Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Shadow War Campaign - The Tau and the Orks

What with birthdays and trips to Nottingham it's been a while since I last posted an update on my Shadow War project, sorry about that. But I haven't been idle and have finished my last two Kill-Teams.

The Tau are a bit of a cheat. When I started this project, the plan was not to buy any new models as I had plenty of old ones that deserved painting. I do actually have a Tau Fire Warrior squad but, not knowing much about Tau, I hadn't realised that the Tau in Shadow War are actually Pathfinders not Fire Warriors. I could have used my Fire Warriors to put together a team, as they do have the option for Pulse Carbines which Pathfinders use, but I wouldn't have had any of the right Special Weapons or Drones. Then, at small local Wargames show Valhalla, I stumbled across a box of Pathfinders for only £16 which seemed like a bargain, so I snapped them up.

The Pathfinders feature the full range of shooting options, including an Ion Rifle and a Rail Rifle and are accompanied by both a Recon Drone and a Pulse Accelerator drone. I even made use of my Fire Warrior box by pinching a hand with a pulse pistol for my Shas'ui. I reasoned that being the only member of the squad even approaching competent in close combat, it made sense to give him a bit of an edge and he didn't sacrifice much range to do it.

The Tau were spray undercoated with Army Painter Wolf Grey and highlighted in Vallejo Wolf Grey (clearly they have much lighter coloured wolves in Vallejo's part of the world). The highlights actually came out much stronger than I intended, but I like the effect. I think it gives them a cartoonish feel, which suits their slightly Anime inspired design. The black areas were Vallejo German Grey, highlighted with Dark Grey while the skin of the Shas'ui was Vallejo neutral grey higlighted with light grey. Given they amount of blue I was using I didn't want to give them blue skin and I saw no reason why Tau shouldn't have varied skin colours like humans.

I rather like how these have come out and it has me tempted to put together a larger Tau force for Warhammer 40,000. The start collecting box seems like pretty good value.

Anyway, now we turn to almost the principal reason for this project, the Orks.

I have been a 40K Ork collector longer than anything else and what really got me into them were Kev Adams incredibly characterful sculpts from Warhammer 40,000 1st and early 2nd edition. Back then, Ork background was based around the six major Ork clans. Space Marines had their chapters, Eldar their Craftworlds, Imperial Guard their regiments and Orks their clans. Virtually all the models were clan specific and had huge amounts of personality. The Orks were also much lighter in tone than the rest of the 40K Universe, with lots of daft humour that was well captured in the models.

I collected Orks through late 1st and early 2nd edition by which time Kev Adams had left Games Workshop. GW initially got other sculptors, mostly Alan and Michael Perry and Gary Morley, to imitate Kev Adams style, with varying degrees of success, until Brian Nelson came along and pretty much redefined the look of GW Orks, making them bigger, meaner and more bestial. I actually like Brian Nelson's style, but they never had the same level of personality as the Kev Adams sculpts. Plus, in 3rd edition 40K GW all but dropped the clan concept and my interest in Orks waned.

Recently, the clan concept has been sneaking its way back in and found it's way into Shadow War by defining the Skills that Ork Kill-Teams can take, in much the same way as the Space Marine chapters and the Imperial Guard regiments. This seemed like the perfect time to dig out my old models and give them the attention they so richly deserved.

For my clan choice I went with Blood Axes, sneaky gits who copy humans and even wear camouflage (though they don't really know what it's for and like to use bright colours). I picked them mostly because I had some models I wanted to use but their sneaky approach to warfare perfectly suits Shadow War.

These three Youths are a mix of metal and plastic. Back in the early 90s, Games Workshop were really into using seperate plastic arms on their metal models to give you more posing options. The two Orks on the left are of this type, metal models with plastic arms and weapons. The one on the left is an offical Blood Axe Ork boy, while the one in the centre is, technically a mad boy, though I thought his little shorts and tongue hanging out gave him a sort of boyish enthusiasm appropriate for a Yoof. The Ork on the right is entirely plastic, from the Space Orks boxed set, one of several multi-part plastic sets from the early 1990s which, in retrospect, feel somewhat ahead of their time. It was only after I got them altogether that I realised they were wearing matching hats.

For the black areas I stuck with my German Grey/Dark Grey combination. For the Green uniforms I used Vallejo Yellow Olive Highlighted with Russian Uniform WW2. The camouflage areas are old GW bubonic brown with Prussian blue stripes. The Ork skin is Vallejo Goblin Green with a GW Thraka Green wash and highlighted in Vallejo Golden Olive. Initially thought this would be too light, but I actually like how it has come out.

The two Ork boyz are actually Blood Axe Kommandoes and are not Kev Adams sculpts, but are by Alan Perry. I like them anyway and I think they're slightly serious, no funny business, look is quite appropriate for two profeshunals. I used them same colour combinations as for the Yoofs, but with more emphasis on the camouflage patterns, which seemed only appropriate for Kommando fatigues.

