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

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Building a Necron Empire of Gold -Episode 1: The Concept

First off, sorry blogging world for not being around much. There has been some tough times with my father-in-law battling cancer right at a time when work/study has been totally crazy. Life gets like that sometimes. Thank you for my Lobster Awards, unfortunately I just wasn't in the head space to put a post together.

Since my last post I have found a few more followers bring me over the 100 mark which is something that I thought my little blog would never achieve. So cheers to the newcomers! I have had a lot of interest in my Taurox and Scion conversion, and rest assured they will be the focus of an upcoming post soon. Now that I have a free moment, I'd like to share a project (over a few posts) that is actually turning out to be pretty cool.

I have had this slow burn project quietly progressing on the sidelines of my other modelling for some time now. It has moved forward so sporadically that I never felt the need to shed the spot light on it for a blog post. This has resulted in having what is now a relatively big project that hasn't been blogged about! So in typical Ackland style, hold on to your hats, this is going to be quite a ride.

The whole thing started because of my Praetorian army. While I have dabbled with almost every other army in 40k, (most of which are boxed up in my shed somewhere) the Praetorians are the one force that I have always come back to, time and time again.
Most of my terrain matches the army and what I have finished looks good on the board. But there was one more thing I wanted to add to the collection to make it feel complete: a nemesis force.
Nemesis: The Greek goddess/spirit of divine retribution, with a name meaning "to give what is due".
To my mind, every heroic character needs a arch-enemy and every intrepid army needs a worthy adversary. We love to consider the Patton vs Rommel match offs and where would Hannibal and his Carthaginians be without their Roman counterparts?
I have a feeling Miss Carthage will win this one.
We see it in the 40k fluff too with characters like Commissar Sebastian Yarrick verses Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka.
Can we even contemplat the Armegeddon Steel Legion without thinking about a mighty Ork WAAAGH to fight off? 
The truth is that war is all about adversaries; who has been pitted against who. So my Praetorians need a worthy advisory to complete their look and feel. Where are they campaigning and who are they campaigning against?

An obvious choice would have been Orks, but I felt that that had been done.
Dark Eldar were another contender with references to ongoing raids in the official fluff, but it wasn't an army that I wanted to build. The Dark Eldar have a bit to much sadomasochism going on plus some seem to remind me of Bowie for some reason.

I considered Chaos as I have the models and they are a natural arch-enemy to the Imperium... 
I have a box of old Death Guard waiting for me to be inspired to do something with.
But there was one other army that I had packed away that I love almost as much as my Praetorians. That is my 2nd ed Necron army. 
Some of the goodies that were tucked away in my shed.
'Fear of the unknown' was a big part of the original Necron Raiders.
These guys 'fit' really well against the old Praetorians. Both armies were released together in White Dwarf 217 and 218 over Jan and Feb 1997 and as such, both are full of that 2nd and 3rd ed 40k feel. The more I thought about it the more I was fixed on the decision. 
It would be Redcoats Vs Space Robots!
White Dwarf 217 from January 1997 featured the release of both Necron Raiders (page 27) and Praetorians (page 60) . 

Check out the T5, 2+ Saves in the stat line - 
Rick Priestley pegged the Necron Raiders as brutal opponents!

So who and what are these Necrons going to be?
There are a few concepts that I really like about the Necron persona. I love the 'ancient' society image that they have.  I really want to incorporate that and balance it off with the 'British Imperial power' personality of the Praetorian Guard.
This painting, called Monuments of Egypt by Charles-Louis-Fleury Panckoucke, encapsulates exactly what I had in mind. The first thing that you are drawn to is the spender and treasure of the ancient Egyptian world - once a rich mighty world power. Then in the center there is the new world power of Napoleon's French soldiers, who invaded in July 1798. I'd expect the French army would get quite a shock if an army of mummies suddenly rose from their tombs to defend their treasure! For my purposes, swap the Napoleonic French for pith helmeted Redcoats and Egyptians for Necrons and my mental blue print is starting to take form. A similar analogy is that of the Spanish Conquistadors and the many rich South American nations that they plundered and destroyed.

Ancient Egyptians are pretty much exactly what Necron Raiders originally were.
The three above pictures are from White Dwarf 220 -April 1997, showing Necron terrain modeled by GW's Dave Andrews, Owen Branham and Mark Jones. 
The above picture has appeared in a few places over the years. Here, I took this picture and the one below it from the 2001 Chapter Approved - Second Book of Astronomicon.

At this point I am reminded of a fellow bloggers post about creating fluff, and as Kieran (from Do You Have A Flag?) put it "Be a little different" (on a tangent another good post about in game fluff is here at the Palladian Guard). The truth is that I didn't just want to make Egyptian Necrons. I wanted the guise of the ancient world without being exactly or solely Egyptian. What I really wanted to do was incorporate several ancient cultures and play off the character of 'ancient alien' conspiracies. Cue the crazy hair guy (Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, one of the hosts of the History Channel's 'Ancient Aliens'):

And all of these types of ideas:

Distilling this down, the idea that I wanted to draw on was the thought that at some point in human history ancient man had contact with aliens. That contact influenced the culture, writing, language and architecture of Earth's (or in this case Terra's) ancient societies. Then in the future when Man (the Imperium) comes across an alien world, many of its characteristics resemble that of our ancient cities. Not to be a caricature of something human (like Space Wolves are to Viking and Celtic warriors, Ultramarines are to Romans, Praetorians are to British redcoats etc.) but implying that they are literally the same by causation. The 40k fluff does this in places too, like the linking of  the current world to that during the unification wars by using place names similar to current ones (ie. Britonnica (British Isles), Europa (South Central Europe), Franc (France), Gyptus (Egypt), Merica (North America). When they write Merica they don't mean a place 'like' today's America, they mean America in the future.

This will become clearer in my background fluff but basically in terms of time frame, from our current time go forward 40k years you have the Imperiam and Space Marines, go back 45k years and there is an ancient (now forgotten) alien race influencing life on Terra.

Another aspect that I want to include is GOLD. Gold commonly comes up in many many ancient alien theories too. Egyptians believed gold was divine and a connection with the stars, as did the ancient Sumerians and various South American, Asian and African cultures. The Incas had 'Paititi' the "City of Gold" and the Muiscans (Native Colombians) had El Dorado  "The Golden One". The Incas described gold as the sweat of the sun, while the Egyptians described it as the flesh of the Gods. A translation of Sumerian cuneiform tablets supposedly describes aliens coming to earth to mine for gold. Another wild theory is that aliens built the Pyramids of Giza as a nuclear reactor to make gold. And the theories go on and on....

My point is that if I am going to include ancient alien theories in my fluff, gold needs to be a prominent part in some way! For Necrons, considering the properties of gold (being inert, heat resistant and a strong conductor) it shouldn't be too hard to explain a connection between space robots and gold. 

Beyond the fluff, how does this translate to this project?
A big part of this project is going to be the terrain, which will resemble several ancient cultures and as I said above, gold. There will be lots of gold!

From Egyptian architecture I'l like to include brightly colored painted pillars, pylons, obelisks and the sense of a monolithic and megalithic city.

From ancient Middle Eastern architecture I want to focus heavily on Babylon and Nineveh with big wall, violet and gold colours and a giant ziggurat!

 I also wanted to include ancient alien Atlantis ideas too, with circles of land and water.

The South American influence is gold and bright colors and maybe a stepped pyramid, but mostly a big ancient monolithic city complex.

So essentially it will be an ancient Egyptian and Sumerian like city, paved in gold like a mythical South American lost city but laid out with Atlantis-like rings of water. This golden city is invaded by late 19th century sci-fi 'Redcoats' eager for wealth and new worlds to colonize. Except, in doing so they wake legions of ancient soulless golden robot aliens which may very well massacre them all and go on to destroy the entire sector as they reinstate their ancient empire!

