Warlord Wednesdays: Interview with Lee Marshall

Welcome back to Goonhammer’s series for aspiring Titan Principes. We here at Goonhammer’s own Collegia Titanica know that Adeptus Titanicus can seem intimidating to players unfamiliar with its particular quirks, but this series aims to equip you with everything you’ll need to play out epic clashes on the battlefields of the far future with your very own Titan Battlegroup. In this series, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the various Legios of the Collegia Titanica – exploring their origins and how to use them on the tabletop, from maniple selection and their loadouts, through to how to command them on the field of battle to secure ultimate victory.

It’s safe to say that Lee is one of the world’s biggest fans of Titans, having more God-Machines than some Legios of the Collegia Titanica at their peak. We were fortunate enough to catch up with him at a recent event and talk about his impressive collection.

Soggy: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. For the benefit of people who aren’t as active on the various Titan-based communities online, could you introduce yourself and explain what makes you the Princeps Senioris in any room?

My name is Lee Marshall, known across social media as the Forge of Mars (Twitter/Insta). I have been designated by many as the Princeps Seniores, or Princeps Maximus in some cases because of the sheer amount of Titan kits that I have acquired over the years since AT was released, currently standing Titan wise at 118 Titans across nine different Legio battle groups.

Soggy’s note: Don’t ask how many AT scale Knights Lee has…

Lee’s Loyalists. Credit – Lee Marshall @TheForgeofMars

And that’s on top of the Axiom Maniple of 40k scale Titans that I have, including the original disco Reaver – Iracundos of the Fire Wasps.

Soggy: How many Titans?!?! It’s probably a good idea to take a step back and understand how you got there.

When did you get into the hobby, and what were some of the first systems or models that first captured your interest?

Where I was originally from, which is North London on the border with Essex, a place called Chingford, there was a toy shop down the main high street. I would wander around as a young kid looking at Star Wars figures, Action Force (the precursor to GI Joe), or Transformers. One day I saw these metal models, the very first one I picked up was a Chaos Knight on a horse, which had like a Boba Fett helmet on. I thought that was awesome, so I bought one and never painted it. *laughs*

After that I would keep going in there and seeing all these metal kits, like the Imperial Guard box. It was when the RTB-01 plastic beakie Marines, Rhinos and Land Raiders came out that caught my imagination – I had done a few model kits, traditional stuff like Spitfire type things and but I liked, you know, soldiers and war with battle robots and stuff like that that, so it was that which caught my eye.

It was also around that time when [the original] Adeptus Titanicus came out and seeing those stompy robots marching on the on the box art which really intrigued me. I actually worked in that toy shop as well for a while, so I got a discount off of stuff that I bought.

Soggy: That’s quite cunning really

Yeah, it was. It was a genius plan of mine. That’s why I had about five metal Phantom Titans because I really liked their non-Imperial aesthetic.

Soggy: That’s interesting, I wouldn’t have picked non-Imperials sparking your love of Titans.

I just really liked the Phantom’s whole aesthetic along with the Warlock Titan’s ghost helm.

OG Adeptus Titanicus. Credit – Games Workshop

Obviously I got Adeptus Titanicus with the six Warlords, which was pretty cool. I only ever had the one metal Reaver, which I loved the look of – it was my favourite Titan by far. At that point, I wasn’t working at the toy shop, so I only ever got the one of them.

Soggy: So your first Imperial Titans, which Titan Legio were they?

Fire Wasps

Soggy: Fire Wasps from day one then?

They were the ones on the front cover.

Go big or go home – 40K Titans

Legio Ignatum “Fire Wasps” Axiom Maniple. Credit – Lee Marshall @TheForgeofMars

Soggy: So that was a wee while ago, what path did you eventually follow to owning a 40K scale Titan and what was it? I’m guessing it was a Reaver based off of what you said earlier?

It was. I got it not long after they came out around 2008.. The Warhounds were already out, and I was never a fan of them – going back to the original AT 88, Space Marine and Titan Legions. It sort of coincided with when I separated from my wife. So, to cheer myself up, I got a Titan.

I then found out I had no idea how to build large resin kits.

It sat there for a while whilst I was sorting out real life problems and stuff. Eventually I built it years after that. Because of my love for the Reaver, I wanted to do it justice with its paint job.  And I couldn’t. It was just too big a model for me at that stage.

I didn’t have the skill set and technical know-how of how to paint such a big model – I was getting myself upset over it because you want something so badly and you just can’t do it. It grinds at you. And luckily, my friend Chris Booth had just started up a commissioned hobby painting service.

