Saturday 25 April 2015

ANZAC Day Memorial: 2nd Edition 40K Style

Hi folks

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand landings at Gallipoli. The military objectives of the campaign were to pave the way for an attack on Constantinople and to neutralise the Ottoman Empire. Whilst the invasion ended in a disastrous defeat for the allied forces, the actions of the Australian and New Zealand troops, and in many ways the Turkish as well, established a legacy of camaraderie and respect that would bond the nations indelibly. Thousands of Australians make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli every year to honour those who served and died. Considering that our national identity seems inextricably linked to this attempt to invade their land, I find the Turkish hospitality miraculous. To quote the words of their president:

"There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side. Here in this country of ours."

The Battle of Lone Pine was originally intended as a diversion, allowing elements of the New Zealand and Australian forces to breakout from the perimeter they had established. Australian forces advanced against a formidable Turkish trench system, sections of which were securely roofed over with pine logs. The primary Turkish trench was rapidly overrun, followed by four days of intense hand-to-hand fighting, resulting in over two thousand Australian casualties. Between five thousand and seven thousand Ottomans were also lost, either killed or wounded.

In remembrance, Wade and I played a special 40K scenario today using the venerable 2nd Edition 40K rules. Wade fielded a robust force of "ANZAC Guard" against which I pitted my "Turk Angels". The objective was to capture the enemy forward trench and the "Lone Pine" in the middle of the battlefield...

Wade's force included four infantry squads, two heavy weapons squads (autocannons and mortars), two Chimeras, a Leman Russ and a Demolisher, led by a Colonel, a Commisar and two veteran squads (special weapons a-go-go).

My force included a Tactical squad (lascannon and plasma gun), a Scout squad (needle sniper rifles), a Deathwing squad (heavy flamer, chainfist and a set of lightning claws), a Dreadnought (twin-linked lascannons), Landraider and Azrael.


So, as the storm clouds rolled in over Sydney (again), Wade and I played out an epic nostalgic game using rules we haven't looked at for seventeen years. Here are some highlights:

Guessing the range of the Heavy Mortars: "How do I fire these things... ooooooh, I remember. Bwah ha ha!"

Wade rushes no-mans-land and the objective: "Nervous wait for the whistle to blow. Rush of blood and over we go." 

The Leman Russ blows up, flips over and crushes four guardsman: "Hurray for random damage affect tables".

The Landraider is also destroyed by a well placed battle cannon round. The brutal Turk Angel counter assault drives the Guard off the objective. Both Chimeras are destroyed in assault; one to a dreadnought powerfist and the other to a lightning claw bear hug. The remaining three Guardsman outside the trenches are picked off by sniper fire.

A Guard missile launcher crew thread a krak missile through a window and into my dreadnought, destroying the engine. The next turn the Dreadnought blew up due to the damage it had received.

Wade predicts the range to my snipers perfectly and unleashes the heavy mortars.

By the end of the game we had both attempted to capture the objective and had both been repelled emphatically. We decided to let the game run for one more turn and, having survived two turns of blistering fire from the Guard trenches, Azrael overran the Demolisher. He executed a sponson gunner with his Sword of Secrets, as he finally contested the Guard forward trench. We agreed that the game had finished a draw, though the Turk Angels had clawed back a tiny little victory in extra time!

"Man vs Tank..."

This was a very enjoyable battle with heaps of light-hearted moments. We both agreed at the end that we need to read through the rules again, it has been waaay too long since we played 40K this way. There is still something special about 2nd Edition; I don't think I would ever re-visit the other editions with the same enthusiasm.

For the men who actually responded to the whistle blowing 100 years ago, leaving the relative safety of their trench to assault the enemy fortifications at Lone Pine, we remember you and honour your courage and sacrifice.

Lest we forget,


Thursday 16 April 2015

Iron Snakes: Ancient Nestor Progress

Hi folks,

The past couple of days I have been working on my Iron Snakes Contemptor "Nestor", or more accurately, Nestor's pants. There were a few things I wanted to achieve with the legs, which I will run through. I'll leave it up to you to decide if I was successful or not ;-)

Viewed from the left, the outer left leg has a small shield in the colours of the Dark Angels 3rd Company. I did this to tie the Dreadnought in with the primary detachment in my collection. Lore-wise, it is a gift from the Dark Angels to their allies on the eve of a major engagement. You can also see the snake symbol on the inner right leg. I actually selectively undercoated that part white, then covered it with green tape before doing the rest in black. As you can see below, the first outline of the snake (Step 2) was very rough, which I then had to tighten up with more accurate brush strokes.

Step 1: "Mummification"

Step 2: "Finger-painting"

Step 3: "Et voila!"

Viewed from the right you can see an Iron Halo and Imperial Laurel honour badge. Again, lore-wise, these were awarded to Nestor after the battle of Penses Hive. On the inner right leg you can see a lambda symbol painted on the armour, to represent Nestor's previous assignment to Squad Lakodeme. I have a few little bits to touch up before I can happily move on; the joys of high-res miniature photography!

Sometime during the week I received my order from Scibor miniatures, which is timely as it includes the basing kits I want to use on Nestor. Here are a few pictures of what I got, with an Iron Snake figure for size comparison, and some musings about how I intend to use them.

Too small even for infantry, these are going to be used for Deathwing themed objective markers. Who wants to go hunting for Deathwing wargear in a genestealer cult temple... ? Anyone... ?

I'll use these ones for my Master of the Forge and Captain. I'm thinking the one on the left will be good for the Master of the Forge, as it will accommodate the servo-harness better.

