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Horus Heresy (game system)

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the card game. For other uses of Horus Heresy, see Horus Heresy (disambiguation).

Horus Heresy is a collectible card game from Sabertooth Games launched in 2003 set during the Horus Heresy. It was later succeed by the Dark Millennium collectible card game but is now defunct, along with Sabertooth Games and the Dark Millennium collectible card game, and is no longer supported.1, [2]

Horus Heresy
Horus heresy loyalist starter .jpg
Designer Luke Peterschmidt and Ryan Miller
Manufacturer Sabertooth Games / Games Workshop
Released 2003
Players 2
Game time Approx 30 min
Preceded by 40K CCG
Followed by Dark Millennium

Gameplay overview

A single game of Horus Heresy features two commanders and their respective fleets struggling over control of a planet. The attacker and defender fight for control of three sectors which are deemed key to winning the planet. The game ends if either player captures two sectors, or after four complete turns have elapsed. In the case of neither player capturing two sectors within the allotted play period, whoever has won more sectors (i.e. a single sector while the opponent has none), or the most valuable sector (in the case of each player having won a single sector), wins the game.

At the start of each full turn, players deploy one card face up to each unclaimed sector. Players then draw a hand of six cards and alternate deploying cards face down to an unclaimed sector, one a time. The goal here is to make sure that each sector has the needed assortment of troops and other cards to ensure victory over the opponent. One sector can be heavily reinforced, but this will leave another sector vulnerable, so considerable strategy is needed when choosing what to deploy where. Following deployment, the attacking player chooses a sector to contest, and after resolution of that battle, the defending player chooses a different sector to contest (if in fact another remains unclaimed). Each battle may end in one player winning that sector, or neither player winning that sector, but either way, after the two battles, the turn ends and a new turn begins (with additional deployments).

Card Types

Cards in Horus Heresy are broken down into four different types:

  • Units - The majority of cards are of this type, and depict infantry units or vehicles which will do battle on the ground to take control of a sector.
  • Assets - Asset cards represent anything on the battlefield other than troops or units. This includes things such as the presence of an important leader, or the effect of having a command post in the vicinity.
  • Ships - Orbiting high above the planet, ship cards signify the fleet's battleships and transports which can directly or indirectly assist the battle on the ground.
  • Sectors - Sectors are the key portions of the planet over which the battles rage. Sector cards have information about the number of troops required to capture them, as well as any special abilities or effects of the area. These cards are never part of the play deck and are only used during game setup.

All cards other than sector cards are either affiliated with one of the two factions or are unaligned. Loyalist cards feature the Emperor's Eagle, while Traitor cards feature the Eye of Horus. Unaligned cards, representing units or assets usable by either side, include a set of scales. Loyalist and Traitor cards may not be mixed together in the same play deck, since a deck represents a given side in the conflict.

Card rarity

As with many of the games produced by Sabertooth Games, each card has rarity information printed on the card in order to help determine how rare a given card is. The rarity is denoted by the number of small dots appearing at the bottom of the card, according to the following legend: • Common •• Uncommon ••• Rare •••• Ultra-rare

When the game was initially produced, two base set starter decks were available, one for the Loyalist side, and one for the Traitor side. Each contained 3 sector cards, 42 fixed cards, and 18 random cards (including 3 rares), all of which would theoretically be usable in the deck. Additional 9-card booster packs, containing 1 rare card and 8 common or uncommon cards, were available as well. Boosters from later expansion sets contain the same 1 rare / 8 common and uncommon distribution.


The cards from Horus Heresy are compatible with the newer Dark Millennium collectible card game (also from Sabertooth Games). Loyalist cards from Horus Heresy may be mixed freely with Imperial cards from Dark Millennium, while Traitor cards may be mixed with Chaos cards. Unaligned Horus Heresy cards can be used with either of the two, but not with new Dark Millennium deck types such as Ork and Eldar. Any such mixed decks remain legal Imperial or Chaos decks for use in Dark Millennium games, although they are no longer legal for use in Horus Heresy.

Cards from the older Warhammer 40,000 Collectible Card Game are semi-compatible with Horus Heresy, although they require some rule changes in order to work with the new game system.

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