In case you were wondering, some of the parts to make my groovy Rough Riders were sculpted by Rob at Curious Constructs.

Monday, 3 February 2014

An Army of Rough Riders! - WIP Post

OK, a lot of people have asked to see them so here they are!

It all started with the 1998 3rd Ed Warhammer 40,00 Rule Book.
First of all, this book was great because it included the all of the codex Army Lists. Secondly, there was a real focus on being free to mix up the rules to be as creative as you wanted. With that in mind, at the end of each Army List there was an Appendix containing ways that you could alter the standard list. The Space Marine Appendix included rules for Blood Angles, Dark Angles and Space Wolves. The Eldar Appendix covered Ulthwe, Alaitoc, Saim Hann, Biel-Tan and Iyanden army specific rules. The Ork Appendix includes Kults of Speed, Feral Ork Hordes, Boarboyz and Weirdboyz. And finally, the Imperial Guard Appendix contained rules to field an Armoured Company, Mechanised Infantry Company, Rough Rider Company and Storm Trooper Force (shown below).

The sad thing is that while almost all of the Appendix rules made it into the mainstream game either in its parent codex or with its own specific codex, a few fell by the way side. With the Imperial Guard Appendix rules, Forge World now have an army list for an Armoured Force, Mechanised Infantry first got its own codex (within the Armageddon codex) and then was incorporated into the Guard codex and Storm Trooper forces were made possible in Witch Hunters and Daemon Hunters codices (and later with the Inquisition supplement). Rough Rider forces however, went the way of the Squats! In recent times with the changes to the power weapons rules and the addition of bigger scarier models, only the most daring or fluffy gamers bring their Rough Riders to battle. 

It isn't all doom and gloom though. Recently Forge world have reinvented the sturdy Rough Rider with their Death Rider rules. They currently stand with:  WS 4, Stubborn, Re-roll Dangerous Terrain, 2 Attacks, plus a Hunting Lance AND Close Combat Weapon & Pistol, Krak and Frag Grenades, Feel No Pain, ... and, wait for it ... 2 Wounds - all as standard! All this and now you can take them in Platoons with a Command Squad and Commissar as well.

We currently are on the brink of a new Guard Codex and there have been some rumours of cutting the humble Rough Riders completely. I don't see this as likely but with the new FW rules and a new codex imminent I think now is the time to finally do what I have always wanted to do.... build a Rough Rider Army.

And cue..
Colonel Ackland's 3rd Brigade of
The Macharian Thunder Guard - Veteran Cavalry Division

"I have seen war in all its forms. I have seen feral world savages braining each other with stones, and I have monitored the death of a whole planet at the hands of a virus bomb. I have seen Space Marines drop to certain death, and win. I have seen Titans crush whole platoons underfoot. But there is no more stirring sight in war than the charge of massed cavalry."
— Dravin Gratz, 14th Tharinga Regiment

Background and Theme
I wanted the freedom to make as many different types of units with different uniforms and styles as I wanted, without being constrained to make them all look like one army. So naturally the fluff for these guys have them coming from different regiments. Briefly, when battle hardened cavalry regiments are significantly reduced in strength, rather than be disbanded some are transferred into a Veteran Cavalry Division. This force (The Macharian Thunder Guard) is one such division. Some of the background to the Thunder Guard can be found here. For the overall theme, I have tried to give the riders the same style mount and hunting lance. I think that while differing uniforms are accepted in the division all the equipment should be somewhat standardised. This and the same bases should help to tie them all together. I frequently lean heavily on the style of the 19th century cavalry but I have also add in a few other regiments that I felt really needed to be present.

The DKoK Siege army list or DKoK Assault Brigade army list form the base list of my force (N.B. FW currently have the DKoK Siege army list as a downloadable PDF). Of course the first change is that all models are mounded on horses and change their unit type from infantry to cavalry.