I messaged him and said “Chris do you paint big models?” and he we went “Yeah. What you got?” I showed him a picture of what I had. I tried painting it, I got the hazard stripes on there but I wasn’t satisfied with them at all. And he just replied with “Give it to me now”. When I had the opportunity, I took it down to his and he asked if it was ok to to use this Titan as an advertisement for my blog, my business and all that? Yeah, no worries. No problems.

He charged me a princely sum of 38 pounds –

Soggy: Wow.

Because he just charged me for paints and materials. He went over everything I started and made it so much better. He literally charged me less than 40 quid. It was something that he wanted to do, as he had never painted a Titan.

I remember when he sent me the first photograph of the interior of the cockpit and I honestly cried because it was just what I wanted but couldn’t do myself and he had done that for me.

It wasn’t long after when the Imperial Knights came out.

The Imperial Knights weren’t as big as a Reaver Titan but were easier to work with, and because I was doing House Taranis, the very first video that Duncan Rhodes did for Games Workshop was a in-depth tutorial of how to paint Imperial Knight in Taranis colours.

House Taranis. Credit – Lee Marshall @TheForgeofMars

Which helped me to learn the sort of ins and outs of painting. From there it was bigger and better. I went quite mad with Taranis Knights, as I’ve got every Knight apart from the Asterius. I’ve got about 24 Knights now in total.

Soggy: So the Imperial Knight kit, that was the catalyst to give you the confidence to have another go on a full size Titan then?

Definitely. When somebody says to me that they want to build a Titan my first question is “Have you done a Knight yet?”. I would always step up from a plastic Imperial Knight kit and move onto a Forge World Knight like the Cerastus or the Asterius/Porphyrion. The latter is just a short step over to the Warhound in size.

I’ve actually learned to love Warhounds since then, as for a friend’s 30th birthday a group of us chipped in to get her a Warhound, because she loves them. The Titan is featured in Dan Abnett’s Titanicus, the Legio Invicta Warhound called Morbius Sire. I said, okay, I’ll build and paint it because I’d had a little bit of skill at building and painting big models by then. It didn’t prepare me for the amount of toe sections that Warhound has – their toes are the stuff of legend.

Soggy: Learn something new everyday.

Ignatum Warhounds. Credit – Lee Marshall @TheForgeofMars

Everything else is simple but it’s the feet with multiple parts and positioning them is tricky. So, yeah, I built the Morbius Sire and I thought to myself “Actually, I quite like these.” I’ve built several since then, and obviously I’ve got two myself.

And that’s the long of evolution on starting off with a Reaver Titan and getting really anxious and worried about things, then Questoris came out and then it just made things so much easier. So that is my one of my main tips for people who want to do big models.

Soggy: That’s really solid advice. It’s quite the journey on your hobby you’ve gone through. Now that you’ve figured out the knack, what’s the best part of owning a 40K scale Titan or maniple of them?

Taking them to events. The other week when we were at the Greetings from the Warp event was the first time that I’ve had a full maniple of them.

Soggy: Events are back on the menu these days, how often do you get to take them out for a walk?

Well, this year we’ve done two walks so far – Beachhead in February and Greetings in April. The next walk we’ve got scheduled is the big one in November, the main gala event. A two day Titan walk, which I believe at the moment were going to be hitting about 150 Titans

Soggy: Good Lord.

Twenty of those are Phantoms, so that’s going to be interesting for sorting out sides. We normally see a lot more Loyalist than Traitor Titans turn up.

Soggy: I always thought was strange, as Traitors have all the cool toys?

I always thought that loyalists would be the outnumbered ones, but you know, last several walks that have been participating in we’ve always had to jig the sides.

Soggy: So, with all these God-Engines on the field what rule set and how are you using them on the field?

It’s the AT rule set. We do simplify it a bit – explosions are toned down a bit to avoid mass chain reactions.

Soggy: That’s probably wise as it would be a shame to turn up with a 500 quid model for the first time and get taken out by someone else exploding half a map away from you.

Yeah that sort of happened on my first walk.

Soggy: Oh no.

I didn’t happen to me, but I was the one who initiated it. My Warhound made a Warbringer Catastrophically melt down, which then took out another couple of Titans with them. Because of that we didn’t want that to happen to other people because it’s a lot to lose in a turn

Soggy: Because it’s a larger model, I hope you gave the Warhound in question some kill marks for that occasion as that’s quite the first showing.

With the Titan Owners Club we have kill banners, which you can buy for your Titan Maniple and keep track.

I was working this out the other week, the kill total out of five walks, my maniple The Chosen of Mars has 27 engine kills to seven losses. Overall, 12 of those belong to Warhound Tacit Venatrix, so she’s my ace.

