Friday, December 12, 2008


Dear Readers,

You will notice a slow down, and a halt in the number of postings to Warpstone Flux from now on and for the next few weeks. This is temporary and simply due to summer and the holiday season, wherein I'll be spending more time with family. My responses to comments (etc.) will be likely to be as slow as tectonic plate movements. Rest assured that more frequent postings and responses will resume after the festive season is over (1/Jan/2009).

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my regular readers, co-bloggers and commentators - you've really helped me with painting hints, modelling (etc.) and very valuable feedback in the past few months since I set this site up and became a part of the FtW community. I'm looking forward to more interactions with you in 2009.

I wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday season.

Best wishes from Warpstone Flux.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Great Unclean One of Nurgle - Realms of Chaos Era

A Realms of Chaos era Great Unclean One. To be used in both a daemons army and chaos space marines / Death Guard (either as a generic greater daemon or an atypical daemon prince with the mark of Nurgle).

This miniature was another one that I bought when I was much, much younger in the 1980's. It has been repeatedly stripped down, re-painted, torn asunder and re-built over the years. Most of the model needed to be pinned together (especially the snaps at the wrists) with both superglue and milliput (greenstuff).

Nurgle is the chaos power that I most enjoy painting. It really isn't too hard to get a good result from lots of green grossness with blood red seeping gore and pus yellow highlights. The model's sculpt has already done most of the hard work for you. For this particular miniature, a black undercoat was used followed by a goblin green base coat. The basecoat was inked dark green (green mixed with black) and then slowly highlighted brighter, but unevenly. The red in the open wounds was base coated in pink for the most part and inked dark red (red mixed with a tiny amount of black and brown). The innards were then slowly highlighted lighter - up to about pink once more. The areas around the open wounds on the skin were picked out in a more necrotic feeling shade of green and yellow to help the reds of the sores stand out. The maggots were then picked out in bleached bone.

The base of the miniature had milliput applied to make it look like the (dragging) footsteps of the Great Unclean One had torn up all the grass along the way. A vintage nurgling was also added at the front of the base. Finally, the entire model was coated in glossy varnish to finish off the slimy icky look.

Positives: Definitely Nurgle. Icky. Yucky. Green. Pustules. Open wounds. Visible innards. Yep - unmistakably Nurgle from my personal check list.
Negatives: If I hadn't have been so keen on applying the gloss varnish all over, I might have paused and only applied it to the slimy bits - the visible innards and leaking bits.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daemons of Lesser Powers - Part III: Fast Attack

Continuing a series of articles presenting experimental house rules for daemons of lesser powers, today: rules for fast attack daemons. When I was writing these up, I tried to think of what would be represent such models on the tabletop. For the Big Four powers of chaos, the "beasts" are flesh hounds of Khorne, fiends of Slaanesh (not classed as fast attack, though), screamers of Tzeentch and so forth. All bestial, and all able to move quickly (apart from the beast of Nurgle). For lesser powers, the simplest analogue creature would be a chaos hound. Indeed, chaos hounds are in excellent keeping with the Realms of Chaos / Lost and the Damned rules. The most recent rules for chaos hounds are to be found in the (out of production) previous chaos space marine codex. In there, they only had a 6+ armour save. So here, I'm modifying that to the (what seems standard) 5+ invulnerable daemon save and upping the points value a touch.

The squad size can go up to a massive 30 - this is intentional as the dogs of the lesser powers would likely be more inclined to stick together for common protection against the more powerful beasts of the Big Four (i.e. flesh hounds). The only thing that is not included here is the option to upgrade based on the HQ / herald choice (cf. preferred enemies in the troops entry) - I'm figuring that should be kept for the troops alone. Having said that, this entry includes a once-per-army upgrade of a large beast (an alpha male pack leader, or equivalent) that enables the squad to function as if they were troops, but at a suitably steep cost.

Daemonic Beasts of a Lesser Power (Fast Attack slot)
Cost: 13 points each

4 0 4 4 1 4 2 10 -/5+
Unit Type: Beast
Number per squad: 5 to 30

Special Rules: Daemon.
All are considered to be armed with a single close combat weapon (i.e. claws, teeth, horns, etc.).

Gift one model with: Unholy Might (+5 pts)
Upgrade a different model to a "large alpha beast" (once per army) (+40 pts). The large alpha beast has the following statistics:
4 0 5 4 2 4 3 10 -/5+
Unit Type: Beast
Number per squad: unique (i.e. you may only ever take 1 large beast).

Special Rules: Daemon. Considered to be armed with a single close combat weapon. The large alpha beast enables the entire squad to not only contest objectives, but also to take and secure them in the same manner as troops. They still use a fast attack slot in the force organization chart.

There are many models out there that could be used to represent these beasts. The new chaos hounds in the fantasy chaos mortals range would be excellent for a starting point. As would the dire wolves from vampire counts.

For the large beast, the model should be noticeably bigger than the other models: a plastic chaos spawn would be cool. Or, forgeworld sells a number of large chaos spawn that would also look very neat as the alpha beast (albeit a mutated, large alpha beast!). I'm certain that readers could come up with other ideas on good models to use to represent them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What constitutes "obvious concessions" in army lists?

In Australia, there is a long tradition in Games Workshop run tournaments to give a generous number of tournament points to so-called "soft" areas that are not related to battle outcomes; perhaps up to one third or even a higher fraction of all tournament points given out. That means things like painting, force composition and sportsmanship can directly contribute to determining the winner of a tournament. This system results in an environment that is both good fun & friendly, but remains competitive for those players that want it.

Take the example of the force composition category in GT2008. For maximum points in this category, players were encouraged to field miniatures that looked good or were well painted, rather than being game-beating. Additionally, players were encouraged to give "obvious concessions" in their force compositions. Clearly, those players taking three land raiders missed out on the majority of the points here.

But curiosity asks the question: what would readers consider to be "obvious concessions"? Here's some knee-jerk reactionary (and not very thought-through) thoughts that I had about the two kinds of army that I regularly field.

(a) Chaos Space Marines.
Chaos Spawn. They can look very cool, but: have no saving throw, have a random number of attacks, and are a slow & purposeful, mindless fast attack choice. They're fun to watch on the field, but they don't last very long!
Maybe Possessed Chaos Marines? They also look great but the random special ability that they get at the start of the game can be poorly timed.

(b) Daemons.
Furies of chaos. They're jump infantry that aren't as good as assault marines or raptors despite the comparable cost.
A pure Nurgle army lacking Epidemius.

What about other armies? I'd like to hear what other readers think constitutes "obvious concessions" in force compositions.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Death Guard Plasma Gunner

Usually plasma guns can be a potentially dangerous piece of kit: not least of all to the user! Blowing up your own trooper with a plasma gun can give away vital members of a squad. On the other hand, they've got a bolter-matching range (unlike melta-guns) and decent armour piercing.

A squad of infiltrating chosen chaos space marines all kitted out with plasma guns can be a bit of a shock to the enemy at the start of the game. Especially if supported with an icon that's primed to summon lesser daemons, terminators and obliterators. But rapid firing those plasma guns at close range increases the odds of a terrible plasma backfire.

Death Guard plague marines, conversely, are not as bothered by a little bit of plasma singeing a hole through their thigh. Although they cost more points-wise than standard chaos marines (meaning that the loss of one is more significant), they are also much more resilient to little plasma mishaps thanks to a lack of properly wired nervous systems (a.k.a. feel no pain). But rather than using them as chosen marines, I like to field a squad of 7 with two plasma guns and sit them near an objective (preferably in cover). I then don't move them for virtually the whole game. They're more than capable of taking care of themselves and are able to cause a headache to many opponents.

This particular miniature comes as part of the plague marines boxed set and is painted in a typical Death Guard fashion: greens, browns (etc.) with bleached bone trimmings, leaking joints, red sores and fleshy bits, a hand-painted "decay" on the shoulder pad, and blue plasma.

At first, I didn't know what colour the plasma gun should be: I've seen greens, reds, blues and many other shades. I decided on blue in the end as it provides a nice contrast to the greens and browns on the majority of the miniature. Red would have clashed a little but with the sores and green wouldn't stand out. Yellow might have worked, but I'm glad I selected blue.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ork Hybrid

Not too far removed from Octavius, there is a remote M-class star, around which orbits a solitary Jovian type planet. In turn, a large natural Moon supporting its own atmosphere and biosphere orbits said Jovian. For millennia, little had disturbed the Moon. Little that is, until the arrival of a battered and stolen rogue trader's vessel. On board were chaos renegades, both astartes and humans fleeing from imperial space. It was on this Moon that their vessel set-down to carry out essential and critical repairs. And to evade both the chasing agents of the false emperor and the true owners of the vessel for a time.

