I’m going to kick the archive fortnight off with one of my favourite Death Guard armies of all time; Will Hayes 2002 UK GT Best Army Finalist. Even after thirteen years this still looks a great force and was the inspiration behind some of my own Death Guard units. Will sold the army not long after the tournament so no idea where it is now, but it was very eye-catching down to the palette. Of particular note is Will’s use of a more bone white scheme which has much more of a link back to the original pre-Heresy colours. Considering this was done long before Forgeworld’s 30K resurgence it was a nice touch. Anyway, back to 2002 ~
Generally the standard of armies in the running for “Best Army” is very high in the Grand Tournament, but I have to admit that the armies in the Tournament Final were exceptional even by the normally high standards seen. In addition to regular Best Army veteran contenders like Marco Shultz and Agis Neugebauer, Forge World Designer Will Hayes made the cut with his excellent take on the Nurgle Death Guard army. Having caught up with Will a few weeks after the Tournament I persuaded him to bring along his Death Guard for a few photographs and a closer look.
It’s all in the colour
When Will designed this force he pointedly chose to avoid the classic Plague Marine colours of putrid greens and sickly browns, opting instead for a paler scheme that more appropriately reflected the Death Guard Legions corrupted bone white armour. Painted Bleached Bone and highlighted, most of the infantry were given a number of ink washed to create the tarnished and filth encrusted look. As can be seen in the Plague Marine squads Will mostly used the older models which were then extensively converted to include more unique backpacks. The Rhino’s were also subtly changed to include scratch built extra armour, Chapter specific doors and patches of corrosion. Again, much like the infantry a pale colour scheme was used over which inks were used to add steaks and patches of corrosion and decay.
The Possessed Marines were another conversion where Will gave a lot of thought to the right look. Most possessed models I’ve seen are either monstrously over the top; a hybrid collection of mismatched parts, or straightforward Chaos Marine models with the odd tentacle for arm or head. Will chose instead to base his possessed on Plaguebearers, the most prominent Daemon of Nurgle (not counting the little Nurglings of course). As his possessed all had demonic talons as their wargear, Will ensured that this was modelled on the figures. Using Plaguebearer heads and the older bloated Plague Marine bodies, he produced a characterful unit that adheres far more to the theme of a Death Guard force than many I have seen in the past.
Lord of Flies
The Daemon Prince was a real centrepiece to the army and drew a lot of attention at the Tournament. Based on the Lord of the Rings Cave Troll, the body has been massively converted and re-sculpted. With daemonic wings and talons the Daemon Price is easily my favourite model in Will’s force and one of the most original Daemon Prince conversions I have seen to date.
The Chosen One
Another unit that drew many comments was the Chosen of Nurgle. Five bloated and squat Terminators. By simplifying the trophy racks down to just the odd single pole, the overly ornate and fussy detailing that I have long disliked in the Chaos range is reduced down to something with a more brooding menace. The models were also bulked out a bit more giving them a very broad squat appearance. Again the simple colour scheme was used throughout creating uniformity and a strong theme amongst all the units. The carrion bird atop of the banner pole was also a nice detailed touch that helped reinforce the theme.
Having designed the Chaos Dreadnought for Forge World in the first place it would have been strange not to see one in Will’s army. Further characterised by Simon Egan, the Dreadnought was converted slightly before mounting on a specially turned base. The Predator tank was also subtly converted to feature customised sponsons designed by Will in addition to a chapter specific front plate. In the case of all Will’s vehicles patches of texture have been added to simulate corrosion and rust in the armour prior to painting.
By sticking with a corrupted bone white palette of colours, Will produced one of the most original Death Guard armies I’ve seen. By keeping the designs and conversions subtle the overall effect is maximised when viewing the army as a whole. I have seen some superbly converted and painted Death Guard models over the years, but for me this one has to be the most striking and effective in its uncomplicated simplicity, not to mention a worthy contender for Best Army.