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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fitting an Old Peg into a New Hole

Well, another few weeks have elapsed and I have once again failed to deliver an update.  So, let's remedy that, yes?

A few entries back I had mentioned some Kroot that were a part of my Praetorian force and I'd like to talk about them a bit to segue into my main topic for this entry which is making use of old models to represent elements of newer army lists.

My Kroot are another "counts as" (love that option!) addition to my army that fills the slot of Penal Legion troopers.  For those unfamiliar with the Imperial Guard codex, Penal Legion fighters are a Troops slot choice which represent incarcerated Guardsmen who are forced to fight on the front lines.  It is a neat concept, and seeing as there are no official "Penal Legion" miniatures currently produced by GW, there are some extremely creative kit bashes floating around the internet.  It seems some of the more common conversions involve using Cadian and Catchan parts with some Warhammer Fantasy Flagellants bits.  While those make for effective representations of dirty, lunatic fighters, I wanted to have my penal legionnaires stand out a bit and be as unconventional as the rest of my army (which is a beautiful and unique snow flake in my eyes).

So, I began to think that captured Xenos might make a compelling band of prisoner warriors.  Due to the background of the Praetorians I immediately thought about adding captured Orks to my force but for one reason or another that just didn't seem like the right fit.  When digging around GW's catalog of figures I stumbled upon Kroot which instantly appealed to me.  The Kroot miniatures were attired in simple scraps of cloth and armor which helped with the hodge-podge look I imagined penal legionnaires to have, plus they had primitive looking weapons that actually looked similar to what the penal legion is outfitted with in the Guard codex (lasguns).  And best of all, Kroot were currently available for purchase and not another OOP item that I'd have to track down on eBay. 'Sold!' said I, and bought myself a box of Kroot.

Now, I didn't think that simple chains would be an effective form of bondage for a badass Kroot warrior. Nothing against my noble Praetorians, but they are dwarfed compared to the lithe, muscular bodies of the Kroot (at least in miniature form), so chains just didn't seem like a plausible deterrent for misbehavior.  Also, chains lacked the appropriate grim-darkiness of the bleak 40k setting.  Then a fit of inspiration hit me as I remembered a horrible B-movie a family friend had been an extra in called Wedlock.  In that movie criminals are bound with explosive collars around their necks that explode if they...well it doesn't matter. Explosive collars are what matter, and I thought that would be the perfect thing to keep a bunch of cunning Xenos in line.

So, Kroot with explosive collars were born!

As you can see in the photo, the collars have two lights on them, green which means the collars are active and in "safe" mode, and red which means an infraction occurred and Mr. Kroot is in for a free decapitation courtesy of the Imperium of Man.

Now, one of the key components of the penal legion is the overseer, which acts as the unit leader in game terms, and in fluff terms is the whip-cracking asshole who herds the doomed legionnaires to their deaths.  Of course I needed to use a Praetorian figure for this role but most of the range isn't really suited to represent that particular combat role.  Which brings me to the whole point of this posting, using old figures in new ways.

While the Praetorian range that came out in 1997-98 didn't have penal legion models, or specifically an overseer, they did have a Mortar operator that was standing around holding a lasgun and a remote control. 

Photo Courtesy of Col. Gravis
I felt that the remote control fit perfectly with the explosive collars.  If a Kroot got out of line, or refused to fight, the overseer keyed in the frequency for that collar and boom goes the dynamite. This was a straight forward substitution of a figure designed for one purpose (mortar operator) plugged into a new role (penal legion overseer).

Unfortunately, I have used both Mortar Team crewmen in other conversions, namely artillery crews, so I wanted to spice up the overseer a bit to make him still stand out.  A little green stuff coat courtesy of Drew Olds at Garden Ninja Painting and I was in business.

