Monday, March 22, 2010

Yet Another New Insane Project

I have been eyeing my pack of new 40k plastic Valkyrie models (obtained in a greal sale from Maelstrom Games - they are insane - use them while they are here!) for some time. I have already assembled and painted a couple of them - one to fly with Gün Schwarm, and the other to accompany my vast force of "blue" Imperial guardsmen. But I have always wondered about doing an all-flying Imperial Guard force. Of course, this is hardly original - I think a lot of players are out there trying it (or something similar), but the notion never quite let go.

I have also always liked the look of the Elysian drop troops at Forgeworld. Yes - it's a bit of a flush money-wise, but the bulky look of the current Cadian plastics (which are still fine figures) doesn't beat the lean look of those Elysian troopers.

So I figured "what the hell?" and took the plunge, ordering some Elysian drop troop figures from Forgeworld to serve as the troops that will accompany the Vaklyries into battle. After doing one test model last week (pictured above), I have painted a few more up over the weekend. Here are some blurry pics from the painting table courtesy of the camera on my blackberry:

The paint scheme is intended to be a modest, muted one, with dark green armour and grey "jump suits". As with the Bundesguard (yes - I'm still working on those too and no, focus is not a gift of mine) the idea was to have troops that looks more like "average" soldiders, as opposed to most of the 40k stuff I paint, which as a lot of blues, whites and other colours that you probably would not see on the battlefield.

Thanks to the magic of Devlan Mud wash, it paints very, very fast.

The models are very nice, but very, very different from the usual 40k fare - not just because of the randomness of Forgeworld either. For starters, they are quite slight compared to the equivalent 40k figures. This is something I have noticed with the few Death Korps of Krieg guys I have painted from Forgeworld also. I know nothing of sculpting, but Forgeworld generally seems to keep their human models to a slighter proportion than the current GW plastics.

The packs of models themselves have their share of Forgeworld challenges (bizarre, useless instructions, and some significant flash in some cases) but overall come together fairly well. Use caution when assembling - the shoulder plates, bayonets, canteens, gun clips etc are easily lost when clipping them off the sprues. I really had a tough time with the prone guys too - but I think that indicates that I am a very impatient figure modeller, as opposed to an issue with Forgeworld modeling :).

On the downside the Forgeworld sculpters, I imagine to capture a bit of the "paratrooper" feel of the Elysians, seem inclined to have a number of prone figures, and make even more weapons into two-man teams. In my opinion there are too many two-man team models with the Imperial Guard already. I'm sure other gamers will disagree, and that's fine - it's a question of subjective preference, after all - but I don't care for prone figures in a 25/28mm wargame (as opposed to some kind of diorama) unless they are snipers. I also don't like many two-man models in a skirmish game - it's a wargame, not a duel of dioramas. By these (possibly silly and likely in the minority) standards, there are too many prone models in the Elysian lineup, and many that have to work in teams. Exhibit "A" is the melta guns (pictured above).

I tried to work around this, but you end up with spare, unusable figures. Also in terms of scale, while they have made the humans slighter, Forgeworld has matched the size of the melta guns to what is current in 40k, creating a bit of a disconnect. I have one model (not painted yet) purporting to carry the melta gun as if he would fire it, and it does not look right at all...the melta-gun looks huge. Cue the "suspensors" from Rogue Trader!

Anyway, overall, this project is fun, and really like the sleek look of the troops, and the sci-fi feel of the visors. My whingeing about the two-man teams and prone troops aside, the sculpts are really cool. These guys will go up pretty fast. The Valkyries to match them will take a bit more time though (I am not a fan of model-building, after all), but the scheme will hopefully paint as fast on the Valks as it does on the troops.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Incredible (Space) Hulk

"Ummm... you might want to turn around sloooowly..."

