Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Another Deimos Pattern Rhino for the Sons of Horus

Deimos Pattern Rhino from Forge World
Another shift in period and scale, from 15mm WW2 to 28mm science fiction and Warhammer 30k.  This is another "asset" for the motor pool of the 16th Legion - a Deimos Pattern Rhino APC.  The model is from Forge World, a mix of resin components with a current plastic Rhino model kit from Games Workshop.

Those panel lines on the fender are not too clean...ahem...lack of patience and skill on my part
Compared to the other cool and scary-looking vehicles to be found in Forge World's 30k Space Marine Legions (like these, or this), the Rhino is quite humble and rather boring. It's two bolt guns will not destroy another vehicle or wound a Titan. But it will increase the mobility of the Sons of Horus troops and continue the slow and steady collection escalation underway with Dallas and Byron.

Access hatch on the rear
Forge World models are always a bit hit-and-miss, and this one was very difficult - not because of the resin (for once) but because of the plastic model components.  The fenders on the GW Rhino kit plastic superstructure were bent pretty badly, and this one did not come together very clean.  I am not an advanced modeler at all - I lack the patience and skill - and so when you look closely you will places where the panels don't quite line up. This is what happens when you pretty much just force a model to fit together, with a proper mix of super glue, will power and swearing. But from a foot away, it looks fine, and that's good enough for me!

Lots of chipping on the top hatch
This APC will join the other two Rhinos I finished back in the summer.  Between these Rhinos and the Land Raider, my Sons of Horus force can comfortably mount 40 troops in armoured vehicles to take the fight to the dupes of the False Emperor.  I am thinking it won't be long until hostilities resume on Orask, so I will try and get a few more pieces done to escalate the fight and speed the inevitable conquest of the Warmaster Horus, humanity's last hope!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

That's A Lot Of Tanks, Eh? Modern Spearhead Battle Report

T-64BVs - 1/600 scale vehicles from Oddzial Osmy, available at Pico Armor
 This week I hosted a game of "Modern Spearhead", the adapted version of Arty Contliffe's classic division level-WW2 rules. "Spearhead" is one of the great rule systems out there, and although I like to fuss with the rules from time to time, overall it is one of my favourite games and one of the best sets of rules ever done, in my opinion (of course, YMMV).

Vast echelon of elements in the Soviet 112th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment
In "Spearhead", each base or vehicle represents a platoon or troops or vehicles, a battery of guns etc. This is part of creating the right sense of abstraction in order to play a division-level command game.  The players take the role of regiment and brigade commanders, and are not fussed with the tactical elements. Contliffe's rules engine does this very well, and the key to success in a game of Spearhead is timing and planning, mixed of course with (you hope) some good fortune on the dice.

Leopards waiting on a ridge - with the small figures, I used paper to mark elevations instead of hills - Curt put me on to this, and I really liked the effect
I generally use my large (but old, and now really tired looking for the most part) 1/300 scale collection of figures to play "Spearhead" - whether WW2 or modern.  But, as seen here and there on the blog, I have been getting more and more into the 1/600 scale sculpts from Oddzial Osmy (available easily from the delightful folks at Pico Armor).  Here is an old post of those figures in action - I have been painting a few more to bulk up the collection, and we played another game this past week.

The scenario was a favourite setting of mine - Cold-War-gone hot, with the Canadians in CENTAG's III Corps put into action to try and prevent a Soviet breakthrough on the road to Frankfurt.  Byron, Brian H and Dave V all came out for the game.

For the table, I took advantage of the fact that Conscript Curt had just been in town and he had set up for a 3mm game of Napoleonics (more on that will be found shortly over at Analogue Hobbies I'm sure).  He used paper to mark the contours of elevations and hills.  If you would have told me about this beforehand, I would have found it odd, but I loved how it worked in practice with the very small scale figures - it reinforces the "proper" sense of abstraction for the game - you are a senior commander, not tactical, and helps you think at that level.  I made a few small changes and bang, the table was ready - Curt had already done most of the work for me :)

T-72s have overrun 2PPCLI on the first ridge line
Brian and Dave took command of the Soviets. They had a full BMP regiment at their disposal - designated the 112th Guards Motor Rifles - three battalions of BMP2 mounted crack troops, and an attached battalion of T-64BV tanks.  The Regiment had its own attached 122mm SP artillery battalion.  To bulk up further, the 112th received the 80th Independent Tank Battalion, equipped with T-72s.  Off table there was further support from the division - another battalion of 122mm guns, and a further (scary!) battalion of 152mm guns!  Air support in the form of Su-25 "Frogfoot" attack planes was also available.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons open fire
The Soviets had just crossed a small river, and their objective was to break through to the Canadians and capture the next town and river crossing.  Time was of the essence, of course. NATO was on the run, and Frankfurt could be reached and CENTAG disemboweled - as long as the schedule was met!! Forward comrades!

