I love Consuls. I really do. They add interesting texture to Horus Heresy armies, they unlock interesting builds (as well as enabling less-than-interesting Deathstars), and the more support-oriented consuls are fun concepts. We’re so used to Space Marine heroes being up front and center that someone like a Master of Signals feels unique.
So I was thrilled when Horus Heresy Book 8: Malevolence introduced some new ones.
Let’s dig in to some hopefully fairly unique or unusual builds.
What are the new Consuls?
We’ve got five new Consuls to look at, though I’m only going to talk about three of them in detail. I’ll explain why once we get done covering what they do:
- Warmonger: Sort of a mini-Praetor, the Warmonger gets an Iron Halo and Digital Lasers, and grants himself and a unit he’s attached to Deep Strike. Sort of the unit-boosting, volume of attacks Yin to the Legion Champion’s individual duelist Yang.
- Armistos: Essentially the Master of Arsenal, the Armistos is a powered-armor only (no bikes, jump packs, Terminator armor, etc.) character with Void Hardened armor, an Augury Scanner and a Master-crafted heavy bolter or volkite culvern. He’s also Stubborn, and he can designate one Heavy Support squad with the same weapon he has as having Master Crafted versions.
- Primus Nullificator: A Cataphractii Terminator armed anti-Demon character with a Deflagrate-capable power maul, he’s the Legion’s answer to the witchy-poo nonsense of mid to late Heresy warfare. He also unlocks the accompanying unit of…Terminators with Deflagrate-capable power pauls.
- Esoterist: Dabblers in the warp, digging a bit too deep into the locked archives. They can take up to two levels of Psychic Mastery, but they must take either Malefic or Sanctic demonology. Basically, a specialist Librarian.
- Mortificator: A specialist Tech Marine whose job it is to keep the Dreadnoughts up and running. Basically a Legion Praevian but for Dreadnoughts, and granting them a 5+ Feel No Pain.
Which ones aren’t we going to talk about?
Bluntly, the Warmonger and the Mortificator. The Warmonger is a pretty point and click choice, and while amazing and something I’m definitely going to consider using in games (I think this is the best way to represent Amandus Tyr at the Battle of Phall for example…), it’s also not exactly exotic. What legion can’t benefit from a slightly cheaper combat monster who can bring someone in from Deep Strike? There are some cool builds to be made with this, of course. But none of the ones I’ve thought of have made me gone “Oh, that’s clever…”
The Mortificator is sort of the opposite. They’re obvious for a single build. Want a shit-ton of Dreadnoughts? Take a Mortificator. Don’t want a ton of Dreadnoughts? You’re probably wasting a slot on a fairly generic character with a Haywire staff. Again, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice. Just that I don’t think there are many unusual builds.
With that…onto some fun ideas I’ve had for fluff-based inclusions of these Consuls in places where they might not be expected. Note these aren’t necessarily the most competitive builds (I think 30K is the wrong game for that…) but I don’t think any of them are disastrous.
But first, a warning…
There are going to be spoilers here. Up to and including Solar War. It’s just gonna happen. I’m sorry guys, but it’s hard to root things in the fluff without talking about the fluff.
White Scars Esoterist
Unlike the Nullificator, the Esoterist doesn’t have any wargear specified, making him easy to mount on a jetbike for a highly mobile White Scars army and to take advantage of the army’s special rules – and rerolling 1’s if you move a lot with a Force weapon is pretty neat.
Now let’s talk about Malefic Daemonology.
A demon-summoning White Scar Consul fits two concepts really clearly in my mind. The first is to play on the “Will they/Won’t they?” feeling of the White Scars at the beginning of the Heresy, when the Khan seemed to be on the fence, and some of his forces had already decided they were going with Horus. A Esoterist could easily form the thematic linchpin of a traitor White Scars force. A warrior rejoicing in the freedom to throwing of the shackles of Emperor and Primarch, plunging into the heart of the enemy and leaving roiling squads of Demons in his wake. From a gameplay standpoint, plunging deep into enemy lines and then summoning units around you is a pretty powerful ability (this is why Jetbike-riding Farseers were so popular for the glorious moment when they were good at summoning demons). It’s a strong form of board control, and it definitely dictates the tempo of the game.
From a event-organizing perspective, I’m always interested in things that allow an army to be played against type, and while it doesn’t have the mandatory faction-lock of say, a Knight-Errant in a loyalist-Traitor Legion force, an Esoterist makes for a strong suggestion that they are, indeed, the baddies.
This could also work in a loyalist army. The White Scars, along with the Wolves, believe that their more limited traditions are less susceptible to corruption than the Librarius.
What if they’re wrong?
What if the wind-spirits and howling falcons they call to fight their enemies are no more their friends than the Thousand Son’s tutelaries are? Modeling wise, this arm from the Age of Sigmar Evocator’s set could make a fun and less overly demonic summoner.