The Orks on the left and right are Spanner boyz, specialists with Heavy Weapons. They are both originally Mek Boys, but their techie look seemed appropriate for Spanners. The one on the left has a Big Shooter. The one on the right presented me with a problem. He is clearly carrying a Flamer, but that isn't an option for Orks. I initially thought of counting it as a Rokkit Launcha, but that felt silly and there was no way I was leaving that lovely old model out, so I decided to house rule it and let him have his flamer. I doubt it will unbalance the whole campaign and he probably stole it from an Imperial Guardsman, which is appropriate for the Blood Axes.

The Ork in the middle is technically another Boy, but the model is a Blood Axe Nob, so I decided to make him Sergeant Bogrot's second-in-command and equip him with a bus chopper to show his superior Rank. He is clearly very pleased with himself.

Finally we have Sergeant Bogrot, my favourite Ork in the team and one of my favourite models of all time. Originally and Blood Axe Warboss, he has been slightly demoted for the campaign, but his Big Choppa should stand him in good stead. I felt I had no choice but to paint his big coat in black, but I stuck to the Team colours on his hat and his coat cuffs.

I am really pleased with the painting on both of these squads and, as soon as possible, I will pit them against one another and post the results. Watch this space.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

A weekend away

Last weekend I took a trip to Nottingham for Warlord Games 10th anniversary celebratory bash at their Headquarters. I had wanted to go to their Beyond the Gates of Antares event early in the year but time and other commitments got in the way, so when this event was announced I jumped at the chance.

I had booked my event ticket for Sunday with the plan to travel up on Saturday and come back Monday. I always avoid travelling on a Sunday if I can because the trains are so unreliable. In the end I managed to catch a slightly earlier train than planned which gave me some extra time on Saturday afternoon, so I took quick trip to Warhammer World. The last time I had been there was in 2008 and, at the advice of the person in the Tourist office, had taken the bus, this being in the days before Google Maps on your phone. I hadn't realised that Warhammer World is actually only a thirty minute walk from the town centre, most of which is along the canal which was rather pleasant.

 Just the atrium
One of a great many huge dioramas

The main exhibition space had grown a lot since my last visit, though they now expect you to pay to get in. I think it was worth it, the place is stacked with an enormous and very impressive dioramas most of which were built for the exhibition. But it also had a few classic pieces, such as Mike McVey's Warhammer Quest and Emperor and Horus dioramas. There were also enough classic models to make me go all nostalgic. I spent the better part of an hour getting pictures of just about everything. As Warhammer World stays open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, I had ample time to wander around both the main shop and the Forge World shop and still got a bottle of Bugman's XXXXXX in the bar.

Some classic dioramas

Warlord's HQ is also about thirty minutes from the town centre though in a different direction. The walk was a touch less picturesque, but a bit more varied taking in the Nottingham suburbs. The event was structured like a small scale version of Games Workshops old Games Day events. There was a large central hall with plenty of demo games, including Warlord's big name games like Bolt Action and Black Powder, as well as more recent offerings like Test of Honour and Blood Red Skies. Rick Priestly was there demoing "Fantares" his reworking of the Beyond the Gates of Antares rules for fantasy, currently using North Star's plastic dwarfs and gnoll. Studio painters and sculptors had some space and were answering questions. There was also a program of seminars, some special offers in the onsite store and tours of the production facilities. Warlord had invited a few other companies along, including River Horse, North Star, Ainsty casting and Mantic Games who all had stands and a few demo games as well. Plus all attendees got a free miniature of King Arthurs confrontation with the invincible Black Knight.

 Fantares in action

Between the guided tour and the seminars I attended (one with Rick Priestly and Tim Bancroft and on Beyond the Gates of Antares and another with John Stallard and Paul Sawyer on the future of Warlord in general), I picked up a lot of information summarised below.

  • -The building in which Warlord are based used to be the corporate Head Quarters of Raleigh Cycles and incorporated their production facilities. When Raleigh moved production to Vietnam in the 1980s, they moved their HQ down the road. For a while the building was a council office before being rented out to business. Warlord have always been based there, but have slowly taken over more of the site. It is most useful because it has workshops they can use for production which have to be kept separate from ordinary offices for health and safety reasons.
  • Warlord do all their resin and metal casting on site, but their plastic production is done in London. They don't have the space for the plastic casting machines.
  • Metal casting is a two stage process, both involving a silicon mould. An initial mould is made using the masters which will either be 3D prints or physical sculpts. This mould is made from silicon than vulcanises at a lower temperature to avoid damaging the masters. New sculpts will be cast from this and these will be used to create production moulds with silicon that vulcanises at a higher temperature.

