Thursday, September 30, 2010

Painting progress: RPG character plus Scythiak

Just wanted to show that I have been making a little painting progress. 

First up, a potential character for a D&D game, Alexandros of Therosia, hero from the mythic Greek equivalent in the campaign world.  Figure is from Reaper (03104, Urian).

I'm having second thoughts about the last-minute drybrushing on the crest, think it's too light.  Might go back and do another wash or something to darken it back up.

Next up, some initial paint on the Scythiak Ogryn squad:

I'm thinking that for the Scythiak I may go against my normal way of working, which is assembly lining the entire army one stage at a time.  I'm thinking of writing up smaller point lists, like start at 1000 and complete those units first, then go on to 1500, then finally 2000. 

I'll probably be doing some intervening projects as well, a figure here and there or some add-ons I've been meaning to do for some of the other armies to help break up the monotony and fit better into the short painting times I've had available lately.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why I don't really like modern mech in 40K

Mech IG hunkered down firing out of Chimera hatches.  MSU Marine types running around hiding in Razorbacks or sniping out of Rhino hatches. Sticking a 5-man Scout, Marine, CSM or IST squad in a Land Raider to make it scoring.  Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents who never get out and are just there to make the tank scoring.  Burna Boyz doing drive-by flamings from a battlewagon.

These sorts of armies are undoubtedly effective in many ways and have their advantages.  They're just not my cup of tea.

 I run transports in many armies, as well as regular tanks.  I don't have a problem with them in and of themselves.  What I don't like as much is the way that they're being used in many cases these days, and I've figured out why.

Back in the day, transports were primarily used to take a squad and move it somewhere.  It would then get out voluntarily and do something.  Nowadays the goal of the squad in the transport is primarily to stay inside for as long as possible.  Some armies and builds still use transports in order to actually get somewhere and do something outside of the transport, but many are more focused on sitting in their bunkers or doing drive-bys.

Why is that an issue for me?  From a pure gameplay perspective, it's not.  It's a valid tactical choice, and "realistic" in many ways, as realistic as anything in 40K.  But from the perspective of this being a miniatures game, it's disappointing to me.  I like infantry models.  There's a lot of cool kits out there.  I like it when those guys I spent so long building and painting actually hit the table instead of sitting in their foam firing meltaguns by proxy.  I want to see the other guy's army, not just the boxes he carries them around in.

There will be times when I'll drive around in my boxes and fire out of the top.  My CSM have done it trying to melta-down a hive tyrant, and even my Orks have done it gunning at genestealers from Trukks (weedy Blood Axe gits!).  But that's not my goal going into the game, and not my goal when I'm building the army and writing the lists.  I should want to buy the transport in order to make the squad more versatile; I shouldn't want to buy the squad in order to gain access to the transport.

Maybe Dark Eldar will provide the best of both worlds if you can actually fit full squads on the Raider models.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Me? At a Con? Really? Southern Front ho!

While it's not one of the "big boys" like Adepticon, GenCon or Historicon, it's a start!

I'm planning on making it out to Southern Front 2010 on Sunday, for some miniatures gaming goodness.  If you happen to be going also, hope to run into you!  I expect to only get in one game, but hope to be able to participate in some good ol' Napoleonics, run by Ed Mohrmann. 

This will be a trip down memory lane for me, as way back in my teen years Ed, Larry Brom and others from the Triangle Simulation Society very kindly frequently made the trip down from Raleigh to Winston-Salem to run games for us at the long-defunct J&S Hobbies.  I was pretty much just an RPG and boardgame player at that point, but they really helped the miniatures bug bite me hard.  To top it off, Ed will be using the "Before I Was a Marshal..." rules set which was probably my favorite from those old days.  Huzzah!

If you should also be planning to attend, let me know and maybe we can meet up.  If we're really lucky maybe we can even exchange some musket fire.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sons of Taurus' A-Z Guide to the Blogosphere

A is for A Gentleman's Ones, where bsmoove paints factions with complicated nomenclature.

B is for Bell of Lost Souls, the juggernaut of 40K blogging...though they cover other things, so they're not 40K pure.

C is for Corbiana Prime, home of the Parade Ground.  Look there to see what other guard blogs can be found.

