Sunday 26 July 2015


Hi folks,

It looks like it is that time again, when Dark Angel players clench their teeth and hope for the best (or at the very least, hope they don't lose anything too important to their own personal grim/dark). On Thursday afternoon I dropped into my friendly local GW to pick up the new Codex. I have done this four times in the past and I have to say I have developed something of a Pavlovian response to the whole process. My eyes squint with skepticism, my teeth start to grind uncontrollably and my fingers twitch in anticipation of snapping off arms to replace wargear...

My Dark Angels during the dying weeks of 3rd Edition. No photos of my 2nd Ed. games exist. Getting film developed was a pain in those days; the photos always ended up looking rubbish.

In my first proper game of 40K I chose to use Dark Angels specifically because my mate was playing Space Wolves, they seemed like the obvious choice considering the whole Lion and the Wolf thing. I was drawn to the anti-hero nature of the Dark Angels and the Native American stylistic influences.

And robes.

I had no great grasp of their rules, but compared to the Space Wolves and Blood Angels they seemed decidedly, I don't know... tactical. To my simple 15 year old Metallica addled mind, Space Wolves were for shooting (Long Fangs and 5 assault cannon Wolf Guard) and Blood Angels were for assaulting (Veteran Assault squads, Dante and Mephiston). Dark Angels focused on fearless and plentiful Terminators, elite bikers, inspirational banners and hard-as-nails Chaplains. They were just far enough outside the box to hook me, it would seem, for life.

First game of 4th Edition. I can still remember this argument :-) It ended with me conceding that, indeed, I didn't know the rules yet. Then I wiped out an entire enemy unit of infantry with three deep striking Ravenwing Landspeeders. Bliss. Crumbs this photo makes me feel old...

Dark Angels have changed a bit since those days. I don't know how other players feel about their codex, but I feel like the Dark Angels always seem to lose something important every edition. For example, GW has distanced the Dark Angels from the original Native American influences. In particular, there is a little passage in the last Codex that quite deliberately retcons the Deathwing origin story. Dark Angels are rightly anti-hero in nature, but they have been increasingly portrayed as extremists bordering on disloyalty. Whilst debatable (frequently, between Sgt Waz the upstart Black Templar and myself), this just doesn't sit well with me. More recently, the more-Ravenwing-than-Ravenwing Black Knights, and the more-Deathwing-than-Deathwing Deathwing Knights have bugged me. Both are very powerful units that make we want to spend money to remain competitive; I hate spending money to stay competitive. As a result, I generally just buy things I really want to paint and end up losing lots of games :-)

Floor 40K, back when we couldn't afford a kitchen table.

So... the new Codex. I won't do a review here, Corrm at St Andrews gaming has already done a wonderful 7 part article covering that ground. I will say, however, that the Codex is beautiful. There is a great collection of older artwork in there as well as a broad collection of dynamic new pieces that didn't make me feel so bad about parting with my $90 AUS. The army list is quite competitive, with nothing particularly new apart from the new Lion's Blade Strike Force and other formations.

They took away the Dark Angel's special banners.

After modelling my Command squad to be equipped with boltguns specifically to take advantage of the Standard of Devastation... plip... gone. Ah well, I guess it could have been worse ;-)

I have already begun the process of bringing my Dark Angels up-to-date with some new wargear, units and coats of paint. While my Ravenwing squad is being assembled and undercoated, I have been working on a Devastator squad to help complete a Battle Demi-Company. I bought these guys back in 3rd Edition (they are metal) and decided to paint the plasma glow green, which has bothered me ever since.

Today I exchanged that for a more subtle turquoise glow inspired by the artwork in the Codex, using the same technique I used for my Iron Snakes Contemptor Dreadnought. Whilst this is primarily a "painting lipstick on a dog" exercise, I was glad to get rid of the green at last. I have also added some detail to the old Veteran Sergeant and Combat Squad leader.

