Deadzone! On a budget.. of £0…

Focus? What is this focus of which you speak? Heresy!!

You know that phenomenon where you hear about something – a band, a game, a TV show – and all of a sudden you hear about it everywhere?

What is that called?

Anyway, that’s what’s happened with us – a Luke’s APS video brought it up, and then over the next couple of months we just kept hearing about it, reading about in blogs and forums.. what is it? Deadzone, that’s what!

I’ve long had a weakness for small, quick skirmish games that bridge the gap between wargame and boardgame, and doing a little digging into what Deadzone is.. we liked what we saw.

Particularly when we discovered the rules available for FREE on Mantic’s website. BOOM (as the saying goes).

So, we had the rules downloaded. Next up – miniatures. Well, that was easy. Dice – Deadzone runs on a D8 system with specially labelled D6s for command rolls, but normal D6s will work just as well- you simply assign a number to each command skill. Ebay, £3, 20 D8s show up a week or so later. God bless those hard working Chinese kids.

Finally, terrain – Deadzone box set ships with a 2′ x 2′ mat with printed 3″ squares, and a terrain system based around 3″ cubes. Happily, Dan had a couple of bits of hardboard knocking around his shed, roughly 2′ x 3′ – the excess would be used for dice, counters, roster cards etc.

It begins! Measured out 3″ squares onto the hardboard and scored them into the material with a DIY knife
Stippled on texture paste – a mix of paint, PVA, filler powder and sand. Rubble effects are done by squeezing acrylic caulk onto the board and pressing cat litter into it. Caulk is excellent for gripping the litter and holding onto the board.

Sprayed the whole thing with cheap black spraypaint and then began drybrushing up as per the previous urban board.

Here I’ve added washes to help delineate the squares – thinned down black, smokey ink, and skin washes to colour the greys.

Texture catches the drybrushing nicely

Added mud – burnt umber basecoat, drybrushed with layers of lighter brown
Added flock to the mud to help mark out the squares, simulating weeds growing in the mud

After all this, the board was pretty warped, about a 1cm bulge in the middle. Were all our efforts to be in vain, our attempts at Deadzone gaming to be thwarted by models gradually sliding off theboard?

Happily, no – Wyloch to the rescue – we coated the other side with thinned down PVA and left it for 24 hours. Result? Totally flat board.

Added some scenery built a while back from various bits of food packaging and away we go!

The rules give a sample scenario along with two strike teams – we’ve proxied the Marines as Enforcers and the Gretchin as Forge Fathers, and so far we’re 3-2 to the little stunties.

Deadzone is definitely a fun game, once you get your head round the dice test mechanic, and it’s great for keeping both players involved through alternating activation boosted by command dice providing extra actions throughout the game. It’s definitely a game that lends itself to tactical play – you’re going to get the victory points through taking and holding objectives, as it can be damn difficult actually putting a model down, (particularly as the wimpy laser rifles the Enforcers are equipped with don’t pierce armour too well), but this is no bad thing – in the real world, you wouldn’t just chuck your highly trained strike team into a meat grinder, and as we get the hang of this game it’ll be fun to try and build a narrative campaign.

Time to finish up with some pics, as Grot and Marine get down and dirty in the Deadzone:

Till next time, stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon!

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CheapHammer 40k -The 2nd Ed Revival Project! Pt. 1 The Plan

So, hands up who remembers this?

20171109_205218

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.

 

In the grim darkness of the far future, there are only bold primary colours

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.

Hmm. We should mark this occasion.

We did something similar last year, commemorating 30 years of 40k by playing The Battle At The Farm from Rogue Trader using 8th Edition rules, and had a blast, but we figured, you know what? 2nd Ed was our edition. Goblin Green bases, primary colours – the grim darkness of the far future had never looked so appealing. Army lists existed from the drop, rather than being gradually added over six years of White Dwarf articles.

Or  Warhammer 40000 Compilations.

Or Warhammer 40000 Compendiums.

Or Warhammer 40000 Battle Manuals.

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.

Assault On Skalk Point: Apocalypse: Earth Mega Battle Report

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.”

He paused.

“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.

