By now, it’s all over town: The Horus Heresy is getting a revised new edition and with it a whole range of plastic models. A whole bunch of the new kits, as well as the new core rulebook, can be found in the new Age of Darkness launch box, which will be released in a few weeks. Today, we take a look at what we’ll find inside.

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Warhammer: The Horus Heresy Age of Darkness Unboxing - featured
This item was kindly provided by Games Workshop. Thoughts and opinions are our own.

The Warhammer: The Horus Heresy Age of Darkness launch box is a massive, heavy box, bulging with models and the new hardcover Age of Darkness rulebook. Included are 40 new MkVI Space Marine Legionaries, 2 Praetors, 1 new Contemptor Dreadnought, 1 new Spartan Assault Tank, and 10 of the existing Cataphractii Terminators. In addition there is the book, a reference sheet, a transfer sheet for Sons of Horus and Imperial Fists, dice (including a scatter die), templates, and the good old red whipping erm measurement sticks.

Warhammer: The Horus Heresy Age of Darkness box contents
Image © Games Workshop Ltd. – used without permission

In the Open Day live stream it was announced that the price would be under £200, which would be an exceptionally good deal. They also stated that the box wouldn’t be a limited release item and restocked as necessary. But as with the Indomitus and Dominion launch boxes, it’s my guess that the box won’t be a part of the range forever and I expect regular starter sets like 40k and Age of Sigmar to appear later, though this is all just my educated guess at this point.

Update 5th June 2022: We’ve expanded our unboxing post with a proper in-depth review here, so check it out:

Unboxing the models

The Praetors

Let’s start with the Praetors. These two models are extraordinarily cool and with their Artificer MkVI armour look as if they had sprung directly from John Blanche artworks. There are no weapon options, but both models have a choice of either bare head or plumed helmet. The Praetors are generic with no Sons of Horus or Imperial Fists iconography, and can therefore be used for any legion (although they are certainly more suitable in style for some legions than others). My favourite is the Praetor with the double-handed axe, which I HAVE to paint at some point for my collection 🙂

Horus Heresy Age of Darkness Praetors Sprues

MkVI Tactical Squad

Next we find a whole 40 of the new “beakie” marines in MkVI Corvus armour. The choice of MkVI armour was met with controversy online, but by the final stage of the Heresy, pretty much all legions had access to this advanced armour type. I’m a big fan of MkVI, so the choice suits me perfectly. The models have been completely redesigned from older models, with revised and upscaled proportions that I think are very close to true scale, as you can see from my scale comparison:

Horus Heresy MkVI Space Marines Scale Comparison

Each of these 10 model squads comes on two identical sprues that build 5 Marines with bolters and chain-bayonets, plus a small accessories sprue. The small sprue has weapon options for the Sergeant, a nuncio-vox and Vexilla, 10 regular bayonets and holstered boltpistols, plus a few other cosmetic choices like additional heads and equipment. Unlike the MkIII and MkIV models, lower and upper bodies are connected in fixed poses, similar to Primaris Marines, and the left hand is modelled onto the bolters.

Warhammer: The Horus Heresy Age of Darkness MkVI Tactical Squad Sprues

Contemptor Dreadnought

The Contemptor Dreadnought is a faithful translation of the resin kit. Unlike the Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought from Betrayal at Calth, the model is fully posable with ball joints for the arms, hips, and legs, as well as movable elbow and knee joints, and two differently posed feet pieces for each leg. Included weapon options are a gravis bolt cannon, a gravis autocannon, a gravis melta cannon, and gravis lascannon. The power fist can be equipped with a built-in combi-bolter, heavy flamer, plasma blaster, meltagun, and graviton gun, and there is also a carapace-mounted havoc launcher. From what I’ve seen, it should be possible to equip both arms with heavy weapons, as well as putting the power fist on the right arm. Pretty cool.

