Another Hole In The Head Pt. 3 – Even More 20mm Fantasy Orcs

After taking what seemed like a decade to finish the last Devastator squad for my retro Blood Angels project, I fancied a quick fix – get a project done, get the dopamine high and then move on to the next. So, the obvious thing was a big block of 30 Orcs (Caesar Miniatures 1/72 Fantasy Orcs), right?

Well, yeah. I mean I bought these things on a whim, for a steal, and almost forgotten about them over the last couple of months. But now – well, my fellow Brits, we have something to look forward to.. freedom by June 21st! Assuming COVID cooperates… That said, my other half is NHS and I can definitely say that her morale has been improving greatly over the past couple of weeks, which I’m taking as a good sign. I think it’s safe to say that one way or another we’ll be getting some games in come the summer.

So with that in mind, let’s get these greenskins together!

Here are the meat and potatoes of the army, a big block of 30 Orcs arranged 6×5 on 20mm cardboard bases, with their own movement tray. Primed white, Goblin Green for the skin washed with Army Painter Green Tone. Reds were Vallejo Hot Orange washed with red ink, and then the whole lot got a yellow drybrush. The browns were craft bone and Vallejo Filthy Brown and Vallejo Mithril Silver for the metallics which then all got a wash with Vallejo Smokey Ink.

I painted the bases dark chocolate brown, then gave them a coat of PVA and dunked them in sand, an extra coat and then flock (Jarvis medium green) and repainted the edges with chocolate again.

So that was the how, these are the results:

And here is the army so far, all lined up and ready to conquer the kitchen table…
And one movement tray – wine box cardboard (judge me at your leisure) – 20mm bases 6×5 makes for 100mm x 120mm, add in a lip 5mm around making for 110mm x 130mm footprint, edged with hot glue for a border. Painted PVA on the underside before doing anything and this seems to have counteracted any warping. Then it was two coats of chocolate craft paint, bit of PVA, drizzle on sand and flock, and done!

So there we go, that’s 71 figures for my Orc army so far, a fair bit done! I’ll head back to the 90’s Blood Angels next, I think, got a hankering to build some vehicles….. Lots of cardboard hanging around the house going “Build with me”… so let’s see what happens next.

Meanwhile, stay safe, stay sane, stay thrifty, 114 to go til freedom!

The Lost Patrol… DIY Spacefleet Battle Report

The bridged was wreathed in darkness. The faces of the crew and officers frozen, eerily distorted in masks of terror as the vast Gothic class battleship was buffeted like a toy by the extradimensional forces beyond the flickering Gellar field.

With a deafening silence, the ship exploded beck into realspace and the bridge erupted with warning klaxons, sparking consoles and the raised voices of hundreds of terrified bridge crew. The captain fought in vain to get his voice heard before reaching for his laspistol and shooting the nearest panicking crewman in the face.

Immediately, the hubbub subsided.

Better.

“Report!” bellowed the captain. “First Officer Volodsky.”

The XO shivered involuntarily. “My Captain, it would appear that we have been knocked off course by unexpected Warp activity. Navigator DeSalle has suffered a mental collapse due to whatever malevolent force caused our diversion.”

“Damage?”

“Largely cosmetic, it would seem, some limited damage to manoeuvring thrusters and life support but secondaries coming on line now. No hull breach.”

“The Gellar field generator?”

“It would seem to be suffering a minor intermittent fault, my Captain. I shall despatch tech priests to investigate

The Captain grunted. “Very good. Now, our next concern is where we are – and what of the Agamemnon?”

“My Captain, she was information with us and auspex indicates she translated close by. Communications should be re-established in moments. As to our location-“

“Contact!” shouted a crewman, peering intensely at his scope. “Long range auspex reports two contacts, definitely not Imperial. Energy signature matches no known human ship, our auspex returns are distorted.”

Captain Fong drew a short breath. Auspex distortion was too sophisticated for orks, and the lack of warp shadow ruled out Tyranids. The Tau had a crude version of this technology, but the main suspects had to be eldar. This could be a friendly encounter – or deadly.

Agamemnon on vox, Captain, they have detected a missile launch!”

“Confirmed, Captain, the second vessel has also launched!”

So, the Eldar had made the decision for him.

“Battle stations! All hands brace for impact! Power to shields and weaponry! AVE IMPERATOR!”