The Soviet horde appears on the table edge, whilst von Hulkenburg’s security platoon hunker down in what cover they can find
88Gw gunners score their first kill, immobilising the Soviet assault gun – lacking a turret, this had the effect of neutralising the vehicle for the entire battle!
Recognising their impotence in the face of the Soviet armoured horde, No. 1 Assault section begin to infiltrate forward through cover, preparing to ambush the follow on infantry squads
Led by a wave of T-48s, the Soviet horde barrels forward – with the League security platoon sheltering in cover, their only target is a solitary rifleman… two 140mm shells from the Rampager takes care of him! Overkill? Nah… it’s how the Holy Soviet Army rolls!
While the main Soviet infantry force follows close behind the tanks, the Lightning Storm attack squad detaches to work through the buildings and clear out any resistance
League assault troops shelter in the ruins of a department store. “Go easy boys, let them get closer – there’ll be plenty for everyone..”
Holy Soviet infantry dash forward under cover of armour as the superheavy Rampager and Colossus lead the way. “Forward for the Motherland, comrades!” bawled Lt. Polikarpov, being careful to ensure Commissar Kuryakin was close enough to hear and take note.
“Skalk Point, this is Buffalo 2-7, be advised friendly forces are in back of you – say again, friendlies to your rear” – Silverbugs and a hard driven M60A3 Centurion arrive to reinforce the hard pressed position.

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.

Resolving to sell their lives dearly, the 88Gw laser gunners score a direct hit and brew up the lead T-48
“Good shot boys! Now – can you do it again?”
Picking it’s way carefully up the treacherously steep slopes of Fellowes’ Peak, the Soviet BTR APC disgorges No. Heavy Weapons Squad onto it’s heights, with a commanding view of the battlefield
More Alliance support arrives – from left to right, elite power armoured Dreadnaught infantry, Stinger/TOW and laser cannon equipped Humvees and an M113 sporting an automatic grenade launcher

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!

Stinger/ TOW missiles and laser cannon fire streaks out to brew up another T-48
Allied fire lights up the Soviets as they push toward the objective
Soviet Shock Drones leap forward, eviscerating the 88Gw laser and crew in a flurry of razor sharp limbs and tentacles
Assault section leap forward and gun down the Holy Soviet Mystic and bodyguard at point blank range
Alliance HQ arrives at the bottom of the picture, accompanied by another APC and the Rocketeers of Warhawk 4-9

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..

Alliance Silverbug gunship gets in close amongst the Holy Soviet infantry, providing close air support with deadly Avenger cannon
Meanwhile, his wingman wreaks havoc amongst the lead T-48 elements
Meanwhile, a T-48 from the follow on echelon catches the League Assault section out in the open, mowing them down at point blank range
Rumbling forward, an Alliance Centurion draws a bead on the Shock Drones and with grim efficiency, annihilates them with missiles, .50 cal and 120mm cannon fire
The Soviet lead elements reach the gulley, tantalisingly close to the objective..
A new wave of armour threatens the hard pressed defenders!
Finally with some targets to shoot at, League rifle troops break cover to return fire
While on the Soviet right flank, the plodding Lightning Storm squadron fry an APC with their Lightning Launchers
Soviet artillery brackets the ruined farmhouse as Lt. Hulkenburg screams for his men to disperse
Gutter fighting around the gulley as a Stinger/TOW takes down yet another T-48
The Soviets are breaking through..
An M60A3 gets in a successful sniping shot on a T-48 trying to infiltrate through the ruined buildings
Lt. Hulkenburg can only watch in horror as his riflemen are torn limb from limb by the nightmarish Siberian assault mutants!
Soviet troops overwhelm and capture the other rifle squad
More desperately needed antitank firepower is lost to barrages from massed Soviet armour
“There’s too many!”

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!

 

M85 ‘bots enter the fray..
One falls to a Shock Drone, the other to a Siberian
Elektra leads the final wave of Soviet armour – the objective is so very close now..
It’s the last few men standing..
Lt. Hulkenburg falls!
The final M60 Centurion surveys the scene..
Lt. Grant guns down a Shock Drone, but  will it make a difference?

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!

O. M. F. G.

It’s a bit of a fill in post this week as we’ve got a couple of different projects on the go and it seems like a marked lack of time to do them in.. Oh well, first world problems!

That said, with 2018 almost halfway there we took a quick peak at the stats and would you Adam & Eve it – over 10,000 views! In six months!

Celebrate!

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:

Scratchbuilding Sor Gharax (Word Bearers Contemptor Dreadnought) for Betrayal At Calth – Patoroch template with help from drinking straws.. this is a fiddly one!

Testing out the new League Of European Nations forcesforces against the Holy Soviet Army

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..

Figures are Airfix Napoleonics, with a papercraft A7V playing the role of Steam Tank

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….

 

Nutritious and delicious sci fi buildings…
Definitely NOT Skaven….

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!

Slaughter At Forge Valley – A Future Force Warrior Battle Report

So a couple of weeks back Da Skooderia and the Hazzard 1977th took to the field for some old school 2nd Ed action, and whilst it was fun and lots of stuff blew up, it does have to be said old style 40k feels a bit clunky. 8th seems to have gone some way towards streamlining but it’s still hampered by the IGOUGO turn structure, which feels much more suited to Napoleonic or fantasy regimental manoeuvring.. probably due to 40k having it’s roots in Warhammer Fantasy!

