The XIII Legion Ultramarines were the first legion I collected specifically to play Age of Darkness (The Horus Heresy). Originally I started them in 2012 to be my way back into Warhammer 40,000, it was around this time that Forgeworld had started releasing alternative armour kits which were heresy era in all but name at the time. I never really got beyond a few tester models for the palette and had more or less retired the project when the Betrayal at Calth boxed set was released and the 30K scene really exploded. With Mark IV legion astartes, Cataphractii terminators and Contemptor dreadnoughts readily available as plastic kits I dusted off the testers I did five years earlier and set about forging them into an army.
TACTICAL SQUADS ARE THE CORE. LOTS OF TACTICAL SQUADS.
Some gamers first experience of the Age of Darkness ruleset was through the Calth boxed set, me included and that meant infantry, lots and lots of infantry. Eventually coined a ‘Centurion’ list which meant infantry and walkers only this was a great way for me to start collecting. Add a few breachers in Mark III and I was ready for a few Zone Mortalis style games as well. The other reason for getting the infantry out of the way early on was because it’s not often perceived as the fun part of building an army with lots of construction and large blocks of identical painting. Simply put it’s a good idea to get the infantry out of the way first so you can concentrate on the fun stuff later. Unless of course you prefer painting infantry, in which case lucky you. Sadly I’ve seen too many projects come to a premature demise due to the rank and file being left until the end when painting fatigue is at its worst and newer shinier armies an unwelcome intrusion.
With so much of the blue on display the metallics, gold especially had to provide majority of the contrast as I used the white only for accents and limited to veterans such as the Cataphractii. To give the metallics enough depth I started with a strong base of Games Workshop glorious gold mixed into leadbelcher with a spot of Japanese yellow and black. This gave me enough of a flat tarnished gold over which I added Scale colour elven gold and finally steel for the top lights. To increase the warmth I used a thinned sepia ink mixed with varnish. Another handy tip to give the units character is splitting decals over armour panels. The Cataphractii pauldrons for example have a name down one but half of the split shield icon on the other. Sometimes in blue, others in gold. By mixing up markings and accent colours on armour plates like knee pads legionaries can start to show individual character whilst still remaining cohesive as a whole. They don’t have to be stamped out of the same cookie-cutter. It’s the little narrative touches that makes heresy armies that bit more special.
“Where would we be without our transports? Bloody walking, that’s where.”
In exactly the same way I tried to make each Legion Astartes an individual I applied the same approach to the Rhino transports. The top and side hatches on the Deimos pattern provide handy borders with which to frame accent colours or large icons, but they don’t have to be exactly the same. Where one has an all blue top with a white tactical squad icon, the other has a contrasting white hatch with the same tactical mark reversed in blue with the legion symbol and laurels. One of the most common complaints I hear about the Ultramarines, especially in Warhammer 40,000 is they are really boring to look at being so uniform. During the time of the Great Crusade when the Horus Heresy is set the legions are vast and subtle individualisms in appearance much more common. This gives so much freedom to carve your own unique look within the overall palette and is something I completely exploited in my own take of the XIII legion. In fact, here is one of the ‘Mars’ pattern Rhino’s I did for the Ultramarines back in 2012 which reversed the palette completely.