the fearless and furious charge special rules. It's a wonderful way of representing the assault-orientated nature of the Legion, and their impact when they take part in melee combat. The likely hood of a squad getting this perk can be made more likely depending on choice of special character (more on this later).

Assault Troops as a troops choice
Again, this rule represents the assault-bias of the World Eaters. You can imagine dozens of rhinos racing forward as part of a spearhead, while assault-equipped marines jump out to secure objectives! Now the '2 special weapon' rule allows you to make a similar unit to the 'flamer team' seen in the HH:CCG.

Death Company
This unit is practically crying out to be labelled as 'Berserkers'. Quite possibly one of the most dangerous close combat units in the game. If you have ever used the Death Company in a game, the look of consternation on your opponent's face as move the models into base contact with their unit is absolutely as it should be, as the Berserkers were the most barbaric and frenzied assault unit of any Legion! The new rules allow you to use a variety of wargear options, and have created some great conversion opportunities.

The Special Characters
In many ways this is the most useful facet of the Blood Angels book, using 'counts as' they can be used to represent a variety of roles within the Pre-Heresy Legion. It's even possible to make a pretty good facsimile of Angron himself, or at least as close as is possible within the standard rules of the game.

Although this will be explored in greater depth in future articles, for now:

Lemartes: Has rules which transfer well to an assault orientated captain.
Astorath the Grim: Perhaps the most vital for late-crusade or Heresy era forces. Removes the 0-1 Death Company restriction (allowing an army of Berserkers!) and also increases the likelyhood of squads getting the 'red thirst' rule to 50%, which again can perfectly represent the assault-orientated bias of the force. A combat monster in his own right, attach to the front of a unit of Death Company to create an assault unit worthy of the 12th Legion!
Mephiston: This marine has some skeletons (possibly demonic ones) hiding in his closet, and his quite crazy stat line makes him perhaps the closest contender for anyone wanting an 'Angron' in your force. Many of his psychic powers can quite easily be represented as the almost preternatural abilities of a Primarch (I shall be expanding upon this in a future article).
Sanguinary Priests: One idea is to just have them as combat medics in the force (without the cup of blood of course). Medics were a lot more prevalent back in 1st edition days, and this ties into the juxtaposition of that era's representation with 'modern' Horus Heresy background quite nicely. The added bonus of furious charge and FNP special rules can represent the characteristics of a World Eater unit.
Gabriel Seth: This chap is practically a champion of Khorne anyway, but with black pauldrons.

Furioso and Death-Company dreadnoughts
You can imagine a dreadnought taking part in 12th Legion operations would share a similar tactical acumen to his battle brothers, and would equip himself (itself?) with close combat weaponry accordingly. Similarly, what would happen if a marine previously fitted with neural implants were placed within a dreadnought? It's only a thought on my part, but I think the rules for a Death Company dreadnought might be a close approximation of this.* Of course for most of the Crusade the Legion would have utilised combined tactics, and so a standard-type dreadnought (such as those seen in the HH:CCG) could be equally applicable.

* I used a dreadnought within my own force to represent this idea (click here), referenced from the Tempus Fugitives campaign special rules.

Rhinos with Lucifer-pattern engines
This one is a little harder to justify, not least because it is noted in the BA codex that they are a recent addition to the chapter's forces. However, I think it is important to note that there are important differences in terms of relative technology between the Warhammer 30,000 and 40,000 universes. Specifically, we are often reminded of how the latter is a universe where old technology is gradually failing, it's secrets lost or forgotten. It might be logical to suppose that the higher efficiency of both the Mechanicum and Legions themselves produced rhinos during the crusade that had a performance equivalent to that of a Lucifer pattern engine. Certainly, when viewed in the wider context I don't think that it is beyond the realms of possibility!

Land Raiders
Continuing with the above line of reasoning, we know that Land Raiders were more common during the crusade. Especially if you adhere to the retconning which attempts to connect Rogue Trader and 1st edition Epic to current Horus Heresy background, this codex lets you use practically as many Land Raiders as you can afford.

