For whatever reason, I just can’t seem to focus on a single project right now. I’ve got ongoing terrain projects for Warhammer 40,000, I’ve been working on some bits and pieces for Turnip281 here and there – even my Undead warband for Mordheim seen some new additions. All of this has resulted in dreadfully slow progress through my The Two Towers narrative campaign backlog. It’s not slowed to a complete standstill, but I’m only cranking out a small handful of models at a time. It shouldn’t be too long before I make my way through enough of them to write the next instalment – but in the meantime, how about an update on my Space Wolves legion?
All of these miniatures were painted several months ago during an unusually productive few weeks. I was so productive, in fact, that I couldn’t write this blog fast enough to keep up with my output – and so most of these minis fell through the cracks. I’ve always thought that a bit of a shame, as many of the miniatures were conversions or oddities that deserved explanation. So, during this brief lull in content, let me catch you up with my Vlka Fenryka.
Anyone who’s read the My Armies page of this website will be well acquainted with my obsession with collecting miniatures. It’s a rare occasion that I part with a miniature that I’ve painted and – while I do expand into new armies or ranges from time to time – I often find myself going back to previous projects and expanding on them. While my favourite tends to chop and change (usually whatever I’ve worked on most recently), I think I can pretty safely say that my Heresy-era Space Wolves army is by some way my largest2. At this stage, whenever I add to my Space Wolves, I tend to prioritise units and kits that are missing from the collection. While the army is generally quite infantry focussed with a lot of MKIII ‘Iron’ Armour, it’s my goal to have at least a single unit of every in every role and armour mark available to field. As my army lacked Legion Destroyers, jump infantry and MKV ‘Heresy’ pattern power armour – a unit of MKV Jump Destroyers was kind of a three for one.
The only issue here is that Destroyers only come in MKIV Armour (and I’d already painted a unit those for my Iron Warriors). So, how do you turn a MKV Assault Squad into a Legion Destroyer Squad? Well, there are a few key points to hit.
First and foremost were the guns – I swapped out each of the chainswords on these models for a second bolt pistol. I had plenty of spare Phobos Bolt Pistols leftover from the MKIV Destroyer kits I used to convert my MKIV Deathsworn. I considered supplementing these with a bitz order so that I could give them a matching pair of pistols, but after a bit of experimenting I decided I preferred the look of alternating a pistol from the MKIV and MKV kits. It gives the models a bit of a main weapon plus sidearm look; given my knowledge of dual wielding starts and ends with 3rd Edition D&D, this just made sense to me. I decided to give the Sergeant a leftover power axe from the Deathsworn kit (more on that later), which I thought was a nice nod towards this being a ‘Destroyer’ squad. Finally, two models were upgraded with Rad Missile launchers – which I thought would really help sell this squad as Destroyers at a glance.
From an armour standpoint, the exposed cabling and bonding studs of the MKV armour have a bit of an ‘industrial’ aesthetic to the miniatures that quite suits Destroyers. I considered using Space Wolves torsos or torsos from MKIV Destroyers, but in the end I decided I liked the stock MKV torsos better. That was the main reason why I kept the helmets on the majority of the models – the snubbed mouth grille is such an iconic part of this armours look and I wanted it present on as many models as I could justify. For the helmetless members of the squad, I opted to stick with the executioners hoods for all but the Sergeant, which I think suits the Destroyer battlefield role both metaphorically and practically.
The final addition I made to these models was Rad Grenades on their belt – which you can hopefully see on the models in the second rank in the above photograph. This was a bit of a challenge as, frustratingly, Games Workshop and ForgeWorld do not produce any viable sources for standalone rad grenades. The only sources that I’m aware of (at the time of writing) are moulded onto the Legion Destroyer Squad from ForgeWorld and in very limited quantities in the Van Saar Gangers kit for Necromunda. Neither of which were especially cost effective for 10 little 1mm tall bits. In the end, I decided to take a press mould of the grenade from a spare Destroyer body and use this to make a few one-sided rad grenades out of green stuff to attach to my MKV Destroyers hips. Given the diminutive size of these components, this took a fair bit of trial and error to get right and still required a bit of hand sculpting to tidy it up after the fact – but I think it turned out pretty well in the end. It’s a small detail – one that I think the overwhelming majority of people will never notice – but one that I thought was very important to the unit being credibly ‘Destroyers’ and not simply Assault Marines with akimbo pistols and black armour.
As far as painting goes, there’s not a lot to say here. Black armour is always a challenge and I tried my best to give them a bit of depth with a subtle charcoal zenithal and a lot of edge and specular highlighting – I they turned out pretty nice.
With MKV armour finally added to my Space Wolves, the only remaining armour pattern to add was MKVI ‘Corvus’ armour.
