Monday 25 April 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Sons of Horus - Special Rules and Rite of War

Hey Gang,

As requested by a reader (Rory I think), I'm going to start reviewing the Sons of Horus. This is a Legion that I have never really looked at the rules for, so its all come as a bit of a bundle in to my brain! As always please feel free to point out inaccuracies as you see them :). So lets start the show with the Sons of Horus special rules and ONE of their unique Rites of War. I only have the first one in print and I am looking to borrow the second so hold with me :)

Legion Specific Rules

These are basically the chapter tactics of the Horus heresy, but whizzing around the room pumped full of cocaine and caffeine. These rules really do give you a great feel for how the legions operate in distinct and different styles. This is the flavour which is really drawing people into to 30k I think when coupled with the beautiful models and relatively balanced and communicative design teams.

Legiones Astartes - This is the basic space marines rule in 30k much like ATSKNF except they do now fear! But they can always regroup as normal regardless of casualties, so no waiting for that double 1 to show up.

The Edge of the Spear - Any units with this rule (including if embarked on a transport), may re-roll any 1's when rolling for reserves. Holy cow that great! Its going to let you re-roll 50% of your failed reserve rolls and anything which decreases randomness increases your ability to make solid battle plans around units coming in when needed.

Merciless Fighters - If the Sons outnumber their opponents in a combat once I1 has been reached, then all models may make an additional attack. Bulky models count for 2 (go jump pack assault!) and very bulky count for 3. HOWEVER this rule does not effect units that are going at I1 so no extra attacks with fists or hammers. This is a great rule that enforces an aggressive play style and making sure you pick your fights tactically, sort of the reverse of Rampage really. As indicated above, jump pack units will benefit from this very well as you count double numbers.

Bitter Pride - The Sons follow their Primarch and his kin, no other. You don't benefit from any allied warlord's leadership or warlord trait. This is not really a problem unless you are running the Sons as a small force in which case it shouldn't be much of a problem anyway! If they are your main force your allies will benefit from your warlord so eh, not much of a downside for me personally.

Rite of War: 

As before I'll just quickly run over what a Rite of War is for those that don't know. A Rite of War is basically akin to codex specific detachments in 40k such as the real space raiders detachment, the champions of fenris and the Baal Strike Force etc. Its NOT like a formation. You can only take a rite of war if you have a Master of the Legion in your army. This will either be a Praetor (read chapter master), a Delegatus (a special type of captain) or a named special character including the Primarchs.

In the main 30k rulebook you are presented with several rites of war that your Master of the Legioon can take. An example of this is Pride of the Legion. Pride of the Legion allows you to take terminators and veterans as troop choice and you HAVE to use them to fulfil your compulsory slots. However this comes with restrictions, you are not allowed an allied detachment and if all your veterans and terminators die you grant the enemy an additional victory point. 

The rites are supposed to allow you to play your legion with awesome fluffy rules but also represent the flaws that a legions particular style of engagement exposes, either physically or mentally.

The Black Reaving

Other than having a super cool name, I really like this Rite of war. It forces a bullying and fast paced form of war, it requires a good tactical mind to use it efficiently (which I think we will find is a common theme with the Sons) but it has the potential to be brilliant. Here are the special rules and limitations:

Encirclement - Any unit arriving my reserves gains fleet for that turn. OK you can't assault but you can run with more assuredness of getting a decent roll! This has some excellent applications (especially for outflanking units), but you will need to think hard about where you want those units. And where you want them is likely to be dictated by the next rule...

Cut them Down - Sons of Horus units that charge a unit already engaged in an on-going assault with a Sons unit gain rage for that turn. So no charging two units at once for rage, the assault has to be on-going, so you can imagine that a unit comes on from reserve and runs into position with encirclement. A unit that was on the board can charge the enemy and tie them up till the reserve unit can charge next turn and get Rage. Bazinga.

Reaver Onslaught - Reaver units can be taken as troops - I will cover these in the Unique Units section.

The Eye of The Warmaster - Justaerin Terminators gain the ability to deep strike. I'll cover the termies along with the Reavers, but deep striking terminators in 30k is BIG! Remember unlike 40k that isn't a standard thing and therefore you get a level of tactical flexibility that is rare for such bulky units (without investing in a Spartan).

Before I go on to the limitations I will say I really like this Rite of War benefits. It requires you to bend your head a little bit, but you have to imagine that you have 30-50% of your force in reserve and the rest on the table. Turn one you charge up the board ready for a turn 2 assault. In turn 2 you can tie up key units as your reserves come in and then in tun 3 they can charge and gain the rage special rule to wipe them out. But tricky to pull off!


- Master of Signals must be taken in addition to your Master of the Legion. In lower points games any low level special characters with Master of the Legion or a Delegatus Consul would be the best way to ensure you aren't overspending because of this.

- Must take more fast attack units than heavy support. Essentially limiting you to 2 Heavy support if you have 3 fast attack. Again this is pushing you to take fast units to get up close with the enemy ASAP.

- Must take an additional troops choice. Given that reavers are troop you can take on of those in addition to your standard troops and job is good 'un.

- No fortification BUT allies is as normal.

The most significant limitation here is the Master of Signal as its an annoying point sink you might not really fancy. But the rest of the limitations I think you would probably fulfill for this Rite anyway as you build your force, its designed for fast paced hard hitting armies with plenty of bodies. This immediately means that fortifications and heavy units are less likely to be picked up and you have flexibility with your additional choice in the troop slot now.


The Sons of Horus seem as you might expect, aggressive, hard hitting and incredibly tactically cunning. They seem like the Legiones Astartes with the training wheels off and require lots of brains to make work really well, but I can see them being competitive for sure.

I'm not sure when you should expect part two so hang tight fans :)

Peace out,



  1. Yah! I was wondering what they were like so thank you for starting a breakdown for us/me. Very informative so far, lots of stuff I didn't know.

    1. Glad its helpful man! I'd probably keep a firm eye on the comments like below for information that I don't have though :)

  2. Pretty sure the amended red legions book gave them a rule allowing twin linked fire for weapons within twelve - might be rapid fire weapons only though.

    1. +1 BS when firing pistols, rapid fire or assault weapons when within 12". Does. It apply to snap shots, chainfire (Moritat) or Fury of the legion

    2. Thanks both of you! I'm a little bit sore that they haven't released a free PDF with these pretty small updates in, I guess I'll just have to save up for the new red book!

  3. Point of note, the master of signals is written as compulsory, which overrides the legion support officer rules. Meaning you can have Horus as LOW using the rite and only the master of signals as your HQ

    1. Great point Seb, really appreciate your input on these posts :) if you ever want to write a guest article or such then please do let me know!