So for a while now we’ve been playing around with a re-skinned upgraded version of the Apocalypse: Earth ruleset, moved forward a couple of hundred years into the future as mankind begins it’s exploration beyond the solar system – Earth is divided between three superstates, NATO (covering the Americas, Europe and Australasia), the People’s State (former Holy Soviet Empire, Empire Of Japan, Asian Communist Federation) and the Caliphate (India, Africa, Middle East) while some rugged individualist movements out in the colonies are beginning to press for full independence from the homeworld.

But mankind is not alone in the wilderness of space. There is the vast decaying empire of what we once called the Greys, who seeded life across the galaxy millions of years ago but lost their empire in a titanic struggle with an extra galactic threat that devastated the galaxy while humanity was struggling to make fire, there are isolated pockets of rogue AI constructs bent on continuing a war fought millions of years ago, whispered rumours of extradimensional entities with powers undreamt of and of course the perennial threat of the Orca, essentially a race of overgrown bacteria who live for destruction.

Anyway- the fluff is still in its infancy, but the game engine is pretty soid, so we decided to stat up our Guard and Ork forces, which would now represent forces from the People’s State Liberation Army  and the Orca tribe infecting the world of Hazzard Prime.. we used the same table layout as last time, with the plasma reactors as the objective.

The table laid out – Orca nearest the camera, PSLA furthest edge.

As before, I took Da Skooderia and Dan rolled out the PSLA, and we both reprised our plans from the last game – Orca would pitch forward with their elite troops while the Boyz and Dreadnaught moved up in support, while Seb Metal and Kimi Rorkonnen would loop around in a flanking manoeuvre. Meanwhile the PSLA would be lead by their Russ, squads Alfonso and Beauregard moving through cover while the command element in their Chimera APC would dash forward and engage the Orca with their heavy short range firepower and squad Cletus would provide heavy fire support with missile launcher, autocannon and laser cannon.

Orca deploy using cover to shelter them..
Boyz ready for the advance
Dreadnaught keeping its head down…
PSLA infantry use the woods for cover
Squad Cletus and Russ MBT anchor the centre
Chimera APC with PSLA command element waiting for the order to charge..

The Orca won the initiative and elected to move first.

“Big Red” performs an expert Tokyo drift to pull in behind the ridge, using the terrain for cover as it delivers Warboss Enzo Ferrorki, Bigboss Dino Ferrorki and the Nobz Mob “Da Management” onto the plasma reactors
“DIS SHINY FING IS MIIIIIINE!”
Whoops, wonky camera angle – Russ MBT gets in a flank shot on the Dreadnaught, immobilising it. Seeing as the poor Dread can’t actually see anything, this renders it pretty much ineffective for the rest of the game… This chap is due some karma next game!
Big Red is immobilised by a side laser cannon shot from the Russ
…and autocannon fire downs a Nob, suppressing Da Management. The General living up to his name today!
PSLA Command team debus onto the warehouses by the plasma reactors, People’s Mystic, Captain, Lieutenant and Political Officer dive into cover while plasma rifles down a Skarboy and heat cannons set the trees by Red 7 on fire!
Kimi Rorkonnen and Felipe Masha suddenly find their field of fire obscured as the trees erupt in flame!
Red 5 sprays dirt as Seb Metal floors the throttle, bringing his Warbuggy around in a flanking manouevre
Orca infantry spray shooter fireas they hustle up towards the plasma reactors to support the Nobz, Warboss and Bigboss
On the hill behind them, Dok Nikky Louda lines up a sot with his laser cannon
Squads Alfonso and Beauregard infiltrate through the woods, while Squad Cletus drop more Nobz but lose their autocannon loader, suppressing his team mate
Seb Metal pulls Red 5 around and vapourises Squad Cletus’ laser cannon team with his twin linked autocannons
The General bulldozers his way in, gunning down Boyz right, left and centre
The Chimera guns down Skarboyz at near point blank range
Kimi and Felipe line up Red 5’s heavy heat cannon and roast the Political Officer, Lieutenant and People’s Mystic!
PSLA HQ gets it’s revenge – battle rifle, heat cannons and plasma rifles demolish Red 7, Kimi and Felipe turned into a fine green mist!
Having seen his compatriots gunned down by the Chimera, da Dok lines up a superb laser cannon shot, destroying it in a spectacular fireball!
The demise of Red 5 – caught out in the open by a sharp witted missile launcher team from Squad Cletus
Warboss and surviving Nob assault the Russ – Nob gets himself killed accomplishing precisely nothing, but the Warboss at least manges to jam the General’s turret..
Close quarter fighting around the objectives… Mystical sci fi alien tape measure making a cameo appearance in the background!
Squads Alfonso engage Da Furst Mob with concentrated laser rifle fire
While Squad Beauregard pull off a real coup, wounding and suppressing the Warboss himself!
Even with a jammed turret, the General is still a force to be reckoned with – Furst Mob is virtually wiped out
Da Dok does it again! Laser cannon fire hits the rear armour, causing a chain reaction of explosions that rips the mighty tank apart!
Da Mek bellows his defiance, raking Squad Beauregard with fire as the PSLA infantry capture the Warboss and begin to hustle him off the table..

