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World Eaters


Legion Number XII
Primarch Angron
Homeworld Bodt (de facto)
Current Base None. Scattered since the Battle of Skalathrax.
Chaos Affiliation Khorne
Colours Blood red with brass (formerly white and blue)
Specialty Close Combat, Berzerkers
Battle Cry Blood for the Blood God!,
often followed by Skulls for the Skull Throne!

The World Eaters, originally known as the War Hounds,[6] were the XII Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Angron, sometimes known as The Lord of the Red Sands[15c] or the Red Angel.[16b] The Legion was amongst the first to turn traitor during the Horus Heresy. Already known for their peerless martial savagery - thanks in part to the effects of the psycho-surgical implants known as the Butcher's Nails that most of their members possessed - the World Eaters would eventually devolve into a legion of blood-crazed maniacs dedicated to the Chaos God Khorne, glorying in violence and slaughter and with no other purpose than spilling blood and taking skulls in the name of their god. After the catastrophic Battle of Skalathrax, they were scattered into disparate warbands, and have rarely fought as a unified Legion since.[14b]

Alongside the Space Wolves their warriors are some of the deadliest close combat fighters in the galaxy, amongst whom are counted large numbers of the infamous Khorne Berserkers.


The Great Crusade


Great Crusade era War Hounds shoulderpad

The Twelfth Legion was formed on Terra, from no particular geographic recruiting ground. Fragmentary records do suggest however, that during the formation process of the legion, an experimental screening process may have resulted in the initial intakes being formed from the most aggressive and competitive of candidates. While this cannot be confirmed with certainty, early records of the Legion do note that it was considered a highly aggressive, hot-blooded, and savage force.[15b]

The nascent, relatively small Legion was deployed in the Unification Wars, their first recorded engagement being the Sa'afrik Liberation. However, for reasons unknown, after their initial battles they were largely held in the Imperial reserve right through the rest of Terran Unification and even throughout the conquest of the Sol System. While the true reasons for this withdrawal from the front-lines are unknown, one suggested reason was that they were simply kept off the board in case a sudden mishap in the Imperial campaigns resulted in a need for swift, fresh reinforcement. Another, more whispered proposed reason, is that they were deliberately held in check in case any disloyalty among the Emperor's troops emerged, and needed to be quickly ended.[15b]

Nonetheless, the Legion continued to grow and determinedly train for war. This dedication, as well as their savage and tenacious demeanour during the few times they were deployed in combat during this period, reportedly led to the Emperor himself dubbing the XII Legion as his War Hounds. In prideful recognition of this honour, the Twelfth adopted a red hound as their insignia.[15b]

Combat Disposition and Record

Like most Space Marine Legions, the combat disposition of the legion altered upon the discovery of their Primarch. Although, for the Twelfth Legion, this was both a relatively minor and massively damning alteration at one and the same time.

The Early Crusade

War Hounds legionary

The War Hounds were finally unleashed as a legion force partly by circumstance. The Imperial colony on Cerberus rose up in rebellion, and it quickly became apparent that Space Marine forces were needed to quell the insurrection. The Great Crusade having begun, most of the Space Marine Legions had already been assigned to Expedition Fleets and sent out into the wider galaxy. The Emperor was therefore minded to activate the War Hounds, sending them to Cerberus personally, with instructions to carry his wrath to those that defied him. Cerberus was invaded at 0300 hours Terran; the all-clear signal was transmitted by the War Hounds' commander at 0808. When asked how many prisoners were waiting to be processed, the War Hounds' commander replied that he had not been ordered to take any. Attached Imperial Army troops, sent into Cerberus in the aftermath, reported discovering scenes of shocking butchery and indication of massive casualties, on both sides.[15b]

The Bloody 13th

As the Great Crusade progressed, the XIIth Legion was split in a number of independent commands, each many thousands of Space Marines strong. These detachments were notionally used as reserve elements for other Crusade forces, but are in fact recorded as being used as front-line assault troops in many successful campaigns, fighting alongside brother legions such as the First Legion, the Iron Warriors and the Space Wolves. Additionally, War Hounds reserves would be sent in to provide a killing edge to various Imperial Army formations in troublesome war-zones. These deployments created the reputation of the War Hounds; they became known Crusade-wide as vicious shock-troops, whose actions were not without cost. It was said that a War Hounds deployment had only two outcomes; glorious, victorious slaughter...or just slaughter. Additionally, rumours began to circulate that the War Hounds were intemperate with all those who stood in their path, friend and foe alike. Stories of the legion culling human regiments whose performance they found wanting began to spread. The truth of these rumours could not easily be determined; the War Hounds deliberately kept their distance from other Legiones Astartes elements where possible. The only definite fact noted about the legion during this time was that they possessed an unusually harsh code of internal discipline, necessitated apparently by their own fractious nature.[15b]

