Thursday, August 22, 2019

Horus the Warmaster (1995 Version)

Here's another of the small projects I've undertaken in the past couple weeks, just to get back into the habit of swinging a brush.

As blog readers will know, we had a trip earlier this summer back to England, which included a stop in Nottingham and vicinity. And Nottingham means Games Workshop, which means Warhammer World. And one of my favourite-ever things at Warhammer World is the famous "Death of Sanguinius"/Horus vs. the Emperor diorama piece by Mike McVey. I'd snooped around the web off and on for several years trying to get more detailed shots of the models, with a view to trying my own hand at a conversion someday, but without much success.

And then, amazingly, in response to my "Ye Olde Trip to Nottingham" post, blog reader Mikko pointed out that White Dwarf #183 featured an article by Mike McVey himself detailing the construction of the diorama. Well, I happen to have that issue in my collection so off I went to soak it in...

Consequently, I decided that a replication (as far as reasonably possible) of McVey's Horus conversion might be a feasible afternoon project. Obviously I wouldn't be able to do this with complete accuracy as
  • I don't have access to the massive and free quantity of conversion bits that Mike did when he was working in the Studio, and more importantly
  • I do not have even a miniscule fraction of the painting and sculpting talent of a Mike McVey 
So I determined that I'd do a "close enough" job to try and convey the flavour of the model using bits that I had handy.


First of all, I started with a metal Chaos Terminator body. I carved off the helmet, and severed the arms below the elbow joints, as I wanted to re-use the shoulder pads. I used a metal head from the bits box (can't remember what third-party vendor it came from) and sculpted the deformed-looking skulls from greenstuff. The cowl is from greenstuff as the original got a bit messed up when I cut off the helmet. Looks slightly ropey but good enough from 3 feet away. The chain came from the bits box, as did some guitar-string cabling.

The massive lightning claws are the signature of this model. Fortunately the bits box came to the rescue again as I had the gloves left over from the Cataphractii Terminator sprues that came in the "Betrayal at Calth" 30K game. Two suitable items were selected and carved down to fit.

The decal on his right shoulder was an ace find - it's from a 1992 Chaos decal set I had in the decal folder. I'd tried to freehand the design at first but it looked terrible, so decals to the rescue. I painted in the yellow parts of the Eye of Horus and the red "Eyebrow of Horus" on the decal.

Add an easy-peasy paintjob and there you have it - one Warmaster circa 1995. Not very impressive compared to the current model so amazingly painted by Conscript Greg, but fun for an afternoon project and homage to the talented Mr. McVey.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mega-DBA - The Battle of Dertosa, 215 B.C.E.

The Battle of Dertosa, also known as the Battle of Ibera, was fought in the spring of 215 BCE on the south bank of the Ebro River, across from the town of Dertosa. Historically, a Roman army, under the command of Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus and Publius Cornelius Scipio, engaged a similarly sized Carthaginian army under Hasdrubal Barca.

The Romans, under Gnaeus Scipio, had established themselves in Hispania after winning the Battle of Cissa in 218 BC. Hasdrubal Barca's expedition to evict them had ended in the defeat of the Iberian contingent of the Carthaginian navy at the Battle of Ebro River in 217 BC. Barca launched another expedition in 215 BC 215 BC. He moved north with some 25,000 foot, 4,000 horse and 21 elephants. The Scipio brothers massed 30,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry to bar his path at the Ebro River. Hasdrubal's objective was to defeat the main Roman field army so that he could cross into Italy while still maintaining Carthaginian control of Spain. The Scipio brothers likewise aimed to defeat Barca in open battle to prevent his crossing into Italy and to break his grip on the Iberian Peninsula

(Historically, the Carthaginians defeat at Dertosa cost them a chance to reinforce Hannibal at a critical juncture, and the Romans gained the initiative in Hispania.)


Dallas mentioned how it's been awhile since we have done some big battle De Bellis Antiquitatis ("Mega-DBA") ancients, and Conscript Sylvain is in town for a little while, so Thursday night I organized an ancients game based upon the above-noted battle, using DBA version 2.2. For years DBA was popular locally, then people drifted away. I know of only one local person who has painted up a DBA 3.0 army. DBA 2.2 is what our group is familiar with.

