+ inload: Blood Angels squad 1, part II +

+ Fools rush in +

+ With all the Alien Wars enthusiasm, I've been jumping all over the place writing, building oddments and – gasp – playing games. That's meant that the orks of Luggub's Drop Legion leapfrogged the Blood Angels third company (M35) in the painting queue. +

+ With the greenskins out of the way for the moment, I've returned to building 'em up. For those that have been following the project, you'll know that I'm basing the army on the army from WD139; right at the tail end of Rogue Trader. +

+ The ten above are completed, but rather dimly, I ended up building the first combat squad from squad 1, and the second combat squad from squad 2. Doesn't make a huge difference, but was rather nagging at me. Last night I cracked on with the second half of squad 1. The originals look like this:

+ My original intention for the project was to emulate the originals as closely as possible, but after building and painting ten models, I've realised just how limiting the three original poses were. It's testament to the 'Eavy Metal team (Tim Prow for these, I think) and photographer that they managed to get them looking as varied as they do. +

+ As a result, I've emulated the figures, rather than directly copied the poses. This has allowed me to loosen up a few poses, and add some dynamics from such simple changes as turning the heads a bit. +

+ If you compare the two images, I think you get the same 'feel' from the figures, but there's a bit more variety, and I'm making more of the modern material. +

+ Porridge: not too hot and not too cold +

+ I couldn't resist the addition of a couple of special bits – the squad leader has a distinguishing helm (from the Devastator kit), and there are some Forge World shoulder pads and packpacks chucked in, too. I am rationing these, as I'm trying to strike a balance between the opulent, baroque styling of M41 marines and the regimented, factory-fresh M31 Legionaries – after all, this army is set right in the middle. +

+ Were I to add too many very distinctive bits (early mark helms, for example), I'd run the risk of taking them too far from the source. Hopefully, the bits I've chosen add a bit of detail without altering the silhouette too much. You can see the result in the painted examples above – a bit of paint goes a long way to blending things like the occasional mark IV helm in. +

With that all said, it's easy to get a bit precious about homages like this. I've never felt the need to be obsessive about these things, and will happily go a bit off-piste in the name of fun, or because I've had what I think is a bright idea. One of the things I liked best about Space Marine artwork from 3rd edition onwards was the increased diversity of armour. Not just a mix of the armour patterns within a group, but a literal variety of details within individuals – one-off shoulder pads, Mark IV legs with a Mark VII torso, minor variations in the helm seals etc. +

+ Not only did this greebling add interest and detail, it all suggests age and the reverence with which these suits of armour are held in-universe. It reminded me very much of photographs of soldiers from real conflicts; where equipment, tanks and uniforms were improvised, adapted and jury-rigged. The background and artwork has always suggested that this is the case for Space Marine armour and equipment, but it only really started being represented in models after the period I'm emulating. +

The original army

It's for this reason that I won't be duplicating the uniform marks of armour within squads. The original army had Devastator squads decked out purely in Mark VI, and Tactical Squads purely in Mark VII. I'm going to retain a heavy proportion of those armour marks – so the dominant armour in the Devastators will be Mark VI, for example – but I will be adding in the occasional alternative helm or similar detail. This is to help the army as a whole seem cohesive. +

+ Beyond the inspiration +

+ In the short term, I want to build the models from the army in the picture above – helped no little bit by the PCRC's kind gift of a Rhino, Librarian, Medic and Thudd Gun (thanks again!) – but for anyone who knows my preferred style of army, you'll know I love the basic infantry. +

+ I'll mostly be running the army using the modern 8th edition rules, and one of the things that most interested me about the new list was the increased options for small arms within troops. Subtle additions here – three new types of boltgun – give huge opportunity and got my mind turning over. +

+ The original army is based around two Tactical Squads and one Devastator Squad. I'm committed to building the Tacticals with Bolt Rifles, but I've been toying with the idea of building the Devastators with Stalker Bolt Rifles – a better complement to the heavy weapons, more fitting of the battlefield support role, and a bit of welcome variation. In addition, if I ever need to stick to the strict letter of the rules, I can field them as a Primaris squad; using the missile launchers to proxy as grenade launchers, while the rest of the squad remains a valid choice. +

+ So, with two varieties of new boltgun accounted for, I got thinking about the third: Auto Bolt Rifles. I'm not a fan of the Reiver models, but their Bolt Carbines look awesome; I couldn't resist buying some bits and playing about: 

The standard Auto Bolt Rifle, is, rather disappointingly, simply a minor variation of the standard rifle; but the Reiver's guns have a more distinctive silhouette – snub-nosed, with forward handles, they remind me of 80s action movies.
+ I thought I might build a squad of these, but I'm in two minds. Game-wise, they'll be a Primaris squad with Auto Bolt Rifles, but in terms of painting and background, do you think they'd be better as one of the four remaining Tactical Squads, or as a ground-based Assault Squad? The main differences are going to be whether the helms are yellow or red, and the squad markings. I'd love to hear your thoughts. +

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