It’s A(nother) Mash Up! The Battle At The Farm, 9th Ed Style #new40k #RogueTrader

This is becoming something of a tradition, so I won’t go too much into the background here. Suffice it to say that back in the original (read: charmingly kitsch but practically unplayable) version of 40k – the mythical Rogue Trader era:

Thanks for stealing my childhood, you bastard

And in the back of said tome was a scenario entitled “The Battle At The Farm” which basically involved the survivors of the Crimson Fists ambushing an Ork patrol who have designs on some loot left in said farm. Back before there were box sets, this book actually had counters as proxies for miniatures… somehow can’t imagine that happening in the age of Indomitus 😉

So with the release of 9th ed and the core rules available online (kinda.. more on that later!) -and with our little bit of Leicestershire coming out of lockdown, thank CHRIST – it was an ideal opportunity to break out the Orks of Da Skooderia and the scratchbuilt Crimson Fists to do battle once more. Here’s how it went down:

The field of battle – the Farm located in the centre, filled with Marines ready to do the business
Remember these guys? I could swear, 8th only dropped yesterday and we were all psyched for Dark Imperium..
There’s trouble afoot – Orks deploy onto the hilltop
Orks survey their target – Crimson Fists burnt out Rhino APC added for scenic flavour
With no targets to shoot at because the Marines are being cowards, hiding in the farmhouse, hrugg splits his force – Hruk leads two squads across open ground toward the farmhouse while Thrugg leads a flanking manoeuvre through the orchard
Turn 2 and with the Orks in range, the Marines reveal their first squad – Orks in the open, 3+ to hit…
Oh, SERIOUSLY???
Happily – and in marked contrast to the last time we fought this battle – the Crimson Fists have missile launcher operator who can actually see, and promptly wastes four Orks on the hillside
Remaining greenskin legs it!
Hruk’s force engage frontally, hoping to tie the Marines up in a firefight- remember we’re using RT rules here, Orks are BS 3 (or 4+ in modern 40k)
Impressively, they actually cause a kill! Although 9th comes with some nifty cover rules, none of them are in the core rules.. so we bodged something, decided on a -1 to hit when in cover. Back in the day (1987), Marines were T3 and a 4+ save, so a lot more fragile!
Orks advance across open ground, hugging what cover is available and laying down the dakka…
..concentrating it all on the Crimson Fists’ missile launcher operator, who falls to a lucky bolt shell!
Meanwhile. Thrugg leads his depleted ladz in an advance through the orchard..
The Imperium strikes back! Pedro Cantor and the other two squads deploy from hiding, one taking on the Orks in the open while Pedro leads a counterattack through the orchard
Now the Marines prove why they’re humanity’s finest – Pedro and his counterattcking squad drop five Orks in one round of firing!
Meanwhile it’s a full on firefight outside the farm – Marines drop three Orks but lose two of their own to Ork bolter fire, while Hruk gets a third with his plasma pistol
It’s up close and personal in the orchard – Thrugg fails his charge roll but his ladz pile in, while Pedro Cantor performs a Heroic Intervention (amid much checking of rules) – it was here that we realised, hilariously, that although GW put exhaustive descriptions of pile ins, Heroic Interventions and such, nowhere in the core rules have they actually explained how you resolve close combat X-D thankfully we’ve done this before….
Pedro Cantor and sidekick drop two Orks without so much as a scratch in return…
Having wiped out Thrugg’s boyz in the orchard, the Marines consolidate forwards into the woods toward Da Boss
In front of the farm, three of Hrud’s ladz fall to Marine bolters and another flees the scene
His plans in ruins, Thrugg decides to go down swinging – the way an Ork should! He hurls himself at Pedro Cantor, inflicting a wound with his plasma pistol…
Brushing aside the pain, Pedro Cantor grips the frenzied Ork boss…. crushing his skull with his power fist. Even an Ork boss can’t ignore that!

With that, that left Hrud and a sole Ork Boy on the table facing nine Marines and a wounded Cantor – so we called that a solid Space Marine victory! I wonder if it’s actually possible to win this as an Ork, certainly every battle report I’ve seen or read has the Orks taking a kicking…

9th is quite fun, even just dipping a toe as we were with our converted 1/72 figures, and we didn’t use any Command Points or Stratagems (not in the Core Rules) so I’d be up for giving it a go again, especially with GW’s 40k app giving you rules and codices for £3.99 a month… maybe I can persuade Jim to put it on his iPad… The absence of the core hand to hand combat mechanic was a hilarious omission though, so I’m not sure I’d trust GW’s editing/ quality control team with actual code! Maybe we’ll hold off until we’ve heard from some of you out there in the blogosphere how you got on..

Meantime, stay safe, stay sane, stay thrifty, see you soon!

Crossing the Rubicon Nostalgius! A 1991 Blood Angels Tribute – Pt.1

In lead they shall be cast, and upon sand and PVA they shall walk. White shall their primer be, and in plate of brightest orange shall I clad them. In red ink I shall shade them, and they shall walk upon fields of goblin green. Let them bear their weapons close to their chests, and in but one pose they shall stand. For they are my Blood Angels, and they shall know no weathering.

