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The Sauroters

Sauroters Capter Symbol
The Vergina Sun

Having gotten back into the hobby in 2014, after a break of twenty years, I have decided to try and produce something a bit ambitious. My goal is to create an original Space Marine Chapter including fluff.

There is more than one way to enjoy this hobby: reading the fluff, playing the game and the painting and modelling. Of these I am probably least interested in playing the game although, that may change once I have painted an army. That said, I still want to create a balanced (yet fluffy) list. I am particularly keen on creating something that is as WYSIWYG as possible.

My initial idea was to create something based on the Greek Hoplites. This is by no means an original idea but I do like the aesthetic so reason enough. I chose the Vergina Sun as the Chapter symbol. It’s associated with Ancient Greek culture, but as I subsequently discovered, has had some unfortunate connotations in modern day Europe. I hope the choice is not in poor taste.

I am going to try and post weekly. I hope that this schedule will motivate me as well as be a record of my progress. I anticipate this project taking a year. I’m pretty sure 12 year old me would think I was awesome, which is nice because I’m fairly unimpressive in general.

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Fluff

My original goal was to create a homebrew Space Marine Chapter with fluff. When I first got into the hobby in the early nineties I regulalry bought White Dwarf. I used to borrow back issues from friends and I really enjoyed the short stories in the older White Dwarfs. The stories made the worlds of fantasy and 40k so much richer.

Getting back into the hobby I have enjoyed revisiting these stories. I am glad to see GW producing more of this material through media like MalignPortents.com. There is also lots of third party stuff too. I particulalry enjoy the style of ExProfundis.com. It’s super GrimDark although a lot of it is Age of Sigmar. I think they refer to their style as AoS28.

It struck me that the fluff I like the best doesn’t explain everything. The ambiguities make it more interesting. There’s a real art to creating an atmosphere or eliciting an emotion in a short passage and it adds so much to what are essentially products and ExProfundis is so good at it. One of my favorite stories can be read here.

I wrote the fluff for the Sauroters quite early into the project. I have returned to it several times to edit. It’s not perfect by any means but I’m quite pleased with it. If you want, you can read it by clicking on the pages at the top of the site. I will also include all of it below for convenience:

 

Home World
Thalassa is an Ocean World in the Ultima Segmentum. Originally a Forge World during the Dark Age of the Imperium, a catastrophic accident caused a rapid, uncontrollable rise in sea levels. The unfortunate population either took to the waves in ramshackle craft or kickstarted a sudden explosion in marine life, heralding the geological development of a planet size ocean.

Rediscovered during the Great Crusade, Thalassa’s drastically reduced population had developed a trade based society centered around huge city-state flotillas. Their once high tech society reduced to seasonal migration and intermittent warfare. Eventually Thalassa became the homeworld of the Sauroters Chapter whose fortress monastery occupies the only land mass on the planet.

Located on the equator, Halia is the summit of a vast mountain, the bulk of which is underwater. The Sauroters maintain a fortress monastery there where aspirants may present themselves, having first solo-circumnavigated the planet as proof of their worthiness. Those not claimed by the dwellers of the deep oceans, nor driven mad by the unrelenting sun, are ready to begin their transformation into an Astartes.

As the Imperial Truth gave way to the Imperial Cult, so  too did the Thalassan’s interregnum sun worship come to be replaced with an unwavering belief in the Emperor of Mankind. Represented now by the Vergina Sun. Symbol of the Sauroters Chapter and holy Terra’s ancient Agean past.

 

Recruitment
Life on the great city-state flotillas of Thalassa is spartan indeed. Free divers are able to reach the very tips of the submerged hive spires of old Thalassa but risk the ruptured eye balls and crippled lungs of the bends. Even more terrifying are the flora and fauna of the upper oceans, evolved to confuse and ensnare. To consume and absorb. Yet, no other source of metal exists.

Occasionally some titan of the deep ocean, swollen with the pestilent gases of decomposition will breach the surface. It’s chitinous spines and bloated poison sacks replenishing stocks of wargear—fueling raids against rival flotilla. Food, metal, mates and slaves. Of these, slaves are the most valuable. Both as a means of propulsion and in the lean times survival.