So, never overlook an old figure to fill the gaps in a contemporary army. So many of the older, out of print models have details on them that may lend themselves to telling a story that is appropriate for whatever project you are working on. In this army alone I have used Rogue Trader models for my Rough Riders and  my Sanctioned Psyker overseer.  I also have older models in my Dark Eldar force.  Consider it going green for modeling, recycling something old into something new with a bit of putty and paint.  It is a lot of fun and helps justify having drawers full of miniatures gathering dust in the garage.  Right?  ;)

Next time I'll discuss adding some gender equality to my army and go over the female figures that make up a small portion of the Praetorian 77th.

Thanks as always for reading and if you have some cool conversions or have made use of older figures in your current armies please add a comment below and share your experiences.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Infernal Super Heavies!

This update is long over due. My apologies but life has been busy and I just haven't had a chance to throw up a proper entry. So, to make amends I will have an image heavy posting posting with a regular show case article and then a special "extra" at the end of the entry. 

I would like to further preface this post with a welcome to my first two followers! Thanks to The Hon. Lord Gordon, and thePhoenixThree for keeping tabs on this blog. Hopefully you two continue to find interesting content here.

So, what could be so infernal about super heavy tanks? Nothing. Super Heavy tanks are just damn cool. I suppose they suck if you are on the receiving end of their game contributions (especially if you don't have something equally as big to return fire) but as a guy who loves the Imperial Guard for its tanks, having over-sized tanks in my collection is like having a paid vacation--it makes a great thing that much cooler.  If there was one complaint I could lay at the feet of Super Heavy tanks it would be that they aren't allowed in regular games of 40k.  While I understand the reasons why these monstrous vehicles are not used in standard games it feels wrong to leave the vehicles in their carrying cases every time I play. That small complaint not withstanding, I loves me some big tanks and have tried to add them to my army whenever possible. 

Earlier this year when Forge World released sneak previews of the Malcador Infernus flame tank I about jumped out of my seat. Literally. I was riding on a shuttle from the employee parking lot over to my place of work and I did an excited hop in my seat.  Dirty stares from my co-workers aside, I knew that I needed to include the Infernus in my Praetorian guard not only for the tank's aesthetic (which is both ridiculous and terrifying) but because the Infernus fit the growing theme of fire that was developing with my army.  The Infernus, when purchased, would be my third Super Heavy tank and on the two previous tanks I used the theme of Sekhmet and flame.  Sekhmet is an ancient Egyptian lion-headed goddess who was a goddess of war and the sun. Since the Praetorians use a lion-headed emblem on their banners I thought Sekhmet was a great symbol for the army.

The first Super Heavy was a Stormlord tank. Imagining the great gout of flame unleashed from gatling bolters on the tank I named the tank Breath of Sekhmet. 

The next tank, a Shadowsword titan-killer, is named Fang of Sekhmet for the penetrating nature of the tank's volcano cannon.

So, for this third tank I wanted to maintain the Sekhmet theme for my Super Heavies and since the Infernus is a flame tank I thought it appropriate to name the vehicle The Bellows of Sekhmet.

I have yet to use The Bellows in a game, but I love the idea of placing the Apocalypse Hellstorm flame template up to 18 inches away from the model and burning multiple squads of troops. My regular opponent plays a Sons of Malice Chaos Space Marine army that uses tons of enslaved lesser demons and I get giddy thinking about lining up a shot on his 20-man demon squads.
The tank has two sponson-mounted Lascannons and a turret mounted heavy stubber. I like the addition of the lascannons which would allow the tank to hit harder targets as it closes in on softer infantry units. I have no illusions that this tank will last long on a game table, especially with its penchant for spectacular explosions if it suffers a penetrating hit. Regardless of how it actually will perform in a game the model is cool, and it will create neat stories when it is used.
The fuel cart behind the tank is magnetized. I did this both for ease of game play and for storage. I use Army Transport bags and I knew the tank would be too long for a standard foam tray if it had the fuel cart rigidly glued behind the tank.

As usual, the Infernus (and the other Super Heavies) were painted by Drew at Garden Ninja Studios and I think he did a wonderful job (bias noted).  I have a fourth tank waiting to be painted later this fall. It will be a Valdor Super Heavy tank which shares the same chassis as the Malcador but mounts a giant laser instead of a flame thrower. I haven't begun thinking of a Sekhmet themed name for that one yet, so if anyone wants to throw out suggests please post below.

