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From The Sands To The Stars

I am quite reknowned for having some long term projects. Ideas that have been on the boil for a while that just need that special something to spark the mojo and get them started. Well, today I'm able to share the results of the first phase of what has been one of my oldest back-burner projects*... The Kessarine 4th Armoured Brigade:

7th Platoon, Sergeants Tavade and Prabu led by Commissar Dravland

Now some of you might already be going "Armoured brigade? They look a bit squishy for that." Well quite, shush you. These fine men and women are of C Company; 1st Motor Batallion attached to the 4th Armoured Brigade for all those ticklish situations which tanks just are a bit... big to handle. They're also not the standard Cadian-pattern lads either. This is for a number of reasons, some of them now slightly outdated. See I really did not like the old plastic Cadians, for all sorts of reasons but lets just say 'shoulders' and move on. Plus I'm a real fan of the old glory of being able to have a bunch of different looking regiments rubbing shoulders in a sector. So while these days I love the plastic Cadians, back when these were bought, I was hunting for an alternative look and feel. Because I had just buttloads of armour, I knew I wanted to have a cavalry style regiment, wide open spaces... big sweeping charges... sounds kind of deserty doesn't it?

Another legacy factor was rules: the old Tallarn rules gave me the "feel" of tank that I wanted, fast moving and hard charging. So Tallarn was on my mind anyway. Then I discovered Victoria Miniatures, a former Golden Demon winning painter now minting a variety of lovely guardsmen of varying tones and vintages. I held off for a while, then she produced a female range to support the somewhat older male squads and, dear reader, I was doomed. So now the proud owner of a fair whack of infantry I proceeded to put it in a box and pretend it didn't exist while other shiny objects waved themselves in my face (looking at you Genestealers, and the Word Bearers, um, ahem, and the Drukhari... I've got focus problems, ok?). But finally, the time is now, emerging from some painting doldrums and encouraged by other Bunker Dwellers it is the time of the Imperial Guard at last!

When you are dealing with a non-GW range, you have certain obstacles to overcome, a lot of which turn out to be equipment. Fortunately for me, most of these restrictions favoured my view of how the guard should be. So we've got sergeants with bolters for example, not a huge fan of the close combat guard sergeant. I also wanted "Kessarine doctrine" to be evident in their armament rather than just in-game effectiveness. So with long ranges and clean lines of sight, designated marksmen with sniper rifles made a nice thematic choice for the special weapons. Are they a good choice? Nah. But I don't care, they look cool and feel right. I was also without elements like vox-casters, fortunately Harvey came to my aid with a bunch of excess Scions vox packs. They're lovely bits of kit and fit quite nicely on the Kessarine. 

I also took the executive decision that infantry-squad based heavy weapons would not be on the team bases. I really don't like the look of the big base among all the normal ones and makes for weird terrain interactions. So while making it that a D2 weapon will kill off both lads in one hit, I based them individually. I'm fortunate in that the Beard Bunker is a permissive place, open to such heresies. I'd also decided that the Kessarine like their squads mobile so I'd model all infantry squad based heavy weapons as shoulder mounted, leaving the carriages and emplacements for the heavy weapon squads intended to lag behind and provide support. 

As far as painting goes, I wanted to focus on a mass effect for the Kessarine rather than going to heavy on individual details, after all, they're 60 points of extremely killable humans and I'd already made that mistake with the Word Bearer cultists... As a result, my scheme leans heavily on thinned paint over a pale base and the awesome power of washes. If you want to paint like a Kessarine, here's the method:

First prime the model in wraithbone, then paint the whole dang thing with a fat brush and a thinned coat of Vallejo German Camo Beige. That becomes the fatigues colour and means that any bits you miss won't be pure brilliant white. Then, basecoat as follows:

  • Headscarf and puttees: Vallejo Deck Tan
  • Trousers: Deathworld Forest
  • Straps:Vallejo Khaki Grey
  • Leather: Vallejo Leather Brown
  • Skin: Vallejo Beige Brown
  • Equipment: Ammo US Modern Vehicles (this is the colour that all my tanks are going to be)

Then slosh a thinned down Agrax Earthshade over the whole model. Then seriously, leave it overnight, adding water to washes really slows down the drying time. Once this is dry, give the headscarfs a drybrush of Deck Tan again. Paint the metalwork a nice dark silver (I used Army Painter Gunmetal mixed with black). Any cables or rubbery bits get Vallejo Dark Rubber, lenses get Dark Reaper and then it's on to another wash. Nuln Oil over the metalwork, boots and rubber. The skin gets a neat Agrax Earthshade wash. 

