In our Army Showcase series, Goonhammer contributors take a look at the armies we’ve been collecting for years, and the new ones we’ve just finished – what drew us to them, why we keep building and painting, and how they play on the table. This week SRM is talking about his itty bitty firstborn Black Templars!
The Painter: Campbell “SRM” McLaughlin
The Game: Warhammer 40,000
Points: Around 4300 points, not counting the now-Legends Firstborn characters
Collecting Since: January 2017
Like so many ‘hams who grew up in the 90s, my introduction to 40k was the 3rd edition starter box. The gorgeous John Blanche cover art, dense rulebook full of backstory, and then-revolutionary multipart plastic models absolutely immersed me in this big stupid grimdark universe. Ultramarines were my first 40k love (as anyone following our Hobby Roundups will likely be aware) and an army I frequently return to. However, that 3rd edition box art was always lurking in the back of my head. With the rumors of 8th edition on the horizon back in 2017, I figured I’d do the “new edition new army” thing and indulge that nostalgic part of my brain. I had absolute piles of bits leftover from previous Ultramarines, Ultramarines (again), and Dark Angels armies, and figured I could make a lot of this army for cheap. The rest of it is shit I acquired seemingly at random over the years. The fun part of this is that almost every unit has some goblincore backstory that I can fondly remember every time I roll these guys out.
The central Marshal, who I named Sigward, is the classic Black Templar Marshal model, and I got him in a blister labeled “Birthday Marine” at Historicon in 2008 for 5 bucks. The Terminator Marshal on the right was some kind of store promo thing, and the one on the left, Dietrich Donnerschlag, was based on a Space Marine captain box I won at Adepticon 2019. He was extra fun, as I gave him a leftover Horus Heresy chainsword to count as the Teeth of Terra. The three of them have had an illustrious career of either rolling up in a Land Raider or babysitting fire support units throughout 8th edition.
Templars without chaplains aren’t Templars at all, IMO, so I had to get them a few. The fella on the right was a store opening boi where you’d spend a ludicrous amount at a GW store to get the chance to buy a cool Terminator chaplain. I’m a mark so I bought him. He deep strikes with Terminators and fails to follow them into assault, Typically. The one on the left has never seen a game, but is very, very small.
So eventually Primaris Marines started coming out and I had an absolute assload of Templars to get through. I was jealous, had leftover Ravenwing Apothecary bits, and thought to make a tiny Apothecary reminiscent of his pose. The Techmarine was a fun kitbash using Marine vehicle commander bits and a combo of the Devastator missile launcher and multimelta backpacks to give him a big, chunky body. The Techmarine axe was a lucky find in some random bitz bag I got on eBay, and I gave him an old Heresy plasma pistol to get that arcane look. The Castellan on the right is special since he was known as Captain Draco and was a limited edition Templar model in 3rd ed, hence the weird proportions and gummy gun. I painted him for a friend in high school, was given back the model at some point in college, then stripped and repainted him for this army. I don’t think any of these three guys have seen a game, but all three are pretty decent in 9th.
I just had to get these beatsticks into the army, and they’ve definitely earned their reputations on the field. In one notable early 8th ed game, The Emperor’s Champion solo’d Belisarius Cawl in one round of combat. That same weekend he got overwatched to death by a Genestealer Cult mining laser, but pobody’s nerfect. Helbrecht’s +1 Strength aura is the only reason I was able to put a dent in a Custodes army, and at other times he was giving full rerolls to my pre-Bolter Discipline nerf Land Raider Crusader, which was funny as hell. I also painted him in black armor instead of the typical gold. The gold armor always felt a little gaudy to me, and if there’s one things my Templars aren’t, it’s gauche.
Grimey and his hype men were a late addition to the army, as I wanted to save them as a treat. I went all out on the jobbers, doing some freehand on the banners and robes and getting a good stone texture. For Grimaldus, I figured a white face mask would differentiate him from other takes on the character, and look more skull-like.
This is the last, and certainly dumbest addition to the HQ section. This big dumb tank, Königbrecher, is one of the command tanks you can only get at Warhammer World. I got it when I went there in 2016 with The Independent Characters and didn’t have any clear plans for it. As part of my Army of Misfit Toys, it joined the ranks of my Templars where it hasn’t really gone on to do all that much. I’ve used as my Warlord and given it the Crusader’s Helm so I could have a 9″ aura around this fucking shoebox, but that got FAQ’d so I can no longer put a hat on my tank. Königbrecher has also served as a standard Godhammer-pattern Land Raider with the swap of a turret weapon, which means I can at least get use out of this Legends model. As for the accompanying command Rhino, the confusingly named Rhino Primaris, it has been primed for 4 years, and will likely remain primed for another 4.
