Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Legions Imperialis Review | First Impressions

November 27, 2023 by warzan

Supported by (Turn Off)

Over the recent years, I have fallen in love with smaller scales of wargaming. I tend to think about wargaming in larger ways these days. For example, what's a gaming table going to look like?


It's the overall effect of a game I have come to love - a beautiful gaming table with two big armies slogging it out. For me, the spectacle of it all is very important. Games like Flames of War have nailed this, and with Warpath from Mantic Games going to an epic scale and our colleagues over at Warcradle Studios bringing Armoured Clash to the tabletop on a small scale too; I feel a bit like If going to be entering a wargaming paradise over the next few years.

Why Legions Imperialis Matters

Warhammer 40,000 is arguably going the wrong way in terms of scale. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE who gets into 40K, will dream of really big battles. Again, it's the spectacle you just cannot shift from your mind. A trip to Warhammer World will only reinforce this and all this despite the lore and background suggesting that Space Marines are really rare on the ground. Well, that's what the background says, but every rule book, codex, or expansion has shown the opposite with huge numbers of Space Marines taking on the foes of the Imperium.

The Horus Heresy Legions Imperialis Box Set

Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Legions Imperialis | First Impressions

Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Legions Imperialis | Assembling The Miniatures

Shop Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Legions Imperialis @ Store.OnTableTop

Then you had Forge World, who pumped out the most incredible Titans and other "super heavy" vehicles and that sense of escalation increased. I'm the first to admit that I get carried away and really do struggle to temper my enthusiasm but even I came to the conclusion that 40K, as it exists today, just can't facilitate that vision of itself for your average gamer.

The Horus Heresy Legions Imperialis Box Set Back

We want to go big. Technology has advanced to the point that insane detail can be achieved on even small models - so in steps Legion Imperialis.

legions imperialis box back

My Grognard buddies are shouting at their screens that they have seen all this before. "It was called EPIC". Yes, you have, but let's focus on the here and now shall we?

Let's Take A First Look...

Ok, let me get this out of the way right now. Upon opening the box the first things I see are no less than two WHIPPY STICKS!!!!!


So I had to do my obligatory Zorro impression with them and imagine the looks on my colleagues' faces when I deftly gave them a little tickle with my finely honed whippy stick skills.


Then, it was back to the job in hand but much thanks to Games Workshop for including them so generations to come can still feel the joy of rubbing Savlon cream onto whippy stick-induced welts from a sibling!

Holy Horus! These Are Small

The first thing that strikes you is just how tiny the infantry actually are in this game! You would be forgiven for wondering how on earth you are going to paint these - heck, I'm hunting down my magnifying glasses just to clip them off the sprue!


Fear not, generations of gamers have been down this road before us and I have learned to trust and respect the Grognard when they say relax, it's actually easier to paint the smaller scales. They should know as they are running games at 6mm and even 2mm scales! So, I'm not going to worry about painting these yet - that's for a future article in this series.

All The Detail You Want Is There

When I explored each of the sprues, I absolutely loved the level of detail that had been crafted onto the models, especially the vehicles and Warhound Titans, they look fantastic. I may be in the minority here, but for me, the most important thing in the game is troops.


Troops on the ground are the number one thing I look for in small-scale games. Why? Because they really, really matter in war and conflict.



Troops make a massive difference to the dynamics of a game and for me, I don't like them being treated as an afterthought in the game mechanics or the sculpting and manufacturing process.

I Think I May Have Been Wrong

When the initial reviews and photos of the models dropped, I was immediately concerned about a manufacturing design technique that had been adopted where part of the models were "filled in", namely behind weapons and underarms. At first glance, it seemed a really odd choice of the designers to do this, and really cheapened the models in my mind.


However, having now seen them in the flesh, I'm gonna hold my hand up and say I was wrong on that. You see, one of my pet hates that many designers seem to do these days is to fill models with tiny, fragile, extraneous details and flourishes that are just screaming to be snapped off by clumsy guys like me.

When I saw how tiny the Legion Imperialis models were, my blood did start to run cold for a second. I was thinking, "how on earth am I going to handle these?" But looking at the models on the sprue, the extra filler is very difficult to spot but actually adds a great deal of support material and structure, making the models a lot more robust than you would think at first sight.

What You Get In The Set

In the box are four frames of troops, four frames of tank components, and three frames for the two Warhound models. The sprues are well laid out and every component is numbered. There is also a full colour-coded assembly guide in the box so give yourself some time and enjoy the process of putting this all together.