Holy moly! I'm hoping one of these fits nicely under Nestor's foot. Another will definitely fit the base of my Storm Eagle. The others are destined for (glorious) terrain pieces.

So I whacked a few of the Spartan ruins under Nestor's foot to see what would fit and two seemed suitable. After ummming and ahhhing for half an hour I polled both on Google+. So far, the combination below is the most popular, sitting on 67%.

I'm still playing with the angle of the ruins at this stage; it will probably follow the curve of the base in the final product.

It also happens to be the one I am the most happy with, though I am a little sad the head doesn't have a plume. Basing this dreadnought is going to require a fine balance between looking good and not clashing with or drawing attention away from the figure itself. Simple right?

See you across the table,


Tuesday 7 April 2015

Van Diemen's World Devils: Female Infantry Build Complete

Hi folks,

Today I have finished the female soldier conversions for Wade's Van Diemen's World Devils infantry squad. With ANZAC day looming on the 25th of April, it doesn't leave me with a whole lot of time to paint them, but I will give it a red-hot go.

These have been the most frustrating models to assemble. For some reason, whatever super-gluing I did yesterday just counted for nothing today. The glue was fine; well, it affixed my fingers to each other adequately enough. The resin was clean, I scrubbed the sprues with a toothbrush and detergent before I commenced the project. It wasn't that humid either, which can sometimes cause issues. The stuff just did not want to stick.

I have been trying to pose these models as naturally as possible, which I put a lot of careful thought into, so having to repeat poses two or three times has killed me. GAH!

Lieutenant: "That's not a knife..." 

The Lieutenant is supplied with a chainsword, but the teeth were miscast quite badly. I filed it down so that it can be used as a machete/powersword.


I don't think Wade likes using grenade launchers very much, so I am cooking up some special issue ammunition rules for him to try. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Colour scheme-wise I am going to try for this kind of look:

Parade Marshal Lt. Col. Norman Wright . Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: Herald Sun

I visited the folks at my friendly local Hobbico and they have suggested some paints for me to use. Apparently quite a few locals have been doing ANZAC themed projects, so the staff are becoming experts on the colour side of things. Sometime over the next two weeks we should know exactly how accurate their suggestions were.

See you across the table,


Wednesday 1 April 2015

Hobby Mojo

Hi folks,

I have a few days of work to go before I start the Easter school holidays and I feel a little bit like that TIE Interceptor in Return of the Jedi. You know the one I mean:

I have three 40K projects that I am working on at the moment, which I am hoping to knock over during the holidays. I have felt a bit of pressure to get them all prepared for painting, but life has just been rolling me in the foam. I find myself looking at them and just going... blaaargh.

We all feel this way from time to time, especially when we put so much energy into the hobbies that we love. When the things that you do for enjoyment aren't bringing you enjoyment anymore, it's time to take a step back and recharge. Here is some advice based on what works for me:

1) Do something else. I am interested in a lot of different gaming systems and I find switching over to something else can give me the break I need. This is one of the reasons Battletech, X-wing and other random games appear on my blog from time to time. If you don't have anything else, it may be time to branch out and try a new game, even if you just dip a toe in.

I just picked up a YT-2400 freighter and a VT-49 Decimator from my FLGS. When I got to the counter I recognised the guy  as a mate I used to train with. He was a little fella back then (but whip fast and damn good), now he is a tank.  I didn't realise it at the time, but he gave me a very kind discount. Thanks Chaddie :-)

Having a non-gaming hobby helps too. I find sailing really blows the cobwebs away as it is such a mentally and physically consuming activity. Martial Arts used to be great too, but life seems to have pushed me away from that path.

I haven't done any of these for a while; I'm not sure that I could land anymore with my busted ankle.

2) Share the love. If you can, give back to your gaming community/friends/family. When I am sick of modelling/painting for myself, I find that making something for a friend is like hitting the restart button. Teaching a skill, or learning a new one, seems to have the same affect; you are changing the dynamic of the exercise so that the focus is not on you for a while. It feels good ;-)

Introducing my kids to modelling has also been highly enjoyable and edifying. With my son, the focus has been train sets, whilst my daughter is really starting to get into Lego. Watching the way that their imagination and creativity unfolds helps me to appreciate my own opportunities for artistic expression.

3) Do something frivolous. Sometimes, I experience a disproportionate amount of joy working on frivolous things. I have a couple of projects that are great fun to work on, simply because there is no pressure to complete or present them. When I find myself saying "But I don't have time for things like that! [gnashing of teeth]" I know I am taking things too seriously. I find little terrain projects and objective markers fit this category nicely. For example, I have a pack of Velociraptors I am tinkering with at the moment, to represent a particularly dangerous patch of jungle terrain...

Something frivolous.

Interestingly, publishing a blog ticks a lot of these boxes. It is definitely a form of creative expression, in which we expose our skills and foibles to the largest possible audience. We learn and share with other enthusiasts who represent a broad spectrum of skill and commitment. Dropping the odd humorous article or scenario on your readers is also great fun. Unfortunately, running a blog can also put pressure on us to perform and deliver content. As an extension of the hobby itself, when the fun just isn't funny anymore, it is time to take a step back and remember why we started doing all of this in the first place:

We are creative, relational people, looking for something inherently different to do.

If we are feeling flat, exercising those characteristics in novel ways can help us get our mojo back. Now, I'm off to paint more snakes... blaaargh.

See you across the table,