In the face of this monstrous horde, Byron took charge of the Canadians.  He had the 2nd Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (mechanized troops in M113 APCs), and the Royal Canadian Dragoons and their Leopard C1 tanks (bulked up with a fourth squadron - NATO would have got them there somehow as the crisis in Europe boiled up, I figure).  NATO doctrine is flexible, so Byron peeled some elements from both units to create a small reserve task force in case things went pear-shaped.  For support there was the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and their 155mm SP guns, and the hope of air support from US A-10s and even some division level 203mm US guns...

Initial deployments and plans - Byron has two layers of defence (blue areas) and a reserve off table, while the Soviets have plotted a vicious right hook...
Dave and Brian crafted a fairly straightforward plan - sacrifice some units to overrun the forward deployed Canadians on the first ridge, and send the bulk of the regiment past the right flank so the Canadians on the second ridge would have difficulty engaging. Use the merciless amount of artillery to pound any resistance into dust!

You can see 2PPCLI is no longer in the game...
That's kind of how it unfolded - the Warpac forces broke out of the town and engaged 2PPCLI on the first ridge, taking heavy losses, but backed by horrible amounts of artillery.  Soviet counter battery even located the Canadian gunners in RCHA, took out a battery and forced the survivors to relocate.

The Dragoons would take revenge for their comrades - those Russians on the ridge at the right were soon vaporized
Once 2PPCLI was crushed, the Soviets swept over the ridge, and encountered the guns of the Dragoons.  The Leopards made short work of the Soviets who took the first ridge.  Meanwhile, US air support showed up and started to put some hurt on the Russians.

Byron's challenge illustrated - if he could just get the Dragoons moving...
Realizing he needed to maneuver to stop the Soviet flank maneuver, Byron activated his small reserve and sent them forward, and he tried to issue orders to get the Dragoons to hit the Russian flank.  In "Spearhead", the ability to change your orders is crucial to the success of outnumbered but more flexible forces like the Canadians.  Just don't roll a "1"...so, anyway...

Visual recreation of Byron's order change rolls...Dragoons stay put
Byron's reserve came forward, but he could not get the dice god to allow the Dragoons to move in time! The Soviet flank thrust took a bloody nose from the small reserve (and more US air strikes), but Soviet artillery, and a visit from the Su-25s, blasted the Canadian reserves.  With two of their three elements broken, the Canadians were defeated.

Su-25 Frogfoot pastes some Canadians in M113s
Soviet victory was achieved in 8 turns of hard fighting! Promotions for the Soviet Commanders! The Soviets had two battalions (a BMP unit and a T-72 unit) knocked out of the game, and two more (a second BMP unit and the T-64s) chewed up a bit, but their plan held and they managed to overwhelm the Canadians.
Suppressed Leopards courtesy of huge Warpac artillery barrages
It was, however, a close-run thing - the pivotal issue was Byron's bad luck with his order dice - if he had been able to get the Royal Canadian Dragoons moving, they might have swept right into the flank of the Soviet advance over the second ridge...it could have gone either way.

Soviet Motor Rifle units sweep the forested ridge!
While it was a loss for the Canadians, and the poor lads of 2PPCLI took a drubbing, the Royal Canadian Dragoons were still actually in great combat shape, with three full squadrons and some attached support still ready to fight.  If and when the guys are up for another game of "Modern Spearhead", I think we'll have a scenario where these fellows are trying to cut their way out of the pocket they find themselves in and re-join the NATO lines.

Thanks to Byron, Brian and Dave for coming out to play, and doing a great job playing the command roles in character!

More 15mm Late War Germans

More fodder for the Eastern front!

Well I have been very lazy at blogging for the past month or so, but I have actually still been painting stuff.  The NFL has started, the NHL is about to get started, and all of that sport-watching provides for prime painting time. Here is some more late WW2 Germans.  This is a panzer grenadier platoon infantry, a PaK40 AT gun team and a spare command figure. All of the figures are from Battlefront.

