Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Review: Terrakami Games SF Cargo Boxes

Even the smallest pieces of terrain can make a difference on the table-top. Like their larger counterparts, small bits of terrain can add that little bit of detail to anybody’s game. Today, I’m looking at another Terrakami Games product, a set of SF Cargo Boxes (25mm).

This set retails at around £7.60 (on current exchange rates). For your money, you get one sheet of MDF parts, containing enough pieces to make 12 small square crates.

The process of making them is very simple, with each crate consisting of only 6 pieces. You could easily build the whole set in about an hour or two. Like the other product I looked at, even PVA is enough to glue these together. Much of the detail on these has been laser-burned into the wood, so most of the work is done for you. A few layers of colour will do wonders for these.

Each crate is a separate piece, but if you wish, you can glue a bunch together to form a larger piece. They stack perfectly, and could form hundreds of combinations of height, width and numbers used; you are limited only by your imagination.

Size-wise, they are perfect for 25-30mm games, with a single crate capable of providing suitable cover for normal-sized infantry. A long line of these would make for an effective barricade, whilst higher formations provide sight-blocking cover.

With this set you get an added bonus: a set of stencils cut into the sprue. They may only be basic shapes (moons, stars etc), but it’s a nice added touch, and a simple way of adding extra details to these crates.

Judging this product on its price and quality, Terrakami’s small crates take home a gold. They are great value for what you get, and these oddly cute little boxes are a must-have for anyone wanting to make a great looking, but cheap, war-gaming table.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Six

The massed traitors of Vraks are joined today by some new troopers, including gods amongst men: space marines. But not all is as it seems…

Troops choice number two, the Workers Rabble, is slowly underway. Even though it’s nowhere near minimum strength, I’ve made a start on painting these models. The models are close-combat cultists, with very little modification: the only changes I’ve made were giving bare headed models a gas mask, and adding re-breather canisters to their backs.

The rabble will be painted in the same style as the normal Renegades: revolving around Vallejo English Uniform and Leather Brown. They will have a much dirtier workman-like feel to them: they don’t have access to the better gear that other Vraksian squads have. I’ll also try to make them look a bit dirtier too, seeing as they are an expendable workforce in the eyes of the army’s leading cadre.

For my first 1000 points, I’ve decided to swap out the Disciples of Xaphan for a small unit of Alpha Legion. I feel that the accurate fire and 3+ save will be handy in this sea of renegades. The models are, for the most part, basesdon the Dark Vengeance set’s Dark Angels models, with some modification. I wanted to keep them mostly intact, representing a very early Vraks detachment of the Alpha Legion, with a very convincing disguise. The Left shoulder pads have been filed flat though, with some bearing parchments made from Greenstuff. A few Hydra and ‘A’ icons will be the only hints on these models that they serve a darker power. The squad will be painted like a standard Dark Angel tactical squad.

Only the Champion bares any true chaotic components, with a non-standard helmet design, a Chaos Raptor’s Power fist/claw and a backpack from one of the Dark Vengeance Chaos Chosen. The model's legs are from Anvil Industries.

Once the second troops choice is filled, and once the Malcador is rebuilt, I'll be able to give this army a proper in-game test. I hope to have enough models to finish this first 1000 pts after Wartorn UK in a week, and ready for a game soon after.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Showcase: Taurox Alpha (Wheeled Taurox)

The Taurox Alpha is thought to be a distant relative of the more common Taurox and Taurox Prime, hence its name. STC databanks show obvious similarities between the vehicles, and differences. Whereas the Taurox and its up-armoured brother the Prime are front line combat vehicles, the Alpha is thought to have been a second line support vehicle. 

Taurox Alphas are prime-movers; regularly used for transportation of goods and men over long distances. Some have also found their way into non-battlefield roles; seeing use as commercial vehicles in the weapons production and chemical industries (hive gangers have been known to steal Taurox Alphas for the same, albeit black market, purposes), as well as in local Arbite and PDF forces where funding from the Imperium less frequent or less substantial than for other planets. 

