The Tragedy of Angron

It’s been quite a while since I waxed lyrical about 40k and as I’ve been ploughing through the Horus Hersy novels as well as listening to all the audio dramas my thoughts have turned to the XII legion and their Primarch, the warrior king, Angron.

Angron

Of all the Emperor’s sons, Angron suffered the most at the hands the galaxy and his adopted home world. Whereas the likes of Guilliman, Dorn, Sanquinius and even Curze rose to dominion over the respective worlds they came to rest upon after the Scattering, Angron suffered mutilation at the hands of cruel masters, implanting the Butcher’s Nails deep within his brain. Driven to the edge of insanity, the Butcher’s Nails drove him to the most extreme acts of violence and in exchange they would grant him fleeting moments of peace and clarity. And after each fight he cut victories into his own flesh, further reinforcing the notion that his life was meant only for pain. The rest of the time he was exposed to relentless mental agony that pulled, thread by thread, at his ability to reason. It was inevitable that Angron started to love the Butcher’s Nails for they were the only thing that granted him that briefest moment of clarity, the slimmest window to be himself again.

Having endured the worst kind of abuses it is little wonder that Angron chose to stay with his brothers during their defiant last stand against their captures when the Emperor finally found him. It is also little wonder that Angron was distraught when he was teleported aboard the Emperor’s flagship and forced to watch, via sensor feed, his brothers killed to a man. We’ll never know why the Emperor chose not to save Angron’s followers. Perhaps he knew they were too far gone. Too damaged, too tainted by the Butcher’s Nails. Perhaps he saw a glimmer of salvation in Angron’s tortured soul.

Perhaps it was more to do with the Emperor needed Angron to leave the life of a gladiator and butcher behind him and be the general he was bred to be. He couldn’t have know how far gone Angron truly was or how deeply the bonds of brotherhood ran with Angron and his fellow combatants. Especially as it was only Kharn’s ability to draw parallels between the War Hounds (prior to being renamed the World Eaters) and Angron’s brother warriors that prevented Angron from killing Kharn along with the other company captains that had tried to reason with him.

To make matters worse he was then expected to lead a legion in conquest. Angron, unlike his brothers, had never had the opportunity to study war beyond the walls of the grand arena. Although coded to have knowledge of tactics and strategems, their application did not come naturally to him. Angron was made into a cruel,  sharp and brutally bloody instrument by his captors and that was how he trained his legion to wage war. The We can only assume the Emperor either hoped Angron would rise to the challenge, ignored just how broken Angron truly was or accepted that he was a necessary tool that would remain in his arsenal until after the conclusion of the Great Crusade. It’s not an unreasonable supposition as we know him capable of utter ruthlessness having already had two of his sons killed, and later the attack on the Thousand Sons.

So Angron waged wars in the name of his father and for an Imperium he knew he could never be apart of or truly understand, and for his efforts he and his legion were treated with disdain and mistrust; their brutal methods of war drawing sanction from their brother legions and the Emperor himself for being what his father seemingly wanted him to be – a vicious and unrelenting weapon of war. And as much a threat as an actual fighting force. Only in the most dire of circumstances would prompt the more ‘civilised’ Legiones Astartes to call upon Angron and his sons for aide.

The result was that Angron was not only abused and mistreated by people of authority – which he was largely used to – but also by those that would fight by his side and call him brother. Worst of all the Emperor was not only an authority figure who seemed to be ordering him into violence once more but was then punishing him for his actions. And as I suspect Angron’s relationship with his father never extended beyond cordial quickly began to resent him, bucking his authority all the while trying to earn his approval.

Even when Horus became Warmaster and later betrayed the Emperor, Angron was still treated as a rabid dog that would be goaded and prodded and then set loose allowing others to distance themselves from the worst kind of warfare. And even when the Heresy had been revealed and the Traitors out in open defiance, Angron and his World Eaters were still brought up short by treacherous brothers who still considered them to be beyond the pale.

It was only at the Emperor’s Palace that Angron and his World Eaters were truly allowed to wreak the devastation Angron engineered his legion to unleash because, as is so often the case with an abused soul, Angron had abused his sons by implanting each of them with Butcher’s Nails of their own. He saw to it that they knew the pain and madness that jabbed at his own mind. And only through violence and battle born bloodshed could a measure of peace be obtained. And thus he doomed them to a violent and bloody path to damnation.

