Godbreak 84th: Tactical Squad Howard

I’ve been building up a collection of vintage Imperial Army.  As a kid I wanted a large Imperial Guard army, but there being very few plastics (only the ginormo-head RTB07 and monopose 2E Stormtrooper with lasgun) meant they’d be mainly metal.  This combined with the low points cost meant a playable army would be very expensive.  But now I’m older I’m indulging myself.


Left to right: Trpr Trewevas, Trpr Peart, Trpr Laiout, Trpr Jenkins, Sgt Howard, Trpr Langton, Trpr Bruce, Trpr Kelly, Trpr Emerson and Trpr Rutherford. 

The aim of my Godbreak 84th project is to build a collection out of pre-1994 Citadel Miniatures.  The models are mainly one-piece castings with a lot of individuality and character.  I want the collection to be flexible enough to be fielded using old Rogue Trader lists, 2E Warhammer 40,000 and modern 7E Warhammer 40,000 (all with some cheeky opponent’s-permission tweaks).


Tactical Squad Howard in some Kill Team action at Warhammer World. 

Additionally the aim of the project is to have a collection that is contemporaneous (miniatures-wise) with my Furnace Valley Squats.  I will field them together as a combined Forces of the Imperium.  Ultimately, when the Squat and Imperial Army collections are big enough I can justify painting and gaming with some classic resin Titans!


Trpr Trewevas alongside a super-heavy axle.

As well as providing a context for Titans, the Godbreak 84th project provides as excuse to scratchbuild the White Dwarf 120 Baneblade.  Onwards!

Rogue Trader Marneus Calgar

The day school broke up for Christmas when I was thirteen was also the day I got my teenage nerd-mitts on two legends of the Warhammer 40,000 mythos – Marneus Calgar and Leman Russ.  As an adult, both vignette pieces still give me such an intense festive tingle that I want to repaint them and have them in my cabinet.  First up, Imperial Commander Marneus Calgar.

Marneus Calgar parts

Marneus’ components stripped and based up individually for ease of painting.

There are two sources for colour schemes – the first is the original studio paintjob, now in the collection of Bryan Ansell.  It stood out from the rest of the 40K range at the time because the figure was not in a battlefield setting – Marneus is sat on a throne with the Ultramarines motto “Our presence remakes the past”, ceremonial cloak and honour guard behind him.  (Not that that stopped teenage Curis using him in a battlefield setting – there were lots of games with increasingly desperate conceits why the Ultramarines had brought furniture to war.)

rogue-trader-studio-marnues-calgarThanks to Steve Casey for permission to use his photo.

The second source is the Dave Gallagher painting used as a frontispiece in the 1988 Warhammer 40,000 Compendium.  Sadly Dave’s choice of black-and-white floor tiles make it look like Marneus is on the toilet, which is further reinforced by the sheet of toilet paper he’s holding.

dave-gallagher-lord-macragge“Lord Macragge?  More like Lord Macrapping!”

Tantalisingly White Dwarf announced Marneus “…is the first in a planned series of specially sculpted vignette releases for WARHAMMER 40,000…”.  Tantalising as there could have been dozens of these figures to collect and love.  The second and final was Leman Russ.  I reckon there was also a Imperial Commander Nisk Ranthawll being dressed in experimental armour planned.  That’s an idea for a future modelling project.

So, anyway, drawing on both I blocked out the base colours.  I went for quite a tight rendition of the Dave Gallagher piece, with blue chest cabling and Mordian Blue plate.  I started with the bolter and the cloak so I could reward myself at the end with the actual character model.  I added a Mk 6 plastic backpack as, although the studio example doesn’t have one, there is an attachment nub.

Marneus Calgar WIP

Calgar’s base took a little thought.  I made a set of stone flags, using the tops of 25mm square bases (who needs them now we’ve got Age of Sigmar). Then the first thing I tried was painting them cold grey stone.

Marneus Calgar stone base

It didn’t work. The blue armour blends in with the grey base.  Then, I remembered the Forge World Roboute Guilliman and his polished marble base.  It screamed quasi-classical.  How very Ultramarine.  I got the marble recipe from a helpful peep at the Forge World store.

Marneus Calgar's marble base

I hammed up the veins more than I would if I were painting the modern Roboute – it felt more in keeping with the pudginess of the 1980s sculpt.  Everything about the older models is a bit more cartoony than their 21st century descendents.


Additionally, he made it into the 30th Anniversary of Space Marines issue of White Dwarf! Sadly I wasn’t credited with the paintjob, but I’m happy with readers assuming it’s a ‘Eavy Metal paintjob like the other two Marneuses/Marneuī on the page.

Marneus in White Dwarf

Now, let’s see if I can give Leman Russ the same treatment this Christmas.

40K 2E: Space Dwarfs, Elves and Frogs

One Christmas my Dad got me a complete squadron of Squats bikes. They were hastily glued to cavalry bases (without having their slots filled) and painted in a red/blue/silver scheme before roaring around the tables of Warhammer 40,000’s second edition (2E). The retro-hammer ‘Bring Out Your Lead’ event at Wargames Foundry provided an opportunity to relive those halcyon, cardboard-fuelled days.

