Monday, 29 February 2016

Instant Army (just add Tyranids)

I started several projects all at once this week, none of which I finished.  I did manage to repaint 3 Genestealers in my latest hivefleet colours. A fairly random thing to do, given that I'm playing Kings of War at the moment and I haven't used Genestealers in a game since, well, I can't remember exactly when.  There is method in my madness however.  I want to use them as 'Night-Stalkers', the extra-dimensional beings which are literally the stuff of nightmares and a playable army in the world of Mantica.

2 Space Hulk 'stealers and a 'home grown'
My poor Nids have been languishing in gaming limbo for nearly a year now.  I boxed most of them up and took up Necrons following my disastrous performance at Maelstrom VIII.  Since I started playing Kings of War, I thought I'd given up on them completely.  I had a shiny new Undead army to play with (I still have a shiny new army to play with and need to stop faffing around and paint the bloody thing).  But then I discovered the Night-Stalker faction in the Uncharted Empires supplement.  It doesn't actually have any models in production yet, Mantic made all the rules up for them but left it to players' imaginations to come up with the beasties themselves. Very appropriate.  Maybe they'll produce the figures at some point, but in the meantime you can more or less use what you want.  Someone suggested that Tyranids were a good alternative and I saw a few battle reports with the Great Devourer playing the part of Mantica's bogeymen.  I did some quick calculations and realised that I had over 3000 points worth of viable biomass that I could pass off as Night-Stalkers. My hivefleet came back out of storage.

Dopplegangers!  Dun-dun, derrrr!

The main problem was that 40k models come on round bases, some of which are very large and they don't fit into movement trays very well.  I could 'multibase' them and Mantic actively encourages this practice.  It would involve cutting off all the 40k bases and sticking the models onto a unit sized movement tray (troop, regiment, legion etc) in a pleasing diorama arrangement.  However, they then wouldn't be usable in 40k and it was a step I wasn't willing to take.  I considered making special movement trays with round holes sunk into them but in the end just cut up some MDF and blu-tacced them on.  I think it works quite well.

I knocked up an army list and came up with the following 'counts as' models:

Blood Worms - Rippers
Reapers - Hormagaunts
Dopplegangers - Genestealers
Scarecrows - Termagants (I should really use these as Spectres but don't care)
Nightmares - Shrikes
Shadow-Hulk - Carnifex
Void Lurker - Winged Hive Tyrant
Portal of Despair - Spore Chimney (hard luck, I don't own one)
Fiends - (mish mash of favourite models)

Back Row: Horde of Fiends, Void Lurker, Regiment of Nightmares
Middle Row: Horde of Scarecrows, Legion of Bloodworms
Front Row: Troop of Reapers, Regiment of Dopplegangers, 2 x Shadow Hulk

I had a hard time justifying my Fiends which consist of: Zoanthrope, Neurothrope, Venomthrope, Brood Lord, Lictor and Spawn of Cryptus.  But then I said to myself, 'Do they look fiendish? Yes? Well, they're Fiends then, aren't they?'

Fiendish friends

The larger, singleton models were too big to fit on a 40x40mm 'Monster' base but that's perfectly fine, the rules are very permissive.  I've seen several GW Zombie Dragon/Terrorgheists being used in KoW games and the footprint of that thing is massive. You just create as small a base as you can reasonably fit the model on.  In my case its 60x60mm for the 'fexes and the Tyrant.  All my other models fit onto the default base size and still manage to fulfill minimum model count as stipulated in the Kings of War FAQ.  For example, a regiment of infantry should contain 20 models. Ironically, I own enough models to field lots of regiments but they simply don't fit snugly together on the 'multibase'.  You can't fit a round peg into a square hole, or something like that.  To account for this, the rules allow you to field regiments containing only 11 models (minimum model count) but preferably 14 models (preferred model count).  I've managed to stick to the preferred model count so far.  In fact my legion of Bloodworms contains 63 rippers (3 more than a full complement). They are stuck on 15 round bases and look pretty sparse.  Not exactly an exciting diorama but you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

Sigh, another collapsing scrum

Not managed to play a game with them yet.  I need to repaint more Genestealers to make another regiment of Dopplegangers.  I can't believe I own so many 'stealers and most of them aren't actually table ready.  I still have about 25 on the sprue.

