Stark Crusaders: Tactical Squad

Although I’m keen to use my old Rogue Trader ex-Blood Angels for my Starks, I’ve also got some shiny new ones that Santa brought me. This fits in with the Stark Crusader fluff – a mix of old and new. So these are my Tactical Squad (currently assembled only, as it’s not the weather for undercoating. Also, I still need to add a few extra touches – extra purity seals, any ammo pouches etc and the bases need finishing off).

Stark Crusaders - Tactical Squad

I wanted to leave my options open regarding loadouts, so this is what I’ve done:

6 Bolter Marines, all glued up as standard. Nothing to show here, you can see them in the top picture (without bolters, to aid painting).


Stark Crusaders - Tactical Squad

2 Special Weapon Marines, mostly glued up, but with a swappable weapon so they can have any of the available special weapons, or a bolter. This means I can have one with bolter and one with special weapon if a 10-man squad, or both with special weapons if two 5-man squads (or if necessary, have them all with bolters).

Stark Crusaders - Tactical Squad

You can see on the pic on the left the pin sticking out of his wrist (I go into more detail on pinning below). You just have to be careful that there’s space to slide the gun over the pin, with the supporting hand not getting in the way.


Stark Crusaders - Tactical Squad

1 Sergeant, with a swappable gun, so he can have a bolter (left pic), special weapon (plasma gun in right pic), combi-weapon or pistol. His other hand is also swappable for a knife, chainsword or power sword.

Stark Crusaders - Tactical Squad

As far as the combi-weapons go, you get a single ‘half’ bolter and the special part of a flamer, plasma gun etc to sit on top. In theory, you can make any one of 4 combi-weapons, but only one. So I’ve made the top part (the special weapon) swappable, so serge can have whatever he wants!


Stark Crusaders - Tactical Squad

And the Last Guy has a swappable gun, so can have a bolter (below), special weapon, combi-weapon (combi-plasma on the right) or pistol, and also has a swappable head. So he can have a helmeted head and a bolter and be a regular marine, or he can have a bare head and any gun he wants as the sergeant of the second 5-man squad.

Stark Crusaders - Tactical Squad

I should have made his second hand swappable as well, so he could have had a chainsword or power sword when sarge, but I missed that opportunity and glued his hand on. That’s okay, I don’t imagine I’d be that interested in spending points on close combat weapons anyway.


To make the weapons swappable, I wanted to magnetise them. I have some 2mm x 1mm magnets but the wrists of the models are just about 2mm. The holes would need to be so big that the plastic becomes way too thin (I know, because I tried one and then had to re-fill the hole with green stuff). So instead I’ve drilled tiny holes (0.7mm) which is just the right size for a paperclip (test on some sprue first, your paperclip sizes might be different!). So each swappable wrist/weapon has a 0.7mm hole drilled in the centre, and a length of straightened paperclip, about 5mm long, glued into the wrist. Each weapon can then just be pulled off/pushed on. I guess over time this might start to wear loose, but it’s not like I’m going to be swapping weapons all the time. I have noticed the sarge (the one on the left in the main pic) has quite a wobbly gun, so might just need to fill and re-drill the hole in his gun. The only magnetised option is the sergeant’s head.

I left most of the guns on the sprue for undercoating, as there are more guns than men, and also the bolters get in the way of the chests when painting.

Stark Crusader - Missile Launcher

I’m not interested in giving my Tacs a heavy weapon. It either holds the unit up so he can shoot, or he only gets snap shots (which in the case of a missile launcher, means no frag, only krak). So I’ve used the missile launcher from the Tac box set to give one of my old RT metal marines a missile launcher. He’ll end up as part of my Devastator squad. I tried fitting it to one of my ‘proper’ Dev models, but it just wouldn’t fit and look good, so I’ve just used a ‘standard’ marine (the one on the left shows what he was like pre-missile launcher). So this guy will feature when I do my Devs.

And now, more fluff. This is the Triune, Captain Stratos’s unofficial war council.

The Triune

In the years following his personal defeat on Ska’garath at the hands of a heavily armoured Ork nob, Lando Stratos vowed to never let his opponents get the upper hand on him again. This meant being fully prepared for any foe or environment, whether expecting to walk over a handful of natives or planning a system-wide campaign against a well armed and trained foe. Stratos recognised the need for advice from trusted colleagues, brothers with expertise in the different aspects of warfare. He couldn’t be selfish or arrogant enough to refuse the help of fellow Astartes.

Once again, the Stark Crusaders 3rd Company was deployed to an inhospitable planet in a system full of inhospitable planets. There was nothing to save or protect, but it offered a tactical opportunity to heavily damage a Tyranid hive fleet that had been making progress through nearby systems. Sergeant Stratos was holding ground with his 4th Tactical Squad on the north ridge of a canyon, with Sergeant Steele of the 5th Tactical mirroring him on the south ridge. Three pairs of Tactical units were deployed in total, all along the ridge of the canyon. Darke’s assault unit were to be the bait, supported by two other assault units, leading the massed aliens into the canyon from the west, where the tactical squads could cut them down with massed bolter fire. Several units of devastators were further east on both ridges, ready to add their fusillade of firepower to the slaughter. It was a simple plan, the assault units, lead by Darke, would lead the Tyranid horde into the canyon, use their jump packs to leap away from danger and clear the ridge of canyon, then the hail of shells would rain down upon the hapless aliens below.

