Friday, 20 May 2016

Don't Fear the Reaper

 "Armed with a bewildering array of wicked looking limbs, claws and scythes, Reapers stalk the dreams of those who abhor wanton violence, torture or pain, hell-bent on delivering their worst fears"
 -- Uncharted Empires

Its almost like the author was thinking about Hormagaunts when he wrote the rules for Reapers in Kings of War (ok, maybe Deldar as well).  A high number of devastating attacks and soft as boiled shite on the defence.  You can kill hundreds, no thousands of the little blighters but Emperor protect you if you let them overrun your lines. It would be like being dropped into a giant NutriBullet ™

Well, its how I imagined them in the 40k lore.  The dismal truth is that I generally used them as objective holders or sacrificial distraction units; charging the enemy at a stiff walking pace and fizzling out like a wave on the beach.  At least they don't shit the bed when mommy Tervigon dies.  I suppose that's something.

But Hormagaunts in the Mantica universe, well now thats a different story altogether.  These things are nasty when played as Reapers.  Not game breaking, but great shock troops and certainly a worthy addition to your force.  They can still be shot off the board in turn 1 but they remain fully functional and dangerous right up to that final nerve check (Well, unlesss they waver.  Shut up! Artistic license!). Ignore them at your peril anyway.

This has actually motivated me to finish painting some more (still less than half the entire number I own.  Ah laziness).  I was tempted to multibase them.  Many had already been drastically re-posed and it seemed like a logical step. I can't even remember the last time I used Hormagaunts in a game of 40k.  It was years ago at any rate, so why bother keeping them on the 40k bases?  Not wishing to invoke Murphy's Law however, I reneged at the last minute.  They might be stupidly good in the next codex release and so I'll keep my round bases, you know, just in case.

I have based them as 2 units of troops which can be slotted together as a regiment if needed.  A regiment is cheaper than 2 troops and has higher nerve but the loss of overall attacks makes it a tough decision.  List building in KoW is really enjoyable like that.

They will of course whiff horribly on their debut appearance this weekend.  It is the fate of all newly painted and favourite models.

 In this shot you can clearly see the mold lines.  Some of these rank amongst the oldest models in my Tyranid collection.  I didn't care about mold lines was when I first started the army.  I was just in a rush to get them built.  Stripping them down and cleaning them up for the new paint job was too much bother.

Only 7 models per movement tray rather than 10.  Still perfectly legal and they manage to look busy nonetheless.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Portal of Despair - Finished

Its already dropped from my list but I'm still pleased with the final result.  I felt duty bound to finish the Portal for fluff reasons as much as anything else.  This is literally my gateway into Kings Of War with Tyranids.  Its a bit of a stretch, claiming that Night-Stalkers are actually creatures of the Hive Mind in disguise.  No worse than the plot of an average Transformers movie though.  Or most modern day blockbusters for that matter.  What was Terminator Genisys but a piss poor excuse to portray a 66 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger as an ageing T-800 infiltrator?

The denizens of Mantica would certainly see Tyranids as the stuff of nightmares from another dimension, that much is plausible.  The actual origin and composition of the army is a bit vague though.  The rules fluff states that the Stalkers are the remains of souls ripped from the world as Oskan was born and scattered across countless dimensions.  In places where reality has thinned and it is possible to cross over, they lurk, desperate to return to Mantica.

This doesn't sound much like The Great Devourer but it goes on to say that "they take many forms - often perceived by different races in different ways" which basically means that they can look like whatever you want.  It also says "..their feeding frenzy is a terror of death as they frantically try to occupy mortal bodies.." which does sound familiar.  The 'occupying mortal bodies' part is the low tech interpretation of the consumption of host biomass to create new strains of Tyranids.

Well thats my story and I'm sticking to it.  Painting the model was pretty easy.  I sealed the plaster blocks with PVA glue first and then just dry brushed shades of grey in gradually lighter colours.  Thinned down green and earthshade washes were applied later and that was pretty much it for the stone work.

The tentacles were done with my usual Nid painting scheme.   Khorne Red, Cadian Flesh, Ushabti Bone with red and fleshshade washes.  I used a bit of Flayed One Flesh in the last drybrush layer but it was practically indistinguishable from the Ushabti Bone.  Gloss varnish was applied last.

I used bright greens and yellows on the 'cross section' bits where the tentacles pass through the portal into our reality.  I wanted a stark contrast with the pinks to highlight where the invisible threshold is.  I put some Blood for the Blood God in spatters on the ground and dripping out of the mouth of the Carnifex to reinforce the effect.  I'm not thrilled with that but the best colour is 'done'.

