Monday, October 30, 2017

Mind Howl

Bit of a rough week just gone (thanks to those of you who messaged me). Hopefully things should improve now and we'll get back to our more usual roll out of posts. 

Today, I wanted touch on the forth-coming release of the new Horus Heresy rules set. There appears, on the surface, to be a number of important, significant, and (dare I say it?): longed for changed in the rules that are being proposed.

One of the big ones is the total elimination of Invisibility as a psychic power. Invisibility caused all sorts of shenanigans in the 7th edition of both Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40,000. So much so, that independent tournaments invariably had their own house rules on the power to prevent too much abuse.

Its termination with extreme prejudice is a welcome one from me. In its place, we have a new power entitled "Mind Howl". The image below was taken from the Warhammer Community website, and I use it here under "fair use" clauses (happy to take it down if desired). 

On the surface, Mind Howl is a reasonable replacement power for invisibility. It provides the caster with a way of reducing the effectiveness of a target unit both in terms of the WS and the BS of the victim. At Warp Charge 2, it has a steep price (but we do not yet know how the psychic phase will operate under the new rules system ... I'm hoping for something more streamlined myself, but time will tell), and has to be within a range of 12 inches. This range won't be an issue for a melee orientated psyker to take on. However, the temptation will be to attempt to nullify opponents best ranged weapons as well. 

In practice, this means that packers that have rules such as infiltration and teleportation may well be able to shut down some of the most powerful incoming fire power from opponents. 

You can probably guess my thoughts here. With the Alpha Legion, one of these infiltrating strategically near the backlines could do amazing damage to the ranged potential of any enemy units. Even certain Thousand Sons builds can pull off this kind of treachery. Hence, even though Invisibility was a game defining psychic power, the Mind Howl replacement power can potentially be just as frightful in its own right. I can certainly see me taking an Alpha Legion librarian just to exploit this power alone and shut down the ranged weapons of heavy support squads to snap shot levels. Hydra Dominatus brothers!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

7.1 Edition

Watching the Twitch Channel for Warhammer in the week, there were plenty of previews coming out of Forge World. These not only included the miniatures (Astraeus, Red Scorpion chapter dreadnought, space wolves terminators, doors for rhinos, etc.), but also a quick glance through the new rulebook for the Horus Heresy era.

Described as Version 7.1 of the rulebook, on screen it appeared as a large tome held together by a pair of large bulldog clips. In other words -- a high level proof. All the pages were printed and ready. Everything was there. Just the binding missing.

The guys explained that the rule book has been sent to the printers and they are estimating something like one month or so before the book is ready.

I'm still pleased that the Horus Heresy will be adopting a modified 7th edition, but sad that it is not wholly compatible with 8th edition (meaning one set of rules for 30k, one for 40k). I guess I will withhold judgement until I can actually get my hands on the new rulebook to see what has changed. Exciting times ahead!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rumour Engine

One of the "newer" items on the release schedule from Games Workshop in recent times has been the Rumour Engine. Delivered via the Warhammer Community webpage, the Rumour Engine regularly depicts part (or a sub-part) of some model from the upcoming release range. This weeks Engine appears to be some kind of candle. Who knows whether this one is in relation to Warhammer 40,000, or the Age of Sigmar? Could be either really.

As a marketing tool it is a good one. There has been a long tradition in the Warhammer 40,000 blogosphere of posting rumours from people who are on the inside of the trade. Whether this be shipment people, or workers very close to Games Workshop, keeping secrets within a world-wide trading organisation that has to ship things on a regular basis is tough. Once upon a time, these kinds of rumour mongers were about all we had in the community. From my perspective, it is really good to see Games Workshop embrace a new philosophy, and, in doing so, stay a step ahead of the older rumour traders.

This in turn has fuelled a lot of speculation about the direction(s) that Games Workshop will take in their next batch of releases. Will it be Dwarves, or perhaps something a bit more Nurgle-esque, for example? A number of sites now regularly document the rumour engine and what has already been solved and what remains to be. In doing so, they're contributing positively to the release schedule that Games Workshop has and informing the rest of the community about the possibilities that might lie in the future.