The principal concentration of War Hounds astartes (around 8,000 Legionaries) had been grouped into the 13th Expeditionary Fleet, alongside dedicated support and naval elements. As the Crusade wore on and the various Legions grew in size to the point where they no longer needed a standing reserve reinforcement force, the scattered units of War Hounds were consolidated into the 13th Fleet, upon the legion muster-world of Bodt. Added to the 13th were many other Imperial forces, especially those who had similarly dark or questionable reputations for violence, particularly Feral World and Abhuman troops. Notable additions to the 13th were the Titans of Legio Audax and the warriors of the Numen Gun Clans, both powerful elements whose conduct had fallen under a pall of suspicion and distrust. It is believed this particular grouping was a deliberate choice by the War Council to corral into one force all the Imperial elements which had shown a tendency to cause massive destruction and loss of enemy life during their campaigns, so that the Imperium had a formation at hand that could be deployed where the total annihilation of the enemy and their works was desired. The war record of all of these various forces led to the 13th Expeditionary Fleet becoming known as "The Bloody 13th" in various Imperial circles.[15c].

The Emperor is assembling a carnival of monsters for his amusement, although I doubt whoever he unleashes them upon will see the jest.
-Reportedly the Primarch Sanguinius, upon reviewing the muster rolls of the 13th Expeditionary Fleet[15c]

The Eaters of Cities

Angron, the Lord of the Red Sands
Angron, the primarch of the Twelfth, had been 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 badly wounded when he was discovered, in one account surrounded by the corpses of native predators, in another surrounded by the bodies of xenos warriors.[15c], [16d].

The young Angron survived his capture, and his first bouts in the gladiator pits. Initially thought of as a folly by his new masters, his unexpected prowess in the pits made them see him in a new light. As was the want on the world where the gladiators were concerned, they attempted to surgically and cybernetically enhance their slave. Angron's primarch nature meant that all of these attempts would fail; all except one. The Nucerian slavers were successful in implanting Angron with psycho-surgical devices known as the Butcher's Nails, devices which would enhance his aggression to truly super-human levels.[15c]

The discontented Angron plotted his escape for years, before finally leading his fellow gladiators in an armed revolt. A revolt doomed to fail, however, for the forces under the nobles vastly outnumbered the gladiator band. Although aware of this eventual doom, Angron refused to countenance any other course of action. His rebel force was eventually pursued into the mountains by no less than five armies, each outnumbering his own ten times or more. It was then that the Emperor - who had been secretly watching his son's actions with pride for some time - chose to intervene. Coming to Angron, he offered him his birthright; a place by his side. To the Emperor's surprise, Angron rejected the offer, instead choosing to remain and die by the side of his gladiator brethren. The Emperor would not accept this refusal, however, and the night before the final battle he teleported Angron from the field and to safety. Angron's followers - named the Eaters of Cities - were massacred to the last man and woman on the following morning.[15c]

It is said he never forgave his father for the incident, and that the blow to his honour would eventually fester into a soul-deep wound.[15c] After Angron was spirited away by the Emperor, he was transferred to a vessel of the awaiting War Hounds. Unlike other meetings between primarchs and their legions, Angron's first contact with his genetic sons was one of extreme violence. Lost in an apparently inconsolable rage over what had just happened to him, Angron brutally murdered every legion officer of the War Hounds who attempted to speak to him, starting with their Legion Master, Gheer. As the War Hounds officers largely attempted to speak to him in order of seniority, their senior officer cadre diminished rapidly. Eventually, the 8th Captain - Khârn - was able to both survive his meeting with Angron, and in fact even forge a tenuous bond with him. When Angron emerged, ready and willing to assume command of his legion, Khârn introduced him to his officers with the phrase "Salute the one whose soldiers were named the Eaters of Cities". One of the officers, Captain Dreagher, issued a response that would result in an momentous occurrence.[6]

"Primarch! General! Your warriors were eaters of cities, lord, but with you to command us the War Hounds will be eaters of worlds!"
"World Eaters. World Eaters. So shall you be, then, little brothers. Come with me, then, World Eaters."
-Captain Dreagher of the War Hounds legion and Angron, their Primarch[6]

