Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Law of Large Number Statistics.

After reading Adam's excellent article about math-hammer, I got wondering: when does "noise" stop being the dominant component of die rolling? Or put another way: how many die do I have to roll to expect math-hammer calculations to come true? Damned statistics get me interested every time. (Yes, I'm a geek, as my wife keeps telling me. To be fair, my wife helped out with this posting as well - she likes a good puzzle as much as I do. All of the following assumes fair die are used (no practised rolling etc.).

Aside: eventually, I want to figure out when you know you're playing against practised rolling just by using statistics... I'm a long way from figuring that out yet.

What's the problem here? Well, as Adam pointed out more eloquently than I can, if we're rolling small numbers of die, then we can't really expect the statistical average to be the outcome. Let me see if I can put that in another way. If we had an infinite(!) number of d6's, then the average (statistical mean) is expected to be 3.5. If I've only got a 2 die, then then mean might not be tending toward 3.5 in the slightest. Mathematically speaking, this issue is really an exploration and application of the law of large numbers and the central limit theorem.

Law of large numbers.
For the interested, wikipedia provides an excellent summary of this idea. In plain language, it states that as you roll more die, the more your average will tend toward the expected long-term average.

But, my question is how many die do I have to roll? To answer this, I must set a margin of tolerance that I'd be happy with. I'm going to (somewhat arbitrarily) set this at 5%. This means that when my average has a difference of 5% compared to the long term (infinite number of die) average of 3.5, I'll have found my answer. i.e. I'm looking for my average to fall in the range of 3.675 to 3.325.

There's clearly an immediate problem. I roll a 3 on my first die and then a 4 on my second one. Perfect - my average is now 3.5 and within 5% of the expected long term average (also 3.5). So, I'm only going to stop rolling those die when my average is within 5% of 3.5 for three consecutive rolls. This is my convergence condition assumption.

So, I was going to write an elegant compiled program to realize this idea, but my wife told me that excel would do it. I caved-in and used excel. If you want to reproduce it, type the following into an excel spreadsheet:
column A: =INT(6*RAND())+1
(This is a pseudo-random number from 1 to 6; drag to a large row number, say 1000 rows worth of this!).
column B: this column is going to be the same as the row number - just type it in a few times and drag downward. This is the iteration number (or how many times we've rolled the d6).
column C: square C2 is =A1+A2. square C3 is =C2+A3. square C4 is =C3+A4. drag down from here (but not square C2). This gives the sum of squares A1 through A?. (where ?=row number).
column D: square D2 is =C2/B2. square D3 is =C3/B3. ...and so forth. This gives the rolling average. You're basically looking for this column being between 3.675 and 3.325 for three consecutive rows. (i.e. The convergence condition is met).

When column D is between 3.675 and 3.325 for three consecutive rows, we stop looking and take a note of column B, the row number (or iteration number).

I got 143. This means that it took 143 d6's to get my running mean to within the range 3.675 to 3.325 for three consecutive mean calculations.

That is only 1 result, however. So, I've re-run this 100 times (which is where a compiled language would've helped over excel). That gives a mean of 56.5 +/- 69.8; median=38.

In doing so, there's a little issue: 3 consecutive means in the correct range might not indicate statistical convergence to 3.5. It might go out of that range once more with more die rolls.

So, I re-ran the re-run 100 times but looked for TEN consecutive means in the correct range (a more stringent convergence condition). That gave a mean of 83.8 +/- 64.9; median=68. That's a big standard deviation.

Of course, I could also alter that 5% level to a 1% level... but that'd take lots longer. I could go on about improvements the the methodology for a while but I'm not going to bore you.

Had enough, or just skipped to this section? Let me put it this way: if you roll lots of die, your average will tend toward 3.5. Otherwise, your previous meticulous calculations of how many wounds you're expecting to cause on that critical assault will not work out like you might think. Apocalypse anyone?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Daemon Prince of Nurgle Project - Part III: The Finished Product

It's done! It's here! The completed paint job on the winged Daemon Prince of Nurgle. It was a big job, but I'm very satisfied.

Undercoat = black.
Base coats: dwarf flesh for the outer skin and wings; ultramarine blue for the innards and inner portions of the claw arms; gold for the mechanical parts; graveyard earth for the horns, claws and teeth.
Inking: a liberal amount of chestnut over the skin areas; blue for the innards; black and brown mixtures for the claws, horns and other regions.
Overcoats: drybrushing progressively lighter tan and leathery colours on the skin and wings; cream colours for the teeth and claws.
Highlights: Assorted creams, tending toward pure white, on various areas.

