Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: Warlord Games Blitzkrieg German HQ

Any self-respecting army with an urge to maintain order needs a strong command structure or a charismatic and intelligent leader who knows his Heer from his Panzer. Today, I’m cracking open Warlord Games’ early war German Blitzkrieg command team (1939-42). Whilst it is entirely possible to make a HQ from the standard plastic sets, sometimes it’s nice to get something special to lead your army.

This blister pack retails for £5, and comes with 4 models: a commanding officer, a medic, a forward observer, and a goon with SMG. The heads are separate to allow customisation. One thing I’ve noticed about WWII miniature gaming is that your command units tend to be far cheaper. A single 40k, Warmachine or other fantasy/sci-fi character can cost in the region of £9-£20 for a single model, so at first glance four models for a fiver is a bargain. In fact, when you factor in the units this makes, you are essentially getting three HQ choices.

The problem that you find upon opening the blister is that there are no bases. You’ll either have to buy some separately, scrounge around, or use 2p coins (Dimes in the US?). Whilst an easy fix, it is a bit silly for them not to come with any. Warlord, if you are reading this….can we have a few bases in blisters, please?

Anyway, back to the models. The four models are cast up in metal, and are well detailed. The only significant mould-lines were on the officer, but in easy to clean areas like the sleeves on his coat.

For the sake of completeness, here’s a couple of the models on some 25mm bases (please Warlord, just a few). There is an obvious lip on the model where it attached to the base, but this can be blended into the base with putty and coated in sand or grass. make sure the bottom is flat, as there can be a few large lumps that need filing down.

These models will stand taller than the plastics, but only marginally. Anyway, it helps pick out your important models.

This set is a great addition to any German 28mm armies. For the price of a few drinks you can buy yourself three leading and supportive units. For that price, It’s a hard offer to match.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

WIP: Sharpshooter Sorcerer of Tzeentch

Boredom and a bountiful bits box can produce a wide myriad of models. With a need to make something, anything, I delved to the deepest depths and found the parts to make myself another sorcerer. However, I wanted to make something different, a more ‘shooty’ sorcerer, with a big gun instead of the usual staff or sword. And this is the result.

The model is armed with a Combi-Plasma gun and a ‘force bayonet’ which counts as the model’s power sword. It is based on one of the old metal Master's of the Chapter from the original Apocalypse release.

This conversion was substantial, as I decided to cut away the front of the torso from the Master of the Chapter model and add a different part (a Thousand Sons chest piece). As this model was metal, I spend a while cutting through it. I love metal conversions, but I hate the labour intensity sometimes. The cuts and joins were filled and covered with Greenstuff.

You will notice that this model shares a lot of features with my Thousand Sons’ chief sorcerer, Imoda. Both models share the same helmet, and both have flowing robes and icons of Tzeentch. I’ve come up with a short piece of background to explain that there are more than just visual similarities…

After defeating the Imperial Fists and Krieg 354th Siege regiments on the planet Krysis, Imoda raised the banners of the Thousand Sons high atop a mountain of fallen foes. But the celebrations were short-lived, as Khotep was taken from the battlefield in a cloud of multi-coloured fog. His subordinates and fellow sorcerers were left confused and angered that their leader had been taken from them. 

But he was taken to be rewarded. Tzeentch, god of magic and plotting, had transported Imoda to the space hulk the Carrion’s Husk, and appeared to him as the same multi-coloured formation.  Lord Tzeentch had thought fit to grant him a daemonic gift. Knowing that the original Thousand Sons were for the most part immune to his ‘gifts’, Lord Tzeentch granted a daemonic gift like no other. The cloud sprouted arms, which grasped the lord-sorcerer and tried to tear him in two, Imoda’s body erupted in light. The ball of light split and each was thrown to one side of the room. But rather than be shredded in half by the daemon god, Imoda stood up to find himself staring at another Space Marine: himself for that matter. A near-perfect copy stared back at him. Both moved with perfectly mirrored gestures.

