The Painter: Campbell “SRM” McLaughlin
The Army: Imperial Knights and Astra Militarum
Points: Just over 2,500
Collected: Since 2016
As is the case with many burgeoning Knight households, this army began with the Imperial Knights Renegade box set. Two giant robots, a smattering of terrain, and some Battletech-lite rules for an optional game I’ll probably never play? Sign me up! I got to building up my first Knight from that box – a Knight Crusader, pretty quickly. Since I figured I would only have one or two of these, I decided to go for a suitably flamboyant and old school paintjob. Perusing old Epic catalogs, I came across one scheme in particular that sang to me – the scheme of House Lakar:
It was 7th edition so the notion of a whole army of these guys wasn’t even on my radar, then Buffalo Chicken gave me shit for having multiple unbuilt superheavies in my house and an army was born. A drunken purchase of the short-lived Forgebane box set in 2018 got me some Armiger Warglaives, and from there I picked up some Helverins and a Valiant to fill the army out.
By now it was 8th edition and there was a little something called “The Loyal 32” being attached to Knights armies to supply them with much needed Command Points. Not content to use any of the existing Guard armies I have (don’t judge, it’s a sickness) I decided to convert and paint up a matching regiment of Guardsmen to go along with the Knights of House Lakar – The House Lakar Fusiliers. As long time 40k Badcast listeners might know, I blitzed through the remaining 2000 points of this army in the summer of 2018 in preparation for the NOVA Open. I think I finished the last bit of paintwork the night before I flew out. I do not recommend any of this.
Rules-wise, I use the House Hawkshroud traits. People will think they’re Hawkshroud anyway since they’re yellow, and the rules are very straightforward and easy for a doofus like me to remember. The Household Guard use Cadian rules, which are similarly pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, this army doesn’t currently see much play. My local meta tends to be pretty casual and old school, and nothing puts away 30 year old Chaos Marine models like a Knight Gallant doing its best imitation of the Killdozer. Still, I tend to table my opponents and get hosed on victory points, or somehow flub the entire game with them. At the NOVA Narrative 2018 I managed to just barely win about half of my games while getting annihilated in the rest. Let the jury know I never claimed to be any good at this game.
Since I’m not really playing with them I’m not extra enthused to add more to the army. If anything I’d love a solution to display them, since they’re striking at a distance. Psychic Awakening has promised to add things to every army so maybe there will be some wild psyker Knight or something I’d want to add. I thought also about fleshing out my Armiger packs to 3 of each so I could run a Preceptor with them, but without a guarantee of opponents for the army, I’m not pulling the trigger just yet.
Let’s do this chronologically to my best recollection, since I learned a lot of dumb lessons while working on this army. Let’s start with:
The Knights of House Lakar
While building the as-yet unnamed Knight Crusader here, I was smart enough to do the whole thing in subassemblies, as per Games Workshop’s excellent video on the subject. I also magnetized the right weapon arm, stubber, and carapace weapon using cut up soup cans and rare earth magnets. So far so good! The next plan was to get going on colored spray paint to save some time. I used Army Painter’s Daemonic Yellow and Gunmetal sprays to great effect, then broke out the bottled versions for cleanup. This is where I came across my first hiccup: while the spray was great, Army Painter Daemonic Yellow paint out of the bottle has abysmal coverage. I would pin wash a rivet and try to clean it up 3, maybe 4 times with the bottle paint and get nowhere. I found GW’s Yriel Yellow had much better coverage, but was just off enough that it would require repainting the whole model. Next, I tried to use some adhesive stencils for the checkers. Turns out that when they say they’re designed for airbrushes, they mean it! This would mean my checkers would either be thick and chalky gobs of paint or go on slightly too thin and run under the stencil. They’re also very squared off and grid like, which didn’t always work on the curved surfaces of the Knight’s armor. Still, some cleanup and they were good. There were a few times when I was this close to throwing the whole model in the garbage, but at the end of a month or so, I finally had a big beautiful Knight that I was happy with.
Almost two years later I picked up these guys in the Forgebane box set, shortly before selling off or trading just about everything else in the set. I wanted to get back on the barded horse and paint some more yellow and blue, but I approached these guys a bit differently. I stayed away from stencils, mapping out the checkers with a pencil first, and had much better results on the curved surfaces. My blue recipe (Army Painter Crystal Blue, Drakenhof Nightshade wash, then highlights of Calgar Blue and Fenrisian Grey) remained the same, but for the yellows I primed white and built them up using GW’s colors instead (Yriel Yellow, Fuegan Orange wash, highlights of Flash Gitz Yellow and Dorn Yellow) and had a much easier time. Yes I’m painting these all by hand, no I don’t have an airbrush and no I won’t be taking any more questions on the matter.
Since the first batch went so smoothly, I doubled down and did another pair of Armigers. I wanted to make them a bit more individual and introduce more interesting markings into their heraldry, so I added more black to their armor. This also had the benefit of making them much faster to paint. Funny how that works.
