Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions Book: Alpha Legion


Hey everybody, Adam here, from TFG Radio, and today I’ll be talking about the XXth Legion, Alpha Legion. As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!


The Alpha Legion was one of the last legions whose primarch(s) was rediscovered by the Emperor. As a result, they were always trying to show that they were as good as older and the more established legions that had their primarchs for a while. They sided with Horus during the heresy, for reasons that only they know, and continue to cause dissent and insurrection in the Imperium to this day. This article will go over their rules and formations with the new book.


Alpha Legion Special Rules

  • No unique units
  • Units that have a Mark of Chaos cannot be taken
  • Units that are able to take Veterans of the Long War(VotLW) must do so for free
  • Units cannot be upgraded to take any Mark of Chaos
  • Daemons that are psykers can choose powers from their appropriate chart

No access to the marks is kind of a bummer but fits current fluff. Even with no mark, their sorcerers can still summon daemons. I do wish that Games Workshop would have at least acknowledged their characters from Foreworld as there is an Alpha Legion character that could be used as an HQ, Arkos the Faithless. I don’t think it should be a problem if you want to use him in this army.

Alpha Legion Formation/Detachment Benefits

Units in a Alpha Legion Formation/Detachment gain the following:

  • Forward Operatives – Chosen are troops. Chosen, Chaos Space Marine(CSM), and cultists have infiltrate.
  • Many Heads of the Hydra – If your warlord is slain, you may choose another character to be your warlord. You roll again on the Warlord Chart for the new warlord. Your opponent can only get the Slay the Warlord point in a mission by killing all the characters in your army.

Getting some type of non-troop unit as troops seems to be the norm now with the legions and chosen being troops isn’t a bad thing. This really only matters if you are planning to use a combined arms detachment (CAD). This is still useful as there are formats that only allow a CAD. One of the big things is that you get infiltrate for free for your troop units. This is pretty big as this allows you much more flexibility in your army’s options to movement and really helps with the next rule. The “Many Heads of the Hydra” rule is a new, fun way to troll your opponent. The ability to create a new warlord, when the first one dies, can have a huge impact on your game. It denies the “slay the warlord” victory point until all characters are dead. So, if all your character models are dead you have probably already lost the game.

Warlord Traits

  1. Forward Agent – Warlord has the Infiltrate rule.
  2. Fearless Commander – Warlord may switch places with a character once per battle at the start of your turn.
  3. Expert Timing – After turn 1, a unit in reserve auto-arrives.
  4. Hidden in Plain Sight – Warlord has stealth.
  5. Cult Leader – Cultists with 12” of your warlord have furious charge and feel no pain(6+)
  6. Alpha Strategist – Warlord has acute senses and outflank.

I can’t see any of these warlord traits as anything but useful. Whether it’s infiltrating, stealth or making sure a unit arrives when you want, they are all good for the start of the game. Once the game gets going, however, about half of them are not as helpful. This is still one of the better warlord trait tables I have seen and, if enough guys are dying, you can still roll a suitable one during the course of a game.

Alpha Legion Artifacts

  • Icon of Insurrection (25pts) – Cultist units with 12” of the bearer have the Zealot special rule.
  • Blade of the Hydra (30pts) – S User AP5, melee, daemon weapon, rending, multi headed (for every 6 to hit rolled, roll another die until you stop rolling 6’s.
  • The Mindveil (30pts) – Can move 3d6 and start of movement phase. If locked in combat enemy cannot consolidate.
  • Viper’s Bite (15pts) – 24″ range, S5 AP2, rapid fire
  • Drakescale Plate (25pts) – 2+ save, 2+ invulnerable against flamer weapons
  • Hydra’s Teeth (15pts) – Bolter gets blast, ignores cover, Poison(2+)

All of the wargear for the Alpha Legion is very useful and, I think, costed appropriately. Giving cultists zealot is good, unless you want them to die. I’m not a big fan of the exploding 6 mechanic in generally but this make the Blade of Hydra good, fluffy and only AP 5 so not too overpowered. The two weapon artifacts are ok but don’t really excite me. the armor is good but no regular invulnerable brings it down a notch. The gem may likely be the Mindveil. Being able to move 3d6, instead of your normal move, is nice, but the real prize is being able to, basically, hit and run without rolling an initiative test, and you can do it every turn! The other benefit is that your opponent cannot consolidate, leave them, usually, in a perfect position for your heldrakes.

Alpharius and Omegon

Alpharius and Omegon

Sons of Alpharius

Next we have the Alpha Legion “Decurion”, so here is what we get.


  • Must include 1 Core and 1 Auxiliary choice. May include up to 4 Command choices and any number of additional Core, and Auxiliary choices.

