Monday 29 September 2014

3rd Company Dark Angels vs Salamanders

"It's not easy being green"

I invited my mate Sgt Waz over to give me a lesson on how 7th Ed. 40K works and see where he was up to with his Armies on Parade work. I haven’t been an active player of 40K since 6th Edition, and even then I can count on one hand how many actual games I played; most of my experience comes from earlier rule-sets. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do and my only experience with flyers has been a disastrous outing against a Heldrake with my Nids.

The Sergeant brought a superb little Salamanders force led by Vulkan He’stan (I call him “Charlton”). It included two tactical squads with Rhino transports, a terminator squad, a Landraider Redeemer, Stormraven, two Storm Talons and a Venerable Dreadnought. The addition of the flyers makes this a very different force to the one I haunted with my Nids early in 6th (I took Charlton's head many times).
I put together a force of 3rd Company Dark Angels, knowing full well that they would be unequal to the task. My command squad was led by Balam, armed with the Lion’s Roar combi-plasma. I also armed Company Champion Valefor with the Monster Slayer of Caliban, which is naughty; Sgt Waz and have never let rules get in the way of a good laugh. I also took the Standard of Devastation because I wanted to see how useful it was with two squads of bog-standard tactical marines. I piled them all in transports: a Razorback with twin-linked lascannons for the Command, a Landraider and a Rhino for the troops. Backing them up I chose a Venerable Dreadnought and a Chaplain Dreadnought. With my remaining points I brought along a Landspeeder with a Multimelta and my Techmarine with Power Field Generator.
So, I was nominally mobile with no air defence or real ability to apply pressure to the backfield…
 Turn 1
We played using the Tactical Objectives cards and 6 objective markers. Sgt Waz set up first and chose to take the first turn (I failed to seize the initiative). Straight away he was getting up in my grill with the Stormtalons in the hunt for First Blood. He also moved his Redeemer up blocking passage across the river and setting up a contest for my closest objective markers. During the shooting phase my front line got hammered with assault cannon and lascannon shots, which were ineffective thanks to the Power Field Generator.
In return I maneuvered to improve my LOS and reduced the hull points of the Stormtalons with two penetrating lascannon shots. Vehicles are tougher to kill these days!

Turn 2
In the second turn Sgt Waz picked up his objective cards and chuckled to himself. He scored a point just for controlling a marker near his deployment zone and his Stormraven came thundering onto the board. He deployed his terminators and took First Blood by destroying my Chaplain Dreadnought. The Terminators charged my Landraider but couldn’t take it down. I picked up two identical objective cards that award d3+3 victory points for controlling every objective marker (fat chance).
My reserve Landspeeder landed behind the Redeemer and lined up a Multimelta shot. I deployed my Tactical squad and Command squad in position to shoot the terminators and moved my Venerable Dreadnought in place to charge the Redeemer. Lascannons slammed the Storm Talons out of the air and Company Master Balam opened up with the Lion’s Roar combi-plasma, immolating two terminators and two of my own tactical marines. If only Dark Angels were as good with plasma as Salamanders are with… everything else that is hot. The remaining fire took out another terminator and another tactical marine who overheated his plasma gun. The Landspeeder behind the Redeemer missed its million dollar shot. In the assault phase I knocked a hull point off the Redeemer.
When you're backing up in your own deployment zone during an objectives game, you are losing.
Turn 3
Sgt Waz earned another two point for holding objectives in his own backfield, and picked up some more easily achievable objectives. The Stormraven deployed his Venerable Dreadnought, Tactical squad and Charlton in my backfield, then moved to charge my Razorback with his terminators. The Redeemer and surviving terminators poured fire (literally) into my marines, torching five tactical marines but only one Command squad veteran. The Venerable Dreadnought missed its shot at my Landraider, but the Stormraven holed my Rhino. In close combat Charlton killed the Veteran Sergeant he challenged and the Terminators on the other side of my deployment zone destroyed my Razorback. In return I knocked two hull points off the Venerable Dreadnought and set up a charge with my own Dreadnought. My Command squad executed the final Terminator and my Landspeeder moved on hastily to contest an objective Sgt Waz had been holding with an empty Rhino. In close combat my Venerable Dreadnought utterly failed, needing to only remove one hull point to destroy his counterpart.
"Wait... are they on our side...?"
Epic fail to penetrate.
Turn 4
By this stage it was clear the game was over and the Salamanders had beaten me soundly. Sgt Waz had a pile of completed objectives whilst I was stuck with impossible ones, mainly due to the limitations of my list, deployment and the immense pressure he able to bring to bear so rapidly. And, seriously, Salamandars get to re-roll everything! We played out one more turn with the loss of my tactical squad (facing Charlton), my Landraider to multiple twin-linked multimelta shots and half of my Command Squad. My Landspeeder missed another shot at the Rhino and Balam failed to do any damage with his powerfist on the Redeemer.
So… lesson learned and fun had. The game has certainly changed since I was last competitive, and I have some work to do before I see success again. Time to get some flyers and get some Deathwing/Ravenwing synergy going on.
See you across the table,