The main difference between the Alpha and more common variants is the drive-train. Whilst the Taurox uses four track units, the Taurox Alpha uses six wheels with studded armoured tyres. Whilst this offers a significant speed advantage on roads and flat surfaces, the Alpha loses out against its common brother when it comes to much rougher terrain. The Alpha is capable of tough off-roading, but is more likely to get stuck than tracked variants. Also, as an open-topped vehicle it offers less protection for occupants should it get stuck.

The storage facilities on Vraks hold several hundred examples of the Taurox Alpha, all of which have been put to use. Most are used as cargo transports and towing vehicles, but a number are used as assault vehicles, disgorging squads of Vraksian renegades onto the battlefield, and proving covering fire with their accurate Twin-linked Autocannons. Some squads prefer the speed of the Taurox alpha over the more armoured but lumbering Chimeras.

The Taurox, the first vehicle that was induced into the Vraksian militia, is now complete; resulting in my first finished unit (the Armoured Fists).

This particular camo scheme is from IA: Masterclass volume One, and each step in that book as followed here. The camo is mainly Codex Grey, Desert Earth (Vallejo) and a lot of masking tape, with Khaki mixed in as a highlight.

I went for a heavily corroded look, much like the style in the book. Thinned burnt umber oil washes were added to the tank, and were worked into the paint once dried. A coat of matt varnish seals the deal.
Since this army is an early-Vraks force, and since many of those who fought didn’t know it was for the Dark Gods, I’ve kept the chaotic icons to a minimum, and no gore. A small chaos star was added to the gunner’s front armour, and a smaller spiked icon on the other side of the truck.

This Alpha Legion icon is one from the book. I added a couple of these, to show which legion is influencing this force. All in all, these small icons and effects make for a subtle but effective impression of this army’s loyalties.

The basing scheme for my army is snow and mud, so I transferred this to the model. I researched pictures of truck tyres in snow, and made sure to apply my snow-effect in a similar fashion when it came to the wheels. Most of the snow is compacted in-between the treads, with some on the wheel hubs.

A few patches of snow were added to the bodywork. I made sure to avoid covering the engine, as this area would get hot; meaning no settling of snow.

A bit has been added to the interior to remind us that the passengers are open to the elements


All-in-all, this is one of my best vehicles, and I cannot wait to apply this paint scheme to the Malcador.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Five

The armoured wing of the Vraksian renegades is getting closer and closer to battle readiness.
This week I have been working on the vehicles of this army, mainly the Armoured Fist squad's Taurox and the Malcador heavy tank.

Having meticulously followed the guide for painting a Vrakian Medusa artillery piece in IA: Masterclass Volume One, I am very close to finishing this Taurox. In my opinion it is one of the best painted vehicles i have ever done.

 I'm really liking this jagged camo pattern from the book, and i think all my vehicles will follow a similar scheme. For larger vehicles I might paint some panels as rusting, or just with a factory red undercoat: like the tank has received replacement parts but no repainting work (much like Germany's tanks near the end of WW2).

After following the book's guide for weathering, I plan to add some weather-specific weathering, suited for a snow setting. This will include snowy build-ups in recesses and on the tyres.

The malcador is, slowly, coming along. It's been broken down to its base components ready for paint stripping.I plan to do something extreme for this tank; it will be magnetised as every single Malcador variant. For the defender and basic variants, a superstructure will be made that can be placed on top of the existing model. The simplest variant to make is the Valdor, the main gun of which can go in place of the inferno gun with little trouble. A pair of fuel barrels (from the Baneblade kit) will be magnetised for normal variants, that can be swapped with the infernus' trailer socket. As well as this, a pair of trench rails will be magnetised, so that i can use the tank with them, without them, and in the case of the Minotaur, swap them out for a gun shield.

Whilst this last item isn't strictly a vehicle, it is tracked, so i counting it as one. This Rapier platform was made using some track units leftover from the Taurox. They were made thinner, flipped and were given new overlapping tracks.  

