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Armies of the Jungle: the Aquamarines of so-gaHan   Text by Kenton Kilgore
In the From Idea To Reality series, we chronicled the process of creating an army from scratch. In this series, we will showcase the finished results of our labors – the completed armies (as much as any 40K army can ever be considered “completed”). By detailing how the army was collected, how the background and color schemes were developed, and how the army is used on the battlefield, we hope that this series will provide inspiration for those interested in collecting similar armies.

My older daughter Beth has grown up seeing her dad paint and play with little figurines, and eventually she decided that she wanted to learn 40K and start her own army. After learning the rules, borrowing some minis, and playing at Counter Offensive 5, Beth settled on Space Marines, and decided to create her own chapter.

Upon learning of Beth’s interest, friends of mine (#1 Jungle Fanboy Luis Nunez, #1 Jungle Fangirl Jennifer Burdoo, and All-Around-Good-Guy Bryan “Lawman” Layton, among others) contributed spare miniatures and even vehicles (Luis, you Da Man!), and we acquired several more units during CO5 at the store Dream Wizards. The army is a work in progress, but here, so far, are the Aquamarines….

Beth with some of the building blocks of her very first army

The Aquamarines are a recently-founded chapter, derived from Ultramarine geneseed, specializing in water-based operations. The Aquamarines’ base is the planet so-gaHan, formerly home to the so-gaHanii, a race of technologically advanced, amphibious aliens who, until recently, had resisted being annexed by the Imperium or the nearby Tau Empire. 

Almost 98% of so-gaHan’s surface is covered with water, with a few small, scattered islands being the only land. The so-gaHanii lived in large, spherical cities floating at various depths beneath the waves. Irregularities in so-gaHan’s orbit around its sun resulted in climate change, cooling the oceans, altering currents, killing many plant and animal species that the so-gaHanii depended on, and spreading lethal diseases and parasites that so-gaHanii medicine could do little to stem. Within 50 Terran years, the so-gaHanii were extinct.

The Imperium seized so-gaHan, repelling several expeditionary forces sent by the Tau for the same purpose. The Aquamarines established a fortress monastery on the ocean floor, miles below the planet’s surface, where it would be difficult for invaders to reach. Under the protection of the Aquamarines, Imperial workers have begun mining the extensive deposits of strategic minerals and ores found on so-gaHan’s sea floor and in the underwater mountains and abyssal trenches.

In addition to defending the planet and keeping the Tau in check, the Aquamarines have been tasked to recover so-gaHanii technology. The Aquamarines found most of the aliens’ cities and artifacts intact, and after translating the fortunately-plentiful surviving documentation, took many items and designs for their own use. In particular, they have made extensive use of so-gaHanii technology related to amphibious transportation. 

The Aquamarines have modified their large fleet of Land Speeders so that they may be used above and below the surface of the water, and have retrofitted captured so-gaHanii craft to serve as equivalents of Rhinos, Razorbacks, Predators, and other Space Marine tanks. While clearly alien in design, these vehicles nevertheless maneuver superbly underwater and ably well on land, thanks to low-powered anti-grav technology that replaces the need for tank treads. 

In addition to their extensive use of alien vehicles, the Aquamarines differ from other chapters in that they do not have a single, supreme leader, such as a Chapter Master. Given the youth of the chapter and the relative inexperience of its commanding officers, the Aquamarines are governed by consensus of a Council of 13, consisting of the 10 Company Captains, the Master of the Forge, the Chief Librarian, and the highest-ranking Chaplain. By requiring a majority before proceeding with major initiatives, such as launching new campaigns, the chapter ensures that an incompetent or renegade leader will not lead the Aquamarines into disaster or away from the Emperor’s service. 

Modeling and Painting
We used standard, contemporary Games Workshop figures for the Space Marines and Scouts, and standard GW models for the Tornadoes. We took a much different approach to the Razorbacks and Predators—I’ll tell you about those in a minute.

For now, let’s talk painting. Neither Beth nor I have any great joy for painting: for us, it’s something you need to do to get figures on the table. Our approach is to do something relatively simple that will be distinctive and look halfway decent from arm’s length. There are no Golden Demon-winners in this army, but then, if you’re looking for jaw-dropping 40K painting, you’d better visit my friend Kurgan’s site, because you ain’t finding it here, pal.

