Thursday, October 30, 2014

Truescale 40k Marine Legs without Terminator Parts

Following on from my earlier post about making some truescale 40k space marines, I decided to have a go at this technique without using terminator parts. Whilst I certainly agree that terminator legs readily make up for the loss in proportionality in "heroic scale" models, they are pricey and potentially more time consuming to produce than making best use of normal space marine (and chaos space marine) legs.

One of the critical choices to make in creating some true scale conversions is where to add extra height. In general, I think avoiding the central regions of the thighs and calves is a good move if you're not the most expert model convertor (or perhaps: don't have ready access to plasticard for adding the appropriate extra height and are worried about obtaining a good smooth finish to sliced in half greaves). 

For me, this means selecting between:
(1) The knees;
(2) The hips;
(3) The waist.

Or some combination of the above.

This is with or without potentially bulking out the torso so that the marine looks beefier. I decided against this latter point as I wanted to use some Anvil Industry and Forge World parts for my torsos are I really don't want to be hacking apart resin in a vertical slice -- particularly on terminators.

So, for these models pictured below, I went for a slice just above the knees. This has the added bonus of being able to re-position the legs in a more dynamic pose (which is one aspect that I really like about these kinds of conversions, as evidenced by my Gun Kata style marine). All I've done here is break the legs above the knee using a knife and then pin them with an added gap of around 3mm (ish). The emphasis here on the ish is fine as not every human being is the same height, therefore I'm not too concerned if some of the true scale marines vary in height a little bit: just so long as they're taller than regular marines. And: adding height to the thighs ensures that the hands reach down the appropriate length of the body, rather than implicitly being able to touch the ankles from a standing position. (I also checked this assumption by measuring the ratio of my own thighs to calves length, and comparing to average human data: the space marine legs really do have calves that seem a little too long in ratio to the thighs.  Yeah, I know, that was probably going a bit too far for 40k conversions). 

Cutting at the hips is also viable, but (as I discovered) takes extra effort when one greenstuffs up the gaps as these locations are pretty close to one another; meaning that the greenstuff really needs to dry on one side before tackling the other. With cuts at the knees, I can work on both legs without waiting for the other one to dry so long as I'm paying a reasonable amount of attention. But perhaps one leg cut at the hip, and one just above the knee might also work well -- I'll have to try that at a future date.

I do intend to add a touch of extra height at the waist with these guys as well: once I've filled in the gap above the legs with some greenstuff. I intend to do this by simply adding another 1mm of flattened greenstuff on top of the legs (in the convex hole at the bottom of the torso) when I glue the torso on. This at least won't make the belt be out of place and require more labour intensive work to set right. 

Finally, the observant amongst you will notice that the legs on the right are chaos space marine legs. I worked hard on these to scrub away the general chaotification and make them appear a bit more like Mk.IV or Mk.VI style armour. 

Time to get out the greenstuff now!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gun Kata - A Dynamic Space Marine Conversion

Following on from the under-arm melta gun conversion from yesterday, this is the upper body torso of the space marine that I built with it. 

I've built in a good quantum of dynamism to this model. Not only is the left arm raised and looking like its firing, but the arm has been significantly swung out from the body, at just over 45 degrees from the solar plexus. This has been pinned in to the torso with a (partially bent) paperclip and is ready for some greenstuff to fill in the gap.

The right arm is simply a bolt pistol from the chaos space marine range. But as with the melta gun, I've swung this out from the body more than was originally designed (note the bent paperclip pin in place again here). The two arms make an angle of about 90 degrees from each other. 

I've positioned the beakie head to look in the direction of the melta gun. What is interesting with this pose is that it seems like the marine is taking his shot with the melta gun at an immediate target. But he also is seemingly taking a shot to finish off something else to his right hand side. 

Dual wielding in a "gun kata" style, this marine certainly maintains my maxim of "no marine unconverted" in my forthcoming army.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Under-arm Melta Gun Conversion

In the constant quest for new poses and following the maxim of "no model unconverted", I decided to start looking at original poses for weapons. Inspired by terminator reaper auto cannons, I thought about creating an under-arm slung special weapon grip: in this case a melta gun.

In the image, I have take two components (yes - its that simple!): a plastic melta gun, and the heavy bolter left arm from the chaos space marine range. 

For the melta gun, I trimmed and filed away the top part of the gun so that it would lay flat against the fist, as well as the back of the gun where a recoil buffer might sit, so that the angled portion would also lay flat against the chaos space marine arm. You can also see that I've trimmed back the excess chaos embellishments to the melta gun such as the bits that drape off the bottom of the corrugated wire at the bottom of the gun. This was mostly aesthetic, but also provides me with more room to play about with modelling when I finally connect the shoulder to a marine torso.

For the heavy bolter chaos space marine left left arm, I also ensured that the bottom of the fist was filed right down so that it would make a solid contact with the melta gun when glued together. The second major change was the slice through the wrist, perform a wrist rotation and slight angling, and re-pin it in to its new position. This is absolutely necessary as the arm is positioned very awkwardly for a single weapon such as a melta gun. In effect, I've made the arm look like its straight!