“I have seen fit to grant you this gift. This doppelganger is you, but is also your opposite. Find him to be your friend, or your enemy, in time”. Tzeentch then took both versions of Imoda in his elongated fingers, and flashed them back to Krysis, cackling in the background at his latest exploit. 

The bemused Thousand Sons could not identify their lord at first when they returned to realspace, but his trademark weapons were one of the few items not to be copied onto the doppelganger. After explaining Tzeentch’s will, the war host knelt down to their leader and his warp-grown twin. To avoid confusion, the duplicate was given the name Amenhotep, though many call him the Dark Twin of Tzeentch. 

The model makes use of a pair of Puppets War shoulder pads, to tie the model into the Thousand Sons.

The Combi-Plasma is the main focus of the model. It was make using the muzzle of a Raptor’s Plasma Gun, a Bolter from Evil Craft, and an Ogryn’s Bayonet.

 I see this model more as a sharpshooter, and will for the most part make use of Psychic powers that improve accuracy of himself and his squad, who I have already formulated plans for.

That is all for today, but stay tuned into the Facebook page for further updates.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: Terrakami Games 'cubEST M' Crate

Having being whetted by Terrakami’s great value containers, I wanted to check out more of their range. Today, I’m having a look at some more large containers; this time, their ‘cubEST-M’ variety.

Retailing at 5.50 Euros for one (about £.4.35 in Queen’s money) they are more expensive per crate than the value variety. They are more suited to a science fiction environment than the value ones too, with emphasised space-age designs.

This container kit is significantly more complex than the budget variety I reviewed previously. It comes with a lot more parts, and requires more skill (and a set of clamps) when it comes to putting it together. I think I would have gone full-berserker-mode without them, as the sides tended to pop out whilst drying before I decided to break out the G-clamps. fortunately, the instructions are very clear and helpful.

But with increased complexity comes increased detail. These containers are much more intricate than the budget version, and have a more interesting 3-D shape. Their reinforced look makes them ideal for representing military hardware, an armoured shipment, or something more hazardous that needs to be kept locked up tight.

Like Terrakami’s other MDF products, the designs have been cut/burned into the wood, making most of the hard work already done for you. Even the simplest of paint jobs will pop on these terrain pieces.

The designs are very intricate and precise too. This electronic keypad on the door’s lock is a nice touch that is well executed.

The container is the same size as other Terrakami large containers. Despite the extra layers and frames, it shares the same dimensions, and stacks well with other styles of container.

Overall, this kit is a nice ‘next step’ from the value series. It is more intricate and more expensive, but certainly more detailed and a joy to build. Suitable for almost any sci-fi battlefield, they are a fantastic addition to the wide variety of tabletop games and RPGs out there.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Eight

The heavy hitters of the Vraksian renegades are closing in on ‘table-top ready’ status. Most of this week’s attention has been on the Ogryns, but I’ve been working on a few other things too.

So here’s the Ogryns, which as of now are about 90% done. All that is left to do on them is a bit more metalwork, highlights on the clothing and some nice gory blood effects.

The power weapon is the first item I’ve added GW’s glazes to. I bought some Guilliman Blue (mainly to meet a £10 minimum card spend) the other week. It’s an interesting medium, and has given me an idea for some blue-tinted silver Chaos Space Marines. Here, I’ve added a few layers around the power conduits on the weapon head, to show it is powered up.

I’m also really happy with these head trophies on the Ogryn Boss, which were painted to look like dead flesh. I used an old WD tutorial for undead skin, and it’s worked wonders. I plan to add some blood effects to the neck stumps.

Alongside the Ogryns is this model, which is complete. It’s a Rogue Psyker, and is model which I’ve had for a while now leftover from the original Vraks army. It started off as a Cryx solo model (‘Gunslinger’ comes to mind when I try to remember the name), but received a Vraks torso. Having pulled this model from the spares bin, I decided to swap out the mutated arm for a normal human one, holding a modified MP40 SMG (Laspistol).

