The plot thickens! Just as Dan’s Marines have got themselves fly new Deathwatch paintjobs, I’ve not been idle with my share of our Ebay booty – first out of the blocks, the Grots! Now, as it turns out there are 36 of these little buggers and to do the mini campaign properly I’m going to need 40, so I may be taking to eBay again pretty soon.. oh, the irony! This is how wargamers end up with houses full of tiny plastic figures… but enough of that for now.
I spread some home made texture paste (filler powder, sand, PVA and water) on the base and hit the whole thing with cheap pound shop white primer, before giving all the figures a prewash with thinned Vallejo brown ink.
I’ve got two mobs of ten painted up so far, with a pretty straightforward three colour scheme – dark grey, bone and red. To differentiate, Furst Mob has grey and red blocked out with a camo scheme (of grey and red) over the bone areas, while Secund Mob has the bone and grey blocked in and a bone and grey camo scheme layered over the red. Thurd Mob, when I get round to them, will have bone and red camo layered over the grey and blocked in red and bone. and Uvver Mob will either have a whole load of camo or none!
I used Vallejo German Grey, a cheap acrylic red and a craft paint bone. Black ink wash, thinned, over the grey and thinned brown ink over the red and bone.
For skin tones I went with a thinned light green, washed with Army Painter Green Tone and then highlighted up with green mixed with yellow, and a touch of bone for the teeth and a dash of red for the eyes. After that, I added a unifying light drybrush of bone, and then on to the metallics – block in black and then boltgun metal highlighted with silver, and then washed with brown ink to give a rusty metal vibe.
Then, basing! I used the same brown craft paint I used for the leather part, then drybrushed with bone, before drizzling flock and Garage Floor TM dust, and then a final edge of brown to touch the whole thing up.. and then, varnish and done!
As it happens, we don’t either – don’t drink and eBay, kids! So, we were wondering what we should do with this haul – loads of Grots, a full complement of 20 Marines, and a couple of Orks in various states of repair… not to mention the cardboard cutout Dreadnaught, plus the very brightly coloured Codex Imperialis and campaign book.
Now, this raises an interesting, almost paradoxical conundrum – because we can’t afford proper 40k minis, we’d got sunk deep into 20mm (aka 1/72 or 1/76 or HO) gaming, meaning all our terrain was designed and sized for this. So getting our hands on actual 40k minis kind of threw the plans out a bit. As discussed before, we planned on using them as proxies for OOP systems like Firefight, Space Crusade etc (not to mention freely downloadable ones like Deadzone), but with all this… stuff… it was more or less a given that at some point we’d end up giving 40k a try again, and we’ve had a couple of little skirmishes with our new skirmish board.
And yeah, compared to modern systems, this old girl is a bit clunky. But we got to thinking – both me and Dan got into 40k in 1991 (albeit independently of each other and hundreds of miles apart) and by then the 1st edition Rogue Trader had evolved massively from it’s origins as an almost unplayable (in practical terms) RPG/ skirmish game and was heading towards the slick and shiny and GLORIOUSLY colourful subsequent editions. Dan and I both remember getting the 40k box set – and be aware, a 40k box set was a brand new thing back then, never been done before! – for Christmas 1993, and working our way through the mini campaign missions given in the book. If you’re unfamiliar, this set focused heavily on the 2nd War For Armageddon, and featured a three (four?) mission campaign of Blood Angels vs Orks.
Then Dan reminded me that 1993 was 25 years ago exactly.
You have to figure by this point, the game had evolved quite away from it’s origins, and was badly in need of a rewrite! And so it was…
You bought wargear with cards rather than having a 15 % chance of having it. The thing had been tested, and many mechanics from 2nd Ed actually form the backbone of 40k as we know it now, love it or loathe it. We may not have had Tau or Necrons, but we had Squats, dammit! (at least for a while..) And so begins our new project for the remains of 2018 – painting up the contents of our unwitting haul to replicate those halcyon days gone by – we began with the Marines, and Dan has a load of Grots ready for the camera – then there’s the scenery to make… lots of ruins (which we’ll make 3″ by 3″ to also be Deadzone compatible – muy Skinflint).. plus we have found a very cool papercraft of an Ork Deff Dread… And then come Christmas, we’ll run the whole campaign!
