Since the ongoing pandemic is still rampant (at least here in Italy) and we can’t get some games in, I decided to start a small series of articles providing a small knowledge base for people who want to hop in Heralds of Ruin with a new faction.
Today for you I have an oddball Opus, showing the staggering amount of variety we can get with some dedicated fans and writers.
It’s still in a beta stage, but we can get a pretty clear picture of how they work and the type of lists we can expect to see from them.
Beware the Opus got written before the 2W increase across all the Astartes factions.
Ladies, gentlemen and other lifeforms, let’s review Opus: Daemonkin of Malice.
Malice (or Malal in the old lore) is the embodiment of Chaos' tendency toward destruction, even of itself and its own agents. It draws its power on the other four Gods, so the stronger they are, the stronger Malice becomes. Vice versa, as Malice foils the plans of the other four Gods, it diminishes with them; like a tick deprived of its host's blood.
Its favourite things are the number 11, black and white colours, walking on the beach and eating melon ice-cream. Wait, maybe the last two aren’t canon.
Speaking of canon, it is still technically part of the lore, but it’s not mentioned in the Chaos Space Marines codex since 3rd edition. Perfect for anyone wanting to convert some weird model and not play as the usual Nurgle or Khorne warband.
Being an offshoot of Codex: CSM and Daemons we find many special rules affecting this Opus too. Let’s start with those rules and then we’ll take a look for faction-specific bonuses.
I think this is being amended to work in HoR right now. I’ll reserve it for the future update.
Adding 1 extra Attack when Charging/Charged or Intervened is always useful, and lets your Heretic Astartes be that much nastier in melee.
The Bolter Discipline we all know and love, giving your daemonic servants some more covering fire before getting stuck in.
An ability sprinkled in various datasheets, an absolutely wonderful 5++ save for our gribblies. Fear not the plasma.
And now onto faction-specific buffs.
The Cant of Malice
A 3++ save for all your models if they number EXACTLY 11. This is difficult to achieve, but it will also be difficult for your opponent to dislodge you once you hit the magical number.
The Opus is rife with ways to replenish your forces (or shave off those extra models for useful effects), so you actually have tools to tweak your warband’s numbers.
Children of Destruction
Damn Chaos, they ruined Chaos! *shakes fist*.
Reroll 1s to wound when fighting stuff with other Chaos Gods keywords (so Nurgle, Tzeentch, Khorne and Slaanesh). Provides a decent counter to other, for certain aspects better, chaos warbands.
We Reivers now. -1 Ld to enemies and if they fail Morale the successful flee rolls must be rerolled. As with almost all rules affecting Morale, this one is meh and i don’t expect to be able to build around it (watch me being proven wrong).
Some gems here, which can be used to augment your weird gribblies from beyond. No, not Tyranids, the other ones.
Pick a model to give it a Jump Pack in your next Movement phase. Needs a bit of forethought to use, but it can be an awesome tool to have in your back pocket. Note that per Heralds of Ruin rules on Psychic powers, when a power targets a *unit* it means a 3” AoE.
A Smite on a stick, locking down a 3” radius around a marker. Very nice for area and objective denial, plonk it down onto the opponent’s home objective and watch models blow up to cap it.
Hilarious power that makes a unit Fight itself. Stop hitting yourself jokes are mandatory.
Punishes the opponent for bringing a beatstick to the game, but nearly useless against more shooty warbands like Tau.
Worse Smite that statistically deals 1 MW versus Daemons and Psykers. Only 0.5 against any other target. Use it if you feel lucky i guess.
Nice way to get back a wound on your Psyker while eating one of your opponent’s mooks. Don’t count on it to make your psyker unkillable though, there are lots of multi damage weapons out there.
Light of Komus
Gives a model the Hideous Mutations melee weapon (S: User AP-2 D2 damage found on the Chaos Spawn) which is an interesting profile. It works on ranged weapons too, transforming that Grav Cannon Devastator into a squid cosplay for a turn. Other than that, it might be used to disentangle your ranged guys from melee by giving them a weapon stronger than a slap with their fists would be.
