My Leagues of Votann army box arrived today, so as is traditional I built my first unit: Yrsá the Unexpected, Theyn of Yrsá’s Boars, a squad of Trans-Hyperian Alliance Hearthkyn Warriors.
Like most Hearthkyn Warriors, Yrsá is a citizen-soldier — a miner, in her case. Yrsá is stubborn, tackles problems head-on, and is ferociously devoted to the Ancestors. Yrsá wields a Bolt Revolver and a Concussion Gauntlet. I sculpted (and I’m using that term extremely loosely) two crystals out of bits of sprue to go with my “alien moon” basing concept; those are visible in the foreground.
Her chosen name, “the Unexpected,” was in this case bestowed by her comrades in arms (rather than chosen by her) as a mark of respect. She has a knack for succeeding where others have failed, and for turning up where she’s least expected — which serves her equally well in mining and war. (It’s also a nod to how surprised I was when GW announced they were bringing back space dwarves.)
The codex calls out the largely ad-hoc nature of Kin fighting forces, so having Yrsá’s squad of Hearthkyn be nicknamed “Yrsá’s Boars” feels right to me. I’ve got nine more Hearthkyn to build for Yrsá’s Boars, but I’ll probably read some more of the codex before going much further.
As a dedicated, lifelong fan of dwarves of all stripes, I’m a happy camper — this is such a cool faction!
Lo, the fated day has arrived: The Leagues of Votann army box is finally available! Once I had my preorder in, I started considering paint schemes in earnest.
As soon as I saw the Trans-Hyperian Alliance color scheme — orange Void Suits with accents, grey clothing, tan soft goods — a few days ago, I was 99% sure that I’d be making a THA army. Orange is one of my favorite colors (the other is purple), and I haven’t painted an orange army yet — not to mention it’s a pretty uncommon 40k color, until now. On top of that I like the lore for the THA (adventurers and explorers, sort of a nomadic League) and this scheme is the “NASA-punk” concept that originally piqued my interest when folks on Reddit first suggested it.
Favorite fantasy/SF species + favorite color + perfect colors for a blue-collar spacesuit aesthetic = rad. And if the allure of making a custom League is too strong, I’ll just make my Kin a THA-affiliated League and tweak some element of the core THA paint scheme to reflect that.
There are already two great WHTV videos for the THA, one apiece for battle-ready and parade-ready, and they use an Armageddon Dunes (tan) base — which looks awesome.
But my Deathskulls Orks are on tan bases, and for some reason I just like putting my armies on different bases. Grey moon dust would pop against orange, but my Blood Angels are on grey bases. Someone on Reddit mentioned purple-tinged grey — sort an eerie moon dust color — and I liked that idea, so I decided to split the difference.
Here’s my first test base, a 50/50 because I didn’t feel like making two of them. (I really should have divided each rock like I did with the ground, but meh.)
One half is Astrogranite Debris > Druchii Violet > Genestealer Purple drybrush
The other half is Armageddon Dust > Reikland Fleshshade > Ushabti Bone drybrush
The small rock is Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia (I stopped when I saw this test wasn’t going to work out)
Large rock is Eshin Grey > Nuln Oil (ditto stopping here)
That tan recipe isn’t the one in the WHTV video (which uses the more logical Agrax Earthshade as its shade), and it isn’t the one I use for my Deathskulls (which uses Agrax and Tyrant Skull). I guess I could also differentiate the tan from my Orks by using Dunes instead of Dust, or the grey from my Angels by using “plain” Astrogranite instead of Debris.
But at the moment it’s a moot point, because this is a failure on both halves. My tweak to the tan is neither interesting nor distinct enough from my Deathskulls’ bases, and the purple is kind of neat but looks like insulation foam or some truly alien world — and nothing like eerie purple-tinged moon dust.
I think where I went astray on the purple half was using a purple wash. I’m pretty sure I’ve never tried Druchii Violet before, and it’s a serious purple. But based on what’s opposite orange on the color wheel — blue and purple — I still like this direction.
My Blood Angels’ bases are Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade > Grey Seer drybrush, and maybe just changing that final layer will do it. Here’s test number two with four possible drybrush colors. Starting at 12:00 and working clockwise, it’s in quarters: Fenrisian Grey, Russ Grey, Calgar Blue, and Baharroth Blue.
I like all four options. They get steadily more distinct from my Blood Angels’ bases. Side by side, Fenrisian Grey isn’t different enough, but the other three are. Baharroth is a bit much, and Calgar might be a bit too little.
How about Calgar Blue with a follow-up Baharroth Blue drybrush, just kissing the high points, and a Russ Grey base rim?
That’s the one! It doesn’t scream blue, but in person it’s distinct from my much greyer Blood Angels bases — and the blue-grey base rim seals the deal. It’s also dark and fairly subtle, so it should provide a nice contrast with the vibrant orange of the Void Suits.
Orange Void Suits
I’ll probably test out two orange armor recipes a bit later on, as the GW color guide uses Fuegan Orange as its wash while the WHTV videos use the new Magmadroth Orange contrast paint as a wash. It seems like they’d look pretty similar, but you never know.