A platoon command group urges the troops forward
he Panzer Grenadiers are loaded down with MG42s and panzerfausts, all things they will need to try and get the job done late in the war. As I have observed previously, sculpting from Battlefront can be hit and miss, but I really like these late war German sculpts - the troops have a nice mix of trench coats and reversible cammo smocks and pants, covered and uncovered helmets, and a sort of hopeless look on their smooshed faces...even if the particular firefight they are involved in is going OK, overall they know things are going pear-shaped, and they look like they know it.

MG42s by the bucket load
The PaK40 is a plastic gun with metal crew...I have painted these plastic PaK40s before and they seem a bit..off, I'm not sure exactly what it is, but the barrel doesn't seem quite right...but whatever - good to have some AT guns to try and hold off that Soviet armour.

PaK40 ready to take out some tanks

I quite like the animation of the crew figures from Battlefront...
As with the other WW2 figures and AT guns I have painted this summer, I've tried to go for a combination of uniform colours and ground work that might be called "3-season" - good for spring and fall, and not horrible in midsummer or winter.  I've been making some recent terrain purchases to try and get away from the very ideal green midsummer look on the gaming tables (more on that later) and I hope these will fit in with that.

Blurry photo (sorry) of another command stand - I put a figure with one of those artillery scoping deals, so this can double as a spotter for artillery or maybe a command group for a gun unit

Tried my best with some German cammo here and there...mixed results but looks OK, especially with lots of trench coats to break up and vary the overall look
Nice to have these additions to the late war 15mm collection done.  They will see action in games of Flames of War, Battlegroup and even Spearhead. 

Another view of the Panzer Grenadiers
I mentioned earlier all the pro sports firing up and that is a sure sign that fall is here now (yes, and the beautiful colours in the trees - I notice that too :). I had set for myself this summer a bit of a goal to tackle my Smaug-horde-sized pending-pile of lead and plastic for 15mm WW2.  I managed to make a bit of a dent, even while distracted as always by my wandering interests, short attention span, as well as wanting to get even more 30k stuff finished.  Stay tuned for more on all three of these subject areas...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Horus Heresy Death Guard Vehicles

Over the last few weeks I have been working on two vehicles to add to my expanding 30k Death Guard force.  The vehicles I have added are the Sicaran Venator and a Fire Raptor.  Both were picked just because they look too damn cool not too have!  Here they are along side my original Sicaran.

I love the Sicaran hull and having a normal one already, I just had to get the other version of it, where the driver is obviously trying to compensate for something.  The gun is a huge neutron laser and makes up most of the tank, and the fluff explains that it is the largest weapon on any tank in this class.

The gun spits out multiple strength 10 AP 1 shots, so it should help against the land raiders and super heavies that are starting to show up in our 30k games. On top of that anything that is hit by the gun  (even super heavies) can only fire snap shots the following turn.  Even better yet, because this is a Sicaran hull it is a fast vehicle so can move 12" and still fire 2 weapons at full effect (mind you as soon as the big gun fires, the sponsons are snap firing anyway since it is an ordinance weapon), or if it chooses not to fire, can cover 24" in a turn. This means it can get where you need it on the table quickly.

To help ensure that the main gun stays alive a bit longer, I mounted the optional sponson mounted lascannons.  Even if the main gun is knocked out, at least it can still do something.

Next of the new vehicles is the Fire Raptor, which in my mind is very reminiscent of an A10 tank killer with two huge guns under nose and I could not pass on one, and it doesn't hurt that it turns out to be really good in a game.

I built the kit with the landing gear out so that it can sit flat on the table to be used as terrain, even when not used in a game.  I have not figured out a flying stand system for this beast though as it just does not seem stable enough on a GW flight stand for me.  I can use one, but will probable build in some kind of magnet system and a larger base so that I feel better about this expensive and fragile model sitting 8" above the table.

The guns on this flying gunship truly shine, and it should excel at multiple things in games.  The chin guns can spit out 7 shots that are strength 6 AP 3 so should help thin out all of those Legion Marine squads.  The rest of the armaments on it are a little less deadly being all AP 4, but putting out a lot of shots.  It has 4 single shot rockets and two side turrets that each have a reaper autocannon battery (4 strength 7 twin linked shots each), and each turret can target whatever they chose, they are not limited at firing what the main guns are targeting.  This should allow it to help support my ground forces and open up some Rhinos with all the strength 7 shots so that my infantry can get at the squishy contents.

