Terrain, Macromats and Holiday Hobby

Last weekend, three friends journeyed to my gaff to enjoy two days of hobby. It was a superb weekend and really galvanised my enjoyment of gaming in general. I’ve been friends with two of the guys for about twenty years now and Nick for nearly ten. Curiously, none of us met through the hobby, but it has served to bring us closer together and I’m indebted to them all for making the arduous journey!

40k was the common denominator, so I dusted off my Marines Malevolent, allying in with James’ Knights Unyielding to do battle against Nick and Alex’s chaotic forces. We played three games apiece over two days, including two doubles games.

Great fun! After the dust had settled, I resolved to do several things before the next meet up.

  1. Paint up a small 40k force. At the moment I’m leaning towards Genestealer Cults.
  2. Commit to building a table that is functional, but akin to a diorama in scope.
  3. Finish one project at a time…(!)

The next day I left for five days of unexpected sun and relaxation in Cornwall. I packed a limited number of paints and managed, over four nights, to crank out this fellow:

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I photographed him when I returned using Tablewar’s new ‘Macromat’ which I supported on Kickstarter a few months back. It’s fantastic and has really elevated the standard of my humble IPhone 5C’s camera. That said, I’m definitely going to get a new phone soon as I’m sick of taking subpar pictures. The Macromat comes with several other backgrounds, including the classic ‘blue to white’ that harkens back to White Dwarf of old. If you’re interested in taking beautiful pics of minis, I heartily recommend giving them a look.

Oh, I also managed to make a little headway with my terrain pledge:

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These containers are from TTCombat. Initially sceptical of laser-cut terrain, I am now a firm convert and have a huge amount more to assemble.

Thanks for reading.

Ed

 

Throwback Thursday: The Rogue Trader Land Raider

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Tasting Notes

Once more, this tank draws upon the esoteric and outmoded designs that appeared during and in the years after The Great War. The Land Raider uses sponsons to mount its lascannons, but absconds from a more practical, traversable turret as seen on the predator. I imagine this is because the Land Raider was conceived as a heavy transport first and a main battle tank second. In fact, if you peel back the millennia further, its designers probably intended the STC to be used as a rugged agricultural vehicle. The exposure of the tracks (a tank’s greatest weakness) is madness whilst the profile is huge, towering two or three times higher than a 21st century armoured vehicle. Madness! A low profile is not a priority on the battlefields of the far future…

This might sound like criticism, yet it is the Land Raider’s ugliness, its impracticality, its sheer lack of suitability as a fighting vehicle that makes it so utterly appealing a concept. Humanity in the far future is bombastic in its arrogance. This young, violent race is absolute in its belief that it should hold sovereignty over the galaxy. In essence, the Land Raider is an allegory of that very sentiment given form: It is built upon the edifices of a glorious past; immovable in its dogma for 10,000 years, flawed, overblown, unwieldy, yet utterly lethal and capable of disgorging the finest soldiery in the galaxy. It may be driven by mortals, but it is a ‘machine spirit’ that ultimately governs its path. The Land Raider is truly a preposterous design that captures the imagination and is the very embodiment of the galaxy it inhabits.

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I was very happy with how this came out. As you can probably tell, this was assembled and converted within a fortnight of watching Fury Road…

Theoretical:

The Proteus is 180 points basic. For a four hull-pointed, twin-linked lascannon armed transport, this is tremendous value. Invariably these points stack up when you succumb to the temptation of upgrades. Not taking armoured ceramite is a serious gamble, although the prevalence of this upgrade has diminished the amount of melta taken in 30k, especially amongst the crowd I play with. Anyway – I never risk it, particularly when I take a step back and consider what purpose this vehicle serves: To keep your vulnerable troops safe until the critical moment.

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Early builds had my Protei (plural form) deploying Tactical Support Squads. I would later learn that the humble rhino was far better suited for this Forlorn Hope type of strategy…

The Armoured Spearhead Rite of War enables the purchase of the Proteus as a dedicated transport for my Tactical Squads. Even on the lethal battlefields of 30k, a Proteus is capable of sticking around until late in the game, providing they are kept away from assault. This might not suit all play styles, but the Proteus is not an assault vehicle; it is in effect doing what the rhino falls short of – keeping your core units safe whilst laying down long range fire. Providing the rest of your force doesn’t crumble, this configuration will give you a fighting chance of a victory late in the game.

