They’ve not had many models over the years, but as one of the most unique units that wears power armour, the Noise Marines deserve some column inches. What’s more, it’s these guys that got me into Chaos, and made me forever pledge my soul to Slaanesh.
A Bit Of History
Again, we have to travel back to West London in the early/mid 1980s when Hammersmith was a big centre for punk and heavy metal. Just down the road in Chiswick (a pleasant walk or a ten minute bus ride away on the no.267) Games Workshop was growing from a company that sold D&D miniatures to its own company. Is it any wonder that loud guitars found there way into the miniatures that were being created? I mean, when you’ve seen what Brian Ansell’s mullet was like back then, you can be pretty sure that those guys liked to rock out in the geekiest of ways.
So (along with the classic Goff Rockers for the Orks), the Noise Marines were born and were essentially, in the early days of 40k, just Space Marines with guitars and a questionable fashion sense. They were affiliated to Slaanesh and even the Emperor’s Children from pretty early on, but the were almost more of a novelty item than a real unit.
It was in 2nd Edition that Noise Marines got their first really usable, playable unit though, with the introduction of their three signature sonic weapons; sonic blasters, blastmasters and doom sirens. Each sold separately as lead/white metal minis in blisters, the maximum squad size was five. What’s more the sculpts were so goofy and bizarre, GW seem to have expunged all records of them ever having existed (there really aren’t many images of them out there).
In 3rd Edition, a squad of eight miniatures was released (with three sonic weapons between them) and, aside from how you buy them, they haven’t changed to this day. This may be because Slaanesh is probably the least popular of the Chaos Gods (given how many miniatures and updates the other marks get), but it may also be because there’s also a little GW guilt about this unit. 40k is supposed to be its own universe and space marines playing loud music (sometimes on guns that still look a little guitar shaped) are bit too rooted in this century. Some people think the idea of Noise Marines is downright silly, and compared to the Thousand Sons, Plague Marines and Berzerkers, they don’t quite have the edge or identity that they deserve.
Rumours abound of an out of sync update to these miniatures some time soon but having waited since 3rd edition, not many Noise Marines fans are holding their breath. Though it should be noted that Forge World have done an excellent job both in terms of the Heresy era Legion Kakophoni and the Sonic Dreadnoughts.
Let’s Get Fluffy
When the Emperor’s Children were first seduced by Slaanesh on the Laer homeworld, the seeds of the Noise Marines creation were sown. Inspired by the dark new presence within the legion, a noted remembrancer named Bequa Kynska composed a symphony named the Maraviglia. Its debut performance brought with it hedonistic trances, demonic incursion and a violent orgy which brought the Emperor’s Children to a new low in their morals, and a new high in sensations. Discordant music made them, just as they would make discordant music.
One of their favoured captains, Marius Vairosean, was one of the first to utilise the sonic weaponry and as early as the Drop Site Massacre, hordes of deranged, thrill-seeking Emperor’s Children were marauding across the battlefield with Sonic Blasters levelled at the loyalists. By the Siege of Terra, the Noise Marines and the rest of the legion were too wrapped up in their own debauchery to take part in the assault on the Imperial Palace and spent their time on Terra marauding through cities and warping the general populace. When the Emperor’s Children split up into smaller warbands after the Battle of Skalathrax, Noise Marines were so numerous that each group included a significant number of these sonic weapon specialists, and many survived well into the 41st Millennium to reek havoc on their enemies with brain melting noise assaults.
Time To Talk Tactics
Now, I’ve been told I’m a bit of a rebel with my Noise Marine tactics but I maintain they work for me so I shall share them here regardless of whether they’re the prescribed optimum or not. First thing’s first though – always take the doom siren. For the amount it costs and what it can do, it’s one of the best infantry mounted template weapons in the game. It always comes in handy and I’ve never not used one. What you do with the rest of the squad though is a little trickier as the other sonic weapons don’t really compliment each other.
Squads of five to ten guys with sonic blasters wading across the battlefield can be a great investment. Those salvo weapons unleashing huge volleys of solid strength shots (not great, but solid) can mess up infantry big style. Have a sorcerer walking with them and the right spells can give these guys relentless too. Ouch.
But I’m a big Blastmaster fan (it just looks better) and to use it, i’ve come up with a nice little tactic that makes it worth while. It’s a powerful gun capable of wounding multiple infantry or stripping hull points from vehicles so I like to take it in a squad of ten and camp it on a home-field objective in cover, using its long range to punish the enemy. If the opponent’s troops get too close, your other noise marines are all equipped with an additional close combat weapon and the extra point of initiative that comes with their profile. That’s a lot of ‘typically goes first’ hits in close combat on power armoured guys and it often means that the enemy really has to dig them out of cover. It’s held up for me a couple of times and though others might argue against it, it suits my style down to a tee.
If Looks Could Kill…
Punk much? Metal much? Those old school Noise Marines from the Rogue Trader/Early 2nd era were all mismatched prints and vibrant colours and I love that look. It was a Space Marine painted like a light-induced headache. Regular readers will know that I still bring this into how I paint Slaanesh to this day, but that style has long since gone.
The sonic weaponry has become its own thing now and no longer looks like and Washburn guitar. The weapons have become more dynamic but the look that GW promotes is far less rock n roll than it once was. In terms of colours we have the diluted purples and vibrant pinks lined with moody metals and black leather – far more a case of dominatrix Barbie than Motley Crue’s tour wardrobe. That being said, it has brought it more into line with the grimdark and the overall idea of the Emperor’s Children and their wider fluff. It’s a shame it couldn’t be both really.
Ah, The Memories…
As I said at the beginning of this article, Noise Marines were the thing that drew me to Slaanesh in the first place and they still have a place in my heart and in the ranks of my armies. I used to bring three squads of them to war (including one that was badly converted from the Goff Rockers) and during the latter days of second edition, they cleaned house often. When I returned to the hobby a few years ago, they were among the first things I bought to paint, and regular readers will be familiar with my Dread and Knight wielding Sonic Weaponry. I guess I just always wanted to be a rock star, and I always loved 40k, so it’s kind of a no-brainer that this would be the unit for me. When I used to play bass, I even called my instrument ‘Blastmaster’ in tribute. Rock on.
Games Workshop may not love them as much as they once did, but I’m still a big fan. They’re in desperate need of an update and right now I’d take a Finecast box over nothing. They just need to be look about 10% more Slaaneshi and 20% more Poison (as in ‘Every Rose has its Thorn’ Poison – I’m not saying GW should start making their minis out of actual poison). If the chaps in Nottingham could bring me some new Noise Marines, I would be very happy indeed.
Did i miss some history? Do you think your tactics are better? Comments, questions and constructive criticisms below please.