Recently I painted a Terminator Command Squad for my Horus Heresy World Eaters army (plus attached Legion Champion), which you can see in the photo. I’m super pleased with how they turned out, especially the banner, which used no fewer than five transfers.
I got a very positive response when I shared that photo, with people being largely complimentary about what I’d produced, which is always nice to hear. There were a few people though, who made comments like “I was surprised to see so much red” – not (in most cases) critical or negative, but confused.
This rather took me back. Of course, World Eaters at the beginning of the Heresy wore mostly white and blue – which is how I’ve painted the rest of my army; but as far as I was aware, it had been well-known since… well… forever, that Angron’s bodyguard, known as the Devourers, wore red and brass Cataphractii Terminator armour. (It’s also well known that Angron despised the Devourers, being offended by the very idea that he might need a bodyguard, and annoyed that they were too slow to keep up with him in battle). Now, however, multiple people were saying that the Devourers were supposed to be armoured in brass, with red shoulder pads only.
Of course, a pretty simple rule of thumb is that people can paint their models however they wish – they are, after all, their models (and in historical gaming, the kind of pedants who say things like “<nasal whine> I think you’ll find </nasal whine> that there should be six buttons on his shirt and you’ve only painted five” are known dismissively as “button counters”… don’t be a button counter). But surprised as I was by the number of people who held the same belief, and in the spirit of clearing up confusion among World Eaters enthusiasts, I decided to do some digging.
First, I sought to confirm what I thought I knew myself. Right back from way before Black Library and Forge World brought the Heresy to life, everyone knew, didn’t they, that the Devourers wore red and brass? Well, I couldn’t actually find anything to support it in any of the GW-published books I’ve got (including the old Realms of Chaos books, the World Eaters entry in Index Astartes, Collected Visions, or any White Dwarf article). The usual reference sites like Lexicanum or 40K Wikia were either silent on the matter, or in some cases, simply wrong (for example showing artwork of a “normal” World Eaters Terminator in white and blue, but captioning it as a Devourer). So where had I got that impression from in the first place?
I’m still baffled by this – and if anyone is aware of such a source, please let me know!
So, I moved on to the more recent stuff. The FW and BL teams were bound to have done their research, though often their work will have involved choosing between (or trying to resolve) mutually contradictory stuff from the earlier days of 40K, when a lot of it was simply made up as they went along. The Devourers are mentioned a few times in the Black Library stories, most notably Betrayer, but although they are confirmed to be wearing Cataphractii armour, its colour is not stated. Forge World were a bit more forthcoming, and HH book I, Betrayal, includes this:
“Devourers” – World Eaters variant iconography
That artwork… doesn’t actually help much, unfortunately. Firstly, it’s clearly a power-armoured shoulder pad, not Cataphractii Terminator, so it’s not obvious how it fits in with the information available about them elsewhere. Secondly, while when I first saw it I took it to confirm my assumption that Devourers wore red armour with brass trim, it doesn’t actually contradict other people’s claims that they wore all-brass except for red shoulder pads… because it only shows a shoulder pad.
Having drawn a blank on original sources, and not much more than that in the newer FW/BL HH stuff, perhaps it’s time to look closer at why people had decided to take the opposite view, that they should be all brass/bronze except for red shoulder pads?
I did a bit of exploring and found that none of those who had done so seemed to provide any justification based in a published source for their choice (and a very rude person on the Facebook group refused to even try to find a source, saying instead that he just knew he was right, even while continuing to insist I was not just wrong but an idiot). Again – people may obviously paint their models as they wish; and in most cases, it simply seems that they decided to paint Angron’s so-called “bodyguard” in brass because Angron’s own armour is usually painted brass, and they wanted their models to match. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t answer the wider question.
Once again, if anyone is aware of a published source that would support an all-brass scheme for Devourers, please do let me know.
This all left us at something of an impasse. I am immensely pleased with my own models in red, and others seem to be quite pleased with their own models in brass; and after all, they are each our models, and (to really emphasize the point!) people may paint their models as they wish. But it still seemed strange, that we all seemed to think “everyone knew” what Devourers were supposed to look like, yet none of us seemed able to provide a source to confirm it. So I remained intrigued, but the question remained open.
Then, at this year’s Horus Heresy Weekender, a new event-only anthology called Sons of the Emperor was released (it even features our man Angron on the cover!). One of these stories, Prince of Blood, resolves the confusion…
A few caveats before going any further:
- As a new release, it can’t retroactively make anyone’s previous beliefs or opinions “wrong”. Until we find an older source, we can only say that the new information matches or contradicts one or other previously-held opinion.
- Previous stories about Angron, Kharn, and the Conqueror were mostly written by the exceptionally talented Aaron Dembski-Bowden (with an honourable shout out to Matthew Farrer for the excellent After Desh’ea, and a few others have contributed too). This new story is written by LJ Goulding, on whose capabilities as an author I’ll decline to venture an opinion. As former Black Library loremaster for the Horus Heresy, he ought to know his stuff… however… given that he appears not to have even bothered to read Betrayer before writing Prince of Blood (the final non-epilogue scene in Betrayer sees Ivar Tobin dead on the bridge of the Conqueror, pinned to the deck with a girder through his chest; in Prince of Blood, set a few weeks or months later, Ivar Tobin is alive and well – for at least a few pages until he dies for a second time), it’s dubious how much weight Goulding’s word should carry. It’s always frustrating as a reader to find that you care about the characters more than the author does.
- Say it with me: “people may paint their models however they wish”!
So. There’s new information in this new story, which may potentially answer the question going forward, but which can’t make anyone retroactively “wrong”, and which is of dubious worth anyway. But what does it actually say?
“[The Devourers’] Cataphractii suits have left bruises on the floor where they have paced back and forth. They are clad in red and brass and bronze, […]”
Red and brass and bronze – that wraps it up, doesn’t it? Nobody would describe World Eaters armour as blue and white, they’d call it white and blue; you start with the colour covering the largest area, that’s how English works. Question resolved!
…or is it? The same sentence continues:
“[…] in imitation of the primarch’s own Martian plate from the latter years of the Great Crusade.”
Ah. Red (and brass and bronze) armour can hardly be said to be “in imitation” of the primarch’s armour, which was brass (and bronze and red). The second half of the sentence appears to contradict the first half of the same sentence. So it’s still unclear!
Until the final scene, that is, when Khârn reflects:
“I will wear the red, the brass, the bronze, fresh from the armoury and turned by my own hand, though I am no Devourer. […] I am sanctified in the colours that are said to most please our new god.”
Emphasis mine. This would seem to be the information we need to finally lay the matter to rest. Khârn, like the Devourers (or else he wouldn’t have felt the need for a disclaimer), now wears red and brass and bronze, the colours of Khorne. So to know whether that means mostly red with brass and bronze trim, or mostly brass with bronze trim and red shoulder pads, we simply need to look at some artwork and models representing Khârn.
In my view, that pretty much draws a line under things (bearing in mind the caveats previously given). 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.
I’d still be fascinated to see an older published source saying this, though. I must have missed it somehow.