+ inload: The Alien Wars – Anatomy of the Astartes III: Gatebreakers +

+ Anatomy of the Astartes III: Gatebreakers +

"It is written in the odes that the seventh divine prince pronounced that some men wear masks; because they seek to share the true self beneath with a select few. The sage Hinn disagreed. He said that there is nothing beneath the mask except another mask."

- Oto Yeng, Gatebreakers Claviger apothecary-errant

+ Abstract +

By M34, the Gatebreakers are a Chapter in some distress. Nominally Lords of Andocrine – a system on the very edge of Imperial territory at the Galactic rim – their homeworld has, through necessity, long been abandoned. It is used along with the other inhabited planets in the region by the Chapter only for snatch-and-grab recruitment.

The Chapter itself occupies the vast wilderness space of the region, with the Astartes roving nomadically, only intemittently returning to largest of the ammonia-wreathed dwarf planets of Androcrine. The Chapter specialises in void warfare and ship-to-ship assault.

Or at least; that is its boast. In truth, the Gatebreakers are suffering from numerous and growing gene-rune problems. Their melanchromic organ and neuroglottis are non-functional, and more than ninety per cent suffer catastrophic collapse of the sus-an Membranes prior to leaving the Scout Company-analogues. Many suffer irregularities of the oolitic kidney or paralysis of the multi-lung; while a minority also suffer failures of the occulobe or Lyman's ear, necessitating bionic replacement. While it is officially no shame to bear geneseed with failed or misgenic organs (the Imperial Fists being a good example) the sheer level of failure to the Gatebreakers' seed is a point of deep shame to the Chapter, and they go to huge lengths to conceal the extent of their sickness.

Recruiting heavily in order to make up for the sheer level of catastrophic failure, the Gatebreakers harvest the three worlds of Andocrine regularly, launch slaving raids on any non-Imperial human worlds they come across, and demand payment in the form of a planet's youth when they come to its aid. As a result both of this and of the weak influence of the geneseed, the Gatebreaker's phenotype is hugely diverse.

The Chapter's culture – insular to the point of isolationism – has deemed this inner corruption must be hidden; to the point of short-stocking or withholding their tithe completely. Thus far, their distant galactic position and mobile nature has meant few Imperial parties are particularly interested.

+ Absent guardians +

The Gatebreakers are not unusual in being isolated. There are, after all, said to be just one thousand Chapters Astartes, spread across the vast cobweb that is Imperial space. Further, by virtue of their demesne's position in the galactic halo, contact is inherently harder to maintain in comparison with a Chapter positioned within the galaxy. 

The tenuous nature of their position has been further exacerbated by galactic drift, poor record-keeping and their roving behaviour. Over the millennia, supplies from within the Imperium became lost en-route, found no-one authorised to receive additional equipment and materiel, or – latterly – emerged in an area of space where Andocrine no longer sits. This fed a vicious cycle: low on supplies, the Chapter adapted to become more dependent on roving and raiding, and thus their few established supply drop positions dwindled. By the opening of the Alien Wars, the Gatebreakers had become listed amongst the Chapters Inperceptus – a status of inability to be contacted. Suspected to be lost or destroyed by the Adeptus Terra, their heraldry and Chapter number were reserved, as occasional reports from Rogue Traders and the like brought legends, if not confirmation, of the Chapter's continued existence. 

From the Gatebreakers' own point of view, of course, they had remained adherent to their ancient oaths, and continued to send a scanty but sufficient tithe to Mars. They are, as with so many Imperial institutions, largely forgotten; and when recalled, assumed by the High Lords to be performing their duty.


+ The Gatebreakers during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

Although unusual in their many divergent traditions and patchwork approach to war, the Gatebreakers are typical in one way – they are dutiful. Their ancient role is to guard a region of the rim-worlds of the Imperium from extra-galactic xenos threats, and to enforce the Emperor's will over his Imperium. This means they rarely have contact with other Imperial institutions. This is in many ways fortunate. So isolated are the Gatebreakers that their belief system has become hugely divergent – were they better-known to the Adeptus Ministorum, it is almost certain that their beliefs would be termed heretical, even given the leeway of the Chapter Cults.

While they have little official contact with the broader Imperium, they do respond to calls of aid, and have on occasion served besides other Imperial forces. In such instances, they remain secretive, reserving their contact to missives and Chapter serfs where possible. On those rare occasions when the Chapter are called upon to send an Astartes delegate, they nominate a Claviger – or Macebearer – an in-Chapter term for Astartes granted leave to liaise with other Imperial authorities. 

Clavigers are almost invariably members (or 'Gentles') of the Apothecarion, and tend to be well-respected, as the Chapter's pragmatic and adaptable apothecaries are highly skilled and intimately knowledgeable about biochemistry and the Astartes form. They are few and far between, but most Deathwatch who have served alongside a Gatebreaker tend to admire their medical knowledge and skill; if not their social graces. Clavigers serve with honour, with faith... and with the understanding that they must bring back information, evidence or – better still – samples of other Astartes Chapters' gene-organs.

While not officially acting in the Alien Wars in any consulted sense, the rise in xenos activity across the galaxy was inevitably felt by the Gatebreakers, and their tenuous grip on their territory slipped further as they were forced into a number of stand-and-fight wars that drained their thin resources further.

So depleted were they that Andocrine itself fell to the brutal assaults of the zhote, and while their homeworld was liberated by the end of the Nova Terra Interregnum, the Gatebreakers lost a huge amount of their Chapter history. They became a Chapter in danger of extinction; and a salutary example of the fate of numerous Chapters in the face of a resurgent xenos threat.


