Bargain At Calth (or – 30k for under £5? YES WE CAN!)

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.

I promise nothing.

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.

Hmm.

£95.

Hmm.

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:

Shiny shiny.

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.

Rulebook, board segments, cards, dice and tokens
Beautifully illustrated rulebook, replete with plenty of fluff, gorgeous artwork and photos. 

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

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.

Dice – contain Hit, Critical Hit and Shield symbols

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!

Stay thrifty out there, we’ll see you soon!

 

 

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Terrain Talk Pt.5 – INSANE MEGABUILD! Power Substation Skalk Point

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.

Reactor No. 1 takes shape – oversized IKEA lightbub, bottlecap, pizza slice holder, laundry powder cup. THIS is why you never throw stuff away!
Asthma inhaler spacer – six years old and never been used, Jim’s willing to tempt fate.. and it does look like a storage tank! Ladder is granny grating, you may also spy the lid from a bottle of Tabasco sauce (mmmm, Tabasco…)
The final layout! Cookie packaging, dogfood scoop, vitamin tank, three defunct inhaler mechanisms, detailed with kebab skewers and granny grating… plus dead car headlight bulb and some form of speaker surround sound mount that has sat unused for the last seven years..
Different angle – we took time measuring to ensure that 20mm bases could move between the obstacles.. actually thinking before we glue stuff!

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!

Rocking some ultra cheap pound shop grey spray primer!

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.

Sigh.

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.

Main storage tank on the top left – access wheel added from a left over Caesar Orc shield.

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.

Looking battered, but still safely operational!

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!

Plasma coils glow in the heart of the complex!

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.

Taking shape now!

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!

Finally, the nemesis – we needed to build wire perimeter fences. We checked out this video from master builder Luke Towan, but while he makes it look easy.. it really wasn’t.

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!

All done – for now! League Of European Nations trooper for scale




In situ as the Hazzard 1977th Imperial Guard defend from Da Skooderia!

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 😉20180330_222815FPQ8CEQ - Imgur

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!

FerrariF1
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”.

20180205_231931.jpg
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!

20180207_232441.jpg
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..
20180207_232525.jpg
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!

Ooops….

We’ve all been there. It’s late, beer/ wine/ cocoa in hand, money in the PayPal account, browsing eBay… you find something that looks too good to be true, you put a bid on it thinking “what the hell”, the next morning you get THAT email:

“You WON Item no XXXXXX”

Ah, crap.

In my case, what I had won was this:

20171109_205218
Don’t drink and eBay, kids!

So I duly paid my £10 plus postage, and a couple of days later I was blessed with the arrival of a semi complete copy of the 2nd Ed 40k box set plus the Dark Millennium expansion. Now, I’m assuming the seller held up their end of the bargain, because I can’t remember the details of what I bid on, but what I got was:

20171109_205613
20 Space Marines
20171109_205617
Not awful, but I think there’s room for improvement – will bathe them in meths and have a go myself!
20171109_205657
A pair of Ork’s – one mostly ‘armless…
20171109_205829
Lots a’ Grots!
20171109_205833
What to do with you little fellas…
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A TON of cards- man, we hated trees back in the day!
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100% GW, 100% tournament legal!

Now, quite what to do with this unexpected new acquisition – we’re pretty deeply committed to 20mm as our scale of choice with a load of new scenery built for that scale, so the minis may remain display only.. suppose the Grots could be some sort of Ogre race, the Marines some sort of gigantic superhuman genetically altered superwarrior (hang on…), and the templates are all gauged for 28mm.

So we pondered for the length of a beer and though “F**k it, who cares?” – we’ll use the templates and our wee 20mm minis and run some retro mini 40k for giggles. A serendipitous rummage through the loft yielded up the  2nd Ed Guard and Ork codexes from the mid 90s, tattered but unbowed, so we set about tweaking the Hazzard 1977th and Da Skooderia to be 2nd Ed legal. Results will be posted over the next couple of months, and we’re looking forward to running some retro 40k with teeny models! And let’s not forget Apocalypse: Earth’s sci-fi spinoff, where humanity takes it’s first steps into a wider galaxy…. we can call this market research!

Stay thrifty out there, we’ll see you soon 😉