It’s been painted to have a flowing leather coat, with crude chaotic sigils and icons across the trim. This, with the arm posing, helps make a cool looking addition to either a renegade squad or my command unit.

Speaking of command units, Arkos of Faithless is almost done. I’ve painted it up as a Dark Angel, with some hints at the Alpha Legion. The armour was tinted with Guilliman Blue, and small scale patterns have been added do the larger open spaces of the model.

A bone-coloured hydra also graces the right shoulder pad.

And to finish off, here’s some slight progress on the Malcador. It’s been stripped down and rebuilt, and is ready for conversion work. The majority of the magnetising is done on the basic frame: the sponsons, rear fuel canisters and the Inferno Gun are all mag’d up. I’ve made a small start on the other variants, beginning with the front of the new hull.

Next up for this army is hopefully some more troops. I like the Workers Rabble for its cheapness, but I’ve not had much luck with them, so I am tempted to replace them with either a basic platoon or another Armoured Fist squad. We shall see in time.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Review: Raging Heroes Skaarlys

Today’s review sees one of Raging Heroes’ many character models go under this wargamer’s microscope. Skaarlys, a sci-fi version of Raging Heroes’ Skaryaa the Blood Mistress, is a great alternative model for Dark elder players, perhaps as a Succubus or Lady Malys With some work it could also make its way into some Chaos warbirds of a Slaaneshi inclination.

Skaarlys currently retails at around £10.30 with current exchange rates. The model is cast in white metal, and comes with four arms, left handed sword and whip arms, and right handed fan and pistol arms. Even though it is intended to be a sci-fi model, it could still find a place in a fantasy setting if you avoid using the gun arm.

It’s a good thing this model is cast in metal. If it was cast in resin or plastic, with such thin parts, it would more than likely snap or bend with little effort.

 The arms are really small, easily dwarfed by more common 28mm parts, such as the Space Marine and Imperial Guard arms shown above. However, it does showcase the alien physique of the Eldar, who are described as tall and thin. You could argue that it is a “true-scale” Eldar model.

Skaarlys is a very dainty and tall model. It is fairly tasteful in terms of sculpting (not as much in dress code), with “realistic” proportions when compared to other, more “emphasised” female ranges. I prefer this over the more sexualised and emphasised look some ranges make use of. The flowing hair with barbs threaded into it is a great part of the model, as are the hexagonal draping fabrics and boots, which help the sci-fi look.

The quality of the cast is really good, and the model fits together with no issues. Seeing as the parts are so small, they are light, so the main issue with metal parts (too heavy) is non-existant  The only significant mould line was on skaarlys’ whip, but this can easily be removed. I feel that the metal gates are really big, but this is most likely because the model is so thin, making the gates look huge. I suspect this is a necessary evil, as it might be impossible to make them any smaller in the casting process

Skaarlys is a great model that is both well sculpted and well-cast. For your money, it is hard to find a better alternative model for your bands of sadistic space Elves or hedonistic cultists.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Seven

The idiotic beast just stared back at me though green tinted lenses, dumbfounded at what I demanded. I wasn’t sure if it was all the chems running through its body or its natural stupidity, but in either case, I had to make it more obvious. I pointed at an enemy Sentinel that was pouring las-beams into the trenches. “Smash that”, I yelled through my skull-faced helmet. The words seemed to strike through the Ogryn’s thick skull, and it grunted loudly, barrelling at the light walker.

The Sentinel scout walker turned on the spot, firing its Multilaser at full strength. Some bolts stuck the Ogryn, but did little to slow it despite the sprays of blood that followed. It slammed into the light frame of the walker, buckling one of its mechanical legs. The sentinel toppled as the weight of the Ogryn smashed down on it, the machine hitting the ground with a heavy thud. The pilot scrambled to release his safety harness amidst the dust, but was too slow. 

 The Ogryn hit the tubular frame with its combat weapon; a creation little more than an engine block welded to a heavy duty chain attached to an iron bar. The heavy block smashed the frame, trapping the pilot and consigning him to a gristly fate. Another swing crushed the pilot into an unrecognisable paste. Hit after hit was made, long after the machine and pilot were incapacitated. 

