Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Lore Matters More…When You Want To Ignore It!

December 16, 2023 by warzan

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In my last musing on Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Legions Imperialis,  I delved into the intriguing debate over whether or not The Horus Heresy-era and its wargames can be classified as a Historical one.

space marines on a smoke break

Historical image of the Sons of Gallaghers meeting for a quick ciggy before the Siege Of Ahoghill.

Legions Imperialis | First Impressions

Legions Imperialis | Assembling The Miniatures

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

Now, setting aside the use of the word Historical, some dissection of this stance is needed.

Understanding The Debate

Is this stance simply gatekeeping; asserting that you cannot do whatever you want because everything is set in stone? Or, is it more about respecting the troves of information and lore that exist and then using that as a framework?

history and lore set in stone

This is an interesting position because part of me agrees with some of the underlying sentiment.

The Concept Of "Gaming In The Gaps"

Many years ago, I wrote about Gaming in the Gaps. It was a concept where we could look to the gaps in a game's lore to carve out our pocket of the universe that couldn’t be touched by game designers. Its purpose was to provide more freedom in our approach to a hobby and not be so vulnerable to the whims of game designers changing things we had worked hard on.

gaming in the gaps

Recently, however, I posed the following question to the community:

"I want to create a unified-looking force for Legions Imperialis, combining Titans from a Legio, Knights from one or more Houses, and a regiment of the Imperial Army that all are centrally commanded and share the same camo pattern colour scheme. Considering the relationship between Legios, Knight Houses, and the Imperial Army, is there a way in the narrative to make this work without convoluted mental gymnastics?"

Essentially, I was looking at how all three could become so closely linked to essentially become a single regiment and share colours and the like. Is it even possible in The Horus Heresy? A good proportion of the responses essentially said, "It's your army, paint it how you want and go wild with whatever colours you choose."

However, I think it's worth pointing out that this is not Gaming in the Gaps!

The Essence Of Gaming In The Gaps

The most rewarding experience from Gaming in the Gaps doesn't come from ignoring the lore and constructs within a gaming world. Quite the opposite. To get the most out of it, you have to delve even deeper into the lore and embrace the constructs it's founded on. You're carving out a gap to create something unique, yet still of that world.

emu knight for warhammer 40k

Do what you want means the 'Great Emu War of 40,1932 becomes possible...but should any normal human being really go there!?!?

A well-executed bit of gaming in the gaps will not only unlock a fantastic hobby experience for you but should also present an interesting and recognisable scenario for your opponents and gaming buddies. It can't all be about you. To make it work, you need to bring others along on the journey in some way.

The Historical Perspective

And this may lie at the crux of the Historical Game comment. Any Historical gamer will tell you that there are gaps in every account of a conflict and discrepancies and contradictions are common. Often, best guesses are used to fill these gaps.

The same premise applies to every fictional universe ever created because nothing can be complete. There is always room for more but how you craft that more will make the difference in how rewarding your hobby is for you and others. It takes effort for sure, but it's a hobby, so that effort is just extra fun!

A Practical Example

To close, I’d like to thank a chap named Tim Preston who understood what I was asking and gave me a very succinct answer to my question, setting me on the path to finding yet another Gap to Game in...

"The best way it would work in the lore is to have a Titan Legion with a vassal Knight House. In turn, you could have a Solar Auxilia cohort raised from the feudal knight world. It all fits together quite well. Going back to the original Epic, Knight armies always had attached imperial army/guard units. Famously, you could field rough rider cavalry alongside your knights.”

So there you have it, a bit more exploration on the topic that hopefully answered some questions for you. It's all about looking to strike that balance and I hope that I'll be able to do that with my own Legions Imperialis project.

What do you think?

"Many years ago, I wrote about Gaming in the Gaps..."

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"To get the most out of it, you have to delve even deeper into the lore and embrace the constructs it's founded on..."

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