Epic: Armageddon Steel Legion

The next Dropship archive army is one of my favourites, the Imperial Guard. I do technically still have this army somewhere, just not entirely sure where. Would I add anymore to it if I found it? That’s a tricky question as my painting approach has changed a lot in the twelve years since I started it, so anything I added would almost certainly look completely different. That being said the scheme of the Steel Legion is somewhat iconic and really suits Epic scale with the right blend of a good contrast camo which takes weathering well and punchy regimental markings. For now however it’s very much one for the archives. Enjoy.

Epic Steel Legion

The Armageddon Steel Legion was the first army I assembled specifically for use during the development of the game, which is probably unsurprising really being one of the focal Imperial armies that was going to be in the rulebook. It was not a force I had ever considered doing before for Epic, being content in the past to focus mainly on Eldar and Space Marine forces, which made it an interesting challenge painting wise as it required a more muted approach to painting compared to the far more colourful Craftworld Eldar. This was also the first army that I got into the habit of basing the vehicles as well as the infantry, all Mark Bedford’s fault really as he started it during early playtesting and I kind of liked the idea as it did a lot to protect both the models and the gaming terrain.

Unlike some of the later armies I worked on, the Steel Legion were deliberately picked pretty much straight out of the testers notes formation wise to keep things simple, hence the odd inclusion of a Salamander Scout tank every so often in the Artillery and Mechanised Companies (something that later got dropped from the rules which was a great shame in  my opinion).

Like most of the Imperial Guard armies, the core of the Steel Legion is in its Mechanised Infantry and Armoured companies, which is where I started. Fielding a full Artillery, Tank and Armoured Fist selection I then added in the option of some further support formations. These took the shape of Hellhound and Sentinel squadrons, additional Bombard and Deathstrike artillery batteries, as well as a few Support Weapon platoons to help give the infantry companies a bit of extra punch.

One of the nice things about Epic is the ability to mix in a whole range of assets, both ground and air, so I filled out my Navy support allocations with a Marauder Squadron, some Thunderbolt fighter support and a Regimental Command to keep things moving along nicely on the ground.

Legio Titan support was also provided by the War Griffons in the form of a Warhound and Reaver, both from Forgeworlds resin range. In total this only represents the start of my Imperial Guard forces, there being plenty more units to add yet. But overall it provided a nice starting force from which I could test out the core rules and expand at a later date. Each of the links below cover some of the units in more detail, along with notes on how I approached the painting or detailing of the force. I will add more in the future should I revisit this force, which is highly probable knowing me.

On to the detail…

Stygies Bridge Campaign Infantry Company

Imperial Guard armies are literally vast, so it’s easy to get distracted by the multitude of possible units you can include in one. For this reason I prefer to always start an army with what I consider a ‘core’ formation. These are large formations that you will almost certainly construct the rest of your offence around. For the Guard those are really Infantry, Mechanised Infantry, Tank or Artillery companies. Out of these for me the most useful straight off is a Mechanised Formation with its mix of infantry, transports and armoured support, an ideal fast moving centre for my forces with lots of units to soak up blast markers.

Epic Steel Legion

The basic formation includes a Command Unit with Salamander transport and twelve Infantry units plus their Chimera transports.

Epic Steel Legion

For the Guard units I used the current editions plastic Imperial Guard infantry, to which I added six of the metal Chimeras. For the Command Unit I simply based a selection of heavy weapon and infantry figures around a command figure. For a bit of character this one has an Ogryn bodyguard.

The Salamander Command Vehicle is from Forgeworld’s resin Epic range, however if you were using this as part of a Tournament army then the Salamander would need to be replaced by another Chimera. I have kept mine in the formation as it was originally built that way during development and later changed in the final rulebook. To achieve the Steel Legion colours for the vehicles they were first undercoated with a black primer before being given a base coat of codex grey. Over this a black ink wash and fortress grey highlight was applied prior to the camo patches being painted in a mix of rotting flesh and bleached bone.

