+ inload: The Five Hundred Worlds +

+ The Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar +

+ Apropos of nothing, here's a picture of Primarch Guilliman leading a force through the ruins of Armatura. I'm treating this very much not as a side-track, but rather a natural extension of Betrayal at Calth. +

Mission1: Ready for action
+ ...and speaking of which, with the figures for Mission 1 complete [VIZREF the previous inload], I've moved on to Mission 2, which involves the Word Bearers being confronted by the cream of the Ultramarines: Captain Aethon and five Ultramarine terminators. +

+ The Terminators will be supplied using the following figures, who need a bit of polish and a repaint:

+ Apologies for the ancient pic! + 
[+noospherinloadlink embedded+]

+ Aethon, however, needs to be made from whole cloth. +


+WIP Captain Aethon +

+ The character of Captain Aethon has been handled by a number of authors – I think his first brief appearance is at the head of the 19th Company in Aaron Dembski-Bowden's The First Heretic; and he then appears in cameo in Dan Abnett's Know No Fear. These are two of my favourite novels – Horus Heresy or otherwise. I believe he also turns up in some short stories, and the duology of novellas The Honoured and The Unburdened that came out with the release of the Betrayal at Calth box set; though I haven't read the latter two. Anyone know if they're worth picking up? +

+ Either way, he's an interesting background character, and this seems like a perfect opportunity to make my interpretation of a fairly loosely-sketched figure, who nevertheless has an 'official' figure, which you can see on the GW website [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. Now, while he does have a model, I suspect that the figure was sculpted without particular reference to the character, and more as a fairly generic leader to whom the character was then written. 

+ Whether that is the case or not, I want to echo the broad strokes of that model – Cataphractii armour; bare, bald head; and similar weapons. Building on the same basis as my other Terminators – step-by-step walkthrough here: [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – I'm going to do some additional work to bring the figure closer to the original. +

+ The WIP you can see above has had the original detailing removed, ready for sculpting. I am making some 'editorial' changes to taste – I won't include the gorget of the original, so that the face can be better seen, for example – but I'm doing my best to make sure that my model clearly comes from the same source. The head, incidentally, is from Forge World's Terminator Praetor figure. It's got such a fantastic grumpy expression, which I thought perfectly suited this (very angry) Ultramarine. +

+ I'm not enamoured of the figure's armament – chainfist and combi-melta – as they don't seem very fitting for an officer; but perhaps that's all the more reason to follow them closely: trying things outside your comfort zone is always interesting, whether it's successful or a failure. +


+ inload: Legion symbols and finishing +

+ Betrayal at Calth +

+ *Phew!* That's a wrap – on mission one, at least. Last night I finished re-basing and detailing the squads of Ultramarines and Word Bearers that I'll need for mission 1 of Betrayal at Calth. Now just to find someone to play it with! +

+ Next up for this project – well, after a game, that is – will be Captain Aethon and five Terminators. I'll be making a new model for Aethon, but the Terminators will be a sprucing-up and repaint of my old Novamarines. Painting up the bits for this boardgame is proving a very enjoyable way of consolidating lost projects and satisfying random bursts of enthusiasm... +


+ Your army, your way +

+ In fact, the project is helping me to further shake off the idea of a set of models 'for one army, for one game'. A few years back, I was used to collecting X points-worth of models, generally to a set army list. While this was great for getting stuff done – far less faffing around in my painting then than now – the result was that I always felt a bit restricted, and had a sense that the lists and model selection needed to be polished, or optimised, or refined. Today, I find it better to run with my enthusiasms and spend that time refining and polishing on the models themselves – whether sculpting or painting. +

+ Of course, there's nothing wrong with painting/collecting for gaming in and of itself. Playing competitive or Matched Play style games – and not just 40k, of course – you'll need to toe the line on what you add to your force, and that makes for hard decisions. However, I think the principle of such restrictions apply so far across the tabletop wargaming world that it's become a de facto standard – and that is a shame. I'm a firm believer that there's no right way to play, but when discussion is predicated on tabletop efficiency, rather than that being one of a spectrum of considerations, it's restrictive. +

+ Models built purely to look how I wanted have turned out to be surprisingly (and fittingly for Ultramarines) flexible in gaming. +
+ Using 40k (and 30k) Space Marines as an example, we've seen the premier weapon choices alter from one edition to the next as the rules altered – five man squads with lascannon and plasma gun in 3rd, through to grav cannons in 7th, for example. Again, that's not a problem, but it's a shame when such choices become exclusionary, to the detriment of the visual appeal. I don't think heavy bolters and chainswords have ever been the tournament players weapon upgrades of choice, but they certainly look awesome! +

