+ inload: Blood Angels plans +

+ Musings, ideas and plans +

+ One of our datastream exloaders, Paul von Bargen, had a couple of great questions about my Blood Angels that got me thinking; so I'd like to expand a little on my answers here; mainly because I find it fun to overthink these things!
'may i ask why you left the chest bare of any decoration? Especially thinking about the baroque nature of the Blood Angels i would like how you decided upon this?'
+ I replied: 
+ The short answer is simply for differentiation. Since I want the army to be set in M35, I needed to find some visual shorthand to differentiate them from 40k and 30k models; and the chest eagles are an obvious point of differentiation. In terms of the in-universe reason, the eagles have been removed as a mark of neutrality – the double-headed eagle is a symbol of the Old Imperium (as opposed to Constantium's Nova Terra) – and the Astartes as a whole are neutral in this conflict. + 
+ There are some real-world considerations. The original inspiration (Tim Prow's force from WD139) didn't pick out the winged jewels (the equivalent), but painted the torsos plain red. It's a nod to that as much as anything. In addition, the models of the time were much simpler. Since I want to make the force identifiable as the same army, I wanted to simplify the details to aid recognition. +
+ To expand on that, the visual simplicity of the army is part of the appeal, because it gives such immediate impact. It's the very lack of the later ornamentation that helps root the army in my (less spiritual, more Rogue Trader) Nova Terra Interregnum setting. +

+ ...and finally, I wanted to make sure that I left myself some [design] space for veterans, Lieutenants and so forth. These will likely have considerable amounts of freehand. +
+ A shot of the inspiration can be seen above, in conflict with the insidious Eldar; and I think that it shows quite nicely how the impact of the red and black is strong partly because it isn't diluted by a large accent area (the chest eagle). +


+ Blood Angels markings, and painting for the period +

+ In doing some 'research' (browsing the noosphere and asking questions on Blood Angels fora), I've turned over some interesting notes on the markings. Turns out that Blood Angels have some really quite in-depth material on markings, mainly from 2nd edition. By the looks of things, this army, which pre-dated 2nd edition by just a few months, served as a point of inspiration for the more developed guidance on markings. As an illustration, the white skull on black kneepad shown here:

+ ...which is directly taken from the WD139 army and noted simply as an honour marking; turns up in Codex: Angels of Death (the 2nd ed. Codex that contains the Blood Angels alongside Dark Angels) as a more formalised squad designation. +

+ Here it denotes the first squad; while in WD139, it was used for the second. I quite like this inconsistency. I usually try to avoid getting caught up in 'rivet-counting' and slavishly following the suggested paintschemes, but here I'm deliberately trying to emulate a very particular period, both in the real world and in the background. +

+ The schema above appears in the latest Codex, too (see pict-capture below); and it's interesting to see how much the modern formal approach has changed from the WD139 origins, and how much remains the same. +

+ The Codex Astartes dictates that commanders should vary and alter their markings every so often, to throw off the enemy. This serves both as an in-universe 'get out of gaol free' card to let painters do what they like, and is also a nice way of explaining why these Blood Angels (set in M35), differ from the more common M41 period. It's obviously a more subtle difference than between the Horus Heresy (M31) era and M41, but that works well, to my eye. +


Paul also asked how big the army is likely to get. My reply was:

[...]the initial idea is to replicate the army as it appears in WD139; though I've also added a few little bits and bobs that turn up either in pictures of the period, or in the written army list. Beyond that, who knows? +
+ An expansion that I've already included is the Dreadnought; which I've justified as a result of this image (a detail of the pict-capture above):

+ The model there differs from my Dreadnought (owing to the missile launcher and short legs), but I think the principle is there. +


+ A descent into madness +

+ As with all projects, some continue to grow on you. When I first started out, the Blood Angels were essentially an excuse to paint a pile of Primaris I had from the Dark Imperium box; with relatively simple conversion work. As I've carried on, it's got more and more involved. +

+ Last night I bit the bullet and decided to try to emulate the second Devastator combat squad much more closely than I had in the first:

 + Here's the inspiration. +

+ And the resulting figure. He differs from his earlier squadmates in having a properly-sculpted torso (rather than just trimmed down), reshaped kneepads, and his boltrifle has been replaced with a more fitting boltgun (thanks for the boltguns, PCRC squadmates – I'm not sure whether to thank or curse you for indulging my obsessions!). +