I spent a couple happy hours yesterday tidying and reorganizing my workspace so I’d be ready for the incoming LoV box. Clearing out a good chunk of my RPG collection has freed up plenty of shelf space, so I’m putting it to good use for more minis storage and display.
I can’t wait to see what the Kin look like in person!
I never thought I’d hold a box of 40k Squats again!
Squats were my first 40k army back in the mid-1990s, although I had an “army” of maybe 1-2 squads and 40k didn’t really click for Past Martin. When I got back into the game, and really became a miniature painter, in 2020, Squats hadn’t been a 40k army in many, many moons.
Now they’re the Leagues of Votann, and called Kin rather than Squats (except when they’re not, I guess, since these are Ironhead Squat Prospectors?), with awesome lore, a more serious treatment, and an updated look — which someone on RPGnet described as “practical blue-collar sci-fi,” and dang but that’s a perfect description.
I don’t play Necromunda (yet…), but my plan is to buy every model GW puts out for the Leagues — and either 1) start playing Necromunda, which I should be able to do with the terrain I have for KT and 40k, or 2) kitbash or otherwise use these models, or bits therefrom, in a 40k Kin army, Kill Team, or both.
I haven’t finished a miniature since May 20, 2021, when I wrapped up Stikkit and Skraggit for my Deathskulls army. Almost a year!
I’ve done “miniature stuff” since then, including assembling, priming, base-coating, and basing a 2,000-point Adeptus Custodes army, and made it about 80% of the way through my first squad. But pootling about isn’t the same as finishing models.
A big part of that comes down to losing a major motivator: In the two years since I started painting 40k minis, I still haven’t actually played the game. I could be playing it, pandemic notwithstanding, but I’d be simultaneously trying to learn the game, play the game, and make friends, all while wearing a mask for 2-3 hours. Maybe that’s what I should be doing, but my gut says I want my first 40k game in 20+ years to be played unmasked, which means waiting until I feel comfortable doing that.
So I’m trying something else.
I’ve got a few days off, and I’m going to ease back into things by working on a Tyranid Kill Team: 5 Genestealers and 3 Warriors (the latter of which hasn’t arrived yet).
Me being me, I picked Tyranids half on a whim and half because I’ve loved Genestealers for 30+ years; I have a tentative paint and basing scheme in mind; and I’ve spent a few hours finding a Hive Fleet name that feels right — one that sounds like it came straight from, say, an Eisenhorn novel: Hive Fleet Balaur.
The typical canon Hive Fleet is named after a mythological beast, a practice I love, and a balaur — pronounced like the “ba” in “bad” plus the word “our” with an L in front of it, “ba-lowr” — is a multi-headed dragon from Romanian folklore. They’re also associated with weather, and both metaphors, the multi-headed serpent and a force as inevitable as weather, feel particularly apt for Tyranids.
And, to the best of my searching abilities, it’s almost unique. I can find just one reference to someone else working on a Hive Fleet Balaur, from an abandoned forum thread in 2011. Given the relative paucity of names of mythological creatures which feel right to me for a Hive Fleet and which haven’t already been used in canon or widely used online, this is probably as close as I’m going to get to a unique name.
The mists of time
Funnily enough, the first game of 40k I ever played, back in the early 1990s, pitted my Squats against my then-girlfriend’s (now ex-wife’s) Tyranids. For a myriad of reasons, my poor Squats didn’t stand a chance.
So while I wait for Squats to return — and they are, as the just-announced Leagues of Votann! — it seems fitting to come full circle and give Tyranids a whirl.
Like every other GW faction I’ve explored, Tyranids are more interesting than they seemed at first glance. The longer I look at these ravenous space-bugs, as pure as the Xenomorph from Alien, the more I like them. They’ll also be a pleasant counterpoint to what I’ve painted so far — humanoids in armor, humanoids in fancier armor, and green humanoids with lots of teef. Maybe I’ll bring drybrushing back into the foreground, or take another run at glazing (for their claws and bony swords and whatnot), or trying feathering or stippling my carapaces.
But for now, at least, they’re just two things: a fun, simple way to try and jumpstart my miniature-painting engine again, and my first foray into Kill Team. I’d originally planned to use my boards, terrain, and a subset of my 40k armies for Kill Team, but the new edition of KT makes me want to branch out and explore small forces I haven’t painted for 40k.
Eight rad minis (with 32 arms between them!) is a quantity I could paint in 2-4 weeks if I set my mind to it. I’m tucking into my Genestealers tonight, so that makes April 8 my official start date for Hive Fleet Balaur. Time to get snipping!
 I knew this would happen eventually, which is why I write down all my half-baked ideas, half-assed plans, and color guides.
 Which, of course, doesn’t matter at all — except that it makes me happy to feel like I’m carving out my little corner of the 40k universe.
 I suspect I will be all in for the Leagues of Votann. I’ve wanted to paint a Squat army for years, and if they’d been an active faction when I started up again I likely would have gone with them. I’ve told my wallet to start practicing weeping uncontrollably now so that it will be ready for preorder day.
 Like 8th Edition, which I bought into when I started painting, I picked up the previous edition of Kill Team as well. Both games changed editions before I got a chance to play them — in the case of 40k, that change also prompted some midstream rejiggering of at least one army. But as pandemic-related complaints go? That one is beyond minor.