Horus Heresy – Mechanicum Ursarax Vs. Vorax – Unit Comparison

Two of the 30k Mechanicums dedicated close combat units, both equally lethal on the tabletop. Lately I’ve seen a number of posts from people trying to compare Vorax Vs. Ursarax when building an army. So lets take a look and break them down.


Overview – The Mechanicums Hunter Killers – Vorax Class Battle Automata

Starting with the Vorax Battle Automata, they’re 65pts each and can be taken in units of 6. Monstrous Creatures with two Rotor Cannons each along with a Lightning Cannon too, they also come armed with two power blades. So as standard wargear their heavily armed! WS and BS 4 are both great in an army list that normally favours one over the other. Strength and Toughness 6 are where it starts to interesting, S6 means they’ll be wounding most units in the game on 3’s or 2’s and T6 makes them tough to wound and means they’ll need dedicated firepower to take down. 3 Wounds is on the low side but T6 offsets this somewhat. Initiative 4 (I5 in a Cybernetica list) means they’re not slow to strike with their AP2 weaponry! 2 Attacks base, 3 with the two power blades and 4 on the charge. Leadership 7 is low, but they’re fearless, so we can overlook this! A 4+ armour save is low, but T6 offsets this. They also come with Fleet and Scout, the latter of which is very handy in a list is generally very static and slow across the table. Cybernetica Cortex is also in there as their a Battle-Automata which means they can regain wounds through Cybertheurgy!

The options list is interesting, but uninspiring as all the Vorax in the same unit must also take them. Searchlights, don’t bother. Frag Grenades, optional really, just be sure to remember not to charge through terrain if you don’t equip them. Enhanced Targeting Arrays are a little expensive, a whole squad with them BS5 and -1 to cover saves is handy, but that’s not what these guys are all about. Irad-cleansers are again situational and can be taken by single models, one or two in a unit gives some extra flexibility to the unit.

Overview – The Rapid Killing Engines – Ursarax Cohorts

Ursurax Cohorts are a very different kind of unit. 175pts for a base unit of 3 is not cheap and can be taken in units up to six at an additional 50pts each. Jump Infantry with two Lightning Claws and a Volkite Incinerator they also come standard with Frag Grenades. WS4 and BS3 are pretty standard and point to what these guys want to do, fight! S5 and T5 are pretty good S5 means they’ll be putting out the hurt for their main targets. T5 means that your opponent will need S10 to instant death them. 3 Wounds a each means they’re quite tough to take down, especially in bigger units. Initiative 2 is disappointing, it’s low enough to mean in most combat’s they’ll be striking last. 2 Attacks base, 3 with their two Lightning Claws and 4 on the charge. Leadership 8 with Stubborn is useful. A 4+ armour save with 5+ Feel no Pain gives them a chance of shrugging off most wounds.

Their options list is very small, any Ursarax may exchange their Lightning Claws for Power Fists. I’d recommend dropping a set into one in three Ursarax to help them cut through some of the tougher Infantry units and vehicles.

Their Volkite Incinerators are an odd weapon. It’s a weapon system unique to the Ursarax that has the following profiles. A ranged version (the beam) that has a relatively short range of 10″ that’s S5 AP5 Assault 2 with Deflagrate which is kind of handy at putting the odd wound on most units in the Heresy series. The other profile (blast) is, despite it’s name, a single melee attack per model not an actual blast template which is S6 AP2 Instant Death and Prisoned. Prisoned limits this attack to Infantry, Jump Infantry or Jet Pack Infantry types.

On the Table

Well the Vorax are a dedicated anti infantry unit that will make most unit’s with 2+ Armour think again about getting too close. With 4 attacks each on the charge a unit of 3-4 will put some serious damage out. I’ve had some great success using them in a unit of 5 with a Irad-cleanser to run at opponents and take the enemies firepower away from the rest of the army. Opponents can’t ignore a big unit of them bearing down on their lines. Don’t be afraid to outflank with them either, it’s not something most opponents will expect and will not like that many MC suddenly appearing on their flank. Even their Rotor Cannons are great at softening up targets first, a unit of five puts out 40 S3 AP6 shots plus the Lightning Cannons too! Use them to bully units away from objectives and lock down areas of the board or even tie up dedicated close combat units allowing the rest of your force pound the enemy from range. Just be aware of Instant Death weaponry, like all Mechanicum MC, they seriously dislike ID weapons!

Don’t be tempted to run single or small units of Vorax, a unit that small is too easy to put down and will most likely die before it has a chance to make a significant impact on the game.

Ursarax are a different kind of unit altogether, use them to pick off small marine units with no IC or units with dedicated combat weapons. Their also handy at taking out soft transports. Their AP3 Lightning Claws and a high number of attacks will cut through marines. Being Jump Infantry means they can move 12″ in the movement phase and quickly get around the board and into combat. They need to be in combat as soon as possible before they get cut down too quickly, so don’t be afraid to Deep Strike them too if you need. Don’t aim them at any truly dedicated combat unit, they’ll just bounce off as their low Initiative and AP3 weapons is just not reliable enough. Their Volkite Incinerator is a very niche weapon in CC, but it’s not something you should rely on, dropping all their attacks for a single ID attack is risky and more of a Hail Mary! In the local Meta (I really hate that word!) where everyone seems to have Thudd Guns, I’d be using them to drop in and take them out rather than rely on long range fire. It’s also worth noting that their Lorica Thallax wargear item prevents them from performing Sweeping Advances.


In Summary

Well, both units are very similar but very different! The Vorax are true hunter killers, roaming around looking for a fight! The Ursarax are opportunists, looking for the weaker units or units already wounded and finishing them off.  The Vorax bully opponents around the board and are up for a challenge, the Ursarax outmanoeuvre opponents and are generally more sneaky! Ideal unit size for the Vorax are (in my opinion) between 4/5, five being optimal for wounds and damage output. Coming in at 335pts with a single Irad-cleanser their not cheap, but hey, this is Heresy, that’s a cheap unit! For the Ursarax I’d be looking at a unit of 5 minimum with a single Power Fist for 285pts to really get the best out of them.


One thought on “Horus Heresy – Mechanicum Ursarax Vs. Vorax – Unit Comparison

  1. Ive used both and much prefer ursarax, though i give 2/3 of them fists, I2 means they will be striking after almost everything else anyway, and the fists turn them into s10 monsters. With a squad of 6 (4 fists) means 16 s10 ap2 attacks coming in on the charge! These can take out vehicles, and dreads, even leviathans if youre lucky. The ones with claws stay in front and are essentially just to die first, they take the shooting and overwatch. I use the vorax the same way though.

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