Thursday's game was Space Hulk. What a blast this game is. No army lists, killer codices, or special rules (well not many anyway), just a straightforward, fun, "bang you're dead", bugs vs. Humanity's only hope tabletop game.
And the best part for me is, it looks great to play with minimum set-up time. I did fast paint jobs on the 'Stealers a couple years back and I have more than enough for pretty much any scenario. The Blood Angels Terminators are from the original Terminator metal boxed set and are based on scenic resin bases, just because ;-)
Anyway we had time for two scenarios from the basic game (using 2nd ed. tiles as fans will immediately recognize). In the first game Greg, Dave V. and John C. hot-rolled their way to a convincing victory for humankind over the Genestealers, run by Brian and Perry. In the second game I joined in with Perry running Terminators as we got thumped by 'Stealer players Greg and Dave.
The two scenarios were quite different and I would submit, each favoured one side. The first game had the Terminators defending a room from onrushing 'stealers and played to the human strength of overwatch. The second game required the Terminators to move across the board to an exit and favoured the Genestealers' speed. Both were fun. Here's some pics!
A pic from Game 1 with the Terminators defending the room at top left.

"Terminators - form square!!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rogue Trader Rhino - start to finish

I very rarely document any project in steps. In fact I was going to do this with the RT Space Marines I painted last week, but I took one picture of the basecoated figures and promptly forgot to take any others until they were pretty much all done. Anyway, since I was painting the Rhino for the RT guys on Sunday night I thought I'd take "in progress" pics just for fun.

Immediately above, we have the basecoated vehicle. I just painted the whole thing with GW Iyanden Darksun foundation paint and a large brush. I didn't worry overly much about getting paint on parts of the model that aren't supposed to be yellow - I'll clean that up later.

Next step was to paint the camo on. I decided to use a WWII German pattern (surprise!) and found a suitable one in "Panzer Colours" by Bruce Culver. The "model" was a StuG IV on the eastern front, late '44. I lightly brushed/stippled on GW Dark Flesh. The historical equivalent would be "dunkelgelb/rotbrun" I'd say.

Next, a wash of GW Devlan Mud (the all-purpose wash!) to darken the yellow, even out the camo, and add a bit of shading.

Above, I've tidied up the stowage and painted the metal bits with GW Boltgun Metal, followed by a light drybrush of Deneb Stone.

Good progress in this photo - I've painted the stowage (nearside in Scorched Brown/Bestial Brown, far side in a Darksun/Dark Flesh/black camo to match the Space Marine armour, with Codex Grey straps), rusted out some of the metal with a Chestnut Ink wash, painted the exhausts straight Dark Flesh, and washed the bolter with Badab Black.

Finished vehicle with rider - I've done my typical weathering with a Scorched Brown drybrush up from the bottom in the places where mud and dirt would accumulate. I follow this with a drybrush of Bestial Brown. Now into the decal folder...

Beauty shots of the finished model with decals. Griffons from Ginfritter, letters from ??, numeral "5" from the SKIF Russian tank kit I built for Futurkom.

The "5" denotes the fifth company (several of the Space Marines have a matching number on their armour), "K" for the platoon within the company.

I added a fascine cut from a huge roll of wire mesh I bought at Home Depot. The retaining loops, side rails and antenna are florist's wire from Michaels. I like the look of the old Rhino with the side rails, it's very reminiscent of the RT era.

So that's how you paint a Rhino in an evening!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rogue Trader Project Update

Finished a bunch of metal Rogue Trader Space Marines this weekend in preparation for the big Space Orks vs. Marines smackdown. These are Marines of the 5th Company of the Howling Griffons Chapter, I opted to paint their power armour in the "Sigmar VI Insurgency Pattern" as shown in the Warhammer 40K Compendium.

Not "Golden Demon" work by any means but (a) I think it evokes the original RT era 'Eavy Metal style and (b) they are done and I can use them on the tabletop. The Griffon insignia are transfers from Ginfritter's Gnomish Workshop.