The final conversion is that of a melta gun operated by the left hand and under-slung. This makes it look fairly unique and will make a terrific visual impact in a group of marines that otherwise looks fairly standard (or even in a group of marines where every one of them is a conversion!). 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Tarantula Sentry Gun Battery

This is a remarkably interesting unit for 30k, and I think one that will be (sadly) overlooked in favour of other Fast Attack choices. But to be clear from the outset: I think this option could be excellent in the right situation and for the right Legion. For those armies that are wanting to deep strike or push right up in to the enemy deployment zone (as well as ones without a particularly strong / under-utilized set of Fast Attack options), I could see these batteries being used in the mid- and back-field to secure objectives, or provide a dis-incentive for enemies to move forward. With multiple over-lapping killing zones that could be set up with these batteries, the possibilities are good.

The only real draw-back is the BS3 in the profile. But considering that most weapons (apart from the multi-melta option) are twin-linked, this is not so bad. Even with BS3, the probability to hit with a twin-linked option is 75%. That's better than a none-twin-linked BS4 weapon (66%). To balance this, they're T6 with 2 wounds each -- that makes it terrific as it will require substantial weapons fire to take them out (meaning that you opponents have to make a choice where to concentrate their firepower: at the battery, or at the assault elements like terminators that are coming for them!).

As for the weapon options, I probably would not take the rotor cannon, even if there's two of them. Its just not that fantastic against legion enemies. Particularly the Iron Hands!  The twin-linked heavy flamer is an odd choice, but would be fantastic for close choke points that enemies have to pass through. But if you're not playing cities of death or some kind of space hulk / zone mortals game, then I'd leave them alone. The final thing to note is that the hyperios option provides one of the valuable anti-aircraft options available to the legion.

Here's a few ideas for batteries.

2 Sentry Guns, each with twin-linked lascannons, forward deployment (90 points)
Much cheaper than a dreadnought with two twin-linked las cannons and potentially less of a target as well. Several of these can create amazing overlapping fire zones. Depending on position, both point defence mode (back-field, inside buildings) and sentry mode (in the open, deployed with forward deployment) could be superb.

3 Sentry Guns, each with twin-linked heavy bolters (90 points)
This is a unit to place next to valuable heavy support squads in the back field. They will use the sentry mode to counter-act infiltrators and outflankers. Take concealment to taste.

2 Sentry Guns, 1 twin-linked lascannon, 1 twin-linked heavy bolter (70 points)
The las-cannon has the point defence mode, and the heavy bolter the sentry mode. The lascannon is the primary gun here, the heavy bolter is simply a deterrent for enemies that get too close. An interesting mixed mode.

3 Sentry Guns, Hyperios air-defence missile launcher, 1 hyperios command platform (160 points)
An excellent, if pricy way to provide an anti-aircraft option (well: still cheaper than heavy support squads still). But with split fire, and the 48" range, this could be a terrific choice and life-saving option against an all-flier army.  Optionally, replace one sentry gun with the heavy bolters and remove the command platform to save on costs. Forward deployment and concealment are also valid options here, depending on taste.

In the Solar Auxilia army list, tarantulas have the option of a drop capsule to deep strike in to position. This clearly adds an extra dimension to these gun batteries, and one that should not be overlooked if one is playing a Solar Auxilia army. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought

Much like the regular mortis dreadnought, the contemptor has the helical targeting array that means we are able to use it in a valuable anti-aircraft role.

And like the regular contemptor, it is superior to the legion dreadnought in a number of ways, including the atomantic shielding. But it loses the fleet special rule. This means to my mind we want to enhance its potential against aircraft, meaning it will largely stay in place for the entire game, whilst making the most of the weapon systems. The weapon systems, much like the mortis dreadnought, come in pairs. So no dreadnought power fists here - this is a dakka dreadnought.

Here are a few builds to play about with.

Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought, with two twin-linked las-cannons (185 points)
Point and shoot. Take out the heavy tanks or the aircraft. Attempt to take down one per turn if at all possible.

Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought, two twin-linked multi-meltas, extra armour (165 points)
One of the cheaper variants, even with the extra armour. I'd be tempted to take a dreadnought drop pod for this dreadnought if available and aim for a drop in the vicinity of enemy tanks and heavy armour.

Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought, two Kheres pattern assault cannons, extra armour, havoc launcher (205 points)
Lots of firepower here with overlapping ranges that is capable of being a threat to lighter tanks, aircraft, and infantry in general that are not terminators. But even terminators will lose a few wounds in all probability due to the sheer rate of fire this contemptor is able to pump out. Little not to like here!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Mortis Dreadnought

The first unit entry in the second Horus Heresy source book from Forge World, Massacre, is the Mortis Dreadnought. The Mortis is one of the few units available to the legions that has the sky fire rule. But to activate it, the Mortis must remain stationary and not run during its turn. The added bonus is to gain interceptor as well. Therefore this is a unit that probably wants to be set up in the first turn in a similar location to heavy support squads -- with a good line of sight to most of the battlefield, and the airspace above it.

The other principle differences between regular legion dreadnoughts and the Mortis pattern is that fact that it must wield two of the same ranged weapons, and that they are not fielded in talons (i.e. one force organisation chart slot only gives the controlling player one dreadnought, rather than the option of having more).

Below are a couple of builds to consider.

Legion Mortis Dreadnought, 2 twin-linked missile launchers, havoc launcher (160 points)
This is a great choice and gives a tremendous amount of tactical flexibility between the krak and frag missiles, plus the ability to take down fliers as required.

Legion Mortis Dreadnought, 2 twin-linked las cannons, armoured ceramite, extra armour (185)
Beefed up with the extra armour and the armoured ceramite in case of outflanking melts-toting enemies, this mortis is intended to sit in one spot all game at take down the heavy vehicles and fliers wherever they move to. 