As a Steel Legion Mechanised Infantry formation is a company level core choice, it’s entitled to include a number of Support Platoons and upgrades. Lacking much in the way of heavy weapons my first addition was to include a Fire Support Platoon which consists of four heavy weapon teams. As the formation is part of a mechanised company I will also need to provide some Chimera transports for them, but I will leave that for another day. Like the units in the main formation I picked out the uniforms in bubonic brown and highlighted them with a 50/50 mix of bubonic brown and bleached bone. The same colours were also used to pick out the autocannon heavy weapons. For all of the infantry bases a fine sand was first applied with watered down PVA glue which, once dry was given a black ink wash and a graveyard earth and bleached bone dry brush in that order.

For my second upgrade I included a Steel Legion Tank Support squadron of three Leman Russ battle tanks. A bit of heavy armour never goes amiss so I felt adding the squadron would give the formation lots of mobility and plenty of punch. For a formation of this size, Hellhounds would also have been a great choice and will certainly be added to the army at a later date replacing one of the upgrades depending on who they are being fielded against. The Demolisher on the right is part of another unit that has been seconded to the company for a particular battle, as can be seen by the ‘Stygies Bridge’ campaign badge on the side of the turret.

The final company upgrade was a Hydra anti-air battery. As the chances of this formation being the target of an enemy ground attack mission, some anti-air defence can come in very handy. Although I could have used one of the metal Hydra units, I much preferred the resin Forge World version as it matched the Hydra’s in my 40K army. Naturally if I find that no enemy flyers are being used I can drop this unit in favour of another upgrade, most likely the aforementioned Hellhounds.

There is still quite a lot of detail painting to finish on the vehicles as well as markings, but nevertheless the formation is ready to game and will certainly see some action before I start on the next formation.

Armoured Companies

Steel Legion Tank Companies are an essential component to any Epic Steel Legion army in my book, simply because their combination of mobility, armour and weapons mix allow them to engage both armoured and infantry formations with equal success. The formation shown here consists of three squadrons; two of standard Leman Russ and one of Leman Russ ‘Demolishers’. The command tank is a Leman Russ ‘Vanquisher’ bringing the company up to a full ten tanks in total.

Epic Steel Legion

All of the tanks were based and painted using exactly the same method as the artillery which is as follows:

Stage 1: The tanks were cleaned and assembled before being stuck onto Warmaster plastic bases over which a sand and gravel mix was glued using watered down PVA glue. Once dry all of the models and bases were spray undercoated black.

Stage 2: A watered down basecoat of Codex Grey was painted over the entire model, which once dry was then given a wash of watered down black ink to which a drop of Codex Grey was added. The bases were then dry brushed Graveyard Earth and Bleached Bone in that order.

Stage 3: A light dry brush of Fortress Grey was brushed over each of the tank and followed with an even lighter dry brush of Ghostly Grey. For the stripes a 50/50 mix of Rotting Flesh and Bleached Bone was painted over the armour in narrowing bands.

Stage 4: The tracks and gun barrels were painted with a watered down Boltgun Metal which once dry was given a wash of watered down brown and black inks. Stowage and other details were painted in either Catachan Green highlighted with Camo Green or Bubonic Brown with a Bleached Bone highlight. For all other details such as sponsons, hull weapons, search lights and exhausts simply continue painting using the colours above depending on how far you want to detail the models.

Stage 5: The final task was to paint on any company markings, paint the edge of the bases Graveyard Earth and stick down a few patches of flock and static grass with a little watered down PVA glue.

(Note: With the exception of the Vanquisher, most of the models in the Company are from an older range of models, however the same painting technique applies to the newer models, as seen on the Vanquisher. I will feature the rest of the tanks from the current boxed set in another article which looks at other Regiments of the Imperial Guard)

Epic Steel LegionEvery army in Epic Armageddon has its strengths and its weaknesses. For the vast war machine that is the Imperial Guard, undoubtedly one of its greatest strengths is in its artillery companies. With the exception of no other army, the Imperial Guard can lay down a massive and sustainable barrage of artillery fire from the relative safety of deep behind their own lines. One of the key features of an Imperial Guard Artillery Company is its ability to combine the firepower of all of the artillery pieces in the force into a single devastating barrage, which is capable of smashing apart enemy infantry formations and disrupting even the largest of Ork Mobs. Naturally, with that amount of useful firepower, I considered including at least one Artillery Company in my newly formed Steel Legion force to be practically a core choice.

