When GW unveiled at Adepticon 2022 the long rumoured and potato quality leaked images of The Horus Heresy 2.0, the reception from the community was mixed at best. Why? First a short history lesson for why HH 2.0 is a big deal.
For years the HH community had been going through probably one of its darkest years when the late creative mastermind in the Forge World Horus Heresy team, Alan Bligh sadly passed away in 2017. His works include the fan favourite Warhammer 40k supplement book series Imperial Armour: The Badab War part I & II, Warhammer Fantasy Battles: Monstrous Arcanum and his most widely recognised works, The Horus Heresy Black Book series.
The Black Books chronicle key events in the Horus Heresy setting in exquisite detail. Presented as a much more grounded, mature and a somewhat historical examination of the darkest age in mankind’s rein for the stars. By comparison, the later timeline focus of Warhammer 40k would still aim to fulfil the grimdarkness of the 41st millennium, though on a much grander theatrical stage of many factions in eternal contest to seize the galaxy for its own ends.
Alan Bligh was a member of a team of talented hobbyists with years of experience and craft working at Games Workshop. His work combined with other writers material in the archived lore (from Rouge Trader and early early established Horus Heresy lore), that alongside the talented sculptors, artists, photographers and rule writers delivered one of the most respected works in the 2010’s era. Despite the time being GW dark ages, many hobbyists old and new saw The Horus Heresy as a new home to continue their tabletop miniature hobbying.
These hobbyists founded a new tabletop wargaming community which built a core fanbase dedicated to the Age of Darkness. Unlike 40k, the goal was to uphold the themes of the historical context of the setting, and ensure its identity is unique as the tragic renaissance of mankind.
When Alan Bligh passed away, the team behind The Horus Heresy and the community that grew for roughly five years since 2012 felt a major loss. From 2017 onwards nothing would repair that loss nor. In a way the ship veered off course towards an uncertain era, as ‘Last Chance to Buy’ Fomo caused many essential units to vanish forever.
With only sprinkles of releases here and there of character miniatures, it seemed like The Horus Heresy was losing its momentum.
That is until now. With Horus Heresy 2.0 officially in sight and gearing to inspire vetran hobbyists, and to a new generation who can now finally get started with new plastic kits.
During the Adepticon reveals GW showed two images of miniatures that will be available in the release like up. One was a Praetor HQ and a new single tactical squad marine in MK VI. The design is an all new reworked sculpt that appears to have inspiration taken from Rouge Trader, the 2012 Tactical Squad version and Forge Worlds resin sculpted MK VI. Combined to create the most definitive version to date as the poster boy of 2.0 advertising.
But here’s the problem: you’ll read many opinions that follow a similar talking point of “How can beakies be the poster boys if it’s clearly stated in several source materials that MK VI were late Heresy produced power armour. Only those Loyalists at the Seige of Terra could be armed in MK VI?”. Doing some digging of old source materials I did some research. I find a ridiculousy common fault that the opinions expressed on both sides (not counting those who have done so) do not back themselves up with sources attached. I’ve got sources that I’ll share here that aren’t Rogue Trader nor Black Book sources, but rather sources that haven’t been presented as evidence.
●In White Dwarf Weekly 09 April 2016 issue 115, it’s stated that MK VI was the replacement armour for the older Marks that became difficult to maintain like MK II and MK III. It was used by Loyalists at the later half of the Heresy. It also mentions how the traitors had MK II, MK III, Mk IV and MK V to maintain as their pool of armour reserves. You can actually read the article on Warhammer Community titled: Armour Through the Ages, published 26th Oct 2016.
●White Dwarf issue November 2019 on page 128 Andy. H (who is part of the Forge World’s Horus Heresy team) himself stated that in his Emperors Children collection that he included MK VI marines as part of his games in late Heresy timeline.
Whilst that’s just only two facts, they seem to be the sources that support the theory of the beakie debate. Admittedly I don’t have any of the Black Books on hand and I don’t have any RT era lore, the armour guide in the recent White Dwarf (though I’ve read it from a photo source) and any miscellaneous sources. I’d like to belive word of mouth about the logistics and common sense, but without referring to a source list (like book title, page and paragraph section) for where I can find proof, I’d find it hard to discern fan fiction from facts.
If you stand by the fact that Mk VI is late Heresy power armour that was always stated to be so, there is some merit to that point of view. I was of the same opinion too after digging through catalogues of old White Dwarf issues relating to the subject. Heck I even had resources at hand to share with someone who shared a similar opinion.
Of course the blog post would’ve ended here…but as you’ll read further the narrative changes…
Visions of Heresy
GW released the second iteration of Visions of Heresy many years ago, which compiled the previous editions split parts into one whole tome. In it the tome contained new material from Black Library’s mammoth book series, The Horus Heresy. It contains all of Neil Roberts artwork up to the tomes publication date, with more artworks added in the 3rd edition which is up on Warhammer+ vault.
I went through the tome thinking whether MK VI could be canon and I saw a few artworks (not of Neils) including an Iron Warrior in MK VI in the Istvasn V massacre section. Though many would put this aside as not canon based on its appearance only contained within this book. Unless its visually distinct and in some way universally seen by many, most of the artworks would be glanced as conceptual non canon material. Looking onwards I stopped and took a closer look at one page featuring the cover art of Galaxy in Flames. I saw this…
Your eyes do not decive you, those are clearly MK VI marines in the cover Galaxy in Flames by Neil Roberts for the book written by Ben Counter. Just an artistic choice of preference that got overlooked by GW? An early conceptual artwork that like Rouge Trader was retconed? Not even a 2006 cover that’s widely seen by many, praised by many and noted as the finale to the trilogy of Master works?
