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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Warhammer 40000 Primaris Space Marines - Editorial

They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give of themselves to me.
Like clay I shall mould them, and in the furnace of war forge them.
They will be of iron will and steely muscle.
In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed.
They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them.
They shall be pure of heart and strong of body, untainted by doubt and unsullied by self-aggrandisement. They will have tactics, strategies and machines so that no foe can best them in battle.
They are my bulwark against the Terror.
They are the Defenders of Humanity.
They will be bright stars on the firmament of battle, Angels of Death whose shining wings bring swift annihilation to the enemies of Man.
So it shall be for a thousand times for a thousand years, unto the very end of eternity and the extinction of mortal flesh.
They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear.
They are the last, best, hope for humanity.
Except, they aren't!?

Yes, you guessed it. It's the most Space-Mariney of Space Marines. The new, shiny, Primaris Space Marines!

Sigmar? Never heard of her!
If you were hiding under a rock yesterday you might have missed the announcement from Games Workshop that they will be releasing the new Primaris Space Marines to coincide with the release of 8th edition. Unlike most of the daily tidbits thrown out by GW in recent weeks this seems to have caused a slightly more negative reaction from the vocal members of our community.

So what do we know so far? From a lore perspective the story is roughly this: Guilliman comes back from the dead and sees that the galaxy is in a sorry state. He realizes he needs some sort of super warriors to swing the tide in humanity's favour and apparently Space Marines just won't cut the mustard. Some shady dealings go on with Belisarius Cawl and the Adeptus Mechanicus and hey presto! Primaris Space Marines!

Ok, so far, so cheesy. But who exactly are these guys? Well, they're a little bigger than regular Space Marines (when did a Space Marine become regular?) If their stat line is anything to go by they're tougher and more aggressive than the usual breed. They have some enhanced equipment in the form of mark X armour and bolt rifles (thanks again Belisarius Cawl).

Now, what I want to discuss here is how the Primaris Marines could fit into the existing 40k lore. How this could be done poorly and how this could be handled brilliantly. The internet is full of people's (perfectly valid) concerns about how these guys will work on the tabletop. Will they invalidate the existing marines through power creep? Are they just a massive sales gimmick? But for me and, dare I say it, many members of the community the thing that keeps us coming back to 40k is the rich and detailed setting. It really is one of the most captivating sci-fi settings around and the iconic Space Marine is the most recognizable cornerstone of that setting.

For me, the Primaris marines represent the biggest change that GW has made so far in their Gathering Storm storyline. More than the destruction of Cadia and the resurrection of a Primarch, the Primaris marines tread on the toes of a huge wealth of existing source material, much of which could be marginalized or invalidated if this change is handled poorly.

So, Space Marines, they're big, tough and functionally immortal. They have eidetic memories and, in combat situations, their brains process far more effectively than a base line human. On the battlefield they are truly superhuman, able to withstand horrific wounds and keep on fighting. Able to shoot with pinpoint accuracy and tear their foes apart in hand to hand combat. Seemingly then, Space Marines are perfect, so much better than us (baseline humans) in every way. How boring!

The truth is that any fictional creature with superhuman characteristics doesn't really become interesting until we examine its flaws. In much of the existing fiction, Space Marines are magnificently flawed. For all their vaunted immortality and strength they pay a steep price indeed. Taken as children and morphed into living weapons their emotions are stunted almost to the point of autism. As such, many of them struggle to emapathise with normal humans and cannot relate to their emotions. Black Templars particularly seem to lack this emotional depth; only able to respond to another's distress with either rage or blank muteness.

In going beyond the abilities of a human being, the Astartes sacrifice a great deal of their emotional range. They are unable to feel fear, sexual desire or romantic love. Yet for all that, they are still able to feel bitterness, jealousy and shame. Would these emotions not come to the fore if a new and improved 'replacement' was created? The answer has to be yes, of course they would. Some marines are bound to feel resentful about the new saviours of humanity. After all, they've been defending the galaxy for 10000 years, who are these new guys to show up and claim they can do a better job?

The Primaris Space marines then must be as flawed as they are powerful. If they are simply invulnerable supermen that outclass the Adeptus Astartes then they will not make for interesting characters. Equally, if the Space Marines simply move over and make room for the new guys without some serious tension then this will not make for a believable fiction.