Thursday 25 September 2014

Armies on Parade

Have you got a fellow gamer that constantly throws down the gauntlet, pushing you to become a better painter and modeller? Well, for me that person is Sgt Waz. He has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to painting techniques and converting, at least in my local gaming group. The Sergeant is always willing to lend a hand and participate in painting workshops, particularly at the pointy end of a project, though every now and then he'll glue your turret on crooked (Bwah ha ha: out comes the razor saw!). Since I have known him he has worked on many projects, including Black Templars, Eldar, Tyranids, Salamanders and Sisters of Battle. Here are a couple of his pieces:
The Sergeant and I have been playing 40K together for about 10 years, having studied together in the same research lab. In fact, the first year we worked together I didn’t even see him for the first 6 months. I did cover for him almost every day though:
PhD supervisor: “Where is [Sgt Waz]?”
Me: “In the biolab.”
Now, I had no idea whether he was there or not, that was just what we said. He was probably at Games Workshop or the movies or something. Since then he has helped me with many projects, including my Deathwing Librarian and Deathwatch Techmarine.

He has the wonderful habit of giving Birthday presents that are fully constructed, painted and ready to play (I tend to fiddle around with them a fraction just to make myself feel useful). One such model, which the guys gave me last year, is having some work done to it right now… so keep an eye out for it.
This year Sgt Waz is going to be entering his Nid army in an Armies on Parade competition and, as I don’t have the conviction yet to enter myself, I thought I would share his progress. As you can see he has nearly finished his display board and I am reliably told that he is working to base all of his Nids so that they are consistent. I have no idea how he is going to place everything, but I am looking forward to finding out. He has also modelled some smoke and installed LEDs to represent an engine fire and illuminate the turbo laser compartment.

When he has populated the display with some Nids I’ll get him to send me another couple of shots. I have only had the pleasure of playing alongside his Hivefleet once, in the twilight of the last Nid Codex, but we stole so many genes. Cheers Sergeant and good luck!
See you across the table,

Monday 22 September 2014

Pirates of the Spanish Main

Hi folks,
In case you missed it, last Friday was international Talk Like a Pirate Day. It reminded me of a game I played a while back, circa 2005, called Pirates of the Spanish Main. My bucks party that year had a particularly… pirate-esque theme. My close mates bought a broad spectrum of rum and a bog-load of Pirates of the Spanish Main booster packs. We divvied them up, most of us having absolutely no idea what to expect, and constructed our fleets. You generally get two ships per pack, though I managed to get a real monster, the HMS Lord Algernon, which took up a pack all by itself. I also snaffled a nasty Pirate Captain called Blackheart. I have no idea how that game ended, or who won, it was that kind of night.
Anyway, I managed to find my fleet whilst cleaning up my garage the other night, so I cracked it out and had a game with the wifey. The game itself is quite simple. Each player chooses a fleet of ships and can choose to take special crew members. Islands are placed around the playing area, each with a secret quantity of treasure. To win the game you need to get at least half the available treasure to your home island.

