Tuesday, 10 June 2014

What to do with Green Platoon

The Imperial Guard section in the Rogue Trader Compendium, circa 1988(ish) was a fun way to build an Imperial Guard army. The core of the Imperial Guard army was composed of different, customisable platoons, based on one of a couple of basic human platoon types, tactical and assault, which could be upgraded by giving them bikes, horses, land speeders or whatever resulting in either a basic infantry platoon, or a specialised platoon.  The army could then be wielded by a budding general to make a holistic force greater than the sum of its parts. The fact that the myriad of upgrades were made on a platoon level, rather than a squad level, created a flexibility was both limiting and liberating. It was from a time when there was more emphasis on infantry and less on vehicles, so consequently there was such a diversity of upgrades available with the platoon designs. 

I'm currently refreshing and adding to my army of the time, and one of my dilemmas that I'm having is what to do with Green Platoon.

My Green Platoon was an assault platoon, with twin laspistols, bad attitudes and blu-tack blob jump packs. They weren't genetically engineered super-assault troops, but they were different, fun to use, and handy. I want to have a platoon in my shiny, but not new force that can be used to represent Green Platoon. I'd like them to be basic human guardsmen, with a designated forward engagement role.

This image is from GW's 40k Compendium, from 1988 or there abouts, and is used here without permission.

In the Compendium, the assault squads are armed with 2 laspistols per guardsmen, one or both of which can be upgraded to something better, given jump packs and other upgrades like bikes, power shields and similar, come standard with a sergeant with chainsword, and 2 plasma guns per squad, which can be upgraded to melta guns. The platoon is lead by a command section, which receives the same upgrades as the other squads in the platoon.

Trying to find something in the current 6th(or is it 7th) edition Imperial Guard Astra Militarum book that represents them, and fits the Compendium list, had caused me some headaches.

A few of the ideas that went through my head are below.
  • Give them lasguns. Call them green platoon. Use them as a normal infantry platoon in 7th, and as a tactical platoon in RT. This is a boring option, and similar to what I had to do with my poor beastmen pack, so I promptly discarded it.
  • Magnetise their arms so they can have lasguns or 2 laspistols, and magnetise jump packs on them. Ugh. Too painful. Next.
  • Count as swooping hawks or something else. Not really what I'm interested in, but I'd like to have a jetbike commander who will probably be using autarch rules, so this might work, but they don't have laspistols, and it is a stretch to say to someone that these guardsmen are guardsmen, but these ones with backpacks are swooping hawks. Too confusing in the heat of battle.
  • Model them as a Compendium assault platoon, and don't give a stuff about the current rules. This one is quite tempting, but I may not ever get a chance to use them. I'll shelve this one for now, but it is winning.
  • Stormtroopers, with two plasma guns, and cut down hellguns which count as laspistols in games of RT. They will need better armour, and I'll have to do some fancy footwork with how I armed them. They can have grav chutes to represent how storm troopers deep strike, which are kind of like jump packs in appearance, so this is reasonable.
  • Something else. 
Umm, nothing else I could think of took my fancy, so I decided to investigate the Storm Trooper option for a while.

I had a closer look at the Compendium options, and see if any of it would help the Green Platoon models look more like Stormtroopers.

Firstly the armour. They don't have carapace armour as an option in the Compendium, so I needed a way to show that these guys had better armour than normal troopers. After a bit of shuffling around, I eventually found the option for power shields in the Compendium that I knew was in there somewhere. This gives them an improved save (+1, +2 in CC and short range shooting, oh yeah bring on that 4+ armour save baby!), but doesn't replace any weapons. Bonus. 

So in 40k 7th my models with flak armour and power shields counts as carapace armour. I can live with that. To take it a little further I decided to make sure that they all had cadian pauldrons as well as the fairly chunky 1988 plastic helmets. This would further re-enforce the idea that their armour is a bit more bolter proof than the standard issue warpaint everyone else gets.

The next option was the twin laspistols. I looked through the options for replacing one with something hot shot-ish. The options were replace one or both with chainswords, hand flamers or bolt pistols. Interestingly chainswords was something that I considered, mainly for aesthetic reasons, and have the hell guns stowed. Otherwise the modelling opportunities were problematic, as I'd need to model a laspistol (or bolt pistol) in one hand, and a chainsword in the other, and a power shield on there as well somewhere. I'd shelve that for now and see what I could come up with for twin laspistols (or 2 laspistol shots). 
Could I come up with a gun that was a hellgun in one game, and could count as twin laspistols in another?

I decided that a "carbine" style gun might suit. It can be used one handed by the mighty future space army gangsta men, and theoretically (or as theoretically as you can get in reasonably abstract future space army men combat games) can dish out a heap of shots similar to two pistols. They might look good too.

I didn't have any las-carbines with me, so I decided to cut down the barrel length of a catachan lasgun, and possibly give it a bigger magazine, or run a cable from the gun to a backpack. So a beefed up carbine, that counts as two pistols in RT and a hellgun in 7th. This would look up-gunned enough to do the job.

Special weapons were easy. The assault squads have 2 plasma guns, and the stormtroopers can take 2 plasma guns. Sold.

The next thing, and one of the most important for me, was the jump pack. The image above of the troopers planting their standard issue boot soles firmly into ork heads was something I wanted to replicate. A jump pack was a great visual difference for these troopers. Storm troopers can't have jump packs of course, but they do grav-chute in. So a pack that looks like a grav-chute in one game and a jump pack for man-sized, non power armoured people was needed. I thought about cut down marine backpacks because they are pretty inexpensive and match the imagery in the Compendium, but have decided to commit more fully. Hello forgeworld Elysians. These guys have separate grav-chute packs you can buy. So buy I will!

To further re-enforce the theme of grav-chute deployment, I have decided to buy some cadian command respirators and only use the heads with goggles and helmets. This will mean that there is a fully enclosed helmet that looks more armoured, and more likely to support someones life while they plummet through a hostile atmosphere onto a hostile battlefield to shoot people with pistols.

So putting all that together, I have come up with this test model. He hasn't got the forgeworld grav-chute or cables leading from the magazine yet, but it is enough to help me decide that this is what I am after.

Unknown trooper, 9th Necromunda F Co. Green Platoon. Armed with a +++classified+++ pattern of hotshot-carbine and power shield. Note the non-standard gang symbology on the shield, common to most Necromundan troops. This trooper is equipped with full respirator and mask for high altitude drops, but has subsequently abandoned his grav-chute since deployment.

I'm pretty happy with this. I think I will work on the gun a little, and adding some forgeworld grav-chutes will be a further improvement. I've decided to model two ten man squads, lead by a lieutenant and attached command section.

So watch the skies heretics, the Death Blades are coming...

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