Monday, January 31, 2011

Some tweaks for the PDF

I have been reading the book "Titanicus" by Dan Abnett - a hugely awesome read that fellow conscript Curt tipped me off to, and I recommend it to everyone - and the book has inspired me to continue fiddling with my Imperial Guardsmen.

A bit of was almost six years ago that I was able to acquire three boxes of old, Rogue Trader era plastic Imperial Guardsmen. I just love these figures - I still remember getting my first box of them from Campaign Outfitters on Corydon Avenue! My painting skills were not great then, but I would paint those guys, then re-paint them, then re-paint them...on and on. GW has since re-done the Imperial Guardsmen several times, and the design has moved very far from these old original plastics.

When I found these treasures on Ebay, it was cool (for a nerd like me, I mean) at so many levels. I assembled a "force" that could work for Rogue Trader games, or be used as troops in the current version of 40k. In the 40k fluff, the Imperial Guard stuff is focused on the troops raised and sent to warzones (Cadians, Vahllans, the god-awful Catachans etc.), but there is also some small mentions of "PDF" regiments, i.e. ones on hand to protect their own world.

To me, the Rogue Trader guys fit in this niche - PDF troops for Cadia. The size escalation of the GW figures actually helps this, as the RT-era figs look like lean, second line troops compared to the bulky lads of the first-line regiments. To help the flavour even more, I tried to blend the look a bit, using bits services to acquire the "current" lasguns, canteens and other bits from current Cadian plastics for these guys. Painting-wise, I tried to copy the RT-era markings (stripe on the helmet, symbol on the side, company ID on the shoulder and so on).

While they "work" for current 40k, I also wanted them to "work" for Rogue Trader - back before they had Chimeras, Leman Russ tanks and other stuff. So I did a Rhino for them - after all, the Rhino was just a basic, STC mainline APC for Imperial factions back in the RT-day, before evolving into the Space Marines' sacred door-stop. To match the "flavour" of the PDF guys (i.e. "new" equipment but old guys), I painted a new Rhino model instead of an old one (probably a miss there, but I have trouble finding the old Rhinos on Ebay).

So - the sum of this rambling was that on the weekend I upgraded the decals on the "PDF" Rhino (for RT games) and also finished some extra command guys to give another command group (so they can work for "current" games). I also did a mortar team (which, on reflection, I should have converted into a "mole mortar", but anyway :). Here are a few pictures:

Up next for the PDF will be a Predator or two (which used to be a generic Imperial faction light tank), a couple more Rhinos, a Dreadnought (once available to all Imperial factions, I think) and possibly some converted robots.

I might hunt for some old Rhinos on Ebay, and if you see any old Predators, flip me a link!! I am also hoping that for a "fun" game one day we can bodge up a "PDF Codex" and have a game in the current rules.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Unit Done: 95th Rifles

I've been beavering away getting some stuff ready for a Napoleonic game we're having in Saskatoon at John's new place tomorrow. This one is just off the workbench. The 95th Rifles... Yeah, some Conscripts may smirk at this as they well know my acerbic opinion towards British Napoleonic gamers that just have to have a unit of the 95th before all others. Well, colour me green and call me Obadiah Hakeswill but I've succumbed and done one up as well. (I try to rationalize this in that at least I've painted some regular line battalions so I should be able to treat myself to fielding an elite unit from time to time. Yeah, I know, but the 95th? It's sooo... Sean Bean.)

Anyway, here are a few shots of the finished product. I wanted to do something a little different than a typical 'skirmishing vignette' and so have instead done the Rifles quickly assembling into line, with officers and NCOs bawling and shouting at the men to form up.  The trick was that the models are from two ranges with slightly different scales. It took a bit of MacGyvering to sort it all out but I think they came out alright. Anyway, if you want a more detailed 'expose' feel free to check out my blog post here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some more Valkyrie Spam finished

Last night I finished the third Valkyrie model for my blue-themed Imperial Guard forces. The storm trooper platoon will now be able to zip around the battlefield in style - or at least look great going down in flames.

