Oh I wish my work was as shoddy as yours.
Really it looks like it will be very cool.
Oh I wish my work was as shoddy as yours.
Really it looks like it will be very cool.
@Uther.the.unhinged : Thank you most kindly!
A ramshackle structure towered over the battlefield, borne aloft on something which looked like timber scaffolding on wheels pulled by hundreds of lowly ratmen. This mobile tower took the form of a compressed little patrol galley, without oars and aft hull. Instead of a sail it sported a large, triangular bronze plate adorned with a rat king encircled by a tattered laurel wreath.
A garish smattering of hide-bound kite shields encrusted its wooden flanks in tasteless fashion, as if the filthy rat folk had once seen human galleys sporting warriors’ shields hanging along their sides, and attempted to replicate the look based on hearsay and sloppy enthusiasm. The result was a tacky plastering of shields without pattern or order, a chaotic jumble that contrasted with the symmetrical pleasure bridge of the landborne vessel.
Upon this bridge, a depraved sorcerer reclined on a divan coated in untarnished silks, clad in a purple toga of the same exotic material. Not a single hole could be seen gnawed or torn in his luxurious fabrics, and likewise the sorcerer’s body was pristine, without malformed parts or scars. His physique was that of a tall athlete, still at his muscular prime yet bulked out with a generous coat of fat born from orgiastic indulgences and shameful feasting at opulent banquets.
The horned verminkin sorcerer paid no heed at all to the battlefield below him, for his entire attention was focused upon satiating his base desires in the most decadent ways imaginable. Serving slaves tended to his every need, fanning his tanned hide, refilling his silver goblet and attending to his fleshly needs by means of clawed hands performing a wicked massage with expert care.
In fact the entire ship contraption was obscene. A careful observer borne aloft on a winged steed would have been able to count twentytwo exposed phalli, crafted or natural, living flesh or dead trophies, and that number included the ship’s long ram. Bells clanged as the ramshackle construct shook and swayed high above the teeming, skittering battlelines, and occasionally coins, wine amphorae and other heaped treasures would spill over the railing and rain down to the ground with clatter and bangs.
The sorcerous rat master seemed oblivious to the mortal danger which he had placed himself in, whether from the acute risk of his crude, towering vehicle toppling over, or from foeman deeds. He emanated an arrogant and lusty self-confidence, laidback and carefree, nobly bred and spoiled rotten in his prime. His bearing was lordly yet was strangely bereft of any suspicious glances and paranoid arrangements to protect his back from assassination and treachery. Reclining there on the divan, spilling fine wine on his rich clothes while a slave girl busied herself at his rolled-up toga, the ratman seemed an incarnation of hubris and sin.
In fact, the horned party wizard commanded undying and absolute loyalty from the handful of heavily armoured guards that were strewn across his landship tower. These were placed on the aft deck and on little wooden platforms at starboard and port, hefting sharp polearms and beating a drum made from human skin. Their martial presence reinforced the impression of might, for armed violence is always the secret of power.
The pompous splendour and costly luxury on display was matched by crude trophies dangling from the mast. Two jawless ratman skulls were strung up under the horizontal beam, and the hanged corpse of a freshly slain and blinded southron dwarf in full wargear boasted of the far reach of the decadent warlord’s campaigns. This southern trophy was matched by an equally distant northern one, for one of the elusive frost elves of the frigid northron lands could be seen nailed to the aft of the pleasure ship, an exotic borean grotesque to match the equally strange highlander from the hot south.
Clearly, the ambitions of this sorcerous hedonist aimed to win similar noteworthy trophies from far western and far eastern lands in future wars for his baleful collection. For as his fleshly appetites were insatiable, so his hunger for power over others could not be quenched. His will to power was a cup without bottom, impossible to fill.
Time would tell if the orgiastic warlock of the middle sea would succeed in his savage quest, or whether he would meet a spectacular and grisly end to regale the songs of a thousand bards in a hundred lands for centuries to come.
And so the scratchbuilt and quicksculpted throne build for Eisenhans’ host of Skintaxmountain draws to a close after weeks of fervent sculpting, gluing, drilling and clipping. It is built to his instructions, as you probably cannot avoid noticing, with all manner of surprise features thrown in on top.
The end rush of working on it during the last two weeks or so was meticulously planned out in a long checklist of steps upon steps, and the project plans fortunately met no major hiccups, although minor corrections were required in many places when test-fitting together the components.
This was an immensely fun behemoth to build, and I realize now that it is completed that such a project to this standard for some commercial client would have amounted to easily over € 2’000 if one started to count working hours and assume that I’m cheap (which is the case). That is obviously of no matter. It’s always so fun and rewarding to help friends and brother out in the hobby!
Ladies and gentlemen, for those of you who are brave enough to gaze upon this creation, may I present to you the pleasure ship of Bill Clintus and Monica Ratzynski in flagrante delicto! The future scourge of Swedish tournaments. It will be a magnetized component which @Eisenhans can mount atop various large Skaven contraptions, depending on his army list. Since he think the concept of Roman rats is silly, I made sure to make his rat throne extremely Roman, with the kite shields as a nod to the medieval Roman/Byzantine military.
With a weight of 306 grammes and a height of 18,5 centimetres, this better be securely magnetized and fitted with strong pins and other contraptions to lock it securely in place to the ramshackle constructs it will adorn in the future. Likewise, the contraptions and their bases ought to receive extra weight to counter any top-heavy tendences. In the first place it needs to survive its gangly position if its owner shall have any chance at all of claiming prizes in tournaments’ painting competitions. A broken model claims no glory.
Large parts of the build needed to be basecoated before I glued parts together, because otherwise all manner of nooks and crannies may not have been reachable during Eisenhans’ painting later on. Ergo the messy look of the finished pictures.
At the end of this update you can find various instructions which I included for Eisenhans to follow during future assembly of loose ratmen after painting.
Planning the diorama with unglued pieces:
Planning out the shield positions for assembly, unglued. I documented which areas of which shields’ backsides needed sculpting (i.e. those in any way visible from any angle) to save on green stuff. Gluing shield pins to the hull was the last step before photography:
The plinth started out as a crow’s nest, but that idea was quickly scrapped because it drew attention away from the divan (notice how the triangular metal sail point like an arrow to the hedonist sorcerer). Instead it was given fascinus ornaments and other decorations, and its capital was very loosely based on Corinthian columns, but cloudy or wavy with no fine detail.