D is for diceRolla, Papa JJ's domain.  He's generous, likes the Simpsons and building terrain.

E is for Excommunicate Traitoris, with lots of different stuff.  He also helps keep Killzone from looking quite so rough.

F is for Faeit 212  where Natfka holds court.

G for Galaxy in Flames - give Killzone some support!

H for Hungry Ghosts, an internet Squatter.

I is for Irae Scorpio who paints some nice Marines far over the water.

J is for John at John's Toy Soldiers, who churns out lots of minis and gives every comment a response.

K for Killshot Productions with no actual 40K, but his painting's much too nice to call him a ponce.

L is for Land O Misfit Toys home of some great armies Down Under.

M for My Little World of Dementia - with all that Pulp stuff and Nurgle, that I follow him is no wonder.

N for Nesbet Miniatures who knocks out Fantasy in Santiago down south in Chile.

O for On the Painting Table where my unfinished stuff should all be.

P is for PsychosisPC who paints like a champ.

Q ... maybe From the Warp can find some Q blogs to join the FTW camp.

R is for the Rules Manufactorum, for when the standard ones feel stale.

S is for Santa Cruz Warhammer, the Barter Bucketeers where things are for trading, not sale.

T has so many with "the" at the fore, but right now I'll go with the good guys from Table Top War.

U is for Ulthwe on the Table, and V for the Valhallans at Victory through Attrition. They both should post more; I hope they accept that mission.

W is double, so it's for both The Warpstone Pile and WeeMen, two blogs that seem to have what it takes.

X for the top X at House of Paincakes!

Y?  Because I love you!  There's only so many letters that I can recall, but check Blogs that I Follow if you want to see them all.

And lastly Z is for Zombieburger whose painting's a treat...despite the thought of the implied undead meat.

Thanks for visiting, I hope you like what you see, and be sure to check out all those blogs A to Z!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Army Profile: Silver Skulls

Silver Skulls, Act One
When I got back into 40K in mid-3rd edition, I started collecting stray Chaos figs, but the first actual army I put together was the Silver Skulls.  When I was deciding what Chapter to do it came down to Space Sharks and Silver Skulls, but the Skulls narrowly won out.  I wanted to do an all-beakie (aka Mk VI armor) army, and the force is a mix of old RTB01 box guys, beakie metal figs and more modern plastics with beakie heads.

The army has the distinction of having been painted in three countries - the USA of course, as well as Canada and India while I was traveling for work. In fact I bought my 3rd ed. Space Marine codex from a little hobby shop in Kamloops, British Columbia.  I'd enjoyed drop pods in Epic and liked the idea and imagery, so when I saw that 40K SM could do it as well, I was sold on an all-drop pod force and built toward that end.

This was back in the day when drop podding was just deep strike, no model for the pod, no special protections, and deep strike mishaps just killed you - no fancy table that might send you back to reserve or place you somewhere else on the table.  Just dead.  And we had to roll our dice uphill in the snow!  Err, sorry, got carried away there.

Captain using the torso from the White Scar biker set.

Silver Skulls, Act Two
I didn't really use them much at all during 4th edition, but revised them when the 5th edition Space Marine book came out.  I had to add a few guys and reorganize things into ten-man squads and get actual physical pods, but not much changed.  The army went from 1500 in 3rd ed to 1850 in 5th, primarily from the cost of the pods themselves.  I started out with some home-made pods, but switched over to using some from CNC Workshop after finding a cheap ebay deal.

Old pic, the tan ML guy has since been painted.  Also featured is perhaps my favorite marine model, the communication officer (front row, second from right).