It is sad that I do not get to play in very many Apocalypse games (read: none). My friend and I played an illegal standard 40k game so that I could test out my Armorcast Warhound Titan, but that was a 1500 point game and did not utilize the strategems or other special rules normally associated with Apocalypse. I am slowly helping my Chaos friend build up his army so we can move up from 2000 point games and give the big toys some play time on a regular basis.


Two months back I had a free afternoon and decided to snap a photo of my Praetorians in the interest of making a new blog entry. Well, the blog entry never manifested, but I did get some fun photos. It took well over an hour to unpack the army and about as long to put it away.  Unseen in these photos is my Warhound Titan which just could not fit on the game table. I am not entirely happy with the composition of the army and when I do another army photo I plan on arranging the troops in block formations. Still, this one gives a great impression of the army as it stands thus far.

This is the fruit of over two years of collecting. If you'll note the color consistency is spot on, with the exception of the Destroyer Tank Hunter (3rd picture) which I asked Drew to paint in a faded color scheme to represent the tank's fluff which describes those tanks as ancient revered relics.  With the superstitious nature of the Imperium I thought the Destroyer might be maintenanced well, but left otherwise unmolested out of fear of upsetting the temperamental machine spirit.   

You'll also note how much smaller the Infernus is from the Bane Blade chassis tanks (1st picture).  I am also woefully lacking in Chimera transports and need to eventually get four or five more to transport my regular infantry squads. Since I tend to "blob" up on my troops I haven't needed Chimeras.

Well, that is it. Thanks again for reading and I promise to post more frequently now that the summer is winding down.

I have begun work on an Ork Blood Axes army that I am *gasp* painting myself. I hope to have some action shots of Orks fighting my Praetorians soon. Already I have an 11 man squad of Orks painted so perhaps some of those battle scenes will be coming sooner rather than later.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Counts As" Continued

As with my last posting I wanted to share images of my ever growing list of "counts as" models present in my Praetorian army. 

From left to right we have Gunnery Sergeant Harker, an Imperial Priestess, Guardsman Marbo, and finally Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken. 

All but the priestess were converted by Drew Olds of Garden Ninja Painting while the priestess was converted from a regular Praetorian trooper by Andrew Miles who also converted my female "Creed" and "Kell" figures.

These figures are all converted with a combination of GW parts and "green stuff" putty.  Harker is carrying a Valkyrie door gunner heavy bolter, while the priestess' Evicerator chainsword was custom made by Drew Olds from GW bits. Likewise, the mechanical arm on "Iron Hand" Straken was also sculpted from scratch.  My contributions have varied as far as directing how the conversions of these figures should take effect. For Harker I had a clear idea of which Praetorian figure I wanted to use and which bits would be appropriate. In the case of Straken I left the majority of the design up to Drew because the figure required so much alteration I didn't want to step on his creative toes (so to speak).  Regardless of my level of involvement in the creation of these miniatures  I am really fond of these unique figures and thankful for people like Mr. Olds and Mr. Miles who have the talent to bring an idea to life via miniature sculpture.  Their contributions have allowed me to incorporate units into my army that I wouldn't normally be able to use due to the discontinued nature of the Praetorian range.

I am trying something new with my photos by including a desert background to make the shots seem more realistic. This is the first attempt at using such a background and while I might not use it for photographs focused on showcasing a model's paint job I do like the idea of creating "realistic" snapshots of my army for narrative purposes.

As I stated in a previous posting I have most of the characters from the Imperial Guard codex in my army. The remaining character that I was interested in adding was Sergeant Bastonne.  I really like his background story which is enough for me to want a figure of him in my army. I still haven't decided upon what direction aesthetically he should go in so for now he remains rather ephemeral.    

One last shot of the back of the priestess...I just love her wildly huge chainsword.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Praetorian Terrain Plus Promised Pictures!

