What if the breath that kindled those grim fires,John Milton, Paradise Lost
Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage,
And plunge us in the flames; or from above
Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right hand to plague us?
I started this Chaos Space Marine army a few years ago, almost to prove that I could still paint. It was a bargain: half a Dark Vengeance set acquired by splitting, and a few other bits and bobs sourced from the now-defunct Abergavenny Model Shop. The Daemon Prince joined up because Chaos armies could occasionally have their characters turned into one: he doesn’t have very good Night Lord kit, but he represents an elevated Szandor nicely. The Plaguebearers were just there, and I’m secretly quite pleased that later rule sets allow even Nostraman filth to sneak a few in there.
(Why Night Lords? A plethora of reasons. Their tie in novels are eminently readable, without the pomp of the Black Legion or the contrivance of the Ahriman series, although those are also pretty good. They were the featured army in the second edition Chaos Codex, which was the big damn splash release when I started playing, and in third edition’s core and first Chaos book and Cityfight, the golden age of 40K as far as I’m concerned. I briefly had a Night Lords army at this point and always enjoyed using them. They are refreshingly honest about what they are – killers, thieves and outlaws forced into a working relationship with gods they despise. Apocalypse Now is a bloody great film. And I really like the colour scheme – eventually I’ll get tired of cold metallics and blue glazes, but not in this lifespan.)
There was some desultory talk with a fella down in Cardiff, another Jon as it happens, who had the Dark Angels half of my original box, about playing some games. That never really worked out.
There was a plan, at one point, to do a Heresy era version of the same army, but then I put together two Battle for Prospero kits and realised there was no way in hell I would paint sixty identical Space Marines and not hate myself for it.
Still, imbued by the mighty spirit of Aaron Dembski-Bowden, I did some of my best work on the original clutch of models, and even worked out a little bit of backstory. The Chaplain from my Heresy-era company would grow up to be the Chaos Lord of my 40K army, backstabbing his Terran-born Legion Praetor in the back. He got better; indeed, the powers of Chaos turned him into a Helbrute. (This concept occurred to me when I looked at the Betrayal at Calth Praetor, then the Dark Vengeance Helbrute, and saw more or less the same pose, and an almost throughline into “overgrown Terminator” in the new Helbrute kit. There was a similar potential continuity between the Chaos Lord from Dark Vengeance and the Chaplain from Betrayal at Calth, even after I sawed the plasma pistol off the latter.)
Szandor still earned his sinner’s hands, though (ironic, considering he lost his left hand in the same overcharged plasma pistol betrayal incident), and went on to lead the survivors through the Long War, until there was only a single Claw left; a pathetic rabble of outlaws and their terrified slaves, skulking around the galaxy doing what little they could.
Then Jess got involved. As part of the same deal that landed me my OG Land Raider, I also got Jess’ part-built, barely-painted Chaos Space Marine army. Suddenly, the Red Right Hand had… reinforcements.
Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.Apocalypse Now
These Marines were something of a fixer-upper. Once I’d trimmed out all the bright orange ones I didn’t think I could salvage, I had most of the bits for a ten man footslogger squad, and a five man Possessed squad. Most, but not all, and they were softer and plainer than the Dark Vengeance kits. So I decided to get… creative. In this wave of reprobates you will find Iron Hands resin bionics and Night Lords upgrade sprue bits, Forge World Night Lords helmets and breastplates, a few leftover Mark III parts from those Prospero boxes, and of course the signature Nostraman chainglaives with which my “Terror Squad” are now equipped. The old 2002 Marines are filling in Troop slot duty for the time being, though eventually I plan to sideline them as a Kill Team (since they’re so lovingly kitbashed) and cycle in larger squads of the new figures.
And, of course, there’s the Terminator Sorcerer. Ever since this kit arrived I’ve been able to picture this repose in my mind’s eye: the Night Lords upgrade kit came with a suitable book-grabbing hand, and a power armoured version that found its way onto Szandor as his plasma pistol relocated down the ranks. This fellow is primed black, unlike the rest of my models, and covered in Eye of Horus designs, so I’ve decided to roll with it and make him a Black Legion tagalong, an emissary of Abaddon who’s there to keep the resurgent Red Right Hand on task. They put up with him because, well, he’s a hard as nails Sorcerer, and without him who’s going to navigate their decrepit spaceship through the Warp?
This isn’t even everything. Jess’ bounty also provided a single biker, who might get the rest of the Night Lords upgrade kit if I can’t think of anything else to do with it, and the metal upgrades for a Noise Marine squad (which I’ve supplemented with more resin Sonic Blasters and a second Blastmaster).
They’ve been primed for over a year now, waiting for the proper motivation to get ’em painted.
The goal is to have this army function, in some way or another, under as many iterations of the Chaos Space Marine rules as possible. While the details may change, and some units may or may not be extant, there should be an air of continuity about the proceedings. Szandor will always have a big scary daemon sword; Tar Zahaan is always a Dreadnought or Helbrute with a multi-melta; Hexander is, if not the only Sorcerer, the best one; and so on.
My preferred rules are the third and sixth editions, although I’m pretty loose about Codex release order. While I sneakily prefer the elegance of the 48-page book to the extravagance of the later, bulkier 3.5 release, I reserve the right to cook in the Daemon Prince upgrades and Chaos Cultists and Index Astartes, by which point I’m almost playing 3.5 anyway.
Likewise, the strict sixth edition Codex gets what I have on the board but what I’m aiming towards is the Murder Talon formation from seventh edition’s Traitor Legions: an infantry warband with a brace of cheap Spawn and a whole wave of Raptors in attendance, plus the bolt-on Lord of the Legion slot as a way to deploy Hexander as he belongs, all by his dang self.
Raptors always make me a little wary because they don’t exist in second edition, and second edition is the one I may end up playing in order to meet the Oldhammer types halfway, but as long as I can muster 1000 points of bread and butter Chaos I think things should be fine. And I can always slap some Nurgle Daemons in to make up the numbers.