The World Eaters, originally known as the War Hounds, were the XII Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions, created by the Emperor at the dawn of the Imperium. They were among the first Legions to turn to Chaos in the Horus Heresy and now roam the galaxy and the Eye of Terror; after the catastrophic Battle of Skalathrax, they were scattered into disparate warbands, and have rarely fought as a unified Legion since.
Following the example of their primarch, Angron, they worship the Chaos God Khorne, and glory in violence and slaughter for its own sake. Their warriors are some of the deadliest close combat fighters in the galaxy, including large numbers of the infamous Khorne Berserkers.
|Marine||Basic Data||Current Symbol|
- 1 History
- 2 Combat Doctrine
- 3 Organisation
- 4 Notable Battles and Campaigns
- 5 Noted Elements of the World Eaters
- 6 Related Articles
- 7 Sources
Like the rest of the Legio Astartes, the original World Eaters, then known as XIIth Legion, were founded on Terra. However records indicate that the earliest World Eaters may have been the more aggressive members of tribes and city-states pacified by the Emperor. From the onset, they were deemed a highly aggressive, hot-blooded, and savage force.
The Legion's first recorded engagement was the Sa'afrik Liberation during the Unification Wars. For reasons unknown, after their initial battles they seemed to have been held in reserve during the latter Unification Wars and conquest of the Sol System. Many speculate this could have been because of cases of disloyalty to the Emperor. Nonetheless, the Legion continued to grow and tenaciously train for war, resulting in the Emperor eventually dubbing them his War Hounds. Eventually, the Emperor finally unleashed the War Hounds on the rebellious colony of Cerberus, and after that attached them to the 13th Expeditionary Fleet where they preformed well as shock troops during the early Great Crusade. However they were not without problems, as incidents of attacking fellow Imperial Army troops in their way during battle persisted. The War Council concluded that enforcing harsher discipline in the Legion could overcome this problem.
Eventually, the War Council even began to utilize the Legion's tenacious brutality, deploying them in battles where the complete destruction of the enemy was required. This earned them the nickname the "Bloody 13th".
Coming of Angron
The Speculum Historiale describe the first years of the World Eater primarch Angron as less than blissful. He was stranded on Nuceria, a technologically advanced planet with a poor and downtrodden population ruled over by an elite class of nobles. The most popular form of entertainment for the masses was gladiatorial duels between cyber-enhanced warriors, and destiny had it that one of the gladiator slavers would find the young Primarch. Angron was mortally wounded when he was discovered, almost killed by alien warriors thought to be Eldar trying to stop the Primarch before he could turn to Chaos[Needs Citation].
Angron survived, and over the next years would become the greatest gladiator the planet had ever seen. A discontent one, having plotted his escape for years he finally led his fellow warriors in an armed revolt. A revolt doomed to fail, however, as the newly arrived Emperor warned him, for the forces under the nobles vastly outnumbered the gladiator band. Angron with his martial pride refused to listen to or receive aid from his father; preferring an honourable death to outside help. The Emperor did not accept this, and teleported Angron to his Battle Barge the night before the last battle. The gladiatorial army was slaughtered to a man and Angron's honour was blemished. It is said he never forgave his father for the incident[Needs Citation].
The Legion was already active by the time Angron joined them but called themselves the War Hounds in reference to a name coined by the Emperor who remarked on their similarity to a culture on Terra.[Needs Citation] Angron had referred to the army he led on his homeworld as "The Eaters of Cities." One of his eager captains took up this description and told Angron that, under his leadership, his Space Marines would be the Eaters of Worlds. Angron liked the name, and adopted it for his Legion. They would soon be influenced by Angron's thirst for battle, amplified by the use of psycho surgery similar to that Angron had received during his gladiator training. These implants turned the already fierce Space Marines into frenzied berserkers so feared that whole systems would eventually surrender rather than face them in battle. The planets upon which the World Eaters fell were not merely crushed - they were destroyed utterly. This caused concern even hardened Imperial Commanders, with Roboute Guilliman decrying the atrocities of Angron during the Cleansing of Ariggata.
