Alpha Legion: Where to start

Alpha Legion where to start. So you want to know how to start an Alpha Legion army for Warhammer 40,000. Here are my tips and tricks to creating a thematic, lore accurate 40k army for your Alpha Legion.

Who are the Alpha Legion?

The Alpha Legion are the 20th (sometimes written in the Roman Numerals 'XX') Legionis Astartes legion. One of the original 20 created by the Emperor of mankind and, one of the 'traitor' legions to side with Horus in the Heresy. 10,000 years later, they have split into warbands (internally called Cells) and still fight the Imperium of man in the long war.

Unlike their brother legions they are known for using espionage and confusion to fight their enemy. They often outnumber and outgun their small warbands. Their goals are often unknowable to their enemies. And will only take to the field of war once they know they have the upper hand, or, have no other option.

Their fellow Legions, friend and foe alike, often regard their way of war as craven or dishonest. But it often proves effective and the Legion suffers fewer losses through attrition.

The Legion is often depicted as wearing a blue, teal or green armour, though they have been known to wear other colours, including the armour of other Space Marines.

What is unique about the Alpha Legion

The Alpha Legion, unlike their brother traitor legions, operate in a very different way. Where the World Eaters might charge headlong at the enemy. The Word bearers might summon a hoard of deamons. And the Death Guard might use attrition to destroy their enemies.

The Alpha Legion use much more subtle methods. They will use human operatives to infiltrate, recruit and sabotage the enemies communications and infastructure. The Alpha Legion will sabotage transportation lines and ammunition depots.

They also, unlike their more Chaos aligned cousins, tend to dispise Chaos. There are, ofcourse some who have fallen. And you will often find atleast a few members of a warband who have dabbled with chaos. Whether out of sheer desperation, or because the mission requires it. To the Alpha Legion, the warp is a tool to be used sparingly. So often you wont mind as much corruption in an Alpha Legion army.

That said, if you want you Alpha Legion to be fully chaotic, that is fine too.

However is most Alpha Legion stories, they restrain themselves from chaos, seeing it as dangerous. It's also hard to disguise yourself as a loyalist Space Marine if you have tentacles crawling out your arse. Therefore I think it best to keep the corruption to the specialised units in the warband.

How to portray the Alpha Legion on the tabletop

False Flag

One popular way to portray the Alpha Legion, is to paint a loyalist Space Marines army in Alpha Legion colours. This works well if you want to represent them as a false flag operation. Some people also go so far as to show the legion "de-cloaking" (though I have never found an example of this in universe). Or with paint being worn off revealing their original legion colours below.

However this approach restricts them to only bringing Space Marine equipment to the table. I like my Alpha Legion to be able to pick from all the tools, loyalist and chaos alike.

Rebel Alliance

For my army, I wanted the narrative to be a world in rebellion. Where a small band of Alpha Legion have clearly been operating to destabilise the planet for a while. They have spread chaos (figuratively and literally) to the lower populations of the planet. Who have then risen up to destroy their Imperial masters. I used the Chaos Space Marine list, letting me take both Chaos and Imperial assets.

A good way to represent this. Is to use as many cultists as possible, keeping the Astartes numbers few, specialised and elite. While you could use the boxed Chaos cultist to represent these, I chose to model most of mine as civilians, gangers and mechanicus menials, wielding improvised weapons and carrying banners of rebellion.

Alpha Legion where to start

For the Alpha Legion contingent, I picked a single lord, and three, five man squads of Chosen. Modelled as Headhunter squads, the Alpha Legion elite. Often deployed in small numbers to operate self sufficiently to cause as much damage behind enemy lines.

I also refrained from corruption on my core units, as its easier to pass as an Imperial Space Marine. Or blend in as gene enhanced ganger if you don't look like a monster. The Alpha Legion also didn't flee to the Eye of Terror when the great scouring started. Leaving the legion without the 10,000 years of direct warp influence. Preferring to scatter throughout the Imperium as small, self sufficient cells.

I opted to use Horus Heresy kits instead of the 40k chaos kits, which let me make every legionary near identical (an important part of the Faceless Warbands misdirection).

I can then fill any remaining roles with whatever specialised units. This leaves me options to expand into more Chaotic choices. If I wish to lean on the chaos angle or represent the rebellion in the later stages. Then I can take purely chaos units, like Obliterators, Forgefiends ect. I have painted my Daemon engines in the red of Mars, to represent the Mechanicus.

This is to represent the Tech Priests of the world falling under the influence of Chaos. Rather than being directly attributed to the Alpha Legion who will be a small contingent of the forces.

Chaos Undecided

There is of course, no reason not to take all the chaos toys if you like, the Alpha Legion are unique in that they cover all the spectrum of loyalty. They even take members of other legions into their ranks occasionally. So you can have Death Guard, Thousand Sons and World Eaters and be fully within the realms of accuracy. Though I would lean towards Chaos Undivided as their pantheon. Despite, at first glance Tzeentch looking very inline with the Trickery and subterfuge tactics of the legion. Chaos is a tool to be used, all of Chaos.

For the more chaos leaning warband my marines use the Chaos Space Marine kits with most of the more blatant chaos icons removed, and avoided all the really corrupted bits. They can still pass as ornate loyalists should a false flag operation be needed. At least until the daemon engines show up along side the traitor guard.


While most Alpha Legion operations are covert and consist of legionaries deployed in small numbers. They do sometimes go to war en mass and in more conventional means. Often once the back of the enemy is broken and a straight up fight is more likely a crushing blow.

If this is the Alpha Legion you want to represent, then full scale war means bringing the big guns. Tanks, Dreadnoughts and artillery supported by troops and flyers. The Alpha Legion can call on many of the same tools as other legions, and, likely some of the loyalist chapters.

And, unlike alot of other legions, they deploy them much more sparingly and in much more favourable circumstances. Which means fewer losses. Couple that with a habit of hoarding stashes of equipment all over the place (including under the Imperial palace).

To me means that when they do deploy heavy equipment. The Alpha Legion will have access to some of the rarer pieces of equipment. Bring older patterns of Tanks, gunships and Dreadnoughts. As a bonus, if you give your Alpha Legion older patterns of armour. And hold back on the spikes a little, you have yourself a 30k army too.