Moulds for metal models. The green vulcanises at a lower temperature. 
The colour is added so you can tell them apart

  • Warlord's metal contains trace amounts of lead, which makes it more malleable and easier to work. The exception are their Doctor Who miniatures which must be lead free at the instructions of the BBC.
  • The BBC also dictates why the Doctor Who miniatures are an unusual scale. Their licence precludes "co-mingling" which is to say selling one of their ranges of the back of another. They can't make their historical miniatures mix too easily with the Doctor Who. The slightly larger scale also makes it easier to sculpt "photo-realistic" miniatures which can be necessary as the actors have to sign off on uses of their likeness (which may also explain the odd release schedule for some miniatures).
  • Warlord's casting machines are mostly second hand Games Workshop machines which they sold off when they switched to fine cast.
  • Warlord's resin is a custom mix, they do not use polyester. The intent is to add a slight plasticity so that, in theory, it will bounce rather than shatter if dropped. They also add a grey colouring agent which they think makes it look nicer (I agree).
  • Resin mould's are made from silicon, poured over the masters in liquid form before being allowed to harden. The moulds are good for about 20 - 60 casts depending on the model.

Resin "Hinge" mould, so called because you have to open it remove the model
  • A Beyond the Gates of Antares website will hopefully be launched at the end of the month, it will be called the Nexus. It should feature all the articles from Warlord's website (which Rick Priestly thought was impossible to navigate) as well as living errata and FAQs and the living army lists. It will also incorporate a community section and allow for community material.
  • A new supplement will be released in March or April of next year. This will be focused on an enormous wrecked space ship (a hulk in space, if you like) and will introduce a new faction. This faction are ancient drones that were defeated in the distant past, but have reawakened and are travelling on the ship, dropping off copies of themselves on planets as they go. Both the Concord and the Isorians have boarded the ship looking for the source of the drones. Caught in the middle are a faction of Ghar refugees trying to avoid both the Ghar Imperials and the Rebels. The book will incorporate rules for fighting in confined spaces.
  • Alien mercenaries are on the way. These include a vaguely insect like species and a predatory bounty hunter species who are accompanied by trained animals. These should be out in time for Christmas.

 Soon to be released Antares miniatures.
Isorian Drones, Boromite Hauler, Isorian bikes and prototypes of the new aliens

  • Warlord are working on a game for World War II Torpedo boats. This is very much John Stallard's project and he believes it hasn't been done well before.
  • A new edition of Black Powder is on the way, it is Warlord's most popular game but Paul Sawyer is off the opinion that games need a refresh every five years or so.
  • A Pike and Shot supplement for Samurai is in the works, along with other things. Many of these book are released as and when they are ready as they are written by freelancers who have day jobs.
  • They are not working on anything for the seven years war. Paul Sawyer admitted that most of what they produce is driven by someone in the design studio having an interest in it and, currently, no-one in the studio is much interested in that period.

Overall, it was a fun day that packed in a lot and has may very keen to take a return trip to Nottingham some time next year.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Shadow War Campaign - Dark Eldar and Blood Angels

It's been too long since my last update, but I have been working on my Shadow War project, it's just that a series of busy weekends, and a short break in Wales, have gotten in the way of updating the blog.

Anyway, I have finished off two more Kill-Teams and played one more game. The models from both of these teams date back to Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition. When it was released, I bought the boxed set, with its Space Marines and Dark Eldar. I tried expanding both sets of models to full armies. I didn't really get anywhere with either of them, but still have some of the models lying around.

The Space Marine Scout Kill-Team are metal models that were released just after 3rd edition. The current plastic scouts have the basic design, in my opinion, not executed as well. The current ones are a bit blocky and cumbersome. Their faces, in particular, are very square jawed. The old metals are much more fluid and elegant models, probably because they were sculpted as single pieces and not as a collection of parts.

I painted them as Blood Angels because my original army was supposed to be Blood Angels and I had the transfers. I stuck pretty closely to the colour scheme in the Shadow War rulebook, but tried to add some diversity in skin tones. It's a bit daft to suggest that in the 41st millennium everyone will be a uniform shade of white.

Generally, I think the more recent Dark Eldar models are a huge improvement over the originals, but I will make an exception for the Wyches. The new sculpts don't have the energy of dynamism of Chris Fitzpatrick's original, comic book style versions. I've had lots of them sitting around for years, neglected, so it was great to have an opportunity to put them to use. I stuck to a pretty straight forward purple and black colour scheme, with some deep red for hair. A pretty classic Dark Elf look that translates well to 40K.

I'm pretty happy with both of these Kill-Team. They're some of my sharpest and cleanest painted models (though the black backdrop I've started using for my photos helps).

Having finished both teams, I didn't waste any time in trying them out. For my second campaign game I played the Scavenger scenario. 6 loot counters were scattered across the board. For each counter held at the end of the game, roll a dice, a 6 got the team an extra data cache.

