Friday, December 12, 2008

Holidays

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).

Model.
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).

Painting.
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.

Evaluation.
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

WS BS S T W I A Ld Sv
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.).

Options:
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:
WS BS S T W I A Ld Sv
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.


Modelling.
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.

Painting.
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.

Evaluation:
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.

Tactics.
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, wh40k.lexicanum.com 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 wh40k.lexicanum.com portrays Magnus in this manner, as does the Horus Heresy Collectible Card Game I believe. Indeed, warhammer40k.wikia.com 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.

Re-Painting.
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.

Evaluation.
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.



Assembly.
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.

Painting.
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!).

Painting.
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.

Evaluation.
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.
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