Note that drill holes were carefully matched between the plinth and the underside of the ship build. The right pins for the right holes were marked out by the number of bands penciled onto them. A fine marker pen was used frequently, and proved a great help for building it all to fit stuff together.
The aft sections of the ship. The platform’s rim was given egg-and-dagger decor:
A bored and lonely guardsman inspired by the ignoble example set by his boss. Note gladius and pteruges:
The Stormvermin guard force:
The Clanrat guard force. Note the clumsy gambeson cloth armour of the rightmost rat, with its bound-up sleeves and helmet made of rivetted-together metal bands; both features of Byzantine footsoldiers:
The northron trophy from distant battlefields is a Frost Elf. Fantasy Finnic Wood Elf. Given Eisenhans’ sense of humour, we might say that the knife-eared Elfling is stuck to the stinking posterior of the ship:
The southron trophy from distant battlefields is a Gavemite. Fantasy Ethiopian Dwarf. This incidentally makes Eisenhans the first owner of any such miniature in the world! Expect conversion tutorials and some miniature sculpt for casting to come in future years for this well-illustrated concept:
Bill Clintus and Monica Ratzynski with lowly feather slave, prior to assembly:
The ship prior to basecoating and assembly. Note the small symbols on the back of the mast, featuring the last human ruler of Avras quartered by four Vermin Hulks (you can find other Roman rat concept drawings here):
The finished build, land flagship of Classis Phallus Maximus Rattus Rattus! You can buy these metal amphorae here.
And finally the assembly instructions for the loose Skaven miniatures, to be glued in place once Eisenhans has painted them:
Utterly gorgeous. Brilliantly realised concept that shows the joy and possibilities of historically inspired fantasy!
Almost makes me want to play skaven/ratmen/verminkind
Not sure what word i could use as “beautifull”, “lovely”, “gorgeous” dont feel right, but “disguisting”, “deprived” and such words are too negative… I it’s a beautifully sculpted piece of a very perverted scene
i love it!
@Eisenhans Please paint this as soon as possible and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF HASHUT, POST PICTURES!
Really well done, I dig the Roman theme. After having listened to @Tyranno talking about the hobgoblin army book over on the Brazen Broadcast, I presume it’s a Ninth Age thing to give the fantasy races a historically inspired aesthetic? Makes them so much better and unique in my book.
Thinking about it, the Byzantine/Roman-ratmen connection is really fitting: for instance, if I remember correctly, the Romans dug tunnels in siege warfare to undermine the enemy’s defences. That’s what I meant, this historical connection gives so much inspiration and enthusiasm for new batshit crazy army projects. Well done, @Admiral! I have to excuse myself now and calm down a bit. Otherwise I might end up mutilating my IoB skaven.
@Uther.the.unhinged : Thank you most kindly, sir! Warms my heart to hear.
@MichaelX : Haha! Thanks a lot! And indeed he must.
@Anzu : Thank you very much! Aye, correct. In a time when so much fantasy has gone toward copyrightable IP mania and thus ditched the historical basis, T9A went in the opposite direction.
Well observed! Most fitting there. And please do mutilate some Isle of Blood Skaven to Rome 'em up.
Premier for Astro-Ungarian Infantry Conversions
Lo and behold, ladies and gentlemen! General von Dorfenhötz and his murderously optimistic plans are coming to the grim darkness of the far future near you. Prepare for glorious festive balls, uniforms with class and armies poor in morale and equipment. Brace yourselves for noble finery, gambling, partying and embezzlement. Stand to attention at the incoming footsteps of shrieking incompetence, lack of supplies, misery in the field and grand offensives cooked up by an energetic moron and unbreakable optimist. And gaze at the moustaches on display!
The Imperial and Royal forces of glorious Astro-Ungaria are being shipped out to serve the Divine Imperator and the Mortal Duarch of their homeworld. In large numbers will they march, underfunded, underequipped and with faulty training. Following the cult of the offensive, they will rush like heroes into the jaws of death, and die as martyrs like wheat before a scythe, to the clinking of crystal glasses in luxurious bunkers behind the line…
How does it feel to serve a rotting Imperium?
These are the first Astro-Ungarian conversions for my friend J.A.B. Much more will follow. Tutorials for sculpting headgear and moustaches can be found here.
I said it over in Lustria, but it bears repeating. Fantastic work all around. The hats on the Astro-Ungarians (clever by the way) are amazing. Really exquisite sculpts that really give your friends a one of a kind army. Uniquely brilliant work on all of this.
For the Emperor!
These Austro-Hungarian inspired troopers are brilliant as they are beautifully sculpted. I wouldn’t expect anything less than perfection from you. I love them.
Admittedly, I’m biased because the Austro-Hungarians are in my top three favorite historical armies, but to give them a 40k update is truly wonderful.
And I know that you’re already a wealth of information about history etc, but maybe you’ll find this useful for a quick reference to Austro-Hungarian hats for future sculpting efforts:
Emperor Karl approves.
@Bowser : Thank you most kindly! Much appreciated. The name Astro-Ungaria was invented by my friend Johan von Elak, too fun not to use in a sci-fi setting.
@Fuggit_Khan : Viva Habsburg! Thank you very much, sir! Austro-Hungarians are indeed fascinating and so much fun to learn about. About time they took to the stars.
Excellent compilation picture of headgear! Most useful. I will add it to the growing hoard of reference pictures. I hope to use variations of all of these hats in my friend’s budding army.
These quick pieces of decor for a display board were sculpted at the start of last week, before a frenzied couple of days ensued of preparing armies for a tournament. Note herm and fascinus. Naturally, the nature of the sculpts had to be in line with the army theme of @Eisenhans . He has spent half a year of mad activity on converting, sculpting and painting a massive collection of pigmen and sealmen, all fit to flesh out four full armies on a scheduled team tournament. The team tournament had to be converted to a standard single tournament, but we still showed up as a team, complete with big pig display board built by construction engineer Dennis.
