Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Showcase: Tzeentch Possessed (2005 era)

A unit that is both underutilised and models that are rarely seen, this squad of Possessed in a fun and interesting addition to the Thousand Sons. Based on the rarely found 2005 editions of the models, they are a unique acquisition and were a joy to paint.

Before painting them I felt it necessary to make a few modifications to the stock models (click here for an in-depth look). Whilst I see the beauty behind their apparent ugliness, the right parts and a little polish does help ease the eye. The main changes were modern backpacks, extra armoured parts such as shoulder pads, and better looking weapons for the axe-wielding Possessed and a new chainsword for the unit champion.

This unit was a great chance to experiment with a new colour scheme. I love the blue for this army, but I feel that there is such a thing as too much blue. So following in the wake of my Ferrus Infernum Dreadnought, I've modified my existing scheme to include a halved yellow-blue look. The left lower leg, and the left half of the breastplates are now yellow, and I think this is a big improvement on the look of the unit.

Expanding the unit will be tricky, as there are classic models with a unique look that the newer plastics wont match. I have had a few ideas for extra models, including this guy, which is made from an old banner bearer and a claw-hand from Spellcrow. I'll work something out, but expect them to have a slight retro look.

If Tzeentch Daemon kin ever becomes a thing, this unit will make for a great choice to blend the marine and daemon halves, giving my army a nice mix of the two. All I need is a few extra bodies and this squad will be ready to tear into the ranks of my terrified enemies.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Review: Terrakami Games Maglev Train

Every board we play on should have a variety of terrain, from big burnt-out buildings to simple chest-high walls. You don't see many trains though. And after reviewing Terrakami Games' Maglev train, I think we should be adding more railed transport.

This set is the MagLev Train MKII, two kilos of MDF-based choo-choo-ing glory. Retailing at 49 Euros (about £35), this set contains two engines-both with removable roofs-, four cargo carriages, magnets for each unit, and a few acrylic plastic parts such as windows and consoles, all of which is scaled for 28mm gaming. The wooden parts have laser-cut details, meaning a lot of the hard work is done for you when it comes to painting. As I found out painting this company's crates, the laser designs aid in painting and help create natural shading, by having physical shade.

The beauty of this set is that you don't need glue; it all push-fits together. Still, a bit of PVA will only aid it. The majority goes together with ease, though a few parts do need some gentle persuasion.

Despite the terrifying amount of parts at first, it is a fairly simple kit to put together. Each carriage only takes about ten to 15 minutes to make; the engines much longer. It can be a bit fiddly at times, but persistence prevails and what you end up with at the end of this process is something truly magnificent..

The end result is a futuristic train which looks the part in any sci-fi game, particularly the game it was intended for-Infinity. Because you get two engines and four carriages, you could easily set this up as two different trains, ideal if you are making a train yard or station-themed gaming board. The interiors are a great touch, and would be well-suited as the settings for objectives (the glowing screens are great for this use).

At 20cm per carriage, and the train reaching way over a metre in length, it is big. Big enough, in fact, that each trailer can comfortably fit a Malcador super-heavy tank on board.

Whilst this is certainly a piece only for larger tables, it is a worthwhile purchase. For your money you get a sturdy, well designed and multi-use set of interlinking terrain pieces that will make for a great centrepiece, or a part of something bigger

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Showcase: Vraks Drop Assault Grenadiers

The Vrakian conflict was a lengthy war, taking its toll on both sides. Both factions attempted various strategies to out-do the other. The Vraksians favoured mass rushes, and one of the lesser known rush-tactics was in the eighth year of the conflict. 

Numerous traitors, equipped with heretical xenos-based drop assault gear, were flown to high altitudes and dropped into Death Corps forward command bases, in an attempt to disrupt the command chain and being the Guard armies to a standstill. A number of bases did fall into disarray, setting the Death Korps back several months. For most of the Vraksian "volunteers" it was a one-way trip: the technology behind the assault packs was barely known and of suspicious origins; one of several reasons why the Imperial forces never accepted mass use of the devices. It also leaked radiation excessively. Those who survived the initial shots of the Imperials either went mad, charging into the enemy without backup, or died days later from radiation sickness and organ failure. It is thought that the users of the packs are soldiers somehow dishonoured or punished by Cardinal Xaphan, or his advisor, and were sent into battle with the assault packs for their deeds. Even so, the Vraks assault troops were fierce fighters, perhaps seeking forgiveness from the Gods...