The Eaters of Worlds

World Eaters legionary

After Angron assumed command of his newly-rechristened legion, they once again mustered upon the world of Bodt, where Angron took stock of his forces. Always possessed of the harshest self-inflicted training regimes in the Space Marine Legions, the World Eaters went to new lengths under Angron's direction, adopting fighting pits and gladiatorial combat into their doctrines. Each warrior who passed the new tests wore scars aplenty to show it. Those who failed did not live to try again. Whatever Terran martial traditions that existed in the War Hounds were erased by Angron's new gladiatorial ones, and by the time the Primarch led his World Eaters from Bodt under their new fanged maw symbol, the World Eaters had embraced Angron's own red code of savage competition and the butchery of the weak.[15d] However Angron still refused to acknowledge his sons, and during their campaign's he ordered them to defeat the targeted world within 31 hours. This was the span of a single Nucerian day and the amount of time it had taken Angron and his army of slave rabble to score their greatest victory. Despite the brutality and even hatred Angron showed his legion, the World Eaters were committed to earn his respect.[31a] Meanwhile Angron had ordered his Apothecarion under Gahlan Surlak to replicate his Butcher's Nails, and implant the resultant creations into the brains of his legionaries. However early on the process proved fatal to any Marine who dared try to endure the process.[31a] Angron proved disgusted with his "weak" sons, and managed to flee to a Feral World for two whole years before Kharn found him and convinced him to rejoin the Legion.[31c]

Time and time again the World Eaters failed to meet this deadline and each time Angron demanded the punishment be decimation, forcing 1 of every 10 World Eaters to be killed by the other 9. After Centurion Mago refused to comply with decimation after the Ghenna Massacre, Angron was thrown into a bloody frenzy and massacred several World Eaters before being subdued by his own Librarians. The episode created a crisis within the Legion that saw Mago lead a revolt when Apothecary Gahlan Surlak announced that he had finally perfected a method for mass production of the Butcher's Nails within the Legion. However the revolt failed, Mago was slain, and Kharn became the first World Eater to successfully endure the Nails.[31b][31c] The result of an entire Space Marine Legion 'enhanced' with the aggression engines was seen during what became known as the Ghenna Massacre; an entire planetary population massacred in one night of unparalleled violence.[15d]

Soon the World Eaters would become a byword for mass-scale slaughter and violence, their enemies not merely shot down or blasted to oblivion, but killed to a man in their streets and fortresses. Their legend for brutality became so strong that more than once non-compliant worlds would surrender at the threat of the World Eaters being unleashed upon them. Already a breed apart, Angron's legionaries began to be actively shunned by their fellow Space Marine Legions and spoken of in dread by those Imperial citizens who knew of their actions. The planets upon which the World Eaters fell were not merely crushed - they were destroyed utterly. This caused concern even among hardened Imperial Commanders, not least of whom was Primarch Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines, who decried the atrocities of Angron during the Cleansing of Ariggata.[15d] Eventually Leman Russ brought his Space Wolves to confront Angron, bringing word that the Emperor wanted the World Eaters to cease implanting themselves with aggression engines, and to further urge Angron to cease his massacres. 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 and doomed to be killed by Space Wolves in the process, if they so wished. 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.[16a]

After this event, the Emperor moved to intervene, reprimanding Angron and ordering the prohibition of the Butcher's Nails and similar psycho-surgery. He further ordered the World Eaters out of the main line of the Great Crusade, sending them to the northern fringes of known space to combat xenos instead of human foes. This exile, likely intended as a punishment, instead allowed the World Eaters the freedom to operate without higher Imperial observation; they did not cease from the practices the Emperor had forbidden.[15d]

After some period in this 'exile', the Emperor recalled the World Eaters to the line. Still concerned with their conduct, he turned to his favourite and most trusted son, the Warmaster Horus Lupercal, and assigned him the role of mentoring Angron and overseeing the World Eaters, in an attempt to restrain them and return them to more acceptable Imperial modes of conduct. This would prove to be a grievous mistake.[15d]

The Horus Heresy

Mid-Heresy World Eater Balcoth


As the hour of the Horus Heresy grew near, Horus had little difficulty corrupting the bitter and unhappy Angron. Horus was able to feed the flames of Angron's discontent with the Emperor's prior behaviour, reinforcing Angron's perception that he had been betrayed and that the Emperor was a moral weakling. When the Sons of Horus broke with the Emperor's Imperium, Angron and the World Eaters were with them.[5c]

