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Discussion Starter #1
So we all know how horrific the Drop Site Massacre was. 3 Loyalist Legions (or at least most of 2) destroyed for relatively light loses for the traitors.

But what if they didn't reveal every Traitor Legion at Istvaan? What if, say, the Iron Warriors were "delayed" and unable to arrive until the battle was decided. Perturabo would have no choice but to run to Terra and help Dorn reinforce the palace against Horus's inevitable attack, right?

What havoc could a Traitor Legion work while manning the very defenses of Terra?

I thought of a couple possible issues:

1. 7 vs 4 Legions is much better odds than 6 vs 4. Maybe the Loyalists would not have committed so strongly to the attack if they didn't believe they had overwhelming numbers?

Still, I don't believe this would have been too large of an issue. All the Loyalist Primarchs, Manus most of all, were hungry for blood. Manus more than his brothers, but they wouldn't have backed down from a fight unless it proved hopeless.

Also the 4 Traitor Legions were not at full strength. Indeed, the World Eaters were below half strength. Even at 6 to 4 odds, the "Loyalists" would probably had outnumbered the Traitors by 2:1 at least. And with undoubtedly a larger fleet. With space superiority, 2:1 odds are looking pretty good, even if the Traitors were dug in.

2. The other issue is that the Traitors may not pass inspection when they arrive at Terra. They'd tip their hands that they had switched teams by their very physical appearance.

While this is true for the Word Bearers, and to a lesser extent the Emperor's Children and Sons of Horus, some of the other Legions did not fall to the temptation of the Chaos gods...yet, anyway. Most notably the Iron Warriors and the Night Lords scoffed at Chaos at first.

We know that they were on thin ice (the Iron Warriors destroying their home planet and the Night Lords' excesses being well-known on Terra), but I think they'd be more welcomed on Terra.

