When the Bladeguard arrived, I was smitten. They really are incredibly lovely models. The initial Indomitus easy-build release was good, but the multipart kit was even better. But they’re not exactly very “Raven Guard”. So I spent quite a while imagining how I could fit them into my army.
I had some pretty... imaginative ideas; at one point I was considering covering the shields in dirt and grass so the Bladeguard could hide in pits and use their shields to disguise them in the style of the Viet Cong, or Robin Hood’s Merry Men.
As I got deep into the schemes, I realised the ideas I was having for “Raven Guard with shields” had diverged completely from the actual models I loved so much. How to sensibly resolve this contradiction? Do both! Please don’t read my articles for the advice of a rational person with self control.
The one thing I didn’t love about the kit was the shields. Too much bling for my taste, and fairly generic bling at that. So I made the entirely rational and proportionate response of teaching myself to 3d model and modelling my own.
They’re fully detailed front and back and you can find the 3D printable STL files here. I also included some blank shields too, for the freehand fans of other Chapters. The shape is actually based off the Lieutenant’s shield, rather than the regular ones, which gives more room for the plaque at the bottom, but otherwise I believe I have very accurately mapped the dimensions.
It’s not super obvious in the photos but they are curved, just like the original. This changed the modelling challenge from “meh” to “oof”, but I think it was vital. I modelled variants with names embossed on the plaques too. Initially they were debossed, but they didn’t print very well so the next attempt was embossed and that worked much better. I didn’t bother modelling the slot into the mounting point, it’s simple enough to just cut the tab off the plastic models.
But who amongst the Raven Guard, most sneaky and inconspicuous of chapters, would walk around with a massive plank strapped to their arm? There is one little point of lore I picked up on, that I thought would be perfect:
“[T]he Blackwings have another duty; one steeped in mystery and shame. It is they who guard the entrances to the Ravenspire’s forbidden Apothecarion on Farmoon Night, holding solitary vigil lest the bestial howls that fill its ancient corridors spill forth in physical form.” - Warhammer 40,000: Codex Supplement - Raven Guard
That seemed fitting to me, the ceremonial guards of the forbidden Apothecarion seem about right for the old sword and board. The Blackwings are the first company, so I painted the shoulder pads white and the Raven icon in black, a reversal of my usual style. If you don’t know the lore about the forbidden Apothecarion, well, that’s a whole story of its own and part of the foundation of the Chapter and its goth character, but I won’t retell it here.
Then I made my take on Raven Guard with shields. How do you sneak with a shield? By having it be collapsable! The Necromunda Van Saar shields are perfect for this. I simply sliced off the spider on the boss and replaced it with an etched brass raven. The bodies are Reviers, the backpacks are 3d printed. The arms are an amalgamation of all sorts, Vanguard, Revier, Intercessors both assault and regular, Infiltrator… The Sergeant is of course mostly Shrike.
I run them as Vanguard Veterans, who get a second attack like Primaris so it matches up nicely. They lack the PRIMARIS keyword, so a are locked out of a few useful strategems, but as they are an assault oriented unit with the JUMP PACK, which gives them a bunch of other useful Raven Guard stratagems that Primaris normally don’t get much chance to use, it seems fair to keep them RAW. They also legally can’t have bolt pistols, but they look cooler this way so I modelled them anyway and just don’t use them.
I really love the look of these guys, they feel like the Assault Marines sneaking around behind enemy lines using the guerilla tactics that the Raven Guard are always described as having. Loaded out like this I actually can imagine that working.