I’m Not Dead!

I’ve just realised that I haven’t posted in almost two months. This is due to a combination of things: a family holiday (very nice thanks) and finally, honestly, no really, actually moving house this Friday! Which means that by the end of this weekend, I will have been able to reclaim my hobby stuff from the in-laws, and start to get my hobby mojo back up to speed.

To remind myself as much as anyone else, here’s what’s currently on the “work in progress” list:

  • a pair of Reaver titans to finish off the Legio Pantera
  • Salamanders Stormeagle
  • Two squads of Firedraks
  • Two tactical squads and an assault squad
  • Vulkan Hestan and Bry’arth Ashmantle
  • An Epic Leman Russ Company
  • An Epic Tech-Guard Armoured Company
  • Miscellaneous Skitarii infantry and artillery
  • Another dozen Knights
  • Figures for In the Emperor’s Name

Expect activity on the above shortly!

Leviathan Crusader Completed

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OK, so maybe not actually completed, because I still have the knee pad, chest and sword shield to do, but as you can see, everything else is done.

As predicted, final assembly was a real pain. Things got a bit messy with the epoxy resin and I managed to break one of the hydraulic rams that attach the torso to the hips. Fortunately it’s holding together pretty well, although I suspect that it will need some repair work in the future.

Click through for more pictures.

Read more “Leviathan Crusader Completed”

Leviathan Update 3

I am probably 75% done on the paintjob on the Leviathan. If you follow me on Twitter then you will have seen some photos of the progress I am making.

The paint scheme has progressed somewhat, with the addition of edge highlighting, use of weathering powders to add texture, and some very effective “chipping” achieved by using a piece of sponge to apply Tin Bitz followed by Boltgun Metal, washed with Devlan Mud.

The only stumbling blocks have been the shield pieces on the front of the torso and one of the knee pads. I made the mistake of hand-painting the quartering and chevrons and the final finish is pretty terrible. I am going to look into how I can fix this, and it may delay the completion of the model.

Here are some photos I posted on Twitter over the last couple of weeks, in case you haven’t seen them:

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The finished base.

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Test fit of the legs on the base.

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Torso test fit.

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Size comparison with the Stormeagle (my next big project).

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Close-up shot of the chipping on the legs.

Leviathan Update 2

With the recent remission in this summer’s foul weather I’ve had a chance to do some spraying and have made a start on the main subassemblies of the Leviathan Crusader.

Over the weekend I finished one of the shoulder pads – like my Epic knights, the Leviathan will have Mechanicus-style hazard stripes on its left shoulder. Unlike the Epic knights, I’ve managed to do a pretty decent job of them!

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I used 6mm Tamiya masking tape to create the chevrons – if you stick a piece on, and then stick another piece right next to it, then you can stick a third piece next to the second, then remove the second piece to get nice parallel lines. I then sprayed white over a black basecoat, painted yellow other that (mixed with flow enhancer to remove bubbles and brush marks), and finally a sepia wash.

I also added a light weathering to make the yellow a little less dayglo.

There was just enough light after dinner this evening to allow me to break out my airbrush and have a go with the other shoulder. I decided to use this as a guinea pig to try out a colour mix using Vallejo Model Air paints (the first time I’ve used them). The picture below shows the result. This colour is 3 parts Fire Red and 1 part metallic Turn Signal Red, over a black undercoat.

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I am pleased with the final result and I’m now going to use it on the rest of the model.

Once the paint is dry, I’ll finish the bronze edging of the shoulder pad. This is done with two coats applied with a stipple brush over black undercoat, washed with Devlan Mud. I might also add weathering to add some depth to the colour.

Update: here’s the finished shoulder pad:

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Leviathan Update

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The Leviathan Crusader is now mostly assembled, and I was able to get it base coated last night. I gave up on having dozens of sub-assemblies and have assembled most of it, it just means that there will be a few fiddly bits when doing the fine detail work.

Photos of the model on its own don’t generally do it justice: this thing is big. Here you can see how the legs compare to a normal AoBR Marine:

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And a Land Raider:

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Salamanders Land Raider Redeemer

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Here is a Land Raider Redeemer for my Salamanders army. Normally, a Land Raider is the centrepiece for any Space Marine army, but in this case I actually painted it as a test model, in order to develop the painting technique before using it on the Stormeagle that’s currently sitting in a box at my in-laws. The reasoning being that if it all went wrong, it would be a £50 model I was wrecking rather than a £100 model.

Fortunately, no such disaster occurred, although I did make a mistake when I tried to fix a pool of wash and ended up creating a nasty tide mark on the top of the model. This was fixed fairly easily, fortunately.

You can see that I’ve upgraded the model using Forge World resin pieces and etched brass. If you’re creating an army with a rich visual style, such as the Salamanders, these are a bit of a must.

Now that I’ve successfully finished the Land Raider, I’m dying to get on to the Stormeagle! But you will see from my next post that there’s another large model that’s also taking up my attention…

ItEN 3.0 is Released!

Core-Rules-CoverAs you may know, last year I took over the editorship of In the Emperor’s Name, the fan-made skirmish game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Yesterday, several months of work reached its completion with the publication of the the Third Edition of ItEN – go and download it right now!