Angron and the World Eaters were first known to have worked to Lupercal's ends during the war with the Auretian Technocracy, when Angron's 203rd Expeditionary Fleet linked up with the 63rd of Horus. A war started under false pretences so that Horus could secure valuable STC machines with which to win the loyalty of the Mechanicum, the World Eaters worked in concert with the Sons of Horus to obliterate the Auretian civilisation.[23]

When word of the rebellion on Isstvan III arrived, Angron was a member of Horus' war council which determined that the imminent campaign of reconquest on the planet was the perfect opportunity to rid their legions of the personnel believed unlikely to turn against the Emperor. A sizeable grouping of World Eaters was attached to the forces deployed to crush the rebellion, and like all the other victorious warriors, they were betrayed by their fellows in orbit. The Conqueror, the World Eaters Legion flagship, was amongst the vessels which commenced a viral bombardment of the planet.[15g]

When it became clear that almost two-thirds of the deployed forces had survived the life-eater, Horus made plans to saturation bomb their positions from orbit. However, his stratagem was altered by the actions of Angron, who seemingly decided that the survivors of his legion should be cut down by his own hand. Descending to the surface, with a full 50 companies of World Eaters at his back, Angron made straight for the largest concentration of his own betrayed troops and engaged them in close combat. Watching from orbit in outrage, Horus realised he had no choice but to commit his own ground forces in order to reinforce Angron's move. Thus the Battle of Isstvan III was begun.[15h]

Tell me why, father. Why stand with the Arch-Traitor?
I do not stand with Horus. I stand against the Emperor. Do you understand, Kauragar? I am free now. Free.

-World Eaters Centurion Kauragar and the Primarch Angron, after the former's mortal wounding by the latter.[24]

Angron and his second wave of World Eaters spent most of the battle combating and wiping out the World Eaters of the first wave, but were marshalled and brought in for the kill of the last loyalist bastion, after its walls were breached by Titan assault. The final obliteration of the loyalists was to be by orbital bombardment, and Horus ordered his fellow primarchs Mortarion and Fulgrim to drag Angron from the field if he would not quit of his own accord; the World Eaters' strength was to be conserved for the planned Battle of Isstvan V.[15i]

The Battle of Isstvan V, also known as the Drop Site Massacre, saw Angron and the World Eaters unleashed, their assault splitting the Raven Guard's line of communication from that of the Iron Hands. The World Eaters then turned their ire upon the Raven Guard, causing many casualties in the sable-clad legion.[25] Indeed, the World Eaters seemed to focus on the Raven Guard as their targets even after the battle had been settled in the favour of the traitors. As well as sending out hunter squads after the Raven Guard survivors trapped on the surface, the World Eaters were recorded to undertake a strange and barbaric practice, almost akin to a ritual; they decapitated and flensed the heads of the fallen, stacking them in ossuary-cairns. The significance of this post-battle development would not be truly appreciated by observers of the legion until some time later, but the cairns were noted to have a bizarre and deleterious psychic effect on the Raven Guard marines hiding in the area. Angron himself remained upon Isstvan V, leading the force hunting the Raven Guard personally. Eventually, after 98 days of cat-and-mouse hunting, the World Eaters were able to run the Raven Guard survivors down, launching themselves at their exhausted prey in what would surely be another, final massacre. This was not to be however, as the Raven Guard force - including their primarch, Corax - were rescued by a relief force of their own legion, in what some would come to refer to as a miracle.[26]

A Shadowed Purpose

After the opening of the Great Betrayal, Angron and the World Eaters were invited by the primarch Lorgar to accompany him and a force of his Word Bearers on a campaign into the Ultramar sector; the Shadow Crusade. A force of around 70,000 World Eaters assembled around their Primarch and joined a smaller force of Word Bearers. While Lorgar had a specific first target in mind - Armatura - the World Eaters insisted on attacking four other worlds of Ultramar upon the way, killing all who stood against them. These bloody diversions caused a rise in tensions with the Word Bearers that almost resulted in void-battle between their fleets, but after an Eldar attack on them was jointly repulsed, union of purpose was reached and Armatura was successfully assaulted.[27]