The Tyranid weed creeping along the door frame was a bit different. I used Elysian and Nurgling Green, highlighted with Ushabti Bone.  Standard fare from my Nid colour scheme but the result was too similar to the background stone colour.  So I added a bit of yellow before putting the green wash and varnish coat on.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Rambling Battle Report

They say that its better to be lucky than good and this is very true for Wargames I reckon.  I probably reached the apex of my gaming career at the 'Autumn' Kings of War event at Fields of Blood on Saturday.  Having played no games since 'Summer' Kings of War (3 months ago) and none whatsoever with Night-Stalkers I wasn't feeling particularly confident.  However, it did inspire me to  finish building/painting my Portal of Despair and take a more or less fully painted army.  Plus, I enjoy the gentle rivalry and fellowship of tournaments even when it descends into occasional petty squabbling and handbags at dawn.  Sometimes from yours truly.  I've seen my arse on more than one occasion during a hotly contested game but generally speaking I just descend into passive-aggressive mode.  Which used to be called 'sulking' but has a more grown up name now.  Table flipping nerd rage is something I would never dream of and have never encountered.

Gotta love this battlefield terrain.  Absolutely superb.

After several minutes of careful research and contemplation, I decided to take the Night-Stalker army rather than Undead and not bother changing my original list, which is based on models I own and brute force.  My Undead army requires patience and skill and probably more experience in order to function efficiently.  So I thought, 'to Hell with it, I'll use the event as practice for the Night-Stalkers'.  Since 5 of the 14 armies at the tournament turned out to be Undead (or Empire of Dust) it was a good decision in the end and provided a bit of variety.

Lliam's Empire fighting a completely different army.  Keeping it real.

My first game was against Lliam Munro and Empire of Dust.  I wondered how I should approach this and weighed my options.  I was packed to the gills with crushing strength monstrosities, some of which were very fast.  The 'Mindthirst' rule makes the army work best close to the enemy commanders, stealing their inspiration.  The 'Trans-dimensional' rule means that I get cover anywhere on the board so I don't need to hide.  I know!  I'll rush him with everything!  I don't remember too much about what happened next.  I never felt like I was winning.  My Portal of Despair forced a rout instead of a waver at one fairly pivotal point.  It provided no other useful function for the remainder of the tournament but it did get in the way of my own units a few times.  Then Lliam got an important phone call that he couldn't ignore.  The call went on for some time.  Being a decent chap and not wanting to keep me waiting he continued to play the game, completely distracted.  I mercilessly seized this opportunity and forced a draw.  10 - 10 tie.

Lord Commissar Cheese wishes he had stayed at home.

As all scrub players know, you should never win your first game in a tournament.  With a Swiss pairing system of rounds, it invariably means that you will face a decent player next (or another scrub) which will result in public humiliation.  A draw in the first round seemed perfect but in this case I was paired with Peter Williamson who went on to claim 2nd place overall.  He had Empire of Dust too.  My tactic of running at my enemy as fast as my fiendish little legs would carry me had worked out pretty well in game 1, so I repeated it.  Peter took full advantage of vanguard units and charged my Fiends in his first turn.  Ha! I thought, I'll just smash you with my Bloodworms!  A legion of Bloodworms with Brew of Strength is just filth and he knew it.  With sly underhandedness, he baited me into chasing his Worm Riders (which ran away) and then bushwhacked me from the sides.  I was reminded of velociraptors in Jurassic Park.  By the end of the game I was calculating how many points I could salvage by just running away.  At least I had the moral victory: I wasn't playing Empire of Dust.  19-1 defeat.

Charging Hydras with Genestealers.  Living proof of my tactical genius.

In the next round, I was matched up with Nick Jebson who had only ever played 3 games of KoW in his life, 2 of them at this tournament.  That was lucky, but he was an experienced WFB refugee who could add and subtract in his head much faster than me.  He was playing Twilight Kin.

I decided to use my flyers properly this time and hold them in reserve.  It didn't really work because his Lower Abyssals smashed through my left flank and they had to charge into the gap. Idiotically, I attacked his Hydras with my Dopplegangers who just grew more heads and gobbled them up with only the occasional Tyranid flavoured burp to mark their passing. Ah, Dopplegangers are a pretty obvious trick.  In fact, a trick so obvious that no one falls for it.  'Why yes! Of course I'll let you charge my 20 attack crushing strength 3 unit with your Dopplegangers.  Please, be my guest!  Its what they were meant to do after all.  Or, on the other hand, I could just feed you this shitty chaff unit or my shield wall and watch you flail around for 3 turns doing bugger all.'