After my fist game with this army a few things became evident. The Imperial Guard are a force that really excel at standing still and shooting at the enemy. Allowing them to move faster and assault further without adding any protection or fire power turns everything on its head. In order for the list to be anywhere near competitive we needed to add a few extra abilities. The DKoK 2 Wounds and 6+ Feel No Pain works perfectly in the game giving the riders some extra durability without making it silly.  Other special rules that we enjoy adding are Hit and Run, Scout, Preferred Enemy (Infantry) and making Hammer of Wrath attacks Concussive. All this for 6 points extra per model. That doesn't sound like a lot of points for a big advantage but upping a 100 point veteran squad to 160 points is a significant increase. That is more than a Chimera but without the added armour protection, weapons and durability. Without these upgrades you end up having a very expensive list for what is essentially just a normal Guard stat line. In addition,  these special rules really help the units play like real cavalry. For example, seeing cavalry charge in then quickly braking off to reform and charge again is epically fun. Anyway, this isn't meant to be a rule focused post, so I'll leave it to this brief explanation. If you have any specific question please drop me a comment.

Before I get to the photos I'd like to point out that this is obviously a work in progress (WIP) post. The big difference a WIP post has from a 'Finished' post is that you are asking people to look beyond their current status to where they may be when they are finished. So please look past their flaws to see their potential because everything here still needs a lot of work.
:) cheers.

Army HQ
This is Col. Ackland (my pseudonym). I have posted pics of him before and sadly I have made no progress on him since last time he appeared on the blog. Never the less, here he (arr, me) is:

Command Squad
Two Body Guards to lookout for the Colonel.

This old Imperial Army era fellow is carrying an  Aquila standard (it won’t have a flag being reminiscent of a Napoleonic Eagle standard).

Two banner bearers, just because flowing banners look good during a charge. I haven't decided on what heads to give these guys yet.

And a medic, to keep the Colonel kicking around a little longer.

 Storm Troopers / Heavy Dragoons 
(aka Cuitassiers / Dragoon Guard / Household Cavalry / Carabiniers - armed with hotshot Las Carbines)
 Interestingly, in the DKoK Assault Brigade list these guys are Troops instead of Elite.

I try to do five men for each different regiment that I mix into my force. That way they can run as a half squad or I can split them all up into different units. In terms of fluff I would expect that small groups of comrades from one regiment may stick together to represent the few survivors of their old company or regiment. Each unit has a name and background but I’ll post them up when I eventually finish each unit off.

As well as these very ceremonial looking Heavy Dragoons I wanted some 'regular' looking Storm Troopers. I think the idea of a mounted regiment of Storm Troops it pretty cool. 

These next guys are Veteran Death World Cavalry. 

 Veterans / Scouts 
(aka Hussars / Chasseurs à cheval / Rangers)

In the DKoK Assault Brigade list these guys are Elites instead of Troops.

"Sound the charge! These traitors are in for a surprise."

— Captain Yonast d'Lancier, 77th Mordian Light Patrol

 Some people might recognise these bodies from an old post.

 Lancers / Death Riders
(aka Chevau Légers / Shock Cavalry) 
These guys are Fast Attack. 

I still need to make a command squad so I can run these in a platoon.

I only have two of these 'Red Lancers'. If anyone has a spare head from the Blandblade or Hellhound kit with this cap that they are willing to part with please let me know :)

Obviously I need to have some Attilans! I have only made one so far but the rest are coming, along with a Captain Mogul Kamir conversion as well.

 Also I couldn't miss the Cadians...

(aka Mounted Rifles / Light Horse)
These are troops.
After my first test game with this army it became obvious that I really needed to add some cheaper troops to the force to add more numbers, soak up hits and take objectives. To do this I have mounted troops that fight on foot (like actual dragoons). Rule wise, they are an infantry platoon that count as cavalry but don't have any of the spacial rules that the other units have and as a consequence are a little cheaper. To model them I have infantry on foot that have their horses next to them on a 30mm base. The great thing with having removal infantry like this is that I can use any models that I want to represent the Dragoons. I'm happy with these horses being a little small then the others as they are not meant to be augmented or genetically modified.

