The World Eaters - XII Legion
"When the Emperor dies under his axes, when his final thought is of how the Great Crusade was all in pathetic futility, and when his last sight is Angron's iron smile... then the Master of Mankind will learn what Angron has known since he picked up his first blade. Freedom is the only thing worth fighting for. That is why tyrants always fall"
Angron (Lord of the Red Sands)
Brief description of broad tactical approaches
Of all the Space Marine Legions, none were more savage and dreaded than the World Eaters. When the World Eaters were assigned to a campaign, it meant only one thing for the enemy, utter extermination. However, this extermination would not be enacted with virus bombs, but with chainswords and bolter rounds. From the legion's onset, it showed a considerable bias towards direct assault. Hand to hand combat was always the preferred tactical approach and mechanized warfare was viewed as a means to an end. That end being, delivering it’s foot soldiers into close quarters fighting. The legions attack formations were made up of infantry of the line, supported by dedicated heavy assault units such as terminators and specialized units such as landspeeder squadrons. The preferred method of planetary invasion was via massed drop pod insertion. This vanguard would pin the enemy into position, whilst heavier support units moved up in a second wave. As a result, attrition rates were high and fatality levels in new recruits were believed to be the worst of any legion.
Angron (also known as the Red Angel) is the Primarch of the World Eaters. He was raised on the brutal world of Nuceria, fighting as a gladiator slave and having his aggression enhanced by surgical implants known as the Butcher's Nails. Savage and in a state of constant rage, he was nonetheless renowned for his physical might and was considered one of the mightiest Primarchs.
It is highly likely that psychological screening was used to identify the most aggressive recruits at induction. From it's earliest beginnings, the World Eaters were a highly aggressive and savage force. Accordingly, the Emperor dubbed the legion his “War Hounds”. The World Eaters were used as a spearhead assault force during the great crusade when fighting alongside other legions or as a killing-strike for a larger imperial army force.
Personal combat took hold at a fundamental level within the legion. Martial prowess was the most important attribute to the World Eaters and gladiatorial pits were established on board ships to allow for improved close combat ability and leadership challenges. The World Eaters also maintain an unusually harsh code of discipline across all ranks within the legion, with bloodshed between brothers being common place.
Following the widespread psycho-surgery to implant the “Butcher’s Nails”, the savagery of the World Eaters moved to a new level. The legion's librarians suffered under the implantation of Nails, many died immediately, taking whole squads with them due to uncontrolled psychic abilities being unleashed. Eventually, the XII Legion's librarian resources were left completely depleted, with not a single psycher left alive. The Nails marked a further increase in the World Eaters' level of aggression, they now lacked self-preservation and recklessness became their hallmark.
The World Eaters were increasingly used against targets where annihilation was the goal rather than compliance or liberation. As a result, the legion began to specialize in boarding actions, forlorn hopes, counter insurgency, space hulk purgation, line-breaker attacks and objective assaults, where close quarter fighting was absolutely vital to mission success
Unique Units and Formations
The World Eaters were renowned for the use of the chainaxe as a close combat weapon. As a result, Legion Despoiler units were employed in much greater numbers than in other legions. These units proved so effective against tougher xenos such as Orks, that other legions began to copy the tactic. The XII Legion also include a strong Destroyer Cadre, favouring their use against monstrous xenoforms and extermination campaigns.
The Devourers were a dedicated bodyguard to Lord Angron, only 12 members strong and clad Cataphractii Terminator Armour. Ranks within this unit were attained by defeating a Devourer in personal combat. Angron didn’t use them as a bodyguard, always deploying separately from them in battle.
Red Butcher Caedere have succumb utterly to the Nails, devolving into mindless frenzied savages that can not be controlled. Rather than ‘putting down’ such individuals as had happened in the past, the legion apothecaries and techmarines made customized terminator suits, fashioning them as both armour and as confinement; mechanized prison cells that could be immobilized with a remote signal. Hung in chains in the holds of the World Eaters warships, foaming and screaming in impotent rage, the Red Butchers waited to be unleashed.
Rampagers are another form of close combat squad. They carry gladiatorial style weapons into combat such as Meteor Hammers, Excoriator Chainaxes, Falax Blades and Barbed-hook lashes.
World Eaters Rite of War – Berserker Assault
This Rite of War personifies the World Eater’s preferred method of combat, leaning towards a massed infantry assault with limited heavy and aerial support. The benefit of Hatred is gained outside of your own deployment zone, which as an assaulting force should be easy to attain. The 1:1 ratio of infantry squads to tanks/flyers can be used to either transport your infantry or run a footslogging force with dedicated armour support.
Sources – Betrayal, Massacre, Betrayer, Butcher’s Nails, The Imperial Truth.
Written by Raglan and J Mc