So, here’s raising a glass to our “origin story” within the hobby – we may not be the seasoned grognards in at the birth of it all with Rogue Trader, but we were there for 40k to find it’s feet and become what it is today. And for all it’s (many many ) faults- it will always have a place in our hearts.
So the dust has settled after last month’s mega-battle, and after gorging on our biggest game yet, we’ve decided to turn our attention to something a little lower key and skirmish-y.
Now, there’s a strong appeal to these types of games – low model count means easy buy in, short set up and pack down means it’s easy to get in a quick game even on when time and space are a premium, and it’s a great way to learn a ruleset without jumping in the deep end with a full combined arms force!
Clearly GW agree with us, having just released the new version of Kill Team, but we’re planning on starting with a few more free-to-download sets, not to mention our own Black Ops system (intended to be a more detailed small scale RPG/ skirmish variant on the basic Apocalypse: Earth game engine). An accidental alcohol-related eBay purchase means we’ve got ourselves a crowd of 2nd ed 40k Grots and Marines, so we figured time to make them somewhere to have a scrap!
We did actually put together a folding urban warfare table last year, built from the back of a set of shelves – roughly 3’x3′ folding, made of some sort of hardboard/ cardboard laminate – but we’ve learned a lot since then, and now it looks a bit… crap, to be honest. So we decided – time to pimp, yo.
After getting the stonework and texture paste on, I made sure to seal thoroughly with a spray of diluted PVA (empty Windolene bottle, ten parts water to 1 part PVA). In fact, I actually hit this three times at roughly 4- 6 hour intervals over the day – worth it in terms of time investment to make sure the thing doesn’t end up shedding grit and cat litter all over the floor every time you get it out!
With priming complete, the next step was painting. I used a recipe that has served me well, nicked wholeheartedly from Lukes APS. I used house paint tester pots for economy and ruggedness – hilariously, Duncan recommends using about £20 worth of Citadel model paints for this…. don’t, just don’t! – and put simply:
Overbrush grey blue
Drybrush red (lightly, and only in selected places)
Drybrush with Wilko’s City Break grey
Lighter drybrush with same brand Granite Dust
Next up, I made up some very thin washes based on brown, green, black and skin/ flesh wash colours heavily watered down and daubed about the board. This gives it a rather cinematic feel which I found I liked.
For the muds, I went with a burnt umber basecoat and gradually drybrushed up a couple of lighter browns, taking care to really work the brush into the texture to blend with the concrete.
Overall, this was a fun little build and I think t actually came out looking pretty good. It’ll suit Black Ops, and 28mm stuff like Kill Team and Necromunda. Plus, it folds away!
Next step is to scale up these techniques for the main 6’x4′ board, and a squared off 2’x2′ for Deadzone – thanks to Mantic for making the core rule book freely available as a download – and actually, none of these steps are particularly difficult, just require a bit of patience, planning and imagination. Youtube, and particularly The Terrain Tutor and Lukes APS are your friends here – good luck, stay thrifty and we’ll see you soon!
Welcome to our 2018 Summer Slam Megagame! It’s becoming a bit of a tradition during the summer months when I’m on glorious paid summer vacation and Dan is less busy at the warehouse, to congregate in my garage with a couple of boxes of Carling and whatever models we’ve managed to acquire or concoct to throw down for a BIG FIGHT.
This year we’re revisiting a concept we used last spring, with a gallant few Allied defenders holding off a endless horde of Holy Soviet Army attackers, but we’ve added a few twists..
