Bearing the Word

With the release of the second edition of Horus Heresy I wanted to start a new “normal” heresy army.

Originally, I had a Blood Angel army when I first got into heresy and then transitioned into Mechnanicum (who can resist terrible murder cyborgs), but I sold both of those armies when my local heresy scene in Southeast London fell apart with the release of 40k 8th edition and then the closure of my local GW store.

Just before the pandemic there was a plan to start a slow-grow heresy league, and around that time I’d started collecting Mechanicum again but also Blackshields. Two of the game’s weirder factions. Obviously, that league went nowhere and both those armies sat in a box for two years.

And then GW releases the Heresy 2.0 trailer.

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And suddenly half my friends are busy starting new armies, resurrecting old ones and making plans and I remember the plans I’d had. But there’s just one problem: everything we know about the 2nd edition release suggests that it’s going to be marines only to begin with with other mainline factions coming Soon™️ and niche factions coming maybe?

So I do the only sensible thing and start a new army.

Well, newish.

A kitbashed demios rhino with extra armour alongside a pre-heresy era Word Bearers veteran squad

You see, with the release of the first plastic heresy kits I started a pre-heresy colour scheme Word Bearer’s army as a traitor counterpoint to my Blood Angels, and as a fully heresy army as my Blood Angels were at the time trying to be both 40k and heresy compatible. It was full of conversions and maybe one day I’ll do a retrospective (but also I was awful at actually taking photos so it may take some time).

One advantage of having been back in the hobby for nine years, is I’ve got a lot of random space marine models just lying around, so I grabbed two MK IV marines out of the scrap pile and I painted a pair of test marines. One a mid-heresy Word Bearer and one a Sons of Horus marine in a variant colour scheme with a Lunar Wolves arm, because nothing do is allowed to be basic.

After much deliberation, I went with the Word Bearers for two reasons:

  1. Word Bearers get significantly more toys than the Sons of Horus

  2. Sons of Horus have a good third of their army in an alternate colour scheme and I didn’t fancy adapting the one off-colour arm to the Justarin (or losing access to one of my main legion specific units).

But it was missing something. You see I’ve never been one for transfers on most things. In recent years I’ve gotten better at using them and I’ve found places for them in my work, but I don’t want to apply a thousand transfers to marine shoulder pads. It’s difficult and I prefer sculpted detail. But I’m also a 3D artist with a bunch of resin printers. So I made my own sculpted shoulder pads, both for the legion icon and the squad markings.

I could have gone with the Forgeworld legion shoulder pads but for three reasons:

  1. Forgeworld currently only do one mark of pads for each legion. Word Bearers get MK IV, which means either doing entirely MK IV or having mismatched pads on other marks.

  2. The Forgeworld Word Bearer pads don’t have the demon face motif, so they can be used for both loyalist, traitor and super-traitor Word Bearer units.

  3. They are fairly expensive to upgrade an entire army with and relies on Forgeworld not discontinuing them, or running out at inopportune times.

Conversely, making my own means:

  1. I can make shoulder pads for any mark of armour I want, including cataphractii or tartaros terminators! Forgeworld discontinued the legion specific cataphractiis and never did tartaros terminator pads.

  2. I can modify the legion icon to my heart’s desire.

  3. I already own the printers, and each pad uses pennies worth of resin, and since I need the printers for other stuff I’m basically always going to be able to churn out more.

So with the legion settled on I printed some test pads and painted up a new test marine.

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As a brief aside, I miss an older era when Games Workshop did more kits and more upgrade bits to let you customise your stuff. You used to be able to buy shoulder pads with molded details like squad markings on them, and all sorts of other stuff and modern GW seems to be leaning away from that in general to more regularised kits and more limited, more specific upgrade options.


June rolls around and Heresy launch day arrives. I made the executive decision that most of the Age of Darkness box is going to go to the Word Bearers (although you’ll see in a future post that some of it did go to the Blackshields). Step one was to build the marines, and to that end I added the new custom pads and upgraded my sergeants with the Chaos Space Marine Legionaries kits to represent artificer armour and tained weapons.

The new MK VI kit is a joy to work with. I’ve never enjoyed putting bolters on troops, but the new guns with both hands sculpted onto the gun make it so much easier. My only wish is for a little more variety in pose, but also they’re faceless supersoldiers. They’re going to be a bit repetitive.

At the same time, I built a pair of the new Demios pattern rhinos. These, I have fewer nice words for. The final kit is gorgeous (even if I did feel the need to do a minor upgrade), but it goes together like a pig. Getting the sides onto the floor plate requires waaaaay more force than a kit should and at least one of the four I’ve bought so far bent before it went in and needed correcting with a file.

The upgrades here were simple: just added the tactical marking to the top hatch. Future rhinos will have other appropriate markings, i.e. a single chevron for the heavy support squads or an aligned cross for any elites.

Now painting can begin.

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The rhino went first. It got sprayed with a basecoat of Word Bearers Red, and then masked off and the side panels sprayed with Vallejo Black. Red areas were washed with Agrax Earthshade and black areas with Nuln Oil. Scriptwork was added in Celestia Grey, red areas highlighted with Mephiston Red and black areas with Eshin Grey. Metal areas painted with Iron Hands Steel or Leadbelcher as the mood took me, washed with Nuln Oil and highlighted with Stormhost Silver. The tracks and dozer blade were painted with Vallejo Exhaust Manifold.

Finally it was weathered with Ableitung Gulf War Sand pigment, fixed in place with a mix of pigment fixer and matt varnish.

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The marines were painted much the same way. Scrollwork was painted Karak Stone, then highlights of Ushabiti Bone and then Screaming Skull. Leather items (holsters, pouches and belts) were painted with a variety of dark browns, then highlighted Karak Stone. Eyes were painted Castellan Green and then increasingly highlighted with Warboss Green, Lorien Forest and then Nurgling Green.

The final unit of today’s post is the first of the Word Bearer dreadnoughts. Built as per the instructions, with the addition of a custom icon on the front of the carapace and some assorted purity seals oaths of moment stolen from assorted other kits.

It was painted in exactly the same way as the infantry, just on a larger scale. The icon itself was painted Wild Rider Red, then Troll Slayer Orange and Yriel Yellow in decreasing coverage. The demon icon was painted black, taking care to leave the orange in the recesses. The book was painted Karak Stone, then washed with Agrax and highlighted Ushabiti.

Everyone was based with Vallejo desert sand basing texture, washed with agrax and then heavily dusted with Ableitung Gulf War Sand, fixed in place with a mix of matt varnish and pigment fixer. On the dreadnought, the rocks were painted Karak Stone first, but received the same treatment afterwards.

Finished Photos

As a start for a force, I’m very happy with what I’ve done here. There’s another tactical squad, a plasma support squad, two more standard rhinos and a command rhino, ten cataphractii and a spartan, ten assault marines and a land speeder on the table. What comes next depends on when the Ruinstorm PDF arrives.