Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Review: Spellcrow Plague Legion Bits Part 5/7 (shoulders)

Shoulder pads are often the best and easiest way of personalising an army. You can fit a surprising amount of detail onto a pad, and subtle differences in logos and trim can really change a whole model. Today, I’m making an offering to the god of plagues, with some shoulder pads from one of my favourite companies of 2014, Spellcrow.





For £6.50, you get ten shoulder pads with five designs in each set. I was supplied with set version three, which is currently on offer at £4.71 a set. This set comes with some unique looking pads, including leering plague-ridden faces, barnacle-crusted plates and corrupted imperial patterns (scrolled pad). For those itnerested, here is sets one and two.

As with some plague-god-themed stuff, it can be hard to tell if something is miscast or entirely intentional. With the more disfigured pads this is the case. From what I can tell, though, is that the quality does appear pretty good. There was a bit of flash here and a mould-line there, but the parts do scrub up well, and the more intricate components (aka face-pad) are crisp. So from a quality perspective, Spellcrow gets a solid A-.


 These shoulder pads are well-suited for use on Space Marines (as shown on the test model), and the level of detail is matched to that of the model. With a couple of pads I’ve seen, the details have been noticeably chunkier than that of the model there intended for, and this can detract from the model. Not these ones, these pads are perfect for the scale.


And as you can expect, they work well with other Spellcrow parts, as shown on this test-bed model. The designs match those used by other parts within the range, so they all go seamlessly together.

In conclusion, these pads are well-suited for use on any Plague armies out there, be they Death Guard or otherwise. Whether it’s converting basic marines or mixing into other parts and ranges, these are worth considering (especially with the sale that’s currently running). Currently there are no Terminator-sized pads, but I expect that they’ll branch into those soon, after seeing their newly released Plague Lord.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Twelve

The Vraks conflict is ever closer to erupting, as this week sees me very close to completing the first Malcador build, and getting the models needed to finish my essential troops choice.


 A Malcador was always going to be the centrepiece for this army. Everyone seems to have either a Baneblade or a Knight titan these days, and the Malcador is under-represented (probably because it has no “super-heavy” weapons). Even so, it is iconic in Renegade armies, whose resources are less advanced than true military forces. Also, it’s far less likely to attract complains when I bring it out for 1000 point games (it’ll be my only battle tank too).

The battle cannon section is now complete. I was struggling to figure out how to make the mantlet curved. In the end I went for a cloth-covered design, which hides the angles and looks pretty cool at the same time.

The front gun mount was also done with a cloth covering. This helps create the illusion of pivoting, without the need to make anything work in real live.

The guns are all held on via pins, which go through two layers of plastic to stop it drooping.


I’ve make the Autocannon (Ork Shoota), Lascannon (devastator) and Heavy Bolter (Jetbike) for the front.

Alongside the weapons, I've added these trench rails, to bring it in line with other Malcadors. They were made susing bent plasticard strips glued around curved cuts, with plastic pipes and aluminium pipes for the pistons. They need a few brackets and hinges before I call them finished.


The only weapons left to do are the front Heavy Flamer, and the sponson guns. For now though it is likely to be run with either three Lascannons, or two Lascannons and an Autocannon at the front.


Next up is the final squad needed to run a platoon. There’s not much to say yet as it is just a few bodies on bases as of today. I’m doing something a bit different with these guys, and am going for a combat-themed Khorne squad, which will be armed with Anvil Industry shotguns (just waiting for the mounds to be remade) and a Meltagun.


The unit champion has a massive axe of Khorne, with is simply the standard Flagellant’s two-handed weapon, cut down with Zhufor’s Chain axe on the end.

With the spares from the Flagellant kit, I’ve made a couple of Rogue Psykers should I decide to run a squad. The spares have been added to a couple of spare Chaos Cultists to make a pair of rag-tag unlicensed Psykers. I’ll be making a full unit of five, as they’re cheap enough and could be fun models to use, even if they are easy kill-points.

Once these units are built, I’ll be finishing off building the Command Squad, Mutants and Grenadiers, then having a big painting binge to get them all finished before the next stage of this army takes off.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Analysis: Renegades and Heretics Elites Choices

The elites section of any army generally contains the toughest fighters, skilled specialists and medium-sized monsters. The choices in Imperial Armour Thirteen are no different, as today we delve into the Elites section of the Renegades and Heretics army list. I won’t be looking at the Daemon Engines (Blood Slaughterer and Blight Drone) as they’re technically extra units for Chaos Space Marine and Chaos Daemons armies.

