Return to Isstvan Spotlight: James Turner.

James Phoenician Turner is a well-known member of the Heresy community. A lover of the finer things in life, James is turnin his hand to the creation of the perfect sons of the IIIrd.

I’m collecting a small force of Emperor’s Children loyalists led by Saul Tarvitz and Rylanor the Unyielding. It was a combination of factors that drew me to them actually, I’ve been into 30k since almost the very beginning (my Christmas present in 2012 was a copy of Betrayal, which has been very well read over the last eight years). I think I’ve attempted most of the possible armies at least once, but by the end of 2019 I was getting a bit burned out. I finished up a couple of bits for my Legio Cybernetica army in early 2020 and then spent last year working on a series of one-off projects, mostly Necromunda Hired Guns, Hangers-On and Brutes.

I used these to push my painting abilities and relax into painting again. Seeing Tarvitz previewed in early 2020 was exciting though, as I have very fond memories of reading Betrayal and devouring the Black Library novels.

Fast forward to December 2020 and we found out that Tarvitz was being released on Christmas Day! I decided there and then that I was getting him, as it would be awesome to paint up such a pivotal character in the setting. I decided that in preparation I’d paint a test model, so I raided my bits box, found a spare Tartaros terminator model, and got started. I grabbed out my copy of Betrayal as well, looking for visual inspiration but also to remind myself of the story. Before I’d even finished the test model, I was thinking about developing the idea into an army

Generally my armies always start with ‘The Idea’.

How cool would this be? or I’ve always wanted to paint this! type of thing. Sometimes it comes from spotting something another hobbyist is working on or reading a book or it’s one of those slow realizations that pop out when I’m working on something else.

Regardless of the origin of ‘The Idea’, my first port of call for building an army is usually the army list. In this case, though, I took a bit of a different approach. I knew that I wanted the army to be led by Saul Tarvitz, but I also knew that I wanted to keep it small, focussing more on the quality of each and every miniature.

Tarvitz has the Master of the Legion rule though, so my next thought was which Rites of War would enable me to create a valid army. I considered ‘Chosen Duty’ and ‘Orphans of Betrayal’ but in the end, I settled on ‘Pride of the Legion’. This was partly because I was really enjoying painting my test model and I wanted to incorporate a unit of Terminators into the army and partly because it meant that I could start small but still have a valid 1 HQ and 2 Troops quite easily. Pride of the Legion obviously makes Veteran Tactical Squads a Troops choice, so adding one would give me what I needed.

I also knew from an early stage that I wanted to include Rylanor. He’s got to be one of the most iconic Isstvan III loyalist characters – it would be impolite to collect a loyalist IIIrd legion force without him.

With those decisions made, I started looking at what else I could include. 1000 points would be a nice starting point. Manageable, but substantial enough for a game. After delving into the depths of the web I decided that a Heavy Support Squad armed with Heavy Bolters and a Legion Armistos would be just the ticket. Not only would these give me a unit that would provide a solid base of fire, but it also made sense to me that Heavy Bolters would likely have been deployed to Isstvan III as the Warmaster and his brothers needed to maintain the illusion of a ‘normal’ deployment to conceal their treachery.

With the initial list nailed down and Tarvitz ordered on Christmas day, I set about working out how I’d organize the rest of it. I was able to source some Tartaros Terminators from a friend which were a joy to paint up. I also grabbed a box of mkIII Space Marines for the vets and devestators. I’ve started thinking about the Armistos too and I think I have a model picked out for him, but I’m keeping that under my hat for now.

While I was planning the test model I had a look at a few sources or both paint recipes and colour schemes. I knew I wanted something to represent the grandeur and uniqueness of the Emperor’s Children as they were prior to their fall, so a rich, royal purple with gold and white accent colors seemed a good choice. I could replicate this across the army but still be able to mix things up a bit so that the units had a bit of character. As an example, the Terminators all have white pauldrons while the Veteran Tactical Squad’s pauldrons have purple inlays and white and gold trim.

I decided that I wanted a relatively ‘clean’ colour scheme, using light chipping techniques. The cleanliness of the miniatures will be counterbalanced by darker, dirtier bases, in keeping with the virus bombed landscapes of Isstvan III. At the moment I’m thinking of using some Sector Mechanicus bases for this. Partly because I have a box, but also because I think they’ll work well in conveying the scorched, charred remains of the bunkers and fortifications of the Preceptor’s Palace.

What kind of units might Tarvitz have found in the ruins of Isstvan III? That’s my theme. To that end, I’ve kept it to a core of infantry units, dug in to repel the traitors. Each one of these marines were marked for death alongside Tarvitz. Why? I want to explore that as the army develops.

I’ve already begun exploring part of that with the Veteran Tactical and Terminator Squads. The Terminators are named Krysaspædes or the Golden Shields. The Veteran Squad is named Andarta. for a Celtic goddess of Old Earth. They fight in mkIII plate which was deployed in limited fashion by the perfectionist IIIrd Legion. Perhaps they represent too much of the Legion’s past to be allowed to partake of the future?

One of the other wee touches I’ve added to them is that instead of combat blades or chainswords at their belts, they’re affixed to their bolters so they can run and gun. I’ve also mixed the patterns of bolters in the unit a little too, this is partly so each model is unique, but also because some might have been taken from fallen brothers.

I’m already brainstorming for the other units in the army too, though of course, we know why Rylanor and Tarvitz were there!

The bases of the models will eventually tie into the theme as well – I want them to convey the charred remains of the imperial fortifications and underworks, though I’m still experimenting with exactly how I’ll do that. My current plan though is to settle on a scheme I like and then do the bases for the whole army together at the same time.

At the moment, I’m focussing on getting the initial 1,000pts built and painted, but I could see me adding to the force to bring it up to 1,500pts. I’ve not really thought about this too much yet though – I want to keep my eyes on the prize of getting to my first goal… I might think about a Rhino or two though, but we’ll see!

The end goal for me is two-fold:

At the end of it, I’d like to have a well painted army that looks great and can be used to recreate some of the pivotal battles from the very dawn of the Horus Heresy.

I also want to re-engage with the hobby that I have a lot of love for. Going back to Isstvan seems a great way of doing both of those things.

Betrayal and The Horus Heresy as a gaming setting are both more than eight years old now, and while it’s great to be looking to the future and the newer releases, I still think it’s awesome to go back to where it all started.

It’s not just the nostalgia of it being the book that started so many of us on our journey into the 30k hobby, but because the themes of horror, tragedy and betrayal still resonate so strongly.

Thank you so much James! If you would like to keep in touch with this project and James’ journey you can find his INSTAGRAM HERE

Also, if you want to buy cool Heresy models James moderates a group on facebook. Trading since 2013 and we’re still going strong!

James also wants to give a big shout out to Kieren Jones and Heresy.Scot (, Garry Crossley (@gudgiegamer), Scott Welsh (@welshy_paints) Fraser Hepburn (@darkmaterialsminis) staunch hobbyists and great friends.

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