Saturday, February 14, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Word Bearers Legion Rules

The Word Bearers were once one of the most loyal legions with the primarch, Lorgar, practically worshipping his Father, the Emperor, as a god. Of course, the Emperor didn't like this one bit having always said he was never divine. Monarchia sorted all of this out when the Ultramarines razed a six decades long compliant city and Malcador the Sigillite rebuked Lorgar directly. Following this, everything changed as they turned to other beings to worship. And the scene was set for the Heresy to begin, orchestrated by Lorgar, Erebus and others of the Word Bearers. From one of the most loyal legions, they became one of the most hideous traitor legions imaginable.

The first of their specific rules is True Believers. This improves their morale checks significantly beyond what any other legion can gain (perhaps with the exception of the Salamanders who don't suffer fear). Arguably each can be better than the other in certain situations. I like this special rule regardless as its very fitting for the Word Bearers.

The second rule is Cut Them Down. By always sweeping advance and re-rolling low rolls for this, they effectively channel their hatred very well. This rule also argues for something of a close combat force for the Word Bearers overall. In conjunction with True Believers (above), this means that they're going to be quite reasonable in close combat, even in small squads.

The last one is Charismatic Leadership. They must take a chaplain or centurion as a second HQ selection that is compulsory. I can see why this is a characterful rule for the Word Bearers, and somewhat offsets the bonuses of the first two rules by tying points up in a second HQ selection.

Overall, these rules make for a flexible legion who can readily take on others, and wants to be played as a somewhat melee army, but competent with mixed arms and firepower too. Clearly they're not the World Eaters, hence some balance is required in designing an army for them.

In terms of unique units and gear, the Word Bearers gain the Diabolist as a consul type. As well as being a daemon, the diabolist has preferred enemy for loyalists, as well as access to Dark Channelling. This one is a little random, but for a price, can provide certain units a small bonus (including +1S, zealot USR, and daemon USR).

The Burning Lore can be accessed by certain HQ selections and provides a psyker (ahem) sorcerer for the Word Bearers for a modest points cost. For biomancy and telepathy, this is not bad and could be considered for multiple HQ characters.

Tainted Weapons can replace power weapons if desired, providing instant death at the cost of dumping the AP. I think I'd sooner keep the AP of the power weapons personally.

Their rite of war provides access to bonuses for a single unit (preferred enemy USR) and very notably, access to Codex: Daemons as battle brothers. I think any Word Bearers force post-Monarchia and finding the dark gods should seriously consider taking the Dark Brethren rite of war just for the sake of fielding some daemons. Its not only very characterful, but sinister, and something that other legions simply don't have access to (at least early on in the Heresy!).

My only complaint. I would have liked to have seen a pre-finding-of-the-dark-gods version of the Word Bearers. What rite of war would they have had then? What would they gain instead of the diabolist, dark channeling, burning lore and tainted weapons? I guess we'll never know, sadly, unlike for the other traitor legions.

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