It was then that Lorgar revealed to his brother the goals of the campaign; firstly, to finish creation of the Ruinstorm, begun by another force of Word Bearers during the Battle of Calth. Secondly, a more private goal of the Word Bearers primarch; the saving of Angron's life from the Butcher's Nails. Lorgar claimed that his abilities had allowed him to discern that the Nails were slowly killing Angron and destroying his mind. Thus, he had created a second purpose of the ritual necessary to finalise the warp storm's creation, one that would ensure Angron's effective immortality. Exactly what Lorgar meant by this would not become clear until some short time later. To Angron's shock, the final phase of Lorgar's ritual had to be carried out upon Nuceria.[16a]

Upon arriving at the planet, a delegation from both legions descended to the long-abandoned battle-site in the Desh'elika Mountains which Angron had been teleported from, and where the Eaters of Cities had died, to find that the bones of Angron's fallen followers had been left to rot in the open air. Enraged by this, Angron led the delegation to the capital, to discover more of what had happened since his discovery and the induction of Nuceria into the Imperium as a compliant world. Learning that the legend of him told on the world portrayed him as a coward who abandoned his army to be slaughtered, Angron issued a simple order to the field commanders of the World Eaters and Word Bearers legions: Kill everything and everyone upon the planet.[16d]

The slaughter would ultimately be interrupted on the sixth day, when an armada belonging to the Ultramarines legion, led by Roboute Guilliman himself, arrived and engaged the traitor forces. Battering aside the enemy fleet, the Ultramarines were able to land ground forces, bringing the legions to battle. During the ground war, the three primarchs present would all meet in hand-to-hand combat, with Lorgar being beaten back, leaving Guilliman and Angron to duel. It was then that Lorgar discerned the fateful moment, the opportunity the slaughter and rage of the war around him and titanic duel in front of him afforded him; the culmination of his ritual to save Angron was at hand. Despite a last-minute attempt to prevent the sorcery by the World Eaters' surviving Librarians, the ritual was completed: now a transcendent being of claws, steaming red flesh, and pure, volcanic rage, Angron roared to the heavens as Guilliman and his Ultramarines withdrew in disarray. The primarch of the World Eaters was transformed.[16e]

Following Angron's transformation, the World Eaters went on to rampage world after world in mindless slaughter. They refused all summons by Horus to muster at Ullanor in preparation for the drive on Terra. In the end, it took the Iron Warriors led by Perturabo himself to track Angron and his Legion down on Deluge, eventually being able to bring them to Ullanor.[29]

Not all World Eaters rendezvoused with Angron, however. Several warbands remained behind in Ultramar, forming Butcher Fleets to oversee their own reign of terror. The bloodthirsty hordes ignored strategically important targets and instead targeted areas with high populations.[40]

What did you do? Answer me.
I saved him, Khârn. It was the only way.

-World Eaters Centurion Khârn and the Primarch Lorgar.[16f]

The Siege

The World Eaters were instrumental in the Siege of Terra itself: Legion records claim that it was the World Eaters who made the first breach in the walls of the Imperial Palace[19a], a claim perhaps verified by surviving Imperial vid-logs of the Siege, which show the World Eaters breaching the walls with Angron at their head[5c]. However, it is also said that it was one of their champions, Khârn, who was the first to enter said breach. Kharn is said to have fallen during the siege at the hands of Sigismund[39], while others state he was terribly wounded.[38]

The World Eaters were at the forefront of the assault on the Eternity Gate at the final stages of the Siege of Terra. Led by Angron himself, the World Eaters nearly reached the doors of the Gate before Angron was defeated in combat by Sanguinius. Angron's banishment to the Warp broke whatever sanity the World Eaters had left, and they began to cut down their own allies. The chaos caused by this act helped break the traitor advance on the Sanctum Imperialis just short of the Eternity Gate.[44]

Post-Heresy World Eater


In the end, the Forces of Chaos were defeated at Terra and the World Eaters fought their way to the Eye of Terror along with the other Traitor Legions. During this time, a large portion of the Legion was separated by Angron, the details of which are a mystery. They had no means of resupply or reinforcement and their ships were badly damaged. Under these conditions, even more of the Legion succumbed fully to the Butcher's Nails. Many of these warriors were imprisoned as feral animals to be unleashed later, while others were simply executed or even forced into the shell of a Dreadnought. With Kharn either dead or terribly wounded, the Legion found itself without cohesive leadership and their brotherhood fell apart as different Captains and Warlords fought for supremacy.[38]

