Saturday 31 December 2022

Retro Alien Cactus TO-DONE!!!


Hi folks, 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!

2022 was a pretty rough year for me, and the Old School Gaming blog has suffered a little because of it. I have had the energy to keep it just ticking over every month, but that has been about it. My big hope for 2023 is that the personal growth I have been focusing on will make the tough times a little more manageable. A huge thanks to everyone who has checked out my posts, here or elsewhere, and left a comment. I deeply appreciate every contribution! 

For my last project of 2022 I have been working with my son on some retro alien cactus, which I am sure most old school gamers are familiar with. They can be made with simple household items but are quite labour intensive and look a little like something out of Super Mario Brothers when they are finished.

Here's a brief how-to:

1) Coat some polystyrene balls with a thin layer of PVA and some sand for texture. We stuck each one with a toothpick to make them easier to handle.


a. Once the PVA has set, paint the balls light green and then apply a top highlight. 

b. Add some polystyrene hemispheres to the terrain bases, painted the same way. 

c. Flock the bases once the hemispheres are dry.

d. Paint 100 double ended toothpicks, applying a light red to black (in the centre) wet blend.

3) Snap the toothpicks in half as neatly as possible to provide 200 cactus spikes.


a. Use a metal skewer to create holes for the spikes. This makes the holes neat; trying to simply push the blunt end of the spikes in creates a mess.

b. Add a small blob of PVA to the blunt end of each spike before pushing them into place.

c. Use a metal skewer to add holes to the tops/bases of balls that need to be connected. Connection was made with unpainted toothpicks and a small amount of PVA. I found it easier to connect the parts after the spikes were already in place, I would suggest allowing connections to set first before adding the spikes if you want to do it the other way around.


As far as family projects go, this was really fun to do with The Boi. My wife and kids keep walking past them now and giggling! I am really looking forward to using these in a game of 2nd Ed. 40k, I will have to come up with some rules for them; they will certainly be a nasty addition to a Death World table.

See you across the table,


Sunday 4 December 2022

2nd Edition 40K Battle Report: Angels of Death


Hi folks,

Last weekend I headed out to Wade's place to play a game of 2nd Edition 40K. It has been about 6 years since we played using that ruleset, so we were both prepared for a lot of rulebook reading. If you haven't played 2nd Ed. before, the unit entries are very simple but interactions on the board are more complicated than the current format. Close combat, in particular, is almost a mini game in itself; great fun once you get the hang of it. We would also be using the Dark Millennium expansion rules for the psychic phase. With only one psyker on the board, these rules would stop Ezekiel from being overwhelmingly powerful.

I would be fielding a 1500 point army of Dark Angels led by Ezekiel, with some hard hitting support units:

Dark Angels 1500 point Army

Independent Characters

Ezekiel with a force sword, bolt pistol, psychic hood and The Book of Salvation (+1 WS to all Dark Angels if he dies, -10 VP if it is not recovered by the end of the game). Psychic powers include Prescience, Assail, The Salamander and Lightning Arc.

Brother Bethor with the Standard of Retribution: this banner allows Dark Angels within 6" to inflict 1 hit in close combat even if they lose or draw the combat.

Techmarine with conversion field, scanner and a servo-arm.


Tactical Squad with a lascannon and a meltagun for anti-armour work. The sergeant was upgraded to a veteran and given a conversion field, plasma pistol and powersword.

Deathwing Squad with an assault cannon, powerfists and lightning claws. The sergeant had a powersword and storm bolter.


Dreadnought: with a heavy plasma and CC weapon/in-built stormbolter. I also equipped it with an auto-launcher to lay down some smoke if needed.

Predator Annihilator: with twin-linked lascannon and heavy bolter sponsons. To really increase the survivability, I also gave it ablative armour and reinforced armour. 

Blood Angels 1500 point Army

Independent Characters

Dante with jump pack, power axe, The Inferno Pistol, conversion field and the Death Mask of Sanguinius.

Chaplain with boltgun, crozius arcanum and rosarius.


Dante's bodyguard, consisting of five veteran assault troops armed with various close combat weapons and plasma pistols.

Two tactical squads armed with lascannons and meltaguns. The sergeant on my left flank had a powerfist, the one on my right had a powersword.

Death company with chainswords and bolt pistols. One had a powerfist and another had a powersword. 


Rhino with supercharged engine

Mission and Strategy Cards

We decided to just play for VP this game, using the tables in the Dark Millenium rulebook. We drew one strategy card each (should have been two at 1500 points). I drew Malfunction, which I resolved to hold on to until Wade scored a decent hit against either my Dreadnought or Predator with a lascannon. It would cancel the hit and cause the heavy weapon to explode, potentially killing the marine carrying it!