I’m following the layout of the Opus here, which is quite unique compared to the standard Rules-Units-Armoury-Strats-Philosophies layout, but i think a straight top-bottom walkthrough of the PDF would serve newbies better.
A hefty +3CPs, but you can only use Stratagems on friendly units within Engagement Range. High-risk high-reward Philosophy for a very aggressive warband.
Once per turn, sacrifice a model for +1CP. Having access to cheap-ish fodder with Cursemites and Cannibals you should be able to get some CPs, especially if you start sacrificing models out of position or that would die regardless.
Watcher of the Flux
+2 CP but you can’t Deny. Also your Leader must be a Psyker but that’s not that much limiting given how good some powers are. Almost an autopick versus teams without Psykers since you won’t need to Deny.
Because even your own Chaos God hates you.
You get a hefty eleven CPs but can’t use it for strats. Very Malice-y, you can have all the CPs but no way to spend them.
Sac an Astartes or Cultist to heal a Daemon. Decent if you need to keep a strong Daemon alive, just run Cultists alongside it and eat when needed.
A better chance to Deny a power, with a good chance to Deny for 1 CPs. If you absolutely, positively need to Deny something you can burn 3 CPs instead to roll four dice and pick two; unless you angered the Dice Gods and roll four 1s of course.
Rend from Grace
Makes Daemons and SoBs lose their schtick. Useful for pushing through extra damage or disrupting your opponent’s synergies.
Monarch of the Threshold
Plus 1 S and AP when shooting with your pseudo-Custodes models, the Leech launcher becomes basically a Lascannon. Absolutely a good way to spend a CP.
Will of Malice
Big one here. If an opponent kills a model that didn’t Fight yet it can do so. Very potent, and the 2++ save is just the cherry on top. Don’t forget to remove the model at the end of the turn.
Aren’t they cute together?
Rerolls for both Astartes and Daemon for when you really need to push through that extra damage.
Summoning a Cursemite might not seem much, but what about ALL THE CURSEMITES onto uncapped objectives on turn 5?
Also useful to keep your warband at that sweet 11 models for Cant of Malice.
A bit situational but nice to make additional models run away. Goes well with the Endless Droning ability.
Super fighty horseys for 2CPs. Fight twice strats are very rare and very powerful, expect to use this at least once during a game. It’s also a very good incentive to bring Cavalry, which is always the cool choice.
Dare that psyker to manifest a power. Psykers are usually just behind the frontline so being 11” away with three models isn’t unrealistic.
Spend 3CPs and your opponent must feed you target model coming from Reserves by placing it within 6” of one of your models. Disincentivizes the use of deep strikers against your warband and makes them footslog like the plebs they are.
INSPIRING PRESENCE AURAS
Fitting 10 models around your Leader means you’re not controlling the board, which is not advisable. Unless it’s a Last Stand mission and you’re attacking, or some other corner case like the Karnemak Campaign.
Moving around wounds suffered can be huge, especially if you have some chaff to throw away in the process. Make the enemy target your toughest model and then pass any unsaved wounds onto weak units, or shuffle the unsaved wounds on multiwound models to keep your team at 11 models.
+2VPs for eating an opponent in melee is pretty solid as a Secondary objective, but you need to spend a turn soaking bullets with your face so pay attention. Killing models in your opponent’s Fight phase is advisable.
Kill something in melee with a Daemon and a Space Marine for 3VPs. Melee is where you need to be with this Opus, so it’s a solid pick for Secondary.
A Fitting Prize
Pretty neat versus swarms, plus it doesn’t care if you shot or stabbed those eleven models.
El cheapo leader, and...it shows. Not particularly durable or nasty in combat, but if you’re looking to shave off points for some nasty build I guess you can’t ask for more.