The replacement of humanity's finest is not unprecedented, the Adeptus Astartes themselves replaced the Emperor's Thunder Warriors at the beginning of the Great Crusade. Not much has been written about how the Thunder Warriors took this development but it seems there were more than a few murmurs of dissent. I would expect to see the same from the Space Marines of the 41st millennium. After all it is hard to believe that the Dark Angels, with all their secrets, would readily accept outsiders into their ranks.

The way I see it, there is an easy fix for a lot of the problems presented by the Primaris Space Marines. Are you ready? Here it comes.

Have some of them fall to Chaos.

It really is that simple. This could solve the issue of tabletop balance and give those whiney Chaos players something to be happy about for a change. Furthermore, it works well within the established canon. A new breed of marines could be susceptible to the touch of the warp in unforeseen ways. Some of them could feel rejected by their 'brother' Astartes and turn from the Imperium unaware of the full horror of Chaos. In playing up the new, young, naive angle the Primaris marines seem all the more believable. After all, they haven't had ten millennia to learn vigilance against the power of Chaos.

Just my thoughts and we'll all see how this develops in the coming months. But one thing's for sure, the Primaris Space Marines will cause a massive upheaval in the hobby landscape. For good or ill, only time will tell.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Infinity Nomads Spektr - Showcase

Something I've been saying for a long time is how I want to play more games of Infinity. As with all hobby activities, the biggest obstacle is having the time. The second biggest (for me) is a lack of painted miniatures. This is particularly telling when it comes to Infinity as up until now I had painted a grand total of one miniature. So, I proudly present, a 100% increase in my previous painting total, namely a Spektr.

For those that don't know the game, Infinity is a skirmish game set in the near future which is designed to simulate military special operations and stealth missions. With the various factions locked into a 'cold war' state outright war is something best avoided therefore combat takes place in shadowy infiltration missions or elite combat drops.

Having played around with the starter set a bit and with a shaky grasp of the rules I'm a newcomer to this system. But so far I really like what I see. The miniatures are top notch and have a distinctive style. The rules themselves are detailed and sometimes complex but allow for a great level of immersion. It really feels like a clash of elite special forces.

As for the Spektr, he's a stealth operative who's great strength lies in his anti-personnel mines. I'm not quite sure how he's best used on the table but forward infiltration and minelaying is bound to cause some headaches for my opponents right?

Love the dynamism!
I'm trying to keep my Nomads scheme simple so I can turn them out quickly. So far it seems to be working and I'm happy with the results. Hopefully I can show off some more miniatures soon and get a few games under my belt.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Salute 2017 - Aftermath

For those that missed it, last Saturday (22nd April) Salute 2017 was held at Excel London. Allegedly the biggest wargaming event in Europe, this massive expo is hosted annually by South London Warlords. I was fortunate enough to attend and spent the day shopping and painting with Blazmo from Tabletop Apocalypse

Warlords' Warlord!
We decided to drive down to the venue as I wanted to buy plenty of terrain and it was bound to be heavy. Despite the wallet crippling parking fee (still cheaper than the train!) they journey down was easy and we arrived just before the doors opened at 10am. Needless to say there was already a huge queue of eager gamers ahead of us ready to spend their hard earned cash!

So many nerds!
Despite the lengthy queue, it moved swiftly and we were soon inside the exhibition hall. As usual, the show included plenty of trade stands for all kinds of different games and wargaming products.

Having made a rough game plan beforehand, we headed straight for Troll Trader as we had found some excellent deals there in 2016. Once again we were not disappointed, quickly snatching up a copy of Red Veil for Infinity and a huge stack of TT Combat mdf terrain. We quickly realized our error as we had to carry around a massive block of wood for the rest of the day, how foolish!

Plenty more spending was to come as we grabbed more Infinity figures and templates from various stands (Micro Art Studios was one but there were too many to remember.) Every shop seemed to be offering discounts and freebees, I ended up with a small pile of different miniatures from random games systems. Always nice to have!

The other highlight of the day was the speed painting competition hosted by Eavier Metal. In a mere 25 minutes contestants were challenged to paint a model to completion, obviously no mean feat!