Legion Mortis Dreadnought, 2 twin-linked multi-meltas, armoured ceramite, extra armour, 2 hunter-killer missiles (175 points)
Unlike the above configurations, this is one that will probably require moving to obtain a good position given the range of the weapons. The hunter killer missiles are there to use as it moves up to its target. 

Legion Mortis Dreadnought, 2 twin-linked auto cannons (135 points)
A basic, dakka orientated dreadnought with a minor capability to take down low AP fliers (from the rear, of course!). Cheap and cheerful, but I think I'd prefer one of the above to take full advantage of the helical targeting array. But note, this is actually cheaper than a similarly armed legion dreadnought.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wrist Rotation and Conversions

One of the easiest and most effective conversions to achieve for a beginner modeller (or indeed, and advanced one) is to do something with the wrists of your characters. By changing the angle that a character is holding a blade (or other weapon) at, the entire pose of the miniature can be dramatically shifted and changed. 

The change of pose is what I was gunning for here with this conversion. In the image, there is a thunder hammer and a power sword (Grey Knights in this case) which I wanted to connect to a space marine arm and alter the angle of. For this particular character, I had in mind that I really wanted the sword to look like the pose that a fencer would have. Extended, lethal, and in complete control of the weapon. 

All this can be readily achieved by a simple wrist rotation based conversion. Snipping off the original bolt pistol from the left hand at the wrist, all I did here was to attach the Grey Knights sword at an angle that wasn't originally there in the bolt pistol based arm. By pinning the wrist, I doubly ensure a good wrist position when the glue dries and a solid miniature that is unlikely to snap (this is important as the blade will no doubt extend significantly away from the body of the miniature). 

The image also shows that I've drilled the shoulders and am ready with the good old paper clip pins to attach it to a torso. I think the end result is going to look good here: a tactical dueller on the battlefield ready to take on all comers. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scouring Chaos Space Marine Shoulder Pads for 30k

One of the things that I'm currently interested in undertaking is building an army for primarily 30k, rather than 40k. But I'm also keenly aware of the cost of such an undertaking. Hence one of the ways in which I want to try to save a little bit of money is to search my bits box for potentially useful parts that can double up, or be appropriated for 30k parts. 

One obvious source of bits for me is the humble chaos space marine sprues. As I've been an avid chaos space marine collector over the years, I find that I have plenty of bits from that range (both present and past moulds). 

Pictured above is one of the shoulder pads available on the chaos space marine sprue. But for 30k, I'm really not interested in the chaos star and skull that is depicted on the left hand side. Instead, I'm simply interested in a "blank" version of this, with the pseudo-heresy era protective strip (or even: earlier mark power armour) added around the edge.

To achieve this, I went back to the trusty combination of the modelling knife and file. Using the knife, I carefully started to slice off the skull and the arrows on the curvature of the pad. Once these were reasonably flat and removed from the pad, I then proceeded to apply a careful filing of the pad. As can be seen, this is imprecise, as getting the exact curvature of the original sculpt is highly tricky with simply a file. That said, it is reasonably smooth and I think it will suffice perfectly for a 30k pad - especially when it gets painted up with a bit of battle damage / chipped paint coupled with a defaced legion symbol. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Magos Reductor Calleb Decima

The FINAL entry in Betrayal is the only HQ choice for the Ordo Reductor mechanicum (but more are provided in the late Isstvan series of source books). In a nut shell, he's a loyalist mechanicum stuck with the Sons of Horus fleet, and so he naturally fell in with the loyalists on Isstvan III after being betrayed (his craft shot out of the air and crash landing on the surface of the planet).

As an HQ choice, he is actually rather reasonable. With a high toughness and 3 wounds, he's only worried about S10 and D class weapons to instant kill him.

He's not really a ranged specialist, so take some servo-automata to accompany him if you want to go down that route.

But he is going to be rather good in close combat. Particularly with servo-automata armed with anti-tank weapons (powerfists, las cutters and the like).

His ability of the Curse of the Omnissiah is terrific against vehicles. 2d6 haywire attacks are a serious cause for concern for most enemy tanks. Use this one shot attack wisely against targets you want to down. With sunder and tank hunter included in these attacks, he is a serious threat for any armour. And he has melta bombs to boot, just incase the haywire is not enough.

Place him amongst a largish bunch of Thallax and go do some tank hunting.

Overall, I regard him as a very reasonable HQ choice for a reasonable price. But with a very specific purpose on the battlefield.  Other mechanicum HQ choices in the other Horus Heresy books may provide a superior flexibility and build-ability, but Calleb Decima is not too bad overall in my opinion. And of course: very fluffy for Isstvan III.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Reaver Battle Titan

Many of the points I made about the Warhound Scout Titan are applicable here. Let me summarise the pertinent points:

(i) If you are taking titans, then your opponents might well be. You need to prepare for this through D class weapons.

(ii) Titans are not immobile weapons platforms. Move them to gain better lines of sight and to ensure any terminal explosion takes out enemy models and not your own.

(iii) Don't forget stomp attacks and tank shocks.

The principle difference here, however, is the option of a few different weapon systems and titan close combat weapons. These  latter items are 3 attacks as AP1 and D strength. Having one of these will certainly encourage you to move your titan and get inside the range of other titans weapons -- which can certainly be beneficial if they have minimum ranges.

Here are a few builds to consider.