Six attacks base and can heal wounds, the Doomlasher reminds me a bit of the Broodlord. Less paper-thin than the Slasher but still, keep some meatshields around until it hits melee.
A Psyker in Power armour with a good ability and a good melee weapon. Pretty solid pick in my opinion, given the quality of Psychic powers and stratagems tied to Psyker this Opus has.
A plain Leader, can be both ranged or melee oriented. A balanced choice for the wise player.
Malicious Biker Champion
Pretty tough nut to crack with T5 and a 3+ save, can speed around the battlefield with a posse of bikers to speartip your warband’s assault. I advise giving it a melee weapon since it has already four bolter shots from the bike.
Cavalry model, so it can benefit from the Abattoir stratagem and become a melee monster. On the charge it has three attacks with the Marine on top plus FOUR more attacks from the mount, for a total of seven attacks. With the aforementioned Abattoir strat it can mulch pretty much anything it comes in contact with.
Can Deep strike alongside some other Hellwings or Talons of Malice into the opponent’s weak flank to wreak some havoc. As with almost anything that has a Jump Pack strapped to it, a solid pick for a handful of points more than a Malicious Champion.
Basically a Custode with a juicy 2+ save and 2+ WS. Expensive, but can both take and pack a punch. The Paradox blade is very good to debuff units that rely on invuln saves like Harlequins, and the Dark Maul brings it to the sweet S8 spot for Marine mulching. Alternatively you can eschew the bolter and go for an Anti-real shield which offers the fabled 3++ (expect this to be brought in line with other storm shield-eque effects to a 4++). Deliver it to melee ASAP, as it’s where it belongs.
(A note from the Opus editor: this unit is based around Custodes, so expect changes to Custodes to be reflected here.)
Two Claws means four Attacks base, plus one on the charge. A blender of light infantry, and the Warpflame is the icing on top when charging models with strong Overwatch.
Good for fodder and lurking in the backfield, but a melee unit with a 4” movement is pretty bad in my book.
(Note from the Opus editor: it will be upped to 6” in the next iteration.)
Cultists are always useful as action monkeys and fodder, you can’t go wrong with a couple of them running around doing stuff. Sac them for CPs if you picked the hatred Inwards Philosophy, just don’t get greedy.
Not taking up a Core slot when having Special models is actually a penalty since you need to fill the requirements for the warband but hey, you still need mooks besides your monsters.
Very frail but speedy, they can be used to contest some objectives while better units move up the table. As with Cannibals, you can sac them for CPs with the Hatred Inwards.
The inevitable Dude with a Boltgun™ present in every Marine list. Can take a Special or Heavy weapon every 5 Marines per usual, and provides a good core for your army.
Bikes are really good in HoR, since they can be wherever you need them in a turn or two tops. Take a couple with a flamer or plasma for flexibility, don’t replace the combi-bolter.
More daemonic horsies, I picture them being very nice alongside bikes and jump pack infantry. They are quite cheap too, just beware you can’t charge models up in ruins.
Carbon copy of Chaos Raptors, pretty mobile infantry with a decent melee presence and some Special weapons sprinkled in.
Weaksauce possessed unit, at least it’s cheaper!
Not *that* Doomrider, this one is way less cool. I think overall you should go with Dread Knights instead. They’re Core, slightly faster and have better survivability (albeit with one less wound).
Beast of Malice
Beefy unit that can regenerate and tarpit the enemies it doesn’t outright kill with his D2 weapon. Pretty expensive, but a good candidate for the Traitor’s Mist psychic power to slingshot it across the table.
Spawn of Malice
Random D6 attacks make it a bit too unreliable for my tastes, but costing almost half as a Beast it can find a home in some lists.
Spooky bats. If you outnumber the opponent they hit on 3s with the Claws. A list based around outnumbering your opponent might work, given the amount and variety of cheap models that benefit from it.
Son of Malice
Another Custodes cosplayer which can be taken as Core if you have a Firstborn Leader.