I painted the Imperial Eagle motif straight on to this one, and I'm happy with how it turned out. Was much less hassle than fiddling with those complex decals. I weathered this one up with a sponge and used the pigment powder for exhaust. It doesn't look quite as worn as the other two vehicles, but still looks like it has been roughed up a fair bit.

Weapon-wise, the squadron has two ships equipped with multi-lasers and rocket pods, and a single ship with a lascannon and hellstrike missiles. I hope to use these to either carry around my Imperial Guard storm troopers, or just to fly a bit of air cover for for the guard armoured column. Similar to all of the other blue-painted vehicles I have, they can fit with either the regular guardsmen, Preatorians, or Roge-Trader-era PDF-style Guardsmen from my collection.

I hope for these to see their first action when we play a 40k Apocalypse game sometime this spring.

I am pleased to have now finished all of the Valkyries acquired from Maelstrom!

I've become quite used to assembling these models, but right to the end I have struggled with the canopies and the pilots. It seems no matter what I do to fiddle with the pilot models/cockpit, the canopies don't fit well. These blue ones are no exception, but thankfully it doesn't really show up from two feet away. I just don't know what I did wrong - I shaved down arms, lowered heads, removed skull-shoulder pads etc. and still struggled to fit the canopies over the pilot. In the end I think it comes down to the fact that I will never be a great model-builder. At any rate, it won't be a problem for a while, as I don't expect to build another Valkyrie anytime soon...other new and ongoing insane projects await!

Monday, January 24, 2011

♪♫Napoléon avait 500 soldats♫♪

When I was a boyscout, among the marching songs we used to sing was Napoléon avait 500 soldats. You can hear it here (wait a few seconds for the song to start. Then take the time to click on Fanchon, composed by Lasalle after the battle of Marengo, or any of the other songs.) Anyway, that song has now become an ear worm as I start a new insane project: Project Pratzen.
In the British military history tradition, Waterloo appears as the ultimate Napoleonic battle. But in the French tradition, Austerlitz peaks among them all. In Paris, there is a train station named after it. During the "Bataille des trois empereurs", the Pratzen Plateau was defended by the Russians and Curt suggested that I build my army to recreate the action fought over there.

This is Ivan, the first painted Russian figurine, from the Smolensk Regiment (indicated by the pink cuffs and collar). Let's see what will be coming next:

- 6x Infantry Battalions w/ 24 figurines each.
- 1x Jaeger Battalion w/ 12 figurines.
- 4 command stands w/ 2, 2, 3, 4 figurines.
Total: 167 figurines

2x Horse Artillery Battery w/ 6 stands @ 4 figurines & 1 gun each
Total: 24 figurines & 12 guns

2x Hussar Regiment (large) w/ 32 cavalrymen each
1x Cuirassier Regiment (large) w/ 32 cavalrymen
3x Dragoon Regiment (large) w/ 32 cavalrymen each
Total: 192 figurines (384 infantry equivalent!!!)

As the song suggest, there is something like "500 soldats" in this project. The cavalry appears as a daunting task. Even in "challenge gear" it would take me 6 months. I will have to segment Project Pratzen into smaller ones. Anyway, I will start with the infantry then I will take a break with another project.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blue Valkyrie re-load

Last week I tried to use some really cool decals from Forge World on my Valkyrie, and kind of botched the job a bit. I wanted to try again, so I put together my last two Valkyries from the "Maelstrom pile", and this weekend finished painting the first new one.

When decal-time came, I thought a better way to avoid the headaches would be to attempt to paint the imperial eagle design right on myself. If it sucked, I could just paint over, so I went for it.

I used GW Shadow Grey first to set the outlines of the design. When that was dry, I did a layer of GW Kommando Khaki, and finally a layer of white paint for the "top".

The design did not turn out too badly - still far from perfect on the wings, but you get an idea of what it is supposed to be. The Imperial Eagle design is actually kind of tricky once you are painting it at that size, but it was close enough for me, and much less of a hassle than those intricate decals.

After painting the design I put on decals for the other markings (vehicle numbers, kill markings, pilot names etc), and weathered the sucker. Learning from a really helpful Flames of War You-Tube demo that Kevin H was kind enough to forward to me, I used a chunk of sponge to do a lot of weathering. I loved the effect - probably too much. Seems like any time I get the hang of something new, I overuse it, so this poor Valkyrie really looks like it has seen some tough service.

I used pigment powder around the exhaust, cannon barrel and engine intakes. Again, probably too much - but it's all fun. I'm not even sure a multi-laser would even scuff up the nearby paint, but for the sake of experimenting, I am going to say this one did.

I put a few kill markings on the side, including one in the shape of an Eldar Falcon. So you know this model will be the first one to get "doomed" when they face Dave V's warhost...

The last picture above shows the Valkyrie with the painted design (on the left) beside the Valkyrie with the decals (on the right). I have one more to add to the squadron, so I am hoping the eagle design will be a little easier to paint now that I have tried it once.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Letter from a Plague Marine

Date: 0 556 741 M41 21:34
Subject: Hi Aunt Pusgobbet!
Dear Aunt Pusgobbet,

Mum said that they just installed high-speed at your seniors' complex on Scabiethrax VII. That's great! I thought you might like an email from me with some news, so I'm writing to you about the battle I was just in!

I've been a Plague Marine for awhile now, and it's pretty great, aside from having a runny nose all the time, and the weeping open sores. But you get used to that. It's kind of awesome to not feel pain anymore, either. You know how much it hurts when you get a papercut, or stub your toe? Well I don't. We Plague Marines can't feel a thing. In fact, last week when we were training, Sergeant Oozeblister got run over by our squad Rhino by accident. He wasn't hurt at all! He was just mad that his plasma pistol got kind of messed up and there wasn't time to fix it before the big battle. But that's OK, it turned out he didn't need it anyway.

So like I said, we were in a big battle. It was on Toxo IV, as usual, and we had to fight Space Marines. I thought I might know some of the guys we had to fight against, being that I used to be a Space Marine too, but I didn't. I had my iPhone with me so I took some pictures during the battle, I thought you might like them.

You can hardly see me in this shot, but I'm behind the Spawn carrying the Icon.
When we got to the battle there was hardly any Space Marines there! Just a few scouts in a crater and some guys on bikes quite a way away. So I gave my iPhone to my buddy in the other squad and he took some pictures of our squad. We had to walk to the battle because our Rhino was still busted from running over Sarge, but it was OK because we got to walk behind the two Chaos Spawn we have in our army. Well, it was good because we had cover, but it was bad too, because of what Chaos Spawn leave behind... especially if we have Mexican food the night before a battle. But the cook says that just makes us more special to Father Nurgle, so that's cool I guess.

Here we are at the start of the battle. You can see the Blight Drone behind us. He likes to call himself the "Bile Cyst of Nurgle" but we call him the "bicyclist" as a joke! He doesn't like that - you should see him get all swollen up and hissy. It's a riot.

Here's those Space Marines on the bikes. They put a lot of miles on in this battle - drive up, get shot at, drive really far away, come back, get shot at... right here is just before they all drove away again... then they all got killed.

It was so awesome being the icon bearer because I got to summon the Plaguebearers! They are really gross, even by Plague Marine standards. Also in this shot you can see the last scout about to get eaten by Spawn.

"Down the hatch!" They regurgitated the Scout later and I think he's going to join our squad! His name is Phil, he's actually a really nice guy.

The Plaguebearers are fighting some Space Marines in this picture. We're in the crater behind the Spawn still. Sorry it's out of focus but this was when the Land Raider was coming and my buddy dropped my iPhone, I think.

After awhile Typhus came along with some Terminators! They were totally awesome. Typhus was really on his game, he blew up a Rhino by himself and killed a whole bunch of Space Marine terminators. He probably would've blown up their Land Raider too if he'd had time, but he had to leave right away again. I guess he had something really important to do, he gets teleported everywhere, must be nicer than having to walk around behind a bunch of Chaos Spawn! But anyway, he was really cool and his Wind of Chaos smells really, really bad. And he has a lot of flies around him all the time. A LOT of flies.

I know you don't see many Space Marines in these pictures but I can tell you there were quite a few in the battle, it's just that a lot of them got there late. Like I said, there was even a Land Raider with a bunch of terminators and a chaplain, but they were kinda far away and we weren't in a big hurry to get up close and personal with them, if you know what I mean! But we ended up right near them and we shot at them a lot with our bolters but nothing much happened. Just when we thought we might be in BIG trouble Typhus and the terminator squad came along and totally owned them, it was so cool!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the photos. I have to go, Sergeant Oozeblister is telling me my armour isn't rusty enough so I have to go put some salt water on it.

Love from your nephew,

Plague Marine Blisterscab

So, Conscript Mike F. brought over his Space Marines for a battle against my tuned-up Nurgle Chaos Space Marine army. It was a really fun game (for the disciples of Nurgle) but I think a frustrating one for Mike as his Reserve dice did not cooperate with his plan... having a Land Raider full of Terminators and a tooled-up Chaplain is great, but not if they don't arrive until turn 4... The "null deployment" tactic can work great if you have infiltrators and a way to increase the chance the reserves will all arrive at once, but for non-Eldar it's a bit of a crapshoot. Anyhow, an enjoyable evening's entertainment and Mike, your army looks great!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ludus Gladiatorius

Last Thursday, Conscript Dave V. brought out a new game for us to play, "Ludus Gladiatorius" from EM-4.  This is the gladiator combat game with pre-painted metal 28mm gladiators and special combat dice.

The game uses a hex-based movement system so we rolled out my "pit fighter" arena.  I made it several years ago from a piece of hex mat glued to a square of MDF, bordered by a rough-hewn balsa wall with a stone "gate".  I think it adds a "certain something" to the "provincial" gladiator games we play - that is, when we're not playing in Conscript Brian's amazing Colosseum arena.  I think we'll have to create a blog post dedicated to that awesome piece of terrain sometime!

The EM-4 game was a lot of fun.  Basically, gladiators have a number of special attacks and defences and hit points which differ by gladiator type.  Some also move faster than others.  Combat is resolved by opposed die rolls, throwing special dice with "sword" or "shield" symbols.  The different gladiators throw different combinations of dice, which are added to or modified by special attacks or defences.  The objective for the attacking gladiator is to score more "swords" than the defender scores "shields" - the defender takes the difference as a number of hit points removed.  Once your gladiator is down to zero hit points, the match is lost and it's time to appeal to the crowd!

The game was pretty fast moving and was quite fun to play.  The only modification I might suggest to the rules would be something to reflect attacks from different facings.  As it is, it doesn't matter whether you attack an opponent from straight ahead or from behind - the same number of defence dice are rolled.  It might be interesting to try a variation where attacks from an advantageous spot roll a bonus die, or subtract a defence die.

In any case, I'd highly recommend the game, the miniatures were nicely painted and the components were good quality, and the price point (12GBP or so) is very attractive.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dollar Store Mordor Catapult

Several years ago I happened to be checking out the toys at the Dollar Store and came across a set of plastic knights which included a catapult. I thought this had potential as a Mordor Catapult to add to my companies of orcs and warg riders. At only $1, it was no great loss if it didn't work out. The Games Workshop version comes with a troll and 3 crew, but at a price tag of around $70, I was not too eager to part with my cash. The knights were passed along to a colleague for his son to play with, and the catapult ended up in the projects box where it sat until now. At Christmas, I received a GW Gondor Battle Cry Trebuchet as well as some 1/72 scale siege equipment by a Russian model company called Zvezda. This inspired me to work on some heavy artillery for my Lord of the Rings armies. Taking a break from painting my WW2 Canadians, the Mordor catapult was the first project out of the starting gate.

