Very much maligned and misunderstood: Imperial Knight Armiger Helverins of House Mortimer & White Dwarf 126

It has long been part of the philosophy in the faded grandeur of the halls and under-crofts of the Lead Mountain that painting an individual miniature is a joy, painting several at once is a tough yet worthy venture, and painting an army is a Never-Ending Story of grind, grief, mud and tears. What begins as an empowered and joyful vision of miniature hordes sweeping all before them in their bright livery, dazzling your foes with clever conversions and artful artistic artifice, slowly devolves into trying to haul a sad horse out of a bog.

Artax stuck in the bog
‘It’s only 3000 points Artax! We don’t have to do ALL of them in Non-Metallic Metals, I swear!’

It seems to this Philosopher/Pony-dragger that no matter how small or large the army, be it a Frostgrave Wizarding crew of five guys and a horse (*sob*), or a Syrian Armoured Division circa 1976, like trying to draw in detail all the fjords of Norway one will inevitably become caught up in a descending Mandelbrot set of details until the whole project grinds to a halt, and ends up consigned to the Drawers of Ignominy. Maybe the scheme one has chosen is a little too complicated or involved to maintain over a whole army, or it doesn’t quite work on different elements of the same force? Maybe it’s just too much of the same thing over and over again? Or maybe there are too many projects on the go, and things are advancing at glacial speed, as ones efforts are diluted across a gamut of genres and time-streams?

Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) Like Butter scraped over too much bread meme
‘Like one gamer painting for Frostgrave, Oathmark, WH40k, WFB, Dragon Rampant, Flames of War, Industrial War, Burrows and Badgers, Kings of War…’

Ironically, it is the last problem which also presents a solution: In order to avert the dangerous malaise of project stoppage, change projects. Pick something else to build and/or paint and do that instead, so that returning to the previous project feels not like an arduous task, but a pleasant adventure holiday.

Most recently, your put-upon Scrivener has been working on Project Crimson Fists, with a somewhat involved but not unpleasing method of painting deep blue on Primaris Marines. With something like 6 different layers on the armour alone the prospect of painting 40 or 50 models, tanks and dreadnoughts begins to seem a touch daunting. Rather than enter a blue (sic) funk, variety is called for. But it seems a shame to burn valuable hobby time on an utterly unrelated project like Orcses (who have their own allocated time for staring wistfully and thinking ‘When will there be time for these too?). To the archives, post-haste, therein to unearth inspiration for something related, but not the same.

White Dwarf 126 Cover: Amazonian Warror and Wizard
An interesting, but apparently utterly unrelated-to-content cover of an amazonian warrior who is clearly tired of this sorcerous shit, by one Colin Sullivan. June, 1990.

This cover seems to be the tail end of generic (or at least non-GW specific) artwork appearing on White Dwarf covers, and this scribe is unaware of this piece being used for anything else, anywhere else. (Feel free to provide correction, dear reader.) unlike the previously discussed White Dwarf 109, which featured a similarly generic artwork which was also the cover of a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Supplement. (Hereafter known as WFRP, pronounced Wuffrupp.)

But the bored blonde with the broadsword (yes, you know how to say it) is not our primary focus (Although we will inevitably return to the issue as other projects coincide with its contents). Instead we must leaf through to the age-spotted, much thumbed page 28, where we discover the original background and rules for the Imperial (and Eldar) Knights, penned by the then unknown war-gaming Luminary Andy Chambers, before his apotheosis to Great Horned Rat, progenitor of unnumbered Skaven armies, game designer and evil arch-overlord.

Although this particular author hasn’t actually read the new Knights codex, he has been reading related Black Library content and modern White Dwarf articles, and it seems that for the most part the background material hasn’t changed too drastically, and certainly not so far as to make it horrendously non-canon, at least in reference to the Imperial portions.

The Examples

White Dwarf 125 Colour spread of Knight House Heraldry for Hawkwood, Beaumaris and Mortimer
Behold the (simplified) colour suggestions for Knight Heraldry.

As pretty as it is, the blue & white of Beaumaris edges too close to the endless blue of the Crimson Fists. The red and yellow of Hawkwood is eye-catching, but this Artificer has yet to develop a truly satisfactory recipe for large areas of red, and a pair of expensive giants is probably not the place to start. Besides which, it’s been done…

Three epic knights in House Warwick colours
Three antediluvian knights in House Warwick colours, complete with original virulent green bases and glossy finish.

House Warwick (pictured only in miniature form below) appears to have an interesting livery, but purple & green is also the livery of the Grief Bringers chapter from the Ian Watson 40k novel Inquisitor, and this scribe has plans and thoughts towards that chapter for a future project. So that leaves…


The Purple and Yellow of House Mortimer.

Many have looked upon this particular House, and labour under a certain misapprehension. It would however be wrong-headed to assume that the presence of a Genestealer bio-form in the House Crest implies a ‘stealer infested House.

Look carefully at the first image above; The Heraldic banner of House Hawkwood shows a loincloth-clad warrior slaying a beast rendered in heraldic form on the House badge. Similarly House Beaumaris displays the head of a dragon, which implies that the heraldic banner would depict a similarly bronze-thewed hero locked in combat with some sort of winged green lizard of mythology. Thus it stands to reason that House Mortimers’ standard would depict a sword-wielding paragon struggling against the rending claws of an emissary of the four armed father, not allied with it.