 

Warboss Enzo Ferrorki, a prisoner of the PSLA!
Da Boyz put up a stiff fight, but as Turn 5 dawns we’re down to 4 boyz while the PSLA have almost a full platoon…
Smashed and burning armour around the objectives, it’s been a lose fought game!

So there we have it – as Turn 5 dawned, the Orca still held one objective but with only a couple of unwounded boyz against almost a full platoon of PSLA infantry it was clear what the result was going to be… the Dok marshalled his 3 remaining boyz and motioned them to slip away – after all, someone was going to have to pull of a rescue to get the Warboss back, right?

FFW is still very much a work in progress, and we’ll be developing the rules and fluff as we go, but I’m pleased to say it’s first outing was a rip roaring success, providing a game that felt much faster and more lethal than our 40k dabbling – I think we may be on to something here!

So, til next time – stay thrifty out there, we’ll be back soon!

 

CheapHammer 40k Battle Report – First Blood!

The time has finally arrived! After an eBay accident, a few tricky builds and the final completion of a project which has been kicked around since 2015, Dan and I were finally ready to try our first proper foray into CheapHammer 40k!

For those of you uncertain as to what this is all about, basically it boils down to two Midlands drunks wondering if you can truly replicate the visual spectacle of those awesome battle reports we used to see in White Dwarf without incurring the mind blowing expense of GW’s (and others) 28mm figures – everything you see here is super cheap and cheerful 1/72 scale, both armies came in at less than £15 and all terrain is scratchbuilt from household junk.

For this battle, Dan was adamant that he wanted to roll with the Guard, as he felt the building and painting process which had at times threatened his sanity meant he was due some serious tabletop karma, and I was more than happy to roll out the little red and green dudes.

Our scenario revolved around capturing a pair of plasma reactors located in the centre of the table, with a ruined village and woods on the eastern side and more open hilly country on the western side. I won the roll off and took the southern board edge, planning to use the cover of the ruins to shield the Boyz’ advance.

Under 2nd Ed rules, the player with the lowest Strategy Rating had to deploy first, and with the Guard’s rating being 2 to my 3, that meant Dan had to set up first along the northern edge.

He placed his Heavy Weapons teams (Squad Cletus) on the central hill with the Leman Russ, Chimera on the western side with the Command squad inside ready to leap out and secure the objective and secure it with serious short range firepower and his best close combat troops. Meantime the Russ would punch forward into the main body of the Orks and the Chimera provide supporting fire, while the two infantry squads advanced through the forest, each providing covering fire for the other.

I went for a straightforward Orkish approach – hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle! I loaded up Big Red with my elite assault units – the Warboss, the Bigboss and the Nobz – and placed it where it should have a covered approach to the objective. Warbuggies Red 5 and Red 7 would attempt a flanking manoeuvre on the west side of the table, charge round and catch humie from behind. Meanwhile, da Boyz and the Dread would move up in short order behind the Nobz and Warboss, keeping humie’s head down. Doc Nikki Louda and Mek Mikael Schumorker would provide fire support with lascannon and Kustom Blasta.

The armies line up, Orks at the bottom (southern) table edge, Guard at the top (north)
Da Boyz deply in the ruins, all sneaky like, while the Dread leads the Skarboyz towards the objective
Doc Nikki Louda takes aim with lascannon as Big Red guns it’s engines
Kimi Rorkonnen leads the warbuggy flank manouevre
The Guard deploy – the Leman Russ (The General) anchors the centre with heavy weapons teams in support, while the Chimera prepares a dash forward with the Command squad
Guard infantry prepare to advance through the woods
The General surveys the battlefield..

Much to everyone’s surprise, the Guard got first turn and rolled forward!