The Dollar Store catapult is seen above. It could actually launch some small projectiles that come with the set, but I wasn't planning to do that on the gaming table. It had spoked wheels similar to the ones on 19th Century fortress artillery mounted on iron carriages, and a cheesy looking spring and release mechanism that didn't fit with my picture of a Mordor siege weapon. The spring and release mechanism were cut away and the wheels were filled in with epoxy putty to make them solid.

Bits cut from a coffee stir stick were added to the wheels to mimic the wheels on the GW catapult.

A winching mechanism was fashioned from some bits of balsa wood, a short length of wooden dowel, some 2 cm long pieces of bamboo barbecue skewer and part of a cheap costume jewelry chain that my wife was going to throw away.

After initially spraying the catapult with flat black primer, the whole thing was painted dark brown, followed by dry brushing a light tan on to highlight the wood grain in the casting. Metal parts were painted black and then dry brushed with gun metal.

As a final touch, the catapult was painted with a liberal wash of 'Devlan Mud', a favourite medium of many of the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts for shading and weathering. A couple of evenings work and my $1 purchase looks as good as the more expensive GW version. I managed to find a Cave Troll chess piece for $2 on eBay that will be painted up as one of the crew, along with a few orc warriors that will be converted to artillerymen.

Nurgle Tune-up

Inspired by Conscript Greg's efforts on tuning up his Imperial Guard, last weekend I embarked upon a mini-project to repaint some of my Nurgle Chaos Space Marines.  Most of these models have been in service for a long time - Conscript Sean will recall the "Big Score" at the PrairieCon auction almost 10 years ago where I obtained many of these models packed into a box and a yogourt container (!) for a sum of money so ridiculously low that you might not believe it.  But that was not atypical for me and Sean ;-)

The army started out as a Chaos Undivided force in Black Legion colours - black armour with gold trim.  Soon some more Plague Marines joined the crew and most of the plastic CSM were sold off when I chose to go with a Nurgle theme for the entire army.  I diligently painted the models in a bright green scheme but was never quite happy with how they turned out - they seemed a bit too "clean" for Nurgle lads.  So I had this bright idea to redo the colours in a more putrescent theme - baby sh!t brown - that better suits the corrupted, putrid look we all adore in the children of our favourite Chaos god...

Forge World Plague Ogryn, "Terry".
Metal CSM Dreadnought with some greenstuff work.
Squad of Plague Marines.  The banner is from the Fantasy Zombie boxed set, held by a converted OOP Marine.
Squad of Plague Marines.  The "magix mix" is Catachan Green highlighted with a mix of Graveyard Earth and Camo Green.
More Plague Marines.
Predator 525.  This is an original survivor of the Black Legion warband.  I always thought that the Squat victim pinned to the front was a nice touch so I left it.  The Squat model was a gift from Conscript Curt back in the day - thanks mang!
Rear view of the Predator.  Rusty razor wire came from Antenocitu's Workshop, I love the effect.
Chaos Lord re-purposed to the worship of Nurgle!
Blight Drone - Bilecyst (bicyclist?) of Nurgle.  A Christmas present from my dear wife!  Easy to assemble and painted up nicely - I love this model.
Big Ty.  I think his proudest moment was at an event at the local GW where he was killed by a 10-year-old, who then loudly proclaimed "No Wind of Chaos for you!!"  A perennial underachiever but I love the model.
Frick and Frack, Chaos Spawn.  These were a quick paintjob this weekend.
Chaos Raptors, again repainted in Nurgle colours.  I have another squad unpainted, but those are the newer models with cooler jump packs.  I'm thinking of replacing these old winged packs with aftermarket resin items to match better with the new style packs.
Chaos Terminator Squad.  I love these old models and they're getting hard to find, especially the Reaper autocannon model.  Good to have in the army.
Rhino 4 - another original Black Legion vehicle, now with added rust and razor wire!
Rhino 5, more of the same disgusting mess.
Before and after shots - subtle colour change but much more to my liking now.
More obvious on the vehicles!
Family portrait - everybody say "Contagion!"