Green has always been Beth’s favorite color, even when she was a little girl, so she chose Jade Green (a hue GW no longer makes) for the helmet and shoulder pads of each Marine. For everything else, she picked a light green called “Woodsy Scent” (no, I am NOT making that up) that we found at the local hardware store. The light green paint may have a funny name, but it covers well and is very inexpensive.

Half of an Aquamarines Tactical Squad, led by a Sergeant with a power fist (represented by a Sternguard figure)

As Beth developed the color scheme, she decided that she wanted an aquatic theme for her Marines. She chose to flock their bases in sand and paint over them in Bubonic Brown, to make each Marine look like he’s standing on a beach. She come up with the name “Aquamarines” and designed a stylized “A” for one shoulder pad and a wave design for the other.

Together, Beth and I have been painting the army, Beth doing the basecoats and me doing the detail work. The first few figures looked very “cartoony,” so I suggested a black wash to make them look “grittier.” All that accomplished was making them look like they had just waded ashore through an oil spill. For the next few guys, I tried using some Dark Green Ink as a final step, but it was a bit overpowering. Finally, I bought the new Thraka Green Wash from GW, and it really turned out nicely. 

Aquamarine Scouts. Any resemblance between the Sergeant and Geordi La Forge is purely intentional

Beth had been given an Chaplain to use as for her HQ. I informed her of the standard all-black color scheme that almost all Chaplains (but not Fighting Tigers) wear, but she preferred to have me paint up her guy in Aquamarine colors, counting on all those skulls to make her Chaplain stand out. 

Aquamarines Chaplain with plasma pistol

In preparation for Counter Offensive 6, Beth and I painted a full 10-man Devastator Squad, featuring two missile launchers and two heavy bolters. If Beth is up against infantry, she can keep the squad together and have the launchers use frag; if she is facing tanks as well, she can split out the two launchers and use krak. The Dev Sergeant is a Sternguard figure packing a signum and a combi-plasma gun for some “just-in-case” fire support.

Aquamarine Devastators, with the Sergeant in the middle of the first row

When it came to the vehicles, rather than paint chapter colors all over each, as is usually done, we went with basic black with a few touches of Jade Green, Woodsy Scent, and Boltgun Metal here and there. Again, simple, easy, and distinctive. 

Aquamarine "Sea Speeder Waterspout," with heavy bolter, assault cannon, and a lot of black

About those Razorbacks I mentioned earlier. I was wandering around a discount store one day when I found three plastic, snap-together kits for Romulan Scorpion fighters from the Star Trek: Nemesis film. Each was a whopping $5, so I bought all three, reasoning that if Beth didn’t like them, I’d use them for my Dark Eldar. In keeping with the army’s theme, they look very “aquatic,” though definitely non-Imperial. No matter. They’re big enough that they could probably carry five or six Marines, and that tail-like doohickey on the back could “count as” as any Space Marine heavy weapon. Beth’s list was light on anti-tank, so I proposed we consider them as twin lascannons.

An Aquamarine "Sea Cobra," which "counts as" a Razorback. Unconventional, but inexpensive and easy to paint

At CO5, Beth had won a Predator, but when it came time to put it together, she and I agreed that the bulky, box-like model didn’t look much like a vehicle used by a chapter specializing in underwater operations. I dug around in my bitz box and found a rocket-shaped plastic drinking cup that my daughter Ally-Jane had received, years ago, with her kids’ meal at Denny’s or some other “family restaurant.” I had taken the cup home, washed it out, and had thought about using it as a Drop Pod, but it was better suited for Beth’s needs. 

"The Shark," built using captured so-gaHan technology. Ok, actually built using a drinking cup from a kid's meal. 

We turned it on its side, used two-part epoxy to mount the lascannon turret and sponsons from the Predator kit on it, and painted it black. We chose lascannons because Beth’s army needed more anti-tank firepower. Like Beth’s Speeders, we painted the tail fins in chapter colors. I also painted small, stylized “A’s” on each side, behind the sponsons. My first thought was to put a large “A” on a tail fin, but the poor quality of my free-hand letter-painting would detract from the model.