Each side ended up having the equivalent of 2 complete DBA armies. We had an historical "matched pairs" encounter: the defenders were 15mm DBA Late Carthaginians, the attacking Roman side was  represented on the table by 15mm Polybian Roman armies of the mid-Republic. The figures were painted by Conscripts Frederick and Kevin (each had painted a Roman and a Carthaginian army; Kevin's figs now reside in my collection).

Brian played the C-in-C of the Carthaginians, Hasdrubal Barca, and Dallas was his subordinate (his brother-in-law, maybe?). Each Carthaginian general had an Elephant stand; Brian was hoping for great things from his elephant, nicknamed "Sparkles" for the evening. Frederick was the C-in-C for the Romans, playing Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus ("Scipio the Elder"), and Sylvain played his subordinate, his brother Publius Cornelius Scipio ("Scipio Junior"). Each C-in-C wold roll both command dice each bound, and apportion the dice as they saw fit between themselves and their subordinate.

Who would win this dust-up between two consuls of the Roman Republic and one of the scions of the uber-rich Carthaginian Barca clan?


The Battle

Below, looking southward, Dallas and Brian can be seen sitting behind their deployed Carthaginians.
(Click the pictures to enlarge.)


Below, Sylvain and Frederick sit behind the northern edge of the table, overseeing long lines of Roman legionaries.


Below, closer shot of the Romans commanded by Frederick's Scipio the Elder.


Below, looking west, both sides drawn up for battle. Frederick rolled a "1" and a "4" for PIPs. He kept the 1 as his forces were in one long line.


 The Carthaginians advance north.


Both sides sent some cavalry to try and flank the forest seen to the far west.


The Carthaginians divide their forces to meet the Roman lines.


The Carthaginian eastern edge was held by Spears in ranks on the road, with their flanks anchored by a small cliff, and some light infantry in the marsh. The Roman cavalry declined to attack and these small forces shouted invective at each other all game.


The Carthaginians seized the initiative by advancing to contact all up and down the lines. To the west some Roman Blades are in danger from the flanking Light Cavalry.


To the west, some Roman Cavalry fence with Carthaginian Auxilia in the woods. Neither side could afford to lose because of the placement of friendly units; of course their battle was a draw!


Sparkles ground down a stand of Blades and moves forward to fill the gap!


Some of Brian's Celtic Warband  tried to kill the Roman C-inC, but were slain for their trouble. The rest of the Carthaginians bounced off the Roman shield wall.


With the support of some friends, the Roman Cavalry rode the Carthaginian Auxilia down.


Below, some legionary Blades try and flank the Carthaginian sub commander. Dallas rolled hot and drove off his attackers.


Below, the Roman players contemplate their next moves.


Brian's  Barca, with the help of Sparkles, tried to nail another stand of Blades who had Psiloi support, but the Romans' swordplay and javelins forced off their attackers.


Below, in response, some Roman Triarii move to face off against Sparkles. The rest of the line advanced on the Carthaginians, pushing back Barca's stand, and destroying another stand of Cav.


Below, a panorama of the land south of the Ebro River, at this final point of the battle.


The casualties below tell the tale. Barca's half of the army reached its breaking point, and the Romans had only lost one stand so far. The Carthaginians threw in the towel, and, as in history, the Carthaginians retreated off the table. Barca somehow survived, leaving the Scipios the masters of the field.


All agreed that it was fun to push around figures using DBA again. I have both Scythian and  Mongolian armies ready for cleanup and painting. The Scythians in particular would make great opponents for the various Greek Hoplite and Roman armies several of us have.

Hordes of the Things

The game prompted me to finally finish off the shields on some HotT Wood Elf Knights that I have been playing for years. Cheated a bit, using some Eldar Harlequin decals and some thin green glazes to make the white look like it was painted a little unevenly on the shields.


It's a fun army, with figures from Chariot Miniatures. It's constituted of: 1 x Magician General, 1 x Magician, 1 x Hero, 2 x Knights, and 4 x Shooters (and a Toad for when the Magicians' magic goes horribly wrong).


