Themed Army Ideas
Armies of the Jungle:
The Kurindans (updated 12/13/2014) by
I can easily see Lizardmen playing a part in the 40K universe similar to that of the Gungans of Star Wars, Episode I: a race of “primitives” with little technology and naught but numbers and tenacity on their side (given that this is 40K, however, they would never allow a doofus like Jar Jar Binks to survive past infancy).
Though I needed another army like I needed a swift kick to the ‘nads, I built a Lizardmen 40K force called “The Kurindans,” based on a Themed Army Idea I had done. Because Lizardmen are not officially part of the 40K game, I applied the rules from the Tyranid codex to my reptilian warriors. Why Nids? Because they’re a low-tech race that relies on close combat, just like the Lizardmen from the Warhammer fantasy game, and thusly, I could minimize or even negate the need to do any conversions to the miniatures. It’s pretty easy to convince opponents that a Lizardman Saurus Warrior figure with an axe and a spear is the equivalent of a Termagant.
By being a “proxy” army, the Kurindans break the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) rule big-time, and I only use them with my opponent’s permission. You might think it would be confusing to play against this army, seeing as how Lizardmen are not currently a part of the 40K range. My experience has been that once I tell my opponents which figures represent which types of Tyranids, they don’t have any confusion.
Jungle visitors who have followed this army’s origins in the Themed Army Idea will know that they already have a backstory: the Kurindans--reptilian aliens--briefly established a small empire within the galaxy before falling into a barbaric decline. But where to go from there? Given that 40K is a game all about fighting battles, what are the Kurindans fighting for?
Answering that question took longer than I thought. One idea I had was that the Kurindans could be trying to reclaim their lost empire--but that sounded too much like the Eldar or the new Necrons. They could be trying to strike back at the Imperium, their former rival for power--but that sounded too much like Chaos and Tau. They could be interested solely in looting and pillaging--but that’s too similar to Orks and Dark Eldar. Being xenophobic, they could be trying to wipe out all other sentient lifeforms--but that’s what Tyranids have built their careers on, isn’t it?
Eventually, I settled on a motivation that I haven’t seen done very often in 40K: a quest.
Led by !Klrt*, a recently-elected tyrant-king of exceptional strength, intelligence, and (for Lizardmen, anyway), charisma, one band of Kurindans has begun traveling among the planets of their former empire, gathering together their scattered people. Sometimes other Kurindans have swayed by !Klrt’s oratory; usually, they submit only after !Klrt defeats their leader in single combat.
*The exclamation point at the beginning of “!Klrt” means that when speaking the name, one should press one’s tongue against the roof of the mouth and release it, making a sort of clucking sound.
!Klrt is no mere warlord: he has a vision for the Kurindan race. Once all the Kurindans have been united under him, they will set off for a distant world named only in the most ancient myths. What do they hope to find once they finally reach this place, if it really exists? Certainly not safety and a chance to rebuild--this is 40K, after all, not Battlestar Galactica.
No, at the end of their quest, they hope to find redemption--and the destruction of the entire universe. !Klrt insists that the only reason the universe exists is so that the Kurindans could rule it under an empire, with all other races subjugated as slaves. The Kurindans were on their way to attaining that goal when they began to fight among themselves and lost their empire. Having fallen, their people are no longer worthy to live, and neither is the universe that was to be theirs to rule. Therefore, the Kurindans and the universe must die.
Mere suicide or allowing themselves to be destroyed by any of the inferior beings--humans, Eldar, Orks--that infest the galaxy would be even more shameful. The only way for the Kurindans to redeem themselves is to travel to the home world of their supreme deity—“The Slayer of Gods”—report their failure, and accept his punishment. So great will The Slayer’s wrath be, !Klrt claims, that it will destroy the physical universe. Those Kurindans alive today are surely doomed, but all might not be lost. If, in their course of their journey to The Slayer’s world, the Kurindans continue to display their bravery and skill at arms, The Slayer might—might–concede that their race still had some small worth. Perhaps, after a long time, the Slayer will re-assume his female form of The Cosmic Mother and re-create the universe and the Kurindan people, allowing them to try again to fulfill their destiny.
!Klrt has convinced thousands of Kurindans to follow him on his apocalyptic quest. Kurindans are omnivorous, warm blooded, hatch from eggs, and though not unintelligent, lack much of the human capacity for creative thought and independent decision making. While !Klrt’s quest may sound utterly mad to more philosophically sophisticated cultures, it resonates well with most Kurindans who hear of it.
