After the terrain comes the actual armies I want to model and play. They are numerous...
Here is a short breakdown of the armies I plan to build. The first two are fairly definite, the second two are highly desirable, and the last is the fevered dream of a poorman.
Primus Legio - The Dark Angels
I currently play Dark Angels in 40k. They are my first and only army, and I love them. I am a son of the Lion through and through. There is virtually no way I would consider NOT building a First Legion army. Plus, if I manage to convince a friend of mine (Ed) to build a Horus Heresy army, his first choice would be Night Lords. Nice synergy there...
However, I have some reservations. While my loyalty to the Lion (and the Emperor) is unswerving, I have some concerns about committing to a Dark Angels heresy-era army. I'm going to list them in the hopes that somebody can talk me out of them.
- A black army. I don't find black a very appealing color to paint or to look at on an army. With the exception of FW's latest paint job on the Gorgon Terminators (I LOVE that metallic off-black scheme they used - very nicely done) it is a plain and terribly un-inspiring color to paint an army. While the cobalt blue of the Ultramarines, the deep metallic red of the Word Bearers, even the white and red of the Scars yield great excitement in the hobby-center of my brain, black only breeds disappointment.
- No Forgeworld representation in the foreseeable future. As a faithful son of the Lion, patience is in my blood. However, I am loathe to begin before they are properly represented since there will be beautiful color plates, distinct designs, and new units/tactics/fluff to build upon once they show up in a book.
- Fluff representation. This is the hardest one to swallow, my friends. With a few exceptions, I detest the Heresy-era representation of the First Legion. Unremembered Empire was the first time that I felt the awe of the Dark Angels that I wanted to feel from the beginning. ADB has also managed to avoid contempt, but it took Abnett's glimpse of them amongst the Ultramarines to remind me why I love this legion. The flip side of this problem is that there is so much written that it becomes difficult to write my own fluff to match my forces. I have already had some very kind words on this subject from some of the brothers here, but I remain somewhat demoralized on this front. It ties into #2 - I have to wait and trust that Forgeworld will give the Dark Angels the representation they deserve.
It seems obvious to me that the mighty First Legion will be on hold until they receive their FW book. Only then will I be able to determine how to represent them on the table-top and which to field of battle (ship or city) to assign them. Originally this was slated to be my primary and largest Horus Heresy army - standing above the others as my prided legion.
Emperor's Praetorians - The Imperial Fists
My absolute favorite story to date in the entire Horus Heresy series is The Crimson Fist by John French. It covers the battle of Phall, a massive and stunningly awesome void-battle which immediately captured my imagination. I was overjoyed to find that Phall receives additional coverage in Horus Heresy 3: Extermination. Imagine my delight when Ed announced that his second choice of legion was the Iron Warriors - the hated enemy at the battle of Phall.
Furthermore, the painting of a VII Legion force couldn't be more exciting! There are many sources of inspiration to draw from, not least of which is right here in our very own forum. To add simplicity, it seems obvious that any Imperial Fist forces would be themed for Zone Mortalis and the brutal void-warfare operations of ship boarding combat. Zone Mortalis bases, then.
Lastly, my obsession with boarding actions and Zone Mortalis seems to fit like a bodyglove into the mien of the Imperial Fists. Breachers, Terminators, Contemptor Dreadnoughts, and even the character from my favorite story: Alexis Polux.
The Imperial Fists were slated to be my second Horus Heresy force. My plan called for a Zone Mortalis force, built only for boarding operations. But wait, there's a wrinkle...
Disciples of the Red Planet - Adeptus Mechanicus
Before a few months ago, I had no particular interest in the Mechanicum or its forces. But I saved my pennies, I ate Ramen Noodles and resisted the call of so many gorgeous models (plastic and resin ones, I'm happily married), and was finally rewarded with my very own Warhound Titan. A Mars-pattern Warhound, I have one of every weapon magnetized to the arms. Its towering hull plates bear the name Dirae Venaticus and you will be hearing more about it before too long, I assure you.
I originally planned to paint it in the scheme of the Legio Astorum, the Warp Runners. The appeal of the deep marbled blue and bronzed gold look was the primary reason, though now I am tempted by the Legio Gryphonicus with their slate grey and yellow. Plus, they are listed as having fought with the Dark Angels, which is always a plus...
For quite a while I was unsure of how to base this monstrosity of a model. I toyed with many, many ideas but wasn't satisfied with any. Finally with the purchase of the Forgeworld Cityscape I can say with certainly that it will be based for the city board. Burning rhino underfoot, perhaps. Maybe even with a legion's colors still barely visible through the plasma blastgun scorches...
Bringing this rambling section around, the advent of the Mechanicum lists in HH3: Extermination gave me another brilliant idea. I wanted to build a force to match my Titan. Though it is wont to walk alone, even the fearsome Dirae Venaticus must fight as a part of a pack. To add the cherry on top of this delicious idea was the notion of the war for the Red Planet. The mechanicum fought itself, this is certain, but the Emperor's Praetorians, the steadfast Imperial Fists, were also heavily involved. The synergy is getting heady...
I didn't originally plan for a Mechanicum force. But once the idea lodged there, it doesn't seem to want to go away. A perfect match for my Titan and a counter-point to the Imperial Fists, it seems too good to be true. However, are they based to match the Fists - Zone Mortalis? Or do they match their Titan and wear city bases? More conundrums that eat away at my will to decide.
The Shadow Crusade - Ultramarines and Word Bearers
These two legions are intrinsically linked by the incredible story of Calth and the Shadow Crusade.
The Ultramarines appeal if only because I greatly appreciate their views on empire-building. They do not simply conquer or kill, but focus on the scholarly pursuits, the integration of worlds into the new Imperium, and famously the logistics of warfare. They are a legion who seems to understand the goals of the Great Crusade and seeks to advance the Emperor's cause for the betterment of humanity.
I have never modeled or painted a traitor. My loyalties lie strongly with the Emperor and Terra. For me to even consider creating a traitor force is a concept with which I have struggled long and hard. Ultimately, the status of arch-traitor and architects of the heresy leads me to believe that if I were ever to take on a traitor legion - there could be only one choice: Word Bearers.
Both are immensely appealing in terms of modeling and painting. The rich cobalt blue and gold of the Ultramarines would be a joy to recreate, and the deep metallic crimson of the Word Bearers makes me want to get out my airbrush right away.
My original plan called for the third undertaking to be two forces in opposition. The Word Bearers and the Ultramarines as antithesis to each other, fighting in the cramped confines of Calth's caves or prior to that, the rapidly disintegrating cities of its surface. Again, which area to base them for? Such a very difficult question, as you can see. It constantly plagues me.
The Forgotten Sons - White Scars
To be perfectly honest, I have never even considered the White Scars until Chris Wraight's excellent book, Scars. I still don't care for the overly oriental theme, but the misunderstood and neglected mentality of the Scars appealed to me. Their obsession with speed doesn't hurt either - a force themed in such a way could be devastating.
The idea of painting a white and red army only exacerbated my sudden desire to build this legion. What a fun project to take on and a rare sight in most gaming communities as well.
This is the latest of additions to the grand plan, being number 4 on the list. They would almost certainly be themed for the cityscape board, as Zone Mortalis doesn't seem to capture the essence of the V Legion.
Where does that leave me?
I have no idea. If you read this whole thing - you deserve some sort of reward. Please do me one more favor - give me your thoughts.