The scenario began with our new League of European Nations platoon with 88Gw support laser deployed ahead of the Skalk Point plasma generator complex, performing regular rear area security duties – when out of the mist comes Dan’s entire Holy Soviet Army force! We deployed along the two narrow edges, the League forces up to the halfway mark, the Soviets up to 24cm forward.
Starting at the end of the first turn, the League commander could nominate 6 Alliance units (representing the local sector Quick Reaction Force) – if they passed a reaction roll, they would appear on his table edge at the end of the turn. Soviet casualties would be respawned within their deployment zone, and the forward edge of said deployment zone would move forward 10cm every turn, representing units rushing forward to find their officer (or anyone else to take responsibility for their decisions…). Once the last Alliance unit had taken to the field, the Soviets wouldn’t get any more reinforcements.
We – well, alright, me – decided to flex the literary muscles and try and write this in a narrative style.. so grab yourself a libation, this is quite a long post…
Skalk Point Power Substation, Location CLASSIFIED Northern Germany, 0600 July 21st 1956
The low cloud made him uneasy. Despite the early hour of the morning, it was already uncomfortably hot, and sweat patches were beginning to form in his underarms and under his peaked officers’ cap. Leutnant von Hulkenburg shifted his weight as he trained his field glasses on the horizon.
Rear area security was not a glamorous assignment, but the Leutnant and his command had spent enough time on the front lines to realise there was no glory to be found anywhere in this war. He was merely glad to have survived this long and the men under him shared his views. This posting allowed him and his men some rest, guarding a crucial power generation substation deep behind Allied lines – but it was essential work. Skalk Point was the nexus of the power grid for the entire sector – if it went down, it would cripple the logistics for the European and Atlantic Alliance armies operating in a hundred mile radius.
Behind him klaxons blared as the network of immense plasma rectors vented their exhaust gases. The Leutnant turned to watch despite himself, awed as always by the spectacle – clouds of vividly coloured gas moving through the vast plexiglass storage tanks, arcs superheated of lightning leaping between them as staff took cover in the specially designed bunkers. It never failed to impress him.
As he turned back to scanning the horizon, however – he saw something that took his breath away and turned his bowels to ice.
A monstrous mechanical walker, towering over the surrounding trees, cutting through the forest with the help of a massive flamethrower, leading a horde of Soviet tanks. Hulkenburg recognised T-48s in various configurations and a mammoth IS-6, leading a horde of infantry.
“Mein Gott” he gasped – how had they got so close without detection? With a jolt, he realised there must be one of those damned sorcerers in the force, using and manipulating the low cloud to shield them from observation. He could’t believe how deep into the lines they had penetrated.
“Achtung!” he cried to his men, “Take cover! Russ! Russ kommen!”
Around him, his men dived for cover, taking up firing positions, fixing bayonets, removing safeties. His gunners quickly moved the support laser into position, initialising its systems. Hulkenburg grabbed his radio operator – “Get me reinforcements! Now! Everything you can!”
He prayed they could hold out long enough.
Task Group BUFFALO Staging Area, Anglo-American XXV Corps, Location CLASSIFIED Northern Germany, 0603 July 21st 1956
“Say again, Skalk Point, say again”
The static was ferocious, but there was no disguising the panic in the man’s voice.
“Russians! We have a heavy task group of Soviets inbound in our position, armour and infantry and superheavies – we need reinforcements now, we have no chance against them!”
“Stay calm, Skalk Point, we’re on it, the cavalry is coming” – the communications officer hit the Alert button and klaxons blared throughout the compound. In the distance, he could see soldiers running for vehicles, Silverbugs initialising their engines, tanks and Humvees gunning their engines – he turned back to the microphone.
“Skalk Point, this is Buffalo Six, we have QRF inbound to your position. Sit tight now, don’t do anything stupid, we’ll get you out of there”
Lieutenant Grant swore softly under his breath. BUFFALO 2-7 had 36 hours left on their rotation as sector Quick Reaction Force. Mostly spent doing maintenance, the Lieutenant and just grabbed a coffee and a bacon sandwich from the mess after a morning spent checking engines and supervising range practice.
