“Pack in Black”? “Pack to You”? “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Pack”? Choose your poison I guess. But it’s definitely more “Don’t Look Pack in Anger”, than “We Are Never Ever Getting Pack Together”.
What am I blithering on about? Jump packs baby! YEEEEEEAAAAAAAH!!! (Or if you’re a Google spider indexing this page: “How to convert Assault Intercessors with Jump Packs”.)
The Long Vigil
Back before all this Primaris stuff brought the tacti-cool Phobos with it, the Raven Guard were all about two things, Scouts and Assault Marines. In my Firstborn army I have a lot of both. My very first Raven Guard unit was an Assault Marine unit.
|Squad Aibek. The |
Since I made the switch to Primaris, I’ve been eagerly hoping for Assault Marines and Scouts to follow suit. I came damn close to making them myself when they brought out Assault Intercessors, but the Black Templar Neophytes and Space Marine 2 video game previews strongly hinted that my long vigil would be rewarded so I stayed patient and waited for official models and legal datasheets. (Did I mention I play 5th Company “The Watchful”?)
|Squad Eitath. This time the raven-eyed will notice by the time I built my second squad I had discovered Forgeworld Resin.|
Then came the recent 10th edition previews and both Scouts and Assault Marines (sorry, “Jump Pack Intercessors” on the box or “Assault Intercessors with Jump Packs” in the Codex) were previewed at last. Let's skip the usual arousal metaphors and simply say that I was very pleased.
|Image Credit: Games Workshop, used without permission for illustrative purposes only.|
That said, I don’t think they’re the best models GW have produced. They’re not actively bad like Desolators, but the poses are a bit weird. I honestly love every bit of design they have except for the poses. The evolved jump packs are cool, the extra gear on the thigh straps are great (very Raven Guard), I even like the little steering boosters on the legs. But the poses feel off, although I will say less so from other angles. Also given that I wanted at least a unit of 10 to start with and probably another unit of 10 later, they don’t feel very repeatable. Clearly some conversion work loomed.
Raven Guard are known for deploying jump pack troops behind enemy lines for extended patrols. They sneak about destroying weaker enemy forces, and evading larger ones. They report in enemy positions, destroy outposts and disrupt communications. There is a tendency for people to say “you can’t be stealthy with boltguns and chainswords,” but on a strategic level stealth is not about being an invisible ninja sneaking up behind people and slitting their throats. It’s about avoiding enemy patrols, lying low during the daytime, and engaging in brief battles before getting away before enemy reinforcements can turn up.
For real life examples look to units like the Long Range Desert Recon Group, who drove around deep behind enemy lines in pink trucks armed with machineguns and anti-tank guns. Or their descendants the Special Air Service (whom the Raven Guard would idolise); the famous Bravo Two Zero were armed with assault rifles and machineguns as they snuck about blowing up scud missiles (or maybe not, depending on who you ask). Not the best example, given how the mission turned out, but a well known one.
Either way, 40k was never the most realistic setting anyway. So realistic or not, it’s not like I wasn’t going to lean into the thing my Chapter is famous for.
So, the plan was to have five of the new assault marines (with some of the poses toned down) and five assault intercessors with the new jump packs. Not entirely trivial, as it turns out. First up, check this nonsense out:
Yeah. That’s a choice. Previously GW have always been very good about cross compatibility. I remember the bad old days of lead assault marines with small contact areas, which were back heavy on small bases and had a tendency to tip over and the jump pack to snap off, but that hasn’t been an issue since the switch to plastic.
Ultimately, given the strength of polystyrene cement, I opted for a relatively simple modification to get them to fit, and trusted that a limited contact area would be ok. If you trim off the little bit of exposed cable at the top of the backpack mount, the jump packs fits on ok and can be glued with, I repeat, limited surface area. It seems fine. I let the first one cure for a few days and it seems solid under the level of force I’d like a bunch of models standing on their toes holding long thin weapons to be subjected to. That said, if you were feeling more conservative, the next step I would suggest would be to fill the jump pack cavity with green stuff or run a long pin in.
There is a slight gap, but you won’t see it behind arms and shoulder pads, and even if you do it fits in with the general power armour panel-lined aesthetic anyway.
As for the original five, I made a few partial hero-rock-ectomies. With a bit of trial and error I learned the best way to do this was to assemble the torso and raised leg, then blue-tac (or sticky tac brand of your choice) on the dominant limb and rock-leg and play with the angles that look right. Then you can carefully mark out the angle you need to cut the rock at to give a less extreme pose. Pull the leg off and get your razor saw out and have at it. In one case I got the angle slightly off and had to fine tune with some sanding.
The dual benefit here was I got less ridiculous angles and also reduced the height of the rocks, meaning they really looked more like they were running along the ground than somehow the entire unit had found tall things to prance on (now if it was brood on, that would be Raven Guard). But a few of the rock poses were ok without modification. I considered shortening the Sergeant but I figured having him standing tall worked ok as the leader.
Of less relevance to those more nerdy, less tacti-cool, Chapters, is the chest aquilas. I removed them and added a mix of Infiltrator grenades and spare pouches from (old) plastic Scouts.
With a very sharp knife, carefully cut down as much of the detail as possible, cutting towards the neck. Be careful not to cut too deep, we’re removing the aquila, not the armour underneath. Then gently buff it out with a file, rolling around the curve. Use a pointy triangle file to get right into the neck line. This photo makes it look rough because the plastic is stressed, but the surface is nice and smooth.
I also added some 3d printed leg boosters I had lying around from my Vanguard conversion in this article, since they don’t fit onto Phobos legs. This step is highly skippable, particularly if you’re planning to only use Assault Intercessor bodies, but with a mixed unit I felt it really helped to blend them in. If I didn’t already have them I may not have bothered.
Making Them Mine
I wanted this unit to be veterans. The epitome of Raven Guard flight-assisted covert ops warriors. Each and every model is slathered with pouches and equipment, and I made sure to include some fun little details such as a rope here and a grapnel launcher there. I’ve also mixed in a variety of helmets and pistols too, each veteran has their own customised gear (which helps explain why some have hip plates and others have more pouches). As before I included adepts, both tech and medicae. If they’re going to be ranging behind enemy lines without support they’ll need them.
From the datasheet I also gave them all the toys. A full complement of plasma pistols for extra punch and speaking of punch, I also wanted the sergeant to have a power fist. However I’m also a fan of sometimes being able to use your hands (yes, Shrike’s lightning claws blew my tiny bird brain), so I decided to give him a square-power-fist-on-a-stick. Thunder Hammers are not in the base kit so not a legal option on the datasheet, but the stats are almost the same anyway.
|Jump Pack Intercessors slightly reposed|
|Old Assault Intercessor bodies with the new jump packs|
I also opted for beakie helmets all round. My firstborn army was 95% beakies, but when I made the switch to Primaris I reserved them mostly for sergeants and above. I felt that giving these lads beakies would further identify them as the top
dogs birds of the fifth company.
Whilst the new Assault Marines are not great poses, I honestly think with just a little adjustment to the rocks they are highly redeemable. Alternatively, swapping out the bodies for Assault Intercessors also works very well. Or, like me, you could do both. There is a whole world of jet-powered ceremite-armoured transhuman murderisers to explore. Go forth and fly my pretties!