Each ship has its own:

1)      movement characteristic based on the edges of the card stock (S/Short Edge, L/Long Edge or any combination)

2)      Number of masts (which act as hit points),

3)      Storage space (used to transport treasure and crew)

4)      Cannons which vary in power and range

5)      Special abilities

HMS Lord Algernon, for example, has S manoeuvrability (blaaargh), 5 masts (wow), 3 storage (not bad), two short range cannons and three long range cannons that all cause damage on 3s (amazing) and the ability to ignore the first mast lost result each turn if it has not lost any masts previously. In short: this ship is an absolute tank.
For the game we split my fleet in two. I took HMS Lord Algernon and the Zephyr, a highly manoeuvrable boat that is good at boarding raids. Wifey took the Batavian Bat, which is a reasonably fast three master which is resistant to long range fire, and the El Ladron, a close range monster with three masts.
Early in the game I zipped the Zephyr forwards to grab some loot, but she was sunk fairly quickly by El Ladron. HMS Lord Algernon replied by stripping the Batavian Bat of its masts over two turns of brutal fire.


El Ladron and HMS Lord Algernon docked at opposite ends of the treasure island and spent a few turns loading up gold. Both ships fired some long range shots as we pulled away and headed for our respective home islands. El Ladron lost two masts but used its superior speed to pull out of range to undergo repairs. Wifey flipped her treasure pieces and found that she had recovered a whopping 5 gold; 1 gold away from victory. HMS Lord Algernon crawled into harbour to unload 3 gold, then headed straight back out.
The race was on, I decided to forego the opportunity to repair in order to make it back to the island before El Ladron. I captured the last pieces of gold but copped a deadly broadside that took me down to two masts. After weighing up the options I rammed El Ladron, taking down its final mast and leaving it derelict. As I pulled away, a sniping long range shot finally sank it.

After the game wifey and I did a quick search to see if we could buy some more packs. Considering the fact that the game is no longer being produced, there are quite a few online shops with boosters still in stock. Maybe sometime in the future we’ll pick up another fleet so that we can play a proper game against each other. In the meantime, I know there have to be some fleets hidden away in my mates’ collections. Have a look guys, it would be great to hoist the colours one more time.
See you across the table,

Friday 19 September 2014

Iron Snakes: Veteran Sergeant Thanatos


"As for you, Achilles, no one was ever yet so fortunate as you have been, nor ever will be, for you were adored by all us Argives as long as you were alive, and now that you are here you are a great prince among the dead. Do not, therefore, take it so much to heart even if you are dead."

"'Say not a word,' he answered, 'in death's favour; I would rather
be a paid servant in a poor man's house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead.'"
Homer's Oddysey (Book XI)
Hi folks,
I have finally finished the Veteran Sergeant of my Iron Snakes Sternguard: Veteran Sergeant Thanatos. The last step of the painting process involved painting the spear tip, which was a little pain in the butt. I tried out quite a few ideas before settling on a blue glow effect. The project itself was inspired by the passage above, in which Odysseus meets his friend Achilles in the underworld. 


In Greek mythology, Thanatos (Death) is the twin of Hypnos (Sleep). He is described as follows:

"...the other has a heart of iron, and his spirit within him is pitiless as bronze: whomsoever of men he has once seized he holds fast: and he is hateful even to the deathless gods."

Now that sounds like he means business! I have some ideas for house-rules that will represent this guy as a seemingly deathless, pitiless, champion of close combat. There will be more about that when I get this little force finished in a few months time...

See you across the table,


P.S. I really need a new camera, my phone just isn't cutting it. It is so hard to justify the expenditure when there are other cool things to buy!