Following the previous debate about the size of the base, the miniature is based upon a 60mm base from back 2 basix. Check out how far the wings extend over the edge of the base - outrageous!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Base of Nurglings

If I were to ask you what "ingredients" an Epidemius army list should have in it, I'd wager that the majority of you would list nurglings alongside the staples of plaguebearers, daemon princes and Epidemius himself. In fact, I'd suggest that nurglings are a must alongside the others. The simple reason is how good they can be on the battlefield once Epidemius' tally starts to get significantly high.

Understandably, I consequentially got a hold of a number of nurglings: both modern and old-school. This picture is of one of my better bases of nurglings: four of them (with one old-school / realms of chaos one in the centre) mounted atop a back-2-basix resin base. The resin base was basecoated in black and drybrished steadily lighter to highlight the rough, ruined look of the pieces. The painting of the nurglings follows my standard plaguebearer approach: black undercoat; green / brown basecoat; a dark inking / wash; and drybrushing in lighter colours of greens, yellows and browns. The open sores were basecoated in pink and inked red. Then, a few rivulets of red blood were added - pouring from the wounds and on to the ruins of the base. This creates a distinctly gothic, macabre and disturbing look. Finally, the details such as claws, horns and eyeballs were added in carefully using a treble-zero brush with a steady hand.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Plague Marine Snail Conversion Concept

Question: What do you get when you mix together some Forge World Death Guard kit, plastic chaos space marine upgrades, a metal Plague Marine Champion backpack, a couple of paperclips, a liberal amount of milliput (greenstuff), superglue, and a shell?

Answer: A rather interesting concept for a Plague Champion, with a dynamic pose and a suitably mutated appearance! Can't wait to paint this one!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chaos Spawn Throwing a White Scar Marine

This is one of those ones that I wasn't too happy with, but perhaps I'm just being to self-critical? I like the idea of a chaos spawn throwing some prey, but this one just doesn't work too well for me. I've tried to analyze why it doesn't. Firstly, I don't think I painted the marine too well - just black on while with some red parts. The red in particular is not highlighted (etc.). The spawn itself requires more attention to detail (feathers, hooves, claws, etc. all look a bit poor). On the positive side, I was happy with the blue shading and highlighting on the spawn - especially on it's back. I'm also happy with the modelling - the pose is reasonably good and the spawn certainly looks like it is stepping up and over the remains of a vehicle.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Daemons of Lesser Powers - Part V: Steeds

For those of you not lucky enough to have a copy of the old Lost and the Damned Realms of Chaos book, you might not have picked up on the organization of daemonic minions. Each power tends to have four flavours of daemons: a greater daemon, a lesser daemon, a beast, and a steed. For Khorne, these are the Bloodthirsters, Bloodletters, Flesh Hounds, and Juggernauts (respectively). Slaanesh has the Keepers of Secrets, Daemonettes, Fiends, and (the blandly titled) Steeds of Slaanesh that become "seekers" in codex: daemons with daemonette riders. Nurgle is a little bit odd when fitting in with this paradigm in one respect. It has Great Unclean Ones, Plaguebearers, Beasts of Nurgle, and Nurglings. The Nurglings act as the steed since they carry palanquins aloft, but they can also double up as troops. Tzeentch used to fit in with this paradigm with Lords of Change, Horrors, Flamers, and Discs of Tzeentch. The modern screamer seems to be an evolution from the disc of Tzeentch and I've certainly seen folks model lords and heralds atop both discs and screamers interchangeably.

It is therefore entirely fitting to also have daemonic steeds for any lesser power of chaos. Already, we have a daemonic steed altering a herald's profile to:
4 4 4 5 2 4 4 10 -/5+
and changing its unit type from infantry to cavalry. The extra point of toughness is to represent the higher durability of the unit whilst the extra attack denotes a height and speed advantage for the rider.

Following the paradigm of seekers of Slaanesh and Bloodcrushers, here's the new unit: Chargers. They are essentially lesser daemons mounted on some suitably daemonic looking carrier. They're fast, hard-hitting and tough if used well. They're also marginally over-priced in comparison to their Slaaneshi cousins but have more options as befits daemons of lesser powers. However, like Khorne, they're in the elites slot rather than the fast attack slot given their hard hitting and general hardiness.

Chargers of a Lesser Power. (Elites Choice).
Cost: 19 points each.
4 4 4 5 1 4 3 10 -/5+
Unit Type: Cavalry
Number per squad: 2-10

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.

