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The Great Crusade > XIII: Ultramarines > Pre-Heresy Ultramarine Organisation

Title: Pre-Heresy Ultramarine Organisation
Description: Pulling some threads together

Apologist - May 27, 2008 10:49 AM (GMT)
Hey guys,

I'm going to be putting together some Ultramarines fairly soon, and I thought I'd post up some of my thoughts on their organisation, drawn from various different media, but mainly the Visions books.

My first contention is that Pre-Heresy Ultramarines were not organised in the same way as the Post-Heresy Ultramarines, based on the artwork in the Visions books, though they doubtless shared many similarities, and their organisation is likely to have been a precursor or 'dry run' for the Codex: Astartes (written post-Heresy, but likely at least in draft stage Pre-heresy).

We know that the Ultramarines Legion was 'by far the largest Legion', at '250,000 strong', and I presume that this extremely large size was one of the reasons Gulliman became interested in how to operate his Legion effectively, without becoming too reliant on his personal leadership.

Since Gulliman wrote the Codex: Astartes, we can presume that he followed his own teachings, and had tested them on his Legion in the Pre-Heresy era. However, it's made clear that the Codex is made up of various different documents, treatises etc., as well as input from the other Primarchs, strategists and tacticians; and that it is in the process of being written during the Pre-Heresy period. There are also different versions of the Codex in existence in M41, suggesting to me that it is a very flexible document, more akin to a holy book (in that the original text is the same, but various translations and interpretations can be made from the same text) than a step-by-step manual. Indeed, it's mentioned that the Codex's longevity is due in part to the fact it is so flexible and not-doctrinal even the Post-Heresy Ultramarines, who are ultra-orthodox in its application, adapt, change and develop the theories hidden within: WD137(?) shows Ultramarines in urban combat, with their tactical symbols hidden under hastily-applied blue paint. There are also mentions that the (real-life) changes in GW's paint scheme are backed-up by in-universe differences of opinion (hence why red boltguns are no longer used).

So, the conclusion I draw from this is that while Post-Heresy markings and organisation etc are a good starting point, and may well have been used Pre-Heresy, there's no real evidence for this being the case and indeed, there are quite a few pieces of evidence to suggest that certain details are different which is what I'd like to discuss here.

Probably the most radical change in Space Marine organisation post-heresy was breaking the Legions into thousand-strong 'chapters'. We are aware that many legions already operated formations of comparable size the Grand Companies of the Iron Warriors, Great Companies of the Space Wolves, to name two. Due to the existence of an Ultramarines 'Chapter Master' (piccy in Visions, and colour text), I think it's pretty likely that there were numerous Chapters already in existence that operated in a similar way to M41 Chapters (i.e. semi-autonomous fighting forces), but these could also be deployed 'en masse' in a way that is not possible Post-Heresy (owing to the absence of the Primarch[s] or other sufficient motivation to go against the Codex).

I reckon that this organisation was already in place amongst the Ultramarines, and that its operational success across the 250,000 Ultramarines was the main reason Gulliman proposed it later.

Thirdly, almost all of the Ultramarines in the Visions books wear yellow/gold decoration and shoulder trims with only the Techmarine and Chapter Master being exceptions. Now, this could mean that the marines coincidentally belong to one company (or perhaps Chapter), but I think it more likely that there was a different system of company markings etc.; and that all Ultramarines at this point wore gold/yellow trim. This is supported by the Index Astartes: Ultramarines Pre-Heresy scheme (blue with yellow banding).

Thoughts on these? I'd love to hear any other theories or counter-arguments.

Weiss - May 27, 2008 11:08 AM (GMT)
Some very good points, and I would suscribe to all of them. It does seem very likely that the chapters of the codex astartes are directly correspond to their pre-heresy equivalent, with probably a few changes to allow them to operate independantly (such questions as did they all have a scout company, or a chapter-specific vehicle pool or was there a much more centralised version of this pre-heresy)

I would presume, concerning the company colours that the presence of 2500 companies would render the colour system useless. An alphanumerical "barcode" (so to speak) would seem more likely and much more logical.

There is also the point that (I believe) the fluff is an excuse for the colour scheme. So most poeple see the ultramarines as blue with yellow trims due to their being part of the 2nd company, but just because they are ultramarines...

Torg - May 29, 2008 08:54 AM (GMT)
Indeed,it looks that way doesn't it?I would say that they had no reason for the 1st
thru 10th co color banding,but maybe it is as weiss says they had a kinda Barcode
to find out which was in which"Co".however if you want to I would suggest using
normal 1st-10th co colors for some and then past that use colors of their proginators(Genesis chapter,Auror chapter and so forth.)Does that sound like a good idea? :huh: :)

Apologist - May 29, 2008 11:57 AM (GMT)
I would presume, concerning the company colours that the presence of 2500 companies would render the colour system useless. An alphanumerical "barcode" (so to speak) would seem more likely and much more logical.