Sadly for the unwitting renegades, they carried with them dormant ork spores: in the airlocks, under the soles of their shoes, and in a plethora of other nooks and crannies of the rogue trader's ship. They either had no time to follow standard biosecurity procedures or didn't know how to fully operate the vessel - no surprise given their lack of techpriests. The result was the same in either case.

On the Moon, the renegades were forced to stay marooned for weeks as repairs progressed painfully slowly. The weeks developed in to months. And the vessel came no closer to getting fixed despite the beseeching of the pantheon of chaos. The renegades had truly lost track of the amount of time they'd been there when they sighted the first ork and took their first casualties.

Resources were redirected into defending the stricken vessel; their home. Scouting parties were sent out. Repairs were halted. But it wasn't enough. The time between each wave of greenskin raid was perhaps over a year to begin with. Then months. Then days. They didn't hold out long after that.

In control of the Moon, the orks set about the old vessel with a new waaaaaaa in mind. With a more intuitive feel for the vessel's systems, they made quicker progress to repairing it than the humies ever did. It was then that the Great Devourer came.

A tiny splinter fleet, possibly from Octavius, perhaps elsewhere hungered for the biomass of the Moon. A remarkable thing happened, though. The orks repulsed the invading species. But somewhere along the line, a new species was created. Part ork, part tyranid. New orks emerged from the flora. The older orks saw them for the unorky creatures that they were and set about exterminating them. But no new purebreed orks were being created. All their spores were turning into hybrids. The hybrids came to replace the old order of the orks. They took over the repairs of the vessel and succeeded.

Aims and Model.
Rummaging around my bits box, I came across a very old plastic ork body and head. Originally, I had thought to create an ork-genestealer hybrid as I had also found an old space hulk plastic genestealer arm that had long since snapped off its original model. But I also found an old tyranid bone sword arm. Could I possibly use all of them in one model? You bet. Add in to the mix a chaos marine bolter (slugga?!), a khorne berzerker scabbard, a space marine shoulder pad, and I had all the parts for an interesting conversion!

The only parts that needed a bit of greenstuff was where the arms attached to the shoulder parts - they were the wrong size. The marine shoulder pad disguises this on one side of the miniature, but on the other side pure greenstuff was used to bulk out the shoulder joint.

There was one rule here: the skin was to be something other than green! I chose purple in the end as it seemed fitting for a hybrid model. After undercoating in black, the basecoat was worm purple over the exposed ork and tyranid flesh areas. This was followed up with a purple ink and highlighting by mixing the purple with bleached bone in a number of layers.

The leather armour was coated in brown, inked brown / black, and highlighted with bleach bone. The bolter (slugga) was drybrushed in silver along with the shoulder pad and the scabbard on the ork's back. Red was applied on the lower portions of the scabbard, the bolter, and across the shoulder pad. However, when I painted this miniature it was a very warm day (some 30 deg C with high humidity) and the red didn't dry evenly on the shoulder pad. As it dried, it cracked over. At first I was very bothered by this. But then I thought: wouldn't the original renegade's equipment be remarkably damaged by this point in the narrative? More than likely. So, I left it as is and painted Khorne's symbol over the top of it.

The bone sword was painted in sunburst yellow, progressing to white toward the tip. Brown and bleached bone was applied to the lower portions of the sword and a similar prescription was done with the genestealer claw arm. Several streaks of brown were carefully drawn upward on the bonesword to make it look old and well used. Final details (eyes, teeth) were completed in bleached bone and white.

Positives: A most unusual miniature! I like how this has turned out on the whole; especially given how many different spare parts make up the creature and the various painting styles (genestealer, Khorne, ork) that were used.
Negatives: I got worried by the cracked red paint on the shoulder pad, but grew to like it. Further, I'm genuinely worried I might start a chaos-worshipping ork-hyrbid army now. Can I resist?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pink Horror Tactics

I was recently asked how I generally go about playing Pink Horrors of Tzeentch on the battlefield.

Let's firstly have a glance at what the Pink Horrors have going for them. They are somewhat analogous to a guardsman in the statistics department, except for a worse WS (making them more like Tau), better Ld (fearless) and a 4+ invulnerable saving throw. Their principal weaponry is the warpfire ability: an assault 3 weapon with bolter like strength, better AP and ork like range. They're definitely very shooty, but not as accurate as a marine. But they are also much more survivable than other daemon troops.

This makes them good choices for the first daemon wave. By adding an icon and deploying them in a suitably large squad, they're going to stick around and ensure that further daemons can deploy from the icon that they're carrying. But there are risks with first wave deep-striking. Assuming there are no "teleport accidents", then the horrors will either end up (1) outside their own shooting range of an enemy; (2) inside their shooting range; or (3) inside their range, but also in danger of being charged by an enemy on the opponent's turn.

The first case leaves the commander with little choice. Since they're not in range, they should run during the shooting phase to spread out or seek cover if nothing else. But they should run with a specific goal in mind: either toward an enemy to shorten the range for next turn (keeping in mind wanting to avoid combat and avoiding blasts); toward an objective (if applicable); or simply to spread out to avoid being blasted by long range incoming blast templates.

The other two options are where it could get tricky. Or, more specifically, there are choices to be made. Is it better to run and spread out, thereby reducing the possible hits from blast weapons, or better to shoot at an enemy squad? Usually it is the latter since shooting can potentially clear out a region of the board, especially if the horror squad is a large one. If they're going to get charged next turn, then running a little further away is not likely to prevent that charge: so again, shoot.

Further in to the game (once their icon is not all that significant any longer), the horrors should try to keep away from close combat in order to stay back and shoot at opposing troops. As troops themselves, they can be moved towards objectives to hold them if required as well. They could always be used as speed bumps and sacrifices against other units, but that's what nurglings excel at. With a 4+ save, they're likely to cause a sufficient hassle to most close combat assailants.

What about other options beyond the icon? Well, the bolt of Tzeentch is a powerful choice for 10 points. But it does nothing for the BS of the horror and reduces the horror to only 1 shooting attack. Probably best to save this for a herald, unless you have a spare 10 points to spend and need some heavy weaponry equivalents.

The instrument of chaos is probably not going to do much good for horrors. If they get into combat, then they're probably going to lose to most other troop choices in the game. But it might take a while for them to die off - time enough for a squad of bloodletters to come to the party and help them out.

The Changeling is an interesting choice. Whenever I've taken it, I found it very hard to remember to use it! I'm too used to my solitary action being rolling saving throws in my opponents shooting phase. However, even when it is used, most troops natural Ld score mean that they're rarely going to be shooting on their own. However, at a cost of only 5 points it is very affordable even if it is only going to go off once every couple of games. Plus, you can add in a random model from your collection and call it the Changeling since even the Changeling itself cannot recall its proper form any longer!

Playing against pink horrors should generally follow the stratagem of shooting at them plenty, followed by charging them with a whole bulk of attacks in order that they take so many invulnerable saving throws that they'll eventually fail most of them. They're not that tough, its just their remarkably good saving throw that must be overcome.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Shoal of Screamers

Continuing with a bit of a Tzeentch theme this week, here is the finished squad of screamers that I've been working on for the past few months. Phew! That was a hard slog to get them finished.

The third screamer was painted in a similar style to the other screamer in the surf. Overall, I'm pleased with the way these models have turned out. I still have a couple of items left to complete with these screamers that include doing something about the pure black "tusks" and properly basing the miniatures, but I'm leaving those tasks for a rainy day.

Let's be honest, with the "warp jaws" special rule, these daemons are flying melta-bombs. Therefore their primary purpose in a daemon-filled battlefield is to take out opposing armour. Their secondary purpose, should they survive that long, is to contest objectives at the last minute (jet-bike fashion).

The unholy might option is probably not such a good idea unless you have an odd 5 points left over to spend. That extra point of strength is only ever going to do some good against non-armour, and that is not a situation that the screamers should be getting in to. The only real question is how many to field, and in what quantities. Three is fine. Five could well be about optimal to ensure that some survive to blow up a pesky predator. Multiple units might well be better if facing off against land raiders and necron monoliths in the absence of other units capable of handling them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Concerning the Eye of Magnus the Red

Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons Legion, is described in multiple places as being "cyclopean". I have always (well, for over a decade at any rate) interpreted this description as meaning he has one eye. He is, in a literal sense, a cyclops.

