+ inload: Ynwirm Campaign: M42.040 +

+ Ynwirm Campaign: M42.040 +

+ Lamb's World 2219th during a lull in the fighting around The Banhar Gate +
We speak elsewhere – and at length – of the Yranus Landings debacle; but we cannot continue without consideration of the by-blow brood it spawned. These were the Combined Regiments – or 'General Klottin's mongrels', to use the soldiery's own terms.
Commentary on Crusade vol II, High Marshal Orion of Vossk

+ Thought for the Day: Losses are acceptable, Failure is not. +

+ Abstract +

+ History records the First Yranus Landings – an early campaign in the Ynwirm system – as a brutally wasteful mismanagement; the  humiliating loss of a vastly superior Imperial force on a seemingly inconsequential backwater. The campaign caused colossal damage to the Third Army Group, as Lord General Klottin frittered away the bulk of nearly two dozen Regiments in a disastrous orbital assault; resulting in the near-collapse of the Coreward campaign before it had properly begun. +

+ The truth behind the Yranus Landings is somewhat more complex than such records reveal, but Inquisitorial caveat means that the characterisation of General Klottin (critical, arguably unfairly so) will remain the official Imperial record. While there were undoubtedly oversights on Klottin's part, the systematic failure of the Third Army can be more broadly attributed to fifth-columnists and the cunning of Red Hand Agents. +

+ It is perhaps apt to say that the Ynwirm campaign would have revealed the hidden steel of the Red Hand – and perhaps prevented the loss of millions – but for Xiah Hesh's direct intervention, and the peculiar talents of Cardinal Qi. +

+ Road to Odessus +

+ The Third Army was a significant force, made up of 122 Imperial Regiments including a core of out-of-sector veterans. It was led by General Ondirs Klottin, an extremely experienced and well-regarded Naval Officer of the Segmentum Fleet. The Third entered the Red Hand Region in early M42.040, to build on the initial gains made by Lord General Valen's Second Army Group in the galactic east of the region. +

+ Third Army Group anchorage and primary objectives +

+ Establishing their anchorage-orbitals around Mu-Scorpii, the Third Army Group's initial objectives – devised for the most part by Warmaster Augustus and High Command some two years prior – was to render the Odessus and Orison systems Compliant. Although these were reported to be heavily entrenched, approaching the systems was seemingly a simple matter, complicated only by Augustus' insistence that Klottin synchronised his attack with those of Valen's Second Army Group on the Practal and Iota-Scorpii systems. +

+ Serpent Stirring +

+ The formation of the Red Hand Dominate in M42.039, however, had been an unpleasant revelation to Imperial High Command. Its emergence and defiant communiques made it seem that the Crusade was not facing a number of discrete enemy worlds, as had been supposed; but potentially a unified sectorial-sized force. Intelligence suggested this was unlikely, but on the advice of his generals – Valen of the Second in particular cautioning discretion, based on the stiff resistance the Second Army Group had encountered in the early Mu-Scorpii and Slav-Mundi campaigns – the Warmaster reluctantly postponed the Crusade's official launch. +

+ Augustus ordered each Army Group to put a number of provisionary safeguards into place; which further delayed deployment of the First and Third Army Groups to the region. Unbeknownst to the Imperials, this vital six-month stutter allowed Xiah Hesh a period in which to stiffen his forces and inveigle his agents into all four of the Imperial Armies. +

+ In light of the delay, and with Valen's Second Army Group rapidly forging ahead towards Practal, Klottin reckoned that successfully achieving his objectives necessitated the swift conquering of the Ynwirm, Primorye and Bendaphor systems – these three leading in a smooth line towards their Primary objective worlds. Only with these secured, Klottin declared, would the Crusade be armoured against attacks stemming from the Galactic south. +

+ Diagram of the Fourth Army Group's principal void movements. Secondary void-anchorage was made at the terminus of the large arrow. +

+ It was, in many ways, a wise plan; but it was fatally undermined by Klottin's mode of execution. Aware that the First and Second Army Groups were already planning their assaults on Practal and Iota-Scorpii, Klottin split his forces to hit Ynwirm, Primorye and Bendaphor simultaneously, rather than successively. +

+ Given the size of the forces he committed to this initial assault – fully half of his Army Group – Klottin's expectation of swift victory might well have been carried out; were it not for three critical points:

  • Firstly, he kept his veteran and elite regiments in reserve, aiming to keep them intact and fresh for the later assault of the Primary targets, Orison and Odessus. 
  • Secondly, Klottin ordered the establishment of the Third Army's secondary anchorage some light years past Ynwirm; making reinforcement there difficult. 
  • Finally, the presence of Cardinal Qi

+ inload: Canna Loric – Baltan 10th Armoured +

+ Flagg-Korpral Canna Loric of the Baltan 10th Armoured +

+ The marshy terrain of Balto, in the Cetus-Scorpii Sector, is ill-suited to Armoured Warfare, but the inhabitants are known for their adaptability and ingenuity – traits which were useful during the later stages of the Crusade, but worked against them at Command Level; where their officers gained a reputation for using 'nuisance initiative' to the detriment of Corps-level planning. +

+ Flagg-korpral Loric is a typical example of the indefatigable breed that made up the Baltan 10th Armoured, one of the regiments that made up Warmaster Augustine's 'Extraordinaries'. +