He slid into the command Humvee as the ARPANET downloaded coordinates and planned a route.
From the other side slid Platoon Sergeant McAuliffe, cigar ever present and smelling suspiciously of bourbon. Grant didn’t mention it – after everything they’d been through together he couldn’t blame the sergeant for wanting to take the edge off. War did that to you after a while. He reached forward, unclipped the microphone from the Humvee’s dashboard and opened up the platoon ARPANet.
“All call signs, report in”
The receiver chimed as vehicles, tanks, gunships and infantry fireteams checked in with a “ready” status. Grant cleared his throat.
“Gentlemen, I’m sorry there isn’t time to brief you all properly. We are responding to an Priority One emergency call from the reactor installation at Skalk Point. There’s a German rear area platoon there fighting for their lives against what looks like a Soviet armoured battalion – they’re outnumbered, outgunned, and in deep shit. We all know what that’s like.”
“You also need to know what happens if Skalk Point goes down. That’s power, communications and logistics across the whole sector. 100 miles – that’s all of us, XXV Corps and the whole European 7th Army, without comms, ammo, mail, food. That happens – well, we’re fucked. We’re not going to let that happen. Understood?”
“SIR, YES, SIR”
Skalk Point Power Substation, Location CLASSIFIED Northern Germany, 0605 July 21st 1956
“They’re coming, Herr Leutnant, Atlantic Alliance QRF inbound on bearing 275 – down the service road to our rear, sir.” The RTO looked up at the Leutnant, who was peering through field glasses at the oncoming crowd of Soviet tanks. The HQ section had dived into the cover of a ruined farmhouse while the 88 crew had manoeuvred themselves into a covered defile. Meanwhile the two rifle and two assault sections had spread out along the line, taking whatever cover they could.
“Thank you, Dieter – everyone, don’t do anything stupid, ok? Just stay alive, till the Americans get here”
“Americans” snorted his platoon sergeant, “Don’t know who’s worse, them or the Russians”
The Leutnant stared at him. “Yes you fucking do”
The sergeant looked away.
“Targets, sir” called one of the 88 gunners.
“Fire at will – but for Christ’s good sake, everybody keep your heads down”
The mighty laser cannon thrummed to life, unleashing, a flash of light appeared on the side armour of the Soviet SU-152 assault gun nestling a few hundred yards behind the lead elements and almost too quickly to register, forty tons of steel became a fireball. Battle was joined.
By the end of turn 1, things were looking bleak for the Germans – they’d managed to immobilise an assault gun with an inspired laser cannon shot, but with precious little in the way of anti-tank capability (1 panzerschreck per rifle squad, both operated by the squad’s token half blind members…) and the Soviet infantry using cover to conceal themselves, there was precious little they could do other than to pull into cover and save themselves for a counter offensive when Alliance support arrived. Meanwhile, Assault section No. 1 was infiltrating up the buildings on the Allied left to spring an ambush, while No. 2 assault section hung back waiting to strike when the Soviets hit the main League force sheltering around the ruined farmhouse.
As turn 2 drew to an end, the Soviets were very much on a roll but with the newly arrived Alliance firepower starting to bite, things were hanging very much in the balance.. the Soviet deployment zone was creeping forward steadily however, and the main infantry force had yet to close with the enemy.. too many factors to call!
Turn 3 saw more Allied firepower rolling onto the table, but at the same time losing the 88Gw laser, a crucial part of the League firepower, and the gradual erosion of Allied infantry was taking it’s toll. The Soviet steamroller as gaining momentum, with losses respawning further and further up the board, but with as yet all to play for..
By this point (in true SKG style) we’d got too pissed and too involved in the game to take proper notes, but suffice it to say that both sides were all in, no more reinforcements, and it was desperately close, the Soviets could almost touch the objective… but there was still enough fight left in the Allies to make it tough!