The new edition builds on the Second Edition (released in July 2011) with enhancements to almost every part of the core rules. It updates and revises some of the core game mechanics such as the points calculation formula, and introduces a new Equipment system.

ItEN is a collaborative work produced by the Forge of War Development Group. My thanks to all those people who submitted feedback and suggestions through the forums, in particular to Craig, who trusted me with his creation while he worked on In her Majesty’s Name, the steampunk cousin of ItEN.

You can download the new version of ItEN here.

Specialist Games isn’t Dead

This week, the news that Games Workshop is shutting down Specialist Games has been all over the Web, Facebook and Twitter. SG has been withering on the vine for about ten years, and its death was on the cards the moment that Finecast was launched, heralding the inevitable abandonment of metal miniatures. It’s no surprise to me that GW decided to put it out of its misery.

But here’s the thing. Despite GW officially abandoning Epic: Armageddon, Battlefleet Gothic, and the other SG names, they’re not really dead. They will never be dead if the community of gamers and hobbyists continues to play games, develop rules, build and paint miniatures, and share their hobby online.

Now is the time for the various communities that have developed around these games to take ownership of them and carry them forward. This has already happened with Epic: Armageddon: the playtesting groups that helped Jervis Johnson develop the game never went away, and now after over a decade, those people are still developing new and improved rules and army lists for the game, following the same path as the original NetEpic team did. They took what GW abandoned, and are giving it new life. This should absolutely be happening with the other SG games.

Rules are only part of the picture. Obviously there are models as well. Apart from eBay, which will probably provide plentiful supplies of second-hand miniatures for all the Specialist games for decades to come, players of the 28mm based games (Necromunda and Mordheim) can make use of miniatures from Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer: it’s a great opportunity to customise and convert. There is already a thriving Inq28 community of gamers who play Inquisitor using 28mm miniatures: some of the conversion work I’ve seen is amazing!

For Epic, BFG and Warmaster, the solution is to look for proxies: miniatures from other games and manufacturers that look similar to the “official” models. And for those who like taking risks, you can expect there to be a thriving black market in 6mm scale versions of 40K models, and re-worked variants of the old BFG ship range: if you know where to look, you can get what you need (note: I do not condone such activity, as it is clearly illegal, but I won’t deny that it doesn’t happen).

So you see: although Specialist Games (the GW division) may now be dead, the Specialist Games themselves can, should, and very likely will, live on.

Unboxing the Dreamforge Games Leviathan Crusader

Having boxed up all my hobby stuff in anticipation of an imminent house move, and having generally avoided spending anything on my hobby since the new year, Salute 2013 turned into a session of Retail Therapy! I bought a bunch of Critical Mass stuff, and a KR Multicase system for my Epic knights and titans, but my biggest purchase was a Leviathan Crusader kit from Dreamforge Games. These seem to retail only at about £85-£95, but I picked mine up for £65, which sounds like a pretty good deal. Most of the retailers at Salute were selling the kit at about the same price.

This is a big kit – the box is about the size of a couple of shoe boxes, and it’s full of plastic sprues. I thought I’d take some pictures of the unboxing, because apart from the coolness of the model itself, I’m also rather impressed about how neatly it’s all been fitted into the box. The sprues are designed to stack on top of each other, and the empty space is filled with foam, which means that the parts of the model are very well protected in transit.

The kit is relatively simple (I’ve built much more complex kits, and its sheer size means that there aren’t any especially small and fiddly bits) but it looks like there will be dozens of sub-assemblies that will need to be painted before they can be put together, so this is going to take quite a while to complete. My plan is to paint it (and use it on the table) as a Knight Paladin in the same colour scheme as my Epic knights. Fortunately there are (unofficial) rules from Bell of Lost Souls.

Going Into Stasis

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Last week I boxed up all my hobby stuff: all my miniatures, rulebooks, paints, brushes and boxes of bitz and drove them to my in-laws, where they will stay in stasis until we’ve moved house. This could be anything from a few weeks to a couple of months (and it’s already been about three months) so who knows when I will next get my hobby on, or when I’ll next get a chance to post something interesting?

Thankfully I have a healthy supply of Gaunt’s Ghosts and Horus Heresy novels to keep me entertained while I wait to buy the most expensive thing I will ever buy (apart from my next Forgeworld order!).

I will also be attending Salute next week and have a bunch of meets lined up, so expect to see some photos from that.

That is all.

Epic Battle Report: The Author (et al) vs Dan Abnett

As (possibly) previously mentioned, my home town is lucky enough to have (a) a great independent wargames store, and (b) a High Lord of Terra and New York Times bestelling author, who is also the unofficial patron the aforementioned store.

Last weekend, No Mans Land had a grand re-opening in its new location in a swanky shopping arcade, and Dan came along to sign books, answer questions from the gathered throng, and throw some dice and push some models around a table.

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Dan played two games of Epic – one versus me, and then another (which I GMd) against Darren (also known as The Burning Beard), another store regular, using the NetEpic rules, slightly modified to suit small Adeptus Titanicus games.

