Ambush at Volsci Gorge – a Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition Battle Report

White Dwarf number 219 is possibly the oldest issue of the magazine that I still have in my collection, and lately I’ve been fascinated by this battle report. Jim Butler and Andy Sharman fight out a 2,000 point battle between Eldar and Blood Angels. Partly it’s that the article features two beautifully painted studio armies on a gaming table with terrain that’s not hard to replicate at home. Partly it’s that it’s a 2nd edition battle report; at the time, Warhammer 40,000 seemed far more “skirmish game” oriented and far less “massive army”. Jim’s whole Blood Angels army is 33 infantry miniatures, plus three vehicles- a dreadnought, a Predator tank, and a Land Speeder.

Jim’s 2,000 point Blood Angels army

Ambush at Volsci Gorge is a fairly cinematic and narrative battle report. The article brief describes an Eldar ambush on an Imperial Guard convoy, and the Blood Angels are sent to investigate the missing and presumed destroyed convoy. Both players selected armies that work well for the story. The Eldar army for example is highly mobile, with three grav tanks and several jetbikes. The table was set with terrain to fit the idea of a gorge, with scattered wood cover throughout and hills on either side. The center of the table had several terrain pieces made from destroyed Guard tanks. Helping to enhance the idea of an ambush, the report introduced the idea of using hidden markers for the Eldar deployment. Andy would deploy his army using these markers, meaning that Jim had no idea what he was facing and where each unit was until the beginning of the game(Eldar had first turn).

Like all battle reports at the time, the article is filled with pictures, alternating illustrated “top down” battlefield views with professional shots using a red sky backdrop, and photos of Andy and Jim playing the game in the GW offices. I really like that juxtaposition in particular, because the photos of the two players are almost Polaroid snapshots while a lot of effort has gone into making the “cinematic” images as professional and clean as possible to show off the scenery and the ‘eavy Metal studio armies.

Games in 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 had a 4 turn game length. For this Ambush at Volsci Gorge battle report, Jim had the Take and Hold mission card while Andy would be attempting to Engage and Destroy the opposing space marine force. Eldar started off very strong in the first several turns, with the Blood Angels taking heavy losses. Several of Jim’s space marine squads took casualties and his Predator tank was destroyed for a second time, having previously been repaired by the Techmarine.

Turns 3 and 4 is when Andy’s luck began to change somewhat, as he failed to completely eliminate full squads of Blood Angels(leaving Jim with more victory points), and rough luck with the dice as a lot of his Sustained Fire dice rolled jams. Jim, still behind on victory points, managed to snag a few more by damaging and/or destroying some Eldar vehicles as well as holding on to his objective through the end of the game. The game ends with an Eldar victory, 21 victory points to the Blood Angels’ 16.

It’s clear that both players had a lot of fun creating this narrative battle report based off a short piece of fiction by Andy Chambers. The game had some dramatic moments and Jim managed to avoid complete annihilation and come back from behind to lose by a margin of only 5 victory points. Both studio armies featured in the game are beautifully painted by the ‘eavy Metal team, and the table setup adds even more to the narrative. Neither army is built to dominate the other, and both players chose a number of units to match the battle report brief.

Much of this terrain seems like it could be accomplished by a beginner terrain maker.

I’ve been posting a lot of “Oldhammer” content on my Instagram lately(@greyedoutproductions) which means browsing through many old issues of White Dwarf. This one may be the oldest in my possession, and maybe that’s part of why this battle report fascinates me. That old nostalgia glow, combined with both players having a good game and neither trying to powergame or throw out a super beardy army list. This is Warhammer 40,000 played for the love of a good game, even if the Eldar army does feature the “new release of the month”.

Find me elsewhere:

https://youtube.com/channel/UC9Sb4KNzJD2ndQ-pXLSaKHA

http://Instagram.com/greyedoutproductions

First Painted Minis of 2022

It feels like it’s been a very long time since I first started working on these miniatures, but I’m happy to say that they’re finished and I’m really happy with how everything came out in the end. In this post I’ll cover some thoughts and processes, particularly for the veterans a bit further down.

