The Word Bearers Premature Traitor Legion Ranking
Since the official release of the new Traitor Legion Supplement, I have been sleeping with the book. The Traitor Legion Supplement is a dream come true, a love letter for Chaos Space Marine players. As an old timer it is hard to imagine it was 2002 since we had the legendary, but infamous 3.5 Chaos Space Marine codex. Now as we speed ever closer to 8th edition and maybe Warhammer 40k End Times, let us hope the Traitor Legion Supplement will live on in whatever comes next. The Traitor Legion Supplement is amazing without being broken, better yet hopefully it will do what no other release has done before…bring balance to the game.
The Traitor Legion Supplement starts off on the right foot by quickly dispensing with the fluff, only dedicating two pages to each Traitor Legion and a minimal amount of recycled art and model pictures. Much like the Generals Handbook this release is about the rules and priced just right at $35.00.
Before we begin here is a few pointers for these reviews…
- We will be ranking the Traitor Legion individually, the order will be a countdown from 9 to 1.
- Most important these reviews will assume the reader has a copy of the Traitor Legions Supplement handy.
- Focus will be on the Traitor Legions themselves, not what you can Ally with for instance.
- All Traitor Legions get Veterans of the Long War for free, allowing them a version of Chapter Tactics.
- All Traitor Legions change certain units to Troop choices, only really good for Combined Arms Detachments.
- All Traitor Legions get unique Detachments, Warlord Traits, and Artefacts.
- All the Traitor Legions are good and playable, so don’t think any of them are bad just because I rank them lower than others.
So let us go with number…
The Word Bearers
In the realm of premature predictions the Word Bearers hold an interesting place, they have elements of a few Traitor Legions, but it is unknown if they have the cohesion necessary to be amazing on the battlefield. The Word Bearers are one part Black Legion, one part Alpha Legion, and one part Thousand Sons. When Games Workshop tries these kinds of balancing acts they usually fail, but the Word Bearers oddly might work. It will take some player testing investment to determine what works and doesn’t, but I think we might have a way.
Word Bearers Special Rules
Word Bearers special rules consist of lame things like Possessed as Troops and Ultramarine Hatred, to the amazing conjuration bonus. The +3 harness for Daemon summoning is getting all the discussion for the Legion, but the force multiplier for Profane Zeal should get more. While the Word Bearers don’t get Fearless stock, Profane Zeal should make up for it, unless you get really spread out. It fits great with the Word Bearers fluff, as an unstoppable horde of religious fanatics marching across the battlefield to destroy the Imperium.
Word Bearers Warlord Traits
The Word Bearers have one great set of Warlord Traits. Latent Powers is a free psychic points, Voice of Lorgar gives out special abilities to units like candy, and Unholy Firebrand does wonders for units stuck in Assault. Then you have two different Chaos Boon modifiers that really allow manipulated a bloat chart. Each Warlord trait is so different from the rest, so you cannot count on them to be a linchpin of army design.
Word Bearers Artefacts
The Word Bearers Artefacts also has some fantastic choices. The best part is the real good ones are super cheap. The Scripts of Erebus can give you that little extra psychic boost, especially when you need a ton of dice for conjuring. The Malefic Tome is great, especially if you want to roll on another chart, but also want basic summoning. The Baleful Icon when taken in combination with the Staff of Arcane Compulsion from the Thousand Sons means opponents will be re-rolling all charges at -2. Then you have the Cursed Crozius, which against the majority of armies gets the points back if the Independent characters is joined to a shooting platform.
Word Bearers Grand Host Detachment
The Word Bearers Grand Host command benefits are not the best, but serviceable. The Dark Crusaders is great for both getting units into combat faster, also means sweeping most non-fearless units with ease. The Eight-fold Path is a minor bonus, but one in which is amazing if you can get the Nexus of the Gods Warlord Trait. The Word Bearers Grand Host is the only Detachment that has the Lost and the Damned as Core and that is a big deal, giving you the option to go full Cultist Horde. The Word Bearers seem to be designed as a horde army that summons, typically that is difficult for even the most optimized summoning army. The Word Bearers though can put points both into regenerating Cultists and shave enough to bulk up on Sorcerers. To make it work you will have to take Auxiliary choices as Chaos Spawn to save points. The other balancing act, is getting enough Zealot bubbles along with pWarp Charges, in order to do means taking two Grand Hosts, so you have enough Independent Characters. The results is a Cultist filled summoning horde of goodness.
The Grand Host is really made for Dark Apostles, especially because the Word Bearers have no restriction on taking Chaos Marks. You can have Khorne or Slaanesh Chaos Space Marines assaulting with overlapping Zealot bubbles doing real damage. The Grand Host standard Auxiliary formations just don’t feel right when you consider the benefits the Word Bearers have; avoid things like the Raptor Talon or Terminator Annihilation Force, instead take Spawn or Favored of Chaos for either cheap bodies or re-rolling killers.
The Word Bearers as a Combined Arms force, doesn’t work very well, having to take Possessed as Troops is terrible, and you are limited by too few Independent Character slots. The Word Bearers though as an Ally Detachment is fantastic, because they can take Chaos Marks and Artefacts like the Scripts of Erebus.
Overall, the Word Bearers seem a lot like other Traitor Legions, but have a unique play style if done properly. One of the biggest drawbacks of the army is Games Workshop overlooking the Malific Perils of the Warp potential if you go all in with conjuration, luckily the Unholy Pact and Spell Familiar can minimize this. Remember, using the Word Bearers as conjuration force means using fewer dice to get off powers, leaving Warp Charges for other spells when necessary. The Word Bearers in most respects does Cultist spam better than the Alpha Legion since the unit/formation taxes are less. The Word Bearers might end up being one of the best Traitor Legions, but one in which has very limited builds to excel.
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