In creating an Artillery Company you can choose to select up to three batteries of either Basilisk or Manticore. You could of course choose to take a selection of either of them having a battery of each, but in my case I simply chose three batteries of three Basilisk in each; a total of nine self-propelled guns. The final unit to include was a Command Salamander, which is the tenth and final vehicle making up the company.

(Note: It was decided for simplicity to drop the Command Vehicle from the formation in the finished version, however as I had already included them in my own force during early play testing I decided to keep them in for a little character)

Those of you that are familiar with any previous editions of Epic will have noticed that I have used the older Basilisk models in the Company, as well as a Forge World Salamander Command vehicle. The simple reason for this is the force was put together early in 2003 in preparation for the games launch, at which point none of the new Imperial Guard artillery were ready. Whichever models you choose to use, the end result is pretty much the same anyway. If you like the newer ‘Hades’ pattern Basilisk however, fear not as they will be appearing soon as part of another Artillery Company for an entirely different Guard Regiment.

Support Formations

Epic Steel LegionSupport formations are much smaller than those at company strength, normally consisting of a single vehicle squadron or artillery battery. They are however ideal for filling out a basic Imperial Guard force with specialised equipment and formations. The Hellhound Squadron Upgrade shown above consists of three Hellhound flame tanks, ideal for supporting a Mechanised Infantry Company in assaults. Although support formations are set up independently from their parent company, they can nevertheless be combined with larger formations as part of a joint operation (Note: They still have to be given separate orders don’t forget as only Space Marine Commanders may combine the actions of multiple formations under a single order). The single Shadowsword is also a Support Formation in its own right and gives the army some War Engine hunting ability with its powerful Volcano Cannon.

Epic Steel LegionIn contrast to the two tank examples above, I have added two artillery support batteries to my Steel Legion Artillery Company. Fielded separately they fulfil a niche battlefield role and are both normally deployed well behind my front lines where they can be protected. The Bombard battery consists of three massively powerful Bombard Siege cannons.  Used in conjunction with the Earthshaker guns of the Artillery Company  they are great at penetrating enemy defences anywhere on the board.

Epic Steel LegionThe two Death Strike launchers on the other hand are kept for special strikes against critical heavily armoured targets such as War Engines. Their Titan Hunting ability coupled with a 2+ Macro Weapon strike make the Death Strike a perfect formation to knock out enemy Titans with. As they only fire once per battle though timing is everything in their use.

All of the units show here were painted in exactly the same way as the other formations shown in earlier articles (see the Steel Legion Tank Company for more details). The Deathstrike missiles were given a basecoat of Catachan Green to which I added Camo Green for the highlights. The missile fins were then painted Chaos Black and highlighted along the edges with Fortress Grey. Red Gore and Blood Red were used to finish the tip of the warheads before I added a few markings around the warhead collar and missile body for detail.

Regimental Command

Epic Steel LegionA Regimental HQ is basically no different to a Steel Legion Mechanised Infantry Company, with the exception of being led by a Supreme Commander in place of the normal Company Command Staff. Only one Regimental HQ may be taken in the army, so making full use of the Commanders extra attacks and better armour in an assault is key to getting the most out of the formation. Upgraded to include Support Weapon Platoons like the formation above, the Regimental HQ can put out a sizeable amount of firepower at medium to close range making them dangerous to engage when entrenched or in cover and ideal for securing objectives whilst the slower elements of the Steel Legion catch up. The formation does also come with transport in the form of several Chimera, however I left them out of the photograph as they look just the same as those in the Mechanised Infantry Company. The Command vehicle I will show at a later date however as that is a little different.

Epic Steel Legion

The Regimental HQ shown here was mounted on a larger Warmaster plastic base as opposed to the normal Epic infantry strip as I wanted to include more than five models in the Command Staff. To represent the Colonel and his staff I chose a Command model, Vox operator, standard bearer, Primaris Psyker, Commissar and of course my trademark Ogryn bodyguard.