I picked up some Forge World terrain a while back and decided to finally snap some pictures of the finished product.  This piece is small, about five inches long and three inches deep. It took me two days to paint it and I am happy with the final results.

Also, I put my converted "Creed" and "Kell" figures in the last photos to give a sense of scale and to make good on a promise made in my previous post for pictures of some of my converted characters.

I am in need of some proper names for the two characters, so if anyone is actually reading this and wants to contribute some name suggestions please shoot me a message or post below.  My only stipulation is that the names sound properly British, as I imagine all Praetorians have 19th century British sensibilities.

As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

List Updated!

I just had a new commission roll in from Garden Ninja Studios which required me to update my army list.
The following commission added almost 40 infantry along with conversions for Harker, Pask, Creed and Kell.  As far as conversions go I have most of the IG codex characters represented in this army. There are only a handful of characters left that require conversion work and of that small group there are a few which I may leave out of the army entirely. That is pretty exciting as I am verging on this army being "done." No doubt I will add a squad here and there or a random tank as eBay deals or new game strategies crop up, but as it stands this army is large enough with plenty of options to keep me happy.  I will follow this post with pictures of the converted figures. 

Side note: It became apparent that I am low on sergeants so I will be redoubling my efforts to track down the elusive miniatures so that I can make better use of my growing "blob" of infantry.  I may try my hand at converting the standard bearer into a sergeant, as it already has a chainsword and would only need a pistol added to make a functional sergeant figure.

Praetorian 77th:
89 Troopers
2 Lions (body guards)
1 Commissar Yarrick
1 Iron Hand Straken Conversion
1 Marbo Conversion
1 Sgt. Harker Conversion
1 Creed Conversion
1 Kell Conversion
3 LT. (2 Converted)
1 Astropath
1 Officer of the Fleet
1 Master of Ordinance
6 Sergeant (4 w/Power Weapon, 1 w/Plasma Pistol, 2 w/Chainswords)
2 Bugler
2 Standards (1 Kell Conversion)
3 Mortar Team HWT
4 Missile Launcher HWT
5 Heavy Bolter HWT
3 Lascannon HWT
4 Autocannon HWT
6 Commissar (1 female)
8 Flamer
4 Grenade Launcher
8 Melta
1 Primaris Psyker
10 Penal Legion (Kroot with Overseer)
10 Psyker Batte Squad
10 Converted Veterans (Carapace Armor/Demo Charge, 3 melta)
10 Converted Veterans (3 Plasma Guns, Demo Charge, Sgt w/powerfist)
10 Converted Veterans (2 Flamer, 1 Heavy Flamer, Shotguns, Sgt w/powerweapon)
10 Steel Legion (3 Plasma)
10 Vostroyans (3 Plasma)
1 Techpriest
2 Servitors (1 Heavy Bolter)
6 Ratlings
3 Medics
8 Rough Riders (6 lances, 2 Melta)
6 Ogryn
3 Scout Sentinel
3 Armored Sentinel
1 Chimera (FW Armored Skirts)
1 Chimera (Ogryn Transport)
1 Chimera (Psyker Transport)
1 Basilisk
1 Banewolf Hellhound variant
1 Hellhound (old)
1 Hellhound (new with multiple options)
1 Leman Russ (HB Sponsons)
1 Leman Russ (no Sponsons)
1 Exterminator (Plasma Sponsons)
1 Executioner (multiple sponsons)
1 Leman Russ Vanquisher w/Pask Conversion (hull Lascannnon)
1 Hydra (FW)
1 Manticore (FW)
1 Deathstrike Missile
1 Destroyer Tank Hunter (FW)
1 Vendetta Gunship
1 Stormlord Super Heavy Tank
1 Shadowsword Super Heavy Tank
1 Warhound Titan (Armorcast)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Roughriders.  One of my favorite entries in the Imperial Guard codex ironically has extremely limited support from Games Workshop's miniature range. The current Roughrider models available for purchase are Attilans and (personal opinion here) they look pretty shitty.