"What is it like to ride into glorious battle atop a noble, loyal steed? If I ever find out, I'll tell you."

— Gellen Kegn, Luggnum Sewer Rats 83rd Aethexe Cavalry

Horse Artillery
Finally, I always wanted to make Horse Artillery – that is, horse drawn cannons. DKoK artillery are perfect for this. Rule wise, all I need to do is add a few extra points. They move like cavalry but obviously need to be stationary to fire.

For the models I will use Curious Constructs heavy weapons. The ‘Tesla Cannons’ will be Rapier Laser Destroyers and the rocket battery will be Quad Launchers. I have extra cannon carriages to use as the lumbers. I haven’t decided whether I will do teams of 2, 4 or 6 horses and I'm also not sure which horses I will use. 

...And that's about it. Loads more work to do but I'm in no rush. This is a slow burn project that will take a while to get together. Still, I'd like to get these all ready for some paint some time soon.

In the real world things are pretty hectic at them moment but I'm hoping that in a month or two I might be able to tee up a game with Frothing Muppet and test these guys out again. Then they should be ready to take to the field at the new local club that we have found.

Thanks for checking them out. Feel free to post any comments below.


  1. Mega. I'll come back and look at it all again over the next few nights, but just had to say 'wow'.

    Death Riders, eh ?.........

    1. You're welcome back any time Zzzzzz. Apparently I can't write short posts!

  2. Makes my 15 Rough Riders (5 x Rogue Trader era with pith helmet swaps), 5 of Rob's Lancers and 5 of Vic lamb's look a bit puny!

    I have just purchased some of the Curious Constructs bikes so there will be 5 cheaters joining the group.

    The amount of work you are putting into this is very inspiring. I'm hoping they do make it into the next IG Codex.

    1. Cheers Ady! I'm totally looking forward to seeing how those bikes turn out. So far I haven't seen anyone use them yet. Have you seen Mordian 7'th bikes? They are pretty sweet:

    2. oh and Ady, you technically still have more Praetorian Rough Riders then me! :)

  3. This is going to be an incredibly unique army. I've never seen a whole regiment of rough riders in 20ish years of 40k. I think the remnant regiment idea is a great way to deal with diversity. Looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

    1. Thank you John. I have to say that come to think of it I have never seen a rough rider army either. I have seen big groups of rough riders (particularly Death Riders) but I think that what sets this army apart is that it has storm troopers and command squads and all the components of a regular Guard army - on horses. Cheers for checking them out and dropping me a comment. :)

  4. WOW!! Just plain awesome. Nothing still stirs the heart like mounted troops. I was three and in DC when they closed the streets for a high brass funeral procession. Hundreds of cav rode by in full dress uniforms, it hooked me for life. Then as a child attending ACW reenactments and watching the cav charges thunder by and feel the ground tremble, there is nothing like it. Regardless of any 40K rules in the future, I would be happy to play you on any table. Good job.

    1. I totally agree Matt. I think there is a real brutality to 40k that makes mounted soldiers fit well. A lot of people just see them as a ‘fantasy thing’ fit for knights but I think that really discounts how imposing a big ‘beast’ like a horse is. If anyone has ever had a big riot horse trot past them and looked up at the copper high above, you understand how formidable it would be to go up against one. And then the sight of massed cavalry, like you said! They are loud and fast and big. Anything that makes the ground shake can pluck your courage away in a moment. It is no wonder that Napoleonic artillerymen would run from their guns instead of fining of the last few volleys. I wanted them to look a little scary which is why I used Marauder horse rather than the pistoleer ones.
      I'm totally rambling now, but if I had to face a big scary Space Marine up close, I’d want to be doing it from a mighty genetically enhanced horse with a big explosive lance under my arm!

