Observation: Where are the DIY Marine Chapters?

I’m not talking about the old Marine codex where you could actually flavor a chapter with traits, I’m talking about Marine players who create their own chapter: colors, fluff, etc. Where are the DIY Marine chapters?

I didn’t think twice about creating my own chapter when I started my Marines, Fate’s Angels. I wanted to be able to create my own color scheme, back story, everything from the ground up because I don’t like restrictions. I don’t want to be told by people that what I’m doing is not how that particular chapter operates, or I used the wrong shade of blue or something.

I prefer a blank canvas over paint by numbers. I’d like to think of myself as a creative person and the world of 40K is a great place for just that.

Every Wednesday I play at my FLGS, and I can’t count the number of times someone has asked me what chapter I’m playing, which I can understand, they aren’t the boys in blue, vampires or puppies.

What amazed me when I began playing there though was that every Marine player, except for myself, was sporting a standard chapter. Online I see the same thing, a vast majority of players going with an existing chapter.

Now, I’m not knocking it by any means. I can see the appeal of going with an existing chapter, but why do so few venture into creating their own?

  • Colonel Shofer
    • Nice. I see you have a color scheme but have you painted any of them up yet?

      • Colonel Shofer

        Have a rough, test, piece (no HLs), which I have just posted to the thread (above).

        I have been more of a modeller/collector (for a long time!!!) , but I am saving for an airbrush, so I can get some armies (and newer models) on the table, by 2013.


      • Colonel Shofer

        Oh, BTW, the first army I am building, IRL , around my fluff, is an ‘Imperial Fist’s Lysander build’.


  • Dragons Claw

    I think a lot of it stems from the rise in special characters I returned to the game after 15 yrs off when my son came home with a space marine. He was really enthusiastic so we got him the dex and after reading Shrikes fluff i was hooked again so built a Raven guard force.

    That was 2 yrs ago since then I have built a de force too but I am considerin going back to vanilla to do a biker army and they will definitley be a DIY chapter Th Dragons Claws so maybe its all just swings and roundabouts and they do say space marines are a gateway drug

    • There’s some merit regarding special characters. I imagine it depends what hooked you about that SC, be it fluff or rules. If fluff hooked you then following that chapter is easy to see. If it was rules though then that’s where counts-as comes in handy, which I do with my chapter.

      Marines as a gateway drug, never heard that before I have to agree.

  • I think if they had kept a traits type system in the vanilla codex people would be more likely to play a DIY chapter. As it is, people are lured away by the ‘cool stuff’ in the chapter specific codices. For instance; You can say your Black Mongrel Marines have a canine theme and come from a planet where there are giant dogs, but without the Space Wolves codex you don’t get any Thunder Mongrels… you just get black Ultra Marines.

    • I find it’s way more prevalent in chapter specific codices than vanilla, using the existing chapter. I’ve yet to see someone do what you’re saying, though I’m sure some are, where they use the Space Wolves codex, or Blood Angels, for their DIY Chapter. There no reason you can’t and it doesn’t even have to be themed to that codex either, as you’re saying.

      A DIY Chapter using codex Space Wolves doesn’t need to follow a wolf/canine motif. The codex sets down the play style but doesn’t dictate theme. Instead of a wolf tooth necklace I instead have some ancient amulet. I don’t have Wolf Guard, I have a War Council. So forth and so on.

      • My point was only that if you already have a theme or motif, it is hard to get it across with the vanilla marine book since they no longer have traits. I miss the traits system. Without the variety it added to DIY chapters they are less attractive an option.

        • I see what you’re saying.

          I got into Marines with the latest codex but even still I miss the traits despite never having used them. It’s a shame that each codex released for 5th, or just before 5th, lost so much of the flavor it had: Chaos, Orks, Eldar, Marines, etc.

          Having traits would really let me shine with a DIY chapter. As it stands now the only option you really have is using a special character to try and get some form of traits, which is alright but very limiting.

  • It might sound strange but using an already existing chapter makes me more creative. Let me give you an analogy and try to make some sense. I am a musician. If I am using a conventional instrument (like a guitar) I know what I am supposed to do with it, how to play it and the sounds that are going to come out of it so I can make a decent job.
    If I am faced with unlimited options (like a digital synthesiser) it would be so complicated that I wouldn’t even know where to start. I could have an unlimited potential of what I could achieve but the process would overwhelm me and I would get lost in the mechanical aspect of the whole thing instead of making some music.
    Using a pre-existing chapter can give me a template to base my units on and lets me be more creative with the more details. If I had to invent everything from scratch I think I would get lost in the technicalities. Hope this makes sense.