I knew that I wanted a Praetorian Roughrider unit early on as I was planning my army and understood that such a unit would require extensive conversion work due to the limited nature of the Praetorian model range. Even when the Praetorians were available for sale there were never any Roughrider models produced by Games Workshop for that particular regiment.  With the knowledge that a unit would have to be built from scratch I was given the freedom to really make something unique, so I spent a few weeks mulling over how I wanted the unit to look.

Primary among my considerations was what sort of transportation the Praetorian Roughriders would utilize.  I quickly rejected the idea of using horses.  This was partially due to the prevalence of horse mounted units already on game tables, and because there were few if any horse models that appealed to me.  Especially in the case of GW's horses which always looked small and aesthetically unpleasing.

I had seen some clever conversions using other motive systems for Roughriders, everything from ATVs to Segway-esque personal two-wheeled scooters. While all of those ideas were interesting I didn't feel that they maintained the anachronistic aesthetic of the Praetorian models. I didn't want my Roughriders to be on super-high tech devices, nor did I want the pendulum to swing to the other extreme and have my troopers riding beasts or steam-buggies. Thankfully eBay saved the day (again) and I stumbled upon some old Rogue Trader-era motorcycles that looked perfect as a means for my cavalry to get around.

I then turned to another favorite resource of mine, The Stuff of Legends online catalog of out of production miniatures and found this page. Well, my little idea wasn't so unique as GW originally had bike mounted Imperial Guardsmen listed as "Roughriders." Still, I liked the idea enough to run with it. The bikes were perfect--they were large and clunky, and had just enough mix of sci-fi and the modern to create the sort of collision of eras that the Praetorians represented for me. Plus I loved the idea that my OOP army would utilize Roughrider mounts that were from an earlier era of the game. Totally cool, and something you wouldn't easily see crop up in someone else's army.

So I had the mount taken care of, but I still had to locate enough of the bikes to get a viable Roughrider force. From my WARMACHINE days of playing the concept of a full unit meant 10 figures, so I originally set out to locate that many bikes. Unfortunately the search for the bikes proved even more difficult than my search for Praetorians, and ultimately I had to settle for 8. Now all that was left was figuring out how to get some Praetorians to fit onto the bikes.

Looking to existing Praetorian horse cavalry conversions it seemed that most people used the Attilan legs with the Praetorian Heavy Weapons Gunner torso attached at the waist. This created a rider that looked to be holding the reins of his horse close to his chest (as the gunner is position of firing a butterfly trigger).  This solution absolutely would not work for my project. Fearing I was coming to a major road block I began looking for alternatives that would not require full sculpting of Praetorian motorcycle riders. Luckily I found a person on Bartertown that sold home-brewed resin torsos for Praetorian Roughriders! Unfortunately said seller is no longer an advertiser on Bartertown so I am unable to provide links to his sales page.  However, the torsos were originally sculpted by Col. Gravis, one of the best sources of information on the Praetorian miniature range and the sculptor of many fine conversion kits for would-be Praetorian enthusiasts. Col. Gravis' blog may provide information on where those torsos can be obtained.

After locating my bikes, and finding some torsos I went to Empress Miniatures to snag some pith helmet heads. My Roughriders were coming together!  The easiest part of the project was going to be the arms and weapons as I planned on using Cadian arms and those are readily available. I was hung up on the blasting pikes that the Roughriders employ but Crocodile Games saved the day with their Egyptian-themed miniature line for Wargods of Aegyptus. Crocodile Games sells some fine weapons packs for customizing their miniatures and one of them happened to guessed it...spears!

With all of the pieces obtained after months of searching I finally had the parts necessary to construct my Roughrider unit. Of course I e-mailed Drew at Garden Ninja Painting and he was very interested in the project. A few short weeks later I received the marvelous finalized product and was blown away by his efforts merging so many diverse and disjointed miniature parts to create such wonderfully unique models.

