Salute 2016 – Steampunk!

Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to make my annual pilgrimage to Salute this year, held at the ExCel Centre in London by the South London Warlords. It’s an event I’ve been attending since roughly 2000 (with the odd gap here or there), but is one of my personal wargaming highlights of the year! It’s always great to see so many different traders, displays and games all on one day, and an opportunity to catch-up with friends and immerse oneself in a day dedicated to all aspects of the tabletop hobby.

I had tactically reserved a few of the things I’d really wanted (The Horus Heresy ‘Red Books’, some Battlefoam and a copy of the new SAGA release for a friend), which meant I could dedicate time to enjoying the show more broadly, and seeing what else there was on offer. And, there is a lot! It really does include every company great and small, which is fantastic for seeing new things from every possible genre and theatre you could ever wish to play. With some fantastic show-only deals too, it’s always worth a look! There are a number of displays and participation events run by clubs and societies, as well as traders themselves – which makes for an action-packed day, with plenty to view and do.The day goes very quickly (when I was younger, it felt like it lasted an age, in a good way!) – and there’s inevitably so much to see, you can’t truthfully do it all justice – but some of the photos below are some personal highlights.

There was a giant Heresy game run by the South London Warlords entitled the ‘Brotherhood of Mars’ – which was great to see given my current focus on 30k:

 

 

Warlord Games had a couple of boards to show off their new game: ‘Beyond the Gates of Antares’. I’ve yet to open the starter box, but I’m looking forward to it!

 

Warlord were also demoing the rules for their new alternate war game – Konflikt:

‘All Quiet on the Martian Front’ looked very fun too:

 

Hawk Wargames were there as ever, and nice to post the annual photo of the amazing ship they normally bring:

 

There was a Mad Max participation game going on too – it looked like great fun:

 

Mantic had a great display board to advertise Deadzone 2.0 – I’m looking forward to the Kickstarter arriving soon!

 

And there was a huge Kings of War Demo too:

There was a rather large ACW game going on:

 

 

Shattered Void was once again on display before the Kickstarter goes live in July:

 

 

I was pleased to pick up a couple of Bolt Action bits (German Command and US Marines squad), three packs of Maxmini Plague Marine replacement heads, a new Daemon Prince and count-as Mutilators from HiTech – as well as this lovely large case from Battlefoam:

And, a new set of dice – to see if that helps my rolling!

Another fantastic year – and look forward to the next one!

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Continuing to Escalate!

Following my initial vow, our Escalation forces have rumbled on – and I found myself needing to add another 500pts already! Although there’ll be quite a few things that I’ll need to paint in due course, I thought that given the games so far have mostly been Zone Mortalis, it might be nice to add some close-range punch. As such, for my next two vows, I’ve opted to do two Terminator squads – one armed with near basic weaponry, and the other, more lethally, with paired Lightning Claws…

Two more units to vow as part of the B&C’s Loyalty and Treachery:

Vow 5 – 5-strong Terminator squad, with combi-bolters and Power Fists, Heavy Flamer and two Chain Fists.

Vow 6 – 5-strong Terminator squad, all with Lightning Claws

The thought of adding these to my already rather sizeable Cataphractii contingent was too good an opportunity to pass down – and potentially using a load in either ZM, or in future definitely appealed. The aesthetic of their armour very much suits everything I like about the Death Guard – so happy to get more of these fantastic models built and painted for the cause. Armament wise, I’ve gone for two distinctly different squads, in order to fill up the gaps in my current Cataphractii – namely, Chain Fists and Lightning Claws! This ensures I do have a variety to choose from, as and when required.

A photo of them prior to painting:

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Here’s my first WIP photo, blocking out main areas of colour, such as shoulder pads, ptergues and trim:

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And finally, the finished product!

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Glad to have that complete! I’m unsure what I’m going to paint explicitly next, but I think it’s worthwhile considering a 2.5k list and working towards playing more regularly. Watch this space for plans and actual painting!

Otherwise, I’m thinking ahead to things I both need and want to do more broadly. If you’ve ever wondered, this is what a couple of hundred Mantic Zombies look like clipped off the sprue…

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One of the next projects!

Angron

I’ve loved the Forge World character and Primarch series, and the first I was lucky enough to get my hands on was Angron. I had hoped that by painting him under ETL conditions, I could make him into my pièce de résistance…

I was able to put in a good shift early on, which really helped. Some excellent blogs out there really did help on the armour, although I did admittedly cut a few corners and adapt it (like all painters should!) to start getting the effect I really wanted.

Leading, ultimately to:

A model I can very much be proud of!

