We come to the last legion for our previews and slightly out of order in the end! The Word Bearers were the first heretics and most of the Heresy fans I know either love them or hate them! For me I fall short of hate but they aren’t a legion that has ever appealed to me. They are very lucky in the model range that they have and have come away with a lot more options and rules than some of the other legions. Totalling 8 unique units, much higher than the 3 that the Salamanders and Raven Guard have to get on the table. It would be great to see all legions get the same kind of love that the Bearers of the Word have gotten. They also have the greatest rock band of the Heresy; Zardu Layak and the Blade Slaves! Lets jump in and take a look what they will bring to the tabletop.
Legion Trait - True Believers:
This is an interesting trait and on the face of it seems a little lacking in something, but having played a good number of games now I could see how this would be useful. This trait means that you can’t have your Leadership reduced below 6 and if you draw a combat you actually win by 1. Firstly I have played some games were I have dropped the Leadership to 4 of a marine, which makes not going below 6 sound a lot better. Winning combat from a draw is good but perhaps a tad situational. In fact both feel situational and perhaps not on par with other legions traits.
Advanced Reaction - Glorious Martyrdom:
I really like this reaction! It is both fluffy and powerful. When you’re targeted by a shooting attack you can activate this reaction and you chose a model from the unit that was targeted and remove this model from play with no rolls. Once removed this ends the attackers shooting attack completely. Sacrifice one for the many! This could be really well timed to avoid those nasty guns that were about to completely cut down your unit.
Enslaved by Darkness - This is for traitor and those that are using the corrupted sub type below. It functions like the Daemon rule, you start the game off more powerful. You can +1 strength and toughness for the first 3 turns of the game. Drop to no benefit for turns 4 and 5. Finally -1 on turn 6. I am liking this! You will want to get stuck in early game with this trait and be aggressive to make the most use of it.
Unswerving Devotion - Another nice warlord trait, this one is for the warlord and units within 6 inches of them. You automatically pass the first failed morale check or pinning check you are required to make each turn. It’s nice that its first failed test, meaning that if you keep passing you won’t need to make use of this, leadership plays a much bigger role in 2.0, this will be useful I think.
Iconoclast - The third trait is also good. This one gives the warlord and the unit he has joined +1 attack when in combat with an Independent Character, a legion vexilla or a Legion standard. You also gain a bonus to shooting and melee on buildings or fortifications. The second part seems a bit useless, unless you play a lot with such things. The first part is nice though and certain to come up quite often. I feel the other 2 options are better though.
Rites of War:
The Dark Brethren - At the start of the battle you need to select an enemy unit to be your sacrifice, when you destroy the unit you gain a favour of the dark gods. You can assign this to any of your units and for each favour a unit has they gain +1 strength, movement, and weapon skill. Once you kill the sacrifice, then you get to choose another. The downside to this is you must always inflict at least 1 wound on the sacrifice unit each turn or suffer a perils of the warp. Another aggressive aspect to the Word Bearers. I think this sounds like fun, though it may prove to be a difficult thing to pull off.
Last of the Serrated Sun - A popular rite of ware from 1.0, however it has taken a bit of a hit this time around. It makes Gal Vorbak troops and they can take Dreadclaws as dedicated transports. It also gives infantry units that can take rhinos the option to take drop pods instead. The problems are that the Gal Vorbak don’t gain the Line sub-type and dreadclaws aren’t what they were in 1.0. It also doesn’t seem to allow you to drop these units on turn 1, meaning you will be waiting for turn 2 to get them in. Looking at it I don’t really see point in taking this rite over taking the standard drop assault.
Burning Lore - This upgrade gives your Praetor the corrupted and psyker unit types and access to the Diabolism powers. Like this, seems like a pretty natural upgrade unless you’re wanting to stay away from the corrupted unit type.
Dark Channelling - Another upgrade to gain the corrupted type, this time for units rather than characters. I feel this upgrade will depend on your feelings on the corrupted and if it fits your theme.
Tainted Weapons - These are essentially the standard power weapons but they gain Murderous Strike (6+). I think you would naturally upgrade to these over the equivalent weapons.
Warpfire Weapons - Upgrade your plasma to a slightly better plasma! Again basically the same as the equivalent plasma weapon, however they are only strength 6 rather than 7 but they do gain Pinning. Pinning is strong this edition, making it seem like a solid upgrade. Though the warpfire loses a bit of the anti tank that standard plasma has but will help you kill infantry.
Boltspliters - Bolters but an organic version for your Daemon side.
Corrupted Units - You gain Fear (1), great as Fear is great. Getting hit by force or psychic force gain instant death against the model/unit. You can also ignore the effects of Fear, automatically pass regroup tests and cannot use the Out Weapons are useless rule. If you fail morale tests instead of falling back normally the unit suffers D3 auto wounds with no saves, it hurts but will keep you in the fight longer. You have to have the corrupted or daemon sub-type to be able to join a corrupted unit. I’m a little undecided on whether this is a good upgrade or not, I suspect a mix of corrupted and uncorrupted units would be the most likely when building your armies.