As the Great Crusade wore on, there was an increasing number of imperial military commanders who whispered that Angron was mad and that his legion had followed him into madness. After the psycho-surgeries of Angron (such as the Butcher's Nails) became commonplace, the brutality unleashed by the World Eaters on planets resulted in these whispers becoming open voices of dissent. After the infamous Ghenna Massacre came to light, the Emperor banned the surgery altogether. However Angron refused to submit, resulting in the Emperor dispatching Leman Russ and his Space Wolves to bring Angron back to answer for his insubordination. However what resulted was a brief but bloody confrontation between the World Eaters and Space Wolves, with Angron besting Russ in single combat but allowing himself to become encircled by Space Wolves in the process. When it became clear that Angron was a lost cause and did not understand that his own failure to lead resulted in him becoming entrapped, Russ ordered a withdrawal.
By the beginning of the Horus Heresy, the World Eaters had an active strength of roughly 150,000 Space Marines, placing them in the higher-mid level tier with regard to Legion size.
As the hour of the Horus Heresy grew near, Horus had little problem with corrupting the bitter and unhappy Angron. The World Eaters were probably the first Legion to join the Sons of Horus in their revolt and would be instrumental in the battles of Isstvan III, Isstvan V, Shadow Crusade, and the Siege of Terra itself. World Eaters led the assault on the walls of the Imperial Palace and it is said that one of their champions, Khârn, was the first to enter the breach[Needs Citation].
Yet they lost the battle, and the remains fled to the Eye of Terror along with the other Traitor Legions. Angron was elevated to daemonhood and the World Eaters would continue to function as a Legion up to the Skalathrax Incident. Originally a fight against the Emperor's Children the battle escalated when Khârn attacked his fellow comrades. Refusing to fall back before the deadly cold of the Skalathrax night Khârn burned their shelters and forced a desperate fight between brother Marines for the few remaining safehouses. This divided the Legion into individual warbands, a formation they have kept ever since[Needs Citation].
Angron was last seen during the First War for Armageddon, where he lead the invasion of a Khornate host upon an Imperial forge world. He was eventually banished to the Warp for a hundred years, at the cost of the lives of a large number of Grey Knights lead by Brother-Captain Aurellian[Needs Citation].
Even before their fall to Chaos the World Eaters were known as a bloodthirsty Legion, and becoming the chosen Legion of Khorne did little to change this. In battle they disregard mortal peril to sate their bloodlust in close combat, often displaying a berserker rage that makes them invulnerable to wounds that would kill even a Space Marine.
The preferred method of assault for the World Eaters is a Drop Pod assault, followed by a charge into enemy lines. They have also been known to drop right into enemy formations. Unlike other Space Marines who use tactical attacks with squads, the World Eaters tend to throw themselves as a whole force in the middle of battle.
The most common close combat weapon in the World Eaters is the Khorne Chainaxe, a weapon seldom seen outside the Legion. In the hand of a berserker Marine it is a fearsome weapon, capable of hacking through even Power Armour.
The World Eaters originally followed a regular Legion formation and contained specialized warriors such as Rampagers, but after the Battle of Skalathrax they have taken to working in small warbands that often enlist with other, larger Chaos armies. These warbands have no common organisation, rather doing whatever suits their current leaders.
The original World Eater colour scheme was bright white with blue markings, which changed into a blood red with brass markings after the Heresy. It is rumoured that the World Eaters did not change their colours but simply spilled so much blood that their armour took the dark red colour. This doesn't really explain the brass nor their unique Khornate helmets, and is likely a legend based on their reputation.
Since the Battle of Skallathrax, many World Eaters warbands and fragments have been encountered. These include:
- Angron's Chosen
- Berserkers of Skallathrax
- Blood Legion of Khorne
- Gladiator Group 138[10b]
- Lord Skchalick's Elite
- The Ravagers
- Skull Takers of Hans Kho'ren
- The Foresworn
- The Sanctified
Notable Battles and Campaigns
The Cleansing of Arrigata
Towards the end of the Great Crusade, Horus assembled three Legions to take back the technologically advanced planet Arrigata from the separatists who controlled it; the The Sons of Horus, World Eaters, and Ultramarines. Most of the planet was quickly conquered, except for the massive fortress within which most of the leaders of the planet cowered. Eager to be on his way, Horus commanded Angron to take back the citadel and kill only the leaders.
Eagerly, Angron led the assault. However the fortress was heavily defended and the casualties were horrendous, a dozen World Eaters falling for a meter of land. Eventually, a ramp of corpses led up to a single breach in the wall, and the Marines plunged in. Filled with rage over their fallen brothers, they were merciless.
