Sunday, 21 December 2014

Battle Report: Astra Militarum against Space Marines

One of the chaps I've gotten to know in Dark Sphere is new to 40K, and asked for a game to help him learn the rules. I agreed, and wrote up a pretty generic Imperial Guard list with a variety of units so he could learn about how things worked on the tabletop.

I don't remember exactly what I took. It looks like it was a Guard platoon, some Veterans, a Leman Russ and a Demolisher. I also took a Primaris Psyker and a Commissar Lord. I was explaining how units worked as we went along, and pointing out things he could do with his own units so he could get the hang of things.

My Leman Russ definitely regretted this policy, as a Captain with jump pack and lightning claws and his Assault Marine buddies decided to punch the Leman Russ to death.

Meanwhile his Predator learned not to get too close to a Chimera full of melta guns. My opponent was using an army he'd picked up on eBay painted, and it included this Leman Russ converted to count as a Predator. It's pretty cool looking!

I didn't give my opponent a completely easy time of it - although his Land Speeder managed to somehow survive a hit from a Demolisher Cannon with only an Immobilised result. The Predator was doing a dance around the central cover to stay out of line of sight of the Demolisher Cannon!

With the Leman Russ dead, the captain and his men looked for other targets.

I was working on whittling down the Tactical Marines (on the left), Devastator Squad (on the right) and the pesky Scout Snipers hiding in the ruin in the centre.

Meanwhile my firebase was suddenly suffering from an attack of lightning claws to the face, while a big squad of Terminators rocked up to the party.

The Demolisher abjectly failed to murder the terminators (which is supposed to be it's job!) and it looked like it was going to pay the price. Meanwhile, the Tactical Squad was slowly being brought down by weight of numbers, and the Commissar Lord's power sword.

The Command Squad got stuck with short ranged weapons miles from anywhere when their Chimera got blown up.

The Commissar Lords finishes off the Tactical Marines, but the Terminators have done for the Demolisher.

Yeah, this isn't going to go well, is it?

Wait, what? Assault Marines as well? Lightning claws? Argh! My Commissar Lord was quickly proven to be not all that tough and was brutally cut down to end the game, leaving the field in the hands of the Space Marines!

I have now received another challenge, with my opponent having had a whole bunch of games and feeling a bunch more comfortable with the rules. Tune in soon for another interesting defeat at the hands of the Space Marines...

Monday, 15 December 2014

What's it like to visit The Overlords?

For those of you who haven't heard of them, The Overlords is a Warhammer 40K podcast and gaming club. Their club meets a surprisingly short distance from my house, and I previously attended their bring and buy in a catastrophic attempt to sell more things than I bought. But what's it like to attend one of their events?

Early last Saturday, I braved the public transport of East London to make my way to the Overlords HQ - a Scout hut behind a church in the wilds of Zone 4. (For those of you unaware of London's zoning system, the higher the number, the greater the chance of meeting rad mutants, zombies and cannibals.)

The event was the Overlords Christmas bash. The plan was for three doubles games, with 500 points a player, fighting with custom mission cards and a narrative arc of missions over a giant squig full of resources which had been spotted in the Pakeshi sector - part of an ongoing setting they are using at the moment.

My Guardsmen - ever mercenary and shifty - chose to ally with the "naughty" forces, based on noble motives such as the opportunity for looting and a greater chance of victory.

I had three amazing fun games with all sorts of mayhem and shenanigans, from allying with Dark Eldar to gun fights with Sisters of Battle.

There was also an opportunity to see "Behind the Magic" of the Overlords Podcast as they recorded a segment based on a topical news quiz. It was an honour to see the slick professionalism and careful preparation that goes into the episodes to make them seem so 'off the cuff' and chaotic.

I will, in time, probably write up some battle reports of the three crazy battles I got to fight over the course of the day. It was the most fun I've had with 40K in a long while, and if you have any way of getting to East London of a Sunday at some point, I would strongly recommend you give it a try.

Guardsmen! Know your foe!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Two very different models

After a few tries at getting the left arm attached on the Infinity CSU, I gave in and pinned it. When I was holding it to dry, I knocked the right arm off. I'll be pinning that, now, too. Along with every component on every Infinity model I assemble from here on in.

I had a pretty slow weekend due to a very busy week - I'm still not recovered from the 40K LARP I was at last weekend, and work was super hectic when I got back there. Still, Sunday evening I sat down and kit bashed a creepy little mutie for 40K while watching TV, even though I didn't manage to get as far as picking up a paint brush.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


I'm late in posting as I was away crewing at a 40K LARP at the weekend. I spent a lot of time playing an assortment of villains and persons of dubious moral fibre for Rogue Traders and Inquisitors to shoot, stab and blow up. It was excellent fun.

