Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Rob Zombie

I remember the day I sold my soul to Satan.  It was last Friday at approximately 4.36pm.  I brazenly walked into Games Workshop Wellington, a tidy shop tucked away securely in the back of Courtenay Place where you can't see the bordello standing proud across the road.  I stood, gazing dully at the top of the Space Marine display where sat a mint condition 'Triumvirate Of The Primarch' model kit.  It contained a newly streamlined figurine of Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines.

I don't like Ultramarines.  Stupid, Mary-Sue, poster boy, bloody do-gooders.  Roboute himself is okaaay I suppose.  I warmed to him a little in Guy Haley's Dark Imperium.  He's still a bit of a Mother Teresa though.  I mean, all the Primarchs are supermen! Demi-gods!  Their potential is almost limitless. Fulgrim turned himself into a dragon! (Gorgon? Kali?!)  He's completely out of his bloody mind, but still.  All Roboute does is gnaw at his fingernails and worry about humanity.  Get a grip man, you're supposed to be the pinnacle of genetic manipulation!  Your ego should be flawless!

So anyway, I'm looking at the box, vexed because I'm using a Primaris Captain in Gravis armour in my army list and thinking that I should always run him with the Sanctic Halo and take the Chapter Master stratagem because then he'd be like a mini Guilliman.  Not an actual Guilliman because that would involve selling my soul to the Devil and being turned fully to the dark side.  Just a facsimile of Guilliman.  Guilliman-lite.  The trouble is, he's never going to be as good as the real thing.  Sure he's cheaper, but so is cheap wine and what you really want is the good stuff.

My sullen brooding was delicately interrupted by the words,

"Go on, you know you want to...".

I thought I was having another imaginary conversation at first.  I'm getting a bit long in the tooth and have the occasional senior moment.  But it was actually the Games Workshop manager, Nathan, whispering in my ear.  He must be a disciple of Tzeentch, his words were perfectly timed.  Almost uncanny.  I caved in about 3 minutes later and bought the damn thing.

I don't even like the model.  Well actually that's a lie, the armour is fabulously detailed and he stands astride a broken Imperial Eagle like a proper saviour of mankind. But I don't like the rest of the pose.  It doesn't float my boat.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  I'm not sure what he's doing with his hand (and that's always a worry, as my mother will attest).  I thought the splayed fingers were allowing some sort of 'palm' gun to fire, like Spiderman or something.  But the bolter is on the side of his arm, not underneath.  Is he casting a spell?  I didn't think he was a psyker?  And his face.  He looks like a hobgoblin.  Isn't he supposed to be noble and chiseled and stuff?

I fancied that Guilliman in the heat of battle, with his blood up, would look something more like this:

So I decided to tweak him a bit.  First off, the kit comes with a helmeted option which is a no brainer.  Protecting your head is paramount in the 41st millenium and neatly hides his fugly kisser.  Roboute doesn't necessarily need extra protection but I didn't want him scaring small children with his frightening visage.  Safety first!

The next part was trickier.  I wanted to give the impression that he was firing his hand cannon, obliterating the insidious foes of the Imperium.  This required the arm to be straightened and angled upwards slightly.  Reconfiguring the ammunition belt so that it was still attached to the backpack seemed onerous so I just bent it round a bit further.  I also wanted his fist to be clenched (not pointing).  The fingers and thumb were cut off and glued back on in a fist-like arrangement. No need to sculpt when you already have the parts but the knuckles were a problem i.e. missing entirely.  I needed something roughly spherical so I hunted around and found a Dwarven Hammerer's banner decoration with just the right baubles attached.  I knew those Hammerers would come in handy one day.  The gaps were filled in with grey stuff.

Finally I decided to re-base him.  The real base is great but I'm going to theme my army struggling with the Tyranid menace (as per the Redemptor) and this will help him fit in.  Plus I like mucking around with tentacles.  I might paint the original base anyway and make it interchangeable.

I want to paint this in more muted colours, again to help him gel with the rest of the army.  I never really liked the primary colours used for Space Marines (I know, I know. Heresy) but I'm not sure.  I think this is going to be difficult to paint well.  I might have to get a new airbrush, having more or less destroyed the other two. The needles are used for stirring paint now and picking bits of blu-tac out of crevices.  He's still got to be an Ultramarine though.  Maybe I should use darker base coating and just highlight with Magcragge/Calgar blue.

Maybe I should actually play a few games with him before committing.  He seems pretty solid on paper.  More than solid.  'Hideously overpowered and cheesy' might be a better description.  I always struggle with the unending tide of models and options whilst playing Tyranids.  Guilliman + Ultramarines can be an elite force that practically plays itself.  Its a direct contrast to the minions of The Great Devourer which need an awful lot of TLC.  Model placement, tactical use of psychic powers, synergising units and trying to understand what spore mines actually do without having to refer to eight different sections of the rule book.  I often lose track of it all during a game.  Even forgetting fundamentals like rolling for instinctive behaviour.  The Hive Mind gibbers and raves in the back of my mind, whispering confusing and often nonsensical advice.