Diabolist - This gives you the pysker and corrupted and access to the Diabolism powers. These powers seem reasonably good. You get a solid template shooting attack, with Rending and Deflagrate. You also gain a buffing power when you charge, giving you Hammer of Wrath (3) and +1 toughness and strength. This will stack up nicely with the Enslaved by Darkness warlord trait! Again it seems to push towards the aggressive play style.
Lorgar has a standard Primarch stat line, 6’s all around with the exception of attacks, which sit at 5. He has a 4+ It Will Not die, which is nice. He has access to 2 psychic disciplines which change depending on whether you take the standard Lorgar or the Transfigured version. The transfigured version is a lot more daemonic and more fitting for his later heresy self. The standard Lorgar is much more inline with great crusade version. He is a good buff for the army as well, all Word Bearers that can draw line of sight to Lorgar gain +1 to charge distance, as well as using his leadership for pinning an morale. If you select a command squad to go with him they gain the Fearless and Feel no Pain (4+) special rules. That is a great upgrade! Once per game he can also choose a unit to gain Fearless and Feel no Pain (4+) for a game turn. His weapons are solid but standout among his peers. His true potential lies with the psychic powers and his army buffing.
Gal Vorbak have always felt really good. The extra strength and toughness they get is a huge boon to them. They still seem like an absolute steal for the points. 3 wounds at toughness 5 will take a lot of hard work to kill off for marine armies as getting instant death can be difficult as a lot maxes out at strength 8 or 9. On top of that they also get Feel No Pain (5+) to make shifting them even more difficult. Unless you’re not keen on the corrupted aspect of the legion, then these should be an auto include.
Do it all jump marines, which are solid at a lot of stuff but perhaps not excelling at any one job. There gun can be a melta pistol or a 6” torrent flamer. Short range but definitely lethal. They have melta bombs which is nice as they aren’t as wide spread as they were in 1.0. Each of them has an axe rake which is an AP3 axe, making them no slouch in combat. The Ashen Circle have been by passed up on the extra wound and remain at 1 wound. They are an interesting unit that wants to get up close and in combat but perhaps don’t have the survivability to do so, as they would have a big target on their head due to how deadly they could be.
Mara Gal Dread:
A corrupted dreadnought! Who wouldn’t want one in their Word Bearers! A great model and the at it’s core is a tougher contemptor dread. It has a toughness of 7 and 8 wounds. It has a 5+ invun and reduces the strength plasma, flamer, melta or volkite by 1, giving it even more resilience. The only problem with the Mara Gal is that any Daemon, psyker or corrupted within 6 inches has to reduce their toughness and strength by 1. This could make you make some important decisions with placement and movement and perhaps not always to your advantage. I would include one in my army mostly because it looks cool!
Again another awesome model set! Zardu is a solid looking character, and the blade slaves are basically Gal Vorbak but with an extra strength. Looking at the rules it appears that Zardu can only be taken with the Blade Slaves and as such can’t join with other units. This feels a little limiting for me and while he and the slaves are both tough, I don’t think it would take much to gun them down. Zardu has some nice looking psychic powers, one can cancel reactions at the cost of a Perils of the warp. The other is an ok shooting attack, low strength but with Pinning and Shell Shock (3), failing a wound to it could lead to a difficult pinning check. His warlord trait is good, 3 corrupted units can be given +1 strength and movement but they have to take a leadership check at the end of each turn, taking a Perils of the Warp if you fail and losing the benefit.
In my opinion one of the most disappointing model releases of the heresy, where are the broken Guardian spear and sword that he is famed for carrying around? Well they have been replaced with Daemonic talons. I just find it really disappointing. Otherwise he is a slightly better Gal Vorbak, gaining 5 wounds and a set of wings that let him move 14 inches. Not sure who in the Word Bearers you would add him to, a unit Gal Vorbak makes most sense but they can’t move that quickly. His warlord trait gives any Gal Vorbak unit that he joins a 5+ invun save and he also gives them the Line Sub-type, both of which are awesome. He would be a good edition to an army, especially if you’re running Gal Vorbak. I’m not sure I would put he in though out of protest to the decision to not give him the weapons from the fluff.
I think he is universally disliked as a character in the fluff! For his point costs though he looks like an absolute steel and a really solid choice to add to your army. He is essentially a praetor and a psyker. His warlord trait means that you can’t allocate wounds to him, regardless of rules, if another model is available to allocate the wounds to. You also gain access to be able to take Daemons in his army. He is looking like a solid choice for your army.
As a warlord he may not be tough enough to hold his own, due to his more human stat line. He does have Feel No Pain and It Will Not Die to help keep him going though. He has the jealous command rule, which means that if he isn’t the warlord you reduce his leadership by 1 but he gains the Hatred (everything). If I was including him, then this seems the best way to field him, unless you include Lorgar. If you put them in together in the same unit, then they both gain +1 weapon skill and Hatred (everything). A great fluffy rule. His warlord trait is nice as well, he gets 2 options, 1 makes units within 12 inches take immediate Pinning checks. The other option give his unit fearless but the reduce Weapon skill and ballistic skill.
Some really good options and several nice fluffy ways to build the Word Bearers up into a nice army. They do lean heavily into the corrupted and daemonic which is in keeping with the fluffy. If you love the daemonic and leaning into the full traitor look then you will find plenty to like from this rule set!