Archive for November, 2012

The campaign trail

Posted in Battle report, Chaos, Fluff, Pointless ramblings, Uncategorized, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2012 by krautscientist

Right in time for the release of the Crusade of Fire book, I noticed quite a few people mouthing off on the forums how campaigns and narrative gaming were basically a waste of time. Now while I may not have years and years of gaming experience under my belt, I feel I would still like to present the other side to that argument.

Instead of talking about GW’s new campaign book, though, let’s rather take a general look at what narrative gaming can do for you:

One of the criticisms leveled at narrative gaming in general and campaigns in particular tends to be that both can end up feeling rather gimmicky: After all, all the special rules and setpieces can make for a rather unbalanced gaming experience, right? But does it really take all those special rules in the first place in order to have a narrative experience? Case in point: The small campaign I have been running for quite a while now with cousin Andy and a couple of his buddies:

Haestia Primaris’ Mardias subcontinent – the stage for our campaign

The campaign is set on the world of Haestia Primaris, in the Segmentum Pacificus. The planet has been isolated from much of the rest of the Imperium of Man by the warp storm Maluriel for some fifty years, and it has taken all the power of the authorities to keep the planetary population in line in the face of adversity. Now the storm is over, but what should be a joyous occasion for the people of Haestia Primaris takes a turn for the worse as several sinister forces arrive to lay claim to the undefended world.

This was all the background we needed for having all kinds of battles involving our different armies, although I decided to add some smaller narrative hooks, in case anyone wanted them: The Craftworld Eldar are trying to retrieve an ancient artifact of their race from Haestia Primaris (known to them as Y’lanth’Ine, a former jewel in the crown of their galaxy spanning empire). The Dark Eldar originally desired nothing more than to prey on the planetary population, but find themselves forced into an uneasy alliance with their Craftworld kin when the warriors of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt try to capture the artifact as a worthy prey and tribute to their god. And during all of this, dark things walk the jungles of Candolfus: Is a Daemon invasion inevitable?

We devised a fairly simple set of campaign rules, based on moves on a hex grid. Occupying certain grids bestows smaller buffs to the controlling army. Whenever two (or more) players try to occupy the same grid, there’s a battle. Pretty simple, really. We have also been using the experience system for campaigns from the 5th edition rulebook so far, to show how certain units tend to get stronger over time.

our campaign map halfway through turn three. The green arrows mark games that have yet to be played.

Indeed, the setup doesn’t seem all that sophisticated. But that actually works in our favour: Running a campaign with many players and maintaining a tightly paced narrative may be fantastic, but it is also an enormous challenge. As soon as more than two people are involved, things tend to get complicated rather quickly. And so many a campaign have been running for years and years, without any conclusion in sight. Frustrating, right?

Not necessarily: Our own campaign has been tottering on for more than a year now, with only half a dozen games played so far. But since we are taking a very laidback approach to the whole thing, it’s not that much of a problem. Indeed, we are trying to leave out all the stressful parts (micromanaging the participants’ schedules, writing angry e-mails back and forth,…) and just run the odd game every once in a while. Whenever we do play, however, the game can easily be slotted into the running campaign. After all, the campaign is there as a tool for making games more enjoyable, not as something that should stress us out more than a regular day job.

The games themselves can be as standard or elaborate as we want them to be. But due to the background, all kinds of narrative hooks start presenting themselves, even during the most pedestrian battles. For instance, when three of us were coincidentally vying for control of the same hex, we devised a battle where a coalition of Eldar and Dark Eldar would defend a priceless Eldar artifact against the World Eaters’ fourth assault company (the battle report can be found here).

The forces of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt and a mixed Eldar force, duking it out at the Y’lanth’Ine basin

When that game ended in a draw (due to a pretty stupid tactical oversight on my part), the next game was all about the angry Chaos Lord Charun trying to get his revenge on the Xenos filth. When I lost that game, it made me think about how this outcome would affect the officer in charge, and once again, the narrative continued

All of this not only provided more context for our games, but also transformed some of my models from mere playing pieces into veritable characters: I don’t think I would never have come up with such elaborate backstories for Huntmasters Bardolf and Charun and for their simmering rivalry, if not for the campaign.

Huntmaster Bardolf. He and his fellow officer Charun have really come into their own as characters.

Consequently, I have started to conceive my models with at least one eye firmly on their background at all times, creating a collection of characters worthy of a millennia-old Traitor legion. And using them in consecutive games has made me think what their interactions with one another may look like when they are off the battlefield. And you really start growing fond of your little guys, too: For example, I’ll never forget how Skull Champion Bruul lobbed a grenade at an Eldar tank, blowing the damned thing sky high in the process — truly a moment worth remembering!

And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg: Playing narratively will also give you all kinds of cool ideas along the way: At one point I decided to build a custom objective marker for each army I defeat during the campaign. While this makes for a fun hobby project, it’s also a great way of injecting more character into your army and of interacting with other players.