See you across the table (with ~5K of Dark Angels between us),


Tuesday 21 July 2015

Painting Dinosaur Terrain Markers

Hi folks,

About three years ago I picked up some Velociraptors from the Tamiya model range, because I thought they looked like fun. They featured in my article on regaining your "Hobby Mojo" as a little side project that I tinker with whenever I need to do something different. Well, during my last holiday I finished them off with the help of my daughter, so I thought I would share the experience; it was pure awesome-sauce.

The assembly stage was a long process, as the pieces didn't fit together particularly well and some of the surfaces were quite small but load bearing. My wife was the first to have a krak at it (before we had kids!) and managed to glue her fingers together but not much else. I pinned the buggins out of them so they are now well and truly stuck.

I followed the assembly up with a black spray undercoat followed by XF-49 Khaki from Tamiya.

Next up I changed the appearance of the Khaki coat with some Citadel washes. I wanted to differentiate the pack into mating pairs, so I setteled on three washes, Devlan Mud, Thraka Green and Ogryn Flesh. My daughter helped me do the washes, which was great fun; she constantly amazes me with how careful and deliberate she is. To make it a bit easier for her I blue-tacked the models and the pot to the table. The biggest lesson for her was realising when there was too much wash on a certain part, which she could then push around to other parts of the model that weren't covered yet. She had an absolute ball.

We did three models each. After the first coat we added some more wash in stripes or blobs, which I then neatened up by drybrushing khaki highlights.

After the main colours were established I went through and picked out some details such as the claws, teeth and eyes (blimey... the eyes were small). I also painted the mouth in a fleshy pink colour followed by a gloss varnish. The bases were washed with a skin tone I had lying around (left), followed by Devlan Mud (right). After that I finished them off with a couple of laser cut ferns, for that authentic Jurassic feel (...or are they just West Indian Lilac?). I'm keen to do a tutorial on using these ferns, as they can be a real pain if you haven't used them before.

That was it! They were all finished and ready to stalk the dangerous terrain on my 40K jungle table. Here are some photos of the finished raptors. Enjoy!

See you across the table,


P.S. This is my undecoatin' stick being used to paint some Ravenwing bikers. What does this pic remind you of...?

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Jurassic Death World 40K Scenario

Hi folks,

It's my Birthday! To celebrate I have created a fun little 40K scenario, which uses some Velociraptor models and objective counters that I have been tinkering with for the past couple of months. The scenario is intended to be a light-hearted mission for fans of the Jurassic Park movies, so don't take it too seriously. If you find that something isn't working for you, just change it on the fly and roll on. Enjoy!

Choose armies as described in Warhammer
40 000: The Rules

A neutral force represented by dinosaur counters is also required.

Place a large jungle in the centre of the battlefield, with no part of the jungle inside either deployment zone. Feel free to use fewer individual trees but mark out the border clearly. The entire jungle area is Dangerous Terrain.

Place 5 objective markers (dinosaur nests) within the jungle at least 6” apart. Place 1 coloured d6 next to each marker for each faction represented in the battle.

Deploy armies as described in Warhammer
40 000: The Rules

The mission uses Variable Game Length (see Warhammer 40 000: The Rules)

At the end of the game each player rolls the dice they have collected from the objective markers. If no dice have been collected by either army, roll all dice possessed by infantry units not locked in combat. The player with the highest total wins.

Night Fighting, Reserves

Dino-DNA: Any infantry unit that comes into base-to-base contact with an objective marker may collect a sample (one die per objective marker per faction). The unit must then return to their board edge to deliver the sample (die). Only dice delivered in this way can be rolled at the end of the game. If the unit is destroyed before it reaches the board edge, the die remains at their last position and can be picked up by any other infantry unit. An infantry unit may carry multiple dice.

Clever Girl…: Infantry units in possession of a die within the jungle suffer a -1 penalty to their Dangerous Terrain rolls for each die in their possession.

