Horus Heresy Primarchs: Reviews, Tactics and Opinions: Roboute Guilliman


Hi, it’s Dan returning once again with more talk of Warhammer 30k. Last time I put fingers to keyboard I wrote a brief overview of the tactics that can be utilised when including Fulgrim in games of the Horus Heresy. Today we’ll take a look at another Primarch – the Master of Macragge himself, Roboute Guilliman. Check out the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

The Ultramarines are (in some ways) the poster boys of Warhammer. A lot of people dislike them because of the flawless and heroic image that GW assigned them.  I’m of the opinion that this is actually their strength and something that sets them apart from some other Marine forces that are more defined by tangible flaws with their doctrines, ideology or gene-seed.

As for the Primarch, Guilliman is best known as a visionary leader and statesman; however this sells short the fact that he mastered most known forms of combat as part of his formal training prior to being re-united with the Imperium.


Roboute Guilliman is a Lord of War choice for a Legion: Ultramarines army and costs 400pts. The price of including this character is high, especially when you factor in the transportation he’ll require.  His Stats, although fantastic when compared to a typical Space Marine character, are only average for a Primarch.

He has a weapon skill of 7, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness and Wounds are all 6. He also comes with a Leadership of 10 and a 2+ save.  Surprisingly he only has 4 attacks in close combat, boosted to 5 due to being equipped with 2 specialist weapons, and he strikes at initiative 6. None of this really set him apart from his brothers and as a result you might initially be put off from fielding this character, however as we delve into the special rules and army buffs he provides it becomes clear that the cost is more than fair!

L-13-Roboute the Firm-deskttop

Special Rules – Theory and Practical utility:

As a Primarch, Guilliman comes with a few stock rules: Independent Character, Eternal Warrior, Fear, Fearless, Fleet, Adamantium Will, It will Not Die and Master of the Legion. A lot of these rules should be familiar to 40k players, and are shared across all of the Primarchs. He’s also bulky which isn’t too demanding as he only takes up two spaces in a transport. Now let’s take a closer look at his unique abilities:

 Sire of the Ultramarines – Guilliman and any unit he joins can re-roll charge distances and everyone becomes immune to the effects of the concussive rule. In addition, all Ultramarines in the army gain +1 to their Leadership to a maximum of 10, and Legion Terminators and Invectarus Suzerains can now be taken as compulsory troops in a primary detachment with the Primarch as the Warlord.

These are some pretty great rules right from the outset!  Knowing your Primarch won’t be striking last because a Thunder Hammer blow in the previous turn of combat is great, as is the fact that the bonus extends to the rest of his unit. The army-wide Leadership boost is incredibly useful in the Age of Darkness, as unlike 40k the Marines don’t have ATSKNF so the danger of being overrun is there. It’s also more generally useful as your infantry will be less likely to run or get pinned.

Lastly, being able to take Terminators and Suzerains as troops is more significant than it might initially seem, as only troops can score objectives in 30k. It also affords you the ability to create unique and elite armies using these units as mandatory infantry.


Unyielding Will – The Primarch’s leadership is not subject to any negative modifiers, and he can also re-roll failed deny the witch tests which bolsters his defense against psychic attacks – generally useful, especially if he’s joined to a more vulnerable unit.

Preternatural Strategy – This is the big one. A rule comprised of 3 parts that begins to set Roboute Guilliman apart from the rest of the Primarchs.

Firstly, this rule forces your opponent to re-roll successful seize the initiative rolls made against you. This is something that occurs very often, and can often lead to an opponent capitalizing against an army that was deployed to take advantage of the first turn but is otherwise vulnerable. Thanks to the protection from this rule the chance of this happening is reduced from a 1 in 6 to a 1 in 36 attempts!

Secondly, this rule increased Guilliman’s Weapon Skill for every round following the first in which he’s locked in a challenge. This means that in a prolonged combat, eventually his weapon skill will rise to 10 and he’ll be landing hits on rolls of 3+ against even the most skilled Close Combat fighters in the Heresy environment. This also comes into play in an unexpected way in which I’ll mention further down.

Last, but definitely not least, Guilliman may nominate one particular unit entry in the army and award that unit type with one of 3 rules: Tank Hunters, Interceptor or Implacable Advance (scoring and objective secured). Now, this applies to a unit Entry so if, for example, you chose the entry of the “Sicaran Tank” under “Heavy Support” and awarded it with “Tank Hunters”, all of the Sicaran Tanks you take will also have the rule. This is incredibly powerful, and especially so if you build the army around it. It also provides a level of real reactionary flexibility: If you’re facing a Drop Pod list you can award a unit type with Interceptor to weaken their alpha strike. If you’re playing the scoring game you could potentially award additional units with objective secured. Being able to field 3 Sicaran Tanks, or the useful Vindicator Laser Destroyers that are further boosted by Tank Hunters will make short work of armies in a meta that has a lot more vehicles than it does monstrous creatures or high toughness models.


