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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Okay, so I've recently been reading the Word Bearers trilogy and a comment made by Marduk made quite an impression on me. Now, in the novels it's fairly apparent that there are at least tens of thousands of Word Bearers still around, but then we find out that the Black Legion outnumber them NEARLY TEN TO ONE. That means that even if there's only around fifty thousand WBs left (which seems HIGHLY unlikely considering numbers featured in the novels), that there would be as many as nearly half a million Black Legionnaires.

So what do you guys think, can this make sense canonically or did the author go a bit too far?

Personally, I find the idea that the Black Legion being THAT large a bit hard to swallow. Having one chaos legion pretty much dwarfing all the others combined, not to mention the comparison to the loyalists just doesn't make sense to me. I know they accept recruits from other legions, but still, I find it very difficult to believe they could have increased their numbers that much more quickly and efficiently than the other legions. Also, it does make Abaddon look like kind of a chump in his efforts when his legion alone can potentially match the combined numbers of the majority of the loyalist chapters. And that's not even considering the daemon allies and mortal cultist he has.

So yeah, the Black Legion supposedly being THAT big just seems wrong to me.
 

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Well That Was Unexpected
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Okay, so I've recently been reading the Word Bearers trilogy and a comment made by Marduk made quite an impression on me. Now, in the novels it's fairly apparent that there are at least tens of thousands of Word Bearers still around, but then we find out that the Black Legion outnumber them NEARLY TEN TO ONE. That means that even if there's only around fifty thousand WBs left (which seems HIGHLY unlikely considering numbers featured in the novels), that there would be as many as nearly half a million Black Legionnaires.

So what do you guys think, can this make sense canonically or did the author go a bit too far?

Personally, I find the idea that the Black Legion being THAT large a bit hard to swallow. Having one chaos legion pretty much dwarfing all the others combined, not to mention the comparison to the loyalists just doesn't make sense to me. I know they accept recruits from other legions, but still, I find it very difficult to believe they could have increased their numbers that much more quickly and efficiently than the other legions. Also, it does make Abaddon look like kind of a chump in his efforts when his legion alone can potentially match the combined numbers of the majority of the loyalist chapters. And that's not even considering the daemon allies and mortal cultist he has.

So yeah, the Black Legion supposedly being THAT big just seems wrong to me.

Only a small tidbit of info, but in Blood Reaver, A-D-B uses a character (can't say who because of spoilers) to explain that the current power of Abaddon actually dwarves the size of the forces under control of Warmaster Horus during the Heresy.

If that is true, then you could be looking at least a few hundred thousand Astartes flying the banner of the Black Legion.
 

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Deathwing Commissar
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I would guess that the Black Legion isn't just the Sons of Horus with a new paint job. They probably also recruit quite a bit - from other Traitor Legions (indicated in "Soul Hunter"), from Renegades, from mortals (to make into Space Marines), etc.

As to how they compare to the other Legions in terms of size? The World Eaters, the Emperor's Children, and, to a lesser extent, the Death Guard, are a mess. Their recruiting practices can't be as effective as those of a focused, disciplined Legion. The Thousand Sons are no rabble, but they go after the ultimate minority - psykers - and thus will always be tiny.

That leaves us with the Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors, Night Lords, and Word Bearers. The Word Bearers, if you remember, were the second biggest Legion... but as far as their post-Heresy manpower is concerned, they have two big strikes. First, they took on the Ultramarines in a huge battle - that had to cost them some. Second, they killed all of their Terran Astartes. That had to involve tens of thousands of losses. Figure in the Siege of Terra, the Scouring, the inevitable infighting shown in the WB trilogy, etc., and when an author says the Black Legion is ten times bigger... he might be aiming closer to 200,000-300,000 than 500,000. And that's assuming it's not a rounded-off number (tenfold being easier on the tongue and mind than, say, ninefold or eightfold).

The Iron Warriors are shown to fight each other. A lot. Like, to the point of really, really hurting their cause. In "Dead Sky, Black Sun" Honsou is driven to use Astartes creation techniques that basically boil down to just pumping out cloned fodder that may not even have any real upbringing or tradition within the Legion. In one pointless, rivalry-driven siege, the better part of, what, three different Grand Companies (?), are ground down and slain.

The Night Lords' problems are documented. The Alpha Legion remains, as in all things, a mystery.

All in all, the Black Legion's size seems justified to me. :)

Cheers,
P.
 