Custom objective markers: a fun way to honour (or ridicule) your opponent

Or you could start to convert your squads to reflect their triumphs, adding trophies or killmarks to the models. Or give some more character to your squad leaders and generals. Granted, you should probably do that anyway, but it feels more satisfying if those additions are actually the consequence of something that happened during a game (or a string of games, for that matter).

All of this is not exactly rocket science, of course: It is certainly possible to have far more involved, narrative campaigns than ours, or more spectacular setpieces for single games. But even a small, laidback campaign is far more rewarding than basically just rolling dice all day to see who ends up with more sixes.

All in all, narrative gaming gives your games a sense of context and consequence. It offers all kinds of cool hobby opportunities. And it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. So what are you waiting for?

Do you have any remarks on narrative gaming and campaigns you’d like to share? I’d be glad to hear them in the comments section!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Raptor Review

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by krautscientist

I may have mentioned before that I quite like jump infantry: For us World Eaters players, Raptors are always a great way of adding a dash of flexibility to an otherwise very predictable army. So I built and painted my first squad of World Eaters jump infantry long before the release of the new Codex. You may remember these guys:

Granted, here may be other units in the list that are more viable in the fast assault role (*cough* bikes *cough*), but I simply love the concept of World Eaters equipped with jump packs rushing into the thick of battle with wild abandon. So it is probably no surprise that a box of the new plastic Raptors/Warp Talons was one of my day one purchases, along with the new Codex. Today’s post will be all about those guys.

The kit has been out for a while now, so I will spare you the unboxing video and sprue diagrams. Both are easily found elsewhere on the net. Indeed, let me point you towards Screwed Up Dice‘s very nice, two part review of the kit for all the necessary information. Still, late as my own “review” of sorts may be, I thought it would be nice to collect my thoughts on the models while working on my first new squad of jump infantry, pointing out the good and the bad as I go.

Pros:


“It’s plastic!

Working with GW’s excellent and highly versatile plastic kits is always a joy, and that is why the mere fact that Raptors are now available as a plastic kit counts as a huge advantage in my book: No more pinning, no more models falling over because they are precariously balanced on their bases. And lots and lots of customisability — provided you know how to use a knife, that is. I have painted quite a few metal miniatures in my time, and I like the amount of detail GW’s designers are able to cram into some of those Finecast models (QA problems notwithstanding), but plastic is where it’s at for me!

Of course this also means that the kit is fully compatible with the rest of the (Chaos) Space Marine range, although not all combinations will end up looking great. Still, with a bit of mixing and matching, you’ll be able to customise your jump infantry and make them fit the rest of your force visually (more on this point in a minute)

 

“It looks nice!”

The sculpt on these guys is pretty great, but that’s almost a given with GW’s more recent kits. What I really like though is the slightly readjusted overall look of the models: The last Raptor sculpt – along with the fluff – had them positioned as a bit an external force to all Traitor Legions, a cult onto themselves, which meant that the models had a very distinct look. And while more individuality is mostly a good thing, not everyone was happy with their Raptors looking so different from the rest of their force: Even when painted in the colours of a specific legion, they never quite looked like they belonged.

The new armour design seems like a bit of a return to the original 3rd edition Raptors in that it is distinct enough to differentiate them from other unit types, but should also work rather well with different colour schemes, those of the original Traitor Legions included. So for those who want it, the individuality is still there, while the rest of us are free to build jump infantry that resembles the rest of our force.

There’s also all kinds of nice detail: The Raptor helmets recall corrupted, older marks of power armour (MK IV and VI, especially), and the CC weapons are some of the greatest Chaos Space Marine weapons currently availabe (those chainswords are off the hook!). I also really like the rather economical design of the jump pack, but then, I’ve always been a fan of the Pre-Heresy jet engine design 😉

As an aside: While, as a follower of Khorne, I loathe all Slaneeshi dogs with a passion, those shoulder pads and helmets with the speaker-like design should work really well for kitbashing Noise Marines.

 

“You get some neat extra bitz…”

It’s great to see that the kit comes with a full set of weapon options for the Raptors: No more scrounging around for extra Meltaguns or having to use the same old weapon bit over and over. All of the weapons are very nicely detailed and have a distinct chaos look. The same goes for the Warp Talon claws (which could also be used as Lightning claws on regular infantry champions, Chosen etc.). And the fact that it’s a combi-kit means that you’ll get quite a few leftover bitz: Depending on which unit type you decide to build, you get a full set of Raptor weapons and heads or Warp Talon claws and heads for your bitzbox. Nice.

Cons:

 

“…but maybe not enough!”