The General leads the advance, with Squad Beauregard running close behind using the terrain for cover
Command squad deploy from the Chimera – note the psyker in the purple cloak
First blood to the Guard – a Krak missile from Squad Cletus destroys Big Red, taking out all passengers… that’s Warboss, Bigboss and Nobz Mob!!!!
..and moments later, the General’s battlecannon smashed the Dread apart!
Noticing the lascannon wielded by the Doc, the Adeptus psyker  casts Hellfire, missing his target but bathing a nearby bush in the cleansing fire of the Emperor’s wrath.
With Da Boss and Nobz fried to a crisp, Big Mek Mikael Schumorker leads his remaining ladz towards the enemy, Skarboyz to the fore!
Meanwhile, in accordance with Da Plan, Seb & Kimi begin their flanking manouevre, buggies racing through the gulleys. Blazing autocannons from Red 5 take down Squad Cletus’ lascanoon operator.
The General barrels forward into Ork lines, battle cannon, heavy bolters and lascannon wipe out five of the six Skarboyz, causing the last survivor to flee!
With Seb in Red 5 immobilised by another krak missile, it’s up to Kimi Rorkonnen and Felipe Masha to save the day! Kimi drifts the buggy while Felipe ignites the multi melta and a healthy chunk of Guard HQ is turned into steam…
The tide may be very much against the Orks by this point, but the Doc isn’t going to let the boyz go down without a fight – taking cover in a ruined building, an expert lascannon shot immobilises the Chimera
The Guard infantry element secure the plasma reactors
The surviving members of the Guard HQ squad – Lieutenant and Commissar assault Red 5. Power sword and chainsword flash as they avenge their fallen comrades!
The General’s firepower guts the Boyz mobs, with the survivors forced to flee
The righteous fury of the Commissar and Lieutenant eviscerates Kimi and Felipe and brings Red 5 to a shuddering halt
Final charge of Da Skooderia – a shot from the Doc’s lascannon goes wide and it’s up to Da (remaining) Boyz to try and take down the General in close combat

After four turns, the Guard were firmly in control of the plasma reactors, and had suffered the loss of a lascannon gunner, most of the HQ and an immobilised Chimera. I, on the other had, was down to Doc Nicky Louda and half a boyz mob – a pretty comprehensive defeat!

Conclusions:

So most of our battle reports have ended with me pulling a narrow or Pyrrhic victory against Dan, but in this one he handed my arse to me fair and square! That said, I could point to the lucky shots that roasted ALL my elite troops and then destroyed my Dread.. but there again, a certain parable about eggs and baskets comes to mind. Maybe next time they start off on foot before boarding the transport..

Other than that, my plan can’t have been that bad as Dan had more or less the same one! Da Boyz did their best in very difficult circumstances and the Charge Of The Warbuggies went more or less as well as could be expected, Kimi and Seb getting a lick each in.

Hats off to Dan’s Guard though, that was a fair and square victory, the Leman Russ was an unstoppable linebreaker, heavy weapons teams took their toll and the infantry brought in to hold the line after the heavies had done their work. An army well researched and understood, and a battle fairly won.

Still not sold on IGOUGO, and there’s some things I’d change about the close assault mechanic, but a fun game nevertheless. AND a few things learned for “Future Force Warrior”, our sci fi sister game for “Apocalypse: Earth” – more on that to come!

So stay tuned, stay thrifty, see you soon!

Cheaphammer40k: Da Skooderia Pt.3 – Wheelz! Scratchbuilt Warbuggies and Battlewagon

Finally, January is behind us and we’ve made it through our month of austerity with a couple of sweet little builds under our belts it’s time to get back to a pet project that’s been languishing under the heading of “wouldn’t it be cool to do X” for quite an embarrassingly long amount of time…

Da Skooderia Ferrorki! I’ll skip the back story (link here and here), suffice it to say this is an Evil Sunz warband who picked up some Warp echoes of ancient Terran racing and liked what they saw – especially the red cars!

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And who could blame them – they certainly weren’t impressed by the McLaren-Honda…

And thus was the concept for the Skooderia born. Back in 2015.

Yes, I know – I’m going with the excuse that I was waiting for my painting and modelling skills to mature sufficiently..

Anyway, with the help of Caesar’s line of Fantasy Orcs and the redoubtable Sgt.’s Mess line of Cold War Small arms, we’ve knocked together a decent amount of AK-47 and FN-FAL wielding infantry, but this post is about the vehicles – two warbuggies and a battlewagon.

Big Red, Red 5, and Red 7

The battlewagon began life as an ancient Airfix self-propelled gun picked up off eBay so long ago I can’t even remember when, decorated with cardboard squares for the extra bush armour, cardboard and cocktail sticks for the front wing and corrugated card for the tail wing (I suppose technically I should update it since I built it in 2016 and the F1 regulations have changed since then, but y’know…)

The two warbuggies started life as VERY ancient die cast Matchbox hot rods – I fished them out of a box at a car boot sale a couple of years ago there was something about them that just screamed “Orky”.