+ Member-ordinary Eo Daur +

Pictured during a border skirmish with the halator Eldar, Eo Daur wears the Chapter's quartered grass green and sun yellow heraldry. His armour, like all Gatebreakers, is a mongrel suit that incorporates a number of unusual elements. Much of the Chapter's armoury is antique and much-patched, and where new pieces are forged, they are based on ancient STCs.

In a stark break from Astartes norms, the Gatebreakers maintain no Techmarines proper. Having long forgotten the necessity of sending delegates to Mars, their weapons and forges are maintained purely by tech-adepts overseen by an Astartes official called the 'Salt-Master'. This dangerous situation places them in a continual war of attrition, and has frequently placed them in the debt of pragmatic Magi of local Forgeworlds, who exploit the situation for their own gains.

The Chapter symbol is a swinging mace, the handle of which symbolises the galaxy, with the Emperor at the centre. The Chapter itself, then, is represented by the mace head, striking the enemy at the edge of the galaxy. The five pointed spikes of the mace head evoke the multiple directions the Chapter takes – a metaphor both for their roving nature and for their adaptability.

Daur bears a wrist-mounted bio-monitor, jury-rigged to his power pack with thick cabling. Many such external devices are borne by the Gatebreakers, both to monitor their own weakened states and to substitute for absent autosenses, auspices and similar devices common to most Chapter's power armour suits.

Gatebreakers rely heavily on consultation of the Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes – a garbled holy text that combines a surprisingly early edition of the Codex Astartes with centuries worth of the Gatebreakers' own traditions and sayings. Each Member-ordinary (the Chapter's idiosyncratic term for battle brothers) is expected to master the art of reading and writing and then to transcribe the Tenets himself. The resulting notes are understandably varied both in quality and accuracy. Far from consistency being encouraged, however, such accidental development is seen as a sign of favour; unconscious inspiration gifted by one or more of the Ten Divine Princes, the Emperor's Sons.

A Member's copy of the Tenets is frequently consulted, amended, annotated and swapped, Above, you can see a number of calligraphic extracts used as purity seals.

Company and squad markings vary, but will be familiar to scholars of the Astartes. The upward pointing arrow here denotes a Tactical squad, the '4' in the circle at the top clarifying membership of fourth squad. Frequently understrength, squads are kept fluid, with members moving from one to another freely within the strikeforce. The strikeforce itself is the nearest equivalent to a Company, with the Chapter having no permanent Company-analogue organisation. Here, Daur is marked as belonging to strikeforce IX, as denoted by his bracer.

Strikeforces are simply those Astartes assigned to a particular squadron group of ships from the Chapter's much-battered fleet, and placed under command of a senior warrior, usually a Gnostic. For the Gatebreakers, members of the Librarius are not always psychic (though most are), instead regarding the making of records and communications as their critical role. Non-psychic Gnostics therefore make use of Chapter astropaths and similar non-Astartes personnel for battlefield support.

The small circular marking at the front of the pauldron above is an archaic marking denoting him as being equipped with a boltgun.

Marked on Daur's chest is an hierarcic ferroglyph, styled after the petroglyphs of the Androcrine homeworld. This is a sign of holy favour granted by the Sages as intercessionaries for the Ten Divine Princes, a step below the Emperor himself: the symbol is thus a cross between a medal and a religious fetish.

+ Gatebreakers way of war +

Gatebreakers' culture is a peculiar mix of direct self-reliance and highly abstract reasoning. When two strikeforces meet, they will spar both physically and rhetorically; each contestant expanding the audiences understanding of the core beliefs espoused in the Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes and their supporting texts. In this way, the Chapters' lessons are kept flexible. Through continual application to the innovative ways of warfare with which the region's innumerable alien races fight, the Chapter never fights in quite the same way twice, allowing it to quickly adapt and overwhelm their foe.

"When the Odes were first bound to parchment, it is said that the King of Al-Yinn declared them complete and perfect; that nothing more was to be written on the scrolls, nor to be taken away." 
Yeng's voice was soft, but not conspiratorial.
"The Sage Mem nodded, knowing the King's quick temper, and had the scrolls placed in their blank silver case and taken away. It is also said that for each day that it was in the Sage Mem's care, the case grew larger and more elaborate, and its decoration ever more fine." 
He smiled, and Solastion detected a sad sincerity to the Gatebreaker's words. 
"When the King of Al-Yinn went to join the Emperor, his Son demanded to see the scrolls. His servants brought the case to the King, and as four men struggled to place the case on the ground before him, so heavy and finely decorated was it, the front swung open, revealing nothing but grub-chewed fragments. 
'Alas!' cried the King, 'the weight of time has turned their wisdom to dust.' And so it was; for paper is like the hope of man; fragile, and easily lost. The new King wept, then, for he thought the wisdom of the ancients lost forever." 
Yeng looked straight at the Sanguinary Priest, meaningfully, as he went on. 
"The Sage Yinn bowed deeply. 'My treasured Lord, weep not. Though the words are gone, the wisdom remains.'"
Sample extract from the Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes, as espoused by Gatebreaker Oto Yeng during his M41 tour of the Deathwatch, to Solastion of the Blood Angels.

The Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes are highly metaphorical, combining hard-won battle reports with mystic claims and esoterism. It is a complex and opaque text to outsiders, and requires much reading and discussion for any claim of understanding. It is, however, highly valuable in terms of tactical and strategic advice, and is a holy text to the Gatebreakers.

Their unusual and divergent beliefs and organisation are a source of strength for the Gatebreakers, and one of the few things that unites the vastly divergent cultures of the Chapter.