The unit includes some of the superb vintage "Rhino Crew" models as well and I've painted them, although their "ride" is still in primer. Look for a post on painting the Rhino in the near future.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Epic Space Marines - Ready for Horus & Friends

On the weekend I finished basing and painting a good chunk of the Space Marine forces I want to finish for Epic 40k. While both will have good times killing Orks, Squats, Tau and Eldar, I really want to play some more "classic" games set in the Horus Heresy - the 40k "period" that really got Epic launched.

For the "loyalists", I went with Dark Angels, a chatper that is classic, unique and reconigizable without being uptight (Ultramarines), absurd (Spacewolves) or dumb (Blood Angels). I have to say, the Imperial Fists would have been cool too - but the Dark Angels win because they paint up way faster!

It's a small forces - just one tactical detachment, with some Dreads and Whirlwinds in support.

I have finished a lot more of the "traitors" - the Emperor's Children (or inspired by the Emperor's Childern). I used the actual Space Marine models to capture the rebel feel - these are the forces that rebelled, not the tools who hang around the Eye Of Terror sticking a tail and five horns on to every piece of equipment they have.

Each side has some flyer support, so the Marines can fight in true "marine style" (i.e. come in from off-planet and kick butt). There is still more to finish for each side, but the great thing about Epic is that it paints stupidly fast, so I hope to have the forces pretty much done in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Battle Missions - Flank Attack

GW has just released the new Battle Missions scenario book for Warhammer 40K. It contains 33 race- or faction-specific missions, with different setups, objectives, and special rules. The scenarios are sometimes variations on the basic missions in the main 40K rulebook. However, there are some interesting twists (for example, Dark Eldar capturing prisoners, Chaos Space Marines capturing loot, entering the table through a warp rift, etc). In addition, there are also some other missions that change the size and the force organizations required to play, such as the re-birth of Kill Team.

After a quick read, I think that the book's missions will make for some interesting games, and that it provides a template for players to create their own scenarios. For many other scenarios, with different design philosophies, I suggest looking at resources like Astronomi-con's scenario CDs, BoLS' campaign packs, or YTTH's new scenario system.

For awhile now, I've admired the Saim Hann Eldar army of MarkG, the manager of the local Games Workshop store. We both thought that the release of the new book would provide us with a good excuse to throw down with some Eldar on Eldar action. Sunday afternoon I attended at GW Winnipeg, where Mark and I played Flank Attack, one of the Eldar-specific missions. In the scenario three objectives are placed on the table; whoever controls the most objectives would win the game.


After some valuable discussion with Fritz of the Way of Saim Hann blog, I went with a slightly different variation of my Swordwind army:

Farseer - Fortune (re-roll amour, cover and invulnerable saves); Eldar Jetbike; Runes of Warding; Runes of Witnessing; Singing Spear
Autarch - Eldar Jetbike; Banshee Mask; Laser Lance; Fusion Gun
8 x Dire Avengers - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Shuriken Cannons and Shuriken Cannon
8 x Dire Avengers - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Bright Lances
5 x Fire Dragons - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Shuriken Cannons
5 x Fire Dragons - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Shuriken Cannons
3 x Vyper jetbikes - each w/ 2 x Shuriken Cannons
5 x Warp Spiders - including Exarch with dual Death Spinner
Fire Prism grav tank

Total = 41 models, at 1495 points

The Farseer, Autarch and Warp Spiders would all run together as one unit, an ersatz miniature Seer Council. Fortune would allow re-rolls of all their 3+ armour saves, the 4++ invulns of the bikers, and any cover saves that they might obtain. The unit moves pretty fast and throws out a significant amount of S6 shooting. It can break apart into its components late game, to act either as speed bumps or to strike at isolated targets. (Thanks, Fritz!)

I ended up keeping the Avenger squads fairly large in size. They could dismount to capture an objective and throw out a decent weight of fire. They could weather some casualties and still be a viable unit.