(Note: A number of the models used are from previous editions of Epic and may be hard to find now. Using regular Guardsmen to fill out the unit is perfectly fine, just add a flag or other item to easily identify the stand as a Supreme Commander. )

Before sticking the models down I bulked up the base with some modelling putty and sculpted in a few details such as sand bags and metal supports. With the exception of the standard bearer the models were then pressed into the still soft green stuff and stuck down. The standard bearer was initially left off as I wanted to sculpt the banner on first and it was easier once I knew where all the other figures were going to be on the base. Once everything had set I added some sand as base texture and undercoated the model with a black spray primer. Leaving the standard bearer separate to the rest of the unit also made it easier to paint, especially the banner. Once everything was painted I then stuck the standard bearer down and added a little flock to the base.

The Regimental HQ is a pretty large formation on its own, but with a couple of close support formations such as Hellhounds or Leman Russ Demolishers backing it up can easily even out the odds against an assaulting Ork Warband. For my own force, I will probably just stick with a few Support Weapon Platoons and leave the assaults to the specialists like Ogryns and Roughriders. They will be for another day though.

Imperial Navy

When Ghazghkull’s forces smashed through the Imperial Fleet to commence landing on Armageddon, the pilots of the Imperial Navy took part in the biggest air war ever seen. Massively outnumbered by Ork Fighta-Bommas, the Imperial squadrons suffered catastrophic losses and reduced to only a handful of operational squadrons spent most of the war stopping the Orks from achieving total air dominance.

Epic Steel LegionAll of the aircraft here are from Forge World’s Epic range and are a little larger than the metal variants from Fanatic, however the colour scheme works equally as well with either range. When I began considering what flyer formations I wanted to include in my Imperial forces, I gave some though to how they had been portrayed in the background of the Armageddon War. Having suffered such heavy losses I suspected that a lot of the squadrons that operated during the conflict would be assembled from the survivors of other squadrons and may even show different markings initially. As I would be using Forge World models it made sense to use the Imperial Armour hardback book for reference pictures. One squadron in particular stood out, that being the 2424thSquadron, which operated at Armageddon and would make a good starting point for my initial formations. The two Marauder Bombers shown here and Marauder Destroyer were mounted on brass rod as described in my previous article and painted in a two tone Space Wolf Grey and Kommando Khaki.  As Khaki is a difficult colour to paint over a black primer and I didn’t want to use a white primer as it would be too bright, I painted the Marauders using the following steps. Firstly I undercoated the models black as normal. I then lightly sprayed both the underside and top with Space Wolf Grey, as this would be the colour I wanted to show on the bottom half of the Marauders. The reason for also spraying the top half is that the lighter grey gave a clean base for the Kommando Khaki without being too light. Watered down Khaki was then painted over the top and sides of the aircraft leaving a thin line of grey along the bottom edge. Once dry I then applied an ink wash over the khaki that consisted of 20% Brown Ink, 20% Flesh Tint Ink, 10% Kommando Khaki and 50% water. Note: The inks used in this instance were artist acrylics so don’t worry if you don’t have a flesh tint ink, Flesh Wash will work equally well as a substitute.

Epic Steel LegionAfter the ink wash had dried I then lightly dry brushed all of the khaki surfaces with neat Kommando Khaki before adding Bleached Bone to the palette to create the lighter striping shown on the wings. For the detailing I painted a thick vertical stripe from the front of the tail down either side as shown in the Imperial Armour artwork over which the squadron number was added. The guns and engines were painted with either a mix of brazen brass, black and boltgun metal before receiving a black ink wash. Other details such as the cockpit glass and Imperial icons were painted in midnight blue and skull white respectively. Once finished the marauders were given a quick coat of matt spray varnish and stuck onto their respective flying bases.

To further expand the squadron I added a single Marauder Destroyer variant, which I painted in the same scheme to create a campaign squadron of three aircraft. Note: If you are picking forces for a game using the Tournament Steel Legion lists then the Marauder Destroyer will need to ‘Count As’ a regular Marauder Bomber and a maximum of two aircraft will be permitted per squadron. As this formation is destined for a Campaign Game, there are no such problems adding in the third aircraft.