Obviously, this left me with little to show on the wargaming and painting side, as I've not got much done running around a scout campsite near Dundee. Still, the sacrifice was worth it. In the meantime, I've had three of my Kickstarters deliver, so I can show off all the amazing loot!

Tablescapes by Secret Weapon

So, Tablescapes is a modular gaming board system by Secret Weapon Miniatures. They are not to be confused with Tablescape, who are a British company who make pre-painted hard foam terrain, who I also buy things from!

So, from this campaign, I had ordered a 4 x 4 "Scrapyard" design to fit on the KR desk / table my wife bought at Salute the other year. We were originally intending to use it primarily for Eden and 40K. I'm not sure what will cause it to see the most use!

I haven't properly gotten the tiles out of the packaging yet, but I hope you can see the basic premise. There's a lot of scrap metal detail on some of the tiles, with others being a little "cleaner". It should mean I have something nice to photograph models on once I get some painted up, and once they're all done, I'll have a good gaming surface.

Target Delivery Date: October 2013
Actual Delivery Date: November 2014

Olleys Armies Steampunk Dwarves

This was a much smaller Kickstarter by Olleys Armies to expand their "Scrunt" range. I picked up some models for random little skirmishes, and also to sometimes be a Squat Enginseer in my Imperial Guard army.

I'll give you a closer look when they reach the painting / assembly stage, but suffice to say that they're awesome old school style single piece sculpts. Also, they delivered early, which given some Kickstarters' spectacular delivery failures, is a bonus.

I've backed Kickstarters for a book, computer games and miniatures. I would almost certainly not back another computer game - they are unreliable and prone to delays. You also can't foresee quality, so waiting until it is out and hearing reviews is a much better idea.

For miniatures, smaller Kickstarters with unambitious goals will have less problems. Being an existing business with products already on the market sometimes helps, as does previous Kickstarter experience. Metal casters also seem to experience much fewer delays than plastic manufacture which has been outsourced to China.

Target Delivery Date: December 2014
Actual Delivery Date: November 2014

Maki Games

Here's an example of outsourced plastic manufacture problems. Poor Maki Games have had all sorts of delays from their chosen supplier, but have finally managed to deliver. With a simple goal of a shipping container design, but easy to reach ambitious stretch goals for massive modular terrain, this one definitely over-stretched.

These slot together really quite easily - much better than the Deadzone terrain, with wider, more robust pins. Not every part of it holds together naturally, which I think was the original intent, but I've always been intending to glue mine together. I'll probably leave the doors free to move, though.

I also picked up an extra in this adorable Sushi Bar. Again, this is just dry fitted together, and didn't have any glue involved. Unfortunately, the roof decoration bits are wrong - they should go all the way around - I've got some wrong pieces, but this sort of thing happens sometimes with Kickstarters, so I'll be dropping them a line to get it sorted.

Despite that hiccup, the quality of the product is absolutely excellent, and I'm looking forward to painting them up.

Target Delivery Date: November 2013
Actual Delivery Date: December 2014

Monday, 24 November 2014

Astra Militarum (and a Helbrute Mayhem Pack) vs Space Wolves Battle Report

The other week my darling wife arranged a couple of games for me to play at Dark Sphere. The first of the two games was against a friend of mine who normally runs Chaos Space Marines with a Nurgle bent, but at the moment he's trying out some Space Wolves.

I had two unusual things in this list - the first was that I was using the Forge World rules for Manticore rockets, rather than "upgrading" them to Storm Eagle Rockets. This also, in theory, allows you to run in squadrons of 3, but I only own one model.

The other unusual item in the list was a Helbrute Mayhem pack - these were the three Nurgle Chaos Dreadnoughts I bought at the Overlords Bring and Buy.

My first pleasant surprise was a delivery of a Space Wolf dreadnought right into my lines. My veterans ran up and Demo-Charged it's drop pod for first blood, but it wiped them out in revenge.

Meanwhile, Bjorn the Fell-Handed, the Warlord, pottered his way up the field, with a Land Raider to keep him company.

The Land Raider does take a couple of hull points of damage from the Manticore and the Demolisher Cannon, but it certainly proves a tough nut to crack.

The flank objective turns out to be booby-trapped, so the Guard run away from it, having not drawn it as a tactical objective this turn!

The dropped Dreadnought slowly whittles its way through the guardsmen on the right flank.

Suddenly, surprise Helbrutes! My cunning plan of having put a homing device on the Demolisher failed, as it was blown up before I had the opportunity to use it. A third Helbrute came down behind the Land Raider with the intention of running up behind it and punching it with a Thunder Hammer, but then the Manticore rocket deviated onto it and blew it to smithereens.

I think I deserved that.

(I blew up Bjorn at some point around here, so the battle wasn't a total disaster.)