My army is set up below for viewing (click the photo for a larger image):

Mark went with an interesting Saim Hann army:

Farseer - Guide (re-roll to hit rolls for shooting); Runes of Witnessing
Autarch - Avenger Shuriken Catapult; Power Weapon
10 x Dire Avengers (Exarch - 2 Avenger Shuriken Catapults; Bladestorm) - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Scatter Lasers
10 x Dire Avengers (Exarch- Power Weapon/Shimmershield; Defend) - mounted in Wave Serpent w/ TL Starcannons
6 x Eldar Jetbikes (Warlock - Destructor) - Shuriken Cannon
6 x Eldar Jetbikes (Warlock - Conceal) - Shuriken Cannon
5 x Eldar Jetbikes - Shuriken Cannon
6 x Howling Banshees
Squadron of 3 War Walkers - each w/ Missile Launcher & Scatter Laser

Both our forces were screamingly fast, but Mark's had a very different design philosophy. Five scoring units! Whittling those scoring units down would be a major priority.

Mark's army is shown set up for viewing below:


We rolled for deployment, and Mark would go first. Per the scenario, Mark set down a single objective in the middle of the Saim Hann deployment zone, in the north half of the table. I set up two more objectives within one foot of either short edge in the south half of the table. All Eldar forces in Reserve could Outflank, even if they didn't have the Scout or Infiltrate special rules.

Mark deployed his Saim Hann forces fairly spread out across the table. From west to east, he placed a jetbike squad, another jetbike squad, the Banshees in some woods to the east of an objective, a Wave Serpent (with the Farseer riding with the shooty Dire Avengers), and his other Wave Serpent (with the Autarch and the remaining Avengers). The third jetbike squad and the War Walkers stayed in reserve.

Setting up across the table like that, Mark could reach all the objectives fairly quickly with his bikes and tanks, and threatened the northern objective with the Banshees. However, spread out as they were, maybe I could wolfpack his units to defeat them in detail. First, I should try and kill the jetbikes, and then de-mech the mounted infantry.

Accordingly, the Swordwind castled up in the southwest corner, deploying everything except the Brightlance-armed Wave Serpent and its mounted Avengers.

The two Dragon Serpents took the lead, giving cover to the mini-council and the Vypers set up behind them. The Avenger Serpent deployed slightly east, near the southwest objective, shielding the bikers' right sides. The Fire Prism tank deployed in the middle of the south table edge, to threaten Mark's eastern wing and to be offered up as bait to his tanks.

With my tanks protecting the bikes with their hulls, I hoped the Swordwind could weather the first turn of Saim Hann fire. Refusing my eastern flank would keep the Saim Hann tank guns out of range of the Swordwind's phalanx.

I was very lucky. I rolled a "1" and the Swordwind managed to steal the initiative away from Mark's Saim Hann forces and go first instead.

The Swordwind advanced north, dismounting one Dragon squad and the Avengers. Everything that could reach poured fire into Mark's two jetbike squads. Mark's westernmost squad was wiped out; the second jetbike squad took some casualties, but passed their morale.

The Saim Hann tanks advanced south, with the Starcannon Serpent moving flat out. The jetbike squad fired at the Fire Dragons, killing two of them. The Scatter Laser tank fired at the Fire Prism, merely Shaking it.

The Fire Prism, unable to fire, moved flat out north to gain a cover save and to shield the other tanks from fire. Everything else moved generally northeast. The mini-council wiped out the remaining Saim Hann bikes with a torrent of fire.

The remaining Saim Hann reserves appeared on the eastern table edge - the jetbikes in the northeast corner, and the War Walkers deployed in the southeast corner. Saim Hann vehicle fire was ineffective.

In the photo below, Mark is seen standing next to the table. Note how the game's axis has swung 90 degrees to the east.

The Swordwind Farseer managed to roll double "1's" causing a Perils of the Warp test. Her Ghosthelm failed, but her rune amour just managed to save her from being wounded by some weird warp critter.