The List

Silver Skulls, 1850pts

Captain – Power Weapon, Bolt Pistol

Tactical Squadx10 Melta, multimelta, Sgt PF
Drop Pod

Tactical Squadx10 Flamer, Missile Launcher, Sgt PF
Drop Pod

Tactical Squad X10 Plasma, Heavy Bolter, Sgt PF
Drop Pod

Dreadnaught Heavy Flamer, Twin-linked lascannon, extra armor
Drop Pod, Deathwind

Dreadnaught Heavy Flamer, Twin-linked lascannon, extra armor
Drop Pod, Deathwind

Fast Attack
10xAssault Marines 2xFlamer, Sgt PF
no jetpacks, Drop Pod

Fast Attack
Land Speeder, Multimelta

Heavy Support
10xDevastators 4xMissile Launchers, Sgt PF
Drop Pod, Deathwind

The captain rides with the assault squad.  The basic idea is for the first wave to be the dreads and devs dropping into firing positions and assault squad landing to be able to support them/intercept threats.  Tac squads come in on objectives in subsequent waves.  Adjust to situation as needed, like if fighting horde will drop closer to flame/heavy flame and have deathwinds for subsequent rounds.  Speeder will usually start on the table when permitted and try for an early kill but will sometimes deep strike as well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sample Killzone Teams

Bunch of sample teams for Killzone. All built at 200pts, and using special Killzone gear and skills (which are in bold).

Orks (200)
6xFlash Gits, More Dakka
----Team Leader + Shootier, +1 BS, FNP Radius
(6 members)

Compact team with a good many shots on the move that can potentially threaten any infantry in the game, a lot of wounds and staying power and a good many CC attacks, S5 on the charge.
I think Killzone is a good opportunity to try out units that normally don't get included in regular 40K games, like the flash gits. Even if you don't run a full team of them like this, picking up one can give you a good utility hitter for the team.

Orks (200)
Kommando Nob (Team Leader) Big choppa, FNP radius
Deffkopta TL rokkits, Targeter
6xShoota Boyz
(13 members)

With infiltrate and move through cover, Kommandos should be able to position where needed, and the Nob can do serious damage and help keep them all alive. Meganob as a walking tank, even moreso if kept near the kommando nob. Shoota boyz for general dakka and extra bodies. Kopta for fast response unit, able to maneuver for needed shots, with targeter for when able to sit still.

Tau (200)
10xFire Warriors w/Photon Grenades
Kroot + Stealth
Stealth Suit
Stealth Suit (Team Leader) + Medipack, Rending (shooting)
(13 members)

Bunch of shooting, like any Tau army. Photon grenades to help survive initial CC, and for ability to throw grenades. Stealth suits to jump around, making use of the LOS blocking clutter to jump shoot jump as much as possible. TL with rending burst cannon for extra damage, and medipack to keep himself and the other suit going.

Tau (200)
5xPathfinders w/Photon Grenades
1xPathfinder w/Photon Grenades, Rail Rifle
Broadside (Team Leader) with Suspensors for rail guns.
(9 members)

Not the same kind of volume of fire as the first team, but some of it is a lot more dangerous. When stationary, pathfinders markerlight to reduce cover saves for the broadside and rail rifle and vespid hang back to intercept threats. When moving forward, the pulse carbines provide decent firepower on the move, and the broadside can keep up thanks to the suspensors allowing him to still fire the railguns, or he can just switch to the smart missiles. Vespid, with their inherent skilled flyer rule make for good jump troops in a cluttered environment, and can hopefully position for some good cover-ignoring shots with their AP3 guns.

Chaos Space Marines (200)
CSM w/Missile Launcher, Targeter
CSM w/Plasmagun
CSM w/Auspex
Noise Marine
Noise Champion (Team Leader) w/Power Weapon, Fleet, Move through Cover
(7 members)

BS5 Missile Launcher, with buddy carrying Auspex nearby to ignore cover, plinks away at long range to eliminate threats early. Plasmagunner to eliminate closer threats, and a number of bolters to kick out decent damage. TL as a combat monster, able to ignore terrain, running 12 and then assaulting 6 at I5 with a PW, and extra wound as TL to help him make sure he gets to combat.

Imperial Guard (200)
Vet sgt (Team Leader)
3 vets with plasmaguns
Heavy Bolter team + suspensors, +1 BS
4 vets
Armored Sentinel (multilaser)
(11 members)

Vets over regular guardsmen for the BS4 and multiple plasmaguns, which should scare a lot of elite teams. BS 5 heavy bolter providing covering fire, with ability to move and fire if needed. Armored sentinel to frustrate teams with low AT ability and provide some more high strength shots, and if necessary provide cover for guardsmen to advance behind.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Special Operations Killzone arrives!