Welcome to the brave new world of remote gaming! With COVID still wreaking havoc left right and centre, it’s pretty clear that despite the heroic efforts of the NHS vaccination program (something like 200 jabs per minute, last time I checked), lockdown isn’t lifting any time soon. Now, we have tried playing conventional games like 40k, Apocalypse Earth and so on remotely before but we’ve really not been that successful as the freeform movement makes it difficult to interpret exactly where you’re supposed to move units too (“No, left a bit, behind that tree.. no not that one – my left.. no, the other left… ” for twenty minutes to move one bloody squad, Dan X-D ), plus “model’s eye view” doesn’t translate too well (“Can I shoot that guy? No, next to him…. no, the other side… no, the guy in front of him” “That’s a bush”).. so in order to maintain our mutual sanity, we both decided something more of a boardgame nature was probably a better idea.

Continuing our love affair with 1991 and the bold primary colours of the grimly dark far future, and thanks to this awesome website full of retro gaming goodness, we followed the trail taking us back to the precursor of Battlefleet Gothic, the short lived Space Fleet. In fact, White Dwarf 139, Dan’s first ever issue and the inspiration for his retro 40k Blood Angels, contained a slew of rules to expand on the basic boxed game. With a bit of research (thank you Snipe & Wib at Codex Compliant), we figured out what you needed, built a board and some spaceships, cut out the endearing Helm Computers, and after a few practice games over Zoom with beers on hand to figure out exactly what we were doing, we were ready to give you guys a proper battle!

In this scenario it’s a straight up fight between two Imperial Gothic Battleships (mine – “Ajax” and “Agamemnon”) and the two Eldar Wraithships (Dan’s – “Mikael Khaine”, “Khainenabel”) as the Imperials have unwittingly strayed into what the Eldar view as their territory. Of course, all the Milky Way Galaxy are belong to the Holy God Emperor, and so battle was duly joined.

The fleets deploy – Eldar weaponry forward facing and better at a distance, the Imperial ships really need to get in close and rake the Xenos with powerful broadsides to get the upper hand
The fleets advance to contact, Eldar more cautious, keeping their distance while both Imperial ships barrel Ahead Full and open up with Vortex Torpedoes..
To absolutely NO effect.
Eldar plasma torpedoes are similarly ineffective
However the Xenos’ laser batteries do manage to cause some damage, stripping shields off both Imperial ships and causing critical damage to Ajax, denuding her of her right broadside
In the second turn the Eldar prowl cautiously forwards while both sides reload the torpedo batteries – Imperial ships break both left and right to pound the Eldar with broadside laser cannons
These strip some frontal shields from the Eldar but cause no real damage. Poor old Ajax takes another battering though, a magazine flashback reducing her to 2 damage points while Agamemnon loses her left broadside!
Turn 3 and with torpedo tubes reloaded, the Imperials blast Vortex Torpedoes at he Eldar and hit…. nothing. Return fire from the Xenos knocks out Agamemnon’s shields, reducing her to 3 damage points! Both Imperial ships are in a bad way and yet to cause any significant damage to the Eldar :-/
Turn 4 and the Imperials get in close, attempting to turn their remaining broadsides on the Mikaelkhaine, in no small measure because of it’s bloody silly name
Finally we inflict some real damage, stripping off flank shields and reducing it to 3 damage points, but at a terrible cost , as another critical hit causes a flashback to Ajax’s magazine and the proud battleship is destroyed in a vast thermonuclear explosion!
With her last broadside, Agamemnon avenges her fallen sister, destroying the Mikaelkhaine, but in doing so is reduced to a single point of damage!

It was at this point we called the game – Dan had a still largely functional Wraithship (with a slightly more sensible name) whereas I had a limping, listing Agamemnon with no shields left and a mere one damage point left. I felt at this point the interests of the Imperial Navy were best served by getting my warship to safety for repairs, and Dan agreed to let me go while searching for survivors from the Mikaelkhaine wreck! Result – solid Eldar victory, well done Dan 🙂

All in all a fun game, and well suited to remote gaming – I can already see how we might expand things… bigger board, add in some of the different spacecraft GW did rules for, plus the Tyranids who apparently play completely differently to the other factions….

Of course, as is often the case with GW, the Imperials got the vast majority of the support – different ships, rules etc.. but thankfully in the 41st millenium it’s not difficult to envisage a scenario where two loyalist sectors wind up fighting each other… so look out for more Space Fleet, and maybe we can even cook up some sort of Spacefleet/ Epic/ 40k mega campaign once we’re all free again? Here’s hoping….