For example, unambiguously suggests that Magnus was a literal cyclops from the moment he got out of his pod after his journey through the warp; courtesy of the chaos powers.

However, I've recently encountered some other (potentially non-canon?) material suggesting that my understanding might not be the case. It is possible that the word "cyclops" can be interpreted as meaning that he had one eye that was blinded or malformed, with only one remaining good eye. Some of the artwork on portrays Magnus in this manner, as does the Horus Heresy Collectible Card Game I believe. Indeed, suggests that Magnus cut out one of his own eyes? (yuck!).

Now, I'm still personally of the former opinion. But physically, they can't both be right. In acknowledging that this is probably a simple oversight in the background fluff of Magnus somewhere along the line, I'd like to ask if anyone else has got an opinion on this? In the absence of commenting, please feel free to vote on the poll that has been set up.

Addendum: Votes tallied at 73% saying he was a cyclops; 27% that he had a bad eye.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Burnt-Out Horror of Tzeentch, Take 2

Originally, this horror was intended to be a burnt-out horror that had hotter bits towards the recessed areas and cooler bits on its outer portions. As such, it had some blue paint on it since the colour blue is thermodynamically hotter than white. But it simply didn't look right! Further, there was a fair amount of white showing through on the front of the miniature that also looked a little wrong. I've finally found the time to come back to this potential herald of Tzeentch miniature.

The main issues have been cleared up and the miniature's base has also received much needed attention. As can be seen from the new picture, the mouth has been darkened significantly. This was achieved primarily through careful application of black ink. It is now a deep blue, near black colour, which makes a good contrast with the whiter needle-like teeth.

The tongue of the horror has been changed to red. This was achieved by an application of a white coat followed by red. On top of that, some small amounts of black drybrushing has been applied to give the appearance of some parts of the tongue cooling off.
The white that was showing through from the original undercoat has been inked in yellow. There are now very few areas on the miniature that have white showing through at all.

The base was done with some green flock in the main part, with a number of areas having fine black rubble applied - this is supposed to represent burnt bits where this horror has been treading. Also, in the background of the picture, there are some mini-trees that I created using only a small amount of wire (etc.) as detailed here.

Positives: A much better painted miniature now!
Negatives: The black portions on the base don't really communicate the horror burning the grass out where it has been stomping around and shedding molten bits off. But this isn't a big issue to me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reconstituting a Keeper of Secrets - Part II: The Outcome

In the previous part of this article, I outlined a plan for reconstituting an old keeper of secrets from an ogre and chaos spawn. Here's how it all worked out.

The assembly of the creature went reasonably smoothly, and as outlined in the previous part. The chainmail on the shoulder required some additional working with green stuff to make it blend in. The irregular fittings of the arms in to the joint sockets was also a pain as the new parts required filing down and pinning in to place before a layer of green stuff was added to blend the new parts in with the existent rest of the body.

The whole miniature is based on the back-2-basix base that I painted up a while back. I think the base offsets the miniature quite nicely.

Originally, I had thought to paint this miniature in pink. Suitably Slannesh, right? Well, it didn't quite work out like that in reality, so I changed it to a pastel red colour half way through. It is perhaps an unusual choice for a Slaaneshi daemon, but I think I've gotten away with it. I guess in principle it can be used as a Khorne daemon prince.

The painting was really a blood red undercoat on the flesh followed by a number of layers of drybrushing lighter and some red ink washes. The brightest drybrushing layer was a slightly pink colour to highlight the red with. The metal bits were basecoated in black and highlighted in silver (apart from the solid gold claw protectors) whilst most of the rest of the clothing was done in black in denheb stone highlighting, leading to white. The claws were painted in brown and highlighted slightly lighter along with a brown ink wash to give them a bit more depth.

Overall Evaluation.
I'm happy. There, I've said it for once. The conversion has actually worked, much to my surprise. The arm with the club from the ogre looks well proportioned and nicely in place with the rest of the miniature, as do the chaos spawn bits. Some of the whiter areas of the painting could have been worked up to white much better though, but I remain happy with the miniature overall.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Promethean Hammer - Chaos Vindicator

My entry to GT2008 earlier this year featured two vindicators. This is the first of the two, with the enigmatic name of "Promethean Hammer".

Aims and Model.
The vindicator is a standard model, with chaotic spikey bits added on for effect to distinguish it from its loyalist counterparts. There were two overall broad aims for the model. Firstly, it must blend in with a Death Guard force (i.e. the GT2008 army). Secondly, it shouldn't be so Nurglesque as to be un-usable in an undivided chaos marine army.

At first glace, I thought that those two aims were in some serious amount of tension with one another. A Nurgle vindicator, but not too Nurgly!?!? How can that be achieved? Then I got thinking about the sorts of adjectives that described Nurgle: decaying, decrepit, sore-covered, fungi-covered, ugly, nurgling-infested, rusted.... (etc.). Out of them, the word rusted appealed a lot! Nurgle need not be an over-the-top paint job of grossness. It can be as simple as making a model appear rusted, in a poor state of repair, and old.

Then I got thinking about the consequences of that. What if some part of the vehicle rusted away completely, what would a traitor techmarine do? Why, replace it of course. I hit upon this idea: the vindicator would be a patchwork of old rusted bits of metal alongside newer, pristine metallic sheets that represent recent replacements (ready to rust over!).

After undercoating in black, the vindicator was basecoated in a dabbed on layer of dull (graveyard) brown colour. A layer of mixed brown and black ink was then applied unevenly all over the surface of the tank. This inked layer took a fair amount of time to dry thoroughly.

Next, I started selecting out single sheets of "metal" on the tank. Some were coated in pure silver - to represent newly replaced parts. Others were given a variety of dull brown, black and dark green colours to politely suggest different rates of decay arising from the piecemeal manner in which the tank has been repaired by patchwork over the centuries. However, the bulk of the colour of the tank remained dull brown.

A number of areas of the tank were drybrushed in a slightly lighter tone of brown and worked up toward bleached bone. Other, thinner parts of metal on the tank were coated in pure bleached bone to suggest recent work to keep the tank together and whole.

The fine details included applying the name of the tank to the scroll on the side; rust features on the front, black horizontal marks from scratches on the front dozer blade, highlighting of external wiring and fans, and highlighting of various nuts and bolts.

Positives: It does fit in with both Death Guard and undivided chaos marine armies, but at the cost of looking slightly at odds with both.
Negatives: These are probably the same as the positives. I could have probably made the tank armour more piecemeal looking. Having most of the tank in the same colour suggests a young tank: not all the panels have required replacement yet.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reconstituting a Keeper of Secrets - Part I: The Plan

I have had the parts for an old (Realms of Chaos era) Keeper of Secrets model hanging around my bits box for quite some time. I think an old Keeper of Secrets would make a fine addition to my daemons armies and I figured it was about time I re-assembled the creature. Even if I don't use it as a Keeper of Secrets, I think it would make a fine counts-as daemon prince.

There is only one problem with my plan. That problem being that I'd no idea whatsoever as to what happened to its lower pair of arms and head. Maybe they got lost, maybe I sold or swapped them for something else with one of my mates, maybe they're off pursuing their own political career in Segmentum Obscuris. I just don't know and cannot remember. The point being that I'm missing vital parts required to re-assemble my Keeper of Secrets. What I have got is illustrated to the left (the image is an out-of-production catalogue page by Games Workshop).

In order to reconstitute the miniature, I needed to source at least 2 arms and a head. Knocking around my bits box was this old ogre (right). This miniature has an interesting right arm (the one holding the spiked club that is resting on his foot). The size of the arm (width-wise) is just about spot on to blend in with the general physique of the rest of the Keeper of Secrets. I also like the look of the spiked club. All of the newer greater daemons sculpted by Games Workshop possess weapons these days (in the Realms of Chaos books, Keepers went in to battle with only their natural assets ... claws and so forth).

So, I carefully cut loose the right arm of the ogre from the shoulder and the tip of the boot. Whilst I wasn't too fussed with the ugly looking shoulder end of the arm, the tip of the club required a little bit of filing down to get it looking more natural; and to remove the excess boot that came off with it.

