Archive for January, 2013

Totally worth it: Warzone

Posted in Conversions, old stuff, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by krautscientist

In the last installment of Totally Worth It, I talked about a pretty well recognised classic: The Inquisitor Rulebook. But this series would be extraordinarily boring if it only dealt with well-known stuff, so for today I have chosen something a bit more obscure: A game that went under without ever making that much of a splash, but also a release totally worth checking out: The Warzone 2nd edition starter box.

Image appears courtesy of Prince August

Image appears courtesy of Prince August

In case you don’t know the game, don’t fret: It was released by the Swedish Company Target Games some time during the 90s in an attempt to challenge GW’s dominance over the wargaming market. In those days, however, it was usually not as widely available as GW’s systems: I remember discovering a catalogue of Target Games releases at my local FLGS in the late 90s and quite liking some of the designs, but ordering stuff in those dark days (before the internet made sure everything was always just one click away) was an arcane and hazardous business at the best of times, so I never persevered. Then, a couple of years ago, a couple of conversions started cropping up on the forums, with people using their old Warzone starter box minis to bulk out the ranks of their Imperial Guard or Lost and the Damned traitor armies. And I immediately recalled that I had rather liked those designs all those years ago. So when I had the chance to pick up a whole Warzone starter box on ebay for a song, I went for it and was pleasantly surprised.

But enough about me, let’s cut to the chase: Warzone is set in the Mutant Chronicles universe, where a number of Megacorporations originating on good old Earth are continually duking it out all over the galaxy: Hostile takeovers here are indeed a rather bloody affair, with the necessary paperwork usually only signed after the fact. The corporations also heavily draw on a number of national stereotypes, which is pretty evident by their names alone: Imperial (totally not the UK), Capitol (totally not the USA), Bauhaus (totally not Imperial Germany, with the rest of 19th century continental Europe thrown into the mix for flavour), Mishima (totally not Edo-period Japan), and Cybertronic (totally not, well, Microsoft, I guess…). Oh, and there’s also a church state (totally not Christianity) and the four Dark Apostles (totally not GW’s chaos gods) and their followers. In short, the whole background is just as much of a glorious trainwreck as the 40k lore of old, and I really think the Chaos-God-expies are a bit superfluous, but the whole Megacorporation angle and the way the associated tropes are used still seem rather interesting and original today.

The background is (rather briefly) detailed in the accompanying three books: one for the background itself, one for the rules and one for the army lists (the latter has all the army lists for all the factions, by the way). While the books are partly suffering from a pretty angular 90s layout, they are chock-full of great artwork (from artists like Paul Bonner, comic book prodigy Simon Bisley and others) and lots and lots of nicely photographed models.

Speaking of the models, there’s a decidedly WWI-ish feel to the whole thing from an aesthetic standpoint: The Imperial soldiers even come with Brodie helmets, and no Bauhaus soldier could ever be complete without his trusty “Pickelhaube”.

With the starter box, you get 40 soldiers of the Bauhaus and Imperial corporations, respectively. The plastic models were designed by Bob Naismith, one of the “fathers” of the original Space Marines, and it shows: In short, I would go so far as to say that the starter box minis may very well be the best models released for Warzone. Let’s take a look:

Warzone Minis (1)
Warzone Minis (3)
Warzone Minis (2)
This is a regular Imperial infantryman. I painted him in suitably muddy colours and added an IG decal for good measure.

Warzone Minis (6)
Warzone Minis (4)
And here’s an Imperial heavy weapon’s expert after I gave him the same treatment.

And finally, an Imperial officer:

Warzone Minis (9)
Warzone Minis (8)
Warzone Minis (7)
In this case, I added red as a spot colour on the officer’s cap and left shoulderpad.

And here’s all three of them together:

Warzone Minis (13)

And here’s an officer from the other faction, Bauhaus:

Warzone Minis (10)
Warzone Minis (11)
Warzone Minis (12)
Of course I chose a very different recipe for painting him, but I think it works rather well. And you may call me crazy, but I rather think that the flowing lines of the shoulder armour are very reminiscent of the Volkswagen Beetle. I wonder if this was a deliberate choice…

I have to tell you I really like these guys. They are pretty great starter minis, and they sport a decidedly distinct look. Granted, with only three poses per faction, there may be a pronounced lack of variety, but keep in mind that it’s the 90s we are talking about here. Let’s take a look at GW’s 2nd edition starter box minis from the same time:

2nd edition Blood Angel, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

2nd edition Blood Angel, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

2nd edition Ork Boy, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

2nd edition Ork Boy, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

While the Ork Boy is still rather charming in a corny retro-way, both models are certainly nothing to write home about. I think we can all agree that Warzone’s starter minis are spitting on the second edition 40k minis from a very tall height.