Eo Daur, Member-ordinary


+ Post script +

Being so divergent, what lessons can we learn from the Gatebreakers? Should we condemn them as blasphemers? Set the forces of our divided Imperium to persecute a lost scion? 

No. I present them in order to demonstrate the absurdity of a reductionist desire to frame everything in simple terms of the Nova Terran secessionists or Old Earth classicists. There are more things under the Emperor's domains than such binary divisions; and the Gatebreakers are a perfect example of such.

Flawed? Failing? Perhaps. But at core they remain loyal to the Emperor's will – and in such circumstances as the present civil war, such isolated bastions of honour and loyalty serve as an example to all. 

Perhaps more importantly, perhaps it is a blessing to have guardians so distant from events that they are blind. It leaves our war in the shadows all the more free.

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.

+ inload: Diversity and uniformity +

+ Diversity and uniformity +

+ One of the most appealing parts of collecting and painting miniatures is that you can invest each one with character. Part of this character, of course, may rely on uniformity to suggest discipline – but rarely do you want literally identical figures side by side. How do you balance making models look like part of a group without making them boring to paint or look at? +

+ The modern dwarf models are a great case in point. They are very similar in pose and equipment – they're differentiated by little more than having four styles of heads and four weapon options across two boxes. It's quite limiting – particularly when I've been spoiled by the sheer cross-compatibility of ranges like orks, marines and guard. +

+ Both of the dwarf infnatry kits are, as with most multipart kits of their vintage, cross-compatible within the range. The Hammerer boxed set, for example, also builds Longbeards; but both Hammerer and Longbeard heads fit on the Ironbreaker bodies from the other box. +

+ You can introduce a measure of variety to a unit by including heads from as many different groups as possible. This gives a believable lack of uniformity to the unit – after all, if you call up troops from your lands and tell them to bring their gear, you're unlikely to have them all equipped with the same style of helm. It also adds some welcome variation in faces and heads, something that often makes multipart plastic kits less characterful than their one-off metal sculpts equivalents. +

+ That doesn't get you too far, however, and it can create an additional problem that you can no longer distinguish between different types of units within the army. This is where you can distinguish between functional differences – perhaps the particular weapon a unit uses – and purely aesthetic differences, such as the pattern of Space Marine armour, or design of a shield. +

+ As long as you avoid mix and matching the functional differences, playing around with aesthetics is great for visual variety. It will also hopefully be useful when playing games, making it clear where one unit begins and another ends. It's not just about bringing in elements from other kits, either – such differentiation can be made by intentionally limiting your options. +

+ Here, for example, I've used an ancestor face designs for all the shields, and further linked them with a yellow colour scheme. If you know you're going to be building an army using multiples of the same kit, pre-planning might be worth it. Picking a particular design of shield (or weapon, or helmet, or body style) for a unit offers a nice way to add some subtle character – and if you plan it carefully enough, using bits from different kits doesn't mine your bits stash: you simply use the bits left over from the first kit on the second. +

+ You often don't have to be completely exclusive; there are often sub-variants – the standard dwarf kits include a few ancestor head variants. Similar enough to hang together, but not completely uniform. +

+ inload: Are you a Catachan, or a Catacan't? +

+ If it bleeds we Catachan kill it +

+ No prizes for guessing who this Hasslefree miniature [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] represents. The first of those Rogue Trader-themed models I posted about recently to receive paint, he's proving good fun. The over-muscled arms and chiseled features make it fun to play around with lighting, giving an almost cel-shaded look at this stage. I'll be refining him with some highlights, but it's been good to get some variety in pinks and ochres to – hopefully – give some realism. +

+ Not sure how I'll tackle the fatigues etc. Urban or desert could work, letting him tie in respectively with my Red Hand or Imperial guard; but there's also the option of running with the jungle theme of the inspiration. +

+ The same painting session saw me tackle some beards and skin on the dwarfs – there's only tiny flashes of skin visible, but it'll all add up to a nice effect when they're finished (I hope). +

+ To avoid an uncanny-valley effect of models in particular units all having the same beard colour, I plucked random piles of models from across the army, and used slightly variations on a few 'core mixes'. That allowed me to do a sort of half-way house between batch painting and individualy focus. +

+ Further work necessary, but this is proving a marathon, not a sprint. I'm aiming to have 1,000pts finished for a PCRC 'parade' at the end of May, which is still looking fairly likely. +

 + To close, another shot of our 80s action hero. +

+ inload: painting dwarfs +

+ The dawi begin to assemble +

+ I can't decide whether this week has been productive or not. I was certainly hoping to have more done on my dwarfs – the background of which is being fleshed out on our sister blog The Tallowlands [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] – but I got fed up with batch painting and decided to paint some characters. +

+ The good news is thus that I've actually got a few models done, rather than lots half-finished – and owing to the way Age of Sigmar seems to involve lots of individual characters, I think they should be fieldable as-is. +

Strong features reward traditional techniques.
+ Anyway, I'll chat more about the background and rules over on The Tallowlands; here I just want to talk about the painting. I often find dwarfs really fun to paint, as they have relatively large heads with bold features – great to play around with skin mixes, and to enjoy working wet-in-wet. Assuming they're not helmed, details like eyes are relatively easy to paint in. +

 + All of the figures I've painted recently have used the same colours as the basis for their skin: Vallejo Off-white, Citadel Averland Sunset and a touch of Vallejo Flat Red – the latter is a very intense paint, so you really need tiny amounts, particularly when using a quite subdued yellow like Averland Sunset. +

I didn't want to use many washes, as they can flatten the highlighting, and I thought the features of these figures were defined enough to reward good old-fashioned painting. I therefore worked up from a underlayer. For these, I just grabbed any brown I could find – so there's a mix of Skrag Brown and Doombull Brown. +

Variations on a theme – different combinations of the same mixes were used for the skin on each dwarf.