Reaver Battle Titan with Apocalypse Launcher, Laser Blaster, Titan Close Combat Weapon
This is probably a base line Reaver. It contains a mix of D weapons, large blasts, and the close combat weapon to make sure you move the thing to take advantage of it.

Reaver Battle Titan with carapace-mounted vortex missile, 2 laser blasters
Very nasty turn 1 launch with the vortex missile to take out any close clumps of things you dislike, followed up by 6 D class shots.  And 6 more D class blast shots every turn thereafter. Nasty. Just nasty. Replace the vortex missile with a carapace mounted double-barrelled turbo laser destructor if you like, for sustained D shots every turn.

Reaver Battle Titan with carapace-mounted double-barrelled turbo laser destructor, 1 melta cannon, 1 volcano cannon.
Sit back. Blast away. Replace the volcano cannon with a laser baster to taste. But beware: this is one titan that you will forget to move around.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Warhound Scout Titan

Yes -- I really am reviewing titans. They're in Betrayal and the Horus Heresy, and therefore available as part of an army (with Lords of War) and therefore are a valid unit.

Let's be honest about something. If we're taking a titan, we're probably going to be opposed with titans. Therefore, I strongly would recommend that any titan is equipped with at least one strength D weapon to try to counter any enemy titans or super heavies. Admittedly, S10 is a close second, but its not quite the same.

The other thing to remember is that titans can move. Yep. Seriously. They have legs. They walk, jog and run. Remember to think about this: it is a mobile weapons platform after all.

But more than this: titans are also treated as gargantuan creatures in assault and can therefore make stomp attacks. These are at S10. And of course, they can tank shock anything less than a superheavy. Plus, it will generally take out anything in its vicinity when it goes down, so make sure that happens when your titan is deep in enemy territory for goodness sake. Move your titan!

Here are a few builds.  You'll notice that I'm not a fan of the inferno cannon -- there are superior options.

Warhound Scout Titan, 2 Vulcan Megabolters
Don't bother unless you know for certain there are no other super heavies or land raiders on the enemy side. Pumping out 30 AP3 shots every turn will rapidly decimate any space marine army otherwise. No fun for the opponent in this regard (but then, you're taking a titan!). One other serious note here is that the Vulcan Megabolter is the only titan weapon that can be targeted at fliers since in the current edition blast weapons cannot hit them. This build is therefore viable for taking down enemy planes!

Warhound Scout Titan, 2 double-barrelled turbo laser destructors
Four lots of D weapons with a 5" blast every turn is serious business. This is the kind of titan that is ready for anything. Nothing in the game cannot be handled by it. Take it.

Warhound Scout Titan, 1 plasma blast gun, 1 double-barrelled turbo laser destructor
A more balanced titan (if such a thing exists! lol!), the massive blasts from the plasma gun is amazing at range and fun to play. Its also high strength and is flexible (depending on if you're facing hordes for instance). And the laser destructors are for the enemy titans to contend with.

Warhound Scout Titan, 1 plasma blast gun, 1 vulcan mega-bolter
A more "standard" configuration, but one this is frankly, not as effective as the two previous examples. Remember the maxim: if you're taking a titan, your opponents may well be as well. Go for a D class weapon.

I cannot say I'm a fan of the inferno cannon, but can see some of its merit in flushing out power armour opponents for a swift moving war hound.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Imperial Avenger Strike Fighter

This is a somewhat fragile flier that is also a Lord of War. But it more than makes up for its fragility through its Avenger Bolt Cannon. This beast pumps out 7 S6 AP3 hits every turn. This means that it will literally mow through enemy space marine units with relative ease. But more than that: it poses a distinct threat to low AV tanks on top of that. When combined with some more serious anti-tank weapons on its hard points, this thing can tear apart light transports and their contents with contemptuous ease. Anything other than a terminator should get worried about this flier. And it is also the reason that Heresy armies really need to think hard about sky fire units to help bring down targets like this.

There are many options for the flier, but I think the basis for any build should be to strongly consider how to take best advantage of the Avenger Bolt Cannon.

That said, its important to remember that the flier also comes with a heavy stubber that also has skyfire. It might be able to take down the lightest of fliers (like itself), but in general, I think the Avenger should be kitted out to take on ground units rather than tackle other fliers.

Here are some sample builds.

Imperial Avenger Strike Fighter, battle servitor control, chaff launcher (175 points)
I think this is about the basic build that one should consider fielding. Its still flimsy with AV10 on the sides -- not much can be done about that -- but with the ability to tank hunt, this flier can pose real problems to almost anything on the ground that isn't a land raider or terminator.

Imperial Avenger Strike Fighter, battle servitor control, chaff launcher, two missile launchers (215 points)
This version is capable of taking on most things in the game -- at least on the ground. A land raider will still be hard to crack (krak?!), but otherwise, almost everything else is in danger from this one. Take infrared targeting if you think night fighting is going to be an issue.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Truescale 40k Marine Legs

One of the things that I wanted to accomplish with my new army is to have some (maybe most or all) of the models looking like they are true scale. This means that their body parts (arms, legs, torso, etc.) are in better proportion to one another than the standard miniature. You see, the issue is that 40k miniatures these days are produced in what is known as "heroic" scale. Although they're 28mm, the limbs are really not in proportion to the rest of the body properly. The most obvious problem is that they're smaller (shorter) than they should be if they were miniatures of real life people. But there's more subtlety to it than that even: the head is larger than it should be (very disproportionately so, in fact), and the weapons also look whopping. I'm not going to change the weapons as I kind of like the mis-scale of them (and who knows: in the far flung future, the weapons may be made of lighter composite materials - ceramite! - that make them easier to handle. Hence no issues there from me). 