My one gripe with these guys is that not only are they rather fiddly to put together, but the plastic these were made also comes straight from hell, which makes removing moldlines and gluing them together more of an adventure than it should be. Still, the designs are really great, in my opinion, and still hold up rather nicely today.

Unfortunately, the rest of the catalogue didn’t necessarily fare as well: Target Games employed lots of different designers, resulting in a very uneven level of quality: Some of the metal Warzone minis are simply gorgeous (having been designed by people like Werner Klocke), while others are looking terribly clunky, failing to capture the pretty great artwork they are based on. It also seems like some of the models were designed at the heroic 28mm scale, while others are far more realistically proportioned. And some of this stuff is simply very goofy looking (Mishima’s dragon landspeeder or the majority of the Dark Apostle’s forces come to mind…). But still, the books and models that come with the starter box are rather nice, and definitely great value for a starter box from that time.

So what about the game itself? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you with any measure of reliability: I am not a rules guy, especially not when the game in question has been dead for close to 15 years. At a glance, it looks like the rules were reasonably similar to 2nd edition 40k, although with a more skirmish-like approach. There is a number of differences and smart ideas, but ultimately the game seems fairly similar to its direct competitor.

Unfortunately, very shortly after the release of Warzone’s 2nd edition, the 3rd edition of Wathammer 40k hit tabletops everywhere: With a radically streamlined ruleset and the spectacular multipart plastic Space Marines in the starter box, GW left the competition in the dust. Target Games also tried to challenge GW yet again with its own fantasy wargame called “Chronopia”, with quite similar results (as an interesting aside, though, some of those Chronopia models rather look like early design studies for Warmachine, in my opinion…): GW simply seemed invincible in the late 90s.

So what to make of it all?

In any case, the Warzone starter box is an artifact from an interesting era of tabletop wargaming: Target Games dared to challenge GW, and though they may have failed in this, you have to admire their ambition! What’s more, the minis from the box still holf up rather nicely, and are a great way of getting your hands on some cheap alternative IG models: I could see these being used as an alternative for the Death Korps of Krieg, and DRommel did some very nice Savlar Chem Dogs based on Imperial soldiers. Then there’s the option of using them as chaos cultists, Planetary Defense forces, alternative Arbites, Inquisition troops or simply as NPCs in games of Inquisitor 28 or Necromunda. And if all else fails, you can always use them to pull off stunts like this one:

Converted Traitor commissar using a Warzone Imperial officer's head

Converted Traitor commissar using a Warzone Imperial officer’s head

The game, huge bags of the plastic starter models and the remainder of the old metal models can still be had for a song over at Prince August, who picked up the rights to Target Games’ wargames. So I encourage you to take a look. Especially at this price, Warzone may very well be totally worth it, if only for conversion fodder or to satisfy your curiosity RE: “wargaming history…”

Do you have any experiences with the Warzone minis, or maybe even with playing the game? Let me know in the comments section!

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

Facing Demons, pt. 2: All your base…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2013 by krautscientist

One of the few hobby-related things I managed to do over the holidays was to get some more work done on my Lorimar model. In my last post about this guy, I already described the thoughts that went into building the model. Still, there were still some details to attend to:

The first of those was to build a base for the model. The base for Lorimar had to be rather tall and imposing — not only to show off the model, but for a rather simple reason, really: Lorimar’s flowing cape was pretty long, so I had to elevate him quite a bit in order to raise it clear of the ground. With this in mind, I got to work. Here’s what I came up with:

Lorimar base WIP (1)
Lorimar base WIP (5)
Lorimar base WIP (4)
Lorimar base WIP (3)
Lorimar base WIP (2)
As you can see, the rock from the Chaos Lord kit was used as a centrepiece for the base. The model had been built with this particular rock in mind as well, so it made a lot of sense to use it. The bit was combined with quite a bit of cork in order to make it look a little less generic. I used a couple of skulls on stakes, but I didn’t go overboard with it: After all, the model has enough skulls as it is 😉
I also added a couple of spears, jutting out of the ground at different angles. Those came from the WFB Marauder Horsemen. I used the he same kind of spears when building my custom objective markers, leading to a nice bit of visual consistency across the army.

Although the base still needs some additional cork chaff and small pieces of slate to better blend in the plastic rock with the rest of the base and to add some texture, the overall build is complete.

