Betrayal at Calth
The main premise of the game is that you and another neckbeard are playing as Word Bearers and Ultramarines fighting in close quarters. However, this isn't set up like a typical wargame, allaying any fears that GW is trying to horn in on the semblance of balance FW gave.
A sequel of sorts was released almost a year later with a similar premise. This time, the battle is focused in the the attack of the Space Wolves legion on the Thousand Sons and shares the name with that event: Burning of Prospero. Unlike BaC, this box includes more specific units and characters like a young Ahriman, Geigor Fell-Handed (initially thought to be Bjorn) and units of both Custodes and Sisters of Silence.
The game works as a mix between a board game and legit 40K. It's split into three phases for each turn. It also works using specialized dice: Two sides have crosshairs (meaning hits), one has a skull (making it a Critical hit, or a hit with bonus effects), and a side with a helix (for shielding). The last side is then left blank. The game board uses hexes for spaces, making sure that there's a structure as to where everyone is.
- Initiative Phase: Both players have to roll three dice, and the guy with more hits gets to go first. The issue with this means that an entire game can be fucked over for the other guy just because you roll like shit.
- Ready Phase: Each player grabs a card from the Command Deck and every unit gains 2 Tactical Points to use for actions.
- Action Phase: This is where shit happens. All of it.
- Advance: Your model moves to a nearby hex as long as it's not blocked off by debris or doors.
- If you end up next to an enemy, you're automatically pinned. You now can only use Advance, Assault, or Consolidate.
- Run: Your model runs to a place two hexes over.
- Consolidate: It's like Advance, but your model can move into a hex occupied by a friendly unit, merging the units, or split up a unit so you can cover more ground. Each splitting member also gets to become a new unit unto itself.
- Assault: Your unit can attack any model within a hex from it. After the attack is resolved, the enemy can counter-attack without spending a Tactical Point if they have anything left. If nothing remains or they retreated, then the unit can move to another hex for free.
- Attacking in melee involves adding up the assault value of the attacking unit with any weapon bonuses and rolling that many dice. The opponent then has to roll for armour, with each shield removing a point of damage. Whatever remains is now inflicted on your enemy's unit.
- Retreat!: If you feel that shit's gotten too real and you lost more than the enemy, you can retreat. Your unit now has to move one hex away from the attacker. However, if any model can't move away, then they have to make a Last Stand: That model has to roll a die, if a shield is rolled, then it stays and loses its Tactical Points, but otherwise it dies.
- Shoot: You take the Shoot Values of every gun equipped and roll that many dice at any unit you can see. So long as you can draw a line of sight from the centre of your unit's hex to the centre of the target's hex, then you got a clean shot. Otherwise, you need to make an Obscured Shot, which can cross over anything that isn't immovable terrain or a door, but lose any chances for Crits.
- Damage is measured by how many hits you roll with your weapons. The enemy now has to roll for armour. If you shot through rubble, then the unit gains a die for armour, and if you shot through a barricade, that adds two armour dice.
The game, obviously, focuses upon the Battle of Calth, where the Ultras and Word Bearers smack each other up. The game gives the characters and their squads cards with a few key stats:
- Armour: This is how many dice you need to roll for defence when attacked.
- Stamina: Wounds. Next.
- Assault: How much damage you cause in melee.
- Bulk: This is how much space your unit takes, duh. The part where this matters is that each hex only carries a total bulk value of 3, so that means 3 legionaries or a Termie or a Legionary or the Contemptor can fit onto a Hex without things getting weird.
- Steloc Aethon: An Ultramarines Captain. While he was born on Calth and he fought with the Word Bearers before this (even meeting with a younger Sedd and complimenting his skill), his duty to the Emperor stood stronger than the bonds of an old friendship.
- Kurtha Sedd: A Word Bearers Chaplain going the dark path to becoming a Dark Apostle. Sure, he had promise, faith, and undying devotion to the God-Emperor of Mankind, but then that golden asshat had to ruin it all and bitchslap his Primarch. Then he decided that Chaos had a better idea after "accidentally" murdering a bunch of fellows in disbelief.