That is all for now. This time next week I hope to have made more progress on the Rapier gun, and have finished the Taurox. 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

WIP: Daemonic Terminator Sorcerer

Before the great heresy in the 30th millennium, Akhenaten was one of several commanders within the elite Sekhmet; the Scarab Occult. A master of the Pyrae cult, he served with utmost loyalty to his superiors, most of all his primarch. During the fighting on Prospero, he witnessed the physical death of Magnus, an event which scarred his mind. Since those days and the subsequent banishment to the warp, Akhenaten became more wreckless with his powers, developing into a dangerous pyromaniac at the head of a group of Thousand Sons. 

During one battle against the hated Space Wolves of Jorgen Iron-fang on Ventris, Akhenaten gave himself over to the flames. Some argue that Akhenaten had made pacts with a venerated pack of daemons known as the Brotherhood of the Wreched Light, whilst some within the imperium theorise that it is a rare warp-anomaly. In either case, Akhenaten changed. His armour warped, becoming more barbaric, his Terminator helmet sprouted tusks and sharp daemonic teeth. The main difference was that his warp-fire became part of him: his lower body ignited and bore him into the air. The flames never fade or die, he is eternally alight, help up by his forever-burning body, akin to Tzeentch’s Flamers. Since his transformation he has taken the title of Akhenaten, Lord of the Changing Flames.  That day, Akhenaten found and killed Iron-fang, decapitating him with his large two handed pole-axe. His still-burning skull was chained to Akhenaten’s armour, as a reminded of this day.

Although not quite as powerful as the immortal Daemon princes, he is not far off such power, and is able to control all fire, be it natural, chemical or warp-flame. Flamers and melta-weapons cause no injury, and such weapons are often reflected back at their users. During fighting on Graia X Akhenaten transformed a squad of Devil-dog tank-hunters into a molten mass of plasteel.  The inquisition has listed him as severely dangerous, and assassins are constantly being sent to kill him. So far none have returned, but mysterious piles of ashes are left outside Inquisitorial quarters, with no explanation as to how they got there. For now, Akhenaten is still a major threat to the Imperium.  

I’ve finally found a use for the last K’daii fieborn model I’ve had sitting in the bits box for over a year. The (current) result is this; a Thousand Sons lord. This one differs from the others, was it will have a dual purpose.

Underneath the model I have added a magnet, and another underneath the base. As this is a mid-transformation lord, I thought it could be used as both a Terminator sorcerer and a Daemon Prince, when said lord achieves a Dark Apotheosis. I’ll get a 60mm for the full-transformation mode of this model.

I wanted to have a warped-terminator look for this model. I’ve used the torso leftover from the Dreadknight pilot, with a big gap at the bottom. This was to make the torso wider so it would fit onto the Kdaii’s lower body. The gaps were filled with Greenstuff, and are in the process of being smoothed over. The widened torso and angle creates the image of a powerful hunched figure. I’ve used a pair of hip plates from a Forsaken torso piece to aid in the blend of terminator and daemon.

Weapons wise, I plan to use this great weapon from a Tomb Kings Ushabti. It will be connected to the body with Terminator arms, which at the moment are only tacked on. For a more daemonic look, the arms will have shoulder pads from the Forsaken kit.

To complete this model’s daemonic appearance, I’ve used the daemonic helmet head from Lord Zhufor, with the Mark of Khorne removed. If I find one, I’ll add a gemstone in it’s place.

Once the torso is complete, I’ll be adding the arms, and any other final components

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Review: Terrakami Games Low-Cost Sci-fi Containers

Today, I’m taking my first steps into the world of wooden terrain. I’ve seen people make it, and clubs use it, but I’ve never given it a go myself. So for today’s instalment I’ll be looking at a set of sci-fi containers from Spanish terrain company Terrakami Games. This set is the Low-cost set, in size M.

This set comes with one laser-cut MDF sheet, with enough components to make two medium sized shipping containers suitable for 28mm games. They are intended for sci-fi games, but I think you could get away with using them in modern-warfare or near-future settings with the right paint scheme.

Each container comes with eight pieces; six sides and some internal panels to close off the vents. The instructions are basic, but when you’re working with only eight pieces, they don’t need to be anything else. They are clear, and the diagrams are sufficient for this set.