Today marks the release of the Beta test of the Killzone rules!  For those who haven't heard of them before, Killzone is a fan-made 40K modification allowing for more skirmish-level fights between competing elite teams.  It started as an attempt to fuse the more appealing elements from the two different versions of Kill Team and clean them up, but has grown into something a bit more.  You'll need to know 5th ed 40K and have the appropriate codexes in order to play; Killzone is essentially an extra layer put over regular Kill Team.  If you can play 40K, you can pick up and play Killzone very easily.  Since so much defaults to regular 40K, the rules themselves are pretty short.  The errata for the various armies is longer, but again pretty simple, providing some guides for building a team from that codex and addressing any special situations to make them work with the model vs. unit framework.  Then there are a number of missions to choose from. 

Big Jim from Galaxy in Flames started work on it, and invited a number of other folks, myself included, to help iron things out.  We managed to get through it a lot faster than we expected, which leaves even more time for playtesting and feedback.

The first place to hit would be Big Jim's lair, to download the rules, errata, and scenarios.  You can also see examples of teams he's looking to make himself.

I know many blog-folks disdain forums, but we have a Killzone forum anyways.  Come visit and fill out playtest results to let us know how we can improve the rules set.  If we did something right, you can tell us that too! 

A couple of other blogs I'm rather fond of also have put up some good KZ content already.  Check out the old-school teams being put together at diceRolla and also by bsmoove.  If you poke around bsmoove's site, he also has a good many posts about some other multiple-team Kill Team (not Killzone) games he's done, on a great Space-Hulk style table.   

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sons of Taurus Background

Looking through some papers a few weeks ago I came upon the old writeup I did for the background of the Sons of Taurus renegade Space Marines when I was getting back into 40K a decade ago.  With all the Badab War stuff coming down the pipe from Forge World I thought this would be a good time to transcribe it here.  I swear I'll actually make the army some day, or at least a Killzone team!

Sons of Taurus


     During the dark days of the Badab War, Marine fought Marine in the largest such conflict since the great Horus Heresy.  The Traitor forces raided Imperial shipping lanes, and loyal chapters such as the Minotaurs were sent to stop them. 
     Long and arduous were the battles the Minotaurs fought with the Traitors, especially with the Lamenters.  The Minotaurs became quite adept at the boarding actions prevalent in this conflict, destroying and capturing many Lamenter vessels.  Captain Taurus' forces were often at the vanguard of such actions including at the ambush in M41.908 that led to the final surrender of the Lamenters.

     Eventually the Traitors were beaten down and the Tyrant of Badab fled along with some of his surviving followers.  Along with the other loyalists, the Minotaurs received rewards.  In their case, the rewards included a share of the captured ships and equipment.  This was a bitter disappointment to many Minotaurs, as the "reward" consisted of spoils that they already possessed, while other chapters received entire worlds.  Their resentment and extended deployment time left some Minotaurs ripe for corruption.

     With the "betrayal" by the Adeptus Terra, Taurus would no longer willingly serve those who claimed to speak for the Emperor.  He recognized the need for a patron to help protect him and those he would lead into heresy from the Inquisition and other enemies.  Inspecting the prize ships, Captain Taurus uncovered various relics and heretical tomes, study of which fed upon his bitterness and led him down the path to Chaos.  One of the Chaos Gods would be a natural choice for his needed patron.  But which one?

      The four main gods were powerful and tempting, but Taurus hesitated.  What would he and his relatively small band be to such a powerful entity, who already commanded LEGIONS of Space Marines and others, many of whom had served for millenia?  No, these gods had too many followers and were more concerned with maintaining their power rather than expanding it.  He needed a patron with a smaller base, where Taurus could rise more easily; a patron interested in expanding their power.  One of the "middle" gods of Chaos.