First is a small batch of further tactical marines for my Alpha Legion, using the older MkVII tactical squad from Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition. While these are technically not quite Heresy-era, I’ll be using them in my army regardless because they bring me back to those first years when I first got into the hobby. I have a good number of these, and on a lot of them I’m mixing in MkIV shoulder pads and helmets when I can. In-game this will form at least one 20-man tactical squad paired with an Apothecary.

As “classic” space marines, these minis are a great throwback to the earlier editions of Warhammer 40k, before the introduction of Primaris, and of course also tie in to the historical aspect of Horus Heresy. I find that these do blend surprisingly well with my regular tactical marines.

The Veteran Tactical Marines

The other three minis I’ve finished are going to be used as veterans with power weapons. These were a lot of fun to put together, so let’s go into a bit of detail.

I wanted to do something a little unique, though I did borrow the idea from Omegonedge on Instagram(go check out his account!), and that was using Night Lords chainglaives for the counts-as power weapons. It makes sense that the Alpha Legion would not hesitate to borrow and adapt weaponry from the other space marine legions for their own use, and a chainglaive seemed an appropriately dangerous weapon for a veteran member of the legion to wield.

For the first(out of three) of these marines I used MkIII armor paired with a MkIV helmet; I really like how this gives a mix of brutal yet elegant, and the bulky shoulderpads especially add a lot of weight to the miniature.

The next marine receives one of my last few Alpha Legion torsos. These were discontinued a few years ago and I’ve only ever had the one pack of 5. Because of this I wanted them used on marines where you’d be able to see most of the torso, and this was a great opportunity. He also gets a beakie helmet, another throwback that I’m really a huge fan of.

For the last veteran in this batch, I used another Legion torso as well as the arms and sheathed sword from the Alpha Legion praetor from Forge World. This pose makes him look as if he’s in the middle of making a draw and attack in one step. On all of these marines I used transfers from the Forge World sheet to add extra character.

Bases

The bases on these marines were all done in a big batch. I use a texture roller in the “Egyptian” pattern from Green Stuff World to roll out big slabs from a mix of green stuff(Kneadatite) and Apoxie Sculpt. I’ve tried both separately, and found that a mix gives a better “snap” and break than just using Apoxie Sculpt or green stuff alone.

After the big slabs of epoxy putty have dried thoroughly, I snap them into smaller pieces and then do a rough layout on a bunch of bases, trying to see what I like best. These can also be layered to give some extra volume under the mini. Once I have things where I want them, I’ll glue them down to the bases, then fill in the surrounding area with Liquitex Ceramic Stucco. This is an artist’s paste that once dried looks a lot like desert sand- the effect I’m going for.

The bases get airbrushed, and once the mini is attached I’ll add in basing pigments in various colors as appropriate. Using this method you could do these types of bases to fit a number of different environments and color palettes.

Wrap Up

There’s still a lot of Alpha Legion to go, including Alpharius himself, before I’m done painting everything in my collection. As of right now I have a few things that need finishing, including several dreadnoughts. I’m not sure if I’ll dive right into another project, or take a small space marine break and work on some orks for a little while. It always feels great to add more finished miniatures to the shelf, though, so it’s a great start to this year so far.

My Time as a Horus Heresy Event Organizer

…and why I think I might have failed.

For a period of somewhere around two years, possibly a bit longer, I organized a monthly “Horus Heresy Game Day” at my local game store. The idea was basically to get people out on a particular day with their Warhammer 30,000 armies to play some games and increase visibility for the game system. I had an Alpha Legion army, but when I started these events(from here on out HHGD) I didn’t really have any opponents. So I wanted to create an opportunity to find some.

Here’s where I think I failed and could have done so much better.

I created and organized these game days through our local area’s Facebook Group. My FLGS has many, many different Groups, because it’s a huge gaming community. So I would make the event, post about it in the relevant Group(Atlanta Horus Heresy I think… it’s been a while since I’ve been on Facebook) and share to maybe one or two other local groups.

I should and could have searched for other groups in the surrounding states. Atlanta is a big city that’s somewhat centrally located between Tennessee, Florida, and the Carolinas. It’s only a couple of hours to get here, and I know that gamers are willing to travel a reasonable distance for good game events. Not sharing my events to other places probably had a negative impact.

Our HHGDs tended to have a variable attendance anywhere between 2 to 8 players, sometimes a few more. Sometimes just the two… one of which was almost me, since I was the organizer. We often had “table visitors” who’d stop by to take a look over the game in progress, exclaim over the painted armies, and let us know that they, too, had a Horus Heresy army. Inevitably I’d invite them to the Facebook group and encourage them to make it to the next event. None of them ever did.

Spreading the word farther would have been a big boon. I could have reached areas in TN, and I know now that there are definitely players in North Carolina. Attendance as a result could have been much better… but it never was, because I failed.

What New Players?

Another mistake now, in hindsight, is that I should have held more demo games and tried much harder to get new players into the game. This would especially have helped while Betrayal at Calth and Burning of Prospero were still available.

It would have been a great idea to have some days where new or interested players are encouraged to come and play some games at smaller points values. I have enough Zone Mortalis terrain. I just never thought to use it.

The best way to do this would have been to assemble and paint a small demo force specifically for Zone Mortalis. That’s something that occurred to me last year… in the middle of the pandemic. Ideally I’d like this to be Blood Angels, to get that contrast of Alpha Legion blue vs Blood Angels red going.

Working On It

Ironically enough, one of the staff at the game store and I had just started to discuss holding more narrative events right as everything shut down. Maybe instead of looking at myself as a failure, I should consider this as a work in process. I can learn from my past mistakes, identify the issues, and problem solve for future gaming events.

While long term planning has never been a strong suit of mine, it’s always possible to start making plans, writing lists, and attempting to begin an organization process for any Horus Heresy narrative game days that I do want to set up.

If you’ve attended a narrative gaming events, let me know. What do you look forward to?

Unofficial Legion Dispatch : Horus Heresy Uncertainty Continues

“Warhammer Day” has come and gone, with some fantastic reveals for a lot of Games Workshop games. Warcry will be getting a new box set, as will Kill Team(featuring T’au vs Sisters of Battle). Neither of those are relevant for this blog, though. This is a Horus Heresy blog(plus occasional orks).

This weekend’s Horus Heresy reveal was the primarch of the White Scars- Jaghatai Khan. And the miniature is incredible. With a pose similar to that of Lion el’Johnson, the Khan strikes a imposing figure. If I could, I would start a White Scars army based off the primarch alone. I’m going to preface anything after this by stating that it’s crucial for a legion to have their primarch, and I’m super glad that White Scars players finally have the option to use the Khan in their armies. This part of the Warhammer Day reveal was well done.

What I felt was lacking on this preview day was any sort of box set reveal for the Horus Heresy.

Many months ago, back in summer and just before the Age of Sigmar marketing push, a few images leaked to the internet that appeared to show what may be the contents of a Horus Heresy box set: Mk6 power armor marines that didn’t match any of the existing resin marines, a new Contemptor dreadnought that looked different from both the plastic and the resin versions, and more. After the leaks, speculation ran wild on what this could mean for the Heresy. Betrayal at Calth and Burning of Prospero are long out of print, and a number of the Horus Heresy plastic kits are Direct Order only, meaning that they’re much more difficult to get without a nearby Games Workshop store or a way to order online from GW(and thus without a discount). In short, new and readily available plastic Horus Heresy kits are needed. I would go so far as to say that they may even be crucial to attracting new players to the game.

Along with rumors of new box sets came rumors of a “rules revamp”, possibly even a “Horus Heresy 2.0”, which would clean up some of the existing rules. The community speculated that such a box set and rules revamp would be released around November, because Calth and Prospero both released around this time of year. We were all expectant and eagerly waiting for any kind of official preview. Long months have passed without Games Workshop appearing to acknowledge this summer’s leaked images. And as of the time of this writing, two days after Warhammer Day, the community is still waiting.

There was no Horus Heresy box set reveal. There was no acknowledgement that the leaked pictures are real, or that the minis are plastic. Or that new sets or plastics are coming for Horus Heresy. There was nothing on the future of the game system, and no reassurance that it would continue to receive support from the company(beyond the Jaghatai Khan preview). The uncertainty continues, and Games Workshop and Forge World continue to have a communication problem when it comes to this game system.

As it stands, the 30k community sits in a weird place. We’ve all seen the leaked images of what appear to be new plastic miniatures. Rumors abound of potential rules changes. There are no starter sets or easy ways to start playing the game. Unlike Warhammer 40,000, Age of Sigmar, Warcry, Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus, Blood Bowl, Aeronautica Imperialis, and more, which all have available starter sets. Practically every single game that Games Workshop produces right now, except Horus Heresy, have sets that quickly allow a new player to start the game.

I’m not sure what’s going on. Maybe the pandemic and worldwide shipping delays are causing issues with new Horus Heresy product. There are a lot of potential reasons and a lot of things that could cause snags in new releases. Whatever the reason, the least that GW could do is give the community an update moving forward. I know that this goes counter to their entire marketing strategy of “say nothing at all until two weeks before public release”. But not knowing anything is doing just as much harm. The more uncertainty there is around this game system, the more restless the players. It’s not just the lack of plastic kits. It’s also the rumored rules changes. Why buy anything new for Horus Heresy when there’s no telling what might get released in a month or two? There’s certainly no point in buying any of the resin versions of what may soon be out in plastic.

Whatever is happening, I hope that GW and Forge World can find a way to step up and show that 30k is still a priority. In the meantime, if you’re feeling a similar uncertainty, I encourage you to email FW’s customer service and let them know.

This has been your Unofficial Legion Dispatch. Thanks for reading.

Alpha Legion Plasma Gun Squad – the unofficial Horus Heresy Dispatch

The legions of the Adeptus Astartes had, over the course of the Great Crusade, developed numerous methods of waging war. The humble tactical squad formed the backbone of the legion fighting forces, taking the brunt of the fighting in most situations. With bolter and chainsword, the legions fought their way through countless enemies of the Imperium. When those weapons were not enough, tactical support squads armed with a variety of more powerful and often esoteric weaponry stepped to the fore.

The plasma gun was a dangerous weapon, capable of breaching armor, but also rarely overcharging and killing the user. It was during the Heresy that these weapons began to be used on the ultimate enemy – fellow space marines. As brother fought brother, no holds were barred and these tactical support squads more often than not were used to devastating effect on the battlefield.

The plasmagun was perfectly lethal at killing Astartes, but it was the Alpha Legion who pioneered the tactic of deep striking these support squads, often accompanied by a Warmonger consul, behind enemy armor. It was found that in the hands of a marksman, the plasmagun was able to exploit the weaker rear armor of even medium tanks, the Predator squadron being a favorite target. The Alpha Legion’s enemies often found their fire support silenced with expert operatives now threatening their lines from behind.

This was the Alpha Legion at war. Often underestimated, never expected, and frequently hitting much harder than previously imaged. The coils of the Hydra were capable of crushing force, and many a commander paid dearly for not taking the legion seriously enough. It was during the Horus Heresy that the Alpha Legion shook off their chains, and began to engage joyously in combat against a foe that was worth testing themselves against – their fellow Legions.

Horus Heresy Alpha Legion Veteran Squad

The past few months have been a break from my Alpha Legion for me, and instead I’ve been working on my Ork army. That effort has seen a reduction in the number of unpainted miniatures I’ve got, and has proven worthwhile.

Today though, I’m sharing these space marines. I set up a small scenic backdrop using some of my Death Ray Designs terrain; here I’m using the Bombed-out Bunker from their Strider’s Landing line as well as wall section from Deadbolt’s Derelict. If you’re not familiar, this is mdf terrain that’s pretty much fully modular, and it looks great.

These veterans are a mix of MkIV power armor as well as some older MkVI suits dating all the way back to the 3rd edition plastics. I’ve equipped my veterans in a mix of power swords and combi-meltas, and should have enough at some point to create some fairly well-equipped squads.

I like the idea of using veteran tactical marines as a scalpel to take on elements that they’re well suited to. Melta helps to deal with enemy vehicles if I need it, and I always equip my squads with a venom sphere harness for the Hammer of Wrath attacks. Because veterans come standard with a bolt pistol as well, they do get an extra attack in close combat for having two hand weapons. Very handy with power swords.

One of my favorite aspects of Horus Heresy is the focus on conflict between legions, and for me that means an emphasis on infantry and ground troops. My current Alpha Legion has a huge number of tactical marines, and one day I’d love nothing better than to play a big game with massed ranks of space marines on each side. This is also why I tend to like Zone Mortalis, and Centurion mode. It puts the focus on the humble legionary where it should be.

Warhammer Hobby Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your own skills, talents, or accomplishments and having a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

I’ve been in the Warhammer hobby for twenty four years and I still often feel like an outsider. Like the high school nerd that I probably was being tolerated by the “cool kids”. It’s a strange experience, feeling like you’re on the outside looking in. I even get this same feeling at the game store, surrounded by other people who love Warhammer and are just as invested in the hobby as I am.

That imposter syndrome doesn’t creep in every day, of course. Most of the time I’m perfectly fine and content to hobby at my own pace, assembling and painting my orks or space marines.

But when it is present, it can be crippling. The bad days are bad, and on those days, no amount of kindness and encouragement will let me believe otherwise. I feel like a fraud, a trickster, a charlatan who has convinced his friends that yes, I do the Warhammer hobby.

I’ve heard from folks that they find my painting inspiring, that they appreciate the discussion I bring to the community. That’s awesome to hear, of course. But on those days where I feel like an outsider, it means nothing because of course my brain wonders if any of it is true at all.

I’m not alone in feeling like this. The outsider thing. The imposter syndrome. Friends have told me that they feel the same way.

The Social Media Effect?

It does seem like social media affects this, too. That feeling of being an outsider or a fraud. That person got more Likes on this miniature. Why does this guy have way more followers than I do? Why am I not getting any engagement on any of my shares? And so it avalanches and suddenly that doubt, that nagging worry of “am I good enough?” starts to creep in.

It’s so easy to compare yourself to other people these days. And maybe that’s not always a good thing. Especially when it leads to feeling left out, a sense of being on the outside while everyone inside that “cool kids” circle is somehow a better and more wanted participant than you are.

Getting caught up in likes and followers and subscribers can be a dangerous trap, so maybe the key is to worry less about others and focus more on your own hobby journey. I know I’ve been trying to do this myself lately.

The Fix

Is there a solution? I’m not sure. For me, that feeling always blows over in a day or two. But that need for validation is always there, I think, hiding in the back of my mind. That tiny part that needs to hear “yes, he belongs in this community”.

Maybe it would help to validate without prompting. Praise that cool paint job that you saw on Instagram. Give out a compliment for the basing on the miniature. Take a moment to tell another person that you liked the thing that they did. It’s worth a shot, right?

I’ve been trying to get a YouTube channel going, and stalled out a little because the outsider feeling reared its head. There have been a lot of amazing channels created over the last few years. How dare I think that I can compare with the talent of Dana Howl, Midwinter Minis, Arbitor Ian, Lyla the Mini Witch, Eric’s Hobby Workshop, or Zorpazorp? How dare I?

But as someone keeps reminding me, I’ll never find out if I don’t at least try. I don’t have any particular video skills, and I don’t have much of an idea of what I’m doing. But I have a few ideas for things I want to share, and at least a bit of passion for this whole Warhammer hobby. So I’m giving it a shot. And today at least, imposter syndrome can suck it.

Thanks for reading! If you have some thoughts, please let me know. Share this with your grandma, and subscribe if you haven’t already. See you next time.

For anyone curious, my channel: Tiny Fish Hobby

Terrain Talk: Mechanicum Industrial Sector

I want to recreate this illustration on my tabletop.

It’s from Kromlech, and shows off a range of their terrain from the Mechanicum: Industrial Sector line(hereafter MIS). The picture shows a maze like industrial complex, with untold levels and gantries connecting unseen levels. I say that I want to recreate this illustration because it’s great inspiration for what a claustrophobic gaming table could look like. Whether for Necromunda or Kill Team or as the backdrop for a game of Horus Heresy, this illustration and a potential table based around it screams narrative. It tells a story without even trying.

Part of the reason I dug up this picture is because I finally completed the Large Promethium Chimney that has been sitting in pieces in my hobby area for far too long. One of those projects where I had a moment and my brain absolutely needed to get this project finished. I’m glad to say that it’s done, and it’s making me want to revisit this line of terrain. The great thing is that it’s all so very modular and can be arranged in a thousand different ways. That adds a lot of value because it means the terrain setup can always change.

