Dress To Impress: Top 5 Favorite Armor Patterns Of The Adeptus Astartes

Dress To Impress: Top 5 Favorite Armor Patterns Of The Adeptus Astartes

May 22, 2020

"They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines such that no foe can best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear." -The Emperor of Mankind. 

Hello, again wargamers (and dear readers) welcome back to The Gentleman's Reserve. I am but your humble word slinger Vito from I had given some thought to the current incarnation of Warhammer 40k, both in regards to lore and the tabletop.

As we progress through time so do the weapons of war and the means we use to protect ourselves. Long are the days where we sharpened our swords for battle and dawned our suits of armour. The same can be said about Warhammer 40k.

We have seen major changes throughout the years, or millennia if you are talking about lore, with regards to how the Adeptus Astartes have donned their power armour. Each rendition or 'Mark' speaks to the era it was created in. Both in the real world and the fictitious.

Some feature more segmented armour plating while others may herald more rounder 'futuristic' geometries. Whatever the differences each one is captivating and unique from one another. It is for these reasons I would like to share with you my top 5 favourite armour patterns of the Adeptus Astartes.

Now I should note dear reader, that the opinions that you are about to hear are just that, opinions and not to be mistaken as Imperial Truth. For these are my particular favourites and they may differ from your own. But is that not one the beauties of life? Finding differences and yet commonalities? I digress. 

#5 Mark X Tacticus Armor

Okay, I know. We are starting with maybe the most controversial armour patterns first. But hear me out dear readers. If you are in the camp who despises these marines I can understand your qualms but if you begin to look at them through a design/art perspective then perhaps you might see what I see. Enter the Primaris.

The Mark 10 or 'X' Tacticus Armor is the most effective and current power armour that the Adeptus Astartes bear in the existing 40k timeline. It was created by Magos Belisarius Cawl to equip his newly created Primaris Marines. What I like about this armour is that it draws inspirational elements from the Horus Heresy from one of my absolute favourite Marks in the helmet design (we shall have to wait to talk more on this).

The overall armour itself has been streamlined from its predecessor the Mark 8 and incorporates fundamentals that other enthusiasts of the hobby can spot and enjoy. From a painting perspective it's a fresh canvas to do with, as you will.

More surface area allows you to really flex your creative muscles and I think as time passes, the Mark 10 has been one of those armours that the community has begun to enjoy, rather than its initial knee jerk reaction. But I believe that could be from a lore perspective as well. Wherever the Tacticus Armor stands for you, in my mind its both a talking piece for both hobbyists and lore fanatics alike.

#4 Mark V Heresy Armour

The Heresy Armor is a unique pattern of armour for the Astartes both in terms of lore and real-world influences. During the time of the Horus Heresy the majority of the legions were equipped with Mark IV armour or lower marks. As Horus' fires began to grow ever hotter not every legion could be equipped with the aforementioned Mark IV.

The techmarines and artificers of each legion needed to think quickly as the growing changes of times required newer advancements in protection and warfare. They hobbled together, older equipped from whatever they could find and even unauthorized modifications and improvements of their own.

This creation was the Mark V Heresy Armor. I like the notion that this armour evolved out of the necessity of the era and time. In terms of real-world influences, you can definitely notice that the Mark V is a product of the 1980s. With the ever-changing influences in music, fashion and art you can see some parallels within the armour itself.

For example, copious amounts of studs that cover across the majority of the armour, a helmet that is very reminiscent of the 1987 film Predator, and the cables drawn all across the armour could be a comparison to the interior of the ship in the 1986 film Aliens.

Perhaps some elements are stronger than others but to me the Heresy Armor is one that reflected the time that it was born in. Its helmet style gave birth to the modern-day Terminator helmet or Tactical Dreadnought Armor should we need to be more precise. I hope that you enjoy this armour as much as I do, as it doesn't really get talked about a lot. For these reasons it makes my #4.

#3 Mark III Iron Armor

The Mark III Iron Armor is one that will always be near and dear to me. It is what started me down the rabbit hole that is the Horus Heresy and forever changed my interest in Warhammer 30k and 40k lore. The Iron Armor can be dated as far back as the Great Crusade where the Emperor and his Primarch sons scoured the galaxy and brought world by world under compliance.

The armour was primarily made for frontal assaults and was classified as a heavier armour pattern. Why I love the Iron Armor so much is this was the Mark that got me into playing the Horus Heresy. I remember witnessing for the first time my friends play this new game with miniatures only accessible from Forge World.

I remember browsing through the Black Books and seeing the evocative art of the Legions that were available at the time.

For months I would do my research online, read books and immerse myself in the lore that is Horus Heresy so that I could pick a legion that was perfect, the one that was just for me. I narrowed it down to two. The White Scars and Thousand Sons. Naturally both legions didn't have any rules so I had to pick.

I had read A Thousand Sons first and was immediately captivated by the story so I figured if I started with them, naturally I would go with the White Scars next. I had made my first Forge World purchase and soon realized that this was going to be far more expensive than anticipated, ha.