To correct some of these issues, the first step is to make a standard marine look taller. There are many ways of doing this. There are two very typical methods, however. The first is to simply add length to the legs. I think I will take this approach with the majority of my new army (if I feel inclined that way). The second is to replace standard space marine legs with terminator legs and do some serious conversion work on those terminator legs to make them look like regular marine legs. This latter method is what this tutorial style article is about.

Pictured above are some Death Wing terminator legs from the Dark Angels range. These legs are the ones that I will be using on the hero leading my army - chosen because they have the "heresy" style studded right leg and the knee pads look kinda cool. And let me re-emphasise that the goal here is to turn them from terminator legs in to something more resembling regular power armour legs. As can be seen, I've already scrubbed part of the Death Wing iconography off the left leg. I'll tidy that up later and replace with a different symbol.

The first step (above) is to cut away the hip pads. I did this using my modelling knives and tidied it up so that it lay reasonably flat next to the legs. Its not important that this step is particularly smooth as we're going to cover up these bits anyway with greenstuff.

The next step is to roll up some green stuff. Remember: we want this to be smooth, ultimately, like regular marine armour. Hence: ensure that the putty is not cured (particularly where the yellow and blue parts join) before you roll it together. Secondly, we want to have time to play around with the green stuff before it becomes too cured to do anything with. Hence I recommend including more yellow than blue in the putty mixture to achieve this. Something like a 1.5:1 or a 2:1 ratio is about right for this. Place the blob of greenstuff on the back of the leg. But make sure that you have more than you need!

The next step is a bit tricky. You will need a smooth tool to press the putty in the the "hollow" of the back of the terminator leg and then smooth it. I use a plastic spatula to do this, but that's just a preference. Other tools like clay shaping tools will work just as well (and sometimes better!).  Once the putty has been smoothed in to the hollow, take a modelling knife and carefully trim around the edges, taking care to leave the piping at the back of the leg visible, and make the bottom of the trim have an obvious different to the foot. The sides of the leg (where they butt up against the frontal armour) should also be trimmed and made approximately level.

Rince and repeat this process with the other lower leg. And then roll out two long snakes of greenstuff to wrap around the thighs (one for each). Press these in as we did for the back of the calves and smooth over using a flat tool. Again, tidy up using a modelling knife and you're pretty much there. Above is a picture of my finished legs.  I'm all ready to attach this to a standard space marine torso and create the final model. But I'll post more about that in a future modelling post.

I hope folks found this useful! Note that you don't have to be an expert sculptor to follow this tutorial. All it takes is patience and making sure that you don't leave sticky finger prints all over the smoothed greenstuff that you've flattened in to the hollows of the terminator's legs. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Mechanicum Land Raider

I had a momentary hesitation in posting this as I realise that we've already covered the main legion land raiders, and the mechanicum land raider follows the same pattern and principles as those earlier ones. That said, it is a distinct entry in the Ordo Reductor army list within Betrayal, so for completeness, I'm going to quickly review it.

It has a whole lot in common with the land raider proteus to be honest. But one of the main differences is the presence of the Anabaric Claw. This is a close combat weapon (basically an electrocution from the hull) that strikes anyone (friend of foe) within 1" of the hull. It can be effective at whittling down a squad should they have the nerve to try to close assault the land raider. And since it comes for free, one might as well try to remember to use it on occasion!

The points cost of this land raider is slightly cheaper than the proteus. But if we upgrade the heavy bolter to be twin linked, we get in the same region of points very readily.

The upgrades are similar to a standard legion land raider, but with extra mechanicum options thrown in for good measure.

Here are a couple of builds that appealed to me, beyond the "naked" version which I think would still do well.

Mechanicum Land Raider, Graviton Cannon, Plasma Cannon Sponsons, extra armour, armoured ceramite (270 points)
I really like the weaponry on this tank: the graviton and plasma cannon combination represents a threat to many things in the game and the armour only adds to the tanks lasting power. Fear this tank!

Mechanicum Land Raider, Twin-linked plasma-fusil, flamestorm cannon sponsons, dozer blade, extra armour, armoured ceramite, flare shield, frag assault launchers (275 points)
This is a close assault tank variation. Drive up to where you want the contents of the tank to be, unload them and fire off the weapons to support their subsequent assault. Close and personal style.

Mechanicum Land Raider, Exploratory Augury Web (245 points)
This is an allied land raider for an Alpha Legion primary detachment (or any legion list that relies on reserve rolls, such as those with a deep striking rite of war). Mess around with your and / or the opponents reserve rolls! And sit in the back field and take some shots at enemy tanks with your las cannons.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Mechanicum Thallax Cohort

Augmented shock troops of the Mechanicum, these guys appear in multiple volumes of the Isstvan campaign books. In the case of Betrayal, they're under the Ordo Reductor forces.

There are multiple good things about these jet pack troops. Not only are they multi-wound models with a decent toughness (needing a Vindicator shot to instant kill no less!), but the entire unit can be upgraded with a choice special rules.

There are four such rules. Tank hunters, Skyfire (if stationary), Rage and Rending weapons, and deep striking.