There are plenty of options in the standard warhammer and warhammer 40,000 range for chargers. They're suitably generic that even horses with whatever miniature is being used for lesser daemons can be used. Then there's the more exotic options: large lizards and insects make for dynamic and unusual mounted daemons with daemonic steeds.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yet More Daemonettes

An update on my Daemonettes of Slaanesh today.
I've painted a couple more daemonettes and placed them alongside the original two I had done up (far left and far right). As can be seen, I've been experimenting with different skin tones and highlighting as well as contrasting colours for the corsets and other clothing. Whilst I'm not so keen on the grey one myself (edit: but perhaps the Tau are?), I'm thinking that the range of colours presented in the unit is not a great issue for daemonettes - they still look like a cohesive unit of dangerous daemons out to cause mayhem in an unsuspecting town.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Mirror Match

I'd like to introduce you to a concept that I picked up from my mates who play Magic: The Gathering (collectible card game). It is called the "Mirror Match". The essential core of this idea is something like this: what do you have in your card deck (army list) that could tackle an identical card deck (army list) effectively?

This situation occurs very regularly for space marine players - there are lots of space marine players out there since they're so popular. The likelihood of coming up against a self-similar army is high for such players. Less so for rarer armies.

I originally got thinking about this question back at GT2007 where there were plenty of other chaos space marine players. The havoc squads of my opponents really thwacked my 100% infantry army there. Why -- probably because they didn't have vehicles to preferentially aim at and it was escalation (my heavier weapons hadn't arrived yet).

So, I got thinking about some of my usual Death Guard lists (e.g. see GT2008). I figured in GT2008, I would be able to handle plague marines given I had two vindications and a reasonable amount of plasma to deny other plague marines their 3+ power armour save and their feel no pain special rule. All I had to do was manoeuvre to ensure that I got in range during my shooting turn.

I'll pose this question for my readers: how would you handle an identical army list to your own favourite, or most used list? Are there any special units that you have, or tactics that you'd play to beat your own army list? I'm looking forward to hearing about your thoughts on this!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grave Guard as Generic Lesser Daemons

This has been a concept that I've wanted to explore for a while - so here it is. A Grave Guard from the Vampire Counts range of Warhammer Fantasy Battle to be used as a generic lesser daemon in a Chaos Space Marine force.

All that's really been done is to mount the miniature on a circular base. However, in doing so, I was a little surprised to find out that grave guard come on a 20mm fantasy base which means that they're smaller than I originally thought they might be. Not withstanding that fact, I think the slightly larger circular base has worked out reasonably well. Moreover, its slightly larger size is disguised by the use of basing materials - mounting the miniature slightly higher and adding rubble and green grass around the edges.

The painting was reasonably straight forward, featuring a blue colour scheme for the main parts of the model and rusted edging with flecks of gold and silver. I reckon they'll look very good when some necromantic chaos renegades summon them forth from the Warp. I'll have to construct and paint the rest of the squad now.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wings, Tails and Banners Are Not Targets

If like me, you play using miniatures that have large (perhaps impressive) banners held aloft, or maybe huge pinioned wings on your monstrous creatures and other miniatures, then I'd like to take a moment to remind you (and myself!) of a rule from the 5th edition rulebook:

Page 16, under "Check line of sight & Pick a target":
"...Sometimes, all that may be visible of a model is a weapon, an antenna, a banner or some other ornament he is wearing or carrying (including its wings and tail, even though they are technically part of its body). In these cases, the model is not visible. These rules are intended to ensure that models don't get penalised for having impressive standards, blades, guns, majestic wings, etc."

I've been caught out by not knowing this rule a couple of times over the past few months and let opponents target miniatures with these attributes. I thought it seemed fair to let them target wings -- those parts are flesh and blood after all. Banners and swords held up high have always been somewhat dubious targets to me though. But there we have it - none of them are valid targets.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chaos Predator with Extra Spikes

What differentiates chaos tanks from loyalist tanks? Spikes, of course! (And the odd paint job with variant iconography).

How many spikes can you fit on a chaos tank? Lots! You see, I know because I tried to find the answer with this one!!
Okay - so not every surface is 100% covered with spikes, but there's certainly enough of them to shout "I'm a chaos tank, and if you so much as call me loyalist then I'm gonna prod you". I confess that did think about more spikes ... but figured that not even a warped mind would have put spikes on the side of the tank and in front of the arc of fire of the heavy bolters. Or would they? Here's the side views:
I added a small shrine to one side of the vehicle to give it a little bit of a unique look. What could be more appropriate for the final resting place of a chaos warlord than a dakka predator? The third picture shows a number of different angles and one without the havoc launcher:
The paint job features a dual coloured camouflage scheme: khemri brown and catachan green. These two colours form the basis for the bulk of the tank, but you can also see plenty of rusted area and silvered sections where the predator's paint has flecked off slightly - especially at the corners.