+ With this in mind, building models with a certain look in mind – rather than a certain game effect – is a good way to surprise yourself. It's an approach I took with my Ultramarines years back, with the happy result that they've remained largely 'edition-proof'. By using restrictions given by narrative and aesthetic – i.e. getting ideas from stories and artwork – rather than by rulebooks and weapon tables, I've ended up with a force that is versatile enough to be usable in virtually any game – from enormous 40k or 30k games to tiny skirmish (or even tabletop roleplaying) games. +

+ Sergeant Aquilla leads his men through the ruins of Numinus City, avoiding TItans of the Legio Suturvora. +
+ I'm likely preaching to the choir here, but I do want to be clear that I don't see any problem with gaming competitively, or in equal points matches – those can be great fun. My point is not only that you don't have to play like that, but that there's a huge world of opportunity and cool games to be played beyond the symmetrical. +

+ In fact, even if you're a dyed-in-the-wool competitive tournament player, you've certainly used a number of forms of imbalance:

  • Asymmetrical table setup
  • Different army lists
  • Different missions
+ These things are built into Matched Play, but they are at root part of the broader scope of playing – in its truest sense. GW provide rules that attempt balance, but they're ultimately never going to be truly fair: that's why there's such an emphasis on discussion with the other player, and the collaborative nature of tabletop gaming. There is an 'inherent social contract' – but really that's just jargon for playing to ensure everyone has fun. +

+ Anyway, back to the models. I'm not suggesting that it's for everyone, but if you are tempted to build or paint something a bit off-the-wall, then go for it. You might not find what it's useful for for ten years – but by then you'll likely have a whole cast of such figures, and that's given you the props you need to tell all sorts of cool stories. Good luck! +


+ inload: The Yranus Landings +

+ Yranus: Birthplace of Mongrels +

Ynwirm. Lost a lot of good men and women there. Lost time, too. By the time we managed to mount an extraction, the Red Hand had bled twelve regiments white, and their fleet had skipped the system. In the aftermath, Lord General Klottin found himself short of a third of his front line forces, and Major-General Jil found himself short a head. Even today I'm not convinced there was a victory to be won there.
– Sen. Opprobius Mazeran.


+ Yranus +
+ The Ynwirm system contains three planets orbiting a sulky, ancient, red dwarf star. While all three support life, only Yranus was of strategic worth; Imperial Intelligence having established the presence of a significant military presence. These were initially believed to be independent, though their ties to the Red Hand quickly became obvious. +

+ Twelve Imperial regiments, including three from Ha'qua and two specialist heavy artillery Regiments from Balto, were initially tasked with rendering Ynwirm Compliant. Major General Jil was given operational theatre command. Extremely well-versed and regarded in ground warfare, Jil is now infamous for having been promoted beyond his capabilities. Given void command, Jil struggled to muster his forces effectively; his hesitant commands being further twisted by Hesh's agents. +

+ The result was the infamous Yranus Landings. With the taskforce being made up primarily of bulk transports and escorts, Jil adopted a cautious approach, in order to maximise the ability to bypass minefields and system monitors. The Imperial taskforce thus translated a huge distance out from the System's Mandeville Point, and began the slow burn towards Yranus itself. The strategy seemed solid, and within two weeks the fleet had achieved orbit, with little organised hostile activity, and no casualties. +


+ Planetfall +

+ General Jil +
Image credit: [Kordhal]
+ Pioneer forces from six Regiments – notably the Jedder's Rim Own and Port Bromwic 2219th – were the first to deploy, and moved to secure and control the principal spaceports. Meeting only patchy resistance, the main problem that the Imperials faced were the squally storms that disrupted deployment and movement. In addition to causing a number of shuttle collisions and crashes, contributing to the force's casualties, the storms frequently prevented medical evacuation. +

+ Frustrated with the slow progress, Jil's lieutenants requested an immediate full-scale deployment, eager to catch the seemingly unprepared defenders on the back foot. The Major-General refused; instead insisting on waiting out the storms. As days stretched to weeks, resistance began to stiffen. Worse, orbital defences came back on line in a number of enemy-held batteries, and the mass transports were forced to retreat. +

