Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ninth Painting Challenge Entry - Solar Auxilia Lasrifle Section

The Solar Auxilia, 28mm figures from GW's Forge World
This submission is a Solar Auxilia Lasrifle section.  These are 28mm resin figures from Forge World, the small subsidiary (or division or whatever it is these days) of Games Workshop. These figures are some of the most recent releases from Forge World's every-expanding (for now, at least) Horus Heresy range of figures.

I call this groundwork combination "Autumn on Rijel 7"
Introduced in the most recent Forge World Horus Heresy book, the Solar Auxilia are meant to represent impressive soldiers who are nonetheless still well short of the strength of ability of the Marines.  In this sense they are the precursors to the Imperial Army, the standing force that would represent the bulk of the Imperial armed forces. The Marines would do the rough work, taking out whatever recedivist/alien/heretic/democratically elected regime was in the way, and forces like the Solar Auxilia would follow and take up garrison and patrol duties, and defend in any attack, holding out until Marines came to help. 

Section command - officer in front, comms trooper at the back on the right, and vexilla at the back on the left
Comms trooper with helmet raised - that doesn't seem like a good idea in the Warhammer 40k universe, but I like to have one or two open helmets when the figure options allow, and you get a couple of these types of head in the package

Still a bit of a bend in a couple of the laser rifles...oh well...
The rules call for them to deploy in sections of 20 models (!), so they are sold in packs of 20.  This submission is a single pack, and with Forge World the quality of the casting is hit and miss, but fortunately more "hit" than "miss" in this case (I only had to straighten about five of the rifles under hot water).  There is one officer figure (with a sidearm and a sword), a figure with a comms-set on his back pack, and a fellow mounting a "vexilla".

Volley fire in the grim darkness of the far future...

There are a number of small little wargear blips and special rules for the Solar Auxilia, designed to incent the player to keep these units in large line formation blocks, firing away with their laser rifles.  It's sort of nice that they tried, but a "super charged" lasgun is still really just a lasgun and I don't see that these would be effective in any serious way on the table top.  A Solar Auxilia army will depend on vehicles to achieve anything, and in this way it is identical to 40k Imperial Guard force.

The fellow on the front right is reloading his rifle
The Imperial Army/Imperial Guard of Warhammer 40k is a long time favourite collection of mine in this hobby going back to the Rogue Trader days.  As I worked on my Legion project, I was waiting and watching to see when the "army" might appear in Forge World's Horus Heresy efforts. I have to say I was quite excited as soon as I saw these - a total dork about it, in fact. 

I love the bonkers back packs on these figures
The designer, Edgar Skomorowski, hit these out of the park in my opinion.  They seem part Victorian Sci-Fi, part Dr. Who, part Captain Nemo shock troop, and of course part Imperial Guardsman, all in the right balance.  They are armoured and impressive, but still appear slightly awkward.  They are futuristic and baroque. The laser rifles have a flintlock-style cut to the stocks.  The backpacks have some manner of bonkers pulley/bellows/system.  I love these figures!

Another shot of the can sort of make out the pulley/bellows thing on the back - ridiculous - I love it!

Example of a single trooper - you can hopefully see the grenade dangling from his left hip.  The uniform is a sort of space suit with padded/quilted sections, and armour plates hanging over
You can kind of see the elegant, baroque curves on the laser weapon - very lovely
The backpack has some manner of pulley-bellows contraption - I love the look of it.  Respirator maybe? Who knows...
There is a lot of excellent detail on these figures, and only a few skulls to boot! They are a lot of fun to paint.  Assembly was not quite so easy, even with only two "parts" - the body and the weapon - it was not always easy to get a clear match at the "cuffs", so there are a few figures where hoses mysteriously stop etc. because I made a mistake or was over-enthusiastic while trimming.  But those mistakes mostly hide in the mass of the 20-man section.
"Hey, those Space Marine guys can't be that tough, right?"
In the actual game these figures will be torn to pieces in no time at all, particularly if they go up against Marines.  But I don't worry much about that. I am very much enjoying painting these and I am planning to have a chunk of them ready to play in some games set during the Horus Heresy.  More have been primed, so I hope to see quite a few more finished during Curt's painting Challenge.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ardennes '44 Battle Report - the Crossroads

Last Thursday I had a yen to play a winter game. Having just finished scratchbuilding some schurzen for my Classic Armor Diecast Pzkpfw. IV's, I wanted to get them on the table - even though the tactical numbering and weathering hasn't been done yet :-(  Gamer's ADD - but stay tuned for a post on those in the near future.