Likewise, more pictures of the pig display board and a couple of anecdotes from this tournament can be found here.
Astro-Ungarian History Extracts
My friend JAB has written some background for Astro-Ungaria. Expect more writings from us in the future:
Featuring prominently in the myths of the Astro-Ungarian people is a figure almost as synonymous with heresy as the Devil Lorgar: Robou Gildemann.
Myths hold that this apostate turned against the Emperor and Divine Horus in the later days of the Devil Lorgars’ heresy, creating a pocket empire for himself as the Ruinstorm tore the firmament in half and cut of Astro-Ungaria from the greater Imperium. Legend holds that the first Duarch fought such devils as the Angels of Blood and Darkness that were sent to tempt the Duarch and Astro-Ungaria into damnation.
Astro-Ungaria held firm against these threats and when the Ruinstorm lifted they rejoined the greater Imperium, fully integrating after the scouring of the traitor Astartes legions.
Astro-Ungaria officially refused to recognize Horus as a traitor, arguing the Emperors’ perfection and the fact that Horus had been His favorite son. Indeed, the cult of the Emperor had a seat in Astro-Ungaria in all but name even then, and had not been subverted successfully by the traitors.
It comes as no surprise that Astro-Ungaria embraced the Imperial Cult openly in its earliest days as state religion.
There have been many attempts to clear up Astro-Ungarian misinterpretations regarding the events of the great heresy war but they have been largely futile. It makes little difference to all but the most stubborn of priests - Astro-Ungaria is but one of thousands of worlds with a regrettably confused view of its past.
Ultimately the truth is of little consequence, as it should be. It is enough that the Astro-Ungarians pay their tithes.
Astro-Ungarian records of their past are almost exclusively dated after the Age of Apostasy.
Comparisons to records kept by Vostroya and Krieg support claims that Astro-Ungaria was brought into Compliance by Horus yet stayed loyal during the Heresy. Simplification, rewriting, and incompetence seem to have caused the misinterpretations we see today.
There can for example be little doubt that the mythical Robou Gildemann is none other than the thirteenth primarch Roboute Guilliman. The “pocket empire” is obviously a fanciful misconstruction and likely refers to Horus’ own empire of traitors, though somewhat comically the Astro-Ungarian governor officially refused to even consider the possibility that Horus had in fact turned traitor, instead blaming Lorgar - correctly - and “Robou Gildemann” - incorrectly.
The “Angels of Blood and Darkness” must surely refer to the Word Bearers Astartes though one would be forgiven for thinking of the Blood Angels and Dark Angels. There is plenty of evidence that the crimson-painted traitors as well as both legions of the Emperors’ Angels were active in close proximity to Astro-Ungaria before and after the Heresy. The term “Angels of Blood and Darkness” is therefore likely to be another error or perhaps just coincidence.
- - -
"I have had the honor of being attached to the Royal House of Astro-Ungaria for many standard years and witnessed their training regimen with my own eye and the one granted to me by Mars many times.
The Astro-Ungarian conscripts strike imposing figures. They train in firing drills, endurance and weight lifting to reach the pinnacle of Human strength, physical and mental performance. They are arrayed in ranks clad in grey blues and rich browns. They wear many hats. Their mustasches are immaculate."
- - -
"Their are trained to fight as dictated by the Duarchs of old: with honor, in ranks, singing praise to He on Terra and they on Astro-Ungaria.
By far my favorite thing is their first taste of combat. In a few weeks, hundreds of well-fed boys are whittled down to a few dozen empty-eyed, starch-emaciated men, their optimism and ideals scoured by the brutal reality of war.
I laugh heartily at my recollections every time. Look at this pict here. You can see the horror on this younglings’ face as his comrade is being dissolved by tyranid hyperacid. Look at his eyes!"
–End of transcript. The monologue ended as the whole room burst into incoherent laughter–
— From the journals of Sergej Volkondrov, former Vostroyan attaché to the Royal House of Astro-Ungaria
- - -
"The Royal House vehemently rejects any and all claim from Macragge that Astro-Ungaria was at one point part of the 500 Worlds.
The Duarch refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Tetrarchy instated by the so-called “Primarch Roboute Guilliman”.
The Duarch will not meet with Tetrarch Felix. The office of Tetrarch is a lie. There is not, nor has there ever been a “Lord of Vespastor”."
"After careful consideration the Royal House can confidently state that there is some evidence that Roboute Guilliman could indeed be a primarch and son of the Emperor. The Royal House will appoint a commission to review the evidence further.
In other news, the Royal House has formally declared a crusade. This coincides with the larger “Indomitus Crusade” launched by the greater Imperium that citizens may have heard of. We look forward to having siblings from other worlds fight and learn at our side. For Astro-Ungaria! Prepare for mobilization."
"Do not be alarmed by the fleet in orbit. If you see space marines or foreign guardsmen on our streets, know that they are merely here to remind themselves of the glory and power of Astro-Ungaria, the Emperors’ own second favorite planet, jewel of the galactic east!
Pay no heed to rumors that they have come to remind us of our place in the Imperium, for our zeal is unmatched on this or any side of the Ultima Segmentum. If you hear these words from the Emperors’ Angels or foreigners, know that they speak in jest or that you misunderstood, as is to be expected, unused as most of you are to exotic accents. If a planetman says anything to the effect they are a seditionist, liar or fool, all of which are punishable by immidiate conscription into a penal legion."
“As a reminder of the duties of penal legionairies, should anyone need it; know that you will be expected to face career prospects such as tyranid biomonstrosities, plague warriors, ork beastmasters, and traitor astartes terminators. You will perform these duties armed with spare lasguns, sharpened toothscrapers, and rolls of paper.”
“Espandor and Iax lie in ruins. Beautiful worlds with hardy peoples. They will take centuries to recover, if they ever do. Yet monuments to mankinds’ timeless weaknesses and failure such as this endure. There is no justice in this galaxy except that which we make ourselves.”
- Attributed to Tetrarch Decimus Felix as his flagship Lord of Vespator hung in orbit above Astro-Ungaria during a diplomatic mission to hold Astro-Ungaria accountable for withholding forces from the Indomitus Crusade.