Star Wars X-Wing Tournament

A slight tangent from my primarily Death Guard orientated blog, but thought a review of the recent event I attended might be well received by those who play multiple wargames, especially as I had such a good time! Published by Fantasy Flight Games, the game appears to be surging, and although there are clear supply and demand issues at this moment in time, it’s a relatively affordable, quick and fun game – that’s easy to pick up and complex to master. You have models that represent a plethora of ships taken from the Star Wars universe, from which you create a squad that is either Rebel or Imperial. A somewhat different mechanism of manoeuvring to other games (models are moved using templates indicated on dials hidden from your opponent), matched with dice rolling and actions, makes for a rather intuitive game that leaves you guessing what the opponent is going to do next, and often cursing your luck and asteroids. You can find more information here: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/103885/star-wars-x-wing-miniatures-game

I’d bought into the game via the reasonably priced starter set and then grabbed swathes over the Christmas period, trying to amass a collection but without actively playing. I lost a starter game to my dad with quick start rules – and did wonder if I’d bought into something duff. But, I unpackaged everything (pushing out card counters will be a nightmare, I promise) and put it all in my new case, and hadn’t really thought much of it, until I was able to help orchestrate an Epic-sized game at my local club. Although we (Empire) were probably going to lose, it made me keen to want to actively play more, as it was immense fun!

I’d seen that Chaos City Comics was hosting a Star Wars: X-Wing ‘Assault at Imdaar Alpha’ Prerelease Tournament a couple of weeks later, and so thought this might be a great time to get a few games in, attend and learn a lot – and go from there. With that in mind, I created a Rebel and an Imperial List, one to use and the other for a mate at the club to use (Cheers Andy!), so that I could really get up to speed before the weekend. I lost both, although with improvements in the second game, and did wonder if this was a game I would ever win at. A few tweaks to my list, and some optimism, I thought that at worst, I would hopefully get a prize for finishing last. Knowing that it would take a four round Swiss-style, I would at least be paired with someone of a similar ability, so had hoped that I wouldn’t be too badly destroyed, and I’d come away with a better understanding of the game mechanics and list building finesse.

Turning up on what was quite a miserable day, I was really excited. I then realised I’d actually forgotten my manoeuvre dials and felt thoroughly embarrassed – not the best start. Thankfully, other generous players were able to lend me their spares so that I could fly the following list:

Chaos City  – 100 points

Wedge Antilles/X-Wing with Swarm Tactics – 31pts

Biggs Darklighter/X-Wing – 25pts

Blue Squadron Pilot/B-Wing – 22pts

Blue Squadron Pilot/B-Wing – 22pts

My first highlight was getting one commemorative Bandit Squadron Pilot card for attending and playing on the day, and that alone was pleasing! Knowing that I was going into this realistically being 0-3 on the (vaguely) competitive games I’d actually played prior to the tournament, I intended to aim low, enjoy and learn. That said, with twelve players taking part, I’d only have to beat 2/3rds of the others to win a prize – as they cheerfully reminded us at the start of the day, although my problem would be beating anyone – let alone more than that!

The draw placed me on Table 5 against a really nice bloke called Simon – who was running an Imperial list, consisting of roughly: Lambda shuttle, Dark Curse, TIE Bomber with Missiles and two other TIEs. It was probably the closest to a swarm that otherwise would feature that day – and certainly the swarmiest list I would face. I set-up strongly, I thought, until I remembered that my B-Wings would rear-end my X-Wings, which meant I had to do a bit of re-arranging to ensure that I could actually start flying and not crashing. That said, I took first-blood – and it started to get messy. Eventually, I was able to grind out a modified win, taking a victory by 11pts – after taking Dark Curse out first, and a succession of fighters thereafter, for reasonable losses. Simon, although finishing 0-4, was a great opponent who started with as much as experience as I had, and will no doubt come back stronger for the experience. A great game, eased me into the day – and played in a great spirit. I was most certainly buoyed by this victory, but resolved not to make the mistakes I’d made in the first game cause me problems in my second.

Jumping to table three, I then played Alex – who had also won his first game. His list was tough: three Interceptors that were tricked to the max. My initial set-up made it extremely difficult to pull this game back – with asteroids dealing as much damage as I did throughout, and although I came close to wiping out two of his Interceptors, by spreading myself too thinly, I struggled massively. A damaged pilot card crippled Wedge earlier than I would like, making him a rather expensive rookie. Having never faced a list with that sort of manoeuvrability, it was somewhat of a shock to see them wilfully pop in and out of my firing arcs – but is something now that I felt better prepared for in future. A very hard game against a top opponent – who went on to finished second overall, so I can’t really be hard on myself!