Anyway, I laid out some Ardennes-y looking terrain for the Germans and Americans to fight over. The scenario we used was one from Bolt Action but we used our house rules, "Blitzkrieg!" for the game.

The objective of the scenario was to be the side holding the buildings with no enemy contesting. (The Germans were the attacking side, trying to punch through and take a vital crossroads. The Americans got an infantry squad and a bazooka starting in the village.) As this is a forested area, I ruled that any off-road movement by vehicles was restricted to d6" and only after passing a Training check. Of course, in the real Battle of the Bulge any traffic was restricted to roads for this reason.

American bazooka team. The remaining American relief force consisted of two squads of paratroopers, three Sherman tanks and a couple of bazooka teams. Half of them started on the table edge. The rest of the Americans came on as reserves, starting on turn 2. I ruled that in order to come on, the unit must pass a Training check.

The Germans got three Waffen-SS panzergrenadier sections each in a Sdkfz. 251 halftrack, a command section and Panzerschreck team in a Sdkfz. 250, and three Pzkpfw. IV(h) tanks. Two of the infantry sections started the first turn on the table, dismounted - seen above in the trees at top right and centre right.

It took awhile for the Germans to come on table as they were finding it difficult to pass their Training checks. Probably something like this going on off table:

The American Shermans had no such issues and one tank rolled on from each US entry point.

A squad of paratroopers moved up to the right of the road, while a .30 cal. team hopped into the foxholes to the left.

Farther left, more paras move up.

Pzkpfw. IV(h) moves up, followed by a Sdkfz. 251.

Bazooka teams wait in ambush. Our ruleset allows "overwatch" fire - basically you forego shooting in your own turn and place a marker where you're aiming. If in its next turn, a target moves within range of the marker, you can take your shot at that point.

Bazookas have the roads locked down...

German infantry shoot up the American bazooka team in the ruined house while the "IV" rolls forward and knocks out the Sherman.

Next turn, German machineguns turn on the foxhole.

Over in the centre, SS infantry take the house ruin while the Sherman gets immobilized. The game ended in a draw, with Germans at the crossroads but the Americans contesting their possession of the objective. The Shermans were all "pillboxed" with their tracks knocked off or engines damaged, but there were still paratroopers about to cause the Germans problems in consolidating.

The Americans' die rolling luck was appalling - I think Mike in particular suffered from "1-itis" with his tanks. A fun game though and I like the aesthetic of the winter terrain. I think that in Spring I may do some work on the winter ground cloth - my ubiquitous Martha Stewart bedsheet. I reckon it could benefit from a light random spray with brown or green-yellow rattlecan - just to give a bit of interest and texture. Of course it's always more fun to play winter-themed games when it's nice and hot outside... right now there's plenty of winter terrain around - just in 1:1 scale :-(

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Eighth Painting Challenge Entry - Reaver Class Titan from Armorcast

Reaver Class Battle Titan from Armorcast
So far my entries to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge have been mostly 20mm figures, and it has been a lot of fun.  But I mentioned at the tag end of my last entry that I was getting an itch to switch over to some sci-fi. Well I decided to do so in a big way (literally) with this entry.  This is a Reaver class battle titan from, a giant fighting machine from Games Worskhop's Warhammer 40k setting. The model, from Armorcast, is 13 and a half inches tall, from the toes to the top of the missile launcher on the top carapace. It's a big sucker!

Crew would be inside the "head"
Regular visitors to the blog will have perhaps noted references here and there to Reaver Titans.  Well, we weren't kidding!

Heavy laser cannon of some sort on the left arm
In Warhammer 40k setting there is always a bigger gun. No part of the setting embodies this more than the Titans. Massive machines, armed with very heavy and powerful armaments. Organized in pseudo-monastic formations, each pledged to a particular "Forge World" (i.e. planet or system given over completely to the manufacturing of arms and munitions), Titans are the "killer app" of the Warhammer 40k universe.  Whoever or whatever human faction or alien race is resisting the Imperium in any given conflict is unlikely to last long against whole detachments of machines like this.

View from the top
Titans look like killer robots, but are in fact vehicles, walkers with crews - a commander ("Princeps"), gunners and tech-types ("Moderatii") and a few unpleasant/unfortunate former humans who are essentially just installed directly into the machine ("Servitors" - yuck).  This Titan, a Reaver class, is a very large fighting machine, but is actually classified as a "medium" class (!) battle titan.

