Updated: Mar 10, 2019
I've done Tyranid armies in the past, always got sick painting the same colours again and again and again. My latest take on the great devourer has solved none of those painting issues...
My idea was an army made of pure energy, which can either crystallize or animate objects, constantly on the hunt for energy/electricity/life force.
A lot of this isn't final, if there can be such a thing. It's mainly me just brainstorming. I also do not take credit for the artwork, it's mostly Google image results with a bit of Photoshop, trying to give you, the reader a clearer understanding on what I'm aiming for.
This is what I've got so far:
The spark of creation
The Anima as far as Imperial scholars are concerned is a single energy mass that frequently separates it's self into smaller quantities, so the collective can complete multiple tasks at once. For the Anima to interact with the physical world however it needs to take a solid form. This is usually a glowing mass of crystal like spines and nodules emerging from vessels the energy has possessed, the colour of which seems to differ depending on the world on which they from. Normally this entails animating the raw materials of the planet, the massed hordes of the Anima are usually therefore made from lumbering shapes of stone and dirt. Occasionally and only if the Anima has consumed enough life force and raw energy it can materialise itself without the need of an entity to possess, when this occurs the creature is made solely of Anima crystals. Creatures made this way are often seen directing the hordes of lesser beings, no doubt due to the higher concentrate of solid Anima and therefore the supposed collective thinking. The only exceptions to this are the scouting organisms that need to operate some distance away from the main force which powers them.
Little is known about the average life of an Anima construct, mostly the Imperium assumes the golems last for as long as the Anima need them, re-assimilating the energy of a construct once it's task is complete. As for the energy itself even less is known, however it is theorized the Anima can lay dormant for many hundreds of years, deep within the bedrock slowing feeding off the thermal activity of a planets core. Many Mechanicus expeditions to seemingly vacant worlds have been caught totally by surprise when the very earth itself starts to animate around them to devour the colossal energy signals they bring.
For an Anima creature to sustain itself it needs to consume from an energy source. This can range from draining an Imperial generator dry or consuming the nervous system of an organic body. The higher the energy signal an item emits the more attention it would get from the Anima. This leaves vehicles particularly vulnerable on the battlefield often being the first to be swarmed and consumed, motor and crew alike. Although many an Imperial commander has used this to his advantage by deploying tanks as bait, often luring the Anima into carefully executed ambushes. Despite this need to feed off others the Anima aren't nearly as dangerous as other life forms the Imperium has encountered. Whereas the Tyranids seek to devour all life on a world the Anima are usually quite content just to feed of the occasional power cable or station.
The only recorded method the Anima use for interstellar travel is slinging asteroids across the void. These asteroids are carefully chosen not to kill off the life of a planet on impact thus rendering the invasion pointless. Once the meteor hits the surface of a world the now heated Anima crystals inside come to life, reforming the meteorite into the first of the invading forces leaving nothing but a crater, slowing growing in numbers each time they feed.
The full force
There is no doubt the Anima are most dangerous in close quarters, either by crushing their foes underneath or by implementing their infamous vamperic power. However they are also known to have some long range abilities, these are deployed less frequently as the ranged weapons draw from the very energy the creature is built from. In some instances an Anima construct has been recorded completely draining itself to fire one devastatingly destructive blast, leaving only ruin in its wake and a scattering of inanimate rocks where it once was. Mimics and Geodes are noted for the electrical discharges from crystalline spines along their backs and limbs, whereas Gorgons can use their energy to melt down the stone core of it's being only then to vomit up the molten rock.
The largest threat the Anima posses to the Imperium is the near constant invasions of Mechanius Forge worlds. The scale of industry and power these worlds use and provide shines like a beacon in the dark for the Anima. However due to the industrialization of these worlds the rock and stone the Anima are famed for using isn't always accessible. On these forge worlds it is normally the case for the Anima to adapt and build constructs from metal sheeting and pipe work ripped from the Manufactorums.
On the Forge world of Helios during a large scale invasion, one which was eventually defeated, an entire factory line of freshly built Leman Russ battle tanks were corrupted by glowing Anima crystals. They jutted from exhausts and gun barrels alike, forcing their way between armour plating influencing the machine spirits inside to fight against their creators. These tanks slowly rolled out of the Manufactorum blasting away at the unsuspecting Skitarii.
It was on Morgan Prime, close to the Halo scar, at the furthest edges of the galaxy that a crusading element of the Black Templar's encountered the Anima. Upon arriving within the Morgan system initial scans painted a picture of dead space. It was only as the fleet approached Morgan Prime did the auspex even hint at a return signal, in fact it was only due to the auspex returns being so faint did it attract the attention of the master of the fleet. Of the few remaining fleet transcripts, it is recorded that Lance Admiral Balthazar mentions to Captain Teggan of the Black Templar's "it is as if the planet is deliberately running silent, it is hiding something sir".