+ Support for the infantry forces in-field was reduced to orbital bombardment, the accuracy of which was in turn hampered by atmospheric conditions. Indeed, after two weeks, many of the initial urban targets – Ushen Moros, Surimor and the ancient mountainholds of Baraccu were reduced to rubble – and all to apparent little effect on the enemy, whose light infantry guerilla assaults seemed undimmed. Indeed, stinging attacks on Imperial sorties had been mounted near-continuously – and all under the cover of the battering winds and rain. Lamb's World soldiers were called in as unlikely advisors to other Imperial regiments, but even their experience of a rain world home proved less effective than hoped. +

Embattled troops of the Lamb's World 88th secure the ruins of Ushen Moros.

+ With casualties mounting in-field, and little progress, Jil at last gave in to his subordinates requests, and ordered a full-scale deployment. Even here, he sought to minimise Naval losses, and ordered the mass transports held back. The result was a flotilla of dropships being forced to push their fuel reserves while running a gauntlet of orbital fire – effectively giving the Imperial troops a one-way ticket. Only if they were successful on the ground, the troops were told, they could reliably refuel and re-arm. Intended as a call to arms, this had a predictably deleterious effect on morale. +

+ Red Cardinal +

+ Even taking Jil's hesitancy and half-heartedness into account, the sheer scale of the Imperial deployment should have proven successful. While the target-rich nature of the assault meant inevitable casualties to the orbital defences, the forces on-planet had successfully and substantially degraded the defender's emplacements. +

+ Eve of battle. Lamb's World 88th forces perform another fruitless sweep of the streets of Ushen Moros, prior to the events of Cardinal Qi's Day of Revelation +

+ Such was not the case. In a masterstroke, the enemy's commander – the hitherto unknown Cardinal Qi, revealed the full extent of his forces for a brief instant before orbital communication was cut entirely. To the Imperial Command's horror, the entire planetary battlesphere went dark for a crucial fourteen hours, a harrowing period during which the deploying forces were buffetted both by the elements and by a reinvigorated enemy. +

+ In orbit, the Navy frantically fought to re-establish communication, but for three months the only communications that broke through were increasingly desperate requests for aid – or failing that, information. +

+ On the ground +

+ Stripped of their communications and support, and frequently scattered across the battle theatre, Imperial forces found their Operational Command became devolved to individual Company – or even Platoon – level. While there were a number of experienced forces in the field, such as the Verringian Warjacks and an Honour Company of the Vanitor 45th, the majority of the forces were relatively raw, and proved easy pickings for the resurgent Red Hand. +

+ Vrag-Rana infiltrators terminate a rare on-field Astropath. Imperial communication came to rely heavily on psychic augmentation, but the Red Hand was clearly dominant in this area; and sent kill teams to investigate and destroy any detected psychic activity. +

+ Worse was to come, as Cardinal Qi deployed a brigade of the infamous Vrag-Rana in support of the Yranian's native forces. These battle-hardened soldiers, including a number of Armoured Companies, completely changed the texture of the battlescape. Unaffected by the communication breaks caused by the storms – later confirmed to be because Qi's network was heavily based on psykers – the Vrag-Rana tore through their opposition. Over the course of two bloody weeks, two Baltan Artillery regiments were rendered combat ineffective, and a Ha'Quan Regiment was decimated. +

+ As Imperial forces entrenched, the war broke down into a turgid and bloody counter-occupation, with Red Hand forces keeping the Imperials bogged down in the abandoned cities and townships they had fought so hard to claim. Sallies from the seemingly worthless urban areas were brutally beaten back, and the spaceports were reclaimed by the Red Hand. +

Lamb's World survivors retreat, sheltered by Armour from the Port Bromwic 2219th.