Despite shelving the army whilst I moved house, and having limited time to work in it in the following months, I've actually finished a unit for the vraks renegades: a unit of five Veterans with the Grenadiers upgrade (for Hotshot Lasguns), a Hotshot Volleygun, and the Deep Strike ability, represented by their high-altitude drop gear. Whilst a small unit, it was fun to put together and paint, and will be a fun variance unit in what is otherwise a low-armoured mass-bodies styled force.

The scheme is the usual dirty browns and greens, but with a twist. The experimental assault packs have been painted in grey. Grey comes of as a great colour of experimental kit,-I don;t know why-so the main bulk of the drop pack is based around Vallejo Aspaly Grey and GW Codex Grey. the turbines are bronzed, and a few hazard makings were added to the sides: safety matters right?

I wanted this unit to have some extra stolen gear in addition to the jump packs. The heavy weapons carrier has a Hotshot Volleygun chained and strapped to his arms. This is likely to be salvage taken from the enemy, and so has been painted differently to other weapons in the Vraks force.

Because it was a mildly expensive conversion (I pretty much bought a whole Warzone pack just for these backpacks), I'm unlikely to add more to this unit. Unlikely, bot not against the idea...

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review: Exploding Kittens

Sometimes just one thing can get you to support a Kickstarter campaign. I've never been a big fan of Kickstarter: not saying that it doesn't result in great things, I've just never bothered with it. I don't like the idea of buying something before the something even exists: hyper-advanced pre-ordering comes to mind. But once, I decided to back what turned out to be the biggest Kickstarter of all time. I am of course talking about Exploding Kittens, the card game created by Matthew Inman (of The Oatmeal), Elan Lee (Xbox and ARGS pro) and Shane Small (who's worked on Xbox and Marvel projects). And now it's here, after many month of waiting, I can finally crack it open and enjoy the game.

Exploding Kittens, as you can guess by the name, is a game about detonating kitties, or rather avoiding such things. A game for 2-5 players (9 if you combine two sets), the aim of the game is to not 'blow up' from an exploding kitten, and be the last one standing. Sort of like Russian Roulette but with flaming felines, palindromes and portable cheetah butts.

As a person who's never really bothered with card games-apart from Yu Gi Oh as a small child, and briefly again in Sixth Form-this is effectively my first real card game review. I've played the odd game like Settlers once, but this is the first I've gone out to buy, not to play once on a whim, but to enjoy for a lifetime. 

At the time of backing I went for the NSFW level at $35 (about £22.50 UK coinage), resulting in two sets: one for normal games, and a NSFW variant (asparagus bum dragons, that about sets the tone). Price-wise this is about right for a premium card game. At about £11 a set, it puts it in the range of Fantasy Flight Games' Death Angel and slightly under the range for 'branded games' like A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. It is a complete set, so unlike collectable card games, you only had to pay the initial amount. Having said that, the market for expansions is huge, especially since the Exploding Kittens game received over $8.7 million in support. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the game. Sceptical backers might have expected something cheaply produced, but you can identify where every penny of your backing went. The cards are well printed and solid, the box they came in is sturdy and finished smoothly, and the rules are clearly presented. The cards all include great artwork in the style of The Oatmeal comic strips, and it's a great style for the tone of this game. It is a product that you could see being sold in a respected games store, not from the back of a truck on a Luton industrial estate.

This is a very simple game, which is great. You can understand the rules very easily, and people who have never picked up a card game before will find this a gentle introduction to the genre. I played a few games with the missus, who apart from having a few Pokemon cards, has played even fewer card games than I have. We both found it easy to understand, and more importantly, fun to play. The whole point of a game is to create fun and enjoyment, and Exploding Kittens has this in bucket loads (or should that be litter trays?).

All in all it's changed my views on Kickstarter and was most certainly a great buy. Whilst there are no more sets available (apart from the inevitable cash-grabbers on Ebay), I remember reading somewhere that a full release is in the pipelines, so don't be upset folks, your chance to blow up troublesome felines will come. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Age of Sigmar: Ranged Units and Me

Age of Sigmar has taught me one thing recently: using an army with no ranged abilities is quite hard. Also, don't be a doofus and remove your banners by mistake (stopped my Grave Guard resurrecting). This week, I've made a couple of new additions which should hopefully have me covered. I won't be going back to a fully-shooty force, but I would benefit from one unit that can do so.

Firstly we have this unit of Skeleton 'archers'. Since the new rules landed, I can use any unit from a Death army, which includes Tomb Kings. Their army has Skeleton Archers, a unit which would be very handy in my skeleton-themed force. However, the models are both outdated and of the wrong theme (ancient Egypt vs the Transylvania look I'm going for). So I cam up with these, after seeing Yogscast member Duncan playing Hand of Fate.

