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The Tiger Roars 
Guest Commentary

I Liked ‘Em So Much, I Built My Own!  by Jennifer Burdoo
My normal army is Imperial Guard; for the last several years I’ve focused on a shooty infantry force that can throw a heckuva punch, but can’t take one.  Guard have the disadvantage that they either win big or lose big.  If you can’t blow your opponent away in the first half of the game, he’ll eat you for lunch in the second half, sometimes literally.  I took an all-infantry force to Counter-Offensive 4; after my fifth schooling by the merciless gentlemen I met there, I decided to try something tougher!

I started work on an IG Armored Company.  For a while, I painted up Leman Russes and Chimeras, and started winning victories again.  By mixing tanks with the infantry, I even came in third in a Rogue Trader tourney, in battle points anyway.

My sportsmanship score, however, was abysmal (I‘m argumentative), and appearance not much better.  I resolved to improve next time.  Lo and behold, another Rogue Trader was scheduled for April 2008 -- five months down the line.  Sportsmanship I have some control over.  Appearance?

I looked down at my small collection of unpainted Space Marines, obtained free from generous gamestores.  Hmmm… Fighting Tigers are slow to paint, but they look impressive, and you don’t have to be neat or add unit markings.

So here I am.  With Kenton’s permission and encouragement, I’m building my very own army of Fighting Tigers.  Here, I’ve chronicled my project.  With the Tigers themselves as my inspiration, and the innumerable tips and tactics on this website as my guide, I can’t go wrong.  I hope.

Oh, and maybe you’ll learn something too.  Come along for the ride!

Army design and fluff
Everyone else’s favorite Fighting Tiger special character is Raja Khandar Madu, “the Redhead.”  Mine is Jirbu Ghosh.  This all started with her.

When she first appeared in Fighting Tiger fluff, Jirbu Ghosh was a fairly ordinary Librarian of Jatis Ghuyarashtra.  She led a shikari of Tigers to Armageddon.  This force disappeared in the warp before its arrival and was presumed lost.   Eventually, a future clone was activated, mysteriously switched jatis, and became Khandar Madu’s understudy.   I was intrigued by the character and had my own ideas of what might have happened to her.

Kenton's "Jirbu Ghosh" figure. I decided to make my own.

Then, two years ago, I bought a Space Marine Librarian, my first Marine figure since I lost my old ones and started playing Guard.  I wanted to celebrate getting my new job as a real librarian, and I had a hazy idea of adding a Deathwatch squad to my Guard forces to fill up that second HQ slot that can only be taken by their allies.

Then I picked up about ten more assorted Marines to use as the rest of the squad, including a flamer and heavy bolter.

Then my local game store gave me three Space Marine Assault sets.  These were old Third Edition 40K starter kits, in small boxes, containing simplified rules plus five Marines, eight Genestealers, a brush, a die, and lots of little paint pots.

THEN the store started selling the leftovers (about forty boxes) for ten bucks each.  I couldn’t resist, and bought several more.  I gave a couple away as gifts, but I still had more Marines and ‘Stealers than I knew what to do with.

Obviously, I had to start a Space Marine army.  

But which one?  Well, I dislike painting, so I wanted a fun and unique scheme.  I also couldn’t decide on an established chapter, or one of my own (I have way too many Themed Army Ideas for my own good!).  That left my favorite DIY chapter, the Fighting Tigers.

There were several things I definitely wanted in the army, if not immediately, then eventually.  First, a Librarian (to represent Yours Truly on the tabletop).  Next, a squad of Terminators with lightning claws and a few Land Speeders -- I consider these to be quintessential Fighting Tiger units, necessary to demonstrate the unique character of the army.  Finally, a Dreadnought.  I like them game-wise, and wanted to try my hand at painting one.  What better reasons are there?  Everything else -- like tanks, Tactical Squads and characters -- could sort itself out later.  I would take what came along and see what I got out of it.

I promptly bought an assorted lot of Marines and Orks from a friend.  It turned out to include about forty Marines and six old-style tanks, a good core army.  It also contained about a dozen heavy weapons, most of them missile launchers.  Even with lots of squads, I couldn’t use all of these, so I would have to field Devastator squads.  And since the tanks included three Heavy Support choices, the Devs would have to be Elite choices to fit in the army list, taken with the Honour Your Wargear trait.  When this army is complete, it will clearly NOT be a “mini-army,” but a full-size one with the ability to swap out units when desired, or play an Apocalypse mission.