The backbone of any Black Templars army are its Crusader squads. I can’t say they’ve been the most effective units in the world, but in a 9th edition, Astartes Chainsword, 2 wound, Shock Assault and Combat Doctrines world, they actually might be pretty effective. Typically I would put the big squad in a Land Raider Crusader with a couple Neophytes (more on them shortly) and the small 5 man squad would camp an objective and act as long range fire support. The previous iteration of Crusader squads could take 1 heavy and 1 special weapon in a 5 man squad, so I went with the classic las/plas loadout. The models for these units are a mix of old metal veterans I somehow acquired, stripped and salvaged models from my high school Ultramarines army, and some new bits and pieces.
Accompanying those Initiates, I have my Neophytes to act as squires and bullet catchers. I spiced up the aging plastic Scouts with Scout Biker parts, Land Speeder Storm crew I got for cheap on eBay, and Chaos Warrior helmets with the horns removed. You see, Scouts have awful faces, and I wanted these models to look good, so I gave them all headswaps. The dude in the way back has a spare head from the old Empire Great Cannon kit, and I even sawed the head off the metal missile launcher dude. I probably fished that blister out of a trashcan somewhere, but I decided to make a little Scout squad with him in it, hence the combi-plas sergeant. You’ll probably notice these squads are very loosely organized and often contain more than the maximum unit sizes in them, but the freeform mix and match nature of Crusader squads makes that pretty sensible.
I did want some mobility in the army, and the ability to take objectives outside my own deployment zone or the center of the field where my Crusader blobs went to die, so I built up a regular Tactical Squad and a Rhino to ride in. I think this is where I really started to lean into some of the 3rd ed aesthetics, namely backbanners and yellow gun casings. These guys have done what Tactical Squads have always done: sit on objectives and die there. I couldn’t be more proud.
I’ve had these guys lying around since they were new in 2008. As part of the thrifting at home practice that went into making this army, I gave them some headswaps and they were good to go. These guys put out an absolutely comical amount of S4 fire once you’re within 12″, and are cheap, fast, and surprisingly durable. This army can be very slow, so having fast objective grabbers is always handy. They also, for a time, came in at 69 points for a squad of 3, which is extremely Nice.
I have no idea how or why I acquired some Land Speeders, but here’s one of them. I have a second that I started but never finished, and this one here. I can’t say it’s ever blown me away in a game, but a fast heavy weapons platform isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Assault Marines are firmly an idea that sounds good on paper but seldom delivers, and these guys are no exception. I think they may have been the first full unit I painted for the army, as about a dozen jump packs were just floating around in my bitz box for an indeterminate amount of time. With the changes Marines have gotten since their first 8th edition codex, these guys might actually be handy, if nothing else because I could combat squad them, deep strike them, and perform Activities in various table quarters easily.
I tried to salvage the less than great plastic Contemptor I’d won in an Adepticon event by sticking him on a resin Cities of Death basing kit topper. It didn’t wholly work. He has the multimelta arm magnetized, but I usually run him with the Kheres to get up close and personal. I gave him the same Templar cross I’d been practicing on my Neophytes though, which I really like. It put some detail in a fairly drab model and draws the attention to his face. His name is Rainier, and while he wasn’t initially named for my local shitty beer of choice, this tallboy certainly is now. The Venerable Dreadnought, Hugo, was another cheap eBay find when he was in some Deathwatch box and people were selling them for like $20 a pop on eBay. He’s actually been hugely useful, giving me some rock solid fire support – a pair of BS2+ lascannons, usually rerolling 1s, is never a bad thing. He’s got other weapon options painted up, but at the time plasma cannons were a trap choice and the assault cannon, while nice, wasn’t necessary with the amount of anti-infantry firepower in the force.