Observing all, the Apothecaries and Chaplains of the Sauroters, select the most resourceful and ruthless. Communicating via signs and portents, Chapter Serfs posing as Oracles are instructed to deliver these young men as tribute to the deities of Halia; sole land mass on Thalassa and undoubted seat of God.

Setting foot on dry land for the first time, Aspirants climb the mountain to the temple atop the highest point on Halia. There the inscriptions on the pillars of the temple describe the ordeal ahead. Alone, in an open boat, an Aspirant must circumnavigate the planet. Equipped only with a smooth handled adze of polished wood and bronxe and a carvel built boat fashioned from the sacred trees of the temple precincts.

Hollowed by hunger, desiccated by thirst, disfigured by the sun. Upon return, taken down into the vast complex below the holy mountain. Transformed physically by the Apothecarium; spiritually by the Reclusiam. Neophytes emerge blinking in the sunlight once more. To begin the often lethal process of becoming a full Battle Brother of the Sauroters Chapter.

Chapter History
26th Founding

  The Sauroters is a Loyalist Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter of Space Marines created in 738.M41 during the 26th Founding. Sauroter means ‘lizard-killer’. The name comes from the Dory used by the ancient Greek Hoplites. The sauroter was the counterweight at the base of the spear, used to deliver the coup de grâce to fallen enemies. An Ultramarines successor chapter, the Sauroters act as an ouragos to their brother chapters the Mentors and the Storm Giants. The Sauroters specialize  in counter-insurgency and asymmetric warfare.

The Four-Armed Emporer
Since the destruction of the Trysst Dynasty on Ghosar Quintus in 680.M41 genestealer infestations have grown in number beyond even the ability of the Deathwatch to contain. This paradigm shift from growing threat to ongoing state of emergency necessitated a permanent countermeasure. Created by secret edict of the High Lords of Terra, under cover of the 26th Founding, the Sauroters are a tacit admission of the shadow at the heart of the Ultima Segmentum.

Notable Campaigns
  Faith in Father (741.M41) As Hive Fleet Behemoth began it’s invasion of the Eastern Galaxy, heralds in the guise of genestealer cults professing ‘Faith in Father’ sprang up across the Ultima Segmentum. Endangering the production of the means to wage war againt the invading Tyranids. The High Lords of Terra tasked the Sauroters with a series of covert urban clearences of the administravtive centers of affected mining worlds.
Vae Victus (88.M42) In the aftermath of the Noctis Aeterna, the Sauroters undertook several major actions against a previoulsy unknown Word Bearers warband. Liberating worlds in the process and carriying out Exterminatus actions to ensure they remained free of the taint of Chaos. Although unable to bring the enemy to a decsisive battle, after attacks on eight worlds the warband seems to have ceased hostilities leaving the Sauroters to claim a phyrric vistory.

Drop Pod

DROPPOD

Drop pods are deceptively large models and it took quite some time to get this model ready for priming. The digital camo scheme was done with styencils from Anarchy Models. There is a good tutorial on Beasts of War which can be seen here.

I have an urban theme for the bases of my Sauroters army but I didn’t want to do a grey digital camo. I wanted something a bit more mediterranian so I went with Tamiya Olive Drab (TS-28) and Tamiya Wooden Deck Tan (TS-68). The light green is Highlight Russian Tank Crew II (70.330), which is also the highlight color for Sauroter power armour.

I contacted Anarchy Models to ask if I could use rattlecans with their stencils. They recommended car primers rather than the Tamiya line. This is because the Tamiya cans have quite a heavy flow. You tend to get a ridge building up at the edge of layers. I didn’t mind that but if you were doing a lot of weathering it might be a problem.

The doors were a little tricky to fit. Three fit fine, one is almost perfect and one is a bit reluctant to fully close. I can live with it. I think I could have gotten a better fit if I have assembled it before painting but that would have made the painting process really difficult.

I enjoyed assembling and painting this kit a lot more than I though I would. In fact, I’d really like to do a Dreadclaw. Maybe in a future project. Incidentally this is the first model I’ve posted in a hobby Facebook group. The post can be seen here

Troops Completed

Originally I had intended to post every week. The idea was to use the blog to keep motivated for the project. As I got into the habit of painting that motivation became intrinsic. Hence no posts for the past four months. There was a lot of painting though.