Blazmo and I, furiously painting!
This was my first experience of speed painting and I enjoyed it immensely. It was a great laugh as we manically splattered paint onto the miniatures. Even getting a basecoat on every area seemed like a challenge at first! It was also my first time using Army Painter products, which seemed strange at first but over the 25 minute period I came to actually quite like them. I will definitely consider Army Painter when I need paints in the future.

Such skills! Mine is the one on the left.
Another highlight was the massive 30k Horus Heresy display put on by the Warlords themselves. This seems to be a fixture which grows in scope every year. The obvious standout this year was the enormous (though definitely under scaled) Warlord titan. Despite my dislike of the model (because of the scale issues) I had to admit that it was an impressive piece which had been masterfully painted. The display itself was full of great details which were well worth taking the time to admire. One of my favourites was the three gore spattered World Eaters contemptors shown below.

So evocative!
Strangely, despite spending plenty of money, I didn't buy any 40k figures this year. There just didn't seem to be any stand out deals on the day. Still, with a pile of terrain and Infinity figures, I should be kept busy for some time yet. All in all the day was a blast and I look forward to heading down again next year.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Painting Kataphron Breachers - Adeptus April week 3

Phew! These painting challenges are starting to feel like hard work! Those of you that are paying attention will have noticed I missed week 2. This is due to a number of factors, most of which are wargaming related. First off I've actually been playing some 40k (pause for applause), secondly I've been distracted by my Infinity Nomads and thirdly I'm all giddy for Salute this weekend and am struggling to concentrate. Nonetheless I present my unworthy offering below.

Two down, one to go.

In other Adeptus April news someone has been good enough to join me for this painting challenge. Namely the talented (not to mention speedy) Cylde Ar from Mastodontica. If you follow the link you will see that he has already completed the monthly challenge. What a show off! I'd better get a move on if I don't want to be utterly crushed by my own painting challenge!

Cylde's cool looking Librarian.
As some of you may know, I'm a big fan of the Exo Lords range from Anvil Industry and I've used their parts extensively with my Heresy era Night Lords. I'm pleased to see that Cylde is also a fan of their parts and has used plenty of them to make this awesome looking guy. Speaking of Anvil, I'm off to Salute tomorrow to pick up some more of their stuff and say hi to the guys in person.

All that aside, my own progress with Adeptus April has been slower than I would have liked. I have to give big thanks to Cylde for appearing out of the blue and giving me the push I needed to get this far. I just hope the motivation will last and I can finish the last breacher before the end of the month.

The breachers themselves continue to be fun to work with. The details are nice and the paint scheme isn't too taxing. I was lucky enough to be able to get these guys on the field a couple of weeks ago where they totally wrecked face! Knocking out a Contemptor Dreadnought in a single volley and then going on to destroy a second dreadnought and a Rhino. Not bad for an 'uncompetitive' weapon loadout!

What a difference a head swap makes!
So, once again we're going to end on a nail biter. Will I get the squad finished by next week? Only time, and my fickle attention span, will tell.

If you missed the fist part of Adeptus April, you can find it here.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Salute 2017!

Well, it's that time of the year once again, Salute is upon us!

For those that don't know, Salute is often called 'the largest wargames expo in Europe'. Personally I have no idea if that's true but I can say for certain that it's huge! Hosted by South London Warlords at the Excel, London, Salute brings together a massive number of traders, gamers and artists for one day of enthusiastic consumerism. This year, the event will be on Saturday 22nd April and opens at 10am sharp.

Last year I attended Salute in support of my FLGS (Marquee Models) so you may have seen me proudly wearing the blue shirt and putting various punters through the hardships of board gaming. This year I'm being very selfish and just heading down for some good old retail therapy! I was delighted by the bargains on offer last year and hopefully I can snag a few more this time around. In particular I'm on the look out for some terrain to spice up my gaming board but I've no doubt an unreasonable pile of miniatures will find their way into my grubby hands as well. Oh, and don't forget, Forgeworld have a stand at Salute so if you need some resiny goodness without paying the postage this is the place to be.

As well as battering my wallet, Salute has a variety of other attractions to look forward to. In particular the painting competition which showcases some truly amazing examples of the miniature painters art. Last year their were also plenty of impressive wargames displays and a host of participation games for various systems. All in all, a great day out for the intrepid wargamer.

