Traitor Legions Armies – Part 1

Hey everyone. We got Reecius – from the Las Vegas Open – here to discuss building some fun, themed lists using the new Traitor Legions supplement for Warhammer 40,000! In this first article, we’ll look at the Black Legion, Alpha Legion and Iron Warriors.

Reece: Wow, the Traitor Legions supplement is just fantastic! It gives us some incredible rules for Chaos Space Marines, but the ability to build fun, effective, themed armies is what jumped out at me right away.

I have included in this article ideas for building some Chaos Space Marines armies that reflect the characteristic traits of their Legions. Now, by no means are these meant to be the only way to play these Legions, they’re just my personal ideas on fun ways to get them on the table!


Black Legion

The Black Legion has a ton of options for ways to play the army, but the rule that really jumped out at me was the First Amongst Traitors special rule, which makes Chaos Terminators and Chosen into Troops choices! Objective Secured (ObjSec) on those units is pretty outstanding and not something I’d want to miss out on. However, after reading the Speartip Strike Command Benefit of the Black Legion Speartip detachment, I decided it was fairly fantastic and so opted for this as the framework within which to build my theoretical Black Legion warband. Plus, I LOVE Chaos Terminator models!


So, the idea would be an elite Chaos warband led by the man himself: Abaddon the Despoiler!

I’d first make sure to grab the Terminator Annihilation Force as my Auxiliary formation and run with 5 units of 3 Chaos Terminators with 2 combi-meltas, -flamers or -plasma to your taste. I’d equip the third Terminator in each unit with either a reaper autocannon or heavy flamer to take advantage of their Targeted for Annihilation special rule, which allows them to shoot twice on the turn they Deep Strike in. Just be sure to give each Terminator in the unit the same combi-weapon so that they can unload it on a single target to maximum effect. I find a ratio of 3:1:1 of melta to plasma to flamer units works very well.  

For their melee weapons, have them run with a power axe or maul. They tend to be the most efficient melee weapons, plus they look cool! That bonus of Hatred – thanks to the Endless Hatred special rule – helps a ton to give these guys a nice boost in the first round of combat. They are relatively cheap in cost, hit hard and are a dual threat in melee and in shooting.


Now for the beefcake unit! In my mind, Abaddon would only take to the field with a unit of his most brutal warriors. I’d run the Bringers of Despair formation featuring Abaddon and Terminators in a unit of 5 to 10, depending on how crazy you want to get, and then add either the Mark of Nurgle or Tzeentch to boost their defence. I’d mix in lightning claws and chainfists to taste, and be sure to add in a Heavy weapon or two to again take advantage of their formation special rule. For the formation’s HQ (either a Sorcerer or Chaos Lord), I’d opt for the Sorcerer in Terminator Armor at level 3 Mastery and a Spell Familiar to buff the unit with some psychic powers.

As the Speartip Strike Command Benefit allows all of your units with the Deep Strike special rule to begin coming in on turn 1, and the unit with your Warlord to automatically come in turn 1, you can pull some fun shenanigans. Abby for sure enters play with the Sorcerer and his five to ten strong unit on the first turn which can be quite powerful and forces your opponent to displace as they will rarely have the ability to accept a charge from that unit on turn two. ⅔ of the remaining Deep Striking units will also come in on turn one, meaning you average four units of Terminators on the table right away, causing disruption wherever you need them on the table.

From there, you can go with either the Black Legion Warband or the Hounds of Abaddon for your core detachment. The Hounds give you some fun melee components while the Warband gives you even more elite choices such as Chosen and Terminators. I personally would opt for the Hounds of Abaddon as they provide a fairly unique and cheap core formation to compliment your hordes of Terminators who will be doing the heavy lifting. Their primary function would be to go for objectives and skirmish with your opponent’s smaller scoring units such as Eldar Jetbikes, Space Marine Scouts and so forth.

The list would be fun, represent Abaddon’s elite warriors and have a cool gimmick in null-deploying and then hitting the table hard on turn one. I don’t see as many Terminators on the tabletop as I used to, but with the abilities the Black Legion gives them, you can make a really effective force. Plus it would look cool!


Alpha Legion

Ah the Alpha Legion! Such a cool Legion, and who knows which side they’re actually fighting for!? To represent this sneaky faction on the tabletop, I was immediately drawn to their Alpha Legion Insurgency Force. This detachment grants Shrouded on the first turn to all non-vehicle units, which is great. Couple this with the Forward Operatives special rule granting Infiltrate to Chosen, Chaos Space Marines and Cultists and you’ve got yourself a winner, baby! The Chaos Warband is the Core formation for the Detachment and all of that Objective Secured (ObjSec) is just so good.

Starting there, I’d take the maximum number of Chosen units – each at five strong with maxed special weapons. Again, I recommend taking all of the same type of special weapon, to maximize the impact on their target. Give each a Chaos Rhino and then they can either Infiltrate if you have first turn, or Outflank if you have second turn and are playing an opponent you don’t want to take the alpha strike from. For a sneaky threat, throw a combi-weapon on the Rhino, too! It is always very satisfying to take out a key enemy unit with a one shot melta from a Rhino, muahaha!


I’d equip the Chaos Space Marines units similarly, with a Special Weapon and possibly a combi-weapon on the Champion. Deploy them in a Rhino as well, as the Rhino gains the benefit of ObSec from the Formation benefit. These guys will specialise in harassing your opponent and going for objectives later in a game.

