Hello fellow Heresy fans! If you’re anything like me, you’re positively giddy about the new incarnation of Space-Marine-Fight sorry, I mean Horus Heresy and Games Workshop were good enough to send me the new Liber Hereticus and Liber Astartes books to review and that’s what I’m going to do right here, right now.
First off, no, I’m not going to go through every single rule and points change – there are plenty of other people out there far better suited to that sort of thing than I. No, instead, I’m going to give you a general overview of these books, and tell you about my experiences building an army with them. I’ll start with the very first thing that I noticed…
8 pounds. No, not pounds sterling (£), but instead, lbs (mass). Both of these books together weigh more than the average baby born in the UK (which is around 7.4 to 7.8 pounds). That’s 3.6kg for those of you using the new-fangled (and far more sensible) metric system, or 2,048 drams for the obtuse amongst you. That’s massive! However you want to measure it, this pair of books will put a bow in your bookcase and will likely be the cause of several slipped discs among delivery drivers.
Technically, this isn’t anything new in the Heresy – the old Black books and Red books weighed a lot too, but as I’ve not rolled a scatter dice in anger for a couple of years now, these hefty tomes had me taken aback. However, one is unlikely to be hauling these books about to tournaments, but instead, one gets the impression that they’re going to be used more as reference material for people to build lists and cheat sheets from at home. If you’re in a gaming group that meets regularly and you want to play some Heresy, it’s probably only the book collector of the group that need pick these up, while the rest of you borrow them for brief spells to concoct your armies.
That being said, they are very nice books. They serve a similar purpose to the Indexes that arrived with 8th Edition 40k, in that they contain a vast amount that will be relevant to more than just one army. If GW had tried to put out 18 different codex-like books (something that the HH game has never had), we’d be waiting until 2032 for this game. But along with all of the “vanilla” unit types that all armies can take, and their associated rules and points costs, there is some lovely model photography, illustration, and lore available here, along side rules for all of the legion-specific units in their own legion-specific sections in the second half of the book.
These books also make it clear that rules will also be released in White Dwarf, via PDFS from the GW website, and “other sources” in the future, so hopefully this means that the Horus Heresy will not be belaboured by the constant battletome/codex-release schedule which some feel is starting to hamper AoS and 40k. If all is as it seems, you can bag these books, and any new rules will come at a minimum of expense – welcome news indeed in this more-pricy-than-most game.
Now, I have a Heresy army, my Blood Angels, and I wanted to see how easy it was to use these books to put together a list for my force. So I made myself a strong coffee, did some stretching exercises, and hauled one of these books onto the table.
Firstly, it is so much nicer having the points costs written on the page with the unit entry. You forget how much you miss things like this. I know the data cards in 40k look nice, and they have the “power level” value on them, but us old fogeys of the game like points and gosh-darnit, it’s just nice to not have to flick backwards and forwards between the unit-build rules and an index of point costs. If I could bring one thing back from old 40k to new 40k, it might well be this.
I was tripped up on my first try though. I have a Praetor in Cataphractii armour who is armed with a combi-melta and when I looked down the list, I saw that we now have “magna-combi” and “minor-combi” weapons. Hmmm. One could guess by the name that the old combi-melta would fit in the “magna” section, but it did take me a little while to find the answer to this. Now, some will have no issue at all, but with so much packed into these books, and with the big rulebook as well, it did take some searching to find the weapon profiles. Once found, I think this makes sense and helps to declutter the page a bit – the stronger combi-weapons now cost a few more points than the softer ones, and that’s all fair and dandy.
It was a breeze going through the rest really. When I got to my Company Champion, I was able to flick over to the Blood Angels section of the book and equip him with a Blade of Perdition with very little fuss. I did get slightly confused when I reached the Javelin Speeder as it makes no mention of its Cyclone Missile Launcher in the wargear section, but it does say you can replace said weapon with others further down the page. In books this size, if that’s the only editorial snafu that I could find, I think GW have done very well there indeed.
I was able to easily find the Rite of War I wanted to take, and a warlord trait too. Maybe it’s because this is so close to the Warhammer that I’ve played for most of my life, but it really was a lot easier to put an army together here than it has been using the most recent Codexes for 40k. In no time at all, I had put a 1997 point army together, and I had a keenness to get it ready for the battlefield too. There was a great sense of fun about putting the list together, and it just made me want to get gaming again.
After working on my Blood Angel list, I then tried to create a Thousand Sons army with units I’m far less familiar with and it was still a breeze. I really want to emphasise how well put together these books are – as long as you know of the old ways, they’re novice friendly, and a treat for veterans too. It’s nice having all these rules and units in the same place.
So, Ich liber the libers and I must confess that days after receiving them, I’m still enjoying flicking through them and putting lists together. I hope the Ad Mech, Auxillia and Daemon fans get their rules soon so we can all play together on these new battlefields. These are great books, but as mentioned, they feel like they’re more designed for list building at home than hauling them to games. Just make sure you get all the special rules you need written down on your cheat sheets! More Heresy content will be coming soon to Heresy & Heroes so stay tuned for that. Onwards!