Leave it be, I thought. It’s impossible to reason with them at the best of times, let alone when they’re pumped full of combat stims. It will either die or find another target, I don’t really care…

With the addition of a few new sets, I now have enough Ogryn Berserkers to form a full-sized squad of five.
Three of the new unit members are based on the new Ogryn/Bullgryn boxed set, which I got discounted at Wartorn UK.

They have been heavily modified to fit in with the Forgeworld Ogryn I have had for a while. Gasmasks have been sculpted, making use of the kit’s gasmasked heads as a basis, and a port for cables to be added. I used canisters from the kit and GF-9 cable to make makeshift Ogryn-sized rebreathers and stim injectors. A variety of straps, hoses and cables connect the canisters to the Ogryn’s body.

Each model has been given a unique close combat weapon. I wanted the models to be individual, and weaponry is a great way to show that.

This first model I built has a large hammer and a wrist blade. The hammer comes from the Corruptors of the Apocalypse set, whilst the wrist blade was carved from plasticard, with a greenstuff strap.

Ogryn number two has a wrist blade and a length of chain. The wrist blade on the model is similar to the first, but with added rivets taken from a piece leftover from the bastion.

Number three is one of my favourites. This model wields a lump of metal on the end of a chained pipe. The metal block was made with a few pieces from the Ogryn set, attached to Bragg the Gutsman’s great weapon.

Speaking of Bragg, guess who’s got the special weapon? This guy. The model is based on Bragg the Gutsman, with a bullgryn’s Power Maul. I went with the maul to give me some serious anti-tank capabilities. With up to seven strength eight attacks, all but the toughest armour will fear this guy. To make it look more 40k, I added some Ogryn shoulder pads, plenty of cables, and a rebreather canister.

These models will be painted in a similar fashion to the Forgeworld model. I may painted Bragg separately, so it is easily identifiable as the model with a Power Weapon. I’ll be mixing and matching techniques from Warhammer:Visions (Ogryn issue) and Eavy Metal Masterclass. By the end of the month you can expect to see a finished squad.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Events: Wartorn UK 2014: Post-Event Update

Everyone loves trade shows and events. Nerds across the country have a place to convene and discuss their favourite pastime, and spend a bit of money on cool stuff and second hand bargains at the same time. This year’s Wartorn UK show was one of the best they have done so far.

The demonstrations and participations games were truly top-notch this year. I liked the fact that it wasn’t just historical games, there were some sci-fi games and newcomers; including a pretty epic looking game of mad max. 

All the cars were custom-built, and were near replicas of the cars and styles of the well-received films.

In terms of vendors, there was a lot to choose from. Historical, sci-fi, new and used. It was all there, and in all scales and budgets. I managed to bring back a hefty haul, and I managed to (just) keep it in double digits. Overall, I bagged:

·         A new KR case for the Vraksians
·         New-in-box Ogryns/bullgryns set
·         New-in-box Bragg the Gutsman
·         Avatar’s of War Corrupters of the Apocalypse set (with exclusive lord model)
·         Bolt Action command team
·         WWII Artizan German Mortar Team
·         Urban Construct miscast tractor thingy
·         Big bag of bits (Space Wolf arms, guns etc)
·         Chaos Marine backpacks.

I made some great savings across the board. Including discounts, I’d say I saved about 25% over the RRP, plus another £20 to £30 on the bits over if I had bought them individual pieces, bringing my potential savings to about £60. I was most surprised by Bragg, who was almost half price, despite being a near-perfect new-in-box model.

The plans for my buys are for, the most part, straightforward. Bragg and the Ogryns will join the Vraksians as an Ogryn Beserker unit. I’ve started these models, but you’ll have to wait until next week to see them. The WWII stuff will be added to the Bolt Action Germany force, and the miscast tractor will become terrain. For £2.50 it makes for a cheap and effective wreck.