The last Swordwind Serpent appeared from reserve, outflanking into the northeast corner. Those Dire Avengers dismounted to shoot up the nearby jetbikes, and the turret gun took a bead upon a Saim Hann tank's rear armour. The mini-council moved east, along with the two Dragon Serpents. The Fire Prism moved north. The Vypers moved northeast. The original Dire Avengers mounted up into their Wave Serpent.

The Swordwind Avenger's fire killed a jetbike. The mini-council and Vypers wiped out the Howling Banshees.

In response, the Saim Hann forces moved generally south or west. Mark's Farseer Guided his Dire Avengers, who dismounted to unleash a Bladestorm on the mini-council. Almost everything else also concentrated fire on the mini-council. Fortune kept them in the game - despite suffering around 30 wounds, they lost only the four regular Warp Spiders. The Saim Hann jetbikes killed a couple of Swordwind Avengers.

Oh, the carnage!

The survivors of the mini-council broke apart - the Spider Exarch jumped behind a Saim Hann tank and immobilized it.

The Fire Prism managed to land a shot on the Saim Hann Farseer and Avengers, killing half the squad outright.

The two Fire Dragon tanks surged east and the Dragons dismounted. The southernmost Dragons exploded a Saim Hann tank with their fusion guns, and the Dragon's transport knocked out a War Walker. Some Saim Hann Avengers and their Autarch survived the explosion, to stand in the wreckage of their ride.

The surviving Dragons in the other squad failed to even hit the tank immobilized by the Spider Exarch.

The dismounted Avengers shot up and charged the jetbikes in front of them, killing a couple more.

The Vypers moved south.

The mounted Avengers moved back southwest, to take control of the objective there.

The Swordwind's Autarch and Farseer shot up and assaulted the Saim Hann Farseer and her retinue, breaking them. The Saim Hann Farseer fled north off the table, with the Swordwind officers in close pursuit.

The Saim Hann Autarch split off from the last of the Saim Hann Avengers.

A flurry of firing saw all the Swordwind's Fire Dragons incapacitated and two Vypers shot down. The close combat between the Saim Hann jetbikes and the Swordwind Avengers ground on inconclusively.

The Swordwind Farseer split off alone and fired off her Singing Spear, exploding the last Saim Hann tank.

A Swordwind Wave Serpent tank shocked the southernmost Saim Hann Avengers, but their morale held.

The Swordwind's Autarch charged the Saim Hann jetbikes, but missed all her initial attacks!

After more exchanged shots and blows, the Saim Hann Autarch knocked out the Swordwind's Farseer; then the last of the Saim Hann jetbikes and Dire Avengers fell, and another War Walker went down.

Saim Hann had lost all their scoring units; all they had left on the table was a damaged War Walker and their Autarch.

Conversely, the Swordwind retained their Autarch, both scoring units (the two Dire Avenger squads), all five skimmer tanks (one was damaged), and the lone survivors of the Warp Spider and the Vyper jetbike units.

As the game ended, the Swordwind controlled a single objective with some Dire Avengers, mounted in their Wave Serpent transport:

The remaining objectives were contested by the Warp Spider Exarch and various Swordwind tanks.

Result = Swordwind Victory

It was a very interesting and faced-paced game. By the time the game ended, the axis of battle had spun almost 180 degrees. Mark and I both had a lot of fun. Thanks should go to Mark and the rest of the staff at the GW store.

I look forward to playing other missions from the new book.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thursday Game - Come out and get hammered

Hey lads,

This Thursday we will be rolling out Warhammer Fantasy Battle again - this time a special scenario from GW featuring Warhammer rulebook "cover model" Harry the Hammer.

I happened to pick up an old OOP model of Harry in a lot of eBay Chaos Warriors so I thought I'd paint him and run this scenario. It basically pits Harry and his Chaos warband against a horde of undead emerging from a long-ruined ancient city. Oughta be fun!

See you at my place, 7:30pm start.