I personally like to read through some of the comments on Facebook on the subject matter when the engine makes a release. Some of them are hilarious, others a lot more considered and pointing out things that escape even my keen eyes. The rumours that most stuck in the back of my mind were the snips we had of the Grand Cultivator. It was obvious that we were getting something Nurgle-esque, but was it going to be a new Beast of Nurgle, or something else entirely. I was a bit torn to say the least. The other ones that stick out to me are what Forge World used to do over the Christmas build up period with their jigsaw puzzle pieces. The approach is similar, but we get many pieces slotting together over a few weeks to yield the final picture. I like this particular approach a whole lot as well since it not only gives hints, but the full picture will ultimately reveal itself at a pre-known date -- unlike the rumour engine that could last for who knows how long before we know the solution. Or even see the solution with the benefit of hindsight.

Regardless, I've no idea what the candles are about this week. Sorry! I have no insight to share there.  Yet, I'm still thinking about what this one could be, and what some of the older ones are! Good work GW, you've hooked me...

Monday, October 16, 2017


Its not a big secret that I am an avid reader. This obviously includes the Horus Heresy series that has been released by the Black Library for more years than the Heresy lasted for. The latest release in the series is Ruinstorm.

The book centres around the closure of the whole Imperium Secundus story arc. That's the one where Guilliman thought that Terra was probably extinguished already and where he got together with two of his brothers, Sanguinius and the Lion, to build a new Imperium in the core of Ultramar. 

I do not wish to write about any spoilers here. So I will keep my comments generalist in nature. Firstly, I think that the Black Library made the right choice in the author of the book, David Annandale. I like the way that he has approached the whole arc and how the various different threads have been woven together in to a successful and cohesive whole. 

Ranging from the guilt felt by the Primarchs about the founding of the Imperium Secundus, through to how they act within their own fleets and tackle the obstacles presented in front of them. Ruinstorm presents a good yarn for the long time readers of the series.

The positives for me include the perspectives on the Rainstorm and what it means for Chaos to encroach on the material Universe in general. The literal chaos that results in deep space is well described and provides an evocative ensemble of blasphemous material to draw upon for game terrain creation for example. Remarkably, as well as being a book to bring the Secundus plotline full circle, the book also links in to the Damnation of Pythos. I was not expecting that really. 

Each of the three Primarchs is "tested" in some way or other. Sanguinius wrestles with his fates (turn left and its bad, turn right and its worse). Guilliman and the Lion also wrestle with their own demons (or daemons, not sure which way that should be spelt any longer, sorry!). 

The culmination of the book deals with the "Why" and "How" of the Blood Angels making it back to Terra in time for the final battle. In that way, it provides nice closure to this known fact alongside the "Why" of the Dark Angels and Ultramarines not making it back in time. Similar to how the White Scars made it back, I was pleased with the way that the story developed around this narrative. It might not be to everyone's tastes though -- but I liked it.

The major negative is the huge amount of back-material needed to properly enjoy this book. Jumping right in to the series here is probably not a big recommendation by me. Its possible, but readers will probably scratch their heads about a few items along the way. To be honest, not even I've read the full series (I tend to skip the anthologies for instance unless there's a chapter that I really, really want). So overall, a good tale, but a specialised one in relation to the Secundus arc, yet at the same time accessible for addressing the "Hows" and "Whys" behind the Blood Angel's presence on Terra when Horus came.

Friday, October 13, 2017


By the time that I've sat down and had chance to write this, the Astraeus super-heavy primaris tank will be old news to many in the blogosphere. Regardless, I had a few thoughts from the video and writing that was released via the Warhammer community page that I wanted to jot down here.

Firstly, the link -- check out the Astraeus for yourself if you've not already done so!

Described by the Warhammer team themselves as a cross between a Sicaran, a Repulsor, and a Fellblade, its not hard to see why this tank blends these elements together in to a single vehicle. The macro cannons on the top of the tank are a force to be reckoned with due to the stats alone, and their presence on the top of the tank is highly reminiscent of the Sicaran itself. The use of the gravitation platform to keep the vehicle floating seems to be a recurring theme that is developing with both the (re)introduction of the Custodes and now with the Primaris marines. 

Although there are obviously other weapons on board this device of destruction such as the las-rippers on the sponsons, the main stand out is the defensive capabilities. This super-heavy is boasting some serious armour and defensive capabilities in terms of hosting void shields inside it. Indeed, it seems to have the defensive capabilities of a war hound titan from first glance. 