Monday 15 September 2014

Iron Snakes: Sergeant Progress Part 2

Hi folks,

Another quick post following a relaxed night of painting. I have been working on the sergeant's boarding shield and shoulder pads in an attempt to get him finished before the weekend. As I mentioned previously, I don't want to give him a white shield with any free-hand detail because he already has white on his torso. I went with a bronze/verdigris look with some additional red and bone detail in the purity seals.

One of my favourite 40K painting tools is a dodgy blue pen that fits the inside of a shoulder pad quite nicely. I blue-tac the shoulder pads to the pen tip for painting, then remove them once the paint is dry. The ends of old paint brushes are good to use as well, they just give you better access to the part, particularly when you are trying to paint fine detail or highlight the inner edges.

Next job for me is to paint his spear and complete the final assembling steps. I am still debating whether to paint the spear with a power weapon tip or not, so it is a good thing I have a few more days to think about it. Hopefully, the next Iron Snakes update will see this guy finished.

See you across the table,


Saturday 13 September 2014

Victoria Miniatures: Van Diemen's World Figures

For Wade’s Birthday I ordered him some Van Diemen’s World Devils from Victoria miniatures. Victoria Miniatures is the brainchild of Victoria Lamb, whose work you may be familiar with if you were interested in Golden Daemon competitions during the early 2000s. Victoria was one of the pioneers of OSL technique, winning the 2001 Slayer Sword in Australia (Sister Joan). She now has a small business in Adelaide that produces finely detailed miniatures.
The Van Diemen’s World Devils are based on the iconic aesthetics of the Australian Digger, particularly those that fought during World War I, at Gallipoli, the Middle East and the Western Front. Approximately 330,000 Australians fought overseas, which represented 13% of the male population at the time.
The casualty rate (killed or wounded) was 64%. This had a massive impact on the psyche and ethos of the nation; there are very few country towns in Australia without a cenotaph honouring the fathers and sons who fell protecting other people’s freedom. Having travelled to Europe on several occasions myself, it is an awful long way to go and serve in that manner. It is the strangest feeling; going to places like Crete in the middle of the Mediterranean and finding row upon row of Australian war-graves (WW2).
"Greater love hath no man than to give his life for his brothers."

The sculpts themselves are beautifully detailed and clean. There are no mould lines that I can see and the faces are exquisitely characterful. They weren’t particularly expensive (not that that was a factor Wade, I promise!), which is a nice change and I wasn’t charged any shipping costs. Most importantly, the depiction of the slouch hats is spot on. Wade also picked up some female soldier heads so that we can convert some Aussie women in uniform to add to the platoon.
I’m hoping that my gaming group will be able to help Wade get these guys and girls painted before Easter time next year, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the Australian landing at Gallipoli. Consider that a challenge guys (you know who you are…).
See you across the table,

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Old School Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day! This year has been my third as a father, and it has prompted some thought about how fatherhood has changed my gaming and modelling habits. In this post I’ll let you in on some of my experiences as a gamer and with a young family, as well as provide some words of wisdom that may help my fellow bloggers along. The post will be punctuated by some Star Wars Lego space ships I have been making with my eldest, which have all photo-bombed iconic Trilogy scenes by the looks of it…
In the Beginning...
Gaming has been a part of my life for a long time; modelling a little bit longer. When I was still a toddler, my father had an accident at work that damaged his spine, requiring several years of rehabilitation to restore his mobility. During this time a cousin of mine gave my Dad a scale model of an American Galleon. I wasn’t much help building the thing, but I was fascinated by it. The detail was incredible; scores of cannons smaller than your fingernail, rigging that had its own instruction book and tiny windows that my Dad painstakingly painted in sky blue with a tiny brush. That ship kept my Dad busy during a hard time and set me off on the course we all now share. He taught me to pay attention to detail: he removed mould lines from every one of those cannons.