Stratos, Steele and Grymm exchanged both words of encouragement and taunts in equal measure as they waited. They and Darke were close and they enjoyed fighting together. The banter helped ease the tension of waiting. It was a dark day, with heavy rain lashing down. Grymm’s habit of fighting without a helmet seemed unwise. Any normal human’s flesh would burn with the acidic rain, but it rolled harmlessly off his Astartes skin like fresh spring water. Large scarab beetles roamed underfoot, biting at armour and irritating everyone. The wait was long. Darke’s assault unit were several klicks away. All the marines were well trained and kept alert, but the wait always annoyed Stratos. But eventually, they came…

They’d drastically underestimated the aliens. They’d underestimated their numbers and their tactical ability. A few hundred small creatures chased the assault squads into the canyon, with several larger tyranids mixed in. Large in number, but relatively easy bait. But the second the assault squads activated their jump packs more creatures appeared from everywhere. Dozens sprang from the walls of the canyon, previously hiding chameleon-like in plain sight. Some burrowed up from the ground beneath them, striking at the marines before they could even leave the ground. Then there was the attack from the air – dozens and dozens of winged beasts swarmed towards them, darkening the skies with their numbers. Clearly, despite the Starks having reconned well and planned the trap, it was they who were being ambushed.

The attack was quick and brutal. Darke and his unit struggled to get clear of the canyon bed, losing men in the process. Other assault squads were less fortunate, losing all or most members in the first few seconds. Swarms of Tyranid creatures scurried and climbed the canyon sides with incredible pace, quickly coming over the top and overwhelming the marines who were unprepared for the sudden close assault. Even further down the canyon ridge the swarms of winged creatures attacked the supporting devastators.

What initially looked like a quick defeat of the Starks turned in their favour. Darke, the surviving marines from his unit, and a few other survivors from the canyon floor cleared the canyon ridge and immediately started to cut through the hordes of gaunts attacking the Tactical units. Although men were lost, they had the high ground and once the initial wave was defeated, it became easier to keep them back as the hordes of creatures came over the canyon top. The majority of the tyranids were attacking the north ridge, leaving the units positioned in the south largely untouched. It was a good plan, not splitting their numbers, but it allowed Steele’s unit to give covering fire across the other side of the canyon, as well as shooting down at anything left on the canyon floor.

Further east along the same ridge, three units of devastators were under attack from the skies. Winged gargoyles were swooping down and attacking the marines, who weren’t armed for a close assault, their long range weapons not suited for striking the flying aliens as they advanced. They were armed for a salvo attack on the canyon floor from distance and struggled to kill the flying creatures quickly enough. Stratos’s unit, along with the other tactical units, advanced east to help out their brothers, Darke and the remains of the assault marines holding back to stem the flow of creatures over the canyon ridge. Stratos lead the charge, running towards Grymm who was fending off attacks on some of his wounded comrades. Most of Grymm’s men were down, but none were dead. Grymm was fighting against five or six winged beasts, keeping them off his wounded unit. As they approached Stratos saw a gargoyle take flight away from the fight, and with it it took Grymm’s entire right arm.

Steele’s men were largely untouched by the ambush, the attack focusing on the north ridge, allowing Steele to offer covering fire. He could read the balance of the battle and could see Stratos heading east to help Grymm and his brothers, leaving Darke to fend off the tide of small, fierce creatures topping the ridge. Thus his unit focused their attention on those creatures climbing the canyon wall, not yet at the top. Taking out enough of these reduced the number cresting the ridge and facing Darke.

Grymm kept fighting as his genhanced body tried to cauterise the massive wound that used to be his shoulder. Stratos raised his bolt pistol, fired twice in quick succession, and the gargoyle dropped from the sky into the depths of the canyon below. They couldn’t get to Grymm fast enough and a large creature crested the ridge right next to him. It spat acid into Grymm’s face as it’s huge claws struck at his legs. By the time Stratos’s unit got close enough to cause any real damage to the creature, there wasn’t much left of Grymm. The skin on the lower part of his face was literally melting off, blood pouring from this mouth. His arm was gone and his legs shattered, one held in place only by his armour. Now Stratos was close enough, bolter rounds pounded the larger creature, then Darke shot overhead, using his jump pack to get to the forefront of the fighting. The creature was quickly killed by a few deft swipes of Darke’s chainsword, and now the numbers were more in the Starks’ favour. The creatures were slowly forced back until they retreated, knowing they could no longer win the battle.

As always, Thalius performed miracles. Grymm had two new legs and a new arm, but the acid hadn’t just damaged his face, it had got into his lungs too. He now permanently wore a face mask to allow him to breathe. This wasn’t the first time the four of them, Stratos, Steele, Darke and Grymm, had been to battle together and saved each other, nor would it be the last, but it was a defining moment in their personal histories. Each of them had saved the other, each lending a different strength to the group. This bond grew over the years and over many campaigns and each had a life-debt to each of the others many times over. Due to their successes, they all earned various chapter honours, including induction to the 1st company with terminator honours.

As Stratos’s skills as both a warrior and strategist saw him rise to Captain of the 3rd, his close brothers became leaders in the 1st company – Darke as a Vanguard Sergeant and Steele leading an elite Terminator squad. Grymm, regardless of the pressures from his Captain and friend, and even from the Chapter Master, refused to leave his 3rd company devastator unit. He accepted the terminator honours with great pride, but refused to leave the 9th Devastator unit he was so devoted to, even when offered the chance to lead other veterans. Grymm can often be seen holding high ground to gain the best arcs of fire, directing the fire of his unit, distinctive with his bare metal legs and gases hissing from his face mask.

Captain Stratos calls on his old comrades frequently to bolster the 3rd Company, thus they often still fight alongside each other. In preparation for a campaign Stratos will call upon his Triune for tactical and strategic advice, recognising each of their specialised expertise and experience. On the battlefield, members of the Triune can be identified by golden purity seals with red parchment, personal gifts to them from Stratos when he was first appointed as captain.

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