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Themed Army Ideas
Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice: April 2006  by Patrick Eibel
A couple of months ago, Kenton forwarded me the following letter asking for our help: 

I am a Space Wolf player and I have created my own chapter, which I would enjoy your input on.  By using the rules in the new Space Marine codex I have created my Death Walkers chapter. Everyone in the chapter can Infiltrate and they have True-Grit. They do not use many vehicles, but do use all three Land speeder variants. Being an infiltrating army, the assaulters all carry storm bolters and sometimes the Veteran Squads like to put on the jump packs for old times’ sake. Their colors are black and red. I was just wondering if you could help with some fluff for my guys. 

Thank you, 
Nathan 

As you can see, there is not much to go on here, and generating an army list would be nearly impossible. However, with a little work, I think we can give Nathan a unique army with an interesting background. 

Getting Started
Nathan seems to have a surplus of ideas and not all of them really work together. One of the benefits of not knowing what he has by way of miniatures is that I do not have any reservations about keeping or discarding certain ideas (for instance, if he had spent twenty hours and $100 creating a special Terminator squad, he may not want to see Terminators eliminated as an option for his army).

The first thing I am going to discard is the affiliation with the Space Wolves. There does not seem to be any real fluff-driven reason to use Codex: Space Wolves and we can create many of the same benefits by using Codex: Space Marines. The other item that I will be discarding is the business about storm bolters. The only army that gets issued storm bolters across the board is Gray Knights, and I just do not see any reason to mix them in. Everything else will be incorporated into the army description.

Choosing Traits
This part is actually pretty easy. To have units Infiltrate, you need to take "See, But Don’t Be Seen." To get True Grit, you will need to take "Trust Your Battle Brothers." Both of these advantages are listed in the Courageous trait list, so we need to select only one major drawback, which will be "Flesh Over Steel" (as Nathan says, they do not use many vehicles.)

Fleshing It Out
All right, so now that we have the army’s name, traits, and general tactics, let’s discuss how those choices would come about in an army. A lack of treaded vehicles and a preference for land speeders would certainly be found on a world that is dense swampland or marshes. Mud would get stuck in the tread of the tanks, but skimmers could easily pass over the terrain. Foot troops and jump packs would also be used to maneuver around obstacles and find safe paths.

Such an environment would certainly be likely for followers of Nurgle to inhabit, so part of the chapter’s background could include a campaign against a Chaos cult. To further go with this theme, the main populated area could have been wracked with some plague that wiped out a large portion of the population. Those that survived unscathed were recruited to become Space Marines. Those that survived, but were horribly scarred or mutated by the disease, fell under the sway of Chaos. 

The Chaos forces could be a Lost and the Damned army, or could become a Chaos Space Marine army, depending on how the backstory develops. In any event, a strong leader for the Chaos force should be developed to provide an intense rivalry and some dramatic tension. I will offer some more detailed suggestions in the “Finishing Touches” section below. 

Even as a newer founding, the Chapter will need more than one past enemy. I will propose two. First, a swampy planet rich in natural resources seems like it would be a prime target for a Tyranid swarm invasion. The second potential recurring foe would be Orks. I have always thought that a swamp environment would really favor the Orks, who don’t mind getting down and dirty for the sake of battle.

Modeling 
With three different past campaign ideas, the opportunities for modeling Chaos, Ork or Tyranid bits on bases or as trophies are limitless. Also, given the nature of the environment of the planet, the bases for each figure could be fashioned with pools of standing water or “muddy” static grass. In fact, it might be fun to model some of the Marines submerged in swamp water, although the effect may be difficult to pull off on a standard slotta base.

Finishing Touches
The planet of Paludus is in the Segmentum Pacificus. Over two thirds of the planet is covered in water, and the remaining land mass is generally either swampy marshland or tundra. Settlements tend to be small and simple (wood and thatch rather than steel and concrete) due to the difficulties of terraforming such a waterlogged environment. The world would have been abandoned as inhabitable if it were not for the fact that the very swamps that covered the planet were an abundant source of natural gas. 

The Imperium established many refineries across the planet and garrisoned a small unit of Ultramarines to guard the processing plants. A refinery accident let out a large cloud of toxic gas that drifted slowly across the main continent. Due to the significant amount of moisture in the atmosphere, the gas formed large poisonous clouds that lingered for the better part of a year without dissipating. During the time, the land was constantly drenched in toxic rain that killed most of the vegetation, polluted water supplies, and caused much of the population to die from disease or malnutrition. 