Sit down, gentle reader, and I shall tell you a tale. This all started a month or so back when my car quite unexpectedly passed it’s MOT. A welcome piece of good news, to be sure, and given my car’s recent history a most surprising one – and one that left me with a little bit of spare cash.

Spare cash + wine + 1990s nostalgia (because 2020 isn’t really doing itself any favours, is it?) – you can see where this is going. A couple of hours later and a cursory browse of eBay found me a job lot of Space Marines for £20 or thereabouts including posting… plastic Marines and Terminators in a variety of states, but in quantity enough that I could start to build a tribute to one of the very first armies I ever saw in White Dwarf, the Blood Angels 3rd Company from White Dwarf 139, July 1991:

Pic linked from https://whittlesey40k.wordpress.com/ – check him out, it’s a great blog
These lads are part of the exhibition at Warhammer World, check them out here:
The Grim Darkness OF The Far Future rendered in glorious technicolour!
Just for the young ‘uns, this is what Gretchin looked like back then

So, giddy with anticipation, I did my planning and preparation, getting the paint and primers together – white primer (naturally), Vallejo Hot Orange and Red Ink, and Army Painter Goblin Green for the bases. These seemed to be the closest match for the old GW paints – I prefer Vallejo because of their dropper bottles, the Citadel stuff dries out too easily in my view.

They’re here! In various states of disrepair…

Next step was stripping them – and not just them, my Deathwatch too, as these would be needed to form the tactical squads. A bit of a wrench, to be sure, but equally I’d never been entirely happy with them… so I made my peace, these lads were going to be what they always should have been, Blood Angels in glorious orange! (Side note – these chaps came in the 2nd Ed box set we accidentally bought while under the influence a couple of years back, so we really are going full on early 90s here)

Farewell lads…
Into the meths you go – methylated spirits + old toothbrush + elbow grease = successfully stripped plastic model
Glued sand to the base THEN applied the primer – wish I’d thought of that back in ’91…
First tranche underway – primed white, two thin coats (natch) of Vallejo Hot Orange
Wash of Vallejo Red Ink, straight from the pot
Drybrushed back up with Vallejo Hot Orange
Pin wash of Vallejo Brown Ink and then edged with black craft paint
Metallics! Vallejo Mithril Silver with thinned black ink wash to take the edge off
Taking care of details – getting there now
It’s 1991! Drybrushed the bases with yellow to add depth

So there we go! Not quite there yet, I’ve got to get hold of some decals, but I’m happy with the basic scheme. Now, here’s the list:

So yeah, a fair bit to do..

My goal is to take these lads down to Warhammer World next year, assuming 2020 doesn’t have any more nasty surprises in store for us, as it’ll be a nice little 30th anniversary for them, so let’s see what we can do – Jim has already built a scaled down Rhino from papercraft templates, I’m going to see if I can build some full sized ones for these lads. Land Speeder, Thudd Gun and Bikes might be a bit more of a challenge, but let’s give it a go.. in any case, my biggest ever vanity project is underway!

If you made it this far, well done and stay safe out there – Jim & I were looking forward to a first game and pint since January (!) only to find ourselves caught by a local lockdown, so that’s buggered that for the next couple of weeks… Oh well, at least I’ve got something to keep me busy!

PS – Thanks again to Whittlesey40k for use of the photos – check out his blog, lots of great stuff: https://whittlesey40k.wordpress.com/

Paperhammer with Jim! DIY Crimson Fist Rhino (in 1/72)

Greetings! You join me at the tail end of lockdown (EDIT – since I started this post, our dear old city of Leicester has become the national pioneer in local lockdowns.. if I find which one of you f*ckers hasn’t been washing their hands there’ll be trouble, I’ve been fantasising about my first pint and some bastard has ruined it all for everyone) , as everyone in the UK seems to have said “sod it” and given up… a brief glance at Bournemouth beaches over the last couple of days would seem to indicate that for many Brits sunshine > virus. For me, I choose to get sunburnt in my own garden where the booze is plentiful and the toilet access is more than adequate – and I can always nip inside to MAKE STUFF.

This project was meant to be a quick and simple build to add a Rhino to the Crimson Fist marine force we scratchbuilt back when 8th edition came out – now 9th is on the cards and the core rules are going to be free to download, I suspect we’ll be revisiting “The Farm” on Rynn’s World again pretty soon, and it might be nice to develop that story thread given that one of the big selling points of the new edition is it’s campaign mechanic. Anyway…

I started with a visit to the now-sadly-defunct-but-still-online blog “in The Grim Cheapness” and downloaded a Rhino papercraft template from there. I rescaled it 66% – 40k is kinda 1/48 scale, so divide 48 by 2 is 24, mulitiple by3 = 72, so 2/3 of 1/48 is 1/72. More or less.