Here’s the thing about those bitz though: I was a little disappointed at the relatively small selection of heads. While I understand that the kit has to be quite economically designed to carry enough bitz for both unit types, I am just a fan of extra heads and shoulderpads: just five heads and one set of shoulder pads per model? Come on, GW! Admittedly, this may just be nitpicking on my part, but still…

 

“A little restrictive…”

Here’s a piece of more substantial criticism then: I feel that some of the poses on these models aren’t all that well conceived. You probably won’t notice this when building Raptors, but for the Warp Talons it’s actually fairly challenging to have them look as dynamic and individual as you would like. I discovered this when I tried to go against the grain and build models that looked a little different from the ones on the box: While it’s possible, you’ll quickly discover that certain combinations just don’t work out, leaving you with a limited number of options. Granted, if you just want to get your models on the table, you probably won’t see this as much of a problem. But as someone who is very much into kitbashing and converting, I cannot help but feel that these models don’t lend themselves to conversion all that much. And while I like the fact that the models’ legs are attached in rather dynamic ways to small piles of rubble and battlefield debris, the designs can quickly become repetitive once you are building squads that are bigger than five models.

I realise that this may not even be valid criticism for some: The models look great and are easy to put together. What’s not to like, right? But I somehow feel that this kit seems to actively confound converters, and I’m not sure I like that 😉

 

“Some smaller design flaws”

Again, this is only a matter of personal taste, but I think that the design for the Warp Talon parts is slightly weaker in some respects: Most of the heads look really clunky and slightly out of scale. And while it’s nice to get a full set of sharp talons for the models’ feet, you’ll need to do some cutting on these to make sure they look natural, instead of jutting out at an improbable 90 degrees angle.

 

So what’s the bottom line?

All in all, I am prepared to call this kit a success, in spite of some nitpicks. It’s is expertly designed and lets you build some great looking models for your chaos army. The accomplished converter will be able to work around the small problems, and you’ll be able to make those Raptors and Warp Talons look like they are actually a part of your Traitor Legion or Renegade Chapter!

That’s what I set out to do as well: I decided to assemble the squad as Warp Talons, if only because I already have quite a few Raptors in my army. Not feeling particularly keen on the devolved, daemonic nature of the Warp Talons (it is a cool concept, but it doesn’t fit my personal fluff all that well), I wanted to build a squad of World Eaters melee specialists with jump packs. Here’s a look at my models:


This was one of the models where the basic pose of the legs combined with the Warp Talon arms seems a little goofy. It took some dryfitting and thinking to sort things out. Ultimately, I am rather pleased with the model, though. In this particular instance, the feet needed a little work (I cut off a part of the soles) to make surethat the angle at which the talons connect to the feet looks natural.


I gave this guy a FW berzerker helmet, since it added to the viciousness of the model’s look. Plus I wanted these guys to be clearly recognisable as World Eaters.


This second guy is the other model that took a while to get right: Although the legs are pretty cool this time, the arms are designed to be pretty close to the body, which makes for pretty restrictive posing. While I would have preferred a more open pose for the arms, the finished model shows the combination that, in my opinion, worked best under the circumstances.

I expect the fine detail on the model’s torso and left arm to be a challenge to paint, though, due to the fact that there is very little room between the torso and left gauntlet. But oh well…

Again, I used a Khornate helmet — this time, it’s one of from the plastic berzerker kit.

The next two models are where I just gave up and built them “as intended” 😉


In this case, the legs and arms work very well together, creating a relaxed but quite menacing pose (not unlike the Chaos Lord with jump pack, by the way). Compared to the ‘Eavy Metal model, I changed the alignment of the torso and arms a bit, though, to make the pose just a tiny bit more interesting. And I added yet another berzerker head. I realise that many are quite tired of these, but I think in this case the head works rather nicely!


Then there’s this guy, who is basically a perfect emulation of the unit champ built by the ‘Eavy Metal team:



What can I say? I just liked the pose and the head a lot! 😉

And finally, probably my favourite model in the whole squad:


It took some time to sort the pose out, but it was well worth it in my opinion. The model looks quite threatening and dynamic at the same time. Yet what really sells this guy is the addition of yet another Khornate FW head: This guy looks soooo angry…

And here’s the whole squad together:


I have not yet decided whether to use the “blade vanes” that attach to the jump packs. While those may seem a little silly at first glance, they could be rather useful in giving the models a more unique silhouette. Hmmm….

Also, it’s basically anyone’s guess when I’ll actually get around to painting these… 😉

Anything else? Oh, yes, the jump packs on these guys are quite a bit smaller than you would expect! Here’s a comparison shot with one of my kitbashed Raptors (using a MaxMini jump pack):

As you can see, the MaxMini pack looks pretty clunky by comparison, while the new model’s silhouette is far less bulky than you would have suspected.

So, one last question remains: Raptors of Warp Talons?