I have sourced the final two parts for the Keeper of Secrets from the Chaos Spawn plastic kit. The head is the one with the two horns curling down and a goatee horn whilst the left arm is the large clawed arm. The plan is now to milliput them all together such that the ogre arm and chaos spawn arm are positioned below the upper claw arms (i.e. where the original arms would have gone) and to pin the head to the neck stub.

In part II, the finished Keeper of Secrets conversion will be presented along with the paint job.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Raptor Painting and Conversion Update

Today's short posting is an update on the winged chaos marine raptor squad that I've been working on recently, in pictorial form. There are now 2 raptors with melta guns, an icon bearer (Khorne), and a flying raptor. Total points cost for these 4, in addition to the aspiring champion with power fist that I already had, works out at 190 points painted so far. I'll be making up a few more raptors to add to this squad in the future. But for now here's the update picture:

I like these models! They're not quite as cool as the raptor lord with the chaos arm bit for a head, but that's all good since they will help that miniature to stand out a bit more from the crowd. Even without the mark of Khorne, these raptors are all set for tank and dreadnought hunting duties on the tabletop.

Previous postings concerning these models can be found here: Lord of the Raptors, Statistics-1 and Statistics-2.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Daemons of Lesser Powers - Part II: Lesser Daemon Packs

Continuing a series of articles presenting experimental house rules for daemons of lesser powers, today: rules for troops. These lesser daemons are based on the generic daemons from the chaos space marine codex, but transplanted to the daemons codex. As such, they're not very powerful in comparison to the lesser daemons of the big four chaos powers, but can be a handful if ignored.

In the same way as recent codex's have presented some independent characters as being army choice altering, these lesser daemon packs are also affected by the choice of herald in an army.

Lesser Daemons of a Lesser Power (Troops Slot).
Cost: 13 points each

4 4 4 4 1 4 2 10 -/5+
Unit Type: Infantry
Number per squad: 5 to 20

Special Rules: Daemon.
All armed with a single close combat weapon.

Gift one model with: Chaos Icon (+25 pts)
Gift a different model with: Chaos Instrument (+5 pts)
Gift another single model with: Flamer (+10 pts), or Warpfire (+10 pts), or Unholy Might (+5 pts)

(The flamer need not be modelled on the model - it can take the form of a breath attack or similar. However, the model should be at least painted differently from the rest of the pack).

If the force organization chart includes a herald of a lesser power with one of the following options, then all lesser daemon packs may also select it at the following additional costs.
Preferred enemy: mortals (+4 pts per model),
Preferred enemy: daemons and non-mortals (+2 pts per model).
NB: All models within a single pack must be given these upgrades.

A Herald of Malal is given daemons and non-mortals (that includes necrons!) as preferred enemies for fluff reasons. The player may then have any number of lesser daemon packs (up to force organization chart limits) with the same rule that costs 13+2= 15 pts per model.

NB: It is important to differentiate between squads that do or don't have such special rules in 5th edition; perhaps with a different painting scheme or models.

On a related note, I'm personally thinking about using some vampire counts grave guard as generic lesser daemons in my chaos space marine forces in the future. That's a story for another day, though.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another Daemonette, Another Palette

Today, another daemonette of Slaanesh to add to the previous one. This time, the flesh colour is a shade of brown rather than the more unnatural orange of the previous daemonette. Yet the garments have retained the blue and gold scheme. I still haven't quite got the hang of painting these daemonette models too well: the claws are especially giving me much grief. Should they be in a different colour to the flesh, or the same colour? I can't decide on the whole.

This model used nearly the same painting procedure as before, apart from the skin where the palette is simply a different choice. There are no tattoos on this model, it is just as is. I'm reasonably happy with this miniature, but I am going to continue my quest for a colour scheme that looks good, that I'm happy with, and is different to the purple-and-pale-purple exhibited in the codex. I'm sensing that I'll end up with a squad of daemonettes all in different colour schemes at this rate. That might not be such a bad outcome overall, however!

The base deserves a quick mention here as well. It is plasticard glued on top of a regular circular base with a small amount of industrial-looking rubbish (sand and off-clippings of plastic sprues) glued to one edge. The yellow tiles are suggestive of an urban setting. Traffic markings perhaps, or a daemon-wrecked discotheque!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Copse of Trees

In the tutorial on how to make trees like model railway modellers, I detailed the general method that I used for making a single tree (but admittedly, only one type of tree). By repeating the instructions many times over, it won't take too long to create a whole copse, woodland, or forest of trees!

Today's posting, I hope, will give readers some inspiration as to what can be achieved and the kinds of variations that are possible. Therefore, that's all I'm going to write today as I'm going to let the gratuitous montage do the talking.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tutorial: Tree Making

When I was first considering making some scenic trees, I realized that model railway enthusiasts had been doing this for years. At a train hobby exhibition, I picked up a number of modelling ingredients and set to work trying to learn and reproduce the techniques and outcomes that the model railway folks had long had under their collective belts.

So, something a little different today: this article presents a tutorial on how to make scenic trees like the model railway enthusiasts. I think the results should be achievable by almost anyone reading this (if you're young, though, I'd recommend getting a grown-ups help). Enjoy!

Ingredients & Tools List.
You'll need the following to follow this tutorial:
wire (florist's wire or necklace-making wire; here in Australia you should be able to find this in somewhere like lincraft);
hand pliers (probably 2 pairs unless you have large callouses on your fingertips already);
flock, clump foliage (I use woodland scenics);
glue (PVA / white wood glue will suffice);
filler (most types will do);
an old plastic tub that you don't want anymore (recycle those margarine or butter tubs);
paint (citadel or other acrylic / water-based);
40mm base, or larger (citadel, or cut from a cork table board);
wooden ice-lolly sticks (to be used for mixing and applying the filler; an old, large brush that you don't care too much about would also suffice).


Step 1. Grab yourself a whole bunch of wires. About 14 would be quite sufficient to make a decent sized tree with. (edit: I've used lengths of about 40cm in the pictures, different lengths will affect the height of the final tree). Feel free to experiment with larger numbers for different effects (e.g. thicker trunks). Straighten them out if you bought them curled up in packaging (e.g. from necklace making supplies).

Step 2. Fold your wires in half. The top of the loop will become the tree's branches, the ends will become roots. (Folding them in half is not strictly necessary, it simply creates a thicker trunk to work with. By not folding them in half, you'll have taller and thinner trees). We're now going to twist the wires together to define the trunk. You need to decide now how much root-work you want. I'm going to twist (using the pliers) about 1/3 of the way up from the non-loop end. If you want lots of roots to play with, choose a twisting point nearer to the centre. If you want more branches to play with, choose a twisting points further towards the (non-loop) end. Unless you're planting your tree in styrofoam, you'll want to have at least some roots to provide balance for your tree. You'll want in the region of at least 2cm of twisting for the main trunk.

Step 3. We're going to work on the branches now. If you look at real world trees, you'll notice that the trunk and branches usually split in two (or bifurcate) with increasing height for the most part. So, divide the loops above the trunk section in to two groups. These groupings don't have to be even numbers of wires at all - you can create some interesting trees by using (say) 8 in one group and 17 in another. For each of these two loops, twist once more. You've now made two main branches coming out from the main trunk.

Step 4. You should continue with this splitting in to groups and twisting process (as pictured) until you've run all the way up to the tip of the wire loops! (The tips will be holding the clump foliage later on, so you might want to push the branches in to a suitable holding shape now). If you find that your branches are getting too long and you want more spindly and smaller branches, then fold a single loop in half to create two loops and hence an extra branching.
At the tips of the branches, flatten the looped wire out in to a single point to finish the job.

Step 5. Back to those roots. We're going to follow a similar prescription to steps 3 and 4 for the roots. However, since they're the ends and don't have loops on already, I've looped them back on to the trunk in four groups. This serves to both thicken the lower trunk and give more stability to the tree. The roots don't have as many bifurcations (if at all) compared to the branches. Once you've twisted your roots in to place, you should stand your tree upright on the base that you're going to use. Does it balance? If not, you might like to re-arrange some of the branches and roots to alter the centre of gravity (unless you want some wind-swept trees, of course, which would be perfectly understandable).

Step 6. This is the messy part that also takes a while. Scoop a liberal amount of filler in to your tub. Add a small amount of water to it. Using your lollipop sticks, mix it up. You might want to add a few drops of paint to the mixture at this stage. But beware: since the mixture is white, you should add darker colours than you might initially think (In the pictures, I've used a combo of Catachan green, goblin green and black ink). The consistency you're after is slightly less thick than toothpaste (like viscous honey perhaps?), smooth and without lumps in it.