Of course the Night Lords were later delegated the duty of keeping the Dark Angels busy, but I'm sure someone else could have filled in while the Night Lords were "defending" Terra.
~~~~~~~~~~

So what do you think? Do you think that the planners of the Drop Site Massacre screwed up? Put too many eggs in too few baskets? Or would the risk of the Loyalists ultimately escaping the hammer and anvil of 5-6 Traitor Legions too great a risk?
 

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Jac "Baneblade" O'Bite
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From my knowledge the Night Lords were already rouge by the time the Massacre happened. I might be wrong on that though, there's no way they could have gained access to Terra. The Iron Hands... there you might have a point. They probably could have kept it hidden a bit longer in terms of the Imperium's knowledge. However for them to be most effective they did need to be in the Vanguard of the assault on Terra, they excelled at assaulting positions, their strengths would not have been best used by a late turn around.

The Death Guard however I think could have left it later. They would have been welcomed back to Terra with little suspicion. Then there is the Alpha Legion and trying to understand their motives is like trying to grip air.

At the end of the day the question is also about how much longer the Traitor Marines can put up with the "yoke of Imperial Rule" so to speak before letting their pride (cause of their downfall in the first place) over come them and go "fuck it, I'm going to go full and open rebel". The feeling I get was that they were all at that point really.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
From my knowledge the Night Lords were already rouge by the time the Massacre happened.
Curze and his Legion were technically supposed to be en-route to Terra for censure. Then Horus started his little fight at Istvaan and Curze's trial was swept under the rug for Istvaan V.

And I think if they were willing to have the Night Lords join in on Istvaan V, they'd probably accept them on Terra. Particularly if there was a little bit of theatrics with the Traitors shooting at their ships as they entered the Istvaan system.

However for them to be most effective they did need to be in the Vanguard of the assault on Terra, they excelled at assaulting positions, their strengths would not have been best used by a late turn around.
Could you imagine how much power the Iron Warriors would have if they went to Terra first? To actually help Dorn build the defenses on Terra? Create secret backdoors that they'd only know about. Certain seemingly impregnable redoubts that actually have crucial, hidden flaws?

Or heck, just being able to turn around and attack the Loyalists from the inside while the rest attack from the outside?
 

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From my knowledge the Night Lords were already rouge by the time the Massacre happened.
I always thought they wore dark blue, Jac? :wink:
 

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Could you imagine how much power the Iron Warriors would have if they went to Terra first? To actually help Dorn build the defenses on Terra? Create secret backdoors that they'd only know about. Certain seemingly impregnable redoubts that actually have crucial, hidden flaws?
I have a hard time believing that they'd be able to do that without Dorn and the Fists noticing, the two are supposed to be on almost completely equal footing.


Also, there's a significant time gap between Istvaan V and Terra. Having access to an entire extra Legion during this period would be very useful for Horus, we know that the Iron Warriors were tasked with several major battles in this period (Tallarn for ex). Also, Dorn believing he had access to an entire extra Legion could've drastically changed his strategy. I personally don't think he would've had the Iron Warriors garrison Terra but rather would've used them more aggressively against the traitors, much as he did with a portion of his own strength at Phall. If Dorn tasks the Iron Warriors with engaging another traitor Legion then they have to either fire on their own side (thus reducing Horus' total strength) or reveal themselves for little gain.

The other thing to bear in mind is the psychological impact Istvaan V has on the rest of the Imperium. The Drop Site Massacre is the moment when Horus goes from 'wayward son' to 'usurper', it completely changes the fight. From that perspective it is beneficial to have all his brothers declare, in a method that leaves no room for doubt, that they are with him. Suddenly Horus, not the Emperor, controls the bulk of the Astartes Legions and that makes siding with him a more attractive prospect. If one the traitor Legions appears to remain loyal than the loyalist forces appear stronger than Horus, his victory becomes unlikely and others are less likely to side with him. A show of force was necessary to convince the galaxy that shit just got real, and having all the traitors be present makes that show all the more impressive and terrifying.
 

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Bane of Empires
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At the end of the day the question is also about how much longer the Traitor Marines can put up with the "yoke of Imperial Rule" so to speak before letting their pride (cause of their downfall in the first place) over come them and go "fuck it, I'm going to go full and open rebel". The feeling I get was that they were all at that point really.
My thoughts exactly. In this respect, I think perhaps only the Alpha Legion (out of the four 'loyalist' Legions that turned on Isstvan V aside from the Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children, Death Guard and World Eaters that revealed their rebellion on Isstvan III) would have been capable of pulling something like that off, and even then, they seemed to have been needed elsewhere.