These issues came to a head during the Legion Wars in battle for Skalathrax against a much larger Emperor's Children army. As the World Eaters debated what to do, Kharn finally awoke from his injuries and led an assault on the Emperor's Children. The campaign turned into a bloody quagmire under frigid conditions, and in the Night of Madness Kharn turned upon his brothers as they were on the cusp of victory. The incident finally broke the World Eaters as a Legion, which subsequently scattered into individual warbands. In the ten thousand years since the battle, the leaderless remnants of the World Eaters have slaughtered their way across the Galaxy. Since the opening of the Great Rift the World Eaters reappeared in number sunseen since the Heresy, spearheading all eight fronts of the Blood Crusades.[38]

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.[38]

Notable Engagements

Pre-heresy World Eaters Banner

The Great Crusade

World Eaters at war[35]

The Horus Heresy

Post-Heresy World Eaters symbol



A World Eaters warband[14a]

Even before their fall to Chaos the War Hounds were known to favour close assaults, and this doctrine only grew more pronounced under the command of Angron and the transition into the World Eaters. Angron did little to change the higher-level organisation of the legion, with the echelons (a World Eaters formation roughly equivalent to the Chapters of other legions) only undergoing a slight biasing towards line infantry once he took command. The World Eaters as a legion force could best be described as a hybrid of tactical and close assault units, also possessing significant amounts of support elements useful to close assaults, such as Terminators and Land Speeders.[15e]

In terms of combat deployment, the World Eaters were champions of the drop-pod assault, usually choosing to appear in the heart of the enemy's defences, in order to rip it apart from within. When heavy firepower was required to support such a tactic, the World Eaters were not averse to advancing under danger-close orbital bombardment or direct Titan support. While infantry assault was their primary stratagem, the legion did possess respectable amounts of armour and artillery units, and were highly adept in their use. Transports and those vehicles able to closely support infantry were obviously prevalent, and the assault doctrine of the legion was so strongly ingrained that even vehicle crew carried assault weapons as standard issue, and would often find a means to employ them.[15e]

The frequency and method of warfare carried out by the World Eaters was highly attritional not just in manpower, but materiel also. In this regard, the World Eaters had an easy means to offset losses and in fact ensure they had high supplies of arms and ammunition; the Forge World (of a sort) of Sarum considered itself an ally to the legion, and would dedicate a high portion of its output to servicing the legion forges and quartermasters. Amongst the Sarum-pattern equipment issued to the World Eaters and their allies in the 13th Expedition were the weapons known as Ursus Claws, which would appear in some preponderance aboard various vessels and walkers in the legion's employ.[15f]

The World Eaters did not employ large amounts of elite troops, but did have some special units. Notionally, the most elite formation in the legion was the Devourers, the twelve-strong bodyguard group to Angron himself. A position in the Devourers could only be achieved by the slaying of one in ritualised combat, or - if one died in battle - by an organised competition open to any in the legion.[15f] However vaunted the idea of the Devourers was (and they did have access to the best arms and armour of the legion), the reality did not exactly match the idea on paper. For a bodyguard unit to a personage such as Angron was essentially absurd, especially a bodyguard unit made up of the most dedicated killers in a legion like the World Eaters. A being as powerful as Angron barely needed a bodyguard, and even if he did, when the Nails bit, the Devourers could hardly be trusted to remain near their primarch, or he near them.[16a]

One aspect lacking in the legion's Order of Battle was an effective Librarius. Upon undergoing Butcher's Nails implantation, it was discovered that the aggression engines did not mesh with psychic talents. In short order - beginning at the very first battle after the first implantation wave - the legion Librarians began to die, either by uncontrolled power surges or sudden brain embolisms. Refusing to countenance failure, the Librarius attempted to learn to control the Nails' effect and continued to undergo implantation, but results never improved. Eventually, attempts were made to remove the Nails from the Librarians, but all such operations proved fatal. Thus, the remaining psychic warriors of the legion refused implantation in order to continue to serve. Lacking the shared experience of the Nails - and Angron's distrust of anything "unnatural" - the World Eaters Librarians found themselves shunned by their fellows. The legion, already disobeying the Emperor's orders where the aggression engines were concerned, never followed the Edict of Nikea, and allowed their Librarians to remain active as psykers. Simple battlefield attrition would reduce their numbers until, by the time of the Shadow Crusade, only 19 remained active in the entire legion. All of the remainder perished during the Battle of Nuceria, attempting to stop Angron's daemonic ascenscion.[16g]