Because we are being hunted: Infantry units in possession of a die outside the jungle must roll a d6 at the start of each assault phase. On a 4+ mark the unit with a dinosaur counter. Units may only be marked with one dinosaur counter at a time.

The unit may attempt to remove the dinosaur counter with overwatch fire at the start of each assault phase, using the following abbreviated profile:



Feel No Pain

Overwatch shots that miss may hit friendly models within the unit. Re-roll all missed shots, resolving any hits against models in the unit.

All units marked with a dinosaur counter count all terrain as Dangerous Terrain.

Mutual Respect: The unit may forgo firing on overwatch and attempt to “train” the dinosaur. The unit must perform a Leadership test with a -2 modifier. If the test is successful, the dinosaur counter marking the unit may be transferred to any enemy unit, or retained, permitting the unit to ignore Dangerous Terrain.

Here is a diagram of the battlefield setup. You may want to deploy along the long board edges for a faster game, though you will miss some of the more intense dinosaur-eating-marines hilarity.

Here is an example of how the battlefield can be set up. I have started the game with the dinosaur counters in the jungle just to make it look a little cooler. The objective markers are in a slightly different configuration to accommodate the river that I have on my board. 

Next post will be a "making of" the scenario, including how I painted the Velociraptors with the help a clever 3 year old who loves dinosaurs...

See you across the table,


Tuesday 7 July 2015

Game Review: Assassinorium Execution Force

Cool cover art. Wait... what?

Hi folks,

Last week I had a go at the new Assassinorium Execution Force, so I thought I would do a little review for those who are considering buying it. This post also tells a tale of brotherhood, treachery, suffering and redemption (none of which have anything to do with the game Assassinorium Execution Force... or the picture above). So find a comfy chair and a cup of tea and let me transport you back to a day of infamy, followed by a review of GW's latest not-40K product.

I have always used Imperial Agents in my army lists. Back in 2nd Edition I regularly used to field Grey Knights and Lord Inquisitors, as well as a Callidus Assassin. The reason for this was that one of my regular opponents (lets call him... I don't know... "Joffrey") collected Eldar and a Khorne Daemon World/Berserker army, both of which annoyed the hell out of me.

The Daemon World army was so hard to compete against, you really needed to have lots of force weapons and a robust psychic phase to have any fun at all. Combined with some Deathwing Terminator squads, which were immune to psychology in those days, I could make it a contest. The Eldar army was Warp Spider and Harlequin spam, and I particularly loath Warp Spiders. My answer was to turn one of the jerks into a Callidus Assassin. It didn't solve all of my problems, but it did provide a little bit of payback.

For my Birthday one year, "Joffrey" gave me two old Inquisitor models in Terminator armour. I have no idea where he got them from, but I was stoked.

After painting the first model (it looked like the one above) "Joffrey" decided that he wanted it back. Again, I have no idea why, perhaps to sell it. He offered to swap it for a Callidus Assassin he also had from... somewhere. I accepted, and poured a measure of my soul into painting that little figure. It was a moment when I realised I had actually levelled-up in my skills in some profound way. There were crisp highlights, shading, neat detail work and a vivid glow effect on the sword.

I got to play one full game with that figure. In the second game, we stopped half-way through so that I could pick up dinner with my Dad. When I got back we decided to pack up and the Callidus Assassin was gone. When I left she was hiding in a poorly painted polystyrene crater, when I returned...

I know the guys that were there and some of them have been my friends now for over 20 years (looking at you BennyW and KuriboGoomba) and I think we all know what happened to my Callidus. I can remember saying at the time "Miniatures don't just disappear off the table like that...". It really hurt to lose that figure, so much that I have stoically refused to replace it.

When recent rumours appeared that GW had re-sculpted the Assassins, it immediately brought back that gut-sick feeling. I resolved that, if it was a good sculpt, I would buy one of the new Callidus figures and finally fill that lithe, chameleonic hole in my heart. I may have even prayed to Crom:

Then I saw the price of the game they come in: $210 AUS.

