New Year, New Armies: Scouting the Road to Istvaan V

In New Year New Armies Lupe attempts to go from a Warhammer Zero with no playable forces for any mainline Games Workshop game, to a Warhammer Hero with an army for each of Warhammer 40,000, Age of Sigmar, and Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game and some games under his belt to (re)learn the rules.

As I mentioned last time in this series I made the tough decision to stop working on my Age of Sigmar force, and instead pivot to what looks like it’s shaping up to be a new mainline game series from Games Workshop: the new edition of Horus Heresy.

Now this may seem like an odd decision given that upfront in this series I said that I hated painting power armour, and Horus Heresy is, pretty much, the land of power armour and only power armour. You’d be right to think this odd, and my only real response is that I’m a dirty hypocrite and don’t know myself as well as I thought. Because, my goodness, I’m absolutely loving painting this power armour.

How I learned to stop worrying and love power armour

Power armour has always been a dreading topic for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m capable of painting it, I just don’t want to. I provide evidence below I’m capable of painting it.

Salamanders, yes I know I didn’t base them. Credit: Lupe

Space Marine power armour (and most other kinds of power armour) are made up of three things I dislike in painting:

  • Big flat smooth panels
  • Trim
  • Edge highlighting

All of these things suck. So if I were to paint up space marines again, I would need a way to avoid laboriously edge highlighting the power claw on a space marine sergeant, or painting some big smooth panels on a chestplate (I do not own an airbrush so that approach is not open to me). I would accept trim if I could avoid the other two.

My solution was to completely drop the Eavy Metal style in my approach, and instead lean into more traditional painting techniques. No edge highlighting at all would be used. I would instead highlight traditionally, with a zenithal, using stippling and glazing to get transitions on the wider plates (and in doing do add some much-needed texture to them).

I would then break up those panels further with extensive weathering, and a load of freehand. I would need some space marines, therefore, that would cover themselves in a bunch of random signs and symbols and while I briefly considered Word Bearers I landed on Alpha Legion as the bearers of my random nonsense. It just seemed fitting.


Enter my Alpha Legion force. Lacking the metallic sheen of some of the other units in the Horus Heresy, Insertion Force Κ9Λ (Kappa Nine Lambda) is a dedicated infiltration and sabotage unit focusing on ambushes, boarding actions and extended campaigns behind enemy lines. They only repair their armour to keep it functional, allowing the scrapes, burns and stains on their blue-green ceramite plates to provide natural camouflage. Veterans of dozens of operations, each marine has collected many individual markings and designations, though how many of them are meaningful to the unit as it currently operates is a mystery to outsiders. Though the unit has armoured assets, they are focused more on infantry as better suits their skill in close quarters battle and urban warfare.

I decided to start working on a Zone Mortalis force to begin with. For those not familiar, Zone Mortalis is a game mode in Horus Heresy designed to portray battles taking place within spaceships and within buildings. It’s played out through corridors with doors and hatches being important points of entry and defensive positions. You’re restricted to fielding infantry and smaller dreadnoughts, and for the daredevils among you bikes. As such, it’s a great way to get the core of an army built up fast. After some discussion we decided it would be a way that we got our contributors jumping onto Heresy for the new edition into the game, so look out for an upcoming series (The Road to Istvaan V) as my fellow writers get up to speed. For now, I’m just scouting the way, and giving you a taste of what’s to come.

Alpha Legion Mark IV Tacticals with a Legion Champion. Credit: Lupe

The first squad I painted up were some Mark IV tactical marines. Though I initially intended to run these as tactical marines, I think I’ll end up using them as seeks. I also used a few spare parts I had lying around to kitbash a Legion Champion to lead them, armed with a paragon blade and a power fist.

Alpha Legion Mark III Tacticals. Credit: Lupe

I needed some more bodies so I next painted up some Mark III marines to go with my Mark IV squad. For me, one of the joys of heresy is getting into the weeds on space marine marks and so on, and so having some of each was important to me from the get go. I’ll run these are tacticals most likely, though I’ve tension fitted the guns so I can swap them to combis or something to run them as veterans if I want to in the future.

Alpha Legion Tartaros Terminators. Credit: Lupe

Next I needed some heavier support, and terminators are a perfect fit for a Zone Mortalis force. I went for the Tartaros pattern armour because I like the sleeker more streamlined look, and I think it fits better with a rapid insertion force from a fluff perspective. One thing I did to break up the monotony of the models is so some panels in spot colours, and I was pleased with both the light blue and the acid green and the impact it has on the minis as a whole.

The Future of Heresy

Next up I’ll be adding a legion contemptor to the force, and I’ve got a few other Forgeworld goodies to add in as well. Then when the big heresy box drops, I’ll be grabbing that and really diving in. I’ll still update this column to reflect, but I imagine we’ll be doing a lot more content for Heresy when the new edition is out!

Next time I’m circling back round to Middle Earth and we’ll be looking at my evil army and some conversions I’ve been working on.

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