I have completed all of the troops for my battle-demi company. Just in time for 8th Edition to do away with formations. Nevermind, I’m not bothered about that. I now have all the troops I’ll ever need for a Sauroters Space Marine army:

  • Three tactical squads with magnetized special weapons options
  • One tactical squad with magnetized special weapons and a missile launcher
  • One five man Command Squad with three grav guns a Veteran sergeant with power fist and a Chapter Champion
  • One five man Devastator Squad with magnetized heavy weapons
  • One five man Assault Squad with jump packs

I haven’t based them yet as I am waiting until I complete the 3 HQ choices, so I can do them all at once. All 58 of them. I have purchased some vehicles but I will do them as a separate project. The painting varies slightly from squad to squad but I’d say they’re all a decent tabletop quality and WYSIWYG. En mass they are pretty impressive.

Tactical Squads Assembled

After a mammoth four day session I have assembled and primed all three tactical squads. I enjoyed doing it but I am also glad it’s over. After all this cutting, sanding and gluing I am really keen to get back to painting. As I mentioned in an earlier post I am modeling the sergeants and specialists with a single weapon option. Chainsword and plasma pistol and  plasma gun respectively. They are intended to be WYSIWYG.

That said, the MKIII marines were modeled with chainswords. This is because the Burning of Prospero sprus come with 10, so I thought I’d use them. The marines are all equipped with a combat blade (or sword), grenades and ammo pouches.This makes them quite bulky but I would expect them to be heavily equipped. This also fits my counter insurgency theme.

After looking at them for a while I decided I didn’t like the chainswords on the MKIII marines. They were too big and awkwardly mounted. What really finished it for me though, was the handles. They are modeled with a kind of tab which is how they attach to the belts. Mounted behind the shoulder these tabs had nothing to attach to and would have looked weird when painted.

I wanted to keep the theme of combat blades consistent so I went back to my first squad of tactical marines and removed the 3D printed kopis. A couple broke during the process but that can’t be helped. They actually fit quite well on the the MKIII armor, so no filing was required.

The MKIV and MKVII marines have more conventional combat blades. There is an issue with fit though. I wanted the blades to be mounted behing the shoulder. They don’t fit. Particularly in the case of the MKIV blades. So, I had to file down the back of the torso with a square file to make space. I also had to position the handles to take advantage of the gap in the backpacks between the main unit and the exhaust.

The poses are fairly static due to all the extra bits like pouches limiting articulation. But I like how they look as a group. The MKIII marines look particularly brutal. The most difficult part of assembly was fitting the two parts of the MKIII backpack. It’s difficult not the leave a gap or inadvertently cut into the model while cleaning.

The models are preshaded with Tamiya Dark Grey and then a zentithal layer of Tamiya Light Grey undercoat. I really do think preshading makes a big difference if you can keep your paint layers really thin. The next step will be basecoating. That will be an even bigger job than assembling and priming.

Change of Plan

Having finished assembling, magnetizing and priming the Assault Squad I have decided to change the plan. Specifically magnetization. The process is really time consuming but it’s the results that are the problem. With the Assault Squad Sargent I avoided the need for multiple arms by magnetizing at the wrist. However, after letting it sit on my workbench for a while I’ve decided I don’t like it.

I think I’d prefer to have models modeled in one way. In the case of Sargents, chainsword and plasma pistol. In the case of special weapons guys, plasma guns. I’m simply going to make it a theme. The Assault Squad will have no special weapons. This will cut down on the amount of painting I’ll need to do and let me concentrate on results instead.

I have also stripped and reprimed the Chaplin and Apothecary models I had previously painted. I think I can achieve a better result if I try again. I also want to try sealing models with gloss varnish after establishing the base colors and before adding washes. If I’m going to do this I want to keep the process consistent across all the models.

Vallejo Plastic Putty

I bought a box of assault marines from an ebay seller. The kit is fine, but really showing its age in terms of finish. Compared to the new Space Marine Tactical Squad set the details are a lot less defined. Particularly the legs, where the knee pads meet the thigh armour. This is not a complaint so much as an observation. I still like the kit.

However, the jump packs really do have big gaps. I didn’t take any pictures while I was assembling mine. It’s a bit of a bother to set everything up. But, here is a good example:

jump-pack
Image from ChestofColors.com

This picture comes from an excellent OSL tutorial from ChestofColors.com, which can be read here. You can see the gaps quite clearly. You can also see how inaccessible those parts of the model are. When I painted my Chaplain, I tried to sand the seams smooth. It didn’t work very well and I was unsatisfied with the results.