The first thing you’ll probably notice when you see this squad is that these are not the new plastic MKVI Space Marines kit. These are, in fact, the old resin Beakies from ForgeWorld. Now, I’ve got nothing against the new kit – it looks great, particularly the bulkier backpack design. That said, I personally prefer how the scale of these resin miniatures sits amongst the hundreds of other Space Marines that I have in this army already. They’re about the same size as the plastic MKIV Marines – a little bit smaller and less beefy than the MKIII that makes up the overwhelming majority of the force, which is how I like it. Were I planning on adding a ton of Beakies to the army, it might be a different story – but for a single token entry in the legion, the ForgeWorld models suit my purposes a little better.
I agonised a lot over what I was going to do with this squad. I personally associate Corvus power armour with armies like the Alpha Legion and Raven Guard, so I felt like some sort of covert operations squad would suit these models well. I considered Legion Veterans or a Legion Recon Squad, but I’d prefer a bespoke mixed armour squad for the Veterans and Recon Squads already have some pretty cool miniatures that I’d like to get around to someday. I also considered Breachers – another squad absent from my roster – but that feels like an odd pairing to me. Eventually, I found myself circling back to Seekers.
I was initially put off the idea of making this a Seeker Squad for the simple reason that I already have one of those in MKIV armour, however two things swayed me:
- I had a blister pack of Seeker boltguns that I picked up when these were going Last Chance to Buy. My previous Seeker Squad had Seeker Combi-Plasma boltguns, so this wouldn’t technically be repeating myself.
- It’s really fun to say the words “Beaky Seekers”.
As far as construction goes, this was a pretty simple squad to put together. I wanted them to look a little fancier than a standard Grey Slayer squad but being my only MKVI Corvus armour squad, I also wanted to preserve as many of the iconic helmets as I could. I ended up going for a 50:50 split of helmeted and helmetless, with the bare heads being mostly made up of Space Wolf Scout heads (which just felt right for a sneaky unit) and a couple of the Beaky helmets replaced with fancy runic helmets from the Grey Hunters upgrade sprue. Finally, a use for those! I’m pretty happy with the balance I struck, with each miniature receiving some sort of individual tweak, be it a headswap, a wolf tail fetish or a pelt in addition to their Seeker Boltgun.
Of course – as on the Destroyer Squad – probably the biggest indicator of their unique role would be the paint job. In my Space Wolves legion, every role on the Force Organisation Chart gets it’s own pack marking colour scheme. Troops are red and black, Elites are yellow and black, Heavy Support are black and white, HQ are black and gold and with Fast Attack are marked out as red and yellow. Please don’t call them McWolves.
Overall, I’m really happy with these guys. The stripped back weaponry, active/advancing poses and unique armour mark will make this my Seeker Squad of choice going forward. That being said, something about Seekers just feels very ‘Space Wolves’ to me – so I can’t say I’m upset to have two of these squads in different armour marks to choose from now.
Speaking of which…
Some of you may remember way back at the genesis of this blog that after finally losing patience waiting for ForgeWorld to release models for Deathsworn, I went and kitbashed my own. Less than a year after doing this (and just shy of two years after the release of Book VII Inferno), ForgeWorld finally released some models for Deathsworn. In stark contrast to the majority of ForgeWorld‘s Space Wolves kits, they were actually kinda flawless. This left me with mixed emotions at the time.
On one hand, Deathsworn are by far and away my favourite unit in the Space Wolves Legion list, maybe even in all of the Horus Heresy. Their background as unstable PTST-afflicted Space Wolves – a brooding and sinister precursor to the Wulfen mutation that would eventually crop up in the 41st Millenium – hyst really resonated with me. In my eyes, The Horus Heresy was always at it’s most appealing as a more grounded take on Warhammer 40,000; these somewhat more humanised, less cartoonish precursors to Wulfen really capture that in a single profile. Additionally, the description of their dark armour and wolf skull helmets put me in mind of the original Ulrik the Slayer miniature – one of the first Space Wolves miniatures I ever saw and one the foundational reasons that Space Wolves became my first Warhammer army in the first place. Best of all, these were actually really nice miniatures that seemed to do the profile justice – they weren’t derpy, they didn’t have weird looking bolt pistols or cartoonish proportions. They might have been about a year late, but they were worth the wait.
On the other hand, at the time I’d barely gotten any use out of my kitbashed squad of Deathsworn. Those models were a labour of love and the cost of acquiring all of the parts I needed to kitbash them was fairly significant. I wasn’t in any rush to replace those models and – given I was knee deep in Middle-earth SBG at the time – I decided just to leave the new sculpts for a while3. Two years later, I found myself with a £100 ForgeWorld voucher burning a hole in my pocket as a partial rebate for my faulty Thunderhawk. Re-energised and fueled by hype for my favourite legion after finishing the replacement, I decided to bite the bullet and finally paint a second squad of Deathsworn.