Below are some examples of the unit that he created for me. There are 6 riders with lances and two with Melta-guns. The unit's sergeant has a plasma pistol and melta-grenades. In the two games that I have used these Roughriders they have died gloriously tying up the attentions of a Chaos LandRaider and a Chaos Demon Prince.  Still, they remain some of my favorite miniatures in my collection despite their rather lackluster performance on the game table.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lists Galore!

I love lists. From very early on I took it upon myself to track the elements contained within this army.  After almost two years I have a healthy looking list of the models available to my Imperial Guard force.

Below is a list on entries for the army giving the quantity of each element along with any necessary notes to distinguish duplicate entries, note weapon options, or designate Forge World kits.

Also of interest are the two squads of non-Praetorian Imperial Guard troops. I have a Vostroyan and Steel Legion squad in the army that act as veterans.  These additions were done partially from an army background standpoint, and partially because I liked the models.

In another posting I'll explain the Kroot Penal Legion squad. As a parting tickler I'll say that the Kroot have been converted to sport some "mind-blowing" jewelry. Bad pun I know.

Periodically I'll update this list for the blog to document the army's expansion.

  • 60 Troopers
  • 2 Lions (Counts As Body Guards)
  • 1 Commissar Yarrick (Newer Model)
  • 1 Iron Hand Straken Conversion
  • 1 Marbo Conversion
  • 3 Lieutenants (2 Converted)
  • 1 Astropath
  • 1 Officer of the Fleet
  • 1 Master of Ordinance
  • 3 Sergeant
  • 2 Bugler
  • 4 Missile Launcher HWT
  • 3 Heavy Bolter HWT
  • 3 Lascannon HWT
  • 3 Autocannon HWT
  • 6 Commissar (1 Games Day Female)
  • 4 Flamer
  • 4 Grenade Launcher
  • 8 Melta
  • 1 Primaris Psyker
  • 10 Penal Legion (9 Kroot with Praetorian Overseer)
  • 10 Psyker Batte Squad
  • 10 Converted Veterans (Carapace Armor/Demo Charge, 3 melta)
  • 10 Converted Veterans (3 Plasma Guns, Demo Charge, Sgt w/powerfist)
  • 10 Converted Veterans (2 Flamer, 1 Heavy Flamer, Shotguns, Sgt w/powerweapon)
  • 10 Steel Legion (3 Plasma)
  • 10 Vostroyans (3 Plasma)
  • 3 Medics
  • 8 Rough Riders (6 lances, 2 Melta)
  • 6 Ogryn (5 New Models, 1 Old)
  • 3 Scout Sentinel
  • 3 Armored Sentinel (Magnetized Weapon Options)
  • 1 Chimera (FW Armored Skirts)
  • 1 Chimera (Ogryn Transport)
  • 1 Chimera (Psyker Transport)
  • 1 Basilisk
  • 1 Banewolf (Multi-melta Hull Mount)
  • 1 Hellhound (Old Kit)
  • 1 Hellhound (New Kit w/ Magnetized Weapon Options)
  • 1 Leman Russ (HB Sponsons)
  • 1 Leman Russ (no Sponsons)
  • 1 Exterminator (Plasma Sponsons)
  • 1 Executioner (Multiple Sponsons)
  • 1 Hydra (Forge World)
  • 1 Manticore (Forge World)
  • 1 Deathstrike Missile
  • 1 Destroyer Tank Hunter (Forge World)
  • 1 Vendetta Gunship
  • 1 Stormlord Super Heavy Tank
  • 1 Shadowsword Super Heavy Tank
  • 1 Warhound Titan (Armorcast)

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Making Sense of Things

    This army began as an idea that I cannot quite place the genesis of.  Certainly playing a Guard army came naturally to me as it was the first army that introduced me to Warhammer 40,000, but the Praetorian variant army was rather obscure and unknown to me in my initial playing days, so why I ended up with Praetorians is beyond me.

