"Congratulations, Tarn. You're being transferred."
Garrat Tarn goggled at the senior Commissar. "I am honoured of course," he stammered after a decidedly awkward pause, "but my work here..."
"Will be taken up by other hands. Here are the details of your new posting. You depart for orbit at dawn." Senior Commissar Rayth turned to the sideboard, neatly opened a bottle, and poured two very small glasses of amasec. "Drink up," she said.
After throwing back the contents, ruefully seeing a second drink was unlikely, and placing the glass on the sideboard, Garrat asked the question that had occupied every waking hour for the past three days. "Did I... do the right thing?"
"Officially, yes. Quite proper. An excellent shot too," Rayth said, with the first hint of warmth Tarn had ever seen from her. "Unofficially, he had connections in High Command. A good family name. More than one Lord-General at his name-day ceremony, that sort of thing."
Garrat exploded. "He was running towards the enemy shouting 'I surrender, I surrender' while holding the company map case above his head! There were a dozen witnesses and a servo-skull recording! Do they really think..."
"Yes, well, as I said, officially you were quite correct, but your continued presence would be a source of embarrassment to people who do not like to be embarrassed. Pack your case. Enjoy the journey. And try not to dwell on the past."
Six weeks in transit, on the Munitorium Supply Vessel Gracious Harvest. Six weeks to polish every button on his uniform, to trim his nails, to pace the floor of his cramped cabin, to walk the decks, to sleep, and to think.
Moribundus Prime wasn't, on reflection, the worst place he could have been posted. It wasn't anywhere near the front line of any major conflict. It was a subsector capital, so presumably there were decent amenities. He'd investigated the ship's dusty librarium, and found a few references to Moribundus Prime in a stellar atlas. Forests. Shallow seas. And, of course, Pendall Station, the subsector Battlefleet base, the great naval yard and orbital depot.
One thing puzzled him. The librarium had references to the famous void-regiments of Pendall station. The Fusiliers. The Fighting 9th, who, in their boarding-ark, had turned the tide at the Battle of the Twin Stars. Even the Pendall Station Patrol earned a mention. But as far as Garrat could tell, none of the Munitorium histories listed his new posting, the "Moribundan 1st Armoured Regiment", anywhere.
"I thought there were forests," Garrat shouted over the whine of the shuttle's engines.
The pilot looked at him with amusement. "What?"
"Forests. You know, lots of tree... things," he said, gesturing up and down and realizing, as he did so, that he looked ridiculous.
"No forests here. Just mud plains, far as the eye can see. Used to be forests, of course," the pilot said, flicking a few switches in an alarmingly nonchalant way, "but no more. Seas too. Long time ago. They called it a biosphere collapse, probably caused by something from the Hives. Everything went wrong. They summoned a Magos from offworld who fixed the air with some sort of tech-magic, but by then everything had changed. Strap in, sir. We're about to land."
The rain was light, slightly greasy, and exactly body temperature. It was as if the Emperor and all his Angels were spitting on him, Garrat reflected, then hastily thought less blasphemous thoughts.
"The bunker is up ahead sir," the pilot said, pointing at a dim amber light. "Try not to fall off the platform."
Garrat nodded, picked up his case, and stumbled forward. After any time in the void, planetary gravity was always a surprise. He presented his commissariat ident-card to the door's scanner, heard the vac-seals crack, and stepped inside.
The Comissariat Command Bunker of the Moribundan 1st Armoured Regiment was surprisingly crowded. Garrat had expected to be alone, or perhaps meet one other Commissar, but he counted five faces before someone thrust a steaming mug of recaf into his hands, took his case, and whirled him into an overstuffed armchair. "Everyone!" a voice bellowed six inches from his ear, "This is the new arrival. Well, don't just sit there like a stone. Introduce yourself."
Five Commissars, grimacing like carved grotesques, leered at him from the foggy corners of the bunker. He managed to say his name and had nearly finished saying his original regiment when one of the faces, so wrinkled both eyes were invisible, spoke. "What did he say?"
"He said he's GARRAT TARN, Commissar." the voice bellowed. "You'll have to forgive Commissar Colt. He's stone deaf."
"I am not deaf," the aged Comissar replied. "I only hear things of vital importance." He grinned, revealing a total of three teeth.
"I'm Commissar Naysmith.We'll manage introductions later. I'm sure you want to get some rest."
"Actually," Garrat said, "I'd like to get acclimatized first. See the regiment, meet the troops, that sort of thing."
"Oh them," Naysmith replied, still more-or-less at top volume. "You don't want to meet them. Not yet, at least."
"A shower of degenerate bastards," Commissar Colt agreed.
"It's all we can do to keep them in line. Endless morale problems, you see. Drinking and gambling, idle vice, selling Munitorium property, falling asleep on duty. No, you don't want to meet the troops. I'll introduce you to Tech-Priest Nudlock.