In the first game, we took one Warlord, Reaver and Warhound each and squared up against each other. I was able to knock out his Reaver in the first turn. My Warhound survived a strafe from his Warlord and ended up in close combat with the Dan’s Warhound. Meanwhile, our Warlords went toe-to-toe with almost identical loadouts: my titan had twin Gatling Blasters, A Quake Cannon and a Volcano Cannon, Dan’s had twin Gatling Blasters and twin Volcano Cannon. Dan’s only mistake was moving his titan when could have stood still; that meant that I could open up on him in First Fire before he could hit me (he’d won initiative). My Gatlings and Quake Cannon stripped his remaining shields, and the Volcano Cannon dealt the final blow.

For his second game, Dan wanted to do something a bit different, and decided that he wanted to take out my Imperator, Machinator Formidabilis (“Fearsome Engine” in Low Gothic), against a pack of four Warlords, commanded by Darren.

The game began, and the Imperator stood and watched (and saved up plasma in its reactor) as the Warlords approached.

But calamity! In a well co-ordinated (and unexpected) surprise attack, all four Warlords pounced at once, stripping the Imperator’s shields and starting to do damage! First a gun tower was knocked out, then a sensorium. Just when it seemed that the Machinator was going to survive the turn without any serious damage, a deflected shot took out the coupling on the left arm, and the mighty Plasma Annihilator came crashing to the ground!

With Machinator’s most deadly weapon wrecked, and surrounded on all sides, there was little that Dan could do as the Warlords moved in for the kill. One of the Warlords was reduced to slag by the defence laser, but in the same turn, a shot from the rear penetrated the plasma reactor, and KABOOM! For the first time in twenty years of combat, my beloved Machinator Formidabilis was destroyed in a mighty conflagration.

Despite the ignominious defeat of an ancient and noble God-engine, great fun was had by all, and No Mans Land had a fitting and enjoyable (if rather chilly) re-opening.

Battlefleet Gothic Demiurg Bastion Cruisers

Just what are the Demiurg? They’ve been part of Warhammer 40,000 canon since the release of Battlefleet Gothic back in 1999. Some have seen them as an attempt to re-introduce the Space Dwarf archetype after the unfortunate fate which befell the Squats. Others have noted the similarities between the Demiurg and the Bentusi race from the Homeworld series (NB, save Homeworld!).

Anyway, while there are rumours about the Demiurg making an appearance when the Tau codex is revised, you can play as Demiurg in Battlefleet Gothic. There are two ship types that are available from Forgeworld: the massive Stronghold ship, and the smaller Bastion cruiser.

Several years ago I bought four of these smaller ships with the intention of giving them to a friend as a christmas present. Shamefully, they’ve languished in the queue since then. But now I’ve finally finished them!

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The paint job is very simple: Army Painter Uniform grey, washed with a 50/50 mix of Badab Black and water, then drybrushed with Coat d’Arms Slate Grey, and finally Citadel Rakarth Flesh. These models are a dry-brusher’s wet dream. I picked out some of the surface detail using Tin Bitz or Gunmetal, which I then washed with Devlan Mud.

On Warlord Titans, and Hyperbole

For #MiniatureMonday, I posted this picture with the following tweet:

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Here’s the last #Epic Beetleback Warlord Titan that I will ever paint (I hope)

I immediately regretted the above sentence, because I know that it isn’t true: I am pretty sure that at some point in the future, I will repaint all the old Beetlebacks in my Titan Legion, using a different colour scheme so that I have two opposing forces to play against each other.

Even though this is the last Beetleback Warlord to emerge from my bits box, there’s still the milk float Mk II warlord to paint, and a pair of Reavers. So don’t expect the photos of stompy castle robots to dry up any time soon!

Delta Vector and the state of modern space wargaming

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Most wargamers have probably at least taken a look at space combat games like Full Thrust, Firestorm Armada, Battlefleet Gothic and the various versions of A Call To Arms. Some may even have bought some miniatures, and tried out the rules. Some may even be enthusiasts for these games.

I am a huge fan of space-based science fiction. Before my current profession of Internet Tinkerer I was a (admittedly mediocre) physicist, and my enthusiasm for physics was born from my childhood and teenage obsession with Star Trek, Battlestar Galatica and Star Wars.

When Battlefleet Gothic came out, as a 40K fan (and previously a player of Space Fleet) I fell in love with the miniatures and immediately began collecting an Imperial Navy fleet. I now also have a Necron fleet. I bought a roll-up space mat so I could play BFG on the limited space afforded by my kitchen table.

But there was just one thing. Despite its beautiful miniatures and well-thought out rules, BFG, like most other space combat games, is basically just naval battles for goths. Any system that’s limited to two dimensions is going to end up like a historical or modern naval warfare game. Starships shouldn’t have broadsides: the scale difference between the ships and the distances between them make such concepts meaningless.

Naval battles for goths.
Naval battles for goths.

Space is quite different to sea. It’s a good deal larger for a start. But also, things move differently. Spaceships are not boats – if you turn off their engines, they don’t stop. They can’t turn corners in the same way that ships or fighter aircraft do, because there’s nothing there to push against to make them turn.

Of course, I am not the only person to notice this. It has been remarked upon many times in the past. There have been attempts to try and rectify this problem, but none have been particularly satisfying.

