Friday, June 27, 2014

Space Marine Statue Terrain Piece

The Space Marine statue is a nice terrain piece, providing some limited line of sight blocking and a good way to bring a small amount of variation and vibrancy to tabletop terrain for Warhammer 40,000.


Having assembled this statue, I'm now trying to think up concepts about how to paint it up. I've seen many, many different approaches to this terrain piece, ranging from metallics, through to marble tones, and ones overgrown with vines and trees. And I guess that that is where I'm having trouble in choosing the manner in which to paint this one up. I want something that is a little out of the ordinary (perhaps even going as far to have a pre-heresy style statue?) and something that makes the terrain piece stand out as unique against the background and against what others have painted theirs in.

Opinions welcome!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Games Workshop Portsmouth

Recently, I travelled to Portsmouth and Southsea with my work. Its on the very Southern coast of  England for those that don't know the local geography, and looks out to the Isle of Wight and the English Channel. And since I'm in the habit of now reviewing Games Workshops whenever and wherever I travel, I thought I would seek out the Portsmouth store of Games Workshop.


Physically, the store is located on Arundel Street, which is only a 5 min walk from the Portsmouth and Southsea railway station. It is well serviced with connecting buses (it seems) from nearby stops and is amongst the main shopping precinct of Portsmouth, making is very accessible to dedicated gamers and casual shoppers alike.

The size of the store is wider than the recent English stores I've visited, but then, I don't think it has quite the depth of (e.g.) Durham. The gaming tables inside were suitably dressed up and the main theme of the store when I visited was to do with the release of 7th edition (naturally). Indeed, you can see posters advertising 7th, and glimpse a few pages of the rules inside the window. The miniatures on display were all great. But I never did catch the name of the employee I was chatting with (apologies if its you and you are miraculously reading this - I was the guy with the accent that didn't fit in - you know the slightly Aussie/British accent! lol!).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Snow Ghoul (WFB Vintage)

A miniature (and paint job) from yesteryear from me today. This is a very (very) old metal ghoul from Citadel Miniatures in the Realms of Chaos / Rogue Trader era. I discovered it whilst tidying up an equally old dungeons and dragons miniature related box (which contained oddities ranging from Ral Partha models through to blue plastic Space Hulk genestealers).

I painted this blue in my youth to depict a snow- or ice ghoul. Why blue? Well, the blood in its body runs cold (obviously! lol!). 

It was also an early exercise in azimuthal lighting to some extent. 

The base coat is nothing more than ultramarine blue, with several dark blue wash layers added on top to give a bit of depth. The upper surfaces on the face and chest were then picked out in ultramarine blue, and then layered up with a mixture of electric blue. I was particularly pleased with the face on the ghoul - in spite of the pure white eyeballs. The tongue is suitably snow-covered dirt flavour, but the weapon clearly needs a bit more work to bring to a good standard.

The overall tone of the blue is pleasing to my eye even today and I remember fondly some snow based Dungeons and Dragons adventures where a group of these ghouls persistently tailed and tried to eat the PCs (repeatedly) only to be chased away and scared off by large bonfire-related hijinks and fire-based magic.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Space Marine Hands

One of the changes that seems to have happened recently is the way that hands are moulded, cast and joined on to models such as space marines. Below is a picture (taken from the assembly instructions of the recently newly boxed space marines) illustrating what I mean. Notice how the hand holding the trigger (the right hand -- and don't get me started on why every space marine is right handed!) is not longer a part of the arm, but part of the gun piece itself.


This is at variance to how (e.g.) chaos space marines come off the sprue. With chaos marines, the bolter is a totally separate piece and includes the trigger handle itself (should you want to attach it to the leg for instance whilst the hands hold a pistol and chainsword). The one issue with this, of course, is a reduction in the readiness with which bits can be exchanged between kits like space marines and chaos space marines.

Why am I bothered about this? I'm not too much as its only a little bit of extra modelling work. But since I'd like to blend the bits from space marines and chaos space marines - especially with an eye to constructing pre-heresy styled models - it just mean fractionally more work whereas it was easier earlier.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Drop Pod

There are no build suggestions that I can share for this unit, as there are no options to pick between. But, let me state from the outset here that players familiar with Warhammer 40k Space Marines codex will have no trouble comprehending what the 30k version is all about. They're pretty much identical.

The interesting facet about only having one drop pod and having it come down in turn one won't work in 30k though. That's because in order to take a drop pod, regular units must have access to the correct rite of war bought through a legion praetor.

The good news is that a death wind pod is a distinct entry in the heavy support section, so this tactic can still work, but just not with a squad of marines or a dreadnought. Hence the legion drop pod is going to be very much limited to drop pod armies. This is a bit of a shame in some ways, but also makes for a very fluffy background for armies built as such.