+ As weeks turned to months, a number of Imperial forces were rumoured to have surrendered in detail to the Red Hand. Such reports were scrubbed from the official record by Colonel Brasher of the Port Bromwic Mechanised Infantry, who assumed Operational Command over the forces within the city of Surimor. Fortunate enough to have sheltered a potent mix of surviving artillery, heavy infantry and engineers, the city of Surimor and its surroundings became a relatively secure stronghold for the Imperials; a place to weather the storm. Nevertheless, casualties continued to mount, and counter-assaults proved fruitless against the native Yranian forces. +

+ When the storms broke, and communication was re-established, the resolved picture was grim. Wholesale defeat and destruction was on the cards for the Imperial forces, and retreat was the only salient option – further fighting would have further slowed the Fourth Army, and abandoning the forces would have potentially led to mass defection, strengthening the mysterious Cardinal Qi's armies further. Jil's vacillation may have doomed the deployment, but his logistical talents proved to be excellent in retrieving those few who survived. Targetting region after region, a hotch-potch armada of Naval transports ranging from emptied bulk fuel-landers to Arvus lighters settled on the world, and retrieved the grateful soldier, and leaving their abandoned armour and vehicles rendered inoperable or physically destroyed. +

+ Retreat from Yranus +


+ New beginnings: Klottin's Mongrels +

+ In the wake of the order to retreat, battered and shell-shocked survivors were gradually retrieved and withdrawn from the wartorn world and returned to the Crusade's staging post worlds of Mu-Scorpii and Slav-Mundi, where they were temporarily tasked with patrolling and monitoring the Compliant regions of the planets – far from onerous duties that were seen as a tacit reward from the Lord General by the Guard. +

+ In the wake of the Battle of Buir's Reach, however, Third Army Reserves were growing scant. To request transfers from the unbattered Fourth Army Group would have been seen as a humiliation that even the sanguine and pragmatic Lord General Klottin – Master of the Third – could not reasonably endure for fear of losing his immediate underlings' respect. Instead, he called for a Regimental re-founding, combining the elements of the Yranus veterans with newly-arrived soldiers from Sector Cetus-Scorpii. +

+ This met with mixed results. The Galvinax/Elirian Combined proved to be a surprisingly well-mettled alloy; while the newly-created Mu-Scorpii 149ers (made up of elements of the Termeran IVth, Jedder's Rim Own, and Baltan 9th Artillery) nearly tore itself apart in its first deployment as the Jedders common soldiery jealously refused to acknowledge orders from anyone other than their own – comparatively junior – surviving Command Corps. +

+ The 88/2219th – the War-Orphans [RECORDS FRAGMENTED]


+ The delay led to the events of Priad's Folly +









+ inload: WIP Kill Teams of the PCRC Badab War +

+ PCRC Kill Team: Badab +

+ Nmamde Kain takes point, while Brother Acast provides covering fire during a skirmish on Galen. +
+ Fuelled by a few synthales last year, the PCRC (our gaming group) fell to talking about those campaigns that we never got round to, and – championed by Bob Hunk – we ended up mooting a Badab War Kill Team campaign. Spool the chronoscape forwards a few months, and we've got stuck into it, with the Kill Teams complete or nearly ready, and our first game played. +

+ In addition to building Kill Team Clawthorn, my own Astral Claws Kill Team [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], I've been enjoying watching the progress of the rest of the gang – and they've very kindly agreed to let me share their work here:

+ Omricon's Salamanders: Phoenix Team +

A PCRC Badab campaign was always going to be an exciting prospect for me and it let me scratch several itches at once. My armies of preference are the footsloggers usually: orks and the Imperial guard, for example. On this occasion, however, the theme of the campaign meant I could start playing around with space marines, while the scale of Kill Team meant avoiding the pressure of committing to a full army. Secondly, it allowed me to experiment with the new contrast paint range.

Lovely conversion work here, and fantastic choice of bits really help to get
the ancient character of this storied First Founding Chapter across.
When it came to chapter choice, the noble Salamanders leapt out at me not just for their rich background, or the fact that they the nearest thing to the good guys of the 41st millennium, but also because of their ancient heritage. In particular, their attitudes towards their armour and weapons let me experiment with something that apologist also does, namely mixing and matching different armour marks on a single marine. 

In terms of armament, I nodded to the general theme of 'fire' and went so far as to include a Infernus heavy bolter which the PCRC have allowed me to use in our games. It’s been a lot of fun seeing the PCRC kill teams evolve and I am looking forward to seeing – and facing! – them on the battlefield.


+ Bob_Hunk's Lamenters: Kill-Team Lugeo +

Bob Hunk's signature LED-enhancements really give this team impact, but the underlying conversion and painting work is top-notch. More are underway, and the full team is promising to be really striking.

[+ScreedAuth=BOB HUNK+]

Kill Team Lugeo are an under strength tactical squad depleted by early actions in the Badab War, such as the raid on Hallows Point and the Helbron Incursion. Sergeant Lugeo and his squad gained bitter experience in void ship boarding actions and other close quarters ‘Zona Mortalis’ operations that characterised much of this Astartes conflict, reforging them as a close-knit team of veteran survivors.