While the answer to that question will ultimately depend on what is the more sensible choice in the context of your army, let me look at things from a modelling perspective:

The Raptors you can build from this kit will work great out of the box, with very little extra work required. You get lots of options, and the squad can be made to look like a external cult or like your own Traitor Legion’s dedicated jump infantry. They’ll also look good alongside your older models, even though they may be a bit more detailed.

The Warp Talons suffer from their rather restrictive poses and will need more work and maybe an influx of external bitz to truly make them shine. Still, their rather distinct silhouette and overall look make them visually interesting, and those clawed gaunzlets are really great. They are also a great modelling option for Night Lords, in my opinion.

In any case, quite a nice kit that gives you a lot of options. The smaller drawbacks shouldn’t keep you from giving this kit a try!

Do you have any thoughts on the kit or my first test models? I’d be glad to hear them in the comments section!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Andy’s Antics: Chaos rising…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2012 by krautscientist

I usually use this blog to brag about things I have built and painted myself, but today I want to take the opportunity to show you the work of somebody else:

I believe I have already mentioned my dear cousin Andy from time to time: Not only is he the owner of the biggest collection of bitz I know (which has proven to be quite the advantage for some of my more involved kitbashes), but also quite an accomplished converter, as I already demonstrated some time ago. His Dark Eldar army is full of great and unconventional conversions, and I imagine it will be a sight to behold one day, provided he ever manages to paint it 😉

But while he may be a backstabbing, pointy-eared  torture-freak at heart, Andy couldn’t help but feel a certain fascination with the new Codex: Chaos Space Marines. So all of a sudden, some CSM models cropped up on his desktop. And now he’s seriously looking at assembling a small chaos army. Today’s post will be about the first results of that plan.

It has to be said that building a chaos army will probably be rendered quite a bit easier for him due to the fact that he had already started collecting a small LNTD force at one point. While a full army never quite materialised, he’ll be able to use most of those models in his second attempt. He also told me he wanted to try to build this army mostly from leftover bitz, with very few new purchases involved. And since I know that Andy is usually at his best when he’s kitbashing leftovers, I am happily along for the ride 😉

Anyway, let’s take a look at what he has got so far. Most of these models are still PIP, but I think you’ll still be getting a pretty good idea of where this is going:

First up, one of the test models for his new paintjob: A Plague Marine of Nurgle.




Andy devised a very simple recipe for the basic armour colour: Overbrush a black undercoat with GW Gretchin Green, then drybrush that with GW Dheneb Stone. The resulting colour looks slightly green and instantly reads as Death Guard, if you ask me. The armour trim was blocked out in rusty metal, and some additional rust was painted into the deeper recesses, using thinned down GW Vermin Brown.

Then there’s Andy’s idea for using slightly converted WFB Knights of Chaos as CSM Bikes:




While some of the detail could still profit from a bit of additional attention, I think you’ll agree that the overall colour scheme is pretty effective already. And the very medieval look of the horses is a rather nice fit for a Nurglite army, if you ask me.

One of the first models Andy built for the new army was the Terminator below. I love this guy for the fact that he was built using nothing but leftover bitz. Take a look:




Andy used an AOBR Terminator as a base, adding all kinds of chaos and Ogre Kingdoms bitz on top. I also really like the subtle but powerful pose, one of Andy’s areas of expertise: You really get the feeling that this guy, with his crude weapons, is all kinds of bad news…

Cousin Andy is currently converting some Possessed from a heap of leftover bitz I donated to his cause. He also took a discarded Possessed model of mine and upped the “body horror factor” a couple of notches by making him eyeless:




Knowing his usual conversion work, I imagine the finished squad will end up looking rather disturbing — in a good way!

And finally, a preview of Andy’s next “Counts as” bike, after the basic colour has been laid down:


All in all, I feel cousin Andy is off to a promising start! Although I cannot help but feel like all of this will become much less enjoyable once I find myself on the wrong side of his Death Guard’s Bolters…

Anyway, building more followers of Nurgle should give him ample opportunity for spectacular and distusting conversions galore! And I suppose that the Plague Ogryns I originally converted and (in one case) painted for Andy’s LNTD army will eventually find their way into this army as well. Here’s a quick reminder for you:


I, for one, am pretty interested in seeing where this is going!  More on this as it develops.

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Totally worth it: The Inquisitor Rulebook

Posted in 40k, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, old stuff, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2012 by krautscientist

Well, I’ve been meaning to kick off this series for ages, and now it’s finally time! So welcome, dear reader, to Totally worth it, where I share my opinions on rightly remembered classics, undeservedly forgotten almost-greats or just the odd tale about my personal hobby socialisation.

Today’s subject was pretty much a no-brainer, though. This time on Totally worth it: The Inquisitor Rulebook.

image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Let me start by saying that something like Inquisitor was, at least for me, totally unprecedented at the time of its release.