As always, the drop pod is for getting your troops or weapons where you need them. The inertial guidance systems help them not be lost if they land on impassable terrain. And for reasons that have always bothered me, the chaos space marine factions in 40k do not have access to them (despite the World Eaters apparent love of them). Clearly they're too busy to collect them back up off the battle field or enslave a forge world to make more of them for themselves.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Rhino Armoured Carrier

The ubiquitous rhino is familiar to all space marine 40k players, and their enemies alike. Indeed, so frequently used are these tanks, that a review hardly seems worthwhile. But for the sake of completeness (and I will be covering EVERYTHING in the Horus Heresy books eventually), the rhino gets its time in the limelight today.

Its worth noting here that under some rites of war (e.g., armoured spearhead) rhino's and/or other transports must be purchased for all infantry squads. So they're going to see plenty of use in 30k. In addition, they also get the self repair rule, just as in 40k. So don't forget to use it if immobile and without weapons.

The options for rhinos are not particularly broad. But here are a few ideas for builds.

Legion Rhino with havoc launcher (50 points).
This has to be my favourite (and preferred) set up. The havoc launcher is an excellent weapon to mount on rhinos and can provide a sweet application of extra pressure that catches opponents off guard. I use it all the time in my chaos armies.

Legion rhino with auxiliary drive, extra armour, dozer blade (60 points).
For when you absolutely must get your troops from point A to point B. Its not guaranteed by any means. So you're going to probably want and need to take plenty of them.

Legion rhino with hunter-killer missile, combi-melta (55 points).
Just for fun (but it also works!). Turn 1: fire your hunter killer missile. In the successive turns, get up close and personal with another tank and melta it (hopefully your troops on board also have some meltas to back it up). And from therein, if the rhino survives, think about camping on objectives and/or ramming opponents!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Reconnaissance Squad

The reconnaissance squad will provide a familiar play style to any space marine player who extensively use scouts in 40k. But there are differences. Firstly, they're full space marines. No hit to WS or BS. Secondly, they cannot fulfil a compulsory troops choice. That said, they can downgrade their armour to 4+ recon armour and gain infiltrate and move through cover for the exchange. I'm a fan of scouts, and this squad fuels me with inspiration on what to do with them. Without further ado, here are a few build ideas.

Legion Reconnaissance Squad, 10 members, all with sniper rifles (250 points).
Sit this squad on a back line objective and keep a nice line of sight to your primary targets. Sniper rifles are great at what they do and this style of squad cannot be underestimated.

Legion Reconnaissance Squad, 10 members, all with recon armour, space marine shotguns, cameleoline, 1 nuncio vox, squad sergeant with power fist and artificer armour (285 points)
This is a semi-traditional scout close combat squad. Infiltrate them, outflank them, and generally get them closer to where they need to be and engage. And yes: you can have artificer armour on the sergeant and recon armour on the rest and still gain the universal special rules!

Legion Reconnaissance Squad, 5 members, all with recon armour and melta bombs (150 points)
Infiltrate and blow up that tank you despise. A melta bomb suicide squad! Take a combi-melta on the sergeant for fun. Add a Storm Eagle Gunship for extra dakka.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Tactical Support Squad

These units are troops choices, but cannot be used to fulfil compulsory choices in the force organisation chart. But you don't care about that too much in 7th edition now do you? hehe ;)

They automatically forgo their bolt guns in favour of flamers. But their flamers can be swapped for other specialist weapons. All members of the squad must swap for the same though.

The last interesting snippet about this squad is that they can be purchased starting at 5 members only (but can go as high as 10 members). The only negative is that they cannot take legion vexillas or nuncio voxes.

Here's a few ideas for builds.

Legion Tactical Support Squad, 5 members, 5 melta guns, sergeant with power fist, melta bombs and artificer armour (205 points)
Take a rhino (or drop pod if available) and go tank hunting. Simple.  Add in 4 extra members and team up with a HQ tank killer choice for extra whammy.

Legion Tactical Support Squad, 10 members, 10 volkite calivers (225 points)
If you want to use volkite weaponry (and there is a big IF there: there are certainly two schools of thought about them), then you should go big or go home. This is the going big option.

Legion Tactical Support Squad, 9 members, 9 plasma guns, sergeant with power fist, melta bombs and artificer armour (325 points)
Team up with an apothecary, place in a rhino and enjoy raining plasma death on your enemy (and no doubt yourself when you rapid fire the plasma guns). Fun!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Breacher Siege Squad


The legion breacher siege squad does not have any true analogue in Warhammer 40,000, making it something of a unique Heresy era squad pattern.