This means that there are a number of nice builds that we could consider using for the Thallax cohort. But in addition to this, they have an excellent infiltrate counter in the form of their Djinn-sight meaning their enemy cannot set up within 24" of them. As an Alpha Legion wannabe, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for that one. As if that were not enough, they can also diminish their opponents cover save.

Here are some build ideas.

6 Thallaxi, heavy chainswords, melta bombs, Empyrite augmentations, 2 Irrad-cleansers (or 2 phase plasma fusils). (360 points)
The idea here is brutal but straight forward. This squad is kitted out for deep striking (Empyrite) and taking out some tanks or heavy troops. I could imagine going up to 9 models here as well, but it might be hard to deep strike so many successfully. Replace the special weapons with multi-meltas to taste.

5 Thallaxi, heavy chainswords, Ferrox, 1 Irrad-cleansers. (275 points)
This is a squad to place inside of a mechanicum land raider and assault out of it.

9 Thallaxi, 3 Photon Thrusters, Icarian or Destructor augmentations (475 points)
Back field. Take out the fliers or the lighter tanks of the enemy, or the heavy infantry. Nice and flexible and a good infiltrator denial unit.

3 Thallaxi (135 points).
Yep - the naked version. The idea here is a counter to infiltrators. Multiple units of these will cause headaches to a number of marine armies due to their high toughness and multiple wounds. With jump infantry, they can also move around well and get in (or out) of the way as required. Mechanicum forces that feature Thallaxi troops will be a pain to most enemies.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tartaros Terminators Unboxing

Something that I have wanted to get hold of for a long time finally arrived today: Forge World Tartaros Terminators. I got pretty excited and decided to delve right in and see what they looked like. The image below is of the components taken directly out of the bag with no trimming or anything else of that manner from me.

As can be seen, there are a number of excess flashes that will need knocked off. The connecting rods where the resin pumps in to the moulds are thick in some sections and will require chopping and filing down to an appropriate smoothness.

Interestingly, there are two pairs of shoulder pads. The smaller ones (bottom of the picture) reside under the larger pads to create a double layered pad.

The heads (middle) are basically standard marine heads that have been sliced in half (horizontally) which creates the illusion that the head is tucked deeply in to the torsos (lower right). The arms terminate at the wrists, hence need to be combined with other weapons available through Forge World. But in this case, I'm going to use bits from my bits box for the hands and the weapons as I didn't want to splurge on these extra parts given that I felt I had the bits I wanted in place already.

One could image replacing the arms with the entire arm off modern plastic terminators (e.g., for a reaper auto cannon from the chaos space marine range, or a thunder hammer from the space marines). These would fit nicely, although the shoulders might need some consideration in parts.

The legs meanwhile come in a variety of poses and I'm pleased to see they are replete with the heresy-era studs that become common in the background fluff after Isstvan. I feel some conversion work in the brewing at the back of my mind!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thri Kreen miniatures

One of the miniatures released alongside the Dark Sun series of RPGs were the Thri Kreen. They are based on preying mantis warriors and in the literature use some odd weapons reminiscent of ninjas or Eastern culture specialists. 

This particular chap is from Ral Partha, and is a lead based miniature from many years ago. The painting is very basic: green chitin coupled with red compound eyes to evoke the Athasian feeling of the miniatures. 

The weapon that he carries is a gythka - a kind of specialist pole arm that features sharp blades at either end … perhaps a bit like a double ended light sabre that belongs to a certain Sith Lord. 

The Thri-Kreen are known to use their spittle to create dasl crystal - essential a frosted venom, it crystallises and forms a very hard substance that ensures the creature is never weaponless. 

Its a pity that the miniature range never really took off, as I suspect that these kinds of creatures (if they were a touch larger) could have provided some excellent NPCs for Warhammer Fanstasy Roleplay, or even unaligned armies / mercenaries in the main skirmish game. I'll be reviewing "Thri Kreen of Athas" at a later date as part of my Dark Sun series, but just found that I had this miniature lying gathering dust in the bottom of my collection and wanted to quickly post it up. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Anvil Industry: Medieval & Renaissance Torsos

Anvil Industry is a great UK company that is producing their own 28mm scale resin miniatures, parts, and (very soon I hope!) some of their own rules and games for their miniatures.

But to the Warhammer 40,000 enthusiast, their parts are entirely suitable for the Games Workshop range as well. So, I recently decided to take the proverbial plunge and purchase a few of their bits. In the image below are 5 "medieval torsos", one "renaissance torso" and a regular Games Workshop space marine torso (front part only). The parts arrived quickly (very quickly in fact!), without fuss, and a very reasonably priced if I'm perfectly honest.

As can be seen, all of Anvil Industries torsos are exactly the same size as Games Workshop's space marine torsos. One could not hope for a better fit to be perfectly honest.

The casting quality is absolutely second to none. I need not mention some other companies that contain regular faults such as air bubbles, warping, poor casting, lines, excess flashes or lacking in detail due to the resin not flowing evenly in to the mould. Absolutely, and categorically, none of that. They're as close to perfect as could be desired in my opinion. And I'm not given to exaggeration. They really are that good! Check out the studs sticking out of the front of the armour in the image - each and every one of them are well formed and cast. Outstanding!

Being at 28mm, the arms and backpacks of regular space marines (and associated ranges) fit perfectly against the torsos. The head indentation is also perfectly shaped for the space marine range.

