I've been thinking for quite some time about what warband to choose for my Dark Vengeance Chaos Space Marines. In the end, I was choosing between the Thousand Sons, Iron Warriors, The Cleave and The Pyre. I skipped the Thousand Sons due to the fact that Dark Vengeance models would need extensive conversions to make them pass; the same with the Iron Warriors. The ever-oozing Cleave are fascinating and would not require so much conversion work, but I always prefered all the other Chaos Gods over Nurgle - so in the end, I want with The Pyre - the orange-colored warband specialized in flame weaponry, slightly reminiscient of a perversed version of the Inquisition. I appreciate the fact that it is Chaos Undivided, and I find the image of a solitary, mysterious sect of Chaos Marines setting whole worlds on fire enthralling.
"The Pyre warband is known to favour short-range combat, especially in urban environments. While capable in melee situations and extended range engagements, their devotion to flame weapons often dictates their tactics. They generally eschew assault and fire support elements. Rather, they focus on movement through cover until they can attack with eldritch fire."
"The Pyre's forces have played prominent roles in several actions, particularly in the Vanity system. Oddly, though, no higher ranking members of this warband have been positively identified. Instead, these traitors have been seen in the company of Warp creatures and the Stigmartus. Also of note is that Pyre units have not been observed working directly with Chaos Space Marines of other warbands." - Lexicanum
Discovering the connection between The Pyre and a militant Chaos Cult called the Stigmartus was a pleasant surprise to me. Therefore, I've tried to paint the Cultists as being connected to these two organizations at the same time - by having the blood marks of Stigmartus and the color scheme more akin to The Pyre, to make them look coherent on the table. In the end, I went with dark brown uniforms with black gasmasks and Troll Slayer Orange or Mephiston Red clothes. Weapons were painted with Brass Scorpion mostly to give a more "unclean" look compared to imperial forces.
A model I particularly enjoyed to paint was the Cultist leader, broadly known as "that Chaos Commissar guy". While I love the model, I absolutely hate the crazy-haired-Hannibal-Lecter head he normally comes with, so I have taken that one out and replaced it with a gasmask head that can be found in the Dark Vengeance sprues as a base decoration. Since the head is missing half of its gas mask, I've wanted to make it look as if half of the mask got scorched by a flamer - something that I didn't exactly achieve in the end, but I still find the way the model looks more serious and satisfying than if I wouldn't do the conversion.
The Cultist I love the most is the one holding a flamer, though. The bulky body, the ready-to-burn stance and the Cultist mask is a menacing combination - welldone on that one, Games Workshop designers! Something about this guy just screams "butcher" to me, so maybe I will try to convert the other one as a white-coated axe-holder. Actually, I would like to convert each of the duplicate models (I hate clones!) with either some kitbashing, or even some neat green stuff mutations. The Chosen Marines are a priority now, though.
I've tried to make the bases thematic, so I went with a "scorched earth" look by drybrushing different shades of grey and white. My idea is that the unit is slowly proceding through some heavy terrain - a forest perhaps - and leaving nothing but ash behind.