Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven?
Honestly, you could be. Forgiven, that is. For thinking I’d forgotten. It’s been awfully quiet around here, and that’s because I’ve been moving house, and playing a lot of Total War, and there are kittens now, and – yeah. Excuses, excuses.
It’s also true that the shape of the project has changed slightly. There was a lot of ambitious talk about 40K and 30K, a lot of plastic flying around; a series of bargains, swaps, trades, and payments-in-kind left me with two Burning of Prospero sets and three Dark Vengeances’ worth of Chaos and another twenty-five Cultists from somewhere and –
OK, look. It was all a bit much for me, especially after I went to see Ben and Jess and, in return for workshopping her undergrad dissertation (2:1 in Theatre Studies, our girl done good), I walked away with Jess’ entire Shelf of Shame. There was a whole Chaos Space Marines army there that she’d had for years, getting as far as painting a handful of them eye-scalding orange and then leaving matters lie.
The final straw came when the new Chaos Space Marines Codex arrived, and made it clear that huge units of Cultists were a Word Bearers thing, while my Night Lords would do best with the time-honoured Multiple Small Units. That’s fine. I infinitely prefer building Multiple Small Units these days. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.
Once I’d Had Enough, this bounty of miniatures found itself sorted in several ways.
Firstly, those who were generic and samey and who I could not bear the thought of having to crank out, batch-style. These included the Mark IIIs (painting the same dude sixty times – retch!), the second and third Dark Vengeance batches (the first one was fun, but I’m not doing it twice over for an army that looks like computer game sprites; that’s what computer games are for!), and the rest of the Cultists (although I kept an odd five for display purposes, since I don’t like Chaos Cultists in neat, points-optimised ten man squads – outside of the game environment, anyway).
This category were boxed up ready for the next Firestorm Bring and Buy, where they were Brought and then Bought, in that order, before the first hour of the event was out. The five bright orange Chaos Marines and Defiler went the same way. I do like Defilers, but it’s a huge, unsteady model that’s a bugger to move and store and transport. Compared to the later Daemon Engines on their sensible bases (which also harmonise with the army around them better, putting everyone on the same height – I’m even putting the Land Raider on a base, for the same reason) they are showing their age, aesthetically and ergonomically.
Secondly, those who I liked but needed work. The Terminator Sorcerer, who is a great model and for whom I had the perfect conversion that I’d been wanting to do for years. The Possessed – I like them, but they’re a little bit too Chaos-grobbly for me, burdened with the kind of features that work better in isolation and contrast to a more sober model. The Chaos Space Marines. I don’t like these – they’ve dated badly, they don’t sit right next to modern greeble-tastic kits and they don’t have the charm or heft of the old metals – and had originally envisioned an army with none of them. Now I had eight or so, an awkward number since I’d rather have two squads of five or one of ten…
That’s when the madness came. I had a bunch of Forge World chainglaives lying around from the abortive 30K concept. If I acquired a bunch of Forge World helmets and chestpieces, plus some bionic legs and arms to fill out the squad (the Iron Hands pack would do nicely here), I could combine them with Possessed bits and knock together a squad or two of Night Lords who salvaged those old kits and made them look good. I’d also have some more ‘restrained’ Night Lords helmets and shoulderpads and arms to bring the Possessed back under control.
So I did.
Brother Hexendra, consulting his notes. This pose has haunted my dreams since I first saw the kit – the Chaos Sorcerer atop his outcrop, incanting his dark incantations – and he even had the perfect book holding hand thanks to the chainglaive sprues.
I don’t know what this is, but I had a broken chainglaive (Forge World compensated me by sending me a whole extra set of chainglaives, making this project possible) and that plastic Slaughterpriest and a spare Terminator shoulder pad. Things sort of happened. Those legs don’t half look like Mark V armour, or at least like they have it in their ancestry somewhere. I think he was a Space Marine once, before Khorne took an interest in him.
This chap exemplifies the approach I’ve taken with the boring Chaos Marine infantry. As an Aspiring Champion he is marked out by his bare head, exciting Possessed backpack and grobbly Chaos hand. The VIII Legion may not believe in Chaos, but Chaos believes in them – hence the ‘blimey!’ facial expression. He wasn’t expecting this.
In some editions, Chaos Champions can gain random rewards from duffing up enemies in challenges – this chap has obviously done just that, and now his lightning claw’s gone all peculiar.
(Incidentally, I do like eighth edition’s Power Points. They let me build the kind of armies I want to: rather than splitting hairs over the cost of every single upgrade, I know that a squad of five Chaos Space Marines costs this many points and can take that many special weapons or other upgrades and the Champion can have this kit and it’s all one in the end. That’s why all my Champions are grotesquely overequipped, with lightning claws and plasma pistols. In prior editions this would be a Waste of Points since they were just one wound Marines and you could get a whole extra body for the same cost as each upgrade. Now there’s an option for Borehammer players who care about that sort of thing and an option for people like me who want vaguely balanced games but also want to take interesting options without too much fretting about the opportunity cost. I draw the line at spending three extra Power Points to put two extra Cultists on the table though…)
This one was a bridge too far. I like his Bane-style mask (you’ll note an absence of topknots and huge horns on my Chaos Marines, because I think those look silly), but two grobbly mutant arms and the bionic legs? He has a plasma pistol in his left hand now, nicked off a Dark Vengeance Lord. I like to think he lost the leg in a tragic plasma backwash.
Most of my plasma gunners have bionic bits on them, for just that reason. Also, it makes them more visually distinctive, as befitting a special weapon model who’ll have attention paid to him. The Champions, likewise, have ‘open’ poses which show off the Forge World chesticles and make them stand out.
My regular Marines are… well, I did all right within the limitations of the kit. There’s a few spiky shoulderpads and sights on boltguns, but at the end of the day there’s three blokes in the traditional ‘braced to fire’ Marine pose and three blokes who are sort of posing with their boltguns, looking across them while they advance. I divide the squads up like that: Posing Squad and Shooting Squad.
Finally, there’s these knob sandwiches. I don’t know if it’s the resin casting process or if they were designed for kits with smaller chesticles or what, but fitting these arms onto those bodies was a holy terror. Also, and let me say right now that I will brook no disagreement on this point, materials which demand superglue can get in the fucking sea. Moving most of the range to plastic is the best thing GW has ever done.
With poses like this, where there are four points of contact between components and everything has to line up just so or things look stupid and painful, the instant bond of superglue is the devil’s work. No amount of dry-fitting or sneaky blu-tacking can guarantee that things will line up properly once they’re on. With poly cement you can stick or twist; you have those precious seconds of tackiness during which components can be nudged and realigned to ensure that nobody’s wrist is twisted around their arsehole. Which is what these guys are. Arseholes. Squad Arsehole.
At least they look decent now they’re done. Finished off with the garish Night Lords shoulderpads of the mid-Noughties, they still have the essential WTF quality of the Possessed, but they’re dialled back to the point where they look like dolled up gnarly Space Marines rather than the sort of “and and and SWORDS growing out of his TROUSERS” adolescent frothery that the pure Possessed kit embodies. They’re a Terror Squad now. If they’re Possessed, it’s by accident, and with all due reluctance.