As the last few elements of the Allied defence fell, one by one, it was left to the lone M60 crew to hold the line at the entrance to the generator complex – this she did to great effect before being rammed by two T-48s who’s cannons had been destroyed after fending off the remaining Siberian assault troops.. but it couldn’t last, and the tank went down in flames – taking with it the last chance for Allied victory. The newly arrived sniper team, Ghost 7, could only flee the scene and bring word to Sector command…
So the Soviets were victorios, but by the end they only had one fully functioning runner, which the Centurion (heretofor to be named “Leonidas” after his brave and heroic stand at the gates of the generator complex) took out before being mobbed by rams, Siberian mutants and Molotov cocktails.. what an end to a game!
Afterwards, we played a small Black Ops game (a WIP skirmish take on Apocalypse: Earth) where an SAS team managed to infiltrate the command centre and at great cost hack the central computer to stymie Soviet attempts to redirect the power – next up, the League of European Nations gathers an armoured fist to strike back and retake the complex!
That was a biggie, so thanks for staying with us – stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon!
And I think you can start to see where this is going.
Thing is, over the years GW have published a great many games set in the 40k universe – Space Hulk, Space Crusade, Advanced Space Crusade as well as the current generation (Betrayal at Calth, Burning Of Prospero, Deathwatch Overkill) – all cracking good fun, easy and quick to set up and crucially, with a very low model count. 20 Marines and a big crowd of Grots to play the bad guys is plenty for these types of games (not to mention the nostalgia factor of those 2nd ed sculpts.. opening that box was Christmas ’93 all over again!), and as we discovered with the Calth box set, many players by them for the minis and disregard everything else. As for the older games, rules, tokens etc can all be found online and downloaded for free (often there are fan remakes to be found too – check out this one).
As a side note, I’m also hoping to track down a copy of Alternative Armies’ Firefight rules from 1991 – that was a brilliant game, fast paced and utterly addictive!
All these games are board or tile based, so easy and quick set up, perfect for a quick hobby fix!
So, onto painting them – I figured the Marines should be Deathwatch, as that seems to fit with the fluff of small scale alien (or heretic) -hunting skirmishes in narrow streets, cramped arcologies or abandoned spacecraft, so I stripped them using meths, primed with black spray paint, popped a beer and watched Duncan’s excellent Deathwatch painting tutorial video, and had at it!
I did deviate slightly from the Duncan’s template – black acrylic basecoat (cheap £1 store black), light drybrush with Vallejo German Grey, then took a deep breath and tried some edge highlighting, having mixed the grey with some bone and a little blue, and was pleasantly surprised with the results! I’ve seen edge highlighting look pretty cack handed and splodgy (particularly when I’ve done it), but I think the trick to it is ensuring your paint is thin and you create a smooth colour graduation. Clearly all that time painting weeny 1/72 figures has helped get my eye in as these chaps came out better than anything I painted back in the 90s! Metallics were Vallejo silver, washed with thin black ink, skulls were bone washed with thinned brown ink and the red was a cheap £1 acrylic that I layered up with some yellow to create highlights. Flesh was craft paint skin tone washed first with Vallejo skin wash and then thinned brown wash.
For basing, I was briefly tempted to go full retro – PVA, sand, Goblin Green, remember that? – but instead took things a little further. I put a bit of home made texture paste (sand, PVA, filler powder, water) on the base before the priming stage and after I’d painted the model, painted this dark brown and drybrushed up with a couple of layers of lighter browns. Then dabbed on a bit of PVA and drizzled on some flock, than another dab and drizzled on some Garage Floor Dust (TM) which is one of the best basing materials I’ve ever discovered, despite it’s humble origins!
Finally I edged the base in black as I wanted a cinematic look (and brown just looked weird) and done! So the first group are complete, and (deep breath) – here are the pics!