Stay safe, sane and thrifty, we’ll see you again soon!

DIY Space Fleet – Spaceships!

You’re going to like this. Grab a beer, this is a big one.

So, as you’ve seen over the last few weeks, our lockdown game of choice recently has been the short lived 1991 predecessor to Battlefleet Gothic, “Space Fleet”. This game was a bit of an oddity, in that existed as a small box set before being not just expanded but essentially entirely rewritten over the course of about half a dozen White Dwarf issues, now available from various sources online… legitimately, we assume…

I downloaded the relevant WDs, printed out the rules (I will compile them all into a PDF at some point, but right now I have NO idea how to do that) and got stuck in to making a board. Counters and helm computers were cut out and stuck to bits of cardboard and away we went, with cardboard silhouettes taking the place of the models.

And much fun was had, although it didn’t make for much of a spectacle. Certainly the squared board and the helm computers really lent themselves to a remote game via Zoom, which gave us both a bit of a morale boost. However, I quickly got the bug and decided to build us some proper models… and this is where our story begins!

This is where we begin – DIY disposable razors!
See where we’re going?
I canz measuring!
Here we see our two cheap knackered disposable razors, cut in half and the bottom part of the handles glued onto a cardboard base – fuselage and wings for the Imperial Gothic battleships!
Detail added – the rear conning tower is a superglue tube lid, the broadside cannons made from granny grating (the miracle material Dan introduced me too) and the engine tubes are from the plastic tube inside a defunct old Biro! Same for the chin mounted vortex torpedo launcher. Held together using a mix of superglue and greenstuff. Forward tower was from some bizarre bit of plastic packaging I’d kept because of the interesting shape. For about eight years.
So much for the Imperials – what about their adversaries, the two Eldar Wraithships? Well… let’s take the other halves of those razors, shall we? Add the unused bit of our bizarre piece of plastic packaging for masts, granny grating for forward laser cannons, bit of sprue for the forward plasma torpedo launcher, cut the solar sails from paper, some greenstuff bodging to represent wraithbone smoothing out any too-straight lines.. Eldar ships are “grown”, not manufactured – according to 1991-era fluff, at least!
Doesn’t look like a ride fit for Eldrad Ulthran yet, but let’s see what happens when we throw paint at it…
But before we get to that – bases! These are important parts of Space Fleet, holding shield counters, damage markers, critical damage info and so on. I began with this octagonal shape cut out of single corrugated card (yes, from a wine box. How are YOU coping with lockdown?!?)
Second layer of single corrugated card – this is creating the spaces where the counters will sit.
Third and final layer – a 25mm square of chipboard with the edges trimmed. It just looked better that way! I used tacky glue (basically PVA mixed with isopropyl alcohol to make it fast drying) to stick it all together. Hot glue would probably work too, but my hot glue gun was playing up and I couldn’t be bothered taming it’s machine spirit. Regular PVA would do the job too, but will take a thousand years to dry.
Ships primed! White for the Eldar, Imperials sprayed gold, holes drilled in the bases and 1 1/2″ lengths of kebab skewer used to mount them on
The famous dice tray! In this instance a pizza box, measured into nine equal squares, Sharpie and ruler to the rescue here.
All set up and ready to go! Eldar ships painted with craft bone paint, washed with Vallejo skin wash and then drybrushed back up, the blue pastel done with blue grey house paint and washed with thin craft blue. Imperials sprayed gold, washed with brown ink, drybrushed silver – the reds are craft red and Vallejo German Grey washed black for the blacks. The bases were sprayed black, painted craft black and then varnished… and we are good to go!

And there we go! Got to say, I’m really chuffed with these, the Wraithships particularly – the broken razors were a heaven sent flash of inspiration! And although the Imperial ships look nothing like the Gothic battleships of 1991, they do look pretty close to later iterations (Battlefleet Gothic), and they having a pleasing pulp fiction Flash Gordon “War Rocket Ajax” look to them…

The above pic is from the battle we played last Friday via Zoom, so battle report soon, and as Dan has custody of our Betrayal At Calth set I’m looking forward to a bit more virtual gaming this coming Friday, as even with 12 million+ vaccinated (including Shakin’ Stevens!) it doesn’t look like lockdown is going anywhere anytime soon….

Still, hang in there folks, we’re on the home stretch. Stay safe, stay sane, stay thrifty and we’ll see you soon.