Could The Horus Heresy: Legions Imperialis Be A Titanic Triumph?

August 5, 2023 by brennon

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Hello there, fellow denizens of the grim, far future! It's time to shake off that warp dust and get ready to dive into an all-new galactic adventure from Games Workshop soon. Warm up your dice-rolling hand, as we're about to witness Warhammer on a smaller scale with Legions Imperialis!


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Now, those of us who've ventured into the world of Warhammer before know that the Horus Heresy is no walk in the park. It's a colossal civil war that echoes across the galaxy, tearing the Imperium in two. In the past, we've had a taste of these battles on a slice-by-slice basis, but guess what? Games Workshop has thrown open the gates and invited us to a full-blown banquet with the Legions Imperialis!

The Horus Heresy – Legions Imperialis is no ordinary game. It's the Horus Heresy on a grand scale - we're talking dozens of tanks, hundreds of infantry and Titans towering over the battlefield. The game brings the grand spectacle of Warhammer's mightiest battles to your tabletop, giving a new sense of epic scale and depth to your warfare.

Building On An Epic Past

Back in the 90s, Games Workshop were churning out spin-offs of their successful Warhammer 40k franchise at the speed of a Squiggoth on a rampage. One of those splendid creations was Epic 40,000, a game that let you see the 41st Millennium's conflicts through a wider lens, much like the forthcoming Legions Imperialis promises to do with the Horus Heresy.


If you're thinking, "Hey, the Space Marine in Epic 40,000 was no bigger than a gnat on the back of a Warhound Titan in standard 40k," then you'd be spot on! The miniatures in Epic 40,000 were at 6mm scale, a far cry from the 28mm scale we're used to seeing in standard Warhammer 40,000.

These miniatures were, as one would say, 'epically' small. But that was the beauty of it. They allowed you to field armies so vast that they would've made a Hive Tyrant's eyes water. The space marines were barely a few millimetres tall, and the glorious Titans, which tower above all else in the standard game, were only about the size of a typical 40k infantry model.


But here’s the kicker: despite their diminutive size, these models were incredibly detailed. Remember those Predators and Land Raiders from Epic? They were just a fraction of the size of their 40k counterparts but still packed an impressive amount of detail. You could make out the individual treads on the tanks, the tiny bolters on the Space Marines, and even the rivets on the Dreadnoughts!

Yet, it wasn't just the scale and level of detail that made the Epic 40,000 miniatures special. It was also the game they belonged to. With its focus on large-scale warfare, Epic 40,000 offered a completely different experience compared to standard 40k. The tactics were different, the army compositions were different, and even the way the game was played was different.

epic and legions 1

In Epic 40,000, you didn't just command squads or individuals; you were the general of an entire army, making strategic decisions that could affect the entire course of the battle. It was about grand strategy and massive battles, something that the upcoming Legions Imperialis seems to be channelling.

warlord titan comparison

Seeing Legions Imperialis draw inspiration from Epic 40,000 is pretty awesome, especially with the revamped older miniatures getting a proper glow-up. The memory of those tiny Titans and miniature Marines is being reborn in the form of this new game, which promises to bring back that epic-scale warfare we fell in love with all those years ago.

I still hold out hope that as Games Workshop continue to delve into the depths of their back catalogue, seeing the rebirth of Epic isn't going to be the last game that looms back out from the shadows. A revamped and updated Space Hulk would be fun alongside the potential of that little game called Mordheim...

Why Just The Horus Heresy?

One of the questions that has been raised by a lot of folks is why just The Horus Heresy? Some folks were waiting eagerly for us to get access to lots of small-scale armies from the Warhammer 40,000 timeline, just like in the past! But, the focus is very much on The Horus Heresy period.


As Warren mentioned in our Cult Of Games XLBS episode, going for the current time period would cannibalise the sales of their own game and they really don’t want that! In addition, it would be a lot more work to bring all of those Xenos factions to life in 8mm alongside the Imperial forces for the Space Marines and the like. Could they do it? Sure. Will they do it? Nope.

The Horus Heresy isn’t short on epic battles though and there is still a lot of room for them to do all manner of interesting things with the game as it expands with future releases. It certainly feels like Legions Imperialis sits in the wheelhouse of Horus Heresy fans en masse and feels like a good side project for someone who wants to enjoy the large battles of this period without having to break the bank. Well, at least we hope so.

knights gameplay

I can see why The Horus Heresy: Legions Imperialis is appealing. If the price points are right, there are lots of interesting ways for people to go with their armies and play with both Space Marines and Imperial forces at scale. You’re also not going to be hampered by the regular 28mm miniatures from Forge World and Games Workshop which, whilst beautiful, can be both expensive and time-consuming to paint. It feels like Contrast Paint might well be used quite freely in Legions Imperialis to get armies to the tabletop quickly. Also, the notion of owning large amounts of Titans and using them on the tabletop need no longer be a mortgage-smashing affair.

The Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Legions Imperialis Launch Set

Launching later this year (the game has been pushed back from an August release),  Legions Imperialis arrives with a whopping Core Set. You're not just getting some rulebooks and a handful of dice. Oh no, you're getting an impressive collection of over 200 miniatures, alongside the rulebook, tokens, templates, and measuring sticks. It's like one of their big Christmas boxes in the midst of Summer.

legions imperialis set

For all you fans of the Warhammer miniatures, I've got some good news. The game box is packing a lot of heat, with 223 miniatures divided between Space Marines, Solar Auxilia, and Titans. We've got Command Squads, Assault Marines, Support Legionaries, and the intimidating Legion Cataphractii Terminators.