My first foray into modelling, like most people, was Lego. I grew up in the 80’s, so that “80’s space man” from the recent Lego Movie really pulled at the heart strings. The instruction booklet was soon tossed over the shoulder in favour of more creative projects. When they broke and I was upset, my Dad used to say “Well… if you made it once, you can make it again.” I can’t tell you how many times I have said that to myself over the years, particularly when stripping 40K minis. I found myself saying it to my daughter a few days ago, and it is good advice.

Aircraft Models
I wonder if anybody else had a crack at these. In primary school I was obsessed by warplanes and regularly worked on kits, both large and small. I distinctly remember packing an expensive and half assembled F-14 model in a box to take with me on holidays. The plastic cement I packed with it (what was I thinking) ruptured and melted some of the weapon pylons, prompting a long discussion with my Dad about exactly how the glue formed a strong bond. Here’s some more knowledge that I have carried with me: plastic glue is valuable for forming strong bonds in plastic, but don’t use too much! And don’t transport it in the same box as your plastic miniatures! I also remember falling asleep having finished assembling an AV-8B Harrier, and waking up to a completely painted model with a white underside and metallic camo top. Anyone who has seen my Jade Falcon Mechs now knows the inspiration for that metallic camo effect I use.  

I have been blessed with a supportive wife when it comes to my hobby. I hid my miniatures from her when she first came over to visit all those years ago. The first place she looked: right where the miniatures were. If I ask her what annoys her the most about it all, she would say “Sometimes you guys just don’t know when to stop.” This was something I had to learn when my eldest was born and has shaped the way I enjoy gaming now. The days of lingering, 14 hour, 40K games are over, as are the all-day painting binges. Here is some advice based on what has worked for me:

1)     Be realistic with what you can achieve in a given time (gaming and modelling). Know your capabilities and factor that in when planning projects.

2)     Divide projects up into discrete, smaller, parts and finish one of them at a time. Leave the next part for another day. You will still progress but there will be less blowouts in time expenditure.

3)     It’s ok to have interests and feel the need for time alone/with fellow gamers to express yourself. Your partner probably needs the same thing, even more than you do. Be open with what you need, but put your family first. You can’t expect time without be willing to give it first.

4)     Play smaller games more frequently. This is much easier to do when it is a regularly scheduled occurrence.

5)     Friday is not a great night for gaming. After spending the working week away from each other, taking the first chance you get to be somewhere else is not a great idea. Convincing your friends of this may be problematic, until they have kids.

6)     Be prepared to just drop the paintbrush. I have never regretted stopping what I was doing to spend time with my kids or help my wife.

Modelling is a good thing. It is creative, artistic and imaginative. It captures the senses and rewards the skilful. Knowing the enjoyment I have had, even at an early age, I have no hesitation in sharing it with my children. Hence all the Star Wars space ships...
See you across the table,

Saturday 6 September 2014

Iron Snakes: Sergeant Progress

Hi folks,
Here is a short update on my Iron Snakes Sternguard project. For the past couple of session I have been working on the torsos and helmets of the marines, which I am aiming to finish off this week. I also spent two hours completing as much of the sergeant as I could:

The model is from the Forgeworld Minotaurs range; Ivanus Enkomi. I will be using it to represent a Sternguard special character who is particularly hard to kill. The paint scheme required me to make some difficult choices, as the miniature itself is quite busy. The bones on the chest armour looked best painted white, which will impact the style of shield I make for him. The combination of white shield, shoulder pad, skull helm and torso would be a bit too much I think. I had (and am still having) trouble highlighting the helm, due to a previously unnoticed ding laying straight over the detail I want to put a hard gold edge over. Curses!
The other decisions all related to maintaining the limited pallet of my test miniature, despite the added detail (such as the skull on the knee pad and lambda symbol on the greaves). The only exception was the purity seal, which I did in the same style as my Dark Angels. It adds just a tiny unifying piece to the model; I could imagine Interrogator Sapphon blessing his ally's armour and affixing the seal, in the absence of an Iron Snakes Chaplain to perform the rites.
See you across the table,