The corruptors of the Apocalypse will receive a lot of attention. Combined with the arms and a few extra bits, they will become Chaos Space Marines. shown above are a couple of prototypes. The plan is to make at least one Thousand Sons squad, and maybe a Tzeentch-marked squad as a cheaper option, if not more Sons. I might make a display with the remaining models that are too mutated/warped to become Thousand Sons and too Nurgly to be in the Tzeentch-marked unit.

If I were to pick out one negative from this year’s show, then it would be the bring and buy. Nothing really grabbed my (for my friends’) attention, but that’s hardly the fault of the event organisers. Only covering three school desks, it didn’t really offer much. But then again, I had a list to stick to.

The tournament on day two was certainly better than last year, with double the number of participants. And no Grey Knights! I found myself having three games throughout the day.

Game one was against a Space Marine army, with Astra Militarium attachments and Battle Cannon emplacements. I thought the game was set and match at the start once my Vindicator got blasted, but things turned around fast. I was incredibly lucky with my Relic Predators: both survived at least a dozen large blast hits plus Lascannons, passing every single cover save asked of them. They certainly paid their dues, with the conversion beamer Predator blasting up infantry, and the plasma Predator taking on both marines and tanks. My cultists also made their points back too: sure they only killed  three marines and a couple of guardsmen, but that’s not the point. Overall I won the kill-point based match 7-4. This was easily my favourite game, not because I won, but because the opponent was great, and the game proved to be fairly matched; it was only near the end when I grabbed up those three points.

Game two, Against a pure Astra Militarium list, was a disaster in comparison. I thought I would do well with the conversion predator, seeing as the game was played lengthways. But I guess I got unlucky. All I managed to do with it was immobilise a Manticore. I had lost two of my main tanks (Vindicator and plasma Predator) within a couple of turns, as well as the Heldrake (who at least brought down a Vendetta). I will tell you one thing: the new Pask is scary. Not only does he have an order which lets you both pop smoke and shoot, but also gives his 20-shot Punisher cannon (which is already BS4) Rending. I did not like that thing at all. By the end of the game, I still had one objective, but I only had a single cultist and the Warpsmith standing out of my entire 1500 points. Brutal.

Game three against the Space Marine player started off the same way as turn two. I never want to see another Thunderfire Cannon and their toughness 7 2+ save shenanigans again. One is bad; two of them are just plain mean. About 95% of shots were on target and they decimated my troops (before anyone suggests weighted dice I let him use my normal blue scatter dice, maybe Tzeentch was playing tricks on me…), and combined with two Storm Talons, I ran out of troops fast. Tellion was a pain too, as he sniped my Warpsmith with a Lascannon defence turret in the first turn, meaning I couldn’t repair my Plasma Predator.  I did manage to take out him and his 2+ cover squad with a vector strike from the Heldrake and a lucky Conversion Beamer shot. All I had by turn six was the Heldrake. But it proved to be my saving grace. It survived several units’ worth of fire, and skimmed on top of the enemy objective by mere millimetres, changing a crushing defeat into the luckiest draw of all time.

Overall, including points scored for secondary objectives, I managed to achieve a respectable third place finish. All I wanted to do with my non-competitive list was to not finish last, and I managed that and then some. I was happy with that result, and I’d certainly recommend the event to others. It’s not like your usual tournament: in all three games, I didn’t see a single ‘power-play’ list. Sure I saw stuff like double-talons and double Manticore/double Vendetta stuff, but neither of those lists was pure double-cream cheesecake. The players were also great sports too. The event has given me some ideas for next year. The thought of double Spartan and 50 Cultists has been playing around in my head, but I doubt I’d run anything quite so odd. Tempting though….

All in all, I had fun at the event. I got a pile of cool stuff from the vendors, and I didn’t do too shabby in the tournament. By the sounds of early rumours, 2015’s show will be better yet, so I advise everyone to get saving up for another fantastic show. For more pictures from the day, check out this photo album.