I've also added some running fluid and heavy rust marks to the paint job so that it blends in better with my Death Guard ... but wouldn't look amiss in a generic chaos force. Admittedly, it isn't bright red or gordy pink, but I'm sure that even the World Eaters or Emperors Children would loot such a prize. I don't feel that my weathering of the tank is completely finished - I still need to pay some attention to the track and muddy up the lower portions of the tank. Some minor flecks of black here and there to show wear and tear also need to be added yet.

Honestly, there's so much detail in the paint job and conversion work that I don't think I can truly do it justice. Let's just say that the total time that I took assembling this tank and painting it was over 2 months ... but then again I might have only added one spike in one evening - I spaced it out significantly. My wife wasn't best pleased when I took over the dining table every second evening. But I'm very happy with it overall.

So, let me know if you have any questions or would like more painting / conversion detail on any particular aspect of this tank.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Battle Summary: World Eaters vs. Death Wing (1000 pts)

This is a summary of a friendly 5th edition battle that happened a little while ago, but for which I had taken a reasonable amount of notes. I was playing the World Eaters. I hadn't painted up my Khorne winged raptors at that point, sadly. If I play Khorne marines again, I'll certainly use them if the points value goes up to about 1500.

Board: square 4' x 4'
Mission: Annihilation
Deployment: Spearhead (Table Quarters)
Terrain: A number of scattered craters (4+ cover saves) but otherwise flat and featureless.

World Eaters Army List:
HQ: Kharn the Betrayer (165)
Troops 1: 8 Khorne Berzerkers, champion with power fist, 2 plasma pistols, icon (243)
Troops 2: 8 Khorne Berzerkers, champion with power fist, 2 plasma pistols, icon (243)
Troops 3: 8 Bloodletters (generic lesser daemons) (104)
Heavy Support: Vindicator with daemonic possession (145)
Heavy Support: Predator with autocannon and heavy bolters (100)

Kharn is deployed with troops number 1.
6 Killpoints.

Death Wing Army List:
HQ: Belial (130)
Elites: Venerable Dreadnought with twin-linked lascannon (165)
Troops 1: 5 Death Wing Terminators with 1 heavy flamer (225)
Troops 2: 5 Death Wing Terminators with company banner and close combat armaments (2x thunder hammer; 3x lightning claws) (235)
Troops 3: 5 Death Wing Terminators with 1 cyclone missile launcher and 2 chainfists (245)

Belial is deployed with Troops number 2.
5 killpoints.

Turn 1.
The Death Wing reserves everything (deciding against the usual Turn 1 Death Wing assault) as I manage to force them to take the first turn. I'm uncertain if that was the right option for the Death Wing - 1 less turn of me shooting at them might make a difference, but I would have personally gone with it anyway.

For my setup, I try to hog my chosen corner with everything I have (apart from the reserved daemons). I plan to use the vehicles to screen the line of sight to my troops as best as I can and place one of my troops in to a crater. I await the Death Wing.

Turn 2.
Everything except Death Wing Troops number 3 arrives! I guess not doing the Death Wing assault didn't matter all that much after all. Troops number 2 scatters in to a crater and takes one wound (and one lightning claws casualty) due to dangerous terrain effects. Ouch! The venerable dreadnought scatters a whole 11 inches and cannot be deployed as it would have landed on my predator! What a lucky break! We roll on the teleport mishaps table and I get to place the dreadnought. It is a small board, so the lascannon will still see everything, so I simply put the dreadnought in the opposite corner to my set up and hope that he doesn't make my lines in time. Here's the situation pictured:

The dreadnought in the far corner shoots with its twin-linked lascannon and hits the vindicator, but only for a glancing hit. The glance results in a stunned and shaken crew ... but the daemon possessing the vindicator laughs at the tickle. The only model in Death Wing troops number 2 with anything to fire is Belial. It then occurs to me that my opponent should have kitted Belial out with some lightning claws as well. I'll tell him that after the game. His two shots target a berzerker in the crater, one causes a wound, but the power armour saves the World Eater. Death Wing troops number 2 have 4 storm bolters in range and take fire at the same squad of World Eaters. Two berzerkers perish.

At last, it is my turn to shoot things. (Aside: My daemons decide that they're comfy in the Warp and don't get summoned this turn). The predator stays still and the vindicator rolls forward. My first troops squad (with Kharn in in) heads due north, getting in pistol range (just) of the first Death Wing troops. My second squad of World Eaters does the same, heading toward the same set of terminators and getting within pistol range. At the expense of turning its side armour toward the thunder hammer terminators, the vindicator lets rip on the first squad of Death Wing terminators. It scores a direct hit! All 5 models get wounded. Two of them make their invulnerable saves. Two left. My berzereker squad open fire on the remaining two. One berzerker in squad 2 dies from his own plasma pistol (sigh). However, the remaining 14 (with 3 plasma pistols) take down one more terminator. Only 1 left. That leaves me in a bit of a muddle. Should the predator target the 1 remaining terminator or start on Belial's squad? Better to take the kill point I think. Two autocannon shots and 6 heavy bolter shots result in 7 hits (1 heavy bolter miss) and 3 wounds. One of those three wounds sticks - squad destroyed.