As I worked, the army expanded -- through trading I ended up with enough Assault Marines for a full squad, five Scouts, and an extra squad of Tactical Marines.  I have little doubt the army will get even bigger.  At this writing it includes roughly 100 Marines and eleven vehicles.

Next, the fluff.  This army would contain Jirbu Ghosh the Librarian.  Kenton invented her for use during Games Workshop’s Third Armageddon War online campaign, but because he didn’t have a chance to play, he decided that she and the force she commanded had been lost in the Warp before they arrived.  So I had a hole to fill.  

Now, the Third Armageddon War occurs in 999.M41, or shortly before “the present” in official fluff.  This would give Tanadar Ghosh, oh, six months to be born and race through the ranks of Puchan, Kali and Indra.  Cloning may be efficient, but not THAT efficient.  In this universe of super-soldiers, gribbly monsters and scary demons, we have to keep things in perspective, right?

Ah, but the Second Armageddon War was fought fifty-seven years prior.  If Librarian Ghosh had been on her way then, there was plenty of time for her to be presumed dead, for her next clone to be activated, and for that clone to reach Tanadar rank (very quickly for a Space Marine, but why not?).

So the Librarian and her Shikari disappeared -- and reappeared fifty-some years later.  And having been whirled around hyperspace, cut off from home and left for dead, the Tigers of Force Jirbu are pissed and ready to take on the galaxy.

Kinda like my own cat when I’ve just fed him his medicine.  It traumatizes him, but I’m the one who’s bleeding afterwards.

Modeling and Painting (Marines)
As Kenton mentions in Codex: Tabbies, Fighting Tigers require a major investment of time and work.  I wanted to think carefully about what I was doing.  So I looked at his comments on how he designed and painted his Tigers.

1.  “Think about why you want more than one color scheme and how they will fit together. If I had to do it all over again I would have stayed with the orange and black scheme and maybe used white and black for leaders.”

I decided to do this.  No Ghuyarashtra browns for me -- everything except the HQ figures, and maybe Terminators or other “exceptional” units, would be in orange and black.  I considered painting Veteran Sergeants in white but decided to keep the squads uniform.  I may revisit this in future.

2.  “Prime them with white paint.”

I used black to simplify the work I had to do.  The bulk of a Fighting Tiger, particularly in the simplified scheme, is black.  I would have enough work with the stripes without adding an extra coat of paint to my routine.  An extra coat of orange paint helps brighten the model.

3.  “Don't feel like you have to paint stripes on the backpack. You can just leave them the base color for the armor.”

Definitely.  I would skip the backpack.  Unless, like jump packs, it was smooth and easy to paint.  I have enough problems with the helmets.

4.  “This technique [highlighting] is used to liven up figures that are mostly all one color; because Fighting Tiger color schemes are so complicated, you can skip this stage.”

After comments at my local store, I decided to do a little highlighting, but only on the black portions of the model.  This was very easy, and it made the models look substantially better with a minimum of effort.  Fighting Tigers, particularly in the “simplified” scheme, are mostly black.  From above, as normal on the tabletop, this is fine because the most visible parts, the head and shoulder pads, are orange.  But it did improve the plain look of the backpacks.

5.  “If you varnish or seal your Fighting Tigers to protect against paint chipping, use a glossy coat, not a dull one. Tigers should be bright and colorful.”

I must say varnish really improves the appearance.  Since I use a black undercoat, the models appear dull and almost brown without the varnish.  The shine perks them right up.