The total strength of the World Eaters was never known. Due to their high casualties in battle and rapid recruitment rates, their numbers were constantly fluctuating. A 'best guess' made by one Imperial record puts their numbers immediately before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy at around 150,000, which places the World Eaters at about a 'higher-mid' level of manpower when compared to the other legions. About 112,000 are reckoned to have been with Angron when he joined the Warmaster's fleet at Istvaan III, and of these, possibly as many as 37,000 were committed to the first wave and subsequently betrayed unto their deaths.[15f]

In the aftermath of the Heresy and the Battle of Skalathrax, the World Eaters have shattered as a united Legion and now operate as disparate warbands controlled by Chaos Lords.[5x] Each warband recruits its own way. Few have the facilities or skill needed to create more Space Marines themselves, though some utilize twisted Khornate Apothecaries known as Berzerker-Surgeons to create murderous monstrositys.[38] On the advent of M42 with the formation of the Great Rift and return of Angron, many prominent World Eaters warlords such as Kossolax, Karakka Bloodfist, Dreagh'or, and even Kharn have (at least briefly) gathered around their Primarch once more.[50a][50b]


Many scholars believe the World Eaters' geneseed was corrupted from the beginning, and the legion was intrinsically damned. Others believe that there was nothing inherently wrong with the genetic make-up of the legion, and point solely to Angron and his introduction of the Butcher's Nails as the reason behind the downfall of the Twelfth Legion. While no clear truth can be discerned, it is believed that the geneseed of Angron resulted in his marines developing an almost physical need to engage in combat, and a propensity to descend into bouts of bloodthirsty madness, separate from the effects of the Nails. Regardless, after millennia in the Eye of Terror, the currently existing geneseed of the legion warriors has been corrupted beyond all possible measure.[5a] Berzerker-Surgeons have been able to utilize this corrupted Gene-Seed to sometimes create new warriors who are little more than feral animals with no fear of pain or death.[38]


Even as the War Hounds, the legion had an intemperate demeanour, requiring an especially harsh discipline code in order to retain effectiveness. The enforcement of punishment was carried out by the officer of those deemed guilty, but that officer needed to have the physical capability to carry it out, as well as the respect of the others under his command. War Hounds (and World Eaters) officers were not promoted on seniority, or on merit not earned in direct combat. They earned their rank by battlefield prowess and displays of personal leadership and charisma in the teeth of battle. All ranks were expected to be effective in close-range combat, even specialists. Failure in battle was not tolerated, surrender was literally never considered, and mercy to the enemy was a quick death to a worthy foe. Enemies who had proven unworthy - cowards - were to be butchered. Trial by combat was the preferred way to settle disagreements, with all parties concerned seeing both the undertaking and the result as honourable. One way an officer could achieve promotion was to challenge a senior to such a combat, with the winner taking (or keeping) the higher rank of the two. The loser...well, they would be dead.[15f]

As determined masters of close-combat, the World Eaters were skilled in the employ of practically all hand-to-hand weapons. One in particular grew synonymous with the legion, however: the chain-axe. The legion favoured a broad-bladed pattern that dated back to the techno-barbarian tribes of Old Terra, and their habit of using this type of weapon grew into almost an obsession after their Primarch was revealed to be a master with the weapon type. Angron refined the chain-axe and it's use in his legion, as well as teaching his warriors new ways to kill with it, inspiring a cult of personal combat concentrated around using the weapon. The reputation of the chain-axe as a weapon grew in the Imperium thanks to the World Eaters, and its use spread to other legions as a result. At least one record opines that the chain-axe was the perfect metaphor for the World Eaters themselves; a brutal, remorseless machine with no purpose other than to kill.[15e]

Amongst various traditions (or superstitions) of the Nucerian gladiator-pits brought into the legion was that of the treatment of discarded weapons; a weapon lost, either on purpose or as a result of failure or the vagaries of the battlefield, was a weapon of ill luck. As a result the World Eaters would often take the somewhat wasteful step of abandoning fallen or discarded gear, including the gear of their enemies. One notable exception to this behaviour was when Khârn recovered and repaired Gorechild, a weapon of the primarch.[16i]

The huge emphasis on personal combat was present inside the legion as well as on the battlefield. Training was with live rounds and whetted blades, often against other legionaries. Indeed, past a certain point in training, gladiatorial fights could be sanctioned up to the death. Pit-fights were not just employed as part of training; aware that his men needed to release their aggression even when not in combat, Angron allowed single combat between his legionaries to become almost ritualised inside the legion, with various rules and challenges particular to the World Eaters forming around the combats. [15e]

