Greetings Brothers and Sisters of the B&C!
After many years of slumber in the stasis chambers at the heart of the Fortress Monastery, the runes of awakening were recently struck upon my sarcophagus and blinking eyes that are now connected to augmetic sensors I have begun to walk these hallowed halls once more, freshly clad in a Dreadnought chassis. Though things have changed while I slept, there is much in this place that is familiar and buried deep in the memory coils of the Dreadnought, artificial synapses spark in recognition that what was once home, may yet be a home again...
++ Preface ++
Though my love of the hobby is almost all embracing, I have always been more of a painter and modeller at heart and so to that end, as my first 'true' post in the Forge, I thought I would share a project that I've been working on over the last few months.
Some may have seen elements of the overall 'Return to Isstvan' project around the interwebs, started by some 30k stalwarts in the Midlands including Myles David, Pete Rees and Matt Swift in May 2020 the aim was to build a 1500pt Istvaan III themed army during lockdown and then for everyone to get together once restrictions lifted for some games of Centurion.
Although linking up for games is a bit problematic for me (I'm in the Highlands of Scotland), I got involved in things in early 2021, at Pete's invitation and jumped at the chance when Myles was looking for folks to write 'Tale of Four Gamers' style articles as they built and painted their armies.Myles has been kind enough 'blogs' on the Lil Legend Studio website, however due to waning interest in the segment, the decision has (understandably) been taken to put the blog on hiatus there. Nevertheless, as I've enjoyed the process of writing about my return to Isstvan III, I thought that one return might be a good place to discuss another return.
My plan is to share the first blog post below and then I'll look at adding the next two in the coming weeks, and then aim to add more in a similar vein as the project progresses, so if it pleases, grab a cup of recaf, glass of sacra or tankard of mjod and join me on a journey back to the planet of Isstvan III where the dream that was the Imperium of Mankind was sundered and the Age of Darkness began...
++ Part I - January 2021 ++
"I’m beginning to collect a small force of Emperor’s Children loyalists led by Saul Tarvitz and Rylanor the Unyielding. I was drawn to this project by a combination of factors, I’ve been into 30k since almost the very beginning (my Christmas present in 2012 was a copy of Betrayal, which has been very well read over the last eight years). I think I’ve attempted most of the possible armies at least once, but by the end of 2019 I was getting a bit burned out. I finished up a couple of bits for my second Legio Cybernetica army in early 2020 and then spent last year working on a series of one-off projects, mostly Necromunda Hired Guns, Hangers-On and Brutes. I used these to push my painting abilities and relax into painting again. Seeing Tarvitz previewed in early 2020 was really exciting though, as I have very fond memories of reading Betrayal and devouring the Black Library Horus Heresy novels.
Fast forward to December 2020 and we found out that Tarvitz was being released on Christmas Day! I decided there and then that I was getting him, as it would be awesome to paint up such a pivotal character in the setting. I decided that in preparation I’d paint a test model, so I raided my bits box, found a spare Tartaros terminator model, and got started. I grabbed out my copy of Betrayal as well, looking for visual inspiration but also to remind myself of the story. Before I’d even finished the test model, I was thinking about developing the idea into an army.
Generally my armies always start with ‘The Idea’. You know, the "how cool would this be?" or "I’ve always wanted to paint this!" type of thing. Sometimes it comes from spotting something another hobbyist is working on or reading a book or it’s one of those slow realisations that pop out when I’m working on something else. Regardless of the origin of ‘The Idea’, my first port of call for building any army is usually the relevant army list in the Codex, Battletome, etc,.
In this case, though, I took a bit of a different approach. I knew that I wanted the army to be led by Saul Tarvitz, but I also knew that I wanted to keep it small, focusing more on the quality of each and every miniature. Tarvitz has the 'Master of the Legion' rule though, so my next thought was which Rites of War would enable me to create a valid army (much to my frustration, lodged like a thorn in my mind is the thought that anything I paint should conceivably be useable in a game as well as looking pretty on a shelf). I considered using the Rites ‘Chosen Duty’ and ‘Orphans of Betrayal’ but in the end, I settled on ‘Pride of the Legion’. This was partly because I was really enjoying painting my test model and I wanted to incorporate a unit of Terminators into the army and partly because it meant that I could start small but still have a valid 1 HQ and 2 Troops quite easily. Pride of the Legion obviously makes Veteran Tactical Squads a Troops choice, so adding one would give me what I needed.