With hindsight, I played the Dark Eldar spectacularly badly. I split them into three groups and had them run, using their higher speed to grab the loot counters as fast as possible. The Syrin, the Team Leader, got first blood, shooting down one Scout. Unfortunately, I left them dangerously exposed and they were shot up by the Scouts with their superior range.

Instead I should have had them make use of cover to get them into charge range and deal with the Scouts hand to hand. After the last game in which both sides blasted ineffectually at each other, I clearly forgot that Kill-Teams that aren't even fully dressed, let alone fully armoured, are not immune to bullets.

 Sorry for the blurry picture, I think my camera flinched

Fortunately, the damage done to the Dark Eldar by my mishandling wasn't severe. Only two went out of action and both came away with "injuries" that were actually pretty beneficial. One ended up hating the Scout Sergeant and the other with fear-causing horrible scars. A few other Wyches gained some skills or profile bonuses and the team recruited a new member, a regular Wyche with a splinter pistol.


The Scouts, however, did very well for themselves. As well as rolling a maximum 3 data caches for winning, they also got a bonus cache from the loot counters and most of them picked up bonuses of one sort or another. Rather than recruit a new team member, most of them picked up red-dot laser sights to improve their already pretty impressive firepower.

By way of an apology for the delay, here is a quick preview of my next Kill-Team. Still a work in progress.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Shadow War Campaign House Rules

We previously established that the Shadow War rules are exactly the same as the old Games Workshop game Necromunda, right down to the wording. However, the campaign rules, which allow your Kill Team to gain experience, acquire new equipment and recruit new members over a series of games, are somewhat different. For the most part, Shadow War simplified them, for better or worse.

As a proud owner of the original Necromunda rules, I had the choice to either follow the Shadow War rules or to import some, or all, of the campaign rules from Necromunda. To help make that decision, I summarised the differences between the two sets of rules in the table below.

Shadow War
Subplots Each side rolls on a 2d6 table at the start of the game. Not Used Shadow War
Injuries D66 table. 1/6 chance of death D6 table. 1/6 chance of death Necromunda
Advancement 1 nominated fighter gains an advance after each game. Roll on a 2d6 table, favouring skills. After 3 games, a new recruit becomes a trooper. Fighters gain experience according to the mission. Once passing a set threshold, a fighter gains an advance. Roll on a 2d6 table favouring characteristic bonuses. A new recruit (Juve) becomes a trooper (Ganger) after gaining 20 experience points Necromunda
Recruitment 100 credits per game + 100 bonus for sacrificing a promethium tank (see below). Credits must be spent on equipment or recruitment. Any credits not spent are lost. Equipment must be assigned to a specific model and cannot be transferred. Gangs start with d6 territories generating random amounts of credit, adjusted for the size of the gang. This goes in a gang stash which can be freely spent on equipment and recruitment. Credits not spent remain in the stash Shadow War
Special Operatives Sacrifice a Promethium Tank to recruit an operative for one game. Operatives cost a set amount to hire and must be paid a fee each game to remain with the gang. Shadow War (with modifications)
Winning the Campaign After each game, the winning side gains D3 promethium tanks and the loser 1. To win, collect 15 tanks and win one more game. No set conditions, though Gang Rating (Total Credits + Total Experience) can be used to track gang progress Shadow War, but use Gang (Kill Team) rating to determine bonus experience.

The subplots table is a basic random table you roll on at the start of the game to add some extra interest. It isn't found in Necromunda but I saw no reason to leave it out of my campaign.

The injuries table was a bit of a no-brainer. You roll on it for each model taken out of action during the game to see what happens to them. The Shadow War one is a d6 table, with only 5 different results, while the Necromunda one uses a d66 for 36 different results. Games Workshop was a bit enamoured of d66 tables in the mid-late 1900s. These work by having you roll 2 6 sided dice counting one as tens and the other as units, giving a value of between 11 and 66, but with certain values missing (you can't get anything ending in 7-9 or 0). As the Necromunda table had more and more interesting results, I decided to use that, so far so good.

The experience rules presented a bit more of a dilemma. The Necromunda rules require a lot more book keeping, as you have to track what your fighters do during the missions and assign experience points accordingly. They can also be a bit unbalancing as a a kill-team that does well early on can get a big advantage. On the other hand, there is gang rating system that scores you gang based on a combination of points cost and experience, with the "underdog" getting bonus experience which can help to level it out. It also relates your fighters development to their actual behaviour in-game, so I decided to risk the balance issues and use the Necromunda version. Translating the experience scores from the Necromunda missions is pretty easy as all the Shadow War missions are copied, pretty-much straight, from the Necromunda book.