Iracundos however always takes the brunt because everyone wants to kill him, so they can say “I’ve killed Iracundos!”

Iracundos of the Fire Wasps. Credit – Lee Marshall @TheForgeofMars

Soggy: As a fellow Legio Ignatum Princeps, I’m aware of Iracundos and that it has been immortalised in the game. Could you share the story of Iracundos and how you managed to pull that one off?

It was the Horus Heresy weekender in 2015, which I went to with my friend Scott. I was arranged to meet up with Paul Rudge, who works for Forge World and had House Makabius Knights. We were in an unofficial escalation of buying more Knights, and I asked if we could put them all out onto one of the gaming tables, as I love setting them up, telling a story and taking some photos.

On Saturday morning, in one of the seminars I asked when House Taranis was getting moulded shoulder pads and got the usual indirect response. But as I was walking out of the seminar, I met another Taranis player, Benjamin Greaves, and invited him to our photo op that we had planned.

So on Sunday morning, we set up our 13 Knights, Iracundos and all my Mechanicum I had at the time.

We sort of became an unofficial attraction with everyone coming to see all these Knights in one place with Iracundos and his splendid paint scheme. Iracundos has a Bluetooth speaker within its engine housing – so when they come up I’m activating my phone to set the warhorn off. And it’s the looks of light on their face and fascination when they realise the Titan made that noise. So we had loads of hobbyists, Forge World staff and authors coming in to check it out.

Afterwards messaging with Andy [Hoare] he said that our table had featured in the internal Forge World news letter showing what it’s all about. Later on when AT had come out, I would message him and ask if there was any news for Ignatum rules and the like.

One morning he messaged me and said to make sure to watch the Warhammer TV stream that afternoon – I’m like well, this is some kind of code isn’t it? That afternoon I picked my kids up from school and I’m sitting in McDonald’s and watching the Titanicus preview show that they used to do once a month. The announcement was for the Engines of Legend, which was really cool and I started to wonder if they were going to finally announce Ignatum rules.

As they got to the last Loyalist Titan, they said “Oh this one’s a special one. It’s a Reaver from the Fire Wasps. Its name is Iracundos”. Sat in a McDonalds I made a high pitched squealing noise in shock and surprise whilst eating my quarter pounder.  

Soggy: Definitely worth making a scene over.

Oh absolutely. I think it’s every hobbyist’s dream to have something that they’ve done brought into the universe as such. It was such a great honour, having that bestowed upon Iracundos, and he’s been hunted ever since. 

Soggy: It’s a double edged sword. But I think you’d take it any day wouldn’t you?

Yeah, absolutely.

Becoming Fabricator General – Adeptus Titanicus

Soggy: Talking of the Adeptus Titanicus reboot, what was your reaction upon hearing its announcement or getting your hands on the models for the first time?

It was one of those open secrets, as they had done Bloodbowl and Necromunda and you just knew they were going through the back catalog of specialist games.

Eventually when it was announced, the excitement levels across all the hobby groups were really looking forward to it while we were getting drip fed all the preview images and content.

At the 2017 Horus Heresy Weekender, Gary Church and I were organising a Mortis vs Ignatum floorhammer game after the seminars and told Andy what we were looking at doing. He later messaged us and asked if we were interested in playing as a demo the new AT rule set?

It was a great evening of running around and we chatted with James Hewitt afterwards. We had some pizza and drank some beers, had a chat about all the hobby and all that sort of stuff.

Lee’s Traitors. Credit – Lee Marshall @TheForgeofMars

Soggy: So how many Titans and Legios did you have these days?

I have 118 painted, across 9 Legios. The first was Ignatum, obviously.

Obviously, because of my dislike of Legio Mortis, I couldn’t in a good conscience go with them, so I went with the most metal, badass Legio which is Krytos.

Then from there, I went to Solaria as I met up with Guy Haley at the 2019 Horus Heresy Weekender and we took some photographs of our Knights and Titans on the Forge World boards they had for Titanicus and I was really impressed with his own Solaria Legio, which were based on the Legio in the book Titandeath which he wrote.

I then realised I had two loyalists and one traitor, so I had to balance that out so I went with Vulcanum.

At that point I wasn’t going to do any more, but then decided I’ll do a black shield Legio, so I could play them as Loyalist or Traitor and the scheme I was working on used Ahriman blue. At which point the Defense of Ryza artwork came out for Legio Osedax came out and I liked it more.

From there I went to Audax, as I needed to balance out the traitors again.

Soggy: I’m sensing a pattern here..

