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Praetorians and Colonial VSF/Steampunk
Old 01 Sep 2009, 08:04   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: UK
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Default Praetorians and Colonial VSF/Steampunk

To all of you who have Praetorians and wish to use them in some way like British Colonial troops, or in a Steampunk / Victorian Sci Fi (VSF) outfit, I've been doing some basic design for the latest IG codex.

1. "Straight" Colonial Organisation.

Company Organisation

The British Battalion numbered 8 companies. Each company was split into 2 "half companies", and each of those was again split into 2 sections - ie there are 4 sections in a Company. A section is commanded by a sergeant, a half company by a lieutenant. Strengths varied over time and by unit, but there are about 80 - 120 men per company so say c 100 on average.

Modelling this in the 40k universe gives a Company HQ with 4 platoons, and one Platoon HQ per every 2 squads. This gives a c 1:2 scale with 55 figures in "normal" mode, (4 10 man sections, 2 Platoon HQ, 1 Co HQ) but you could do c 1:1 scale with double platoons of course.

In addition, the British Army, complete with its Colonial troops, had enough units of different types to fit into most of the other 40k "standard" categories, for example:

Ratlings - any colonial native sharpshooting unit you choose
Storm Troopers - tough Highlanders, fierce Gurkhas etc
Rough Riders - Lancers
Veterans - plenty of units to choose from - Grenadiers, Rifles, Guides etc

Komissars are Commissioners, but they will still shoot any cad who won't stand his ground.
Priests are Padres and believe it is the duty of every Englishman to bring enlightenment to the Savages, by force if necessary

The 40k armour and weirder stuff fall into the realms of Steampunk, which is covered below later.

Company Heavy Weapons

Over time, machine guns (heavy bolters) moved from being positioned separately, like artillery, to being more much closely tied to the infantry.

Towards the end of the Colonial period, small numbers of 1 inch "pom-pom" (autocannons) started being used, especially after experiencing their use by the Boers. In WW1 they were used mainly for A-A work in the trenches and on ships, though the Gatling 1"b (Multilaser) was more common on ships


Artillery came in 4 types for 40k game purposes:

- Mountain Artillery: Used the small 2.5" RML (7pdr) "screw gun" that could be broken apart and transported by mules, tended to be closely integrated with the infantry
- Horse Artillery: used 9, then 12 pounder guns that were transported by horse and limber so were quite fast moving
- Foot Artillery - bigger guns, 12 and then 15 pounders and larger (though that tends to be in the reserve)
- Rockets - if they hit anything they could cause a mess, but were fairly inaccurate - and did scare enemy troops.

If one were to "grade" these for 40k, and assuming the 1" pompom and similar were autocannon/multilaser types, then the Mountain Artillery is roughly equivalent to the Missile (as it has a decent range and both shell and shrapnel options), the Horse Artillery roughly to a Battle Cannon, and the Foot Artillery fire all the bigger guns. Rockets were not 40k missiles, being more akin to big mortars - the 40k long range mortar stats work fine

The Lascannon is a harder one to place as it is a pure anti-armour gun - one way to think of it is as a naval gun like the 6 pdr Hotchkiss which was around since the 1880's and was the first gun used on WW1 tanks. It had a higher muzzle velocity and similar range to the 2.5" RML so fits the stats as a similar sort of weapon but with better armour piercing - 9/2 vs 8/3

Artillery units were organised into batteries of 6 guns, divided into sections of 2 guns. At a 1:2 scale, the 40k 6 man / 3 heavy weapon team is perfect for he bigger weapons but doesn't really model the way the machine guns, pompoms and 2.5" RML were split into section and allocated around the infantry, these are better allocated to the platoons.

2. "Straight" 40k Organisation

I've gone for the 55 figure company, fielding 2 of them. The highest known concentration of Machine guns was 4 in a half company, ie 1 heavy bolter per 10 man 40k platoon and I've opted for this on the 40k battlefield.

I've opted to give each platoon command unit a Missile (aka 2.5" RML) and the company command a Mortar (aka Hale's Rocket). The basic idea is all these weapons were designed to be fairly portable by the infantry.

In this period there was no Vox, but there was the heliograph (signalling mirrors) so each command is given one of these.

At 1500pts (what we play to) you can get a perfectly decent outfit with 2 Companies of 55 figs each, 2 units of 10 Rough Riders, 2 extra batteries (pick your weapon for opponent) and 1-2 extra squads with specialisms. The 2 Companies, with 8 Heavy Bolters and 4 Missiles put out a lot of firepower alone and are a great base unit to add to. 2 more Veteran units with HW and two HWS make for a formidable shooting outfit, if you do the calcs they can take out about 16 SM's a bound, and huge wodges of weaker stuff. A Master of Ordnance is also essential in my view, its a low cost way of getting big guns.

3. Steampunk / VSF Concepts

Of course, no one playing 40k Praetorians is not going to want to use Steampunk concepts - Infernal Inventions, Dastardly Devices and lots of steam and rivets. Adapting the worlds of Jules Verne, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Space Captain Smith, Space 1889 etc into 40k is a must do. The most obvious areas to go for are:

- Armour: the Leman Russ and Chimera have similar track layouts to WW1 British tanks, in a Steampunk world they would just have been steam powered and maybe turrets simpler boxes or cylinders. In VSF they are called Landships (from the H G Wells story) or Steam-Tanks
- Sentinels - steam walkers (or rollers, etc etc) are de rigeur, the only debate is whether they would be operated by the Cavalry or the Horse Artillery
- Ogryns - Giant Dr Hyde-men, Frankenstein monsters, Aliens, clockwork automatons, you name it - opportunities abound
- Shock Troops - armour + weird weapons - what better?
- The Big Rockets - standard artillery is well known, in VSFe the Hale's rocket would have been adapted into bigger things.
- Psykers - every army needs Mystic Meg or her equivalent.

My army has 2 Leman Russ Mk VI Steam-Tanks, and 2 units each of of 2 Sentinels - and operated by the Artillery and Horse Artillery respectively (British guns in the period are a medium blue-grey, but tanks - following WW1 practice - have marvellous varieties of camo options). Sentinels are unarmoured types - in this period it was considered cowardly to hide behind a shield - and mount the 6pdr QF (aka Lascannon).

Next step is to work out what the Royal Navy (Flying) would do with a Vendetta. A sort of airborne Torpedo Boat Destroyer methinks....

I also field a piece of heavy artillery, with variable gun depending on the mission - the Medusa Siege Cannon is quite handy.

British are not the only Steampunk army possible, of course - Praetorian style hats are usable by a number of nations. Mordians can be pressed into service and Tallarns, Vostroyans, Steel Legion and Valhallans are all employable, but sadly there are no really go figures for those armies you really want to field - like the Legion EtraTerrestriale! (Assuming you're using GW figs - there is a huge range available from other manufacturers)
cheekeigh mon-keigh
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