I think the rebel Primarchs had enough of a hard time with their respective Legion purges and maintaining their own authority, aside from being far from certain that they themselves were justified in joining Horus. Could a Primarch keep an entire Legion in line to keep the truth to themselves? Not even raise suspicion? Not even question what they are doing? Remember, most of the Legions were honourable (on some level) and disapproved of the Alpha Legion's type of deceptive warfare.

Also, from the Warmaster's perspective, would he have been willing to place that amount of trust and responsibility in one of the Primarchs that he himself labelled as "broken monsters" (from the short-audio Warmaster).

For example, how difficult would Perturabo have found it to make sure his Legion's true allegiance remained hidden despite being at the centre of Imperial command and surrounded by probing eyes? Would he have been willing to stand alongside Dorn on the battlements?

EDIT: MEQ also brings up some good points.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have a hard time believing that they'd be able to do that without Dorn and the Fists noticing, the two are supposed to be on almost completely equal footing.
They're defending an entire planetary system. I think it would be awfully inefficient for Dorn to micromanage every piece of work Perturabo did.

Plus I think the fact that they are reckoned to be equal provides support that a very subtle flaw created by one would be very hard to detect by the other. It would be very different if, say, Dorn was significantly better than Perturabo. But even if that wasn't possible, just having intimate knowledge of the how the defenses of the Sol system was setup would be an incredible boon for the Traitors.

Having access to an entire extra Legion during this period would be very useful for Horus
Useful, but ultimately but Horus gambled everything on Terra. A victory on Terra would make almost any Loyalist victory elsewhere moot.

(and to be specific, a victory on Terra would be the death of the Emperor and the unleashing of daemons via the failed webway.)

Also, Dorn believing he had access to an entire extra Legion could've drastically changed his strategy.
That's all the better for the Traitors. If Dorn built his strategy on having 4 Legions defending Terra to fight 6, then suddenly only having 3 Legions to fight 7 would be an absolute mess. Particularly if one of those 7 Legions had very intimate knowledge of all his defenses, logistics, and forces at Dorn's disposal.

I personally don't think he would've had the Iron Warriors garrison Terra but rather would've used them more aggressively against the traitors
I do not believe this is likely. During Deliverance Lost, when Corax arrives at Terra Dorn clearly expects him to hunker down and join in the Loyalist defense.

Dorn: There is room for several thousand more, once the rest of your Legion arrives
Corax: You think I’m bringing the Raven Guard here
Dorn: We need every warrior we can to defend Terra...
Corax: I am not staying here to get trapped like a rat in a hole
Dorn: Impossible. Like it or not, I must insist that your Legion be stationed here to bolster the defence of the Emperor. Horus will be coming here, make no mistake about that. Our first duty – our only duty – is the protection of Terra.

And then a final bit from Dorn:

‘Every warrior will count,’ said Dorn. ‘We need you on Terra. We cannot stop Horus coming here. Accept that as fact and bring your Legion to the defence.’

Dorn would have kept everything and everyone he could get his hands on to defend Terra.

Not even raise suspicion?
Would they raise some? I think undoubtedly. Enough to force the Loyalists to discard their help? Less likely.

As you said, the Alpha Legion could probably pull it off. Remember, in "Blood Games" that we know that Dorn is building both physical defenses and defenses based on mis/information. That's something the Alpha Legion could tap into.

I don't know too much about the disposition of the Iron Warrior ranks. I only got half way through Angel Exterminatus before giving up. I don't think they hated the Imperium to the point where they couldn't deceive the other Loyalists?

And even if this wasn't possible, you could have Perturabo and maybe a small contingent of men arrive at Terra. A credible story of his Legion arriving late to Istvaan, being fired upon by the Traitors, and having them scatter to keep themselves alive, could be formulated. That would explain why he and only a small force arrived. The rest are lost one way or another in the fickleness of the Immaterium.

This reduces the chances of the Iron Warriors being caught red-handed, yet at the same time still giving Perturabo (and ultimately all the Traitors) valuable information on the workings of Terra's defenses.
 

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Because plot.

I know it's a cop out but it applies to all the events and decisions of the Heresy. by and large the events of the Heresy are set in stone, the details may change but the larger picture remains the same.

It was originally a cursory piece of text explaining why there were chaos space marines, it didn't go into great detail, no one thought there would ever be a book series about it. As it was fleshed out more in the Index Astartes series it was still all rather vague, written apocryphally and presented as a legendary, forgotten time where the events happened for reasons not fully known.

Now however as we're delving into the guts of the story all the little things that don't make sense, are contradictory or whatever are in plain view. All the flaws are exposed as we have to live with them and accept handwaving explanations.
 

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Bane of Empires
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Because plot.
This particular case does that not suggest that. The Warmaster's strategy during the Heresy wasn't exactly flawed. His overall strategy - utilising the shock factor to destroy the better part of 3 Legions at Isstvan V whilst tying up the more stalwart or powerful Imperial Legions in remote areas of the galaxy whilst the bulk of his forces then advanced on Terra - was sound.