What uses does this have in Warhammer 40,000 then? Well, for me, they're going to be artificer armour (2+ save). But on top of that, they are ideal for pre-heresy collectors and can look like some of the earlier marks of power armour (and some of the other torsos look perfect for later marks as well- mk8 in particular). I can't wait to get stuck in to these torsos and start combining them with other bits from various ranges to see the results.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Concept model

This is the first model - a concept model - for a new marine based army that I'm building. It has been a very long while since I started a totally new army from scratch and you can follow my progress under the tag unbrokenchain. I guess the tag kind of gives away the army that I'm going to be building, but I'll do a full reveal a bit later.

This space marine has parts sourced from the space marines range, chaos space marines, and grey knights. He is (so far) armed with a melta gun and bolt pistol, coupled with the usual grenades and the backpack off the grey knights interceptors. The observant will notice that his left shoulder pad is missing -- I'm awaiting some parts for that. 

Regardless, the broad idea is that this marine will be part of an anti-tank squad that is able to deep strike on to the board. I'm considering adding a cape (that's a big maybe though), and perhaps even tweaking the legs to make the marine a bit taller (something like a mini-truescale project).  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Marshal Durak Rask

The second of the two Death Guard HQ characters (who is not a primarch!) is Durak Rask. From the outset, I'll note that he's the traitor option. This is one of the really nice aspects of Betrayal: for each of the four main legions involved, there's the primarch and at least one loyalist HQ to play around with.

Unlike Morturg, he didn't survive Isstvan III. His background is one of being utterly loyal to Mortarion, and also being a regular of the seven-pillared lodge (the Death Guard analogue of the warrior lodge present in many other legions).

As a Marshal, he was in charge of the legion's Ordnance. Therefore it is of little surprise that the character is geared toward this flavour.

To be perfectly honest, Rask's character is a vehicle wrecker. His wargear (thunder hammer) and special rules (wrecker and tank hunters) back this up 100%. He also grants the warlord trait of target priority which is a real boon (multiplier even) when played alongside friendly units. Although he's probably not as good as a well thought-out praetor, he is worth taking in my opinion. Team him up with some legion tactical support squads or legion heavy support squads and see what happens when you shoot opponents off objectives. Move in to close combat (detaching from the squad in doing so perhaps) to mop up any final resistance. Job done. Worth taking.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Section Leader Crysos Morturg

Crysos Morturg is a loyalist HQ choice for the Death Guard. He has the unusual distinction of being an Isstvan III atrocity survivor, largely because he simply would not go down. This makes him the epitome of the Death Guard ethos in my book.

Hence as a loyalist Death Guard player, he would make an ideal HQ choice for Betrayal. To be fair, Morturg is a fairly "typical" space marine commander in terms of stats - nothing really note worthy about his stat line stands out to me to be honest. Not even an extra pip in toughness, much to my sadness!

What does set him apart is his combination of special rules. Alongside the usual Death Guard Astartes rules, he gets infiltrate, stubborn and Endurance (from biomancy) as a level 1 psyker. These are an interesting set of abilities, but not outstanding. If he confers the infiltrate to other loyalist death guard, this could be a good move to get some terminators up front and bring some serious hurt to enemy players.

Having said that, I actually think that a specifically tailored praetor would be a better choice all round as Morturg has a seemingly odd combination of abilities to some extent. Cost wise, I think he's about typical for his stats and equipment. The question is: what sort of leader do you want? If its a fluffy choice for an Isstvan III loyalist Death Guard force, then this guy will certainly do rather well. If not, then go for a praetor of your own design.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Mortarion the Reaper

Mortarion. Of all the primarchs, Mortarion had the toughest time before rediscovery by the Emperor. His time on Barbarous shaped him, his scions, and something of his adoptive homeworld's darkness seeped in to his very soul somewhere along the way.

In the background to Warhammer 40k, Mortarion is portrayed as the toughest of the lot of them. He is readily able to shrug off injury. And just to prove how darn tough he is, he has a greater that emits whisps of Barbarous' atmosphere wherever he goes so he can always smell home. (Yeah, I think that's a bit odd as well).  On top of this, he is also shadowy and rather sinister. With his scythe, he looks like the embodiment of Terran death myths.

Do these facets come across in the rules for Mortarion in 30k? For me, they do.

Starting with his stat line, he has a high toughness that we've come to expect from Death Guard and some select primarchs (T=7), coupled with more wounds than a Great Unclean One (W=7), and a 2+/4+ save. But more than this, he re-rolls any failed "it will not die" rolls! That means that 55.5% of the time, he's regaining 1 wound per turn ... assuming that he somehow managed to take *any* wounds in the first place. On top of this, his immunity to poisons ensure that rules that score wounds on him based on a flat stat line only activate on a 6. So if you want him dead, I hope you've got a titan to tread on top of him. He is also able to employ his shadowry reaper fluff via redeploying a whopping 10" in a shooting phase, lining up his next assault. With The Lantern and Silence, he will slay many a marine who stands in his way.

But more than that, he is a minor force multiplier, adding poisoned to certain weapons (most excitingly for me, havoc launchers and frag missiles!), as well as spreading stubborn to his sons.