My tips? Get yourself a really good set of new flat-faced clippers for this and a hobby scalpel with a few new blades. Take your time and don't be afraid to do it over multiple evenings and sittings.



There are bases in the box for the troops and the Warhounds (see below) and they look great but I'm gutted that the troops' bases are 25mm instead of 32mm as the larger base gives far more scope for doing some interesting base designs and gives more space for the troopers to be laid out. I'm going to look through the rulebook and see just how important base size is to this game, as I'm really tempted to ditch the 25mm bases and just run with 32mm.


There is a sheet of tokens (these are used to mark the orders you are giving to units. For example, if you want them to focus on movement or more on shooting) and it seems like a really thin stock card was used for these. This feels like a real shame and does cheapen the experience for such an expensive box. They really should have been created using a hardwearing, laminated, thick card stock at the minimum.


Decals are also included in the box and this is crucial as painting markings at this scale is going to be near impossible.


I was delighted to see a sheet included to save me from going blind! I also hope other sheets of decals are or become available for some of the other legions.

The Rulebook!

There is a big, heavy rule book in the box that, in true Games Workshop fashion, is what we call in the industry "DENSE AF!" Yep, there is a metric ton of information in there, which is great, but my arms tire holding these big flipping books, so a mini rules-only book would have been a godsend. Alas, that was not to be. Shout out to Battlefront, makers of Flames Of War, who to this day place great importance on having the mini rules available!


Despite the weight of this tome, I'm an optimist and thought, never worry, in the online reviews and how-tos, they just used the cards. So, I looked for those as they would make life so much easier. I looked and I looked again and yep, there were no cards included in the box! I went online to discover that those cards are an Online-Only Exclusive available only from Games Workshop and are, in fact, sold out. Yeah, that right there is not a good look.

If you are launching a new game, your emphasis should be on making it easy for people to get into the game, so include the things that make it easy! Certainly don't let them go out of stock! What possible long-term value is there in having helped someone not get into a new game?

The rule book itself is nice, and like any gamer, the first thing I did was flick through the illustrations and photos for inspiration. There are full-colour sections covering the Legions, the Solar Auxilia, the Titan Legios and the Knight Houses.








It's a nice book, but my efforts will be on trying to get the cards and seeing how much value I get out of the quick reference sheets.

So Where Next?

I'm going to continue documenting my journey into this game. I think it's impossible to "review" a game like this in any really meaningful way this early in its release, but what I can do is drop a few tips here for those of you who might fancy joining me on this journey.

  • This game is set in the Horus Heresy period; the basic difference is that it's basically all Space Marines battling against each other. It should mean that we can build some pretty interesting forces from what's in the starter box with even a mix of Solar Auxilia and Astartes in the same roster - we will see!
  • Chaos is still quite hidden for most of the Traitors so you don't need to worry too much about a lot of the chaos iconography and conversions. If you want to, of course, you can fill your boots but it's not a necessity.
  • Titans are support units that attach to Legions, so they have their own colour schemes and of course, the background is so large and diverse that you can invent your own. I also see no reason why Titans can't be painted in the scheme of a Legion; if a Primarch asked for it...who would say no?
  • Build an Army vs. Build a Battle - you can easily pick a Legion and start building out an interesting army for this game. I'm taking a slightly different tack though and I'm hoping to build a battle. So, I asked my friends on social media for some input on what battles would meet the following criteria...
    • Really big battles using all the assets available: Troops, Transports & Titans.
    • Some dynamic battles that could take place in an interesting environment and not a siege (sieges are difficult to get right in wargames, so avoid them unless you are willing to put in work on the mechanics of it).
    • No clear, obvious outcome of the battle; so a fight that could go either way.

One of the suggestions that came back was the Doom Of Molech, which is a fascinating encounter that took place while Horus was making his way to Terra. It's covered in a module for Adeptus Titanicus and in great detail in the Black Library Novel Vengeful Spirit by Graham McNeill.

Shop Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Legions Imperialis @ Store.OnTableTop

So let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments. I'm off to find some extra-strong magnifiers!

"I was immediately concerned about a manufacturing design technique that had been adopted..."

Supported by (Turn Off)

Supported by (Turn Off)

"I looked and I looked again and yep, there were no cards included in the box!"

Supported by (Turn Off)

Related Companies

Related Content Types

Related Content Formats

Related Product Types

Related Model Types

Related Proportions

Related Scaled

Related Genres