Posted 02/03/2017

In the Company of Angels – Part 1

Earlier this year, John Bracken (who some of you may know from Warhammer Live Fridays) made a bold claim about building and painting a whole Battle Company by the end of the year. Once we heard about this glorious quest, we caught up with him to see if he’d mind us following along with him on the journey through a series of articles. In case you hadn’t guesses, he heartily agreed, and what you will read below is the first instalment of this year-long series that will hopefully culminate in a fully painted Blood Angels Battle Company. Over to John:


John: Everyone, from alien pirate to heretic psyker, knows to fear the might of the Space Marine Battle Company. One hundred of the Emperor’s finest warriors, trained for a lifetime of incessant war, all working together seamlessly to lay waste to any heretic foolish enough to challenge humanity’s claim on the stars. Their prowess in the theatre of war is unmatched – they can lay siege as easily as they can launch lightning fast hit and run raids. They can conquer planets, and even whole star systems, using crushing assaults delivered by Stormraven, Thunderhawk and Drop Pod. Backed by the Chapter Ancients and led by their indomitable Captains and attendant officers, a Space Marine Battle Company is one of the most iconic and enduring armies in Warhammer 40,000.

The Battle Company itself is also something of a legend amongst hobbyists, and I’m certainly no exception. When a person says “I own a fully painted Battle Company” the response is usually one of awe and silent admiration. It’s a great feat of dedication to finish a hundred models of any kind, let alone to the same consistency and attention to detail that the mighty Space Marines deserve.

So I’ve decided that I want to join that elite – I want to paint my own Battle Company of Space Marines, and I’m going to do it in one year.

Big talk, eh?

It’s no mean feat either; in 12 months I have to paint and base 100 Space Marines (6x 10-strong Tactical Squads, 2x 1–string Assault Squads and 2x 10-strong Devastator Squads) as well as a Captain and his Command Squad. Additionally, because I’m basing it on the Battle Company formation from the codex, there are a few other units I’ll need (and some more that I just want to have regardless) such as a Chaplin, some Dreadnoughts, a Librarian, some Space Marine Scouts, not to mention some tanks and transports.

So if you want to do your own, join me! I’ll be painting ten Space Marines a month (that’s less than one every three days) and then, whatever else I get done is a bonus. This gives me some time at the end of the year to lavish some attention on my characters, which will be chosen based on how much time I have left. If you think you can manage that, then all you need to do is keep pace with me and by the end of year you’ll have a Battle Company of your very own.

Should you choose to join me, there are few things you need to look at, starting with:

What Chapter should I do?

Well, that’s the most important one. Once you pick a Chapter, you are committing to a certain colour scheme and set of details and markings. For example, I have chosen the greatest of all Chapters – the Blood Angels – not just because they are my favourite, but also because I enjoy painting red (no joke). Sure they have fantastic background, and they have that really noble feel to them that I love in Space Marines, but I also need to be sure I’m going to enjoy painting them, not only at the start, but six or seven months from now too! There is also a handy painting guide for them, the ‘Sons of Sanguinius‘ book, so I don’t need to worry too much about what paints to use from model to model. Speaking of painting, the next point for consideration:

What standard am I painting them to?

Now, most of the time I fail to finish an army, I start out and try to paint every single model as best as I can. This is fantastic, and some people can do it, but I simply don’t have the time (or the raw staying power) to do that, so I have to compromise a little with myself. Just one or maybe two highlights and then I’m forcing myself to move on. I will definitely do my best of course, but I’ve accepted that my line infantry Space Marines are going to look great, but my Captains and other characters are probably going to look a lot better. This is fine – pick your standard before you begin and stick to it – that way you know when a model is categorically finished so you can put it down and move on to the next one.

Have you got a plan?

It’s important for me personally to have a plan. Basically my goal is ten space marines (of any type) a month. That way, when I hit my target I can sit back and relax, knowing I’m on target. There is no sense in getting to November and realising I still have fifty Space Marines left to do. As these articles continue, I’ll be keeping a close eye on my successes (and inevitable lapses).

What will you do with once you are finished?

I find it helps a lot to have a goal you are working towards. It helps one stay focussed and can help you through “The Wall” that you can sometimes bump into when painting large armies. For example, this whole Battle Company started for two reasons. The first was that a friend of mine called Adam started a Battle Company of his own years ago, and it’s all but done. Seeing them deployed really made me think “I want to own one too”. Additionally, (as if that wasn’t enough) both Adam and I, along with a group of stalwart gamer friends (Paul, Chris and Kev) are all gearing up for a MASSIVE game at the end of the year. We are each bringing a minimum of 3,000 points fully painted and based, we are going to book out a large gaming table in Warhammer World and then try to get as much carnage as possible into those few hours. This is our hobby challenge for 2017 and my pride is one thing that is going to make sure I finish my Battle Company. I’m not going to turn up without my army finished, no sir’ee (I would never hear the end of it…).

Take a break

Not everyone can paint a hundred models in the same colour scheme day in, day out. I certainly can’t. In my first month, I’ve already converted a Dark Elf Blood Bowl team and painted an Alpha Legion Kill Team too. Make sure you take a break every now and then and don’t feel guilty if you don’t hit your target that month – it’s a marathon not a sprint. You can always paint a few extra marines in December…

So that’s the plan – ten Space Marines a month, with some spare time at the end to paint the vehicles and characters.

So how have I done in my first month? Well I have sort of cheated and got an early start over the Christmas holidays, so I have 5 Tactical Space Marines, 5 Assault Space Marines, a Dreadnought and even four Space Marines Scouts done too. This doesn’t mean I’m ahead, but it does mean I don’t have any extra work to do in February, which will hopefully let me get ahead.

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