To understand what made Inquisitor so special, let’s take a look at the somewhat “lopsided” 40k narrative in the early-to-mid 90s: Fascinating as the 40k universe may have been for yound tabletop geeks like us, you couldn’t help but wonder what actually living in this world would look like: Sure, there was the endless war and the huge armies clashing all the time, each with their discreet backgrounds, but at times, it really didn’t feel like a lived-in universe, but rather like something that was only there to provide a backdrop for tabletop battles and winked out of existence as soon as the battle was done — which, in all fairness, was probably the truth of it. It would still take a couple of years for authors like Dan Abnett to flesh out everyday life in the Imperium of Man. So we didn’t have all that much to work with.

But then Inquisitor came along, and suddenly it was possible to imagine the Imperium of Man on a day to day basis. For Inquisitor is not a game of sweeping battles with thousands of soldiers: As the caption on the cover on the rulebook states, Inquisitor is about the Battle for the Emperor’s Soul, a shadow war waged in the darker corners of the Imperium, in the places in between.

And the world between the cracks is often far more interesting: Inquisitor’s narrative is populated by countless strange and fascinating archetypes, and the rulebook does a fantastic job of fleshing out some of these, while giving the hobbyist just enough information on some of the others to motivate him to get creative himself. Anyone browsing through the Inquisitor rulebook will quickly notice the wealth of narrative potential, with lots of little snippets of background and lore to pick up on.

All of this is supported by the book’s great design and production values: From the lavishly illustrated pages to the barcode on the back in the shape of an =][= symbol, the book just oozes style. And while we are on the subject of the artwork: This is where Inquisitor truly shines! All of the character archetypes are accompanied by a wealth of artwork, and even some of the more outlandish character concepts get their own illustrations courtesy of the great John Blanche, who really goes to town on some of the archetypes. I realise that his artwork can be a bit of an acquired taste for some, while others are prepared to state flat out that they don’t like it, period. Make no mistake, however: The man has shaped the 40k universe into what it is today and provided the most compelling and truly original parts of its aesthetics: The gothic madness, the fusion of man, machine and strangely religious iconography.

The Inquisitor rulebook brings us a game firmly set in a world that (RT days aside) had previously only ever been hinted at in the background of 40k artwork. So in case you ever wondered what the story behind those strange cherubim, robed figures and demented creatures lingering in the background was, Inquisitor provides the answers you seek – or at least gives you some rather unsettling ideas. Always remember, though, that everything you have been told is a lie!

Towards this end, Inquisitor is not just a game system, but a veritable treasure trove of concepts and ideas. There is much talk of the “old” versus the “new” GW, and I usually tend to find such arguments rather tedious – there’s always more than one side to things, for one, and the same, evil capitalist structures transforming GW into the devil incarnate for some hobbyists have also brought us a slew of fantastic and versatile hobby materials that the “old” GW could never have put out on this scale. Plus there have been some marked changes in GW’s policies of late (the new WD, 40k’s return to a much more narrative-driven game) that fill me with a certain optimism.

But if there was something the “old” GW was great at, it was putting out whimsical projects like Inquisitor, games that seem to be saying “This rocks! Let’s just do this” at every turn, and  where the authors’ and artists’ passion is plain to see on every page: It is very obvious that Inquisitor was a project that Gav Thorpe and John Blanche where very much in love with — and it shows! What’s more, Inquisitor is so great precisely because it does not try its damnedest to appeal to everyone and their cousin. And it is entirely possible to play the game without ever using a single Space Marine – gasp!

Of course, Inquisitor is just as fascinating from a marketing standpoint: GW introduced an entirely new scale for the game, and Inquisitor is markedly different in tone and execution from 40k proper. All of this begs the question: Did the game ever make a lick of sense from a business perspective? And would it have fared differently, in the long run, if it had been conceived to work with GW’s well-established 28mm scale in the first place? One can only wonder…

In any case, GW later tried to capture some of what was great about Inquisitor with the codex releases for Daemonhunters and Witchhunters, porting (or rather: reintroducing) the eclectic and slightly  demented aesthetics to 40k proper. The respective army books are quite fascinating, as are many of the models released alongside them. Alas, it didn’t last: The  Inquisition today seems to be defined by Codex: Grey Knights more often than not, while the Witchhunters seem to have been let slip under the carpet in the (rather slipshod) Codex: Adeptus Sororitas. In general, it seems that the gothic horror angle has been somewhat pared back in GW’s materials for a couple of years, though the new 40k rulebook shows a certain return to form: Will future releases bring back some of the spirit of Inquisitor, even in regular 40k? I, for one, certainly hope so!

In any case, Inquisitor as a game at both ranges is still going strong, being kept alive by places like the Conclave, the Ammobunker or Dakka and by people like Commissar Molotov, PDH, Jakob Nielsen,  the Spiky Rat Pack and migsula, to name just a few. And there are lots and lots of fantastic scenarios, character concepts and fanmade sourcebooks for you to discover (most of them at the places I mentioned above). The Inquisitor Rulebook, then, is really just a point of entry to a fascinating hobby world! In case you are interested, my own exploits in this strange and fascinating universe have been collected for your viewing pleasure right here.

