Welcome back, faithful devotees of the God Emperor. It’s been a hot minute since I posted anything to this blog, but I’m coming back with a bang by returning to a series I haven’t touched on in almost two years1 – The Emperor Protects.
After four months of painting minis and terrain for the Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game exclusively, I decided that I could use a short break from the system. The plans for a big The Two Towers narrative campaign (and potentially beyond) are still ongoing, but even I can’t knock out two substantial armies and a handful of bits and bobs for one game system without yearning for a change of pace now and again.
As these things usually do, my ambitions started out pretty small. I’d bash out a couple character miniatures, cleanse my palette, then it’s back to the Two Towers campaign grind. One of these was a Star Player for Blood Bowl that I’d picked up at Warhammer Fest and the other was an Aestred Thurga for my Sororitas army that my mum bought me for my birthday.
But hey, before we get onto that, let’s look at a unit of Celestian Sacresants that I painted around 18 months ago.
You might think it would be hard to recall the minutia of painting a unit of miniatures from eighteen months ago, but I remember this squad like it was yesterday. These models absolutely tanked my motivation for this hobby for about two months straight.
Granted, I don’t make things easy for myself with this army. Adepta Sororitas can be quite fiddly at the best of times, but choosing white and orange as my colour scheme is not conducive to knocking out minis quickly. These Veteran Sisters are even more of a chore to paint. Additional details like the fleur de lis on the helmet visors and the embossed detail on the power plant vents push the already crowded Battle Sister design into claustrophobic territory. Every time I sat down to paint them, I’d lose interest after about 10 minutes – leaving me feeling overwhelmed with how much there was left to do on them. After a number of failed attempts at a longer painting session, I decided to just lean into the 10 minute increments. Whenever I sat down to paint, I’d do it intending to progress one step – just basecoat the orange bits, just highlight the black bits, and so on. After 2 months of procrastination, I finally got them over the line.
That being said, they are pretty cool miniatures when they’re finished. I’ve never been especially fond of “Veteran Squads” in Warhammer army lists – more often than not, they just look like your basic troops with a little extra faff. Vanilla Celestians are no exception to this, which is why Sacresants are such a breath of fresh air – the Shield and Halberd (or Mace) loadout feels so much more suited to a ‘bodyguard’ role than a squad of veteran Battle Sisters with boltguns. Of the three2 non-character kits in the second wave of Adepta Sororitas releases, the Sacresants feel the most like they’re filling a role that wasn’t really present in the army before.
So, that was the last thing that I painted for Adepta Sororitas. With 18 months of distance between that unpleasant experience and – crucially – just two models to paint this time, I figured painting Aestred Thurga would be a little more enjoyable.
And you know what? It really was.
On the whole, I found this a remarkably enjoyable project to paint. Both Aestred Thurga and her scribe Agathae Dolan are remarkably uncluttered for character miniatures, with detail in all the right places. Their scenic bases are a nice touch and blend reasonably well with the urban rubble on the rest of my army. As for the banner itself, I found most of the sculpted detail chunky enough for me to pick out clearly without much effort, without being so thickly embossed that it reads as three dimensional. If I had one criticism it would be of the tiny little fleur de lis symbols that frame the banner, which I found a little fiddlyto pick out without obscuring detail. Overall however, a very cool pair of miniatures and a fun little diversion from Middle-earth.
So fun, in fact, that I started thinking about what else I could paint for my Sisters of Battle. 10th Edition would be upon us sooner rather than later – and there was plenty left in my Sororitas backlog that I hadn’t quite gotten around to painting yet.
So, off I went hunting in my big box of assembled Battle Sisters for some low hanging fruit. Before long, I stumbled upon exactly what I was looking for.
Back at the genesis of this army, the first full squad that I painted was a single box of Battle Sisters – including a single Heavy Bolter. I’d later go on to paint a Retributor Squad each of Heavy Flamers and Multi Melta, but I never did paint any more Heavy Bolters, which meant I had three left to paint. I decided to tackle these along with a Sister Superior from the Combat Patrol set as an easy little four miniature mini project.
This was a really refreshing little project to knock out. The small mini count of only four models meant that I was never getting too bogged down at any one stage of the paint job, which helps immeasurably with the somewhat involved Sororitas models. Motivation wise, it was nice to be able to get a whole new squad out of these four minis. At the time of painting, it had not yet been revealed that wargear was going to be free in 10th Edtition, so I was excited to have another cheap Sister Superior with a chainsword to break up the monotony of poses. In retrospect, I kinda wish I’d painted one with a power sword or something. Hindsight is 20:20.