For the last few months, I’ve been following a blog being written by someone who might have finally hit on a solution. An antipodean gent by the name of evilleMonkeigh has brought together the threads of a number of different gaming systems and is creating something which feels completely original. His game’s name, Delta Vector, is a sly nod to Δ𝓋, the mathematical expression for a change in velocity, and the truth of Newtonian mechanics which most space combat games ignore.

In the past year evilleMonkeigh has posted about thirty articles outlining the basic operating principles of the game. For me, the most interesting thing is the system of inertia which governs the movement of ships. In evilleMonkeigh’s words:

I’m going to explain it with a series of pictures. You will need 3 counters per ship. One counter is under the ship base at all times. I’m using EM4 tiddlywinks as they are cheap and fit perfectly under  a ‘standard’ hex base (available GZG or EM4).

Once the movement process is completed only 1 counter is visible so you aren’t overly cluttering up the game table.  Obviously you could put a name or code on each ship’s set of counters so you don’t confuse them.

Ok, here we go:

CV1

#1. The counter shows the ship velocity and drift direction – where it will end up at the end of its next move if no thrust is applied. You don’t need to measure anything – this is how ships will look when you are not moving them (i.e. most of the time).

CV2

#2. But it is our ship’s turn to move and we choose to move him 3″ to the left. The ship applies 3″ thrust and a new counter is put down, showing the new destination now thrust has been applied.
You may need your tape to measure the thrust distance.  

CV3

#3. Now we move the ship to its new location. You will note there was a counter under the ship’s base before – ships move from counter to counter. The old pre-thrust drift marker no longer has any relevance, unless you are using the “Facings” optional rule (to be posted separately).

CV4

#4. You definitely need to get your tape out now.  Leaving the markers where they are, we measure the new velocity (the distance travelled between the ships old location and its new location). In this example it is 8″.

CV5

#5. Using the tape, we make a straight line between the old and new ship locations, and go beyond it to put down a new marker 8″ in front of the ship.

CV6

#6. Simply remove the rear counter to tidy things up and we are back were we started at step 1, with the counter in front of the ship showing the direction and velocity of its drift.

When you combine this with an activation based, initiative-driven game sequence, in which enemy ships can react to your actions; resource management; electronic warfare; and an attempt to give escorts a more significant role in the game, it seems to me that Delta Vector has the potential to redefine space-based combat games. I’m looking forward to when the rules are published. If you are too, then subscribe to the Delta Vector blog!

2,500 Point NetEpic Ultamarines vs Adeptus Mechanicus

Today was a bit of a first for me: I played an Epic game against a complete stranger. PapaRomeoJuliet (real name Pete) contacted me via the Facebook page after we’d chatted on the Tactical Command forum. We agreed to play a 3,000 point game, which got amended to 2,500 points, when I realised I’d left a pair of Warhound Titans at home!

My army list:

  • Paladin Household
  • Castellan Knight Squadron
  • Reaver Titan
  • Robot Maniple
  • 2 Robot Squadrons
  • Ordinatus Golgotha

Pete’s:

  • 2 Battle Companies
  • 2 Land Speeder Squadrons
  • 2 Thunderhawk Gunships
  • Predator Squadron

As before, the result was a convincing victory for the Mechanicus. I lost a handful of robots and a couple of knights, and did substantial damage in exchange. I think Pete himself admitted that he was a bit too cautious with his Thunderhawks, which contained Assault detachments, and should have committed them (and the Devastator detachments which teleported in) earlier.

This was the first game of Epic that I’ve ever played against someone outside my close-knit circle of gaming friends, and it was a most enjoyable experience. I’m looking forward to the rematch!

Pics from the game below.

Salamanders Firedrakes Sergeant

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Here, finally, is the Sergeant for my first squad of Firedrakes Terminators. This chap has taken quite a while since it features two of my weak spots: faces and banners. My reluctance to get stuck in and actually have a go at painting them meant that this miniature spent several months on my “to do” list.

I am planning on having a stern word with myself as it’s taken me nearly a year to paint six terminators (this squad and a chaplain). This is because I broke one of my own cardinal rules, which is always use an assembly line. If you want to get an army finished, you divide your labour and do the same thing to every model at the same time. This is something I intend to do with the next two squads which will be painted all together.

Here are some more pics of the finished squad.

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NetEpic 1K – a simple Epic-scale skirmish game

A couple of years ago, my good friend Steg and I came up with a stripped down version of NetEpic, suitable for fast, casual play, training, or tournaments, based around small 1,000 point armies. A number of normal NetEpic game rules are suspended in order to make the gameplay quick and easy.

More recently, there’s been quite a bit of interest at No Mans Land in starting up with Epic, so I decided to commit the rules of our game to paper, and am calling it NetEpic 1K.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please post a comment! See also the discussion on Tactical Command.

Update: for absolute beginners or people getting back into Epic, Steg and I have produced a number of sample 1,000 point army lists (XLSX file). If you don’t have the army lists handy, this spreadsheet includes the models that make up each unit.

Ordinatus Golgotha

Here’s the Ordinatus Golgotha I previously mentioned as being part of the mechanised firepower that will support my knights. This is an old model of mine that I stripped and repainted.