Now whether this post has made you curious and you want to delve into this thrilling and demented world yourself, or you’re just a fan of reading everything about the 40k universe in order to give your games more context, the Inquisitor Rulebook is, of course, totally worth it. And the best thing: A digital version of it can be freely downloaded from the GW website here. Still, the original print version is also very much worth tracking down: It’s a beautiful book, and the extra colour pages detail the creation and painting process for GW’s own 54mm miniatures (as an aside, it is very interesting to see how the ideas behind the defining features of the original Eisenhorn model are completely different from the explanations that later appeared in the novels…) and feature some very interesting conversion ideas. In any case, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Want to share any insights or remarks about Inquisitor and the rulebook? I’d be more than happy to read from you in the comments section!

In any case, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The Forsaken

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, paintjob, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2012 by krautscientist

Since the first WIP shots of my converted Chaos Spawn drew some rather positive comments, today I would like to show you the next steps in the model’s (d)evolution.

So where did we leave off last time? Like I previously told you, the Vargheist/Crypt Horror kit has looked very interesting to me for quite some time now. I only lacked a true idea of what to convert from it. But then, the new codex re-established Chaos Spawn as a viable unit choice once again — just what I had been waiting for!

While I think the Chaos Spawn kit has quite a lot of potential, all the over the top mutations didn’t really gel with my army background. So I went for something different. As you may know, my army’s fluff states that the remnants of the World Eaters’ 4th assault company are trying hard to keep the madness that has taken the rest of the legion at bay (which is, of course, a losing battle). Towards that end, those legionaries showing signs of severe physical or mental corruption are singled out by the commanding officers and form the conpany’s vanguard. Called “the Lost Brethren”, these lost souls get one final chance to die in a blaze of glory at the forefront of the battle, before their corruption can overwhelm them (and become a danger for the rest of the company). They have to die, so that the company may endure. But what about those battle brothers who survive, even through all the corruption and slaughter? What would such a creature end up looking like?

Using parts from the Vargheist kit, some WFB Minotaur arms and a couple of additional bitz, I tried to find out.


You already know this picture: This is where I ended up after some fooling around with the parts and some yellow tac. While the Minotaur arms initially seemed rather malproportioned in contrast with the lean Vargheist body, I couldn’t help but feel that this was still the right direction. After all, one of the Lost Brethren would probably devolve even further as time went by, and the qualities that made him strong in the first place would become even more pronounced. I was somehow reminded of the Vampires’ evolution in the Legacy of Kain Series (Dumah, anyone?) while building this guy, to tell you the truth…

Anyway, I liked the basic build of the model well enough, so I added some additional detail:




First of all, the joints between the Minotaur arms and Vargheist torso were built up and blended in with GS. I also added leftover chains and various skulls from different kits to the model. The back of the head was covered in cabling to show the “Butcher’s Nails” the legionnaire had been outfitted with during his days as a battle brother. Again, the cabling was blended in using more GS.


As you can see above, I also added a “Triumph Rope” to the model’s torso, enforcing the impression that this hulking monstrosity was once a honoured member of the 12th Astartes legion and had a string of triumphs to show for it.


All in all, I am very pleased with the conversion: While the proportions may be a little cartoony, I think the model really looks like a devolved Astartes.

When painting the model, I went for the same, pale skin tones I used from the rest of my World Eaters. In addition to that, the model’s shoulderpads were painted in red and bronze to further tie it in with the rest of the force. And while I am usually hesitant to paint blood on the weapons of my models, I made an exception here, since I felt that the Forsaken are very unlikely to clean their weapons between battles. The blood was painted using Tamiya Clear Red.

Here’s the finished test model:







I have to admit that I am not yet 100% happy with the paintjob: I have never used this particular skin tone on such a large scale before, so the result may need some tweaks (as well as some getting used-to). But all in all, I think the model makes for a rather convincing (and pretty original) chaos spawn. The one problem I can see with this conversion is that the other two Vargheist bodies have poses that are quite a bit less interesting and pretty static. So it remains to be seen whether the next two models will end up looking cool enough.

In any case, though, I am prepared to call this test model a success: It’s a hulking, terrifying beast, it looks like it could have (d)evolved from a regular World Eater, and it’s a pretty original take on the whole spawn concept, don’t you think?

All that remained was to think of a suitable background for this poor lost soul:


The Forsaken

There are those individuals among the 4th assault company’s Lost Brethren whose fall has taken them even further. It is the purpose of the Lost to die, so that the company may endure. Their ferocious vanguard assaults often end with all the legionaries wiped out, killed in a last blaze of glory, their last chance at an honourable death.