Killpoints: 1-0 in favour of the World Eaters.

Turn 3.
The third and final squad of the Death Wing detachment arrives. No mishaps. They deploy close to where the first Death Wing squad was. Belial's squad rolls a 3 for difficult terrain and barely manages to get out of the crater! Meanwhile the dreadnought trudges forward.
In the shooting phase, Belial and company fleet a further 6 inches more toward my vindicator. The third squad of Death Wing let rip on my World Eaters with 4 storm bolters and a frag missile. Four more World Eaters perish. There's only 3 Berzerkers left in squad 2 now: the champion, a plasma pistol and a normal berzerker!
The Dreadnought targets the predator and scores a penetrating hit resulting in one wrecked predator.

My bloodletters arrive from the Warp in my turn and deep strike next to squad 2 - ready to assault the Death Wing alongside the World Eaters. My berzerkers move closer to the Death Wing. But shooting comes first. The vindicator takes aim at Belial and misses! Oh no! That miss could well be the last shot it takes in the game if the Dreadnought takes it out next turn! My remaining plasma pistol in squad 2 causes a casualty in the recently arrived terminator squad. Meanwhile my other squad (with Kharn in) also removes a thunder hammer terminator in Belial's squad.

And then there's a big charge. Everything apart from my vindicator is now engaged. Furious charge is wonderful for World Eaters - they go before the terminators and the daemons. Only Belial can match them. But Kharn trumps Belial on a furious charge initiative. Kharn hits Belial 5 times and a luckless World Eater once. The World Eater is removed. Betrayer! All 5 hits on Belial wound. Only one of them is saved. Belial is minced by Gorechild. The rest of the squad (apart from the champion) inflicts one further casualty on the terminator squad, reducing them to two lightning claws and one thunder hammer terminator. The terminators promptly slay every berzerker apart from Kharn (unwounded) and the Skull Champion - the company banner was inspirational in doing this! The Champion takes his aim with his power fist and causes three valuable wounds. One save is made: one lightning clawed terminator left.

In my other squad, the berzerkers fail to cause any casualties. Meanwhile the daemons inflict two unsaved wounds from a bucket load of attacks. The terminators promptly slaughter the last of the berzerkers. No more casualties result from the combat resolution step.

At the end of this turn, Death Wing has the following remaining:
1 Dreadnought, 1 lightning clawed terminator in squad in squad 2, 3 terminators (including the chainfists and the missile launcher) in squad 3.

Meanwhile, the World Eaters have:
Kharn (unwounded), 1 skull champion from squad 1, 8 daemons, and the vindicator.

Kill points: 2-2

Turn 4.
Here's the situation pictured below:

Not much movement for Death Wing to do -- the Dreadnought comes forward and targets the vindicator. The vindicator becomes immobilized, but at least it can still fire should the need arise. In close combat, Kharn finishes the job and slays the last of Belial's chums. The daemons inflict one more casualty, but suffer 5 in return - ouch! Having lost the combat, the rest of the bloodletters promptly get slaughtered by the two remaining terminators. But from my point of view, that means that the vindicator can get a shot at them in my turn.

Speaking of which, I move Kharn and the skull champion forward toward the remaining terminators. I need not have bothered as the vindicator kills the last of the terminators. The only Death Wing left on the board now is the Venerable Dreadnought. Its going to take a while to get here and will probably finish off the vindicator along the way I reckon.

Kill Points: 4-3 in favour of the World Eaters.

Turn 5.
The dreadnought goes in to reverse gear and heads back toward its corner thus further delaying any assault! Darn - my opponent must know Kharn gets 2d6 on his armour penetration roll. But I also think it is a mistake - with its storm bolter in range, it could have inflicted even more casualties. It fires on Kharn and the Skull Champion and misses! Phew.

Okay, what do I do? I'm winning by 1 kill point, but I need to keep all three units alive somehow. It'll only take one wound on the Skull Champion or Kharn to instant kill them, if we go for another turn or two. Time to call off the hunt and get them in to some cover. They move toward the bottom right hand crater where the berzerkers originally started and then fleet toward its centre, all the time, keeping the vindicator between them and the dreadnought as best as possible. That's about the best I can do. I'll also go to ground there when shot at - that'll provide a 3+ cover save.

Turn 6.
The game continues. The dreadnought doesn't move and targets the immobile vindicator. Nothing I can do really. The vindicator explodes in a most humongous fireball and is out of the game. We're now level on killpoints.