Boarak, Death Rider of Chaos!

Just a couple short posts in the queue here... trying desperately to get back in the painting groove after some time away from it. I find that rather than bite off a 20-model unit it sometimes makes sense to paint a couple quick figures just to get the juices flowing again.

So it is with this fellow - Boarak, Death Rider of Chaos - from the old old OLD Ral Partha fantasy range.

This model is the mounted version of one of Ral Partha's excellent Chaos warriors. Blog readers may recall that I painted that model some time ago - it was actually part of the collection I assembled for RPG gaming in the early '80s.

So I happened to be surfing eBay a month or two back and spotted this model offered at a BIN of $1.99 from a seller in Quebec... score! However, shipping was noted as an absolutely extortionate $14 USD... no way, Jose.

After some negotiation, I got the seller to agree to $8 shipping from Quebec to my USA post box, where some other stuff was awaiting pickup. So it ended up being cheaper to drive down to the USA to pick up this parcel from Quebec, than to have it send in Canada by Canada Post. Go figure...

Anyway, here is Boarak "mounted and dismounted". Pretty quick paintjob on the mounted version, and I wonder whether the same sculptor actually did both models... while the mounted one is cool, the dismounted Boarak is really the superior sculpt. His armoured running shoes, for example, are much cooler than the mounted Boarak's slippers. But still awesome to have a mounted and dismounted version of this cool figure.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Crossroads: Bolt Action Normandy Battle Report

After somewhat of a hiatus, we got back to gaming at Churchill Manor last weekend with a session of Bolt Action. I'm a subscriber to the Bolt Action email newsletter (as you all should be) and since June they've been publishing a series of D-Day-themed scenarios. I selected "Crossroads" as the game for the night to ease us back into gaming mode.

The premise is pretty straightforward - in the midst of the British Operation Bluecoat (30 July-7 August 1944) the Germans are withdrawing their armoured forces. Two heavy tanks are left to hold an important road junction. Can the British tanks neutralize the armoured rearguard before the rest of the panzers make good their escape?

While I don't have the two King Tigers in my collection that the scenario calls for, I provided one King Tiger and one Tiger I for Conscript Sean to deploy near the crossroads.

The British (five Sherman Vs and one Firefly) were deployed by Conscripts Frederick, Bill and Kevin on their start line, and rapidly advanced. The British only had four turns to destroy the two heavy tanks and that meant closing the range quickly, and grabbing flank and rear shots where possible.

One of the little issues with the scenario was the minefields that are supposed to be deployed by the German player. The problem is that the scenario didn't specify the size or locations of the minefields, and although I emailed Warlord with this question, they've never gotten back to me with an answer. So for the game I allowed Sean to secretly place two minefields, each the size of a medium blast template. Fair enough.

The British tanks advanced quickly to contact and a lucky shot took out Sean's King Tiger quite early in the game.

The Germans struck back quickly though as the Tiger potted a Sherman (top left). The Sherman at bottom right crashed through the bocage hedge straight into a German minefield... which caused no damage, thanks to typical Sean die-rolling.

Meanwhile on the other flank, the Firefly has whizzed up the road into the other minefield placed by Sean on the road just to the left of the crossroads above. Of course, it goes without saying that the mines caused no damage, and the Firefly scored an immobilizing hit on the Tiger.

Surrounded now by Shermans and after their Tiger suffered another immobilizing hit, the remaining crew thought discretion to be the better part of valour and abandoned their tank. Even though both of his tanks were burning, Sean stuck it long enough to score a victory on points. Well done Sean!