A comparison of the other Mark VI marines in the force.
+ This inconsistency could easily annoy you. I'm certainly wavering on whether to scrap/rebuild the existing Devastators with this more developed approach (hell, whether to replace the boltguns across the army), or not. Currently, I'm erring on the side of slightly revising the Devastators, but not a wholesale rebuild. The reasons for this are twofold:

+ Firstly, the mantra 'never let the perfect get in the way of the good'. I'd rather have completed models that I can later supplement than continually cannibalise perfectly serviceable figures – it's demoralising to be breaking up finished figures. Secondly, I'm rather warming to the 'blending' effect across the army that this creates. In the same way that I've added a few Mark IV parts here and there to the otherwise Mk VII Tacticals, having some 'full' Mark VIs along with some hybrid ones helps to soften the complete disjunct in model styles the original army had. +


+ Fire support, now! +

+ Of course, Devastators are mainly known for their heavy weapon wielding soldiers, not their boltgun-armed squadmates. Since I had the time, I also built the second missile launcher marine for the squad last night. +

+ A small part of me finds it slightly galling to spend ages sculpting detail that you then hide (the arm across the chest detail, in this example); but sometimes just you knowing it's there makes it worthwhile! +

+ This shot also shows the difference in size between the Rogue Trader-era power pack (left, in beige), and the more modern ones. The Primaris ones are larger again. +

+ inload: Squad Mephisto and detailing +

+ Squad Mephisto +

+ A decent push last night has landed me with another three finished figures, along with two casualties. I also took to opportunity to refine the bases and details on the others in the army, to help tighten up the consistency. +

+ Tactical Squad 1 +

+ Made up of the two combat Squads Raphael and Mephisto, Tactical 1 is pretty much the archetype of Space Marines; with a loadout that would fit in every edition of the game. I'm pleaed to see that the change in colours (from a mix of Mephiston Red and Vallejo Vermillion to a pure Vallejo Flat Red) isn't really visible. +

SQUAD MEPHISTO Sinistro e Dexter: 
Brother Thaddeus (Saditel 4:04, called the lost)
Brother El-Aster (Ambriel 1:01)

Brother Mephisto (Rashin Rast 2:05), 
Brother Engel (Narieal 4:10) [Not pictured]
Brother Lucian (Abacyel 3:12) [Not pictured]

+ I'm pleased with how they came out, but it's so hard not to get carried away with freehand and detailing. I have to keep reminding myself that they're meant to be simple, to reflect the inspiration and keep things rooted in the M35 period. I think I'm going to have to make some Veterans or something, just to let myself get carried away! +

+ The originals, by Tim Prow from White Dwarf 139. The three homages I've just painted represent the following: second from left (El-Aster – note the pose); centre (Mephisto – again, note the knife); and second from right (Thaddeus; with flamer).  +
+ There are, inevitably, a few little additions and ornaments, but I think I've been pretty restrained. Thaddeus (the flamer specialist) has a little honorific on his knee. Mephisto, the squad leader, is starting to show a bit of the ornamentation that will become more common later in the Imperium's history. He has an artificer pauldron, an autoshrine (for in-field ammunition blessing) hanging from his belt, and a targeter integrated with his helm. These little additions only stand out because the others in the squad are restrained. +

+ The other thing which jumps out is the banner. I initially painted the field a plain red, which matched the other combat squad veteran. This more closely followed the WD139 inspiration, but I found the fact they were identical a bit dull; so I added a yellow stripe. Simple, but helps to distinguish the figures on the board (and, in-universe, helps the marines on the battlefield to quickly identify who's who). +


+ Vive la différence! Squad Cleon +

+ Having said I was struggling not to cover Mephisto in freehand detail, I did then turn back to Squad Cleon, who we've seen before. +

SQUAD CLEON Sinistro e Dexter: 

Brother Simnal (Saditel 2:02)
Brother Ornaghi (Utchael 3:04) 
Brother Cleon (Sanael 1:02)
Brother Pappacordo (Zether 1:09)

Brother Zoma (Caraniel 9:01)

+ While I want the army to look uniform, the originals were differentiated from each other in order to make gameplay easier:

+ You can see above, the captions highlight the differences. I didn't want to copy the backpack differentiation, as it just didn't feel right to me; but I liked the honour badges on the kneepads:

+ Of course, it being eleven at night when I had the bright idea to start them, I ended up painting them on the wrong knees [+SCRAPSHUTNERRORABORT+] After a brief pause for cursing, I started again in the correct place. I'm pleased with the end result, and along with the veteran banner (vertical stripe for Tactical 2), think it works nicely to mark out the different squads. The lesson is 'keep your source material close to hand'. +


+ Medic! +

+ Finally for today, here are the casualties:

+ Painted in exactly the same way as the others, these were a bit quicker – mainly by dint of there being less of them! I've added a little bit more weathering than the others, but not a huge amount. +

+ inload: Blood Angels background terminology +

+ Progress report: Blood Angels +

+ Tycho's Third Company – or Prince Dauhavran's Host of the Third Choir, to give the group its atroatican name) grows. +

+ 'Wait, what?' +

+ Ah yes. While it's great to explore the background, and play around with linguistics, it's also easy for understanding to get a bit lost, so I thought I'd do a little primer on the (made-up) terminology I'm using. Here's a little extract to get you in the mood, taken from my Horus Heresy-era Blood Angel background:
"3:12 is a binder; a codifier. The atroatican names are ancient. There are not many. As a result, there are many repetitions. At first, we used suggenic names to distinguish between us – Ambriel Hemas and Ambriel El-Aster, for example. After the arrival of blessed Sanguinius," he paused. My eyes were pointedly fixed on the pict-screens in front of me, but I had seen him sketch a brief gesture in the air on the other occasions he had cause to mention his Primarch, and supposed the ellipsis owed to this, "We grew fast. There were many then. Many hundreds of Ambriels, many hundreds of Kerubiels, many Phanuels... and so on. You understand."
"And so you took numerals, too? So there is a Phanuel 1:11, for example?"
"Yes – Phanuel 1:11, and many like it. Phanuel 17:4, Lucifer 2:16, Tzaphqiel 19:19, and so forth. The numbers remind us we are Imperial. We belong to the Angel, and through him, to the Emperor." Both paused at this point to chorus the familiar blessed be his name before Catabin continued. "In any case, we were uneasy about using the suggenic names. It is good to know where you come from; but more important to know to whom you owe your loyalty. That is who you are."

+ Nomenclature +

+ All Blood Angels have at least two names: a gave-name and a Suggenia name; equivalent to a modern personal name and surname. The suggenic names are from the tribes of the Blood; the human denizens of Baal. I've used a variety of sources – Renaissance-era Italian names in the main, alongside some Hebrew, Arabic and Ancient Roman – for these names, as I suspect Baal has a number of different cultures. Getting a bit of variety in there helps with realism; and stops the homage beating people over the head a bit. +

+ On ascension (that is, joining the Blood Angels as a full brother), the Blood Angel gains a new name to symbolise his rebirth as an Angel. I've called this their atroatican name; which is drawn from a (fictional in-universe) Baalite cultural mythology. As a resource for atroatican names, I use a fantastic book I bought years back called Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (I recommend you pick it up; despite the dry name, it's wonderfully written), but angelic names from various cultures are widely available with a Google search. This site is a good example: [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. +

+ I've also added a numbering system; mainly as a bit of interest, but also to evoke a bit of sci-fi and to add a bit of spice to the naming conventions. These take the form of X:XX. The first number indicates the Cycle, which is a (again, in-universe) denotation of the name's 'spiritual reference' – the sort of thing determined by placement of stars at time of birth, dowsing, withinlookery and similar sorcery – while the second number, the Frequency simply indicates how many times the name has been used in a particular cycle. +

+ To take an example, the chaps I'm working on at the moment are part of squad Mephisto, a combat squad mentioned in the Battle for Armageddon campaign booklet that came with 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000. Knowing that the combat squad leader was called Mephisto, I had his Suggenic name already. To this I added the Atroatican name 'Rashin Rast', an alternative name for the Angel Rash from an Persian text on comparative religion written around 1655. This is, to Western ears, a relatively uncommon name for an angel (compare Michael or Gabriel, for example). I think that it's important to include a diverse range of cultural sources – it all starts to feel a bit Flanderised, otherwise. In any case, using some non-European Angel names helps to give design space for the (far more gothic and mediaeval) Dark Angels, should I ever explore them. +

+  The Cycle and Frequency numbers are effectively chosen at random, though I do tend to add a bit of Eurocentricism by giving those more familiar to me higher frequency numbers – after all, the established canon names are nearly all Biblical or Italian. +