Kharn and the Skull Champion look in their bags of skulls and decide that Kharn has the most (in reality, they both have taken two skulls today). The Skull Champion does not want to get in to an argument with Kharn right now. These World Eaters have some serious trust issues.

Turn 7.
The game continues - oh no! This might mean Death Wing can still win. The dreadnought moves to get a slim line of sight and scores a hit on Kharn and the Skull Champion. But going to ground in cover has saved the day! Phew.

Kharn glowers at both the Dreadnought and Skull Champion in turn, deciding which is going to be next on his list to glorify the name of Khorne with... the game ends.

Final Result: A draw (4 killpoints each).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Could Fulgrim Be Redeemed?

N.B.: If you have not read the Horus Heresy book, "Fulgrim", then you might want to stop reading this post now. Spoilers follow. You have been warned.
Still reading? Okay. Here's the idea that occurred to me a while ago that I wanted to share with you - although I suspect it is not an entirely new idea and has probably been discussed before elsewhere: Does the possibility exist for Fulgrim to be redeemed?

Shortly after reading "Fulgrim", I was surprised that the primarch was effectively possessed, rather than willingly being a servant of chaos and transmuting in to a daemon prince like many of his other traitor brothers. Horus certainly wasn't best pleased that his friend, Fulgrim, had been possessed, but let it pass as the daemon was loyal to the heresy and he had other more pressing matters to concern himself with. Yet, he also vowed to remove the daemon from Fulgrim, eventually.

It is also stated that Fulgrim recognized the horrors that he had committed in the moments after Ferrus Manus' death at his own hands. Cleared of the mind-clouding caused by the daemon, Fulgrim was ready to end his own life as payment for his crimes. He clearly recognized what he had done. Indeed, later the daemon tells Horus that Fulgrim would not have followed him had it not been for the daemon's subtle persuasions - was the Warmaster that good an orator after all?, questions the daemon at one point.

In the end, the daemon takes hold of Fulgrim's flesh, but keeps Fulgrim's mind and soul locked away in a tiny dark corner. His shrieks, pleas and railing thoughts are described as most exquisite music to the daemon's ears. This pleases the daemon and thus he doesn't let Fulgrim die fully - rather Fulgrim is a mute and powerless observer to all subsequent events. Hence, the true Fulgrim is not only still alive, but actively wanting to work against the daemon.

Could Fulgrim ever dispose of the occupying daemon one day? If so, he would be akin to the Illuminati - that secret society of old 40k lore that has been able to shrug off the chaos within. Moreover, he would then have much work to do to undo his past transgressions and become fully redeemed - perhaps making him a major mover and shaker in the 40k Universe's future. Equally, he may be just as likely to be a mental wreck after all those years locked away, despite being a primarch. Moreover, getting rid of the occupying daemon may be near-impossible (he'd probably have done so already if he was able from within!).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Plaguebearer Icon Bearer Conversion

To build up three armies (mixed daemons, mono-Nurgle daemons, and Death Guard), I'm adding to my plaguebearer collection. I wanted to create a plaguebearer icon bearer using a standard plaguebearer and a banner taken from the very old palanquin of Nurgle.
The right arm of the plaguebearer was cut at the shoulder and repositioned in a more vertical position using some pinning, glue and greenstuff to hid the cut. The banner / icon was then affixed to the base and leaned against the upright, repositioned hand of the right arm. I was a little disappointed with the outcome at this stage, as it didn't look like the plaguebearer was holding the icon aloft with pride. So, I added on a third arm .... well tentacle to be honest. The tentacle was positioned just below the arm pit of the repositioned right arm. Greenstuff was used to blend the new "shoulder" in to the rest of the body and I added a couple of open wounds to the tentacle to be in keeping with the rest of sculpt. The tentacle was wrapped around the lower portion of the banner and looks like it is bearing most of the load - the result is a more dynamic looking plaguebearer that almost looks prideful of his disgusting fly icon.

