Thursday, September 3, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Thunderbolt Heavy Fighter


Background
The Thunderbolt is supposed to be a heavy fighter that wind over its opponents in dog fights due to superior weapons and firepower. And it can do this to a certain extent. But whether one classifies it as a heavy fighter is another matter entirely. That said, it certain is a "workhorse" as described in the background and I can see it being played by Solar Auxilia players quite readily.

Strengths
The fighter can be kitted out as anti-infantry as well as anti-aircraft, and anti-tank. In this regard it is highly flexible and can take on most things in the game short of Lords of War and certain monstrous creatures.

It has an interesting rule called "Combat Interdiction" which requires it to re-roll failed reserve rolls if there's an enemy flyer on the board already. This is very cute and will mean that the fighter will come on when required most of the time.

Add on top of this a flare shield, chaff launcher and the supersonic rule, and we have the makings of an excellent aircraft here.

Weaknesses
Sadly, despite the name, the Thunderbolt is rather flimsy with AV values comparable to a rhino. The chaff launchers and flare shield upgrade can help with this clearly, as can the armoured cockpit. Even more than this, it can ignore glances on a 6+ which will help once in a while, possibly. But it remains the case that this is a vulnerable fighter than needs some expert positioning and deadly quick flight runs to operate correctly.

Builds
A few builds here to cater to the roles it could be put to.

Thunderbolt, Ground-Tracking Auguries, Flare Shield, Sunfury Missiles (250 points)
This is an anti-infantry (mainly anti-space marine) build.

Thunderbolt, Ground-Tracking Auguries, Flare Shield (230 points)
This is an anti-tank build. Swap the weapons to taste depending on the opponent.

Thunderbolt, Flare Shield (220 points)
This is the anti-aircraft build - and the cheapest of the lot. Drop the flare shield to save points if needed. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scibor 60mm Base

I recently bought a 60mm resin base from Scibor Miniatures -- a European company that makes many, and fine resin miniatures (as well as bases) that are suitable for many types of war game settings.

I've bought from them before in the form of some bodies to be used as Grey Knight characters and was very pleased with them (they're available through their website, but also in a number of specialist stores that I've visited in the past - both in Australia and the UK). So I thought that I would purchase some more parts, but this time with a view to making a base - or rather saving me some time in base making - for a new dreadnought that I have in mind.


This particular base is the 60mm version of their ruins range. It features a number of interesting details that include the patterned gothic church interior style, a cracked tombstone (bottom right), a circular cracked base that might otherwise be used for a 25mm base (upper left), as well as other details such as a skeleton with a complete head of hair (left), leaves (lower left) and dirt (right) covering the rest of the ground.

I'm very pleased with this base since there's zero cleanup work to do and its pretty much good to go right out of the box!

Monday, August 31, 2015

How long does it take to breed a Space Marine Chapter?

I've been re-reading my old Warhammer 40,000 books for some pre-heresy inspiration over the past week -- both Rogue Trader and the Compendium (pictured).

I got thinking about the progenoid glands and how they grow and are able to produce new gene-seed. As an overview (or perhaps even an introduction to the topic!), each and every space marine is implanted with a number or organs during their teenage years. These grow the person in to a full Astartes and give them abilities beyond ordinary mortals. Here's the catch though - to grow a full set of organs for this process requires a gene-seed. And the gene-seed is contained only within a mature progenoid gland. 

Every space marine is implanted with two of these: one that matures in a timespan of 5 years, and a second that is fully mature only after 10 years. These can be harvested after this time period and returned to the chapter (or legion) to grow new sets of organ, although often the 10 year maturation glad is only removed when the marine dies.

To form a new chapter, Terra grows a suite of gene-seed from a pool of vat-slaves. Each is implanted with the progenoid glands as well as the organs, and they're left to mature. Rinse and repeat lots of times, and you'll have enough for a full and new space marine chapter. The only problem is the time line involved. 

Let's start with a single (carefully selected) gene-seed. After 5 years, one of the progenoids is ready to harvest. Hence we get our gene-seed back. After 10 years, the second one is ready, and we have double the number we started with.

But suppose we implant the seed back again as soon as it is mature. After 5 years we have our original "slave" in a vat who has produced the 5 year mature seed which is then implanted in another host. After 10 years, the original slave has produced the 10 year seed, and the second slave has produced the 5 year seed. We now have two seeds and a third in progress that'll be ready in another 5 years.

After 15 years, those 2 seeds have yielded 2 lots of 5 year maturation seeds, and the second slave has produced the 10 year seed. That's 3 total, and we have another 2 on their way.

In 20 years, we have 3 lots of 5 year maturation seeds returned, 2 lots of 10 year seed returned for a total of 5. And 3 lots of 10 year seeds growing well.

It continues in this fashion:
25 years: 5 x 5yr + 3 x 10yr (total = 8), with 5 x 10yr gestating
30 years: 8 x 5yr + 5 x 10yr (total = 13), with 8 x 10yr gestating
35 years: 13 x 5yr + 8 x 10yr (total = 21), with 13 x 10yr gestating
40 years: 21 x 5yr + 13 x 10yr (total = 34), with 21 x 10yr gestating
45 years: 34 x 5yr + 21 x 10yr (total = 55), with 34 x 10yr gestating
50 years: 55 x 5yr + 34 x 10yr (total = 89), with 55 x 10yr gestating 
55 years: 89 x 5yr + 55 x 10yr (total = 144), with 89 x 10yr gestating
60 years: 144 x 5yr + 89 x 10yr (total = 233), with 144 x 10yr gestating
65 years: 233 x 5yr + 144 x 10yr (total = 377), with 233 x 10yr gestating
70 years: 377 x 5yr + 233 x 10yr (total = 610), with 377 x 10yr gestating
75 years: 610 x 5yr + 377 x 10yr (total = 987), with 610 x 10yr gestating
80 years: 987 x 5yr + 610 x 10yr (total = 1597), with 987 x 10yr gestating

Therefore after 80 years we have more than enough gene-seed to create a new chapter from scratch, with room for failure and tithing to Terran vaults / purity checks.

For something like a full legion (100,000 gene-seed), this would take an additional 45 years. Hence the Emperor must have had a strong lag time up his sleeve when he created the Astartes … or had more than one gene-seed per legion to start out with.

It also illustrates how easy it would be to suffer a huge loss (cf.: Emperor's Children early on) from a small error. And why the Raven Guard sought an accelerated process to get numbers back up after Isstvan V.

In the Warhammer Compendium, it states that it takes about 55 years time to get enough seed to produce a new chapter's worth of organs with constant reproduction. My value above is longer than this, but not outrageously so. Perhaps I've made an error? (Or they have?)  Comments welcome!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Contemptor True Claw Conversion

This is a conversion inspired by a number of Space Wolves miniatures and dreadnoughts that I've encountered over recent years.

For my Alpha Legion dreadnought, I wanted an option that looked simultaneously both deadly, and like it had been "borrowed" (ahem) from other legions, or xenos technology that has been reverse engineered. When I set eyes on the True Claws of Bjorn, I thought that I had the mark!


In the image, I've combined the fingers of the Trueclaw with the arm of a resin contemptor from Forge World. Each of the fingers had to be shaved down in terms of their sheer width to fit the slots in the contemptor's terminus, and each has been pinned in place with a paperclip wire to the knuckle of the contemptor's resin. 

The fingers are spread out to reveal a flamer head and pilot flame in their centre - an aggressive pose that combines that "flame that enemy" with "going to claw you" deadly pose that I was gunning for. What remains is to magnetise this claw and see how it looks on one of my contemptor dreadnoughts. 

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