For those favouring a more aggressive approach, take the Armoured Spearhead RoW and this time load them up with outflanking Veteran Tactical Squads. The arrival of two of these monsters on your opponent’s flank will be most unwelcome, particularly if their deployment exposes the enemy’s vulnerable rear or side armour. This will really shake things up and allows you to get close without having to drop 50 points on the prohibitively expensive Exploratory Augur Web.

Practical:

I’ve been amazed at how many games these things have survived. Their durability far outweighs their damage output and I’m happy for enemy firepower to be directed at these tanks rather than at my comparatively vulnerable Contemptors, Mhara Gal or other soft targets. It should be noted though that nothing dies quicker in 30k than tanks under assault from heavy infantry… Angron illustrated this with aplomb last week.

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Remember to keep them well back from angle grinding maniacs!

Conclusion

The Proteus:

Gun Platform. Metal Bulwark.Objective Taxi. Humanity Given Form.

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My heavy metal hero.

Bearer of the Burning Horizon Chapter of the XVII Legion.

Do you remember?

On Mars. It was on Mars you were born.

Humanity’s Crusade was in its infancy and slow was the tread of man from its cradle. Fell xenos of every description, nightmare cousins and rival empires proved worthy adversaries for the fledgling Terran empire. It befitted the mightiest warriors, the Adeptus Astartes, to be ordained with the most formidable weaponry to smite those that would stand in the way of humanity’s ascension amongst the stars. You began as such, a weapon. But now, you are so much more. 

There was nothing random about your birth; Geobytes of combat reports, both actual and hypothetical, weighed the schematics of your design against most hostile of environs whilst Martial theory spanning millennia of human conflict weighed the merits of your architecture; Sun Tsoo, Guidiron and the great Rrolmel – the embers dredged from lost civilisations and cataclysmic war – deigned you a suitable contraption for dealing death. After years of refinement and months of field-testing on four score worlds, your kind were deemed worthy of service. How ironic that your genesis was, as our cousins might say, ‘a perfect compound of theoretical and practical.’

So it came to pass that a requisition order, bearing the seal of the Sigilite himself, commanded that you be made in the war forges deep within the Martian volcano of Olympus Mons. You and ten thousand others, rendered out of a sea of molten metal, stamped and beaten until you were given your true form. Fuel cells, engines and auxiliary systems filled your shell whilst hundreds of mechendrites coated you in ceramite.

Your teeth were delivered across the Meridian plains; Lascannons from Hellas Minor, Heavy Bolters shipped from Pluto and a targeting matrix derived from the greatest minds of the Boreum-Neuro slums. Deep you slumbered amongst ten thousand of your kin; Racks of new forged blades, unbloodied within their scabbards.

Waiting.

Astartes dignitaries visited you whilst you slept, regarded your chassis and marvelled at your potential. The bulk lifters soon departed, bearing you and your kin to the embattled expedition fleets.

You dipped into the Emperyan. And out. Light years later, you met your legion. On the training grounds of Colcharis your engine sang for the first time. A defiant roar. A challenge to the galaxy at large.

Legion service. Compliance they called it. Blood work.

For two hundred years your treads have stamped the mark of the legion into unnumbered worlds; Your guns have mown down seething monstrosities, crystalline xenos, mutants and traitors all.

You brought them the Word.

You are a mighty instrument and a Bearer of brothers.

You have bourn us through nuclear infernos, acid wash and alchem firestorms.

You have enabled us to close with a thousand hated foes and brought your mighty ordnance to bear on those that we could not have bested unaided.

We call you friend.

We call you brother, for you have saved many of us, carrying us many leagues broken and bleeding to safety.

We have bled together, you and I.

You have outlived seven crews in your century of long service; On Dolgatha IV I saw you burn as weapons of infernal alien design immolated you from the inside; On Crix, the Druggandred, numberless and cunning, prized you open and gutted you. During the compliance of Huthra you fell for two miles when your thunderhawk was lanced. After each calamity I wept for you as I would a revered brother and each time we remade you where other Chapters of the XVII would have discarded you. The Burning Horizon has remade you many times, yet only once were you reborn. 