The priest holds it together for the Guard on the right flank, but lacking close combat anti-tank, it's only a matter of time.

Oh, Njal Stormcaller has decided to visit. How nice.

And a Wolf-Storm-Thingy-Bird. And Arjac Rockfist and pals.

Well, that's one Helbrute wrecked. The Chimera will soon follow.

Blown to pieces! Quick, run away and throw a Helbrute at them!

Oh dear, that didn't work. Maybe throw the Guardsman in their way? Will that work?

The priest tries to keep going, but eventually, he runs out of guardsmen to feed into the blender, and his Rosarius finally fails him.

Arjac cuts down the company commander for his dealings with Chaos, and the vengeful remnants of his squad bear down on the few guardsmen left (briefly) alive on the table. It was soon all over...


Operation: Surprise Helbrute did remarkably well. Sadly, I was up against a list for whom they were a diversion rather than a serious problem. I couldn't bring enough heavy firepower to deal with a list made up of Terminators, Land Raiders and Dreadnoughts. More anti-tank is definitely needed.

Also, the Forge World Manticore rules are just plain better than the ones in the Codex. When I take a Manticore from now on, I'll be using them provided they're allowed in the setting I'm in. But probably not one for a casual game without warning, I will say!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Nothing of note

It's all pretty quiet here. I've now undercoated the preacher with the club in the above picture, and he's now going to go away into a box until I've finished painting some of the stuff that's already underway, or I need a nice quick paint job in a day or so to cheer me up.

The other three; preacher, enginseer and Culexus are all getting their basing done ahead of undercoating. They will also then go into storage until other projects are done.

There's no other photos at the moment, as most of my modelling time is being taken up by a kitbash secret Santa being done by some guys at my local store. There are strict rules about not giving away what you're working on - not even hints allowed! Posting "work in progress" pictures on the blog are a lot more than "hinting", so you'll have to remain in the dark on that!

I've also drawn up my "project list" page. The plan is to make each item on the list a link to its own page cover what that project is about, or with some more obvious ones (like Dreadfleet, for example), I may just set it up to link to the labels showing my progress on the project in question.

Anything in that list people are particularly curious about?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

An opportunity to take stock

This is the 250th post on my blog! With a month and a half to go until the end of the year, I thought this would be an excellent time to have a bit of a look as to how my hobby is going, both in the general sense, and also taking into account the painting targets I set myself at the start of the year.

What were my targets?
  • Not include models I'm selling in my tracking systems next year
  • Take part in the Independent Characters Hobby Progress Challenge
    Started but abandoned at the halfway mark, having failed the 1,000 points challenge
  • Finish the blasted Collodi crew
    Not yet done - but three models to base left
  • 500 point Warriors of Chaos Army
    Not even started
  • All of Salute 2012's purchases painted
    Not started
  • No new systems (Infinity, this means you) until I've fully painted one of my other skirmish games up
    Abject and catastrophic failure due to Operation: Icestorm
I've also set myself some mid year targets around sorting out all the things I am supposed to be doing for other people. I've got that list down to three things now.

That said, I've got a reasonable amount painted. There's only been one month so far when I haven't finished a project, and often I've gotten two or three things done.

Part of this is just to try and get disordered thoughts in my head down into writing - I suspect this isn't the most interesting thing for other people to read. But it's useful for my brain, so I'm doing it.

What should I do for the rest of the year?

It's really become clear to me that over-planning or queuing up too much work just leads to me missing targets and getting disappointed with myself. I also have a massive tendency of over-estimating what I'll get done in a particular time scale. I need to remember this if I ever consider taking up commission painting - I'd be completely terrible at it.

Right now, my painting table is a mess of a whole ton of "in progress" projects. I'm not going to finish them all this year, but really, my first priority is just getting them each to a stage where I can leave them and pick them up later. In short, I get myself to a place where I am not constantly trying to catch up with my own ill conceived plans. Instead, I should pick up a thing, do a thing, and put it down again. Probably with a side project to distract me if it's a big thing. Fourteen "in progress" projects is a recipe for disaster.

Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" speech talks about moving towards the mountain. Rather than trying to plan out my entire route, I'm instead going to simply remind myself of where I'm going. As part of my blogging, I'll be putting up a project page, linking to the various projects I have ongoing, with a list of things that need doing - be that my Imperial Guard, the new Infinity stuff I have, or whatever.

This means that I won't end up committing to, say, spending three or four months blitzing my Imperial Guard only to be super enthused about Infinity and constantly day dreaming about assembling them (as I currently am).

The few remaining "other people" projects will get done, along with a rather time sensitive "secret Santa" kit bash at my local store. That one will get no coverage on the blog as I need to keep secret what I'm doing, although I may post a Christmas picture of what I receive...