     Communing with several such entities through dark rituals, Taurus and Hashut chose each other.  Swelling the ranks of his company with other disaffected Minotaurs and liberated prisoners, primarily Lamenters, Taurus warped out to begin his career as a renegade and the SONS OF TAURUS were born.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Army Profile: Tau Grand Alliance

Whenever I use or mention these guys, they seem to elicit interest.  Most recently in an email from a reader, Jason who after reading my Project List asked:
Also, I noticed that under your list of armies to paint, you mentioned a
non-crisis/non-vehicle Tau army.  Do you happen to have the army list
posted some where?  Since I play Tau in 40K and routinely use both Crisis
suits and Hammerheads, I would be interested in checking that list out.
I'll do you one better Jason!  Here's a breakdown of my Tau army, its history, the decisions that made it how it is and how it's used.

Tau, Act One

I had a previous Tau army, back in the late 3rd/early 4thaceaous era.  That army was built on mobility - everything was either mounted in a skimmer or had a jet pack.  Eventually I sold them and spent some time Tau-less.  Until...

Tau, Act Two

With the release of the updated Tau Codex in 2006 I started toying with the idea of the other extreme of Tau, a more ambush-based force.  I had several things in mind for the army:

  • Stealth Suits.  I like how the old suits look, and I like how they play.  Great harassing unit that definitely fit with an ambush theme, and a lot of deployment options.
  • Kroot.  I had fun painting up a bunch for my friend JVB, and fancied making some for myself.  With their ability (at the time) to sit deep in woods shooting out but immune to return fire, they would be another way to annoy the enemy, plus Infiltration.
  • Vespid.  The models looked cool, and they provided another group of aliens to go along with the Kroot, helping to emphasize the diverse nature of Tau compared to the other more homogeneous armies.
  • No vehicles.  I could say that tanks with disruption pods could be sneaky, and things like Piranhas could be cool, but I decided against that route.  If it had an AV, it didn't belong.  Unfortunately, this also effectively banned Pathfinders, a unit that otherwise would fit with the ambush theme quite well, due to their required Devilfish.  Curses!
  • No Crisis Suits.  I don't really care for the models, and besides I wanted to use as many Stealth Suits as possible.  I figured I'd need at least one as an HQ anyways, but after I discovered Shadowsun, an HQ in Stealth Armor, I knew that I'd found my commander.
  • Some counts-as alternative to Broadsides.  As with the Crisis suits, I don't care for the models.  But if I was already getting rid of Hammerheads and Crisis suits, I'd need some decent long-ranged firepower, and I envisioned the Broadsides serving as anti-tank snipers, knocking out the enemy's mobility so that the rest of the ambush can proceed.  I looked at several alternatives and settled on some AT-43 Karman models which became my Gor'la battlesuits.
  • While researching the army, I also came across the Sniper Drone teams, who besides being snipers are also equipped with stealth fields.  In they went!

 The army languished as a mere theory for several years, until a now-defunct forum I was active on did a Tale of X Gamers type of event and I decided to do this Tau army for it.  In keeping with my desire to stretch and do something new with each project, I played around with the bases a little more, adding some real bits of stone and using static grass for the first time.  In the meantime, 5th ed had come out, making the Kroot invisibility trick not work, but making their cover save in woods even better.  The emphasis on troops also led me to make them four units of twelve each instead of three units of sixteen each.

Gor'la Battlesuits (Broadsides)

Some Fire Warriors

Shadowsun and some Stealth Suits

Vespid.  Fiddly little fellas; putting them together was a real pain.  Antennae easily break off, and some weak legs too (I guess they wanted to be like the Crisis suits).

Some Kroot.

The List

OK, so here's the part Jason actually asked for!

Tau Grand Alliance 1850pts


3xStealth Suits, Team Leader w/Fusion Blaster, Bonded

6xStealth Suits, Team Leader, Bonded

6xStealth Suits, Team Leader, Bonded





10xFirewarriors, Photon Grenades, Team Leader w/EMP grenades, Bonded

10xFirewarriors, Photon Grenades, EMP Grenades, Team Leader, Bonded

6xVespid Stingwings

6xVespid Stingwings

Broadside w/Drone Controller and two shield drones

Broadside w/Drone Controller and two shield drones

2xSniper Drone teams

1845pts total

In many ways, yeah, it is.  It has a lot of problems, even more so than a regular Tau army.

Assault is still generally the doom of any of the units.  Some are tough enough to survive for a turn or two, but they generally aren't going to win any serious combat.