Expensive but very dangerous, with access to an Assault Heavy Flamer and a frankly disgusting Leech-Launcher.
Talon of Malice
Warp Talons in disguise, 3A rerolling wound rolls is nice to have around. A bit on the expensive side though.
Some interesting items here.
The Remnant of the True Dreadaxe adds killiness to your Dread Champ, while the Spellstabber Blade might completely shut down your opponent’s plans if they revolve around a particular power.
The Crystal Ball of Impossible Futures gives you a free reroll per turn, which is always nice to stack on top of the classic CP reroll.
More psyker hate with the Song of Necoho, completely negating Psychic effects on the bearer. Funny thing, it can function as a Smite lightning rod since the power targets the closest unit.
The Meat Hook can completely shut down an enemy beatstick if you didn’t take the Castigate power. Since it says “At the start of the Fight Phase” it works even on charging models before they get to fight, which is doubly awesome and a solid pick from the armoury.
Being a 100% fanmade Opus it's lacking official models, so here you can find a list of base sizes recommendations.
You can use your run of the mill Chaos models to represent the Astartes part of the Opus, but the Daemons represent an opportunity to convert a truly scary model (just looking at the Hook Horror image makes me shiver).
The colour scheme is as striking as it is difficult, I suggest you start by priming the models in a very light gray working it up to white, and then (carefully!) paint in the black parts and trim. Sub-assemblies can help here. Daemons are black-and-white too.
To top off all the useful informations above, i'm going to close with two different lists. One is a mixed list showcasing a good amount of Malice-specific units, the other is a swarm one to capitalize on the Cant of Malice.
List 1 - Variety is the spice of Malice
Faithless acolyte: Viperstaff, Meat hook, Psychic power: Castigate
5 Malicious Marines: 2 with Bolt Pistol/Chainsword, 2 with Bolters, 1 with Autocannon
2 Dread Knights: all with Chainsword/Black Shield
1 Beast of Malice
1 Chaos Fury
I went for a varied list with some Cavalry units to leverage the Abattoir strat and an Autocannon for supporting fire. Castigate can be used to shut down enemy beatsticks and the Cursemites plus the lone Chaos Fury acts as action monkeys. I was undecided whether to go with the Castigate or the Traitor’s Mist power, they’re both really good in my opinion.
List 2 - Mad batch painting skillz
Firstborn: Parasite Bolter, Dreadaxe, Unreal Engine
9 Cannibals: 8 with Autopistol/CCW, one with Flamer
1 Cannibal Champion: Shotgun
5 Hook Horrors
1 Hellwing: Plasma Gun
4 Chaos Furies
I actually managed to hit the Core cap limit! Well, technically the Cursemites don’t take up a slot because of the Furies, but still.
I went for the toughest Leader, his job will be to take care of the stuff my lowly minions can’t take on. The Unreal Engine lets me recycle Hook Horrors, which then can be sac’ed with the Hatred Inwards Philosophy for CPs. The Furies should almost always hit on 3+ since you should outnumber basically all factions at least for a couple of turns. The Parasite Nest can come in handy to recycle dead models around during late game. Sac a Cursemite for a CP, then use the Parasite Nest strat to place it anywhere on the field. Recycle Hook Horrors on a 2+ with the Unreal Engine and keep returning models to the table. The Hellwing with Plasma provides pinpoint elimination of problematic units, don’t be afraid to drop it and Overcharge right away. Stick the Cannibals alongside your Daemons to benefit from the increase in Strength, but don’t forget to use cover! Unless you keep your model count at 11, almost no-one has an armour save in this list, so expect brutal casualties during early game.
Well, this was fun! It's the first time I try to write this kind of article, I hope it's been helpful for anyone who wants to start a Malice warband.
A big thanks to Anasigma over on the Discord for writing the Opus and helping me correct all the mistakes I made during the writing of this review.
Stay safe and happy wargaming!