I'm also working on my Portal of Despair which is a completely new, non Tyranid model but thats super secret and probably won't be ready for a while yet.

Saturday, 20 February 2016


First I would like to announce that I just achieved my highest ever tournament placing (cue trumpet flourish):  6th Place!  I should perhaps also point out that there were only 8 players in the tournament.   Still, 2 wins and 2 losses amounts to the dizzying heights of generalship for me.  Its almost mid table obscurity!  I won best sports too (they were probably being nice to the newb but I was chuffed to bits all the same)

Robert Higgins was so terrified by my zombies that he tabled me in self defence.

I took my mostly grey, unpainted  Kings of War army to the Warlords Super Series 'summer' tournament.  The embarrassing monochrome of my models may account for the fact that I only took one picture.  On the other hand, playing with chess clocks does not give you a huge amount of time for idle photography.  The timed player turns certainly add an edge, a sense of urgency and can force mistakes. I never actually ran out of time and finished one game in under an hour, but it was always there in the back of my mind.

As I faced a succession of mostly Dwarven opponents (both the evil and good kind), it quickly became apparent that my Undead army was not a 'smashy-smashy-egg-man' list.  In fact, the rate at which zombies move and fight reminded me of this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I had to bide my time and contrive little set pieces, getting in behind or flanking.  I learned most of these tricks off the internet, rather than having flashes of inspiration (yes, I took a Pharaoh Troll). When I rushed in blindly, I was punished.  I'm not sure I have the patience or finesse to become good at this but the games go quickly and are enormous fun.  Playing four tournament games, I only had to resort to the rule book three times for clarification.  Each time, the reason turned out to be that I hadn't read the rules properly and my opponents were nodding with that 'yeah, everyone makes that mistake at first' look in their eye.  If you play four straight games of 40k in a tournament setting, your brain is like porridge by 5 O'Clock. Well mine is anyway.  I think some people actually thrive on rules interpretation and mental arithmetic but I'm not one of them.  I like grand, sweeping armies rupturing each other and loud explosions. All playing out to the internal soundtrack of Conan the Barbarian.  Lots of french horns and that sort of thing.  In some ways, 40k is better in that regard because you get get those little 'story' moments but, compared to KoW, it really isn't a tournament game (yeah, yeah, I'm stating the bleeding obvious)

It would be pointless to attempt a battle report and would only serve to showcase my ignorance.  Suffice to say, I was tabled by Robert Higgins and in one game Cameron Talks had to point out that if I stopped flapping around like headless chicken and flanked his Foot Guard with my Undead Dragon (it can fly over enemy units! Who knew?!) then I would win the game and save us both time.  What an absolute gentleman.  I gave him best sportsman vote.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


"Roland looked up and saw exactly what he expected: clouds in a line.. This was the true world, the one where no roll of the dice could ever be taken back, the one closest to the Dark Tower.  And they were still on the Path of the Beam." - Song of Susannah, Stephen King

 I was listening to this bit of the Dark Tower series on audio book when I just happened to look up and do a double-take (followed by a photograph.  I swear, if the world was about to end then 80% of the population would take out their phones and video it).  Right, so its not exactly mind blowing and if this is 'The Path of the Beam' then the nexus of all worlds is somewhere in Australia which hardly seems likely but I thought it was pretty, at any rate.

Also, I've been painting ghouls.  I deliberately switched around a few body parts with the zombie kit.  There are a couple of extra weapon options but only 2 different types of body/legs and only 3 heads on the ghoul sprue.  There just isn't as much variety in the kit and it gets a bit samey.  Time to be creative.

There is an ulterior motive too.  I painted them with very similar colours to the zombies although I used a purple base.  I want to be able to mix and match my zombies and ghouls, playing them either/or, so it provides variety but saves me having to paint twice as many models.