I also planned to include Ancient Rylanor, 'The Unyielding'; he’s got to be one of the most iconic Isstvan III loyalist characters – it felt like it would be impolite to collect a loyalist IIIrd legion force without him. With those decisions made, I started looking at what else I could include. 1000 points would be a nice starting point. Manageable, but substantial enough for a game. After delving into the depths of the web I decided that a Heavy Support Squad armed with Heavy Bolters and a Legion Armistos would be just the ticket. Not only would these give me a unit that would provide a solid base of fire, but it also made sense to me that Heavy Bolters would likely have been deployed to Isstvan III as the Warmaster and his brothers needed to maintain the illusion of a ‘normal’ deployment to conceal their treachery.
With the initial list nailed down and Tarvitz ordered on Christmas day, I set about working out how I’d organize the rest of it. I was able to source some Tartaros Terminators from a friend which were a joy to paint up. I also grabbed a box of mkIII Space Marines for the vets and devestators. I’ve started thinking about the Armistos too and I think I have a model picked out for him, but I’m keeping that under my hat for now.
While I was planning the test model I had a look at a few sources for both paint recipes and colour schemes. I knew I wanted something to represent the grandeur and uniqueness of the Emperor’s Children as they were prior to their fall, so a rich, royal purple with gold and white accent colours seemed a good choice. I could replicate this across the army but still be able to mix things up a bit so that the units had a bit of character. As an example, the Terminators all have white pauldrons while the Veteran Tactical Squad’s pauldrons have purple inlays and white and gold trim.
As you can see from the photos, I decided that I wanted a relatively ‘clean’ colour scheme, using light chipping techniques. The cleanliness of the miniatures will be counterbalanced by darker, dirtier bases, in keeping with the virus bombed landscapes of Isstvan III. At the moment I’m thinking of using some Sector Mechanicus bases for this. Partly because I have a box, but also because I think they’ll work well in conveying the scorched, charred remains of the bunkers and fortifications of the Precptors' Palace.
As I started to plan the project, the theme and the story of it began to emerge in my mind: "what kind of units might Tarvitz have found and rallied amid the ruins of Isstvan III? To that end, I’ve kept the army to a core of infantry units, dug in to repel the traitors. Each one of these marines were marked for death alongside Tarvitz and I want to explore the 'why' of that as the army develops.
I began exploring part of that with the Veteran Tactical and Terminator Squads. The Terminators are named Krysaspædes or the "Golden Shields". The Veteran Squad is named Andarta for a Celtic goddess of Old Earth. They fight in mkIII plate which was deployed in limited fashion by the perfectionist IIIrd Legion. Perhaps they represent too much of the Legion’s past to be allowed to partake of the future? One of the other wee touches I’ve added to them is that instead of combat blades or chainswords at their belts, they’re affixed to their bolters so they can run and gun. I’ve also mixed the patterns of bolters in the unit a little too, this is partly so each model is unique, but also because some might have been taken from fallen brothers.
I’m already brainstorming for the other units in the army too, though of course, we know why Rylanor and Tarvitz were there!
The bases of the models will eventually tie into the theme as well – I want them to convey the charred remains of the imperial fortifications and underworks, though I’m still experimenting with exactly how I’ll do that. My current plan though is to settle on a scheme I like and then do the bases for the whole army together at the same time.
At the moment, I’m focussing on getting the initial 1,000pts built and painted, but I could see me adding to the force to bring it up to 1,500pts. I’ve not really thought about this too much yet though – I want to keep my eyes on the prize of getting to my first goal… I might think about a Rhino or two though, but we’ll see!
Legion Terminator Squad Krysaspædes and Veteran Squad Andarta await bases and decals.
For me, the goal of this project is two-fold: at the end of it, I’d like to have a well painted army that looks great and can be used to recreate some of the pivotal battles from the very dawn of the Horus Heresy and I'm also using it to re-engage with the hobby that I have a lot of love for. Going back to Isstvan seems a great way of doing both of those things."
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope you've enjoyed a delve into the machinations of my mind and that you'll join me again soon for Part II of my Return to Isstvan.