Brother Heamis (left) is armed typically for Lamenters of that period with an Umbra pattern bolter - favoured for its comparatively low maintenance requirements for a bolt weapon - and an Astartes pattern combat blade.

I knew from the outset that I wanted my kill team to be both ‘true scale’ and to have a retro vibe. Not only is the Badab War set in 40K’s “past”, but the original campaign narrative was first conceived in the early 1990s. [...] 
Of course I had to add my customary LED helmet eye lenses. My tutorial is here if you’re interested and haven’t seen it already. As an experiment I applied a thin coat of Spiritstone red technical paint to the eye lenses. This doesn’t do anything to hinder the light when the LED is on, but makes the eye lenses look red when it is off. [...]


+ The text for Kill Team Lugeo is excerpted from chrisbuxeypaints, Bob Hunk's blog [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] Go check out the rest of the article, where he goes into his plans in more depth – then stick around and drink in the rest of the lovely blog! +


+ apologist's Astral Claws: Kill-Team Clawthorn +

+ Regular readers will be sick to the back teeth of looking at these chaps, I'm sure, but I wanted to included them here for completeness. The Astral Claws proved fun to build and paint. In terms of the immediate future, I've got some markers underway for injured figures, and we've recently clubbed together to buy some new scenery – expect to see some more on that soon, and for it to turn up quite a bit for Badab. Depending on how enthusiasms fall, I may also return to add a few new members to Clawthorn, too. +

+ As mentioned above, we played our first game – a skirmish on Galen between Clawthorn and Phoenix – last night. I believe Bob Hunk is writing up an illustrated battle report, so I shan't spoil the ending. For the moment, here's a picture of the battlefield. +

A post-game discussion over a steaming cup of recaf got us talking about plans for the campaign. We agreed that a big part of the appeal of Kill Team is its limited size – no pressure to have giant armies – but it also allows for lots of narrative twists on the basic structure. That got our minds turning over on ideas – everything from Zona Mortalis missions and terrain, recreating scenes from famous war films, to one-off special scenarios like trying to take down a Dreadnought à la the computer game Space Marine. +

There were murmurings of Executioners making an appearance, and I hope to be able to share Stuntwedge's Sons of Medusa and Mantis Warriors soon. +

+ inload: Clotho Harphagos and the Mazzikim +

+ Clotho Harphagos and the Mazzikim +

Following their shift in fortunes on the surface of Calth, the XVIIth were forced to scramble into the subterranean arcologies alongside those whose world they had murdered. The surviving force was substantial, but as organisationally disrupted as their former Imperial allies. Operating on standard battle protocols, the Word Bearers quickly formed scratch-squads – improvising swiftly to remain battle-ready.
As the Underworld War began in earnest, the formidable resilience of Ultramarine Command and Control began to demonstrate itself, and the Word Bearers found themselves on the back foot. Both Legions were forced to reconfigure themselves – and quickly – for neither side could afford the luxury of underestimating their opponents.  
The Word Bearers were, after all, far from broken. Their fanatical zeal remained underpinned by Legionary discipline, and the Ultramarines continued to struggle in their attempt to adapt to the Word Bearers' broad use of warpcraft.

+ The Mazzikim +

+ Typical of the temporary field-squads used by both sides during the opening skirmishes of the Underworld War, the Mazzikim were made up of Astartes from various different Word Bearer Chapters. Individual identification is further complicated by the False Flag operations the XVIIth used to mask and conflate their numbers – a problem that caused the organisationally-minded Ultramarines particular concerns when accounting for their enemy's losses. +

+ At last – a whole squad of Word Bearers complete, ready to rampage and burn down a galaxy they helped to build. This is always a rewarding stage, and I think it's worth enjoying a completed piece – whether a squad, an army, or a single figure – before moving on too quickly. +

+ The new additions are Sergeant Clotho Harphagos, and the flamer specialist Sart Kayi. They're pictured here alongside an existing figure: I usually keep a previous model nearby to ensure some semblance of consistency! +