But there are those whose combat prowess is far too great, even burdened with mutation and insanity. Or those whose corruption is the very thing that made them more resilient. Those legionaries live through the ordeal that was meant to kill them, devolving further and further into mere beasts. They become The Forsaken.

The Forsaken are kept in the fighting pits, located in the bowels of the company’s battleships. Legionaries test their power against them on the Hot Dust, giving these feral beasts a taste of the gladiatorial lifestyle that once defined them and in turn facing the company’s daemons and their own fate, should they give in to the madness.

It is only under the most dire circumstances that the Forsaken will be allowed to participate in battle, for they cannot be controlled, and their deadliness makes them as much of a danger to their allies as to the company’s foes.

 

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Planning Chaos

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, old stuff, Pointless ramblings, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by krautscientist

The new Codex: Chaos Space Marines has been with us for a while now, and I have spent quite some time browsing through it. It’s a beautiful book, to be sure, with all of the flexibility I liked about Gav Thorpe’s oft-maligned last edition codex coupled with some of the flavour everybody enjoyed about the 3.5 book. It also adds some new and quite individual selections that players can add to their force to make it more different from loyal Marines. It also murders a few darlings (*cough* champs with power fists *cough*), but that was to be expected. Granted, I couldn’t really tell you how thinks are looking on the tournament front, but then I couldn’t care less either: From a casual gamer’s perspective, there is a lot to like about the codex.

In any case, the new book has spurred chaos players the world over back into activity. And so I would like to use this post to try and collect my thoughts on the options before me and outline some of my next plans for my World Eaters:

I. The Fast

With assault becoming a little trickier in the new edition, fast units are now an even more interesting proposition.

The first way to make your army that much faster is the use of jump infantry, and considering my well-documented soft spot for Raptors as well as the fact that they received both a reduction in points as well as a spiffy new plastic kit, this is an avenue that I consider exploring to its fullest. So expect a closer look at the new Raptor/Warp Talon kit shortly!

And while we are on the subject of jump infantry, I finally managed to paint up one of my Raptor champions some time ago. Take a look:





As you can see, this guy was built with the tried and true tactics of 5th edition firmly in mind: I gave him a power fist to add a bit of oomph to a unit of tank killers. Alas, the new focus on issuing challenges means his weapon now makes him a less than optimal choice. Fortunately, I also have another champion wielding a pair of Lightning Claws — although that one yet has to be painted…

The other available option for more speed would be to add some bikes to my army. With a hefty reduction in points cost and a couple of nasty rules, bikes seem to be one of the  winners of the recent update. I wouldn’t even have to start from zero, since I already have three bikes that I picked up as part of a huge army deal some time last year. They are already converted and ready to be painted.

Here’s a (unfortunately quite fuzzy) impression of my converted Lord on bike:


Unfortunately, those three would need quite a few additional buddies to be truly effective. And while the option of getting into combat really fast does, of course, appeal to me, I feel a little apathetic about building and painting a lot of bikes — especially now that the box containing three of them is no longer available.
All in all, unless a cheap way of picking up several bikes presents itself, I think I’ll just wait a while to see whether any new models come along. It would be a shame to get lots of old bikes now only to have the new ones released right after that…

2.) The Furious

I really want to add some Daemon Engines to my army! And since I know my own lack of discipline, I used the Eleventh Throne of Skulls Painting/Converting Contest to help my resolve: You see, having won the last contest, I get to choose the next subject. So I chose Khornate Daemon Engines to basically force myself into building and painting one in the near future.

But which one to choose? Get the Heldrake kit and try to make it work visually? Or use a fiend, which looks much cooler out of the box, but is probably quite a bit more different to convert and individualise? Decisions, decisions…

Having spent quite some time thinking about what Daemon Engine to build, I took the easy way out:

Yeah, I know: A bit of an overkill, maybe. Let’s see how these guys shape up…

3.) The Negligible

Well, from an avid converter’s perspective, the award for the least interesting unit types goes to the Obliterators and to their more CC-oriented kin, the Mutilators. With the official models still so very ugly, I was actually rather stoked for a while at the prospect of converting my own version of the Mutilators, with a look more in line with my own aesthetic preferences. But seeing as the rules are just as lacklustre as the models, I have redirected my modelling efforts in this respect towards another project (see below).

4.) The Rest

First of all, I finally caved in: I am going to build a squad of World Eaters Havocs. There’s enough precedent in the older fluff for this (Teeth of Khorne, anyone?), and I will try my best to make them look great. Just you wait 😉

Ever since GW released the Vargheist/Crypt Horror kit I have been thinking of using it as conversion fodder for my World Eaters: I really like the lean, emaciated look of the models, and I think could be made to resemble Astartes that had become raging beasts. The resulting models could be used as Chaos spawn, since, even though I like the kit, I’m not a big fan of creepy crawly mutations). Anyway, I started building the models and then messed around with a couple of Minotaur bitz I still had lying around, and this was the result:





More on this as it develops…

And I am still happily plugging away at the remaining contents of the Dark Vengeance box: For instance, I worked some more on the models I already showed you some time ago.