  5. Good to see another cavalry nut... I have a force of fifty-five glorious bastards myself. I will cry the day they remove them from the lists... but I will carry on, because that is what I do.

    Contacted GW customer service awhile back and asked what I should do for rules... and they said, just make up your own. Make sure it is cool with who I play with though.

    So I have been doing just that. I have slaughtered Necrons in glorious lance charges... and fallen before the massed fire of the Tau. But I stand by the horsemen.

    1. Ha, awesome! Keep the heroic charges coming!
      I'm really doubtful that they will cut them out but we will have to wait and see. I have had such positive feedback on these guys that I know that I will have plenty of people to field them against anyway.
      On a different tangent, your Guard are very characterful – I’ll be checking them out more often! Also I’d love to see your cavalry too.
      Tally ho!

    2. Thanks for the compliment, I do hope you are right that they will not send then into the abyss.

      I have not made any new updates on my blog for some time... and there has been a lot of modeling done as well. Perhaps I will need to really sit down and start updating again.


  6. That's a crazy amount of Rough Riders. I'm in awe.

    1. Thanks Odie! Every time I look at them I want to build another unit!

  7. That is a positively beautiful army sir! My hat is off to you for such a wonderful creation ^^

    1. Cheers! Building them has been really enjoyable. It has taken an eternity but slowly they are getting there. Because the progress so slow it is a real boon getting everyone's positive feedback on them. So thanks heaps for your kind words.

  8. Emperor's dusty balls man! That's an amazing collection! So much character and individuality. Can't wait to see this all get painted up!

    1. Me too! If only real life would allow me unlimited hobby time!
      Dai, now I feel sorry for the Emperor for having dusty balls! Hahahaha, poor old bastard!

  9. You're gonna to have to bring a Bugle to the next game where you use all these guys just so that you can sound "Charge"! By the time your done with them I have no doubt that they'll look great.

    1. Ha, YES! A bugle would be awesome. I have a pith helmet and a red tunic… maybe I need a riding crop as well.
      I have been known to yell things like "Independent Fire" and "FIX BAYONETS" in the middle of games so a bugle call wouldn't be out of place at all.

  10. Looking the goods Col! Not looking forward to facing that charge across the table!

    We definately need to sort out a schedule for some gaming.

    I was looking through my old copy of the 40K compendium the other night and having a laugh seeing some of the older 'Lifeguard'' style Imperial Army sculpts from the original command range - and then lo and behold you pop some up on horses. Great stuff.

    Still think those Sub-Contient heads make for a fine mini-mash.

    1. Thanks Liam! And also thank you so much for your bits donations! I meant to thank you in the post above but I forgot :/

      As for the charge... they usually don’t make it. Still it is a lot of fun.

      Aren’t the old Imperial Army guys so cool and retro? I wish GW would re-invent them!

      And a game… I’ll let you know when I’m off baby duties!!! I’m sure you know what I mean!

  11. The link below is to where I posted my old attempt at Horse Artillery. I used the Bronzino Galloper Gun parts but never got around to bits ordering another couple of sets. Might be prohibitively expensive and require some secondhand shopping around to manage now.

    1. OMG thanks Ady!!! Bronzino Galloper Guns- brilliant! I might have to start saving my pennies!
      I really like the look of your first Rough Riders. The head swaps match in flawlessly and add so much character.

  12. I love it! I was gutted to hear we may be losing our beloved rough riders - I sincerely hope it isn't so. I absolutely cannot wait to see how this comes together, the models are already looking awesome!

    1. Thanks Mord! You never know, if they cut the horses they may bring in bikes?
      On this project, I really have to give more credit to Col Gravis though. If Rob hadn't cast up those rider sets this never would have got to where they are now. On that note, I can't believe that my original ‘Cavember’ was back in 2011! Where has all my hobby time gone!!