The Stormraven
Although the vehicle itself was supposedly not made until the 41st millenium, the template for a small scale aerial assault vehicle gives the opportunity for scratch-builders and converters to create some form of bespoke vehicle which might have seen service during the Crusade (we know from the HH book series that several of the aircraft designations have yet to be defined beyond a title, so why not use the 'stormraven' as the basis for it's rules?)

Hand Flamers were a staple part of Rogue Trader and 2nd edition-era armaments. As those used by the Blood Angels are prized relics, it makes sense that they would have been used Pre-Heresy. An Infernus pistol could also represent other technology since lost, or perhaps a weapon taken from a slain alien commander or offshoot of humanity.

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A note on self-restriction:

Although I am advocating the use of the BA codex in this article, at the same time I think if a true representation of the Legion is your objective, then some self-discipline in terms of unit selection is in order. Although I understand that many people will give priority to the aesthetics or rules instead of having something 100% accurate to the source material, nevertheless here are some of the areas which are important to note if you want to create an accurate army.

Jump pack-equipped assault troops
It has been acknowledged by several sources that, while they exist, these were less than plentiful for most of the Great Crusade. Subsequently an early crusade force consisting entirely jump pack equipped assault troops would not be entirely accurate. I have opted to only include a jump pack equipped unit for every standard unit mounted in a vehicle, although this is entirely up to you.

There is some debate as to whether some or all of the Legions featured chaplains in their forces, although the World Eaters might well have done towards the end of the Crusade and following the council of Niceaa. I have found it more characterful to use a captain model 'counts as' a chaplain (see the rules and explanation for Captain Sevruk), simply because in many ways Chaplains are a representation of the changes in the ethos and thinking of the marine chapters found in 40k.

As above. Although Khorne is inimical to psykers, this would only have been an issue towards the end of the crusade. It's also been documented that Angron ordered the murder of all the Legion's Librarians, so they must have existed. (As a side note, it also gives you the opportunity to use the quite wonderful mk4 armour Forgeworld model!)

Baal Predator/Land Raider/Razorback/Land Speeder options
It has been noted that the Baal is a Blood Angel only option in the background. Similarly, the above vehicles have been explicitly labelled as post-heresy. So, does that mean they shouldn't be used? My personal opinion would be to follow the advice of the Tempus Fugitives design team and limit them to 0-1 use. This represents the ability of Crusade-era commanders and Mechanicum to make ad-hoc modifications to wargear and weaponry in regards to the situation, and the differing viewpoint of technology.

Lucifer Pattern Rhinos:
If you didn't agree with my above comments regarding the rhino, you may wish to choose to disregard the 'Lucifer engines' special rule.

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Use of Other Codecies

As I mentioned in my previous article on this topic, the Blood Angels codex is by no means the be-all and end-all of codex choice when it comes to representing the World Eaters. I have written above why I think it is the most prudent choice, when it comes down my own conception of the Legion in the time frame I want to represent them, but that by no means excludes other codecies.

The standard Space Marines codex would be ideal for an early crusade force, perhaps representing the War Hounds. Both the Space Wolves and Black Templar codecies are similarly assault-orientated, and arguments can be made for both of them (although you may have to exercise more self-discipline and opt not to use some of their more radical options). Similarly, a Khorne-themed force from the latest Chaos codex would be excellent for a late Crusade or even Heresy era force. To conclude, I have written this article to give people ideas for their own force, not to dictate what they should or should not do, and the standard caveat which I feel should run through the entirety of the gaming and modelling community is that no one should ever say, "actually, that's not right".

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End of Part 1..

So, that's the 'core' of adapting the Codex: Blood Angels to represent your Pre-Heresy World Eater force. If anyone has any suggestions, queries or comments about what I have written here I will be happy to answer them.