- Sor Gharax, aka "The Bull": Word Bearers Contemptor Dreadnought. Survived a Titan blowing up and is now a death engine. Though he was once a beloved mentor, he eventually went that special kind of crazy Chaos Dreads tend to be as time went on, thanks in no part to his repeated service in the front lines.
- Bolter: The basic gun, it's crit strips an enemy of a Tac point.
- Bolt Pistol: a Bolter that can be used in melee like a basic chainsword, but can only shoot at things within three hexes.
- Combi-Bolter: Two bolters glued together.
- Combi-Weapons: Other Combi-weapons (Plasma/Flamer/Melta) can only fire once as either a bolter or as the other gun. Unlike the main game, this isn't a one-shot deal.
- Heavy Bolter: It's an even bigger bolter.
- Flamer: As accurate as a Combi-Bolter, but it has a shorter range, being only able to hit three hexes in front of it. It's crit effect allows the user to make another shot at a nearby target within range, making it the bane of mobs.
- Heavy Flamer: A flamer if it shot like a Heavy Bolter.
- Meltagun: Slightly higher rate of fire than a bolter, but if it crits on an enemy within 3 hexes, then that enemy's right fucked as the melta ignores all armour.
- Plasma Gun: As good a shot as a melta, but it's crit has a deadly risk: You roll 4 dice and if two of them end up crits, then YOUR guy dies too!
- Plasma Pistol: A Plasma Gun in pistol form.
- Missile Launcher: A weapon with a slightly better firing rate than a combi-bolter, with a crit that adds another die for each enemy in the target hex to the attack pool.
- Multi-Melta: Contemptor gun Numero Uno. Shoots as good as a flamer and increases the crit range to SIX hexes. This can very easily make a scary foe.
- Assault Cannon: Contemptor Gun Numero Dos. Shoots like a Heavy Bolter. The Crit allows you to re-roll any shots that missed or got shielded, but if you get four crits, the gun overheats and breaks. Take care of this weapon, for it will erase much.
- Chainsword: A step up from fighting barehanded, with a crit that lets you add another attack dice for each crit you score, but with nothing more.
- Power Sword: A Chainsword, but with a crit that instead halves the armor value of the enemy.
- Power Fist: Fighting barehanded, but if that bare hand was massive and had a crit that ignores the armour of the closest idiot you punched.
- Chainfist: A proppa choppy weapon with a crit that essentially instakills the closest enemy by counting their stamina as 1.
- Lightning Claw: While normally they have an assault value of +1, if paired, they become +3. The crit allows 2/4 attack dice to be re-rolled.
- Contemptor Power Fist: A powerfist +1 (or +2 according to the actual weapon page) . For Dreads.
- Grenade Harness: If a model with this is in close combat, add another attack die for each model in the enemy unit. Pretty handy way to shore up a shooty Termie squad.
- Legion Vexilla: While no good as a weapon, this is still useful for re-rolling melee attacks and Last Stand die.
The Real Reason to Buy it
This is all well and good, but the real reason people picked it up is because of its contents: It's the first of hopefully many HH sets that can now be bought as plastic as opposed to the more delicate Forge World resin. A single box contains the following models:
- A Terminator Captain
- A Chaplain (technically a Dark Apostle)
- 30 Mark IV Marines, with a large array of guns to arm them with
- 5 Cataphractii Terminators, also armed with some guns as well as chainfists.
- A Contemptor Dreadnought, able to take either a kheres assault cannon or multi-melta.
Also on top of that, each of the non-character sets can be customized with the FW stuff (A notion FW itself has caught on by packaging marine conversion kits for each Legion) and become combined as a small army at a cost considerably less than buying the same contents as resin, or even the equivalent kits from the regular store for that matter. Let's run some numbers:
- 1 Terminator Captain: There isn’t one available, so let’s just go with the librarian in termie armour cost, which is $31
- 1 Chaplain: $16
- 30 Tactical Marines (3 Tactical squads): $120
- 5 Cataphractii Terminators (1 terminator squad): $50
- 1 Contemptor Dreadnought: $46.25 (Albeit a better looking one - the plastic one is a bit...off looking).