As Dark Angels have a higher strategy rating (6 vs 5), the Blood Angels were forced to deploy first.

Wade deployed his two Tactical Squads in woods on both my left and right flank. Dante was deployed at the back of the board on the left flank, with his bodyguard in front. The rhino carrying the Chaplain and Death Company squad were placed on the extreme left flank. Technically, it should have been at least 12" away from the board edge, but that didn't even register at the time.

I deployed a Tactical squad in the bunker on the left flank, to provide a strong base of wounds (they aren't good for much else!). I backed them up with Ezekiel as a counter-charge unit with the ability to cause some troubles with his psychic powers. Next to them I placed the Deathwing squad and Bethor; anything charging the Tactical squad would also have to deal with them.

I deployed the Predator in the middle of my backfield, giving it multiple fire lanes. The Dreadnought was positioned to immediately fire upon the second Blood Angels tactical squad. This was a risk, as I knew a lascannon was lurking in that squad, but I knew I could whether at least one nasty turn using the Malfunction strategy card. The Techmarine was placed out of harms way, but in position to repair both the Predator and the Dreadnought.

With that out of the way, we rolled off to see who would get the first turn. Wade rolled a 6, for a total score of 11. I managed a paltry total of 8 in return, so the battle commenced with the Blood Angels on the front foot!

Blood Angels Turn 1 (Warp Flux 2)

The Rhino advanced at combat speed, being careful to break line-of-sight with my lascannon Tactical marine, supported by Dante and his bodyguard of Veteran Assault marines. The later took refuge behind some ruins to protect them from my Predator tank, but in position to charge my units the following turn. Both Tactical squads spread out forwards, pushing deeper into cover, though the lascannon marines remained stationary to take their shots at the back of each unit.

One of Dante's bodyguards killed a Dark Angels Tactical marine with his plasma pistol. Both lascannon shots went wide, leaving my Predator and Dreadnought unscathed. During the psychic phase Ezekiel used his single Warp Card to cast Assail, pushing Dante back 6", which was enough to knocking him back behind the wall he had just leapt over!

Dark Angels Turn 1 (Warp Flux 2)

With my left flank at risk of being charged the following turn, I maneuvered the Deathwing squad to fire at Dante's bodyguard. The rhino carrying the Death Company and Chaplain was just out of line of sight, so I shifted my tactical squad around as well. 

I swung my Predator tank in behind the Ork pub, to position it for a shot on the tank next turn, should it approach my infantry. I also moved the Dreadnought closer so that it could take a shot and set up for a Turn 3 charge on Tactical Squad 2.

The Deathwing assault cannon managed to get two hits before jamming. I used one to kill a Bodyguard and walked the second into the Rhino. Unfortunately, the shot failed to penetrate. My Tactical squad managed to kill another Bodyguard with bolter fire, whilst my Predator, with nothing else to shoot at, deleted a third bodyguard with its twin-linked lascannon. My dreadnought managed to snipe a single Tactical marine with its heavy plasma.

During the psychic phase I attempted to cast prescience on Ezekiel, but Wade successfully nullified the power. Boooo!!

Turn 1 Victory Points:

Blood Angels: 0

Dark Angels: 0

Blood Angels Turn 2 (Warp Flux 2)

The Rhino zipped up my left flank and deployed its cargo of black-clad lunatics. We mixed up our 2nd Ed. and 3rd Ed. rules at this stage, I think, because I was immediately charged by the Death Company squad and Chaplain ("Rhino Rush" was a legitimate tactical ploy in 3rd Edition, but in 2nd Ed. charging units need to be moved before vehicles). The remaining two Bodyguards and Dante also made their charges against my Deathwing squad. Tactical Squad 2 also advanced in the hopes of getting a meltagun shot off at my Dreadnought at some stage.

Tactical Squad 1 fired a shot at my Predator in cover, but the lascannon shot failed to penetrate the turret armour. The Dreadnought also took a hit that did not penetrate; I was ready to whip out the malfunction card on that one, if needed!

In the Close Combat phase the Death Company started to chew through my Dark Angels Tactical squad. The fight on the roof of the bunker was particularly intense, with my Tactical marine holding off two aggressors!

Dante killed a Deathwing terminator armed with lightning claws, with a blast from his Inferno Pistol. The Standard of Retribution triggered, however, and Dante received a wound in return. He got off lightly though, the claws could have done 3 wounds!

With a small Warp Flux, Ezekiel's attempt to cast Prescience was again nullified.