With Crucible of Retribution, I went with Legio Damicium as I liked their background and the purple/white scheme as well.

It turned out I had an excess amount of Titans left over but I needed to balance out the traitors again, so Vincent Knotley on twitter asked me to do a simplified version of Legio Fortidus. So that was my eighth and was it for a while.

It was only recently at the Greetings event that my friend and adopted hobby son, Luke, gave me a box of Warhounds – as I mentioned on my Youtube channel that I was getting low on Titans so he got me some to keep me going. My Youtube channel decided for me that they were going to be Legio Vulturum “Gore Crows”.

So, I’ve done and painted 119.

Soggy: I’m sure you’ll manage. But what I’m hearing is that you’re going to have to balance it out again aren’t you?

Well yeah, that’s the thing. Early contender is definitely Legio Defensor.

Soggy: I was going to suggest Defensor, they’re just such a good scheme, such good rules – You get to blow yourself up on turn one. What more can you ask for?

I think it’s safe to say that you’re one the biggest fans of Titanicus, given you have enough God Machines to re-enact the Titan Death of Beta-Garmon. What about the models, setting or system really drives your hobby motivation to keep going?

I suppose because I’ve not really been involved in 40k, or got into AoS, and I love big stompy robots. It’s right up my street.

All the Titan models are so awesome, the detail on them, working with a big kit like that makes it easier to paint a Titan than it is a squad of 20 Guardsmen.

Soggy: Given the wide choice of Legios and maniples that you can field for Titanicus. How do you even choose what to take to a pickup game?

At the moment, my priority is for one of the Legios I haven’t played with yet – I’m still yet to play with Audax, Fortis or Vulturum. My early games were always a mix between Ignatum and Solaria.

Soggy: Is there any particular maniple that you find yourself going back to?

Venator Light Maniple. Really enjoy it with my Solaria, it’s never failed me. In the big games, firstly it’s the Axiom. I’m still yet to play a good percentage of the maniples, as often I’m trying to have a quick game where you can’t field a lot.

Soggy: What are you looking forward to next with Titans, both great and small?

Dire Wolves.

Soggy: What Legio is going to get your Dire Wolves?

Audax. My initial thoughts was getting two maybe three, two for Audax and then I was going to have one for Solaria as they are the other Warhound heavy Legio.

Ignatum Venator. Credit – Lee Marshall @TheForgeofMars

And Beyond

Soggy: We could easily talk about titans all day, but in terms of the wider hobby, you’ve mentioned a few of the other GW games. What other systems do you tend to collect and play these days?

Heresy has been on the backburner for some time, but with the new system coming out that will be interesting.

I did collect a bunch of Infinity and DropFleet Commander but never played them. I love spaceships, so if they ever do Battlefleet Gothic I would probably pick that up.

Soggy: Speaking of the Heresy edition, do you see yourself expanding your Emperor’s Children or starting something new with the new kits?

Wow, that’s that’s an interesting question. I have always had a thing for Alpha Legion. I like their aesthetic and colour scheme. Don’t think I would be able to pull off the colour scheme how I would like it. In the past I’ve done Ultramarines, Raven Guard, Iron Warriors, Thousand Sons and Raven Guard.

I’m still keeping my powder dry on that side of things.

Soggy: So if painting massive battlegroups and armies wasn’t enough, you also do some stream hobby content online. What do you get up to there?

Originally, it was just painting demos on Youtube – things like Audax and Solaria, where a lot of people aren’t sure how to achieve it, but once you show them how to stipple or incorporate different techniques and styles in there, they’re good.

These days I stream on a Saturday night, Saturday Night Reaver. Which is a hobby hangout, where people tune in, chat in the chat thread and we have conversations between us all.

Hobbying with friends is a lot easier, and some people get inspired with their work and they find themselves doing a lot more painting that few hours and they’ve done all week.

Soggy: It’s amazing how the hobby has changed since the early 2000s and the support out there for painters of any level.

I have one final question for you. Who is cooler, Traitors or Loyalists?

Loyalists. There’s no two ways about it.

Soggy: I thought that would be the answer. Thank you so much for your time and sharing with us today. Have you got any final words or shameless plugs for our readers?

  • Artist Empire, aka Scott – my brother from another mother. He’s been unwell recently so hasn’t been doing the usual weekly get together stream with myself which involves us talking all things geek and drinking beer on a Wednesday night.
  • Saturday Night Reaver – as mentioned earlier on my Youtube channel
  • Titan Owners Club – If you’re into Titans of the big variety, register them with the Titans owners club, so you can blog updates of your painting and building process with photos.

Play Titanicus.

Soggy: Play Titanicus.