I followed the template for the body- using cheap glue stick to glue the paper templates to a pizza box and cutting round them. To reinforce the sides – the track units – I cut out a slab of foamcore to the right size and shape, and built the cardboard up around that. I then glued the track units on to the side of the body, and then used a few dabs of Polyfilla to fill in the more egregious gaps and sanded the excess.

Next up was detailing – I cut out the hatches (and scored the card to create indentations in the disembarkation doors) and tried a bit of a trick with the grills. I cut out the main shape and glued nylon tulle over it (had a load left over from the Skalk Point build we did back in the World That Was), and then glued the cardboard frame over that. As it panned out, this didn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped, but I think that was more down to slapdash and impatient execution on my part than anything else! I used some bits of sprue to create the buttress/ exhaust bits.

For the running wheels, I cut out 8mm diameter circles of single corrugated card, cut them in half and glues the pieces together to create 4-5mm thick semicircles. I glues these in place with tacky gue and then cut out 5mm thick strips of IDE cable to be the tracks. I used gel superglue to glue these in place.

Detailing added – bolter is a bit of cocktail stick with IDE cable to represent an ammo belt
Primed grey

After a spray of grey primer, I tried a bit of underpainting – pin wash with black ink in the recesses, drybrush white. Then a coat of cheap blue craft paint:

Blues layered up along with black ink pin wash, areas that will be painted red undercoated with Wilkos Cloud Burst house paint
My template for painting!
The finished article! Red craft paint, then, sponge chipping with black graft paint and Vallejo Mithril Silver for the bare metal

The final touches were some craft brown paint mixed with PVA and sand for some mud texture paste to cover a few (ahem) modelling inconsistencies..

Overall, I’m pretty pleased – I think this fella will do well transporting the remains of the Crimson Fists into battle on Rynns World, not to mention layin’ it down on the world of Hazzard when we finally get to get a game in….F*cking c*cking sh*tting w*nking lockdown… WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS, PEOPLE OF LEICESTER! I WANT TO GO TO THE F*CKING PUB! WE’RE SO CLOSE!!!!

Seethe.

And there I shall leave you- we are tantalisingly close to hooking up for a game, but after three – four? – months, another week or so… ain’t no thing.

Stay safe out there, WASH YOUR HANDS, WEAR A MASK AND DON’T DO STUPID THINGS! See y’all soon (I hope)..

TEENY HORSIES!! (DIY Epic Imperial Guard Rough Riders)

How do, Dan here and yes, I’ve been at the granny grating again (sorry Legion4, I know this is hard for you 😉 ). Once again, I’m not going to try and claim any particular credit for this idea, the entire thing was nicked whole from the BattleCraft YouTube channel. Watch, learn, fall in love with it… they’re just so freaking cute.

And of course, cheap to the point of being practically free.

So, I began by cutting out my basic “horse and rider” shape, as per the video. Next up, I cut a length of granny grating and trimmed it to look like a pole. I superglued these on to my horses at a roughly 45 degree angle (apart from one where I cocked up a bit – see if you can spot him in the pics) – this is the deadly explosive lance that gives the Riders their punch against armour and cavalry. I’m not sure how that might work in reality – surely a shaped charge big enough to take out a Land Raider would probably take the arm off the rider at the very least, but hey, it’s 40K! DRIVE MY TANK CLOSER SO I CAN HIT THEM WITH MY SWORD!!!

Come on, I dare you not to fall in love with these!

I hot glued these onto 20mm x 20mm single corrugated card (cut from a wine box in this instance) – two riders per base.

A cavalry squadron that fits on a Post-It note – what’s not to love?

Then it was out to the shed for a burst of black spray primer, base coat with Wilkinson’s “Granite Dust” house paint from a tester pot (£1 or so? And it’s kept me going for 3 years so far..)

Follow that with a coat of tan craft paint, dot in the body armour with Vallejo German grey, wash with thin black ink.

Next – horses. Vallejo Filthy Brown washed with brown ink – I would have gone for more variety but I was really psyched to get these done, so apologies for lack of diversity..

Then it was flesh for the faces and hands, wash with thin Vallejo Skin Wash.. I did the lances the same way as the horses, finished with a dab of Vallejo Mithril Silver washed down with black for the lance tips.

Basing was the same as the rest of the lads so far – paint the base dark brown, then PVA, a dunk in the flock pot and a drizzle of Garage Floor Dust (TM) and boom, done.

I’m really chuffed with these little guys and I do plan to expand them out to a full company at some point, but I’ve started to get a focus on what my Guard army should look like. I’m taking my inspiration from these guys here: The Assault On Barbarius Prime Epic battle report from way back in the 90s.

As you can see, this force featured a Tactical Company (check) a Heavy Company (almost check – stay tuned), an Artillery Company (hmm) and two companies of superheavies as well as support detachments. Now, here’s the thing – I’m pretty certain I can build all that lot with foamcore, card, granny grating and straws. It’s going to take a while, but I don’t see any of it as impossible. I look at an Epic Shadowsword and I think “foamboard sides and base, lay cardboard armour over the top, drinking straw cannon and granny grating heavy bolters”.

