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Oops New Battle Company

Look, things just get out of hand sometimes, you know?

It was never my intention to collect an entire company, these things just happen.  I was talking to Charlie recently about his long-term goals for his incredibly beautifully painted Cobalt Scions.  Initially he’d planned it to be a small self-contained force as a focussed project, given that he has painted every model to a high character-worthy standards; however as it had kept on growing and he kept on enjoying it he eventually set his sights on a full battle company.

For my part I told him that I had no specific intentions of completing a battle company, I was just collecting.  I don’t number my squads anyway, so I really had no sense of how they fitted into the company structure, but given enough time I figured I’d probably get there eventually anyway.  Afterall, I am putting vastly less effort into painting than he is, and my much lower standards mean I can comfortably knock out a unit in a quarter of the time. Curious though, I started counting.  95 Marines, not counting vehicles, characters or attached elements of the 1st and 10th companies.  Well shit.  

At that point I realised I did want to complete a battle company, it was such a major milestone and so close I was suddenly motivated to get there.  I’d had a Chaplain, Apothecary and Librarian sitting on my desk waiting to be painted for years at this point, so this was the motivation I needed to finally get around to painting them to complete company command.  I cleared my desk of all but Astartes, knuckled down, ordered the last 5 men I needed, had a brief unrelated mental health crisis, and got them done.  Et voila, one completed battle company.

Raven Guard 5th Company 'The Watchful'

Anatomy of a Primaris Battle Company

Gone are the simple days of the 6 Tactical, 2 Assault and 2 Devastator squads to make a company.  Nevertheless, Codex Astartes Space Marines still talks about a battle company being made up of 10 squads of 10 men, 6 Battleline, 2 Close Support and 2 Fire Support.  The Raven Guard being mostly, but not completely, Codex compliant, have taken this as more of a guideline than a hard rule.  

As it happened, when I took a count and realised just how close I was to completing a battle company, I was almost spot on with the proportions and just a little short on Battleline, handily helping me to make the choice about what to add for the last 5 needed to complete the company (more Intercessors).

Another 5 bringing Squad Phryn up to 10

In my head I find it fitting that the Raven Guard are far more comfortable fighting in smaller units, so I don’t have 10 squads of 10 split into different combat squads, I have instead got 19 squads, mostly of 5 or 3 men.  Also worth noting I’m classing my carbine-armed Reivers as battleline, they’re no better equipped for close assault than Infiltrators or Incursors and their role is no different from Intercessors in a drop-pod.  

Corax would not have approved of skull-masked terror-troops

Raven Guard 5th Company 'The Watchful'

Company Command

  • Command
    • Shadow Captain Yiraka
    • Lieutenant Nykona
    • Lieutenant Colfaen - mortally wounded and transferred to a Dreadnought, replacement pending
    • Chaplain Moradus
    • Apothecary Orlos
    • Librarian Aethon
    • Techmarine Tykor
  • Battleline
    • Squad Phryn - 10 Intercessors
    • Squad Vykus - 10 Intercessors
    • Squad Qeld - 10 Heavy Intercessors
    • Squad Klyvorn - 5 Incursors
    • Squad Kasz - 10 Infiltrators
    • Squad Ordaris  - 5 Infiltrators
    • Squad Strekys - 5 Reivers
  • Close Support
    • Squad Aibek - 10 Assault Intercessors
    • Squad Reszan - 5 Assault Intercessors
    • Squad Aevar - 5 Vanguard
    • Squad Slyte - 3 Aggressors
  • Fire Support
    • Squad Saserys - 3 Eliminators
    • Squad Rescydic - 3 Eliminators
    • Squad Tyrvus - 5 Hellblasters
    • Squad Kyorn - 5 Desolators
    • Squad Kraephen - 3 Eradicators
    • Squad Drysk - 3 Suppressors
  • Attached Units
    • Squad Estavo - 3 Bladeguard - 1st company
    • Veteran Sergeant Khira - 10th Company
    • Squad Trasyr - 5 Scouts - 10th Company
    • Squad Koryn - 5 Scouts - 10th Company
  • Armoury
    • Brother Colfaen - Brutalis Dreadnought
    • Brother Draevus - Redemptor Dreadnought
    • Brother Navaer - Invictor Dreadnought
    • Gontrand - Storm Speeder Hammerstrike
    • Badb - Storm Speeder Thunderstrike
    • Morrígan - Gladiator Lancer
    • Karšift - Impulsor
    • Fechín - Stormhawk
    • Fiachna - Stormhawk
    • Huginn - Stormtalon
    • Muninn - Stormtalon
    • Uluutuar - Stormraven
    • Kutcha - Stormeagle

So, that’s where the 5th Company stands at time of posting.  Right now that’s 5,045 points.  All painted and table ready.  The breakdown is 55 Battleline, 23 Close Support and 22 Fire Support.  Split another way, I have 45 Tacticus, 39 Phobos and 16 Gravis. I have made sure to have at least one of each unit type for each armour type (allowing for conversions such as my Vanguard legally being Firstborn but being modelled as Phobos), and given that I have models for Shadow Captain Yiraka in all three armours, I could deploy a reasonably balanced force in any armour type.   