+ Clotho Harphagos +

+ Having pistol and sword opens up the pose, so I had a lot of fun with freehand work on the sergeant – more astrological symbols and script. Note also the use of more parts from the Chaos Marine kit. I've selected the parts I'm using quite carefully; avoiding the more warped organic/mutated parts and sticking with parts that could reasonably be simple stylised designs – the idea being that the Word Bearers have their own distinctive 'look' that they apply to their armour. +

+ For example, the helmets I'm using within this force are restricted to a particular look: there are three different examples of what looks to me like a stylised Mark IV helm. I've used the one with horns for the Sergeant, as the 'Horns of Colchis' are mentioned in passing in Battle for the Abyss (not a stellar entry in the Horus Heresy series, but it does have some redeeming cool details and naval battle scenes). +

+ To me, it makes more sense for the Chaos aesthetic to have some grounding in the Legions' own choices – simply warped and exaggerated. Models like these help to blur the lines between the clean 'standard' Horus Heresy-era armour and the M41 Chaos Space Marine look in a way I think particularly well-suited to Word Bearers. After all, the Word Bearers got into Chaos before it was cool, so it only make sense that they'd adapt their look. +

+ Sart Kayi +

+ Repetition of the helmet style helps to reinforce the impression that they're manufactured to look a certain way, rather than individually warped – and deliberately restricting the variation to a set group stops things looking too bespoke. Note also that I've tried to restrain myself when using the Chaos Marine parts. Here, I've got a chaos gun, pauldrons and helmet, so I chose an Imperial backpack and a techno-looking forearm to help make sure things don't tip too far into the Chaos visual camp. +

+ Of course, you don't want your figures to be boring, so there's always space for individualisation. The freehand work is a perfect way to add some character within an otherwise uniform look. +

+ Consistency in scheme helps to tie the different elements together. The sergeant has a particuarly opulent backpack, but the use of the same steel-grey makes it look like a heavily decorated – perhaps artificer-made – variant on the others; and helps to mark him out as important. This is good both from a background point of view and a gaming one: along with the horns, it makes him immediately identifiable. +

+ This is particularly important for a boardgame figure, which may well end up being used by someone who isn't intimately familiar with the minutiae of Space Marine legions. If you know the background, hopefully there's some cool bits that you can pick out, but if you're interested in the miniatures simple as particularly complicated counters or markers, then it's good to know it's 'the one with the horns'. +

 + Note also that the backpack is not just heavily decorated; it was selected because the lower part has clearly been based on one of the older marks of armour – compare it with the Mark III and IV packs here, and the lower part looks 'right', for want of a better word. This sort of detail, built-in by the designers, is a godsend when trying to do the sort of visual blending I'm doing here. +

+ But enough of this, let's see some group shots – that's the fun bit of finishing a squad! +

+ Note that I've tried to keep the Imperial helms as uniform as possible – reducing the options here is another attempt to help blend in the Chaos helms. All but one of the 'standard' helms is one particular sculpt, with the grille/vents pointing downwards. +

+ Note that Clotho has the beginnings of the Legion markings, too – I got stuck in on his shoulder pad, and it's proving quicker than I'd feared. I hope the use of Chaos parts on him and a couple of others helps to blend in the more obviously warped Possessed marine. +

+ A nice gunline shot of the squad, just to finish off. +

+ inload: Calth +

+ Make new friends, but keep the old +

+ It's nice getting near a stage of completion. It might be a squad, it might be the whole army, or it might be all the bits you need for a particular game. The anticipation is often sweeter than the event! +

+ In this instance, I've nearly built up sufficient Word Bearers to play the first mission of Betrayal at Calth – just two more to polish off and I can talk a willing victim volunteer to give me a game. +

+ Of course, such an event is all the sweeter when the element is part of a larger project –  in this case, I'm getting to the stage when I can make some fun dioramas and play some games between my beloved Ultramarines and these new pretenders. +

+ Building +

+ The marines above are more Word Bearers – I've managed to trade for some of the new Chaos Marine bits, so the helms and pauldrons shown above will be dotted through both squads. +

+ inload: Objective creep +

+ The Mazzikim – and historical accuracy in a future war +

+ Markings, weathering and a few little details to go +

+ More painting, more progress. While still WIP, these chaps are crawling along. However, with just twenty-one (and a Dreadnought) to paint, they're not an insurmountable project. I definitely find it easier to push myself on a slog when a project has a definite scope. +