These Skeleton Musket-men are based on the standard Vampire Counts Skeleton Warriors set, with rifles (and some helmets) taken from a Perry British Riflemen set. The models have an undead-conquistador look to them, which both reflects the monster cards in Hand of Fate, and are a nice stand-in unit.

As well as this ranged unit, a Necromancer has been added. At the moment this is a stand-in conversion until I find a nice skeleton-like model to represent a Necromancer, or get a Vampire. It is based on a plastic Flamer, with parts from the Black Knights and Empire Flagellants set making up the upper body.

Next after this will be a monster. I've been told this big monsters are a big part of this game, so I may invest in a larger model. I'm tempted by the Zombie Dragon, though a Black Coach might be a great opportunity to convert something special.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

WIP: RT Land Raider Achilles (Part Four)

A project really starts to come together once you set down the first layer of paint. The mish-mash of whites, greys and silvers join together into one product once they share the same colours. The Land Raider Achilles, my Rogue Trader-era pet project, now looks more like an official model than the collections of bits and scraps it did only a week ago.

For this tank, which is a vintage relic, I wanted to inject a little bit of the colouring from that age into my modern-day scheme. Flames and other designs seemed more prevalent back in those days, especially ones in one solid colour like yellow or black. I've added striking yellow flamework across the front of the tank, and on the Heavy Bolter turret. The shape is somewhat based on the flames forming the Thousand Sons' own icon.

Since this tank is an ancient machine often in the thick of it, it will be extremely weathered. So far I've only started the metals, which were all based with a bix of Scorched Brown and rust pigmentation for a rusty and textured appearance. A silver dry brush has gone over the top of this, and this will be highlighted further with Mithril Silver for recent damage.

The warped framework at the rear of the tank, which I chose not to replace for style reasons, will be painted as if it was heavily corroded. So far it is in the same style as the other metals, but will be blended into the paint at a later stage, possibly with some cracking effect thrown in.

A few of the smaller details have been picked out as well. The trophy bins are coming together with a bit of colour. All the bone elements have been base coated in Steel Legion Drab. The Emperor's Children helmet has been added to highlight some inter-legion conflict that this vehicle took part in.

The trim will be the most time consuming part of this model, but once that, and the freehand work, is done, I can make a start of weathering.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Review: Kromlech Cyber Samurai Components

Channel the spirit of the samurai, as today we look at a few neat sets for those wanting to add a little Land of the Rising Sun to their Space Marine forces. I'm doing these sets, all from bits company Kromlech, together, as you really do need all three for the proper future-master-swordsmen look they give.

Firstly, we will be looking at the Cyber Samurai Heads, which retail at £5.05 for ten heads. Next comes the backpacks, which cost £4.33 for five. Finally we will check out the essential piece of samurai kit, the Vibro Katanas, at £4.33 for six. So for all three kits you'll be paying around £15, but this gives you enough to fully kit out five sergeants or heroes with a helmet, weapon and unique backpack, with plenty of leftovers for other models.

The kits, as per usual, are of the great standards Kromlech should by now be known for. Barring a bit of flash and the gates, there's no real imperfections to speak of. I did fond one hidden bubble in a sneaky place, but I'm not sure that counts.

I am a big fan of these helmets, which have combined the 40k-esque look of a futuristic helmet, with the design cues of the Japanese Mempo, worn by the Samurai classes. They have a fairly daemon-like look (much like real Mempo), which makes them a viable alternative helmet for Chaos Space Marines as well.

The backpacks also take influence from feudal Japan, with back-mounted banners similar to the Samurai's Sashimono. They attach to the backpack via a small hole, and in theory should not interfere with the model's other parts (unless you're going for an overhead swing with the next product). I will admit that I don't really like the vents: they seem a bit oddly shaped and the grills are external rather than recessed, a design similar to Space Marines from 20 years ago. The rest of the backpack is good though, with an Oni-like design in the centre, and detailed cabling on either side.

These swords are just divine. As well as the previous factors mentioned, I just love the clean, precise look. No ostentatious ornamentation, or elaborate hilts, just a pure weapon, ready for war and nothing more. The swords come bare (i.e. with no hands attached), meaning any model from any range could wield it. It could also be used for fantasy models, all you'd need to do is shave off the power cables on the blade and you're set.

They even look pretty sharp, a feature many other bits makers cannot fully achieve. I have seen a lot of chunky blades in my time, and these swords actually look like real swords, not novelty oversized foam ones.

Whilst each set is a great addition to your army, it's when you buy all three and bring them together onto one model that the look really comes together. This model has been given one bit from each set, and the future-samurai look Kromlech has aimed for really shows.

 So to sum this range up, the best things come in threes, and these three sets are a must-have for anyone wanting a Japanese theme to their forces.