Finally, the highlights and details. Skin gets highlighted first in Beige Brown then with a bit of Cadian Fleshtone chucked in for fine highlights. Eyes are Pallid Wych Flesh with the normal black dot. Any Equipment that needs a highlight gets US Modern Vehicle with a bit of Deck Tan added. Finally, add a little coloured triangle to the right sleeve armour for squad markings and done! Basing was first with texture paint, then Baneblade Brown with a Terminatus Stone drybrush. Gamers Grass dry tufts and Spikey Brown tufts give a nice "parched grass and creosote bushes" vibe and seals the deal. 

But now we need to start meeting the Kessarine, I'm a lore addict after all, and who better to meet them than through the eyes of their Commissar, the imposing Invictus Dravland pictured above. God I love that powerfist, too bad they're not allowed any more, again, we're ignoring that... But let's let the man talk shall we?

"Deployment log commences 807.023.M42, C-company, 1st Motor Batallion, Kessarine 4th Armoured Brigade, officer responsible for the log: Commissar Invictus Dravland.

"We recieved today the news that our active deployment has moved up, we are no longer being deployed directly into crusade operations supporting the main thrust against the hivefleet. Instead, with the Eridani sector becoming an increasingly and unexpectedly hot zone we are being deployed to the home sector to defend and stabilise the situation. Privately this pleases me as there is something terribly ungallant about fighting the Tyranid. One wants to have a sentient take one's life if necessary, not a barely thinking insect. 4th Armoured have been working up and seasoning the men in the regular operations against the feral Ork population infesting this world and I do believe we are ready for deployment. 

"A few notes on the Kessarine for any successor that might need to take over this posting. First, there is an appended gazateer entry for the basic data on the world. More importantly, their character. They are a hard people, the Kessarine, shaped by an extremely unforgiving environment containing more than it's fair share of terrors. Oh, do not refer to Kessarine as a "death world" despite how it may feel to an outsider. They absolutely reject this classification and point to the polar gardens (which I think maybe 8% of all Kessarine might actually see) and the rings of fortress cities defending them as evidence of safe and comfortable habitation. Sure, this might be true. Then there is the other 9/10ths of the planet which will dessicate or consume you if you are the least unwary. Even before you get to the additional dangers, of Orks, of the local fauna - seriously, the scorpion xenoforms that the 4th take as a campaign badge are horrifying. Let alone the damn serpents that hiss along under the sand and can take an entire truck when full grown. But no, it's no death world. <sighs> Timestamp for potential tone edit. Where was I..?

"Ah yes, the character of the Kessarine. This has truly been a fortunate posting, the Kessarine are disciplined, polite, pious and close knit. Discipline violations are rare but tend to be severe. The politeness of the Kessarine is cloaking a long, long fuse that when it burns out tends to result in blades and blood on the deck plating. We have the weirdest ratio of grevious bodily harm to theft violations. The overall picture though is of a well behaved regiment. Don't expect them to do well in static garrison, they love to manoever, natural cavalrymen always wanting someone to bring them the next horizon. Very fluid with it, you'll often find them abandoning the trucks if they're too slow keeping up and just clambering on the Russes of the 11th Armoured that C-company are supporting and just riding with the tanks themselves. Don't try and fight it, you'll get the best out of them if you just let them play to their instincts.

"I'll continue with some more detailed files on the officer corps, but for now sergeants Prabu and Tavade are up for inspection pre-embarkation and it does my soul good to turn up to those things early. Record halt."

And with that, we are done for the day too, there'll be another couple of infantry posts as I get through the toughest painting of the army before lovely, lovely, fun tanks. Oh, and Victoria Minaitures just did a kickstarter of a bunch of different rough riders and you'd better believe I got a whole bunch of those. So expect horsie fun in the future. I'd love to hear any questions or comments you have and I'm really looking forward to building the lore of the Kessarine 4th Armoured. Until next time, lovely people


*I confessed here to the fact that this army's collection began in, um, 2007...


  1. I've always liked that Commissar figure and I'm really feeling the shine on that pleather jacket of his.

    Also, thank you VERY MUCH, I lost at least an hour this morning to ogling Victoria Miniatures infantry (those Ogryns! the immaculate second edition vibe!) and... no, I'm NOT doing a Guard regiment, but it's a close run thing every time I see some neat not!Valhallans.

    1. Sorry-not-sorry :D (one of us, one of us)

      And thank you! He has to be the member of the Kessarine 4th suffering the most from heat exhaustion at any given time but such a wonderful model


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