Book Review: Horus Heresy Book 2 – Massacre

My good friend John does it once again and provides a great book review for the newest installment to the Horus Heresy game supplement series from Forgeworld with his review of the 2nd book in the series – Massacre. Set in the 40k universe at the time of the Horus Heresy, this book picks up where the last book left off – at the events leading up to and including the massacre at the drop site of Istvaan V. Check out John’s review below, with a few spoilers, and a overview of what you can expect to find in the new book! Cheers!

Review follows:

I received my copy of Horus Heresy: Massacre earlier this week. It’s beautiful, production and appearance-wise, though my copy did have an issue with some of the high artwork pages sticking together, and the ink being torn off after opening. It’s not severe so not sure if I’m going to report it to FW customer service, but after spending that kind of money on a book it’s a bit disappointing. The book contains the narrative story of the Drop Site Massacre, which is actually pretty brief (the first 40 pages). I didn’t find much surprising here, though some of the scenes are quite cool and seeing the tactics of both sides. From there, it goes into Legion description. It has a few pages for each of the traitor legions that were fully fleshed out in Horus Heresy: Betrayal, and then much more extensive Legion history, order of battle and notable battles for each of the four new legions detailed here (if you haven’t heard, the new legions in this book are Salamanders and Iron Hands for the Loyalists, Word Bearers and Nightlords for the traitors, the remaining legions that participated in the Dropsite Massacre (Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion and Ravenguard) are going to be in the next HH book, along with Imperial Fists). There is also some great artwork of the legions. Overall, this section is very similar to that of the first book, as a Salamander player I enjoyed this section immensely and a lot of it can be used to ensure a fluffy 40K army.

Campaign rules are next, along with scenarios to recreate the battles. I did a brief read of these, and the scenarios look good, though none stood out as being amazing. There’s also a discussion on the type of scenery appropriate to the battlefields. There’s some interesting campaign rules, too. In particular, I like each player taking a hidden objective, which is then revealed as a pass/fail after hitting a campaign milestone.

“Age of Darkness” rules are next, and there are some different ones then the first book. There are some variant FOC’s to represent an attacking force, a defending force and a force based on a large asset (like a titan).

I think these are an interesting way to mix up games. I also liked that they have generic rules for fielding superheavies not specifically covered in the book (you can buy a space marine crew for a very low price and give them BS 4), so the door is wide open for interesting vehicles in the mix.

This is supported in the legion artwork section, as they feature some of the other super heavies painted in Legion colors.

Additions to the Crusade Legion army list are next. Most of the stuff I was expecting based off FW’s recent releases, but there were some surprises. The new units are:

  • Mortis Pattern Dreadnought & Mortis Pattern Contemptor Dreadnought –
    Nice in character anti-aircraft (both of these are basic dreadies, but
    gain skyfire and interceptor when stationary). I gravitated to a dual
    twin-linked lascannon dreadnought (basic, not contemptor) as a great
    pick for an army, and wish these were an option for a WH40K forces (yes,
    I know the Contemptor Mortis are in there, but the basic dreadnought is
    so much cheaper!).

  • Weapon Platforms – The tarantula and hyperios platforms. Ratcheted way
    up in price, and I think largely useless because of that.

  • Scorpios Pattern Whirlwind – Statted as experimental rules, and
    impressive as can be. I really need to pick up a couple of these.

  • Javelin Attack Speeders – Statted as experimental rules, and quite good.
  • Sicaran Battle Tank – Fast, medium armour and with a punchy gun. My 2nd
    favorite non-Legion specific unit in this book. An interesting tank,
    capable of engaging a variety of targets.

  • Lighting Attack Fighter – One of the surprise in the book, and my
    favorite non-Legion specific unit. It’s a flyer, and has access to a
    large number of arcane missiles capable of engaging all targets. As an
    example, you can take a missle that is Str 6 AP 3 Large Blast Blind to
    engage MEQ, you can take a Str 8 AP 1 Armourbane missle to engage heavy
    armour, or you can a Haywire bomb. There are other choices as well.
    Love the variety, and it looks very fun to put on the table. Cool
    model, too.