Thoughts on the game... it was fun to get back to good old Bolt Action after a bit of a layoff and the game has galvanized me into action in getting some models finished and others purchased... specifically some American and British crew for my Shermans with gaping hatches. The game looked great and was good for a laugh but after deploying the models, the rather crowded table had me thinking I should have used 15mm models on the 4'x4' table instead. I think they would have looked cool with the tall bocage and would have avoided the 40K-style "drive closer, I want to hit them with my sword"/clashing gun barrels close-quarters combat we saw in this game. Next one will be on a 6'x4' with some infantry, I promise! :-)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Horus Lupercal, Warmaster

"Let the galaxy burn..." Horus Lupercal, Warmaster, Primarch and Master of the XVI Legion. Figure from Forge World.
Another fun bit of summer 30k painting to share.  Here is Horus Lupercal, Primarch of the 16th Legion, Master of the Sons of Horus, Warmaster of the Imperium, leader of the rebellion against The Emperor and instigator of the Horus Heresey. Can't have a Horus Heresy without Horus, right? I painted him in 6mm...why not try the "28mm" version?

The sculpt is from Forge World, part of their "Horus Heresy Character Series".  Forge World started this series years ago, and there are figures available now for just about every Legion Primarch (I think they have them all covered...?) as well as a few of the notable special characters from the long series of Horus Heresy novels. 

I had assumed that any model of Horus from GW would be covered in all sorts of Chaos nonsense, but I was wrong. This sculpt certainly portrays the Warmaster as a menacing fellow, but he is not obviously gone over to the dark side - he could just as easily be leading his Sons of Horus during one of the final battles of the Great Crusade, as opposed to coordinating his attacks in the Isstvan system and beyond during his revolt.

The figure is very large - Horus himself is a Primarch, much larger than an average Space Marine, which in turn is already a lot larger than an average human. He is made even larger by his custom suit of Cataphract Terminator armour, and his personalized special weapons - and then there is the huge base he is standing on.  Overall, the effect is of a figure from another scale. While this rendering of Horus is meant to co-exist (in theory) with the other "28mm"-sized 30k models, the effect is much closer to a larger scale diorama figure, 40mm at least.

The larger the figure, the greater the amount of detail, and the sculptors at Forge World did not scrimp on detail.  From the intricate symbols on the armour, to the detailed weapons, to the face, to the elaborate base, there was a lot to ponder from a painting perspective when considering how to tackle this project.  My painting techniques are pretty basic ones, and I found this figure very intimidating. I wasn't sure how much I could push my basic approach to painting...but what the heck, you have to try sometime, right?

The Base

So much detail on this very elaborate base."Aquila Eterna" heh? Not so much...
The Primarch figures all have elaborate bases, and the scenic base for Horus is particularly, well, cunningly devised, IMO.  It sort of has three "strata" - there is a fallen imperial eagle head, presumably from a statue or monument.  There is a staircase with cool faux-latin terms etched into the stairs. The final, bottom layer of the base, is more general rubble, but still has detail - metal bars, a few Mark III armoured shoulder pads, and of course a couple of skulls, all mixed in.

Early WIP photo of the base.
I just find this base fascinating. What happened to create this scene?  Did some Imperial building get damaged in some fighting, and just happen to fall in a pile like this, one that Horus would find convenient to hop on top of so he could direct his Marines or make a speech?  Or did Horus knock all of this stuff together - beat up some building and toss the components on to a pile of rubble, so he would have a handy, home-made vantage point?

The finished base, with Horus removed.  Note the crushed Mk III shoulder pauldron at the bottom under the rubble...wonder what happened there?
Another view of the base...more smashed marine shoulder many possible stories spring to mind...
The base is so clever in that is sets Horus in either the pre- or post-heresy time frame too...Horus might be fighting amid Imperial-themed rubble to defend the Great Crusade...or, his rebellion is already underway, and these symbols of his father's rule would make a handy jump off point...oh, did I smash that Imperial eagle? Pity...

The Warmaster

Humanity's last hope, Horus Lupercal...hey, this eagle seems pretty handy....
Horus himself, as you might expect for someone of his rank, has some pretty swanky wargear, and you can see it on the figure.  The huge mace is "Worldbreaker". On his right hand is "The Warmaster's Talon", a custom combi power-claw/bolt-gun deal.  Together with his super-tough looking armour - adorned with the pelt of a wolf and requisite fancy cape - Horus Lupercal, Warmaster, is well-equipped to deal with combat matters personally, should the need arise.