    I was first introduced to the game in 1999 by a high school friend who would later go on to become a "red shirt" at a local GW store. My initial purchase for 40k was a bunch of metal Catachans along with a 1st edition Hellhound flame tank which I thought was awesome until my friend's Carnifex smashed it.  Aside from a few poorly glued Battletech models I did not have any background in miniature building or painting and the prospect of assembling and painting an infantry heavy army really intimidated me.  Back in high school my entire circle of friends jumped in on 40k with each of us buying a different army. Just as quickly as we got into the game we dropped it I think because none of us really had much interest in miniature gaming (we were role-players at heart). Not to mention the cost was prohibitive. RPGs are so much more friendly to  high-schoolers on an allowance. So, that was it. My first foray into 40k ended with half an army purchased, assembled, and partially painted (the Hellhound got all of my painting attention) and only played with a few times.  All in all it was not a very inspiring start to my miniature wargaming career.

    My friends and I moved away from wargaming and focused instead on role-playing which took us through the end of high school and into college where we lost some members of our group. As the circle began to shrink I branched out into other games, and as the years progressed I found myself once more staring down at a pile of miniatures all demanding glue and paint--this time the game was WARMACHINE.

    Whatever your opinion of WARMACHINE, I had a blast with it and it certainly helped ease me into the miniature wargaming world. At this stage in my life I had a bit more income to devote to my hobbies so a miniature game was not only financially feasible, but said income could also help me overcome another hurdle--painting.

    I will be the first to say that I hate painting. I know, "shame on me" and all that, but painting does not relax me in fact it has the opposite effect--making me anxious and irritable at times (Have you ever cursed at a miniature for not taking to a particular paint scheme? I have. It is embarrassing).  I realized early on that the majority of the appeal of miniature gaming for me was the aesthetics of the games.  Seeing tiny armies marching across tiny landscapes in vivid color was just so much better than any movie or video game available. But I hated painting! Worse, because I rarely practiced when I would paint my creations were less than stellar.  So, I quickly entered the world of commission painting as a customer.  I have tried quite a few of the larger painting studios over the last ten years, and even had some experience with smaller operations.  Luckily I have had very few negative experiences in terms of commissioning paintwork for my armies which has only increased my desire to patronize those crazy enough to sell their time and expertise painting my toy soldiers.

    So, money + painting studios = fully painted armies for me to enjoy pushing around felt-topped tables! After cluing into the magic of that equation I became an avid wargamer.  The major downside to utilizing a painting service for your miniatures is, of course, the money involved. Taking a hobby that is expensive and tacking on additional fees makes the entire endeavor rather foolishly pricey. I say foolish because I realize that this money would be better put to more practical purposes, but I also glean a lot of joy in my miniatures so I consider the cost to be worthwhile.  Still, as an ex-girlfriend of mine would tell you it is stupidly expensive at times.

    Anyone still reading is likely wondering what the hell any of this has to do with my Imperial Guard Praetorian army. Well, dear reader, I am getting to that. In 2009 I became dissatisfied with WARMACHINE. I will spare this blog the details, but suffice it to say that I no longer had any interest in playing the game or expanding the three armies that I regularly played with. By that time I had been wargaming pretty heavily for five years and the vacuum left by WARMACHINE was immediately felt. Like a junkie looking for his next hit I began scouring the market for miniature games to play.  Even as I write this I am not certain why I turned back to 40k. I really despised Games Workshop, and while playing with my WARMACHINE group (one member was the same guy who got me into 40k in high school) I was fed a regular diet of GW hate coming from someone who worked for the company.  I was told all of the nasty, money-grubbing tactics that GW used on new players and retailers alike. Tactics like releasing new editions of rules to invalidate old models and force new purchases, or tracking sales from independent retailers so that GW could open up a store in a growing market. If you are at all familiar with Games Workshop then you likely have heard similar stories and know that the company has a reputation among gamers that is rarely positive.

    So, it begs the question, if my actual past experience with 40k was negative, and I had bought into the mindset that GW were a bunch of jack-booted thugs who would kick down my door if I didn't paint their miniatures in a company approved color scheme, why was I considering starting 40k?