The Betrayal at Calth box set had been released but I wanted my army to have a certain look, as I am sure dear reader, those of you who are avid hobbyists would understand. Then came The Burning of Prospero, the second Holy Grail box set to the Horus Heresy.

I can't remember how many of those I purchased but for those Mark III Iron Armor patterns, it was what my Legion needed. In the end I had 10,000 points of Horus Heresy Thousand Sons. Why? Because the Mark III Armor captivated me and led me down a journey to which I am writing to you know, dear reader.

#2 Mark 1 Thunder Armor

THUNDER! AHHHH AHHHH AH AH AH AH AH! Now that I've got that out of my system I can describe to you one of the most ancient and brutal of power armours; the Thunder Armor. The Mark 1 armour was worn by the proto space marines of the techno barbarians that ruled over Terra.

When the Emperor launched his campaign to conquer earth his loyal warriors were clad in the same battle plate, except there would be lightning and thunderbolt motifs displayed all over these warriors' armour. Later, this symbol would become the Aquila that we know today. Henceforth the Thunder Warriors are born.

Dear readers, I love the Thunder Warriors. I cannot get enough of them. They were the Emperor's hammer and fist. There was no mercy, no quarter given. Only the blunt brutality and pure strength of Thunder Warriors. They were far physically powerful than Astartes that superseded them as Mark 1 armour increased one's strength 3-4 times.

The design of the Mark 1 armour is quite elegant yet savage as well. With its segmented armour plating, bulky frame, and gladiatorial plume for a helmet, it often reminds me of ancient historical warriors of old. A cross between Roman soldier, Samurai and Gallic fighter. I think its these aspects that draw me to the Thunder Armor.

Also, the sadness in their lore. When the last of the techno barbarians were defeated all the Thunder Warriors died in a final battle, fighting for the Emperor. However, that is what the official documents would have us believe. For much as the Primarchs were a tool, so were the Thunder Warriors.

When the battle was won, the Emperor had sent in his custodian guard and had the remaining Thunder Warriors all but slaughtered. Yes, their gene-seed was unstable and they were prone to dying. Yes they were a blunt instrument of war. But that doesn't make the story any less heartrending as these loyal servants of the Emperor were betrayed by their lord and commander.

They fought and bled for him, wore his symbol only to be discarded and destroyed like a child discovering a new toy. This is why dear readers, The Mark 1 Thunder Armor, is #2.

#1 Mark IV Imperial Maximus

Here we have come at last dear reader. The final and my absolute favourite of all the Adeptus Astartes armours. The Mark IV Imperial Maximus suit. When the great crusade was drawing its end the legions had been through countless battles.


Their armour was in dire need of repair or replenishment. So it was that it fell to the Adeptus Mechanicus with the newly acquired secrets the legions had discovered on conquered worlds, that they went about crafting a new efficient set of armour. So proficient in all areas was the Mark IV, especially mobility, that was supposed to be the final design in Space Marine armour.


Every Legion during the Horus Heresy was equipped with the Mark IV and was mostly used during that time. Even to this day there are a few Chapters that are still making the Mark IV for it has stood the test of time.

While the lore of the Maximus armour is compelling it is not why it's my favourite. No, it is for the pure and simple reason of aesthetics. A combination of both circular and square lines that form together to create the ultimate Angel of Death. When I see the lines of Mark IV Armor I see the lines of Ferrari or Lamborghini ready to take off down the track. You can feel the power behind every shape, every fold; if Matthew McConaughey were to narrate an Adeptus Astartes armour it would be the Mark IV. 

As I had mentioned with the Mark X drawing inspiration from the Mark IV the Maximus armour really shines in the helmet and faceplate. The 6 slanted slots with the most menacing of eyes are what truly sell this armour. It is as if you are staring into the soul of some nightmarish creature from the depths below.

I haven't even mentioned painting the models yet. They are such a joy. I purposefully bought Legion Outriders from Forge World so as to substitute them for my White Scars bikers. That is how much I love the Mark IV armour.

Now this may seem like a trivial thing to be #1, appearance. But to me dear reader, someone who has literally painted thousands of miniatures over the course of my 15 years as a miniature painter, appearance is everything.

I hope that you have enjoyed this presentation of my personal favourite armours for the Adeptus Astartes and why it is always important to dress to impress. Throughout the Miniwargaming collection of miniatures you will find a whole host of different armour marks from across the Adeptus Astartes.

I've provided a link down below where you can see Matthew combs over 36,000 points of studio Space Marines. Additionally, there will be links accompanying that video to see our battle reports in the MiniWargaming Vault. If you are not a Vault member, you can still click here to get a free 7-day free trial. Vault members are what drive MiniWargaming, so consider joining to support us in making even more miniature wargaming content for you. Till next time dear reader, Happy Wargaming!

- MWG Vito

Click here to watch 36,000 Points of Space Marines Showcase