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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary: A Year's Worth of Glue
Articles in this series

A Year's Worth of Glue: Part 2  by Duncan Hargreaves
Welcome back, one and all! It’s time once again to follow my progress as I try to build eleven armies in a year.

As I said last month, I’ve been enthused about Marines recently, and as a result have been devoting my time to them. Most specifically, I’ve been crunching numbers and working on ‘cost efficient army production’ but more on that next month.

The first thing I did this past month was go out and buy myself three Tactical Squads and two Razorbacks. These will form the ‘core’ of my army (at 1000 points), and the Tactical Marines (split into six-man squads) were exactly what I needed to fill out all the men I’d need for my 2000-point army.

I’ve also been pondering as to how I’ve ended up doing three Marine armies (granted, one of them is using Chaos rules, but I still see it as a ‘Marine’ army). The only answer I could come up with is “theme.” I love the theme of the army, and like the different armies you can take whilst still remaining loyal to this theme.

Giving an army a theme is an important thing. Every army has a theme that its owner sticks to, whether they are aware of it or not. From ‘they are just random Ultramarines’ to pages of self written, detailed background, every army is themed.

Many people believe that by giving their army a theme they make it theirs. But how can one go about giving their army a theme? I suggest you follow one or more of the following four points. Treat these points as guidelines. You only need to do one, but the more you do the more unique your army will be 

1. Paint scheme
Some people like to make ‘official’ armies (i.e., the armies shown off in the codex books and in White Dwarf magazine). If you do an ‘official’ army, then the paint scheme is the first way to show it. If you look at a red space marine, you would probably think ‘Blood Angels.’ If you look at a blue one, you may well think ‘Ultramarines’

Personally, I don’t like following official schemes, as doing an army that someone else has already written most of the background for limits my creative style. I like my armies unique. So, for my armies, I make up new colour schemes.

2. Conversions
Sometimes what an army really needs to make it look different is a conversion or two. Some people like to convert their commanders to be unique. Others may like to convert a few models (maybe a couple of sergeants) while others may decide to convert their entire army for that eye-catching look.

Ranging from simple head swaps to slicing bits out of joints to bend them, and even to the extreme of using nine different kits to make one man, conversions are the best way to make your models look different. However they don’t all have to be mini dioramas. Sometimes just tweaking a model can make all the difference, and really set the model off.

3. Background
This is one of the main bases to be covered if you want your army to be personalised. Some people may take an official army and make it theirs by writing a back story about a certain part of it (the bit the player fields). Conversely, I’ve seen wholly unique armies that had no background story.

Background can be done in various ways: it purely depends on the creator’s tastes. Many people like to keep theirs as close to Games Workshops official background as possible, thus keeping their army firmly rooted in the greater story of the game. Others like to keep their army something special, and so give them a background portraying them as different from the standards of everyone else.

Now, I’m not against the second approach, provided it’s done in moderation. However, I have known people to have all kinds of things going completely against the background that GW laid out. Examples of such backgrounds include Imperial Guard commanders that single-handedly beat Khornate champions in one-on-one combat, and even such heresy as female Space Marines!

4. Play Style
Some people really like a certain set of tactics, some even going as deliberately limiting the units they take in their army to focus on these tactics. The newer codex books (Space Marines and Imperial Guard) make this a lot easier than before, with the introduction of Doctrine/Trait systems, and they even offer you a couple of advantages for limiting yourself.

Many people (myself included) like to have a reason for their army playing like it does in their background, whether they were raised on an ice/desert/feral/death world, or there is a flaw in their genetic makeup. How you do this is up to you. Some people like to write their backgrounds first and then try to make an army fitting this theme,  whilst other people do it the other way around. As long as you are happy with the end result, that’s all that matters (after all, it’s you that uses the army all the time).

Now I’m going to show you my ‘Angelis Mortis’ Marine chapter as an example of a themed army.

Angelis Mortis Background (Point 3)
Home-world: Anurillon

History: The Angelis Mortis were founded from Ultramarine gene stock in either the 11th or 12th Founding. They were strict followers of the Codex Astartes, however they did show particular prowess in hand-to-hand combat.

This is the basic back story which establishes the roots of my chapter, and firmly grounds them in the official background. After this was sorted, I moved onto the fun part, making my army unique.

During the 13th Black Crusade, the Angelis Mortis were deployed mostly on Prosan, in the main Cadian sector. There, they threw themselves relentlessly at the enemy, making the followers of Chaos pay dearly for every step forwards.