    The only answer I can come up with is that it was partially out of spite and partially out of convenience (more on that later).  As I was growing tired of playing WARMACHINE I began to lose touch with some of my regular WARMACHINE gaming buddies (for other reasons besides gaming). All of them were very hostile to GW, and so I can't help but feel that part of my move into that game was a final "fuck you" to them.  Mature right? Yeah, I know.  The other very real motivator was of course the convenience of 40k. Since GW is the big kid on the block as far as gaming goes, it is really easy to find stores and players who carry and play the game. I'd like to think that the convenience was the primary factor in my decision making but honesty demands that I acknowledge the pettiness of thumbing my nose at former friends.

    Okay, so I had found my next game. But what army was I going to play?  When I began researching the game online I quickly discovered the rancor most players had for Space Marines.  The idea behind Space Marines neither appealed or bothered me, and I can say I was fairly neutral to the army going in but I definitely didn't want to be one of a dozen Marine clone players so it was not long before I checked Space Marines off my potential list of new armies.  I genuinely wanted an army that would be unique-ish (hard to be unique in a player base as large as 40k's) and fun to play. The time line at this point is April-May of 2009 and the 5th edition Imperial Guard codex had just come out. Naturally there was a lot of chatter on the web about the codex. Since the Guard were familiar to me I began looking into them but I was unhappy with both the Cadian and Catachan ranges. Then I remembered a photo I had seen online years before of an epic (meaning grand, not the GW 15mm miniature game) game table featuring a desert scape with hundred of Orks attacking an Imperial Guard outpost. The Guard miniatures on that diorama were unusual and looked like something from 19th Century British Africa with pith helmets and bright red uniforms.  For some reason that photo resonated with me, but I could not find it online. I did some searching and eventually stumbled across the Games Day 1997 display of the Battle of Big Toof River where Orks engaged Imperial Guardsmen from the planet Praetoria. I then learned that the models were a limited edition army put out shortly after that Games Day due to fan reception of the diorama. The models would certainly be unique and satisfy that aspect of my new army criteria since they had been out of production for almost a decade.  Ah, but what a double-edged sword there since part of 40k's appeal for me was the convenience of finding it carried in most gaming stores. Oh well, I reasoned, it would be fun trying to track down OOP figures on eBay. Boom! I had my army and the 77th Praetorian Guard began to take form.

    I spent the next few months trying in vain to track down some Praetorians. The process was a lot more difficult that I first thought. Still, by early August of 2009 I had a few miniatures and a couple of tanks that I began sending to a painter who has exclusively painted this army for me over the last two years. Drew, at Garden Ninja Studios,  is responsible for breathing life into these figures and turning an army that started as an escape from tedium into a real passion project.

    His website that offers a list of his services can be found here:
    By far one of the better painters out there in terms of quality for price and turn around time. As you can see I highly recommend him!

    It should be noted that any miniatures that you see in this blog were likely painted by Garden Ninja Studios with the exception of the terrain which I actually paint myself (shocking I know).

    By the end of August 2009 I had sent two batches of miniatures to Drew. The first was a small one, a single Leman Russ Battle Tank and a Praetorian Lieutenant both were to be used as a test for the army's color scheme. Shortly after those two miniatures were returned I sent Drew the remainder of my Praetorians and I began doubling my efforts to scour the internet for used figures.

    The fruit of those two commissions can be seen here.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    An Awkward Beginning

    This blog will follow the development of both the physical and imaginary aspects of my Praetorian Imperial Guard army used in Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 miniature game. In this space I plan on listing updates of new additions to the army, comment on modeling and painting projects associated with the army, as well as create  fiction centering on the exploits of the Praetorian 77th Regiment.

     As the title of this post suggests this is the slow, plodding beginning of what I hope will become a fun and useful resource for those interested in the now out of production Praetorian Guard miniatures.  It is also my first foray into blogging, so no doubt I will stumble before I walk, but hopefully in the process of carving out my own piece of the "blogosphere" I will refrain from sticking my foot too far into my mouth.