I have been asked about my painting method in the past, since it is very different than my normal 40k clean style, so I figured I would explain a bit.  Firstly, I am doing all of my Death Guard as grungy and dirty as I can while still keeping them resembling their white and green official colours.  The reason for this is that I really love the first few Horus Heresy novels and the loyal Death Guard that are led by Captain Garro in them.  I picture my force as part of Garro's force that was on Isstvan III either during or landing shortly after the Warmaster Horus scorched the planet in his attempt to wipe out the loyalist members of the legions there.  Almost everything on the planet was destroyed by his attack and what was left was badly damaged, and everything that came down after the strikes was subject to all the dust, corrosion, and fires going on, and then went through the vicious fights that took place.

To accomplish this look, I did a bit of investigation and found a REALLY simple method.  In fact it is so simple, and looks so good (at least in my opinion) that I wonder why the hell I spent so much time trying to paint vehicles in the typical GW clean sharp method....  This method takes way less than 1/2 the time, in fact probably about 1/4 the time, and looks better (again my opinion).

Step 1) Assemble and prime your vehicle.  I primed these with Vallejo German Dark Grey airbrush primer as it gives a ver good dark colour for the chips (a dark almost black grey but with a hint of brown and green).  I then gave some quick random shots of a rust brown to some edges and recesses where I knew I would ensure some chips where. (total time to prime and hit with rust - 15 min)

Step 2) Spray the whole model with a coat of either AK Heavy Chipping Solution or AK Weathering Solution.  I used the heavy solution around the edges and the weather on large flat surfaces. Then set it aside and let it dry completely over night. (total time - 15 min)

Step 3) Next up I spray the whole model with my base colour and any accent colour (the green in my case, which in my anxiousness to get these done, I forgot and then had to go back mask areas, put another layer of chipping solution and and then put the green on) and then set it aside and let it dry for at least an hour or two. (total time - 15 min)

Step 4) Now comes the fun part.  Either use a spray bottle with water or a large brush with water and wet down an area to start working on.  Let it soak for about a min to soften the paint and then just start rubbing any area you want to show wear or chipping with a stiff brush.  Paint will start coming away in a very random and natural way.  The more you rub the more comes off.  just keep moving around and working areas until you are happy with them. (total time for chipping - between 20 min and an hour depending on how you work)

Step 5) Time to put your decals on and then make sure you take some areas of them and pick them away so that they look worn to match the rest of the vehicle.  I then clear coat the whole vehicle to prep it for the next step. (total time - depends on number of decals maybe 30 min)

Step 6) Back to some AK solutions for the grim look. Now I go to some AK Streaking Grime and AK Rust Streaks.  These are enamel based solutions that make streaks really easy, but make the earlier clear coat step necessary. All I do is put a drop of the paint on each chip, or in crevasses or on sills and then let is sit for a bit (15-30 min).  Once the paint has had time to dry a bit, it is time to take a soft brush and some odourless thinner or white spirits and brush down over the dots of paint you put on.  They will start stretching down and forming streaks.  If you pull them too far down you just wait a bit and then brush up with some more thinner.  You can keep working the paint back and forth until you are happy with how it looks.  I like leaving it a bit rough, then grabbing a stiff bristle worn out brush and do it again to break up the streaks and make them look grainy like real rust or dirt runs. 

Step 6b) What is shown above is one coat of Streaking Grime, and then I went back and added little bits of the Rust Streaks and repeated step 6.  (total time for 2 colours of streaking - roughly 2 hours)

Hopefully, this all comes across clearly.  I may sound complicated, but honestly it is super simple and very fast.  If there are any questions, please ask.  Total WORK time for priming through streaking on both the Sicaran Venator and Fire Raptor was roughly 4-5 hours.  Once all of that is done, then I go back and paint all the details and then add pigment powders to dirty it all up even more.  These finishing steps take about the same time as the weathering, so total time for 2 really big vehicles was less than 10 hours. Which in my mind is pretty damn fast compared to what I used to spend to paint vehicles and I used to despise painting vehicles, and now I love it, so it's pure win.  Now, if only putting the Fire Raptor together wasn't as much of a pain the .... as it was, or I would get the troop transport version to go along with this one.

Anyway, sorry that the post got so long, I hope you find it interesting, and thanks for reading it (assuming you got this far).

Now, time to get another game of 30k in!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sedition Wars - Re-fight and Some Thoughts

Conscript Byron was sick a couple of weeks ago so couldn't come out to the Terminal Station game I ran. Accordingly, he dropped by Wednesday night to re-fight the game. This time it was just the two of us, head to head, with Byron running the Vanguard, and myself running the Strain.