I don't think you can just wave away this one with "because plot." :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have to agree with CotE.

The strategy of crushing the three Loyalist Legions was not flawed. It makes sense, at least to me.

I was wondering if they could have their cake and eat it, too--basically, destroy the 3 Loyalist Legions, demonstrate that Horus has a powerful force (namely at least 5-6 Legions behind him), AND sneak some people to work as agents on Terra.

To me, I think it's a real possibility.
 

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Horus already had agents on Terra working for him. Nemesis showed us as much, with rogue nobles and even the Mechanicus.

In fact you could consider the Mechanicus to be Horus' ace in the hole on the Sol System. The very heart of the Imperium's technological and industrial might turns on it. A planet is traitor within eye-sight (relatively) of Terra. I don't think Horus could have planned it better than that.
 

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This particular case does that not suggest that. The Warmaster's strategy during the Heresy wasn't exactly flawed. His overall strategy - utilising the shock factor to destroy the better part of 3 Legions at Isstvan V whilst tying up the more stalwart or powerful Imperial Legions in remote areas of the galaxy whilst the bulk of his forces then advanced on Terra - was sound.

I don't think you can just wave away this one with "because plot." :)
I have to agree with CotE.

The strategy of crushing the three Loyalist Legions was not flawed. It makes sense, at least to me.

I was wondering if they could have their cake and eat it, too--basically, destroy the 3 Loyalist Legions, demonstrate that Horus has a powerful force (namely at least 5-6 Legions behind him), AND sneak some people to work as agents on Terra.

To me, I think it's a real possibility.
Oh i agree that Horus' strategy was a fine one. I was more referring to the frequent threads of 'why did the emperor do or not do x' 'why was stupid decision x taken' etc. Some have been explained well by the new series othertimes though you have to shrug your shoulders and the awnser really is because plot (an old, vague plot that was better apocryphal).

As regards the premise of thread aside from the reasons already posted perhaps there's also the factor of the emperor and malcador to consider. It's possible that they'd be able to detect any infiltration attempt of that scale. I don't imagine one of the traitor primarchs being face to face with the emperor would go well.
 

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It is hard to say what Horus would have done if the Eisenstein had not escaped the loyalist culling at Istvaan III. Once that happened he had no choice but to try and cripple the loyalist legions with his and a few others at diminished strength. With warp travel taking the time it does and the favor of the Chaos gods, I do not think his forces not being lined up on time was an issue.

For the sake of argument though, I believe that the Word Bearers and Emperor's Children were the first two legions to start mutating in appearance from the affects of Chaos worship which would have allowed the other legions to at least delay discovery.
 

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The Emperor Protects
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It is hard to say what Horus would have done if the Eisenhorn had not escaped the loyalist culling at Istvaan III. Once that happened he had no choice but to try and cripple the loyalist legions with his and a few others at diminished strength. With warp travel taking the time it does and the favor of the Chaos gods, I do not think his forces not being lined up on time was an issue.
The Eisenstein*

See, much as I've always loved the story of the Eisenstein, it actually appears to be largely irrelevant in the wider scheme of things. I made a thread on it quite some time ago about it, because, if Garro never escaped and warned the Imperium, then how would they know about Horus rebellion and send the fleets to Istvaan V? We know the Istvaan V phase of his opening treachery was crucial to his plans, far before Garro and the others escaped. He was always planning to massacre the loyalists there, positioning the pivotal Loyalist and traitor legions near the system so that the plan could be enacted. But other than giving him and the traitors some more time, what difference would it have made. Even with Garros warning, Istvaan V went down perfectly.

Both Fulgrim and Horus failing to read Ferrus caused the Heresy to be revealed anyway, this also helped on Istvaan V, as the Iron Hands didn't even turn up at full strength.

So yeah, other than having more time, I don't believe the Eisenstein escaping, really altered Horus plans that much anyway.
 

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My apologies, corrected post. I blame alcohol and early onset of dementia.

One of the only issues I have had with the Horus Heresy is nothing being published in a linear timeline after the Flight of the Eisenstein. Another is the current glut of limited editions, but that is for another time. I know Fulgrim details the failed attempt to sway Ferrus almost resulting in the purple Primarchs demise, but in Eisenstein isn't Dorn enraged at Garro's accusations to the point of near violence? It was my understanding that the Eisensteins escape coupled with Fulgrim's failure is what prompted to speed up his plans and strike at Istvaan V.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It's possible that they'd be able to detect any infiltration attempt of that scale.
Very possible. We had the intercede between Corax and Dorn when their conversation got a bit heated.

Though clearly the Emperor couldn't be everywhere, otherwise the AL personnel would have be caught...unless the Emperor wanted them to be there? Dun dun duuuuun.

So yeah, other than having more time, I don't believe the Eisenstein escaping, really altered Horus plans that much anyway.