Renegade Marauders


Marauders appear to be true space pirates: a ruthless unit in it for the money alone. With a higher than average weapon-skill and access to plenty of specialist weapons and a flying transport (Avrus) as well as the Chimera, this unit is ideal for specialising in certain tasks. Brutes (semi-Ogryn-like models) can be added to the unit as tough multi-wounded meat shields, giving the squad added survivability. The unit gets one free specialisation as part of their rules: either Stalkers (Outflank, Stealth, Move Through Cover), Murder Cultsits (Furious Charge and Crusader), or Hereteks (4+ save and Krak Grenades).

The downside of this unit is the In It For The Money rule: if they fail a leadership test (the unit is given an average automatic leadership of eight), they will never regroup afterwards. So your highly tooled up unit could simple disappear. For damage limitation, it is probably best to avoid buying every upgrade under the sun.

Suggested load out: eight Marauders, two brutes, two flamers, breacher charge, Arvus Lander dedicated transport, Heretek perk. (225 points)

Ogryn Brutes


Ogryn Brutes are exactly what you expect them to be: big lumbering brutes who tan take a beating, and give a stern beating back. At 60 points per model before upgrades, they are on the pricey side but when you remember that they can potentially have up to seven attacks each on the charge (before upgrades), plus hammer of wrath attacks, a unit of these monsters can deal a fair bit of damage. Random attacks have changed, so now you only roll once for the whole unit. As well as this, they no longer inflict self-harm because of their random attacks and have Frag grenades. On the downside, they’ve lost their natural Feel No Pain. They start off with no armour save, but can be upgraded to have flak or carapace armour, and Feel No Pain via the mark of nurgle.

Speaking of marks, you now have access to all four of the chaos gods, not just Khorne and Nurgle. The two new marks add interesting  buffs, Slaanesh giving fleet, and Tzeentch giving extra arms, which provides a +1 attack bonus.

Other new options include the Lascutter and Power Drill. These weapons trade in all attacks for one powerful one. Personally I preferred the old fashioned power weapons, and can’t see myself using either. Hounds on the other hand are a great option. At half the cost of Ogryns, Hounds add cheap extra wounds to the unit, have a higher initiative to get in some attacks first, and automatically have three attacks, so you guarantee a good number of hits should your Ogryns roll poorly. They also grant the Run Them Down rule, which gives the unit a bonus dice for Sweeping Advances. This unit, whilst expensive, can give your Renegade army a much demanded combat ability. Whilst you can take a unit of ten plus five dogs, this will get really expensive really fast.

Suggested load out: three Ogryns, carapace armour, packmaster, three Chaos Hounds (235 points)


Chaos Spawn


…there’s not much to say about them that you don’t already know from Codex: Chaos Space Marines; a tough, randomly beneficial combat unit. The Spawn in this book are only available if you have the Mutant Overlord or the Covenant of Tzeentch on your Command Squad. They are also discounted over the marine variants, but have no access to either options or unit size. Their best feature is that you can get a full squad of three for the cost of one Ogryn, so if you need to cut back on points but want a hard hitting combat unit, Spawn are for you. If you have the points though, I’d rather go with Ogryns.

Suggested (and only) load out: three spawn (55 points)


Renegade Disciples



Disciples are this book’s Veteran Guard (though Veterans are also this books Veterans, but they’re different, honest!). With a higher Ballistic skill, this unit is set up for shooting, compared to the Marauder’s combat potential. They have access to heavy weapons, including flakk missiles, which makes this one of the few anti-air options in the book. The unit doesn’t have any fancy-pants rules apart from the Fanatic rule, which gives you the chance to re-roll your leadership value if you’re not happy with it.


The downside to this unit is that is isn’t very…exciting, when compared to the outlandish Marauders or tough-skinned Ogryns. In a way, it is a sensible option for sensible people. It’s not to say that it is a bad unit, but it may get overlooked by other choices which offer something different.

Suggested load out: ten Disciples, missile launcher with frag, krak and flakk missiles, plasma gun, chaos sigil, chaos covenant of Nurgle, carapace armour. (170 points)

Next week, the Troops section will be dissected for your amusement.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: Zealot Miniatures Sci-Fi Claws

Today’s review takes me to a new range of products: offered by Zealot Miniatures, a company that trades in models and conversion parts for both fantasy and Science Fiction settings. Today I’m having a look at their Sci-Fi Claws.