Wargear – Theory and Practical Utility:

Earlier in this article I mentioned that Guillliman’s stats weren’t particularly impressive when compared to those of his brothers. This is completely offset by his exceptional wargear and the fact it makes him into one of the best duelists and most survivable Primarchs in the Horus Heresy game.

The Armour of Reason – His ornate armour provides him with a 2+ save in and a 4 invulnerable. In addition, the first failed save in each phase may be re-rolled. This is extremely powerful as you can potentially re-roll a failed invulnerable save from a psychic power, then from a shooting attack, and finally one during combat. He can do so each turn, which adds a huge amount of survivability as Primarch don’t tend to suffer large amounts of wounds. A 4++ with a re-roll is actually superior to a 3+ invul. This makes him especially survivable when facing other Primarchs or strong independent Characters in a challenge.

The Gladius Incandor and the Hand of Dominion – Guilliman takes these two weapons into battle, one looks similar to a Roman short-sword and the other a large power fist. Each one is a specialist weapon and he must declare which one he’ll use in any particular turn of combat. Unlike some other characters he’s unable to split the attacks between the two.

The Gladius is a Str+1, Ap2 sword with Shred, and causes Instant Death on rolls of 6 to wound. The sword is actually a quality weapon, and does well to dispatch elite infantry in small numbers before they get a chance to strike. The Instant Death boost might also deter non Eternal Warrior combatants from entering a fight with the Primarch.

The Hand of Dominion is a very impressive Weapon. A Str10, AP1, Concussive Power Fist that drops Guiliman’s initiative to 1 due to being Unwieldy. This gives the Primarch a reliable way of cracking vehicles and very high toughness models, and is able to cripple his opponents by dropping them down to initiative 1. Take note that this weapon has a standard Str value of 10, and isn’t based on the Primarch’s actual strength characteristic. This also comes in to play in an interesting way in which I’ll mention further on.

The Arbitrator – Guilliman’s favoured side arm is a powerful Bolter with impressive rules. It’s a Str6, AP3, Assault 2, Rending weapon with an 18” range that can remove Marines and potentially damage light transports at a distance if required.


Final Thoughts and Opinion:

Roboute Guilliman is an exceptional Primarch and truly one of the best force multipliers in the 30k environment. The ability to award something like Tank Hunters to multiple tanks (Imagine doing this to 3 squadrons of 3 Predators each, for example) whilst also protecting you from getting seized, and further improving the leadership values of all infantry models on the table is an exceptional list of utilities. Literally every rule will come into play through-out a game, and he can easily fit into any army.

He is best taken alongside a unit of the Ultramarine exclusive Invectarus Suzerains – 30k Honour guard equivalent; close combat specialists that come armed with AP2 power weapons that strike at normal initiative. This unit is very useful as they can also be taken as a mandatory troop choice and can also take a Landraider as a dedicated transport. Because they’re equipped with Artificer armour, you can fit them into a Raider alongside the Primarch and a further HQ – typically a cheap Chaplain who will further bolster the CC ability of the entire unit. This also leaves your Heavy Support slots free.

Earlier in this article I mentioned that Guilliman’s increasing weapon skill whilst in a challenge and the fixed Strength of the Hand of Dominion come into play in an interesting way. Those familiar with the 30k game may have come across the Primarch Horus as an adversary. Horus is widely accepted to be the strongest of the current Primarchs in a fight because of his ability to permanently lower the Strength and Weapon Skill of those he fights (provided he wounds them each turn). Because Guilliman’s weapon skill rises each turn, and the Strength of the Hand of Dominion is fixed, he won’t be as negatively affected whilst fighting him as the other Primarchs would be.

Generally, Roboute Guilliman still won’t be able to overcome Horus in most battles; however he won’t be horribly nerfed after a few rounds and will be able to deal significant damage before being defeated. Unfortunately, should he win he’ll still be weakened as his Weapon Skill and Str will be decreased, making his Sword far less effective in further combats.

Guilliman’s only real weakness is the fact he only has 5 attacks, 6 if you charge that turn. Although he’s one of the best Primarchs to have in a challenge, he won’t be able to deal with more numerous opponents and might find himself locked in prolonged combats unless he’s accompanied by another unit that can assist in clearing trash. Despite this, I would consider him to be an almost mandatory addition to a 30k Ultramarine force in games of 2000 points or more. If an army is built with his inclusion in mind, he can truly bolster the force.