The next article will switch the focus to adaptation of Special characters. Using 'counts as' troops within an army seems to be something which is attracting a great deal of negative press recently, but I want to show how this can be mitigated by making an effort as part of the design process.

If you have got this far, thanks for reading! :)

Styles - February 3, 2011 07:17 PM (GMT)
Great post Pacific had the same idea.

You should change the 13th to 12th Legion. I know every chapter in 40k want to be Ultramarines today but...

Pacific - February 4, 2011 02:17 AM (GMT)
Thanks Styles for noticing my 'deliberate' mistake.. ahem... got to make sure you are on your toes! :unsure: :D

ShroudFilm - February 4, 2011 11:18 AM (GMT)
Great article! I'm looking at building my own army using the BA codex, so I'll use this as a guide.

The Red Sorcerer - February 4, 2011 01:27 PM (GMT)
Re. Furioso and Death Company Dreadnoughts - actually, we already have canon support for this, from the Forgeworld background on the Blood Slaghterer Daemon Engine -
The first few [Blood Slaughterers] were encountered during the dark and terrible days of the Great Heresy, thought to be a savage outgrowth of the more common dreadnought walker technology employed widely by the Space Marine Legions. These first Slaughterers were ‘bezerker dreadnoughts’ optimised for close combat… modified from standard patterns to be larger and swifter than their more common counterparts… their use by the World Eaters Legion is stated in some apocryphal sources to in fact pre-date the Heresy itself in some form, and such was the savage nature of this Legion even before its fall this is most likely true.

So, 'Bezerker Dreads' in use by the WE during and probably before the heresy. Perfect for using Furioso and Death Company dreads from the BA codex.

Whitehorn - February 4, 2011 03:38 PM (GMT)
You can always rely on TRS to drop a bucket of inspiration on us :)

Excellent article Pacific, I read it on your blog earlier - some great ideas.

Pacific - February 7, 2011 03:46 PM (GMT)
Thanks for the comments guys, and the info on the berserker dreads Red Sorcerer (I'll make sure I add a comment to that effect), I'll add some more info at some point regarding the special characters and also some practical army lists than can be 'World Eater-ised'.

cobra6 - February 8, 2011 03:41 AM (GMT)
Great article, Pacific! I'm also using Codex:BA for my World Eaters. Specifically, for the Sanguinary Priests, I'm modeling them as "Berzerker Surgeons" rather than run-of-the-mill medics. They are the ones who installed the agression chips in the heads of their brother marines, and I'm having each carry a remote-control device to activate the chips (replicating the function of the Blood Chalice.) I'll be using a few Fabius Bile backpack components to make them look suitably "psycho doctor."

Looking forward to the next installment!

Ilmarinen - February 15, 2011 10:19 AM (GMT)
I'm a big fan of using counts-as to better represent PH armies.

I totally agree that C:BA is fantastic for PH World Eaters, but I also think there is good scope for C:BA in representing other Legions as well.

I'm planning a Death Guard army using C:BA, utilising the c/a Sanguinary Priest FNP bubbles to represent the DG's legendary resilience. I'm also planning to use Tycho to give Ld10 to the army. By taking some tac squads and few assault squads, with no rhinos (or razorbacks!) I think it fits the fluff pretty well.

Representing IH using C:SW has been mentioned a few times, but I wonder if C:BA could also work - the FNP bubbles could represent a decent save from multiple bionics and the SPs could inspire the marines with fiery rhetoric (furious charge etc).

In many ways, the Blood Angels codex feels a lot more like a marine army should feel IMO - faster and harder hitting, with plenty of decent options - just what a strike force should be. If you could port over the missing units from the standard codex (like the bike captain rule, ironclad dread, thunderfire and master of the forge) then I think it would be pretty much perfect. Just give the tac marines a chainsword to add to their current equipment (which would make them a decent alternative to an assault squad).