+ The three colours listed above combine create to create quite ruddy-looking tones, which can easily be varied by introducing more yellow or white, or by using a different underlayer. Very little of the underlayer remains apparent after painting, but it ensures there's a flat, even surface to cover with translucent layers, and a deep value in any visible recesses. In turn, this increases the contrast so you end up with a punchy result without having to go back with washes and so forth to strengthen the values in the shadows. +

+ Working wet-in-wet simply means that I'm working fast enough to wet blend on the surface of the figure. If you're struggling with the speed it's drying, a wet palette will help to keep your palette mixture workable, while retarding medium will slow the paint drying both on the figure and the palette. +

+ I tend to instead use flow enhancer medium to keep the paint workable. It only slows the drying in the same way water does, but it helps to prevent any brushmarks by aiding the consistency. This means that the paint dries relatively quickly – good for repeated layers – but has a crucial few extra seconds of working time so you can work back into it without creating physical texture: something that will quickly ruin the finish. +

+ inload: Rogue Trader 2020 +

+ To the roots of heresy: Rogue Trader +

+ Why do we collect and paint miniatures at all? For me, it's the sheer joy and fascination with opening a window into other realms, and exploring those with other people. +

+ The original Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (RT) did that very well for me; really opening my eyes to science fiction and fantasy in general. I think I'm fairly unusual in engaging with RT prior to other fantasy/sci-fi media – like Dune, 2000AD, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars/Trek etc. For that reason, I've got a lot of nostalgic affection for the sheer oddness and breadth of the setting. +

Glam and deadly Rogue Trader flanked by burly loyal retainers.. 

+ Importantly, it was empty and open. That was the critical thing that always struck me when comparing it with later properties. The Imperium, described in what seemed like huge detail, was simultaneously revealed to be a fragile cobweb of isolated worlds. +

Why yes, this is a cyberpunk-samurai, space-navy officer, creepy eyeless wizard and a dog. Do they go together? Absolutely.

+ That sense of empty, threatening, lonely voids – and the opportunity to dive into them and create my own worlds, characters and forces – has stuck with me; even if most of my modelling and painting has revolved around replication of existing groups. +

+ With that in mind, I thought I'd dig through all the cool models that I've picked up on a whim and just start getting them painted. Not necessarily to fit in with anything, but more to just enjoy painting one-off models and small groups. These'll likely share a basing scheme, but not necessarily. Beyond that, I want the group to look as unusual, varied and motley as possible. +

Senior Princeps (out of his tub for a walk), Moderati and Princeps.

 + These'll all likely find places in my Alien Wars setting, alongside the ongoing Augustine Crusade. And if they don't? Well, then I'll just enjoy painting and having another little window into a future I'm in no hurry to visit! +

Armsmen? Mercenaries? Imperial Guardsmen? Planetary defence force? All of the above.

+ guestpostinload: Regimental Review: Cadian 144th +

+ Regimental Review: Cadian 144th Infantry Regiment +

[+Guestpostinload SCREEDAUTHORIDENT: The Rook +][+noosphericexloadlinkembedded+]

‘Those last bloodied few,
orphans of war
Emperor grant them glory in death
and peace thereafter’
Personal Writings, Father Oriah of the St Baston Ecclesiastica, Boreas



+ Abstract +

The fortress-world of Cadia may be destroyed, but its orphaned people are still counted amongst the finest and best-disciplined soldiery in the Imperium. Within the Warmaster Augustine’s armies, the handful of Cadian regiments assigned there form a backbone of war-bitten veterans amongst the relatively fresh regiments of the Cetus-Scorpii sector.

+ Disposition +

The handful of Cadian regiments present in the Crusading forces were assigned primarily to the Second Army, under Lord-General Valen. These represented one of very few elements of Augustine’s forces that did not originate from within his home sector of Cetus-Scorpii. Instead these units were dispatched, under the command of Marshal-General Helkov, to form an honour guard that accompanied the Imperial Writ from Terra granting Augustus the title Warmaster and tasking him with bringing the Red Hand region to compliance.

Helkov had expected command of one of Augustus’ army groups, but was snubbed by the Warmaster who preferred to promote from within his own circles. Instead, he and his regiments of ‘outsiders’ were relegated to the Second Army in which Helkov commanded a small battle group and was deployed along the Buir’s Reach corridor to engage in a series of hard fought compliances along the periphery of the Crusade, away from the glory-winning campaigns in the Corewards Theatre.

Of these regiments, the 144th was a frontline infantry regiment of primarily ‘second generation’ Cadians (void-born after the destruction of Cadia) formed around a core of veteran officers and NCO’s, most of whom were Cadian-born. Amongst the other Cadian regiments, these ‘true-born’ Cadians were steadily reduced and the balance within them tipped as replacements were slowly introduced from other depleted regiments from other worlds, until many of them were practically ‘Cadian’ in name only. The 144th however, managed to endure, forever under strength, as an almost purely Cadian-blooded regiment, gaining them the epithet ‘The Cadian Last’ from Helkov himself. This was due to accident rather than design, as the 144th was merged with the Cadian 1077th after the breakout from Solace in M41.045 that left both regiments badly mauled.

+ C-Company, 144th Inf. Reg. +

NOTE: Winterised flak armour. It became common practise amongst the troops fighting on Boreas to paint their flak armour white for better concealment in the snow. This low-grade paint, thinned with water was particularly prone to scratching and chipping.