As the shroud was lifted and we gazed unblinking into the primordial abyss, you looked too didn’t you? Your crews tell me that you twitch and grumble down here, that you bellow in the dark of this hold and long for another war. You feel the rage as we do don’t you? I can see it – the yearning for fratricide. I sense that you long to test your mettle against your azure kin, adorned in the livery of the XIII.

I’ve prayed for this. You’re no machine, not anymore. You’ve altogether tasted too much blood, taken too much life. Your Standard Template designates you as ‘Land Raider: Type Proteus.’  That is past. We within the Legion have given you the nomenclature ‘Instrument of Truth’ since your inception in the XVII. Yes, you have gone by many names. But I have heard the celestial whispers of choirs in the night. The Dark Monarchs themselves recognise you now, bearer of Zu’ul Nag’r Herald of the Horizon. I pronounce you ‘Athame of Oblivion’.

“ You there, Tech adept. Paint my brother red.”

Thank you for reading.

Until next time!

 

Shadow Crusade Gone Sour…

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None should forget the near disastrous consequences of Angron’s uncontrollable rage. After infuriating Horus at Istvaan, Angron would continue to test the patience of his fellow secessionists. It is well documented that Angron’s fleet came close to initiating boarding actions with the Word Bearers flotilla at the outset of their campaign against The Five Hundred Worlds. Had it not been for Lorgar’s measured responses and the cool-headed courage of Angron’s lieutenants, then the Shadow Crusade would surely have been doomed from the start.

It is true that both legions remained far from amicable. Blows were struck, even blood drawn, yet this soon gave rise to a grudging respect between the legionnaires of both Primarchs.* Soon their strategies synergised, forming a formidable fighting force that would cleave through hundreds of worlds.

*It should be noted that outright battle never took place between the two legions in the prosecution of this campaign.

This is a lie.

On Culuxis XI, an agri-world on the fringes of The Five Hundred, the Word Bearers and World Eaters clashed.

The Ultramarines were swift to evacuate their personnel when the secessionist fleets entered the system, narrowly escaping to their orbiting strike cruisers and fleeing to a neighbouring system where a meaningful defence could perhaps be mustered.

The small world was left to its own defences, guarded only by tens of thousands of untested auxilia and a handful of oath sworn Ultramarines.

The World Eaters fell upon them from orbit, sending waves of drop pods into the midst of the defenders. Within hours, seven of the eight primary hives had fallen, their populations either put to the sword or streaming outwards in panicked tides, choking the roads with refugees. The Word Bearers landed several leagues beyond these population centres, preferring to advance methodically, crushing resistance, and zealously indoctrinating terrified civilians. Often they would stop to practise esoteric rites, erect shrines and perform sacrifices, all in aid of fuelling the growing Ruinstorm.

The world’s capital, Mal Reve, built long before by Culuxis’ first colonists, proved to be a formidable bastion, holding out longer than its neighbouring hives. Here, the World Eaters’ drop assault proved costly: Laser defence arrays lanced pods from the sky and hidden void shield generators denied the attackers viable landing zones. Every avenue was an ambush, every park a minefield and every plaza a kill zone. The auxilia here were well-drilled and, having received news of the massacres in seven of the other hives, resolved to fight to the last breath. Their master, Cato Bellicus, a Terran born Ultramarine beloved by the people, was both an inspiration and a tactical genius. Undeniably, the situation was hopeless for the defenders, but Cato determined to make the World Eaters bleed for every inch of ground they took.

Fast becoming frustrated, World Eater commanders requested the armour and heavy ordnance of the Word Bearers to come to their aid. Distracted by dark rituals, none was forthcoming, despite the vitriol and stream of curses that flooded the vox.

71 hours from the first drop on Mal Reve, the head of Cato Bellicus was taken. The resistance quickly collapsed and the defenders took to the streets, all notions of valour turned abruptly to desperate survival.

The hard fighting had caused the World Eaters’ nails to dig hard, taking hold in such a way that only continued combat, or potent sedatives, could calm the cerebral burn. Too few of their apothecaries had survived to administer the required dosages.

It was at this juncture that elements of the Word Bearers sent to support the assault on Mal Reve arrived on the fringes of the city.

A World Eater centurion, his battle plate streaked with gore and filth, advanced at the head of his forces to meet their allies. Through the rubble he came, over the buildings that had been collapsed on his brothers and across the strongpoints littered with Culuxian dead.