And this week we’re doing – Age Of Sigmar! It’s fair to say that this game has had a controversial reception – blowing up the Warhammer World, renaming elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins for ease of GW trademarking etc., and to the casual observer (such as we) the replacement fluff seemed pretty vague and silly, and above all unrelatable. The Warhammer World may have been a dangerous place, but it was still one where you could imagine ordinary people living, working, eating, sleeping, and using the toilet. The AoS fluff was very high fantasy myth and legend, lacking the grit that let you believe in the stories you were telling on the battlefield. Plus there were a great many silly rules in the original, no real points structure or levelling mechanics and the whole thing just felt rushed and sloppy.
At least, that’s the way it seemed to us. But that was during the Age of Kirby. As GW have changed management, they really do seem to be making an effort to engage and put out well thought out balanced games – and in the case of AoS, making the rules available for free.
We like that word. And so – with AoS 2 now out, high time we dipped a toe in the murky AoS waters and found out what was what.
Of all the WHFB/ AoS races, I’ve always had a thing for Skaven. Giant chittering mutant rats lurking in the sewers, waiting to strike in the darkness.. like Orcs but more cunning, less brutal.. like Goblins but furry.. and then there’s all the Clan Skryre craziness..
So for me, when we got into AoS I had to take this opportunity to start up a Skaven army. But of course – GW prices. They make lovely stuff, but WOW is it expensive – can’t run a Ferrari on a Vauxhall income! (and the minor issue of all our terrain being scaled for 1/72).
Step forward Caesar (or MiniKnight, there seems to be some confusion on the box) Ratmen – 1/72 fantasy absolutely-not-Skaven, 39 figures and 11 poses to a box. My first box cost me roughly a tenner, postage included – and once they arrived, I fell so head over heels I rounded up every box I could find – three more, for a shade under a tenner a piece. Result – everything I need for one formidable Skaven army for the price of three Stormfiends.
So far I’ve managed to get enough painted up to field a decent little warband, and they got their first licks in against a Freeguild patrol a few days ago – the Skaven warlord took down the Freeguild general in grand style and the wee furry chaps just had the measure of the Guard in close combat, managing to pick them off in dribs and drabs.
I’ve gone with the notion that seniority is denoted by darker fur, so the Skavenslaves are a lighter brown than the Clanrats, who in turn are lighter than the Plague Monks, etc. Having had a little experience painting at this scale now, I’m more than ever convinced that the right way to do it is to start light (white primer) and wash down rather than starting dark and highlighting up. This is because washes are so much thinner- at this smaller scale, layering highlights will ruin all the detail, as well as taking far longer. That said, I usually finish things off with a very light bone drybrush to catch the highlights.
For basing, I used our now standard technique of thick cardstock (20mm square), covered in PVA, dunked in a pot of Garage Floor Dust (TM), and then a sparse overlay of flock for contrast. Edge with brown, spray with matt varnish and you’re good to go!
Now, as well as being Skaven for AoS and any forays into it’s predecessor, Warhammer Fantasy, these chaps will also be appearing in our own fantasy/ steampunk setting – Hyperian Wars!
The Virum Nascii – Men Of Vermin
The shadow in the corner? The rustle in the rafters? That presence you feel lurking in the corner of your room as you go to sleep? Most of the time it’s just your imagination.
Most of the time.
But sometimes – every once in a while – it’s the Ratman. The Vermin Kin. The Virum Nascii. Many years before mankind came to Hyperia, there were some within the Stoc’d who grew weary of the prohibitions on Vril usage, on biology, on experimentation. Cast out and labelled renegade by his peers, a once noble Stoc’d biologician dug deep beyond the frontiers of his races’ realms, deep towards the core of Hyperia – deep towards the essence of pure, life giving Vril – and began to create a slave race, a race that would do his bidding without question, and eventually make him master of our world.