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I was under the impression that there was roughly 800,000 Astartes (don't ask me where I got that number) during the Horus Heresy with roughly 250,000 being Ultra-Smurfs. So, if Abaddon has a larger force that pre-HH Ultra-Smurfs, he's been a busy, busy boy.
 

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The Black Legion though are not just the original Sons of Horus. They seem to actively recruit other warbands, renagade astartes, and legions to their banner. They also have a place for all 'cult troops' and can wield the disparate followers of the various gods into unified, mixed warbands. This is something no other Legion can do. The Word Bearers, the only other undivided faction that actually worships chaos, doesn't allow cult troops, they require equal veneration of all the gods. The Black Legion however doesn't have this requirement. So i do see them as the largest Chaos Marine faction, being a conglomeration of various warbands in service or who owe fealty to Abbadon and the other leading legionaries. And of course they have no doubt been recruiting the usual way too.

Not to mention that quote from Marduk may not refer to just Black Legionaries but all the allies and such they can call upon. The Legion has a vast network of ties to other warbands. When Abaddon calls many, many answer.
 

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Obviously the numbers of the Legions have changed over the years. Originally a 10,000-standard was implied, and then the first 4-5 Horus Heresy novels ("Fulgrim" especially) pointed at Legions that numbered in the low tens of thousands. Since then, "Visions of Heresy", the latest HH novels and audio dramas, as well as the authors themselves, have pointed at a rough 100,000 average. Counting in some notable exceptions (like the Thousand Sons and the Ultramarines), and assuming 18 Legions at the height of the Great Crusade, that would bring us to about 1.5-1.8 million Astartes.

But yes, Abaddon and the Black Legion have been very busy. I believe the best way to look at them is like the Red Corsairs, but on crack... and with a tenfold timespan (potentially; it could be much shorter or much longer, depending on the Warp's whims) to increase their numbers through recruitment from a variety of sources.

EDIT: Rems also hits a very good point in regards to alliances.

Cheers,
P.
 

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It might also be a question to ask how said included warbands are used. Since the IOM is quite like Rome would it be out of the question that the chaos warband marines that were accepted into the Legion are treated as Auxiliaries?
 

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I imagine some warbands are integrated whole heartedly, taking on the livery of the Black legion and integrating into the command structure (such as there is). Others would be linked to the BL by ties of loyalty or debts. i recall one story in a white dwarf where an emperor's children warband was called to join Abaddon's latest black crusade. Having some debt or oath of loyalty to Abaddon they accepted, after killing the legionaries responsible for bringing them the summons of course.

This is where i feel the Black Legion's real power lies. Not in the number of marines it alone can put out but all the warbands, renegades traitor regiments etc it can call to war and temporarily unify, cutting across factional and religious disputes. As we are oft told the High Lords of Terra live in fear of the day Abaddon unifies all the Traitors. (not that i can see, i mean there's not all that many of them and they havn't had the greatest track record against the Imperium to date, but thats a whole new topic).
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Cheers guys,

A lot of you have really good points. I get about how the Black Legion would obviously be a lot more efficient at recruiting than some other legion. World Eaters & Emperor's Children are warbands, Iron Warriors are killing each other, we don't know wtf the deal exactly is with the Thousand Sons etc.

It was just bothering me specifically about dwarfing the Word Bearers, seeing as they are still such a seemingly vast legion and so well organised. And it was also for the fact the Word Bearers have not one, but two major strongholds in the EoT & the Maelstrom, so. I mean, before the heresy it's clear that the Word Bearers clearly knew how to increase their numbers rapidly, as they were the second biggest legion (and Guilliman had a whole fucking empire to recruit from).

But, then again, now that I've got a bit further into Dark Creed, it seems that there is some SERIOUS internal strife among them and maybe that is the reason the Word Bearers are lagging so heavily behind the Black Legion.

But yeah, it seems the Black Legion have been really busy. Though, I wouldn't quite call them Red Corsairs on crack. After all, Abaddon had a significant head start.
 

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Perhaps they are this big?


:chuffed: Nail'ed it. :laugh:

Question though, could the numbers of the Black Legion be inflated by renegade Guardsmen and other regular mortals. Or are we simply discussing how many Astartes they have?
 

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Keep in mind too that the original quote was taken when the average legion size was in the 10,000 range. The legions now being at a base size of 100,000 sort of fucks the original premise up.
 

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Keep in mind the forces of the black legion ebb, and flow with their crusades, and success vs failures. At the height of a black crusades their are porbabably thousands of various space marines under him, but as the crusade loses momentum the factions will splinter into their original warbands, and legions factions and in fighting will ensue.