+ Anyway, hope that diversion was interesting – back to the painting! +


+ Squad Mephisto WIP +

+ So, without further ado, here are Brother El-Aster (Ambriel 1:01)Brother Mephisto (Rashin Rast 2:05); and Brother Thaddeus (Saditel 4:04, called the lost). You'll notice Thaddeus ended up with an extra little flourish to his name, in the form of an epithet. Applying your own rules to things like namings or markings can be fun; but it should always take a backseat to creativity or whimsy. After all, you're not taking a census, but enjoying yourself! +

+ Brothers El-Aster, Mephisto and Thaddeus stumble over two fallen heroes on the plain of the Deathworld Orro. +

+ Note also the injured marines. As mentioned in the previous inload, I used these to test out the new colours – just in case. Colour theory is all very well, but nothing replaces practical experimentation. +


+ Their place in the host +

+ The five marines of Squad Mephisto will make up the second part of Tactical Squad 1. The other half is squad Raphael, shown below:

+ Completing this combat squad will let me play a minimum-sized Battalion in 8th edition (three five-man troop units and Captain Tycho as the HQ). It'll also leave me just five marines away from being able to replay the Battle for Armageddon scenarios in 2nd edition. + 

+ inload: Alien Wars Blood Angels +

+ For those new to the Alien Wars, check out the tab above. To catch up on my retro-inspired Blood Angels specifically, start here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] +

[10: LOAD "80s punk style Scouts"
[20: LOAD 'guitar riff #3']
[30: IF 'Awesome', Vol +1]
[40: GOTO 10]

+ Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the Imperium? +

+ Yeah! Scouts comin' atcha from the early 90s. Asymmetric puffy sleeves, ponytail mohawks, heavily armoured codpieces, knees and shins, powerful shoulder pads and a general disregard for anything except being rad. +

+ These are such wonderfully over-the-top figures; dripping in the mix of punky, baroque finery and Napoleonic warfare that typifies 40k. These particular figures were brand new at the time of the original army (WD138–141), being previewed as the first pieces by a new sculptor. They differ from the previously-released scouts, which can be seen alongside them here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], by being slightly more refined. While the same design cues have been used, these four figures have cleaner lines, some smoother plates, more cohesive detailing, and (to my eye, at least) overall better sculpting and posing. +

+ They are divisive; there's no denying that – they're often held up as exemplars of the weird old figures Citadel released – but that's part of why I like 'em. They're a far cry from the common design cues of sci-fi soldiers today, and clearly draw much from the Citadel sculptor's historical experience. Compare them with the Empire troops released shortly after – the slashed sleeves in both cases are presumably drawn from Renaissance-era Landsknechts; but I think they're more creatively employed here, in a sci-fi setting. +

+ In any case, they work perfectly for the crumbling, post-Romantic, Dark Age feel of the Nova Terra Interregnum period. + 


+ Digging out the Blood Angels has got me fired up, so I got stuck into the painting. Minor progress, but every little helps: +

+ Note the injured/dead figures. Things like casualty markers tread the line between part of the army and part of the scenery; and as such they're a great way to try new techniques or – as here – a great way to remind yourself how you painted something that you haven't picked up in a while. It doesn't matter so much if they're slightly inconsistent. +

+ In-game, I'm vaguely planning them to act as markers for morale; a visual reminder to do tests etc. +


+ Getting involved +

+ Remember, the Alien Wars setting is not invitational – it's open to anyone who fancies giving it a go. In addition to using it as a way to get stuff like my orks and Blood Angels painted, it's also been a great chance for me – and a lot of others – to paint some fun one-off aliens and oddments.


+ While the setting involves the whole Galaxy – and thus anything's fair game – the fight between the Space Marines and the various Xenos (particularly Orks and Eldar) is at the core of the idea. +

+ I recently spotted this rather lovely Chapter scheme; a short-lived Excoriator scheme that was retconned (they're now cream). That might put you off, but since the events of the Nova Terra Interregnum are shrouded in mystery, it's a great opportunity to paint up some of these 'lost' schemes. +

+ Perhaps you've never painted an Eldar, or ork? Why not give it a go? Similarly, why not have a go at painting a one-off Space Marine? +