These figures are just to show the size, but they are actual Titan Crew figures from GW's Rogue Trader period; I painted them years ago - now they have an actual Titan to crew!
The Titans first came to the GW gaming table in 1988 as part of a game called "Adeptus Titanicus".   The game featured large walking machines battling each other on the table in 1/300 or 6mm scale/size.  Fun! The first model Titans were about three inches tall.  In time, this game expanded - infantry were added, tanks were added, and more Titans, for the humans and the aliens, were added to the figure line.  The game evolved and went through many name changes, but would be known by most GW players as "Epic".  Epic was a great game, and because GW today is singularly incapable of supporting anything people enjoy, Epic now sits, to borrow a phrase from Curt, "mouldering in GW's IP graveyard." For a relatively recent example of an Epic game featuring a number of Titans on the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts table, see here.

An example of the "tech guys" who would help maintain the Titan from the Adeptus Mechanicus; the figure on the right is a Rogue Trader vintage, but I'm not certain of the origin of the one on the left. UPDATE: that is a Rogue Trader era Servitor - "Bob Olley", vintage 1989 - thanks Dave for the info
So how did the 1/300 combat walkers make it to the 25mm/28mm gaming tables? Well, there was a period (in the 90s, I think) when GW had issued/sold a license to a company called Armorcast to make 40k models.  I was just getting into gaming at this time, and I can remember cruising their web site looking at all of these models I was sure I would never own. Armorcast had set out to make 28mm-scale versions of the super-heavy vehicles
which had started to appear in GW's "Epic" game.  Included among these were models of the Titans.  

"Before" - this the model after it arrived via EBay
So this model is very old - perhaps as much as 20 years old.  I can't recall how long ago the Armorcast license expired, but GW has subsequently issued many, many new models, including many new version of models that were once sold by Armorcast (such as the Baneblade - a really large tank).  It also offers models of some of the Titans through Forge World, although those models are very, very expensive and beyond my skill and patience to properly assemble or paint.

A WIP shot of the torso and legs receiving base colour coats
So why, all these years later, track one down and paint one up now? Why, it's all Dallas' fault, of course. 

Well, more than that obviously.  First of all, I really have a soft spot for the old GW "Rogue Trader" era and I actively collect and paint figures from that period.  But a second jolt has more to do with a decision last year to dive into collecting figures for the Horus Heresy in 28mm - see here for more on that.

Basic colours on the head
It was Dallas who suggested that, if we really wanted to go nuts with Horus Heresy stuff in 28mm, we would get Titans for a "really, really big game".  I thought he was kidding - maybe he was at first - but he wasn't!  He tracked down a model on E-bay.  I was shocked - while Dallas is prone to provocational collection escalation, this was a new level entirely! I couldn't let that stand! Dallas connected me with the same seller.  So before we knew it, we had Armorcast titans to paint up!

More WIP - one of the weapon/arms and the shoulder carapace plates

But as happens so often with hobby projects, it took a while to get it under the paint brush. I haven't painted any Legion figures in a while, mostly completing a long run of WW2 stuff, and the Titan was waiting and waiting. A few weeks ago Dallas finished off his Stompa (it is awesome) and he seemed likely to jump from there to painting up his Titan - hinting as much in his blog post.  I suddenly felt the race was on.  Having completed a long run of 20mm stuff during Curt's Challenge, it was time to hit sci-fi again, and so I painted this model.

Last week - basic colours and highlighting applied, waiting for decals, weathering and other finishing touches
The colour scheme, and markings, are for a formation known as "Legio Mortis". This Titan unit sided with the Warmaster Horus and his rebellion against the Imperium, so this machine is one of the bad guys.  The Titan itself is named "Ferrum Mori".  I haven't the slightest idea if those words actually mean anything, but this was apparently the name of a Titan among the forces sent down to finish off loyalist troops in Horus' first action in his rebellion - the purging of his own forces on a world called Istvaan. I thought this name would make as much sense as anything else I might try.

Another view of the laser weapon on the left "arm" - sadly this weapon has just the slightest bend in the casting...
Assembly of this model is interesting.  The model is cast in a very, very solid resin, and the components are bolted together.  This allows different parts to be swapped out. This is the only war gaming model I have which needs a ratchet :) I tried to use some rare earth magnets, but it was far too complicated and I didn't want to risk damaging the model while doing modifications, so I stuck with the original tried-and-true bolts.

