The idea of Warhammer 40,000 as a historical game is probably a strange one for many of you. But those of you who have been watching the Weekender (and if not, why not!) will probably recall us mentioning the Horus Heresy, an exciting setting for several events coming up at Tabletop Nation over the coming months.
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.
In addition to those novels there are now a whole bunch of models you can use to bring those stories to your tabletop. For models there are a wide range of kits available from Forge World and also from other companies making ‘steam lords‘ or similarly compatible ranges such as the offerings from Kromlech and Maxmini .
With rule sets the choice is just as wide and its worth discussing a couple of them as they are the most commonly used in gaming set in the 31st Millennium:
First up is 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 cannot be disputed. 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.
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.
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!
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 weeks expect to see lots more content added as the first event using the expansion is held at Tabletop Nation.
Called Age of the Emperor: Betrayal, this narrative weekend is about something new for many of you. If you are expecting anything other than to just have fun – turn back now! This is not a tournament. You are going to get more out of the weekend if you enjoy the experience rather than focus on the outcome of your games. In a sense you need to try and play with your opponent rather than against them.
Age of the Emperor: Betrayal presents 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 should be prepared to get into the mindset of the army they have brought to battle with. If you and your opponent have a great game, the actual outcome of the battle becomes far less important. Once more (with feeling), you are playing with your opponent – not against them.
The team running the event is there to help describe the campaign story as it unfolds and they will work out what impact your games have upon it. Most importantly they are there to ensure everybody has a great time. It’s only toy soldiers!
Games during the weekend will be driven by the narrative of the Betrayal campaign. This means that during the course of the event various games may appear quite challenging when viewed from the usual gaming perspective. In any war commanders have to deal with what might appear unfair or unbalanced situations, using cunning and skill to prevail against overwhelming odds, and the same may be true for you. However, whatever the scenario or battlefield conditions, your game and your story will always count in the big scheme of things; the Tempus Fugitives will always try to make sure that you are not asked to play a game you simply can’t win before any dice are cast. There will always be critically important mission objectives that you will need to strive to achieve. Your force may meet annihilation in the face of an enemy with vastly superior numbers or power, but trying to hold the line in the face of such odds is what legends are all about.
Most importantly remember that, as this is a team event, even if you lose your individual battle your Taskforce or faction may still do well overall; don’t worry about ‘winning’, just think about having a good time. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to ask any questions!
From this you can hopefully see that the spirit of the event is much more about trying to get into the story of the Horus Heresy rather than your Grand Tournament style of gaming. The weekend itself will allow players to use both the Age of the Emperor expansion and the Horus Heresy book from Forge World so you really have the best of both options.
Age of the Emperor has been designed to allow the Forge World book 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.
Tickets for Betrayal 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: Massacre is due in the Summer so there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved.
Do you play 30k? Give it a go!