+ The WIP shot about shows ten marines, including a couple of specialists (flamer, heavy bolter and possessed), so getting near to being halfway through. The majority of these will likely end up in the Mazzikim – one of two hotch-potch remnant squads fighting in the Underworld War – but at least one will need to join the other squad, in order to create space for a Sergeant. +
  • Sergeant Clotho Harphagos
  • Mugla of the Blasted Cedar – boltgun
  • Kimon of the Inscribed – boltgun
  • Coran of the Blasted Cedar – boltgun
  • Arrian the Medean – boltgun
  • Urka Madis – boltgun 
  • Bac Vorkar of the Third Hand – heavy bolter
  • Vannis Gen of the Inscribed – boltgun
  • Tantal – boltgun
  • Sart Kayi – flamer

+ Emboldened names here are figures that were already ready for play (i.e. they just need finishing touches). I now need to pick who's who for the three in the picture at the top. Since I have some WIP shots, here's a pic of them a bit earlier in the painting process, with just the red done:

+ After this, I played around with some more glazes and final highlights, then painted in the metals. Adding the metals and eyes goes a surprising way to getting these near completion. +

+ Objective creep +

+ We've all been there – you put your main projects to one side in favour of 'a quick sideproject'. It's 'just come off the backburner'; you wanted 'a quick palette cleanser' before getting back to your main project... only it isn't. The side project catches your imagination, and before you know, you've got really deep into the lore, ordered a load of extra bits, and the project's taken on a life of its own. The infamous hobby butterfly strikes again! +

+ Not inherently a problem, of course – and I'm an advocate of running with your enthusiasms where possible. Few things are more tiresome than having to force yourself to paint – it makes your hobby a job. +

+ The problem I do have with this is that indulging the hobby butterfly can mean that early parts of the project end up looking a bit half-hearted. As mentioned in an earlier inload, these Word Bearers were intended as a quick side-project; minimal conversion in order to get them on the table. In practice, I found myself enjoying the process, and have been lavishing more attention on the more recent members. +

+ Here, I think the painting has remained relatively consistent, but the underlying conversion work is gradually becoming more complex, hiding more of the Mark X basis of the figure, and drawing out more of the familiar Horus-Heresy look. Finding a balance between time available and simply getting figures done has become more important for me in recent years, so the underlying figures above have not been converted to the extent that I might once have done, as shown in a couple of examples below. +

+ Mark II Crusade plate – a conversion that led to Praetor plate becoming 'canon'. +

+ Mark IV Maximus plate; full conversion +

+ Anvils of Konor picked up on this on a post I put up on Instagram last night to say that they're not as obviously Horus Heresy-era as they could be. By the time I got back to the picture this morning, it had escalated into quite a heated discussion on the relative merits of what makes a figure fit into the Horus Heresy or not, and it was interesting to see the back and forth. +

+ Altogether simpler – Mark IV Maximus with minimal sculpting. +
+ I hasten to make it clear there's no hard feelings on either side. AoK is a fantastically talented converter and painter, well-known for the care and attention he pays to his miniatures – I'd thoroughly recommend your check out his stuff. +

+ He (quite unnecessarily, but very kindly) got in touch to apologise about what he felt was his slightly abrupt phrasing, and we fell to chatting about 'historical accuracy' within the HH era, a topic that has popped up a few times, and tends to end up with two entrenched camps. He and I are going to put together a future inload to discuss this concept of historical accuracy in Horus Heresy-era gaming, and in wargaming in general. +

+ It's an issue that's got more complexity than the partisan issue of 'rivet-counters' vs. 'lazy modellers' it often devolves into, so I'm hoping we can put together a more nuanced discussion of the topic; one with a vibe that's more 'friendly chat around the fire with a brandy' than 'debate with the enemy'! +

+ Best of all, I hope I'll be able to showcase some of AoK's stunning work here, and share it with you. +


+ Ahead of the article, I'd love to hear your thoughts on 'pseudo-historical accuracy' within wargames in general, in order to get as broad a set of discussion points as possible. +

  • How important is personal creativity and individuality to your hobby? How does that relate to fitting your models in with the established universe?
  • How far do you consider compatibility with others' work when painting, modelling or gaming? 
  • Do you like playing with and against more familiar 'canon' figures and armies, or more unusual and individualistic 'counts-as' forces?
  • How does it relate to the implied social contract of gaming or sharing your work? 
  • Where does the line lie for you between including everyone and setting particular standards?
  • Do you see the official lore/'canon' simply as a starting point, or a common factor to be included where possible?