"The Shark" boasts lascannons and an hk missile on the nose. It's on a flying stand, but it's not actually a skimmer

The last step was to drill a hole in the bottom of the “tank,” stick a flying stand in there, et voila: an anti-grav “Predator” similar in concept (if not necessarily style) to the proxied Razorbacks she already has (see below). 

Appropriately, "The Shark" is bigger and more menacing than Beth's "Sea Cobras," or proxied Razorbacks

The Latest Models
The Predator kit that Beth received also had the weaponry (autocannon and heavy bolter sponsons) for what used to be called the "Destructor" pattern. Rather than let those go to waste, I continued digging around in my bitz box and found a plastic case (it might have once held disposable razors). I turned on its side, with the hinge on top as a "fin," and it made a very aquatic-looking vehicle. I epoxied the heavy bolter sponsons on the sides, then, just for the sake of doing something different, mounted the autocannon assembly underneath instead of on top.

My kids like these German chocolate eggs that are hollow and have little toys inside them. I always save the containers that the toys come in: they make great "storage pods," "power generators," or, epoxied to the rear of the vehicle, "underwater turbine engines." 

Once I had painted it black and drybrushed on some grey highlights, it rather resembled a whale, so that's just what Beth called it. As you can see from the photo above, I put a storm bolter on it, too, right next to the autocannon. Just like its counterpart, we mounted "The Whale" on a flying stand and explain that it's an amphibious Predator variant using captured alien anti-grav designs and technology.

"The Shark" and "The Whale," the backbone of the Aquamarines' tank force

Army List
Currently, what we have painted totals 1650 points, as follows:

  • Fr. Jennings.  Chaplain w/ plasma pistol (115 points)
  • Tactical Squad 1. Sergeant w/ power fist and bolter; seven Space Marines w/ bolters; one Space Marine w/ melta gun; one Space Marine w/ missile launcher (200 points). Sea Cobra. Razorback w/ twin-linked lascannon and extra armor (85 points)
  • Tactical Squad 2. Sergeant w/ power fist and bolter; seven Space Marines w/ bolters; one Space Marine w/ plasma gun; one Space Marine w/ missile launcher (205 points). Sea Cobra. Razorback w/ twin-linked lascannon and extra armor (85 points)
  • Scout Squad. Scout Sergeant w/ bolt pistol and power weapon; six Scouts w/ bolt pistols and combat blades; three Scouts w/ shotguns (155 points)
  • Waterspout Squadron. Two Land Speeder Tornadoes w/ heavy bolters and assault cannons (180 points)
  • Devastator Squad. Sergeant and five Space Marines w/ bolters; two Space Marines w/ missile launchers; two Space Marines w/ heavy bolters (230 points). Sea Cobra. Razorback w/ twin-linked lascannon and extra armor (85 points)
  • "The Shark".  Predator  w/ twin-linked lascannon, side sponsons w/ lascannons, hunter-killer missile, and extra armor (190 points)
  • "The Whale".  Predator  w/ autocannon, side sponsons w/ heavy bolters, pintle-mounted storm bolter, and extra armor (110 points)
Beth and I did not plan out this list first and then go out and buy the figures: rather, we took what we had acquired from my friends and from Dream Wizards and wrote an army list around that. Beth molded the list with her preferences: she likes to play “stand-back-and-shoot,” letting the bad guys come to her; she likes missile launchers; and she LOVES Land Speeder Tornadoes, even with the nerfbat that the 5th Edition rules have taken to them.

Using the Army
Because we’re still building the army, Beth hasn’t gotten in any battles with the Aquamarines. She’s still learning the game, but has an aptitude for it, beating me in the first “real” game we ever played, and holding her own at Counter Offensive 5. As I mentioned, she prefers to hang back and let the enemy come to her, softening them up with heavy weapon fire before finishing them off with bolter fire and counterassaults. We added some power fists and power weapons to her list to make her guys more effective in close combat. When we played practice games under the 4th Edition rules, Beth was pretty aggressive with her Tornadoes, moving them all over the board. Under the current rules, I think she’d be better off keeping them back with the rest of her forces, keeping them out of range of most enemy fire so that they can move slowly enough to fire all weapons. 

That’s All For Now…
This army’s a work in progress, so check back over the next few months to see how it’s going. 

Originally posted June 2009. Updated October 2009.


Fighting Tigers:
Codex<> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle