Project Ultramar: Phase Two

[This post was originally published at Otherverse Games & Hobbies]

Or, How My Project Went Sideways Quick

And Turned Out Well Anyway

Phase One had gone just fuckin ducky, and I was ready to take a break and paint some Iron Hands (for which I have a greater plan along with the Salamanders ally I have started, but more on that later. Likely, much later). Then the big two day narrative event got in the way. 

Spanner in the System

At this point in Project Ultramar, I had finished the first phase of the main quest: Having a 1000 point Zone Mortalis list painted and ready to play for my Ultramarines. Having painted many little blue toys, I was ready for a side quest to break shit up. You know, do a little grinding for xp before returning to the main story path. 

The side quest was the Iron Hands Ally. My plan had changed a few times over the months I spent working on Phase One of Project Ultramar. While I had initially planned to just paint up some of their amazing looking Legion specific models to use alongside my Ultras, the Morlocks had enticed me towards the Company of Bitter Iron Rite of War. 

I was gonna need a Delegatus to chill with some Morlocks, and a bunch of Immortals to run as troops. With my new plan set and my new order of additional Immortals on the way, I was ready to go. I had already attached a 10 man squad of Immortals with volkite chargers to painting handles. Well, pill containers, but they worked the same. 

Then Project Ultramar took a sharp left turn. 

I dish out my contempt with dual conversion beamers

Two contributing factors led to a derailment from the plan. First was the (my) Backlog Month Project. Robert expected/demanded that I work on models that I had been sitting on for a while, and then write about it. No problem, I literally have models spilling out of every nook and cranny in the (our) apartment. It would also be hard to argue that getting either Ultramarines or Iron Hands finished would help the Backlog Project, and make for some website and social media content, regardless of which faction I chose to work on. 

It was really the second factor that determined why the first factor was important. At the end of February 2023 I would be taking part in the first Two-day Narrative Event for the New England 30k gaming organization. This would be my first real instance as an Event Organizer and the organization’s first two-day event; my job was to meet people and play games to become a member of the community. 

Amongst the Event Organizers chat, plans seemed to escalate quickly with the grandeur of the armies that were planned. Not one to shirk from a painting challenge, I decided to toss down the gauntlet: I wasn’t just going to bring some Ultramarines to play, I was going to bring a themed army. And some allies…

And a titan. 

I am quite proud of this command squad and they have not let me down the few times I have had to use them so far

Lucky for me, the ally of Knights and the Warhound Titan were painted already. I had 1250ish points of Knights painted up and my Warhound NIMIA IRA is worth 750 points in heresy. 

The plan was to bring a breacher and terminator heavy force in mechanized transports. I didn’t have enough of that painted. Fuck, I didn’t even own everything I wanted/needed to pull it off. So, Sorry Iron Hands. I will let you grow a little more bitter while I skip ahead to an alternate version of Project Ultramar Phase Two. 

As I stated in my Project Planning article, premeditation is important, but so is the ability to adjust on the fly.  

Project Ultramar Phase Two Complete

When I sat down and planned Project Ultramar, Phase One was supposed to be 1k of Zone Mortalis Units, and Phase Two was supposed to get the Zone Mortalis list up to 2k. The idea was that I would struggle more and more to get infantry models painted the longer the project went. Other than a dread or two, a ZM list is all infantry. Phase One went as planned, but, with the February event looming in the middle distance, Phase Two was about to find new priorities. 

Why exactly did I feel it necessary to sidetrack my entire semi-meticulously planned project? Well, I found out we were going to be fighting across bridges. Not little plastic bridges spanning a river a few inches wide. No. We were going to be fighting across welded metal bridges with some sort of wood product beds wide enough for two spartans to drive across it side by side, or, a reaver maybe. I am a big guy, and if I were nimble enough to stand on the bridges, well, the tables would break first. 

And I sure as shit wasn’t ready for that. 

Up until that point I had painted units nearly randomly, followed by a little structure in Phase One. I had an unfocused collection of Tactical Squads, terminators, support squads and a spattering of one-off tanks.

Now I needed a cohesive force that could get itself across a three-foot bridge suspended between two game tables, take and hold some objectives and survive a few rounds. You know, the total opposite of the Zone Mortalis list that I had been crafting for months. What the fuck? Let’s do this! For Ultramar and shit…

Up until that point I had painted units nearly randomly, followed by a little structure in Phase One. I had an unfocused collection of Tactical Squads, terminators, support squads and a spattering of one-off tanks. Now I needed a cohesive force that could get itself across a three-foot bridge suspended between two game tables, take and hold some objectives and survive a few rounds. 

A scheme formed in my head, that of mechanized transports rolling thunder down the bridge, discharging the shield-bearing cargo to hold objectives. Terminators and Suzerains would be used to clear and take new objectives along the bridge. If all went well, I would have some Sons of Guilliman alive in the end along with a few victory points. I needed land raiders and a variety of breachers. 

First I got ten Praetorian Breachers painted up: I love the Ultramarine specific sword-wielding breachers and was glad to have a unit ready to go finally. Next I painted up the legion specific terminator Praetor and a cataphractii command squad complete with 3d printed banner and shoulders; these were literally the last things I printed from my old Mars 3D printer. I was quite pleased with how they turned out.

To finish off the Backlog Project month, I ended January by digging out the Locutarus Storm Squad that I had assembled from expensive eBay purchases and started painting up something like four years ago. They had only base layers on them and deserved some love. If I played a big enough game, I would have them leap over the land raiders and surround whomever I was in combat with. With a few hours remaining in the month I gave the same update to three outriders and suddenly they looked as good as the Storm Squad; They weren’t part of the new Phase Two plan but it was nice to get them finished as well.

Turns out these guys are ganna be VERY mean in Zone Mortalis games. Giggle!

I had a pile of Breachers on the way, and I was 3D printing some combi-volkite veterans that were custom designed for me, but nothing was ready to paint yet, so I worked on some ranged support. Fulmentarus don’t have that much range but their attacks are devastating. I had a unit of five built with Tyrant Siege terminator missile launchers that I borrowed/took from Robert many years ago. I wedged some 3D printed, and largely wasted, shoulders under their missile launchers and painted them up, along with the Ultramarines Legion specific resin contemptor armed with dual conversion beamers. I had plans to use the dreadclaw I had sitting around for the Fulmentarus Terminators, since they don’t care that it lost the Assault Vehicle rule. I ran out of time for that, and it’s still sitting unpainted on the shelving unit.

There is one unit amongst all others that instigated my love-affair with the Heresy era Ultramarines: The Invictarus Suzerains. They were super elite warriors decked out in legion heraldry and armed with both the legion specific power axe and shield. Yeah, they were perfect for leading a breacher force. They were also a lot of work and it took me 50% longer than expected to get the ten of them painted up.  I was simultaneously working on tank support, I had a Rhino and two Sicarans in the works. I was still building the two extra Land Raiders I purchased to roll across the bridges. 

I fuckin love these models. I have more to paint and I am excited about it. They are mean with the Legatine Axes, but I can’t wait to have them swing Thunder Hammers

Time was nearly up. With only five days left to paint the rest of my intended army and pack it all up for game day, I was unsure I was going to get everything done. The Land Raiders were in the works. The breachers were in maximum sub-assemblies to expedite the painting process. The veterans were cured and primed. 

Sure as shit, I was pushing to get done on my days off in the middle of the week and of course the Breacher Shields managed to hold onto some release agent after several baths in the ultrasonic cleaner and didn’t show it’s ugly head until they were nearly finished. Fuckin fuck. 

Was I ready to go? Mostly. But the Veterans were only table ready as they were placed in Battlefoam for transport. Fuck it. Close enough.

How Eventful

The two-day New England 30K event was planned to be the final act in a story they had been playing for years. The Traitors were trying to extract what they could to orbit and the loyalists were trying to make them pay for every ship that broke atmosphere with supplies, and blasted off to fortify the Traitor aligned Forgeworld in system. 

I was jumping in at the end of this story arc. I had devised a story as to how my Ultramarines force had found itself in the region of space that the NE30k stories took place in; I will share that story later, after I hammer out a few more details. Suffice it to say, my Ultramarines and the ally detachments that traveled with the lost fleet arrived in system with fresh supplies and hungry for a fight, joining in a long running battle across a doomed planet. 

The worst part is, I have more painted up than that…

I didn’t want to come in like a swinging dick, but I did wanna make a bit of a showing for my first official narrative game with the group. So, I brought seven-thousand points with me. Yup Seven-Fucking-Thousand. All painted and based (although the knights didn’t have transfers on them, but, whatever, they were clearly above the three colors and a base minimum expectation).

vs some World Eaters that put up a serious fight.
vs some 3d printed knights made to look like ol’ School epic Knights.

The event was good fun. I played a few games, I won (knights), tied (World Eaters)  and lost (Dark Mech) my games, in that order. I also took some time to hang out, make some friends and generally relax. As a new Event Organizer, I was instructed to play some games with folks and get to know the members, make some connections and such.

Well, I have some new friends, and I am excited to make more as I keep spending time at these events. I have certainly found a group that has an above-average obsession level with the Horus Heresy. I am in good company. 

What’s Next?

Clearly I failed to work on a side quest and give myself a break from the post-human boys in blue. I painted a lot of minis, maybe too many in too short of a time. At least, too much blue for sure and, likely, too many marines. At the end of Phase Two I was a little burnt out, to say the least. A bit of a break was in the books. 

After that, well, we’ll see what happens. But I doubt there will be more Marines in my immediate future…


Obsessive and neurotic collector of little plastic men, novels about the same little plastic men and paints to make the little plastic men pretty. Married to Kera, who puts up with him and pretends that she doesn’t hear him speaking to the little plastic men in between making pew pew noises in the hobby room. Requires adult supervision. A menace to himself but rarely to others. More beard than man

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