In Warhammer 40k Abaddon the Despoiler – once called Ezekyle Abaddon – is an extremely powerful Chaos Space Marine leader who claims the title ‘Warmaster of Chaos’, leading his Black Legion in crusades against the hated Imperium. A consummate soldier who’s warred against the Emperor for over 10,000 years, Abaddon is a pivotal 40k character – and this guide has all you need to know about him, from lore to models.
If some of the Warhammer terms above are gobbledegook to you, don’t panic – start with our beginner’s guides to the Warhammer 40k factions, the human Imperium of Man with its godlike leader the Emperor of Mankind, and the Warhammer 40k chaos forces that oppose them.
Who is Warhammer 40k’s Abaddon the Despoiler?
- Before the Horus Heresy – First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon
- During the Heresy – Loyal Son of Horus Lupercal
- Where is Abaddon now in 40k? Master of the Black Legion
- Is an Abaddon the Despoiler model available?
- What’s the Abaddon the Despoiler MTG deck like?
For more context on Abaddon’s origins as First Captain of the Luna Wolves Space Marine Legion – and his exploits during the civil war that followed – check out our no-nonsense guide to the Horus Heresy, and pick out some reading material from our favorite Horus Heresy book order.
Before the Horus Heresy
First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon, XVI Legion Luna Wolves
Ezekyle Abaddon (a name borrowed from a demon in the Bible’s Old Testament, pronounced ‘Abba-Don’, not ‘Uh-Bad-Uhn’) was born on the violent, gang-run industrial world of Cthonia – a nearby neighbor of the Sol system and Terra (Earth), and the adoptive homeworld of Horus Lupercal, 16th of the 20 mighty Warhammer 40k primarchs.
He wasn’t fond of Cthonia – it was an objectively horrendous place to be – but he was later proud of sharing his homeworld and harsh upbringing with Horus, and, in a nod to his origins, has always worn his hair in the distinctive Cthonic style: bald but for a tall topknot at the back.
The son of one of the planet’s strongest, King-like gang leaders, Abaddon was expected to murder his best friends to advance in the organisation, but he rejected this bloody birth right, instead killing his own father and escaping.
Discovered and taken in by two Luna Wolves legionaries – Hastur Sejanus and Syrakul – Abaddon pledged service to his primarch Horus, and was taken to Luna (Terra’s moon) to be converted into a Space Marine in the glorious 16th Legion Astartes.
Abaddon proved a natural soldier, a peerless warrior and redoubtable field commander, simultaneously loved, feared, and respected by his comrades. His reputation was helped along by being one of several legionaries nicknamed ‘Sons of Horus’ – battle brothers whose geneseed implantation gave them facial features almost identical to the primarch’s own.
By the time the Emperor’s Great Crusade began at the end of the 8th century M30 (around the year 29,800 by our calendar) he had risen to the rank of First Captain of the Legion, commanding its elite First Company of Space Marine Terminators, including the universally feared Justaerin unit.
He also became a member of Horus Lupercal’s famed, four-strong inner circle of close advisers, the Mournival – and quickly became its most headstrong, warlike, and impatient voice.
When we first encounter the Mournival in Dan Abnett’s Horus Rising – the very first Horus Heresy novel – Abaddon is every bit the quick-tempered, hot-headed glory seeker, in stark contrast to the brotherly humor of Tarik Torgaddon, the pensive strategy of ‘Little’ Horus Aximand, or the honor-bound counsel of Garviel Loken.
While Abaddon fought with distinction in the Emperor’s Great Crusade to reconquer the galaxy, his first loyalty was always to Horus, and, as the crusade went on, he was prominent among those Luna Wolves who began to resent the Emperor for returning to Terra to work on his secret Webway project, leaving the Adeptus Astartes to fight his wars without him.
When Horus was wounded at Davin, Abaddon somewhat grudgingly agreed to the Word Bearers chaplain Erebus’ plan to save him via a ritual in the planet’s mysterious Temple of the Serpent Lodge. When Horus regained consciousness, the primarch had effectively sworn himself to the chaos Gods – Nurgle, Tzeentch, Slaanesh, and Khorne – and, from then on, Abaddon was set on the same path.
During the Heresy
Loyal Son of Horus Lupercal
Utterly devoted to his primarch ‘father’ Horus, Abaddon welcomed the renaming of the Luna Wolves to the Sons of Horus, and proudly played a leading role in the radical reshaping of Horus’ legion against the Emperor.
Acting as the Warmaster’s strong right hand throughout the ensuing long war against the Imperium, he was among the most senior traitor commanders, fighting alongside the primarch all the way to the final Siege of Terra and beyond.