The mission was unofficially named “the Second Compliance” by ship crew.
The well-dressed ragtag regular infantry of von Dorfenhötz’s massive army marches forth under the stern gaze of a political officer of the Imperial Commissariat. Herded into the slaughter like sacrificial lambs, their warcry rings out: “For the Emperor and the Duarch!”
The Guardsmen are converted from hard plastic German infantry in winter coats of the Second World War, with Cadian arms. My friend bought them from a mate of his, who had started to convert them into Valhallans before that project was abandoned. Now, they shall serve the Duarchy. Power to the Golden Throne!
The Cadian arms and historical bodies were not a perfect fit. Some carving and filling with green stuff was needed. Notice the Genestealer cultist heads, a sign of Imperial incompetence for lacking the medicae capacity, equipment and knowledge to properly discover alien hybrid infiltration of the Astra Militarum.
Note the randomly distributed group of five fluff balls on a string on some miniatures. This is an award for good marksmanship. Astro-Ungarian soldiers, for all their flaws and shortcomings, are still known for their accurate shooting skills.
I decided to add a field curator of souls to each squadron, as a watered-down Ministorum priest. Sure, the rare few command squads might sport some lonely robed priest in tabletop games, but I wished to infuse this Imperial Guard army both with a heavy dose of Austria-Hungary and the fanatic Imperium. Notice the sleeve bands on the field curators, as per military priests, rabbis and imams of the Königlich und Kaiserlich (K.u.K.) army. Also note the purity seals scattered throughout the troops. To add some confusion by overlap of specialist roles, I made one of the field curators his squad’s flamethrower man.
The sergeants sport tasseled bands hanging from their chainswords, as will the officers of the army. Yes, they are deliberately meant to be a hazard, dangling about and ready to be snagged into the teeth of the roaring chainsword. The Imperium is sclerotic, so do not aim for polished efficiency if you can depict ineptitude and parochial superstition. The original head of the sergeant of the fez squad accidentally fell off and was lost on asphalt, despite thorough scanning. Thus, a new head had to be sculpted for him. Note the medals on the shoulder pads of the sergeants.
The vox-caster men are a result of frugality. I had two vox-casters for three models, so I cut one in half, pinned antennae into the bottom half and sculpted greeble over both halves.
Speaking of tightwads, every single Guardsmen sport patches on his uniform, and many sport unpatched holes from shots and shrapnel. The underfunded and poorly equipped regiments of Astro-Ungaria will of course salvage all uniforms from corpses, send the human carcasses off to the grinder for starch, and have the soldiers or workhouse slaves patch up the proud uniforms of the Duarchy in sweatshops on an industrial scale. Waste not, want not! How many times have not commanders dumped their casualties into mass graves, only to have to dig them up to requisition the corpses’ uniforms after some years of total war?
As a Kriegsman once put it, on fighting alongside Astro-Ungarians: “It is like being shackled to a corpse.”
This is seriously impressive, WW2 Soviets as base models I assume? I would never find the dedication needed to do a fully converted IG army for myself, let alone for someone else. Even the plasma rifle is 100% green stuff haha. Hats off @Admiral! If you need IG bits, I can check what I have lying around – I definitely have some radios, maybe even the odd plasma gun.
@Anzu : Thank you kindly! Good guess. It’s WW2 German greatcoat grenadiers from Warlord Games. The plasma gun was fun to sculpt. They’ve always been my favourite weapons in 40k, especially when they are more rounded than square. Well, the key is to put most of the sculpting efforts into heads, because the head is 9/10s of a model.
Oh yes please! We’ve run out of arms with lasguns, for instance.
Glory to the First Man to Die!
Reyhan Cicek made his kith and kin and clan proud, for he was the first to fall in brave combat as the 78451st Astro-Ungarian Infantry Regiment charged over the top into the hellish maw of Archenemy fire during the Iscarpian offensive on Istria III, Pannonian subsector. As life was blasted out of the dutiful Guardsman’s spasming body, his squad’s curator of souls could be heard crying:
“Glory to the first man to die!”
The cry was taken up, first by Reyhan’s Hosnovician squad, and then his entire company as the fiery yell spread from lips to lips of comrades in arms. Hot blood rushed through their veins as squad after squad shouted his warrior glory, before the cries were drowned out by thunderous artillery fire, and only painful shrieking remained.
For the Duarchy!
All in all, the Warlord Games greatcoat German grenadiers of the Second World War that my friend acquired from another pal numbered 29 bodies. Now, that is one body short of 30, which means that one Imperial Guardsman had to be sculpted from scratch. And so this one was quicksculpted. As is ordinary for all my sculpts and drawings thanks to a poor grasp of size and eye-measurement, his arms and head are larger than average. Clearly, this stalwart soldier of von Dorfenhötz’s host has inbred mutant blood running in his veins, yet such hushed-up family shame can be redeemed by dying for the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, enthroned in heavenly splendour upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth.
Ave Humanae Imperium!
Admiral, these are seriously cool. Way more characterful than the original models and beautifuly rendered. Brilliant and hilarious pose on the 30th trooper. The one voted most likely to get a badly thrown grenade stuck in his boot. Well done!
Your green stuff work on its own is nothing short of incredible but to combine it with your fantastic story telling, this is where it just goes to another level.
Loved looking through each of these conversions, amazing army
I’m always in awe at your imagination, which is let loose upon the world with your sculpting skills.
I honestly don’t know how you do it.
But Hashut has clearly chosen you to go forth as his prophet of creativity.
Good work Matte!
Absolutely superb work on your imperial guard troops, the green stuff work you’ve done on them is fantastic!
They feel like the perfect inbetween of the vostroyan first born and the mordian iron guard, aka a perfect blend.
@Jackswift : Thank you most kindly! Haha, so true on the unlucky thirtieth!
@GhraskDragh : Thank you very much, sir! Most appreciated.
@Fuggit_Khan : Thanks a lot, Khan of Khans! One trick is to sharpen the sculpting tool on an electrical whetstone, and use needles for poking tiny holes in areas to be sculpted as ragged cloth textures. His will be done!
