Welcome to my unboxing and review of the latest Games Workshop tabletop game product, the Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth Miniature Game set. This box of goodies is both a gripping board game as well as the first set of Horus Heresy plastic miniatures – which makes this a great tool to enter the 30k arena as well. In this review I’ll be showcasing the contents, especially the sprues as they are the focus point for me personally and will comment little on the game itself. Come join the sweet heresy after the jump.
Betrayal at Calth is a 2-player game set in the Horus Heresy era in the Warhammer 40k universe, where the Chaos-tainted Warmaster Horus has allied with himself half his brothers and their forces in rebellion against the Emperor of Mankind in a bloody civil war. The specific conflict from the Heresy that concerns the game is the Battle of Calth, where the traitor legion Word Bearers and their daemonic allies launch a surprise attack against the Ultramarines in their home system of Ultramar on the planet Calth. Similar to Space Hulk, each scenario of battles that comes with the box set is played out by arranging the board from hexes, distributing units to each player and determining the outcomes of each round of battle and movement with dice. For those interested in how the game works I will also include a very comprehensive gameplay video by Games Workshop which covers the first scenario of the game, Wrath of Veridia. There’s also a Turkish review by my buddy Xasf in the works – I’ll include a link here once ready for those interested.
Let us start with the box itself.
First impression I got is that the box is really heavy – we had a running joke that it weighs like the 95 GBP it sells for. Next impression is about the quality of the box. So far I have acquired a series of sets from Games Workshop and among those this is the sturdiest and the highest quality of them all on par with Space Hulk. Thick cardboard instead of the regular packaging for minis is used here and it really is nice to have the assurance that no matter how far the box travels the contents will be safe.
And let’s see the inside…
The box contains the sprues (9 of them for all models and spares), board tiles, special dice, game power cards the manual and rulebook as well as a transfer sheet for use on the models. There’s also a set of 3 plastic bags which look like card protectors of some sort. All in all very nicely packed and there was no damage whatsoever on any of the models.
Let’s take a look at the rule and scenario book.
The rulebook contains all the information needed to play this as a standalone game and has a series of brilliant illustrations to boot. There are plenty of scenarios to choose from and a various deployment options for the players with unique scenario objectives. It’s practically a world of its own however I have not yet had time to sift through the exact details of a game. It looks like a simplified version of the original Warhammer 40k tabletop game with move and attack actions and how units are considered exhausted once their set action points are used up. Xasf and I each got ourselves a copy of the game and I reckon he’ll be assembling his minis quickly to test out the game as soon as possible. Once we have a few games in our hands I may post on that aspect as well. For now let me share with you Games Workshop’s sample game through the scenario, Wrath of Veridia.
Now let’s get to my favorite part, the miniatures themselves!
There are a LOT of pieces to assemble, on nine sprues! Compared to their resin counterparts from Forgeworld there are some sculpted details missing and some differences are present especially on the studded shoulderpads but for the price we’re paying for plastics they can be overlooked. The resin counterparts, when bought separately come to hundreds of pounds just for the miniatures themselves and this kit provides even spare weapons for all units except the commanders. So from a wargaming and hobbyist perspective this is a treasure trove of models. The casting is crisp and I just couldn’t see any mould lines on the pieces – I’ll have to start assembling to see if there are peskier ones in between claws or tighter pieces. First impressions are very positive.
The most prominent downside of the lot is probably the static posed Contemptor Dreadnought thanks to the way it’s designed to come together. The legs and the body are already attached and is bisected to the sides (very complex from the looks of it) which will definitely create a gigantic join line. This can be filled and sanded after and even the static pose is no problem to some modellers out there it seems as I see many conversions from this kit where people carefully sawed off the joints to bend knees and legs. It’s up to you to decide. Once I assemble the Dread I’ll put it next to the Mhara Gal to show the various differences. The Dread comes with a ranged weapon optional arm attached at the side and not the shoulder – so that’s definitely a bonus in my book!
A point that can be seen as advantage or disadvantage is the missing sculpted legion insignia. This reinforces the fact that the models are intended to be used as cheap alternatives to the Forgeworld pieces with some freehand work however it would have been quite neat if at least the Word Bearer and Ultramarine legion accessories were included for the standalone game. I guess you can’t have everything.
The assembly manual is last in the review.
Clear and numbered instructions are helpful and allows mostly for painting the pieces prior to assembly. This is especially the case for the marines where you practically get all pieces disassembled like a Space Marine box kit. It was interesting to see the terminator heads cut halfway to show they’re deeply recessed in armor however I would have preferred to have them actually go in a recess rather than glue one half of the piece to a flat chest. Another interesting design choice is Kurtha Sedd – my first thought was that it would be very difficult to paint in sub-assemblies for this character. We’ll see however when I start assembling the pieces. As said, there are lots of spares and optional pieces, ranged and mêlée counterparts for example with the terminators. I would probably take out my magnets to utilize every bit on the models for the board game.
All in all this is a great set and a good precursor to the Horus Heresy plastic kit franchise GW seems to be moving towards (to replace the Hobbit miniatures if you believe the rumors) and is a bargain if you’re considering investing in a 30k army. As a board game I still have to test it out however what I have seen in the demo gameplay is very promising. Greatly recommended altogether.
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