And let's not forget the tanks! Space Marine Sicaran battle tanks and Predators, complete with turret and sponson weapons and a choice of cupola options, are ready to bring some serious firepower to your games.

But the Space Marines aren't the only ones getting the spotlight. The Solar Auxilia are stepping up, and they're not messing around. These aren't just your average foot soldiers; the Solar Auxilia boast Veletarii shock troops, Charonite Ogryns, and a new unit - the Aethon Heavy Sentinel. These fellas roam ahead of the main force, ready to engage enemies with multi-lasers and missile launchers.

The miniatures are just the start of this epic adventure. Games Workshop has plans to roll out more for Legions Imperialis, so you can build a vast army like the ones you've read about in the Horus Heresy books.

The Devil's In The Epic (Rules) Details

Talking of armies, in a more recent article from Games Workshop, we got a look at some of the rules for Legions Imperialis. Formations and Detachments are a familiar concept to those who have played Warhammer 40,000 and The Horus Heresy before where you start off with Compulsory Detachments followed by options that allow you to cater your force to match your Legion of choice.

legions imperialis army construction

Games are typically played out on a 5x4 battlefield with 3000 points per side. You will pick your Primary Army List which must make up 70% of your units and then you can supplement your force with additional troops like those of the Solar Auxilia perhaps.

Beyond that, we also got a look at the turn structure for the game and how your games will play out.

legions imperialis phases

You start by assigning Orders which can be First Fire, Advance, March, Charge and Fall Back. This echoes some of the other epic-scale games out there in the world and certainly suits this style of game. Issuing orders to your detachments definitely feels like it ticks the "I'm the overall commander" vibe that you get from playing games at this scale.

Movement is very much movement but the intriguing bit came when they explored combat. Combat is broken down into three subphases where you go from First Fire to Engagement and then Advancing Fire. For example, a Detachment with First Fire will get to shoot and then resolve close combat before others get to shoot.

Close combat is meant to be reminiscent of the older Epic games where individual models are paired off against each other. Melee is going to be very brutal and focus on the swinging charges and set up of good placement of units. I do like the pairing-off system meaning that you'll have to work out the numbers you can bring to bear and make it so that you can overwhelm even elite units.

It's good that we've got at least a snippet of the rules here and this might be handy for those who were on the fence, one way or another, when it came to Legions Imperialis.

What Does The Future Hold For Legions Imperialis?

Now, if you're a seasoned Warhammer player, you might be thinking, "What’s next?”. We’re promised that most of the Space Marine Legions and the Solar Auxilia's arsenals will eventually be available in this scale. That means you can look forward to getting your hands on everything from iconic tanks to the lethal variants of the Space Marine Dreadnought, and probably some surprises along the way. The result will be the ability to build your forces in ways that mirror the rich lore and tactical depth of The Horus Heresy.


And let's not forget about the Titans. The Core Set features two Warhound Titans, but knowing Games Workshop, you can bet your last bolt shell that they're not going to stop there. Who knows what alternative options they are going to bring to the tabletop for Titan fiends?

And then there's the terrain. They’ve mentioned that the Adeptus Titanicus terrain will be returning for use in Legions Imperialis, which is fantastic news for anyone who wants their epic battles to take place amidst stunning, detailed cityscapes. And, they've hinted that there's more terrain to follow. Could we be seeing fortresses, orbital defences, or even alien landscapes to wage war across? Only time will tell!

I think it would be particularly fascinating to see them explore some of the far-flung worlds away from the ruins of these Imperial worlds. The smashed ruins of Loyalist and Traitor planets are great but it would be neat to see Games Workshop explore more rural locations, delving into alien forests and battling across toxic landscapes. Admittedly, a lot of the worlds the Legions battled on might have been turned into wastelands but even then I think you've got some good opportunities to create fascinating terrain.


I'm also particularly interested in seeing what Games Workshop do with the existing range from Aeronautica Imperialis. Whilst they have now ousted the Xenos factions from the range (unfortunate!), it will be fascinating to see the combined arms side of things presented in Legions Imperialis. I love the idea of squadrons of ships soaring across the battlefield, disgorging their troops into the heart of the fighting so they can take command of objectives.

As for the rules, we've already talked about how they're bringing back the best elements from the previous Epic games while adding new elements, but it's exciting to think about how these will evolve. Given the depth of the Horus Heresy setting, there's plenty of scope for unique army rules, special stratagems, and unusual battlefield conditions. Who knows what kind of innovative mechanics we might see?

So, as we cast our gaze towards the future of Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Legions Imperialis, it’s clear we're in for a wild ride. The potential for new models, rules, and narrative possibilities promises a rich and vibrant future for this epic-scale game.

legions terrain

In the lead-up to the late 2023 launch, we're sure to be inundated with more exciting details, rules clarifications, and peeks at the terrain. Legions Imperialis might not have been the Epic that everyone wanted but it has certainly ignited the imaginations of a lot of Warhammer fans who are looking to play out some bigger battles. Were you hoping for the return of the classic Epic? Are you happy with The Horus Heresy-era offering we've got?

So, folks, sharpen your power swords, polish your armour, and prepare for possibly the most monumental battles the grim darkness of the far future has ever seen.

So, Legions Imperialis? Are you on board?

"Epic 40,000 offered a completely different experience compared to standard 40k..."

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"Launching in August, Legions Imperialis arrives with a whopping Core Set..."

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