Legally Firstborn but modelled here in Phobos armour

Given that this army grew completely organically, I’m quite pleased with how well it has ended up fitting the theme and proportions of a Raven Guard company.  As is evident, I’ve leaned heavily into Phobos troops and skimmer/flyer vehicles.  That said, given that Primaris tanks are canonical air-droppable, I’m keen to expand my ground armour somewhat too.  For now I have started with an air-droppable sniper tank, the most Raven Guard of all tanks.  I also have lots of jump pack units and attached scouts, as has long been the tradition of Raven Guard.  

Ka-kaw!

Collecting

I’ve been collecting Raven Guard for somewhere in the region of 20 years.  I started out collecting pretty much whatever landed in my lap, beginning with Ultramarines and Orks, then later adding Chaos and Tau kind of accidentally.  Raven Guard were the first army where I specifically decided to start collecting them, and did so with a, well, maybe not a plan, but with some specific intentions.  A thematic army, with plenty of conversions and details I enjoy, with an easy but passable paint scheme I won’t hate.  

When Primaris came out, I didn’t like the look of them next to Firstborn, and held off getting any until the range was broad enough to stand alone.  For me this happened at the start of 9th edition.  Everything was still very Covidy then, but Andy and I agreed to start a little Crusade with 500pts (mostly played in the back garden keeping 3m apart to begin with), and we would work up from there.  

Covid-safe Garden-hammer

I began with a very Phobos heavy army, fitting the narrative of an investigative Task Force, but as the conflict escalated I brought in more diverse and heavier units.  I spent a lot of time thinking about converting myself some Scouts and jump pack troops, and did eventually break and make myself some Primaris Vanguard Veterans, but I was confident GW would reintroduce them in time, and indeed they did.  

The only units I have brought over from my Firstborn army are the flyers.  You can’t really tell from the outside that the pilots are shorter than Primaris Marines, so they look fine alongside their bigger brothers, and having a massive air wing is part of my brand.  Of course if GW ever bring out new Primaris flyers (Overlord Gunship anyone?) I’ll be right on that too.  These days it’s legal to put Primaris in the transports, but even when it wasn’t we ignored that dumb rule anyway.


5th Company's attached air wing

Making it my own

The non-Raven-Guard-initiated probably don’t know our weird history of codex semi-compliance.  GW has changed the rules with Raven Guard a few times.  At the time when I started collecting, the Raven Guard didn’t use shoulder trim to denote companies. Instead they coloured just the right pauldron trim and used it to denote unit type.  

Image Credit: Games Workshop, used without permission for illustrative purposes only.

I wasn’t a fan, and whilst painting my first unit I decided I preferred them plain black.  So I decided to collect the 5th company (company colour: black) and paint them in a more standard codex manner.  Handily, GW later changed the rules and decided that these days they still only paint the right trim (or left on Phobos because it’s all they have) but the colour denotes the company as per the Codex.  So I have retroactively become correct.  In my head this isn’t a retcon by GW, but the Raven Guard actually changing things up because Bobby G came back so now they’re pretending they were always compliant.  

Image Credit: Games Workshop, used without permission for illustrative purposes only.

I also don’t love the full white arms for Veterans.  The sneakiest of beakies shouldn’t have white arms; we’re ravens, not magpies.  Similarly these days GW seems to paint their guns silver, and I have no idea if that is a recent change or if I’ve been doing that wrong all along, but I don’t care.  If in doubt, listen to the Rolling Stones and “Paint It, Black”.  

As per the original plan, I have tried to pack the army with small conversions.  The Primaris Upgrades and Transfers set helped, and nearly every model has some kind of raven fetish, but I’ve also festooned the models with extra tacti-cool gear like rope and bipods and so forth raided from other kits.  Whilst my Firstborn army was a good 95% beakie helmets, it seemed reasonable to me that with Primaris having all new gear, they wouldn’t needlessly throw away all those helmets, but every Sergeant, officer and even some entire veteran units have them.  

Beyond that, the army is littered with wildly unnecessary conversions.  Minor things that will largely go unnoticed, but all add a little bit of flavour and uniqueness to the army if you look closely.  My recent jump pack intercessors are the most obvious offenders here, with a tonne of modelling effort going into that unit with no functional difference, including blending two different kits together, but it extends throughout the entire company.  