Dark Angels Turn 2 (Warp Flux 3)

I advanced my Dreadnought slightly, keeping it out of sight of the lascannon from Tactical Squad 1 and launching smoke grenades from its autolauncher to block line of sight to Tactical Squad 2. My plan was to advance rapidly into the teeth of their big guns next turn. I also charged the Death Company with Ezekiel in support of my Tactical Marines. 

My Predator drilled a hole through the Blood Angels Rhino with two penetrating hits. 

In the close combat phase, both the Death Company and Tactical squad had multiple casualties. Even with two wounds, the Blood Angels were struggling against Ezekiel's force sword. To add insult to injury, my Veteran Tactical Sergeant managed to kill the Chaplain. The Deathwing managed to kill the last two of Dante's Bodyguard and reduce Dante to 1 wound, for the loss of two Terminators.

In the psychic phase Ezekiel successfully cast Prescience, but Assail was nullified.

Turn 2 Victory Points:

Blood Angels: 0

Dark Angels: 2

Blood Angels Turn 3 (Warp Flux 2)

Tactical Squad 2 advanced and shifted around the smoke to fire at my Dreadnought.

Both lascannon shots from the Tactical Squads were unsuccessful. I was beginning to think I would never get to use the Malfunction card! 

In close combat the Death Company reduced my Tactical Squad down to one model, the Veteran Sergeant. With only three Blood Angels left in the squad, though, they were themselves at risk of being destroyed by Ezekiel in the following turn. 

Dante managed to kill the Deathwing sergeant and survive the return hits, leaving only the assault cannon terminator.

The psychic phase was a non-event, as a I drew only a Nullify card, which was no use to me.

Dark Angels Turn 3 (Warp Flux 2)

I advanced my Dreadnought on the right flank towards Tactical Squad 2, ready to unleash the recharged heavy plasma. I also snuck the Predator around the corner of the Ork Pub to take some shots at Tactical Squad 1.

The Dreadnought fired its heavy plasma on max power, hitting two Blood Angels but failing to wound either of them. The Predator had more luck, whittling down a couple of marines with its heavy bolters and twin-linked lascannon.

In close combat many hits were struck but not a single model fell. Dante looked like he may have failed his final save, but the dice was ruled to be cocked and he passed the re-roll. Curses!

In the psychic phase I managed to successfully cast Prescience again. With the last turn approaching, I couldn't afford for him to fail his armour saves!

Turn 3 Victory Points:

Blood Angels: 0

Dark Angels: 2

Blood Angels Turn 4 (Warp Flux 3)

Nothing happened during the movement phase, with everything either in position or locked in combat and unwilling to withdraw. 

The shooting phase was also a disappointment for the Blood Angels, again failing to make a dent with their lascannons and meltagun (Tactical Squad 2).

In close combat the battle between the Death Company and the Dark Angels ground on, with no models lost. Dante struck a killing blow. Reaching out in his death agony, the Deathwing terminator struck him back with a powerfist, finally removing his last wound. The Banner of Retribution had earned back its points many times by this stage.

During the psychic phase I managed to successfully cast Assail, pushing the pesky Death Company marine with a powersword out of close combat and into the gun sights of my Predator tank...

Dark Angels Turn 4 (Warp Flux 5)


The final turn was upon us and I was pretty keen to finish off the Death Company. With that in mind I moved Bethor over to help with the Banner of Retribution. The Dreadnought also charged Tactical Squad 2. The Predator turned menacingly towards the Assailed Death Company marine with the power sword.

In the shooting phase my Predator fired its twin-linked lascannon at the Death Company marine and vapourised him.

In the Close combat phase Ezekiel managed to kill one of the remaining two Death Company marines, but the last one survived combat with the Dark Angels Tactical sergeant. Gah!! The Dreadnought crushed two Tactical marines, but it would not be enough to break their line. 

In the final psychic phase I had one more chance to kill the last Death Company marine. Ezekiel successfully cast The Salamander, tracing the straight line through the marine without touching my own sergeant. Both Wade and I held our breaths as I rolled to wound, but the Death Company marine's toughness prevailed! With both the Death Company squad and the Tactical squad below 50%, they would both be worth 2 VP at the end.

With the game ended, we rolled for a special event we had agreed upon at the start of the game. Each terrain piece had a number, with one being rigged to explode with a Vortex grenade. As luck would have it, my Predator was hit and destroyed!

Final Victory Points:

Blood Angels: 6

Dark Angels: 8

We still have a bit of learning to do, but this game was a lot of fun. In particular, I need to go over the rules for break tests, as I am pretty sure we messed some of those up. It didn't have a huge impact on the game though and I am really looking forward to the next one!

See you across the table,