NOTE: Las-rifles were painted in the same way as the troopers flak-armour.

NOTE: Pict-capture shows some troopers wearing winter fatigues. The 144th were supposed to be supplied with full winter-camouflaged fatigues, but due to delays in supply, very few sets were issued before deployment onto Boreas.

+ Heavy Weapons Platoon, C-Company +

NOTE: As an infantry regiment, the 144th had a dedicated weapons platoon attached to each las-rifle platoon. These became particular invaluable on Boreas where the weather and terrain severely limited the availability of air and armoured support that the infantry were accustomed to fighting in conjunction with.

NOTE: Easily maintained and using nearly-universal ammunition, the mortar and heavy bolter were the main support weapons of the 144th.

+ Command Staff +

+ Captain Drear, CO, C-Company +
To Lord Commissar Ziejn Ro, Officio Prefectus, I44th Inf. Reg. attached, 
Lord, I am writing in response to your request for a character appraisal of Captain Drear. I am aware that suggestions have been made to you that the captain’s dedication and faith in the Emperor have faltered in recent months. I would like to state forthrightly that I do not find that these rumours have any foundation and that they constitute mere gossip from the officers’ mess. With that being said, I have compiled an honest account of Captain Drear as I have found him to be as per your request, I am ever your servant.
Captain Drear has commanded C-Company of the 144th for four years. Before that, he had commanded a company in the Cadian 1077th and had been marked for promotion to major until the battle for Solace left the majority of his regiment dead. 
The survivors of the 1077th were folded into existing regiments before deployment to Boreas. C-Company of the 144th, having recently lost its own captain at Xarro, is where Drear ended up; and he had had very little time to integrate with his new command before making planetfall on Boreas. 
Amongst the men of the regiment, it is widely rumoured that their new captain is cursed by the Emperor. News of his previous company’s fate is well known, and it is widely – although wrongly – believed that Drear was the only survivor. The captain is also famously introvert and reserved with his fellow officers, and never talks about his previous commands. This has given rise to wild speculation amongst the rank-and-file – and even some of the officers – that all of Drear’s previous commands’ have perished to a man and that he himself is the only survivor. 
Captain Drear’s own dour and reserved demeanour has not warmed him to his men and First Lieutenant Halberd is widely known to be his only confidant and friend amongst the officers of the company. 
Regardless of this, Captain Drear conducts himself with professionalism and shows a genuine concern for the well-being of his men. He is a diligent and practically-minded man who demonstrates sound strategic ability and courage in battle. 
I consider that his personal demeanour has had no adverse effect on his ability to command one of the Emperor’s companies. He is an asset to his regiment and to the Imperium. I would not recommend that any action is taken immediately but I would like to assure you that I shall maintain a diligent watch over him as I do with all of the men in this company. 
With my compliments, 
Commissar H’dane, Officio Prefectus, C-Company attached.

+ Notable actions  +

+ Primary deployment during the Early Crusade period +


+ Primary deployment during the Late-crusade period [M42.049–057] +

[+subspool deploying+]

The Battle of Boreas, also known as the Ardent System Counteroffensive, was one of the last major Red Hand offensives during the Augustine Crusade and took place from late M42.050 to M42.053. The offensive was intended to stop Imperial use of the starport at Gella Major and to open a new front against the Crusade by allowing the traitor forces to encircle and destroy a large portion of the over-extended Crusading forces and thereby force the Crusade to a halt and allow time for Apostate-Warlord Xiah Hesh to consolidate his forces. 
The traitors achieved a total surprise attack in the Ardent System due to a combination of Imperial overconfidence, preoccupation with Imperial offensive plans elsewhere and poor Naval reconnaissance due to increasingly unstable warp conditions around the Red Hand region. Imperial forces under General Helkov – who was in the process of rearming and refitting his battlegroup at Gella Major when the attack began – bore the brunt of the offensive and his hastily reconstituted Battlefleet Ardent suffered the highest death ratio during any operation of the war thus far. Most of the fighting took place on the planet Boreas where the fighting would eventually drag on for nearly four years. However, there were numerous smaller-scale battles on the various moons and orbital stations throughout the Ardent System and a large naval engagement around Gella Major towards the end of the campaign. 
The battle severely depleted the Red Hands’ naval and ground forces, and they were largely unable to replace them. Hesh’s ground forces – mostly comprised of the veteran and disciplined Hundred Hands units, the Ebon Wing drop regiments and the Gothii war-clans – and, later, void warships (in the concluding stages of the engagement) also sustained significant and irretrievable losses. 
+ Imperial commanders and leaders +
  • General Ukon Helkov, theatre command on Boreas
  • Admiral Felix Ezra, fleet master, 2nd Army Battlegroup
  • General Brerotal Obalan, 2nd Army
  • General Avanna Kursk, 2nd Army

[+subspoolendvalue: TRUE+]


+ My thanks to The Rook for allowing me to host the Cadian 144th here; I encourage you all to go have a look at his own fantastic blog, which contains some real wonders. +

+ Welcome to the Tallowlands +

+ New blog +

+ Our group of gaming ne'er-do'wells, The PCRC, have started up a new blog to chart our exploration of part of the Mortal Realms, The Tallowlands [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. Consider this your invitation to adventure! +

+ Bookmark + 

https://tallowlands.blogspot.com/ +

+ Rest assured that + Death of a Rubricist + isn't going anywhere, and I'll be continuing to publish Age of Sigmar-themed hobby stuff (painting, modelling etc) here. The Tallowlands will get the bulk of the in-depth background material, battle reports and so forth. +