But life does not always abide by the rules we want it to. The common rat joined him on his journey – and the Vril wrought its magic, sought by design or not. With the biologician’s attention focused on the acquisition of precious Vril and designs of vengeance, the rats grew in intelligence and stature, until they were able to overpower him and his retinue. Now they live in the darkest corners of Hyperia, pulling the unwary down into their shadowy empire. When you meet them in combat, beware – they may not have the martial code that distinguishes us, the Eal’va, the Stoc’d or even the Orca, but they are a deadly opponent, every bit as fearful as the Terrors of the Dead
That’s it for now, but as the Hyperian Wars fluff develops you bet the Virum Nascii will be along for the ride. Check back soon, stay thrifty out there!
Oh, and a PS regarding the title – we haven’t gone all EDL on you, the reference is this:
And I’m pretty certain they’re not all Jim & me, as a good chunk are from countries we’d struggle to find on a map (there’s a NEW Zealand? Who knew!)
So while the new projects sizzle and bubble under the hobby grill and we get ready for the Apocalypse: Earth Summer Smackdown 2018 megagame, I thought I’d drop in a post to thank all of you who tune in to our geeky little blog, and hopefully we’ve given you some ideas about how to do wargaming without breaking the bank.
Anyway, here’s what we’re up to at the minute:
We’ve also been dipping a toe into GW’s much maligned Warhammer Fantasy Battle successor game, “Age Of Sigmar” – as a general rule we tend to prefer sci fi in flavours ranging from gritty (ALIENS) to flat out daft (Flash Gordon), but every now and again we both get the “I wants” to start something new, and seeing as GW have the core rules an warscrolls available for free on their website, we duly downloaded them and had ourselves some hot Freeguild on Freeguild action to see what all the fuss was about..
And much fun was had – although I do get the feeling that they were trying to retain the IGO – UGO structure but not make it feel like IGO-UGO, and this has added some unnecessary levels of complexity, plus my own bugbear of Move Phase then Combat Phase – what if I want to shoot and then move? Why does this seem to be an alien concept to GW designers (with the honourable exception of Betrayal At Calth).
Anyway, it’s still a fun game, and now the new rules are available to free download, so I recommend giving it a shot. The Malign Portents series of stories has done a good job (in my view) of making the Mortal Realms seem more relatable – the Warhammer World I always had a soft spot for, it always seemed well fleshed out and the type of place where people could live, work, build, eat, piss, take a crap without being hugely overpowered daemon monster sorcerer warlord things, whereas everything I’d heard about the AoS fluff just seemed a bit stupid. But I’m guessing GW’s New Age is working on that. We’ll be trying out the new rules soon enough, so there’ll be an Age Of Skinflint battle report in the offing…
Meanwhile, a couple of teasers for the next post….
Thanks to everyone who checks in with us, hopefully we can pass some knowledge and inspiration on to the community in the way that so many have passed it onto us. Stay thrifty out there, we’ll see you soon!
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!
Feels like we’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front this month, but the truth is – we’ve been glueing stuff together like Chinese children in the better class of sweatshop (i.e. busily, but not necessarily in fear of our lives…).
It all started with this thread on Dakka Dakka, by a user named Skalk Bloodaxe. Browsing through his log of work, we started with a fairly “meh” attitude, but by page 20 both Dan and I were slack jawed with awe and busily scribbling notes. And so it was that we were inspired to raid my draw of Interestingly Shaped Crap to try and build a genuinely spectacular centrepiece for our games.
After the success of our earlier plasma reactor attempts utilising low energy light bulbs, we figured we’d take the idea a little bit further – what about a whole plasma generator substation? Featuring reactors, coolant coils, storage tanks and whatnot.
I cut a slice of roughly square MDF and after glueing everything down with superglue we mixed a texture paste of PVA, filler and a little bit of sand and stippled it down around the terrain parts for an asphalt effect. With that it was time for priming!
Next up – painting. Now, experienced, talented modellers will think about a paint scheme ahead of time and in many cases paint individual pieces ahead of time to ensure a clean finish and coverage, before glueing them in place. We are neither of these, so we glued it all down, primed it, and then realised how difficult it was going to be to get to almost everything we needed to paint.