I have some green stuff but I’ve never used it before and it seems like an unsuitable application for it. I did some research on filling gaps and decided on Vallejo Plastic Putty. It’s water soluble so it won’t wreck your brushes and can apparently be colored with paint. It comes in a dropper bottle or tube. I bought the latter.

I found it really easy to use. I simply applied it into gaps with a paintbrush and used a damp cotton bud to remove the excess. I then sanded the surface with sanding sticks, then some really fine grit sandpaper and finally burnished it with my nail. I find a soft bristled toothbrush helps polish the surface too. Here are the results:

[photo]

It’s impossible to tell how smooth the surface is until it’s been primed. Grey primer really seems to show any imperfections up. That said, I’m very pleased with the results. I was able to fill even the tiny gaps inside the thrusters. The putty sanded well and didn’t seem to shrink much as it dried. I’m not sure if that would be the case with bigger gaps though. I guess green stuff might be a better alternative in that case.

The only niggle was on the underside of the Jump Pack, in the middle, under the vent. I was able to apply the putty just fine, to what was a pretty sizeable gap. But I found it very difficult to sand or scrape away the excess. If I had some of the cotton bubs that end in a hard point that might have worked better.

I won’t be magnetizing the jump packs. I don’t see much point in Assault Marines unless they have them. Eventually, I may decide to upgrade to a Space Marine Bike Squad. I really like the models and they seem like they’d be a solid choice in a game.

The Plan

hi001693955.jpg
Another missing Primarch?

So, having completed forty models and various parts I am no closer to my goal of a full battle demi company. This is due to the fact that thirty of the the forty are Ultramarines and the 10 Sauroters are not quite up to the standard I want. That said, I have learned how to assemble, model, convert and paint to a standard I am satisfied with so I’m now ready to tackle the project. So I’ve made a plan.

The first step was to buy the models I need. From ebay sellers I purchased four tactical squads. Two Betrayal at Calth sprues, one Burning of Prospero sprues and a MKVII sprue. I also bought an Assualt Squad sprue. That gives me enough models for 3 10-man tactical squads, 2 5-man Devastator Squads, 1 Assault Squad and a 5-man Command Squad. The Command Squad was put together by kitbashing leftovers from the sprues plus 5 sets of legs from my original Ultramarines Devastators.

The next step is to clip all of the parts off the sprues and group them into individual sets. As I have mentioned before, I want to be as WYSIWYG as possible. So, I will also need to supplement the sprues with parts from my bits box. The goal is to have a small baggy for each model containing each of the bits required to build it. For models like sergeants, this will include all of the weapons options. The leftover bits will go into my bits box.

Next I’ll need to clean up all the parts. I have heard several people mention how good the GW seam scraper is. I can use a knife just fine but it is a little dangerous and there is always the possibility of cutting into the miniature so I might get one. I am also going to get some Vallejo plastic putty for gap filling, particularly on the jump packs.

After that comes the modelling. I like to use sub-assemblies so I won’t be fully assembling my miniatures. I’ll be leaving the backpacks, helmets and arms carrying weapons of the bodies. These will be mounted on skewers for undercoating. I’ll also need to do the magnetization at this stage. Arms for the sergeants and hands for the special weapons guys. I’ll also be drilling all the barrels on all the weapons.

Everything will be primed with a Tamiya undercoat. I am planning to preshade the miniatures by first priming from below in black and then from above in grey. If I can keep subsequent layers thin, I should be able to achieve a decent look. Preshading is subtle but really does add something to the finished product if subcequent layers are thin.

Painting will be done in batches. I have noticed that I tend to get frustrated and sloppy if I paint for too long. What should be a hobby becomes a chore. My satisfaction really depends on a good result so I will be painting in small batches of 5 for miniatures and 10 for sub-assemblies. I am going to limit myself to one batch per session and concentrate on getting the best result possible.

The final step will be basing the models. As I mentioned in a previous post I’ll be using a base stamp and green stuff for basing. With the assault marines I’m planning to use transparent acrylic bases with black painted rims. I haven’t decided what color to paint the rims of the plastic bases but it will probably be black or grey. Everything will then be varnished with two coats of Tamiya Flat Clear.