+ Why this approach? Firstly, I've never been entirely happy with how this blog dealt with Warhammer/Age of Sigmar material – the dataslate aesthetics don't really fit very well, and so the material's not been given the treatement it deserves. Secondly, and more importantly, the opportunity to do a shared blog with the PCRC gang is just too good to miss! +

+ My intent therefore is that fantasy-enthusiasts won't have to dig through the mainly 40k-themed material here on my personal blog, and will instead have a dedicated forum – that, owing to being a shared blog, will be considerably more varied and rich than I could offer here – while those who enjoy the occasional appearance of dwarfs, elves and so forth on Death of a Rubricist won't miss out. +

+ Those Death of a Rubricist subscribers who prefer fantasy to sci-fi will find much to get their teeth into over at The Tallowlands (though I hope you'll all give it a look, regardless of whether you are currently into Fantasy stuff). Needless to say, it contains some wonderful, creative models from some very talented writers and artists. I very much encourage you to comment with thoughts and questions as we develop this little corner of the Mortal Realms. +

+ Any questions or suggestions on how this affects +Death of a Rubricist+? Pop 'em in the +comment inloadsubmission form+ below. +

+ inload: Captain Steloc Aethon +

+ Captain Steloc Aethon +

+ [Buildprogressvalue: complete.] +

+ A little greenstuff work to get the pteruges (the little dangly straps below the pauldrons) and add some detail here and there, and the noble Captain is ready for painting. +

+ The Custodes Aquilon Terminator that makes up the base for this conversion (you can find the tutorial here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]) gives him great stature. He's suitably towering over the Victoria miniatures baseline human soldier next to him, and he's substantially bulkier than my Astartes, too. As usual with Terminator conversions, my intention is to balance raw size against some measure of plausibility within the universe. Much bigger than this and the Terminator starts to look less intimidatingly large, and more simply a different scale. +

+ To balance this, I try to ensure that the eyeline of the Terminator isn't far off the power-armoured figures – perhaps a touch higher, to take into account thicker soles to the books, but not too much. That said, this particular example has had a slight spacer added between the upper torso and waist; just to nudge him higher than his rank-and-file comrades, so he stands out on the field. +

+ I'm no great sculptor, so the greenstuff work is mainly concerned with adding simple geometric shapes to suggest detail. Paintwork will develop these further. The rough work on the cape means it's perforce going to be painted dark in tone; perhaps a similar leather to my iteration Kurtha Sedd's [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. Looks like I need more practice. +

+ Anyway, I hope the resulting figure strikes a nice balance between display and gaming piece, ready for us in the Betrayal at Calth boardgame and in everyday Horus-heresy era 40k. +

+ inload: Taking stock +

+ The Administratum have a lot to answer for +

+ State-mandated time off hasn't proven to be hugely conducive to my creativity, but having such an unusual stretch of time has given me the time to do a bit of housekeeping. When stuck for hobby motivation, I always find a bit of spring-cleaning remedial – you stumble over bits of projects that got put with something else for one reason or another, and taking a bit of time to get things back together is not only a good way to get rid of clutter, but to bring things together so that bursts of future enthusiasm aren't spent in trying to hunt down a vital bit. +

I started by clearing through the garage to rearrange my army cases and bits boxes – Guilliman himself would be proud of how well-ordered they are. I then turned my attention to the bureau where I do most of my hobbying, clearing off the desktop to allow space, and tackled the paint drawer. This had got very muddled; and it only took an hour or two to sort things back into a rough order – the spectrum of colours from left to right; black and white on the left; and oddments like inks and technical paints on the right. +

+ I also took the opportunity to check each paint for usefulness; combining pots of washes where I had duplicates, and tolling the great Bell of Lost Souls on Terra for those pots that had dried up or otherwise become unworkable [+bottom of pict-capture+]. A few irreplaceable veterans there... +


+ Epic +

+ Cobwebs expunged, I dived into a small project – in more than one sense of the word – by building a Knight for Epic/Adeptus Titanicus, and constructing some 'forumware' third party Epic forces. These were one of those much-delayed projects that turned up during the tidy-up. Being unconnected to anything else, they were a nice sideline, and a good way to ease back into modelling. +

+ The Knights are nice models, but for whatever reason I can't get too enthused about them – after the pleasure of building their larger Titan kin, these seemed unnecessarily fiddly. This example didn't do too much to reignite my enthusiasm.  +

+ Talking of fiddly, these tanks and infantry avoided becoming tedious because they're just one or two parts. The plywood base toppers were a custom order from Litko, I think. They were ordered at the same time as the models themselves, so my mem-banks have failed, I'm afraid. +

+ Not quite sure how these'll get painted. An expansion for my existing Ultramarines army? A Word Bearers opposing force? Perhaps a mini version of my Gatebreakers? +


+ Betrayal at Calth +

+ Next up in this exploration of enthusiasms was a dive back into the Underworld War between the Word Bearers and Ultramarines on Calth. I continued work on Captain Aethon [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] for the Betrayal at Calth boardgame. +

+ Not a great deal of progress, but the addition of arms and pauldrons makes him look a touch more complete. I'll be popping the pauldrons back off and working up some of the pteruges for the on the upper arms. Bits like this are a pain to kitbash – they rarely drape properly – so sculpting's the best option. +

+ The second angle shows Moricorpus, Aethon's combi-melta. I prefer the over-and-under approach to combi-weapons than the side-by-side arrangement, so used a combi-melta from the Mark IV (possible Mark III) plastics. +


+ Batch-basing +

+ Building itch scratched, I wanted to get back into some painting. I felt the way to make the most of a bad situation was to use this opportunity to do the basing across my whole dwarf army [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. Even with a very basic basing scheme [ref: below], it's proving quite a task. +

Rocky soil makes for a good. quick and relatively anonymous basing
scheme that'll go well with the PCRC's other existing armies –
mainly undead and greenskins.
+ The scheme is:
_1 Texture the base with Golden Acrylic coarse pumice gel.
_2 Paint the base the Dryad Bark.
_3 Drybrush with Calth Brown (I intentionally stocked up on this wonderful paint when it was deleted alongside the other fantastic Foundations).
_4 Drybrush with a mix of Calth Brown and white.
_5 Paint the rims Dryad Bark.