Now, sure I could probably get one on Ebay or just buy an older sculpt, or just bite the bullet and fork out $210 bucks, but I saw this as a sign that it was not to be (to hell with you Crom).

Sooo, when Sgt Waz recently sent me a message saying "Hey dewd, how about a gaming session so we can try out the new Assassinorium Execution Force game I just bought?" I cringed just a little on the inside. I visibly cringed when I was asked which assassin I wanted to be, and settled on an Eversor, after recounting the old "Joffrey" story like a Deathwing Librarian around the watch-fire.

The game went a little like this:

We set up with the Eversor and Vindicator up front, with the goal of providing the Vindicare with a good firing arc quickly. The Eversor just wanted to do something quickly, it didn't matter what.

The Eversor's ability to use frenzon and the same action twice allows him to cover ground (or assassinate things) very efficiently.

In the face. Cop that heretic.

The Callidus uses polymorphine to sneak past patrols and locate the teleport controls. Everyone else jumps into the teleporter.

After putting some wounds on the big guy my Eversor used bio-meltdown to finish him off. Cue heroic sacrifice music... now.

The Good

There is something satisfying about sneaking around, avoiding the patrols and monstering lone sentries. The special abilities of the individual assassins seem to be well thought out and reflect their character perfectly. The assassin sculpts and game boards are beautiful.

The Bad

There is no way to advance or customise your character, which made Space Crusade such a fun game. There is also no real sense of panic, like when you are running out of time in a Space Hulk turn or you draw another genestealer event card in Space Crusade. Whilst there is a limited number of turns to kill the mark, I never really felt... worried. Finally, the bad guys are pretty meh, there really needs to be some nastier stuff in there.

The Opportunities

GW could expand on this game considerably, offering extra missions/playing boards, using models from the current 40K range. Hell, we may end up doing this in our playing group anyway, using the Space Hulk gaming tiles...


You may have noticed that the assassin models we used in this game included some older sculpts. That was because Sgt Waz had one (or two?) extra sets of the models and hadn't prepared the new figures yet. As a parting gift, Sgt Waz gave me one of his Callidus Assassins.

See you across the table,


Saturday 4 July 2015

Ravenwing: Attack Bike Complete

Hi folks,

It has been a very long time since my Dark Angels got any love; my Dark Angels Command Squad back in August last year. Needless to say my beloved Unforgiven are long overdue for some force expansion! Taking a look at all the Dark Angels Codex chatter it is clear that I am going to need some Ravenwing bikes to be competitive on the battlefield. With that in mind (... and with 12 bikes hiding somewhere in my bitz box), I have decided that a Ravenwing Attack Squadron will be the next on my paint table.

A few years ago, when the "new*" Ravenwing box came out, I actually assembled some Ravenwing bikes and came close to completing a test model. At the time a bunch of the guys I game with had formed a Facebook group called "The Get Stuff Painted" group. We took turns working on each other's armies to get them finished for gaming and achieved a lot together. I shipped my Ravenwing squad off to Craig R, along with a hastily painted Ravenwing Attack bike to demonstrate the scheme I was after. He performed an admirable job getting the block colours down and added some OSL to the front lamp that I hadn't counted on.

This is the squad I will be working on for this project. To finish them off they all require detail work and spot colours, decals and marines (preferably with grav weapons!). I gave the original Attack Bike a once-over tonight and re-painted the OSL from the lamp; I am a little more confident with the technique after my Ithakan adventures :-)

As you can see I have added some ravens flying over the sidecar. They are from the Dark Eldar range and I have a few more to splash around. I think they add a nice touch to the squad and reflect the reference artwork really well.

I want to differentiate the average biker from the Command Squad, so I have left the angel wing ornaments off the front of these bikes. I have also painted the feathers of the standard differently to how they are usually done on the Codex. Instead of being white I have painted them red and green like the feathers I paint on my Deathwing Terminators and Dreadnoughts. They are a little more grim/dark this way, and it is a cheeky homage back to the native American style of the early Dark Angels.