Give me a shout in the comments if you're planning on coming down. It would be nice to put faces to some of the names that comment from time to time!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Painting Kataphron Breachers - Adeptus April Week 1

Howdy y'all! It's been another rootin' tootin' week of progress for me! Under the self appointed banner of 'Adeptus April' I've made a start on a unit of Kataphron Breachers for my ever growing Adeptus Mechanicus force.

Haywire to the max!
As you can see from the above I've gone for arc rifles and arc claws for maximum haywire goodness. Now before anyone starts, yes, I know destroyers and more competitive and, yes, I know they can have heavy grav cannons. But the thought of battering my opponents with 18 grav shots a turn makes me feel a little bit sick. So I've decided to go with the haywire breachers. It's not all bad, they do get a better armour save which is important as these guys don't have feel no pain. They should be the bane of enemy vehicles of any type with 6 haywire shots and 6 haywire attacks (on the charge) tanks have something to fear. You can also pull a funny trick if you combine breachers with a Magos Dominus allowing their weapons to gain the cognis special rule. Suddenly your snap shots hit on a 5+ and can be re-rolled with the right canticle allowing you to threaten aircraft too.

All in all I'm expecting these guys to do pretty well on the battlefield, in fact I have my first game with them tonight (albeit the unit is not yet fully painted).

Does anybody remember TankJr?
As for the models themselves, I've never really been a fan of the battle servitors. I've always preferred the way the breachers look because of their heavier armour. However, after buying the kit I decided that most of my gripes could be solved with a simple head swap. After thinking about it a bit further, I considered what would happen to Skitarii that had been damaged beyond repair. Obviously their spare parts would be turned into Servitors! Hence the vanguard heads on the squad.

Really like this servo arm detail.

As for the paint scheme, I've followed my usual green and brass theme with pink accents. These kits were somewhat unusual for me in that I've painted them in parts before final assembly. This is a huge departure for me as my models are normally fully assembled before I begin to paint. To be honest I'm happy with the method so I probably won't change it for the rest of the squad. I even partially painted some of the parts while they were still on sprue! Something I thought I would never do.

Work continues on the rest of the squad and I hope to have another model done by this time next week. Until then, wish me luck and don't forget to tune in for the rest of Adeptus April!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Titan in a day! - How to build an Eldar Phantom Titan

This was a hell of a project and something that I was thrilled to be involved with.

Hot damn! That's impressive!
To explain a little, a good friend of mine who shall remain nameless (Jack) has a bad habit of buying enormous Forgeworld models that he's too intimidated to construct. Now I have every sympathy here, having built my own Hierophant Bio-titan which was a tricky and time-consuming job but very rewarding in the end. At any rate, Jack has been hassling me for some time to help him out with his growing pile of un-built Forgeworld super-heavies, the grand-daddy amongst them being the Eldar Phantom Titan pictured above. After many months of hassling and a couple of tins of beer I finally snapped and agreed to set aside a day to help him out with these projects.

As the fateful day loomed we talked briefly about what we would need and what models to build. I supplied an enormous shopping list (drills, pins, putty, glue, cookies etc) which Jack went out and bought. As there were several models available including a Revenant Titan, Scorpion grav-tank and a Vampire Raider we weren't exactly sure which to attempt or even how much we could get done in a day.

As a beautiful Friday morning dawned (nothing like building titans in the sunshine) I headed on over to Jack's and we got stuck in to some resiny goodness. After looking at the models we both knew we had to attempt the Phantom, after all, the point of the day was twofold. Firstly to build some badass miniatures but secondly, to give Jack the confidence to tackle some more of these projects alone.

Early progress showing the left leg.
Straight away I could see it was going to be a challenge, the left foot alone was made up of nine separate components all of which had to be trimmed, pinned and glued. On the upside, the feet of a Phantom Titan are exceptionally poseable enabling you to make some really outlandish miniatures if you're feeling brave.

Completed leg assembly, we weren't brave enough to go for a one legged pose!
Strangely, the legs themselves only consist of three separate components, the upper, lower and the knee. These needed to be reinforced as strongly as possible so they were thoroughly pinned along with the hips to make the lower section of the Titan stable. We were able to drive a pin straight through both hips providing a good connection between both legs.

As you can see from the photos we were making a horrendous mess (anyone who's ever drilled and sawn resin will vouch for the amount of debris created). The hoover was used liberally throughout the day to try and keep on top of the stuff.