This gives a quick, simple and fairly uniform result that I can spruce up at a later date with static grass, birch seeds (for fallen leaves) etc. 

+ An aside as to why Dryad Bark forms the basis of this scheme: I kept popping into the local shop, trying to find a replacement for the much-missed Scorched Brown, and repeatedly picked this up instead of Rhinox Hide, which (at home) I had thought would be closer to the colour I wanted at the time. For whatever reason, I kept having a mental blank, and assuring myself that Rhinox Hide was the one that I needed to avoid. This happened repeatedly, and checking through my paint drawer (see above), I found five pots of this damn unwanted colour. A salutary lesson in organising properly! Mea culpa... +

+ So far I've managed to get four score based, the majority of which are in the picture above. +

+ This picture shows the remainder of the force. The quarrellers at the front are also based, so it's just the regiment and personalities at the back that need to be polished off. Might even manage it tonight. +

+ ...and to round things off, a quick picture of a game-ready dwarf. A bit more spit and polish needed before I'm happy, but definitely serviceable. +

+ inload: Warbringer Titan review +

+ Raising the Dread Hellespontion +

+ Warbringer Nemesis Battle Titan review +

+ Notes on building +

+ Games Workshop's Adeptus Titanicus kits are the most beautifully-designed and engineered wargaming kits I've had the pleasure of building, and the new Warbringer is no exception. If anything, it only improves on the Warlord and Reaver by including markings on the parts (neatly hidden once built) that help with alignment. + 

+ As with the Warlord and Reaver, the kit comes on three sprues: one for the superstructure, one for the armour plates, and one for the weapons. The armour plates include options for the front upper carapace: blank, Eye of Horus, or Imperial Aquila. It's supplied with the same size base as the Reaver; but unlike the previous kits, it also comes with weapon cards and the Command Terminal. +

+ Being a fan of a bit of asymmetry, I opted for one blank carapace shield, and one proclaiming the Legio's loyalty to the Warmaster. Note that the heraldic shields are optional – you can leave them off (as shown right of pict-capture) and reveal only a natural-looking armour seam. +

+ Features [VALUESTATUS:ungood] +

+ There are no weapon or head options, which I found a little disappointing. The sprues are packed, so the lack of weapon options was not surprising, but I still would have appreciated a head option. This is a natural focal point for any figure, so having all Warbringer heads being identical is a shame. I can only hope that this presages a release of upgrade heads from Forge World, Specialist Games or enterprising third parties soon. (On that note, I'm waiting for some talented 3D modeller to create a version of the long-snouted second Reaver head, from the original edition – please let me know if you spot one in the wild!). +

+ The really galling thing is the amount of space used up by the optional carapace armour plates – and I'd level a similar criticism at the Reaver and Warlord here. Given the high quality of the engineering, I'm surprised that the Aquila and Eye of Horus symbols aren't loose. The plates are otherwise identical, and having the symbols unmounted would save a huge amount of space on the sprue – perhaps allowing for some variation in the head, or at least some variant knee pads or something. +

+ A final petty criticism before we get stuck into the huge wad a good bits – no crew. The huge deck area is just screaming for a figure or two, and I thought it was a missed opportunity not to create Adeptus Titanicus-sized equivalents to the crew present in the 40k-scale version. +

+ Features [VALUESTATUS:plusgood] +

+ Onto the good stuff – of which there is much! +

+ The arm weapons are identical to the Reaver ones, and fully interchangeable. A nice touch is the cabling, which has a secure default anchor to the superstructure rather than the weapon. As with the other Titan kits, 5 x 1mm recesses are built into the weapon mounting points to allow for ease of magnetisation. The Warbringer's an improvement on the Reaver here, as the recesses are included on the 'elbow' of the arm, like the Warlord – a feature notably missing from the equivalent place on the Reaver. +

+ The AA guns also include 5 x 1mm recesses, which is a fun addition. Interestingly, the Reaver carapace weapons fit rather neatly here prior to the the carapace armour and main gun being fitted... This gets my servo-clamps twitching to do a conversion and create a standard (i.e. non-Nemesis) Warbringer, armed with four Reaver-class weapons. +

+ While the large Warlord-class Mori Quake cannon does not have a magnet, I don't think that's an oversight. It is secured to a large cradle which ensures it is held comfortably in place by gravity. You can glue it down, but not doing so allows a limited traverse (and makes playing with the toy robot easier!) +

+ The quake cannon reload mechanism and ammo
hoppers are visible at the bottom of the pict-capture. +
+ The ammo hoppers at the back require gluing to the torso, but if you want to future-proof your model for additional weapons – the Belicosa volcano cannon seems a shoe-in – then you might want to magnetise using 2 x 1mm magnets or simple pins run horizontally into the superstructure. This'll allow you to remove the reload mechanism easily, and replace it with whatever the equivalent is for a giant laser cannon. +

+ The greatest improvement in design terms is simple: the addition of labels on parts which are hidden after construction. The feet, for example, are marked 'L' and 'R' within the sockets that the ankles are glued into. It's a very simple change from the older kits, but I've frequently seen Reavers assembled with their (very similar) feet on the wrong legs. No such fear here! +