For the recruitment rules, I decided to stick with  Shadow War. Necromunda uses a system of randomly generated territories which generate a variable income. Like the experience rules these can be unbalancing, as gangs ongoing income is dependent on a random roll at the start of the campaign. Unlike the experience system, there isn't anything to offset this. The bigger problem for me though, was making the rules make sense in the context of my campaign. The rules describe gangs scavenging for scrap metal or dangerous chemicals, which might work for Orks or Dark Eldar, but is a bit odd for Space Marines or Sisters of Battle, who probably don't get supplies on the black market. I didn't think the effort required to re-write them for my campaign would be worth it.

I also decided to use the Shadow War Special Operative rules. These allow you to recruit more powerful or unusual fighters for one off games. Necromunda has similar rules, but its rules gives each operative a specific cost and allows you to keep them around between games if you keep paying it. As the Shadow War operatives all have the same cost, this doesn't really translate.

The Shadow War victory conditions were definitely staying, largely because Necromunda doesn't have any and I wanted my campaign to have a definite end point. Though I may reduce the number of Promethium Tanks required to win, depending on how long the campaign goes on and whether or not I get bored.

I did decide to introduce a house rule. In Shadow War, recruiting a special operative costs you a promethium tank. Given you need the tanks to win the campaign I didn't think I would ever use them. It wouldn't be worth the risk giving the winning side only gets d3 tanks, meaning that even if your operative is the difference between victory and defeat, you only had a 2/3 chance of coming out ahead. But, I do have some nice Special Operative models I would quite like to use, so I decided they could also be recruited by sacrificing the credits you get for recruitment between games. So, under my rules you can either recruit 100 credits of new models, buy 100 credits of equipment or recruit a special operative for the next game.

With the rules established, I wanted my campaign to have a bit of back story. I have six different Kill Teams planned and I wanted some excuse for them to be wandering around in the same place at the same time. I didn't want to get too elaborate, so I worked out the little story that follows.

Inquisitor Rudolphus was a controversial figure, skirting the line between reactionary and radical and never being entirely friendly to other side. He was, however, a greater collector and hoarder of artifacts, whether Imperial, Chaotic or Xenos. On his death, his archive was much sought after but never discovered.

Recently, a signal beacon started transmitting from the Hive World of Chet. The Seismic activity under the abandoned Prag Hive had allowed the beacon's signal to penetrate the atmosphere. This signal was identified as coming from Inquisitor Rudolphus lost archive. This contents of this archive are of great interest to dozens of factions and teams immediately set out to search for it.

For the purpose of my campaign "promethium caches" will be replace with "data caches" which provide my teams with information leading them to the archive. The final game will take place in the Archive itself, with the winners taking off with a collection of invaluable relics, treasure and information.

With the admin out of the way, here are a few pictures from my first game. The Sisters of Battle of the Order of the Argent Shroud took on the Death Guard Plague Marines. I didn't take many pictures as this was quite an impromptu game, as I was relearning the rules, and include (heresy) unpainted scenery.

The game started with a fire fight between the Plague Marine and Sister Specialists across the centre, while Sister Superior Winnifred lead a small group in an attack on the Plague Marine's left flank. Sister Winnifred took out Brother Scrofula with her Power Sword, only for her group to come under heavy fire. They weathered it well, with only one Sister going down and she recovered with a flesh wound.

The Plague Marine Champion, Brother Corpulous ran moved to fire on Sister Superior Winnifred, but missed and exposed his back to Sister Theodora who gunned him down with her Storm Bolter. With two out of five Plague Marines out of action and the Sisters stubbornly refusing to go down, the Plague Marines only lasted a couple more turns before bottling.

The Sisters did very well out of the game, securing 4 data caches, having rolled a three and getting a bonus one for having taken more than three times as many enemies out as they lost themselves. It wasn't all bad for the Plague Marines, however, thanks to the underdog bonus they all gained plenty of experience points and Brother Buboes gained the exceptionally useful "Scavenger" skill, giving them an extra 50 credits for recruitment, which allowed them to just barely afford an extra marine.

The Sisters also did well out of experience, also getting the Scavenger skill and recruiting another Sister. All of which means more painting before their next mission. Though, before that happens, I have four more gangs to paint.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

New Project: Shadow War

When Games Workshop first announced Shadow War: Armageddon I didn't pay much attention. It seemed like a way to flog their new industrial scenery by throwing together a game using the old Necromunda* rules and some Space Marine Scout and Ork models. Basically a smart use of existing assets, but not of great interest to me as a I already owned Necromunda first edition.

Games Workshop also didn't seem to expect much from it as they made it limited edition and let it sell out in about five minutes. They clearly underestimated the interest in their old games as this lead to a huge fuss online. To their credit, and uncharacteristically, GW responded to the complaints and released a paperback version of the rulebook on its own. In addition to the rules from the game, this also included the rules for additional Kill-Teams based on other armies that they had published online and a couple of new ones.