+ The crew of the Leman Russ Battle Tank Bashful Bruiser, of which Loric was a member; were part of Long-Range Operations, a specialist wing of the Regiment that were specially supplied to support the advancing Armoured Fist Companies of the Cadian 144th during the Invasion of Practal (M42.041). +

+ Their heavily-laden vehicles were instantly recognisable; and the practise of carrying so much materiel led them to be known as 'shackers' amongst the rest of the Army Group. Pictured above is the Campaign Badge of the First Army Group – a capital 'A' flanked by two wings. This is the basic rendering of the symbol, in which the wings are simple triangular icons. More complex variants appeared elsewhere; particular on officers' material or Regimental banners. +

+ Pictured dismounted from his vehicle, Loric is carrying a solid-shot autogun of the sort issued to Baltan armoured crews. Its detachable stock meant it was more compact than the las-rifles issued to Baltan infantry; though resourceful Baltans came to favoured the bullpup lasrifle designs supplied to Lamb's World forces in later campaigns. He is bareheaded – helmets were in short supply after a successful raid on the supply convoys by the forces under Hesh's Lieutenant Cardinal Qi. +

+ His regimental insignia – a black 'X' over a rust-orange field is visible here on his left shoulder strap. Note the tunic is basic olive, while his combat trousers bear a camouflage pattern – such non-uniformity was common amongst Baltan regiments, even in the early days of the Crusade. Despite the exasperation of the Commissariat, the soldiery from Balto proved almost intentionally contrary with dress discipline. +

+ 'Bloody-minded as a Baltan' came to be a common phrase during the battles over Practal, and the Armoured Regiments in particular became known for their intractable nature. This proved a double-edged sword for their Cadian allies – while they knew they could rely on their nearby Armoured support to hold the line or prosecute an assault, the Baltan's stale tactics often led to delays in response time, or requiring reinforcement – as in the infamous Kutt Hill Slaughter. +

+ inload: Sector Cetus-Scorpii +

+ Home of Heroes: Sector Cetus-Scorpii +

+ Abstract +

The Cetus-Scorpii Sector is home to Warmaster Augustus and source of the vast bulk of his Crusade's forces. It lies in the Segmentum Solar, to the galactic north of Terra. To the galactic East of the Sector lies the Red Hand Region.

Cetus-Scorpii straddles two ancient stellar nurseries, the Cetus and Scorpii Nebulae, from which the region takes its name. Typical of many Imperial Sectors, it has known its share of warfare over a long history, but can generally be regarded as a relatively stable and prosperous region.

+ History of Imperial settlement +

The region is dense with stars and planets, many of which proved both deserted and inhabitable, leading to their rapid settlement during the Great Crusade.

A number of resident xenos species resisted the conquest, but with the exception of the void-capable Varanate of Squam, none were successful. Even this militaristic and culturally-rich civilisation lost the majority of its holdings in the face of the Imperial Obscurus Auxilia elite that prosecuted the campaign, and the Varanate were forced into a humiliating detente that restricted them to the Squam System.

As part of the treaty, the remnants of the ancient Archoglossa Civilisation, a Protectorate of the Varanate were permitted to withdraw to the Red Hand Region, a relatively impoverished nearby area of space. Under the auspices of the Varanate, and escorted by the inscrutable Eldar of Craftworld Yb Folach, the Archoglossal Exodus took the best part of two decades to decamp the entire population of this venerable species to their present holdings. To the present day, all three groups intermittently attempt to raid, parley and interact with their ancient homes in Cetus-Scorpii.

The region benefits from a natural defence in the twin nebulae, owing to the inherent difficulties in navigating such features. Fierce ionstorms blind ships' sensors, degrade shields, and slow any conventional approach to a crawl; while the barrier between immaterium and materium is cloying and resistant – with the constant danger of becoming stranded on warp-reefs. 

Influential enough to be granted sectorial status in the years immediately prior to the Horus Heresy, the region has borne out the vicissitudes of fate ever since, though ten thousand years of development, explotation and warfare across the worlds of the region means Sector Cetus-Scorpii is not the paradise of the past.

+ Red Hand and Kerberos +

Corewards of Cetus-Scorpii lies the Red Hand Region. Nominally under Imperial control, the Region consisted of two score habitable worlds, scattered across nineteen systems and surrounded by vast expanse of Wilderness Space. The Region had gradually seen Imperial holdings and influence reduced until the M41.480, when the last loyal Imperial Commander died without successor. In truth, none of the planets had paid their Tithe in generations, the region’s isolation and nearby wars making Imperial enforcement impossible.

The Region was earmarked for re-settlement in M41.929 (some two centuries prior to the Augustine Crusade) an ambition that saw the bordering Cetus-Scorpii Sector Commanders grudgingly raise a small number of regiments that formed the Kerberos Expeditionary Force. Expecting little organised resistance, Lord General Mazhan led the poorly-equipped Kerberos forces into Red Hand, where they reported higher than expected resistance. Communication was lost within the decade, after repeated requests for reinforcements. Kerberos and Mazhan were consigned to history, a salutary lesson for Imperial Military Commanders in ensuring reliable supply lines.