Will this pan out? Or will it be a massive act of hubris that ends with me having superglued my hands to my feet and desperately trying to type a blog entry with my nose?

Let us see.

In the meantime, stay safe out there, look out for each other and stay thrifty 🙂

Further Musings On Game Design.. What Will 9th bring?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or are one of those “normies” just not interested in miniature wargames..) you’ll have heard the big news – Games Workshop, the Evil Empire of the games industry, are releasing a new edition of Warhammer 40,000. This makes it the 9th – although it feels like 8th only came out five minutes ago, but I guess that’s just me.

Needless to say, the forums have been full of speculation about what will be on offer, and some of these discussions have become a bit… heated, shall we say. Particularly with the news that GW will be sticking with the IGOUGO activation – this discussion thread on Dakka got very salty very quickly, and it got me thinking.

I’ve already posted some thoughts about game design and support, but I got to pondering the reasons why GW stick to this core idea for 40k but get so much more imaginative for other systems – and I’ve come up with a few real world analogies.

Consider the Porsche 911. Evolution of the Volkswagen Beetle, air cooled engine in the back way out behind the axle. Undoubtedly iconic, but also a bit of a handful, and well recognised as a yuppie-killer during the 80s. Over the years Porsche have tried all manner of drastic – stuffing the front bumper full of lead – and less drastic measures to even it out and from all accounts it now truly is a brilliant, balanced driving machine.

And if I ever get the chance to drive one, I’ll let you know my thoughts.

However, a few years ago they introduced the Cayman – lighter, cheaper, mid-engined.. and a fundamentally better design to the point where they’ve had to hobble it by not letting it have a limited slip differential (thing that makes it go faster) and slightly detuning the engine to produce 15-20bho less than the 911. Because it can’t be seen to be faster than the 911. Although several of Porsche’s designers have gone on record as saying that f they designed the 911 now, it would be the same as the Cayman, that moment has passed – the Cayman is fundamentally the better sports car, but the job of the 911 isn’t to be the greatest sportscar anymore – it’s to be the 911. It’s to be an icon. And you can’t f*ck with an icon.

See where we’re going?

OK, now to the world of guitars. Consider the Gibson Les Paul. Great big slab of mahogany, two big humbuckers (big fat sounding pickups), only one cutaway so top fret access is limited (tough to get the high notes).

And then Gibson’s arch-rival, Fender, introduced the Stratocaster – whammy bar (wiggly thing that changes the pitch of the notes), THREE pickups, lighter and more versatile..

A couple of years later, Gibson retired the Les Paul and brought in the SG – lighter, easier top fret access, more versatile:

The SG was supposed to be the lighter, more affordable, more versatile replacement for the Les Paul (as the Stratocaster was supposed to be for the Telecaster). You can still buy a Les Paul. You can still buy a Telecaster. What does that tell you?

Some people – a LOT of people – don’t want objectively good. They want the classic. They want The Icon. And that’s what 40k is.

Wait, 40k a design classic? But there’s so much wrong with it – IGO UGO, turn phases, list building… yes, but if you want better rules play Kill Team or Necromunda or Apocalypse or Blackstone Fortress or Betrayal At Calth or Epic (which I always dug as a kid more than 40k) . BUT 40k is no longer designed to be an objectively great game – it’s job is to be 40k. See the comparison?

Just as there are designers at Porsche who would LOVE to redesign the 911, just as there are designers at Gibson who would LOVE to redesign the Les Paul, I’m sure there are designers at GW who would love to redesign 40k from the ground up – look at Blackstone Fortress, or Kill Team etc. In fact, Christ , look at Epic back in the day! But they’re stuck. 40k has been around since 1987 – it has players who have been playing that long. They have certain expectations of how the game will play, and have done for 30+ years. And IGOUGO sits at the heart of that. These players have been around since Rogue Trader (more or less… we came in at the end of the RT era, ater GW had patched the hell out of it with Compilations, Compendiums, Vehicle Manuals and Battle Manuals) – you cant just ditch them, that would be a real betrayal of the fanbase. So what’s the answer?

I suspect 9th – at least to begin with – will be a pretty good answer. I anticipate a bodge of 8th with bits of 7th to add a level of detail.. I must admit we’ve only played a few games of 8th but there were a few bits of it that didn’t feel quite right to me, almost like they’d thrown the baby out with the bathwater in search f streamlining. So will we be buying it? No. No chance. But that’s because we’re cheap. Should YOU buy it?

Honestly? If you want to get into 40k and you have £100 or so to spare.. actually yes, I reckon you could do worse. As well as the box set usually being a (relatively speaking) good deal in terms of miniatures, 40k as a game always seems to get a lot of love when new editions drop, before power creep happens – and as 9th is being posited as an evolution, not a revolution. I think 9th could be a great time to get into 40k. For three or four months.

Meanwhile, we’ll grab what minis we can on eBay and play Grimdark Future and Future Force Warrior with the intent of someday getting the bastard finished and published!