The paint scheme is simple enough, but I had a real headache with the hazard stripes. There’s just no way to do them neatly at this scale! Fortunately I was able to hide the more egregious examples with some weathering powder.

I am currently working on a trio of Stormblades, and will post photos when they’re done. They are important because the colour scheme I choose for them will probably decide the colour scheme I use for the rest of the Skitarii: a Leman Russ company, and a load of infantry supported by APCs.

Improving a Melta Cannon

Having raided my bits box, I finally selected a Melta Cannon for the previously mentioned Mark II “milk float” Warlord.

The Melta Cannon is fairly plain, but the version created for the Forge World Reaver Titan looks rather cool, so I thought I’d have a go at improving the stock version.

Apart from the arm, which I made from plastic rods of various sizes, there are three new additions. First is the piping on the back – this is from the arm of a 40K scale Necron Destroyer (the arm is discarded when you upgrade to a Heavy Destroyer). Second, I’ve added the muzzles from a Necron Immortal’s Gauss Blaster to the front of the gun.

Finally, the underslung piping and housing is from the powerfist of a Space Marine Terminator.

Here’s the Melta Cannon, attached to the main body of the Titan:

Here cometh the Milk Float!

I have the legs, torso and carapace of a Mark II “milk float” Warlord (the other bits have gone into other models). Despite being quite detailed, this model has a very boring, static pose (example here), so I thought I’d try giving it a more dynamic pose by twisting and bending the legs.

I also raided my bits box, giving it a close combat head and a pair of Exodus Wars Edenite Reaper turrets as Vulcan Mega Bolters on the carapace. I’m still not sure what I’ll be mounting on the right arm.

The new pose means that the feet are no longer flat on the base, so I built up a pile of rubble using pieces of cork to create a stable platform for the front foot. The rear foot is pinned to the base.

Click to embiggen.

6,000 NetEpic Game: Adeptus Mechanicus vs Squats at No Mans Land

Earlier this month I took my Knights down to No Mans Land for a 6,000 game of Epic with @StegTheDinosaur, my gaming partner in crime, who used his Squats.

The battle was incredibly one-sided, as you can see from the live-tweet below. This was primarily due to the cheesy nature of my Adeptus Titanicus army, which included ten titans, combined with the relatively inflexible Squat army list which had been designed to deal with swarms of robots.

Here are the pics we took during the game:

Ian Watson on Warhammer 40,000

A recent discussion on Twitter got me thinking, as I occasionally do, about Ian Watson and his literary contribution to Warhammer 40,000.

Back in the old days, when GW was cheap, 40K was still relatively new, and the Black Library was still a decade away, GW published 40K “tie-in” novels by hiring established genre writers. Some used pseudonyms, but others didn’t. Most notable amongst them are (in my opinion) Charlie Stross, who contributed a short story to the Deathwing anthology, and Ian Watson, who wrote a total of four novels in the 40K universe.

I don’t think it’s possible to underestimate how important these novels are for me, and also to 40K, for reasons I will now explain.

First, the fact that an author with the reputation and status that Ian Watson had (and still has), must have done a lot for 40K’s credibility in the publishing scene. That Watson didn’t use a nom de plume says an awful lot. That must have been quite helpful when the Black Library was being established.

Secondly, these novels went a long way towards establishing the mood, and general approach, that 40K was to take for the next two decades. They are a bridge between the frivolous and silly Rogue Trader era universe, and the full-on grimdark of contemporary 40K: with feet on both sides of the divide, the books somehow manage to be silly and serious at the same time, simultaneously light-hearted and sharply melancholy.

Finally, they are important to me personally, because they cemented my love for both 40K and for Ian Watson. I read Inquisitor. Then I read Space Marine. Then I read everything else he wrote that was still in print. When I got an internet connection in 1995, I started picking up out-of-print paperbacks.

About ten years ago, Ian did an interview with some Hungarian 40K fans about his books, and what drew him to the 40K setting. It remains one of the most cogent and concise explanations of how the 40K universe works. Here it is:

Of all the great contemporary British SF writers, the only person I admire as much as Ian Watson is Adam Roberts. So imagine my delight at seeing this detailed review of Inquisitor. 40K as seen from a “serious” literary perspective!

Reaver Titan

I recently finished the Reaver titan that I showed you a Work-In-Progress shot of last month. I originally started building and painting it in May, which should give you an idea of how fast I work.

Here are a few shots. You can also see this beastie in the background of my EpiComp submission.

The Epic reaver is Games Workshop’s oldest model still in production, and this item does sort of show it: it’s hard to guess how old the cast is (I bought it off eBay, so it could be two years or twenty years old), but the detail is pretty poor, and the flat surfaces are rather pitted.

Colour-scheme wise, this guy is nothing new. He has the same black and white checked pattern I’ve used on all my titans (one day I’ll do a big family shot so you can see them all), with the additional bronze edging that I’ve given to the “elite” titans (on the Warmonger side of the family).

This is the first Reaver I’ve painted since the mid-nineties, and I have two more to do to complete the second battlegroup. One thing I’ll do differently next time is paint them in pieces and then assemble afterwards: there are a lot of fiddly bits!