The Space Marines stationed at the refineries were immune to the effects of the gas due to their physiology. Of the indigenous population that survived, most were horribly mutated by the fumes and wet conditions on the planet. In particular, a charismatic townsman named Adrian Gray not only was mutated, but developed psychic abilities.  His newfound powers brought him to the attention of Lord Nurgle, who provided guidance on leading his troops of mutants against the Ultramarine forces. 

Realizing that the Marines would need help to combat the threat of the Chaos cultists, the Ultramarine commander, Gaius Varenus, had the unit’s chaplain, Pontius Servitus, find those few local inhabitants that survived unscathed and put through the process to become Space Marines. Gaius Varenus renamed the chapter the Death Walkers to mark that they were the only ones to have survived the toxic accident, and chose the colors of black and red to make the new chapter distinct from the old Ultramarines. The newly recruited Marines taught their brothers the ways of sneaking through the swamps and using the pools of standing, fetid water as cover. 

The campaign against the Chaos Legion raged for several years until Gray, now calling himself “The Gargoyle,” was forced to flee from the planet. Peace returned to Paludus and the process of cleaning up the toxic mess began in earnest. Just as the planet returned to habitability, a splinter of Hive Fleet Behemoth made its way to the Pacifus sector. The Tyranids found the rich nutrients of the planet, toxic or not, quite digestible. Several seeding swarms bombarded the planet and it took the Death Walkers ten years to find every breeding pool and wipe out the broods there. In one legendary story, a Death Walker Veteran Sergeant, who had lost the rest of his squad, was being chased by over 200 hormagaunts through the deepest section of the swamps. Only his superior knowledge of the terrain kept him in front of the predators. Finally, he reached a large clearing in which one of the many natural gas storage silos were. He opened the vent to let the gas out and waited at the top of the silo for the gaunts to surround him. When he felt the beasts were close enough, he dropped a krak grenade down the vent and blew up everything in a two-mile radius.

The Tyranids were not the only race to realize the riches of Paludus. A passing Ork warband stopped on the planet to repair their Kroozers and take a break from the boredom of space. Finding the planet not only rich in raw materials but populated by a worthy foe, the Orks began waging a protracted battle with the Death Walker Marines. The Ork Warboss, Grimtooth Dethsnagga, organized several attacks on the garrisons of the marines, with not much success. Realizing he needed to get some reinforcements, Grimtooth rounded up the remainder of his warband, vowing to return one day and make the planet his.

Paludus has been repopulated by the Imperium, and the Death Walkers are allowed to recruit new marines from the settler population. They remain ever-vigilant for the return of the Ork warband, the lingering threat of Tyranid broods that were not discovered during the invasion, and the greatest threat, their old nemesis the Gargoyle, who had been promoted to the rank of Daemon Prince and place in charge of an army of Death Guard to capture the planet from the loyalist marines.

Conclusion
The ideas presented here provide a general background for the Death Walker chapter. Specific characters and stories can be developed based on actual games or models that Nathan has in his army. The names provided are merely suggestions and can be changed or modified as he sees fit (especially the ones for his army).

A proposed army list for the Death Walkers may look like this:

HQ:  Commander, Chaplain, Librarian, Command Squad
Elites:  0-1 Terminator Squads (Terminator armor is much too heavy to be used extensively in the swamp environments), Veteran Squads, 0-1 Dreadnoughts, Techmarines
Troops:  As per Codex: Space Marines; may not take Rhino transports
Fast Attack:  Assault Squad, Land Speeder Squadron (all variants)
Heavy Support:  Devastator Squads, 0-1 Vindicator or Whirlwind
The restrictions in the army list are to reflect the environment of the home planet of the army. Obviously, if Nathan has units that are not included in, or are limited by, this list he can field them as a “crusading” arm of the chapter that uses a more generic list when fighting on other worlds. This list is to provide a little more character to the chapter than just fluff. 

If you would like me to develop some ideas for you, check the introduction page of this series for the e-mail address.
 

Related Pages
More Jungle Juice
 

Posted April 2006. Used with permission.
 

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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