+ Mazhan and Kerberos' last transmissions stemmed from Slav-Mundi, then a Feral world +

+ Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man +

In late M41, the Cicatrix Maledictum broke across the galaxy, splitting the Imperium, and sending the populace of even secure Sectors like Cetus-Scorpii into fear and disarray. It was into this turmoil that a young Naval Marshal named Decían Augustus proved himself. Rallying the region's forces through brilliant martial understanding balanced with political deftness, Augustus successfully prosecuted a multi-front defensive war against raiders, pirates and potential rebels.

Augustus' rise was swift and sure; buoyed by the grateful Imperial Governors of numerous worlds with Cetus-Scorpii, and the goodwill of the populace. A shrewd, ambitious and driven man, Augustus' qualities brought him to the attention of the Segmentum Solar Senate. With the monumental task of securing the Segmentum delegated to them, men and women of Augustus' abilities were in short supply. He was thus gratefully granted the office of Lord Commander Solar – or Warmaster – and tasked with succeeding where Mazhan had failed generations before.

To Augustus, the way was clear. Securing Cetus-Scorpii had been his grand task – but it would appear little more than a foundation stone to his legend, were he able to expand the Imperium beyond its current bounds...


+ Principal worlds +

+ A colour Plate from History of the Augustine Crusade +

  • Balto – Civilised world. Much of the planet's surface is covered with bleak moorland that blends into wetlands. Unsuited to armoured warfare, the Baltans specialise in survival tactics, and showed surprising ability in jungle warfare
  • Eliria – Agri-world. Main export Red Grox; home to feuding Grox Agri-Houses spread over a vast temperate continent scoured by the grazing lands needed for the Grox farms. Moderately populated, with a proud house nobility culture that has brought decades of civil war.
  • Galvinax – Hive world. main exports munitions and textiles. The Galvinax-pattern lasgun is high-powered, but prone to jamming.
  • Gralmond – Agri-world. Tidally-locked. Tropical/polar deserts cover the hemispheres.
  • Ha'qua – Feral world. Vast desert steppes cover most of the planet bar the polar extremes. Home to warlike nomadic cultures which breed excellent gene-steeds that form the planet's primary export to the wider Imperium.
  • Mournvalle – Mausoleum World. Covered in mausolea, catacombs, graves and the towering necropolities. In ages past, the Harraxis treaties allowed the lords and noblemen from all over the sector to be entombed. Immediately prior to the Crusade, however, this backwater had been long-forgotten and isolated. The populace is extremely hostile to all off-worlders. Feudal level-technology. 
  • Nares Serpentine – Principal Forge world. Nares Serpentine supplied the bulk of the Crusade's shared materiel, from packing crates to STC-compliant support vehicles.
  • Port Bromwic – Fortress world. [CLASSIFIED]
  • Tenstar – Civilised world. Thinly-populated, inhabitable land is mainly prairie broken up into vast grox and porcuswine ranches. 
  • Termerus – Civilised world. Temperate climate and mountainous poles. Its capital is Termerus Hive, site of the St Termerus Ecclesia; a popular destination for pilgrims across the sector.
  • Verringia – Civilised world. Home to a feudal-adjacent culture that inhabit a heavily mountainous super-continent. Noted for its high mineral output, Termerus produces notably high quality steel and ceramite, which is highly-prized for export and used locally to great effect in the Warjack's equipment.
  • Vossk – Civilised World. A frozen world, primarily consisting of ice, low, far-ranging mountains and endless tundra. Only a solitary spaceport connects the population of Vossk to the wider Imperium. Though the climate is almost hostile enough to warrant a label as a death world, the lack of super predators or poisonous fauna usually required to earn such a distinction simply leaves it as a frozen ball of ice with terrible weather in the armpit of the galaxy.

+ The Extraordinaries +

The official Munitorum Bull obliging Imperial Commanders of the Sector to raise forces for the Augustine Crusade was issued in late M42.033. However, as is the nature of Imperial politics, the information had become common – if classified – knowledge throughout the region some six months prior to the edict coming into force on the first sphere of worlds. 

Such a Bull is usually met with procrastination and delay – few Imperial worlds are so wealthy that they uncomplainingly bear the weight of war-preparation – but the rumours that Augustus, beloved across the sector for his heroism, was to be entrusted with an official Crusade caught the imagination of the great and worthy of the sector. 

As the political wind carried them along, a dozen worlds, mostly clustered around the Sector's core, were caught up in a feverish atmosphere of patriotism and competition. First one, then another declared a state of Incredibili Conlationem – an additional voluntary tithe – that raised a regiment for the as-yet-unannounced Crusade. 

Imperial Guard regiments are often raised as part of a planetary tithe, but for so many worlds to volunteer – and be able to fulfil – a supernumerary tithe was extremely unusual. While some worlds, like the wealthy planet of Balto, barely registered the contribution, others – led by pride or foolishness on the part of the Governors – virtually beggared themselves by raising a regiment; causing starvation for large portions of their population. Tenstar, for example, was temporarily reduced to Aptus Quaternary status and proved unable to provide a full-strength regiment when the Bull officially reached the planet, to the great shame of their populace.

Despite the hardships raising such a host caused the sector, the seventeen regiments were taken to Augustus' heart, and quickly assumed a totemic quality for the Crusade – and of the Cetus-Scorpii sector more broadly. The superstitious men and women of the Crusade saw these early volunteers as bellwethers for the fortunes of the Crusade. News of their victories became particularly sought-after, and their defeats sorely lamented. Hugely varied in quality and specialisms, the 'Extraordinaries', as they became collectively know, were beloved by the Warmaster due to their early support, though he wisely showed no favouritism in their deployment. 

He reserved elements of all the Extraordinaries for his First Army Group, with twelve serving in their entirety under him. Eight are annotated below:

+ Light infantry +

  • 1st Ha'quan Jannizars 
  • Galvinax Pioneers
  • 501st Vosskien Regulars

+ Line/heavy infantry +

  • Mournvalle 'Keepers of the Valle' – This unusual regiment of feral-worlders consists of the world's elite Necropolis Guard; stoic warriors who have unusual experience in seeking out and extinguishing the unnamed horrors that dog their planet. It is led by Duke Wissix, who is dogged by rumours that he has 'gone native'.
  • Tenstar Greycores
  • Verringian Warjacks – Clad in heavy carapace plate, the regiment looks to have stepped from the distant past, resembling an army from the age of plate and lance. Despite their anachronistic looks, they wielded thoroughly modern weaponry, including the infamous Serpentine-pattern hellgun and Verringian power flamberges
  • Baltan 1st 'Blankbrows' – so-called because their regimental insignia was mistakenly manufactured 'blank-on-rouge' rather than 'black'. The first intake were permitted to retain their mono-coloured cap badges.
+ Flagg-korpral of the Baltan 10th +

+ Armoured regiments +

  • Baltan 10th Armoured – Courageous, indigent and stubborn, the 'tankers' of the 10th – one of the rare Armoured Regiments from this marshy planet – epitomised the best and worst of Balto.
  • Termerian Warcats 

+ inload: The Augustine Crusade +

Later on, remember these smaller details of the Crusade: those pict-captures that became famous; songs that became familiar; stories of victories, of glory, of heroes. Those details which entered our worlds' shared histories; details that bound a fearful Imperial sector back together after the dreadful years of the galaxy tearing open. 
See them now: Winding queues of young citizens, waiting impatiently in the wan autumn light of Vossk. They chatter excitedly, rubbing their hands in the cold; cheeks ruddy, eyes bright. The line already stretches from the recruitment post to the town forum. It is hundreds strong and growing.
That famous expression captured and enlarged and plastered across the sector's agitprop posters: a father's sorrow, badly-hidden beneath pride and excitement. Both tall, strikingly handsome, the older man gazes at his son. The pict-capture has frozen the two in the break of an embrace – the young man uniformed, already turning, stepping away, his eyes bold, seeing far-off excitement in the stars. 
Drawn by such agit-prop, more flock to the banner; both from within and without the Sector. Hive-dwellers of Prominus IV. Soft-eyed Lamb's Worlders. North Star hypercapitalists. Ha'quan nomads. The indigent Iron Stave. Elirian glory-hounds. The half-men of Nares... a list of heroism and infamy. 
The arrival at Cetus – the War-barge Madrigal, its battered, indomitable surface glittering in the warm light of the system's star. A bull of a warcraft, heavyset and bristling. The rumours are true: Cadian Last. Cadian Last! Hard-bitten veterans, weaned on war; an eminently suitable vanguard for Warmaster Augustus. 
A dozen such regiments. A hundred such images. More.
Parades, posters, pomp and pride. Marching bands; priestly exhortations; promises from governors and administrators; increased wages at the factora; sweating, grinning workers turning out arms and armour – all repeated across the sector, from Galvinax to Balto; and all as a quiet susurrus builds into a triumphant shout: Crusade! 
Later on, remember these smaller details of the Crusade. They are what we can cling to.
Do not remember the horrors. 
Put the memory of the Yranus Landings aside. Forget the ill-fated Operation Belladonna. Let the dead lie still, and the manner of their deaths be soothed by the salve of history. 
And whatever you do, do not speak the black name of Xiah Hesh.

+ A new group project +

+ Today we're kicking off something I've been itching to tell you about – a collaborative effort with some of the finest Imperial Guard hobbyists in the noosphere. +

+ We've been beavering away behind the scenes and will be detailing the Augustine Crusade, set in the gloomy days of M42, and showing both the courageous human forces of the Imperial Guard expedition and the Archenemy inhabitants of the Red Hand Region that are ranged against them – along with the numerous support staff, battleships and shadowy figures that make up the underside of such an undertaking. +

+ If you've ever wanted to see something like Dan Abnett's Sabbat Worlds Crusade in miniature form, then keep your visual-inmitters peeled and your refresh-stylii active! + 

+ In no particular order, here's a list of the dauntless few, along with the forces they'll primarily be showcasing:
  • Prominus IV – Vanitor 45th Patricians
  • Lilagrax – The Elirian 120th, Tark's Reavers; and Clan Hofoi's Pale Crows
  • The Steel Legion – [CLASSIFIED]
  • Beyondthetabletop – [CLASSIFIED]
  • K0rdhal – Hostile Acquisitions: 1st NorthStar Executors; and the Veiled Kin of the Gossamer Nomad Empires
  • Regimental_Review – [CLASSIFIED]
  • The Rook – Cadian 144th, The Cadian Last; and Gothii Warclans 
  • Folkestorm – The 501st Vosskien Regulars
  • Apologist – The Vrag-Rana Kolossan
+ While I'll be collating and sharing long-form material right here on + Death of a Rubricist +, please do come follow us on Instagram; where we'll be using the following tags:



+ Order of events +

+ So what can you expect? Well, I can promise there are lots of Imperial Guard and their Red Hand opponents prepped and ready to go, so keep an eye out over the coming weeks, where we'll see how the Imperial Guard make war in the grim new galaxy of M42. +

+ A special mention must be made to all the contributors for their enthusiasm and mutual support, particularly PromiusIV for his wonderful graphic design work, and The Rook for the maps. +

For now, I'll leave you with the outline of the campaign to whet your appetite for war. There's lots that's not detailed in this abstract, and I hope to be able to bring you more details of the Regiments, heroes and villains of this project through inloads on my own work, and guest posts from the Augustine contributors. +

+ Map of the Red Hand Dominate, our battleground +

+ Pre-Crusade +

  • M41.849 
    • The Segmentum Obscurus Command order the Imperial Commanders of the Cetus-Scorpii Sector to reclaim the Red Hand Region for the Imperium.
  • M41.929
    • The Kerberos Expeditionary Force (KEF) enters the Red Hand Region to reassert Imperial control over a long-lost area of space.
    • Roughly forty regiments strong, they establish a base on Slav-Mundi.
  • M41.929-939 
    • Contact with the KEF is lost, Lord General Mazhan is presumed dead.
  • M41.999 
    • The Cicatrix Maledictum splits the Imperium. 
    • Warp storms erupt between Sector Cetus-Scorpii and the Red Hand Region.
  • M42.033 
    • Marshal Decían Augustus is made Warmaster (Lord Commander Obscurus ) by Imperial Decree and begins plans for a crusade to reclaim the Red Hand Region
      • The 'Extraordinaries' are raised: in a rush of hero-worship, political enthusiasm and popular effort, seventeen worlds within Sector Cetus-Scorpii raise regiments outside their normal tithe. These 17 regiments form the core of Augustus' crusade force.
      • Over the next four years a further 540 regiments are raised, broken into four Army Groups. The First, under Warmaster Augustus; the Second, under Lord General Valen; the Third, under General Klottin; and Fourth Reserve, under General Menelaus.

+ Early Crusade [M42.037–042] +

The strategic objectives of Augustus' First Wave were simple in principle: Establishment of footholds, staging areas and blockading the Region. Simple in principle – but proving anything but in practice.
Commentary on Crusade vol I, High Marshal Orion of Vossk

The early years of the Crusade were characterised by easy victories for the Imperial forces, as they forced the disordered inhabitants of several systems into Compliance. Resistance was thin and scattered until Hesh's lieutenants began to impose order on the region, at which point the threat to the Imperial forces rose considerably. The Early Crusade ended with the Battle of Buir's Reach, a void ambush that led to hideous defeat for the Imperium, and marked the start of the grinding Mid-Crusade period.
  • M42.037
    • Second Army Pioneers enter the Red Hand Region, translating into the Buir’s Reach system and establishing a re-supply post on Buir’s World.
  • M42.038 
    • Mu-Scorpii invaded.
    • Second Army Group consolidates.
    • The Battle of Khasan in the Primorye System.
  • M42.039 
    • Alerted by Slav-Mundi Exile elements that evade the advancing Imperial pickets, Xiah Hesh mobilises the entire Red Hand region; forming the Red Hand Dominate.
  • M42.040 
    • First and Third Army Groups enter the Red Hand Region. Warmaster Augustine officially begins the Crusade.
    • Compliance of the Mu-Scorpii system [2nd Army]
    • Invasion of Slav-Mundii [2nd Army]
    • The Yranus Landings in Ynwirm result in catastrophic Imperial losses. 
  • M42.041
    • Invasion of Practal
    • Invasion of Iota-Scorpii
    • Death of O Colmen Corm, first of Hesh's Lieutenants to be killed.
  • M42.042
    • Following the death of their leader, the Slav-Mundi system is rendered Compliant. 
    • Priad's Folly – NorthStar forces assault orbital fleet mustering stations; xenos elements rumoured.
    • The Battle of Buir's Reach – Hesh reveals the strength of his fleet; largely cannibalised from the Kerberos Expeditionary force. Third Army Group suffers colossal losses in the largest fleet action of the war before the Imperials can retreat. Having played his hand, Hesh divides his fleet for the remainder of the Crusade, preventing the Imperials superior numbers telling. 

+ Mid Crusade [M42.043–049] +

'Reclamation and Compliance'. Such was the Warmaster's dictat at the outset of the Second Wave of his grand plan. What were we to do but enact his ambitious orders? Through the blood and toil of the men, women and machines under our command, we drove on to the accursed Hesh's inner systems in six short years. It then became clear that the strength of our grip did not match the length of our reach...
Commentary on Crusade vol VII, High Marshal Orion of Vossk

This period was marked with heavy fighting as the extent of Hesh's influence became clear, and his mythic status became founded. Worlds change hands repeatedly, and previous victories are overturned. As regions get bogged down into ongoing stalemates. The fighting settles down into two large theatres; and the Fourth Army Group becomes a de facto rearguard force, their hands full in maintaining order and keeping supply lines open through the Buir's Reach Corridor region while Augustus' ambitious plans see his armies stretched thinly.

The Mid Crusade period was punctuated by many of the largest set-piece battles in the Crusade, and the events of the Night of Ten Thousand Daggers.
  • M42.043 
    • Compliance of the Practal and Mu-Scorpii systems
    • Opening of the Corewards Theatre – Second Army Group invades Primorye, Bendaphor, Orison and Odessus Systems.
      • Odessus was to become infamous as 'Hell's Furnace', a bitter stalemate that devoured the best part of twelve different Imperial regiments.
    • Fourth Army Group occupies conquered regions and consolidates around Buir's Reach Corridor. 
  • M42.044 
    • Compliance of Ynwirn and Buir’s Reach systems
    • Opening of the Rimwards Theatre – Bypassing Priad, Minos and Izar, First and Third Army Groups invade Bract, Polyandros and Ardent systems, meeting unexpectedly disciplined, pre-prepared and well-stocked resistance.
    • Fourth Army Group struggle to contain counter-insurgences on supposedly Compliant worlds.
    • Farewell to an Idea – the last of the Galvinax Pioneers are lost to the elite Kill-Brigades of the Red Hand during fighting over Izar.
  • M42.045
    • High Mantle Campaign – the Cyng of Shatterbrow leads a stunning series of high impact assaults on Imperial strongholds with his armour brigades.
    • Hesh's Rimwards forces initiate a series of effective hit-and-run attacks on Imperial shipping, stalling the advance of the Third Army, and forcing Augustus to halt his intended advance on the Core Worlds.
  • M42.046
    • Second Yranus Landings Later reinforcement attempts compound the error as a number of Fourth Army reservists are fed into the Vrag-Rana trap. 
    • Compliance of Primorye
  • M42.047
    • Ynwirm system brought to Compliance.
    • Lord General Valen declares a costly victory has been won in St. Zariah. He is assassinated two days later during the Night of Ten Thousand Daggers, reigniting warfare over the ravaged world.
    • The Minas Counter-invasion demonstrates the resolve of the Red Hand forces, as this critical system is infiltrated and re-captured.
  • M42.049
    • Compliance of Odessus
    • Principles of Warfare – The nature of the Carminas Binary system is revealed

+ Late Crusade [M42.049–057] +

'Blood. Waves of it. Soaked in it, the ground was. Never seen anything akin, you haven't. Never will, I pray, my boy. Throne-be-praised, but how I escaped my fate then, I can only praise the Saints and a miracle.'
Lief Derrie Mandour, Lamb's World 229th

As the weary Imperial forces ground on, pushing deeper into the Red Hand Region, they reach 'the Choke', gateway to the Core Worlds heartland of Hesh's Red Hand Dominate – and scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in the Crusade. Here, elite Red Hand forces were dug in and fortified; determined to  deny the Imperial advance; resolutely blocking the route to the Core Worlds even as Imperial forces massed.

Bloodied but unbroken, the nature of the Chaos forces began to tell as a number of Hesh's lieutenants broke away from the Red Hand Dominate, seeking to carve out their own petty empires elsewhere in the Region. The Imperial Crusade was spread thin, and as the final decade creeps on, victory seemed far from certain.

As the Crusade closed on the Core Worlds, Xiah Hesh's orchestrations see uprisings and resistance cell assaults rise across the whole Red Hand Region, goading Imperial High Command as the morale of their wearied forces plummeted. Augustus' increasing frustration saw him take a desperate gamble with the few surviving Extraordinaries; culminating in the events of The Solace War.
  • M42.050 
    • Ardent System Counteroffensive 
    • Hesh's forces, under [REDACTED], counter-invade and recapture Ynwirn, Bract, and St. Zariah.
    • Oxian Reach Offensive – NorthStar forces break the deadlock.
    • Compliance of Minas
  • M42.050
    • Red Hands, Black Hearts –  [REDACTED] is captured by the Inquisition as the Carminas Principle and Carminas Secundus systems fall to Warmaster Augustus.
  • M42.055 
    • The Solace War.
  • M42.057
  • M42.058
    • Crusade officially ends.

+ Creating an army of your own – part IV: high impact paint schemes +

+ Creating an army of your own – part IV: high impact paint schemes +

+ This is the fourth part in a series of articles on creating and developing your own personal army. In part I, we looked at picking a name and generating the seed of a culture for your army, which led into you building the first model of your force. We're now deep in other options for paint schemes. +

+ Noosphericinloadlinks +

I – Invitation and overview
II – Paint schemes and heraldic schemes 
III – Muted schemes 
IV – High impact schemes [This inload]
V – Analogous schemes [Spooling]
VI – Enemies and allies [Spooling]

VII – Building a world: developing a culture [Spooling]

+ High impact schemes: Theoretical +

We all know these. High impact schemes are those that grab the eye for one reason or another. Games Workshop's house style of painting is high impact. They tend to achieve this through bold contrast, using a standard key and use of complementary colours. Where muted or heraldic schemes can be too subtle to work effectively on the table, high impact schemes help show off the detail of the sculpts and makes identification of the different parts of the model easy.

High impact schemes are particularly well-suited to gaming with, as this approach will make your army stand out beautifully from tabletop distance. To illustrate this, compare Stuntwedge's beautiful high impact Hunter Cadre Shaska Nan with my muted Lamb's World 117th.

As you can see, where my Guard blend into one another and the table, every part of the Tau force reads out beautifully. When creating your army, you should also consider the practical side of it. If you're a gamer first and foremost, or you want to make a splash, then a high-impact scheme should be borne in mind.