A better question is how many in the black legions are truly dedicated to abbaddon, and stay with his forces regardless of the current actions of the legion. After all the black legion is more of a rallying point for CSM, and most who temporarily join with them are not true black legion. Also of note is how cult marines are often more loyal to their gods, and even commanders then they are to abbaddon.
 

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It was just bothering me specifically about dwarfing the Word Bearers, seeing as they are still such a seemingly vast legion and so well organised. And it was also for the fact the Word Bearers have not one, but two major strongholds in the EoT & the Maelstrom, so. I mean, before the heresy it's clear that the Word Bearers clearly knew how to increase their numbers rapidly, as they were the second biggest legion (and Guilliman had a whole fucking empire to recruit from).

But, then again, now that I've got a bit further into Dark Creed, it seems that there is some SERIOUS internal strife among them and maybe that is the reason the Word Bearers are lagging so heavily behind the Black Legion.
The key to the Black Legion's success was the rise of Abaddon as Warmaster and the desecration of Horus (both physically and figuratively).

The Black Legion is not a Legion as we understand the term from the Crusade-era. Codex: Chaos Space Marines describes the Black Legion as a "loose coalition" of warbands based around the leadership of the old Sons of Horus Legion, obviously with Abaddon at the top of the hierarchy. If Abaddon marshals a Black Crusade, the entirety of the Black Legion warbands would likely come flocking to his cause, but I imagine attempting to command them all (when Black Crusades arn't occuring) with the authority a Primarch commanded over his Legion during the Crusade-era would be near-impossible given the fickle and traitorous nature of the Chaos Lords. So whilst anywhere between 200k-500k (based on previous assumptions, numbers could vary widly) Astartes may directly owe their allegience to Abaddon, its not a simple matter of assuming they would all obey the Warmaster without question. One of the Despoiler's toughest tasks is keeping not only his own "Legion" united under a single leader and purpose but also the rest of the Traitor Legions when it comes to Black Crusades and other major incursions.

Now, in terms of the Black Legions overall numbers in comparison to the Word Bearers. Roughly a 10:1 ratio seems more than logical given the circumstances. The vast majority, if not all of the Black Legion's current success can be credited solely to Abaddon. Without him, the Sons of Horus would be a near-destroyed fringe Legion. It was Abaddon who gave them leadership, purpose and strength again. And it is due to his continued favour with the Chaos Gods that he is the Warmaster and thus why the Black Legion has managed to grow to eclipse all other Legions. To many, Abaddon provides the leadership, purpose and apparent ability to bring the Imperium to it's knees that many Chaos Astartes crave, thus recruits and defectors from other Legions happily flock to Abaddon's banner. The Word Bearers in comparison are extremley anal about the purity of their own Legion, something which greatly hinders the replenishment of their ranks. Lorgar has been absent for thousands of years which thus far has only caused infighting and treason amongst his Legion as a result of a lack of true leadership. The plots and leadership struggles between Erebus and Kor Phaeron do nothing to advance the cause of their Legion (see Dark Creed) and they can offer nothing to the other Chaos Legions that Abaddon and his Black Legion cannot easily trump. So whilst all the other Traitor Legions have essentially dwindled in power and influence post-Siege of Terra, the Black Legion is the only one to have risen to such heights that some now claim Abaddon now commands more power than Horus ever did...

Keep in mind too that the original quote was taken when the average legion size was in the 10,000 range. The legions now being at a base size of 100,000 sort of fucks the original premise up.
Although to be fair there was never a general consensus on Legion size which claimed the Legions numbered on average 10,000. Even before the HH series, the CV was claiming that the Legions were on average 100,000 for example. The authors have sorted themselves out and accepted the 100,000 average now, but I don't believe there was ever a universal consensus which accepted 10,000 as average.
 

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CoE nailed it. The Word Bearers are around roughly 100,000 Astartes. In their Novels its claim that the Black Legion outnumbers them 10 to 1 ratio. So it can be assumed around a 1,000,000 Astartes (likely give or take 100,000) of various Legions, Warbands, and Renegade Chapters wearing Abbys colors.
 