When it came to the torso assembly we hit a snag, one of the components (front breastplate) was missing. Ultimately I left it down to Jack to decide what he wanted to do, should we stop building and try to build the Revenant instead? Luckily he had a brainwave, a battered Wraithknight was laying around in his bitz box and its chestplate was just what we needed, you can see it in the photos below (the horrible purple part).

Starting to look impressive!
The main torso was quite straightforward and we were able to drive a single pin through all four of the components and into the hips making it rock solid. The shoulder assembly was quite something, involving all the holofield fins, the missile launchers and the massive pauldrons. It all went together pretty quickly though (despite me getting superglue on the coffee table) hence the lack of progress photos.

Then came time to add the head, arms and weapons. Jack declined to paint the inside of the cockpit so the head went straight on. The arms turned out to be a major headache as the guns were really heavy. Much pinning gluing and swearing later and the beast was finished!

Getting there!
Jack wanted to magnetise the right arm as he had both D-cannon and close combat options for the Titan. In the end, we got the sword ready to go but the D-cannon was left for a later date.

Taste the beast!
At any rate it was a fantastic day and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thanks to Jack for letting me be part of such an awesome build, now all he has to do is paint it!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 4

The end of another monthly painting challenge looms and how have I done, well not bad at all if I do say so myself!

March of the Machines!
I'm delighted that these guys are finally finished, partly because I really like the models and partly because I want to move on to something else. For anyone who missed it, I've been painting these as part of the Monster March challenge set up by Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast.

As with Squaduary before it, Monster March has motivated me to add another unit to my growing Skitarii/Mechanicus force. I'm really happy with my progress so far this year as the army is going from strength to strength. These monthly painting challenges have shown me what a powerful motivator a blog can be. Knowing I have a weekly progress post to make has pushed me to work through my projects and made me feel accountable. Seeing the great work of the other participants each week is also a great motivator and spurs me on to reach the finish line.

All of this got me thinking, as I don't know of a painting challenge in April I've decided to challenge myself to paint a unit to completion in the month. I've chosen a unit of Kataphron Breachers to add to my Mechanicus force. Look for weekly updates down the line under the banner of Adeptus April!

My favourite is still the datasmith.
Thanks again to Swordmaster for running Monster March; even bigger thanks for letting me paint things that really aren't monsters at all. I promise next year I'll do something big and gribbly to make it up to you. Speaking of big, monstrous things, my Kastelan robots aren't the only thing I've been working on in March, check my next update for something huge!!

If you missed the earlier updates you can find them here. Stay tuned for the inevitable painting disaster of Adeptus April!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 3

We've reached week three and so far, progress has been good. I was hoping to have the last robot finished for this update but unfortunately things rather got away from me over the weekend and I didn't manage to finish.

Close, but no cigar!
As you can see from the above, there is only a final highlight to add, along with finishing out the base and he'll be done. I'm really looking forward to having these guys finished, not just so that I can admire them, but so that I can move on to the next project. I feel like I've made great progress with my Mechanicus in the last few months; in no small part due to painting challenges like Squaduary and Monster March. Hopefully I can continue to work at the same rate and finish up an army within the next couple of months. Does anybody know of a painting challenge for April?!

I'm also looking forward to getting a few more games in with my Mechanicus. I haven't used them much on the tabletop and have yet to really find my groove with them. I know they've got all the tools but I never seem to be able to use them quite right. This is probably because they're very different to the Tyranids and Dark Eldar which I am more accustomed to. If you're an experienced Skitarii/Ad Mech commander drop me a line in the comments below, I could use some tips!

Once again, big shout out to Swordmaster at Path of an Outcast for running the challenge; it's been awesome so far. If you've missed the rest of Monster March you can scrutinize my efforts here and here.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 2

Well, another excellent week of progress if I do say so myself! These painting challenges seem to do wonders for the old motivation! Behold the first of my completed Kastelan Robots.

Johnny 5 is alive!
Not only have I managed to paint one of the Kastelans, I've also finished off the datasmith to lead the squad.