1800_angron.horus_heresy.primarch

The sad thing is that Angron was always doomed, one way or another. The Butcher’s Nails were Chaotic in origin and once implanted couldn’t be removed without killing the Primarch. And because of the nature of the devices he was always going to be driven to every greater excesses of violence which would have resulted either in him being killed in battle or the Wolves being set upon the World Eaters and destroyed. And probably at the cost of much of the Space Wolves Legion and Leman Russ himself. Perhaps that is why the Emperor let Angron be for so long, hoping he would burn himself and his legion out in their never-ending wars.

His fall to Khorne was, it seemed, inevitable. He was too damaged, too full of hate and rage and was endlessly sent to die by a father that promised him an end to the abuses he suffered. Shunned by his nobler kin and manipulated by Horus and Lorgar, his fate was never in doubt. Especially as the Eldar appeared to make at least two attempts on his life to prevent him from becoming the Blood God’s greatest champion. And for all Angron’s blood-letting and the infliction of untold misery on the galaxy he is still trapped in an endless cycle, at the behest of is eternal master, in an effort to gain ascend beyond the reach of the Butcher’s Nails.

Kharn the Betrayer

I spotted a fantastic tactics article about Kharn the Betrayer on Bell of Lost Souls. Having developed quite a fondness for the chief mentalist of the World Eaters, and as it’s been a while since I finched content from someone else, I thought I’d share…

Before
After

Gather round boys and girls – today we examine the meanest, baddest of them all – Kharn.

So what the heck happened to cause this change of heart ? That is what I really want to know. Maybe Kharn simply decided to fully embrace his dark side. What’s interesting to me is that there were other World Eaters such as Captain Argus Brond that remained loyal to the Emperor. I don’t ever remembering reading anything from GW or the Black Library that explained his decision or delved into his specific situation. Certainly Angron must have played a big part in it… That much we know for sure.

So on the tactical analysis now

I’d like to discuss how I use Kharn in my most current Chaos Space Marine (CSM) army. Kharn has received quite a few big buffs since the last codex and received a reduction in points (160 now versus 165 points now).

2+, Better than a Wolf Tooth Necklace

As before he always hits on a 2+ in melee plus he has the Warlord Trait Hatred Incarnate which is Hatred versus everything! The newly revised CSM FAQ from GW tells us that Kharn rerolls to hit on any 1s during initial assaults due to his Hatred. This is really good as he won’t be chopping up his compatriots and can inflict even more damage… Kharn attached to a dedicated melee unit (e.g., Berserkers, Chaos terminators or Chaos Space Marines) can destroy many enemy units during the initial charge so the chances of him slaying fellow World Eaters beyond the first round of close combat are slimmer now and obviously that’s a good thing.

Kharn is base S5 and his favored melee weapon Gorechild, which is a Chaos Artefact, grants him +1S and is AP2 plus it has the special rule Armor Bane (add 2d6 for armor penetration). Kharn also gets to swing his axe at his normal initiative (I5) unlike other power axes… This is very good as well.

Entourage

Like I said above you should attach Kharn to a dedicated melee unit. This makes him more survivable over the course of a game and he enhances friendly units such as Chaos terminators and Chaos Space Marines since they benefit from hisFearless and Hatred Incarnate special rules. Also it is worth noting if Kharn is chosen for your primary detachment he then makes Berserkers count as a troop choice which is also quite useful.

I currently prefer to use Chaos Space Marines with the Mark of Khorne (MoK) and Icon of Wrath (IoW). MoK grants the special rules Rage and Counter Attack so equipped as such the squad is actually better than Grey Hunters… Of course you’re paying the points for it. IoW grants them the special rule Furious Charge and allows the squad to reroll their charge distance – that ability alone is well worth the price for this option.

This unit can be configured just like a squad of Grey Hunters – bolter, bolt pistol and a close combat weapon (commonly referred to as the uber grit) plus they have access to special weapons unlike Berserkers. I prefer to take a flamer since mass infantry is very popular now. Plasmaguns are a bad choice since they can’t charge if they fire it. The meltagun is one shot and while it packs quite a wallop your goal should be to engage them in melee… The flamer helps to soften enemy units prior to the charge.

I’d like to experiment using a squad of Chaos terminators in the future… They are pricey though compared to Khorne Marines and don’t score either. Still I think Chaos terminators could work well in the right list, such as if you’re using cultists for your troops.