No magnets on this literally bolt it together!
You can see the bolt in the shoulder holding the weapon in place; unscrew the bolt, and you can switch the weapon
The model came with three arm options - two different gun mounts (I believe one would be classes as a "Vulcan Mega-Bolter" and the other as a "Turbo Laser Destructor") and a giant powered fist, useful for smashing opposing Titans, whole city blocks, or whatever other multi-story obstructions might be encountered in the grim darkness of the far future.  This is absurd, of course, but I love it and it adds to the enjoyment.  After all, if there is a Titan on each side, well, they just have to fight it each other in close action.  Anything less would be a travesty!

The "power fist" - an arm specifically designed to allow this Titan to tear apart other Titans it encounters on the battlefield; the decal is from the Imperial Knight kit, but I freehand painted the name and banner - I'm surprised at how well it turned out
The decals are mostly spare ones from GW's Imperial Knight model kit, with some assorted ones coming from spare model aircraft kits. The "Eye of Horus" decals are from the Forge World transfer sheets. I tried to give the machine a little wear, but in the end I did not weather it too much.  For all of the combat action these things would see, there are casts of hundreds of mechanics who (literally) worship the thing and bring it back to snuff after every single battle. With that in mind, I mostly tried to scuff up the feet a bit, chipped the power first a little bit, and left it at that.

Another view of the "power fist"
Credible intelligence reports indicate Dallas is already painting his Titan - it will represent one of the Loyalist Titan orders from the Horus Heresy.  While details are still fuzzy, we do aim to have a "rather large" 40k game sometime where we can put these bonkers things on to a gaming table for a scrap set in the Horus Heresy - that will be quite a day!

I purchased a spare banner from a GW Imperial Knight kit to add some flair;  drawings in the books show much larger banners, but those are hard to do and make this even harder to put on a table - or even a shelf - I like how this turned out

In terms of using this in a "skirmish" game, well, other than perhaps an immobilised objective of sorts, it has little or no practical application.  There are rules in 40k to put this beast on the table, but the statistics of the armour, void shields and weapons reflect its stature on the battlefield. This thing would blow away entire segments of an enemy force with every turn.  To take just one example, the launcher up on the carapace is called an "apocalypse launcher".  How will your infantry squad do under fire from that? Not a fun game. 

But a fight against another Titan? Well, that will be fun!

Cousins - the smaller model is a Reaver Titan from GW's Epic figure line...
I know Dallas will do an awesome job on his machine, and I look forward to our Horus Heresy "mega-game", whenever that will be. In the interim, I want to try and cook up an Istvaan III scenario where this thing is perhaps damaged and waiting for help, and surviving Loyalists sieze the opportunity to move up and try to take it out.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

More 40K Chaos Renegades - Leman Russ, Artillery Crew, Cavalry

Lately I've been working on some 40K Chaos Renegades using Imperial Gu - sorry, Astra Militarum plastics and resin goodies from Forgeworld. I already had two Leman Russ Demolishers but the opportunity arose to pick up another from Conscript Keegan so I couldn't resist rounding out the troop of three.

It's a standard Russ with the commander swapped for a resin torso from the Forgeworld Renegade Militia set. I did him up in standard Renegade camo.

I really like the GW heavy stubber accessory for their armor kits.

Here's the command vehicle with the rest of the troop.


The vehicles are all pretty heavily weathered but I reckon that cosmetic maintenance isn't a huge priority when in the service of the Chaos gods...

Next up are some better pics of the Renegade cavalry. These guys use GW Empire horses. The riders are Renegade Militia torsos on legs from WHFB Chaos Marauder cavalry, sprinkled with GW Astra whatever bits and Victoria Lamb arms and explosive lances.

Standard Bearer.

"Musician" with Voxcaster unit.

 Trooper. I have four more troopers primed to bring the troop up to 10 models.

Last but certainly not least, I finished three Renegade Militia artillery crewmen. They're manning the HLBS British 8" Howitzer I got for Christmas. I think the look of this weapon suits the 40K universe to a tee.

Great poses on the figures - I love the guy dragging the ammo crate and the gun commander with his bonkers monoculars.
Gorgeous figures as always from the lads in Nottingham. The pieces went together quite nicely and the detail on the gas hoods is just so cool.
The equipment on these guys also matches the rest of the Renegade Militia. Nice to have that consistency when fielding them all together.
Now back to work on the Reaver Titan ;-)