It was at this point I started to take an interest as I realised that I could put together about six gangs without having to buy a single model and, in one case, without even having to paint a single model. And, even better, I would be able to use some lovely old models that had been sitting around neglected.

Having finished my Beyond the Gates of Antares project and finished my Dwarf buildings, now seems like a good time for a Shadow War project. It's a bit of contrast to my last two projects, in that its based on small teams of models, which means lots of variety and that I can afford to take a bit more time over the individual models.

It's also likely to go slightly differently than my last two projects. For Warhammer Siege and BTGOA I basically painted enough models to play a game, played it, painted some more and so on. I'll probably start that way with Shadow War. I'll paint two Kill-Teams, play a game, paint two more and so on. But once I have six teams painted, I'll be more or less done with painting, barring a few new recruits that I might add to the Kill Teams as the campaign progresses.

On the other hand, the campaign is likely to last longer than three games, quite a bit longer. To actually win a campaign in Shadow War, a Kill-Team is supposed to collect 15 Promethium caches and then win one more game. The rules give the winner of each game D3 caches and the loser 1, play some scenarios give you the opportunity to win one more. This means that to win a campaign, a Kill-Team needs to play a minimum of 5 games (4 to collect the caches, if they are very lucky, plus one more win). And I have six Kill-Teams. Depending on how things go, I may reduce the number required to win, but I'm still likely to be playing games long after my models are all painted.

But, this gives me an opportunity. With the campaign still going on, I can turn my attention to a new painting project, probably an army-sized one that would require me to paint a lot of models before I can do any gaming. I haven't decided what that will be yet, but I have plenty of options.

In the meantime, here are my first two Kill Teams. The first are Sisters of Battle from the Order of the Argent Shroud. I've had Sisters of Battle sitting around for years unpainted and recently picked up some more because I thought (completely wrongly) that Games Workshop might be about to retire them. I painted them in the Argent Shroud colours because I knew I could do a decent and quick job using Army Painter plate metal spray as a base, having used the same trick for my Concord and Chaos Dwarfs

My second Kill-Team is the one I didn't have to paint. I've had my Death Guard Chaos Marines for years and haven't used them since Warhammer 40,000 4th edition, so this was a good chance to get them out and give them another chance. I painted them in double quick time for a campaign, mostly by dry-brushing grey over brown which gave them a slightly dusty look which I think works okay for Nurgle Marines. I think the painting stands up okay, though the champion's face looks a bit basic and I may at least try painting his eyes. My biggest regret is my choice of yellow-brown as a contrasting colour makes them look a bit purple even though they were only painted in grey.

More soon as the campaign gets under way.

*According to one reviewer who owns a copy of the second edition Necromunda rule book, it actually replicates them perfectly, right down to the layout as though they just did a bulk find and replace on the word "gang" and "gangers" and swapped out the design template.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

That's my beer!

Following my previous post on my lovely new Dwarf Brewery model, here are some pictures of it in action. I played a smallish, 2,000 point Warhammer game in which the Chaos Warriors of Azazel, Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, attempted to invade the Dwarf Brewery and steal all their beer. After all, who else would want to steel good Dwarf Beer but a Daemon Prince dedicated to the God of pleasure?

The Brewery building had two functioning floors and a roof. I decide the ground floor could be accessed from three side, and the second floor and roof from the side with the stairs. If the Chaos forces could drive the Dwarf defenders out or contest one of the floors, they would get a bonus 500 victory points. I set this condition quite low as the Dwarfs started out in control of the building.

The Brewery stood defiant, assisted by a cannon on the roof.
Dwarf Slayers wiped out the Forsaken in combat. At least the Forsaken got to do something this time though, instead of being wiped out by Organ Gun fire.
The Chaos Giant was shot dead by mass Dwarf crossbow and handgun fire. They were taking no chances after the last battle.
The Hammerers sold their lives dearly in defence of their beer.
Marauders assault the Longbeards on the ground floor, but were driven back. The Musician rallied the unit from his position on the bar. The Standard was too tall to fit in the ground floor and so took up position on the roof.
The Organ Gun was lethally effective, wiping out the Chaos Warriors and the fleeing Marauders.

In the end, the Dwarfs were able to hold the brewery. The Daemon Prince and Doom Knight finished off the Hammerers and the Cannon on the roof, but were too big to enter the building and too far away from the other three sides to assault the Longbeards.

A quick, messy and fun game that gave the new buildings a good workout. Having some proper dwarf scenery really added something. IT was also a good to give Azazel a workout. The model has been lying around for years since I picked him up cheap in some Games Workshop sale or other. I painted him up quickly for the game and he proved pretty deadly in combat.

That's one mini-project out of the way and so it's on to the next. More on that soon.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Drinking with Dwarfs

I did go to Salute this year, but, given my current plan to buy fewer models and concentrate on doing things with the ones I already have, I ended up taking a slightly different approach from usual.