There are various other Legions that could work:
Emperor's Children - blademasters (c/a SP) inspire the marines to shrug off their wounds and attack with more lethality.
Iron Warriors - forlorn hope mentality (ignoring wounds until the breach is won).
Night Lords - very fast and deadly.
Alpha Legion - precision strikes (DoA).
Raven Guard - both of the above.
Thousand Sons - extra librarian-ness.
And for all of them we have a pseudo-Primarch to lead them.

Pacific - February 15, 2011 03:42 PM (GMT)
I agree totally mate, BA can make a great codex for many PH legions. I think you could come up with some really true-to-background 'counts as' for many of the more characterful components of those legions.

I think the key point is being conscientious about it - like you said, limiting what you do or don't choose in terms of the character of your army. I have found people have responded fairly well to my WE because I have gone to great lengths to show an actual representation of what the models are about, and the 'spirit' of those rules, despite the codex sometimes creating a bad reaction because it can be deemed to be a little powerful (and using it seen as just wanting to use the latest new toy). I can see the opposite being true however if you just want to get the special rules to make your army more powerful, but make little effort to actually represent those rules.

The only (minor) complaint I have had was when a DE player thought my berserker squad was in fact a standard assault squad, then the whole unit got wiped out and Baron whathisname got pulled off his hover-skateboard by my 'Astorath' when he tried to flee :P

cobra6 - March 24, 2012 12:16 AM (GMT)
I'm reading the rumors about the upcoming Codex: Chaos Legions... I wonder how it will compare to C:BA in representing PHWE's. In particular, I'm interested to see if the models I've converted specifically along the lines of C:BA (such as my Death Comapny/Berzerkers, or my Furioso w/ magna-grapple) are still street legal in C:CL.

Pacific - March 25, 2012 10:38 AM (GMT)
Yes it will certainly be interesting to see! I'm sure there will be a lot more options in it than the Alessio Calvatore-written previous codex (which was attempting to streamline as much as possible). Certainly I think the current one is pretty useless at anything other than a Heresy/gates of Terra force, but even then why bother you may as well just make a 40k Khorne army.

But, it has got a high benchmark to beat I think if it wants to be better than the BA codex, which ticks pretty much all of the boxes, at representing a late Crusade era force!

cobra6 - January 1, 2013 07:41 PM (GMT)
Well, having gotten my hands on all three top candidates (HH:Betrayal, Blood Angels, and CSMs) I know which one I'm gonna use - but not because it's the most savage in close combat.

In terms of pure, sheer close combat fury, codex BA takes the cake. My counts-as BA list, with multiple units of Death Company, Furiosos and DC dreds, etc., would defeat my counts-as CSM list and my actual HH:Betrayal list (with the obvious exception that Angron's in that one..) *in a pure CC matchup*.

Neither of the more recent books is built to portray a force based almost exclusively on ferocious close combat. None has anything like the Death Company - I've pitted Khorne Berzerkers and Rampager squads against both my jump pack and footslog DC units, and both lose almost every time. The Rampagers especially get absolutely housed. Honestly, with the way they're described in the background, I can't fathom why that unit doesn't start out with Rage or Furious Charge, at the very least.

The same goes for the rest of the HH:B World Eaters; Yeah, they get FC if they wipe somebody out in CC, and some of them have a slim chance to get Rage if they break in CC (!?!) but they start out every battle as 30K "Ultramarines" with chainaxes, literally. And honestly, that just doesn't sit right with me.

All this said, I'll be fielding my World Eaters according to HH:Betrayal. Having fielded it in several battles against Grey Knights, SoB's, and Necrons, it is actually an awesome list. It has a synergy where the whole force operates with an effectiveness that is greater than the sum of its parts. The stars of the battles have been a 20-man Legion Tac Squad and a Heavy Support Squad with 8 missile launchers. It's also nice to be able to field things like my Pred Executioner and Spartan Assault Tank in a straight list. So overall, what I lose in bellowing chainaxe-wielding mania I gain in tactical depth and utility. And that's a tradeoff I can live with.

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