I’m pretty happy with how this squad turned out. The build was near enough stock, although I did replace two power axes with a Great Frost Blade and a Power Fist for a bit of variety. As far as painting goes, I found these guys to be pretty exhausting – there’s nothing too out there or unusual on them, just a lot of detail work. I did really enjoy attempting those tiny little freehand runes on their kneepads, however. Each of those took me a good few attempts to get right, but I’m happy with how crisp they turned out by the end.
At this point, I realised that my army had a pretty decent number of black armoured units in it – two squads of Deathsworn and a unit of Destroyers. I thought, you know what would be a fun addition to this army? A Deathsworn Dreadnought!
This was a fun little conversion project based on an idea I’ve had lurking about in the back of my mind for a few years now. Back in the previous edition of the Horus Heresy game, there were rules for a special kind of Legion Contemptor Dreadnought known as a Contemptor-Cortus Class Dreadnought. From a lore perspective, these were essentially Contemptor Dreadnoughts reinforced with salvaged components. This gave them a bit more of a ramshackle appearance and they were generally considered to be a bit unstable next to the standard Legion Contemptors. In gameplay terms, they had a little less ballista skill and armour in exchange for some flavoursome special rules. At the start of a turn, they could choose to overcharge their atomantic reactor and in exchange for potentially overheating (and lose a hull point and/or explode) they would gain additional movement, Initiative or the Rage special rule. They also had a rule about unstable interment which meant that they must always make sweeping advances and can never be a scoring unit. To my mind, this was the perfect recipe for a Deathsworn Dreadnought.
Contemptor-Cortus Dreadnoughts may have vanished from the second edition print rules of the Horus Heresy ruleset, but not from my heart. Given my armies newfound abundance of Deathsworn and Destroyer units, this felt like the appropriate time to kitbash myself one of these.
In an unusually astute4 move on my part, a few months prior to Games Workshop’s announcement that they’d be greatly simplifying the ForgeWorld Legion Contemptor kits to just the torso pieces, I decided to pick up an extra two Space Wolves Contemptors and another one for my Iron Warriors. I’m pretty pleased I did so as – at the risk of maybe sounding a bit negative here – I really don’t like the weird mashup of fancy torso and plain plastic legs that remains. This gave me an additional two fancy Contemptors to play with in order to build a full talon of three – one of which would make up the chassis of my Deathsworn Contemptor.
The Space Wolves Contemptor is a nice basis for this miniature and echoes the ornate design of the Deathsworn miniatures nicely with plenty of chains, talismans and fetishes. The key element missing here was of course the wolf skull helmet – fortunately, this is an easy bit to get a hold of thanks to the plastic Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought kit. The skull head from the Venerable Dreadnought is a fairly lightweight hollow piece – more of a mask, designed to sit ontop of a pre-existing ‘neck’ of sorts – but it wasn’t difficult to roll up a few cabling tubes to sit behind it in the Contemptors head socket.
Between the Space Wolves chassis, the skull helmet and a black paint job, this would have been enough to mark the Contemptor out as a member of the Deathsworn – but I wanted to go a stage further. Instead of the usual pair of close combat arms, I opted for a set of claws from the Blood Angels Contemptor-Incaendius Class Dreadnought. These had a nice ‘feral’ sort of look to them, which I embellished with a few wraps of hobby chain to imply that the Dreadnought had recently broken free of bondage. For the embedded weapon, I opted for a pair of Graviton Guns, which to my mind felt kinda-sorta in the same vein as the Ymari-class Stasis Bombs used by the Deathsworn.
From a painting standpoint, this was pretty much the same experience as on the Deathsworn – just on a slightly larger scale. The only area that I really differed here was on the claws – instead of the usual metallic blue ‘frost’ weapons, I decided to give this revered battle brother a set of Krakenbone claws embellished with a spattering of Blood for the Blood God. I just thought this contrasted a little better against the black armour and helped call more attention to the conversion.
Now that I had enough Cult of Morkai units to completely fill my Elite slots, I figured I could probably use a dedicated Jarl to lead them. Let me introduce you to Jarl Aldrich Folkvang.
The idea behind this miniature was simple – I wanted a Jarl who looked kind of like a souped up version of a Speaker of the Dead. My immediate go to here was Ulrik the Slayer, whose status as a Warhammer 40,000 named character miniature helps lend a little gravitas to the role. To make him fit for the role of a Horus Heresy Jarl however, I’d need to make a few adjustments.