    • Makes perfect sense and I imagine you’re far from the only one who
      shares that view.

  • Angelic Despot

    Good point. For me, I used to be much keener on making my own chapter, but as I’ve got a bit older, I’ve become more interested in ‘historical’ wargaming.

    That doesn’t mean I’ll do what the codex tells me to do: I’ll paint my Blood Angels etc the way I want them to look, leaving out things I dislike, and adding things I like. I’m aiming to create part of a story.

    I would do the same with ‘current’ marine armies too though.

    I’d like to make a chapter of my own, but with only so much time and money, and the ambition to create at least a few units for all of the 1st Founding legions (and whole armies for the ones that particularly interest me), I’m sticking to ‘existing’ armies (if not the correct rules and colour schemes).

    • See, at least you’re putting your own stamp on a chapter though. As for time, there’s no need to have your chapter fully complete on inception. I started my own chapter with just a paint scheme and over the years have developed the fluff and stuff.

  • Anonymous

    I like the so called “index astartes” chapters (to use a bolter and chainsword term). Specifically, the chapters that are named and may have a little fluff to give some feel to the chapter without shoe-horning you into a specific army.

    For instance, the Raptors have some pretty good fluff from the Badab War and the Taros IA campaign. Other than that, they are largely a blank slate. Same with chapters such as the Death Specters, Invaders, Lamenters, Angels of Absolution, and so on and so forth.

    The broad strokes can give you a jumping off point for ideas. That’s what I prefer. However, others may want the detailed background of the Ultramarines. Just because people like the structure doesn’t mean there isn’t room for your own stories. Although there’s lots of info on the 1st, 2nd, and 4th companies of the Ultras, how much has been written about the 5th Company?

    There’s room to be creative in every space marine chapter. It depends on how you want to pursue your army from a fluff standpoint. Do you want a blank canvas, do you want an outline to work with, or would you like to fill in the blank areas in the existing fleshed out chapters?

    • Good point. I could see myself running with a chapter like that, with some basics laid out, but not something fully established. Even regarding companies in a chapter that little is known about, like the Ultrmarines, there may be some room to work with there but the Ultramarines as a whole are so documented that it’s not free-reign and there are going to be expectations. Just ask Todd about his biker Ultras :)

  • bkbutlerme

    There are alot of ways to use the existing SM codexi to constrain / define your own chapter, so you can use them to create DIY chapters. I also like for friendly games the idea of using the chapters hosted via Forgeworld, and the wide number of Chapters showcased in the Badab War campaign sources. Lots of cool fodder out there!

  • TheRhino

    The DIY Chapter has a bit of a stigma nowadays, because so many DIYers bend their forces around the “newest greatest” Codex.
    Also daunting is the creation of the background story for the Chapter. It takes a strong knowledge of the 40K fiction and backstories to fit your DIY in seamlessly. When I was first planning out my Marines at the tail endof 4th Edition, I’d though up a Chapter called “The Hammers of Elysium.” Purple and gold armor, drop-pod focus, hammer motif. Then I read that there was already an Elysia in the 40K world, and that there was a famous IG regiment drawn from there. Furthermore, the Hawk Lords already had my color scheme. I dropped the idea like a bad habit.
    I also prefer the lesser-known-but-still-canon chapters. If the Minotaurs didn’t have such a butt-ugly color scheme, I might be playing them instead of my Ultramarines.
    It’s really only recently that the lesser-known chapters have gotten some limelight. All of the Badab War stuff from Forgeworld has helped a lot, as have some of the Space Marine short story compilations (Doom Eagles, Dark Hunters, etc represented there).

    • If I were to go with a chapter that’s canon then I’d go with Mortifactors. I like the paint scheme and what I’ve read of them.

      • TheRhino

        The Mortifactor paint scheme looks very similar to a certain DIY Marine Chapter I know of…. ;)

        • Can you tell where I drew inspiration from? :)

  • bkbutlerme

    I have two squads and an HQ for my exocist chapter…

    • I think at some point I may do something like that where I paint a squad or two from another chapter and run them in with Fate’s Angels just for the visual and create some fluff for it.

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