Sunday, 12 January 2014

Creating a better Ultramarine. Part 1. Introduction.

Everyone has an opinion on Ultramarines. Many people hate them, we've all heard the usually names... ultrasmurfs, poster boys etc. I'll admit that back when me and my brother started playing in second edition I went for a Genestealer cult army, and he went for the Ultramarines. I distinctly remember taking the piss like any good older brother should. But something lodged in my mind about how cool it would be to own a whole chapter. Then when I rejoined the hobby mid-fifth edition the army I chose was the boys in blue. I was old enough and with enough income spare to easily collect and company. Well that was the plan anyway. I got sidetracked by the other armies on offer, and even though I made good headway to collecting my dream company it never materialised.

Whenever I returned to my Ultramarines I was always a little disappointed with how bland they were. I tried using a few bits from the usual websites to spice things up, I got the Forge World doors for my Rhinos, and I painted them to the best of my ability at the time.

I'd read a fair few of the novels, from the omnibus all about Ventris and the 4th, the Marines Battles book where Cassius goes off on one against the Tyranids, and I've seen the mediocre film. They were good reads, but nothing really stood out as being individually cool, they go to war, they follow the codex, they celebrate. It was only when I got round to reading Know No Fear that things really got interesting for me. There was so much character and flavour to the Ultramarines. Everyone was an individual, they had personalities, that's what I was after. I'd found the start of my inspiration.

Then came Damnos. I still haven't finished the book. I have got the Apocalypse warzone book. I love the idea of a fight that isn't an insta-win for the Astartes. Much like the insurmountable odds their 30k counterparts overcame against the Word Bearers. My Necron army was developing nicely, and at one point I very nearly packed in the ultra-dream and started a Minotaurs army to play out the Fall of Orpheus Imperial Armour book. But that would just be copying someone elses work (even though it is totally rad) and I wanted something unique.

So lets take stock of this ramble so far cause it's probably way too long winded, fragmented and boring!
I want to collect the whole Ultramarines 2nd Company.
It has to grab and hold my attention span until the project is complete.
The theme and story needs to be the main focus.
Individuality is absolutely key.
With that out of the way, let the ramble continue.

Back in the day, space marines used to have campaign badges (well decals actually) to show what major battles they'd been in. I hadn't seen this until the Damnos book. The Grey Knights all have individual heraldry, yeah there's way less of them, but that doesn't matter. The Blood Angels are covered in iconography and blood drops. My Ultramrines were fairly bog-standard, like they got up in the morning, drilled all day, ate some standardised pulp, then went to sleep in bare grey quarters. Then the next day repeat all over again. That definitely won't be the life of my second comapny. They'll be living relics, as wild and varied as hundreds of years worth of battles can make them. They'll celebrate their victories with decorations and banners, they'll worship the Emperor with more purity seals than ever before. They'll personalise their armour, and repair it in their own unique way. All of this whilst still following the ways of the Codex in structure. Their lives will be a celebration of warfare, and of what they have achieved.

Ultramar is a huge and prosperous realm, so why aren't more of the marines proud of where they have come from? Why no personal heraldries? This again is going to change. I'm going to be laying out an alternative to the 2nd company laid out in the 5th edition marine codex. Yes, Sicarius will still be the daddy. Yes there'll still be 6 tactical squads, and 2 of each Assault and Devestator, but there's where the similarity will end.

Over the coming year I'll be posting on my progress, both in terms of modelling and also as I craft my lore. There'll be historical battles, current battles, unit profiles, individual astartes biographies, missions, artwork, the whole works. The inspiration for this restart has come from many places, one of the main sources is from GW themselves and their focus on narrative gaming. The way that 6th is set up to tell stories speaks to me in a way that 5th never did. Combine that with getting more into the Imperial Armour books, and the amazing imagination of Alan Bligh. Inspiration has also come from the models themselves, GW just released some lovely new plastic marines, with so many options for kit bashing. Finally inspiration has come from my fellow gamers and bloggers. The guys at the turn 8 podcast. My friend Jamie, who before Netrunner was joining me in creating a narrative campaign, and Charging Carnifex whose blog posts on lore creation are a great read.

At the moment, the next post should be about the assault squads I'm about to start work on. Cheers for reading, let me know what you're new years projects are if you've got any lined up!


  1. Great, I think it's a fantastic idea :-) Best of luck with it!

    I've always found the 30K Marines to be more characterful than their 40K counterparts and have tried a couple of times to do smaller versions of what you're planning here. Have to say, you've inspired me to do the same with my Wolves and - possibly - my own Chapter as well!

    1. Thanks a lot mate, I think I'll need the luck! I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for your Wolves mate, they're an awesome chapter.

  2. Well you've got me excited Tim. I can't wait to see what you come up with over 2014.

    Know No Fear was an amazing book, if I ever man up and do a Forgeworld 30k army it'll be Ultramarines because of that story.

    I've got my own Company in the making these days, the 4th Company of the Dark Angels. They are the Swordwing. :) I'll try and post some details up about them, hopefully we can inspire each others work a little.

    Good luck

    1. Cheers mate, great to hear from you!
      Glad I've added fuel to your hobby furnace my friend. I'm really excited about my marines again finally, both the 40k and 30k counterparts. I can foresee needing a lot of blue this year.
      Thr Swordwing sound rad and I'm looking forward to seeing your progress. I lost interest in the DA fairly quickly I'm afraid, but I'll be painting them blue instead of bone to join my 1st company one day!