All together, this tank is a new evolution. Yet, in doing so, it seems to be breaking one of the fundamental constants that has been with Warhammer 40,000 for so long: the fact that no new technology gets designed and built since the grim dark of the far future is in a state of technological stagnation. Of course, this statement applies to other items such as the Primaris marines themselves and the other weaponry that have come along with them. I get the Guilliman has been preparing for this in secret, but I do wonder how the existent Forge Worlds might feel about all this new technology coming along. At least in terms of the grim dark dystopian narrative that has been with us for so long.

In terms of the model itself, I'm actually a bit of a fan of it. When the Primaris marines and their new transports came along I was a little bit sceptical. Yet for this tank, I really do like it. Somehow, despite the obvious things like the grab-technology all over and the over the top weaponry, it somehow just all works as a singular entity. The modellers have done really well to blend all of the aspects of the tank together in to a cohesive whole. Whist I will not be purchasing this particular model myself in the near future, I'm sure many people will be. I think it will perform very well indeed on many battlefields and will look glorious whilst doing so. Bring me my titan...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Styrene Hill of Old

At the time I created this piece, I was unable to afford items like the Realms of Battle boards. I liked the look of the (then new) Realms of Battle since they had hills that were directly moulded in to their surface for miniatures to climb up and down.

Instead, I decided that some of my terrain could do with some natural hills for the miniatures to be placed on. Vantage points that were not ruins, or generic houses -- but natural features. After digesting the contents of books like How to Make Wargames Terrain I decided to have a go myself at making a styrene hill.

The construction of this piece is straight forward enough. Two roughly rectangular blocks of styrene, each about the height of an imperial guard figure, have been stacked on top of each other and glued in to place using PVA glue. The lower styrene block is mounted on cork board that was sold as a table mat in a department store. To shape the styrene blocks a little, I used a hot wire cutter to give them a little bit of shape and texture. 

Once the two rectangles dried out, I then coated the piece liberally in PVA glue once more and added in some large stones in corners (e.g., see the lower left corner of the upper block). Flock in several different shades of green were then applied on top of the rest of the PVA glue and left to settle in place. 

Painting consisted of touching up some areas of the piece where the flock didn't stick well to, using dark green paint for some low-lights and crevices, and painting the stony areas in black followed by several passes of a whiter dry brush. 

I have had this item in my collection for many, many years. Some of my earlier battle reports might even have it in although I've not looked at those photos whilst I was writing this piece. As a result of its age, the green flock has faded. Too much UK weather (it got rained on a bit when I was transporting in one time), Australian Sunshine, combined with transport back to the United Kingdom again has all taken it toll on the hill. I might attempt some rejuvenation on the piece, although at this stage I'm tempted to retire it and produce new pieces as its replacement. If nothing else, the construction of this piece demonstrated to me that home made terrain items can look good and not be limited to crazy conversion ideas!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Spray Painted Cork as Mountainous Scenery

This is an idea that I have toyed with on and off over the years -- using Cork to represent mountainous regions of the playing board. As a material, cork is a good one to work with. From a practical point of view, the material is very light and therefore can be transported with a minimum of fuss. Moreover, it is also "green" in the sense that it is regularly harvested and harvesting does not kill the cork plant. Its more like how sheep get sheared for their wool realistically. 

To represent mountains, I decided to experiment a little bit with using different colours. On the example below, I have used Games Workshop's own white spray paint to coat this piece of cork.

I will say from the outset that this process uses a whole lot of spray paint to be honest! If you look closely at the image, you will also see that there are patches where it looks like I have missed my target when spraying. This is not true ... the cork absorbs a lot of the paint and some areas are a bit more resistant to spray paint than others.

What I will say though is that the overall effect -- certainly in terms of the texture -- looks impressive. The nooks and crannies combined with the layered visage of the cork makes this piece look very much like a small scale mountain or cliff. 

I'm pleased with the overall effect here. Although I want to try more, I think that I might need to assess whether there's a better way to mass paint cork for a cheaper amount of money. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

L-Bend Hardware Scenery

Carrying on from the last post, today is just to highlight a small scenery piece that was made from parts purchased at the same hardware store. This time, I am using a pair of plastic L-bend pipes from the store. 

The plastic pipework was firstly glued with superglue to a square MDF board. In this case, the MDF was bought as a table mat (the kind that you would put glasses of wine on, or just drinks in general). Following that, I used filler to mould around the base of the pipes to create a rugged look as if these pipes had been there for quite some time. Inside the opening of the pipes, I glued in to place a plastic square grid mesh. This was probably the hardest part to be honest as I could not quite get the grid cut to a perfectly circular shape. Hence if you look carefully, you will see a distortion in the grid as it sits inside the L-bends. I actually don't mind this one bit as to me it simply suggests more ageing. 