Genestealers in imperial heraldry are not without precedent. One appears crushed beneath the boot of an Ultramarine in this Chapter banner:

Ultramarines Chapter banner featuring Genestealer
Defeating the Xenos, not partying with them…

And they have always been there…

Depiction of Rogue Trader Ultramarines Chapter Shoulder pad markings
If House Mortimer must be a ‘stealer cult, what does that make Marneus Calgar and his chief medic?

Moving on, the use of mythological creatures as House emblems has been carried through to the modern iteration of the Knight back-story. For example in the Black Library novel Kingsblade, by Andy Clark) the Knight Houses of Adrastapol include Draconis, Hydrax, Manticos, Medusos, Minotos, Pegasson,  Wyvorn and Chimaeros. and it is not difficult to postulate a Knight world defeating a ‘stealer infestation in its past, and memorializing that event in its heraldry, the story of which slowly slips from history, to legend, to myth. House Mortimer is loyal to the Emperor of Mankind, and not the one with a suspicious profusion of extra limbs, TYVM. Case Closed.

Based on the examples in WD126, and a passing nod to real world heraldry, our Loyal Knights will be painted in halved purple and yellow, which (along with their livery) will reflect the scheme of a larger knight. Much like traditional real world knights, the heraldry becomes ever more involved in direct proportion to seniority, so it is sorely tempting to paint knights in quarters and other variations too. A minor Baron may be on the horizon.

A Brief Review

There are (at this time) two variants of Armiger; the Twin Autocannon-armed Helverin, and the Warglaive, which wields a reaper chain-cleaver & thermal spear, retailing from GW at 45 of your Earth pounds, although reasonable discounts are available elsewhere.

Imperial Knight Armiger Helverin box cover depicting two knights
Blue. More blue. Acres of it.
Imperial Knight Armiger Warglaives box art
Another reason to avoid the Hawkwood scheme: it bears too much resemblance to the Mechanicum scheme

Each box provides the relevant pieces to build two models, but only of the same variant. This is a touch irksome. What is more irksome is that, according to the enclosed data sheet, Helverins can be fielded in groups of three, but are not available singly. If one could build either variant from a single box this would be less of an issue as 3 boxes would suffice for one unit of Warglaives and Helverins apiece. A frustrating but not unexpected marketing move, though not insurmountable if one has access to the various trading sites on Facebook or similarly interested friends who don’t mind doing swaps. (Nobody above a certain age should mind doing swaps. It should be deeply ingrained in the psyche as the only way to get that Shiny Optimus Prime sticker…)

The kits themselves are relatively straightforward to construct, although construction will have take place outside of the assigned order if one wishes to leave carapace segments aside for painting. Fully built, these are impressive beasts which tower over the battlefield, and although these ones were posed in a relatively static fashion, it shouldn’t be difficult to achieve a large degree of dynamic articulation. This scribe advises test-fitting leg armour for more extreme poses, to avoid the problems that cropped up building the Legio Fureans Reaver

Imperial Knight Helverin in purple and yellow House Mortimer livery
The head on this one is almost Orky. Pushing the limits of the lightbox though, these babies are pretty tall.

The yellow half was painted in much the same manner as the Legio Fureans titan, albeit with a mild reduction in weathering. As an experiment, the purple areas were edge highlighted. Metalwork was rendered in leadbelcher drybrushed over black, then washed with a mix of Seraphim Sepia & Nuln Oil. The Imperial livery pads were treated much as the Crimson Fists erm…fists.

Knight Helverin Purple and Yellow
Prominently displayed on the greave is the Campaign badge, which appears on the armour of all participating units. This will be added to the Crimson Fists greaves in due time.
Knight Helverin House Mortimer Purple and yellow right aspect
Note the Genestealer bio-form badge, proudly displayed on the left fore pauldron
In mimicry of larger noble knight classes, the personal livery is displayed on both fore right pauldron and knee armour.
Imperial livery: the aquila on red field.
The personal livery of the Knight is traditionally blazoned on the front right pauldron. As Armigers are piloted by lesser nobles or household guards, this livery is likely that of the Lord of the guard in question.

Most of the icons are provided in the box (The aquila, House Crests, and a variety of Unit and Honour markings. The fleur-de-lys were mined from the transfer pits of the Lead Mountain, so the source is long forgotten.

Two Imperial Knights, assorted Primaris Crimson Fist Space Marines & and Inquisitor
‘Everybody say ‘Grimdark!’

With these completed, a fair break was had from painting blue, and another unit joins the overall Imperial forces. With the Fists as the core, other auxiliary forces can be introduced as the creeping ague sets in. Incidentally, the Knights add a component reminiscent of a trope present in much Warhammer 40k art: Space marines framed against the towering war machines of the Adeptus Titanicus, which is entirely suited to an army collection inspired by that art…

Postscript: The two Knights of House Mortimer have most recently assisted GW Doncaster in wresting the trophy for ‘Most Knights we Can Get in a Shop’ 2018 from GW Manchester. An honour badge will be crafted to that end and added to their livery. Perhaps a spider with an indifferent expression, the better to represent the Widows complete lack of interest in the outcome… 

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