Raven Guard Armistos
Generally, “Heavy Support Squad” and “Raven Guard” don’t necessarily go together. But consider a sort of mid-war Raven Guard force. They’ve been able to withdraw from Istvaan, but the Raven Guard aren’t really capable of mounting a full-scale campaign, and are instead largely confined to raiding and interdiction missions to slow the Traitor Legions down and bleed them white. And given the Raven Guard were issued experimental Mk. VI “Corvus”-pattern powered armor, it’s not insane to think the odd other experimental weapon might have made it into their armory.
To me, that screams Zone Mortalis, and fighting non-Legion foes, like Mechanicum or Militia armies, or later in the war, Demons of the Ruinstorm as individual forces find themselves confronting a galaxy unravelling at the seams.
And a bunch of Infiltrating Heavy Support marines with master-crafted Volkite culverins can lock down huge swathes of a Zone Mortalis board and make for a really unpleasant prospect to dislodge.
The one caveat to this is that it might be a little tiresome to play. Remember, master crafted doesn’t let you re-roll misses. It allows you to re-roll one miss. Which means you’re going to have to roll the Armistos and each of the Heavy Support squad’s members separately.
Sons of Horus Primus Nullificator
The sort of obvious justification for this is the “We’re Luna Wolves” approach of Loken, and playing your Sons of Horus force with a Primus Nullificator as a group of loyalists who have gotten some experience on the ragged edge of the Heresy in fighting demons.
But let’s look at a Traitor demon hunter instead.
The root of this concept is that nobody likes Lorgar. And nobody should trust Lorgar (or Erebus). And if there’s one Legion with deep experience in keeping tabs on and subsequently purging its ranks when they become inconvenient, it’s the Sons of Horus.
Think of the Primus Nullificator as a sort of Traitor Legion Commissar.
Gal Vorbak running amok in your ship because they’ve slipped their handler’s leash? This guy and his unit have re-rollable 4++ saves, and can be rocking Power Fists if needed. Think the demons your “ally” has summoned might be part of a larger power play? You can handle it.
In a more competitive-style gaming environment where you may be fighting other Traitors, or in a Demon-heavy meta (or one where the Loyalists have gotten a little carried away with Esoterists), even Traitor legions should have a plan for dealing with Demons. And honestly, a bunch of Terminators with super-mauls (or powerfists) aren’t all that shabby against non-Legion forces generally, and Santic demonology has plenty of utility powers.
Space Wolves Primus Nullificator
For those of you who just want to hiss “Malificarum” under your breath all the time. While the Space Wolves don’t get access to Librarians, there’s no rule stating you can’t take a Primus Nullificator. The benefits are obvious: You kill demons good.
This is something the Space Wolves probably value. It’s definitely something that comes up when they board the Vengeful Spirit. And you could definitely play this as a Space Wolf in the service of Malcador, fusing Fenrisian traditions with the Sigilite’s knowledge and power. But you could also just play it straight. If the Space Wolves believe that their psychic powers come from Fenris, runes, their traditions, etc. what’s to say this doesn’t work for Sanctic powers as well? Belief is it’s own well of power.
Really what interests me about this one is the modeling potential of this one and going full wolf.
Compared to the fairly subdued artwork for the Space Wolves in 30K, this is a change to delve deeply into the 40K Wolves bits collection. A set of Terminator armor absolutely festooned with fetishes, engraved with runes of warding and weapons draped in talismans is exactly the right look for a Primus Nullificator. They don’t how how this works, just that it does.
There’s a brutal Fenrisian logic to that.
And there’s a lot of units in the Space Wolves army that might not mind Hammerhand.
Imperial Fists Esoterist
This is the biggest stretch, I’ll admit. It’s also in the service of my “One of Every Consul Type” long-term Imperial Fists project.
The Imperial Fists have a Librarius. They’re rare, and post-Edict have been largely confined to the Phalanx (though a few with far-flung fleets might still be around). So this is more of a late-war character build, when Horus actually breaches the defenses of the Sol System, and for REDACTED REASONS Dorn presses the “In Case of Emergency” button that lets the Librarius loose.
Desperate times make for people making bad decisions.
The Warmaster’s fleet has already made the veil between reality and the warp pretty damned thin.
Maybe someone stop asking questions and starts throwing power. Maybe something cloaked in hope and deceit answers. It would hardly be the first time (see: Thousand Sons, Complete History of).
Or perhaps someone listened to Sigismund’s “The Emperor Protects” nonsense a little too much.
I’m going to turn to the Age of Sigmar range again. The Stormcast Eternals would make great summoned demons for this sort of build, manifesting as sort of mythological, idealized heroes of Terran Myth. There are a number of powers that fit, and with the fleshed out Stormcast range, I think you can make a lot of them.
Painting wise, you could do a sort of spectral force, painting them with the same techniques people use for the various ghost-armies of AoS, or you could paint them sort of how they were originally presented when AoS was first released, as metallic, masked near-automatons. If you do this, there’s a lot of room to use subtle weathering – rust, or verdigris or even oil – to suggest that all is not quite right.
So there we have it. Five potential new uses for the more unusual Consuls presented in Malevolence, hopefully in armies where the immediate thought is “Yeah, that makes sense.” What are some of your plans for the new options from Book 8?
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