This model is just amazing.
As far as the painting goes, the Datasmith proved to be a lot more work than the Kastelan. Another incredibly detailed Mechanicus miniature that was an absolute joy to work with. I'm very pleased with the way both miniatures have turned out, even though I wasn't quite sure what to do with the visor on the Kastelan Robot I'm reasonably happy with it.

Note the vial on the top of the backpack.
In the photo above you can see that I've painted the vial on his backpack using the same method I first attempted on my Magos Dominus. It's challenging for mw to paint something so tiny with a gradiated highlight but I think the final effect is well worth it. I've also deviated slightly with this model as it includes slightly more pink than my other Skitarii; I picked out the cable bundles on his back and head and I think it meshes with the scheme nicely.

Phosphor blasters all the way!
For those who don't know what this whole Monster March thing is all about, it's a month long painting challenge run by Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast. I've pledged to paint a squad of Kastelans (only one remaining now!) by the end of the month.

If you missed the first part of Monster March you can find it here. Tune in next time to see if I'm still on target or if my inevitable hobby butterflying has led me to paint something completely different!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 1

Following on from Squaduary, another excellent community painting challenge has sprung to life, namely Monster March! The aim of the game is to paint a monster in March, simple right?! Well, as usual I had to make things more complicated. First off, I only really have two choices immediately available, neither of which are monsters from a fantasy setting. The first possibility is my Hierophant Bio-titan, however it is half finished, so would be a bit like cheating and is also enormous and not a commitment I feel I can make right now.

The other available choice is a unit of Cult Mechanicus Kastelan Robots. Robots! I hear you cry, those aren't monsters at all! Well, to be honest, I agree with you one hundred percent but being an enterprising sort, I got in touch with Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast to see if a pair of robots could be considered a viable entry for Monster March. Luckily for me, the answer was a resounding yes and so, I'm proud to present my first shoddily basecoated Kastelan Robot!

March of the Machines!
I will be following the usual scheme for my Skitarii with these guys. Namely an aqua green colour with lots of brass and a pink spot colour. Hopefully it will translate to a larger, less complex miniature without too much trouble.

Speaking of the miniatures for a moment; I totally adore the Kastelan Robots. I know a lot of people have come down quite hard on them saying that they don't match the rest of the range or that they look to simplistic. For me, that is the charm of these models, they are styled with a real 'atomic era' feel which makes them seem old and anachronistic. Quite a feat in a setting like 40k where styles from various eras clash quite happily. The official 'eavy metal paint job on these guys takes it one step further with the weathering showing layers of old paint beneath. Almost as though the robots pre-date the Imperium and have been stored and used in battle time and again. I really enjoy this concept; that these are something beyond the capability of the Adeptus Mechanicus to create or even properly understand.

At any rate, my goal for Monster March (March of the Machines) will be to paint two Kastelan Robots and their attendant Cybernetica Datasmith. Tune in next week to see if I've progressed any further or if I've fallen miserably into the pits of painting despair!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary progress week 4

Well, we've come to the end of the month! I'm incredibly proud to say that I've completed my Squaduary pledge of five Skitarii Vanguard. I would have liked to have painted more of the squad but that was always going to be an ambitious target and between playing a few games of 40k and painting other projects it slipped through the cracks.

The finished squad in all their finery.
Painting these guys has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, the models are great and I'm pleased with the overall finish. Hopefully this will spur me on to painting more of my Adeptus Mechanicus minis.

Sorry about the blur.
Speaking of being spurred on, Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast is running an event called Monster March. You guessed it, the idea is to paint a monster in March! The event is really aimed at fantasy creatures but Swordmaster has been incredibly generous and allowed me to pledge my Kastelan robot maniple (they are monstrous creatures after all). So expect further updates here as I attempt to paint both of the robots along with their attendant Cybernetica Datasmith. Will I fall at the first hurdle or will it be another resounding success? Only time, and my battered paintbrush, will tell!

To round off Squaduary, I'd like to say a huge thank you to Rory over at Stepping Between Games, for running and organising the event. I must say that seeing the photos of everybody else's work was enormously motivating and really pushed me to finish the entire squad.

If you've missed out and want to read the rest of the Squaduary journey you can do so here, here and here.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary progress week 3

Yet another week of good progress, the end is rapidly approaching but I feel like the goal of painting a five man squad is easily within my grasp.