I also injected a little more narrative into this pair by virtue of me losing half of one of Dorian Krail’s autocannons. I replaced both barrels with dragon heads from the Chaos Space Marines vehicle accessory sprue, as this made them look even more like jousting lances. Ironic since I don’t want these guys anywhere near the front line, but it still looks cool and implies that he’s some kind of dragon hunter. Like the last Armigers, these were done in subassemblies to speed things along.
You may have noticed the increasingly silly names these Knights have. Well, when was working on this army, GW had a handy dandy name generator that Dan and I used on the air to name the whole bunch. I made some adjustments or came up with my own here and there, but it was helpful to give each of them an identity and some personality. Loretta Rexas (Pride of Texas) came together much easier than her sister Crusader. It felt real good to apply all the lessons I’d learned and mistakes I’d made the first time around to make Knight #2 a relatively easygoing painting experience.
You also might notice the checkers are getting bigger, as time to NOVA is running short.
The Community: Knight Castellans are extremely powerful and are dominating top tables the world ’round
Me to the Cashier: Give me the one with the big harpoon gun
Any chump can shoot you from the other end of the table, but it takes nobility, courage, and gallantry to shoot you in the face with a harpoon from an honorable distance. This was documented on the Badcast in Dan and I’s yearly NOVA smackdown, wherein Cassandra harpooned Dan’s Astraeus, causing it to explode and retroactively justifying the time and money investment I’d made into my giant plastic sons and daughters. You may notice yet more black on the armor of this particular Knight, as time was running extremely tight. I came up with the justification that in House Lakar, black was the color of nobility, therefore more black would be on the armor of higher ranking Knights. Narrative! If I were to go one step further, yellow would represent House Lakar’s wealth, blue its clear skies, the fleur de lys its bountiful crops, and white the purity of its people. Speaking of people, it’s about time we got to the boots on the ground of this force:
The House Lakar Fusiliers
I really wanted to push the medieval theme with these guys. I knew the Genestealer Cult autoguns would be perfect for a more archaic looking lasgun stand in, and the Skitarii bucket helmets would be great for the medieval theme. I hemmed and hawed and made a lot of photoshop bashes for bodies until I tested the bits on some Freeguild Greatswords I had lying around. The fit was just about perfect! I’d also amassed a load of backpacks from Imperial Guard heavy weapons squads and vox casters from Tempestus Scions, which would bulk out the silhouettes and make them look more futuristic. For the heavy weapons, I figured the plasma guns from the Skitarii kit would fit nicely, and the bionic hands would add that bit of visual narrative that these things overheat all the time. The autocannons accompanying them are on metal Hellblaster Volley Gun chassis instead of the typical Guard tripods, as I wanted to give them the look of field guns.
Of course each sergeant has a feather and a sash to mark them out on the field. I didn’t push the highlights as far on these guys, but I wanted them to tie in with the Knights thematically as well as visually.
Each squad had a different pattern on their clothes. While squad 1 was halved vertically, squad 2 is halved horizontally. I also gave their sergeant a greatsword because I thought that would be neat.
Squad 3 rounds out the Guard portion of the army. I was kind of scrambling for bits here, so you’ll see I’m using some of the less standard arm configurations around now. Notable are the shotguns in every heavy weapon team, as I was running out of autoguns and I figured the gun teams would have a shotgun should the enemy get too close.
After all, if all goes well you’ll never need to use that shotgun, right?
I had had this model lying around for years, and never found a time or place to paint it. Fortunately, I needed a suitably haughty looking Company Commander, and this great old Brian Nelson sculpt was ready and waiting. I painted him in the same colors as the rest of my dudes, but pushed the highlights a bit further. He’s a character, you see.
A medieval-themed army needs a standard bearer, and Jarran Kell was the man for the job. This also meant these guys got to take advantage of the excellent Cadian rules, which was a nice bonus. This was an extra fun little kitbash as it got to drive home the two flavors the army had, which were obviously French and Swedish. It’s no secret that the army’s color scheme resembles a certain tax-dodging Swedish furniture manufacturer’s, so I thought I’d push that with this guy.
I figured a backwards, medieval planet wouldn’t be huge on psykers, but having one made sense for the army. I thought the best way to represent one would be to make something suitably archaic and inject some grimdarkness into the army. I settled on this caged psyker in what I call the Auto-Repenitent, a mechanical steed that takes the psyker to the front line where they can repent for their sins. I painted it to match my Knights, and it serves as a visual space between my infantry and the Armigers above them.
And that’s the army! I don’t think I’ll be adding much to them, as this is a force that (for now, at least) I consider finished. Adding more Knights, should cool new ones come out, is a possibility, but I somewhat doubt I’ll make more infantry. The cost per model in bits alone is kind of nuts, and they’re a lot of work for some jamokes who get swept off the field. I did have plans to make Rough Riders using Empire Pistoliers post-NOVA 2018, as that would throw off the competitive scent, but with them being put to pasture in Warhammer Legends I don’t think they’d be worth the effort. Maybe if I get into Adeptus Titanicus I’ll make tiny versions of my giant plastic sons and daughters, but tiny planes have my attention on that front. Whatever comes next, I have a bold and colorful force of Knights and their attendant Guardsmen, who I hope to lead to glorious defeat on the battlefields for years to come.