"You can't remove those Hormies from combat because it will put the unit out of synapse but you have to remove them or create a hole in your screen for those Khorne Berserkers to charge through. That unit of Genestealers can secure objective 5 in 3 phases time assuming it a) doesn't fail the charge b) wins the combat c) causes a morale failure and d) consolidates more than 2".  Its a dead cert mate, go for it. You can statistically expect 10.5 gaunts to spawn this turn on 3D6 but the probability of a double is 4/9ths so, whatever you do..  oh shit 1-1-2.  Attention! Attention! The Tervigon is not working! Cthulhu fhtagn Nnnnnnyarlathotep@11~^(;,;)^~&! :€O̳͍̟̱̟̘͕h͚̥̞̱̝͘ ̨͎̖̤̲̦̯̭G̡̻̝͕̞̝̰o̵͎͕d̥̕ ͍̤̫͇͕̺ͅI̬͠'̠͎̪m̝̮̝̣̳̙ me͍̤̫̤̬̙̼l̺͕̖̫t̼̝̺̲̹̜̣i̢̭͖͍n̷g̸̮͈!͙̙͇̫͔ͅ!̲̦̤͍͈̰

The Ultramarines method of gaining tactical advantage is much less stressful.  Guilliman leans back in his throne and casually remarks,

"I think you need to roll that again."

They should have printed 'Don't Panic' on the cover of the Codex Astartes.  Even an idiot like me can't get it wrong.  Assuming I don't forget the rule and since it happens in every combat phase of both players' turns, I am unlikely to.

"Why yes, Mr. Girlyman! I appear to have missed all my lascannon shots and have completely forgotten about command points, in my usual sleep deprived, drug addled, brain fug.  The correct course of action right now would be to ignore the result and have another go.  Fuckin' genius!"

Guilliman's gaze is cool. "You might want to save a command point to improve your odds of resurrecting me when you inevitably charge up the board in a foolhardy stampede."

"Thanks,  I'll do that. Ha-ha! Roboute the Revenant!"

"You may call me 'Rob Zombie'.  I'm 'down with the homies', to use the vernacular"


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Mutually Assured Destruction

 The dreadnought is complete at last and I decided to make myself a 40k demotivational poster to celebrate. I wasted another evening playing with Genestealers and taking pictures of this little set piece. Further confirmation that I never quite got over my boyhood fixation with toy soldiers. I wanted to do something suitably apocalyptic for the poster so a lone Redemptor about to be overwhelmed by the cohorts of the Great Devourer was the predictable choice.  The blood-dimmed tide is loosed!  This is the end times!

I'm willing to bet that there is a disproportionate ratio of (lapsed) catholics amongst 40k enthusiasts, drawn to the whole Gothic Torquemada Armageddon vibe.  It certainly strikes a chord with me.  All those years of Holy Roman Catholic indoctrination and serving on the altar have left their mark.  As a child, I was taught that 'piety' meant fear of God, which is now a politically incorrect way to view your Creator.  In this, more enlightened millennia I think it means 'reverence' or some such watered down crap, but in my day, God was terrifying and you went blind if you looked at Him.

I remember serving at mass once, and a fellow altar boy stage-whispered, "bollocks!" at me as I rang the bell to signal Transubstantiation, the most sacred (and occult) part of the Eucharistic celebration.  I was only 11 at the time and apalled by this casual blasphemy.  I fully expected him to be struck by lightning at any moment.  He wasn't actually killed on the spot but I bet he came to a sticky end in later years.  Ungodly miscreant.

The concept of daemons invading our reality, coupled with all incidence of demonic incursion being hushed up by the clergy is not a new one.  Go and watch The Exorcist if you want to see a showcase of the Chaos Gods.  Gut churning horror, obscene trickery and violent excess.  Not many skulls for the Skull Throne, admittedly, but exchange the word 'hell' for 'immaterium' and it all makes perfect sense.

So there's lots of Christian symbolism to latch on to but I reckon the biggest demographic for 40k is 'Male, Pale and Stale' i.e. white men approaching their middle years.  A bracket I also fall into.  I think it's possibly a customer base they want to move away from since we complain endlessly.  There's always Forgeworld though.  If I was going to have a mid-life crisis, I'd buy a Mars Pattern Warlord Titan rather than a Harley.