Perhaps they could have snagged a bit more of the Loyalists. Maybe the contingent of Imperial Fists Dorn sent out.

Or maybe....they could have set the trap closer to Terra? Destroy more than 3 Loyalist Legions?
 

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Bane of Empires
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The Eisenstein*

See, much as I've always loved the story of the Eisenstein, it actually appears to be largely irrelevant in the wider scheme of things. I made a thread on it quite some time ago about it, because, if Garro never escaped and warned the Imperium, then how would they know about Horus rebellion and send the fleets to Istvaan V? We know the Istvaan V phase of his opening treachery was crucial to his plans, far before Garro and the others escaped. He was always planning to massacre the loyalists there, positioning the pivotal Loyalist and traitor legions near the system so that the plan could be enacted. But other than giving him and the traitors some more time, what difference would it have made. Even with Garros warning, Istvaan V went down perfectly.

Both Fulgrim and Horus failing to read Ferrus caused the Heresy to be revealed anyway, this also helped on Istvaan V, as the Iron Hands didn't even turn up at full strength.

So yeah, other than having more time, I don't believe the Eisenstein escaping, really altered Horus plans that much anyway.
I agree. The Flight of the Eisenstein may have altered Horus's plans slightly, but the overall strategy remained the same. If the Imperium hadn't been warned (Magnus's message aside) or was kept in the dark concerning the events on Isstvan III I'm sure Horus would have found some way to entice the Legions to Isstvan V. Allowing Imperial contingents to escape (to convey messages of his treachery) on his own terms? Public announcement of defiance? Manipulation of communications? You get the point.

It's been ages since I've read Fulgrim but weren't the Emperor's Children sent to Isstvan V to fortify the rebel positions straight after Isstvan III? The assumption has always been that Horus had designated Isstvan V as the staging ground for the Massacre long before he actually rebelled.

As far as we are aware, the Warmaster's original plan was something along the lines of: Destroy/cripple the Raven Guard and Salamanders (extended to include the Iron Hands after Ferrus refused to join him) on Isstvan V. Cripple the Ultramarines at Calth. Corrupt/cripple the Blood Angels at Signus. Utilise the Alpha Legion to tie up the Space Wolves in the aftermath of Prospero. Utilise the Night Lords to delay the Dark Angels. Whilst expecting the White Scars to join him, and accepting that the Imperial Fists couldn't be lured from Terra.
 

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It has been awhile since I read Fulgrim also, but I seem to remember the EC being tasked to oversee the fortifications and doing the grunt work as punishment for failing to sway Ferrus.

Also, and I apologize I am working and do not have access to my library, wasn't the traitor fleet detained at Istvaan III for months after the virus bombs failed to kill the loyalists?
 

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The Emperor Protects
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It's been ages since I've read Fulgrim but weren't the Emperor's Children sent to Isstvan V to fortify the rebel positions straight after Isstvan III? The assumption has always been that Horus had designated Isstvan V as the staging ground for the Massacre long before he actually rebelled.

As far as we are aware, the Warmaster's original plan was something along the lines of: Destroy/cripple the Raven Guard and Salamanders (extended to include the Iron Hands after Ferrus refused to join him) on Isstvan V. Cripple the Ultramarines at Calth. Corrupt/cripple the Blood Angels at Calth. Utilise the Alpha Legion to tie up the Space Wolves in the aftermath of Prospero. Utilise the Night Lords to delay the Dark Angels. Whilst expecting the White Scars to join him, and accepting that the Imperial Fists couldn't be lured from Terra.
Fulgrim was sent to Istvaan V to prepare it before Istvaan III was even over, as Horus anticipates the Imperiums response to be faster due to the Eisenstein and Ferrus, but still clearly part of his plan.

And yeah, when you lay out his plan like that, it looks foolproof and a certainty. This more of Horus failing to read his brothers properly or just vastly underestimating them?

It has been awhile since I read Fulgrim also, but I seem to remember the EC being tasked to oversee the fortifications and doing the grunt work as punishment for failing to sway Ferrus.

Also, and I apologize I am working and do not have access to my library, wasn't the traitor fleet detained at Istvaan III for months after the virus bombs failed to kill the loyalists?
It wasn't so much punishment, as it was Horus wanting it done sooner now that the Imperium had been warned. Their forces were at III for a very long time yes, but they still managed to fully deploy and set themselves up on V regardless of the delay and early warning.
 

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And yeah, when you lay out his plan like that, it looks foolproof and a certainty. This more of Horus failing to read his brothers properly or just vastly underestimating them?
I'd say it was fickle fate.

Of those he planned/expected to turn only two didn't Ferrus and Khan. Ferrus was subsequently neutralized along with the others at Istvaan. His plan was great, if it had worked all according to plan the Fists would have been isolated on Terra and easy pickings. The elements that failed were out of his control. He read his brothers near perfectly, his subordinates just weren't up to the task.

Lorgar failed to fully cripple the Ultramarines. Sanguinius survived the trap and the Alpha Legion and Night Lords proved unable to tie up the Space Wolves and Dark Angels long enough.
 
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