For the colour scheme of the miniatures I have chosen a yellow-gold (obviously) and a complimentary deep blue like that of ancient Assyrian cities.
For the colour of the gold I will be aiming for more a C3PO 'yellow-gold' rather than the 'orange-gold' of the 'teal' Nihilakh Dynasty Necrons (below). It is a subtle difference in the tone of the gold, but obvious when looking at the colour wheel. 

I'm also going to mix up the Necron script (writing) taking the old original 2nd ed style (like the Lord below) over the newer 4th ed script.
Interestingly, this is very reminiscent of the script used in the Star Wars concept artwork. It is Sci-fi with an ancient vibe to it (but I can't pick what culture it reminds me of?- Its not quite Incan or Mayan).

That is the bones of my concept for this project. Work has started on a temple, a massive obelisk, an epic ziggurat, some ruins and a hand-full of Necron Warriors. Now that you have a grips into how I envision them all I'll start posting up the work-in-progress shots, which are far more interesting then all this concept stuff! I also have the background fluff written out too. It's a pretty crazy story.

Thanks for stopping by. :)


  1. Thank you, this was the first article in a long time that was worth reading. I always pondered the Golden Army as well with Necrons. I can't wait to see some pictures. Cheers!

    1. Thanks, I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I find these types of posts really useful. As a project progresses I can always go back and look at what I was originally aiming for. Now on to building and building and building…

  2. Great read with lots of interesting info and some cracking pics. Funnily enough, I had just the same idea in November and built a similar army. I made lots of work in progress posts about on my tiny little blog.

    1. Awesome! Thanks for the link. That was a really cool project too. When building an army primarily made up of one colour, it is always a challenge to decide what to pick out in the complementary colour. I found seeing your army really useful as the overall look will be like mine. The guns on your models are painted beautifully by the way! I am going to see if I can get my gold slightly more yellow and the blue slightly more purple. Again thank you so much for stopping by and shearing the link. Sadly my google search of ‘gold necrons’ didn't lead me to your Blog : (

  3. You're gonna need some tomb kings bitz.

    check that. lots of tomb kings bitz :)

    Solid idea man, look forward to seeing it come together.

    1. Loads of Tomb King bits.

    2. Yes, thankfully I have a large bits box of tomb king bits :) But I will be using a little restraint as I don’t want them to look too Egyptian or too much like tomb kings. Just a bit here and there should give the right look.

  4. This sounds amazing. I look forward to watching it come together.

    Thanks for the picture with the Imperial earth moving equipment, too.

    1. Cheers. I love those pictures too! Back in the 90’s the conversion work that the GW studio did was so amazing. It is a shame that they only use GW stuff now days. There are so many opportunities to kit bash non GW kits to make civilian vehicles and equipment.

  5. Kool. Now the Preatorians need a tatty looking, armed like a space marine, indestructible officer, a posh bird in an evening frock with a well dressed but nerdy brother who has nicked a resurrection orb.

  6. Ha! I had to think for a moment to get the reference but yeah for sure! They might make good kill team figures actually. I think it would go something like this:
    “Evelyn: [opening the sarcophagus] Oh my God, I hate it when these things do that.
    Rick: Is he supposed to look like that?
    Evelyn: No, I've never seen a mummy look like this before. He's… he’s..
    Rick, Jonathan: … A Robot!!?”

    Alternatively I may also have to paint up an Al'rahem and some Tallarn Desert Raiders (like Col Winterborn has) as a stand in Lawrence of Arabia.

  7. Alrahem as Ardreth Bay ? He'd make quite a good rough rider. Needs a little hawk called Horus though. Don't know what the =I= would make of that...

    g'on. You know you love horses.

    1. hmmm that could work... :)

    2. And thanks to Curious Constructs I'll just 'have to' make some Medjay!

  8. And there are some nice ladies in posh frocks on Hasslefree.

    But back to the undead space robots; You're not allowed the rest until you have done Imhotep and his Immortals.

  9. Sorted ideas here mate. Really like your thought processes for where you are taking this.

    I think you need a Dwayne Johnson character as well as some deluded not-nazi Belgian archeologists to be dirty human collaborators. ;)

    1. Bahaha! Yes, I think that will be a must!! ;)