Hmm.. I reach the end of this post with no clear conclusion… but I am curious to see the new box… what do our friends out there in the blogosphere make of it all?

Terrain Talk Pt. 16 – Makin’ Rocks In The Hot Sun

Carrying on from our discovery of how you can use old CDs as basing material for scatter terrain, I’ve been occupied with upcycling ALL of our trees.. this is what lockdowns are good for, folks! But to keep myself sane I decided to vary things a little and create some rocky clusters after checking out an old battle report that GW put online recently. Catching a bit of classic 90s flava and updating it to fit the look of our table – and to be fair, this is a really simple and effective build.

So, as before, take your CDs and put them in a bowl. Boil the kettle, pour the water into the bowl, leave for about ten minutes or so. This will soften the plastic enough that a normal pair of kitchen scissors will be able to cut through it – it’s a bit of an art but you’ll get the hang of it. I cut random curved lozenge shapes out of it – you don’t want to make anything too recognisable as a geometric shape like a circle or oval. It won’t look natural, it’ll distract the eye and bug you like hell.

Well, it would me.

Anyway, next step was a couple of nicely sized and shaped stones from the garden – I disinfected them (can’t be too careful these days), and glued them onto the CD base using a generic “No More Nails” knockoff (something like acrylic caulk or hot glue would probably work just as well). I pressed some cat litter into the excess glue splodges around the big rocks for some extra detail, then stippled home made texture paste (PVA, filler powder, sand, water and black paint) onto the “ground” of the piece (not the rocks themselves though).

After all that, the whole thing got primed with cheap black spray paint and the “ground” areas got a drybrush with burnt umber, brown and then a final drybrush with bone craft paints. I painted the rocks with Granite Dust house paint from a tester pot I got a few years back:

It begins…

Next up – leopard spotting! This involves daubing on first a yellow wash:

Oooerrr.. THAT doesn’t look right

Followed by a brown wash:

Ooooooooeeeeeeooooeeerrrrrrr…. that REALLY doesn’t look right!

Followed by a black wash:

Oh… OK, I see where this is going

And then a bone drybrush to bring everything together:

Oh, NOW I get this!

Finally, flock! We’re both sworn adherents of Mel The Terrain Tutor’s 3 tone flocking technique, with the addition of Jarvis JTF 1 as a cover tone and Garage Floor Dust (TM) drizzled on as a final touch. Then it was out to the shed for sealing – two coats of PVA thinned 10 parts water to 1 art glue (or thereabouts).

And finally, pics of the finished article in situ!

On it’s own..
With friends around…
And finally, in a scrap! The Hazzard People’s Front take on Da Skooderia..

And there we go folks, a nice quick, cheap, easy build! I’ve got five more stands of trees to do so I’ll be banging out some more rocks to help keep myself sane during the build process… at the very least, when this lockdown lifts we’ll have a VERY pretty to scuffle over…

Till next time, stay safe, stay thrifty, someday soon this will all be a memory…

Terrain Talk Pt. 15 – Next Gen Trees

Spurred into action by my compatriots ridiculous ingenuity! Seeing as lockdown has left me with custody of most of our gaming terrain, I thought I’d take the opportunity to “upcycle” some terrain pieces that had been bugging me for a while – the woods.

Now, these were just model trees meant for railway picked up off eBay some years ago and glued to some thick cardstock which was painted dark brown and flocked. And it looked, y’know, OK... for a while..

But cardboard warps. And monotone flock, with no ground texture.. Oh no. That doesn’t cut it any more. And after discovering a new basing material from a fellow blogger, I got to work…

The magical new basing material? CDs! Turns out that if you soak them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes or so, you can cut them with common or garden kitchen scissors – and once you’ve got your shape cut out you’ve got a perfectly stable, warp-free base. Now, this may be old news for some of you out there, but it was a revelation to me! First under the scissors, a disc of drivers for a printer that died in about 2014. I put it in a bowl, boiled the kettle, left it for five minutes, came back and got stuck in cutting bendy irregular shapes out of it.

Next up, I pulled the trees from their original cardboard bases and hot glued them in place on the CDs- this can be a bit fiddle, you need a big dob of hot glue on the CD and another generous glob on the tree, hold them in place until they set…

Trees on their new home

Once that was done, out to the shed and stipple on some home made texture paint (black craft paint, mixed with PVA, sand and filler powder).

Texture paste added

Once this was dry I sprayed the whole thing black.

With this stage done, on to painting and flocking! I started with a “wetbrush” of dark brown (specifically Folk Art 476 Asphaltum, looking at the bottle), before a drybrush with Americana Honey Brown and a further drybrush with Americana Buttermilk.

For flocking, we’re subscribed to the Terrain Tutor and his 3 tone flock system, with the added drizzle of Garage Floor Dust (TM) – the trees got painted with PVA and dunked in Jarvis clump foliage flock. So, to the pics!

The old…
The new!
And some friends…
And a blast from the past.. a DIY tree from 2009, pipe cleaners and pan scourers!

When we do finally get to share a table again, at the very least we should be able to show y’alls some good pics 😉 stay safe, stay thrifty out there, we’ll see you soon!