@Kharrdruk_Oathbroken : Thank you for those gladdening words! Now that you mention it, yes they do sit in between those regiments and historical references in feel, don’t they?
Here are some quicksculpted pieces to decorate the terrain of Kuthuvudets pappa, alias @Eisenhans . Sculpted in his home, because slave raids is a tradition that is alive and kicking in these parts of Scandinavia. Albeit they use cars instead of longships these days. The items include dolls, flasks, trophy heads, clocks, technical gadgets, icons for household altars and dried food hanging on the wall.
Plus some youngblood heads for juve warrior conversions.
@Admiral Found this posted in the FB Kislev group and immediately thought it could be of interest to you: Meet the world’s first (and only) cat and mouse armorer
@Anzu : Now that is precious. Thanks a lot!
“Salve. Colonel general Károly von Pflanzer-Nádas, commander of the Imperial and Royal Astro-Ungarian LXXXIII. Army Corps, noble servant of the Duarchy and officer of His Divine Majesty’s Astra Militarum?”
“Correct, protasekretius. Explain this ill-uniformed commotion at once! What is this armed rabble you have dragged in?”
“As per the filed request of general Kaspar Klausner-Varešanin of the Imperial and Royal Astro-Ungarian 973rd infantry division, under your august command no less, in the fullness of time this entire regiment of replacements has been transported and assigned to your Corps, colonel general. You are called upon to sign this reinforcement acquisition form in quadruplicate and imprint your signet ring in hot wax on each parchment copy to satisfy Departmento Munitorum protocol, colonel general.”
“Replacements! Those are clearly offworlders, and filthy ones at that, protasekretius. Is this a form of joke?”
“The Departmento Munitorum do not administer wit, colonel general. That is outside our jurisdiction and permit. And strictly against Adeptus regulations, for the record. Last notary in the armaments requisition bureau to voice an ill-opportune quip of blasphemous nature was sentenced to death by a thousand paper cuts at the hands of his colleagues, though I am informed that the execution of said sentence required closer to seven thousand administered cuts by paper edges to achieve the desired lethal outcome. Nevertheless, justice was served, for thus perish the wicked. Thus to your question the answer is a negative, colonel general. These are your assigned reinforcements.”
“But check their homeworld, man! Are my Corps to become some ad hoc jumbled-together mess of forces from all over the Segmentum? Things are surely not yet that dire. Protasekretius, I refuse to believe that this tanned and slovenly riffraff could possibly have hailed from my dear Astro-Ungaria.”
“Objection duly noted, colonel general. The documentation states without doubt that this force, the 44th regiment of infantry, originates from your planet of Strayah-Ungaria, colonel general.”
“Surely you mean Astro-Ungaria, protasekretius?”
“Strayah-Ungaria it is, being a legitimate variant spelling, colonel general.”
“I am aghast, protasekretius! You offend the honour of my homeworld. If you were a man of action I would challenge you to a duel on the spot. Or drink you under the table. Indeed!”
“Take heed, colonel general! The writing do not lie, for it stands here in black on white, as true as the Emperor’s holy light, colonel general. It is an indisputable fact, colonel general. The Departmento Munitorum cannot object to every misspelt name, wording error and quaint variant spelling out of dialect and individual excentricity produced by the milling herd of plebs and august nobles, colonel general. Unforgiving penalties may apply to such writing mistakes for us Imperial servants within the Adeptus Administratum, yes! Yet the herd of semi-illiterate subjects which it is our responsibility to administer can not be scrutinized and penalized thusly, colonel general.”
“And as to the topic of misspelling in particular and indecent paperwork in general, then by the God-Emperor of Holy Terra as my hallowed witness do I swear that you Strayah-Ungarians have proven a poorly organized asset to the Imperium, with sloppy spelling and wild variations in naming conventions all over the desk! Your scattershot misnamings and filing havoc are almost as bad as your casualty rate, by the Emperor’s teeth! This is the truth and pardon the spittle, colonel general. If your ilk kept your writ in as fine an order as you do your starched uniforms and waxed moustaches, then by the saints would there be rigour and order in the buraeux whenever your parchments show up in the tray, colonel general!”
“Yes. Quill. Sign! Colonel general. Signet ring. Seal! Colonel general.”
“In that case I will grudgingly sign, seal and file a formal complaint, protasekretius.”
“Complaint denied, colonel general. Proper equipment for undertaking a ritual procedure of formal complaint is not present in our field cabinet and can not be retrieved in time within the next eighteen Terran hours due to fuel shortages and signal breakdowns, colonel general. Your complaint will as such expire unanswered, and thus no ink will be shed over it as per the statutes of the Parchment Savings Decree of 912.M41, paragraph § 47, colonel general.”
“Enough of this rigmarole! Begone from my sight you maggot-suckling scrivener! Hand me the papers and let us be done with it, protasekretius.”
“In His name.”
“The hell it is! As to you, colonel Jezza Joe, fate would have it that you are to serve and die alongside the Emperor’s finest soldiery here on the Ligurian front. Indeed. We are the Duarch’s very own Astro-Ungarian Imperial Guardsmen of the LXXXIII. Army Corps. Consider it an honour, colonel. Pray often, wash regularly, carry yourself with upright dignity and obey your superiors without question at all times. Welcome, colonel. Ave Imperator!”
“G’day mate. From Strayah with love like a fething wocker, cur’nt gen. For the Empie!”
- Anecdote from Marija Svoboda’s autobiography Through Eyes of Aide-de-Camp, literary work approved by planetary censors in 942.M41 and published in Low Gothic on Astro-Ungaria by Printing House Ginzkey of Hive Zweidorf
In the grim darkness of the far future, ignorance informs imagination.
Behold! The Imperium of Man. The defender of our species. An empire of a million worlds and countless voidholms, the Imperium of Holy Terra and Mars stretches thin across the galaxy. Besieged by aliens and monsters, it is beset from within by rebels and worse. For ten thousand years has this rotting edifice of human limitations endured, in the name of a silent Emperor.
