As I said in my article about the new “Assault Intercessors with Jump Packs”, “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.” When GW announced the Primaris version of both of these at the same time, I got quite excited. The fact that GW were painting them in Raven Guard colours on the box really wasn’t helping my chill.
|Puberty finally hits Billy Birdman.
|New scale comparison.
Specific rules for Raven Guard have varied, but certainly at one point I could have Assault Marines as Troops (when such things mattered) as long as I had at least one unit of Scouts. It has always been a core part of their lore that they use a lot of Scouts, both because their numbers are perpetually low (insert your choice of reasoning here) and because, for a long time Scouts were the only stealth troops available in Marine armies. Certainly in my Firstborn army I went hard on Scouts. All done I had 36 Scouts, including 10 lovingly converted to have bolters and camo-cloaks and an illegal Sergeant Telion (why should the Ultramarines have a Scout character but not the Raven Guard?!). Plus three Land Speeder Storms to transport them.
What are Scouts for?
Before I started building them, I had a think about what Scouts actually are and do in the 41st Millenium. It’s common knowledge that they are neophyte Space Marines, busy getting battlefield experience before they are ready to be inducted as full brothers. What they did in the setting used to be heavily determined by the models (as with everything in 40k) but the expansion of weapon options, and the inclusion of Phobos stealth troops meaning they are no longer a necessary part of the chapter lineup, frees one up to think sensibly about what they’d actually do.
Back in 2010, Forgeworld released an amazing sourcebook for Raven Guard players; Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem. This was a lore and rules supplement presented as a historical textbook telling of a military campaign with the Raven Guard (and Elysian Drop Troops) fighting against Orks. Honestly the rules may be out of date but this book is still well worth reading.
|Example of the lovely artwork within Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem. Image Credit: Games Workshop, used without permission for illustrative purposes only.
In this campaign, Scouts are deployed ahead of the main force and they are used as Scouts should be used. They scout. They sneak around on Land Speeders and spy on enemy formations. They rarely get involved and are largely unseen. This is what I want my Scouts to do.
So, a small unit whose main job is scouting, rather than front line combat. When they do engage, they ambush smaller forces, distract and disrupt, hit targets of opportunity and then fade away. They’re not there to fight battles; if a big fight is required, call in the Battle Brothers by drop pod/thunderhawk and maybe hang around to watch and/or assist from the sidelines.
With that in mind, a sniper rifle for assassinating key targets and a missile launcher for hitting a vulnerable harder target, such as a fuel dump or grounded aircraft. Both from a safe distance. Then they
run away tactically withdraw. The rest of the unit are just there to assist. Armed with bolters with the aim of only using them if they get pursued and need to fight their way clear. Melee is absolutely a last resort.
When the kit first got announced, Harvey was quick to chum up with me and offer to split it. His Black Templars already have plenty of bowl-cut clad Novitiates from the Crusade Squad box, he just wanted the filthy Xenos. Lovely, 10 Scouts for me. But then Drew mentioned she too liked the Scorpions so I fell over myself to also offer to split a box with her too. 20 Scouts. Reinforcements inbound!
I had high hopes from the images GW had shared, but once I cracked open the kit, I was delighted to find they were everything I had hoped for. They’re beautifully sculpted, and the kit goes together very easily with sensible mould line locations. You can mostly swap arms between the different torso/leg sets (there are a few combos where a low held botgun would clash with a leg) so you can mix in some variety of poses quite easily. But just like Navejo weavers left in imperfections to allow the spirit out, GW has left in a few flaws in the kit that let my creative spirit fly free.
Firstly the sniper. I don’t much like his pose in the first place, but I certainly don’t want 4 of that pose. It’s far too unique to have duplicates. So time for some conversions! This first chap was pretty reserved, I just fixed the pose with a simple arm swap and changed the head direction.
For the second sniper I wanted to do something more interesting, so I took a boltgun pose I liked and swapped out the weapon. I’d previously done this a lot converting my Firstborn squad of bolters with camo cloaks from snipers, so this was simply a reverse. Remove the boltgun from its hands, but leave the forgrip in place. Then carefully remove the sniper rifle from the one hand holding it, slice out the foregrip and substitute it. The size isn’t a perfect match, so it does take a little bit of work to get a perfect fit, but after several cycles of dry fitting and filing, I got it right.
Secondly, the sergeant head is very cool and makes him nicely stand out, but there’s only one obviously Sergeant head, so unless you want every sergeant to have a beard and mohawk, some creativity is demanded. Admittedly it’s not that big a deal in this current edition of rules where there is no mechanical difference beyond wargear options, but it just feels right. For my second sergeant I mixed up some bits to have a guy with the chest thingumy and a pointing hand, so he should be pretty clearly the sergeant.