At the very outset of the Heresy, when Horus slaughtered everyone in his own legion whom he thought remained loyal to the Emperor in the battle of Isstvan III, Abaddon actively joined the fight to exterminate his former brothers. He and captain ‘little’ Horus Aximand were deployed to slay the other two Mournival brothers, the loyalists Tarik Torgaddon and Garviel Loken.
Torgaddon was killed, but was later resurrected by Erebus as the Chaos Daemon creature Tormageddon. Loken, meanwhile, survived to join Malcador the Sigillite‘s Knights Errant (the predecessors of the Grey Knights), and later dueled Abaddon a second time, aboard Horus’ flagship the Vengeful Spirit, during a failed assassination attempt on the Warmaster.
Once again, though, Abaddon failed to kill Loken – and the vendetta between them is building to a final face-off that’s tantalisingly teased in the latest Horus Heresy novel: Dan Abnett’s The End and The Death Volume 2. It’s definitely coming in the as yet unreleased, conclusive Volume 3.
Loken’s escape aside, Abaddon led the Sons of Horus into numerous battles during the Heresy, and never wavered in his fierce loyalty to Horus. Notably, though, he detested their alliance with the gods and daemons of Chaos from the very start, deeply distrusting sorcery and the warp, and increasingly fearing its corrupting influence on his primarch.
“This is, and always was, a soldier’s war” was his constant refrain, even in the face of mounting evidence that their crusade against the Emperor was primarily fueled by, and in service of, the ruinous powers.
At the final Siege of Terra, Abaddon was at the very head of the traitor invasion, directing Horus’ armies while the primarch himself remained cloistered aboard his ship. Abaddon commanded the conquest of Luna; he spearheaded the initial assault on the crucial Lion’s Gate spaceport; he led the final attack on the Emperor’s core stronghold, the Sanctum Imperialis.
But, on the brink of that victory, Ezekyle Abaddon realised, despairingly, that most of his army no longer listened to orders; they’d fallen completely to bloodlust and forgotten their soldier’s oaths. They were going to win the war, but at what cost? What had they become – and why had Horus still not joined the battle?
Taking his closest comrades, he left the battlefront to return to the Vengeful Spirit and find the Warmaster – but he didn’t make it in time. Already wounded in the effort of killing Blood Angels primarch Sanguinius, Horus was himself slain – and utterly destroyed – by the Emperor, ending the Heresy War and catapulting Abaddon into maddening grief and despair.
After leading a last ditch mission to retrieve Horus Lupercal’s body, Abaddon and the surviving Sons of Horus retreated into the Eye of Terror, pursued by the murderous retribution of Imperial Fists primarch Rogal Dorn and his zealot captain Sigismund – the Emperor’s Champion, founder of the Black Templars.
Abaddon in Warhammer 40k
Master of the Black Legion, Warmaster of Chaos
Crushed by his primarch’s death and full of hatred for the chaos-addled monsters his former comrades had become, Abaddon left his legion completely after the retreat from Terra, taking the Vengeful Spirit with him. In his absence, the remains of the traitor legions, now living in the perilous, warp-infused realms of ‘Eye-space’, fell upon one another in endless internecine wars.
Contrary to Abaddon’s belief, however, not all the traitor Astartes who fled Terra had completely given up on legion discipline – or on their grander goal of defeating the Imperium.
The renegade Thousand Sons sorcerer Iskandar Khayon, the World Eater Lheorvine Ukris, and Son of Horus Falkus Kibre sought him out in his seclusion deep in the Eye of Terror, aiming to put Abaddon back in command and take the fight back to the loyalists.
This small group became the foundation of Abaddon’s new Black Legion: one part reformed Sons of Horus flocking to their captain’s banner, one part recruits from the other splintered traitor legions.
Anyone who would renounce their infighting and swear undying allegiance to Abaddon for a new, long war against the Imperium was welcome – and, as their ranks swelled, Abaddon took up his late gene-sire’s title of Warmaster
“From shame and shadow recast, in black and gold reborn” became their rallying cry. And so began the many Black Crusades that would assail the Imperium of Man for millennia to come – ravaging planets, slaughtering millions, and earning him his new moniker: the Despoiler.
Along the way, Abaddon became the master of Drach’nyen – a horrific daemon sword, possessed with the screaming faces and voices of the countless souls it’s murdered, with the power to rend reality as it strikes, severing shields, armor, meat, and bone like soft butter. Abaddon is always seen wielding Drach’nyen in his left hand and wearing the Talon of Horus – a huge, scything Lightning Claw – on his right.