Assault Marines, Bikes, and Land Speeder Tornadoes from Jen's Fighting Tigers army

Other comments:

  • Because of my decision to keep to one color scheme, I would have to break some rules.  The most obvious is that my Assault Marines are orange.  This is okay, because several of the models have bare metal heads.  I imagined that during the time Force Jirbu was lost, all their Tigers of Kali were killed but their equipment was recovered so that male Tigers of Rudra could continue to use it.
  • I ignored the eyes completely.  No one seems to notice when there are all the stripes to goggle at.  In the case of faces, I brushed thin coats of brown on and this naturally highlighted the faces, leaving the eyes in shadow and looking ‘good enough.’  Remember, I’m going for ‘table-top’ quality here, nothing more.
  • I added minor touches.  For example, I paint chainswords and the occasional flat backpack area in stripes.  It makes them stand out a bit from the rank and file.  Also, I made sure to paint purity-seal ribbons in red, like Kenton’s models.  Since my army was raised before Auros IX, I imagined that red is a common color of mourning among the Tigers, used to commemorate any major defeat.
  • I didn’t use colors, or paw-print symbols, to mark different types of units.  For example, Tigers of Agni should leave one shoulder pad unstriped.  I ignored this, mostly because I don’t want my units set in stone.  I like being able to swap things out.
  • Because I don’t use different color schemes and markings, all my Tigers look essentially the same.  This is okay.  I intend to use small colored dots on the bases to differentiate squads on the table, and again, I can switch them around as required.

Tactical Marines and Rhinos from Jen's army

As I went, I developed a routine and slowly added to it.  Usually, I work toward finishing one step on all my models (base-coating them all, painting them all orange or in stripes, doing all the bases, etc).  But when I get bored, I take some of the half-finished models and finish the rest of the steps on them.  This way, I vary my painting and I see both a general and specific improvement in my army.  When it comes to individual figures, I also switch between figures with boltguns, special and heavy weapons, and bolt pistols and close combat weapons.  The variety in the poses keeps things interesting, and there’s always something I can do to “change up” what I’m working on.

Step 1:  Undercoat the model.  I use generic black spray paint from the craft store for this.

Step 2:  Paint the helmet, shoulder pads and greaves orange.  The base coloring is now done, as the rest of the figure is already black.  I use the Citadel Foundation color, Macharius Orange for this step.  Two coats cover the black well enough, and while they seem dull at first the stripes and sealer will make it less obvious.  If there is a large backpack, such as a jump-pack or heavy weapons pack, I paint the smooth upper portions of it, and I sometimes do the occasional flat bit of a regular backpack as well.

Step 3:  Stripes.  I use Chaos Black, but I’ve been experimenting with black ink.  It’s a lot easier to use with a small brush, which makes the stripes neater and easier to control.  My first few figures were striped with the same brush I was base-coating with, which made them large, few in number, and crude-looking.  At this time, I also touch up any parts the orange got on that are supposed to be black.

Step 4:  Metal.  The guns are finished within seconds with a heavy drybrush of Mithril Silver.  I also drybrush just a touch of that color, or Foundry‘s Arctic Grey, on the backpack and chest to highlight them.

Step 5:  Details.  If there is no helmet on the figure, I paint the face roughly with Foundry Spearshaft Brown.  Purity seals get a dot of Mithril Silver, and ribbons and other cloth are colored in Blood Red.

Step 6:  I paint the base Goblin Green.

Step 7:  I paint the base with watered-down white glue, and dip it in a bag of fine green flock.

Step 8:  Finally, I take the model outside and spray it with glossy sealer, again generic.  This brings out the brightness of the orange again from under all the stripes.  Done!

Modeling and Painting (Vehicles)
The first vehicles I obtained were the smaller, old-style ones with metal turrets.  As the plastic Rhino hatches were also provided, I did not glue down the metal hatches for the Razorbacks and Whirlwind.  This way, I can exchange them for Rhino hatches when I am playing a smaller game or need more transport space.

I was as plain as possible when it came to modeling vehicles -- hatches were closed and no drivers or extra gubbins were added.  I did have a selection of metal armor pieces, which I added to a few vehicles.  In addition to counting as the Extra Armor upgrade, they looked good and gave me a broad, flat surface to paint stripes on.

Kenton has experimented heavily with his vehicles, using different schemes, shades of orange, and numbers of stripes.  I have to admit that his ideas have given me ideas of what NOT to do.  For one thing, because I didn’t have orange spray paint, I was not about to paint the entire model orange, let alone in stripes.  After some thought, I decided to imitate the Marines -- vehicles would be mostly black with small orange areas.  Like Kenton’s later attempts, I decided to paint only the hatches and armor in stripes.  As with the Marines, I base-coated in black and used two coats of Macharius Solar Orange.  Then I added plenty of stripes.  Then I dry-brushed weapons and equipment in Boltgun Metal, dry-brushed the edges lightly in Arctic Grey, and sprayed the whole with sealer.  With less orange and more black color, the vehicles match the troops.  Some people have commented that they also look more menacing this way.  At least until they get blasted off the table or miss every shot!