There’s also some interesting size differences in this kit that I hadn’t expected. Most obviously, the shoulder pads have scaled up much more than the rest of the scout, being now almost but not quite as big as power armour. I’ve seen at least one eBay seller selling custom mk6/scout shoulder pads but they are not the same size so some buyers may be disappointed. But looking at the overall silhouette of the model they ended up with, I do think they got it right. They look great.
|L-R: Old Scout, New Scout, Power Armour
Also, for reasons that are beyond me, the boltguns are bigger. Phobos bolt-carbines are pretty much the same size as firstborn boltguns, and they share the same basic statline. Scout boltguns, which have the exact same statline as a firstborn boltgun, are bigger, falling somewhere between a boltgun and a bolt rifle. Why? No idea. Presumably there is some slight difference that is below the resolution of a d6 based game, but another take is that scouts are running around with artificially weighted training boltguns to get them used to bolt rifles? It’s not that big of a deal, but it does sadly mean you lose some cross compatibility between kits.
|T-B: Phobos Bolt Carbine, Firstborn Boltgun, Scout Boltgun, Primaris Bolt Rifle
Raven-eyed readers may have noticed a familiar face in the photos above, one Sergeant Telion of the Ultramarines. I always felt it unfair that the Ultramarines were the only chapter to get a Scout character, so I stole him and filed that ugly U off his left shoulder. He’s served valiantly as Sergeant Khira for years. With the new upgrade, even though you can lead scouts with Phobos Captains now, I still wanted my Scout character so I converted a new model to use as Telion.
He’s basically the sniper body, with a scout boltgun that I pimped with the scope and mag you get in the Raven Guard Upgrades and Transfers kit and a suppressor taken from an Eliminator’s bolt sniper rifle. The head was picked out of my bits box as being suitably patriciany, and is a standard space marine head; but beyond it being a recent good quality sculpt I couldn’t tell you which kit it was from. One internet point to anyone who can identify it in the comments. (Charlie: I'm pretty sure it's from the Bladeguard kit.)
Technically it is legal for me to use him in 10th, even though he has the Ultramarine keyword (not that that ever stopped me before) but of course he’s Legends now. I have to say, as can be the case with Legends, he’s not terribly well balanced. I’m going to ignore his ability to let the entire unit he has joined have [PRECISION] because having your character sniped with a krak missile or two is going to lead to some bad feels.
Ironically, for a cheaper less powerful unit, scouts are actually far more complicated to paint than Intercessors. But I am no less lazy, so as usual I thought about how I could paint them that would minimise my effort. Previously I started with the black armour, undercoated then drybrushed, then very carefully painted in the fatigues, trying to minimise mistakes and cleaning up as best I could afterwards (drybrushing being one of those techniques you can never perfectly repair). I've now shifted to basecoating the fatigues before the drybrush, then drybrushing both at the same time. This way you get a much easier and more effective cleanup stage so you can be much quicker and messier with the basecoating, and you get a highlight on the fatigues (which I simply didn’t do before). This subtle difference makes painting a little quicker and the end result slightly better.
- Spray Chaos Black
- Basecoat fatigues Stormvermin Fur
- Basecoat aquila Mechanicus Standard Grey
- Clean up armour with Abaddon Black
- Drybrush everything with Dawnstone Dry
- Wash fatigues and aquila Nuln Oil
- Paint everything else
To be honest the Dawnstone doesn't stand out that much on the other greys, it’s not a very strong highlight, the main benefit is very much the speed and consistency you get by applying it everywhere.
The only other thing of note with this scheme is I took the opportunity to change the webbing colour from Catachan Flesh, which I have used on all my Primaris Marines up to now, to Thondia Brown. The latter came out after I started painting my army, but I prefer it a bit, there’s a little more richness to it.
|Veteran Sergeant Khira
Ready to Deploy
So, there we have two squads of scouts and a character to lead them. I’ve got 9 more chaps on sprue still, but I’m going to leave them for a while. The painting was pretty tedious and I need a rest. At the moment I’m thinking I might have a third squad with a heavy bolter instead of a missile launcher, mostly for variety. I really can’t see myself wanting either shotgun or melee scouts, but who knows what the future holds.
I can’t wait to get these boys on the table, although I have noticed that in the few weeks it took me to build and paint them they’ve already been nerfed with a points hike. C’est la vie.