For the Promethium Chimney, I did add some ork glyph plates and some colorful ork graffiti here and there. It adds a little extra character, and the terrain piece is big enough to make an impressive centerpiece on a table.

The MIS terrain makes up a large part of my collection, and I think if I wanted to recreate the illustration above it would be a matter of getting a few more pieces here and there. It might also be possible to add thematic lighting using small LEDs for added atmosphere. Shipping crates and containers come in handy for extra cover and scatter terrain.

Speaking in praise of the MIS terrain: it is easy to assemble, very durable, very modular, and fits a variety of battlefields depending on how you choose to paint it. Take a look at the full range over at http://www.bitsofwar.com

Orks and Oddities

I’ve been working on my orks again.

I flit from project to project anyway, and a few months ago had a need to pivot from my Alpha Legion back to orks. I don’t even remember exactly what it was, but I tend to listen when that feeling comes up.

Since then, I’ve been done more work on a Battlewagon, a second buggy, and a lot of Ork boyz. That’s not to say that anything got done… but I’ve been painting anyways. I’m finding regular Ork boyz to be a slow process, because each Ork is covered in belts and buckled and straps. Even with a minimal color palette it takes a long time to finish each one. Right now I have maybe fifteen boyz all close to complete and ready for basing.

A lot of what prompted me to Ork again may have been the lure of vehicles, and the Max Mad: Fury Road theme that I’m going for with my Deathskulls. I like the idea of hordes of ramshackle trukks and buggies all careening toward the enemy, full of shouting orks,

I did finish my Killtank – a project that’s only been more than a year in the making. It sat, primed and partially basecoated, for a very long time, and what I got hung up on was the tracks. I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go and how I wanted to paint them. In the end, I copied what Forge World had already done. And they look great. I also tried to push the rust work and am proud of the finished tank.

A lot of this year has been a process of “finish the backlog”, or if not finish, then at least “paint more than you buy”. And that’s been good. It’s a good feeling to tackle grey plastic that I’ve owned for years and years, and have it get painted. We all talk about our Pile of Shame, and mine isn’t even as tremendous as some I’ve seen. It’s good to reduce that. Years ago, when I first began this Ork army, I went a little wild buying used minis and kits on eBay, and as a result I’ve got a collection of minis that continues to surprise me. Like the endless Killa Kans that I keep finding…

Oh, and I started a YouTube channel. Or rather, a second channel. That I’ve been uploading some hobby videos to – look for “Tiny Fish Hobby” when you search. Aside from the last couple of weeks where I’ve had an existential “What am I even doing?” crisis, I’ve been managing a video a week.

Forge World Has a Communication Problem

The Horus Heresy is an event that has long been a pillar in the lore of Warhammer 40,000. The opening pages of Codex Chaos for 2nd edition(the oldest reference I own and the book that first started my journey into Warhammer) describe how the traitor legions fell to chaos and turned on the Emperor of Mankind. The overview is a bit brief, but even here the key events are mentioned; the virus bombing of Isstvan III, the betrayal at Isstvan V known as the Dropsite Massacre, the confrontation between Horus Lupercal and the Emperor on Horus’ battle barge at the Siege of Terra.

Horus Rising was published in 2006, and marked the start of a long journey for thousands of fans of Warhammer 40,000. Dan Abnett’s initial novel in the series would detail the Horus Heresy across dozens of books and breathe life into characters that often, until now, had only been briefly described in the lore. The primarchs grew from names on a page to fully realized characters, tragic demigods in their own right. The final novel in the series, The Buried Dagger, was published in 2019. The next series, The Siege of Terra, is being published now and marks the final conclusion of the Horus Heresy in epic detail.

Horus Heresy Book One: Betrayal was released by Forge World in 2012(forgive me if I have this date wrong) and allowed fans of the Horus Heresy to recreate the battles and skirmishes of the Heresy on the tabletop. Betrayal gave players rules for fielding several space marine legions as full armies using what was then the 6th edition rules for Warhammer 40,000. This marked the beginning of a rule set that would become known as the Age of Darkness, and would several years later see its own separate rulebook. Successive “black books” followed, with Crusade being released in 2020 and containing rules for the last of the legions to be detailed – the Dark Angels.