Kurindans have an irrational hatred of all other races and almost always attack if they perceive themselves to be stronger, devouring the slain and enslaving the survivors. !Klrt’s followers are gripped by the same xenophobia and are also motivated by religious zealotry, convinced that the more “aliens” they kill, the more likely The Slayer of Gods will deign to re-create the universe.
Troglodyte and Mutant Dracosaur
The Kurindan people have two species: a small, agile race—Imperial records usually refer to them as “Newts”—and a larger race, usually called “Troglodytes.” In battle, both races are used as foot soldiers. A few of the more experienced, battle-hardened Troglodytes ride reptilian mounts that Imperial forces have nicknamed “Dracosaurs.” These mounted Troglodytes serve as captains, directing others. Dracosaurs possess intelligence comparable to a horse, and have powerful jaws and razor-sharp claws. Mutant Dracosaurs are larger and often are able to spit highly-corrosive acid.
When they lost their empire, the Kurindans also lost their knowledge of spaceflight: no matter. On more than one occasion, !Klrt and his forces have commandeered alien starships and forced their crews to take them where they want to go. They also have been able to call upon the warp-manipulating abilities of mutant psyker Kurindans—usually referred to as “Shamans”—to create temporary wormholes through the space/time continuum, allowing whole armies of Kurindans to literally walk from one planet to another.
Progress along the quest has been slow. Inevitably, captured starship crews attempt to rebel, sabotage their ships, or are simply killed and eaten by the Kurindans after landing. The wormholes created by Shamans are difficult to create—requiring a great expenditure of psychic energy—and do not extend very far in astronomical terms (stretching, at most, from one solar system to the next closest). In addition to creating wormholes that allow the Kurindans to move from planet to planet, Shamans act as advisers to !Klrt, assisting him in inspiring and controlling the others and helping him to divine the way towards The Slayer’s world. Shamans do not eat physical food: instead, they gorge on the on the spirits of the slain. On the battlefield, they unleash psychic bolts of energy that cripple tanks and kill enemy troops, releasing more spirits that they quickly devour.
The Kurindans do not possess any significant technology, but they are aided in battle by several species of reptilian creatures, in addition to Dracosaurs, from their home world. These critters have varying degrees of intelligence and can accept commands from Kurindans. Imperial forces who have encountered these creatures have given them descriptive nicknames, used below.
“Newtsaurians” are huge, bipedal monsters that serve as a sort of transport for the smaller, fragile Newts. Passengers cling to a Newtsaurian's knobby hide anywhere they can, even gouging out handholds with their claws, as the great beasts are nigh-impervious to pain. Though seemingly nothing more than beasts of burden, there appears to be a very strong bond—perhaps hormonal?—between Newtsaurians and their charges.
!Gmbi, High-Tyrant of the Newts serving !Klrt, atop a Newtsaurian
“Venosaurians” are bloated creatures that seep liquid- and gas poison--harmless to Kurindans and their attendant war-beasts, lethal to all others--from their pores. Venosaurians are naturally able to levitate thanks to the posion gas bladders within them, and they often skulk in the rear of the Kurindan force, looking for counterattackers and protecting other units.
“Finbacks” and “Spikers” are squat but hardy, and are powerful fighters, the latter of whom can spit acid. They are intelligent and can communicate with the Kurindans and other beasts that serve them. Finbacks and Spikers are often accompanied into battle by dim-witted brutes called "Anklyodons," who seemingly feel no pain, and are tremendously destructive.
“Hydrasaurs” are large, sturdy creatures whose multiple heads can fire bolts of energy. Hydrasaurs are approximately as intelligent as gorillas and can fulfill simple orders with minimal supervision. "Carnosaurs" and "Megasaurs" are bigger still, and are tasked with simply leading the Kurindan advance and crashing into the enemy. "Pterodans" are very large flying brutes with powerful breath weapons.. Finally, there are “Titanosaurs,” which rival Imperial war machines in size and destructive capability.
Collecting the Army
After scribbling down what unit types I liked, I went to the Lizardman section of the Complete Games Workshop Catalog and Hobby Reference, 2004-2005 Edition and picked out models that could represent those units. While I was doing that, I spotted certain Lizardman figures that I liked very much, so I went back to the Tyranid book and picked out units that I could apply those models to. A very circular process, the final result of which was that, like many of my other armies, this one grew larger than I had planned. Embarrassing, but there it is. I felt a micro-moment of shame as I was ordering the figures. Then I cackled with evil glee and hit the “Enter” button on my computer to complete the online transaction. Screw the budget! You only live once.