Command Benefits

  • I am Alpharius – Reroll Alpha Legion Warlord chart
  • Hidden Deployment – All non-vehicle units have Shrouded in the 1st turn
  • Cult Uprising – Each time a cultist unit is destroyed, on a 4+ an identical new unit is placed in ongoing reserves.

Again, rerolling the Warlord chart seems standard and getting shrouded, along with stealth, can help give you a possible 4+ cover save in the open. However both come in a distant second to the Cult Uprising. This rule give you a NEW unit when the old one is destroyed. They do have to come on from your table edge but this is still really good as I will discuss it in the next section.


Alpha Legion Insurgency Force


  • Chaos Warband


  • Lord of the Legion


  • Lost and the Damned
  • Helforged Warpack
  • Heldrake Terror Pack
  • Favoured of Chaos
  • Cult of Destruction
  • Fist of the Gods
  • Raptor Talon
  • Terminator Annihilation Force
  • Spawn

Unlike the Black Legion  “Decurion”, the Alpha Legion is able to take advantage of the objective secured special rule from the Chaos Warband. What you will probably see is the Lost and the Damned detachment along with the Chaos Warband. This detachment also has the Cult Uprising special rule as the formation but is worded a bit different. In this version, when a cult unit dies, on a 4+ that cult unit returns and is placed in ongoing reserves and outflanking. What this mean is that for every chaos cult unit that is destroyed, there is a good possibility that 2 will take it’s place. One from the “Decurion” formation special rule, on a 4+, and the other from the Lost and the Damned formation special rule, also on a 4+.  So, after destroying a unit, you could possibly be facing 2 more units coming in from 2 different directions! Add to that the Many Heads of the Hydra rule and you’ll never get slay the warlord no matter how many turns you play.

Overall I think the Alpha Legion rules are very fun and fluffy. I can also see them being a very frustrating army to play against and the troll potential is there with cultists that come back and a warlord that never dies.

Well I hope you enjoyed this article. Don’t forget to check out TFG Radio and listen to our podcast and check out our blog.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day. You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!



About Adam

Adam, aka Latin Gandalf, has been gaming since the early eighties and has played 40K since Rogue Trader (among a number of other games). He listens to more podcasts than any healthy person should and is currently the host for TFG Radio. He also is judges for LVO and head judges other major 40K Grand Tournaments.

32 Responses to “Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions Book: Alpha Legion”

  1. Avatar
    MagicJuggler December 19, 2016 7:59 am #

    The fact the Alpha Legion HQs do not get Infiltrate is lame, as is requiring a Warlord Trait for them alone to get it. You could be cheeky and give it to a Havoc Champion I guess but what’s the point of that otherwise? The Warlord Traits themselves are also underwhelming or boring Stealth? Why not a once-per-game Holophoton Countermeasures? Acute Senses for the Warlord alone? Why not for the rest of the detachment? What happens when your new leader gains Acute Senses or Infiltrate but is already on the board? And why no Warlord Trait allowing the Warlord’s unit to have Precision Shots, especially considering that the Alpha Legion were the original pioneers of the Seekers?Honestly, if I lost a Warlord, I would just roll on the Presence traits and try to get the “reroll 1s for shooting” trait. Not to mention that Faceless Commander is a garbage warlord trait, especially since it would be mostly useless on Non-IC/non-infantry warlords. What are you going to do, move a squad champion out of coherency? What if you made a Daemon Prince your Warlord? You can’t swap with anyone else unless you somehow decided bringing 2 Princes was a swell idea. What happens when a Swooping Prince and a Gliding Prince switch places? Is ITC going to ban this form of pseudo-soulswitch? Seriously GW, did you even playtest this gamebreaker?

    (Note: If I were to re-do Faceless Commander, it would be: Roll on the Personal Warlord Table once. While the Warlord is alive, you may choose one other friendly Alpha Legion Character, and it gains that Personal Warlord Trait for the turn).

    That said, everything else is good. Hydra’s Teeth is surprisingly solid, especially against anything T3 or less. The main thing to note is that while it does give your Bolt weapons Poison 2+, it doesn’t replace or reduce their Strength value. This effectively means you can re-roll to-wound against those types of targets. Combo with Infiltrating/outflanking Rhinos, and/or Mindveil and things get nasty quick.

    Speaking of Mindveil, it’s better than Hit and Run for two additional reasons: You can move “up to” the distance rolled, rather than moving exactly 3d6, and it’s not in a single direction. It’s harder to “trap” a Mindveil unit by surrounding it with unengaged chaff.