By the time the Ultramarines arrived, the battle was all but over. The inside of the fortress was filled with the dismembered and mangled corpses of the defenders, for not one soul had been spared the vengeful fury of the World Eaters. It was a slaughter.
Angron led the World Eaters in the first surface attack on Isstvan III to destroy the remaining Loyalist Marines. Roughly one-third of the Legion itself was marked to die by orders of Angron. The World Eaters bloodily massacred most of them, plunging into the enemy ranks like a white hot dagger. It is rumoured that when the Iron Hands arrived to destroy the traitors, Angron turned his forces around and engaged them in what was some of the most bloody fighting of the Heresy.
The Siege of the Emperor's Palace
The walls of the Imperial Palace seemed to touch the very sky, so tall were they. Before the walls milled the combined forces of the Traitors, an army so vast and terrible that its like has never been seen before. Nor will its like be seen again until the end of times, and the final battle. Beastmen and all manner of corrupted mutants, all the Greater and lesser Daemons of Chaos, and the Traitor Legions in their fell might surrounded the last bastion of the Loyalists.
The walls of the Palace were high and strong, but were breached by the Titans of the Death's Heads Legion. Into those breaches, at the forefront of each assault went the World Eaters. They charged reckless through the maelstrom, leaving heaps of their dead, consumed by madness and their lust for slaughter.
It was here, in the desperate and close fighting in the breaches that a Marine named Kharn became a bloody legend, butchering and carving his way toward the Emperor's inner sanctums. They moved into the corridors running through the mile thick walls, and the tunnels and chambers swam with blood. Even as the Emperor fought Horus above the ruins of Terra, Kharn fell at last before the Eternity Gate, atop a great pile of corpses.
As the World Eaters withdrew with the other Legions after Horus's fall, some dark impulse or whispering from the gods bade them take the bloodied carcass of Kharn with them, alone out of the millions of corpses left around the Palace.
The Battle of Skalathrax
On the daemon world Skalathrax, shortly after the heresy, the World Eaters and the Emperor's Children fought. Amid the World Eaters was the champion Kharn. After a full day of vicious fighting, the terrible Skalathrax night began. Horrified, Emperor's Children and World Eaters alike ran to their shelters, for the freezing night would kill even a Space Marine in a matter of moments.
Kharn raged over being delayed from battle for even a night. Filled with anger when he saw that his brother Marines were creeping back to the shelters, he took up a flamer and burned them down, slaying with his chain-axe Gorechild any who tried to stop him. The night was filled with the screams of the dying and the freezing as Kharn strode the streets of the dead city of black stone, killing Emperor's Children and World Eaters alike, burning any shelters he found. The night was lit by flames as the Emperor's Children and World Eaters fought each other and themselves for the few remaining shelters. By morning, most of the World Eaters were dead, the survivors split into small warbands, the shattered remnants of once great Companies.
The First War for Armageddon
The arrival of a massive and ancient space hulk at the outer edge of the Armageddon system heralded the first of the terrible wars to plague this planet. In this costly conflict, the Daemon Primarch Angron led his World Eaters in a massive invasion of the hive planet. Imperial resistance on the continent of Armageddon Prime was swiftly crushed, and the defenders withdrew beyond the vast equatorial jungles dividing Armageddon Prime from Secundus. Here, under the guidance of Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves, the Imperial forces established a new line of defences and awaited the renewed onslaught. Complacent, and believing the campaign to be all but won, Angron wasted weeks erecting great temples and monoliths to his patron Khorne - or so it seemed. In reality, a local Warp Storm which had allowed a large portion of his army to be summoned, was dissipating, and without its influence, much of his army (daemonkind) was likely to be pulled back into the Warp. So his hand was forced into erecting the monuments and temples. This proved to be a mistake.
When Angron renewed his offensive, pushing through the sweltering jungles to reach Armageddon Secundus his host was met by a solid wall of defence. Nonetheless the World Eaters crashed recklessly into the Imperial line, and they were aided by the daemons of the Warp. The Imperial defences were almost overwhelmed by the sheer fury of the World Eaters assault. Angron himself led his bodyguard of Daemon Princes and Bloodthirsters against the centre of the line, held by the Space Wolves, hoping to come before the Great Wolf and slay him.