A number of units are very fragile.  No transports, and especially guys like Kroot and Vespid disappear quickly if they don't have cover.  With much of the rest of the army either having stealth fields or being tough (2+ save broadsides w/2+ save drones) these fragile units can see even more than their fair share of fire.

No templates.  At all.  No flamers, blasts, large blasts.  You can bunch up at will against this army.

Few markerlights.  The only ones are those on the Sniper Drone controllers.  Few markerlight tricks available here.

It doesn't use what is probably one of the most versatile units in the game, the Missile Pod/Plasma Rifle Crisis Suit.  It can struggle against massed armor or heavy infantry.

Dawn of War really cuts down on early firepower - sniper drones and broadsides without stabilizers walking on.

It does have some advantages:

Lots of deployment options.  The Kroot can Infiltrate/Outflank.  Vespid can Deep Strike.  Stealth Suits can Deep Strike or Infiltrate/Outflank.  I'll often keep a lot off of the table, especially against armies that are going to come at me - some starts on the table, some in regular reserve, some outflanking.  You can really tailor how you deploy/play depending on the situation.

Restricts enemy shooting.  With distance, stealth fields, and jump-after-shooting moves, a good bit of enemy firepower can be negated.

Leadership.  Wherever Shadowsun goes, she carries a pretty big bubble with her that improves the Ld of much of the army.  When babysitting the gunline portion, she's especially helpful as even one fallback move would see those units off the table.  Getting these guys to test on 10 instead of 7 or 8 is great.

So how does it work in practice?

Here's a couple of battle reports I've done with them.

vs. Marines 

vs. Necrons

Hope you liked the look at the whys and hows of the army.  If folks like this one, I'll get around to the other armies in time!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You and what Star Fleet? Legends of Kalidasia

Reader email!  It's sure to give a writer, blog- or otherwise, warm fuzzies.  So it was when I got an email from Jason, who had questions about one of my armies.  I'll get to that in another post soon, but first I wanted to mention a project he's been working on in-between 40K games, Legends of Kalidasia. 

While "Kalidasia" might sound like a condition you might see vague drug company commercials for, in actuality it's a starship combat game.  I haven't had a chance to dig too deeply into it, but it definitely appealed to my nostalgia for games of Star Fleet Battles and Starfire from the days of yore. 

Check out the site and see what you think.  You can download the basic stuff for free, so if you have the hankering to blow stuff up in deep space some rainy day, give it a whirl.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Does anyone actually use Buildings?

One of the changes in 5th ed 40K was the inclusion of actual solid buildings.  They had existed in some form earlier in scenarios with bunkers, but 5th ed presented them as a regular part of the battlefield, along with the ruins, barricades, jungles and hills.

But I don't actually see them used (outside of Planetstrike), either locally or on tables I see across the web.  Even intact or relatively intact buildings are normally treated either as ruins or as something impassible.

Why is that?  Part of it is probably just people not knowing the building rules, but I think a lot of it is that it ends up just being easier to do without them.  Since the buildings can be wrecked, ideally you'd want to either have buildings that can be disassembled to some degree to represent being wrecked, or extra ruins to sub in once the building gets destroyed.  At a lot of places you're already struggling for everyone to have enough terrain to start with, much less having significant leftover pieces to substitute in.

For my own part, I have some intact things that could be used as buildings, but they tend to just get used as ruins or impassible.  I have an actual bunker I made, but it never gets used.  One of the buildings on my city board really should be an AV building, possibly even with two sections, but we almost never use it as such since it's attached to the section of table, making "ruining" it inconvenient to impossible.

I would like to see more actual buildings used, if nothing else because I think it would add some extra levels to the game.  A few solid buildings on the table let an infantry force "mech up", gaining the protection benefits that tank armies already enjoy, and creates some places that vehicles simply cannot go.  It also introduces the element of a potentially partly changeable battlefield - like a video game with a "destructible environment", it opens up opportunities and tactics by being able to remove or alter a piece of terrain and opening up new lanes of fire, etc.

Howabout on your tables/local tables?  Do you see many AV type buildings, or is it all just ruins?  For those who use AV buildings, how do you handle them when they get wrecked?
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