But it was a fun little build. And I used magnets. So…
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my League Of European Nations infantry platoon – these guys would have been the first to meet the fury of the Holy Soviet Army assault on the Ostwall on that fateful day in 1954..
Of course, I couldn’t just send these chaps out on their own. They needed something to deal with enemy armour- I suppose a panzerschreck or faust could have done the job, or maybe a mortar, but I liked the concept of a giant laser just that little bit more.
We began with a rectangle of corrugated cardboard, and six defunct Hexbug (little motorised insect things powered by watch batteries – seriously, these things are awesome fun!) batteries provided the carriage wheels, three a side. Strips of IDE cable cut at a 5mm thickness (thank you Zrunelord from TMP) and glued on with gel superglue made excellent caterpillar tracks, and another defunct Hexbug battery made for the gun mount. I dressed the chassis with some thin card and kebab skewer cuts for cabling and duct work.
For the weapon itself, it began life as a superglue nozzle, behind which I fashioned a gun shield from cardboard and bulked the assembly out with kebab skewer offcuts and a little bit of foam – and then it was time to break out the magnets!
I’d bought a small pack on eBay and was anxious to try them out, so superglued one to the underside of the weapon assembly and one to the gun mount – and the result was actually pretty successful!
Next up – painting!
White undercoat, wash of Vallejo black ink, then tan basecoat followed by green and brown camo striping as per the German infantry platoon a few weeks back ted together with a brown wash, a pin wash of Vallejo Smokey Ink and a light drybrush of Americana Buttermilk. Metallics were a boltgun metal washed with thin black ink, and I applied a rough DIY texture paste of brown paint, sand and PVA. This in turn got a wash and a highlight drybrush!
How do, Dan here again – getting the hang of this typing malarkey. Jim’s given me the keys to the blog as long as I promise no naked belly dancing pictures.
Since we started dipping our toe back into 40k and it’s boutique cousin, 30k (aka the Horus Heresy) a while back, we’ve been hearing the name “Betrayal at Calth” bandied about with much excitement about the variety and quality of the miniatures included in it. The consensus seems to be that it’s an excellent starter set for anyone planning a 30k Space Marine army, containing 30 Marines in Mk 4 power armour, a Chaplain, a Terminator Captain and 5 Cataphractii Terminators, plus a Contemptor Dreadnought – yours for just £95.
That kind of goes against our cheap ‘n’ cheerful, DIY ethos. But as it turns out, Betrayal At Calth is in fact a board game with miniatures – in intent, at least. To 99% of the internet, it’s miniatures with some dice and bits of cardboard cluttering the box up.
However, this can work to our advantage – a little bit of eBay reconnaissance shows that there seems to be a cottage industry in buying BaC boxes, stripping out the minis and selling them on.. but that leaves the game pieces for sale at absolutely knockdown prices.
And thus it was that we discovered a seller offering the complete BaC kit sans minis for £4.99. Yes, you read that right. Well, we’ve sold a couple of copies of Apocalypse: Earth over at Wargame Vault, so we cashed in and went for it. A few days later, and lookie lookie what turns up in the post:
Typical GW, even the box is laaaaaaarvely, loads of artwork and pics of beautifully painted minis adorning the side – a nice throw back to the days of the 90s classic Space Crusade.
The rulebook contains some in depth fluff on the battle of Calth and the Heresy (Spoiler alert – Word Bearers are BAD GUYS) which give plenty of atmosphere, as well as containing the rules and six scenarios to play through. My only criticism here is the rules are somewhat unclearly expressed – the Critical Hit rules weren’t clear until we watched a Warhammer TV playthrough of the game, and it was only then we realised about rubble hexes giving cover. This is in the rulebook, just not where you expect it to be. Props to GW for including a handy reference chart on the back page, though, good thinking!
The board itself is a hex board, four interlocking sections that are double sided and depict the ruined arcologies of the once verdant world of Calth. These can be rearranged to create all manner of different floorplans with red bordered hexes representing blocked terrain and dotted line bordered hexes representing rubble – slowing movement but conferring a cover bonus.
There are also a deck of cards giving reference stats for all the units
Gameplay wise, it’s pretty straightforward, every unit has a Bulk rating (how many can fit in a hex), Melee and Shoot ratings all allowing different numbers of dice to be rolled.
But straightforward doesn’t mean bad. In fact, this is a really fun game, fast paced and cinematic with the Command Cards adding an extra dimension (a special mention is the Word Bearers’ “Would You Fire On Your Brother?” – sneaky… very sneaky..). It seems to be pretty well balanced as well, we’re pretty much even on victories through the first three scenarios. Alternating activation and the tactical point system makes it much more flexible than 40k/ 30k and has produced some great moments.
In terms of replay value, although there are only six scenarios included in the book, there’s plenty of variation to be had in terms of weapon loadouts etc. There’s also a lot to be said for the “board game” nature of BaC – quick set up and pack down, missions play through in 30-45 minutes meaning there’s plenty of opportunities for replay, campaigns etc.