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Red 7 – driven by Kimi Rorkonnen, with Felipe Masha on the multi melta!

This one started life as a Morgan roadster – I added lashings of cardboard for armour, built the multimelta and mount from kebab skewers, with a bit of greenstuff rolled and dotted with hole from a cocktail stick to make the melta barrels. Kimi and Felipe are Caesar fantasy orks, cut down to fit in the cocktail and superglued – and because I’m an idiot, I glued them in place first… won’t be doing that again!

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Red 5 (centre) driven by Sebastian Metal – if someone can come up with a better Orky take on that name, let me know!

Red 5 started life as a dragster, and the exposed V8 and Mad Max styling meant that this HAD to be a Ork vehicle! He’s mounting twin autocannons (cocktail sticks topped with drinking straw muzzle brakes) and a couple of cardboard fins.

I should mention the rivets at this point – all seven gajillion of the bastards. These were little blobs of PVA dabbed on with the point of a cocktail stick and left to dry – actually not too time-consuming and they look quite good, scaling nicely and easy to pick out with wash & drybrush techniques.

Speaking of which – painting. I undercoated with cheap white spray paint then a cheap craft red (bearing in mind the wisdom of Duncan Rhodes two thin cats being better than one thick one), and then washed with Vallejo Skin Wash, taking away the crimson edge and making it a bit more orange.

Next up wash a pin wash with Vallejo Brown Ink, wet blended with Smokey Ink for the darker bits. Dab this on all the rivets too, don’t worry, the next stage will add the highlights.

For said next stage, I took the original red, mixed it with orange and drybrushed over the whole thing. I did two or three layers, each time lightening with yellow (NOT white, you’ll end up with pink – and we’re doing Ferrari, not Force India!) up to almost pure yellow with a very light drybrush.

I did the canopy on Red 5 wet blending turquoise up with pure white, and the metallics started from a black base, dryrbushed first with gunmetal and then very light silver highlight.

Kimi and Felipe were a bit of a problem – I went with a light green thin coat for the skin, washed with Army Painter Green Tone. Two washes got me a nice rich green, and then a very careful drybrush of light green mixed with yellow brought the highlights out. With models this small, I like to use washes where possible as it’s way easier to wash down a light colour than highlight up a dark one.

Bone colours were tan, brown ink wash, drybrushed with cream and then white for the final hoghlights.

THEN weathering – sponge chipping black and metal on the exposed surfaces before drybrushing the mud on, three stages of brown.

Phew! Thanks for bearing with me through this wall of text – hope it’s helpful to some out there. Now to close with some pretty pictures:

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Big Red awaits Ork crew..
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Kimi, Seb & Felipe charge into battle!

So the goal is concept to tabletop in under three years – will we make it? Next up, building a Killa Kan out of cocktail sticks, cardboard and plastic bottletops.. tune in next time to see how we get on!

2017 – A Year In Review (and plans for the year ahead..)

January is a bleak month. Christmas decorations are down, work is back and you can’t start the morning drinking Buck’s Fizz without someone frowning at you.

Particularly the passengers that get on my bus.

Anyhoo, time to think about the year just gone and the year ahead.

2017 was not a great year in terms of gaming, in that we didn’t really play that many games – but the ones we did were pretty freaking great, including the biggest ever Apocalypse Earth battle and an Epic rematch. What this year was, though, was the year our blog grew up. Seriously:

2016 – 4095 views, 1897 visitors, 6 likes

2017 – 18,358 views, 10,297 visitors, 36 likes.

Woah. Just woah. That’s quite some improvement.

And it would seem that y’all out there have a lot of love for the dastardly Holy Soviet Empire – these three posts got over 1000 views each!

While 2017 may not have been too great in terms of games and battle reports, it was pretty great for us both in terms of painting and modelling, starting with the discovery of Wyloch, then Mel The Terrain Tutor and Lukes Affordable Paint Service. Honourable mention to Duncan Rhodes from Warhammer TV for teaching us the wisdom of two thin coats rather than one thick one!

So this led to a revamped board, a complete revamp of all our scenery, a repaint job on both Apocalypse: Earth factions, a cheapskate take on the 40k Imperial GuardOrk and Space Marine factions – we’ve been busy!

Incidentally, our blast markers seem to have caused quite a stir – I would put a tutorial together, but the entire idea was something I copped from Mel, check out his original video here.