Thursday 4 September 2014

Luthien Campaign Update


Scenario 12: Ronin

Following the death of Takashi Kurita, Theodore Kurita forbade the Dragon Claws from seeking revenge. He knew that he would need the elite troops to defend Luthien, so could not afford to have them die in a vainglorious suicidal charge. To ensure their compliance, Theodore held the Dragon Claws Mechs under armed guard prior to the final defence of the city. Unwilling to accept this stain on their honour, some of the Mechwarriors absconded with suits of Kage Stealth armour. Knowing that they needed Mechs to win the vengeance they sought, they set a deadly ambush for a Star of Smoke Jaguar Mechs. Their objective was to trap the Clanners within a narrow canyon using explosive charges to block the entrance and exit. Once the Mechs were boxed in, they would use their Battlearmour’s jumping capacity to hijack them.
In this scenario the Smoke Jaguar force consisted of a Hellbringer A, a Mad Dog Primary, an Adder Primary, a Storm Crow B and a Kit Fox B. The Draconis force consisted of 12 individual Kage Armour suits and 6 explosive charges set in the canyon walls. Wade wrote down the position of his units which would remain hidden until revealed. I had to enter the eastern edge of the mapsheet and exit a very narrow space to the west. Given that Wade only had a few minutes to place his units, in retrospect, he did an exceptional job. He efficiently identified a small group of choke points that completely changed the topography of the canyon and made my job very difficult right from the start. Additionally, this scenario was brought to you by a responsible quantity of Trooper Ale. Up the Irons!

As soon as the Clan Mechs entered the map Wade started detonating explosives. The Stormcrow B was blasted but managed to stumble through the rubble. With that avenue blocked I manouvered around the other side of the canyon with the Adder and Hellbringer, but received similar punishment. The Hellbringer revealed two Kage suits with its Active Probe, which immediately jumped onto the Mechs and initiated a swarm attack. Despite several attempts to dislodge the battlearmour (sigh… so many double ones), both Mechs were successfully hijacked.
The Mad Dog and Kitfox scaled the canyon wall using one of the only possible routes, killing a Kage suit on the way. The Stormcrow used its superior speed to distance itself from another Kage suit and open the opportunity to exit the map during the next turn. This would earn me some victory points and deny Wade another Clan mech. On the way it was hit by two demolition charges which caused moderate damage. The Kit Fox was also hijacked (another set of double ones!), meaning I was now outnumbered by my own Mechs.

After finally wrestling control of the Puma, Wade unleashed its twin ER PPCs on the Mad Dog, stripping the armour off each torso. My return fire the following turn was brutal, punching straight through the light Mech’s centre torso and destroying it completely. The Hellbringer attempted to enter the fray but failed a piloting skill roll and fell in some canyon rubble. The Kit Fox twisted torso and unleashed a withering fusillade with its Ultra AC 10, scoring four critical hits across the Mad Dog’s left and right torso. This resulted in an ammunition explosion (5 shots of LRM 20: a whopping 100 damage) and a single engine hit in the other torso. With three engine hits the Mad Dog went down, leaving me with just a Stormcrow in a highly compromised position.
In the final turn the Stormcrow was ambushed by three hidden Kage suits. In keeping with my luck throughout the night, I failed every possible roll to save myself. This culminated in the hijacking of my final Mech.
During the game I scored -30 points for destroying the Adder, -10 points for denying Wade the Mad Dog and -5 points for taking out a Kage suit (should have been way more of them!). Wade scored 90 points for hijacking 3 Mechs. This gave him a decisive victory with 45 points. Campaign-wise, this gives the Draconis Combine a 40 point advantage heading into the last Classic Battletech game. Next game we’ll see Wade seeking some revenge in my stolen Mechs, in the scenario “Cat and Mouse”.

See you across the table,