All these years and we never questioned what was always in front of us (although recently you’ll find that I’m not the first to have spotted these based on other content creators own observations around 2.0 announcement). Ever since 2006 when the first visual and official artwork of an MK VI marine appeared in the growing popularity of the Horus Heresy novel series, history was set in stone.
This was way before the lore of the Black Book series, way before Horus Heresy 2.0 and way before the sources I’ve dug up. Post Rogue Trader era of beakies and early lore of the conceptual stages of the Horus Heresy has clearly inspired Neil to include a Beakie in the cover solely to represent the Istvaan III betrayal.
You’d think these were the only covers I’ve found? Not even close enough. The last book to feature a non Raven Guard and Alpha Legion Mk VI marine? From what I could 100% find was in Book 30 Damnation of Pythos (published in October 2014) by David Annandale, and the Novella The Purge (published July 2014) by Anthony Reynolds.
From Galaxy in Flames to Damnation of Pythos that’ll be 8 years of books, not all of them, but many within that time do feature marines in MK VI power armour.
If you really want to see a beakie post Rogue Trader era and pre The Horus Heresy book series, check out the artwork of an original pre Heresy grey Word Bearers space marine in, you guessed it, MK VI. Found in the Index Astartes article in White Dwarf 270. Interesting fact: you can actually find two Word Bearers in MK VI from Battle of the Abyss cover and The Purge cover. Whether Neil used that particular White Dwarf as a reference or just decides to do beakies himself is quite interesting.
The Word Bearers weren’t the only ones with Beakies in the Index Astartes article series, I can also confirm that the Night Lords had a Beakie and (I don’t have a copy myself but you can see it in a Spikey Bitz vid) of the Emperor’s Children in pre Heresy beakie.
I will admit I feel very foolish for my past assumptions on MK VI and its Heresy origins. Though because I’ve clearly stated this intention and my later discovery shown here will prove that I won’t hide the fact that my opinions have changed. Better to show my faults than to be a too perfect person of flawlessness.
What the Sources tell us?
I see three possible ways to the validity of all sources combined in this post.
- Treat any information as half truths as the Horus Heresy is a past event seen in the eyes of romantasists of Imperial bias. It is up to our gathered sources of information to work together to produce the real factual timeline.
- As above on half truths but individuals can discern the truth for themselves and how they see it.
- Based on sources here and those seen from all parts of the community we can probably deduce that: MK VI was in use just before the Heresy when the Legions were in need of a newer more easily maintained mark of armour. The maintained of MK II and MK III were becoming a hindrance to the Great Crusade. Therefore, the Legions would be supplied with batchs of MK VI on the commanding officer or Primarchs choosing. Some accepted it, others not so much based on one’s prefered tactical doctrine. When the Heresy started MK VI units are noted as being sighted on both sides asan uncommon sight. In late Heresy the Loyalists boast a large production of MK VI power armour. We could assume Horus wouldn’t be dismayed as he had the means to produce his lot by the forges (citation of Traitor held forges that produce power armour needed), scavenged by his soldiers on the battlefield or stolen in skirmish raids.
- Retcon of a retcon of a retcon. I don’t think we’ll ever agree on a universally agreed outcome.
The whole point of this post is to create a space where rather than bicker at each other, we become like minded hobbyist and pour our efforts into getting rid of the myths, research sources at what is canon, what groups consider as non canon and why and hopefully find a mid point.
My Visons of Heresy revelation could be wrong, maybe they are just romanticised artworks. But I struggle to see where the canon is universally accepted if Rogue Trader and early Horus Heresy (before the novels) are considered not canonical, the book covers as artistic licences of choice, the White Dwarfs of recent publication on the armour marks as retcons and Horus Heresy 2.0 being a retcon.
It’s Games Workshops way of vagueness that sometimes causes more issues than a fun mystery hunt. But maybe the clues are already around us?
Before someone tells me I’m wrong for even considering trying to at least make a bridge to all side for information and sources; it’s better than an echo chamber. All sides at least get to present their sources, by tbat I mean a written source to official publications by GW and not a bogus bias fic page.
My opinions on the armours through the Heresy
Some personal opinion points I want to round off so you know my intentions, as people will always put words in your mouth or assume an agenda when you are clearly trying to present your views.
- This post is aimed at presenting information relating to MK VI between Rogue Trader and The Horus Heresy tabletop game.
- I’m not arguing that all space marines were equipped with MK VI in hordes, replacing all other marks after Istvaan III.
- I belive MK VI power armour was used just before the Heresy, though in limited test runs for approval of production.
- MK V would be the most common power armour to ease losses of MK II and MK III as an easier armour to maintain. Like a mid point to supply the Astartes until MK VI could be produced to a greater quantity to batchs of a ten man tactical squad.
- MK II and MK III would still be in use throughout the Horus Heresy, despite maintaining them for their flaws, the Legions still rely on these marks for their specialisation in Warfare.
As for The Horus Heresy 2.0 contents and advertising, I do think the excessive use of MK VI marines shown wasn’t the best way to show off the Horus Heresy trailer. If other marks were shown in the trailer then everyone’s a winner. If it were me I’d have MK VI and MK II plastic tactical squad kits to diversify the types of armour seen in battle.
Anyways, I hope you’ve enjoyed this chaotic and slightly Tzeentch-like madness I’ve created. Please share your opinions in the comment section, sources will be much appreciated in these confusing times.
I’ll be doing an epilogue of sorts post where I’m going to collect individual opinions and thoughts based on the beakie subject. Compile it into the post and see what all sides present to us.
Maybe I can finally get a plastic Forrix miniature…
Until next time,