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Some extremely nuanced thoughts on Terminators

A good blog post should have some advice or information relevant to the reader. It should serve a purpose, I think, or it's just onanism.

This post does not meet that requirement. It's just a rant about how much I f---ing love the terminator sculpts from the Leviathan box. I'm not going to say anything that's not already been said. My paint job will not be the best on the internet, nor will it be so humorously bad that it's worthy of your attention. The one sop to the concept of content is the bit where I have a think about how to approach the existence of terminator armour for Indomitus Founding Chapters, an absolutely niche lore point that no one asked for, but which I'm writing anyway.

There's the cards on the table. Now here's some big blue chunkers.

Look at them. Just look. These sculpts convey weight and heft while also having very natural looking movement. Sure there's a few moulding artefacts to make them easy fit, but those become largely invisible if you add shading in the right places. They're just absolute bangers, the lot of them.

I'd resigned myself to not having Terminators; it looked like Gravis armour was the new reality, and I'd reconciled myself to that. Now I'll still be using Gravis units - more for the utility than the aesthetic - and I also accept that Terminators are not, historically, an amazing unit. I don't give a shit. They look boss sausage, and the fact that we recently finished painting our space hulk terrain means I cannot, cannot wait for some boarding actions to happen.

Heraldry decisions
Normally, Cobalt Scions use their left kneepad and right shoulder pad for squad numbers. They also get their left kneepad painted in their company colour. With the Crux Terminatus on the left shoulder, that means the Chapter badge has to go on the right, and with the bling kneepads some of the Terminators are sporting, you just can't put a squad number on all of them.

I decided this didn't matter. My thinking goes thusly: suits of tactical dreadnought armour are in very short supply, and these suits are not for a specific unit; they're for any First Company veteran who's using them. Normally each unit I paint would represent a specific squad, but this unit have no personal identifiers on them. For the same reason, I avoided any bareheaded lads.

Indomitus Founding Chapters and Terminator Armour
The official lore surrounding the manufacture of tactical dreadnought armour is pretty vague. In some places it suggests the Imperium's forgotten how to make it, while other sources say there are very few places with the resources and expertise to produce terminator armour, meaning each new suit is effectively treated as an irreplaceable relic by whichever Chapter receives it.

This suffers from the classic 40K problem of "ok but how are there any of these things left in existence?" given the attrition rates of military hardware. In general, I take official lore to be an exaggeration of reality. It does however beg the question: would Indomitus Founding Chapters have any at all?

Given how rare and precious the stuff is, I imagine the Primaris Chapters all started out with none, and used Gravis armour for similar roles. I also wondered how such Chapters might eventually acquire any suits, given the sudden increase in marines across the galaxy all, presumably, sharing the same now-even-more-stretched supply chain.

Where I landed was the idea that a Chapter Forge has the expertise to make the armour, but that it's insanely resource intensive, technically demanding, and produces something only slightly better than Gravis plate. It also requires you to source adamantium, a non-trivial problem. On balance it's barely worth the effort, and even then, only when the Chapter's in good health and doesn't have more basic equipment that needs producing.

I broadly think of the Cobalt Scions as having been in their new Fortress Monastery on Thonis for about the same amount of time I've been collecting the army, so... four years, at this point. As the Chapter's numbers are recovering, with the first generation of scouts approaching the day they'll earn the black carapace, I imagine the Chapter Forge has achieved full functionality. That means they can start branching out beyond the essentials into primo luxury goods.

Given how slow it is to produce, and since this is my own Chapter, I'm just going to assume the Cobalt Scions' total supply of the armour is equal to the number of new Terminator suits I, personally, have painted in my collection. Meaning: their supply will increase very, very slowly.

Right. I should go and think about a name for the sergeant, since while the models have been painted to be anonymous, these bricks do have to go into my Crusade roster. Stompus Ceruleus, maybe. Feel free to suggest equally silly names in the comments. For now though I'll sign off with some more photos; thanks for coming to my TED rant.


  1. The Leviathan terminators really are in a golden zone for kit updates, aren't they? As someone who likes Gravis plate, but only when it's holding a big gun rather than the faux-terminator pose of Aggressors I'm in hog heaven finally being able to field some in my modern army that don't look entirely out of place beside all the tall Primaris lads.

    While not an Indomitus Founding chapter, I had similar thoughts about availability of Terminator plate for my mid-founding Successors. One must really love one's children to send them on their way with a chunk of your best gear, after all. I settled on the Sin Eaters having taken part in some nasty, likely entirely unnecessary purge of another chapter back in the day, in which they were able to claim their suits as payment. Remember; They're not real space marines unless they're bastards!

    1. There is no greater joy than considering the fictional logistics of one's morally bankrupt toy soldiers, brother 🙏

  2. Good read. Article helped me escape for a bit at work. 👍

  3. These are great, and I agree, the new models are lovely. Something about the posing, smaller heads, and the new (huge!) power fists I think.

    And given that a new Terminator box is coming out with the codex, and an eventual Assault squad is assured... should be more of these guys in your future as well.

    1. I may have been daydreaming about adding the sexy new stuff into my army despite having a mound of stuff that needs finishing first 😅

  4. "Dictated by model availability" is often the Right Way to approach lore knots. I have a similar thing going on with the absence of transport vehicles in my Chaos collection: a fleet-based warband operating in a promethium-light region of the galaxy (the flipside being a lot of volatile space gas that's easy to condense into plasma juice). Name it all after my nearest game shop and the Firestorm Nebula was born.

    I like the idea of a new Chapter with only-so-many fancy suits available, and every one that needs repairing taking time and resources out of building the new ones, and and and - yeah. It makes sense.

    1. Now I'm enjoying picturing the vibrant colours of the Firestorm Nebula. If it's the Swindon branch I guess it's going to have lots of swirls in it to represent all the roundabouts.

  5. On the Anonymity, have you considered that Cobalt Scions Veterans might take on the role of the Terminator by assuming that iconic identity totally? The Terminator armour has a prestige and mystique about it that Cawls latest contraptions do not and its legends stretch back to the heresy.

    By eschewing personal heraldry or battle honours from their past career, (they might display honours won in the armour) one ceases to be Brother Halim Emmeus and becomes the Terminator- a symbol of invulnerability and destruction.

    This might have practical applications- unlike the MkX suits the suit is far more valuable to the chapter than the man wearing it- seeking personal glory or undue risk might be actively discouraged - no crazy charges or heroic rearguard actions that might put the armour beyond recovery.

    With this in mind, you might consider that the squad gets a totemic name rather than being Named for the man who is currently leading it.

    Terminator Squad Ferros, Terminator Squad Annihilatius
    Terminator Squad Inviolus,
    Terminator Squad Victis
    Terminator Squad Mortis.

    1. That's an interesting idea, thanks for sharing! As things stand I like the idea that the Judiciar is the Chapter's only anonymous figure, but certainly I think you're on point about them being conservative with it rather than being absolute glory hounds 👍


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