Envisioning that the 413th Assault Maniple had heavy landers that supported the larger ‘mech elements of the army, I set to work trying to figure out what had happened to these utility vehicles. I came up with some ideas that I had a hard time fitting into the army list for the Daemons of the Ruinstorm. What had these things become? Were they something that was too large to deploy, or something that was just too obscene to fathom. I almost abandoned the idea and converted my hopes to creating a counterpart fleet in Battlefleet Heresy to showcase these monstrosities, but then I realized I could use the Arch-Daemon entry to create a massive Gargantuan Creature that represented what these things had become. I still didn’t have a model down for these, and the typical bipedal or beastial designs for daemons did not fit my aesthetic. That part would come with time, but I had the idea down and finally Xerxes 1.1 was born
Barely even aware of its own existence, Xerxes 1.1 exists in a state of duality, living in the Warp while manifesting a physical form. In this way, I went for an almost infantile concept to its behavior, seeing it actions as more inquisitive about something, rather than malicious, reacting to negative stimuli with defensive actions. The concept I continued to keep in mind was the idea of stepping on an ant and how humanity is only vaguely aware of their existence at time. En masse, smaller creatures can get the attention of a large entity, but it is not without consequence.
I have not come up with a “behavior chart” yet, but I think it would add a very interesting aspect to its gameplay. I imagined something akin to the Tyranid fleet Instinctive Behavior chart from Battlefleet Gothic, but not something that is enforced, more used to bridge the gap of it “wandering around” to when it “moves in for the kill”.
Not to entice you further, but I am working on a second one, and possibly a third if I get around to it, each will have its own unique identity, but I am hoping to use the same base model.
I came up with the idea of an enormous beetle-like construct that wandered around the battlefield looking for things to destroy. I started with a Necron Monolith and sawed it in half, attached the two parts together at the bottom. Using plasticard, I covered the bottom of the model so that is was closed up. I set to work on the turrets, removing them and repurposing them as “Nodes” for cable-like tentacles and visual sensors. The main body needed a lot of work for these parts since it still have a bunch of holes in it, but some plasticard here and there helped to resolve those issues. Lastly, where the two pieces came together, I pinned them and used green stuff to bridge the gap , including some scrap piece in the mix to make it not look natural and smooth.
With the main body idea complete, I set to work about that this thing was going to have, detail wise. I wanted to attach a decent number of cables, both in a utility fashion, and also to showcase the models “arms”. It didn’t take long before I came up with some ideas and had four major attachment points for bigger details. The “front” has a bunch of cables sticking forward with the gauss flayer turret tips on them. Each side has a “node” with three cables coming off it, also with gauss flayer turret tips. The “rear” has a much large couple of weapons that are entangled with cabling and struts, these are the sponson-mounted flamers off the Land Raider kit (Redeemer variant?). These weapons meshed nicely and I did a bit of work to dirty them up, but overall I am very happy with how they came out.
The finishing touch, besides the various utility cabling all over it was to plug some holes and attached mechanical faces to the “nodes”. I used the extra heads from the Armiger kits I own to give the model this haunting look, which still giving it a vaguely relatable feel. I found a turbine from one of my terrain kits and attached that as a type of maneuvering thruster, while I used 25mm bases stacked together to plug the other hole.
All in all, the model looked ridiculous after putting all the various pieces onto it, but I finally decided that it was time to prime it and get to work on painting.
I had my work cutout for me with this model. I already had a process to paint the “fleshmetal” and I had already determined this thing was basically covered in the crap. I bounced around on a couple ideas for how to paint the metal parts of the model, but I finally came up with something solid in the end.
The main body of the model was painted with Hexwraith Flame, PVA glue, Mordant Earth, drybrushed with Celestra Gray, and then finally Dark Net was applied on top. This was the first time I was painting “fleshmetal” on anything bigger than a brimstone horror, and I was apprehensive about how it would turn out. The Hexwraith Flame took a couple coats to settle properly, but it stuck well enough in the end. I was still new to the idea of using PVA glue for a model like this, but I certainly figured out what I was doing by the time it was done. I believe I went through half a pot of Mordant Earth for this guy, but the results were starting to look very promising when it started cracking and showing the green underneath. I had a few complications with the Brimstones when it came to the Celestra Gray, but the drybrushing went as good as it could be and in the end highlighted things nicely. The top coat of Dark Net really helps to bring out the shifting effect on the paintjob and makes it look quite unnatural.
With the “fleshmetal” complete, I moved onto the main parts of the model, the metal parts. I started with Black Templar contrast paint so that it would show the Leadbelcher I wanted to put over it (along with hide any weird recesses I missed). The initial idea was to apply the Leadbelcher and then use Agrax Earthshade (godwash) to add a decrepit look to the model. After some initial testing, I determined it didn’t mesh well with the other paintjob and I ended up scraping that idea, repainting the washed parts, and then applying Cygor Brown contrast paint to give it a rusted, but intact look. I went over the rest of the parts with this process and it gave a nice contrast with the “fleshmetal”.
Lastly, I chose to detail extra pieces on the model, including the eyes on the Armiger heads with Celestra Gray and then Blood for the Blood God on top for a glowing red look. All the cabling was painted with Black Templar contrast, drybrushed with Celestra Gray, and then washed with a custom purple ink wash I made a while back. I took some liberties with the Blood for the Blood God, attempting to highlight more areas of the model to call attention to specific parts, but the blank stare of the Armiger heads is something that I think really gives the proper look I was going for. For finishing touches, I applied some bronze paint to the edges around the body.