Epic Steel LegionThe Thunderbolt shown here is one produced by Forge World and like the Marauder Bombers is a little larger than the metal variant produced by Fanatic (the studio ones not being to scale). Sculpted by Will Hayes, this is one highly detailed aircraft and well worth mentioning a few pointers about its assembly which I have covered below.

The Base is made by stacking two 40K infantry bases on top of each other  (one 25mm and one 40mm), through which a length of brass rod has been inserted. The base was then detailed up with ground texture prior to painting and flocked. I will cover the bases in more detail in the next week or so showing how they can add both height and more importantly a little more security than the plastic flying stands.

In the meantime however, on to the painting. Just like the Marauder Bombers of the 2424th Squadron, I chose to paint my initial Thunderbolts in an ash wastes scheme. This is incredibly simple to paint and is as follows. First undercoat the Thunderbolts with a black spray primer. Once this has dried give the entire aircraft a light coat of Space Wolf Grey spray. Over the top of the Space Wolf Grey (but not the underside of the Thunderbolt) I painted with a watered down Kommando Khaki, over which I painted a thin wash of brown ink, flesh ink and kommando khaki. This helped to bring out any panel lines and detail in the Thunderbolt prior to highlighting.

Once the ink wash had dried I carefully dry brushed Kommando Khaki back over the top half of the Thunderbolt and finally highlighted with neat Bleached Bone. The striping over the wings was also added with a light dry brush of Bleached Bone. For the engine manifolds, guns and main engines I first gave them a base coat of black and boltgun mixed together over which I painted Chainmail Silver highlights. The Squadron markings were then painted first Ghostly Grey and then highlighted with Skull White. For the cockpit canopy glass I first painted a 50/50 mix of Midnight Blue and Black to which I added Lightning Blue for the highlights.

Although the Thunderbolt is a very simple model to assemble, there are a few things worth knowing before you start getting busy with the glue.

Epic Steel LegionThe two engines may initially look like a single part cast multiple times, but they are not! Each engine is designed to fit on one side and one side only, this is indicated by the slight curve to one side. The simple way to tell which engine fits where is to slide it into place and see if the channel at the end of the engine lines up with the spur that extends from the underside of the wing.

With that in mind I recommend attaching the two wings and nose as the first steps. If attached correctly the wings will sit at a raised angle upwards slightly, not horizontal. With the wings in place it is then very easy to try out the engines and see which side they fit before gluing them in place.

Epic Steel LegionThe second handy tip is the three vents on either side of the cockpit canopy in the cowling are meant to be clear of any resin flash or blanking resin. In the case of this Thunderbolt there was very little to clean up, however it is intended that the slits go all the way through the cowling. This is because the engines should be seen through them once they are attached. Yet another nice design touch by Will in the creation of the model.

With that in mind I actually left both engines of altogether prior to painting and painted them separately gluing them in place at the very end. This meant that all the nice metallic details on the engines can be seen through the vents without having to try and insert a paintbrush through the slots, clever stuff. The choice of course is entirely yours, however I believe it to be well worth the effort, especially when having spent the money buying such a great kit in the first place.

Legio War Griffons

It would appear that the humble Fire Support variant of the Reaver has been much maligned of late, aspersions cast on its viability as worthy unit for an Imperial force when compared to other units. As I add such a variant to my own Imperial forces, I look at a few reasons why such judgements may be a little hasty.