DIY Epic Infantry – Yes, You Read That Right.

Right, that’s it, Seven weeks into lockdown and every single surface in my house and garden has now been painted. I’m now allowed to down paintbrush and have some hobby time. So what’s a Dan do now he’s at a loose end?

I know, I’ll paint something.

I wound up with custody of our DIY Epic Imperial Guard contingent when lockdown hit and for a while I was wondering what to do about the infantry contingent – I mean you can’t have the Guard without Guardsmen, right? Massed ranks of lasguns just battering the enemy into submission through sheer force of numbers? I checked out Onslaught, Vanguard, Brigade, Ground Zero Games.. some lovely stuff out there, light years removed from the old 90s GW stuff (which you can still find on eBay, but truth be told, you’re better off hiring a for-real mercenary company for the prices they go for).

And then I chanced upon this guy.

And, forgive me, but I fell in love. For those who can’t/ won’t click the link, this is an utterly brilliant concept called Granny Grating Armies – basically, you cut little shapes from plastic mesh to represent different types of soldier, and you rely on the paint job to carry the illusion. It’s incredibly ingenious, and incredibly cheap, and I absolutely love it. Links to some other projects:

Lord Of The Rings Isengard army

More of the same.

So, I came, I saw, I fell hard. As luck would have it, I still have most of a sheet of granny grating in the store cupboard (Find some here for those of you who have no idea what this stuff is or where to get it). Following the instructions in the YouTube video, I cut out what is basically a cross shape with an extra horizontal layer at the bottom (watch the video, this is som much easier shown than described) and hot glued them to a 20mm x 20mm square of cardstock cut from the back of a notepad (this stuff is called chipboard by our transatlantic cousins.. hello, Wyloch!). A Guard infantry company in 2nd Ed Space Marine has three platoons of ten stands each, plus a command section of two stands and a Rhino – yes, we had Rhinos back then. At five guardsmen to a stand, that’s 160 granny grating soldiers…

…Barely even touched the sides. With more than ¾ of my A4 sheet of granny grating still intact, I chopped out a couple of poles and glued them to the command stands to represent battle standards, and then out to the shed for a quick coat of black primer – no special reason for black other than that’s all I’ve got at the moment.

I spent a few minutes pondering the paint scheme and was suddenly hit by a brainwave – I’ve still got those little tester pots of Wilkinsons’ emulsion that I use for terrain, and amidst them was a very light grey called “Granite Dust”which would serve as a base coat. Splodge on with a big brush all over all the lads, followed by a tan coat with craft paint, Vallejo German Grey dotted on over the chest to represent flak armour, silver on the upper horizontal to represent the lasgun, and a thin black wash. Then a dab of flesh tone on the “faces” and “hands”, with a light wash of Vallejo Skin Wash, and a dab of either red, blue or yellow craft paint to the helmet to mark out which platoon was which, and that’s pretty much it.

For basing, I painted burnt umber craft paint over the black primer, and when dry, a coat of PVA. Drizzle a little flock over it, followed by just a pinch of Garage Floor Dust (TM) and we’re done. All told, about three evenings, an hour or so a time – result, one full strength Imperial Guard Infantry company, cost £0. THAT’s how you keep to a budget.

Epic experts will know there’s still the Rhinos to build, but that’s basically the same as how we did the Vindicators last year, plus every Guard company also comes with a Commissar (and his own Rhino) to keep the lads in order, but they’re coming….

Meanwhile, pics:

“J” company on parade!
Even up close they’re not too bad..
Commissar and Rhino
With GW Marine stand for scale – it’s pretty close!
The full force so far

I love these little buggers. Are they a patch on any of the outrageously beautiful and detailed 6mm masterpieces makers like Onslaught or Vanguard offer? Hell no. They’re not even close to the old GW stuff. But from 2 feet away, who cares? They scale well, and you can make hundreds of them for about £5 in materials! Jim, you’re going to love these… and oh, yeah, that’s the third paintjob on the vehicles, that same Granite Dust with first a green, then a brown, and finally a black wash with just a little drybrushing. Never let it be said I’m indecisive.

Granny Grating Armies is a real thing, check out some links here and here – even if you don’t want to make the models, you’ve got to love the ingenuity.. and it’s surprising how you start seeing the world in grid patterns after you’ve been doing this for a while! Up next, Commissars, a Heavy Company and some Rough Riders! Till then, stay safe, stay thrifty, see you soon.

Zombies!

So, sitrep – things suck. We’ve passed 19,000 dead here in the UK, the NHS is running on fumes, America has projections of almost a quarter of a million dead and God alone knows what’s going to happen when Covid-19 hits the slums in places like Bangladesh or Calcutta. Here in the UK, the maxim is stay home, stay safe, protect the NHS – and regrettably it seems many people can’t even manage that. It’s a bleak and scary time.