Using your wooden lolly poles, smear the mixture on to your tree's wire-frame. You want a relatively good coat (enough to hide the wire underneath), but you don't have to be too picky or coat it extremely evenly since the foliage will hide some of the less even portions later on, particularly toward the tips of the branches. Remember that real world trees come in all shapes and sizes and don't get too hung up about splodges here and there. You can always drybrush it later if you like.

Allow your filler to dry on the wire frame (probably a couple of hours). Then apply another coating. You can keep on applying coats if you want to thicken the trunk up further (etc.), but your batch of filler is also also drying at the same time, albeit at a slower rate. (You've got the time to make up further wire tree frames if you've made up too big a batch of filler for one tree!)

I'll also note here that the filler can be used as a temporary "glue" to fix the tree to its base. It is not a strong bond in the slightest, so you should use superglue instead later (or use green stuff) once the filler has dried.

Step 7. Once your coats are completely dry, we can apply the clump foliage. Since the filler is flexible, you should still be able to bend your branches in to new orientations. Use some white glue (PVA) and apply the clump foliage at the tops of the branches in whatever formation you like. Don't be afraid to "pinch" a pair of branch tips together to better hold a foliage clump in place.

Step 8. To complete the process, add some flock and scenic additions to the base and you're pretty much done. I've never created the same tree twice, so don't worry if your tree doesn't look like mine! You can also do several trees at once depending on how much filler you mix up ready to use.

In no time, you'll have whole forests growing up. My wife and sister-in-law have also been having a go at tree making. Truthfully, I can't tell their efforts apart from my own - so I reckon even beginners can obtain good results. Trees have gone from being a daunting challenge to something easy to produce for me. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and are inspired to give it a go.

Further trees that resulted from using this method can be found here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Troublesome Bright Yellow: Warp Hornets Chapter

One colour that I've had a lot of problems in the past with is bright yellow. A while back (several years back in fact), I had this bright(!) idea that I'd field some chaos renegades whose primary colour was to be sunburst yellow. I called them the Warp Hornets and the idea was to have their colour scheme wasp-like: black and yellow. I even took them to GT2007.

The problem is that bright yellow is very annoying to shade correctly and highlight correctly. The picture displays a number of different thoughts that I had to paint the renegades, ranging from multiple drybrushing layers, highlighting in even brighter yellows and making various locations on the miniature a "muddier" yellow. I've never been wholly satisfied with any of the painting techniques that I explored to try to get the look right in my eyes. So, bright yellow remains an unsolved problem for me. The best chaos marine pictured is arguably the central aspiring champion where there is a line of black around the should plates before they meet a gold / bronze rim. It certainly helps it to stand out.

Speaking of standing out, these miniatures certainly stand out against the crowd on any battle field!, more so than the Imperial Fists even. The dominant bright yellow makes them look highly chaotic, but choosing a secondary colour (red, purple, blue, gold, black) was also difficult as the image above testifies. So, if you want your army to be noticed, bright yellow is the way to go from experience. To make them even brighter, try dipping them in gloss varnish; I did!

I'll post more pictures of the Warp Hornets at a later date, as well as some fluff perhaps. I've got a box of these chaos undivided minions sat around, alongside some terminators. These days, I usually only field them in apocalypse or at most, a single squad in an chaos undivided marine renegades army. I am thinking of starting a new chaos chapter that doesn't use bright yellow; I'm thinking blue is much easier to work with.

Random thoughts from a game of Daemons against Marines

Recently, I played a daemons army against a Space Marine army in a friendly clash. The battle was annihilation with pitched battle setup. I wanted to share a few thoughts and lessons learnt arising from the 1500 pts battle.

Rough Force Composition Overview:
I was playing a mixed daemons list (a few proxies were used and a few unpainted models), as follows:
Great Unclean One (Breath of Chaos, Cloud of Flies); Herald of Khorne (Juggernaut mounted, Death Strike); 14 Bloodletters; 10 Plaguebearers (Icon, Instrument); 12 Horrors (The Changeling, Icon, Instrument, Bolt of Tzeentch); 5 Screamers (Unholy Might); Daemon Prince (Iron Hide, Daemonic Flight); Daemon Prince (Iron Hide, Gaze); Daemon Prince (Iron Hide, Gaze).

My opponent was using the new Marine codex with approximately the following:
2 drop pods with sternguard veterans and marines, Lysander, Pedro, Scouts (snipers), predator (autocannon with heavy bolters), Iron-clad Dreadnought, and two large tactical squads (flamers, missile launchers).

Outcomes and thoughts:
The entire squad of bloodletters died from rapid fire before getting in to combat - apart from the herald. The herald was worth its weight in gold though (especially since the juggernaut grants iron hide regardless). Daemons need to be taken in large packs if they've only got a 5+ save! But also, I've come around to thinking that a large squad of bloodcrushers will be good. The only problem in reality is the cost of getting hold of so many - therefore that's going to remain a dream.

The plaguebearers weren't so good. With only 1 attack, they didn't do so well. But predictably, they hung around until the bitter end. I think I'm only ever going to take small squads of these guys again, perhaps with an icon in for summoning and drop them on top of objectives.

The horrors were great! But they need to be positioned wisely and avoid being charged. If you take them in large squads with all options and keep them away from close combat, you'll not be disappointed.

The screamers are incredible against armour. They're good in multiple small squads and similarly good in one large mob.

Great Unclean Ones with Breath of Chaos is an under-rated combo. It worked remarkably well! Aside, I probably had too many HQs in this particular army though. Just like the plaguebearers, the Great Unclean One stays around for a long time. The slow and purposeful rule is not a big drawback at all.

Daemon Princes are good, but I don't know whether I should be taking 3 of them again in the future. I'm reserving judgement on daemon princes versus soul grinders.

Overall, I'm slowly coming round to thinking that Khorne + Tzeentch might be an optimal and semi-fluffy stratagem if you're not playing a pure Epidemius list.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blue Horror from Pink

Blue horrors of Tzeentch come from pink horrors. What should the base of a blue horror have on it then? A pink horror! Or at least that was the idea that I set out with. I'm not sure whether this'll be my entry to FtW's basing contest, it was simply a thought and and experiment given form to add variety to my Tzeentchian horror pack.

The blue horror is a standard metal horror straight out of the box and assembled in the usual fashion. The base is a combination of milliput, metal horror arms and a bit of scatter. I wanted to create the image of a blue horror stepping out of the mouth of a pink one. The photographs don't quite capture this entirely, but one of the legs of the blue horror is still inside the maw of the pink horror on the ground (locate the pink horror's tongue at the front, near the eye).

This pose was remarkably straight forward to accomplish. The blue horror was glued in to the slottabase in the first instance and allowed to dry before even a blob of milliput was applied. The first thing was creating a maw. This was done by just pushing a two long cylinders of milliput around one of the blue horror's legs to create some "lips" and then sculpting it a bit further to create the maw. Using further rolled cylinders, the flowing tentacle(?) things were laid down around this maw, flowing backward to the rear. A small cylinder was used for the tongue and small depressions in the milliput were created for the eyes whilst it was still malleable. The extra metal arms (that come with the horror boxes) were then placed in. One of them is posed to look like it is trying to claw the blue horror back in, but the blue horror is pushing it back down.

I like the pose of this particular blue horror, it looks like it is screaming at the sky; somewhat annoyed that it has lost its pink outer "shell"! The painting was done in the same manner as outlined previously. The last step was to add a small amount of green scatter where the milliput pink horror was not completely covering the entire base. I'm satisfied overall, but the piece is not exceptional.

I'll need some better images of this model & some touching up of the paintwork if it's going to be entering the FtW basing contest. Regardless, I think that this type of base - one that is interacting with the miniature on top of it - is the way that I'll go.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Verdus Prime Necron Warrior

On a semi-whim, I purchased a box of necron warriors a little while ago. I intend to use necron parts for conversion work on chaos space marines to represent bionic replacements - it'll work out cheaper than using the Iron Hands box set. But having bought the box of necron warriors, I then found myself wanting to make some of them up and paint them, just to see how they'd work out.

Aims and Model.
I do like the "metallic undead" feel of the necron warriors, but wanted something other than the usual silver / chrome / rust looks that I've seen on many playing tables. So, my inspiration for this necron paint scheme comes from Dawn of War in the main part: Verdus Prime.