EpiComp 2012 – My Submission

It occurred to me that I with a bit of work, I could probably get my knights into a state where I could submit them to this year’s EpiComp.

For those of you who don’t already know, EpiComp is the premiere (ok, probably only) annual Epic-scale painting competition. It regularly brings in some amazing work by the best painters and modellers working in the 6mm scale.

You can see my submission above. I took a load of photos, which, due to the limitations of the competition rules, I can’t submit, so I’m posting them here.

This represents about one third of the models that are going to form the Knight army. I still have another squadron of French chevaliers, two squadrons of Castellans, and a load of Paladins still to paint, not to mention a Leman Russ Company, a Stormblade Company, two Ordinatii majoris, and some Skitarii. You’ll be seeing more of them in 2013. In the meantime, these photos include everything I’ve painted (Epic-wise) in 2012. Enjoy!

Getting back in the swing of things

In my last post I mentioned that my wife and I had put our house on the market, so I wasn’t allowed to make any mess. Well, it’s now been about three months since we started having viewings, and we’ve not made any progress. The place that we fell in love with has been lost to another buyer, so we’re at the point of not really caring any more about the whole moving-house thing, and will probably taking the place off the market soon.

This is a bit disappointing, but it does mean that I’ve been able to break out the toy soldiers again!

While my wife took the kids to visit her sister, I’ve had a few days entirely to myself, and I’ve been making good use of them. Apart from making inroads into the 3rd edition of In the Emperor’s Name (for which I’m the editor), I’ve also been working on some more knights.

Here’s the first finished squadron of Castellans:

And here’s some Errants, which just need a decal on the right shoulder and they’re done:

Finally, here’s a Reaver titan, the first I’ve painted since the mid-ninities:

Bit quiet, isn’t it?

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. We are currently in the process of selling our house, which means I’m not allowed to get any of my hobby stuff out and make any sort of mess, in the off chance that we get a short-notice viewing.

So while I’ve been quiet on the hobby front, I haven’t been entirely inactive. I’ve been working on a new website for No Man’s Land, my local indie gaming store. As well as a static website (and a planned online store) I also set up a forum which, in the short time that it’s been online, has become quite active, which is very pleasing.

I’ve also set up a Facebook page for In The Emperor’s Name, and will be working on sharing ITEN related content on it, so if you play ITEN (or are just interested), go over to Facebook and like it.

Once we’ve accepted an offer on our house, I’ll be able to decompress my hobby stuff and will probably be posting a bit more. See you then!

Adeptus Custodes list for In The Emperor’s Name

While Craig is busy writing In Her Majesty’s Name, I’ve been giving the ITEN retinue lists a going over. As well as releasing a new Necron retinue list, I have also prepared a retinue list for the Adeptus Custodes, the Emperor’s super badass personal guard.

My starting point for this list was “Space Marines turned up to eleven”. The first draft was probably a bit over-the-top but thanks to feedback on the Forge Of War ITEN forums it’s now a bit more balanced, but the Custodians would still give the Astartes a good arse-kicking mano-a-mano.

Check out the Adeptus Custodes Retinue List (docx format).

Kitbashed Ordinatus Armageddon

Ordinati are leviathan sized warmachines created by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Every individual Ordinatus is a unique construction and named for the world on which it was first employed or built. Each Ordinatus is unique in that it was designed for specific purpose, for a particular battle.

The Ordinatus Armageddon mounts a giant plasma cannon that can fire using either all available energy for one devastating blast, or several smaller pulses. Its main weapons system is essentially a slightly smaller, vehicle mounted version of the Plasma Annihilator carried by Imperator titans.

I have an original Ordinatus Golgotha model which I love using, especially against Orks (any unit which suffers casualties from a Gologtha’s Hellfire missiles must pass a morale test or go on Fall Back), but I wanted to expand my collection. Unfortunately I don’t have £100 spare so I decided to kitbash one using some Neo-Soviet tanks from Brigade Models as the chassis.

I’m looking forward to getting it painted and on the table!

Firedrakes: First Production Model

After finishing the test model I moved straight on to do another “production” model – that is, now that I’m happy with the paint scheme, I wanted to see how quickly I could knock out another model using that scheme. The test model took about 3 hours to paint, but this one took much less: no more than 1.5 or 2 hours.

I am now painting two more models in a batch as I think that will also save time. Then I only have to paint the sergeant and I’ve finished the first squad, or one third of the final army.

Firedrakes Test Model

Here’s the first of the Firedrakes Salamanders terminators. I’m pretty pleased with it overall, although there are a couple of issues: firstly, I decided to use the Army Painter spray as the base colour based on their “100% match” with their Warpaint paints: unfortunately this is not the case, which means that cleaning up mistakes is much trickier as I have to mix the right colour to match the base coat.

The second issue is entirely my fault: I left the model under a hot lamp too long which caused the model to warp. Fortunately I caught it before it got too bad, but I’m annoyed that the first model I painted for this army has such a visible and unfixable flaw which you can see in the photo below.