The scenario objectives were the same as we previously played - basically it was a race to the train. However, both sides played a little differently,  both acting more aggressively.

Byron set up his 7 Vanguard (6 armed with laser carbines, one elite armed with a grenade launcher) as far forward as he could, in two groups on either side of the sushi restaurant. The grenadier was given two tactics markers, to allow her to fire indirectly.

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The Strain (16 Revenants, 2 Quasimodos, and 2 Stalkers) were again limited to setting up adjacent to 4 strategic points. (Remember, we have doubled the gun ranges to S=8/M=16/L=24 inches, so the point cost of the Revenants has basically been halved).

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Byron opened the engagement with the launching of his only grav grenade, causing some damage, but, more importantly, pinning several Strain in place for a turn (the Singularity effect reduced their movement to "1").

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The Vanguard advanced north towards the rail line, on both sides of the red-roofed sushi restaurant. Nine Revenants and a Stalker advanced south towards the Vanguard, some entering the strip mall buildings through the back doors. They drew a lot of fire, and most of them were killed, However, the nano-virus clouds left behind by dead Revenants moved on, infecting some of the Vanguard. The two Quasimodos moved to take up firing positions. The rest of the Strain moved away from the action, towards where the train would arrive.

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A single Vanguard Samaritan got the attention of both a Quasimodo and a Stalker, but for a couple of turns none of them could manage to hit the other, even with the assistance of the Tac-net!

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One of the Quasimodos achieved a strong position on top of the blockhouse, commanding the centre of the table. He killed a Samaritan with his acidic ranged weapon. An infected Samaritan drew his fire, and blew him away with a well-aimed laser shot. Then, as the infection overtook her...

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...she withdrew towards the western table edge, trying to get as far away from her comrades as possible before the inevitable happened...

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...and the nano-virus consumed her and turned her into another Quasimodo!

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When the maglev train arrived, 7 or 8 various Strain were in position to board. A couple hiding behind a Tyrell Corporation shipping container were lit up by the grenadier (literally; she set them on fire). Akosha Nama, riding on top of a container on a flatbed car, finished off the flamed Stalker with a round from her sniper rifle.

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Below, Byron contemplates his potential moves toward the train. A couple of Vanguard have already been hit by the remaining two Quasimodos, and are about to die agonizing deaths from their corrosive acid spray.

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The single Vanguard Samaritan left behind by the Taco Bell finally helped kill the Stalker threatening her, then she moved away from the train, drawing fire from the recently-created Quasimodo. Though covered in acid, she managed to kill the creature (her former mess mate) with a single shot (she rolled three "6's" to hit).

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The Grenadier and another Samaritan managed to join the sniper on the train. Meanwhile, six Strain also boarded the train. However, two Revenants died from Vanguard reflex fire and one was reduced to a single wound. The two Samaritans were infected by the resulting nano, but otherwise were unwounded.

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Discussing the game afterward, in our minds we took it as a tie. Yes, the Strain got 1 more model on the train, but it had only 1 wound, and the Vanguard had a big, expensive character with a superior, longer-ranged weapon.


I like the alternating Active Mode and Reflex Mode that comprise each side's turns. You always have to pay attention, since, in Reflex Mode, your models may be able to respond to enemy actions.

Some of the nuances of the rules are interesting. You roll for corrosion resistance at the END of your own activation. So that one Samaritan mentioned above moved and drew the reflex shot from the Quasimodo, who didn't cause enough damage to kill her outright. She then fired, killing the Quasimodo, then she had to roll for corrosion resistance.

You only take extra damage from corrosion effects at the START of your activation. If one saves at the END of her previous activation, the corrosion ends, and you would not take any more damage from corrosion next turn. Thinking about it, this actually rewards bold action, risking drawing fire, rather than waiting for the Strain to shoot you during their own activation.


Trooper Vasquez managed to avoid the worst effects of the acid on her armour. As the train left Terminal Station, she ruefully turned away and contemplated her situation: Wounded. Infected with the Strain nano-virus. Alone in hostile territory. 

"Time to soldier, soldier," she said to herself. "Let's see if that abandoned aid station has anything that can slow down this frakking infection."

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Operator Akosha Nama called out to the Vanguard nearby, "Get back! There's a Corpsman at the other tender that can help you!"

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Her optical camouflage activated. She started to disappear from their view, and looked straight at her enemy. 

"I'm coming for you."

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