Instead of my normal plan to buy enough models to keep busy until the next Salute, which normally left me with has left me with an every accumulating backlog, I concentrated on scenery. Specifically, scenery I didn't have to paint, just assemble and that would work with models I already had assembled and painted. More specifically, 4Grounds Dwarf Brewery.

I have been a Dwarf player for over twenty years and have dwarfs for Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, Confrontation, Kings of War and even a handful for Warmachine. Despite this, I have no Dwarf specific scenery. For a little while I had half a plan to build a Dwarf Inn/Brewery until I realised that 4Ground already made one. I already have a few of 4Ground's Japanese buildings and like their work, particularly, the fact that you don't have to paint it, just glue it together. It's the lack of painting that really makes them stand out from the other major producer of nice wooden scenery, Sarissa Precision.

So, this year, I ended up putting most of my money into a single item. Not as much as I had originally thought as 4Ground were doing some decent discounts and I bought a few other bits and bobs from them. I also got another one of their Dwarf buildings, not from them directly, but from Dark Sphere who were having a bit of a clear out and were offering 4Ground stuff at half price. My heart sank when I first saw this as I thought I might have just dramatically over payed for something, but they didn't have the brewery, but did have one smaller building. In addition, as it didn't have a price, the guy on stand just guessed at a price and then halved it, offering it to me for £15. I wavered and he immediately offered it for £12 at which point I snapped it up. I later found that 4Ground charge £36 for it, so I really got lucky.

 Smaller, L-Shaped building

In the end, I was very glad to have the smaller model as it allowed me to get in some practice assembling a dwarf building before moving on to the big one.

Even the smaller building has a detailed interior with separate rooms

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will have been able to track my progress as I put it together. There were 17 pages of instructions and the process was rather like assembling a big Lego model only with glue, so it's very difficult to correct mistakes.

 Early work in progress

I was as careful as I could be, but still not as careful as the professionals and there are some places where my model has walls that aren't perfectly flush or surfaces that are not completely smooth. I hope none of it is too visible.

 I had to cut this piece, or the top would not have been flush with the column below

There was one piece that I simply couldn't get to fit and I had to cut it to make it work. I really don't know what I did wrong there.

 Interior Ground floor. Note the gold trim around the ceiling and stair rail. These should have been grey

There was one further complication. Part way through assembly, I realised that one sheet that should have been printed on grey card had been printed on gold. I'm sure if I contacted 4Ground I could have gotten a replacement, but I didn't want to disrupt my momentum and pressed on. For the most part it worked fine, most of it was wall trim for the interior that looks good in gold. The only real problem was with the separators for the roof section, some of which were grey and some gold. In the end, I repainted the gold ones. They aren't quite the same shade, but I don't think it's too noticeable.

 Interior second floor, showing off the wealth of brewing equipment that comes with the model

I think I can get quite a lot of use out of this model. As well as being useful for games in which one side is dwarfs, I could also see it being useful as a Dwarf run tavern in other fantasy games. I'm planning to try it out in a game soon and will post some pictures of it in action.

The finished piece from another angle

Monday, 8 May 2017

Beyond the Gates of Antares - The Final Battle

I have finally finished off my last two Ghar squads, which means its time for my largest Beyond the Gates of Antares game yet, 1250 points. For my Concord, that meant essentially taking everything. I was even able to include Kai Lek Atastrin, the special character from the starter box. I had had the points to include him before, but he is classed as a "limited choice" like my Nu Hu. As you can only include one limited choice for every four units, I needed eight before I could afford them both.

For the Ghar, things were a little more complicated. I had comfortable more than 1250 points, but couldn't afford to take two complete squads, so instead, I bumped up a couple of squads to 4 Troopers.

The complete army lists were as follows:

4 C3 Strike Squads (one including Kai) each with plasma lance and spotter drone
NuHu Mandarin with Shield, Spotter and Gun Drones
Squad of 3 C3D1 Light Support Drones with Spotter Drone
1 C3D2 Medium Support Drone with Spotter Drone
1 C3M4 Combat Drone  with Spotter and Batter Drone

4 Trooper Ghar Battle Squad with Plasma Amplifier
3 Trooper Ghar Battle Squad with Plasma Amplifier
4 Trooper Ghar Assault Squad with Plasma Amplifier
Outcast Squad with Disruptor Cannon
Command Crawler with Plasma Amplifier
2 Trooper Bomber Squad
4 Tectorists
6 Flitters

As I hadn't much like the last scenario I had played, I decided to play this one as a straight forward fight. Each army's goal was to break the other or, failing that, do as much damage as possible. An army would be broken when it had lost half its order dice (which would be 5 in each case as both sides include 8 units, one of which had two order dice). The game would last six turns and potentially continue if neither side were broken.