Now 1-1, I was back to table five, where I played Sam – a really nice guy who played in the best spirit, and truly embodies ‘flying casual’. However, seeing his list – I was fearful. He was running two tricked out Millennium Falcon, and having never faced one, facing two looked like a fearsome prospect. Duly, I revised my flying pattern to a more conservative formation, akin to the my first game but setting it up correctly – which stood me in good stead! Biggs died early, as Biggs is want to do. He is truly a brave pilot that draws fire, and I have to be grateful for his regular sacrifices! I may invest some more in him in future, to make him somewhat more survivable, but he did perform well in his short life. Taking down the first Falcon was a major achievement, as they flew round the edge of the board, their turrets reaping a toll on shields with wanton abandon. Eventually, running both Wedge and my last B-Wing into close range finished the second Falcon, scoring me an outright victory – and taking me 2-1. I was becoming more confident with my list, and how to actually fly, and some downtime allowed Sam and I to chat and to better understand how to play. Very worthwhile! He was extremely happy that he didn’t fly a Falcon off the board as he had in a previous game – and we both enjoyed

My final game saw me go back to table three again, with a face off against Alex who had the same record as me, and a list that looked extremely difficult. This didn’t appear to be a good matchup for me from the outset, but I’d hoped to deal some damage before the end at least. With Soontir Fel in an Interceptor, and two Bounty Hounters in Firesprays, it was a pretty tough list – especially considering Fel’s abilities and the Firesprays being both kitted and resilient, and I was concerned that I’d be unable to actually whittle through both the shields and hull points in time. That said, if I’d managed with two Falcons, anything was possible!

One-shotting Fel early on worked a treat – and this set the tone for the rest of the game, insofar as I rolled superbly – and Alex simply didn’t. Removing Fel early was a great boost, but then he was traded off for Wedge quickly, after some difficult flying. I don’t believe now that I’ve ever flown over an asteroid and not taken damage – and both Wedge and Biggs suffered during this tournament! With three ships remaining against two Firesprays, it was going to be an uphill struggle.

Another trade over time saw both Biggs (who lived far longer than could’ve ever reasonably been expected) and a B-Wing go for the loss of a Firespray, leaving a solitary B-Wing, and a Firespray, to duke it out. I thought this would be a foregone conclusion, but started a classic game of cat and mouse that was immensely exciting and altogether dramatic. After pounding the shields from one another, I was able to continue aggressively pursuing and just keeping out of his fire arc, and despite having maintained a target lock for approximately five rounds, didn’t need to use this with some obscenely good rolls (four hits, three hits and a crit, four hits… four hits…) ultimately destroyed the Firespray. I was overjoyed – Alex is a top player and really made it tough, and to grind out a victory in such a fashion was a delight, which left me 3-1 for the day.

I’d known that prior to this game I was residing in 6th, and to my utter astonishment, this win took me to 4th place – a prize winning position! After everyone else had chosen, I came away with the Z-95 Headhunter!

It capped a superb day of gaming, with some great people. I learned a lot from some experienced players, and nice to meet several people whose names I recognised from the UK/Ireland X-Wing group as part of a fantastic tournament. My thanks to all at Chaos City for hosting, Efka for his TOing during the day, the other attendees for being so pleasant, and all of those I played for their gamesmanship. I’m very much looking forward to the next one!

 

Lord of Skulls

I always find it so much easier to paint to deadlines – and I love entering for competitions on the Bolter and Chainsword, so taking part in the ETL this year was a no-brainer. For my first vow, I wanted to complete the Lord of Skulls that has been sitting quite happily on my desk for some time. I needed to spray it white (as I’d bought it pre-built):

And could then start working on it. Painting became so much easier when I ripped the Lord of Skulls apart:

So much so, that he is now completed! ROT FOR THE ROT GOD; PUS FOR THE PUS THRONE!

Feels great to have completed a thousand points already, huzzah!

Unsure what I’ll vow next, but it’s a great start!

Blight Drones

One of the additions to my army has been Blight Drones: a second-hand acquisition from a friend who’d tried some conversion work and hadn’t the energy to continue. Naturally, these have joined the Long War in earnest and have been given a new lease of life! It’s been one of the more challenging recent modelling projects I’ve done, and I hope you like the effort that’s gone into them.

I made a start by repairing all of the issues, smoothing out defects and priming white over the previous coat. As you can see, at this stage I’ve blocked out all the decaying metal – next step will be to bring out all the flesh tone, before we start washing and weathering.

After that, the flesh!