The sets claim that glue is optional, but I decided to use some simple PVA; whilst they do stay together with no glue, as a model maker it’s a compulsive reaction to glue it, just to be sure. It will take a while to fully set, but once dry it’s a surprisingly sturdy construction. I have no worries about it falling to pieces, and it can handle the standard picking up and moving.

Size-wise, they are actually a good size for their price. I was expecting them to be tiny, but they are easily big enough to hide infantry fully behind, and even some of the larger creatures in our games (e.g. Ogryns).

This set is a great, affordable terrain option for your table-tops. The designs are generic enough that they would fit in almost any environment, from the futuristic Infinity to the grim-dark world of 40k. The details are burnt into the wood, so that even a simple paint-job will still create nice looking results. A few layers of colour, maybe some sponged chipping, and you’ll have a nice pair of containers ready for the battlefield.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Four

The armies of Vraks march to war. This war-band of renegades and heretics is slowly coming together, and I’m very close to having a minimum legal army list, with both my two troops and a HQ (plus a bunch of other fun toys).

The first Armoured Fist squad is built, and almost fully painted. The new additions to this squad are a further two renegades, plus two more who form a Heavy Stubber weapons team; yes there are more powerful weapons, but this screams “desperate renegades”.

This heavy weapon was made using an MG42 (with attached arm) leftover from my Hanomag. The barrel was extended using another German MMG, an MG34, and tipped with a piece of plastic rod. The handle held by the other team member is made from a German Heer’s grenade arm. In his other hand is an ammo box. Getting the two models to unify as one team, and getting the gunner’s arms to line up right, was a pain, but well worth it.

Squad members #9 and #10 are standard fare. One has been given an aiming Lasgun, whilst the other has some binoculars, also from the Heer infantry set.

The squad’s Taurox is, for all intents and purposes, fully built. It now sports further stowage, a detailed interior and a tailgate. I was planning to make a custom one, but after a random dry-fit, I liked the look of the original Taurox piece.

The main gun is magnetised, on the off-chance the Vraksians can access the Prime.

Two more Enforcers have also joined the ranks, ready to instil fear and loyalty in this rabble of traitors.

The Enforcer with a shotgun uses the weapon from the Cultist Champion from Dark Vengeance (leftover from the Champion conversion). His other arm has been positioned to take another shotgun shell from a leg holster. These legs are from a Space Marine Scout, and give the model some extra armour and height.
To help create the illusion of a better armour save, this model has a pair of shoulder pads taken from the Taurox Prime Commander.

Enforcer #2 has a big and scary looking Sniper Rifle. I wanted something big, and similar to the feared 50. Cal. The gun was make by adding a lengthened barrel to a Renegade Autogun. A scope was added to the top of the gun; a spare cut-off from one of the Taurox’s Autocannons

Now, this mound of putty on the left may not look like much, but this is to become a Ogryn Beserker, giving me a min-strength squad. I was planning to make it the unit champion, but the Forge World model is just too good; this one will now be a regular muscle-bound psychopath, which, depending on how this turns out, may or may not be replaced by a proper model: truth be told it’s more of an experiment in sculpting. I’m thinking of giving it either a sledge-hammer or rebar as an improvised weapon.

Having looked through the IA:5 options for this force, I’ve made a few plans for bringing this list up to 1500 points. I plan to add a platoon of basic renegades to bolster the ranks. To support the troops, I’m thinking of adding a leman russ, A Graia Hellhound or an artillery piece. Perhaps, if I have the patience, I’ll wait and use one of the ones shown recently, intended for a new 30k army: the Solar Auxilia. It does look very different from the standard Basilisk, but remember that Vraks’ citadel boasts a massive army full of mothballed tanks such as the ancient Malcador. Perhaps some of these pre-heresy variants were found there, who knows? I could also convert one if I find a cheap Leman Russ as a basis. As well as that, I may indulge the Alpha Legion fans out there and add a squad, led by Arkos of the Faithless. I’m still deciding if I want to go full-blown chaos, or have them disguised as Dark Angels (using their models) as described when they first appeared on Vraks.

But before any of that fun, I need to get my basics done. Next up, after the Armoured Fist squad is done, I’ll be working on the Workers Rabble, as well as the other four members of the command squad.