Pink is the colour of warriors!
As you can see from the pictures, I have completed four out of five models and am working on the fifth. So far I'm very happy with the way that the challenge has pushed me to paint the squad (even if a plasma caliver and an arc rifle aren't the ideal armaments!)

The arc rifle in question.

Also, this guy.
As before, I'm in awe of the Skitarii Vanguard kit, the whole thing has been a delight to build and paint. Hats off to Games Workshop for this one.

If you missed the first and second Squaduary installments you can find them here and here. Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion, will I finish the squad? Will I manage to paint any extras?? Only time will tell.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Warhammer 40k - Building an Army - Formations and Detachments

This article is partially a response to Nick's discussion over at The Burning Eye and partially a continuation of the thoughts I expressed in my Better Know a Blogger article over at St Andrews Wargaming. As Nick correctly says, the use of formations in army construction is a very polarizing issue within the 40k community. They are kind of like the marmite of 40k with players either using them regularly or shunning them entirely; very few of us are sitting on the fence.

In particular I'd like to take a look at the Necron Decurion Detachment. The reason I'm choosing to look at this in detail is threefold. Firstly, it is a detachment that a lot of people are familiar with so the majority should be able to follow along with my reasoning. Secondly, it is one of the more complex methods of building an army, being a detachment that is made up of formations. Finally, it includes pretty much all of the problems that I have with formations.

Behold! The tome of many sins!
First off, let me say that I'm not opposed to the concept of formations, just the way Games Workshop has chosen to execute them. In my mind, a formation should be used to restrict a player into building a list with a certain background in mind. Offering a player certain rewards for cutting down their list choices and fielding an army with a particular character. This is something that a few (a very few) of the available formations and detachments have managed to do. The realspace raiders detachment from Codex: Dark Eldar for example forces you to take a fast attack choice is addition to the usual CAD and gives you some minor benefits for doing so. It's as though the author is saying "Ok, you're playing in character with the army, here's a little bonus." I have no problem with this kind of thing, it's forcing a player to field a more fluffy army and it doesn't provide any game breaking special rules that an unwary opponent will find frustrating. Furthermore, the restrictions and bonuses suit the character of the army. From a fluff perspective you're fielding a lightning fast raiding force attacking under cover of darkness. The rules reflect this, you're using additional fast attack and you get some minor cover bonuses in the early game.

Moving on to Codex: Necrons and the Decurion detachment. The first problem I have found is that players (particularly those new to the game) find the construction of a Decurion list confusing. More than once I have set up opposite a Necron player who has proudly announced "I'm fielding a Decurion!" and when the models are placed on the table it turns out to be a Reclamation Legion with a couple of random units bolted on the side. Or even worse, they have neglected the Reclamation Legion entirely and tried to make a Decurion out of different formations. I think the confusion here arises from the double stacking restrictions used in the Decurion ie. you must take certain units to make a formation and you must take certain different formations to form the detachment. This isn't my main problem with the Decurion, just something I've observed from across the table.

The main problem I have with the Decurion and the Necron formations in general is the special rules they offer for seemingly no reason. For example, the Reclamation Legion is potentially a very large formation (it has many non-compulsory choices) with comparatively few restrictions (you must take a few units of necrons, an HQ and some jetbikes). As a reward for adhering to this loose structure the entire formation gains relentless, move through cover and a bonus to reanimation protocols. The question I have to ask is why? Why are these rules given to this formation? Essentially the army is a standard CAD plus some jetbikes, why do they now have move through cover? Have their feet been replaced with hoverboards? (note: if somebody converted this I would be totally ok with them using this formation.) Are the jetbikes somehow magnetically towing the warriors through cover? They also have relentless, again, why? What makes them able to fire heavy weapons on the move? Or able to rapid fire and then charge? Personally I can see no narrative reason for these special rules to be granted. The army isn't particularly characterful, it's little more than a regular CAD (why the jetbikes are included I will never understand) so there is no fluffy reason for additional special rules to be granted.