Being old school, I tend to paint my plaguebearers in shades of green. But, since I know that I'll be fielding plenty of them in an Epidemius army, I decided that a few of them would be painted in other diseased colours to give variation amongst the miniatures. This one was inspired by one that is to be found in the codex. It is done in a white / yellow / light blue wash combination. After undercoating in black, a bleached bone / dwarf flesh mixture was applied as the base cost. This was followed by a blue wash to give some (unnatural) depth to the coat. Some drybrushing in yellow and off white followed. The final touches included the claws, cat-slit eyeball, plaguesword, and open sores. With the open sores, I experimented with a pink basecoat followed by a chestnut was / inking. I think the result looks like these wounds have been open for a long while rather than being fresh. The "worms" or "grubs" on the back were also done using a chestnut wash, but not basecoated pink. It certainly makes them stand out against the more pale flesh of the plaguebearer. I think that I'm going to try out a number of other approaches to plaguebearer painting in the near future.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Apocalypse Datasheet: Daemonic Beast Hunting Legion

If the chaos gods didn't like you, they'd send along some of their agents to ... do something about it. What would a large pack of daemons on the hunt look like? I think they'd be quick and terribly dangerous. Therefore, this Apocalypse data sheet is designed to try to capture this rapid moving and sudden, high-impact danger. In giving all daemons fleet and the ability to charge after deep-striking, they're incredibly dangerous - and equal to Chaos Space Marine generic daemons. Therefore the cost has to be reasonably high, but not prohibitive. Nonetheless, I'm considering doubling it... Moreover, a maximum of 5 squads is imposed - a whole army shouldn't be made out of this idea.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Graviton Gun

For those of you old enough to recall Rogue Trader days, you might be familiar with the old graviton gun. Wielded by Xenos (orks!) and select imperial agents, the graviton gun caused much mayhem to both infantry (reduced movement), tanks and skimmers (crash!).

I recently got thinking: what would the graviton gun look like in 5th edition? How can it be updated from Rogue Trader? Here's my attempt and interpretation about it.

Through a subtle manipulation of the Higgs field, the graviton gun temporarily adds excessive mass to the target that is sufficient to hold even the most dexterous troops and cripple the fastest of vehicles.

Range: up to 12''.
Type: Assault 1.
Strength and AP: Special.

Special Rules.
Roll to hit as normal. The effects of a successful hit depend on the nature of the target.

Non-vehicle, non-flying:
If the target is infantry (or mounted on a bike or steed, etc.) and doesn't fly, then they may not move in their following movement phase, nor run in the shooting phase. In assault, they attack at initiative 1 and are reduced to 1 attack as they desperately try to lift their heavy arms to parry and deliver blows. The target may attempt to avoid these effects by rolling under their initiative on 2d6 - this represents them launching themselves out of the way of the graviton gun's crosshairs as they hear it charging.

Flying, but non-vehicle:
For jump infantry and other flesh and blood creatures that can fly (with wings, jump packs, jet-bikes or otherwise), the graviton gun can be more deadly. When hit, they immediately fall to the earth and must make an armour saving throw or suffer one wound. In addition, they suffer the same effects as infantry do. As above, the target may take a 2d6 save against their initiative to avoid all of these effects.

Against tanks, the graviton gun causes a localized increase in mass along the armour plating, tracks, or other critical point such as the ammo storage area. The tank suffers an automatic glancing hit.

Against skimmers and other flying vehicles, the graviton gun can be deadly. They immediately tumble to the ground out of control and take an automatic penetrating hit.

Suggested role in games:
The graviton gun should probably not be making regular appearances in games. Rather, it can see use as (a) a strategic asset in an Apocalypse game, in much the same way that a vortex grenade is; (b) a strategic objective that can be captured and utilized.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thinking of Plague Marines as Pseudo-Terminators

A while ago, I demonstrated one basic advantage of a plague marine: he is three times hardier than a standard marine. After I wrote that posting, I started to think of plague marines more and more as being just a little below terminators. It then occurred to me that a pure Death Guard army has many similarities to the Dark Angel's Death Wing: few models that are expensive (etc.). Thinking in this mindset has helped me play a little better with Death Guard armies. Today, I'm going to try to justify why I often think of plague marines as a (slightly poor) equivalent to terminators.

Comparison against standard shots.
As with the previous article, we're firstly going to look at the number of standard shots (=bolter rounds fired by a marine) required to kill a terminator. For a plague marine, we already know that it takes 27 standard shots to statistically remove the model.

For a terminator, a standard bolter round will hit on a 3+, that is 1.5 standard shots to hit. They wound on a 4+, making 3 standard shots to wound. A terminator has a 2+ save, so only 1 in 6 shots will remove the terminator. Hence a statistical mean of 18 standard bolter shots are required to remove a terminator. That extra point of toughness on the plague marine is just wonderful! Moreover, the power armour combined with the feel no pain special rule is statistically the same as a 2+ save. So, against small arms fire (like bolters): plague marines are superior to terminators.

Against standard plasma shots.
Let's face it, almost every army out there will take something more than bolters in their squads. For marines, plasma guns, meltas and flamers are all common special weapons. Heavy weapons include the missile launcher, heavy bolter, lascannon, plasma cannon and others. Let's have a look at the ubiquitous plasma gun first since it has the same range as a bolter.