It was at this point that Grimnar played his trump card; an entire Company of Grey Knights teleported into the midst of Angron's daemonic honour guard. The titanic struggle that ensued saw earth rending energies unleashed, as the burning white light of the Emperor's finest came against the darkness of Khorne's dread servants. Angron's retinue was destroyed by the Grey Knights at a terrible cost, and the survivors now faced the corrupted Primarch.
It was this combat that would decide the fate of the world. The Grey Knights, through a supreme sacrifice, summoned the energy for a massive psychic blast that completely annihilated Angron's corporeal form and banished his spirit to the Empryean, whence it could not return for a hundred years. A great part of the Grey Knight Company, including the Chapter Master, were destroyed in this action, for Angron was a foe of murderous strength.
With the destruction of the Primarch, the World Eaters fell into disarray and were routed. The Warp-summoned Daemons of Khorne vanished as swiftly as they had appeared, losing their fragile grip of the material plane. The survivors of the World Eaters gradually fell back into the Eye of Terror. It is said that the now recovered Angron hungers for revenge.
Thirteenth Black Crusade
During the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler World Eater warbands would appear in mass to fight alongside the Warmaster. Most notable of these was the army of Kossolax the Foresworn.[2a] By 999.M41 the largest army of World Eaters in living memory had assembled.
Noted Elements of the World Eaters
- Aggression - Cruiser, that took part in the conflict that engulfed the Pyrus Reach Sector.
- Blood Shrike - Strike Cruiser.
- Conqueror - Battle Barge; Flagship during the Horus Heresy.
- Gatt Charge - Capital Ship. 
- Gladiator - Capital Ship.
- Merciless - Battleship.
- Silent Fury - Strike Cruiser.
- Ehrlen, Brother-Captain, commanded the loyalist World Eaters strike force at the Battle of Isstvan III[Needs Citation]
- Gheer, Legion Master of the War Hounds, killed by Angron
- Khârn, originally Captain of the 8th Company
- Kunnar, 1st Company Champion, killed by Angron
- Lhorke, Legion Master of the War Hounds, interred in a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought ca. thirty years before Angron's discovery[15a]
- Macer Varren, Captain, escaped the Isstvan system and recruited by Nathaniel Garro for Malcador
- Shabran Darr - Centurion
- Shinnargen, Captain of the 2nd Company, killed by Angron
- Bazrak the Frothing - Warband Leader
- Crull - Lord, led a warband named the "Blood Legion Of Khorne" of the World Eaters during the battle for Lorn V
- Hans Kho'ren - Warband Leader
- Headsman of Cellebos - Warband leader
- Khârn – Champion of Khorne, called "The Betrayer" after his actions at Skalathrax
- Kossolax the Foresworn, supported the 13th Black Crusade[2b]
- Roghax Bloodhand - Warband Leader
- Skchalick - Warband Leader
- Umbragg - Warband leader
- Varlag the Butcher - Warband Leader
- Zhufor - Lord, led a warband of the World Eaters during the Siege of Vraks
|Loyalist||I - Dark Angels · V - White Scars
VI- Space Wolves · VII- Imperial Fists
IX- Blood Angels · X- Iron Hands
XIII- Ultramarines · XVIII- Salamanders
XIX- Raven Guard
|Traitor||III- Emperor's Children · IV- Iron Warriors|
VIII- Night Lords · XII- World Eaters
XIV- Death Guard · XV- Thousand Sons
XVI- Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus · XVII- Word Bearers
XX- Alpha Legion
- 1: Horus Heresy: Visions of Death by Alan Merrett
- 2: Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition)
- 3: Dawn of War: Winter Assault
- 4: Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, p. 26
- 5: Index Astartes III
- 6: After Desh'ea (Short Story) by Matthew Farrer
- 7: The Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book) by Dan Abnett, p. 65
- 8: Eye of Terror Newsletter 7
- 9: The Traitor's Hand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell, Chapter One
- 10: Warhammer 40,000 6th Edition Rulebook
- 11: Deathwatch: First Founding pg.83
- 12: Apocalypse pg.171
- 12: White Dwarf 279 (UK), p.113
- 13: Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition) pg.5
- 14: The Horus Heresy Book One - Betrayal pgs. 85-97
- 15: Betrayer (Novel)[Needs Citation] pgs. 240-242
- 15a: Chapter 9
- 16: Dark Millennium (game system): Damnation's Gate - Aggression, card description