Monday, 26 September 2016

Fortifications: Why would you use them?

Hi all,

Today I am going to be talking about something that I rarely see people discussing in the context of Horus Heresy era gaming – fortifications! Yes I know… the Imperial Fist player talking about the merits of fortifications is somewhat predictable but believe it or not, I have not really encountered many Imperial Fist players actually using fortifications at the Horus Heresy Throne of Skulls tournaments – our legion rules give us bonuses for using them so why don’t we?

At a guess, people may perceive them as a bit of a points-sink – to sum up what I have heard on the subject of fortifications:
  • paying points for a fortification means you have less points available for the rest of your army
  • objective-based games using tactical objectives require you to be mobile – why would you deliberately lock down a unit to a set location when you could use a transport instead?
  • there’s no good fortification like a ruined fortification
All fair points… well… maybe not the last one; a ruined fortification is not good at all… but the point really is this: If you want to take fortification(s) you do have to plan around them but they do provide value to your army in ways standard terrain may not be able to. To highlight this, I am going to start talking about the humble Imperial Bunker…

For a little bit more than a Rhino APC, you can take an Imperial Bunker as a fortification in most FoCs in Horus Heresy. With the same armour value as a Land Raider and two large fire points that allow up to 8 models to fire out of the building and ramparts on top to provide a decent cover save to anybody up there, you suddenly have a pretty resilient little fire base for a heavy support squad for instance.

You can buy an ammo dump for the building which improved the accuracy of the squad in the building, you can pay for a comms relay to help make your reserve rolls that much more reliable, you can even give the building a void shield if you want to be extra sure that a destroyer weapon won't wreck your bunker in one shot. Escape hatches, barricades, tank traps… You can build a small defence network just from the bunker and its standard upgrades if you really wanted!

Worried that it is taking valuable points away from your army? Keep it cheap! The basic bunker is great value for the amount of points you pay for it, bubble wrapping a heavy support squad as it forces your opponent to make a choice – ignore the bunker and receive the punishment being dished out by the heavy support squad or throw a good portion of their anti-tank capability at it to try to crack it.

Worried that it is static? This needn’t be a concern; the bunker is really cheap and you can easily deploy this to cover multiple objectives. Besides – you can design the rest of your list to be mobile so you can easily hold the objectives on your side of the table while still have the capability to threaten your opponent’s objectives.

I hope I have at the very least highlighted the merits of fortifications in Horus Heresy – I feel they are somewhat overlooked. There are armies that wouldn’t really make use of them – Raven Guard and Night Lords for instance – but I hope I can at least convince some of you that it might be worth trying them out or possibly even design a scenario around them!

Until next time!

Hector Cephas


  1. I'm very much looking forward to getting some fortifications done. I'm toying with the idea of making an area terrain version of the Primus Redoubt. Also looking forward to using the containers and their rules for 30K - love the idea of a couple of Keylekid or Megarachnids or Laer jumping out of them 😊

  2. I think people stay away from fortifications because it's just one more thing with its own special rules that people aren't necessarily familiar with and because Astartes are the predominantly seen army and general gain the least improvement through their addition.

    Tactically, I think there are two key uses of fortifications: improving the survivability of speed bump units and increasing the survivability of rear guard units. In that way I think the Imperial Militia and Solar Auxilia benefit most. Solar Auxilia get to take Aegis Defense lines en mass, so further fortifications are excessive. Imperial Militia are just pretty under represented though I think they'd do well taking fortifications.

  3. A great article, but you missed the argument about GW fortifications are just plain silly and ugly looking... Bring back the trench lines of Varks FW!

    1. It's true, my main problem with the newer fortifications are all the dead Cadians on the front. I had to spend a fair amount time carving them off...

  4. Well. My Castellum is a great fortification piece as long as you are playing short edge to short edge on a gaming table. Every other deployment set up is just an absolute joke. Having a 24" piece of scenery which the enemy infiltrators can actually set up outside of (and jump in to claim on turn 1) is a complete disappointment. Couple that with my 12" deployment zone on Dawn of War deploymenus where I have to tactically line up a tank squadron like bricks, and rush forward to claim MY OWN RAMPARTS, on turn 1 just is plain silly.

    Bunkers are cool though.

  5. I rarely leave home without a void shield generator to park on top of my artillery and heavy support squads. For the cost of a bare bones tactical support with the extra 2 shields upgrade it's a steal.

  6. the points could be even the same, two HSS with missiles are 50pts

  7. I've never really considered fortifications, perhaps because I've only ever seen them used in cheesy ways! Like super heavy tanks on a skyshield landing pad for the invun save or enclosed in an aegis defense line for the cover save.

    I also tend to favour assault armies so don't really want units hanging back!!