Transportation

Chaos Land Raider
I prefer to run my squad with Kharn in a Land Raider equipped with a Dirge Caster (prevents enemy units from using Overwatch), dozer blades and extra armor. Both the Dirge Caster and dozer blades are made of pure win… I will even go so far as to say they are both mandatory. If you’re feeling a bit daring you might want to use Daemonic Possession instead of extra armor… I would much rather have BS4 for the Land Raider two twin linked lascannons. It doesn’t matter much as the game progresses though since you’ll be moving the transport a lot, which will force you to snap shoot those lascannons.

Chaos Storm Eagle
If you can use Forge World then I think a Storm Eagle is the best way to go and it is superior to the Chaos Land Raider since it is a flyer with an assault ramp and has the capacity for up to 20 models! This is where taking a large squad of Khorne Marines or Berserkers can really pay off (i.e., 15 or more total models embarked inside the Storm Eagle… Take another flamer if you’re running Khorne Marines). The Storm Eagle has the Vengeance Launcher which is excellent for trashing enemy infantry such as big blobs hiding behind an Aegis Defense Line plus you can take an option for two twin-linked lascannons or four Hell Strike missiles. You can also replace the nose mounted heavy bolter with a Reaper autocannon. I prefer the lascannons and Reaper autocannon configuration since these ranged weapons are excellent versus enemy flyers.

Dreadclaw Drop Pod
You also have access to the Dreadclaw drop pod if you can use Forge World. This transport is a cheap flyer with AV12 all around – it also has an assault ramp and frag launchers as well. The Dreadclaw can only carry 10 models and has no ranged shooting but you’re saving lots of points as compared to the Storm Eagle… You can actually take three Dreadclaws for the price of one Storm Eagle – definitely something to consider as this easily lends itself to a very mobile assault army.

Note on the Rhino
I don’t see the Rhino as being a good choice. You can’t assault the same turn you disembark and the Rhino just seems so flimsy now. The last thing you want to happen is Kharn’s transport being shot out from under him before he is in range to launch an assault. If you don’t want to pay the price for a Land Raider or Storm Eagle and can use Forge World then the Dreadclaw is your best option.

Foot Slogging
This is another option but I never use it. It can work though and the points you save eschewing the use of transports can go towards fielding more assault units or simply running them in bigger units. Your army is slower though and will be exposed to a lot more enemy shooting as it moves forward across the battle field to engage the enemy. You can use an Aegis Defense Line deployed at the boundary of your table half to provide the 4++ cover save as your army advances.

Kharn’s Shortcomings

Kharn is truly a melee beast but we need to consider his weaknesses as well so we can better protect him. Kharn’s major shortcoming is his resiliency – he is base T4 and has only a 5++ invulnerable save. This is another good reason to attach him to a bodyguard. Use the squad champion to issue or accept challenges so Kharn can inflict damage into the enemy unit rather than wasting his uber attacks versus say an enemy character armed with a storm shield. This will invariably produce better results overall in melee and you’ll sweep enemy units more often.

Blessing of the Blood God

It would have been so nice if Kharn had a 2+ armor save and was an Eternal Warrior but at least he does Deny the Witch on a 2+ which is very helpful seeing how popular psykers are now with their many deadly maledictions. Kharn is also immune to instant death from force weapons and a lot of people believe this includes Nemesis daemon hammers as well.

The Big Picture

I’ve posted some of my Khorne army lists here before and you can also find them over on my blog Terminus Est. Kharn and his retinue are one of the cornerstones of my army. I use daemonic allies to bolster my numbers and I’m surprised not to see more players doing so. Daemons are an excellent ally for Khorne and there’s lots of solid Khornate daemonic units to choose, such as a Bloodthirster, Daemon Prince, Heralds and Bloodletters. I prefer to run my Bloodletters in packs 16 strong so they can soak up the damage on the way in. I have also used Khornate daemons as my primary detachment with CSM as their ally – it’s brutal and often I find the daemons to be more resilient.

It can be quite the challenge to play an assault army in sixth edition but once you’re stuck in the enemy can quickly wither… You don’t see lots of assault armies now, as bad as assault is now with all the many nerfs they are still a solid contender in my opinion and I do love to exploit the meta.

You’re not going to have a lot of shooting so you’ll need to make the most out of what you do have. This is another reason why I prefer transports such as a Chaos Land Raider or Storm Eagle since they both have some serious long ranged shooting.

Conclusion
Kharn is pretty much a point and click über melee character… He is brutal in assault (obviously) so get him into close combat – he will take care of the business. The Land Raider is your best option as a transport if you have to keep him on the ground… Consider taking a Chaos Storm Eagle or Dreadclaw if you can use Forge World. Kharn needs a retinue to help him survive the battle longer. Finally daemons are an excellent ally so use them.