Next up are the Legion specific rules. I enjoyed these alot, with the addition of this book the Marine Legions look like they could play totally differently. To summarize:

  • Each Legion (including the ones from Book One) get a Legion specific Rite of War. These really mix up how the legions play, so a Nightlord army could be full of infiltrators, while a
  • Salamanders Army brings a wall of flame. You can still use a non-Rite of War force, or one of the Rites from Book One, but I expect the Legion specific ones to be very popular. Army abilities look very strong, too. FW is getting a bit more comfortable with the rules in HH so the Legions are starting to deviate more and more from the baseline stats.
  • All the Legions (including the ones from Book One) get Legion Specific Unit and one or more characters.

The breakdown is:

  • Deathguard get Deathgrave terminators as a heavy support choice, who
    have a variety of chemical weapon attacks. They get a very early
    version of Typhon as their character.

  • Sons of Horus get a gang-warfare based squad (who can also take Jump
    Packs), and a deformed guy (Horus’s standard bearer) as a character).

  • World Eaters get a psychotic terminator squad (the terminator suits
    are modified to function as prisons) and Kharn.

  • Emperor’s Children got the most of the returning legions, with
    Phoenix Terminators (with halbards that are great on the charge) and
    Kakophoni (proto-Noise marines, they look pretty mediocre gameplay-wise
    to me), and Lord Eidolon as a special character.

  • Iron Hands get Gorgon Terminators (who can blind units that target
    them) and Immortals (an uber-Siege Breaking squad), along with very
    strong chapter rules. Their special characters are Ferrus Manus, a tank
    commander and one of the very powerful Iron Fathers.

  • Salamanders get an uber-terminator unit (who can also take a
    proto-Stormshield. Given that these are Cataphractii terminators, looks
    like they’re the only legion that can currently put out a 3++ save
    model) and my favorite squad in the game, a unit in Artificer Armour
    with flamers, that can also fire as short-range Str 6 melta guns.
    Characters are Vulkan, the Iron Hand Dreadnought with it’s first
    occupant, and the Salamander Chief Chaplain (who was left in charge of
    the Legion when Vulkan left to led the forces to Istvaan). Sallies have
    very strong wargear as well (they have a mantle that grants eternal
    warrior which I expect will see a lot of use).

  • Word Bearers have proto-possessed, and they are what possessed should
    be (Str 5 Toughness 5 Rending in Assaults), they also have a squad
    (‘ashen circle’) based on ‘tearing down a defender’s culture’, which
    can be given jump packs and have a decent amount of wargear choices.
    Characters are Lorgar, Erebus and Kor Phaeron.

  • Nightlords get Terror Squads (fear causing infiltrators) and
    uber-Raptors (do a d3 attacks off a charge instead of 1, and can take a
    two-handed AP 3 Rending weapon). Their characters are Konrad Kurze, a
    deranged apothecary and a very tough company leader (who’s name eludes
    me, but is featured in the novels)

Next up is a Legio Cybernetica army list. There’s some great stuff in there, and some very strong models, but everything is very expensive and it looks like this army would be very vulnerable to swarming. There are tons of wargear and build options with this list, and a bit strangely, it is infantry-based with the only vehicle being air support (Thunderbolt, Lightning or Avenger) in Fast Attack. They do have access to very cheap troop models (sort of a cybernetically enhanced thrall), but these cannot be used to fill compulsory troop choices, so you’re look at either very expensive Thallax or Castellax as your troops. On the plus side, considering the point costs it would be very easy to field an army pretty quickly. Standouts for me are the Thallax, the Castellax and Heavy Support Myrmidons with Rad Engines (Torrent weapons with AP 3 and Fleshbane).

The final section of the book is a reprint of the Apocalypse rules for super heavies. I haven’t looked at these yet to see if there are any differences between GW’s rules. Feel free to ask me any questions if you want any more info on any thing in the book.

Thoughts, questions? Commentary welcome and thanks for reading!

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