For all the resilience and rebounding might of the beleaguered Imperium, the true state of human affairs in the Age of Imperium is not to be sought amid heroics and brilliant deeds, nor among miracles and lives of bottomless faith. Nay, instead let us brush aside the propaganda and the stories Imperials tell themselves, to look instead with open eyes on what the Imperium is, and what it can never become.
The Age of Imperium for humanity is characterized first and foremost by wasted potential. The golden pinnacles of cunning knowledge and plenty that was the Dark Age of Technology came crashing down in a calamity that nigh on wiped the human species from the stars. Its scattered remnants for the large part persisted as utter savages among the ruins, in the shape of cannibal tribes ferociously raiding each other and looting the scraps left over from the failed promises of better times. Man slew man, and woman harrowed woman, and child strangled child during the fathomless desperation of Old Night. And all was fell.
The Imperium began as a promise of rebirth, an iron fist crushing all opposition to both establish cruel unity and grasp for a better future. Yet the renaissance brought about by the Emperor of Man and His all-conquering Legions was but a gasp of a few centuries. Dazzling were their conquests, and impressive was their restoration of human fortunes across the Milky Way galaxy. Yet for all the shining works, recovered knowledge and real hope of the early Imperium, this ruthless colossus of war and subjugation sowed the seeds of human doom. Granted, the gargantuan civil war of the Horus Heresy destroyed much precious tech-lore and scarred the Imperium forever, yet even the fratricidal rage and maniac killing during the Horus Heresy paled in comparison to the smaller wars of greater consequence that the infighting Legions had already waged during the Great Crusade.
For the early Imperium did not only bring feral survivors and scavengers into the Terran fold, but it did also brook no competition. In the long run, the worst crimes of the Great Crusade was the brutal annihilation of all alternative sources of human regrowth, gathering all future paths for humanity across the stars to converge on the one road leading from Terra unto damnation. Such advanced human civilizations as the Interex, the Olamic Quietude, the Diasporex and the Auretian Technocracy were all stamped out by His Legionnaires. The seeds of these interstellar cultures were never allowed to grow and spread and shape the fate of mankind across the galaxy in competing power blocs. Thus was the destiny of all humanity bound to that of resurgent Terra by strangling her daughters in the cradle.
The immense physical might and quantity of forces available to the High Lords of Holy Terra should not be allowed to mislead us from the real state of affairs of mankind, for the truth of the matter is that the children of Old Earth during the Age of Imperium has sunk into an irreversible death spiral, where quests for knowledge mean only digging up the technological fossils of brighter ancestors, and never the toil and ingenuity of innovation and discovery. In this morass of ever-worsening demechanization, suffocating bureaucracy, frothing fanaticism and schreeching inefficiency, dysfunctionality is king, and the worsening of all mankind is his command.
Here, in a fortified madhouse straddling the stars, the last strong guardian of humanity is also its insane captor and hostage-taker. Here, in a demented cosmic realm worshipping human primacy, human power in the Milky Way galaxy has undergone a baleful decline through fivehundred generations of wasted development on a million worlds and innumerable voidholms, all under the aegis of the Adeptus Terra. Here, in the monstrous tyranny and bane of innovation and scientific rediscovery known as the Imperium of Man, will you be able to find every self-deprecating absurdity imaginable to mortals, as the fundamental mood of the human species has soured to a dull bitterness spiked with hatred, even as its faculties has boiled over in a fever pitch of savage zealotry and self-righteous bloodletting.
And so blessed machines designed by clever ancients will fail, and eventually no one will remain who can repair or build the lost machines anew. Where machines fail, flesh and will must pick up the slack. Where machines break down, men and beasts must heave and pull for all that they are worth. The Imperium can never become a pinnacle of human achievement and genius invention in the fields of science and technology, for it has shunned that which makes man truly great in the world, clinging instead to parochial superstition and the wreckage of bygone makers.
One example of this demechanization and reliance on throwing bodies on a problem can be glimpsed on the planet of Astro-Ungaria, where a peculiar solution to a lack of mobile heavy firepower has seen parody become reality, in the form of heavy weapon horse teams.
Let us glance on Astro-Ungaria, a civilized human world of majestic rivers, great mountain ranges and an endless tide of squabbling tribes and sects. Predominantly of a Catholodox persuasion within the Cult Imperialis, this world of misery and splendour is ruled by the mediocre potentate titled the Duarch, a Planetary Governor of an ancient dynasty who reigns over the Imperial and Royal domains of Astro-Ungaria for the sake of the dear homeworld and Holy Terra alike. The Duarchy is characterized by internal strife held together by ancestral loyalty to the ruling house, and faith in His Divine Majesty. All of the Astro-Ungarian military is chronically underfunded, and has gained a reputation for widespread incompetence, constant shortages, stulted leadership and screeching dysfunctionality, all of which is barely held together by a mass of manpower, solid infantry marksmanship and excellent artillery.
The aristocratic officers of the Astro-Ungarian military are renowned for their splendid banquets and parties, with fine chocolates and waltzes accompanying wonderful dresses and uniforms seen gliding over polished dance floors. Indeed, a great many Astro-Ungarian officers tend to act like characters out of operettas, putting great stock in their lineage and standing among peers as well as in their physical appearance and pleasant conduct at social events, while paying less attention to the operational arts of militaria. Do you suppose that the Astro-Ungarians will be as brave in war as they are licentious in peace? A sinspeech whisper joke that refuse to die continues to claim that Astro-Ungarian colonels will be more concerned with winning the next card game than the next battle on the frontline. Likewise, other banned jokes remark upon the ability of officers to always acquire fine liquour, no matter the dire straits of shortage or encirclement by the foe. The officer’s mess cannot be allowed to disgrace the honour of the homeworld, even when Astro-Ungarian soldiers have to dig up old mass graves to scavenge uniforms off the rotting corpses of their fallen comrades.
The logistical malperformance and organizational chaos of most Astro-Ungarian regiments within the Imperial Guard tend to be matched by their wasteful and rigid approach to war, carried aloft at bayonet point by an unbreakably optimistic spirit, faith in the offensive and the dreams of grand sweeping battle plans hatched by a noble general staff that does not possess the equipment and trained forces necessary to carry out their overly ambitious visions of glorious offensives. Indeed, the Astro-Ungarian Planetary Defence Force and Imperial Guard could very well have been strong armies, if given sufficient funding and vastly increased mechanized forces. Instead, the haphazard force structure of Astro-Ungarian units tend to revolve around massed infantry, a love of cavalry and a good artillery corps which often end up carrying the rest of the Astro-Ungarian army on its back.