I agree (though isn't it 25,000 companies?). A single colour for each company across the Legion would quickly break down:

Brother Marillion: We need support!
Chapter Master Brutus: Send in Lavender Blue company!
Brother Marius: Let's go, Captain!
Captain Luigion: Is your occulobe malfunctioning, Marillion? We're in the Duck-Egg Blue company. Now go fetch the captains of Pastel Blue and Slate Blue companies. Lavender'll need back-up.

When the Ultramarines were first introduced for Adeptus Titanicus, there was an explanation in WD of how the company colours extended past ten... I believe that it ended up being banded for companies 1120, and striped for companies 2130 etc. (or somesuch), but this was set in the 41st Millennium (so we need to oaccount for Rogue Trader funny business); and was describing what happened when Chapters recruited and trained beyond 1,000 men. Blood Angels and Dark Angels had a different organisation again.

The theory I'd work to is that all Ultramarines have gold banding pre-heresy (as shown in the artbooks, this even includes Gulliman's bodyguard). The company colours were probably only present on the company (100-strong force of Ultramarines) banners for each chapter (1,000-strong force of Ultramarines), and perhaps the Captains. This way, the existing (i.e. post-Heresy) company colours make sense.

In essence, you've got 250 Chapters making up the Legion, all of which use blue with gold banding. Within those chapters, the post-Heresy company colours are used for identification purposes on banners etc, but don't extend across the infantry themselves. Thoughts?

Weiss - May 29, 2008 03:00 PM (GMT)
Sounds good to me. I'm pretty sure it's 2500 (assuming there are 100 men in each company. it's a tricky equation though, you can pass it off as your cogitator being on the blink...;)).

Another possibility would be to have the gold edging, then combine the chapter number with the company colour as well as the tactical symbol on a single pad (so the 3rd tactical squad of the 2nd company of the 1st chapter, would have a big I in the middle set on a disc (for example) of yellow; all overlaying a standard white tactical arrow, and then a II in the corner). Just a thought though...

BigWill - May 29, 2008 08:46 PM (GMT)
I'm in the same boat trying to bring a pre-codex Ultramarines to life.
In my minds eye all Ultras pre-Heresy have gold trim
The colors codes are the same but apply to Battalions,Great Company call it what you will 1000+ men.
For instance I am doing 4th Company/Battalion the Sgt has a Green fancy numeral 4 on his banner and the tacs under him will have green tac arrows on there right shoulderpad
Any vets I do will have a white numeral 1 with white markings

I think Ultras always used what they do for markings

Iacton - May 29, 2008 08:58 PM (GMT)
Not quite true. Despite being sticklers for the rules, the Ultramarines actually have loads of variant badges for all sorts.
In fact there are 5 pages of them in the Insignium Astartes book, which is an invaluable tool for any smurf, but also really helpful for anyone doing different "codex" shoulder pads (theres at least 32 variants for tacs, same for assault, and again for devastator, and vets PLUS command options!!)

If you don't have access to a copy PM me and I 'll see what I can do ;)

Gagoc TheAncient - May 29, 2008 11:15 PM (GMT)
Well I know that some Legions didn't use the great or grand company pattern, and had companies of 100 Astartes, but formed into larger groups of 1,000 Atartes or more, which some Legions called a Chapter or Cohort.
So to represent this I kind of doubled the company colour codes, but with metallic versions of each company colour to represent the larger detachments.

Therefore the first 'Cohort' would be Silver, 2nd Gold, 3rd Copper, 4th metallic green, 5th an Iron type colour (gunmetal / black mix), 6th Bronze, 7th metallic purple, 8th Chainmail or Gunmetal, 9th metallic blue, with 10th blank.

Considering most Legions are only about 10,000 Astartes strong (according to the novels), this system would cover most if not all of their company structure.

But it would be difficult to implement for the 25,000+ Astartes of the Ultramarines.

Torg - July 2, 2008 06:20 AM (GMT)
So basically the metals, cohort, and the co's normal color? :huh:

Gagoc TheAncient - July 2, 2008 04:23 PM (GMT)
Yeah, pretty much Torg.

I got the idea from medieval heraldry for shields, where white could represent either white or silver and yellow, itself or gold.

Torg - July 2, 2008 05:20 PM (GMT)
Ok,I got the picture!kinda fits in with the Roman legions!

Apologist - January 31, 2012 09:44 AM (GMT)
Updates from Know No Fear

The Ultramarines Legion is approximately 250,000 strong.
It is split into 25 Chapters, each made up of ten Companies.
Each Company is 1,000 Astartes strong.

A Captain is in charge of a Company, a Chapter Master is in charge of a Chapter (surprise! :rolleyes:).

Above the 25 Chapter Masters are the Tetrachs. As the name suggests, there are four of these; one for each Major World of Ultramar.

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