So for 2018, what’s the plan? Well, life has a way of fething up your plans as soon as you make them, so we’re not going to get too carried away… but, some resolutions all the same:

Da Skooderia WILL hit the table. 40k in 1/72 is ON, yo.

We’re going to explore the other Apocalypse: Earth factions – it’s all been about the Atlantic Alliance and the Holy Soviet Empire so far, but there’s also the League Of European Nations and the Asian Communist Federation to check out.

Escalation is surely due in Epic scale as well, I keep seeing Dan looking at yogurt pots and  pictures of scratchbuilt Gargants…

We’ll also be revisiting Hyperian Wars and there’s a couple of other projects in the offing: Future Force Warrior takes Apocalypse: Earth 200 years into the future as humanity takes it first steps into the stars, and Apocalypse: Earth – Black Ops explores more detailed small scale encounters in the secret wars against the Greys, bringing an RPG element to the fractured world of the Apocalypse War. The rules will cover small scale skirmishes and role playing campaigns where your fireteam members will be able to develop, gaining new skills and equipment as they face ever darker and more sinister threats…

So, that’s what’s in the pipeline for the year ahead. However, it’s January – and that means we’re both skint. So a pact has been made – no spending money on hobby stuff for a month, we’re going to improvise and use what we’ve got… necessity being the mother of invention and all that… So let us leave you with a shot of what’s on the modelling table right now – two ancient battered Matchbox cars getting the Orky makover, because Da Skooderia are coming to town in 2018!

Warbuggies
How can he drive while holding an axe and a club? Because he’s Kimi-freaking-Raikkonork, that’s why!

Stay tuned, stay thrifty,  and let’s see what we can put together without cracking open the credit card….

 

Armies On Parade! – The Hazzard 1977th Astra Militarum

Ever wondered how you can have a fully fieldable 1000pt force of Astra Militarum Imperial Guard, let’s dispense with the rebranding – for less than a tenner?

Wonder no more, my comrades in thrift.

This post represents the culmination of a project which began with a haul of toy soldiers from eBay back in 2012, continued with the realisation that here was the core of a usable Guard force for 40k in 1/72, gained further momentum after an accidental alcohol infused eBay purchase a few weeks back, survived a vehicle build process that was hexed from the start and is now ready to take the field!

Step forward the unsung guardians of the hive world of Hazzard, deep in the galactic South and home of the Redeemers chapter of Space Marines – this list is 2nd Ed codex compliant and I think represents a well balanced and pretty fluffy force that should be fun to play when our nemeses hit the table!

The list:

HQ:

Captain Aenus B. Dodge – Carapace Armour, Boltgun, Power Sword

Lieutenant Roscoe Coltrance – Laspistol, Chainsword

Guardsman – Meltagun

Guardsman – Meltagun, comm link

2 Guardsmen – Plasma Gun

Primaris Psyker Master Jesse Lee Vaughan – sword

Commissar Vance Pyle – Laspistol, Power Sword

Line:

 Squad Alfonso (Infantry):

Sergeant – Plasma Pistol, Laspistol

2 Guardsmen – Grenade Launcher, Frag & Krak grenades

7 Guardsmen – Lasgun

 Squad Beauregard (Veteran Infantry – Freedom Fighters Upgrade)

Sergeant – Laspistol, Sword

9 Guardsman – Lasgun

 Squad Cletus  – (Heavy Weapons)

1 team – Heavy Bolter

1 team – Lascannon

1 team – Missile Launcher

Armour Support:

Leman Russ MBT  (The General)

Chimera APC (The Dixie)

Total cost – 1000 pts

 

Pics, you say? Very well:

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HQ – left to right: Guardsman with meltagun, Guardsmen with plasma gun, Primaris Psyker, Captain, guardsman with meltagun and comm link
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More HQ – left to right, Captain, guardsman with meltagun and comm link, Commissar, and because I got confused, Squad Beauregard’s sergeant!
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Squad Cletus – missile launcher team
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Squad Cletus – Heavy Bolter team
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Squad Cletus – Lascannon team

Squad Alfonso

Squad Beauregard

Armour contingent – The General and The Dixie

The boys deployed in a combat zone.

 

Infantry are Airfix 1/76 “Modern US” soldiers with greenstuff conversions while the armour contingent was built with cardboard and other household junk.

Of course, now they need someone to fight, and I have assurances that once end of term test marking, Christmas shopping and present wrapping is out of the way, Da Skooderia will be showing up to put them to the test – roll on 2018!]

Meantime, happy and thrifty wargaming everyone, have a great Christmas and we’ll see you soon!

 

Cheaphammer 40k! Scratchbuilt Imperial Armour in 1/72

Want to do 40k on the ultra-cheap? Step this way good sir & madam..