    I feel the Lost and Damned is a trap formation. Just accept your free Shrouded and move on. A CAD is arguably better due to getting Chosen without a CSM tax, but Obsec Shrouded Bikers are sexy too.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 19, 2016 9:57 am #

      I actually think they get one of the best warlord tables of the Traitor Legions- and it actually gives you some pretty good shenanigans combined with Many Heads of the Hydra. Stealth isn’t amazing, but it’s a reasonable thing. Infiltrate lets your warlord join up with the rest of the army- though there’s obviously better versions on the CSM and Strategic tables. Auto-reserves can be big, and swapping with another character is tricky to use but game-breaking when it works. FC and FNP for Cultists is very solid, since Alpha Legion strongly pushes you towards playing them. Acute Senses and Outflank is a bit weak, but again not terrible. The key takeaway here is that most of the Alpha Legion traits are things that “activate” at the beginning of the game and then become useless later- and with the Hydra rule, once your warlord dies you essentially get to choose a new trait. So you can swap out mid-game for a Strategic or Command trait to get an ongoing bonus after having taken a temporary one earlier- it’s the best of both worlds.

      Shrouded on the first turn can be a pretty big bonus for armies that like to spam bodies- there are more than a few players having success using Raven Guard for similar reason. And getting to double up on your Cultist recursion- if that is indeed how it works- is big as well, since you have a 75% chance of getting at least one unit back and spread across 4+ units you are unlikely to completely run out. Immunity to attrition damage should not be underestimated, especially if you have allies (such as Renegades) to bring the damage output.

      Agreed that Mindveil is fantastic, though. It’s not quite a Hunter’s Eye, but it is certainly one of the stronger relics around due to the shenanigans you can pull with it. I mean, in a _worst_ case scenario it is making the bearer’s unit move 3d6″ each turn. Note that unlike Hit and Run, however, it does not allow you to move “through” enemy units unless you already have the Jump type, so if you’re completely surrounded you won’t be able to break out of combat.

      • Avatar
        MagicJuggler December 19, 2016 10:32 am #

        Stealth for one unit is one thing. Compared to Shrouded and automatic Night Fight alongside mass Ignore Cover, and turn 1 outflanking Scouts escorting units, that leaves the Alpha Legion a little short-changed.

        I imagine the moment the Warlord dies, it’s straight to Command to fish for rerolling 1 when shooting, or for Conqueror of Cities if running Rhinos.

        How do you practically envision the switch ability working? Given ITC still uses modified Soulswitch, I find it difficult to envision them giving the power a free pass for getting into assault faster. I imagine you would use it specifically in combination with the Mindveil to grant pseudo-Hit&Run to a screening unit of choice, except for the classic temptation to place your Warlord on a Bike. Alpha Scars maybe? Plus, again, unit coherency is going to be an issue if it’s a non-independent character doing the switch.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy December 19, 2016 11:25 am #

          I don’t really think it’s fair to compare one warlord trait to all of the bonuses stacked up from a Decurion. While the Insurgency Force may not be as strong as the Talon Strike Force, I think people are really underestimating how good Infiltrate for most of your units and two 4+s to recycle units is.

          For the switch ability, it would depend on what you’re switching. On anything that isn’t an IC or MC, yeah, it’s awkward- but CSM’s formations actually give them a fair number of non-unit characters on the field, so it won’t be hard to use I think. The simplest version would be to use it to “spike” the warlord into the midst of the enemy by exchanging with something that is closer. Note also that it can be used for a lot of shenanigans with unit movement and coherency- it’s perfectly legal to trade an IC for a squad leader; this might sometimes be used to make for a “slingshot” charge on a unit (by moving that single model 6-20″ closer to the enemy), as the current assault rules allow you to declare an assault and move models so they are out of coherency so long as you have no other option. By the same token, it could be used to “save” a member of a squad by putting them somewhere safe in hopes that the unit won’t be wiped out. I think there’s a lot of tricks to be done with it that revolve around very careful knowledge of the movement and coherency rules.

  2. Avatar
    Davis Centis December 19, 2016 8:59 am #

    Note: The cultists that return for the Alpha Legion DO get to Outflank! This is because Alpha Legion cultists have Infiltrate!

    • Avatar
      Blight December 19, 2016 9:12 am #

      But you normally cannot outflank from ongoing reserves according to the rules for outflank. The lost and the damned is generally considered to get around that specifically.

  3. Avatar
    Shas'Itsa Mari'o December 19, 2016 11:32 am #

    So how would you play the Lost and the Damned within the Insurgency Force with regards to “Cult Uprising” and “Tide of Traitors”? I know it was touched on in the article.