The six images above show the various stages that I went through to achieve the final look. The first two (gluing the miniature together and undercoating in black) are straight forward. After letting the undercoat dry, I drybrushed the weaponry, recessed areas and primary joints (knees, elbows, etc.) in silver (image 3). I wasn't too careful here as any excess silver on other areas can readily be corrected later on. Pure skull white was then applied to the armoured surfaces (image 4). A combination of gold paint, chestnut ink and black ink was then painted on in rivulets to simulate the appearance of leaking fluids coming out from the internal workings of the necron (image 5). Additionally, the eyes were painted red and some green paint and ink was applied to the recessed areas of the weaponry and one of the tubes coming out from the gauss barrel. The bits sticking out from the base were also painted in brass. In the final step, the gauss barrel was glued in to place and given some streaks of dark green and the stone gravel on the base was drybrushed (image 6).

The image at the top of this article displays the final product in 3 orientations with the inclusion of some green scatter glued on to the base.

I'm pleased with this miniature overall, especially considering this is the first necron that I've ever worked on. I like the feel of the leaking joints, perhaps sustained from battle damage. In hindsight, I think I could have added some lowlights around the rim of the white armoured portions and some chipped paint work to show darker metal underneath. Next time, I might basecoat in space wolf grey and highlight or drybrush with pure skull white. I was also sorely tempted to paint the gauss barrel in flaming reds and oranges akin to the hellblades on my bloodletters, but I was glad to have resisted.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GT2007 list

Below is my entry to Grand Tournament 2007 (Queensland) that I'm posting here principally for posterity. It uses the old chaos codex (the one that had triple columns of wargear...) along with 4th edition rules and 1500 points value limit. The army performed at an "average" level (i.e. it ranked about half-way up the final results table), but I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and meeting a bunch of great people there!

Army List.

Chaos Lieutenant: Mark of Chaos Undivided; Dark Blade daemon weapon; Terminator Armour; Combi-Bolter.

Terminator Squad: Chosen Terminator Champion: Daemonic Mutation; Daemonic Visage; power weapon and combi-bolter; Mark of Chaos Undivided. Squad of 4 Chosen Chaos Terminators: power weapons and combi-bolters except for: 1 heavy flamer and 2 chainfists; all with Mark of Chaos Undivided; 1 unit icon.

Khorne Berzerkers: Aspiring Champion; Mark of Khorne; Talisman of Burning Blood; bolt pistol and Power Fist; Frag grenades. Seven further berzerkers: all with Mark of Khorne, blot pistols & close combat weapons and frag grenades; 1 unit icon.

Chaos Space Marines: Aspiring Champion; Mark of Chaos Undivided; bolt pistol; power fist; infiltrate; frag grenades; teleport homer. Together with 9 further Chaos Space Marines; all with Mark of Chaos Undivided; Infiltrate; frag grenades; all have bolt pistols and close combat weapons; special weapon upgrades: 1 with a Melta Gun; 1 heavy bolter; unit icon.

Chaos Space Marines: Aspiring Champion; Mark of Chaos Undivided; Combi-bolter; close combat weapon; unit icon. Together with 6 further Chaos Space Marines; all with Mark of Chaos Undivided; bolters and close combat weapons; special weapon upgrade: 1 with a Missile Launcher.

Chaos Space Marines: 6 Chaos Space Marines; all with Mark of Chaos Undivided; tank hunters; bolters and close combat weapons; special weapon upgrades: 1 lascannon and 1 plasma gun; 1 unit icon.

Bloodletters: 8, with hellblades.

Plaguebearers: 8, with Daemonic venom and Nurgle’s rot.

Heavy Support:
Chaos Predator with autocannon; lascannon sponsons; smoke launcher.

(1) Mixing special and heavy weapons doesn't work - there's always one weapon going to waste in such troops squads. I should have resisted that temptation but the miniatures looked good (1980's era), which to me was sufficient reason.
(2) Singular vehicles always get targeted and destroyed first. This list should have been 100 per cent infantry with no vehicles present, but I couldn't resist the predator!
(3) Very enjoyable to play with. I'd recommend building 100% troops chaos space marine armies to others. The sheer number of power (or terminator) armoured bodies can be intimidating. Chaos marine hordes are under-rated.

Monday, November 17, 2008

FtW November Challenge: Gauntlet Scenario, Final Version

Following on from my previous postings (1, 2), here I present the Gauntlet scenario in full. Thanks to everyone who commented on Gauntlet as it progressed through its various stages of development! Publically showing a work in progress is sometimes risky, but I personally find the feedback useful and helpful (cf. Mark of the Raptors). In this case, it has made my thoughts more concrete - this is one beauty of having a group like FtW (cheers to Ron for your hard work in making FtW a success!). If you run this scenario in your local group, or at a store (etc.), then I'd love to hear how it went. So, without further ado...


In an audacious lightning raid, the forces of Calixtus the Stone-Hearted* have {stolen / liberated}** the {keycodes to the orbital defence lasers / lost stave of Pir’ex / Gemstone of doom / Jokero’s digital weapon blueprints}** from the fortified enclave of Raxa*. Forces from the {local militia / genestealer hybrid cult council / residential space marines}** that were in the immediate vicinity have been dispatched with all due haste to intercept these {thieves / marauders / mutants}**.

* Insert other names of your choosing if you wish
** Delete as appropriate

This game is intended to be a small and quick game suitable for all gamers, from introductory level players to beyond.

There are two players in this scenario: the raiders and the interceptors. Both players are limited to 1000 points – this represents a small raiding party (the raiders) that has got hold of some item that is precious to the locals (the interceptors) who haven’t had much chance to react. The scenario then asks the question: do the raiders get away with their stolen loot?

Gauntlet is not a standard mission.
For the raiders, the controlling player is obliged to choose 1 HQ (not a named character), 1 Fast Attack and 1 Troops choice. Further points can only be spent on more troops, or more fast attack selections. No heavy support choices are permitted: this is a small lightning-fast raiding force that would be slowed down by these choices. No elites are permitted either: these squads are presumed to be on other important duties, or have perished in the original raid!

For the interceptors, the 1000 points are divided in to two lots of 500 points, each with their own force organization. In each 500 points lot, the interceptors player is obliged to choose 1 HQ (not a named character) and 1 Troops choice. Further points from each of the 500 lots can be spent on up to any other 4 selections from any section of the standard force organization chart. This represents whatever local forces the commander on the ground could muster and get there in good time.

Gauntlet Setup.
Gauntlet is recommended to be played on a square 4 x 4 ft board, as shown below.

The raiders must place every model of their force within an imaginary triangle whose corners are one corner of the board and 12 inches away from that corner, along the board edges. Their aim is to move their squads off the board at the opposite edges.
Meanwhile, the interceptors must place one 500 points lot in an adjacent imaginary triangle, again measured 12 inches from the corner.

The second 500 points lot of interceptors will be moved on to the board at the start of turn 2 from the edges shown on the setup diagram.

The terrain for gauntlet is unrestricted since the action could take place anywhere; ranging from dense death world forest areas, to urban jungle waste-lands. The players are free to choose how much, or how little, scenic terrain they want and should set it up in an amicable fashion by taking it in turns to place down items of scenery.

Gauntlet Special Rules.
Deep striking, infiltration, scouting and all other special rules that affect setup are not permitted in gauntlet – all models must be deployed according to the gauntlet setup rules, and not moved from their setup positions until turn 1.

Roll randomly for the first turn as usual.

As the last setup step, the raiders player must designate one of his models as the “loot carrier”. This model must be the HQ selection for the raiders force, a squad leader (e.g. an aspiring champion or a space marine sergeant), or special character upgrade (e.g. the changeling). Regardless, the loot carrier model must be distinct from the rest of its squad; but the loot need not be modeled on the miniature (it is presumed to be small and not noticeable).

The raiders player must note down in secret which miniature the loot carrier is and not reveal it until the end of the game.

Finally, the raiders player’s objective is to move his or her troops to the opposite side of the board (see the setup diagram).

If at the start of the raider’s turn, one of the raider’s models is touching these move-off edges, that model is taken off the board and takes no further part in the game. It is presumed that the model has reached safety (an awaiting airship?) and escaped the clutches of the interceptors player.

The game ends when there are no models belonging to the raiders player remaining on the board. At this point, the raiders player reveals which model was the loot-carrier and the winner is evaluated.

Gauntlet Win Conditions.
The raiders player scores a major victory if they move off the loot-carrier and inflict a higher number of kill points than their opponent.