One of the key differences for this unit is that their armour is hardened. As well as being void hardened, they can re-roll saves against blast and template weapons. This makes them ideal for the problematic siege situations that they will find themselves in. They're obviously going to be the primary troops selection for Zone Mortalis games for example. The boarding shield that comes as standard will help them stay alive in close combat (5++), but less so outside melee (6++).

The squad can take a larger range of upgrades than the tactical squad which also makes them quite interesting to build. But they are much more expensive to build than tactical squads. So the question for the fielding player is whether to have extra survivability in this option (or better flavour if you're Iron Hands, World Eaters, etc.), or more bodies with the tactical squad option. That said, here are a few sample builds.

Legion Breacher Siege Squad, 20 members, 4 graviton guns,  legion vexilla, sergeant with power fist, artificer armour (425 points)
The reason for the sergeant's upgrades are the same as for the tactical squad. I like the graviton guns as an option as they provide for a nice toughness based mechanic for causing damage. And the sheer size of the squad is nice too!

Legion Breacher Siege Squad, 10 members, all with melta bombs, 2 melta guns, legion vexilla, sergeant with combi-melta, power fist, artificer armour (355 points)
Take with a land raider and go tank hunting. The extra invulnerable save will keep this squad alive longer than a similarly built tactical squad, but it is more expensive (of course!).

Legion Breacher Siege Squad, 10 members, 2 las cutters, legion vexilla, sergeant with power fist, artificer armour, one breacher charge, melta bombs (300 points)
An escort squad for the breacher charge and for good in your face damage to bulkheads! Probably take a land raider if you're not using this style squad inside of Zone Mortalis.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Assault Squad


The Assault Squad in 30k Legions is somewhat pricey, but provides the legion player with some much needed rapid response and celeritous threat deployment. With jump packs, standard grenades, bolt pistol and close combat weapon, these are very "standard" troops. But wait: therein is the nice thing: they're troops rather than fast attack. Yes - you read that right, you're not playing Blood Angels in 40k, Legions in 30k take assault squads as troops. Neat!

The other change from standard 40k is also the size. As with the Legion Tactical Squad, the controlling player can select squads that are up to 20 large. Sometimes this is good thing for assault squads, but it depends on the sheer density of terrain you're playing with.

Here are a few sample builds to toy around with.

Legion Assault Squad, 10 strong, all with melta bombs, sergeant with power fist and artificer armour (325 points).
A tank hunter squad. Get there quickly and blow up the tanks. Simple. Effective.

Legion Assault Squad, 15 strong, all with combat shields, sergeant with power fist and artificer armour (395 points).
With an invulnerable save and an effective sergeant, this is a large assault squad - but not so large as to be seriously affected by dense terrain. Take some hand flamers for taste and use as an objective taker?

Legion Assault Squad, 20 strong, 4 hand flamers, sergeant with hand flamer, artificer armour and power fist (475 points)
The objective hunter. Sit on it. Flame anything that charges you. Hope it isn't a contemptor. Take melta bombs just to be sure…!

Legion Assault Squad, 10 strong, 2 plasma pistols, sergeant with thunder hammer, plasma pistol, melta bombs and artificer armour (330 points)
Although the plasma pistol is much maligned, it can still pose a decent threat. The thunder hammer sergeant backs this up in close combat with a third plasma pistol to make this a pseudo-plasma-cide squad that has potential in close combat and can be a light tank threat to boot. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Legion Tactical Squad


In many ways similar to the 40k tactical squad analogue, these troops will no doubt be the core of many 30k armies. But there are significant differences. They do not have the modern "And They Shall Know No Fear" rule, nor do they have the combat squads ability that can be so useful in tournament play when you don't know what army you'll be facing.

Instead, they have the "Fury of the Legion" special rule. This is the rule that everyone has probably heard about when Betrayal first came out. In short, they shoot their bloters and bolt pistols twice in a shooting phase. But they cannot shoot again next turn due to the massive amount of bullets unleashed. Nor can they overwatch in the current turn either.

If we want to take full advantage of Fury of the Legion, then a fully expanded tactical squad makes a lot of sense. And indeed, you'll probably see many 30k net lists with a full 20 members each in their tactical squads to take direct advantage of this. But this has to be balanced against the want / need to take rhino transports, drop pods (depending on the rite of war in play) and so forth.

Here are two builds to consider. The first is a regular one to take advantage of Fury of the Legion where needed, the second is a Despoiler style squad.

Legion Tactical Squad, 20 members, sergeant with power fist and artificer armour, legion vexilla (285 points).
I think this is the baseline squad. We're almost forced to take a power fist in 30k over a power weapon since the opposing sergeants (or better) issuing challenges will no doubt have a 2+ save or some kind of invulnerable save. Perhaps a power lance at a push, but probably not.  Take melta bombs if there are some points to spare. Add on an apothecary for bonus survivability / objective capturing power-up!

