28 June 2009

The Last Chancers

I've been reading The Last Chancers, a collection of novels and short stories set in the Warhammer 40k universe that chronicles the adventures of the 13th Penal Legion, also known as Colonel Schaeffer's Last Chancers. They are an Imperial Guard unit made up of prisoners who take on suicide missions as a "last chance" to gain a pardon for their crimes against the Emperor. Generally these pardons are given posthumously. It may not be a literary masterpiece, but it's certainly a page-turner.

It has also got me thinking about an Imperial Guard army list centered on the Last Chancers. The old Guard Codex had a special unit and accompanying miniatures for the 13th Penal Legion, but they were removed from the army for the current edition. I think that given the fairly small numbers of the Last Chancers in the novels I will have to model them as a command squad and maybe a Troops or Elite selection and then model the rest of the list as another more conventional Penal Legion or even a standard Imperial Guard unit. I will probably pick and choose characters and ideas from all of the books in order to give myself a range of things to choose in the list. In one of the stories the groups is accompanied by a Naval Officer who calls down a bombardment on some renegade Guard units. I'll add him to the list as a Master of Ordnance Regimental Advisor. One of the other books features a demolitions expert that I can fit into a Special Weapons Squad. I still haven't got it all nailed down yet (and I'm not quite finished with the book) but it is certainly generating plenty of ideas.


  1. I agree that the Last Chancers omnibus isn't high lit, but I found it one of the more interesting reads. First-person stuff isn't always my cup of tea, but when it's done well...it's done well. Kage and Schaeffer are interesting characters.

    I think that honestly, a Command Squad and perhaps another special character is the best way to represent 'em. I'd think if you wanted real hard-core Last Chancers, I'd go vet squads from a playability angle.

    The Penal Legion is interesting and all, but the unit is a bit 'eh'. 1/3 chance of getting a neat skill that helsp with the lasguns, and a 2/3 chance of getting yourself killed in melee.

    Still, I think it'd be a characterful build, any way you pull it off.

  2. That's a good point. Vet squads would probably be the way to go for the Last Chancers. I'm not sure what to give them for uniforms. It seems like in the books they're just issued whatever armor and weapons happen to be around; they're not in orange jumpsuits or anything. Colonel Schaeffer will be built mostly from the Cadian Command Squad box.

    I think I will model anything that's not a Last Chancer model as standard Imperial Guard. I may avoid the Penal Legion squads and instead paint up some Conscripts to stand in as cannon fodder-type Penal troops. At higher point levels I may even pay the points for Commander Chenkov and the Send in the Next Wave ability. That way I can send in wave after wave of convicts to seek the Emperor's pardon.