I had leftover Terminator arms and bought some Terminator bodies to use them. The bitz seller on eBay instead sent me two full kits of Terminators, so that’s +1 positive eBay feedback for that guy. Both squads have been pretty solid, with 3++ stormshields and Bolter Discipline stormbolters both being rather good. I would usually drop the shooty termies with the Terminator Marshal, Assault Terminators with the Terminator Chaplain, and the Tartaros Terminators would sometimes run alongside my other guys on foot since they’re a bit faster. I got them, again, from winning some event at Adepticon or NOVA or whatever, and used a Pop Goes the Monkey store credit I got in a swag bag to get some shoulderpads for them. They’re old 3D printed pads so the lines are pretty bad. Me being the brain genius I am, I just used extremely thick paint to smooth out said lines. It worked.
I bought the Sternguard kit when it was brand new in 2013 or so and never found a use for it. Fortunately the kit is absolutely packed to the brim with bits, and easy to stretch into 10 Marines with some bits usage. There’s a Dark Angels robe or two in there too, given to me by one of my old Dorkamorka buddies back when I was working on Dark Angels in 6th edition. I also got to use the baller heavy bolters from both the Sternguard and Mk IV veterans kits, which I’m always happy to do. These guys have done alright, they’re not quite as versatile as they used to be. Mostly I just thought it would be fun to paint dudes with guns like Sword Brethren. Speaking of…
These Finecast Sword Brethren, plus one random metal veteran. Hoo boy. I got them direct from GW and got the Full Citadel Finecast Finesperience. The weapons were all bent, the chainsword teeth were fucked up, and everybody’s face resembled the Toxic Avenger. I phoned GW and got a replacement set that was much better, but again, I’d inadvertently doubled the amount of models I intended to purchase. With some deft knifework and bitz box digging, I was able to replace the janky heads with helmets and fix some of their weapons. They aren’t quite as glorious as I would have hoped, resultantly, but this unit of counts-as Vanguard Veterans has done okay in the time since. They’d usually tool around in one of my Land Raiders, or even a Rhino with a Castellan or Marshal in smaller games. I don’t think they’ve accomplished a ton, but in 9th they might!
Backing up this army is the fire support, including this unit of Devastators. I had bought the then-new Devastators kit to get grav-cannons for my Dark Angels in 7th edition, and fortunately had a lot more bits leftover. The trick with this unit would be using the sergeant’s signum to give the lascannon BS2+, then burn the armorium cherub in the back (with the Neophyte headswap) for a second BS2+ shot. I leaned into the 3rd ex box art aesthetic again by painting hot rod flames on their heavy bolters, an effect you can learn how to do yourself in this handy article I helped write!
I’ve talked a lot about this unit already, but here’s Puer Malus, the Fuckboi Crusher. I was really depressed about something or other, and Borat voice My Wife went out and bought this tank to cheer me up. I love this bolter-laden monster, and it helped take me to victory after victory, from beating an absolute pervert Ynnari list, to Orks, to Genestealer Cults at the peak of their fuckery, this tank has delivered time and again. I magnetized the hurricane bolters to swap out for the flamestorm cannons, which I have never built or painted.
Lastly, the Stormraven. I didn’t know what the flyer rules were in 8th edition so bought a plane to force myself to learn them. While I never had quite as much success with this as I did with my Crusader, I do love my big airborne son. People were also spamming like 5 of them around Guilliman at the time so I figured they were probably good. You can see the weathering I did pretty clearly on it, which was, if I recall, my first exploration of sponge weathering. Nothing too fancy, but gets the job done. I also usually drybrush the bottom of my vehicles heavily with a few shades of brown, which gives a convincing dirt/dust effect while also meaning I don’t need to edge highlight the bottom third of my vehicles. I did this to finish my Land Raider Crusader before NOVA 2017, and I do it on my Ultramarines to this day.
As you may have guessed, I’m fuckin turnt for the new Templars releases coming out. While I’ve still got a fair bit of Firstborn stuff to go, those smol bean marines are going to have to wait (again) while I add some Primaris to this army. Indomitus, that new Templars Army box, and some of my Primaris backlog that was earmarked for my Ultras is gonna get the devout-and-zealous treatment. I was fortunate enough to get a review copy of that Templars armybox for Goonhammer, and already got a start on it by helping my old Marshal, Siegward, cross the Rubicon Primaris:
The rules look good as hell, and while I don’t know if I’ll be able to replicate my Adepticon 2018 track record of winning three separate medals with this fucking army, I think they’ll be pretty dang good.
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