    Roll 2 D6 and potentially get two new units, or two chances to get one new unit? Its obviously two different rules but the RAW implications lean to the two new units which seems a bit much. I’m ok with it being that way but still haha

    • Avatar
      Adam S. December 19, 2016 7:54 pm #

      Its been a discussion in our play group. Hopefully GW will be able to resolve it fairly soon.

  4. Avatar
    Threllen December 19, 2016 12:06 pm #

    I’m really confused as to what Cult Uprising actually does.

    The only way you can include Cultists in the Alpha Legion decurion is if they are in the Lost and the Damned formation. Cult Uprising is the exact same rule that Lost and the Damned already gets. So what’s the point?

    • Avatar
      Threllen December 19, 2016 12:08 pm #

      I know the rules have different names between the formation and the detachment but the rule itself is the same. It would seem silly if you got to roll twice. Also why wouldn’t the detachment spell out that the rules stacked if that was the case?

    • Avatar
      Shas'Itsa Mari'o December 19, 2016 12:18 pm #

      The argument I’ve been hearing is that since they are different rules (one confers Outflank, the other does not) that trigger off the same event (cultist unit being destroyed) then they both take affect. You would roll 2 dice, one being for the outflanking cultists and the other for the regular ongoing reserve cultists.

      There are really only two ways I can see it playing:
      1) roll 2 dice to try and get 2 units
      2) roll 2 dice to try and get 1 unit

      I usually go for the “not as crazy” interpretation but in this case the first one actually makes more sense from a RAW perspective

      • Avatar
        Jural December 19, 2016 2:59 pm #

        It seems very odd, but I agree it’s the clear RAW interpretation. Needs a FAQ or clarification

        • Avatar
          Jason Wolfe December 19, 2016 5:22 pm #

          This would be a good place for an ITC FAQ answer. I see two differently named rules that both trigger. There isn’t any RAW saying only do one.

  5. Avatar
    WestRider December 19, 2016 2:04 pm #

    Aw, yiss. The Alpha Legion are my guys. First 40K Army I ever had, and this is the best set of 40K Rules for them that I’ve seen.

    Whether or not the two Rules for Culties coming back stack needs a FAQ post-haste, because that makes a big difference in how good the Detachment is.

    I do think they’re pretty good, but even if only from a fluff perspective, the Warlord Traits are awesome and totally fitting. Along with Many Heads of the Hydra and the various bonuses, they’re just trolltastic, which is exactly how it should be.

    I can’t see any of the Relics that I would categorically never use, but the MindVeil and Icon of Insurrection are the standouts for me. The others, I probably won’t take very often, just because it’s rare that I’ll have enough Characters around who can take Relics.

    My one real complaint is that there’s no reliable way to get Infiltrate for any of my ICs. Makes it kind of awkward to find good places to start some Characters, especially the Dark Apostle from the LatD, since he can’t get a Bike or anything, and can’t start with the Culties, since they have Infiltrate.

    • Avatar
      Shas'Itsa Mari'o December 19, 2016 2:26 pm #

      Many Heads of the Hydra is an awesome ability, not game breaking but will get really annoying for the opponent as he tries to play whackamole.

      Don’t forget they FAQ’ed that units with Infiltrate don’t have to infiltrate. I’m thinking of rolling with the Apostle as the first warlord and trying for the reroll to get infiltrate. If that works then great, stick him in a cultist unit up close for the buffs. If not then stick him in a squad towards the back. Not ideal but could be worse.

      • Avatar
        WestRider December 19, 2016 3:22 pm #

        It gets wonky because of another FAQ that says that an IC without Infiltrate (but with Deep Strike) can’t start the Game in Deep Strike Reserves with a Unit that has both the Infiltrate and Deep Strike Rules. The wording on that one implies that the mere presence of the Infiltrate Rule is enough to stop ICs from Joining the Unit, even if they’re not actually Infiltrating.

        • Avatar
          Threllen December 19, 2016 7:04 pm #

          Yeah, I hated that answer by GW. They skirted around the question of “can you deploy an IC with infiltrate with a unit that does not have the infiltrate rule if he’s just deploying regularly?” by giving specific examples of where you can’t do it but not issuing a blanket statement.

          I really wish they would have just came out and openly said yes or no. It really sucks for some HQs like Shadowsun who literally can’t deploy with 90% of the Tau army just because she has infiltrate….

    • Avatar
      Jural December 19, 2016 3:00 pm #

      Also- practically speaking it impacts how many cultists you need to buy. I have 50 right now…. maybe not enough, especially if the rules stack.