+ Tonal key +

+ Low-key techpriest. Only a few spots are brighter than a midtone. +
High impact schemes tend rely on using the full tonal range, and it's here that we need to identify the concept of a tonal 'key'. When painting, you have access to all the tones, from white to black. You can make the choice to compress this one way or the other, in order to make an overall lower or higher key – that is, to emphasise the darks or lights respectively.

low key paintjob will keep the deepest shades as near-black, but not go all the way up to white for its highlights; while a high key paintjob will do the opposite; keeping very bright highlights, but using midtones for the shading. The muted schemes we've been looking at above have a narrow key – that is, there's less variation in tone across the model as a whole (though muted schemes often still have a few eye-catching spots to provide interest).

The challenge with a high impact scheme is thus less in catching the viewer's as it is in holding their attention. Badly executed, a high impact scheme can be jarring and confusing, looking garish and off-putting. This is the principle behind dazzle camouflage – or a zebra's stripes (this is turn reminds us that camouflage doesn't have to be muted).

A well-executed high impact scheme will ensure that the model retains some structure. In the Fire Warriors below, the scheme runs from pure black to pure white, with the parts broken up with tonal contrast. The panels of the armour are highlighted with relatively light grey, and the white panels of the gun are black-lined. This sweep of tone makes everything read out beautifully.

Fire Warriors of Stuntwedge's Shas'ka Nan
Visual anchors are places that the eye naturally rests upon. They're very useful in a high-impact scheme as a break from the high contrast. You can't rely as much on hot-spots of warm colour as you can in an heraldic or muted scheme, as they simply won't have as much power to draw the eye in a high impact scheme. That's not to say you can't use them; but unless the rest of the scheme is near monochrome, they're going to struggle to be the focus.

For Shas'O Shas'ka Nan, above, Stuntwedge has varied the same palette of colours – black, white and orange – but swapped them around, making the pure white the dominant colour, the black a high-contrast sub-dominant, and the orange relegated to being a tonic for accents alone. This helps the commander to stand out, even amongst his high-impact army, by virtue of being unusual – a quality that applies as much to paint as it does to naming [ref: inload 1 of this series +noosphericinloadlink above+] – and because white paint is naturally brighter and more eye-catching than other hues.

Note that the guns, head and feet act as visual anchors; the eye roams from one to the next in a pleasing circular fashion. A hotspot on the knee provides a focal point, drawing attention to the pose of the figure, while a secondary hot panel on the helm ensures that the head has sufficient complexity and interest to remain a focus.

+ High-impact palette and colour +

You don't have to run the gamut from white to black across the model for high impact, as Warmtamale's awesome Ghostkeel below shows. While the scheme does run from black and white, much of the impact stems from the juxtaposition of the differently-toned plates. This variety of contrasting tone creates impact, but because it's not starkly going from bright to dark, it's not as wearing on the eye. Contrast here comes as much from hue as tone.

The choice of colours is also very important to a successful high impact schemes. The hot pink Warmtamale uses is a colour you don't see much in 40k, so it's already attention-grabbing in its novelty. Using a more common 40k hue – red, for example – would work, but it's not going to be as striking.

Pink works really well here, suggesting an alien aesthetic. Note that Warmtamale has avoided the scheme becoming garish by carefully considering where the accents lie, and keeping them small. Were the blue, green, pink and black applied evenly, the result would be like an 80s nightclub. By applying the scheme as a bold two-tone (pink and black), and reserving the blue and green for tiny accents, the scheme grabs your attention but has sufficient depth to reward a closer look. This is key – it's not enough for your scheme to shout; it must have something worth listening to.

As you can see, hIgh impact schemes work very nicely for Tau, but the approach can work for any army. Orks, for example, can use a high-contrast scheme, as shown by Omricon's Bad Moonz:

While the paintscheme retains some of the muck and dirt you might expect from orks, note that the weathering is restricted to the edges of the armour plates, so that there remains a bold, striking panel of high-impact colour.

My beloved Imperial Guard don't need to be left out, either. High impact schemes are perfectly suited if your army wears dress uniform (perhaps being based on figures like Mordians, Praetorians or Vostroyans), but they can also work for figures in field dress, as with the snow scheme above. This is an unusual example of a high impact scheme, as it's almost entirely monochrome. If you do this, then you really need to pair it with a very strong, highly-saturated colour, like the red accents here.

Blood Bowl teams also work well with high impact schemes – so why not consider your local sports team's strip? While these tend to be almost heraldic, most sports kits are also high impact – another reminder that these paint schemes concept aren't mutually exclusive.


+ High impact schemes: Practical +

When picking your colours, bear the following points in mind:
  • Run the gamut  High impact relies on contrast in tones. Try to build in white and black, and work starkly between them – avoid smooth gradient blends that cover whole surfaces; keep your highlights tight and clean.
  • Visual anchors  To avoid visual fatigue and confusion, build in some areas 
  • Novelty  Consider unusual colour pairings. Coral pinks, tangerine oranges, lime greens... these are all colours that you don't see much in armies, so they have impact. Look at tropical fish or butterflies for inspiration.
  • Saturation  Pastel, destaurated colours are naturally relaxing to look at; not great for impact. Instead, use rich, vibrant colours for the main scheme. Softer colours do have their place, however – use them for accents, details and markings to create that all-important texture for visual anchors.
Remember, impact doesn't mean high key. As a demonstration, look at the two figures below:

On paper, this first scheme seems high impact. It's use highly-saturated hues, and the colours are bold and bright.