I used a couple of techniques that I haven’t really used much before at this scale: I used line highlighting which is pretty standard for painting Space Marines (but I’ve never tried before) and I also used some of Forge World’s weathering powders to weather the boots and greaves. I used two different powders (Light Earth and Dark Earth) layered one on top of the other to match the colour scheme of the base.

More pictures below.

Khador models assembled

Just a quick post to show off the Khador models from the Two Player Battle Box which have now been assembled and based. They’re made from a plastic/resin “hybrid” which, it seems to me, has all the disadvantages of each and none of the benefits. But the models are still pretty great, and the above units work out to 30 points which is enough to learn to play with, and still leaves room to expand.

I’ve got some Army Painter red primer which will provide the base coat. On the ‘jack on the left you can see a green stuff Khador emblem which I made using some rapid mold.

Distractions

Like most hobbyists I tend to have a lot of different projects on the go at once. Here is a list of my unfinished projects as of writing:

  • Firedrakes 40K Army
  • Khador Warmachine Army
  • Epic Knight Army
  • Inquisition retinue for In The Emperor’s Name
  • Epic Tyranid Army
  • Praesentia Army for Critical Mass (15mm SF)
  • Blue Moon Shivan Sisterhood Army (also 15mm SF)
  • Khurasan Mekanoid Army (ditto)
  • Terrain projects for all of the above

In addition, I also have some repairs on my Warmonger to do: as predicted, the fragile resin Hydra turrets have been damaged, so I need to replace them with spares from the bits box.

So what have I been doing today? Starting something new of course! Some more titans:

I have another Reaver waiting to be assembled, and want to get another one to form a Battle Group. This will leave my Titan Legion army with 2 Warlord BGs and 2 Reaver BGs which, along with the aforementioned Warmonger and its Imperator counterpart is quite enough I think (although I do need more Warhounds…)

I’ve also been sorting out some mechanised firepower to support the Knights and Robots. I’ve just finished stripping, reassembling and basing these:

Ordinatus Golgotha
Ordinatus Golgotha

The Ordinatus Golgotha has a fearsome reputation as an anti-Ork unit: any Ork unit that’s even targeted by one of the six missiles has to take a morale check (which is 5+ for Orks) making it highly effective at breaking large Ork companies.

I am planning to scratch-build at least one other Ordinatus using miniatures from Brigade Model’s Neo-Soviet range.

Stormblade
Stormblade

Stormblades are Titan and Super-heavy hunters. They mount a Plasma Blastgun which is normally carried by titans, as well as a number of specialist and one-shot weapons. I have a couple more coming from eBay to form a Stormblade Company.

Deathstrike Missile Launchers
Deathstrike Missile Launchers

These are also basically tank-mounted titan weapons. You can pick any of the one-shot titan missiles to mount on each model.

Leman Russ Tank Company
Leman Russ Tank Company

The mainstay of any Imperial army!

This is the first time I’ve based vehicles and I am starting to think it’s a good idea!

Cleaning brushes with Dettol

Dettol is well known as a very effective stripper of acrylic paint. Its active ingredient is chloroxylenol, which breaks down the acyrlic medium and allows paint to be removed from miniatures.

I’ve just discovered that it’s also quite an effective brush cleaner as well. Late last year I bought some Winsor and Newton kolinsky sable brushes, and to my great shame they have quickly become clogged with paint (I am not especially diligent in cleaning my brushes after use). Yesterday afternoon, as an experiment I put one of these brushes into some Dettol along with some other miniatures.

This morning I took it out of the Dettol, rinsed it out and gave the bristles a quick rub with some handwash (any liquid detergent would also work). The bristles are pretty much back to normal, with no paint clogged up at the ferrule.

So if your brushes are looking a little tired, and you don’t want to fork out for new brushes or brush cleaner, then Dettol may be the ideal alternative.

Knights: Test Castellan

Here’s the first of nine Knights Castellan. These are heavy-support knights which mount a Quake Cannon (normally carried by Titans) and autocannons. They’re slow but heavily armoured.

The brass areas were painted using Vallejo brass rather than the Coat d’Arms that I’ve used on previous models (I seem to have picked several pots from a bad batch, so I’m waiting for them to be restocked). The Vallejo paint is much shinier so I toned it down with some Scab Red. The difference between the two colours is visible, but not so much as to ruin the consistency of the paint scheme between models.

Warmachine

I must admit that fantasy has never really done it for me. I loved David and Leigh Edding’s Belgariad and Malloreon and the Sparhawk series, but I’d never really found fantasy all that satisfying. I grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars and they set the barrier for me.

So it’s kind of unusual for me to take an interest in Warmachine, the “steampunk” fantasy game by Privateer Press. I’ve admired the miniatures and artwork for some time and finally picked up a boxed set of the rules and two battleforces (Khador and Menoth) at Salute, which I split with a friend – he took the Menoth models, and I took the Khador ones.

I’ve been reading the rules and am quite impressed by the no-nonsense approach – “play like you’ve got a pair!”. I’ve just assembled one of the warjacks (apart from its head which is missing, and probably in the possession of my friend).