Including the Burning of Prospero box is even better, as it costs the same as Betrayal at Calth, but include even more miniatures. Sadly, this box is more sensitive to legions and allegiances. So if you want to make, or start, a Legion army with it, you may not use all the box depending of the legion you want. Let's see what's within:
- 30 Mark III "Iron" Marines. With Plasma Gun, Melta gun, Heavy Bolter, Legion Vexillia and assorted character wargear.
- 5 Tartaros Terminators, they come with ranged weapons and power fists convertible into lightning claws. The sergeant has specific guns, a Plasma blaster and a Volkite charger.
- Ahriman, a Thousand Sons specific Praetor Librarian
- Geigor Fell-Handed, a Space Wolves-only Praetor
- 5 Custodians armed with either Guardian Spears or Sentinel Blades and Storm Shields
- 5 Sisters of Silence armed with either broadswords, bolters, or flamers
As you can see, Traitor legions cannot use the coolest toys in the box save Ahriman, because Geigor, the Custodes and the Sisters are off limit as are Loyalists (but usable in 40k, thankfully). Loyal legions on the other hand can use the box almost entirely, save Ahriman and Geigor if you're not into wolves. Regardless, with both boxes you get the wooping number of sixty marines, two units of terminators, a Contemptor dreadnought and two or three characters, so it's a nice start.
As the armies in the Horus Heresy are wildly different from the Chapters we know and love, let's see an example of what army can we get with the boxes as-in, without exchanging weapons with other people (even if it's HIGHLY recommended) or picking bits in Forge World (Again, recommended):
Characters & H.Q.
- Legion Praetor in Cataphractii Terminator Armour with Combi-melta and chain-fist.
- Chaplain Centurion with plasma pistol (can be converted into a vanilla centurion without much trouble)
- Ahriman/Librarian Centurion (Thousand Sons only)
- Legion Centurion with Lightning claw (Space Wolves only)
- 10-man Tactical Squad full bolters.
- 10-man Tactical Squad full bolters.
- 10-man Tactical Squad full bolters.
- 5-man Tactical Support Squad with Plasma Guns (combining boxes you'll have 6, more than enough).
- 5-man Tactical Support Squad with Melta Guns (the same as plasmas, but flamers cannot have such luck, as MkII doesn't have them as long as doesn't convert the sisters' ones).
- 5-man Heavy Support Squad with Heavy Bolters (you'll have 6 of these, but missile launchers are only 3 as for some reason MkII doesn't include them).
- 5-man Terminator Squad with Cataphactii armour and whatever weapons you want them to have.
- 5-man Terminator Squad with Tartaros armour and even moar weapons abaliable than the cataphractii.
- 10-man Veteran Tactical Squad with a lot of options for them (because the basic units doesn't use equipment beyond their special or heavy weapons and even there there will be a spare of whatever weapon you want, it's a free buffet here for them)
- 5-man Veteran Tactical Squad with whatever you desire for them (the same as above, and this sive screams a suicidal melta/plasma squad with outflank)
- Contemptor Dreadnought with either Kheres assault cannon or multi-melta
- 5-man Adeptus Custodes Squad with extra-blessed goodies (self contained unit, so do your worst. Loyalist only)
- 5-woman Sisters of Silence Squad with broadswords, bolter or flamers (one of the three, but have more than enough for all of them. Loyalist only)
So as you can see, a sizeable Legion Army. Lacking in the vehicles section, especially transports and in more specialised units like assault squads or jetbikes. But it's a good start and great foundation for expanding it into a greater force.
The Video Game
Unexpectedly, GW announced on February 27, 2018 that they had partnered with Steel Wool Studios to make a video game version of Betrayal at Calth for both PCs and virtual reality headsets. Campaign, skirmish, and multiplayer (with cross-platform matchmaking) modes are confirmed, although we still don't know much about the specifics yet.
Turns out, the video game sucked and was abandoned.