Loads of converting effort for no mechanical difference, just the pleasure of the craft

Whilst 40k is an army scaled game, I’ve always liked the idea that most squads could operate independently, as per many tales in the lore.  As such from the very beginning I modelled squad medics and tech specialists.  In my head, these are trainees, battle brothers who show promise and are being trained up to eventually become Apothecaries and Techmarines.  As seems to be a running theme, GW eventually caught up to this too and invented the Helix Adept for the Infiltrators.  

Tech-Adepts and Helix-Adepts

I’ve definitely had to temper my urge towards depicting my somewhat Reasonable-Marine army as completely practical and realistic.  If you’re really going to sneak around then having a bright white symbol on your chest and shoulder, and shiny metal weapons, is a bad idea.  But sensible practical models look boring.  

I learned this a long time ago when GW first (post-RT) released the Scout models and I was collecting Ultramarines.  Having them bright blue was obviously silly, so I painted them in full camo with blacked out weapons. They looked like absolute garbage.  Meanwhile the ‘stupid’ GW paintjob in bright blue still looked really good.  Likewise all the most important models in the army having a special helmet is absolute sniper-bait.  There comes a time in every hobbyist’s life when they have to accept that their plastic toy soldiers with chainsaw swords and laser guns are not entirely realistic. 

What next?

Whilst I have completed the bare minimum for a Battle Company, I am far from finished collecting Raven Guard.  Of all my many armies, they are far away my favourite.  GW has allowed for this in the lore, reinforcement squads from the reserve companies will often adopt the colours of the battle companies they join and allow me to continue adding units.  I’ve never liked the official Inceptor models but conceptually they are a very Raven Guard unit, and I do have some old plasma cannons in my bitz box, so a conversion is calling to me.  I’m sure in time there will be other units GW will add in the future that I feel the urge to collect.

Even without dipping into the reserve companies, there is plenty more for me to add.  There are some more characters I’d like to add, I’ve got a Company Champion kicking around unpainted, and I’d like to get a Gravis Apothecary and maybe convert a Gravis Techmarine too, then maybe even one each in Phobos.  I’d like to add a few more tanks, them being drop-tanks makes them far more palatable.  I’ll probably also get some Terminators to attach to the company, and I have some more Scouts on sprue.  

This is a major milestone for my army, but at the same time it feels like I’ve only just completed the basics and can really start to get into it.  I’d say “watch this space”, but we’re the Raven Guard.  We’ll be watching you.  

Victorus aut Mortis

Comments

  1. Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment. Wildly unnecessary conversions are my jam these days, so much appreciated.

    My own asperations of a full company went down in flames when the Primaris models came out and made the old ones look like short dwarves, but my kid is still filling up GW's coffers buying Marines, so it all balances out.

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    1. Thanks! I cut my teeth in this hobby when converting was a major part of it, the only way you could get plenty of the units and options in the Codex. These days it's kind of flipped the other way around, sometimes having to invent new rules for the conversions I want to make.

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  2. Everything is airdroppable once.
    Congrats on the Battle Company. The enemy would surely be theoretically terrified at the sight of a hundred battle brothers- unfortunately no enemy has ever seen them coming.

    I like the little flourishes you've added to make them your marines, and the more beaky helmets I see the happier my day is.

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    1. Thanks dude. It was very tempting to go full beaky as I had with my Firstborn, but I do rather like the new Primaris helmets too (much more than the mk7 shouty face, which I never loved), so I went for the mix.

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  3. Dear Tom,

    Congratulations on escalating the Everest of hobbies, and happy codex-compliance anniversary to you!

    Thank you for all your good advice throughout this year - your tips on drybrushing metals on Necrons with ArmyPainter drybrushes form the core of my new "Slapchop+Contrast" painting workflow, and make army & squad-building goals to a satisfying amount of quality achievable at last.

    Take care, and tahank you again for all the good stuff.

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    1. Well, here's hoping I survive the descent and people don't end up using me as a waypoint later named simply "Phobos Boots Guy".

      I'm glad you're having a good time with drybrushing, it's certinaly my favourite and most used technique, although I've never tried full underpainting/slapchop. I've also never used ArmyPainter brushes, my current drybrushes are all cheap makeup brushes recommended to me by Charlie. But it really is very satisfying to be able to produce results you are happy with in a timescale you don't hate.

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  4. When you told me you'd completed a Battle Company, I didn't realise it was (almost) by accident! Haha. So well done!

    I'm glad to hear it motivated you to clear a little of your pile of shame. Presumably those last few commanders aren't ones you're interested in feeling very often?

    The conversions all had a lot of nice detail. I'm assuming you didn't go overboard with converting those last few?

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