I trimmed the plugs on the legs so I could change the “standing to attention” pose, to make it more dynamic. The model is very flexible with lots of ball joints to allow for an infinitude of possible poses, and I’m looking forward to painting it. As Khador is a northern country (based on Russia) I’m going to try a snowy base for the first time. I may also have a go at press-moulding some Khador logos using some “instant mould.”

Creating Realistic Earthlike Planets With mkplanet

For a few months I’ve been working on-and-off on a program called mkplanet. It’s a reasonably simple script that glues together two different programs to create realistic-looking imaginary worlds.

I have been trying – without success – to create an online version so that people wouldn’t have to install the program, as it requires jumping through hoops that only professional IT people are likely to be able to do. Unfortunately, it’s proven more complicated than my time and access to resources (specifically a dedicated virtual server) allows, so I’m just going to release the program so that those who are interested can give it a try.

I will post again when I’ve uploaded it, but in the meantime here are some samples of the program’s output. At the moment the most well-tested mode creates Earth-like temperate planets, but With a bit of tweaking it can be made to create rocky and cratered worlds like Mars and Venus, ice worlds like Hoth, and many others. It’s just a question of defining a set of colours that are used for different altitude levels.

Salute 2012 Round-Up

This year was the fourth time I’ve travelled to the Excel in London for Salute, the world’s biggest wargames show, which celebrated its fortieth birthday this year.

As always there was so much great stuff to take in, far more than I can easily recall, so here are some of the highlights for me:

  • The amazing 10mm SF miniatures produced by Hawk Wargames for their forthcoming DropZone Commander game. Some of the finest quality miniatures I’ve ever seen.
  • Curis’s amusing “Avengers Assemble” cartoon on the Ninjabread stand
  • Robin’s amazing Gruntz tables, whose creation I’ve been following on his blog. There seemed to be a lot of 15mm SF games this year, featuring GZG, Old Crow, Brigade and many others, but Robin’s tables stood out for me
  • Finding a very cheap Warmachine battlebox and splitting it with a friend, so now I have another game to learn! Looking forward to painting my Khador battlegroup.
  • some really nice (and surprisingly cheap) accessories and components from Anvil Industry, which would be very handy for someone wanting to create a pre-Heresy Space Marine army
  • The completely batshit insane ApORKalypse game put on by the South London Wargames people

I didn’t take many photos this year, but my esteemed colleague Steg took a bunch, and I’ve put my favourites below.

Epic Terrain: Kibri 6818 Gothic Cathedral (Basilica Imperialis)

I previously posted about Grimdarking the Kibri Goppingen Church, an N-gauge Model Railroad kit which has a mythical reputation among Epic gamers. If you saw my last post, you may have seen photos of the finished model in the middle of the battlefield.

Here are some photos of the cathedral itself. It was relatively simple to paint: I sprayed it black, then sprayed it with Army Painter Uniform Grey. The roof was washed with Gryphonne Sepia and Devlan Mud, then the whole thing was drybrushed with Coat d’Arms Mid Grey. Then I picked out details such as the shutters, doors and various spikey bits.

These photos were taken with a crap camera, I will update the post with decent pics later on. For now, I’m off to London for Salute!

6,000 NetEpic Game: Necrons vs Squats at No Man’s Land

If you follow me on Twitter then you may have seen me live tweet a game of NetEpic played at my local gaming store, No Man’s Land. It was 6,000 points of Necrons and Squats played over a city table: I was very pleased to be able to use a load of new terrain pieces including some GameCraft fortress walls and the finally finished Kibri cathedral.

Read more “6,000 NetEpic Game: Necrons vs Squats at No Man’s Land”

In Her Majesty’s Name

Craig Cartmell, founder of Forge Of War and author of the Warhammer 40,000 skirmish game In The Emperor’s Name, has been commissioned by Osprey Publishing to create a steampunk themed version called In Her Majesty’s Name:

The year is 1895, and the world is in turmoil. The wondrous inventions of Charles Babbage have launched a scientific revolution that has given the world miniaturized steam engines, electric lights and motors, arc weapons, hydrogen and helium dirigibles, road trains, calculating artillery engines, and sea and land dreadnoughts. The one thing these marvellous advances have not brought is peace. Every Great Power has been jostling its rivals for resources and the latest technology.

Although there have been few open conflicts between the major powers, a state of undeclared and secret war exists between them all. Instead of traditional warfare, governments employ small, ‘adventuring companies’ to strike against their foes, raiding factories, stealing technology and artefacts, and kidnapping or rescuing persons of importance.

In Her Majesty’s Name allows players to assemble their own adventuring companies of 4 to 15 agents, and pit them against their opponents in a tabletop battle. A small game can be played on a 24” by 24” table and typically lasts about 45 minutes. Larger games can be played on any table size and tend to last 2 to 3 hours. The game has been designed to allow maximum versatility for the players – if they can imagine it, they can create it within the system. There is, however, a wealth of material in the book that covers weird science, mystical powers, and a range of pre-generated adventuring companies, including the British Explorers’ Society, the US Secret Service, the Prussian Thule Society, the Chinese Black Hand and Ancient Egyptian Cults dedicated to the restoration of the Pharaohs.

In Her Majesty’s Name is a complete game in one 64-page book. It is due out in March 2013 and will retail for £11.99/$17.95.