+ More subtly, but no less helpfully, the armour plates and armoured pistons that attach the foot to the lower leg are marked with two letter codes like 'LI' (for Left Inside). All very useful when building, and really the cherry on the cake of what is a fantastic kit. It's a very minor thing, but just goes to show the ongoing improvements the design team are making. +

+ The card components are worth a note, too. While the Command Terminal is unpunched, and the same thin card as the weapons (rather than the thick board of previous Terminals), it's a great touch to have it included with the kit. It's easy to be cynical, but I think including the cards and Terminal (albeit in a cheaper form) is a positive step, and if you're interested in gaming, then its one less hurdle to get over. +


+ Pricing, judgement and closing thoughts +

+ Price-wise, it sits closer to the Warlord than the Reaver; to put this in context, I found the former wince-inducing, and the latter surprisingly cheap. Had this kit sat exactly midway between the two, I think I'd be considering buying a second or third. As it is, the lack of in-kit options (especially the lack of a second head), means I'm unlikely to buy another in the short-term. +

+ These criticisms are minor compared with the joy of having a new Titan class in the game. I wasn't an immediate fan of its aesthetics when I saw previews of the 40k scale one, but I think now that the images suffered from foreshortening, making the legs and weapons look stubby, and the head disproportionately large. Seeing it in the hand, it still looks ungainly – but in a pleasing, intentional way. +

+ The Reaver Old Spiteful (Senex Codomannus) and the Warlord Manifest Law (Ipsus Granicus) alongside Dread Hellespontian +
+ Given that it's the first new Titan design for ages, it would have been easy for it to look out of place, but it fits in beautifully alongside the other Titan types. Bravo to the designers. +

+ If the Warbringer follows a similar pattern to the other Titans, we'll likely be seeing a follow-up release with a different weapon sprue. I anticipate this will be the Belicosa Volcano Cannon, Melta Cannon and Gatling Blaster, as this will complete the weapon options currently available in the rules to the Warbringer Nemesis. You may, therefore, wish to wait a few months if you're after a particular load-out. +

+ In summary then, my criticisms are few, and my praise plentiful. 
The Warbringer Nemesis is a gorgeous kit that looks fantastic in-hand, and I wholeheartedly recommend you get one. +


+ Dread Hellespontion +

+ As part of the Legio Sumer-Nikator, The Sons of the Temple [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], Hellespontion needed a couple of extra tweaks. When assembling, I trimmed away all the posing tabs, giving me free reign. +

+ My advice for creating a slow walking pose is simply to assemble the stable leg first (usually the front leg, or it'll look like your Titan is walking backwards). Secure the foot flat and slightly off-centre on the base, set back a short distance from the front of the base –as the Titan's centre of gravity will be biased towards this point, you want to leave a space for the upper body and weapons to fill; otherwise you'll make it hard to bring it into base contact. +

+ Once that's in place, build the leg above it, canting the lower leg forward, so the knee is over the front toes. If you go straight up, or lean it backwards, the sense will be that the Titan is coming to a halt. +

+ Next, attach the upper leg, canting it backwards so the leg is bent. Don't go with too extreme an angle, or you won't sell the idea of a ponderous pace; it'll look too dynamic to be convincingly weighty. Such high-speed poses are generally better-suited to Reavers or Warhounds.  +

+ With the stable leading leg fixed, you're virtually home and dry on the pose. Glue the pelvis in place, tilting it slightly so that that it's higher on the trailing leg's side. This ensures there's a sense that the rear leg is lifting. +

+ The rear leg can then be built in relative safety. Working down from the pelvis, mock-up the pose by holding the upper and lower legs and the foot roughly in place (use some blu-tak or similar to hold it, if you struggle to hold them). Depending on how fast you want the Titan to seem to be moving, you can swing the foot inwards or outwards. +

+ Swinging it in towards the centre of the Titan will imply speed (the foot is pulled in and up towards the centre of gravity as it trails), while leaving it further out will give the sense of a steady walk (the foot remains underneath the shoulder, ready to be placed for stability). +

+ I've picked a mid-pace stride here. The forefoot is placed flat and secure, the leg slightly bent to brace it. This helps to suggest the immense weight of the Titan is almost all over the front leg. The trailing leg is lifting away, only the front two still in contact with the ground. As the pelvis is raised, the leg is lifted vertically, and the foot therefore swings in. However, because the pelvis is not swung fully (as it would be at greater speeds), the foot doesn't move too far towards the centre of the Titan, ending up slightly between shoulder and groin. +

+ I couldn't resist adding a little Epic Space Marine to the base,
which came from Silverback Games' (formerly Gladius Game Arts)
Titan City range. Really nice quality.. +
 + To help sell the pose, I needed to bend the toes. This was easily achieved simply by cutting in between the main toes and the little armour plates, then bending them with a little brute force and ignorance. While the side and rear toes were bent downwards to suggest weight, the front toe was bent upwards,leaving as much in contact with the floor as possible. This was to avoid it looking too dynamic – as though the Titan were tip-toeing along. +

+ That completes the pose; you just need to balance the upper carapace on top. For a walking pose, this should cant slightly towards the stable leg. The angle should be more extreme for greater speed – but you should also bear in mind that Titans can turn as well, which might affect the angle you want to place it at. +

+ Some spare 6mm figures help to fill the upper deck, and give a sense of scale to the city-ending ordnance of a Titan! +

+ Hope that was helpful, and please inload your thoughts and comments in the + {Commentary Submission Access} + form below. +