Modeling and Painting
Seeing as how my Kurindans already break the WYSIWYG rule just by being a proxy army, I had little compunction about breaking that rule again when it came to weapons and biomorphs. I did not attempt to model deathspitters, venom cannons, cluster spines, what-have-you. Instead, I said these were all breath weapons.
Trogs on Dracosaurs, which count as Tyranid Warriors
Because I was working on other 40K projects, I commissioned my friend Patrick Eibel to paint this army for me. I thought that Pat’s very gritty, realistic, “natural” painting style would much better suit the Kurindans than my clean, “cartoony” style. My only requirement was that I wanted the Kurindans painted purple. Why purple? Because it’s one of my favorite colors and it’s not one you often see in 40K games.
Though I hadn’t asked him to, Pat wisely chose to paint the mutant “Shamans” and the various Kurindan monsters green instead of purple, which gives the army some contrast. I painted the Spikers, the Newtsaurians, Anklyodons, Pterodans, and the Megasaurs, which I found after Pat had finished the army. The Spikers are Warhammer Fantasy Razordon models. The Newtsaurians and Anklyodons were toys my kids weren’t using. The Pterodans are inexpensive vinyl Rodan figures, and the Megasaurs are inexpensive plastic Godzilla figures; I think both types perfectly embody the theme of the army.
The Rodan- and Godzilla figures stand over 6" high, much bigger than any of the Lizardman figures, and make great Harpies and Trygons, respectively--they're obviously "Monstrous Creatures!" I’ve nicknamed the Megasaurs “Larry,” “JoJo,” and "Bob" after three of the “crockydiles” from my favorite comic strip, Pearls Before Swine.
Purists may sneer at using toys instead of official Games Workshop figures, but then, sneering is what many purists do best, and it makes them happy. I’m happy with how I didn’t have to assemble the toy figures (some of those GW kits are a PITA to put together), how they look painted, and how I saved a heap of money.
Anklyodon (counts as a Carnifex--the wings are assumed to be vestigal and incapable of flight).
Laugh all you want, then think about how much time and money it costs for a “real” Carnifex model.
Current Army List
Currently, I have a very large collection, divided into three detachments of 2000 points each, that you can see here, with the name of each unit, the corresponding Tyranid unit that those figures emulate, and their point value.. One detachment is pure assault, the other is pure shooting, and the third has a Lord of War (a Hierophant Bio-Titan) as its centerpiece.
Carnosaur of the "Cottonmouth" variety, first encountered during the Qellizarr VII Incident
Using the Army
From experience and with guidance from my good pal Ken Lacy (provided to me verbally and by lessons learned at the table),
I've ditched most of the fluffier but less-effective units from my
army. Not wanting to get rid of models that I already have, I've
limited the units taken to:
From experience and with guidance from my good pal Ken Lacy (provided to me verbally and by lessons learned at the table), I've ditched most of the fluffier but less-effective units from my army. Not wanting to get rid of models that I already have, I've limited the units taken to:
When it comes to Elite units, Hive Guard are a must for anti-tank, which the Tyranids need badly given the plethora of transports. Zoats help with Synapse.
My proxied Hive Guard
I have a lot of Monstrous Creatures in the army, so to protect them, I have three Venomthropes, brought solely for their Shrouding. Speaking of Oversized Critters, I have three Harpies, all with heavy venom cannons because you can't have too much tank-killing ability in a Tyranid army. I've tried Gargoyles and Shrikes, and wasn't that impressed, and though I loved Raveners back under the previous codex, the new ones are too expensive for what they do.
To fill out my Heavy Support slots, I used to take Trygons, but now that Carnifexes have become less expensive, I'm just going to deploy them as a wall in front of my other guys and then run them right across the table, AFC North-smashmouth style.
I have a figure I call a Titanosaur, whom I’ve nicknamed “Big G.” He’s a 12" tall Godzilla figure that counts as a Hierophant Bio-Titan.
So there you have it. I really like the character of the army and how it's turned out. Right now, it’s probably my favorite army, even more than my Fighting Tigers.
Originally posted January 2005; last revised December 2014