You may remember from my last post that I concluded:
While people are, of course, free to paint their models however they wish: in whatever passes for canon in the mutable 40K background, the Devourers may reasonably be agreed to have worn red armour with brass and bronze trim.
There’s a couple of caveats and disclaimers in there, but the weight of evidence seemed very much to support that conclusion, and I stand by it. (In any case, I’m very happy with how I painted mine).
While researching that post, I of course looked through the old Horus Heresy – Collected Visions artbook in search of evidence. I didn’t find any pictures of the Devourers, but there were lots of pictures of Angron, like this one on page 226 of Collected Visions (or in the book Visions of Treachery, if you have the separate editions).
Hold on a minute…!
It was pointed out to me by a helpful chap with the moniker Son of Russ that, if you look closely, the caption for that image is actually “Angron’s Bodyguard”! The corresponding game card (shown on page 382) is even more specific, being named “Devourers – Angron’s Bodyguard”. But this picture was so similar to the artwork for Angron himself (see for example the picture on page 231), that I had simply assumed it was him and hadn’t looked closer. It seems that (in the view of this artist at least) the Devourers were so desperate for Angron’s validation that they didn’t only wear armour in his colours, but modified their very faces and skulls to look as much like him as they could.
(Incidentally, for my favourite Easter Egg in the Horus Heresy CCG, check out the rules for Horus the Warmaster on page 413. Good times if you’re a rules writer!)
So, there’s one thing we can absolutely, unquestionably conclude, without argument: there is definite solid evidence, in the canon, in a GW-approved publication, in support of painting your Devourers in brass armour. (I’d rather like to see someone go the whole hog and convert a whole unit of Space Marines to look just like Angron, as in the image above). So if you’ve painted yours like this guy has, you are supported by the “fluff”.
Is that the end of it, then? Was my previous conclusion simply wrong?
I’d say not, actually. And not because (as a vile troll on the otherwise-excellent World Eaters Facebook group tried to insist) I feel any burning need to be “right” – I wouldn’t even be writing this post if that were all I were concerned about. Rather, it’s that (as the quote at the top of this post hinted) Warhammer 40,000 has always been flexible in canon, being often unclear and sometimes outright contradictory. This is especially true for the Horus Heresy, which started out as a short piece of “colour text” to fill an empty quarter-page in the First Book of the Astronomicon, then was used as an explanation for why the game Adeptus Titanicus used the same models for each side (in different coloured plastic – the real explanation being that GW couldn’t afford to make more than one sprue), and has grown over the following 30 years to now include nearly 60 novels, dozens of short stories and audio dramas, seven campaign books and an entire line of models. Any claim that almost any part of it has remained whole and unchanged since its inception would be laughable.
I can’t imagine anyone honestly describing the warrior shown in the artwork as in “red and brass Cataphractii Terminator armour”. It’s brass armour – granted with red pteruges and a bracer, but neither of which even form part of the armour proper. There would certainly be no need to offer a disclaimer that Khârn’s red armour wasn’t in imitation of the Devourers, as they look nothing alike! It actually even bears only a loose resemblance to Cataphractii Terminator armour, looking a lot more like Angron’s own Armour of Mars. (Hilariously, in the game rules, such armour would be better than Angron’s, offering a 2+/4++ save instead of 3+/4++. So much for the best efforts of the Mechanicum’s best armourers!)
In any case, it seems clear to me that this artwork is in open contradiction with other sources. This artwork shows a Devourer in brass artificer Terminator armour. The novels describe the Devourers as wearing red and brass Cataphractii Terminator armour. The first Forge World book clearly shows a “Devourer” shoulder pad coloured red with brass trim, and moreover it’s a power-armoured pad. In fact, the picture in Collected Visions, and the shoulder pad shown in Betrayal, are basically diametric opposites – so it’d be intellectually dishonest to claim that either is definitive.
Which is right, then?
Well… all of them, at different times, or depending in which you choose to put the most weight. Is artwork for a third-party game in 2000 compiled into a GW publication in 2004, more convincing in your opinion than a piece of art for Forge World’s first Horus Heresy book in 2012? Does either carry more or less weight than the Black Library book Betrayer, written by arguably the best author in the Horus Heresy stable, Aaron Dembski-Bowden; and how mightily does that weigh compared to the much more detailed descriptions of the Devourers, but given by a much less talented author, in a short story featured in a recent event-only anthology? Do any of those “correctly” capture some perfect prototypical vision, conceived whole and entire by Rick Priestley and Alan Merrett chatting in a pub in Nottingham some time in the mid-1980s, or were they then – and to at least some extent, are their replacements now – making it up as they went along?
Caveat emptor, frankly. I leave it up to you.
My final last word on the subject is therefore as follows:
People are, of course, free to paint their models however they wish. In what passes for canon in the mutable 40K background, there is clear support for Devourers in either brass custom Terminator armour with red features, or red Cataphractii Terminator armour with brass trim. How someone chooses to interpret the available lore, in their own army, is up to them.
Anyway… what really matters is BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.