This is why the blog’s been so quiet this month – we’ve been too busy angling our brushes into impossible patterns and swearing through gritted teeth…
Anyway – I’ll spare you the frustration, suffice it to say we went with an all-purpose olive drab finish for most of the complex using Vallejo Russian Green (figuring this would work well across both 1950s Europe, 23rd century sci fi and the grim darkess of the 41st millenium) – this got a wash with Army Painter Green Tone, and a pin wash with my own homebrew dark green wash, before drybrushing back up with Russian Green, mixed in with Crafters Choice tan to lighten back up. If memory serves, we did three drybrush layers.
Next was the main storage tank, and we’d agreed we wanted this yellow. Unfortunately, we’re both muppets and had primed it grey.
So at first, we needed to undercoat it white or the paint was never going to work. We duly managed to work a white undercoat, and then prewashed with Vallejo Skin Wash, and the yellow (cheap stuff from The Works) actually layered up quite nicely over it. We mixed in a little white and drybrushed lightly over the top. You need to be very gentle here, modulating colours subtly is essential. Vallejo Skin Wash came out again for a thin wash into the crevices to create depth.
Next up, the three smaller storage tanks in white – white’s a weird colour to paint, it doesn’t look right just painted on. So after painting we washed (with Vallejo Smokey Ink), drybrushed, washed and drybrushed again.. before sponge chipping – hopefully the feel conveyed is one of well used but maintained equipment.
After that came the plasma coils – this part was from a piece of packaging from some M&S cookies, and yummy as they were, the packaging might actually serve to be the best bit! These got the Russian Green treatment, followed by layering up white, and then a glaze technique using very light – almost turquoise – blue.. and then layered up with thinned down white paint up to a central point. Not sure I did as good a job as Duncan, but it looks OK from two feet away!
And then we get to the fun part – painting the reactors themselves! I nicked this wholesale from this technique on Warhammer TV, so I’ll let Duncan’s soothing voice talk you through it.. although to break it down for those of you without YouTube access, it’s basically blue paint, stippled with lighter blue, purple and pink patches, with lightning flashes done using thinned white paint. Simple enough, but looks the balls. Although with the sheer amount of surface area we had to paint.. it took a while.
With this all done, the next step was the asphalt – the paste had settled nicely and given a good texture, but this time rather than paint black and drybrush up, we decided to employ a variant on the “leopard spotting” technique Dan picked up from this Luke’s APS video – essentially, dark washes in three separate shades (black, brown and black/brown mix) that overlap each other. These then get drybrushed up with tan and bone colouring to unify it all together – actually really pleased with this one!
You may notice Luke uses solder and/ or styrene rod to build his fences.. we didn’t have any of that. What we did have were a bunch of kebab skewers, and a couple of quid from Ebay bought is all the nylon tulle (mesh) we were ever likely to need. Gel superglue and greenstuff did the joinery and we used the grid on the modelling mat to line it all up at right angles, but still this was fiddly and frustrating. Nylon tulle does not respond well to superglue or cutting.. but we persevered and made it! The fences then got a blast of cheap £1 silver spray paint and a couple of Vallejo Smokey Ink washes, and then we drilled through the MDF to create holes to plug the fences into. Very important that they be removable – they may be impassable to infantry, but crash a T-48 into a wire fence and the fence loses!
Overall, I’m giving this build a 7/10 – we measured, we thought, we planned, but we were still stupid in many ways, still plenty of wonky bits, but definitely a step up from our previous efforts! Lots more to learn about terrain building but that’s the joy of this hobby, you can always improve as long as you’re willing to!
We’ll come back to Skalk Point in time, as there’s plenty to add – little details here and there, industrial warning notices, a gate house, maybe a walkway or two… but for now, for the sake of our collective sanity, it’s time to turn our attention elsewhere and play a game or two!
Stay thrifty out there, thanks for staying with us through a lean month! See you soon 😉