Legion Tactical Squad, 10 members, additional chainswords each, sergeant with power fist and artificer armour, legion vexilla, nuncio-vox, melta bombs (220 points)
The tooled-up 10 man tactical squad. Notice that the extra close combat weapon has to be paid for. Place in a rhino and have some fun.

Of course, the temptation as always is to really tool up each and every squad. But there, there is something to be said for a plain 20 man un-upgraded squad for 250 points

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Skulls, Cathedrals and the Weight of History in 40k

This article came across my desk today (via a circuitous Facebook route).

It caught my attention because its the first one that I've seen that delves in to the thematic issue of warhammer 40,000  in a lot of detail …. although I'm sure that there must be some university theses on these issues by now (and if there's not, there should be! get researching!).

What I was not aware of was that the original design team had an excellent background in history and archeology. Hence the drawing of the themes of warhammer 40,000 takes root in many cultures from our own (Earth's) history. This is, of course, highly obvious when one looks at the general outline of a space marine and compares to (e.g.) Roman armies.

That said, the thing that struck me most about the article was the notion of the "weight of history". Everywhere in the game, there is history. History of many, many millennia. Having lived in both the UK and Australia, I can really appreciate this point. There are physical buildings standing in the UK that are millennia old (Durham cathedral to name but one, but head to London and other places to see even older items). Although lacking such architecture, Australia also has paintings on rocks done by aboriginal Australians that pre-date even these. This is what is meant by the weight of history: long occupation of multiple dynasties of humans all leaving their mark on the landscape and their own architecture. But in warhammer 40k, this results in plentiful gothic style cathedral designs in new things (titans, administration buildings, etc) as well as a seemingly endless array of skulls. Add on top of this the grand scale of these things, and the typical human being is made to feel very small and tiny in the grand scheme of things. Perfect!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dark Sun Reviews: The Complete Gladiator's Handbook

Unlike some of the other "Complete" series from ADnD 2nd edition, this one is positively Dark Sun orientated - going as far as having the familiar burnt orange colour interior and familiar artwork associated with it. In a nut shell, it contains plentiful details about how to create gladiator class PCs, variations on this class, new rules related to gladiators and their combat, plus details of the arenas in each of the major city states of the Athasian Tablelands.

The first chapter of the book dedicates itself to character creation. If you're playing 4th edition DnD, then you need to note that the character kits are roughly character themes and will need none-zero work to translate in to modern DnD. These kits are generally reasonably well executed and range from the highly notable Jazst (travelling harlequins who get the crowd excited prior to the main events and have a stupidly large damage potential at low levels), the blind fighters (or more accurately: sense deprived fighters, but otherwise end up spending all their slots on this particular skill at low level); through to the Beast Trainer (which is precisely what you think it would be … and somewhat ranger-esque in operation if you ask me). The other kits tend toward a more "meh" reaction from me: professional gladiators, slave gladiators, arena champions and the like all kind of blend in to one for me. Might as well use the original gladiator class from Dark Sun for these instead to some extent.

Gladiator abilities and combat mechanics make up the next two chapters (respectively). There are a few nice ideas contained in these chapters that could be mined for further use. Some of the weapons are very unusual and highly Athas-orientated. The combat section does shine for a number of reasons though. Ranging from unarmed combat manoeuvres through to shield bashing, and grappling, through to limb-targeting, this section has everything! Even martial arts. This is great, as it provides gladiators with the opportunity to do things like knocking opponents unconscious deliberately. 

The fourth chapter features and in-depth look at the arenas of the Tablelands. The one that did surprise me was Urik's. It is irregularly shaped and has deadly staves scattered around it. I thought Hamanu would have preferred something much more regular and open field. But oh well, perhaps his armies are what that is for. The chapter delves in to fan culture in more detail and allows the PCs to gain bonuses if the mobs like them in the arena. This is cute, but ultimately not that necessary unless one if running an entire gladiator campaign…. which just happens to be the topic of the fifth chapter. I wasn't particularly taken with this, as it contains all the obvious stuff (slave gladiators, the life and times of arena trials, fame / infamy, trading gladiators, and so on). This could readily be implemented by an imaginative GM / DM, but I suppose could be a good source of knowledge for relatively new GM's.

The book is rounded off by a smaller chapter on running tournaments. If playing in a particular city-state for an extended period, then this section will provide the detail for tournament days being held there and their own peculiarities. 

Overall, the big positive thing about this book is the expanded combat / melee options presented. This really opens up an entirely new field for the PCs and is worth while from this point of view. Some of the other material is between meh to okay, to good, depending entirely if you're interested in the micro-culture of specific city-state arenas or are looking for something a bit more specialist than a regular gladiator character kit. Three stars out of five from me.


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