But it’s also a time to maintain a sense of proportion. Yes, We’ve lost 19,000+ to the virus – but we regularly lose 8,000 to seasonal flu. In the US it’s estimated that 24,000- 63,000 fall to seasonal flu each year. Let’s be realistic – statistically you’ve got a 99% chance of surviving the virus should you contract it. The projected death rates are simply from the fact that we have huge populations. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones from this, but it is NOT the end of the world. 100 years ago, Spanish flue tore through a world recovering from the butchery of World War 1, and despite having nowhere near the scientific base of knowledge we have now, the world endured and survived. We will endure and survive this too.

Dan and I are both following the rules and staying at home, and we both have a personal stake in this – Dan’s wife is a nurse, my girlfriend is an HCA (health care assistant), and we both want them home safe at the end of each shift. So I implore you (although if you’re smart enough to read this blog you’re smart enough to know this anyway) – STAY HOME. IT’S NOT LIKE THEY’RE PUTTING YOU DOWN A F*CKING COAL MINE. STAY HOME & WATCH NETFLIX… pretty sure the WW2 generation could manage this without issue!

Anyway, rant over – seeing as my other half can’t come over and my gaming buddy is under lockdown too, I decided to do movie & game night with a zombie theme.. hey, you think things suck now? Imagine that the virus reanimates it’s victims…

So with that in mind, I set up a solo version of Apocalypse Earth: Black Ops – our skirmish RPG variant on the main game rules – with the idea of an Atlantic Alliance Special Forces team moving through a derelict industrial estate to rescue a group of scientists trapped in an abandoned APC.

Special Forces team deploy bottom left hand corner – Lt. Hunt, Specialist Moss (RIP) Hill, and Stewart with him
A drone eye view of the battlefield
The team deploy in cover
Incoming!
Zombies spill from their spawning points all over the board
The team move out but Stewart takes an arm wound, caught in the open by a zombie with a pistol!
The rest of the team close up in support
They down a zombie but more approach, forcing the team to pull back!
Stewart downs a zombie but return fire stuns him
Just what you don’t need in a firefight!
Specialist Moss pitches in to help the stricken Stewart, but…
Reload? Seriously? Did no one check their weapons before they shipped out?!?
As CO, Lt. Hunt dives in to provide covering fire for his team…
Oh, f*cking seriously?!? Did NOBODY check their weapons before they left?!?
Zombies fall upon the team!
An ignominious end as the team are overrun and eaten!

Hmm. Slightly unsatisfactory experience, if I’m honest. However, I had given all the zombies guns and a fair old turn of speed, which, in addition to their numbers probably gave them an unfair advantage. After a few minutes rumination I reset to go again, but this time the zombies would have no weapons, a CCR of 0, a move allowance of 8cm, and the team’s weapons would be replaced with more advanced “pulse rifles” with a ROF of 5. Let’s give this another shot!

The team deploy into cover in the bottom right hand corner
Zombies pour forward as the team take sniping positions, keeping their distance and using their firepower
But Specialist Moss lets them get too close, felling two but three more fall on his position!
Specialist Hill moves in to support, Stewart and Hunt massacring zombies in a lethal crossfire!
Hill falls to the zombie hoard. Remembering the mission, Hunt bawls to Stewart to get moving – their mission is to rescue the civilians, not slaughter the numberless zombies….
Stewart and Hunt move efficiently across the battlefield, using fire and movement to cover each other…
Stewart falls to a massed horde of zombies catching him from a flank – there simply aren’t enough bullets! Now it’s down to Lt. Hunt..
Hunt skirts around the side of some industrial machinery, keeping his distance from the zombie horde…
Making it to the APC by the skin of his teeth! Whatever those scientists know, it better be more valuable than yet another formula for erectile dysnfunction or male pattern baldness disorders, that’s three highly trained and valuable Special Forces soldiers who’ve ended up as a zombie’s lunch!

Whew, well, that second go around was a LOT more intense and cinematic! I got bogged down in the early phases trying to gun down the zombies but that was never going to happen, their sheer numbers were always going to win out, so I should have kept moving as fast as possible, only shooting when necessary and keeping my distance. Oh well, as an Atlantic Alliance player I guess I’m too used to standing my ground and gunning down Dan’s Holy Soviet Army hordes… and once all this coronavirus hideousness is over, I’m very much looking forward to doing that again!

As always, stay safe, stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon (hopefully). Love to all our friends out in the blogosphere!

Armies On Parade: Heretic Heroic Renegade Rebel Scum Freedom Fighter Terrorists (The Hazzard People’s Front 237th Freedom Brigade)

It’s probably fair to say that one thing EVERYONE on earth has in common, is that 2020 is not playing out the way the wanted or expected it to.

Or if it is playing out the way you wanted, well, f*ck you and the horse you rode in on.

In any case, the lockdown has robbed me of gaming buddy (not a COVID casualty, mercifully, just being careful and following the rules – getting pissed and playing soldiers with your mate hardly counts as essential travel business) , so in his absence I’ve been busying myself with readying a new faction for One Page Rules Grimdark Future / Future Force Warrior / 40k. You’ll have already seen their armour contingent, now here are the lads themselves!