Hopefully, this new way of thinking about what I'm doing will help me get more done. There should be less regretting what I'm currently working on and more employing bursts of enthusiasm on whatever my 'flavour of the month' is at that particular moment. How could this possibly go wrong?

Monday, 10 November 2014

The End Times, Nostalgia and Oldhammer

I've been thinking a little bit about The End Times, the recent series of releases from Games Workshop for Warhammer Fantasy. I was really quite impressed with the return of Nagash and the boldness of so fundamentally changing the nature of the Warhammer World. From an academic point, I'm very impressed.

However, despite that, I'm not suddenly wanting to drop anything and buy a Fantasy army. Well, no more than the usual background levels of wanting to collect multiple armies for every system that exists, and I mostly have that under control now.

Why is that? I'm usually the world's biggest sucker for big changes in a system, and there would be a certain elegance to grabbing Nagash, a bunch of Tomb Kings and a Coven Throne and having great fun being a megalomaniac super-villain, complete with expendable minions and untrustworthy lieutenants.

My Fantasy interest has been low for a while - here's the current progress on my entire Fantasy army - what will become the champion of my first unit in a Warriors of Chaos army. He's been like that all year.

He even does have a back story - a decadent actor finds this creepy "costume", and discovers its a genuine suit of Chaos Armour that brings its own servants with it (founding the first unit of the army) and causing him to flee north to the wastes.

The early Realm of Chaos books had a lot of Chaos Champions making the journey north, primarily because the random tables allowed so many different races to become Champions that way. It was a common theme - from the Ignorant Armies anthology, and it even carries through to the relatively recent "Sigvald".

The Chaos Marauder tribes, as they stand now, are a development from the old "Norse", as Games Workshop moved further from the original historic ranges and towards its own developed IP. Interestingly, Glottkin's background has done the most to endear me to the Marauders by mentioning the northern Chaos worshipping farming communities which the Glott brothers originally come from, grounding them back a little further into low fantasy rather than high with a bit more plausibility.

Forest Goblin at Warhammerfest
From a staff member's collection

I have a massive Nostalgia (it deserves a capital) for Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition - the edition I never really got to play. I'd been collecting the books and planning an army for about two years when 4th edition came out and I used that as my entry into my first army. But I had that two years of daydreaming and planning still in my head.

One of my big inspirations was the Dark Elf army in a White Dwarf of the time - a Google search tells me it's probably White Dwarf 144. It gave the background of the leader being a minor noble with his retinue and raised troops, looking to advance himself politically. I had Mighty Empires - I absolutely wanted to run a grand and massive campaign, tracking every detail of every army, and to not go mad doing it.

The key to these pre-adolescent unachievable dreams (which I fully intend to fulfil at some point during a scheduled mid life crisis) was that the Warhammer World itself would remain broadly unchanged by the campaign, thus keeping it believable for me. I didn't want to see the Emperor wounded to near death at every Saturday night game only to come back fine the following week - I wanted to tell my own stories.

In some ways, I suspect this is why I've drifted to Warhammer 40,000. The Emperor is going absolutely nowhere, and the massive scale of the game means that I can easily have entire armies and planets wiped out in my games and it still remains believable as not changing the overall background - billions die every day.

Photo courtesy of thenickeninja - used with permission
Obviously, I'm not going to jump into getting an Oldhammer army straight away. It's a big investment of time and money, almost certainly involves metal models, and by my reckoning, I'd probably get a game in once every other year. Don't get me wrong, it is definitely a Thing I Want to Do, but that is not a now thing.

In particular, if I was going Oldhammer and had irresponsible amounts of time and money, I'd be going for an old school Orc and Goblin force, going to people like Otherworld and Foundry for a massive, eclectic and all metal force. Each regiment would then be a different Orc tribe, with massive differences in physiology and appearance.

I also saw the amazing Chaos Dwarf conversions by thenickeninja on his blog. These are apparently super easy, using Hammerer bodies, Chaos Warrior arms and heads. That tempts me to pick up the Tamurkhan book to allow me a small Chaos Dwarf force with my Warriors of Chaos force.

These are massive projects which are running around my head, and I just don't have the time or money to do them at the moment. What I am likely to do is start up a little projects page on the blog, covering both my existing projects and potential future projects. This means I'd be able to get all my links and inspiration photos in an easy to find place for me later, and also let people see the sort of things I'm thinking about.

So really, what it comes down to is that my main interest isn't really in special characters in Warhammer Fantasy because I want to be telling my own stories with the army, and the special characters are often in too "serious" battles which decide the fates of countries, and that breaks the narrative of the game for me.

Longer term, the Orcs and Goblins are still tempting, but for now, Warriors of Chaos and perhaps some plastic kit-bashed Chaos Dwarves are the order of the day. The WoC are very much on a "one in, one out" policy, so there won't be any new purchases in the army until the models I already own are painted.