The first and most obvious thing that I needed to change was his head – Ulrik the Slayer in his current incarnation is bare-headed and holding his iconic wolf skull helmet. It’s a cool, characterful head – one that I’ll certainly use in a future kitbash – but it was too recognisably Ulrik the Slayer, so it had to go. I did a bit of digging in my bitz box and found a suitably veteran looking replacement, with a nice chunky moustache and a top knot conveniently blowing in the same direction as Ulrik’s cape.
The next issue to solve was the armour. While I think that Ulrik’s armour would work fine as Artificer Armour in the Horus Heresy, putting the model in a set of MKIII ‘Iron’ armour really goes a long way to making it look like a Horus Heresy miniature and not a simple Warhammer 40,000 conversion. For this special occasion, I dug out one of my few remaining ForgeWorld Space Wolves torsos and combined it with an appropriately posed set of legs from the MKIII Space Marines plastic kit. Thanks to the way Ulrik the Slayer goes together, this actually wasn’t too difficult. I cut away at the armour moulded to the cape and shaved down the back of the resin torso. A little bit of green stuff fur around the collar and a quick green stuff wolf pelt tabard between his legs and we had a seamless armour change.
The final piece of the puzzle was his weapon – a Crozius is too much a Speaker of the Dead weapon and had to be replaced with something a little beefier befitting a Jarl. Fortunately, the blades of the frost axes from the Wulfen kit are about the same thickness as Ulrik’s Crozius, so a little careful cutting later and it fit neatly under his hand. I did keep the ornate shaft from his Crozius for this weapon, although the axe head being a little bigger meant I had to elevate Alrich on a rock to give his weapon enough space to sit comfortably.
With that, I had my new Wolf Lord. I’m pretty pleased with how this conversion turned out and with a standard Legion paint scheme, I think he does a good job of capturing the stoic look of a Praetor with enough nods to the Cult of Morkai to fit my armies new theme.
Finally, I painted one more Space Wolves Contemptor Dreadnought – this time painted in standard Legion colours. As my previous ForgeWorld Contemptor was given more of an aggressive running pose, I decided to pose this one in a more slow and purposeful stride. He’s pictured above with a Volkie Culverin and power claw, but this pose works equally well with a pair of lascannons in Mortis configuration for anti-air.
The addition of this final Contemptor gives me two ForgeWorld Space Wolves Legion Contemptor Dreadnoughts in standard Legion livery with magnetised arms and one ‘Deathsworn’ ForgeWorld Contemptor with close combat weapons. I’m very pleased I purchased these models when I did, as I think they look night and day better than the new plastic/resin hybrid kits – and they’re certainly a massive improvement over all of the Betrayal at Calth plastic Contemptors I have in this army. I don’t really see myself fielding more than a full Talon of three Contemptors in any one game – probably just two in most 3000pts games, if I’m being realistic – so I’m happy to not have to rely on those older, uglier models now. I do wish I’d bought a few more resin weapon options when I still could, however. C’est la vie.
Well, that about does it for my Space Wolves Legion for the time being. I’m really happy with these latest additions and think they add a lot to the collection on the whole. Sadly, no update to the family photo this time around – it’s a lot of work assembling the Rout for a photograph these days! Sometime down the line, I’d like to add a few more vehicles such as a Land Raider Proteus, a second Spartan, another Sicaran variant and perhaps some Predator tanks. Maybe I’ll update the family photo after those additions.
Until then, thanks for reading and happy wargaming!
1 Yes, this means there will also be a Turnip28 update post forthcoming before I get back to the Narrative Campaign progress. So much for a brief diversion…
2 Technically speaking, my Skaven army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles is larger in terms of raw model count – I mean, there’s roughly double the amount of miniatures in that army at this point – but my Space Wolves has a bunch of titanic units, super heavies and flyers which have to count for something. In points values for their respective systems, my Space Wolves have the loathsome ratmen beat by about 3000 points.
3 One thing I did do however was go back and replace the 3rd party Wolf Skull helmets on my kitbashed Deathsworn with a set of helmets from the new models that I obtained from a bitz seller. Not only do the ForgeWorld heads look a lot nicer, but I think they help lend a sense of legitimacy to the older models. With the iconic helmets from the new models, I feel like they come across like more of a kitbashed Mark IV Armour variant of the squad rather than a stopgap solution from before the ‘real’ models released.
4 I had no idea that Games Workshop were going to discontinue/simplify the Legion Contemptor Dreadnoughts – I’m pretty sure I stocked up on these just before the last big GW price hike. Fact is that while both my Space Wolves and Iron Warriors Legions have several plastic Betrayal at Calth Contemptors, I pretty much never actually field them in games because I don’t really like the models. I figured it would be a safe purchase to have at least two of the nice resin models for each of my legions – plus a third for my Deathsworn Dreadnought idea.