Tech-Priest Nudlock was six hundred years old, though it wasn't common knowledge. By carefully avoiding promotion and political intrigues, and never rising above the duties of caretaker, Nudlock had achieved perfect peace in service of the Omnissiah. A few scraps of flesh, around thirty percent original brain tissue, and a collection of esoteric glands and equipment filled a suit of archeotech power armour. Some Tech-Priest focused on weapons, or data acquisition, or adaptability. Tech-Priest Nudlock had decided survival and comfort were paramount.
"This is the new Commissar," Naysmith explained, propelling Garrat forward with a hearty backslap. "Show him the storage bays and tell him the regimental history. We usually dine at seven bells." With that, the leathery Comissar wandered off.
"This way," Nudlock intoned. The tour had all the solemnity of a ritual. As far as Garrat could tell, Nudlock was barely aware of his presence.
"The Moribundan 1st Armoured Regiment was originally raised as a service and maintenance regiment for the Moribundus Armoured Vehicle Proving Grounds. From M.37 to M.39, the Proving Grounds tested weapon systems rediscovered by the Mechanicus, repaired vehicles for reintroduciton into Imperial service, and performed comparative tithe-evaluations of vehicles from different worlds. Owing to the biosphere collapse event, the Proving Grounds have proven inoperable." Nudlock gestured at a map-mural depicting steep cliffs, gravel tracks, dense coniferous forests, and other challenging terrain features entirely absent from Moribundus' current brown-grey landscape.
"If you can't perform the tests, why keep the regiment? Why not deploy it elsewhere?"
"The Moribundus Proving Grounds are a.. convenient storehouse for both the Departmento Munitorum and the Mechanicus. Vehicles that might prove embarrassing can be safely sent here for testing. As testing cannot be completed under current climate conditions, all parties are satisfied."
Garrat went slightly purple. The nature of his transfer finally became clear.
"So the regiment has never seen combat?"
"Incorrect. The Moribundan 1st Armoured Regiment has deployed against crashed Xenos vessels and local labour-related unrest, with notable success."
Half-dead Orks and some unarmed mine workers. Not exactly a stirring combat record. Still, Garrat mused, it would be a quiet assignment. "Thank you, Tech-Priest. Please, show me the tanks."
The Moribundan 1st Armoured Regiment
I wanted to create an Imperial Guard army that was:
- archaic, but not in the ornate gothic sense.
- able to use some of my favourite Forge World vehicles.
- easy to paint.
It's been a long process, but the army is finally tolerably complete. Probably. Mostly. Unless I find a really good deal.
This article by apologist covers how to create a unifying concept for your own miniature army.
The Moribundant 1st Armoured Regiment is not a unified, coherent, well-equipped force. They've got tanks aplenty, but the tanks are all odds-and-ends or castoffs or forgotten designs, still in their grey storage primer. They might be dusty and slightly rusted, but there's very little battle damage or chipping.
The infantry is, thanks to the RT-era sculpts, very diverse. Most are armed with lasguns, but there's a mix of autoguns and stranger weapons in every squad. This regiment couldn't pass inspection on a good day. It's not 100% Oddballs, but there's an Oddball-equivalent in every squad.
The Artillery section consists of one massive Siege Mortar, based on the 1:35 scale Karl-Gerät kit by Trumpeter, but mounted on two Rhino chassis. It's utterly impractical for a 40k-scale game, but it makes a great terrain piece.
I have to Minotaur Siege Tanks painted, and I'd like to get a third to complete the section. I have one Armageddon-pattern Medusa, and I'd like to add two more.
Finally, I have one Hydra Flak Tank. I picked up three of these a few months ago, and they're either dubious recasts or very late production Forgeworld kits, as they need a lot of repair work.
The Tank Hunting section consists of one Shadowsword, one Malcador Primus (details here), two Destroyer Tank Hunters, and one Valdor Tank Hunter. The Shadowsword was converted to resemble the old Forgeworld resin kit, including a barrel lock, targeters, and round headlights. The hull weapon was scratchbuilt to match the Stormhammers.
The Destroyer Tank Hunter is one of my favourite kits, and I'm amazed that I managed to find two of them, including one that was new in box with original Forge World track guards.
In front of them, I've got a modified Macharius with a Stormhammer turret and a Macharius Omega.
Speaking of track guards, a fair number of Chimera-chassis vehicles have "original" Forgeworld track guards... that I cast myself using apoxie sculpt and a bit of plasticard. They don't look perfect, but weathering covers many sins.
Stormhammer Land Battleships
These were some of my favourite kits to build. They're Forgeworld Stormhammer tanks with Macharius turrets and sponsons from Blood and Skulls Industries. They can each carry 4 Demolisher Cannons (as shown) or 4 autocannons.
I wanted them to resemble pre-Dreadnaught battleships, and the ochre upper hulls help cement just how large they really are. They are more-or-less solid bricks of resin.
The Doomhammer tank (far left) required a fair bit of conversion work. The used Baneblade lacked upper tread plates, so I had to build new ones. It's a truly ridiculous concept; a Titan-sized close-range heat ray mounted on a tank chassis. Astute 40k addicts will note that the protective cage is flipped compared to the original design. This took a fair bit of delicate and nerve-wracking trimming.