Speaking of Forgeworld, much of the inspiration for this little vignette was taken from Imperial Armour Volume IV: The Anphelion Project, so I'm just going to quote various passages from it and post loads of photos.  Much easier than trying to think up entertaining content to fill in the gaps between pictures.  You can see that I have named the dreadnought in honour of Brother Halar if you look closely, but nothing else about the story really matches up.  Call it poetic license.

"Commander Culln could see the titanic clash of adamantium and steel against flesh and hardened bone.  Both were mortally wounded and on fire.  the Dreadnought staggered, tottering backwards as if he might fall as blow after blow pummelled into him.  The commander was powerless to intervene, already another wave of Tyranids was massing."

"Brother Halar knew his systems were failing, his responses were growing slower, and the complex life support systems that kept him alive inside his armoured sarcophagus were badly damaged. But the Carnifex was also dying, weakened by its wounds and the flames that had engulfed the two of them.  Halar levelled his storm bolter and opened fire at point-blank range, round after explosive round ripping into his foe."

"The Carnifex lunged through the bolter rounds, ignorant of the damage each shell was causing as they blew chunks of armoured chitin and flesh away. With its last strength it drove a long claw at the Dreadnought's sarcophagus, puncturing the front glacis, barbs ripping deep into its inner workings.  Impaled, Brother Halar staggered, then fell... "
   -  Imperial Armour, Volume IV - The Anphelion Project

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Wave of Mutilation

An update on the Redemptor to keep me going.  Weirdly, I have almost finished the base.  Just details really and a bit of flock and grass effects to go. This is highly unusual since bases usually bore the crap out of me.  I know that basing is an important part of the ensemble and sometimes it really sets the model off but mostly its just a chore.  Plus, I usually rush it because its the last thing to do before I can call job done.

The rest of the dreadnought is in pieces but its getting there.  The shoulder pad was highly stressful and took an hour and a half to paint.  The finished result isn't exactly what was in my mind's eye and I can't decide whether I love or hate it.  Not exactly codex standard livery but I like to be a special snowflake and it will definitely make the model pop.  I ended up using a transfer for the number.  I was going to free-hand a "2" on it in 40k script.  You know, those upside-down-back-to-front number fives that look really cool.  However, at this point my nerves were shot, my hand was suffering from St. Vitus' Dance having spent so long trying to hold it steady.  So in the end, I used a decal. This was also supposed to be a No.2 but I went a bit nuts with the Micro Sol and tore the bastard in half.  Number 1 it is then.

Probably should have finished by now but my natural ennui started to set in.  I distracted myself by building Tyranid lists but soon discovered that the entire army is suffering from New Edition Wardrobe Malfunction.  There are literally tens of hobbyists out there in the same position as me, uneasily contemplating ripping the arms off their beloved models and replacing them.  Cannibalizing with improved weapon options in a wave of mutilation.  Devourers are, like, totally last year dude and practically every monstrous creature I own has two of them.  Apparently, this year's haute couture is Deathspitters with slimer maggots.  Naturally, I have a total of zero modelled on my Tyranids.  Most of the spare ones were chopped up for use in various conversion projects.  Which is a bit annoying really.  However,  since my faithful twin-linked devourers are all converted anyway and not actually official GW kit, I have decided to take the lazy option and just rename them.  This will save me several weeks worth of work.  Looking at some of the other options, Venom Cannons aren't half bad and Barbed Stranglers are really good. Spinefists, of which I own about 2.8 million, are still more or less shit and I remain completely ignorant about what the hell a Spike Rifle is.

I've magnetised about half of my monstrous creature weapon arms so, if the mood takes me, I can replace them with 8th edition hotness.  The Tyrannocytes weren't quite so lucky and I glued 15 venom cannons on them a couple of years ago in a rush to finish my army for a tournament.  Admittedly, this was an incredibly stupid thing to do whichever way you look at it and I have vivid memories of vapourising most of my own troops with scattered blasts.  I thought my fortunes had changed with 8th edition because the Venom Cannon option is a much better one now and not suicidal in any way, shape or form.  However, I noticed that Barbed Stranglers seemed expensive in comparison and when I worked it out, they do seem like a superior option, especially for stripping away bubble wrap.  So on Saturday when I should have spent the day painting the Redemptor, I wasted most of it rummaging around around in old boxes looking for spare guns and tut-tutting over old, half finished projects which I promised myself I would complete at some point.   Eventually I unearthed all 15 Barbed Stranglers (along with the Death Spitters) in an old tin.  And there was much rejoicing.

One thing I was really annoyed about was my Shrikes, which are now illegal.  You can't take boneswords and rending claws together and there is no way on God's earth that I'm cutting my babies up.  They are amongst my favourite conversions.  Again, I intend to just fudge it and label their feet-hand-things as Scything Talons.  I discovered that I can squeeze a Barbed Strangler (I think that's what it is) into the set as well and it looks quite cool.  Admittedly she has 5 arms now but who's counting?