The better trained soldiers of the Death Korps of Krieg have repeatedly concluded that fighting alongside Astro-Ungaria is akin to being chained to a corpse. It is an overly harsh judgement, but nevertheless an exaggeration built upon truth. The corruption, ineptitude and lacklustre performance of Astro-Ungarian regiments within the Astra Militarum has been repeatedly noted by the Departmento Munitorum, yet ultimately Astro-Ungaria provides plenty of loyal and valiant manpower, while the shoddy combat record of its Imperial Guard forces is nothing out of the ordinary compared to a majority of Imperial worlds and voidholms, once the facade of Imperial invincibility is seen for what it is. And so the farce that is Astro-Ungaria at war continues to waltz on, to the tune of great bombardment.
The underfunded nature of Astro-Ungaria’s soldiery means that they will be fine for parades, with military orchestras of the highest calibre, yet their more sophisticated equipment will always be sorely lacking. One example of an attempted solution can be seen in the crude arrangement known as the heavy weapon horse teams, which combines a love of horses with an undying military optimism ill suited for the reality of advanced warfare.
The phenomenon of heavy weapon horse is not just that of one or more pack-horses carrying a disassembled piece of heavy weaponry. It is instead a seemingly logical evolution of pack horses carrying around heavy weapons, which grants mobility in the field and makes away with the trouble of unloading and assembling the heavy weapon by instead attaching it fully assembled to the horse, to be fired virtually on the move if so desired. The use of heavy weapon horse teams originated in cavalry heavy stubber units after the Age of Apostasy in order to make up for a lack of light vehicles, but has long since spread to a fair number of infantry and dragoon regiments.
There is something to be said for horses, no matter their innumerable drawbacks compared to machines. The horse is an organic walker adapted for rough terrain. Such equine transport requires no fuel, and in lush landscapes the beasts of burden may prove self-feeding. Even so, the tradition of using horses as hooved weapon platforms amounts to a maladaptation, even a blunder, yet such crude fixes through rudimentary means are only growing more common across His astral dominion.
The horses used for carrying heavy weapons will usually be immensely strong Ungarian draft horses, descended from small breeds favoured by feral steppe nomads during the Age of Strife. The Ungarian draft horse is not a gorgeous and agile Viepizzaner breed by any means, but a stout workhorse favoured by agri-serfs and robotniks in mountainous regions. No matter the continent and region from which they hail, all Astro-Ungarians take pride in their horses, and their regiment tend to sport a great number of horses for logistic duties.
Heavy weapon horse teams will invariably sport spare horses to allow for shifts of rest by switching over the heavy weapons between horses, and likewise there will be pack-horses to carry ammunition and spare parts. A lack of horses for spares and ammunition transport will result in officers arranging for conscripts and press-ganged menial civilian thralls to pick up the burden usually shouldered by strong horses, thus producing the sight of flocks of human porters lugging around heavy weapons adapted for equines to carry.
Hard to hide, heavy weapon horses are trained to lie down on command, and they are likewise drilled to walk into a hail of fire when prodded. It is rarely worthwhile to armour the horses, given the heavy loads that they already carry, and thus the fine beasts will be completely exposed to all the lethal dangers of the battlefield. Heavy weapon horses are trained to be accustomed to the noise of battle, and they often turn deaf from the din, and sometimes they turn more or less blind by flashes from energy weapons. Crafty crew may occasionally fashion blinders and dampeners for the eyes and ears of their horses, yet such kit for creature comfort is not regulation standard within the Guard.
Some Astro-Ungarian units sport strange, alien mounts and draft animals, all of which are used alongside horses for heavy weapon carrying duties. Aside from horses, other Terran-derived beasts of burden include mules and camels.
Many Astro-Ungarian regiments have seen their Sentinel scout units replaced by unwieldy heavy weapon horse, in a dysfunctional cutback which makes sense on paper. After all, both cavalry and Sentinel walkers are used as scouts since horses are fast, right? And the Sentinel is armed with a heavy weapon, correct? Thus, a horse with a heavy weapon equals the function of a Sentinel in an Imperial Guard order of battle, but has the advantage of being much cheaper, being able to replenish its own numbers to some extent and being able to feed off many kinds of vegetation for refueling. Therefore, a heavy weapon horse can fill a Sentinel’s role, according to certain myopic bean-counters in the Deptartmento Munitorum, who will wave off the problem of the heavy weaponry burden considerably slowing down the horse.
Occasionally, heavy bolters with their short barrels will shoot off the reins of the carrying horse, to speak nothing of bloody accidents involving heavy bolters and scared horses throwing their heads into the line of fire.
Horse mortars, on the other hand, tend to sport flimsy support legs to save the horse from the worst excesses of recoil, but the tight requirements for ease of mass manufacture and the ever-worsening Imperial tendency for retardation of equipment quality means that mortar horses will invariably suffer horrendous back injuries, unless the crew take rare pity on their loyal beast and goes through the trouble of unloading the mortar to be fired on the ground instead of from horseback. Such kindness is extremely hard to find amid the traumatized cruelty that reigns supreme across all human cultures in the Age of Imperium, for evil begets evil. A rare few mortar horses will be fortunate enough to have bionics implanted into their spines and legs, yet such enchancements through technology is usually seen as an unnecessary extravagant lavishment upon a mass of meat that will soon be consumed in the flames of war anyway, just like the rank and file soldiers who will soon need to be replaced due to heavy attrition. Better be frugal instead.
The use of heavy weapon horse teams in the field have proven an inefficient employment of resources, yet even flawed approaches may sometimes yield results no matter how underperforming, and sometimes the weakness of a doctrine may be hidden among the titanic casualties in offensives that cost hundreds of millions of lives. What is one more waste of life and material amid a mountain of corpses and vehicle wrecks? And with so many outlandish regiments with wildly varying combat doctrines and equipment, why should the heavy weapon horse be singled out as particularly problematic when other regiments charge into battle wielding dual swords?