However this was not without cost. The chapter lost fully a third of its brethren. Eventually the losses proved too great, and the Chapter Master, Ryan Hyakota, was forced to re-organise his scattered troops.

The Tactical Squads were broken down into smaller numbers and were re-supplied with assault weapons instead of heavy weapons. Hyakota had decided it was time to emphasise his warriors’ strength in close-range combat.

To offset their depleted firepower, the squads were given Razorback transports as opposed to the regular Rhinos. This allowed the squads to become more mobile and still field considerable firepower.

This is the bit linking my play-style into the background. It also individualises my Chapter without them having to be uber-warriors. Now I just needed a hook for my other two Marine armies (Undead Marines, and my Devastator army). Plus, a little more fleshing out on my chapter couldn’t hurt.

The Ninth Company were kept untouched, and reserved as a siege company, given the Chapter’s new lack of heavy weapons. At this time, a communiqué was received from Inquisitor Razitkira asking for urgent help concerning a Tzeentchian cult. Hyakota dispatched the Fourth Company to the Inquisitor’s aid. It was later learned that the cult was defeated, but the Fourth Company was never heard of again.

The chapter then re-entered the fray of the 13th Black Crusade. Re-organised into a more rapid strike force, Attack Bikes were now also positioned with most detachments, allowing the Marines to pour devastating firepower on the enemy. Since the crusade, the Angelis Mortis have been heavily recruiting new members. 

This has provided me with all the necessary plot hooks for my Undead Marines and the Devastator company. And it has also fleshed out the background a lot without actually making them any different from many other official chapters.

Angelis Mortis Play-style (Point 4)
This army is meant to be a rapid strikeforce. To keep them tied in with the fluff (which was actually developed at the same time as the army), I have given them all Razorback transports.

To represent their reliance on assault weapons and their natural combat prowess, I have given them the ‘Cleanse and Purify’ and ‘Trust Your Battle Brothers’ traits. To keep in line with the reduced number ethic I have taken ‘Aspire to Glory’ and ‘Faithful Unto Death’ as my Chapter’s disadvantages (I’ll miss my Iron Halo, but I don’t mind losing it, as I like this theme more than I liked the save).

The Razorbacks, coupled with two Vindicators and two Attack Bike squadrons, mean I can still project some hefty firepower yet keep my army moving. One other reason I got Razorbacks is that I’m sick of people who use Rhinos to rush their Marines forward and then just leave the transports alone for the rest of the game. I asked one player about this and he said, ‘They’ve done their job. I’ve got no further use for them.’ By giving my Marines Razorbacks instead of Rhinos, I’m ensuring that my transports will always have a job to do, even after the squad has bailed out.

Angelis Mortis Conversions (Point 2)
As my Marines all have the ‘True Grit’ skill, they use bolters as pistols in combat, and also get a combat weapon (included in the +3 points per Marine). Now, I could never picture Marines using those little daggers on the Tactical Squad sprue as ‘combat weapons,’ so I decided to mail-order a bunch of chainswords to use instead. 

This makes the army look like it deserves that extra attack, and will make them look more intimidating if I convert them all to be holding their bolters as pistols. It also makes the army a little bit more personalised than ‘straight-from-the-box’ Marines. All five of my Tactical Squads will now look something like this:

Angelis Mortis Marines

Angelis Mortis Paint Scheme (Point 1)
I was trying to make my Marines look different through their paint scheme, as well as play style and background. At my local store and my gaming club, most Marine armies use black in significant amounts in their colour scheme (now I think about it, most armies, not just Marines, have that). So I decided to be different and use light colours on my Marines, using Skull White and Ice Blue:

Color scheme

"To-Do" List
With this month’s additions to my Marines, my table of things to do now looks like this (I’m only showing things that have changed):

Space Marines (Angelis Mortis ‘typical battle force’)
Done (but unpainted): three Razorbacks, three six-man Tactical Squads, one Commander
Needed: a 2000-point army (need two Vindicators, two Attack Bike squadrons and three Razorbacks)

Space Marines (Angelis Mortis Fourth Company)
Done (but unpainted): three troopers, three Rhinos
Needed: a 1500-point army. I have the stuff to finish this squad already. Real life kicked in and stopped this army in its early days

Tyranids (Gobbonids)
Done: 1500-point army
Needed: Repainting; making 500 additional points of units. Many of these have been undercoated since last month.

That’s all folks (I’ve always wanted an excuse to say that). Drop by next month for a closer look at my Fourth Company ‘Undead Marines’ and my thoughts on cost-effective army building.

A Year's Worth of Glue
Articles in this series

Posted: June 2006. 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