Wednesday, July 27, 2011

15mm sci-fi update & "Control Battalion"

I've managed to inch out a bit more progress on the 15mm sci-fi front. The group shot above shows a mechanized infantry platoon with a couple of tanks for support. The infantry are the "Federal Infantry" from Khurasan, and the vehicles are from Old Crow - "Claymore" APCs and two "Sabre" tanks.

The Old Crow vehicles are outstanding - you get a number of different options for turret styles and weapons. I did most of the vehicles with an auto-cannon style weapon in the turret, and one with a low-pressure cannon style weapon.

The bases are the good-ol' all purpose bases from Battlefront.

The photo above shows the autocannon armament close up. I figured each mobile platoon would have one alternate weapon of some sort to provide more varied fire support for the infantry.

You can also get a "com-cent" turret for the APCs - I painted one up for the commander's APC. This can represent a forward observer or forward air controller in Future War Commander. I still have another auto-cannon turret for the command APC to provide the option for more weapons instead.

In terms of command, my stands are more modest. I put white shoulder plates on the middle-rank officers and a white helmet and shoulder plates for the senior officer. These will serve as command bases in Future War Commander.

To supplement the "Federal Infantry", I am also painting some of Khurasan's awesome "Control Battalion" figures, to serve as heavy infantry. I have only finished four bases and a command base & support drone so far, but here are some pictures.

The "Control Battalion" are billed as sinister, likely altered infantry. Khurasan calls them "Riflethings". I love these figures. They look just a little off - you wonder what is concealed under the oversize face plates.

The "Control Battalion" brings to mind that old SNL commercial for "Happy Fun Ball". In the commercial, it looks like a very basic bouncing ball, but then a steady stream of more and more ominous disclaimers makes it clear the ball is not actually "Happy" or "Fun".

I get that same vibe from the Control Battalion. They look a bit ominous...I can just imagine the disclaimers around the deployment of these troops - "Do Not Taunt Control Battalion"...I would love to see these models in 25mm.

The drone model is billed as a heavy weapons platform. I may use it as a command figure (monitoring the special control troops), or another type of FO/FAC type model.

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Swordwind Tanks


I recently completed a pair of resin Eldar Hornet light tanks, from Forge World.

The main upper hull (cockpit, wings and tail) is all one piece; very nice. However, the models had lots of little surface imperfections that had to be filled or carved off and then sanded. The kit comes with a pair of resin pulse lasers (incorrectly described in the kit instructions as bright lances - the kit also has a plastic sprue containing such a bright lance). The pulse lasers looked like wet noodles. I replaced two of them with plastic parts from my spares box and mounted them on the right hand weapon mounts; I added plastic scatter lasers on the left weapon mounts.


The resin pilot figure is very nice, including an interesting helmet; it is a much better fig than the one provided with the Nightwing fighter.


Airbrushed with Testors ModelMaster Acryl paints. Final details with tube oils and Citadel washes.

I thought at first that the hull sides were too dark, but now I think that the contrast between highlight and shadow turned out better than on my other Eldar tanks.


The Hornets have replaced the Vyper jetbikes in my Swordwind tournament army for next month's Astronomi-con Vancouver 2011 40K tournament. The skimmers have already seen action against Duncan's Thousand Sons. (Thanks again for the fun game, Duncan!)

The move from AV 10 to AV 11 is huge; whole classes of basic infantry weapons (bolters, splinter rifles, shootas, shuriken catapults, etc.) can no longer damage this light gunship. The other rules for it (like Scout, closed top and Star Engines) really seal the deal. The only downside is the cost of the heavier weapons, such as the pulse lasers.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Astronomi-con Winnipeg, 2011

During the weekend of April 30th-May 1st I attended Astronomi-con Winnipeg 2011, the 11th time AstroPeg has been held, at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

I already posted to the blog an army showcase and an outline of the army I played, my Eldar Swordwind. What follows are my long-delayed batreps.

Game One: Bug Hunt

To start off the weekend, my first opponent was DaveS and his themed Nurgle force:
- Summoned Greater Daemon
- Winged Nurgle Daemon Prince w/ Doombolt
- 8 Plague Marines riding in a Rhino
- 8 Plague Marines riding in a Land Raider
- Two Dreadnoughts (one w/ TL AC, one w/ TL LC)
- Vindicator
- Blight Drone

DaveS and I have a long-standing gentleman's rivalry. It started several years ago with a close fought draw at the first Astronomi-con Toronto I attended, and has been fueled by events such as my Fire Dragons once performing a drive-by melta-gunning of a Baneblade, denying DaveS its KPs. This time, I knew I was in for an exciting game.

The scenario was Victory Points, plus extra victory points for objectives. Four areas on the table had control panels that worked on a roll of 5+ on a D6, revealng broken specimen tubes and Genestealers(!), or sealed tubes that were objectives worth, IIRC, 150 VPs (enough for a win).

I lost the initial die roll, so instead of reserving everything I actually set up most of my forces on the south table edge, with Dire Avengers and the Autarch starting dismounted (sacrilege!), in place to try and find objectives.


Dave set up opposite, on the north table edge, with his DP poised to move to a control panel.


The Eldar forces moved generally west and north, keeping out of knife fighting range until the endgame. The Nurgle forces, with their greater resiliency, moved towards the centre of the table, trying to bring the fight to the pointy-eared freaks.

After futilely rolling for a few turns, the Autarch finally activated her control panel, revealing a broken tube and a Genestealer!


She dispatched the Genestealer in close combat, then next turn mounted up in a newly arrived Wave Serpent and moved to the centre of the table to finish off the Vindicator. For their part, the Night Spinner and massed Wave Serpent Scatter Laser fire caused a fair amount of havoc among the Nurgle forces, even managing to wound the Greater Daemon.


Dave's forces had also revealed a Genestealer, which fell quickly under a Daemon's blows. The Chaos forces also shot down my entire Vyper Squadron, which put me at a VP disadvantage. In what turned out to be the final turn of the game (due to random game length) the Fire Dragons managed to destroy the Chaos Land Raider, garnering enough VPs to ensure a tie.

Below, Plague Marines stand in the crater that was once their battle taxi.


It was an interesting challenge. Neither side was able to obtain an objective, but we had to try, due to the amount of VPs available for them. Therefore, some of our units stayed out of the rapidly escalating fight in the centre and western parts of the table.

Result: Draw

Game Two: Tiger Woods

This isn't the first time I have faced off against MikeD's Sisters of Battle. The list he brought consisted of the following:
- Canoness, w/ inferno pistol, eviscerator, jump pack, Cloak of Aspira, Mantle of Oph, Book of St. Lucius
- Canoness, w/ inferno pistol, blessed weapon, jump pack
- 9 x Sisters of Battle, Book of St. Lucius, flamer, hvy flamer, riding in a Rhino
- 9 x Sisters of Battle, Book of St. Lucius, flamer, hvy flamer, riding in a Rhino
- 9 x Sisters of Battle, riding in a Rhino
- 5 x Seraphim, power weapon, plasma pistol, 2 x inferno pistols
- 5 x Seraphim, 2 x hand flamers
- Exorcist missile tank
- Exorcist missile tank

This was to be a Kill Points game, on a table covered in jungle; the only clear areas were the shallow waters of a small river meandering across the table. Also, there were giant tigers (!?) as a third party force, which would be flushed out of hiding by vehicles moving through the jungle. Both armies were heavily mechanized, so "Yay, tigers!"

I went first and set up the Night Spinner in the southeast corner.

Below, Mike's forces can be seen set up across the northern board edge, the two missile tanks in the northwest corner, and the rest across his frontage. Placing both missile tanks there might have been an error; their range was insufficient to reach the Night Spinner, which survived unmloested for the entire game.


Below, the Sisters advance into the jungle under plunging fire from the Night Spinner, which caused a lot of damage to the two Seraphim squads.


The red markers show units webbed by the Night Spinner's webs.


Below, the Eldar Warp Spiders teleported into play near the missile tanks, suppressing the nearest one.


As their reserves made it onto the table, the Eldar made a general advance up the western table edge, keeping away from most of the Sisters of Battle infantry mounted in Rhinos, who advanced mostly to the east and south.

In the photo below, to the southwest can be seen a Wave Serpent immobilized by the heavy foliage. Nearby is a lone Vyper jetbike, the sole survivor of a squadron depleted both by enemy fire and jungle growth.


Below, a Sisters of Battle Rhino aroused a giant tiger. The tigers were dangerous, but could be killed by fire from a single infantry squad. The Rhino was destroyed by fire from the Eldar vehicles.


By the time the game ended, concentrated Eldar firepower had destroyed both Seraphim squads, an Exorcist tank, a Rhino APC, and one of the Sisters' HQs. In return, the Eldar lost the Warp Spiders, plus a Wave Serpent pulled down by a giant tiger.

Result: Eldar Victory

Game Three: Sulfur Flats

KevinN always gives an interesting, tactical game. This time he rolled again with his Imperial Guard:
- Company Command Squad, Power Fist, 2 x Melta Gun, Astropath, Regimental Standard, Bodyguard, riding in a Chimera APC
- 10 x Veterans, Forward Sentries, Sniper Rifle, 2 x Melta Gun, Lascannon, riding in a Chimera APC
- 10 x Veterans, Forward Sentries, 2 x Melta Gun, Lascannon, riding in a Chimera APC
- 10 x Veterans, Plasma Pistol, 3 x Plasma Gun
- 10 x Veterans, Power Fist, 3 x Melta Gun
- Vendetta skimmer w/ Heavy Bolters
- Vendetta skimmer w/ Heavy Bolters
- Vulture Gunship w/ TL Punisher Cannons
- Leman Russ Executioner tank, w/ and sp9onson Plasma Cannons

This was a straight up Victory Points game. The yellow areas of the table were the titular sulfur flats; they gave off a haze that provided a slight cover save.

The Imperial Guard set up first, keeping their Leman Russ, Vendettas and the Vulture off the table in reserve. The Eldar set up a couple of Wave Serpents and the Vypers in the southwest, and placed the Night Spinner in the southeast table corner.


The action picked up as a Vendetta and a Vulture came on from the the west and north, respectively.

Below, some Eldar Dire Avengers crouch in the wreckage of their destroyed skimmer. The Autarch can be seen starting a run for the Vendetta, which she destroyed with a lucky shot from her fusion gun.


The Autarch managed to survive the return fire from the Imperial Guard dismounted infantry. The surviving Dire Avengers reduced the IG squad numbers with close range fire, and the Autarch subsequently finished off the squad in hand to hand combat.

Long range return fire killed the rest of the Dire Avengers, despite their going to ground; below, the last survivor rolled snake-eyes...


The Vulture gunship came onto the table in a central position. A pair of Eldar Wave Serpents reserved onto the table to the east, laying fire into the sides and rear of the gunship.


As time wound down, despite the loss of a pair of Wave Serpents and their associated infantry, the Eldar forces had just enough VPs for a win. However, the Vypers had no substantial LOS blocking cover; despite moving flat out, they were shot out of the air by long range IG fire.

Result: Draw

Game Four: Cold Cache

JimB forwent his usual Dark Eldar and brought from Ontario a Red Scorpion Space Marine army:
- Commander Iron Halo, Blade of Vord, Teleport Homer, MC Storm Bolter
- 10 x Tactical Marines, Melta Gun, Narthecium, riding in a Rhino APC
- 10 x Tactical Marines, Missile Launcher
- 5 x Tactical Marines, Narthecium, riding in a Razorback IFV w/ TL Lascannons
- 5 x Terminators, Power Weapon, 2 x Power Fist, 2 x Chain Fist, Assault Cannon
- Land Raider Helios

His army had a "crotch-kicking" theme, with several of the models amusingly posed kicking enemy models in the nards.

This was another Victory Points game, with VPs awarded for units in or near the bastion at the end of the game.

The Red Scorpions set up first, with a squad in the bastion itself. The Eldar deployed only the Night Spinner, behind a forest in the southwest corner.


Indirect fire from the Night Spinner caused some consternation to the Scorpion squads seen below.


The remainder of the Eldar forces came on in a phalanx from the centre of the southern table edge.


The Warp Spiders lost a duel to the Red Scorpions assault squad.


In the centre, the Wave Serpents advanced, followed by the Vypers providing covering fire.


The Red Scorpions Terminators moved in front of the bastion to try conclusions. Concentrated fire from the entire Eldar army, including the fusion guns of 8 dismounted Fire Dragons, wiped them out...


As the game was fairly well along, we re-read the scenario goals and special rules. We had both forgotten one of the scenario special rules, limiting ammo for the player not holding the bastion. Quickly rolling a handful of dice for each unit that had fired, we ruled that the Night Spinner and a couple of Wave Serpents had run out of ammo and could no longer fire.

Below can be seen the results of the final Eldar push. The Red Scorpions put up a valiant defense, reducing or destroying several Eldar units, including killing the Autarch and destroying the Fire Dragon's Wave Serpent. However, at the end of the game more VPs worth of Eldar units were in and around the bastion than defenders.


Result: Eldar Victory

Game Five: Intermission

JustinC brought out his well-painted Space Marines:
- Vulkan
- 10 x Tactical Marines, Power Fist, Meltagun, Multi-melta
- 10 x Tactical Marines,Combi-Plasma, Plasmagun, Plasma Cannon
- 10 x Tactical Marines, Power Weapon, Flamer, Multi-Melt, riding in a Rhino APC
- Dreadnought, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor, in a Drop Pod
- 2 x Land Speeders, each with Multi-Melta
- 5 x Assault Marines, Thnunder Hammer, Combat Shield, Flamer, riding in a Rhino
- Land Raider Redeemer, Extra Armour, Multi-Melta

Below is a close up shot of Justin's Land Raider, complete with working interior lighting!


This was a straight up Victory Points game, on a table with very large areas of forest, making it difficult for the Eldar skimmers to maneuver.

The Eldar lost the initial roll and had to go first. I declined to set up anything, in light of the Space Marines' superior firepower. Below, the Space Marine deployment can be seem, looking east along the length of the table.


As the game progressed, the Night Spinner and Fire Dragons came on in the southeast corner. Below, near the camera's POV, some Dire Avengers in their Wave Serpent can be seen in the southwest corner. The Space Marines meanwhile had dropped their Dreadnought just ahead of their advancing battle line.


The Fire Dragons' Wave Serpent had a good fire lane down the road...


...but the Space Marines advanced south without major loss.


As they came on from reserve, some Eldar forces can be seen below sniping at long range.


A Space Marine Landspeeder come onto the board; it was eventually immobilized by the Warp Spiders, who were unable to destroy it, despite firing at it several times.


The turning point came in mid-game; a good round of Space Marine shooting put down a Wave Serpent and a Vyper; the Dire Avengers, despite cover, were wiped out by subsequent fire.


Below, the Space Marine command moves back north and west, to try and take out the Vypers. Concentrated Eldar fire kiled several of the command squad, even putting two wounds on Vulkan. They buttoned back up inside their Land Raider, immune from Eldar fire since the Fire Dragons were on the other side of the table, some 5 feet away.


In the photo below, at the top of the 5th turn, a pair of Wave Serpents, including the Fire Dragons, can be seen moving deep into the Space Marine deployment zone, behind the cover two Space Marine squads were using.


They were at the edge of their range, so I decided NOT to dismount the two squads, hoping to get a better angle on the Space Marines next turn.

There was no guarantee that dismounting the squads would provide enough firepower to wipe out or break a Marine squad, but with the decision to not disembark there was absolutely no chance of success; we rolled for random game length and the game ended at the bottom of the 5th.

(Note to self - if using Random Game Length, always play as if the game will end at the end of the fifth turn.)

Result: Space Marine Win

Game Six: Battle at the Farm

GraemeB rolled out a small but powerful Grey Knights force:
- Lord Kaldor Draigo
- Librarian, Warding Stave, 6 Psychic powers
- 10 x Paladins, Apothecary, Brotherhood Banner, Daemon Hammer, 2 x Nemesis Force Halberd, Incinerator, 3 x Psycannon, Warding Stave
- Paladin
- Paladin w/ Nemesis Force Halberd
- Paladin w/ Daemon Hammer
- Paladin w/ pair of Nemesis Falchions

Only 16 models, but everyone is in Terminator armour, has multiple wounds, Feel No Pain, etc., etc. All Paladins, all the time!

This is in many ways one of the the most complicated of the Astronomi-con scenarios.

I won the roll so I chose to be the Attacker. As Attacker, I could field Infantry units, including units without their dedicated transport. At the end of the game, the side with the most Victory Points worth of troops inside the farm (the northwest table quarter) would win.

Reserves would start appearing only after the game proper started. The "pre-game show" was like the old Kill Team or Combat Patrol, only the Defenders' sentries were active. For each sentry, both sides would roll a die. Winner got to move the sentry the die roll in inches; ties were won by the Defender. The alarm would be raised at the end of a phase if the attacker had models within Initiative distance of a Defender model. Shooting attacks, using jetpacks, etc. would all cause the alarm to be raised. If the Attacker wiped out a Defending unit in close combat, the alarm would also be raised on a 4+.

The scenario rules stated that only single-wound models could be used as sentries; however, Graeme had nothing but multi-wound models! After some discussion, we decided that he could field the big Paladin squad as his 10 sentries. The Eldar deployed the Autarch and the Farseer, each with a squad of Dire Avengers. The Warp Spiders deployed in the northeast table quarter.

Below, the view is from the western table edge, looking east.


The Farser and Autarch advanced slowly through the woods in the centre of the table.


Meanwhile, the Warp Spiders moved relatively silently on foot, along the northern table edge.


The alarm was finally raised when the Warp Spiders jumped into the farm and wounded a Paladin.

In the photo below, the Grey Knights coming on from reserve can just be seen to the north, between the barn and the farmhouse. They are about to put down the Warp Spiders in close combat.


The Grey Knight sentries moved back into unit coherency, two five-man combat squads. They both moved out of the farm area to take on the Eldar HQs and their accompanying Dire Avengers.


This worked out well for the Eldar...

The big Paladin squads advanced south and east to wipe out the Autarch and all the Dire Avengers. However, the Farseer 's Fortune power allowed her to re-roll her invulnerable saves.

Below, she can be seen keeping five Paladins stuck in close combat for, as it turned out, the remainder of the game.


The Eldar reserves moved Flat Out onto the table and proceeded as best they could into the Farm area, not bothering to fire. Unfortunately, the Fire Dragons' Wave Serpent was shot down before they could get close.

Below can be seen the final table setup as the game ended. Eleven Paladins were caught outside the farm area itself, so their VPs would not count.


Result: Draw

Results and Final Thoughts:

I played against six great opponents, all fielding nicely painted armies, on beautiful terrain. As always, games were very close - some decided on a single decision or a die roll. The tournament has sold out, but I was surprised to find out that I was the only Eldar player in attendance.

The full results are available on the Astronomi-con home page. DaveS, my first opponent of the weekend, won Best Overall. I was fortunate to come in second place overall; this granted me a ticket to the 2011 Las Vegas GT, but I had already qualified, so they offered it to Fabio, who came in third.

Thanks again to all my opponents, and to Christian, Keith and Mike for a great gaming weekend.