      • Avatar
        WestRider December 19, 2016 3:12 pm #

        Not so much an issue on how many I need to buy, since I have like 250 or so, but def an issue regarding how many I need to paint 🙁

  6. Avatar
    Toranaga December 19, 2016 2:14 pm #

    Alpha Legion Daemon Prince of Tzeentch with Drakescale plate and flight = 2+ re-rollable save on a FMC – no need for grimoire, no need for cursed earth – this guy will be the interstellar a-hole everyone will love to hate.

    • Avatar
      Jural December 19, 2016 2:55 pm #

      It’s still vulnerable to AP2, but as you mention- very easy and affordable to pull off.

    • Avatar
      Cephalobeard December 19, 2016 4:28 pm #

      Would it be able to be a Daemon if Tzeentch? AL units can’t take marks, no?

      • Avatar
        WestRider December 19, 2016 5:05 pm #

        Daemonic Alignments are not the same as Marks. The AL Rules make it clear that Daemon Princes are still allowed, even tho they are required to be Aligned with one of the Gods.

        • Avatar
          Cephalobeard December 19, 2016 5:55 pm #

          Word. Thanks for the correction.

  7. Avatar
    Threllen December 19, 2016 7:06 pm #

    Can someone explain to me why the Drakescale plate gives you a 2+ invul against “flamer” weapons as described in the main rulebook.

    There isn’t a single flamer weapon in the rulebook that has AP2 so it’s impossible to need the invul.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 19, 2016 7:47 pm #

      There are a small handful of Flamer weapons that have AP2 in the game from Forge World- well, weapons that _should_ be flamers, anyways, even though they are not technically listed as such. There are also a handful of ways to give a flamer weapon Rending, which would also make it relevant.

      Really, though, it’s just a way for CSM to buy a suit of 2+ armor, which costs loyalists 20pts anyways. The fact that you can stick it onto Princes, Apostles, etc, is your small consolation prize for only being able to take one.

      • Avatar
        Threllen December 19, 2016 8:35 pm #

        Yeah, as far as flamers specifically mentioned in the rulebook… AP3 is the best. The fluff even calls out flamestorm cannons which wouldn’t penetrate the armor anyways. But I suppose someone could throw out a rending psychic power/buff.

      • Avatar
        Threllen December 19, 2016 8:39 pm #

        Also, yeah it kind of sucks that CSM can only access 2+ armor through relics whereas loyalists just get artificer armor as an option, but it is nice for the option for Daemon Princes. I think we’ll probably see a lot of Daemon Princes rocking 2+ armor. Iron Warriors would be particularly nice with 2+ armor and IWND and 6+ FnP. That would be one tough DP.

        Too bad World Eaters don’t get a 2+ armor option. It would be interesting to field the DP + Possessed formation with all the extra movement/deployment bonuses they get. That might actually make Possessed worth it with potential T1/T2 charges and all 3 mutations (and mark of khorne).

    • Avatar
      W December 21, 2016 3:30 am #

      If somebody casts Misfortune or some other way of getting Rending on their flamers it could be useful. 30k Legion Veterans with Sniper Flamers come to mind, too.

  8. Avatar
    mika December 20, 2016 5:47 am #

    The cultists rule interaction is way more complicated then this.

    You have two rules that pratically do the same, one from the L&D formation, and one from the detachment. Since in both it says you get a new unit you roll twice and you can get up to two units for each destroyed one. That much is clear.

    Now there’s the tricky part :

    – if you get a new unit out of the L&D formation special rule then the new unit is still part of the formation, and the formation is part of the detachmen so if that new unit dies you roll twice again.

    – if you get a new unit from the detachment special rule, then that new unit is part of the detachment BUT not part of the formation anymore, so you only get to roll once if this unit dies.

    Which means that the rule is in no way overpowered because most probably you wont get that many extra units, and the faster they die the faster you run out of new units.
    It also needs some book keeping which cultists are which.

    • Avatar
      Shas'Itsa Mari'o December 20, 2016 7:05 am #

      Unless there’s another obvious way of getting cultists that I’m missing, the Lost and the Damned formation is the only way to get them as part of the Insurgency Force. Therefore any subsequent squads that are generated are still from the L&D formation which will still be a part of the Insurgency Force Detachment. So the new units would be treated the same as their recently departed brethren. The difference would be that one roll would confer outflank per L&D and the other would just be standard OG per the IF special rule

      I agree, I definitely don’t think it’s overpowered. Just want to know how many more cultists I need haha

  9. Avatar
    pascalnz December 20, 2016 7:10 pm #

    blade of the hydra on a demon prince?
    it becomes ap2 and the prince can try and cast warp speed on himself, maybe…
    chance to really blend some stuff:)

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