The raiders score a minor victory if they move off the loot-carrier. The heavy toll in getting the loot-carrier to his or her destination demands a good dressing down from the senior military staff!

The interceptors score a minor victory if they kill the loot-carrier. Some of the fleeing raiders can recall segments of the keycodes to the orbital defence lasers which still leaves the interceptors senior command worried.

The interceptors player scores a major victory if they kill the loot-carrier and inflict a higher number of kill points than their opponent.

NB: There are no draw conditions. This mission and its objectives are considered to be vital to both sides. There is no half-way house. There is only victory or defeat.

Clearly the board and the points values of both sides can readily be varied for different games and themes. Also, the points values of the miniatures can readily be substituted for kill points.

One alternative to the win conditions spelled out above is to assign some kill points, or bonus points value to the loot-carrier. About 2 kill points or 100 to 200 additional points seems about right for removing this miniature.

Additional rules such as night fighting can also be introduced for variety. After all, it is likely that the raiders would be using the cover of night to get away with their loot.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Count the VII: A Plague Marine Squad

As you're aware by now, I'm fond of fielding chaos space marine armies, amongst others. Sometimes they're chaos undivided, other times Death Guard. Even within undivided armies, I find myself fielding plague marine squads. So, in response to FtW's Round Table for November 15th, my go-to squad of choice are plague marines of Nurgle.

Why this choice? Well, firstly there is the plague marine survivability factor. These marines just don't want to leave the battlefield with their feel no pain special rule. This makes them a wonderful troops choice for capturing strategic objectives in various scenarios. In 5th edition, this got even better since every single one of them must be removed in order to eliminate their scoring unit status; unlike in 4th edition when they had to be reduced to under half strength. For a unit of 7 as pictured here, it'll take a statistical mean of 189 standard bolter shots fired by BS4 troops to get rid of them. Let me repeat that: 189 bolter rounds are needed to eliminate these troops! You only need a mean of 63 standard shots for 7 ordinary marines. Significantly, even for 7 terminators you'd only need a mean of 126 standard shots!

Given that, they're not exactly bothered by the prospect of being rapid fired at with bolters. They're also fearless. They do, however, lose out to weapons that deny them their save (ordnance, power fists and the like), so they have to be carefully managed. They're not really designed to take on terminators unless massed in large numbers. Further, they're expensive as well at 23 points per miniature. But I strongly believe that these points are well invested.

Pictured, I've kitted this squad out with a power fist on the plague champion, a melta gun, a flamer and an icon. This makes the squad a dangerous and flexible one. Each model is also a conversion to a greater or lesser extent, which is another prime reason that I like to field them. Lastly, I sometimes mount them in a rhino equipped with a havoc launcher (also pictured) to improve their maneuverability and add some more shooting power. I'll post about this particular rhino at a later date since it is an interesting conversion. The total points value of the pictured squad comes out at 271 -- yes, they're rather expensive. Other configurations that I favour include simply going for two plasma guns in a squad of seven; a kind of static pseudo-havoc squad.

In GT2008, these troops were worth their points value in gold. There was hardly a single game where they were eliminated to a man. It's a rare battle that I leave home without including them in a chaos space marine army. The only reason for doing so is to have more bodies (and therefore more shooting models) in an army. But more bodies doesn't necessarily improve survivability.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Daemons of Lesser Powers - Part I: Heralds

Codex: Daemons is an excellent codex. I rate it very highly and it compares very well to the older Realms of Chaos publications (Slaves to Darkness and Lost and the Damned). My singular, nearly insignificant gripe is that it didn't present any daemons of lesser powers; apart from furies.

Furies are described as lost souls who didn't dedicate themselves to any particular power. Fair enough. But what about powers beyond the big four (Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle and Slaanesh)? Dare I mention the names Malal or Kweethul Gristlegut? Indeed, the Lost and the Damned Realms of Chaos supplement has an entire section devoted to the nascent lesser powers of chaos and independent daemons.

In this series of articles, I'm going to present some experimental house rules for daemons of lesser powers. Eventually, I hope to gather them all together in one place as a mindex or equivalent. Here, the rules for a herald of a lesser power will be presented. In creating these rules, I'm guided by both the daemons codex and the chaos space marines one, but I also want to keep these rules in the spirit of the Lost and the Damned. Looking at the final product, it does not pack as much of a punch as heralds of the Big Four do. Moreover, the points values are also slightly on the more expensive side perhaps. To compensate, they get more wargear options than heralds of the big four, but are restricted to only two choices (lesser powers should have, um, less power afterall). Here we go:

Herald of a Lesser Power (HQ Choice - may take 2 heralds as one HQ slot). Cost: 50 points.
4 4 4 4 2 4 3 10 -/5+
Unit Type: Infantry
Number per squad: 1

Special Rules: Daemon, Independent Character
May have two of the following:Iron Hide (+15 pts), Daemonic Flight (+30 pts), Unholy Might (+10 pts), Chaos Icon (+25 pts), Power weapon (+15 pts), Preferred enemy: mortals (+25 pts), Preferred enemy: daemons and non-mortals (+15 pts), Daemonic Gaze (+15 pts); Breath of Chaos (+30 pts); Boon of Mutation (+30 pts)

In addition, the herald may have one of the following:
Daemonic Steed (+15 pts), Daemonic Chariot (+30 pts).

A daemonic steed alters the herald's profile to:
4 4 4 5 2 4 4 10 -/5+
and changes its unit type from infantry to cavalry.

A daemonic chariot alters the herald's profile to:
4 4 4 5 3 4 5 10 4+/5+
In addition the herald replaces the Independent Character rule with Furious Charge and changes its unit type from infantry to cavalry.

As an example, I recently posted an article about a chaos champion in bone armour. Using this system, the miniature could be a herald costing 80 points: 50 points base, +15 points for a power weapon (representing the stolen bloodletter hellblade), and +15 points for iron hide (being the bone armour). This daemon is then nearly akin to a chaos space marine aspiring champion wielding a power weapon, but costs more. This feels about right to me since the model has an extra wound and an invulnerable save compared to an aspiring champion.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daemons against Vanguard - Statistics

Inspired by CrusherJoe's posting on Vanguard Veterans, I thought I'd run a few numbers to see how daemonettes and bloodletters would fare against them. I do like a bit of mathematics...

I'm going to go with the squad that CrusherJoe outlined: 10 veterans, of whom 5 (including the sergeant) have power weapons. They cost 285 points.

For that amount of points, we can purchase 20.4 daemonettes, or 17.8 bloodletters. For the sake of argument (and my head), let's round that to 20 and 18 respectively.

Let's consider a small number of scenarios including both sides doing the charging and the daemons getting fired at before charging.

Case 1. Daemonettes charge the Veterans.
The first point to make with this case is that the daemonettes have fleet. That gives them a little more maneuverability and makes it more likely that they'll achieve a charge early on in a game.

Assuming they've charged in, the daemonettes will go first at initiative 6. On the charge, they get 4 rending attacks each. That's a shocking total of 80. Half will hit: 40. One third of them (13.333) will wound, of which 6.667 are rending hits. Of the non-rending wounds, a mean of 2.222 will not be saved. That makes a whopping 8.889 wounds.

The remaining 1.111 veterans will then strike back, inflicting 1.667 hits and 1.111 wound. The daemonettes invulnerable save translates that in to 0.741 unsaved wounds. Hence, dW=8.148 in favour of the daemonettes. The veterans didn't work out too well here.

Case 2. Veterans charge the Daemonettes.
The Veterans are getting 40 attacks on the charge with 20 being power weapons. The only problem is that the daemonettes are still going first. They're unnaturally fast! So, the daemonettes raise their claws to take the charge and strike with 60 attacks. Following the above logic, 30 will hit and the veterans are taking 6.667 wounds.

But it gets worse. The veterans don't actually get their bonus attack thanks to the mind altering beauty of the daemonettes and their musky, scented aura of acquiescence that they're falling head over heels for. So, the 3.333 veterans are getting 3 attacks each, half of which are power weapons and all at a furious strength 5. So, rounding up: 10 attacks, of which 5 hit and 4.167 cause wounds. Using their invulnerable save, they take 2.778 wounds. Hence dW=3.889 in favour of the daemonettes. The pendulum is still swinging away from the veterans.

Case 3. Bloodletters charge the Veterans.
Bloodletters wield hellblades (power weapons) and have furious charge. Charging, they will strike first with a considerable (18*3=)54 attacks. They'll cause 36 hits and 24 unsavable wounds. Game over. Blood for the blood god. Ten more skulls for the skull throne.

