Horus Heresy: Betrayal Narrative Weekend

March 17, 2013 by stuart

This weekend saw Horus Heresy fans bring up to 6000 points of Astartes Legions and Imperial Army regiments to Tabletop Nation and clash over the corpse strewn landscapes of Isstvan III in the latest narrative campaign weekend for Warhammer 40,000.

Flyers are just as nasty in 30k!

As many of you will no doubt know, the Horus Heresy is part of the origin story for Warhammer 40,000 known as the Age of the Emperor. It begins with the legions of the Imperium led by the Emperor and his sons – the demi-gods known as the Primarchs. Together they embark of a Great Crusade across the galaxy to claim it for Mankind. These stories are brought to life by the fantastically written Horus Heresy novel series by Black Library.

The Death Guard prepare for war!

The Betrayal campaign weekend saw the World eaters, Emperor’s Children, Death Guard and Sons of Horus declare loyalty to the Warmaster Horus and break faith with the Emperor of Mankind. The weekend made use of both the rule sets most commonly used in gaming set in the 31st Millennium:


First up was Forge World’s range of Horus Heresy campaign books. These are lavish hardbacks of truly epic production values. While certainly not cheap, the quality of the books is without question. Available direct from Forge World’s site only, the latest book, Betrayal, deals with the first battle of the Horus Heresy between the loyalists and traitors within four of the Legions. Each of the books will go into incredible detail on a specific battle or campaign during the Horus Heresy and will have an army list and set of missions to allow you to play out that specific event or campaign.

Assault ships loyal to the Warmaster begin their attack run.

For hobbyists who want the definitive guide to the Death Guard, Sons of Horus, World Eaters and Emperor’s Children during that specific point in the storyline, the first volume of the Horus Heresy Forge World series is a must purchase! Fans of the other Legions or time periods will have to wait a while but I am sure that eventually Forge World will cover every aspect of the conflict in superb detail.

The other most commonly used rules set is the Age of the Emperor expansion written by the Tempus Fugitives events group. Though not produced by Games Workshop, this expansion allows you to play with any of the Legions in any of the campaigns or battles during that time period. Rather than a campaign book, the Age of the Emperor is a free expansion that transforms your games of Warhammer 40,000 into whatever battlefield of the 31st Millennium you want.

New Codexes are easily integrated into the setting.

One of the criticisms of the Horus Heresy as a setting is that it is pretty much all about Space Marines and only mentions the various alien races in passing. The Age of the Emperor expansion not only gives you material to fight the Great Crusade against all manner of species that are extinct by the time of the 41st Millennium, but also allows Orks, Eldar and others to use some of the game mechanics in the expansion to make their armies just as mythical and legendary as the Astartes were then. This wider focus has made playing games with non-Space Marine armies as fun and almost as popular as using the Legions and their Primarchs. Almost!

A Predator Deimos stands lonely vigil

It’s worth mentioning that as of this writing, the Age of the Emperor expansion is still being developed. On the plus side you can go to the forums either here at Tabletop Nation or at the Tempus Fugitives website and give feedback on how the expansion can be improved. It’s a ‘living rulebook’ in the sense that although you are free to print copies at any time, it is intended primarily as a free ebook that is updated regularly over time. Currently it has a full armylist as well as rules for all of the Legions. Over the coming months expect to see lots more content added as more events using the expansion are held at Tabletop Nation.

The Imperial Army admire a classic Land Raider as they are massacred!

Age of the Emperor: Betrayal presented hobbyists with an opportunity to play in a different style than they may be used to. Tempus Fugitives’ narrative campaigns are about trying out new ideas and contributing to an adventure. In fact the story is almost as important as the actual games themselves and players were prepared to get into the mindset of the army they brought to battle with. When the World Eaters taskforce were asked over the weekend about defensively deploying within an armoured complex they merely looked at the narrator with arched eyebrows as though to ask: Defend? Us?

Blood For The Blood G- oh wait not yet…

From this you can hopefully see that the spirit of the event was much more about trying to get into the story of the Horus Heresy rather than your Grand Tournament style of gaming. The weekend itself allowed players to use both the Age of the Emperor expansion and the Horus Heresy book from Forge World so players really had the best of both options.

Here we can see a Blood Angels army using the Age of the Emperor list (including rules for Sanguinius) engaged with World Eaters from the Forge World Betrayal book.

As a setting, Age of the Emperor is designed to allow the Forge World books to interconnect with it very easily and there should be no issues in using the two together that can’t be resolved with a ‘play as intended’ attitude. The great thing about the feedback from the event is that it will continue to drive and shape the work the Tempus Fugitives do on the expansion.

Here are some of the World Eaters from Best Army winner Tom Wintrell

The weekend ended with the Warmaster’s armies purging those loyalist elements of their own legions and now preparing for the anticipated retribution from the Emperor’s forces. The World Eaters tallied the greatest number of campaign points and the laurels for greatest number of personal victories goes to Karl Watson with the Death Guard and Tom Wintrell and his World Eaters. Tom’s forces were also voted best painted by the rest of the players so double congratulations to Tom!

The flames of Betrayal will lead to a Massacre…

Tickets for the next Horus Heresy event, Massacre, are available from the Tabletop Nation ticket store. If you aren’t able to get along to it, the next event, Age of the Emperor: Siege of Terra is due in the Autumn so there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved.

Do you play 30k? Give it a go!