There have been 13 Black Crusades since – each seemingly defeated by the Emperor’s armies, but each achieving a secret milestone in Abaddon’s grand plan.
Most dramatically – in GW’s 2016-17 narrative series leading up to the 2017 8th edition 40k launch – the 13th Black Crusade overwhelmed and ultimately destroyed the planet Cadia, a crucial Astra Militarum stronghold, and in the process cracked the entire galaxy in half with the vast warp rift known as the Cicatrix Maledictum.
He got there in the end, eh? With only the slight, unexpected setback of Aeldari and Adeptus Mechanicus leaders resurrecting the primarch Roboute Guilliman, alongside a new Imperial army of Primaris Space Marines).
Where is Abaddon the Despoiler now?
After that, Abaddon’s strategy accelerated. Working with the demigod Vashtorr the Arkifane, he launched the Arks of Omen campaign, besieging the Imperials from multiple new fronts using a fleet of ensorcelled, ancient warships in a quest to capture various powerful, esoteric relics.
Though bloody and costly, it was a success. Abaddon and Vashtorr successfully collected the items they needed to create a mysterious artifact called The Key, which purportedly has the power to finally destroy the Imperium and leave the galaxy in flames, once and for all.
That storyline played out in narrative expansions published throughout 2022, paving the way for Warhammer 40k 10th edition to launch in June 2023.
We don’t yet know exactly what Abaddon the Despoiler has in mind next – but we do know he and his Black Legion are stronger than ever, emboldened by their victories and empowered with Vashtorr the Arkifane’s fearsome armies of daemon engines and other technological horrors.
Is an Abaddon the Despoiler model available?
There are currently two Abaddon the Despoiler models available from Games Workshop (well, technically he’s only the despoiler in one of them). These are the 2019 plastic Warhammer 40k character model, and the Forge World resin diorama of Abaddon’s duel with Garviel Loken.
Mind you, he’s also honored with his very own paint color that every Warhammer hobbyist should own – Abaddon Black.
Warhammer 40k Abaddon the Despoiler model
Games Workshop released a spectacular new plastic Abaddon Warhammer 40k model in 2019, as part of the Vigilus narrative that launched Warhammer 40k 9th edition in 2020.
He stands over twice the height of his old, out-of-production metal model, with loads of gnarly details, including his backpack trophy rack speared with various skulls and a Space Marine helmet; three different head options (grimacing, scowling, or wearing a rebreather); and his armored boot crushing a dead loyalist marine.
GW’s done a video painting tutorial for the model, which you can watch below.
If you’re an ‘oldhammer’ fan who really wants that old metal model, though, they’re not too hard to find – here’s a handy button to seek him out on Ebay:
Forge World resin Abaddon vs. Loken diorama
There’s also a Forge World Abaddon model – a resin diorama showing his fateful duel with the loyalist Sons of Horus captain Garviel Loken on Isstvan III.
It’s sadly out of production and out of stock on the Warhammer webstore – but you can pick them up cheap-ish on Ebay via the button above.
What’s the Abaddon the Despoiler MTG deck like?
At Wargamer, we’re just as obsessed with Magic: The Gathering as we are with Warhammer, so when Wizards of the Coast released its MTG Warhammer 40k crossover decks in October 2022, it’s fair to say we were hyped.
It was predictable, but still exciting, to see an Abaddon the Despoiler MTG deck among these Universes Beyond releases, geared towards MTG Commander, with the Topknot Man himself as its face commander.
Ironically, Abaddon himself would hate the deck’s title – The Ruinous Powers – given he personally hates them and refuses to give in to chaos, but really, that’s kind of on him for working with them for 10,000 years.
The deck itself leans nicely into the ‘traitor horde’ theme, focusing on the MTG Cascade effect; lots of aggressive damage dealing; lots of daemons; and lots of summoning from the Warp – er, we mean playing cards from exile. For more info on how to use it, check out our guides on how to build a MTG Commander deck and the current MTG Commander banlist.
If you’ve made it this far and you’re thinking ‘this guy seems pretty cool’, chances are you’d also enjoy reading our full guide to the Chaos Space Marines faction.
If you decide to collect a heretic army of your own, we can give you some cracking beginner hobby advice – try our guides on painting miniatures, the best paints for miniatures, and the best miniature paintbrushes to use. Once you’re really deep in, we can also help you choose the best airbrush to accelerate your army painting – but when you’re just starting, we strongly recommend contrast paints; they’re magic.