That's two marines down and eight to go: six bikes and one Landspeeder. Wish me luck!

See you across the table,


* By "new" I mean not a model released during 2nd Edition 40K :-)

Thursday 2 July 2015

X-wing: Testing the Decimator

Hi folks,

On Tuesday I teamed up with a few of the usual suspects (Sgt Waz, KuriboGoomba and Wade) to play some Pathfinder. I haven't played for a while and they are just starting on one of the expansions. It was balls hard, but my character ended up with some neat new stuff. Knowing the guys, and my lack of attendance at these sessions, all of my loot will be sold by the time I play another game ;-)

After the game we had a bit of time left over before Goomba had to split, so we tested out two of my X-wing lists. I teamed up with Wade to test out the Decimator (Captain Oicunn, Veteran Instincts, Flechette Torpedoes, Anti-pursuit Laser, Mara Jade and Dauntless). We backed it up with four TIE Academy Pilots for mini-swarm fun. With this loud-out the Decimator deals damage and gets a free action when it crashes into something. It also has the possibility of damaging anything that crashes into it. Mara Jade dishes out stress tokens to enemies within range 1 and Veteran Instincts offsets Oicunn's relatively low skill. The Flechette Torpedoes were a waste of points but I wanted to give them a go.

Goomba and Sergeant Waz took the other ships I had brought, a YT-2400 and dual B-wing stress build. The YT-2400 was set up to exploit stressed ships (Eaden Vrill, Flechette Cannon, Hull Upgrade, Gunner), whilst the B-wings were both Dagger Squadron Pilots assigned the role of stressing ships (Flechette Cannon, B-wing/E2 and Tactician). Of course, B-wings can do some heavy damage up close using their primary attack, but the load-out also allows them to deal a damage and a stress token with their Flechette Cannons, and/or add a stress token if making an attack at range 2 (Tacticians, they be all tactical).

Here is a quick batrep:

The TIE swarm sweeps towards the Rebels. The YT-2400 hits the Decimator with its Flechette cannon, dealing out damage and stress. The big ships dealt heavy damage to each other in passing.

The B-wings move in to finish off the Decimator, but fail to make a significant impact. They lose some shield tokens in return and become stressed, reducing their maneuverability. The TIE's continue to harass the YT-2400 as it passes by, evading return fire.

The Decimator deals more damage to the YT-2400 and the TIE's finish it off. The ridiculous amount of hull points on the Decimator are making their presence felt. In the backfield a B-wing takes a fatal critical hit from a TIE.

The remaining B-wing whittles the Decimator down to 5 hull points, but is immolated the next turn by the fire from two TIE's and the finally the Decimator itself.

The Decimator is a tough ship to crack when you are trying to avoid a TIE swarm at the same time. It is capable of doing quite a bit of damage and has plenty of builds that are aimed at repelling close contact with enemy ships. The build used in this game never really worked to the fullest; the Rebel players went to great pains not to collide with the Decimator and prevented me from ramming them. In a way, this was useful as it dictated how they played. The addition of Mara Jade prevented ships from K-turning onto my back after making a pass (this won't work in every game, there are other ways of shedding stress). The Dauntless title came in handy when the Decimator collided with a TIE, allowing it to immediately get a Target Lock on the remaining B-wing and get the most out of that turn. Next I am keen to try a Commander Kenkirk build with Ysanne Isard, to perhaps save a few more hits on the ship.

The Rebel list had its chances to rip the heart out of the Imperials but were thwarted by bad rolls and maneuvering errors. As always, focusing on on ship until it is eliminated is usually the best way to go, though they had trouble doing this as the ships were perpetually stressed by Mara Jade then harassed by TIEs. I am keen to try this list out again, but against a non-TIE swarm Imperial list!

The day after the game I headed into my FLGS and bought myself some Birthday presents :-) The collector in me loved the idea of having an Imperial Shuttle escorted by two Royal Guard TIE's:

See you across the table,