With a unit of Heavy Bolter armed Retributors under my belt, I felt like I was starting to get the taste for painting Sororitas again and wondered if there was anything else I’d have liked in my army that I hadn’t gotten around to yet. I ended up ordering another box of miniatures – more on those in a second – but determined not to lose any momentum, I kept myself occupied during shipping with a pair of Incensor Cherubs. These were quick and painless paint jobs finished not a moment too soon, now that Battle Sister Squads get their Cherub for free.
With everything going so well, I decided it was time to take on something a little larger and tick off a squad that I’ve been meaning to do for some time now – the new plastic Repentia Squad.
You may remember back in Part Two of the Emperor Protects that I already have one unit of Repentia – the older, metal miniatures. While I still quite some elements about those older metal models, it was hard not to get excited about these new plastic miniatures after putting them together. The plastic Repentia kit is quite a generous kit, with two unique sprues capable of producing 10 distinct miniatures. Better yet, each of these unique models have an alternate build that changes their look quite drastically. The models themselves are pretty great, with a nice mix of hoods and bare heads and some very menacing Eviscerators. I do miss the boots and knee pads from the older kit, though.
Enthused, I started painting these models as soon as I could, only to very quickly hit a familiar wall. I started feeling the same weariness and malaise that I’d felt painting the Celestian Sacresants. These models are busy, with a capital B. There’s hardly a millimetre on these miniatures without some amount of clutter getting in your way. The musculature of the arms and legs on these models are already more complicated than I’d like due to the fairly small size and their dynamic poses, but they’re absolutely littered with scarring, piercings and power armour ports. The dynamic poses cut an impressive figure, but they also create a lot of really irritating nooks and crannies that make it hard to get a brush in about. Some of the hoods have tiny little cutaways for the eyes, leaving an eye hole exposing just enough flesh that looks a bit unpainted with just a wash, but is a bit too small to highlight easily. These models are infuriating to paint and if this blog post is late this month, this unit is the reason why3.
Saying all that, they do look good painted though.
Some day a little further down the line, I’d quite like to add a second squad of these new plastic Repentia. If nothing else, it would be a shame to not utilise the brilliantly designed alternative builds available for each of the models4. In the meantime, however, I now have two somewhat distinct looking squads of Repentia – and I was curious if I could get away with fielding both without them looking too visually distinct.
There is a little bit of size difference between the old and new models, although this is somewhat mitigated by the way that I based the metal ones (with the slotta tab on top of the 28mm base between two bits of cork). This gives the models a couple extra millimetres of height and while it does nothing to for their dinky looking Eviscerators, I don’t think the difference is too jarring at a glance. In fact, I kind of like the effect of mixing the new models with the old – the new ones bring a bit more stature and dynamism to the unit, while the old models with their tabards introduce a flash of colour to the previously straight up black-garbed squad. The only problem was the old Repentia Superior. As much as I liked the design of the metal model, she was just too dinky to look imposing next to the larger plastic Repentia. To rectify this, I painted another Repentia Superior – this time the model from the Combat Patrol. Her larger, more modern presence helps bring a bit of stature back to the mixed squads and – at a glance at least – I don’t think you’d notice the older models too much. It’s a decent halfway solution until I can work up the energy to paint a second box of the plastics, anyway.
You’d think that after the protracted and painful experience with the Repentia that my little holiday in the grim darkness in the far future would end there. Alas, it seems I don’t know the meaning of a brief palette cleanser.
In my defence, the first Munitorum Field Manual for 40K 10th edition had just dropped and I decided – as I’m painting some Sororitas at the moment anyway – to have go at building some army lists for 10th Edition. I find writing an army list a good starting place to parse the changes to the rules and figure out what, if anything, needs done to make an army compliant with a new edition. Fortunately for me, most of the additions I made to the army in 9th edition – and earlier in this blog post – seem to have somewhat future proofed my Sororitas. The additional 15 Bolter armed Battle Sisters that I’d painted during 9th Edition had prepared me for minimum 10 model squads. Likewise, I now have a full squads worth of each heavy weapon, allowing me to bring a free heavy weapon in each of my Battle Sister Squads while still fielding two full Retributor Squads. Those additional two Cherubs I’d painted earlier in this post turned out to be useful for more than just army photography. Heck, while the vast majority of my Sister Superiors are looking a bit barebones now, I do still have a Condemner Boltgun and two Combi-Weapon armed Sister Superiors painted – so I’m not doing too badly there either.