After launching servitor probes it was confirmed that the planet although desolate, is generating an energy signal large enough to power an entire civilization. Early estimates hint at an underground city on the northern hemisphere. With this finally confirmed Captain Teggen deploys his company planet-side, hopeful that this could be another human settlement to bring within the folds of the Imperium but realistically preparing for war!
It took a month for the Mechanicus elements of the fleet to finally pin point the epicenter of the largest energy signal and no sooner did their drilling engines start to excavate the earth the very ground fought back. Mountaincape dozers were tossed into crevasses previously not there, engineers fell silent as crystalline apparitions engulfed them and Mechanicus personnel fought hopelessly against granite golems charging through the panicking mass of humans. The Black Templar's fared better, being some distance away from the initial attack they had time to muster a defense. The vanguard of the Anima was repelled but at a terrible cost, half of the Templar Initiates lay dead or wounded beyond immediate use. The Neophytes, although not as experienced as their brothers suffered minimal loses. This was due to a very simple but key fact that the Templar's used for the rest of the campaign, the Initiates power armour was more susceptible to the vampiric nature of the Anima. Neophytes in their simple scout armour did not emit a significant energy signal and could act without the Anima predicting their every manoeuvre.
The lack of power armour wasn't the only method of war the Templar's adapted, nearly all of the Crusaders tanks were left on board their chapter vessels being equally susceptible to the Anima.
The campaign proved to be long and bloody, the Templar's using primitive tactics such as close quarter combat, something that they excelled at. The Anima were eventually driven back and then without warning they disappeared all together. All traces of their distinct energy signal vanished within the span of a few minutes leaving nothing but piles of inert rocks. The victory however was short lived, vessels of the fleet were the first to notice the change in situation, all auspex scans depicted a rise in the energy signature the planet had until now been masking. Shortly after the fleet raised the alarm to Captain Teggen the ground truly did open up, giant cliff faces slid open, massive holes slowly parted in the face of the planet and out of the dark abyss a faint green corpse light grew in magnitude.
Unbeknownst to the Crusading fleet, Morgan Prime was a Necron tomb world of monstrous proportions. The draining abilities of the Anima were the careful balance that kept these silent killers from awaking. Now that the Black Templar's had removed the Necron's accidental custodians their ancient generators could finally restore power to these dank underground tombs.
Captain Teggen mustered a defense but without the chapters power armour in use or any tanks to bring heavy fire power against the Necrons, Teggen and his warriors lasted little more than an hour. His last communication to the fleet demanded them to break orbit as he watched colossal sickle shaped star ships rise out of the ground and power upwards.
Of the ten ships within the fleet only the Dark Bulwark managed to open a portal into the warp and escape, carrying word back to the heart of the Imperium. The newly awoken Necron fleet however menaced local star systems for decades to come. From that encounter Marines from various chapters have learnt that despite all their indoctrination telling them to bring war to the xenos it is sometimes best to leave faint energy signals on distant worlds well alone.
PURESPARKS (Hive Tyrants)
Puresparks are towering constructs of Anima crystal. The collective is at its highest within these beings and as a result are often found directing the Anima forward. Without the collective presence many Anima Golems cease to function with any discernible goal, meandering towards the largest energy source they can detect.
Puresparks are recorded in a variety of forms with some sporting giant crystalline blades, others with large bore cannons that project glass like spines to either puncture armour or corrupt flesh. Regardless of size and armament Puresparks are always on the front line of an assault, found marshaling their forces past minor distracting energy signatures and onto better and more fulfilling wells of energy.
Mimics, built from the most immediate objects to hand often resemble a cruel mockery of their surroundings. Normally they appear wrought from stone much like the larger constructs but numerous documentation depict them built from closest items the Anima can find. From the pipe work and concrete Golems of a Forge world to the bark and leaf animations of a Death world, all Mimics share the same typical glowing hue of the Anima that binds them.
Mimics are the front line troops of the Anima, standing a little taller than a man these creatures are incredibly diverse and are deployed for many vital battlefield roles. Battery Mimics discharge numerous static shocks passing through armour as easily as the flesh it guards. The shocks are not normally enough to kill their prey outright. These shocks however more than enough to subdue organisms, leaving the foe easy pickings for other Amina creatures to drain from. Leach Mimics on the other hand are lithe and agile, ideal for leaping furiously to close the gap between them and their prey. Only when they are close enough do they sap and drain away their opponents life force with viscous bladed limbs.
Spectres are vanguard entities nicknamed by the Imperial guard due to their ethereal nature, some say the closest representation of the Anima there is. They operate furthest forward from the bulk of the collective usually being the first sign of the Anima present on a world. However like all Anima if they wish to interact with the world at large they must trade their ethereal form for a physical one. Spectres are unique in the fact they seem to have free will over what construct they are bound too, frequently changing from one body to another in an attempt to either evade notice or to spread maximum panic in their hapless victims. Once they have worked their way silently into their desired position they can go unnoticed indefinitely waiting for the most opportune moment to strike. After presenting themselves to the enemy they can abandon their current shell only to re-emerge within another form carefully left in an elaborate trap, giving its prey the impression it's up against countless entities.
