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Game Review: The Horus Heresy – Battle of Tallarn


Developed By: Hexwar

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android, Mac

Genre: Turn Based Strategy



The astute among you will undoubtedly say “wait, this is a 30k game, not a 40k game”! While this is true, we wouldn’t have the 40k universe that we all know and love without the hardships that our heroes (and heretics) endured during the Horus Heresy. Battle of Tallarn is a turn based strategy game, in which you command Chaos or Imperium forces (the choice is yours) in the legendary armoured division battle which took place all the way back in the 31st millennium. Command waves of tanks, or even more fearsome war machines such as Reaver titans, and lay waste to the opposing forces in mortal combat!

Before we get to the main review, followers of the podcast may remember that we actually interviewed some of the Hexwar team around the time this game was released. If you’re interested, you can check that out at the link below:


Hexwar Interview Podcast



For new players to the game, i’d definitely recommend the tutorial before diving into the main game itself. The tutorial is really well structured, coaching you in the basics of movement and combat – it really scales up appropriately in terms of what you need to know to command your forces, I absolutely recommend checking this out.


Similarly to Rites of War which we also reviewed recently, Battle of Tallarn also uses a hexagonal based movement system, but the gameplay is fundamentally different. Units can move a certain number of hexes based on their unit type (and can advance, forfeiting shooting for some extra speed). Some units then have 360 degree fire arcs for their main weapons, and some need to pivot to shoot the target accordingly. This is handled quite nicely, as when you rotate a red outline snakes across the map, showing you what targets fall into that unit’s firing arc.

Some units have a mixture of both ranged and melee weapons, and can charge across small distances to deliver these attacks. I definitely found in my experiences playing the game that melee combat (whenever I got an opportunity to deliver it) was extremely deadly, and I was motivated to push such units as aggressively as possible into the enemy lines!

Other than the larger units such as Titans or Thunderhawk Gunships (which are are awesome to play as they sound), your units are generally split into 3 categories:

  • Infantry
  • Armoured Track Vehicles (like tanks and lighter vehicles)
  • Walkers & Dreadnoughts

These all have their own pros and cons. For example Infantry such as Terminators move slowly, but if you can deliver them to the target then their close combat weapons will make a mess of most targets. Also (which I found a really nice touch), unless you’re playing a map or scenario in which you are underground, infantry units will take damage every turn due to the Toxic atmosphere on Tallarn (more on this in the story section). This is a really nice touch, and made me think about how best to use my infantry units.

Mostly though, it’s all about the armoured fun! Iconic vehicles such as Predators and Leman Russes are all here (as well as even bigger beasts such as Baneblades), and they are the meat and drink of the bulk of the gameplay. Most track based vehicles have a basic ranged attack option only, and this is where the game gets interesting. When I played as the Imperials in one of the campaigns, the Leman Russ variants I had (and there are a few) were all capable of attacking enemy predators and army from all facings. I didn’t appreciate the need for side and rear attacks (which the tutorial does encourage – I just disregarded this initially). When it came to playing as the Chaos forces, I often found that I couldn’t attack Leman Russes (at range) from the front arc – I had to come at them from the sides or rear.

This made the tank battles really deep and challenging, and I had to put a lot of thought into what my strategy would be in terms of inflicting casualties on the enemy force. Dreadnoughts and Knights are absolutely fearsome though, and these were undoubtedly my favourite units to use during my experiences playing the game. Most dreadnought type vehicles have a ranged and a melee attack, making them suitable “take all comers” units. As mentioned above melee combat is super deadly, and getting such units into combat is a thing of joy.

During campaign missions, you get a “core” force, and then the option of a Team ATeam B, or Team C sub-team to supplement your force. This is an outstanding feature, because it allows you to tailor your forces in the way that you want, and use a style of tactics that you either want to be challenged by or because its the most fun looking approach.



There are various ways to play the game as well. There are standalone missions, where you get a set army and a specific list of objectives to complete. Alternatively, there are campaigns, which you can complete twice (as loyalists and Chaos).

There are also difficulty options, which give you the choice of preserving your forces throughout campaign missions (i.e. your forces are not replenished) or simply just fighting a fresh battle every time. Every campaign mission that you complete unlocks the next in that series.


Before every mission, you are given a narrative briefing which outlines what objectives that your faction is trying to achieve. This is tailored depending on your allegiance, and the missions are actually really cool in terms of the two sides. For example, I played a mission as the loyalists where I had to defend four objective points from an oncoming Iron Warriors tank rush. I then got to play that mission as the traitor legion, and tried to take said objectives. I really enjoyed that aspect of the game, and it offered good replayability for me.

Mission objectives are really varied and fun as well. Of course there is the standard “search and destroy” mission variants, but there is some fun, cool stuff to try here, such as:

  • Don’t concede any objectives
  • Capture a new objective every 6 turns
  • Don’t lose 80% of your army
  • Retake an objective if it is captured within 5 turns

This is just a small example, but although the mechanics of the game felt familiar a few hours in, I didn’t feel like the game was repetitive because of the different styles of objective. Some missions even offered alternative paths to victory rather than a list of set objectives.

To close my thoughts on the gameplay – it’s a basic game in terms of the mechanics. However, the required strategy to outmaneuver your enemy, and ability to score varied objectives really give this game some depth. It’s also super easy to pick up and play if you have half an hour here or there. Once you’re comfortable with how the game works, this is a great go-to game if you’re after a quick 40k gaming fix.




The story of the game is that the besieged defenders of Tallarn are trying to stave off an invasion by the traitorous Iron Warriors. The Chaos forces unleashed a Virus Bombardment on the planet, destroying its atmosphere, and turning it into a barren wasteland (also giving birth to the Tallarn Desert Raiders, which is an Astra Militarum regiment to this day).

This is reflected in the game, where infantry units cannot withstand the toxic atmosphere for long. Instead these units are restricted to being in transports, or fighting underground battles. The setting is captured in nice ways – the battlefield looks suitably barren and inhospitable, and there is also reference to key moments in the whole saga. For example one of the missions actually mentions the attack on the Sapphire City which is a nice touch.


The game is really good at picking out key battles from the whole campaign, and making you feel like you are part of the bigger conflict (regardless of what side you choose to support). If you aren’t familiar with the Tallarn story or source material, I absolutely recommend reading the Tallarn anthology from the Horus Heresy Black Library series. It’s a super entertaining read, and it’s one of the most infamous battles of the entire Horus Heresy.


This is a fun game, which really faithfully captures one of the most important episodes in the entire Horus Heresy. The game is simple to understand, complex where it counts, and has a mission and campaign format that can be enjoyed en masse or in digestible chunks. I played this on Android where it’s free to download (and play the tutorial), and each campaign can be downloaded for 99p (which is a bargain). On Steam the main game is £6.99, which includes 3 campaigns (and 2 additional campaigns can be downloaded for £1.99 each. The Apple Store sells the game at £1.99 (which includes the first campaign), and offers the next 2 campaigns at £1.99 each as well.

I really recommend this game, it’s a lot of fun, easy to pick up/put down, and has awesome tank battles – what more could you want???

Visit Hexwar by clicking here.

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