I also did a last minute change to the model itself: Even though I rather liked the two-handed axe that I had converted for Lorimar, it was still the one part about the model that kept bothering me: It looked too heavy to be wielded in tandem with a sword, for one. And the silhouette of the weapon, extraordinary as it might have been, didn’t immediately read as an axe. So I exchanged it for a slightly less clunky model. Take a look:

Lorimar WIP (9)
Lorimar WIP (10)
Lorimar WIP (11)
Lorimar WIP (13)
The new axe head came from one of the Dark Vengeance Chosen. Even though it doesn’t look as unique as the original axe, I still think it strikes a far better balance: Lorimar looks like he could actually fight wielding both weapons at the same time, which had been the original plan for the model. The converted axe head went into the bitzbox for a future project, of course…

Some smaller additions to the base notwithstanding, this is basically the finished model ready for painting. So when you next hear about Lorimar, expect the model to have some paint on it 😉

Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Lorimar WIP (14)

Holiday conversions

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2013 by krautscientist

Even though I have been phenomenally lazy for the last two weeks, I still managed to sit down after Christmas to finish a couple of models I had been working on for ages. I also managed to get some more work done on Lord Captain Lorimar, although that will warrant a post of its own.

Today, let’s look at some more chaos models in Terminator armour: I realise you might be getting tired of these, but they are just so much fun to build 😉

First up, a Chaos Lord in Terminator armour wielding a pair of lightning claws: This guy is the beginning of a small, dedicated LC unit:

LC Lord WIP (2)
LC Lord WIP (1)
LC Lord WIP (3)
As you can see, the Chaos Termie Lord kit once again formed the base for the conversion (although the torso front came from the regular Chaos Terminators). I added a pair of SW Lightning claws, since I liked the extra sharp look of the claws. The head and right shoulderpad came from the FW World Eaters Terminators, while the Khornate bunny ears were cut off a WFB Finecast champion of Khorne. It seems like a very easy kitbash, but it took me ages to get the pose on this guy right.

The second model I managed to complete has already appeared in some of my fluff: It’s Brother Hokar, Master of the Guard. Here’s a brief decription from a piece of background I wrote:

“(…)Khoron laughed. The sound recalled sheets of metal grinding against each other. A strange sound for a Dreadnought. Khoron took a step forward and Bardolf could see fresh damage on his armoured form. “Oh, I have been here for a while. As a matter of fact, I was quite honoured to accompany our brother Charun on his latest …sortie.”

“And quite a sortie it was”, came a new voice. Bardolf turned around to face the new arrival. It belonged to Hokar, Lorimar’s Master of the Guard. His Terminator armour was exquisitely crafted,  forming a cowl in the shape of a snarling skull that cast a shadow over his pale features. His expression was utterly inscrutable. Nothing new there.

“I salute you, hunter”, Bardolf addressed him, “I thought you were campaigning in the Diammar sector.”

Hokar’s eyes were like shards of volcanic glass. “Indeed I was. But your inability to keep our brother Charun in check managed to end my hunt somewhat…prematurely. Or did you think our Lord Lorimar brought the majority of the company here for a spot of hiking?”

To be fair, I had already begun building the model when I wrote this. But in case you wondered what Hokar looked like, here he is:

Hokar WIP (2)
Hokar WIP (4)
The idea of using the great Chaos Knight pauldrons as a sort of cowl was lifted from Lamby’s excellent “Legion of Thorns” thread over at Dakka. I think it really adds character to a Terminator! I  also had the idea of arming him in a rather unconventional way by giving him a spear and shield. I wanted this to reflect the World Eaters’ gladiatorial traditions: I imagine that gladiators in the grimdark of the far future would be trained to use different weapon configurations (pretty much like the gladiators in ancient Rome), so I thought it would be interesting to explore different loadouts for no other reason than to give some additional character to the individual models. I can imagine a bodyguard for Lorimar where every member is wielding a highly individual combination of weapons — wouldn’t that be cool?

Anyway, as you can see, the model’s legs came from a SW Terminator. I felt the trophy pelt was a nice callback to the 4th assault company’s role as a hunting party. I used some bits from the Skullcrusher kit to make the armour on the legs look slightly more chaotic.

Hokar WIP (1)
Hokar also uses a shield from the Skullcrusher kit. Many people are skeptical of shields on Khorne models, but I felt that, as Master of the Guard, Hokar should really be equipped for defense as well as offense. Plus everyone who has seen the fantastically corny Spartacus series knows shields can be used in fairly creative ways…

While I was building my umpteenth Chaos Terminator, Cousin Andy also joined in on the fun and built this model:

I have no idea what this guy will end up as, and neither does Andy, I think. But the model was still cool enough that I wanted to feature it in this post. It was built using different (Dark) Eldar bits and a flaming skull from the WFB Empire wizard kit.

So I did at least spent some of my holdiday for hobby related-activities. More new stuff soon!

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