After doing a ton of reading and noodling about Warhammer 40k factions, I settled on the Blood Angels for my army.
These are (all paid links):
- Blood Angels Tactical Squad
- Razorback (which can also be built as a Rhino)
- Space Marine Terminator Squad
- Blood Angels Furioso Dreadnought (which can be built as a Furioso, Death Company, or Librarian Dreadnought)
Three factions enter
The Adeptus Custodes came in a close second, with Orks a somewhat more distant third. I’m always drawn to the elite army in games like these, and the Custodes being able to field a 2,000 point army with a couple dozen models — half the number needed for Space Marines, many less than Astra Militarum or Orks — appealed to me, as did their absolutely badass minis, gold color scheme, and lore. On the Ork front I’ve always liked them, and being able to color-theme your Waaagh! and just sort of cobble together a band of space football hooligans sounded like fun.
But a couple of simple questions (which took me some time to arrive at!) made it no contest:
- What 40k minis have I loved since I was a kid?
- Old-school Terminators
- Rhino/Razorback tanks
- Old-school Eldar walkers
- Apart from those, which minis look the coolest to me now?
- Old-school “refrigerator box” Dreadnoughts
- Sisters of Battle Mortifiers and Penitent Engines
- Adeptus Custodes Vertus Praetors and Custodian Guard
- Why build an army that doesn’t include my favorite units?
So: Space Marines, which check the most boxes on that list (and which can, if desired, ally with Sisters or Custodes and pilfer their coolest units!). Of those factions, the Blood Angels’ lore spoke to me the most: doomed space vampires who eventually succumb to the Black Rage, known for their bloodthirstiness in battle. They’re over the top in such fun ways — and they have the most Dreadnoughts, plus access to BA-specific as well as generic Terminators.
On top of that, when I imagine a Space Marine the first image that pops into my head is always a red one; red is fun to paint, too, and their accent colors — black and gold, mainly — make for a great combo. And the Blood Angels have rad elite units with quite different color schemes for variety: the Sanguinary Guard, golden veterans with angel wings, each wearing a death mask in the image of the previous wearer; and Death Company, black with white and red accents, who are all in the grip of the Black Rage.
When I unpacked all these glorious boxes to check out the plastic within, I was also thrilled and relieved to find a comprehensive Blood Angels transfer sheet in the Dreadnought box. I’d heard these weren’t included in sets anymore, and figured I’d have to raid Ebay so my squads could have accurate markings.
Of my starting units, I think only the vanilla Space Marines need these; the rest have their own transfers or are too blinged out to have room for them (cough cough Terminators).
Squint and imagine my next 12 months of painting
Before ordering my sets I downloaded BattleScribe and used it to play around with various Blood Angels options. The four sets I picked can be configured different ways, but generally shake out to around 500-600 points of models.
As a starting point, half of a 1,000-point army sounded perfect. It’s a manageable amount of painting — 15 human-size figures, 1 Dreadnought, 1 tank — and when I add my next planned purchases I come out right around a thousand points. The Dreadnought and the tank intimidate me as a painter, but that’s healthy too — that’s how I grow.
I’m going solely by Rule of Cool, buying models I love so I can paint them. On that basis my next additions will likely be Commander Dante, a Death Company squad, and a Sanguinary Guard squad. At that point I’ll need one more 5-person squad of troops to have a Battalion, or I could split them up into Vanguard + Patrol instead and have a complete army (again: probably not optimal for play in any way!).
Theme-wise, right now I’m going with “faceless,” which might turn into a name for one of the squads or something — but all it means is everyone wears a helmet. I don’t especially enjoy painting faces, although that will probably change; I love painting helmets; and it’s a fun filter to apply to what’s frankly a staggering range of options.
I’m over the moon with excitement — I can’t wait to paint these minis!
For the Emperor and Sanguinius! Death! DEATH!