Plastic Contemptor Dreadnought Sprues

Spartan Assault Tank

The Spartan is a massive chunk of plastic and comes on a whopping six sprues. It has with quad-lascannons for the side sponsons, a choice of hull-mounted lascannons, heavy bolters, or heavy flamers, and a pintle-mounted havoc launcher, multi-melta, heavy bolter, and heavy flamer. There is also an optional hunter-killer missile, smoke launcher, and search-light, as well as optional aquila and eye of Horus decorations. The gunner can also be assembled as a Commander, holding either one of two devices or binoculars, and he seems to be clad in redesigned MkII armour, so I guess there must be a plastic MkII set at some point in the future.

Cataphractii Terminators

Last but not least, we have ten of the plastic Cataphractii Terminators introduced in Betrayal at Calth. I’d have preferred the more modern Tartaros pattern Terminator suits to go along the MkVI models, but at the rumoured price of the box I’m not going to complain. You can assemble the models with Lightning claws, or combi-bolters and power fists/chain fists, and there is also a heavy flamer, and a power sword and grenade harness for the Sergeant.

Plastic Cataphractii Terminator Sprues

Other components

Apart from the models, we’ll have plenty of bases, the aforementioned measure sticks, dice, two reference sheets, a transfer sheet featuring Sons of Horus and Imperial Fists iconography, and a B/W assembly guide that also has the army list entries for the models included in this set. Without any upgrades, the models add up to about 1700 to 1750 points, though you can easily spend an additional 100 to 300 points on weapons and equipment.

Age of Darkness Rulebook

The Age of Darkness rulebook is a mighty hardcover tome with 340 full-colour pages. The presentation of the book is top-notch, with a lot of artwork, illustrations and little vignettes, though much of the artwork is familiar from the Forge World black & red books and the Black Library novel covers.

The Horus Heresy Age of Darkness Rulebook cover
The Horus Heresy Age of Darkness Rulebook contents

The background sections covers about 140 pages and features an introduction to the Imperium of Mankind, the creation and organisation of the Legiones Astartes, with four pages dedicated to each of the 18 legions. The Talons of the Emperor, Solar Auxilia, and Mechanicum also get a few pages each. Last but not least, we also have an 8 pages timeline and a galactic map.

The core rules section is about 100 pages, and is still based very much on the 7th Edition of Warhammer 40.000, with armour and AP values, universal special rules, and army list entries instead of datasheets, but reactions similar to Age of Sigmar’s 3rd Edition.

Finally, we have a gaming section with about 80 pages, that introduces modes of play, force organizations, missions, and more. It also has a beautiful showcase section of various Horus Heresy armies, as well as a few battlefields. One thing I noticed is that table sizes stayed the same at 6′ x 4′, and aren’t tied to the sizes of the cardboard gaming boards like the current editions of Warhammer 40.000 and Age of Sigmar.

A closer look at the contents of the book and my experience from the demo game I had will follow in my in-depth review of the Age of Darkness box.

Initial impression & outlook

As a big fan of Space Marines (and classic armour patterns), I’ve always been interested in the rich history of the Horus Heresy. But, like many, the many resin models put me off. I’ve painted a few of my favourite Forge World models for a Blood Angels 40k army a couple of years ago, but that was about it. But with a competitively priced launch box, and the slew of new plastic models, The Horus Heresy will become much more accessible, which I think is a very good thing. And if I’m honest, they already had me at when I saw the new MkVI models. Now I’m eager to start a new collection… question is, which Legion to choose?

Update 5th June 2022: By now, the box is available to (pre)order at our partner stores Wayland Games, Element Games, and Taschengelddieb with a discount up to 20%:

Over the next few weeks, you will find a lot of The Horus Heresy content on Tale of Painters, including tutorials for the models in the box, a more detailed review of the box and the new edition, impressions from the Horus Heresy Open Day that I was able to attend, and a very special Primarch will pay a visit… so stay tuned!