I've got my first competitive games on Saturday at The Warlords Super Series.   I looked at a few of the lists and realised that I'm probably going to be bludgeoned to death like a small marine mammal.  (Hordes of Paladin Knights?!  Were they trained by Kaldor Draigo?!).  I've not even played a 2000pt game yet, but as my grandmother was fond of saying, "There's nowt like learning the hard way".

At least I've finished building the models and the movement trays (for the tournament at least).  My Werewolves look a bit dodgy on their blu-tac bases and need quite a bit of green stuffing but that's a different story.  I've still got a whole regiment of cavalry, a troop of mummies, a necromancer and 40 skellies in the box but I just can't face it.  I am replete.  Absolutely stuffed.  I never thought I'd look at a box of unassembled models in my life with anything other than naked avarice, but my cup overfloweth with the Mantic Undead Mega Army.  I need a break from the gluttony. Except... except! Games Workshop is discontinuing their Tomb Kings line and I absolutely must buy a Skeleton Warrior kit (bows and shields) as well as Prince Apophas before they disappear forever!

Here are the ghouls mixed in with the zombies to create a horde. I've built yet another zombie horde to go with this one and should probably get on and paint it before Saturday.  Ah, who am I kidding.  I will be taking more or less a grey tide to the games this weekend.  Shameful, I know.

Friday, 5 February 2016

28 Days Later

Well, strictly speaking 54 days since my last blog post but they didn't make a zombie film called 54 days later and I'm being topical.  Having come within a whisker of finishing my Necron army I ditched the whole thing and haven't played 40k this year.  Both the Deathmarks and the Ghost Ark only need green bits and washes and its done.  Necrons complete.  Mission accomplished.  Sadly the 40k muse has departed. Now I can only view the models as a normal person would i.e. small plastic toys which are incredibly time consuming and fiddly to paint so why would you bother?

I'm sure the desire will resurface in time and the plastic obsession hasn't gone away, it has been taken in a different direction.  Like when you smoke dope all the time and its fine and dandy, but sometimes you've got to try a bong or a bud bomb, you know, for variety's sake and just hope it doesn't snowball into something unreasonable and ruin your life.

Which is what may have happened here. I am now the proud (and somewhat bemused) owner of more than 3000 points worth of Kings of War Undead Army.  It was bought as new, mostly from Mantic at Mighty Ape but with a dash of GW thrown in for good measure.  It all started when my kids gave me some Mantic zombies for Christmas (I had a vague idea for a D&D game with an undead theme) and I was really impressed with them.

Then I discovered that they cost $1.11 a pop (Undead Starter Army) and had a minor seizure.   The brain fugue continued throughout the Christmas period. To make matters worse, the Kings of War rulebook came free with the box.  An extremely clever piece of marketing.  After thumbing through it a few times and coming to the realisation that I actually understood and could memorise most of the rules, I was hooked.  I just kept ordering more and more models.

Then I bought the Uncharted Empires supplement which contains rules for nine more armies (more cleverness, cheekily catering for the Warhammer Fantasy Battle refugees).  One of these armies is the "Night-Stalkers", a host of unreal, nightmarish creatures from another dimension.  Mantic dont make any models for it (yet?) so many people are using Tyranids to represent the fiends.  Ye Gods!  Its like karma.  I might actually finish all my Hormagaunts (which I've been painting for six years) and use them as Reapers!

First, however is the prospect of painting 270 Undead models which fills me with mild unease. Not the stark terror of, say 270 Termagants (you can paint them different colours! Gasp!) but I do wonder if I've inhaled more plastic crack than my body can tolerate. The first batch of zombies was very enjoyable and I'm pleased with the results but I haven't even finished assembling the army yet.

Currently busy making movement trays out of sprues and plasticard.  I fashioned 2 Zombie Trolls from old GW Ogres (The Mantic ones are awesome btw and I own 3).  My favourite necromancer is a converted witch elf and my Vampire Lord on undead dragon is a work in progress.  I chopped up a whole Mortis Engine as part of GW's "Start Collecting! : Malignants" set which is being used for all sorts of supernatural goodness.   In short, I'm as happy as pigs in shit.