Now..the million dollar question – is it worth the money? £95 is a LOT of money.. but if you’re coming at it from the perspective of a 30k player looking to start an army (or armies) it probably is – certainly, by comparison to most GW starter sets, it’s a bargain. However, we’re not really arsed about that, we’re thinking about the £4.99 we paid for the game itself, and the answer is a resounding YES. BaC is fun, fast, and a great laugh. Not only that, but it’s given us some ideas…. Originally we were planning to play this with flats or tokens, but then we remembered these guys.
I’d thoroughly recommend this approach to anyone with an existing 40k or 30k collection, as GW have a few tidy looking games out at the moment which plenty of people seem to buy purely to asset strip the miniatures from – Burning Of Prospero and Deathwatch Overkill look particularly interesting, not to mention all the long out of print stuff floating around the net in PDF form. And not just GW – there’s a fantastic game I remember playing as a kid called FireFight which was tile/ boardgame style – I’ll get my Google Fu on the case!
So, in the meantime – Space Marines and greenskins are going to get a repaint, and not only that, but we can investigate a whole host of other classic GW (and others) boxed games – look forward to DIY Space Crusade, Space Hulk, Advanced Space Crusade and a whole bunch more!
So, so far the casual observer of our Apocalypse: Earth battle reports might have thought that it was all just about the Atlantic Alliance vs the evil Holy Soviet Empire.. but that’s a long way from the truth. As anyone (both of you) who has read our fluff will know, the fateful Soviet invasion of February 1954 crashed across the German border with devastating force, catching the League Of European Nations not quite with their pant down, but certainly at half mast!
With Germany winning a Pyrrhic victory in the Great War at the Battle Of Paris in November 1914, and the League of European Nations being set up in the wake up the military coup that toppled the Kaiser two months later, it was German patterned equipment, doctrine and armaments that formed the backbone of LoEN armed forces in the early years of the war..
So with this in mind, it was high time to get the Europeans in the fight. This particular group are WW2 Germans, 30 bought for £1.50 off eBay.
Yes, you heard me right. £1.50. This is why we do 1/72.
So, I started with basing each little guy with a 20mm circular base hole punched from thick card, glued on with tacky glue (basically fast acting PVA, mixed with isopropyl alcohol), and then sprayed them white with cheap £1 car spray primer from my local Bargains 365 – The next step was to wash the whole force with Vallejo Smokey Ink, thinned down with water:
I had a rough idea of how I wanted them to look, mixing the classic field grey that we a;; associate with WW2 Wehrmacht with the three colour “Dunkelgelb” camo pattern that appeared on late war armour – this way, these guys could be fight in either Operation Barbarossa 1954 or Operaton Bagration 1944 (always thinking, y’see, always thinking)- so I went with camo jacket and field grey trousers. NCOs got camo helmets, regular grunts got stuck with feldgrau ones.
So, first stage was the combat jacket – my trusty Crafter’s Choice tan craft paint was the basecoat, thinned down quite heavily for a nice smooth finish. Translucency was mitigated by the white undercoat and Smokey Ink prewash. Next step was to add the camo stripes – Vallejo Russian Green and Americana Light Cinammon provided the green and “rotbrun” respectively.
I washed the jackets with a thinned down Vallejo Brown Ink wash and once that had dried, gave them a very light drybrush of Americana Buttermilk – this a very light cream clour, analoguous to GW’s Zandri Dust.
Once this had all dried, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t happy with the results – something was missing. I wound up applying a very thin wash, more like a glaze really, of mixed Vallejo Brown Ink and Skin Wash.
For the trousers and grunt helmets (and the Luftwaffe liason officers’ entire uniform) I used Vallejo German Grey, thinned a little with water, which then got a very thin black wash. Highlighting would come later.
Next up, I applied some cheapflesh tone craft paint (as always, thinned), and a dab of thinned Vallejo Skin Wash to the exposed skin areas, and black to the jackboots and metal areas of of weaponry – submachine guns, rifle barrels etc. Metallic areas got Boltgun Metal (well, the craft paint equivalent) and a thin black wash.
Leather loadbearing harnesses and wooden areas like rifle butts were treated with very thin coats of Americana Asphaltum, and given a very precise (well, as precise as I could be after half a bottle of wine) Vallejo Brown Ink wash.
Finally, each model got a very light drybrush of Americana Buttermilk to tie the whole model together – I was really impressed with how well this blended with all the colours.
Basing was a cinch – painted the whole thing brown, slapped some PVA on them and dunked them in my pot of Garage Floor Grit (TM), before adding some flock and touching up the edges. And with that- DONE!
Right, so after all that – pictures!
I’ve organised these chaps one HQ section (6 strong), two rifle squads (7 strong) and two assault squads (5 strong – submachineguns and flamethrowers).
The idea with the League of European Nations forces is for them to be a middle ground of sorts between the highly mobile and flexible Atlantic Alliance and the slow rolling firestorm that is the Holy Soviet Army – these guys are overly specialised with pieces of equipment that are better than anyone at what they do, but equally quite fragile!
Overall, quite pleased with these guys, they’ve turned out well – and a word to the less skinflint amongst you – if you can paint 30 little guys like this at a cost of £1.50, how good is the next Astra Militarum squad you paint going to look? Something to consider…
Anyway, stay tuned for some more LoEN weirdness, stay thrifty out there and see you soon!