This problem occurs time and time again in the various formations that make up a Decurion. The Canoptek Harvest has similar issues, plus some rather nasty additional bonuses. The Royal Court falls into the same boat as the above. But that aside, let's look at the Decurion as a whole. In order to field a Decurion you must include one Reclamation Legion (see rant above) and one other formation or unit from a choice of nine. For doing this, the army is granted yet more reanimation bonuses (above those already offered by the Reclamation Legion). The question once again is why? I can see the justification for the reanimation bonus within the Legion itself, you are fielding a powerful warlord whose abilities allow his warriors to rise from the grave time and again. Personally I think that's pretty cool, it fits from a fluff perspective (if you ignore the jetbikes, relentless and MTC). But why, oh why, should adding a single unit of flayed ones or deathmarks to the army suddenly increase their reanimation ability? What is that extra unit doing to justify the extra reanimation? Do the flayed ones have spanners and greasy overalls to rebuild their fallen comrades? Are the deathmarks somehow cobbling together additional warriors from battlefield salvage? I don't know, and it's questions like this that spoil my immersion in the game and ultimately become annoying.

I feel like I've rambled enough (kudos if you're still reading.) I know I've picked very specific examples above and there are several detachments and formations that don't have these failings. But there are a great many that seem to grant powerful special rules with only the flimsiest of pretexts.


Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I'm bound to have raised a few hackles with this (particularly amongst you Necron players) but it's an interesting topic for the community and one that provokes strong feelings on both sides.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

St Andrews Wargaming - Better Know a Blogger

This week I was lucky enough to be featured in the 'Better Know a Blogger' series run by Michael over at St Andrews Wargaming.

Insert random image!

For those that don't know, this is a fun series of articles that introduces wargaming bloggers from around the world and asks them a series of 'challenging' personal questions.

So, go read the article (and the others in the series) and learn more about yours truly.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary progress week 2

So week 2 is over and yet more stellar progress has been made; I am proud to present, my first two completed Skitarii Vanguard! (Pause for rapturous applause)

Skitarii Alpha ready to lead the soldiers of the Omnissiah!
I'm delighted with the way these guys are turning out. In fact I like them a great deal more than the Skitarii Rangers which the kit also builds. When I first saw the models I thought the Rangers looked nicer but upon building and painting them, I think the Vanguard are a firm favourite. I know it's only a head and weapon swap but sometimes it's these little details that make all the difference.

The Legio Skitarii Needs You!
I know I'm not following the plan set out by Squaduary, but generally I prefer to paint a batch of models to a certain level (basecoats and maybe a basic wash) and then finish them all up individually. Doing this helps keep my motivation going as I get to admire a finished miniature every so often along the way. I have tried complete batch painting in the past and found it soul destroying (looking at you Hormagaunts!)

Plasma caliver!

Ok, I know a plasma caliver isn't the best armament for a Skitarii. Hugely expensive, enormously likely to kill the wielder, not particularly versatile etc etc. But I just love the idea of letting rip with three of these things, especially if the target is a monstrous creature or a group of terminators. Just imagine the look on your opponent's face as nine plasma shots batter away their 2+ saves!

Anything but a 1.....*rolls 3 ones*
Anyway, you can probably tell I'm delighted with how Squaduary is going so far. Many thanks to Rory for running it and motivating me to paint these guys; otherwise they'd probably still be languishing in their undercoat.

Stay tuned for the next update in a weeks time. If you want to read the start of my Squaduary exploits, you can find it here.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary week 1 progress

Well, week 1 of the Squaduary (Squadary?) challenge is over and how have I done? I've done awesome!! Ok, they're only a five man squad and the photography is horrible but in just over a week I've got them built, undercoated, based and made a good start on the painting to boot!

Yeah, the photography could be better....
For those that haven't heard of Squaduary, it's a painting challenge (motivational tool?) run by Rory over at Stepping Between Games. The basic premise is to build and paint an infantry squad in February. It's supposed to be broken down into distinct weekly stages (building, undercoating, basing etc) but given the way things tend to get away from me I thought it best to make progress while I had the chance! After all, if I complete them well ahead of the deadline I can always add more to the squad.

Different stages of painting, the green glaze adds a bit of depth to the cloaks
Once again I'm struck with the quality of these Skitarii models, the detail is incredible and the parts fit together quickly and easily. My eventual plan is to have separate squads each armed with different special weapons but for some reason I've included an arc rifle and a plasma caliver within this batch. Horribly inefficient but oh well, I guess I'll make it work!

Tune in next week to see how much more progress I've made. Will it continue? Or will I slow to my usual glacial pace? I for one can't wait to find out!