Epic Steel LegionOne of the most often asked questions about the fire support Reaver is “why take one”? On the face of it, the 6BP that the three missile launchers deliver would appear to be a poor investment based on the Reaver’s points cost compared to say an Imperial Guard Artillery Company. In many respects I wouldn’t disagree, however there are a few things about the Reaver that are worth taking into consideration. Firstly as a massive War Engine the Reaver cannot be suppressed until it has accumulated more Blast Markers than its starting damage capacity. This makes the Reaver a lot tougher than your average row of Basilisks which will turn on turn very quickly lose their power advantage. The second consideration is the fact that the Reaver missile launchers do not lose a turn reloading in comparison to a Manticore. They will lay down 6BP each and every turn until broken or destroyed. Taking into account both of these factors can actually make the Fire Support Reaver a dangerously underestimated unit to an unwary opponent and certainly worth considering for important ‘suppression’ missions. As a final consideration being a Legio Titan the Reaver has an initiative of 1+ compared to the Imperial Guard Artillery’s initiative of 2+. This may not seem a big deal but when the chips are down I would rather know that my Reaver will deliver the goods turn after turn even in the face of heavy enemy fire, something even the most staunch Imperial Artillery Battery cannot guarantee once the shells start falling. My final point in defence of the poor Reaver is I have seen numerous Artillery Companies wiped out by being quickly over-run by a fast moving enemy assault force, however I have yet to see a Titan troubled by such events. Unlike the fragile artillery batteries which need protecting against enemy engagement actions, the Reaver is more than capable of defending itself against all but the most ferocious assault, simply ‘walking out of combat’ stamping the enemy into tiny pancakes as it moves on to maul yet another formation.

In summary, an Imperial Guard Artillery Company will probably deliver the goods on turn one, but five turns later I’d bet a bottle of Sakra that the Reavers missile barrage will still be dealing out punishment long after the Imperial Artillery has fallen silent. So does this mean the Reaver is in fact better than the Artillery Company after all? In truth no, just different. Both formations have their strengths and weaknesses, however I do think only a foolish commander would discard the Fire Support Reaver just on the strength of barrage points alone without considering its true battlefield worth.

The Warhound is the smallest of the Imperial Titans, being a ‘Scout’ class and is often fielded as part of a two-Titan Battlegroup. With a crew of four, not counting servitors, the Warhound is still a potent War Engine with thick armour and protective Void Shields. 

Epic Steel LegionThe Warhound shown here is one of Forge World’s resin models and is one of a number of Warhounds that make up my Titan Battlegroups being a favourite model of mine. The weapons shown have been swapped around to match the 40K scale ‘Wolf’ class which differ slightly from the ones packaged. This is a very simple process if you have both of Warhound packs from Forge World as the remaining two weapons are actually the correct ones to arm a ‘Jackal’ Class Warhound, so no wastage which is a bonus.

This particular Warhound is one of a pair from the ‘War Griffons’ Legio, a Titan Legion that was first introduced with the very first edition of Epic (Adeptus Titanicus) and therefore seemed highly appropriate to be one of the first Titans to add to my Epic Armageddon Imperial forces.

Epic Steel LegionTo paint the Titan in War Griffon colours I first undercoated the assembled model with a black spray primer, the base having already been textured with some plastic ruins and rubble. The entire model was then dry brushed with a mix of Brazen Brass, Tin Bitz and Boltgun Metal to give an ancient look to the metal chassis. The top carapace and lower leg armour was then painted Shadow Grey and highlighted by adding increasing amounts of Ghostly Grey to the mix. For the leg armour I also added dabs of watered down Ghostly Grey to create a dappled pattern. The thigh armour, groin plate, head and weapons were all painted with a 50/50 mix of Bubonic Brown and Desert Yellow to which increasing amounts of Bleached Bone were added for the highlights. After that it was just a simple case of painting in any weapon details and highlights with Chainmail and the the icons in either Skull White or Shining Gold. 

Getting movement.

The Warhound is a good example of how careful posing of the model can give the suggestion of movement, or ‘dynamics’. By positioning the angle of the legs so that the weight is over the front foot and the back leg is stretched out raising the trailing foot the impression of forward movement is immediately given. The position of the weapons and head also help to emphasise the motion. The Warhound is an easy model to make dynamic due to the multipart nature of the model and included ball joints, however the same principles can be applied to most of the Imperial Titans and is well worth experimenting with before sticking the model together.

That about wraps up the first batch of Steel Legion for now, time to concentrate on the other Imperial forces on Armageddon, namely the Space Marines. That’s far from it though for Armageddon’s local boys as I still have a hefty number of units left to paint yet, including Sentinels, more support formations and some large scale armoured units. Until next time though, happy painting.

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