This guy received some impromptu head surgery as an addition to the added icon.

I also wanted to change the look of the cultist wielding the flamer, and what better to use than a head sporting a gas mask?



He looks pretty similar to the Pyro now, don’t you think? 😉

Meanwhile, the head’s original owner received a replacement courtesy of the Crypt Ghoul kit. While the head is a rather nice fit, I’ll still need to use some GS to build up a neck portion.  I also added a new CC weapon, originally from the WFB Chaos Marauders. The weapon nicely fits the “repurposed tools” look, though.


The next guy also received a new head (from the WFB Empire flagellants) and yet another CC weapon:


You know things are really going to hell in a handbasket once people start using shovels as weapons…

I really didn’t want to cut off this guy’s head, seeing how that would have created a huge, damaged area to take care of. So I just added a Marauder shoulderpad and a small bayonet to his gun and called it a day. I am pretty confident that I’ll be able to make his paintjob look different enough from that of his “twin”, though.


Yet another headswap. In this case, it took a bit of work to make sure all the small cables to the side of the model’s head remained undamaged and were properly attached to the “new” body. The leftover head and body were then used to build this guy:


I also added another amour plate and a small chain dangling from the barrel of the autogun.

And finally, the second cultist champion:


I did a rather subtle conversion on the model’s right arm, replacing the original axe (and the hand holding it in a rather infuringly awkward way) with a weapon from the WFB Marauder Horsemen.

The left forearm was replaced with that of the other cultist champ. I think this guy with his disheveled zealot look looks rather convincing wielding a shotgun! The menacing clawed gauntlet went into the bitzbox for a future project.

And here’s the whole squad, basically ready for painting:


It has to be said that these guys are rather easy to convert: You can get some real variety by just swapping out a few weapons and heads and by adding the odd bit from another kit, like I did. And that’s not even counting the option of doing far more involved conversions (you can see some pretty great ones in this thread, over at GW Fanworld). I guess once these are all painted up, I’ll do a number of side by side comparison shots of the duplicates 😉

In addition to this, I have managed to amass quite a number of unpainted models in my cupboard of shame, among them…

  • a pretty sweet Lord on Juggernaut (that may admittedly be somewhat less original, now that the WFB Skullcrushers have been released…)
  • a squad of Chosen I built some time ago. While they may lack the fantastic detail of the Dark Vengeance Chosen, they are a rather nice fit for my army fluff.
  • a pretty big number of Chaos Terminators – expect a detailed post on these rather soon…
  • a couple of unpainted Lords, in keeping with my addiction to converting Chaos Lords.

Fortunately, the new codex has made none of these units any less viable — indeed, quite the opposite in some cases. So expect me to start working on some of those long time projects as well 😉

Last but not least, let me present you with some recent additions to my collection. Thanks to my fellow World Eater Khorga cleaning out his deep bitz box, I was able to purchase these:


First up is what may be my favourite metal World Eater ever. It’s hard to believe how crisp the detail on this guy looks, especially considering the model is from 1990! That’s vintage Jes Goodwin for you! It looks much cooler than some of the more recent metal World Eaters. In fact, my only nitpick would be the slightly hunched pose. Apart from that, this guy is damn near perfect!

Then there’s this guy:


That’s right, a complete Legion of the Damned Sergeant Centurius! Now I am a little torn about this model: Should I leave it as it is and paint it in its “intended” colours, or should I make it into a skull champion and induct it into the ranks of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt?

As you can see, I have a lot on my plate right now. So expect a slew of chaotic updates! Yay! And let me know your opinion in the comments section!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

A public service announcement

Posted in Pointless ramblings, WIP on November 3, 2012 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, let me just give you a small update on the current state of affairs:

Following the release of Codex: Chaos Space Marines, I’ve been ensnared in all kinds of hobby activities. Unfortunately, I have little to show for it (yet), but things are starting to come together rather nicely on several fronts, so I’ll soon be able to show you some results. Be advised, however, that I may be dropping the odd Friday update from the posting schedule for a while – nothing permanent, mind you, just for a few weeks to give me some breathing space, deal with some stressful RL issues and actually get something finished that can then be shown on this blog. And the content there is will still be quality content of course — or at least what passes for quality content around here 😉

It goes without saying that the new codex has reinvigorated my chaotic hobby activities, so expect to be seeing some Veterans of the Long War here very soon!

In other news, I am excited to report my first 30,000 views! Not front page material, I realise, but I am rather proud nonetheless. So thanks to everyone dropping by! Hope you can use the odd idea from this blog. And keep commenting, people, so I’m feeling less like I am talking to myself 😉

Right, and with that, have a great weekend! Normal service will resume on Wednesday.

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!