Ultimately, heavy weapon horse teams have for the most part proven a debilitating and atavistic part of warfare across the Milky Way galaxy. Sometimes, such as in forested terrain with the element of surprise being on the Imperial side, heavy weapon horse has bitten hard and kicked well, yet more often than not their contribution to battle may be found in the rotting cadavers of equines, the scrap remains of equipment and the torn corpses of soldiers strewn across battlefields under strange skies. Yet to their callous overlords and dominas, Imperial subjects and horses are nothing but faceless numbers in a broken equation of increased input to feed the meatgrinder. It may be abominable, yes, but who will even care?
And so ever-more primitive solutions will be found for problems caused by the senility and sclerosis of a demented interstellar civilization that amounts to a sinking ship. Where machines have decreased, the increased use of warm bodies must compensate for the loss of mechanical capabilities. Thus the heavy weapon horse phenomenon is just one of endless other examples of technological regression and debasement of knowledge, that slowly grinds away all the wonder that ancient man ever achieved across the stars in his time of power and wisdom. Eventually, his degenerate descendants will succumb to their retrograde ways, for the etiolation of technology has robbed mankind of any chance whatsoever to survive the overwhelming tide of horrors about to drag our species into oblivion.
Man may be a creature of unbounded potential, yet the cosmic dominion that he has fashioned in the name of an undying god has effectively drained all potential dry, leaving nothing but a crumbling husk where once ancient man boldly reached for the stars and stood on the cusp of unlocking the secrets of creation self. All that is left, is inept rage.
And so the heinous cruelty that man is capable of in the Age of Imperium is matched only by the dilapidation of knowledge and technology, upon which all of man’s future hopes rest.
Such is the depravity of our species, on the brink of doom.
Such is the fate of mankind, in a time beyond salvation.
Such is the end that awaits us all.
It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only shortcoming.
Astro-Ungarian Heavy Weapon Horse Teams
Inspired by this photograph of a pack-horse from an Austro-Hungarian cavalry machine gun detachment, my brother proposed that my friend JAB could have heavy weapons all mounted on horses. And not just as pack-horses to move the heavy weaponry around to then unpack and assemble on the ground, no. But as mobile tactical horse heavy weapon teams. After ordering 28mm historical pack-horses, drilling and pinning a lot, the result turned out ludicrous with the bulky Warhammer 40’000 Imperial Guard lascannon and autocannon on the obviously very strong workhorses.
Still, my plan for the mortar team was to have a pack-horse standing to the side, with a mortar assembled on the ground. The impact of a mortar recoil right into a horse’s back was too crazy for me to wrap my head around. Yet my brother persevered, and insisted that I just mount the mortar on top of the horse, and perhaps add a pair of flimsy metal support legs or hindleg bionics as a cheap and shoddy excuse for animal maltreatment of the highest order. Hesitant to go all the way, at first I did drill holes into the pack-horse to have a tall air mine launcher (luftminenwerfer) standing on the ground, straddling the horse without actually punching into its back with the full force of mortar recoil. Alas, my brother found my faith lacking, and finally convinced me to go all the way. Thus his vision for the painful mortar horse became a miniature reality at last, although he thought the addition of a second pair of support legs was too advanced and costly to fit his cheap bonkers parody idea.
The legged mortar piece itself took some work, but was great fun to build. Note all the rivets and small details scattered about it, ready to fall off as you handle the model in games in the future. This was staunchly prevented by carefully smearing super glue in a thin layer over and around all such exposed and vulnerable details, taking care not to let super glue build up lumps. The tool used was a lot of tiny strips of ripped newspaper. Take note of this method of reinforcing by super glue for your own handsculpted details on converted miniatures, but do avoid it for sculpts intended for casting.
As to the bases of the heavy weapon horse teams, I sacrificed a lot of green stuff to hide the moulded bases of the metal horses. In many otherwise excellent historical miniature armies out there, the moulded bases are clearly visible around feet and hooves, despite flock, sand and modelling grass trying to hide them. Even when hobbyists have gone to the trouble to fill out the edges of the moulded base with modelling putty or filler, many other hobbyists can often spot the mound that just so happens to be placed under the feet or hooves, all across the army. In order to combat such an impression of artificiality, I applied green stuff generously over the base to create a random spread of lumps. Hopefully it will work out fine after painting.
I barely tinkered with the poses of the crewmen. The old Cadian heavy weapon teams have some decent but limiting poses for arms. I pondered cutting up arms and hands and remodelling many of the limbs for a more lifelike impression of a heavy wepon team at work, but ultimately I decided against it for the sake of speed. My friend JAB hopes to use his Astro-Ungarians for a tournament in the autumn of 2023, so better go for mass over individual quality. All crewmen were pinned onto their bases, since nothing must be allowed to go missing should the model be dropped by accident in the future. Make it durable like a Dwarf! I mean Squat. I mean Kin. Despite the model in question being a mere frail manling, and not a stout and rotund creature approaching a perfect sphere in bodily proportions.
Flora and fauna was sculpted onto the bases to fill out the empty space. The lifeforms were made slightly alien, but nothing fancy. Again, the aim was speed, not complex layers upon layers of details. The tendril plants were made by twisting thin wire, pinning the foot into the base and shaping the loose branches. The entire organism was then covered with super glue and dosed with baking powder. Details were sculpted, such as the drip ends on the tendrils. These were then given a strengthening cover with super glue applied with bits of paper to ensure they may never fall off the model no matter the wear and tear.
Great thanks to @Anzu for gifting us with a wealth of Imperial Guard bits to help the Astro-Ungarian army project along! The heavy weapon horse conversions have been slowly cooking over months, and has allowed for destressing amid many tasks.
This is insane, I love it! I think you managed to masterfully capture the essence of what 40K is about in these mini dioramas. Also happy to see these bits proved useful to you. I did not expect that you could Astro-Ungarify the Cadian mortar… turned out great, this monstrosity is my favourite out of the three. Now I’m on the edge of my seat eagerly waiting for what madness you will cook up next. Heavy artillery? Armoured vehicles?