Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Review of Horus Heresy Book 4 Conquest Part 1

I was fortunate to get a very nice Christmas gift in the form of the newest Horus heresy book from forge world, book 4 conquest. The one I got is actually the special or limited edition that came with a slip cover and a few extra goodies. I am not particularly huge on Limited edition books from Games Workshop, but in this instance I do love the slip cover it comes with as it matches the slip cover that I have for the first 3 books in the series I own. Beyond that though, I plan on going over the contents of said book in 2 parts. Part 1 is going to cover the physical book itself, artwork, and the background information/fluff. In part 2 I will go over the actual rule stuff for the game. So if you're strictly interested in the gaming material then you have my permission to stop reading and wait for part 2.

If you've never purchased or seen one of these Horus heresy books in person I would almost describe them as a tome rather than a book. These books are heavy leather bound books with silver edged pages. These pages themselves are thick enough that you always feel like you're turning more than one page at a time. While the heresy books are pricey, they have clearly been made to last and look impressive. In this vein book 4 doesn't let you down, and really makes you feel like you've got something special when you're holding it in your hands. The weight of its 309 pages of content really feels impressive since its thus far the longest heresy book printed.

The artwork inside is, as always, very nicely done. You will find plenty of imperial knight pictures, solar auxilia pictures, mechanicum pictures (including traitor mechanicum pictures), and artwork of the son's of Horus, death guard, night lords, iron hands, imperial fist's, raven guard and salamanders legions. They also have a picture or two of "black legion" space marines (more on this later). For painting reference they have a number of squad markings for the solar auxilia, son's of horus, and death guard. You'll also find some great painting references for 4 different knightly houses not shown in other sources.

Fluff wise this book has a ton of new information. The book itself details the conquest of a particular region of space known as the Coronid Deeps. This particular region of space is important for the Heresy because of its industrial output and fleet support capabilities. It contains 2 forge worlds, numerous industrial output worlds, and a huge fleet staging point called Port Maw that had hundreds of ships stationed in the Manachean Commonwealth area of the Coronid Deeps. Port Maw is actually a planetoid size space station just to point out it's importance to Horus.

When going through the deeps Horus basically assigned the son's of Horus and death guard to handle this area. The way those 2 legions handle this at the outset is to give the worlds a choice a death or surrender. If a world wasn't important from an industrial output sense and they didn't immediately surrender they would just wipe out the planet from orbit. Although oddly enough there are instances in the book were they actually send marines to the surface to simple cull the population. In my mind that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I suppose that can be chalked up to the legions slowly turning to chaos, although the book itself doesn't really explain this. In fact at one point Mortarion himself lands on a planet to help slaughter the population. Given the amount of time it takes to kill a population by hand vs just blasting it to hell, it just makes no strategic sense. In general the thing I find disturbing is the total lack of caring that Horus has for his future citizens. These are people that in theory he hopes to one day rule. At the outset he is literally just burning entire worlds if they don't add any value to his war chest.

The planets that do have something to add to his cause he will fight for. The Manachean Commonwealth is one such area that has a huge industrial output. The book goes into great detail of the attack on Port Maw, and the Planet Manachea. In fact the book talks about quite a few space battles and just really makes you wish that forge world could resurrect battlefleet gothic if only for the Heresy stuff.

When it comes to a lot of the battles in this book, you can really see that nothing is really safe from a traitor stand point. In every single major battle you end up having people that are working on the inside for Horus. Of the 2 forge worlds mentioned one turned traitor before the war even started and the other one has to first deal with the traitors in its own ranks. Port Maw is infested with traitor mechanicum guys, the major planets labeled for conquest have traitors on them that cause huge problems for the defenders. The book gives you this sense of hopelessness for the loyalists because even in the area's where you think the loyalists have a chance to hold out the battle is already partially lost. Manachea for instance had it's system defenses crippled by traitor mechanicum allowing the son's of Horus to approach the planet itself much easier. This book does a great job of really showing both how monumental the task if for Horus, and yet how easy it's going to be.

As I went through I took a bunch of notes on stuff that I either had not previously heard about as regards the heresy, or that struck me as interesting. In order to save space I'm just going to those notes up and let you check them out.  For those that have the book I'm going to put page numbers down where I got the information from after each point.

- Details that at this point (right after Istvann) the traitors outnumber loyalist marines approximately 1,000,000 to 750,000.  (Pg17)

- Horus has to use a divide and conquer strategy because the path to Terra is too heavily defended for a direct strike. (Pg17)

- Solar Auxilia is not the name of the imperial guard in its entirety. The solar auxilia is simply a type of regiment that specializes in hostile environments and space void battles. (Pg19) This explains the whole 20,000 leagues under the sea look the basic infantry have.

- The book talks about the various legions all attempting to quicken the creation process for space marines. (Pg18)

- Not all the loyalists were in fact purged from the traitor legions. Nor are all the loyalist legions safe from traitors in the ranks. (19) This is where the black legions come from. Basically they're marines who have left their parent legion and painted their armor black with no markings. Some fight for traitors and some fight for the loyalists.

- A brief explanation that Kelbor Hal the fabricator general of mars is in fact a traitor and starts a civil war on mars that no one is as yet aware of. (Pg24)

- At the outset of war the loyalists where often in bad locations to defend themselves because Horus ordered fleets and troops deployed in bad locations prior to starting the war. (Pg37)

- Horus actually uses an enormous ork space hulk the help weaken his foes. (Pg37)

- Horus is able to safely travel areas of the warp that have long been unstable to others. This allows his fleets to arrive in system from unexpected points. (pg43)

- There are planets and factions that join Horus not because they believe in him over the emperor, but because Horus will allow them to pursue their own ends. (pg54)

- The iron hands have a grand cruiser that survives from Istvann destroy a planet of people for surrendering to Horus. (Pg55) This pretty much shows you that once again the good guys is a totally relative thing. 

Thanks for reading and look for part 2 in a few days as I go over the rules and units this book adds.


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