WIP - the beginning....
The Sons of Horus are notorious for their green armour.  But Horus himself is often depicted wearing black armour - in fact, the studio painters in GW did this, and many other versions of Horus I have seen online have as well.  I considered trying to copy this approach myself, but in the end I wanted to stick with the green armour used on the bulk of his Legion's marines and vehicles.  I think it looks a little cooler. Plus, Horus' custom armour has a name, "The Serpent's Scales", which made me think even more that it should be green. So I stayed with the green.

The base mostly finished, some basic colours in place on Horus.
The hardest part of painting this model was the face.  It's the focal point of the figure, crying out for some attention, especially on a model of this size.  I tried my best here, using a lot of thinned-down coats and other things I don't usually bother with for a 28mm figure.  I'm pleased because I achieved more of an effect than I usually can achieve, but at the same time, it still looks a bit off - the tones are not...smooth enough.  Horus Lupercal is big and terrifying (especially in his "work clothes"), but he is also a "smooth" political operator, as adept at flattery and rhetoric as he is at smashing things to pieces using "Worldbreaker".  I got some OK definition on the face, but it still looks a bit too rough - too much warrior, not enough politician.  Oh well. 

Basic greens in place, base of red on the cloak.
The toughest part was the eyes. Oh, I hate painting eyes! I seldom find that painted eyes look right on a miniature. But in this case they seemed so big that it would be worse not to try...sigh...not my finest work, but not the worst either - at least he didn't come up cross-eyed :)  I sort of wish I did not bother with the eyes, and almost painted them over, but in the end, I just decided to keep them as I had finished them.

Armour mostly finished, base coat on the face.
The finished Warmaster.
Another view of Horus, directing...something.
The face on a figure like this is something where the more advanced painters around here in Winnipeg would really have gone to town.  For example, I can only imagine how cool Dave V. would make this rendition of Horus look using his oil paints, careful glazes and other techniques. But at the end of the day, I pushed myself a bit, and improved a bit.  Painting this fellow was fun. That's the whole point, right?

Horus On The Gaming Table

Horus "detached" from the main base, in theory for use in a game.
Make no mistake, painting this figure was mostly just to have fun. I already have a large collection of Sons of Horus marines for 30k, and I thought it would only be appropriate to have Horus himself to inspire them along.  This model is intended to sit and look cool on the figure display shelf - with that elaborate base, I expect the Forge World sculptors assumed the same. You would be hard-pressed to move this huge pile of figure around the table in a game where every other infantry model has a simple, round base.

And can detach Horus (a bit, at any rate) to theoretically use this model in a game.  He's still huge because he's a Primarch, and even detached from the bottom section of the base, he is standing on the head of a huge eagle statue, but there are stats for Horus Lupercal to be used on the 30k gaming table if you want to play a game where Horus personally goes to battle.

And...he's scary! In the 7th edition of the 40k game (which is still formally the "current" edition of 30k because GW), Horus has a basic stat line of a train at full speed...ST of 7, T of 6, with a base of 5 attacks and 6 wounds.  His save is 2+, and 3+ invulnerable....on and on.  His weapons, as you might expect, are fantastic. Oh, and he can call in an off-table bombardment.  In the fan-made 8th edition of 30k, Horus has 7 attacks, 9 wounds...oh man. No matter edition of the game, this guy would bash an entire Space Marine squad to pieces every turn - and would probably be able to rip up vehicles and dreadnoughts too.

"Let's Make the Imperium Great Again"....
So would we put this guy into a game? Well, you never know :) It might be fun to try sometime - "fun", that is, for whoever gets to use Horus. My gaming group is a lot of fun and tolerant of the odd whacky scenario.  But Horus himself seldom seemed to go into battle once the Heresy was under way, running things instead via his minions and directing affairs from the bridge of his vessel, the Vengeful Spirit. I expect the same for this figure - he will hopefully inspire his minions from afar on the display shelf, as opposed to getting directly into the battle with them on the table.

Steve B - Thanks!

Just wanted to add a special thanks to Steve B in Winnipeg! He put together this figure, as well as the two Land Raiders I painted earlier this summer.  Much appreciated Steve!!

That's all for now - thanks for visiting.  I hope you are having a great summer, wherever you are!