As I mentioned, I think the “Rebel Guerilla” faction are meant to represent the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars, but I kind of like the idea that 40k and Star Wars kind of represent two sides of the same coin.. Luke Skywalker and co. might think they’re fighting for freedom, but in fact they’re just dupes of the Chaos Gods, killing for Khorne, fulfilling the machinations of Tzeentch, their defiance feeding Nurgle.. as for Slaanesh, I guess Leia snogging her brother in Empire Strikes Back ticks that box! Meanwhile God-Emperor Palpatine knows the TRUE nature of “The Force” and knows that only brutal repression can prevent mankind’s corruption at it’s hands.

So with that in mind, pics!

I began with a box of old Airfix WW2 commandos, some greenstuff, cardboard.. and hope!
And we’re ready for primer!
As with the tank, spray primed black as that’s all I had, and then a couple of coats of tan craft paint to get the base coat on
Washed with Vallejo smokey ink thinned with Windsor & Newton acrylic medium
And here they are! The Hazzard People’s Front 237th Brigade (Hazzard People’s Front? F*CK OFF! We’re The People’s Front Of Hazzard..)

I even had a bit of a backstory for these lads – originally part of a PDF territorial reserve unit tasked with internal security operations, these lads were sent to arrest a cell of four individuals tasked with Warp/ Force sorcery… but when they arrived to round them up they found they couldn’t quite remember why they were there, and their CO suddenly found that he bitterly resented propping up a corrupt and inefficient administration that had one law for the many and one for it’s cronies. Ever since then, they’ve been on the run, existing as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them.. maybe you can join The Hazzard People’s Front!

Building on the idea of “baddies who think they’re goodies”, I went with a paint scheme inspired in equal parts by Return Of The Jedi, Rogue One, and the Vraksian Renegades from WH40K. Craft paint tan for the base uniforms, washed with thinned brown and black inks, webbing done with Vallejo Olive Drab. I think it came out rather well, something sinisterish about it but without overplaying it. These lads don’t know they’re baddies yet, remember- skulls and spikes all over everything might give the game away!

Here’s the roster:

Commader – Q 4+ D 4+Carbine 18″ A1, Energy Fist A2 P2, Camo Cloak (Stealth) Wings (Ambush, Flying. Hero, Tough 3 (65pts)

4 Rebel Psychics – Q 5+ D 5+ Pistol 12″ A1 CCW A1, Hero, Psychic 1, Tough 3 (4 x 50pts – 200pts)

Simian Champion Q 4+ D 4 + Claw Gauntlets on Massive Fists A6 AP 1 Rending, Furious, Hero, Tough 3 (55pts)

2 x Rebel Squads – Q 5+ D 5+ 4 troops w/ Carbines 18″ A1, CCW A1, 1 w/ Missile Launcher 48″ HE A1 Blast 3 AT A1 AP3 Deadly 3. Camo Cloaks (Stealth) (2 x 85 pts – 170 pts total)

Striker Squad – 3 Strikers Q 5+ D 5+ Shotgun 12″ A2, Energy Sword A2 AP 1 Rending (105 pts)

Sniper Squad – 3 Snipers Q 6+ D 6+ Sniper Rifles 36″ A 1 AP1, Sniper CCW A1 (95 pts)

2 x Bounty Hunters Q 4+ D 4+ Plasma Rifle 24″ A1 AP2 , Camo Cloak (Stealth), Wings (Ambush, Fling, Hero, Scout, Tough 3 (2 x 65 pts – 130 pts total)

Assault Vehicle – Q 4+ D 2+ Fusion Cannon 24″ A1 AP4 Blast 3 Fast, Impact (6) Tough (6) (180 pts)

Total 1000 pts

Aaaand pics!

Commander Khorr Bynn, former PDF reserve officer, now a fearless warrior in the cause of social justice!
Simian Champion – Loretta, known amongst the crew as Stan
Rebel Psychic cabal – who could arrest these poor innocent souls, merely yearning for a better life and casting the odd spell to try and make it happen…
Sniper squad – basic conversion, just added greenstuff cloaks to the WW2 Airfix Commandos. I can do cloaks. That’s about it though.
Striker squad – these lads like to get stuck in with shotgun and energy swords…
“Look at their glands!” The Millibandorian boys – greenstuff cloaks, cardboard wings and added FN FALs to represent plasma rifles
Finally, the grunts! Rebel Squad 1 and Rebel Squad A, led by Brian and Reg respectively
And one last shot of the 237th ready for action! Although Commander Bynn isn’t at all happy about some of the logos the lads have been daubing on the tank, the psychics – sorry, “differently abled” – all agree that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about..

So there we are, another army to get stuck in with when freedom reigns again! I’m quite pleased with these guys, they should get in close and hit hard – how will they do against Da Skooderia? Or the Hazzard 1977th? Only time will tell!

Stay thrifty out there, but most importantly stay safe, stay healthy and to quote Mel The Terrain Tutor, “Keep Calm And Crack On”! See y’all real soon now