Thursday, July 10, 2014

Community Topics: Centurions DIY Marine Chapter

For probably 2 years now, Kraut Scientist has been on me about writing a detailed series on my Centurions Marine Chapter. Considering I promised I'd write what was requested of me in the comments of my birthday post, KS gets his wish!

This is a force that took over 14 months of work to complete, from assembly to paint and to play. This army was chosen as a Players' Choice the first year I brought it to the Adepticon 40K Championships, and won Best Artisan in the Combat Patrol twice. So I'm honestly not sure why it's taken me so long to write about what has been my most successful and highly converted army to date.

This will be a series of articles, as there's just far too much to cover in a single go. However I do promise in-depth conversion details with pictures, how I did it, parts I used, and painting techniques.

I guess I really should have done this sooner, huh?

So in this initial start to the Centurions coverage, I wanted to give a backstory. Not truly focusing on the story of the chapter form a fictional perspective, but more along the lines of the creative process of creating a DIY chapter from the initial inspiration, all the way to it's final inception and everything in-between.

The Centurions started out as a concept way back in 2007, when I wanted to have an answer to my love of ancient Greco-Roman aesthetics in a marine chapter. Yes, I'm perfectly aware that much of the Space Marine look is built upon this aesthetic, with the Ultramarines leaning heavily on it and the Iron Snakes and Minotaurs truly embodying it. However, I wanted something that I could call my own….that, and a good friend of mine was already planning an Iron Snakes army. So back at the 2007 Chicago Games Day, I bought 4 Red Scorpions upgrade packs, as the Mk 1V chest plate somewhat looked like an armor breastplate, and shelved them for the idea. (And yes, while Sanguinary Guard chests would have been PERFECT for the moulded chest armor of old, that it hadn't even been close to coming out yet, so I lost out a bit. Ah well.) I also made one last great bits order from GW the month before they closed that down forever, ordering 30 Honor Guard Accessory Sprues from the Marneus Calgar box. That sprue had both a sheathed roman-esque sword and an unsheathed gladius-style one. Perfect.

In 2008 I decided that enough was enough, and I was going to create this force. I sold my Black Templar army and with the money, I truly started planning. I was going to do it as a Blood Angel successor using many key parts of that force as identifiers in the theme, creating "Gladiators" out of the Death Company, "Hoplites" out of Jump Pack Assault Marines and then continue from there. Mind you, this was before the newest Blood Angel codex was out, but this was an incarnation I was wrapping my head around that could work. I ordered 20 combat shield from Battlewagon Bits to use to represent a shield phalanx theme in each tactical squad, and found/traded/bought 50 black templar Mk 8 Errant style heads to achieve a look more akin to armored helms. I also purchased 5 packs of heads from MaxMini to pillage their plumes from so every helmet would have a horsehair crest.

In the midst of all this planning, buying, converting and sculpting, the Space Wolves codex came out. I'm not usually one to jump on a bandwagon, but this codex gave me far more flexibility and thematic possibilities than the Blood Angels one did, so I jumped ship and started to re-plan as a Space Wolves counts-as army. Why? Each Roman regiment had their own standard, now so each Grey Hunter Squad would as well. I could easily model the glades swords onto the Grey Hunters and actually have it mean something since they are equipped with Bolter, Pistol and CCW, so I would. And the Roman Legions had cavalry, so I could now as well. So much theme and story and converting opportunities that I just couldn't pass up. The Hoplites and Gladiators were scrapped, but I gained so much more. I will admit though, there are times I wish I would have been able to make the Gladiators. Maybe if they ever release 13th Company rules…

From a 40K perspective on their story, I decided to make them an Ultramarines successor who's initial founding was sponsored by the Iron Snakes. 10 Veteran Iron Snakes left their Chapter to train the newly founded Centurions, which is where the Centurions get much of their fighting style. Where the Centurions' armor is stylized and painted to look like beaten bronze, with parchment and blood accent colors, these 10 veterans kept their steel colored plate with only a single kneepad repainted in the Centurions' color to show their origins, as well as their future. To this day, these most revered artifacts of the chapter are worn by any who earn the right to, be they the Master, Oracle (Rune Priest), Captain or Sergeant. On their left shoulder they bear the crested red helm of the Centurions, and on the left shoulder is the lambda symbol that was so prevalent in the Spartan culture, showing their duty to the Imperium, the Emperor and to each other. Their left knee is painted in a a defining pattern based on what company they belong to, and their squad designation is centered under the lambda on their right shoulder.

This army is one of the key elements that made me want to start a blog in the first place. Kind of ironic that it's taken me this long to actually write about it, eh?

Like I said, this is more of a creative process and history of the army article. The following in this series will detail the models, conversion and painting techniques and more. Any thoughts as to which element you'd want me to cover first? HQ, Troops, etc.? KrautScientist, I'm looking at you here!

- Tim



  1. Brilliant. I am glad you are doing this!

  2. What a great force. It's nice to see an army built from a hobby perspective.

  3. Awwwwww yeah - Those look fantastic, and I really dig the thought you put into it. Great stuff, man!

  4. Really happy to see folks interested in this army still :)

  5. I am really glad, both because I kept nagging you about this and because you finally shared a closer look at these guys with us! Thank you, Tim!

    Even though this army's a couple of years old now, it's still a standout project, I think: It seems to have been a labour of love, and it shows -- there's this look that you only get if someone poured himself heart and soul into a project. Amazing job!

    As for how to continue this series of posts, since getting a closer look at highly customised armies is really one of the greatest treats in the hobby for me, any way to continue would be fine by me. Just make it detailed and juicy, you hear? ;)