Below is a human corpse claimed by a Spectre. This figure is from Wryd Games Malifaux range known as an essence of power. The Malifaux range also has a cool looking Ice Elemental I want to get my hands on.
GEODES (Tyrant Guard)
Geodes are built for the sole purpose of protection and they act as a permanent body guard for the Purespark they are bound to. Geodes are as diverse as any Anima creation but are always constructed from the densest stone available to make them nigh on indestructible. Their arms are almost as thick as their torsos and when liked together with their kin creates an almost impregnable wall of rock. If a Purespark the Geode is bound to should be extinguished the Geode's ability to focus is banished. From then on they fight with ruthless abandon, not because of any notion of duty or honour just simply due to the the dominating force keeping them in check had been removed.
Geode Sentries are all almost identical to the regular geodes but are designed with guarding set locations instead. This can be anything to a cave network the Anima is partly laying dormant in or a substantial energy source the Anima have yet to drain. The simplest way to identify these Golems is by the colossal crystalline spires protruding from their backs, these act as arcing towers for the disintegrating lighting they produce.
The Golem below is a Reaper miniature.
Gorgons are super sized creations of pure brute force, the shear single minded ferocity of a Gorgon is outstanding. They are able to withstand punishing amounts of firepower before succumbing to inanimacy. Making them ideal for spear heading assaults and breaking down fortifications. With a strength to rival an Astartes dreadnought Gorgons also make for effective tank hunters, especially within confided areas such as ruined city streets and dense undergrowth. Gorgons stand on two gigantic hind legs with a gaping maw and a powerful mace like tail, despite their bulk Gorgons are incredibly fast over short distances.
Rare instances depict Gorgons with projectile weaponry. When these long ranged creatures are created it is typical for them to use static dischargers. Gorgons also hold an ability to expel molten rock from their oversized gullets, melting through tanks or burning infantry out of gaps to small for the monster to pursue.
CONDUIT (Tyranid Warriors)
Conduits are the closest you might get to a sergeant in the Anima ranks. They act as a relay for the collective as generating multiple Puresparks is time consuming and a drain on their precious resources. Conduits are as diverse as any Anima creation and are built for a magnitude of battlefield roles, all resemble smaller Puresparks in the fact they are primarily constructed from Anima crystal. Most grow arcing points off their bodies to deploy their debilitating electrical pulses.
The more crystalline figure below comes from Darkage models and is their Ice Elemental. I can't remember where I got the other figure.
Poltergeist are fast moving semi corporeal creatures summoned into existence in much the same way as Spectres. The difference between them is their speed, Poltergeist don't seem to have the same patience as their Spectre cousins, preferring to race headlong into the enemy ranks to cut and disembowel before swooping onto their next victim. Poltergeist are vaguely snake like in experience with only their top half tanking solid form. Often leaving an ethereal trail behind them like a ghost like after image.
On the battlefield Shards are without a doubt the most effective shock troops the Anima can muster. Razor edged crystalline limbs and viciously sharp serpentine bodies make Shards perfectly suited to close quarter combat. It is these sharp scythe like appendages which gave these creatures their name. It is common for splinters of the crystalline blades to break off in the attack, those that are not disemboweled instantly suffer a slow poisoning as the Anima shards bury themselves within the wounded.
It is theorized that the shards left behind in the wounded act as a kind of telepathic homing device, that these creatures can somehow sense their presence, stalking the wounded back to the victims base.
SHOCK BEETLES (Ripper Swarms)
Shock Beetle rely on numbers, individually they do not pose much of a threat but together they easily swarm even the most staunch defenses. However the most remarkable ability they employ is the way in which they regenerate the larger constructs. All shock beetles sprout sharp mandibles which secrete a ectoplasmic venom which can paralyse their victims. This venom gives the beetles the chance to "feed" uninterrupted. Once they have gorged themselves on the life-force of their prey they turn from a black glass like composition into a neon crystalline frame, almost struggling to contain the raw energy inside. They then retreat to the main Anima force and climb upon the most imposing Anima construct. As they bite down into the larger entities they deplete their glowing charge, regenerating their masters. Larger Anima have been noted to self repair after these acts or simply using the extra energy to power up long ranged weapons once more. Despite the Shock beetles frantic mission to return once "full" they are not beyond using this energy to defend themselves. Many an Imperial guardsman has been electrocuted when they corner these glowing beetles.
These little guys are mostly cut and shaped plastic sprue.
Not sure this army will ever be table ready, Tyranid forces need a lot of models and currently I have 9...