Some of Jen's tanks and Devastator Marines

It’s Fighting Tiger tradition to name their vehicles, and I didn’t forget this step.  My interests in science and military history influenced my choices.

  • The transports are named for tiger subspecies, like Bengal, Bali and Malaya.
  • Arjun is named for a modern Indian battle tank, which in turn is named after a Hindu god.  I didn’t want to specialize the weapons too much for one role -- two lascannons and an autocannon can deal with most vehicles and tougher infantry.  Heavy bolters aren’t necessary because I have enough boltguns to put a hail of fire on any enemy light infantry.
  • Ghazni is a fortress in Afghanistan.  It was blown up by the Indian Army in 1839.  Here’s hoping a Demolisher cannon will be as damaging to my opponents!  This is the most heavily striped vehicle, but I still didn’t have to touch all the bumpy, angled bits on the roof.
  • Tippu Sultan was an Indian prince who was nicknamed “the Tiger of Mysore.”  The British were so impressed by his advanced rocket artillery that they developed their own -- hence “the rockets’ red glare” in ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’  Tipu can double as a Rhino. The heavy bolter covers a hole in the hatch after a botched attempt to remove it.  I’ve since switched it for a storm bolter.
  • My first Dreadnought is Lakshmi Bahadur.  Rani Lakshmi was a queen who fought against the British.  She’s now an Indian national heroine.  Bahadur is an Indian word for “hero.”  The arms can be switched out.
I was careful not to glue hatches into the vehicles.  The three Rhinos and the Whirlwind can all have their hatches switched out.  Since I also have two Razorback turrets, I can make a variety of vehicle choices.  More transport space?  Four Rhinos.  More firepower?  Two Razors with lascannons, and a Whirlwind.

Some of Jen's vehicles and characters

Modeling and Painting (Characters)
One of the suggestions on this site is to leave characters for last, on the grounds that it’s better to make your mistakes on the rank and file first.  I did this, although I can’t really claim that my HQ figures are painted any better.  They do however, have differing models and poses which make them stand out.  

First come my two Tigers of Brihaspati.  The helmeted one represents Jirbu Ghosh.  Since I intend her to sometimes lead a Deathwatch squad alongside my Guard, she has a shoulder pad to match.  Because neither pad is striped, I added a combat shield for its large flat surface.  It’s also the only one in the army, which makes her stand out a bit.  The other Librarian is a bog-standard model.

Next, two Tigers of Varuna.  Neither model has a Crozius Arcanum, more like a power maul, so they can double as Veteran Sergeants if need be.  I used a lot of spare bits from a Dark Angels sprue to add to my figures.  This is where Jirbu’s shield, and the jump-Chaplain’s maul-arm, come from.  The eagle on the jump-pack is from an IG tank accessory sprue.

The Captain and Chaplain with a plasma-bolter caused some thought before assembly.  Both are metal Veteran Marines.  Their gun arms were separate, and I considered giving the Chaplain the storm-bolter.  Eventually I decided the pose worked best with the plasma-bolter -- it enables him to look down the barrel.  As it stands, the Captain’s pose is, to my eyes, a bit boring.  I seriously considered giving him a jump-pack, because at least then he could imitate Superman, flying through the air with arms outstretched.  But since I want a command squad at some point, I decided to keep the regular backpack.  The Captain’s shoulder pads are not visible from the front, and according to the Tiger color scheme this would give him spotted greaves and nothing else.  So I painted all the leg and torso armor in stripes.

At the moment, I have a Command Squad, Bike Squad, and some Assault and Tactical Marines on the way.  Once they’re done, I can field a Battle Company for Apocalypse.  After that, I’m planning to get the new Black Reach box and stop there -- but given how quickly and randomly I’ve collected this army, I won’t be surprised if it keeps on expanding.

See you at the table!

Posted July 2008. Used with permission.


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