The Word Bearers stood before him now, their crimson armour unbloodied and weapons still cold. Parchment covered with the rhetoric of their father fluttered in the blood and cordite tinged wind. It was a sight that made the nails bite deeper.

Heartily gripping the vambrace of a trusted brother was a well practised battle greeting in both legions. Never though, had it ever been immediately followed by the severing of the gripped arm. A mixture of surprise and agony swept over the Word Bearer as he was head-butted and sent sprawling into a crater.  The severed limb followed a moment afterwards, tossed contemptuously in by his attacker.

The World Eater’s laughter crackled down the vox for a few moments, before being drowned out by the crashing sound of bolter fire. Incredulous, the Word Bearers voxed their ships and readied themselves for what would surely follow…

High above, Angron opened his eyes. His expression was one of pained concentration as he fought to quell the tremors and ticks that sought to wrest control of his face. He spat a goblet of his tongue out and licked his bloody lips, tasting the acid metal of his own gene-enhanced blood. Despite the titanic doses of tetra-opiates that numbed his senses, they failed to drive him downward into dormancy. He had been listening to the vox…

“Prepare the Charybdis,” growled Angron, slowly rising from his throne of bronze…

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This cortis contemptor was the first to join battle, striding from its wrecked drop pod to clash with its contemptor kin…
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Having wrecked the cortis, the XVII Legion contemptor talon turns to face a new threat – The Red Butchers deploy!
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Torrents of lascannon fire lanced through the dawn air, only for the Charybdis to jink unscathed through to its destination. The Word Bearers trained their bolters on the pod, all hope of firing upon the occupants before the inevitable assault fading away…
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“Gods! It’s Angron! ANGROOON!” The red-handed primarch sallies forth!
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Overwatch fire is ineffective, felling just two of the madmen!
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“Hold….HOLD!”
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CRRRRUUUNCH! Angron smashes into the waiting gun line…
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The tactical squads are annihilated in morass of flying limbs and reaving chainaxes! Two Word Bearers limp to the safety of their Proteus transport… Angron is only just getting started!
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Meanwhile, the Mhara Gal, immobilised and bereft of its plasma cannon, howls impotent rage at the foe!
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In the centre, bloody melee ensues as the red butchers continue their advance, carving through fifteen tactical marines and taking the head of the Word Bearers’ Chaplain…
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The red butchers stride through the remains of two wrecked dreadnoughts, shrugging off wounds as they are bathed in a wall of fire!.
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The two predators provide long-range fire. “Enemy Venator two hundred metres…fire!… foedeath,..confirmed!” The pair then train their lascannons on the Red Butchers in the open, bringing their rampage to an end…
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Angron wrecks one Proteus…
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…and another! A Medusa shell vaporises the remaining squad of assault marines…but it is too little, too late…

What a game! Thank you to Toby for an awesome time against his beautiful World Eaters army!

I particularly enjoyed how every tactical decision began with, “What would a World Eater do?”

This seemed to work rather well from where I was standing!

World Eaters 8 – Word Bearers 6.

Victory to Toby’s World Eaters

Played at BIG in Bristol. Check out this awesome hobby store at: http://www.bristolindependentgaming.co.uk/

Stand by for more Heresy action soon!

Over and Out!

Throwback Thursday: Rogue Trader Predator

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Tasting Notes

Conceptually, I think the Rogue Trader era predator is superb. The design evokes so much of the blocky, utilitarian aesthetic found in all imperial tanks. The sponsons, a design abandoned in most tanks within the first quarter of the twentieth century, seems to have finally found its place in the far future. But wait – there is a nod to progress; the domed turret and a pair of equally curved mountings to house the lascannons stand proud on that chassis of stubborn edges. The result is both incredibly archaic and oddly reminiscent of 50’s sci-fi.

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Acquisition and Assembly

The XVII Legion needed armour, so immediate ebayage was necessary. The two models I received were in bad shape and needed some serious restoration. They were carefully disassembled and given a good soak in Dettol for about two weeks. After cleaning and drying, the reassembly phase revealed a new host of problems: Attaching the track sections to main hull exposed gaps where the plastic had either degraded or warped over time. Plenty of green stuff and a few choice accessaries later, the pair looked fairly presentable and I deemed them to be ready for priming.