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CoE nailed it. The Word Bearers are around roughly 100,000 Astartes. In their Novels its claim that the Black Legion outnumbers them 10 to 1 ratio. So it can be assumed around a 1,000,000 Astartes (likely give or take 100,000) of various Legions, Warbands, and Renegade Chapters wearing Abbys colors.
They were 100,000 during their peak pre-Heresy, now with the drive towards 'purity' that CotE pointed out I can only imagine they're much smaller. Especially coupled with the fact that they're not noted for recruiting in any great numbers.
 

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CoE nailed it. The Word Bearers are around roughly 100,000 Astartes. In their Novels its claim that the Black Legion outnumbers them 10 to 1 ratio. So it can be assumed around a 1,000,000 Astartes (likely give or take 100,000) of various Legions, Warbands, and Renegade Chapters wearing Abbys colors.
That's highly dubious and unlikely.

There aren't 1,000,000 Astartes under Abaddon's banner.

Heck, Horus didn't have that many and he had all Nine Legions following him (minus killing off some of their internal loyalists)

How could Cadia not fall to 1,000,000 Astartes?

Nothing could stop than many.

I would say, at most, around 4 or 5 100,000 can be called on by Abaddon, with around 200,000 of those being permanent Black Legion Members, the others being the ones that do their own thing, but join Black Crusades under pressure from Abaddon, or for other motives.

I'd say in total there are around 600,000 Traitor Marines in the universe.

I have no real evidence to support my statement ATM, so you can ignore it if you wish.

But to me 1,000,0000 seems like over doing it by a big margin.


EDIT

The Thousand Sons have I'd say around a Thousand or so Sorcerers at most and maybe 10 Rubrics for each one.

50,000 Khorne Berzerkers followed Angron, I would say that was every World Eater in existence.

(I'll add to this Legion by Legion summary later as I have to leave, but others can try and do the same)
 

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Well its said he has a bigger army than the forces under Horus, that would be close to a Million give or take 300,000 Marines. Plus it depends on the Crusade, many warbands/Legions temporary ally themselves and can be considered part of Abbys crew as is shown in Storm of Iron, Soul Hunter, and Dark Creed. Yes their Legions of WBs, IWs, and NLs yet they were carrying out Abbys orders for whatever reason. So take thats as you will.

Also is it hard to imagine certain Legions like WBs, IWs, and DG are higher in number than before the HH? Reading Dead Sun Black Sky, Storm of Iron, Chapters Due, Blood Reaver, and Blood Gorgons show CSMs have MANY MANY ways of keeping up high recruitment, geneseed, and absorbing other SMs into Warbands and Legions that far exceed the numbers of HH era. Look at the Red Corsairs. So I speculate as the WBs have as many numbers as they always did.

Also on why they haven't beaten Cadia.... they did take Cadia. 13th BC beaten Cadia, but they lost the Space war, so you have probably half a million SMs stuck on a planet. Not to mention there is 5 (major) Craftworlds, Hundreds of IG Regiments, 23 or some odd dedicated SM chapters, and add in the baddest Imperial Navy Fleet in all the Galaxy would make the task a tad bit difficult for Abby and his maybe million back stabbing CSMs taking over the Imperium.

Also if ANYONE has a OFFICIAL number of BL members or current numbers of WBs I dont see any reason not to think WBs dont still maintain a 100,000 Astartes or BL being ten times that.
 

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I agree with D-A-C.

Abaddon is said to have a greater force than Horus but that doesn't mean he has more Astartes. I took that quote to mean he could call upon more overall strength due to the higher numbers of renegade guardsmen and regular mortal traitors that were around during the Heresy.

No way are there a million Black Legionaries, or probably even that many Chaos Marines in total. If we have an average legion size of 100,000 that gives 900,000 traitors at the outbreak of heresy. Now we know they purged from their ranks loyalists some more than others so reduce that 100,000 by 5 to 10 thousand. This gives us 90,000 each. We then know they suffered more casualties on the Istvaann system and then throughout the rest of the heresy. Likely reduced to no more than half strength. So say an average maximum of 50,000. This gives us less than million traitor Astartes. Lesson this with casualties from 10,000 years of warfare.

Add a few from recruitment and renegade chapters but that still wouldn't get you much more than half a million traitor Astartes in total, so there certainly cant be a million BL alone.

Besides your original premise was flawed Warlock in Training. You sated that the novels said the BL had ten times more than the WB. So therefore given the legion size of 100,00 BL size must be a million. However the book that quote was from was written before the 100,00 became the standard/average, accepted, official legion size.

Also Cadia also was not beaten by Chaos but is contested, many Kasrs still stand. With the Imperium having achieved supremacy in space i expect that will soon change.
 
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