In the upper right, I've got a Mars-Pattern Baneblade, one of the original Forgeworld kits. You can read about the restoration process here.
From back to front, left to right:
-Commissar Command Tank.
-Leman Russ Annihilator (with a turret converted from a Gryphonne IV turret and Predator lascannons).
-Leman Russ Executioner (Ryza pattern).
-Leman Russ Las-Plas (with a turret converted from an old Razorback).
-Carnodon Battle Tank
-3x Leman Russ with Battle Cannon
-Leman Russ Demolisher
-Leman Russ Incinerator (with turret converted from who-knows-what spare bits).
-Leman Russ Demolisher
I used only the old-pattern Leman Russ hulls and turrets. Because they are all rescued tanks, there's some variation in how the engines and exhausts were configured. The Demolisher on the lower right even has an old Ork buggy radiator, which fits the theme of archaic equipment.
I can also swap out the turrets to make
-3 Leman Russ Vanquishers (Stygies VIII)
-3 Leman Russ Executioners (Gryphonne IV)
The Logistics Section includes a mix of odd vehicles. I've got an Atlas Recovery Vehicle in the top left, and a converted Chimera-hull recovery tank in the top right.
Then, I've got a converted Sentinel Shell Loader. I'd like to pick up 3 more logistics Sentinels to make an even 4, but the original Sentinel Powerlifter has been out of production for years.
The Trojan Support Vehicle is another classic kit with limited practical use. I was lucky enough to pick up two searchlights (magnetized to swap out for a crane). I have a second Trojan in the works, and I'd like to add some sort of mobile field hospital or field kitchen as a third vehicle. If you've got the Imperial Army and the Imperial Navy, why not the Imperial NAAFI?
Tech-Priest Nudlock, assisted by some hapless goon, command the Logistics Section.
The Moribundan 1st Armoured uses modified Centaur Artillery Tractors as light tank hunters. They operate in a pair, usually supporting a Salamander Command Vehicle, which acts as a spotter and directs artillery fire.
I have two trailers; a modified fuel tank from a Malcador Infernus and a very rare and delightful find, an Imperial Power Generator.
The Regiment uses 3 Hellhounds, though not with any degree of enthusiasm.
2 Cyclops Demolition Vehicles in the bottom left are slightly worrying additions to the force.
Mechanized Infantry Squads
3x squads of 12, each with a medic, a sergeant, and two heavy weapons. The models are a mix of Rogue Trader era plastic and pewter.
Behind them, I included a Vulture Gunship just for fun. It's not technically part of the regiment, but it's such a lovely kit.
Heavy Infantry Squads
The regiment's Dracosan Armoured Transports are reserved for assault troops. The first squad on the left wear gas masks (chem-injectors) and carry autoguns. They're converted from Sicarian Ruststalker heads, Genestealer cult arms, and Rogue Trader legs and torsos.
The central squad is an all-pewter penal squad equipped with exploding collars. There are two human bombs in the front row.
Service in a penal squad of the Moribundan 1st Armoured is not as fatal or as permanent as with some other regiments. Being shaved, losing your sunglasses and helmet, and being forced to drill while wearing an explosive collar (especially when the Commissar holding the button is prone to fits) tends to reform even the most hardened reprobate.
I'd like to include a 3rd squad consisting of 12 bolter-wielding Rogue Trader era pewter models, if I can find (or make) enough of them.
On the far right, the regiment's Commissars are assembled in front of their dedicated Rhino transport.
Four pewter Egg Sentinels count as Scout Sentinels, while four more modern (but still long OOP) pewter and plastic Armoured Sentinels fill out the regiment's rapid response core.
In the front of the image, I've got a squad of Ratling snipers.
Command Squad and Psykers
The Regiment's Command Squad is not too fancy, but the glow of a rare plasma pistol helps the Colonel stand out.
Behind him, a squad of pallid Psykers are kept in check by two menacing Bludgeoners. The Pskyers are all RT-era sculpts, but I swapped a lot of hands and arms to avoid giving them too many weapons. The Psykers attached to the Regiment are allowed to select their own uniforms, and take some pleasure in one of the few freedoms permitted to them.
The Regiment's Ogryn Auxilia are transported in an ancient and tempermental Land Raider.
And finally, the Reigment's one Land Speeder, used (in theory) for scouting and flank attacks.
Vehicle Painting Guide-Prime grey. I used GW's Mechanicus Standard Grey for most of the models, then switched to an identical airbrushed primer.
-Pin wash with a dark brown wash (GW's Agrax Earthshade).
-Drybrush with a light grey (GW's Dawnstone).
-Paint metal (GW's Leadbelcher).
-Wash metal with a 1:1 mix of Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil.
-Paint cables, lenses, and details.
-Paint regimental marks (GW's Blood Angels contrast, GW's Averland Sunset, black).
-Paint treads, and drybrush areas of the hull, with a light brown (GW's XV-88).
-Wash treads and lower hull with watered down Typhus Corrosion texture paint, making sure to add splash marks.
-Coat treads in a thin layer of Vallejo European Mud.