So, as some of you may be aware, recently we accidentally picked up a copy of 40k 2nd Edition in pretty usable condition, and along with knackered old copies of the mid ’90s codexes found in the loft we’ve been busy making both Da Skooderia and the Hazzard 1977th PDF into codex compliant forces. In both cases, this has necessitated a fair old bit of reorganisation, and in the case if the gallant PDF, some armour – in the shape of the trusty Imperial stalwarts, the Chimera and the Leman Russ!

Now, as is well documented, we use 1/72 (aka 20mm) as our mainstay scale, as the stuff looks good and is insanely cheap compared to the more popular 28mm, and also provides for a (slightly) bigger and more flexible battlefield. So even if we could afford the GW kits, they wouldn’t scale – what to do.. enter the noble craft of Paperhammer!

Some of you will be familiar with the incredible wealth of talent that is on offer from paper model designers like Eli Patoroch (and if you’re not, blogs like this are a great way to pique your interest), and both of these models began life as his templates, scaled back to 66% (GW is more or less 1/48 scale, 48 is 2/3 of 72, 2/3 is near as dammit 66%). In the case of the Chimera, it was a pretty straightforward build, but the Russ? Man, someone put a hex on that thing from the get go..

Some pics:

The Chimera – basic template build, with IDE cables for tracks and a hunk of sprue for the turret multilaser. I used a split pin through the turret base to attach it to the top of the hull, then built the turret around that. As you can see, one or two mistakes where edges didn’t quite line up – a little green stuff around the edges helped with that.

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Detail added – large rivets from 1/16″ hole puncher, smaller ones from dobs of PVA glue applied with a cocktail stick. Primed with cheap £1 grey spray primer
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My attempt at “underpainting” – prewash with black ink to enhance detail. Not sure it made any real difference in the end though..
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Basecoated with Crafter’s Choice tan (to match the infantry colour scheme). I followed the hallowed wisdom of GW’s Duncan Rhodes – “two thin coats are better than one thick coat”.
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Thin wash of Vallejo Brown Ink applied to bring out the detail, followed by a drybrush of tan paint and then another, lighter drybrush of tan mixed with white.
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Digital camouflage patterns (because I hate myself) – these are Vallejo Russian Green
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Matching the infantry, more digital camo blocks added with Burnt Umber and black craft paint

Shown here with an infantryman for scale.

Finally, weathering applied, including drybrushed mud and heavy black sponge chipping, and varnished.

Now to the Leman Russ – this build threw up considerably more issues:

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Basic turret and hull

Rivets added courtesy of PVA and hole punch once again, cannons and exhaust stacks a misture of drinking straws and cocktail sticks, chopped IDE cables for tracks… and this was where things first started to go awry – I wanted the sponson mounted lascannons to move, so I built the sponsons independently, then glued the small drinking straw (lascannon) to a larger diameter one placed inside the sponson, allowing them to move. The left hand one cooperated – the right hand one absolutely would not. I tried tacky glue, superglue, caulk, No More Nails, plastic glue, even greenstuff – eventually I had to wedge the bastard in there and coat it with superglue, so unfortunately this particular Russ has a slight manufacturing defect. There were also a few problems with the template – this was more sophisticated than the Chimera, and unfortunately when I shrank it.. I also shrank the instructions. So a fair few bits had to be scratchbuilt and guessed at.

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Basecoated with the same tan as the Chimera – for some reason the paint reacted very badly with the primer, and also with the hot glue that held on the tracks.. to the point where I had to lever the damn thing off the modelling mat when I came down the next morning as the tracks had detached from the body and stuck themselves to the mat!

Same digital camo pattern as the Chimera – but hell, there’s only two vehicles in the force so far, and it does look good…

 

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Washing, drybrushing, weathering, metallics – all complete, I take it out to the shed for varnishing and look what happened! My varnish turned into spray snow! Turns out temperature (VERY cold) and failure to shake the can enough where the culprits…
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Repainted, reweathered, revarnished and ready to lay waste to the Emperor’s enemies.. as long as they’re in 1/72 scale of course..

So as you can see, it took a while, and my Russ is owed some SERIOUS tabletop karma to make up for it’s difficult start in life! I’ll be doing a full Armies on Parade when the rest of the force is ready to roll, in the meantime (despite a few cockups), I’m quite proud of these two, and for all the issues I had building them it seems the build was no more difficult than your average Forge World kit..

If you haven’t tried Paperhamer, I thoroughly recommend it – obviously you want the real GW kit to do it properly, but as stand ins, proxies, units to try out before splashing the cash – there’s a huge amount of satisfaction to be had in cobbling something out of nothing.

Stay thrifty out there, see you soon!