However, when we make the cloak a deep blue-grey, note how much more the surrounding colours pop. The second example uses contrast in tone more effectively, changing the figure from a high key scheme to a broader gamut of tone. It is the difference between light and dark areas that is the secret to high impact.

+ The Wood and the Trees – consider the army as a whole +

One final practical point: bear in mind that you're not stuck applying things in a uniform manner. One way to get a high-impact army is to apply the scheme across the army, rather than on a single figure. In the same way Stuntwedge uses the same core colours across this Tau army, but varies the proportions and parts that he paints in each colour, so you can do the same across a force, using a variety of colours on different models.

+ Warmatamale does much the same thing, applying the same palette of
colours in inventive ways across the force, even within the same squad. +
Harlequins are the ur-example of this approach – despite each figure being treated like an individual with its own schema, the army as a whole is high impact, because all the key pins above – gamut, anchors, novelty and saturation – apply.

In the absence of a harlequin army to show you, the saharduin below are a smaller example of this – they are completely different in hue from each other, but have sufficient similarities in tonal contrast and gamut (and sculpt style, of course) that they read as a cohesive pair. Here, then, is where high impact schemes work brilliantly – in tying together disparate elements.


+ inload: Crusader and Servitor +

+ Combat Arena Completed +

+ The Crusader and Servitor below are the last two figures from the Combat Arena boxed set, and that means – for the first time in my life – I've painted a boxed game ready to play. +

+ Seems weird – I've painted lots of miniatures, but never a whole set: some figures from every set have either been cannibalised, repurposed, or left unpainted. It's a nice feeling to have a game all ready! +

+ Gotfret de Montbard, Crusader +

+ A characteristically stoical pose, I'm slightly disappointed that GW essentially redid the previous metal iteration of this character type rather than trying something a bit more dynamic. That said, I don't have any of the metal ones, so no great loss. +

+ For the paint scheme, I knew I wanted to keep things nearly completely red in order to suggest Emperor Palpatine's Guard from Star Wars. I think these sinister figures have a lot in common with Inquisitorial Crusaders, and the all-red scheme is very striking. +

+ The shield's an obvious exception – and intentionally so. The helmed head doesn't make a great focal point, so I've made that secondary. Gofret de Montbard is a bodyguard, an anonymous figure; and so his mistress' heraldry – displayed on the shield – is paramount. Nevertheless, I've used a warm, red-tinged yellow for the shield in order to keep things harmonious. +

+ To avoid having all the elements blurring together, I used cool reds for the capes and warm red for the armour. This standalone figure was thus a useful bit of practise for both Blood Angels and Word Bearers. Lone characters are useful for this – had something gone awry, I'd only have to adjust this one figure. +

+ Note the orange eye lens, red purity seals and warm-brown leather – again, all adding to the warm scheme. +

+ The chequerboard effect (or 'dicing', as I recently found out it's referred to) was originally subtler. I used a mid-brown rather than cream. It had a nice effect, but I felt the shield needed more punch to work heraldically. The result is a bit scrappier than I would have liked, so perhaps I'll return to re-work it. Note the lens on the shield is painted in the same way as the eye. The legend on the shield-scroll reads Vici – 'I conquered'. +

+ Combat Servitor X-101 +

+ As mentioned in an earlier inload [+noosphericinloadlinkembedded+], I used a very workmanlike scheme for this fantastic figure, intending this brainless man-machine to appear like a JCB or similar piece of heavy equipment. +

+ Besides the techpriest, this figure is probably my favourite in the set. Clunky, ungainly and asymmetrical, it looks lumbering and threatening – in a brainless zombie sort of way. +

+ The scheme hopefully has echoes of the power-lifter from Aliens, a similar piece of industrial tech that fits neatly into the 40k universe. Like the power loader, it's got a pair of big claws, some pitted metal and a load of lights and dials. +

+ I've used a piercing green for the bionic eye – the other one is rolled back to suggest this poor soul's mindless nature. +

+ The big claw is the only bit of metal that gets the yellow scheme – all the rest is less bare. To show the rigid texture, I've added some light damage – and avoided doing so on the workmanlike 'overalls'. You can add scratches and so forth on those (to an extent, that's how I did the leather coat on the psyker in the inload linked above), but if you're trying to distinguish two similarly-coloured but differently-textured areas on one figure, I find it best to avoid confusing matters. +

+ One thing I've noticed about all these Combat Arena models is that they've got great details on their backs. The dials and switches here, the dangling charms on the Crusader... I'm not sure if it's intentional, but it'll likely look nice during the game, where you're probably looking at the rear of your character for most of it. Nice touch! +

+ As with the dials, I added some red warning lights, but kept the searchlight dim – by painting it as switched off, I didn't have to do any object source lighting, and kept the focus on the face. Note the little barcode on the shoulder, and the yellow banding on the cable around its stomach. Little details like this add some freehand personalisation for very little effort. +


+ ...and so, with the addition of a drybrush and few tufts of static flock, that completes the motley crew for Combat Arena. They look nice together – so hopefully they look equally good beating the [SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT] out of each other, too. I'm looking forward to playing a fully-painted game. +

+ Which one's your favourite? +