In all, this means that Mortarion is a strong assault orientated primarch (not quite Angron, who is a pure melee specialist), and is a minor force multiplier (nowhere near the potential of Alpharius for instance). But he is also going to last the entire game in all probability. This means that defensive manoeuvres can be successfully employed and "Take and Hold" strategies will become very easy. But to be honest, if you're taking Mortarion, he should be getting in to close combat rather than just sitting on an objective inside a land raider. Team him up with some of his body guard (heaps of sweep attacks if possible!) and go hunt anything in the game you like. And see if he can outlast a titan. (Let me know how that goes). 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Deathshroud Terminator Squad

Every legion has its own iteration on the terminator squad - the Deathshroud are the Death Guard's. More than that though, they form Mortarion's personal guard and are never more then 49 paces away (which is, of course, 7 x 7 paces, and as some of my readers will know: 7 is the "sacred number" of Nurgle -- what a coincidence!).

In essence, they're terminators with 2 wounds, always scoring (despite being HQs) and come armed with deathshroud power scythes (also known as manreapers) and hand flamers with chem-munitions (i.e. a flamer with shred and gets hot!).  The scythes are interesting: the deathshroud may replace their natural number of attacks for a number equal to the number of enemy models in base contact with them and perform a sweep attack.  Lots of S5 AP2 attacks are deadly to most units in 40k and can certainly bust light transport tanks.

I see them in two roles: (a) as shock troops, and an escort for a terminator praetor, even Mortarion himself; (b) a deep-striking nuisance unit that can disrupt back lines and claim objectives with near impunity.

Here's a couple of example builds:

4 Deathshroud terminators, melta bombs, Land Raider Phobos dedicated transport with frag assault launchers (450 points)
This is a real points sink, but could be very worthwhile.  Attach the Death Guard praetor or Mortarion himself and go forth and assault the heart of the enemy, especially large hordes of elites and opposing terminators.  

3 Deathshroud terminators, melta bombs (145 points)
A reasonable price for a small unit of genuine nuisance that demands to be dealt with by any opponent.  Not invincible, but opponents will think twice before charging them.  Run a couple of these squads via deep strike and disrupt the enemy.  Charge any objective holders as Mortarion commands.  Take, control and hold said objectives in the late game.

10 Deathshroud terminators (410 points)
The full squad. All 20 wounds of it. To be used when deep striking is permitted, or if you have a crazily big points limit. Their major problem is being in the right place at the right time, but otherwise this is a very scary unit on the board!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Death Guard Legion Rules

Victory through attrition, determination, and masters of darker weaponry, the Death Guard fought in the most hellish conditions and forged themselves to be a set of implacable fighters. To me, they have a highly interesting background (since I freely admit I'm a long term Death Guard player / Plague Marine player). Out of all of the legions, they fell hard to become the thing that they most fought against: terrors of the grimdark. But before then, the loyal Death Guard were pretty amazing, as attested to on Isstvan III and other theatres of war. They just don't give up, even in hopeless situations, and will carry on slogging it out.

The special rules for this legion reflect this character.

Firstly, they are remorseless. This is a very strong boon for the legion and means they never need take a fear or pinning test. Remember that in 30k, "And They Shall Know No Fear" is not around, hence the ability to ignore fear effects (as generated by primarchs, and certain other units / cf. Night Lords!) can be very valuable. Considering all the ordnance weapons around, the immunity to pinning is also handy. Clearly its not the full fearless rule that we're familiar with, but its a close second.

Because they are Sons of Barbarus (and even the Terran ones have been forced to participate in battlefields of similar hellishness conditions), they can re-roll and dangerous terrain checks for anything vaguely toxic, sludgish or muddy. This isn't going to come in to play too often, but for Isstvan III campaigns it might prove useful once in the odd while -- particularly if an objective is in the middle of some mysterious terrain (cf. the mysterious river table on page 165 of Betrayal).

To balance out these advantages, they are also intractable which means they have to reduce their sweeping advance rolls.

Much like the World Eaters and Emperor's Children, they also gain access to some unique upgrade equipment.

With their Chem Munitions, they can (optionally) freely upgrade flamers (of all kinds) to be shredding at the peril of gets hot. This is a rational transaction for some units (e.g., Tactical Support squads -- especially if they are drop podding in), and maybe tanks, but it may not be for all units.

And then there are the power scythes. These are not a bad option instead of power fists - especially for handling large blobs of marines, or even terminators. But they're not going to be useful against vehicles much. Hence one needs to think carefully about why you want this upgrade -- especially if its only on the squad sergeant. Sure, the reason may be its fluffy and that's all good! But its worth thinking about.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Captain Saul Tarvitz

Mounting the defence on Isstvan III, Tarvitz may have been one of the most important loyalists in the traitor forces. Stealing a thunderhawk, he warned the other loyalists and helped them survive the traitor's machinations. In this, he excelled. But unlike the other Emperor's Children, he was mediocre and didn't share their push for betterment -- especially his own betterment as he was fairly content with his lot in the Legion.

Tarvitz is one of the cheaper named characters in the Horus Heresy books, on par with an under-powered praetor. Losing a pip in BS and A, Tarvitz gains a charnabal broadsword, a sniper rifle, and a refractor field. In addition, he has preferred enemies of the traitor Emperors Children. I feel these exchanges almost balance out the stat line losses and his points value is almost comparable to an upgraded praetor with comparable equipment. Almost. In regular games, he is probably over-price slightly. In games featuring Isstvan III legions, he is probably slightly under-costed. Give or take a bit.

Hence, I would regard Tarvitz as a fluffy choice for the loyalists on Isstvan III, and a reasonable alternative to a (not highly upgraded) praetor that also provides Master of the Legion to give access to the rites of war, and with a set warlord trait. One could probably tailor something better to your own play style, but he is certainly an option for those looking to recreate an Isstvan III army.
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