In the very first action of the game, the Concord strike squad on the right of the board took a pot shot at the Ghar Assault Squad at extreme range, only for a lucky hit from the plasma amplifier to take out one of the Troopers. This was a terrible start for the Ghar and I contemplated restarting the game, but I considered that if I adopted that attitude I would be essentially saying luck first moves were not allowed and so decided to let it stand.

Other than that turn 1 was pretty uneventful, both sides advanced slowly, though the Ghar were slowed by a few unlucky rolls that saw them stalled by difficult terrain.

On turn two, most of the Ghar activated their Plasma Amplifiers to try and move things along. The Bomber squad fired twice, missing twice, but on one occasion the shot scattered onto the strike squad hiding in the woods on the left. On the right flank, the strike squads continued there success by destroying a Battle Trooper.

 Under Bomber Fire

Both sides dropped a lot of pins on one another, and the Command Crawler scored a lucky hit on the Combat Drone taking out its batter drone. It also managed to drop 5 pins on the light support drone squad.

 Batter drone down

After two games in which all Plasma Amplifiers burned out on their first turn, they appeared to be paying the Ghar back. All but the Bomber Squad's lasted into turn 3 which was when everything kicked off. The turn started well for the Concord when the NuHu's gun drone took out another Assault Trooper.

 Exchange of Fire

But, the pins the Ghar had spent turn two dropping on the Concord units started to pay off. Kai Lek Atastrin's squad were hit hard by a Battle Squad and broke. After the Light Support Drone Squad failed to activate, the Command Crawler put two more pins on it, giving it more pins than its command value and causing it to auto-break. On the right flank, the Ghar took revenge for their lost battle suits, by reducing one strike squad to a single man.

 Strike Squad culled

The chaos continued into turn four when the Combat Drone failed to activate and then an insanely lucky shot by an Outcast Lugger gun destroyed it (it rolled a 10 to resist and then another 10 on the damaged table). This reduced the Concord left flank to a single squad hiding in a wood and leaving them one order dice away from breaking. There was some small comfort for the Concord when the Medium Support Drone destroyed the Assault Squad leader and the remaining Trooper broke and fled and the last of the plasma amplifiers burned out.

 Combat Drone destroyed

Assault Squad broken

On turn five some unlucky rolling by the Ghar stopped them taking full advantage of their position, when one battle squad failed to activate. Nevertheless, the Command Crawler was able to destroy the Strike squad that had been reduced to a single man, breaking the Concord. Their only chance now was to break the Ghar, a pretty unlikely occurrence. But, the game continued into turn 6.

 The Strike Squad hangs on

On Turn 6, the remaining Strike Squad on the right flank was wiped out by the Battle Squad. The remaining Concord opened fire, but to little effect and the game ended with the Ghar unbroken and victorious.

 Final fire fight

Notes and Comments

1. I had completely misread the rules for the NuHu's intel stave. I didn't realise until turn 6 that the thing could shoot. I knew it was pretty good in close combat, but thought the NuHu would be too vulnerable to risk in an assault. In fact, the thing had a range of 20" and a strike value of 6. I had missed this for three games. In my defence, it is listed under "Close Combat Weapons" I just missed the range value. Had I know about this, I would have used my NuHu much more aggressively, possibly leading an assault force of drones using her follow ability to get them to all activate at once.

2. I had also failed to spot that Ghar Disruptor weapons can not only put two pins on a unit, but can do so even against heavily armoured targets. This proved hugely effective this game as the pins the Ghar were able to drop in turn 2 proved hugely important in turn 3.

3. I was incredibly stupid not to rally the Light Support Drones on turn 3. If I had done that, I could have removed some pins and they would have survived another turn. Just a daft oversight on my part.

4. Other than that, I don't think the Concord did anything obviously wrong. Things just came together for the Ghar. The Plasma Amplifiers proved hugely effective, simply because it gave the Ghar so many extra activations. The Combat Drone being destroyed was insanely bad luck, but it shows that in a game were anything can destroy anything with a lucky enough roll you can't treat anything as indestructible.

I have now finished painting all the models I currently own for both the Ghar and Concord and played the highest point game I can. With that, my Beyond the Gates of Antares project is officially complete. This does not mean I am done with the game. I have two armies fully painted and a few different scenarios to try out.

It's likely that at some point I will add some more units to both sides. Given how pleased I was with how my Command Crawler turned out, it was inevitable that I would have an eye on the Bomber Crawler and as soon as Warlord release some bomb loader scutters I'll be after them as well. For the Concord, I am less certain, but the interceptor bikes look like fun. I am also planning a third force. I bought some Boromites a little while back, which I haven't gotten round to painting yet.

But, for the time being, I want to look at a new project. Anyone who follows me on Twitter may have seen that I got some Dwarf buildings from 4Ground and have been slowly putting them together. This will only keep me busy for a little while though, as I have some plans for a very different project, but more on that in due course.