To fill out the Formation, I’d choose a unit of Havocs with autocannons or missile launchers and some Bikers with maxed special weapons. Again, ObSec on these units makes them so dang useful! Across the board, I would consider giving Champions a power maul or axe, as the free Veterans of the Long War (VotLW) + Favoured Scions special rules mean that if they win challenges and start accumulating Boons, they will get very powerful, very quickly. It justifies the expense of the weapon in my mind.

The obvious auxiliary choice for this list would be the Lost and the Damned formation featuring a Dark Apostle and 4-9 units of Cultists. These little heretics come back after being destroyed on a 4+, and as they have Infiltrate (thanks to the Forward Observers special rule), you can Outflank them after they are destroyed to increase the odds of them joining the fray in a good position. While Cultists certainly aren’t that scary on their own; when they keep coming back, they are excellent for board control, snagging objectives and tying up enemy units by simply getting in their way or bogging them down in combat when made Fearless by their Formation’s Dark Apostle.


That gives you a lot of bodies, ObSec, deployment flexibility, alpha and beta strike ability, and a cool theme, too! To fill the remaining points, I’d opt for the Heldrake Hunting Pack with a pair of Heldrakes for providing support wherever you need it. But, you have a lot of choices available to you with those remaining points.

Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention the awesome Many Heads of the Hydra special rule, meaning your Warlord will almost never be destroyed, as any character in your army can be him! So much fun – your opponent literally has to kill EVERY character in your army to secure that point.


Iron Warriors

The Sons of Perturabo are an intractable fighting force that favors big guns and siege warfare. They have some awesome special rules that allow them to build truly compelling fighting forces.

Patrons of the Technovirus is the big one for me. Obliterators and Mutilators as Troops choices is incredible, as they then gain ObSec in a CAD (Combined Arms Detachment). This jumped out at me right away as a cool way to build a very Iron Warriors feeling army.

Siege Masters is the other part of this equation that is just too good not to use. It grants Tank Hunters to Obliterators, Mutilators and Havocs. Again, this just feels right for Iron Warriors, and my mind immediately gravitated towards using this rule in conjunction with Patrons of the Technovirus. Also, I have to mention their the 6+ Feel No Pain (FnP) rule they get, which really helps to keep your troopers alive and kicking. A 16.6% increase in durability for all your boys is nothing to sneeze at.


All of this led me to choose a CAD over the Iron Warriors Grand Company – which provides some very cool builds in and of itself – in order to get where I wanted to go.

First and foremost, I wanted to use a ton of Obliterators! With ObSec and the ability to Deep Strike, they are just so flexible. You could run 5 to 6 units of one-man Oblit units, and they provide an affordable, reliable core to your army. Each is capable of dealing out blistering firepower and solid offense (don’t forget that free Veterans of the Long War!). This gives you a great foundation to your army that can start on the board to provide fire support, or come in from reserves and threaten backfield units and objectives. I chose units of one to avoid morale failures (if they’re even testing, the unit is usually already wiped out), but if you don’t like the idea of min-maxing and potentially bleeding Kill Points, feel free to beef up those unit sizes!

As a part of the Troops selections, I would consider adding in a big unit of Cultists to build the body count in your army, and then using your HQ choice to get a Chaos Lord in that unit to make them Fearless. This means you can use them to go take an Objective and set up camp it. It would be fun to convert them to include some mechanical bits to make them look like proper Iron Warriors cultists!

I’d back this up with three units of Havocs, each sporting four autocannons. With Tank Hunters, VotLW and a 6+ FnP, these are a solid, cheap unit. With the prevalence of armies like Space Marines Battle Companies out there, Tank Hunting Havocs are absolutely great for busting open those Rhinos to get at the juicy lapdogs of the False Emperor that hide inside!

From there, you’d be selling yourself short not to take advantage of some of the cool Daemon Engine formations. While they may not be the most powerful choices, they certainly fit the Iron Warriors theme! My favourite is the Daemon Engine Pack. It consists of a Warpsmith and two of the following Daemon Engines in any combination: Maulerfiends and Forgefiends. The formation bonus grants one of the beasties the Warpsmith’s Ballistic or Weapon Skill when close to him. I’d go with one of each, giving the Forgefiend hades autocannons and having it camp out near the Warpsmith to benefit from the buff. A BS5 Forgefiend spitting Strength 8 firepower downrange is quite formidable. The Maulerfiend, then, runs up the field to soak some of the enemy’s firepower, and occasionally be an all-star and destroy some Imperial lapdogs in melee! You can stick the Warpsmith in one of the units of Havocs to keep him safe and provide some decent counter assault to the unit if any enemy units stray too close.


That leaves you with quite a few points left over and, for me, I would choose to take another CAD with even MORE Obliterators and Havocs, muahahaha! While perhaps not the most original choice, it would really double down on the list strategy of flooding the field with ObSec, Tank Hunting Obliterators and very efficient Havocs that spit firepower all over the board which feels very much like an Iron Warriors siege force to me.

So there you have it! Three ways to play Chaos Space Marines using the new rules from the Traitor Legions supplement that express the character of the corresponding Legions and would be fun to play – in my humble opinion. As stated, these are just a few examples. There are so many cool ways to play Chaos Space Marines now, thanks to this awesome book.


I hope this inspires you to come up with your own warband to bring vengeance to the servants of the Emperor!

Stay tuned for two more articles in this series with similar treatment for the remaining six Legions!

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