Thursday, September 28, 2017

Saracen Horse Archers for SAGA

"Saracen" horse archers in 28mm for SAGA. These are 28mm sculpts from the Perry twins.

My efforts to complete a 28mm Saracen warband for "SAGA: Crescent and the Cross" continue.  I had finished the Warlord for the warband back in the late winter, during Curt's most recent Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. Now that the fall season is here, I really want to finish a four-point warband for him to lead into battle.  I started with the spearmen first, as they were relatively easy, and now I have a second "point" to share - eight mounted horse archers.

The Perrys are incredible sculptors, and they knocked it out of the park once again with these Seljuk archers - I love the fluid energy in the poses - you can imagine them riding circles around hapless Crusaders, filling the air with deadly arrows...
These are 28mm metal figures from the Perry brothers' amazing First Crusade range.  They are Seljuk horse archers. When I imagine the "saracen" warriors who confronted the Crusaders, I think of troops just like these, swirling and colourful horse archers boldly riding in daring-yet-evasive formations, loosing deadly arrows at the relatively slow Crusader forces.  I'm pretty pleased to have this group of eight mounted warriors (good for another "point" in SAGA) to add to my small collection of Saracens.

The single LBMS shield I managed is visible on the left of this photo - wish I could have done them for all the shields, but having one really nice one is still a great accent for the unit
I like to paint in a process-driven fashion, but I doubt painting any of the Saracen/Caliphate etc forces will ever allow for much of that, and these colourful figures are a good example.

I have always enjoyed having a lot of broad guidance on what I'm painting, particularly when it comes to historical subjects. This might be from books, or friends, or both. But seeing as the Crusades started over a thousand years ago, there is just not that sort of "certain" historical reference that I can get with WW2 or even Napoleonics or the War of Spanish Succession etc uniforms.  At some point you need to have enough confidence to just...start winging it...within some broad, accepted boundaries of course, but still winging it...there is no "codex" for the forces from a thousand years ago. So that's what I did here, just started picking different colours to see what might work.

Hence the quite diverse colours on these fellows.  It does not seem like there was a "uniform" of any sort for the Turkish horse archers.  The closest thing seems to be an arm band that many of the Islamic warriors wear - but these also seemed to be multi-coloured.  I'm cheating and using them as a unit identifier - they are all yellow on this group, while the other colours are generally all over the place. I don't know if that is correct, but I'm going with it.

And who knows? Maybe they never wore red caps? Or white coats? I don't know. I was guessing here for just about all of this stuff.  But I'm still pleased with the overall effect - they look colourful, swift and brave.

The purple outfit is one of my favourites - when you are dressed the well, you are probable and amazing shot with the bow and arrow!

As with the infantry, I struggled with the shields on these figures.  While LBMS makes amazing shield transfers for these round shields, most of the shields themselves have studs on them which render the transfer process beyond reasonable in terms of hobby complications. That is why you only see one really nice LBMS shield in the bunch, the rest are hand-painted.

The Saracens set off in pursuit of the foolish Crusaders...
I f*****g hate painting shields, and it has been a major stumbling block in the way of my oft-stated-pledges to Curt and Dallas to finally paint some figures from this period.  But to not lose interest, I am compensating by listening to differing inspirational music, ranging from random collections of medieval harp music on I-tunes to the very mystical and excellent Loreena McKennit. And there is always the awesome "Horse Soldier" by Corb Lund - I never get tired of it, and it makes me want to paint a regiment of cavalry every time I hear it!  And besides, once its painted, hey - looks OK to me. The music did the trick here.

The starting warband I have planned for the Saracens will have a total of 25 models.  With these fellows completed, that is 17 painted so far, accounting for the warlord and two "points" of warriors.  The final eight models will be hearthguards, which in the Saracen warband are represented by fearsome Ghulam warriors.  Hope to have some progress to share on them soon!

And go listen to Corb Lund! Just typing that makes me want to paint cavalry!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Saracen Spearmen for SAGA

"Saracen" spearmen in 28mm for SAGA: Crescent and The Cross - figures by Perry Miniatures

I'm taking a bit of a break from 30k painting, and my hobby focus is shifting back about 29,000 years or so to the era of the Crusades.  These are 28mm arab spearmen, metal castings from Perry Miniatures.  The spears are steel spears which the Perrys once sold as well (but no longer appear to).  These eight figures are meant to serve as one-point-worth of warriors in a Saracen warband for the game SAGA.

As I needed to paint the shields, I opted for very, very basic-looking patterns

Back in February, during Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I got started on a Crusader warband for "SAGA: Crescent and the Cross".  During the Challenge I managed to complete a four-point warband for the Crusaders.  Each "point" in SAGA is a variable number of models, depending on whether you have hearthguards (four figures per point), warriors (eight figures per point) or levies (12 figures per point).  In this case it was two points of hearthguards and two points of warriors for the Crusaders, so twenty-five models once the warlord was included.

I used steel spears from Perry miniatures, and I absolutely love them - unfortunately the Perrys don't seem to stock them anymore?

Of course the Crusaders would need some figures to Crusade against, and I intended to finish a Saracen warband to oppose them, but I only ever finished a single model for them - the mounted Warlord figure. The poor Saracen warlord would not last very long in the face of 25 Crusader attackers...if I ever want to finally getting around to trying "Crescent and the Cross" with the group the Warlord was going to need his own warband too!

I tried some vague-looking arabic script on a couple of the shields to add some flavour to the warriors
The Challenge finished in March, and I never got around to finishing the Saracen warriors. Indeed, I don't think I've painted anything other than 30k in one scale or another since then! Its been power armour and bolt guns since then.  After I got back from the lake this year, I thought it was time for a change, to freshen things up and hopefully try and get some momentum behind this project.

The Saracen warlord appears, overjoyed that a few warriors have decided to join him!
While the clothing of these warriors is somewhat straightforward, one of the greatest deterrents I find to actual painting and collecting figures for ancient warfare of any sort is the shields. While LBMS does make some amazing shield transfers, there is a bit of a gap when it comes to the arab shields for the Perry range (I could not find Islamic LBMS transfers for the kite-shaped Perry shields).  So these were hand-painted, and while they are pretty basic, the painting of shields remains a big mental hurdle I need to clear when painting these figures (which are just marvelous sculpts, by the way). 

For a skirmish game, I would prefer to have these guys on round bases.  But I am also harbouring ambitions of playing "Hail Caesar" one day, and that calls for formed units.  When I did my crusaders, I based the infantry on square bases in the vain notion that they might join a larger, formed "Hail Caesar" unit.  While my ambitions to ever get a "Hail Caesar" force of any sort together continue to fade the more I consider it, I still wanted the Saracens to match the look of the Crusaders base-wise, so that is why they are on square bases too. 
The Saracen warband to date - nine figures painted, another 16 to go...and all of them mounted!
For years and years and years I have aspired to game in the setting of the ancient and medieval world, particularly in the Crusades.  I have always been fascinated by that period of history, and the notion of gaming in that setting is super intriguing. But man, my momentum dies every time I start in on the shields (I HATE painting shields).  There are other drags too - trying to source spears etc, never mind the complexity of the uniforms and armour for different Islamic warriors, tribes and factions.  The more I try to do this stuff, the more it seems it's just one of those areas where I don't think my interest will ever translate into the outcome from the painting table.

Having said that, I'm determined to stick it out, however, and at least get this Saracen warband finished!  That's nine figures finished from a final total of 25...hopefully I can build up some momentum and keep it going! The "Hail Caesar" game may never happen, but hopefully I can get some SAGA skirmish games in sometime this fall.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Yu Jing: Beyond Red Veil


I very recently completed some 32mm scale reinforcements for my Yu Jing combat group for Infinity: The Game.

The Operation: Red Veil boxed set had provided me with my initial force of 7 figures, enough for just under 200 points of troops, which I used at a tournament in August. There are several approaches to expanding such a force to 300 points (a longstanding tournament standard). I could get lots of cheap troops, or just a few elites.

Follwoing the thoughts of @GentleBen on BoLS, I chose to obtain and paint a Guijia TAG , the Guijia's pilot,  and an allied JSA (Japanese Sectorial Army) doctor and a JSA combat engineer. The figures were chosen for their Looks Cool Factor, and the fact that it was a minimum number of additional models to paint.

Corvus Belli has very recently come out with their own Beyond Red Veil expansion pack, which I have duly split with Conscript MikeA. Don't know when those figures will get painted.

Modelling and Painting:
I pinned all the figures to the resin bases with wire. There is more wire pinning the larger arms of the TAG to its body.

Generally, I used my usual zenithal highlighting of airbrushing white over a black base, then glazes of acrylics, and finally details and blending with oils. Secret Weapon washes and Vallejo weathering powders completed the Dragon Forge Design resin bases. The figures were protected with Tamiya semi-gloss spray.

Gujia TAG
A TAG is a Tactical Armored Gear - they combine the benefits of an augmented heavy armor and a heavily armed walking vehicle. This particular Corvus Belli design is very similar to the armoured suits in Ghost in the Shell.

Like my other Yu Jing infantry armours, the orange armour plates used many, many thin glazes of GW Fuegan Orange. The "black" under-suit is comprised of glazes of dark blue acrylic shade (GW Drakenhof Nightshade) or indigo oil paint (Windsor&Newton) over the zenithal highlighting. All the the edges and hot spots are brought up with pure W&N titanium white oil.


Five, 1/4"-diameter rare-earth magnets are sunk into the TAG's resin base, to hold it safe in a metal box for transport. The model is solid metal, so it weighs a lot.


Below, I sharpened the cutting edge of the sword blade with a file. After zenithal highlighting, I used glazes of GW Baal Red on the sword blade.


Below, I obtained unit and faction decals from Plast Craft Games. After initial painting, I glazed the shoulder pads with Future floor polish, then used MicroScale Industries decal setting and softening solutions  to conform the decals to the rounded surface.


The battlefield wreckage comes with the kit. It's the head and torso of another faction's TAG. That type of walker is a remote, pilot-less vehicle. I added GW Blood for the Blood God to simulate spilled transmission fluid.


Below, a size comparison of the TAG and its pilot. If the TAG is destroyed or hacked, the pilot might, on occasion, get out and continue the fight.


Guijia Pilot
The pilot is a neat little figure. Of the four models, I spent the most time on her face. Undercoat used the Vallejo face painting set, then details/blending with oils.


This figure posed the most difficulty for pinning. The heel of the wedge shoes are very narrow. I ended up drilling holes along the length of the feet, and bending the wires straight down into the resin bases.


The box art imagines the pilot with much more revealing clothing. I painted the figure as if it was wearing a full-body cooling suit, like in Battletech.



JSA Doctor and Engineer
The doctor and combat engineer allow for more battlefield specialties involving  healing injuries and fixing busted-up powered armour.

Left below, I used another Plast Craft faction decal for the engineer's armband. I glazed it with Tamiya Smoke to provide some shadows.





Below, the only thing that marks this figure as a doctor is the small Red Cross I painted on her cap badge.


Below, all four models together:


Below, my original fighting force,  plus an Imperial Service Judge:



Some in-game photos with Kyle's Pan Oceania forces:

Kyle set up his forces to immediately Dominate two objective markers. His heavy and medium infantry were set up to rush toward the one in the middle of the table.



All I had to contest the mid table objective was a TO Camo Ninja. Fortunately, it Dominated the objective for the first two turns...


... with the support of the TAG which advanced and covered some of the approaches to the central objective. Lucky dice rolls gunned down the PanO Father Knight (a heavy infantryman) and an elite  Nisse.


A remaining Nisse braved the TAG's fire, knocking it down into unconsciousness, and Dominating the objective during the final turn. The Yu Jing Engineer managed to somewhat repair the TAG, and the game ended with a narrow Yu Jing victory.



These figures are beautifully sculpted. They make a great addition to my slowly growing Infinity collection. Next in the painting queue are some samurai for Ronin or Daisho, then a force of Infinity PanO, led by the clone of Joan of Arc(!), to give my Yu Jing someone to fight!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rhino APC for 30k Alpha Legion

Head-hunters from the XX Legion on maneuvers with their new APC

Another little bit of 30k painting - this is a Deimos pattern Rhino APC. Capable of carrying 10 marines (never quite looks like it can fit 10 of anything, actually, but that has been an enduring mystery of this model for many years), these vehicles are a mainstay of any Space Marine force.  And while the Legiones Astrates in 30k have access to all sorts of troop-carrying terrors, from Land Raiders to Spartans and more, the humble Rhino is still a core part of moving Legion Marines around the battlefield.

Front panel features door-ish looking plates, while a pair of bolt guns are mounted up top - just like the original Rogue Trader era models for this vehicle

Had fun with the hydra-themed decals for this Legion, although getting that one centered on the top hatch was tricky, and it doesn't look quite right - very Alpha Legion, I guess...

The Deimos pattern model is a conversion kit from Forge World, applied to the current 40k plastic rhino kit (which I'm trying to stock up on before they cancel them to replace it with more garbage "Primaris" kits but that is a rant for another time).  The design is really nice, an homage to the earliest version of this plastic model from the Rogue Trader days.

Main access ramp at the rear of the APC

These vehicles are not much for weapons - just a pair of humble bolt guns up on the turrets - but they do a great job ferrying the Marines around toward their objectives on the gaming table.  I find they do an even better job in the 8th edition of the game, as vehicles linger much longer on the table, even under heavy fire, under the newer rules.  Great news for the fellows catching a ride!

Not sure how 10 guys with that kind of armour fit in enduring mystery of GW...

Close-up of the side hatches...again, the design is a faithful tribute to the original RT-era model
This is the first vehicle I have painted for my Alpha Legion forces.  I have a few more cued up in the painting line, of course, but they may wait for a while, as I have turned my painting attention back to a project that is about 29,000 years earlier on the historical clock...hope to share more soon about that!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Alpha Within, Iron Without - 30k Battle Report

Alpha Legion Headhunters move out toward their objectives inside the loyalist base at Paramar V

Over the past several months there has been some continued expansion and escalation in our 30k collections.  I'm a huge 30k nerd of course, and with my painting spirits animated by fun books likes "Legion" by Dan Abnett and the amazing "Praetorian of Dorn" by John French, I have been building up the Alpha Legion forces I started back during Curt's most recent Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. Dallas, meanwhile, has started painting up some troops from the IV Legion, the rugged, dependable and so-oft-abused Iron Warriors.  After returning from a wonderful visit to my cabin in Sault Ste Marie, I was pretty psyched to get all of this newly painted stuff out on the table for a scrap.  Dallas obliged, hosting a 30k game last week - here are some photos!

View of the table as the game begins - the Alphas have appeared from their various vehicles and crates, and they must reach the slurm machine near the Mechanicum node at the top right of the photo.

Of course, both the Alpha Legion and Iron Warriors fought under Warmaster's banner in the Horus Heresy, so a game pitting the two collections against each other called for a bit of nuance within the setting.  Fortunately, Forge World itself already provided a handy backdrop for just such a game - the fall of Paramar V, as profiled in "Horus Heresy Book III: Extermination".   The Alphas are tasked to capture this world, and an isolated group of Iron Warriors, unaware of the Warmaster's rebellion or Perturabo's decision to join it, are caught up in the assault, joining the Mechanicum garrison in a final defence.  Thus are the Alphas thrust into battle against some of Perturabo's sons.

Lernaean Terminators prepare to move out.

Heavy support squad, backed by an apothecary

Besides, the Alpha Legion's motives are always so complex and opaque, they could conceivably be pitted against almost anyone...

Iron Warriors despoiler squad moves to reinforce, arriving down a corridor on the base
Kyr Vhalen positions his small blocking force, anchored on the very tough dreadnoughts

The main story of the fall of Paramar V, a vital mechanicum and fleet re-supply depot as well as a critical communications link, is one of a big-time ground assault.  But I wanted to have a bit of Alpha Legion flavour to the game.  The Alphas are notorious for deception, trick plays, underhanded moves and infiltration. So I suggested something along those lines to Dallas in the context of the fall of Paramar V.

Alpha Legion Praetor and his familiar try to inspire progress on the assault

The table would be set up to represent the interior of the facility, a maintenance hangar-type area.  Weeks prior to their assault, the Alpha Legion had connived to send a shipment of "damaged" vehicles from the XVI Legion to the base for repairs. As these were vehicles and associated supplies from the Warmaster's own legion, and the launch of his rebellion was as-yet unknown, these vehicles would a) not be inspected closely, and, b) be placed somewhere important.  When the time came for the assault on the base, a large team of Alpha Legionnaires would spring from these vehicles and associated "supply crates" to launch a critical blow from inside the defences, having essentially mailed themselves behind enemy lines.

IV Legion Deredeo dreadnought lays down heavy fire
The defenders would include Dallas' Iron Warriors, bolstered by some 40k Adeptus Mechanicus models standing in to represent the Mechanicum garrison on the base (no reason these cool models can't be in a 30k game).  The Alpha Legion force was overwhelming, larger than the combined defenders by about 50%.  The challenge for the attackers was the isolated location of their objective - a slurm machine in which Alpha Legion operatives had pre-placed and hidden a critical device that would, once activated, shut-down the automated shields and defences of the base.  They would have to move flat out to make it there in six turns...

The Alpha Legion's heavy fire group tries to take down the enemy dreadnoughts

For rules we used the new 8th edition of 40k. I am aware that GW has made the (absolutely baffling) decision to maintain 7th edition for the Horus Heresy gaming, but as is so often the case, the fans of GW's games tend to be as much or more nimble and competent stewards of the game than GW itself.  Fan-driven and created 8th edition rules for the 30k setting have appeared in amazing short time, and we made use of these for our game.

Iron Warriors look to block the dreaded Lernaeans...

Frederick, Indo (aka "the voice of Alpharius") and Mike A played the Alpha Legion attack force, while Dallas, John and Mike F took command of the defenders. Battle was joined!

Dallas' fantastic Mechanicum models were part of the doomed defence
The Alpha Legion troops sprung from the various vehicles and crates in which they had been hidden, and swarmed towards their objective.  The defence of the loyalists was anchored around a trio of Iron Warrior dreadnoughts - one Deredeo class and two Contemptors.  They all fell in glory, but took a number of Alpha Legion troops down in the process. 

Tough outing for the IV Legion! The Lernaeans reduce the 15-model Despoiler squad down to three survivors...ouch!

The stars for the Alpha Legion side included their own Deredeo dreadnought (wow, those things are amazing), their heavy support squad equipped with missile launchers (scary enough in the 7th edition, even more vital in the 8th edition and the new way that vehicles and dreadnoughts take damage) and the Lernaean Terminators, who carved a pretty bloody swathe through the defenders. I have never seen Terminators be so effective on the tabletop...

KABOOM! An Iron Warrior dreadnought explodes after sustained abuse.

The defenders suffered near total losses, but after six turns the Alpha Legion strike team had not yet reached their objective, so it was a phyrric victory for Kyr Vhalen and his defenders of Paramar V - although poor Kyr Vhalen got hit by multiple krak missiles in the final turn, so was not really in a position to enjoy this bitter success.

EDITOR'S NOTE - upon reflection, Kyr Vhalen, as a character, wasn't a legit target for the missiles, with that big tactical squad right nearby.  Oops.  We'll chalk that up to more Alpha Legion trickery...

The Alpha Legion strike force surges ahead

Contemptor dreadnoughts put a beating on an Alpha Legion tactical squad

The Lernaeans step in to finish the opposing dreadnoughts

Of course 30k/40k as a rule set continues to boast a number of large flaws, but as a not-too-mentally taxing game it is a lot of fun to roll out for the group. I have really started to enjoy the 8th edition (after a bit of a bumpy start) and I think, in particular, the 8th edition of the rules will be a lot of fun for 30k players out there.

Kyr Vhalen finishes the game as a recipient of multiple krak missiles...looking back now, I don't think he could have been targeted as he was a character...but that is the Alpha Legion for you, always sneaking around the rules...

Thanks to the guys for playing and to Dallas for hosting.  Was great to see his Iron Warriors and Mechanicum guys out on the table, and I hope it inspires further painting and collection escalation on his part (and keeps Mike F going on his Imperial Fists).  Outnumbered and mounting a last stand, it was a pretty rough scenario for the Iron Warriors.  Once Dallas gets more of them painted, we'll have to set up a game where they enjoy a bit of a more balanced chance.

Alpha to omega! Horus for hope!