After taking stock of my total painted Battle Sisters with various equipment, I concluded that I now have enough to run either three Battle Sister Squads (with a Storm Bolter and a heavy weapon), or two plus a squad of Dominons (with four Storm Bolters). The only upgrade I didn’t have at least an option for each of these squads was the Simulacrum. A cool upgrade in 8th/9th edition, but not one you really needed for every squad, so I de-prioritised painting them after the first two. Having acutely learned that painting Sororitas in small batches is far less intimidating than whole squads, I jumped at the opportunity to paint a single Battle Sister in isolation.
Well, it was going to be a single Battle Sister, but then I noticed I have two Simulacrums in my box of Battle Sisters. One of these is the unique Simulacrum from the Combat Patrol, the other is a conversion made from a Simulacrum bearer in the Battle Sisters Squad kit with the relic replaced with the banner from the Imagifier kit. I had this piece left over from when I converted mine to be carrying a crucified penitent. I figured, if I paint one I might as well paint the other and save myself a job down the line. After a bit of quick maths, I concluded that if I did the second Simulacrum now, then I’d only need to do another bolter armed Battle Sister, another special weapon armed Battle Sister and a Cherub down the line to give me three Battle Sister Squads and a unit of Dominions with all the upgrades. After painting the Simulacrums, I figured what the heck and knocked out the final two Battle Sisters afterwards. I’m starting to wonder if the secret to not burning out on this army might be to paint two5 Sisters at a time?
Well, on that note…
For the time being, the last two models I’m adding to my Adepta Sororitas army is a pair of Penitent Engines. These two lads join four Mortifiers that I built fairly early on in the project. When these models were first introduced, they were run in squads of anywhere from two to six, with larger squads taking up fewer slots on the Force Organisation Chart and benefitting more from a single use of a stratagem. I ended up liking the rules more for Mortifiers than Penitent Engines, which was why I ended up building and painting four of those for the army. I’d always wanted to add some Penitent Engines as well, but like much of the Adepta Sororitas range, I found them kind of exhausting to paint. I burned out pretty hard on the Mortifiers and kicked the Penitent Engines way down the list of priorities, given they share a lot of similarities in both visuals and battlefield role. With the reduced unit size in 10th Edition, however, I finally decided to add this iconic unit to my Order Minoris as a bit of an impulse buy.
When painting my Mortifiers, I went back and forth over what colour I was going to paint the engines themselves for a while. I’ve always liked the imagery of units painted black in an otherwise colourful army, marking them out as shameful or dangerous. It’s partially what excites me about the aesthetic of Destroyers and Deathsworn in my Space Wolves Legion6, and I love the idea of applying it to the penitents in the Adepta Sororitas army list. My Repentia and Arco-Flagellants are all dressed in black, as are the pilots of my Mortifiers – though the engines themselves I decided to leave white. With the Penitent Engines however, the pilots are not former members of the Sororitas but simply criminals and heretics – they deserve no such distinction. I really like the visual contrast between the white Mortifiers and black Penitent Engines – it makes them come off as just a little bit more sinister, perhaps beyond redemption.
Although the paint job was basically identical but for using a black chassis instead of white, I must say that I found painting these models a whole lot less frustrating than I did with the Mortifiers. A black undercoat really does make life easier when it comes to hard to reach details, and the contrast of elements such as the flames and the brass trim really pops against the black. I suppose it can’t be overstated that it’s a lot more fun to paint two of these instead of four.
And with that, my latest batch of reinforcements for The Order of the Dying Light are finished. It’s been a good long while since I last updated my whole army shot for these guys, so how about an new family photo to close out this entry?
Before I head back to my massive backlog of Middle-earth campaign miniatures, we’re going to be ride the 10th Edition hype for a little longer. I’m going to be working on some 40K terrain for a bit, including a bizarre crossover passion project that I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. More updates on that soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
Until then, thanks for reading and happy wargaming!
1 A fact that frightens and mildly disgusts me. Time just doesn’t stop coming, does it?
2 The other two being Paragon Warsuits and Castigator Tanks, which to my mind are pretty much just less interesting alternatives to Mortifiers and Exorcists.
3 Well, I also went on holiday for a week in the middle of painting them.
4 Some of which built models that were my preference of the two, but I thought I’d make it easy on myself in future knowing I could just build option 2 for each model.
5 The Cherub doesn’t count, they take like an hour to paint tops.
6 I’m just now realising I never actually blogged about my Destroyer section of my Space Wolves, something I might need to rectify posthumously.