Over the last couple of years since I have returned to the hobby, I’ve built up and painted my fair share of armies for both Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000. Some I have sold to fund newer projects, while others have slowly been growing to fully playable 2,000 point forces. As it stands currently, I have my ‘Stone’cast Eternals for AoS, and my Adeptus Custodies for 40k with my Chaos Daemons jumping across systems whenever the mood takes me. But recently I’ve wanted to start a new project. Something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, but have always put off for some reason or another. But now it’s time. Time to go retro with a Pre-Heresy Marine army.
Now it might be surprising to some of you, but I’m not the biggest fan of Space Marines. Sure, they are awesome from a lore standpoint. But I’ve always found them a little bland on the table top, at least in an aesthetic sense. Seeing a bunch of the very similar looking power armoured warriors on the battlefield just seems dull to me, and this has only been enhanced with the release of the Primaris Marines. Yeah, they look tough, but I like my genetically engineered super soldiers to have a bit more personality on the table. This is less of an issue for their Chaos brethren of course, that have so much personality that it can have the opposite effect and give them all too much character. But for the imperials I think there is definitely room for improvement (like the newer Bladeguard minis for example).
But there is one notable exception to this rule however, and that is the design of the Heresy era Astartes.
Even after all these years, I still find this work stunning.
Blending the aesthetic of Space Marine power armour with some of the retro elements of 40k’s Rogue Trader days, these Astartes have inspired hobbyists for years. I remember getting a copy of The Horus Heresy: Visions of War art book when it first came out and been blown away by the stunning art of Alan Merrett and John Blanche. They made Space Marines look so much more interesting to me than the ‘modern’ incarnation of the Adeptus Astartes, with older and more visually interesting versions of armour and weaponry. I still remember players in my local store working out ways of reproducing that Heresy look with their own armies. And this was years before Forge World had a shot at it with their line of products, so it was all about that green stuff and plastic card.
Ever since then I always knew that one day I would go ahead and have a shot at such an army, but not having the guts to fully customise the older Marine kits to fit the aesthetic (or the budget to go all out on the later Forge World line) I put off such a venture. However, a few years ago, GW proper went ahead and released a bunch of plastic Heresy era kits for us, with MK III and IV armours as well as Terminators and some HQ’s. One of these products was the very well received was the Betrayal at Calth box set, that came with enough classic themed Marines to build a small army. The bad news is that this product in no longer available to by direct. The good news is that I was able to pick one up a few weeks ago for a reasonable price on good old eBay.
So, I finally have the means to start the army after all these years. The only question I have is how am I going to paint them?
I guess I have my work cut out for me.
Firstly, it’s important to note that I intend to use these in 40k proper as a Firstborn Marine army, so no traitors (sorry if the title sounded misleading). Secondly, I wanted to make this a codex compliant chapter, so no Blood Angels, Space Wolves or Dark Angels (and let’s be honest, the DA would only end up looking like Fallen anyway). So, I had a bit of a think on it and came down to two choices. Ultramarines, or Salamanders.
Both have easy enough colour schemes to reproduce that would look great in Mark IV power armour. And both would be different enough on the tabletop to the other Marines I see in my local meta. At the moment I’m lending more towards the Ultramarines, which I suspect is a little bit out of guilt for all the stick I gave them back in the day. Also, the Mark IV Marines do have a very roman feel to some of their design, and that would fit better with the big blue boys. Still, I’ve not yet put paint to brush yet so I could always change my mind.
Not going to lie, pre-heresy Ultramarines do look awesome.
I expect I’ll be making my decision in a few weeks’ time anyway, when I am able to probably get started on the army (currently it’s the summer holidays, so I’m in full dad mode at the moment). I also have to work out what else I want to include in the army, as the box only gets me to the 1,000 point mark. I expect it will involve a trip to Forge World after all, so there goes my hopes of making this somewhat a budget project. Either way, I’m going to set myself the target of getting the army to a fully painted 2,000 point force before the end of the year, ready to get on the tabletop for 2022 and whatever events I can get myself to. So, if you end up going to any events next year and see someone running some classic Firstborns with a Heresy era paint job, make sure you come over and say hi.
And that will about do it for today’s Hobby Workshop. Hopefully by next month I will have made a start on these Astartes, with a decent idea of how I’ll round out the army list. Spoilers. It will probably involve more dreadnoughts. But I what to know, do you have an army or a special project you are currently working on? Let us know about it in the comments below, or if you want to engage with me directly you can find me over on Twitter @TenguPlaysGames. I can be often found there posting random memes and teasing new articles before I write them.
I’ll also be posting pictures of the army up on my Instagram, which I’ll link to here. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support of the site. If you want to support us further, you can become a Patron by clicking the link down below. Also consider liking and sharing our articles to help grow our little community, as it really does help us out. Look after yourselves and each other, and I’ll see you next time.