Really, the bloodletters didn't need to cause 24 wounds. Ten would have been ample! It was overkill. So, how many bloodletters are required to cause 10 wounds? Ten wounds would require 15 hits. Fifteen hits needs 22.5 attacks. Rounding up, a mere 6 bloodletters could have got the job done on the charge. Scarily, that's less than 100 points worth of bloodletters.

Case 4. Veterans charge the Bloodletters.
The brave veterans charge for the bloodletters without hesitation, but is it a wise course of action? With their furious charge, they're actually striking first here. They get 40 attacks of which 20 are power weapons (not that that makes much difference to our invulnerable daemons). Of the 40 attacks, 20 hit. Of those 20, 13.333 will wound. A considerable 8.888 daemons flee back to the warp to lick their wounds and plot their vengeance.

More immediately, there are still 9.111 bloodletters left. That makes 18.222 attacks, of which 12.148 hit. Half will wound for a total of 6.074 unsavable wounds.

The veterans have won! (dW=2.814) But at a significant cost: 6 of them are gone. They'll be lucky to get past the next round of combat without their furious charge.

The daemons are rather likely to get shot at prior to either side doing the charging. Let's suppose that 10 bolt shots are fired their way by the 10 marines. There will be 6.667 hits. Against the bloodletters, 3.333 will wound and 2.222 will fail their saves. Against the daemonettes, 4.444 will wound and 2.963 will perish.

Summarizing: charge those bloodletters before they charge you and rapid fire those daemonettes. Or from the other stand point: take large daemon packs to go toe-to-toe with veterans.

As usual folks, I do make mistakes (that's how I learn!), so let me know if you spot a flaw in the mathematics! Thanks again to CrusherJoe for making me think.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vintage Chaos Champion in Bone Armour in w40k

Another comparatively old citadel miniature provides the basis for a chaos champion. In 40k, it is perhaps a unique lesser daemon or feral world leader.

Aims & Model.
Despite being an old model, this one is a relatively new additional to my collection. It was bought on the basis that it was one that I had wanted when I was much younger in age, but could never get hold of. Its utility to Warhammer fantasy battle is straight-forward in the guise of a chaos sorcerer or champion. But what use can it be put to in the Warhammer 40,000 setting? I have a number of ideas in mind. Firstly, it can be used in a lost & the damned army as a mutant leader. It may also have a role in some traitor imperial guard armies. Neither of those options are the ones that I have specifically in mind for this model's future. To me, it has three prime uses. Firstly, as a character model (psyker perhaps) in a feral world setting, perhaps helping to lead local resistance to invasion from imperial forces. Secondly, and potentially more interestingly, I see this model as a unique lesser daemon for use in exploring an idea that has been brewing at the back of my mind for some while: a Daemon Worlds supplement / minidex. More on that specific idea at a later date. Lastly, I'm considering using this model as The Changeling from Codex: Daemons. (Edit: Surely any model could be used for The Changeling?!)

The general aim for this model was to attempt to make it look slightly other-worldly, but still suitable for use as a feral world model. Therefore, I wanted to make it look like it had a sword that was similar in style and appearance to the hellblades that I've painted on my modern bloodletters. I chose blue as the general colour theme for the vestment, and an aged looking bone colour for the armoured parts.

The robes were tackled first, using a deep blue basecoat on top of a black undercoat. After inking with a mix of 1 part black to 4 parts blue, the robe was drybrushed to progressively lighter shades of blue. Highlighting of the robe was accomplished with small, delicate lines of light blue and white along the raised portions to give the illusion of a flowing, once-silken vestment.

For the armoured portions, a cream basecoat was applied and inked in a wash of brown. These parts were progressively highlighted, primarily through drybrushing, to lighter shades of bone.

The blade was painted in the colours that I use on my bloodletters. This is done by starting with a dark red toward the hilt of the blade and mixing it with bolder reds, through orange and yellow to white at the very tip. The blending of the colours doesn't have to be precise - the aim was for was a heated lava-like blade. Specks of yellow in an odd place are therefore locally hotter parts of the blade. I also like the idea of the sword's tip being the hottest part, rather than nearer to the hilt as suggested in some of the painting to be found in codex: daemons.

To finish the painting off, final detailing was made on the hilt and handle of the blade, the side satchel, rivets in the bone armour and green gemstones embedded in the hilt of the blade. Basing was done in a very simplistic manner using green scatter and no additional detail to detract from the model.

Positives: Unlike other models where the general aim might be to draw attention to the facial region, this model's face is hidden inside an imposing bone mask. The real highlight and attention grabber is therefore the bright blade that the miniature is holding. The colours of the blade are in stark contrast to the blue robes which make the model stand out very well. In my mind, the narrative is that this character has stolen a hellblade from a bloodletter - no mean feat and one that is bound to have grave repercussions at a later date.
Negatives: The robe was likely sculpted to look old and moth-eaten. This really has not come across very well for me since the robes look relatively fresh. To achieve a more worn look, I should have painted the lower part of the robes in a more dirty shade to represent mud (etc.) staining the parts that are dragging along the floor and hence picking up the muck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Screamer made from Magma and Lava

Screamers of Tzeentch can be painted in multiple styles and present an appealing look. The typical style and paint scheme is orientated toward a manta-ray. As usual, I wanted something a bit different. This screamer was therefore chosen to be painted in a lava or magma style and will complement the previous water-like one.

Aims and Model.
Why bother painting a screamer in this style? I had a couple of reasons including (1) wanting a screamer that stands out from the crowd so that within a game I can assign it a strength bonus (unholy might) and I don't have to look carefully to figure out which screamer has the bonus; (2) exploring different painting approaches on large "blank canvas" areas of miniatures; (3) I simply thought it'd look cool if I could pull it off. As with other deamons, the rationale behind such a manifestation might be that the screamer made itself from lava (perhaps the only abundant nearby form of matter?) when breaking through to the material plane. Or it could be as simple a reason as Tzeentch being fickle and changing its creations for the hell of it. I guess that is the beauty of working with Tzeentch miniatures: almost any paint scheme, and oftentimes conversion work, can be justified in that manner.

The model is a standard screamer of Tzeentch with only one item of conversion work applied: I turned it upside-down! This may seem completely superfluous. I did this to give the miniature a different flowing shape since screamers are only produced in a few different poses. This simple change makes it look like there are more sculpts in use than there really are. On an assembly note, I personally found the tail a little fiddly to glue into place and I had to work around the seam with a little milliput (green stuff) as a consequence.

Here, I wasn't sure which way to go: black undercoat or white undercoat? I have a maxim that is something along the lines of: if in doubt, work the colours of a miniature up from darker shades to lighter shades. Sometimes this isn't always appropriate (e.g. the burnt-out Herald of Tzeentch), but I could come up with no good reason to start from a white undercoat in this instance.

The basecoat for the miniature was a solid red. I reasoned that if I started from a "central" colour, I could work lighter in some regions and go darker in others. At least that was the plan that I used and sticked to. Looking at a blank canvas (the "wings" of the screamer) I got a little stuck for what to do next. In the end, I choose a bright, livid orange colour and started to gently outline small, irregular circles on the wings. This was to prove the decisive move! With the circular features sketched in place, it was much easier to identify where other colours must necessarily follow and what shades to use. In areas away from the sketched lines, darker colours were applied and blended: orange through red, and down to black. The lines themselves were thickened up and yellows & whites were added to the mixture to create local hot-spots. Only some of the sketched outlines were heated up in this manner since I wanted an irregular pattern on the surface suggestive of molten rocks.

With the magma effect looking good, I finished the model off by applying some highlights to the raised portions of the body. The raised areas toward the front were painted in cream with a dark centre to attempt to resemble condensing and cooling rocks on its surface. The tusks and spikes along the body were painted in solid black given that they stand out from the screamer's main body and logically might have cooled off quicker.

Positives: I am very pleased with the outcome here! I wasn't certain that the idea could work, but I think the paint scheme is enough to convey the idea I had in mind at the outset.
Negatives: The miniature took a comparatively long time to paint. I was repeatedly touching up small portions of the wings to get the look as I'd intended it. I'm also thinking that pure black for the tusks and spikes might not have been the best option, but they do stand out from the miniature without detracting from the main scene: the body.

I still need to get the third screamer finished so I can place it alongside this one and the previous one to see how they look in a pack / shoal.
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