These black books are works of art. Each is an oversized hardcover, leather bound, fully illustrated with full color pages. The lore in each is presented as a pseudo historical account of the events that took place during the Horus Heresy, and each book is accompanied by the game rules for multiple space marine legions, and often contains a campaign to play through as well.

Forge World also has an accompanying line of miniatures for their Horus Heresy line. Finally players were able to field primarchs on the tabletop; Horus in all his glory, Fulgrim facing off against Ferrus Manus, Alpharius stabbing a wounded and crawling legionary in the back.

The Betrayal at Calth boxed game was released in full plastic in 2016, and contained 30 MkIV space marines, 5 Cataphractii terminators, a Contemptor dreadnought, and two characters, all for about $150. It was an incredible bargain and many players immediately bought multiple boxes to jump start their Horus Heresy armies. It is safe to say that I wouldn’t be blogging about this today if I hadn’t also started my Alpha Legion at the time; starting a Heresy army was simply too expensive otherwise.

All of this is a long introduction to a point that I’ll get to shortly. Suffice it to say that I love the Horus Heresy as a setting, and want nothing more than to see the community grow and the game prosper and flourish.

The Issues

A few years ago, one of the lead designers of the game, Alan Bligh, unfortunately passed away rather suddenly. Since then, it almost feels like the design team for the game has slowly gotten less and less communicative with the players.

While the game saw a number of releases last year, including Crusade, new vehicle designs, and more infantry, the articles covering the Horus Heresy on the Warhammer Community website have slowly dried up. Looking back through the archive of posts shows brief articles in January, December 2020, October 2020, and September 2020(the release of Crusade and Lion el’Johnson’s model). Even then, these are short and to the point, often nothing more than a preorder notice with a small lore blurb as accompaniment.

What’s really lacking are articles that expand on the lore, discuss specific legions(a “faction focus”), showcase armies from either the designers or the players, or even designer’s commentary articles. A few years ago, and as late as January 2020, Warhammer Community did a couple of army showcases to show off Horus Heresy armies. To date, I believe these articles have covered the Alpha Legion, White Scars, and Ultramarines. In short, more content to promote the game and grow interest from potential new players.

Along with the Horus Heresy, Forge World publishes a number of other games under their “specialist games” heading, including Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus, Aeronautica Imperialis, Blood Bowl, and the Middle Earth strategy game. Several of these games have now received “roadmaps”, effectively letting players know what kind of releases are coming up in the next half year or even further. A roadmap like this shows that there is still ongoing support for the game system, and lets players plan for potential purchases.

To date there has not yet been a roadmap for any Horus Heresy content, and there are still miniatures previewed last year that haven’t been released yet(Word Bearers praetors). In fact, we as a community don’t have any idea what releases we will be seeing this year, if any. There hasn’t been any word yet of whether or not there will even be a black book.

Even more worrying, one of the few remaining designers for the game, Anuj, recently announced that he would be moving on to a different company altogether. While I do wish him the best of luck, this loss leaves the Heresy with just a single designer for the entire game setting(according to Anuj’s own announcement).

I try hard not to be a “gloom and doom” type of person, but it’s baffling that there seems to be this resistance to telling us things, especially since it seems limited particularly to the portion of Forge World that’s responsible for the Horus Heresy. The other specialist games all get regular releases, content, and support. The community certainly doesn’t need top level company secrets or anything, but a short post on a social media channel letting the players know that their game system isn’t going to be dropped altogether would be helpful. It almost feels right now as if any excitement and support for the Heresy is resting largely on the shoulders of the community, and not on the company that actually produces the game.

If I had the chance to peek behind the Forge World curtain for a week and take charge, at the very least I’d make sure there was a roadmap of coming releases, along with some planned content to get more interest in the game itself. I know that this post may come off as whining, but it’s more than I’m frustrated by what I see as a problem with a simple solution. The Horus Heresy is a great setting, and the players who have invested in the game since Betrayal deserve at the very least to know what’s happening with the game and where future releases are going. It’s the very act of “not knowing” that’s causing issues. Maybe Forge World is in the process of restructuring the studio that works on the game and just doesn’t have any news to give. Whatever the case may be, I’ll keep painting my Alpha Legion and looking forward to being able to play games again. And above all, I’ll keep up hope.