Here’s how they came out…

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…and together

Theoretical

It was the inspiration to run the Armoured Breakthrough Rite of War that originally led to this purchase. With this ROW the predators become fast vehicles with scoring that can also be taken as Troops. One of them is automatically boosted to a ‘Super Heavy Command Tank.’ Nice! The 24” re-roll for leadership is useful, but with the Word Bearers rolling 3D6 and selecting the lowest two already, this is formidable, as is the BS2 upgrade.

The predators’ purpose is clear: To keep their distance, stay alive and secure late game objectives with a well timed flat out move. Should I opt to be more aggressive, they could tear up the enemy’s flanks, drawing away other units from my core, or position themselves midfield for those opportune rear and side armour hits.

And Finally

This is another miniature that I badly wanted when I got into the hobby in the mid-nineties but was sadly unavailable. Now, thanks to the wonders of the online marketplace, they are finally mine. I’m really pleased with how they have turned out and integrated into my army of 30k Word Bearers. Their comparatively small size initially gave me pause, but since they are ‘Fast’ owing to the ROW, they now fit both aesthetically and thematically.

At the time of writing they are unbloodied, but they don’t have to wait long – I’ve got a 3,000 point game scheduled tomorrow against World Eaters.

Oh,

and Angron’s coming…

NEXT WEEK ON THROWBACK THURSDAY

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It’s throwback Thursday…

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With a relentless release schedule of increasingly beautiful minis, it’s easy to forget about the phenomenal miniatures in the early days of Games Workshop. Heavy, prone to chipping and highly poisonous, these were the models that captured our imaginations. True, many hobbyists shy away from them completely nowadays, believing them too clunky, perhaps too ungainly for a place next to their newer, increasingly dynamic range.

That said, it is clear that a market for them  exists beyond simply a small cadre of veteran hobbyists with nostalgic glints in their eyes. Games Workshop, recognising the demand for many of those classic miniatures and perhaps (dare I say it?) noticing the exorbitant bidding wars occurring on ebay, asked the community what they would like to see returned to the forge for a limited run.

Although I did not indulge in this GW led retro revival, I know plenty that did; A friend of mine purchased a bundle of Daemonettes and their steeds along with a Chaos Lord or two. Admittedly he did this on a magic carpet of whimsy fuelled excitement (probably). In my case, what with a hobby room fast approaching absurd levels of cardboard and sprue based excess, I tend to make sure that my purchases are actually going to get used in an army some time soon…

So, without further introduction, welcome to Throwback Thursday, where every…hm… Thursday I’ll reveal an old favourite that has pride of place, even amongst its smug and CAD designed resin kin.

I’ll start with my all time favourite Rogue Trader era model, the Ogryn. There was a line of them back then, but of all the sculpts, ‘460101’ captured my imagination the most. The others are a little too cartoony and lacking in any real drama or character. ‘460101’ is somehow bulkier, captured in a half turn and laden down with all kinds of esoteric equipment. The goggles and expression are reminiscent of ‘2000AD’ which heavily influenced the design of many Citadel models. Finally, the tilt of the ripper gun suggests both the strength of the Ogryn and the weapon’s considerable heft.

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After scooping him up on ebay, I inevitably wrote him into an Imperialis Militia list, having previously no ambition to include any Ogryns whatsoever. Now I’m up to a squad of six of these lovable mutants…

I will do a detailed post on my Imperialis Militia project at some point in the future, no doubt it will contain details of my pained experiences on drafting a list that satisfied both my thematic and modelling ideals (its performance unfortunately was left on the bus…).

Anyway, Ogryns! I love the idea of having Toughness 5, multi-wound models lumbering forwards with Assault Heavy Bolters. If they elect to do so wearing purple trousers then so much the better! After batch painting nearly everything (including rhinos and a contemptor talon) it was a joy to focus on this miniature over the course of a morning and an afternoon.

2017-01-07-photo-00001444    “Knuckle duster. Check. Purple pantaloons. Check. Groin protector. Check…”

I won’t lie, he’s utterly incongruous amongst his enormous, Bullgrynesque brothers in arms, but I love him all the same. If ever there was an army where RT era models fitted in, it’s the Imperialis Militia. Lets all raise a glass to Forgeworld for designing an army list where almost anything goes!

Cheers!

Next week and in plastic!

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