Warhammer 40K 2E Squats

My old friend Graham who stepped up with a vintage army of his own. Though all my Squats were released before 1994, Graham’s were actually painted back in the day, making them even more authentically retro. His is a gorgeous force, with conversions born from a mix of passion and restrictions of the early Eldar range.

Warhammer 40K 2E Eldar

Warhammer 40K 2E Eldar

Graham’d also brought an allied contingent of Slann – meaning we were both using defunct alien races.

Warhammer 40K 2E Slann

Both our armies were informed by the ‘Black Codex’ – a pamphlet in the starter box with concise versions of every list. That list was the last official list Squats had, and I’ve played them with counts-as or home-brew rules ever since.

Counter Strike

2E stands out in my memory for its avalanche of cardboard. Admittedly, real games wouldn’t have used EVERY reference sheet – but we did out of a combination of cardboard fetishism, and because it had been twenty years since we’d had to remember the Chainfist’s armour penetration value was D20+D4+D6+10. This meant that our gaming area was festooned in datafaxes, wargear cards, psychic powers, strategy cards and polyhedral dice.

Graham and Cardboard

Weirdly, 40K has seen a card resurgence with the Psychic and Strategic Asset decks. Fashions come around.

yUm jaM! i liK JaM!

As squad after squad of of Eldar opened fire with shuriken, the big red sustained fire dice slowed the game down to a crawl. Every Eldar rolls a pair of sustained fire dice to determine how many shots they fired and records the ensuing jams. There’s no way of batch rolling those red cubes of tedium. Luckily there were enough jam counters to cater for Graham’s bad rolls.

Warhammer 40K 2E Eldar

Despite the atrocious jamming, Shuriken Catapults sliced through most of my Squats. The players on the table over were having a game of Rogue Trader, and chipped in that the weapon had been toned down from Rogue Trader – when its Following Fire rules meant it could keep firing indefinitely.

The Pain of Vehicle Squadrons

My Bikers attempted to use the Flank March strategy card to appear on the Squat right and unleash their twin-bolters. I think twin-linked weapons worked much better in 2E – instead of a reroll to hit you rolled once, and then multiplied your hits (and misses) by two. Anyway, Graham cancelled my Strategy card with the Traitor Strategy Card and then we fell in a bit of rules hole. But importantly I got to again field my vintage Bike Squadron from all those christmasses ago. Thanks Dad!

Warhammer 40K 2E Squats

Graham also had a light vehicle squadron in the form of 5 Jetbikes with a Vyper. Resolving shots against these squadrons was a gloriously retro (read: tedious) procedure thanks to the old Datafax location tables. We powered through as the results let us use lots of cardboard counters to record which fairings were buckled, which crewmen were wounded, which engine tanks were going to explode the next turn…

We’re really glad this was streamlined away in 3E. Graham whipped out his old acetate vehicle targeting matrix and reminded me that there had been even more turgid days of 40K.

Warhammer 40K 2E Squats

This is Graham’s Vyper mercilessly gunning down my Battle Standard Bearer, whose Refractor Field had saved him from death three times in that game. The Thunderer Squad in the ruins above saw he was swiftly avenged. I say swiftly – they had Heavy Bolters and resolving the sustained fire made it proloooooonged.

The Psychic Prolapse

The Psychic Phase – the card-heavy subgame. I remember several games of the 90s thwarted by both players forgetting to bring the Warp Deck. Or one person forgetting and the other one being cheap not wanting to pay the £20 for the rules but still field Psykers, banking on using his opponent’s cards. Sometimes that cheapskate player was me.

Warhammer 40K 2E Eldar

Ahhh, shuffling the cards, feeling the ebb of the Warp as the cards rippled through my fingers. Graham had a Level 4 Farseer, and me a Level 2 Ancestor Lord. As Graham sourced the gorgeous 6″ Eldritch Storm template to devastate my Guild Bikers, I played the Daemonic Attack card which cancelled the power and saw Daemons dragging his Farseer into the Warp. My Mission Card awarded me a massive +5 VPs for this fluke event.

Warhammer 40K 2E Eldar

Who needs tactics when Fortuna’s on your side?

Lords of Battle

For the great climax of the game, Graham charged his Wraithlord into my Ancestor Lord. It would have been a LORD OFF, but back in them days Wraithlords were just called “Eldar Dreadnoughts”. My tiny bearded dwarf didn’t even come up to the knee of this eldritch war engine.

Warhammer 40K 2E Eldar

We refreshed ourselves on the combat rules, thinking the Dread’s power glove would effortlessly squish the Squat. But the exo-armoured old bugger with his 4 attacks and weapon skill 8 won the combat and got four hits. Aha! Ancestor Lords had buff stats. And with his basic strength 5, which I then increased by +2 by expending the Force Card stored in his Force Sword, I thought I would pure muller the robot. But in 2E the lowest armour on the Dreadnought was 18, which my 7+D6 had no hope against

The game ended after Turn 4. Graham was declared winner by virtue of outnumbering the Warmaster’s surviving forces several times over and us not wanting to work out VPs.

2E creaks a lot, but we found it surprisingly playable for its age and a lot of fun to run through the old procedural mechanics.

Warhammer 40K 2E Squats

Thanks to the chaps at Foundry, our most generous hosts. If only I’d brought by White Dwarf 111 Squat army list – as its author, Bryan Ansell, was there.