I’d done all the flesh, a few washes here and there and most of the detailing. Here’s the back of one of them:

Hopefully looking suitably vile. My concern was that at that moment the flesh was just a bit too light, so I brought that up a shade with a drybrush/highlight combo. It has a nice tone to it, but it’s not perfect – and I didn’t feel it necessarily complimented either the decaying parts, or the armour particularly well. I wanted the spotty boils to stand out – so I needed to take a different tack to make sure it really did contrast with the strong metal orange tones.

I thought that by making the flesh more pallid it’d create the perfect contrast, and still look suitably sickly. So the skin tone was redone and there’s been a stiff highlight around the armour plating. I’ll still need to weather that further, but it’s shaping up at least! It does give the right contrast and leaves you in no doubt what is flesh and what is armour.

And, when the bases came… things started to fall into place:

I started off with the following:

I then proceeded (with help from Dad, cheers!) to cut the pieces of acrylic rod to about four inches each, before drilling into both the sphincter of the drone and through the base also:

Pushing the PVC into the hole created, I was then able to see how long I actually wanted it in the base before sawing off any excess.

I then secured this with superglue, added the tank trap from some spare FW resin blocks, and then used some liquid GS just to fill any necessary gaps.

With the aid of a hot glue gun, I then went and did the following:

To create the slime etc. coming from their rear, it was basically a case of layering and just letting it flow so it was pretty uneven and looking like watery slime trailing behind them and propelling them forward.

But naturally, I couldn’t stop there. We needed to get some colour on that bad boy! Now traditional inks didn’t work: they left the majority clear and simply ran off. So, a quick drybrush/paint of Rhinox Hide gave it a nice brown tone. I then proceeded to undercoat the base (which had been washed with the FW block prior to the gluing stage) in black.

The next step was using the Army Painter Quickshade from the tin: which leaves a glossy finish! I knew I’d have a use for this again! So on that went, quite liberally, before I returned to drybrushing the base in a dark grey and a thick black wash over the top. This was then given another highlight with a lighter grey and a thinner coat of black wash thereafter for detail. I added barbed wire and a stiff highlight on the traps as some final detailing for the time being!

Which leaves me with the following:

Then as a unit from the side too:

And some individual ones!

I really hope you like them!

I’m currently unsure as to what’s next on them – I might weather the armour slightly more, and perhaps a little highlight on the slime, but I’m pretty stoked at the moment as to how these have turned out. As ever, please chuck any comments and criticism my way – if it’ll help improve them, I’m always game to listen!

Thank you all as ever for your support and belief!

Background for a Blog

I’ve been in the game a long time, despite my relatively tender age… I’ve been actively involved since 1995, and continue to be many years on. I was fortunate enough to start young with Chaos, and Nurgle was my first love. Since then, I’ve added and added to a sprawling collection that spans comfortably over twelve thousand points (and counting), and gone through myriad editions of the game we know and love, with success on the battlefield a priority over how my minis actually looked.

After a brief hiatus from painting, I returned to find that if I wasn’t so impatient, I could produce a decent, tabletop quality miniature that was relatively pleasing to the eye – at least, to mine! However, with the new edition in-bound, I had resolved to repaint basically everything that I owned, and have stripped model after model… and am starting to repaint each of my armies, to a good standard complete with basing, to take the world by storm. This blog will be will and testament to my Death Guard army, whilst others will chronicle the various other armies I’ve owned that require a similar level of TLC, but won’t be a priority until everything here is done.

I’ve chronicled most of this through threads on various forums, including PapaNurgle.com and the Bolter&Chainsword – but it felt appropriate to migrate this to a blog. It means we’ll be heavy on content at the start, and go from there! I’ll try not to post those updates verbatim (to account for that fact that some of this should now be referred to in the past tense…), but will be cross-posting the latest stuff as we go. I’m still in the process of stripping job lots of models, cleaning off junk and crappy painting that’s been sat there for the past two decades. These models, sparkling clean, in addition to the models from the new release (Dark Vengeance, etc.) have received this love and attention, with the long-term ambition of competing on the tournament stage. So, with your blessing, I’ll take your tutelage and advice wherever possible to make my minis the best that they can be.

The scheme I’m going for is a variant on the Pre-Heresy style, similar to what many people have done in past. To you, I tip my hat – that is what I aspire to do. The intention is to get it to a similar standard… but who knows? As ever, any constructive criticism will be welcomed with open arms throughout!

The focus of this blog will naturally be on my Death Guard, whilst most other things take a back-seat.  Obviously, when trying to paint about 9k of Raven Guard, 10k+ of Imperial Guard and about 12k+ of Iron Warriors, this makes it a difficult proposition –  but long-term, it’ll totally be worth it. Bear with me!