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

19 Responses to “Horus Heresy Primarchs: Reviews, Tactics and Opinions: Roboute Guilliman”

  1. Ishagu January 5, 2016 10:48 am #

    Hard to believe he’s only 115 points more to field than Marneus Calgar 😛

    • Reecius January 5, 2016 11:26 am #

      Haha, fair point!

    • Fleetofclaw January 6, 2016 9:43 am #

      Or the Swarmlord 🙁

  2. MidnightSun January 5, 2016 12:03 pm #

    The problem I have with him is that while his Sire of the Ultramarines and Preternatural Strategey rules are certainly some of the better Primarch force multiplication rules, being challenge-focussed as an individual is kind of a shit specialism to have as a Primarch; they’re all going to totally wreck any non-Primarch, and Primarch on Primarch fights almost always result in a game-long stalemate because by and large each Primarch is far more resilient than he is damaging. Sure, Guilliman will beat many of his brothers, but is it worth losing the impact of deploying him elsewhere and killing the enemy’s Primarch in a quicker, easier fashion? I don’t know. He’s still good; all of the Primarchs are *good*, if not equals; but I’m not sure he does a particularly useful job other than giving his +1 Leadership and pick-an-army-list-entry-to-gain-a-USR ability.

    • Ishagu January 5, 2016 12:27 pm #

      Yeah, I do agree about the Primarch v Primarch thing. To be honest, it’s more bragging rights and pride than anything else.
      I actually wouldn’t actively chase another Primarch during a game, as Guilliman would do better to cut down various TEQ units. It’s actually more likely that most other Primarchs would actively avoid him and it gives you a mental edge.

  3. Ishagu January 5, 2016 12:37 pm #

    Some arse-wipe is spamming the poll on this article with negative voting >:-(

  4. GwFan January 5, 2016 12:43 pm #

    Good read

  5. Reecius January 5, 2016 1:00 pm #

    Still waiting for Night Haunter!!!!!%$!#!

    Lol, just kidding. Great article, nice combo of fluff and tactics.

    • MidnightSun January 5, 2016 1:35 pm #

      Curze is the GOAT, man! Natural Jump Infantry with Hit and Run at Initiative ‘only fail on 6s’ fixes the main Primarch problem of ‘we suck against hordes’ (looking at you, Perturabo), as well as being 7 attacks. Giving everyone Fear, and giving anyone who already has Fear a -1 penalty on Fear tests taken against them isn’t the greatest of Primarch abilities, but he’s got his secret sauce buff in Shrouded – with forcing Night Fight, and all Night Lords getting 6+ cover on turn 1, he can make a big ol’ blob of Assault Marines (or even better, the Night Raptors) 3+ cover *in the open* on the first turn. -3 to Fear checks and making everyone within 12″ run for the hills when he butchers their comrades and crucifies the (intentionally left) survivors in combat is just the icing on the cake!

      Okay, I’m done – this isn’t the article for me to fanboy over the XIII, strong thought the temptation always is…

      • Reecius January 6, 2016 1:15 pm #

        Nice! Haha, that sounds boss!

      • MidnightSun January 6, 2016 1:51 pm #

        I’ve tattooed my hands red in penitence for mixing up my Roman numerals…

        • Reecius January 6, 2016 3:16 pm #

          Your days are numbered then, my friend! =P

  6. Dakkath January 5, 2016 2:26 pm #

    I’m sure Ward would say that Robot Girlyman here is vastly overcosted and understatted :p

    • Reecius January 5, 2016 3:10 pm #

      Lolol, indeed! He’d have him snorting Warp Dust and punching Khorne in the nuts while surfing on the Void Dragon, haha

      • Ishagu January 5, 2016 3:30 pm #

        The Primarch of the Ultramarines wouldn’t do drugs 😛
        As for surfing the Void Dragon? Meh, I can see that!

        • Fleetofclaw January 6, 2016 9:46 am #

          LOL yeah, Guilliman would be Nancy Reaganing all over the Warp, “Just Say No to Warp Dust!”

  7. Novastar January 5, 2016 2:29 pm #

    Terminators can score in 30k so taking them as troops is just a cool fluffy rule

  8. westrider January 6, 2016 5:12 pm #

    Do he got the boute? He dooooooo

  9. WargamingMamas August 10, 2016 1:56 am #

    Our Roboute Gillian check him out https://www.flickr.com/photos/142435544@N06/albums/72157671168551396

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