Despite the bulk of the non-Terran legionaries not having a shared world of origin, a second language to Gothic came to exist inside the legion: Nagrakali. Referred to as a bastardised tongue, it was a result of the melding of warriors from three dozen worlds, each with their own native language.[16h]

After a certain point, almost every legionary would undergo the voluntary implantation of the Butcher's Nails, the psycho-surgical implants that heightened aggression and pain tolerance to extreme levels. A side-effect of these devices would soon become apparent; they robbed the wearer of peace, satisfaction or joy except when stimulated in battle. While the effect of the Nails was not identical from person to person, the shared burden of bearing them would unite all World Eaters (and even their sire, Angron) in a bond of tortured familiarity. The World Eaters volunteered for the Nails, not just to receive the combat benefits, but because they wished to become closer to their primarch, and perhaps even understand him. In some sense, their embrace of the destructive brain surgery could be said to have been spiritual.[15e, 14f]

After their fall to Chaos, the legion's blood-rites and traditions swiftly became ritualised and transformed into a worship of Khorne. It is not unknown for World Eaters officers to have given themselves over to daemonic possession, and the presence of such possessed marines in legion formations is often seen as a sign of Khorne's esteem. The effect of the Butcher's Nails is also said to reinforce the World Eater's devotions to their patron, as slaying in his name is said to grant them an experience of unholy joy.[19a]

Those who have embraced the Butcher's Nails to its fullest extent are known as the Sages of Slaughter[48a].


The World Eaters did not possess a typical homeworld in the manner of many of the other Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch, Angron, was discovered upon the world of Nuceria, but the events surrounding his discovery did not lead to a unifying of the planet and his legion.[16d] The World Eaters instead retained the use of various muster posts, the chief of which was the world of Bodt. Bodt was seized by the legion during their early days, and became a principal fiefdom. A volcanic and arid world with no recorded native inhabitants, it would serve as the training ground of the Legion.[15a]

Bodt was ultimately destroyed during the Horus Heresy; a mixed Imperial strike force led by Autek Mor of the Iron Hands succeeded in crashing Bodt's lone moon into the world, causing a total extermination event that slew all those upon the surface.[20b]


A World Eater in action[7]

The standard tactics of the War Hounds (especially the World Eaters) typically resulted in high casualty levels for the legion. In order to keep up their strength, the World Eaters were involved in continual recruitment, with Angron choosing to personally streamline and cut out elements of the standard process in order to accelerate the viability of recruits. He was also noted to have regularly donated his own genetic material directly to his apothecaries in order to speed up the organ culture and implantation process as well as ensure the stability of the grafting. These recruits were taken from various feral and feudal worlds that the legion came across, [15e] including from conquered populations. As a result of this continual recruitment from as wide a variety of humanity as the galaxy could place in their path, no other legion except perhaps the Ultramarines could be said to have been so diverse in cultural origin.[16j] Recruits were most commonly trained on the legion's world Bodt.[20a]

In the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre, senior World Eaters Apothecaries in cooperation with the Word Bearers arrived on Bodt, where they established bio-vats to create new warriors at a rapid pace. What resulted were rage-filled monsters of pure aggression. Initiates who survived the process awoke thinking they were a veteran of countless wars.[20a]

While the World Eaters have found it difficult to replenish their numbers since the Battle of Skalathrax, they are known to utilize Berzerker-Surgeons to create new murderous warriors that are little more than feral animals.[38] The World Eaters are also capable of psycho-corrective surgery to transform captured loyalist Space Marines into new World Eaters.[22b] Following the Horus Heresy, the World Eaters also began to absorb various Khorne-worshipping Chaos Space Marine warbands, meaning that not all modern World Eaters share the same gene-seed.[4a][4b][22b]

Noted Elements of the World Eaters


Main article: World Eaters Armoury


Notable Vessels

Notable Members

Heresy Era
Post Heresy

Unique Troops


  • Angron's origin as a gladiator-turned-leader of a rebel army, and his eventual 'disappearance' from their final battlefield, probably draws inspiration from the historical figure Spartacus.
  • Nuceria is likely a reference to Nocera Superiore, a city in classical Italy, whose changing allegiances throughout the period resulted in it being sacked several times, notably by both Rome and the forces of Spartacus.


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