+ inload M35: Blood Angels and Squats build updates +

+ Slipstream into M35 +

+ After two campaign weekends, and much frenzied painting, I have polished off the Iron Warriors (for now, at least) my Steel Legion, and a small Genestealer Cult. Not bad going for the past few months! +

+ So, having played around in M31 and M41, I thought I'd take a detour back into the Alien Wars of M35, and return to the Blood Angels 3rd Company. +

+ A quick spray later – you can check out my painting method here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – and the latest figures are ready to paint. From left, you can see a Scout (a lead Rogue Trader figure), a finished Tactical Marine, a Terminator veteran, and the awesome third party Dreadnought. +

+ I've no doubt at all that the Dreadnought and Scout will be pretty divisive – the styles are very different to the modern visuals, but that's all part of the beauty of exploring a fresh era within the universe. Rather than arguing that 'X doesn't look like that', it's easy to say 'this looked like that at this time.' +

+ More importantly, it's a chance to play around with some figures I like! +

+ Also bubbling under are the Squats of the Iron Staff League (above), and a few other bits and bobs for the Blood Angels (below). +

+ War for Akkar: 30k Frontier's Horus Heresy gaming event +

+ War for Akkar: After-action report +

+ I had the great pleasure of playing a part in the War for Akkar, the last part of a grandly-scaled series of Horus Heresy campaigns run by a group called 30k Frontier [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. I had an absolute blast – great people, great tables and great armies. +

+ But don't take my word for it – check out these fantastic forces. I don't seem to have got everyone's armies, but they were all great. Thematic and clearly lovingly constructed. +

+ The Warmaster's forces +

+ These brutal-looking World Eaters, commanded by a great fella called Stacy, were a mix of older marines and those more recently 'elevated' and pressed into service. He won a well-deserved 'Best Character' – and probably the gaming highlight of the event by pot-shotting a vital Imperial strategist with a long-range plasma pistol strike! +

+ The 242nd fought alongside Sam's cool Mechanicus force. The thralls (on the right) were some suitably chaotic conversions of some Age of Sigmar troops. +

+ Some chump brought these Iron Warriors, too. +

+ Joe's beautiful Word Bearer force won 'Best Walker', and featured some blinding conversions. I particularly liked the Terminators. +


+ Emperor's lapdogs +

+  A lovely infantry-heavy Alpha Legion force; fighting for the Emperor – or were they? (Yes). Had a good scrum against these; and my only victory of the weekend – so thanks for going easy on me, Alex! +

+ I faced this assault marine-heavy Raven Guard force in the first game, where I was trying to prevent them escaping a collapsing space station. Needless to say, trying to catch them was like grasping mist... Nevertheless, a surprisingly tense and enjoyable game. +

+ Jack's Ultramarines had a great theme – a Chapter of Destroyers – and in addition to being beautifully painted, were accompanied by some great props. They won a well-deserved 'Best Fluff' award. +

+ I faced Will's Raven Guard both one-on-one, and in a team game; and ended up getting mulched by assault marines on both occasions. A very well-constructed force, and a lovely – and very patient! – player. +

+ Sadly I didn't get a chance to face Alex's Imperial Fists, but they were amongst my favourites. While the Dreadnoughts (Mk IV box dreads forever!) are the stand-outs, the whole force was executed with great attention to detail and background. +

+ You'll probably spot that the armies are unusually (and pleasingly) infantry-heavy; and that's because the Zone Mortalis rules were in effect for the campaign. I was really glad of this; there's little more demoralising than sweeping half your army off when facing two Typhons. The army selection restrictions were quite tight, but really made for close, enjoyable games. +


+ Akkar itself +

+ Terrain and scenery – the third army – can sometimes be an afterthought at events like this, but the 30k Frontier team went above and beyond; creating really tense and innovative missions over beautiful scenery, with fun intergame effects and loads of cool NPCs and in-campaign events. +

+ A healthy dose of Predator memes abound – poor, poor Dillon; buried under a wall. +

+ A squadron of Arvus landers swoop in from the jungle – this board saw Imperial Fists attempting to evacuate a vital Imperial officer from World Eaters. +

+ The attention to detail in all aspects really helped to make the event memorable. +

+ 12 x 4ft boards were used for the final doubles games. +

+ I was also very flattered to receive these awards – thanks all for a great weekend. I'm looking forward to adding some Akkar battle honours (and wargear) to some new troops as I gear up for a future event in the near future. Hope to see you all soon, and remember – if it bleeds we can kill it! +