Painting followed the same scheme that I had used for the toilet parts in the previous post: red as the base colour followed by sponging of rusted oranges and selected use of black here and there. 

At the "lip" of the L-bend where the grid was glued, I applied a liberal amount of watery black ink. This gives the appearance that the pipes have seen extensive use and are probably a significant source of pollution. The overall effect is that of a forge world, or an industrial hive perhaps. These pipes have been there a long while. But does any seriously know where they connect to or what their actual function is these days? We're not sure. So we'd better not move them in case they actually are important after all!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hardware Store Scenery

Some of you might recognize the origins of this scenery piece. Some may not. 

On a visit to the local home hardware store a while ago, I got looking at all the plastic pipework that was avaialble. Ranging from tubes, to pipes, to L-bends and everything else in between and beyond, the scope for turning hardware in to Warhammer style scenery piece is very high indeed.

This particular item was constructed out of a regular toilet valve. I attached the bottom (actually the top in the real world) on to a rectangular MDF base with superglue. Using filler, I then proceeded to create some material around the base of the MDF and the bottom part of the plastic. For the connecting pipe (pictured on the right hand side), I have inserted a plastic grid and glued it in to place to cover the opening (actually, part of it is literally screwed in to place using the plastic connection present). 

For painting, I used a subdued red tone for the base colour and have then liberally applied some orange dabs with a wet washing up sponge to give it a suitable weathered and rusted appearance. Black low-lights have been applied to the lower parts of the piece, whilst dark brown/black ink has been made to cascade out of various parts of the piece to generate an even more weathered look. The numerals are from a decal sheet I had lying about from my Shadow Sword that I had never used.

The overall result is a scenery piece that not only looks rather unique, but fits in with the grim dark vibe of a dis-used industrial world or Forge world in the depths of the Imperium. This item has already seen use in some games and tournaments we have had, and will no doubt be used again.

The only negative thing I can say is that the paint chips off too easily. I should have sand-papered the surface prior to painting to give it a better chance of sticking. Hence, I use a lot of bubble wrap when transporting it to keep it relatively chip-free.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fire and Smoke Markers

A set of Fire and Smoke markers are one of those hobby items that the senior modeller usually gets involved in at some point during their hobby career. I am no exception.

In essence, these markers are relatively simple to create and use. On the other hand, I've also discovered that they can be a huge pain to make and execute. The picture below shows several from my collection along with one of my Alpha Legion space marines to give a sense of the scale of the markers.

To make them, I have used a small LED light from a high street supermarket (in this case, Tesco in the United Kingdom sells them in packs of six). These LED lights have a switch at their base and a small little light in the shape of a flame coming out of the top of them. Hence when they are switched on in the final product, they flicker in the same manner that a real fire might do.

The smoke on the top is made from soft toy filling. This is available at many department stores (look out for the knitting section: it is usually tucked away somewhere near all the needlework hobby area).

Assembling the markers is rather simple. Using some glue, just dab on a generous amount on to the surface of the LED itself. Grab a good amount of the soft toy filling material and stick it to the top. Job done really. 


The major issue with this is the sheer amount of glue that ends up on your fingers and the fibres from the toy filling that sticks to it. So be aware that you are going to have to give your finger tips some serious scrubbing after making these if you do so without any gloves on (like I tend to do). 

For extra marks, I've given the toy filling a bit of a twist before gluing it in to place. This gives the sense of some winds fanning the fire and the smoke up in to the air. 

As the last step, I apply a very gentle and limited amount of black spray paint to the smoke. Aiming the spray at the base of the fire ensures that the tip remains almost white and gives it a more authentic look and feel. 

In game, these double up as both regular scenery, and as markers for where vehicles may have met their demise -- literally a smoking wreck marker. Gritty and grim, they really at some atmosphere to a tabletop. Some rules might also be necessary to use if they are part of the scenery. We favour having them as blocking the line of sight (you cannot see through the thick smoke) and you cannot approach within 1 inch of the base of the fire (it is literally too hot or too toxic, or similar). I can attest that they make battles more memorable and make the scenery much better to look at. Particularly at tournament level displays. 
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