It hits terminator and plague marine alike on a 3+. It wounds both on a 2+. With AP2, a plague marine gets no save (nor feel no pain) and will be removed -- that's 1.8 standard plasma shots for either. A terminator will have to use its 5+ invulnerable save to survive. This means 2.7 standard plasma shots are required against a terminator compared to 1.8 for a plague marine. Here, terminators have a narrow margin over plague marines. Still, if plasma guns are only 1 in 5 (or maybe 1 in 10) per incoming shot, plague marines and terminators have approximately equal survivability rates.

What they lack.
Terminators, whether traitor or loyalist, have superior weaponry to plague marines. Plague marines simply cannot pump out as much damage as terminators can at range. They really fall behind terminators in close combat where the standard armaments are power weapons and power fists. They can, however have dedicated rhino transports to get around in (much cheaper than land raiders) but they don't deep strike.

Once it dawned on me that playing Death Guard is similar to playing Death Wing, I stopped worrying so much about leaving my troops out in the open. I only worry about incoming combats from power weapons and the like, alongside rounds fired from weapons that either ignore their high toughness or deny them both their 3+ save and their feel no pain special rule.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Daemon Prince Base Size?

A question for those wiser than me: what base size should a Daemon Prince have? The reason why I ask is connected to the Daemon Prince of Nurgle that I'm working on (the dragon-winged plague ogryn).

Looking at the metal chaos marine daemon prince, the answer is 40mm (the same as a modern terminator). However, I've seen many folks use the larger 60mm monstrous creature base for daemon princes. In fact, the 40mm base is such a poor fit for the metal Nurgle daemon prince, that I've never seen one on a 40mm base ever! Indeed, if you look closely at the picture on page 72 of Codex: Daemons, you'll see the Nurgle Daemon prince on a monstrous base and not the 40mm one!!! (same again in the Chaos Marine Codex in fact).

I'm left wondering what the new plastic daemon prince (yet to be released by Games Workshop) will have in the base size department. It is hard to tell from the pictures that have been released and / or leaked so far.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Plague Ogryn

Oh my, this one almost painted itself - such is the level of detail on this Forge World model of one of the plague ogryns. Truthfully, I don't think I painted it so much as exploited the exquisite sculpt with subtle applications of citadel colour.Painting.
I kicked off the painting of the model by undercoating it in black and making certain that the black got in to all of the recessed areas - this ensures that later on, if I've missed any bits, they are dark as if in shadow. It helps to give the model depth.

Then I started on multiple dry brushing layers. Starting of with dull browns initially and working up through greys and greens. The drybrushing was done using different colours in different regions, to give a more diseased appearance -- i.e. some bulging parts were intentionally painted in an off-colour to their surroundings to give the appearance of distended and infected flesh covering the ugly subdermal growths.

With the skin done, I approached a number of broad areas of the model on separate nights. Firstly, I painted the open wounds in blood red and red gore. After inking in a dull red, a small amount of pink was added to the red and applied over the initial layer. Highlights were painted in a near-equal mixture of pink and red.

The metallic cylinders that run through the miniature were painted in gold and inked with a darker chestnut ink to generate some depth. Only a few highlights were then applied in pure gold to touch it up.

The horns, teeth and nails were drybrushed up from the skin colour by using some Dheneb stone foundation drybrushing. The teeth were "yellowed" in a literal sense near the gums to suggest a poor level of dental hygiene.

Finally, around some of the open wounds, I highlighted in goblin green to suggest infection at and around the sore sites. Other final details included painting the ready-to-pop uber spots in orange an painting in the eyeball.

Positives: As I said, this is a great sculpt that I think anyone could drybrush and achieve good results with.
Negatives: I'm not so sure that the goblin green around the open wounds worked out totally well. I may go over some of them with redder colours. The base needs attention yet as well.

Uses for the miniature in standard Warhammer 40,000 Games.
(1) Daemon Prince. Either for codex: Chaos Space Marines, or codex: Daemons.
(2) Herald of Nurgle for codex: Daemons.
(3) Generic Greater Daemon for codex: Chaos Space Marines.
(4) A unique-looking Great Unclean One for codex: Daemons.
(5) Chaos Spawn.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Squad of Winged Chaos Raptors

Some of you have been waiting for this for a while. Here it is: the completed squad of converted, winged chaos raptors.
The total in-game points cost for this squad of 10 comes out at 290 by my reckoning (including 1 champion with power fist, 2 melta guns and 1 icon of Khorne).

To put that in context, I could purchase a squad of 13.3 "normal" chaos space marines that have the same upgrades, minus the wings. Or, 10 standard plague marines with the same upgrades (champion with power fist and 2 meltas), minus the wings and the icon.

Related articles on my raptors can be found by clicking on the "raptors" label.
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