So not all was going well but at this point I started rolling like a boss.  I think I failed about 3 Nerve checks for the rest of the day.  Nick's army (apart from the Hydras who were busy picking bits of Genestealer out of their teeth) was not particularly resilient and couldn't stand the counter punch.  18 - 2 win.

Obligatory groin shot

My final game was against Rex Foote and his Elves.  Rex was another good player but he was playing a new list and his luck was about to desert him in spectacular fashion.  Even with Lady Luck cursing him roundly, he nearly snatched a last minute draw with an Elven Mage who came out of nowhere to incinerate my Reapers sitting on one of the objectives.  It wasn't enough though and I passed almost every nerve test in the game whilst he did the opposite.  Boxcars seemed to be the only number for me.  His rolls were snakelike.  17 - 3 win.

I had a good day then and I did not bring shame to my ancestors.  I have decided that units with a number of attacks divisible by 6 are best for me because I can actually pretend that I'm 'math-hammering' during a game.  e.g. 24 attack Fiends hit 12 times wounding a 4 defense unit 6 times.  But then they have Crushing Strength and Vicious so thats err, 8 times and ermm rerolling 1s...  oh sod it, just sound the charge!.  Forward Eorlingas!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Portal of Despair - WIP

A work colleague (Rob, you know who you are) recently noted that I was a filthy heretic and had started collecting Mantic idols instead of sanctified relics with the seal of The Holy Emperor (i.e. Games Workshop, or is it Citadel?).  His damnable, chaos spawned mind tried to lead me further down the path of temptation.  It turns out that there are a ton of other gaming systems and model companies out there, churning out wargames' rules ranging from free to Kickstarter and models ranging from 8mm to 32mm.  I think his favourite system currently is "Rampant Dragon" or some such stirring title.

I managed to resist his vile seduction for the most part but it turns out he plays Kings of War too and is also putting together a Nightstalker force.  However, he is slowly building up his army from a plethora of sources rather than being lazy and just using Tyranids.  We were discussing what model to use as a 'Portal of Despair' the only War Engine in the army which gives off a debuff to Nerve values in the opposing force.  I reckoned that I could just use a Tyranid capillary tower or possibly my Comms Relay, but Rob said that he was thinking of building his own out of molded plaster blocks from the Gothic Mold set sold by  This looks really cool but it sounded like too much work to me so in the end he gifted me some of his own blocks.  Thanks Rob :D

I found the default 'arch' configuration a bit boring (above) so I decided to tart it up a bit (below)

The doorway was widened with the addition of a keystone, decorated with a human skull on one side and a Carnifex head on the other. I deliberately misaligned the blocks and glued them in gravity defying positions.  This was heavily influenced by playing the Doom 3 video game years ago.  I was super excited by the doorways which swirled open, brick by brick.  Ok, looking back at a video of it, they weren't all that super exciting but this was cutting edge graphics back in 2004.  If I remember correctly, my PC nearly had a brain embolism trying to run it on high graphics settings.

The doorway couldn't be too wide because the rules are very strict about the model sitting on a 75 x75 mm base.  No modelling for advantage here, but I set it diagonally to maximise the width and to hell with my private reservations about a Carnifex not actually being able to fit through it.  This is meant to be a tear in reality, a gaping hole in the natural order, leading to another dimension.  I'm sure it's makers wouldn't be too concerned about obeying the laws of physics.

The two sides of the doorway are meant to depict the two sides of reality that they lead to.  A skull on the human side is replaced by a Tyranid beast on the other.

I deliberately split some the flagstones on the Nid side because I wanted a distressed effect and daubed some hot glue tendrils around the frame for added effect.

However this didn't seem like enough and bears no resemblance to the description in the rulebook which states:

"At the edge of vision, the portal seems like a cage of glossy black and writhing serpents screaming in perpetual agony"

The serpents got me thinking though and I dug out my trusty tentacle maker and set to work.  Going for a sort of 'eldritch horror' look I tried to model a seething knot of tentacles boiling out of thin air. They pass into our existence only at the invisible threshold.  Or something like that.

I'm going to donate the spare tentacles to Wryth (assuming he is willing to tell me where he lives) who wants to do something unspeakable in a project with Dark Mechanicus.  Exciting!

I need to paint this now and some more Dopplegangers/Genestealers for the up and coming KoW tournament on Saturday.