A standard set comes with three pairs of claws (two long-bladed, one short) and retails at £3.99. The claws are cast in a grey resin, and to a good standard. The sets are designed for 30mm models, but will easily suit 28mm and 32mm

The quality of the product is for the most part OK. The detailing, what there is of it, is very crisp and clear, with no warping on any claw. There are a few noticeable air bubbles though, but none that can’t be easily fixed. The resin also has a slightly rougher texture than I’m used to.

The resin used for these weapons are extremely brittle and easy to snap. Of the sample set I received, all of the long-bladed sets were broken. Now that could be down to the haphazard postal service, but I have never had issues with broken resin before. Whilst it is probably down to the design (the blades are very, very thin), breakable parts are an issue regardless. When you consider that the postal service is about as delicate as a sledgehammer to the unmentionables, there is a slim chance all of these claws would survive a typical postal journey. Still, even if yours are broken, they do look pretty good as short claws. Better, in fact, if you are adding them to human models. I imagine that the full-sized claws look out of place on 28mm humans.



To use these weapons you will need to cut out a chunk of arm about the same length as the wrist-blade strap/powered section, to avoid overly long arms. This involves much more modelling than say a sword or gun, but the results are worth it.

These weapons are perfect for representing primitive Lightning Claws or other low-tech power weapons. The exposed cables and simple chunky designs are perfect for outcasts and renegades without the access to higher or refined technology, or just as an ancient ancestor to existing weapons. Here I’ve used a couple of claws on a Veteran and a Dark Magos. On both models the weapon is well-suited, giving each model a unique take on a gaming classic.

In short, these weapons are good. Not great, but pretty good nonetheless. For those looking for something different for their power weapons at a competitive price, look no further. If you see past their delicateness, you can have a lot of fun with these.  Expect to have a lot of shortened claws.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Analysis: Renegades and Heretics HQ Choices

The renegades and Heretics list from Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen: War Machines of the Lost and Damned offers the long-awaiting renegade player the perfect way to bring this previously unloved faction to the table. In this mini-series, I will be reviewing the wide choice of units from each section in the Force Organisation Chart and giving you my thoughts on their best usage in an army of the damned. Today’s post will look at the HQ section of the book.


Renegade command squad.

Firstly we have the foundational stone of and R+H command squad. Starting at a cheap 45 points, you get five models all with BS4 and Flak armour as standard (For most other unit’s it’s a purchasable extra). You get the usual range of weapon options, armour upgrades and transports available to guard-like units. The commander is a three-wound model, with the ability to take a covenant  of chaos(this army list’s equivalent to marks of chaos). Each covenant is also available to most infantry units, and gives bonuses like fleet and Feel No Pain).these give bonuses, as well as allowing access to certain units, dependant on the god chosen.

One thing that sets this unit apart from other HQ’s in this book (and indeed other armies) is its potential size. Unlike the Command Squad from Codex: Astra Militarum, you can add an extra ten models to the squad, making quite possiblly the largest HQ choice in the game. At Fifteen models, and with Carapace armour, Covenant of Nurgle and taking advantage of cover, you have a very tough and durable unit.

Another interesting option is the ability to take one Demagogue devotion. These upgrades give your HQ, and army, a unique style of play that alters your options and boosts existing ones. In short, here are the available choices:

Primaris-rogue Witch-psyker HQ option. Only psyker unit in the army to be able to choose its discipline (Malefic Daemonology, Biomancy, Pyromancy and Telekenesis). Can be upgraded to Mastery two, and allows Rogue Psyker Covens to be taken as Elites. Cannot take Covenant of Khorne.
Mutant Overlord-Must take two Mutant Rabbles. HQ rolls three times on a mini chaos boon table which boosts the Demagogues stats, and once on the Curse of Mutation chart, which affects the whole unit. One unit of spawn may become a non-compulsory Troops choice. Ogryns can buy Curse of Mutation.
Master of the horde-Can bring back Renegade infanty squads of 15 models or more on a 5+, with identical equipment (no transports). Must take two platoons, squads can contain up to 30 models.
Arch Heretic Revolutionary-Demagogue gets Zealot rule. Infantry squads and Veterans can buy Fanatic rule. Enforcers unit cap increaded to ten.
Heretek Magus-Demagogue gets FNP, T4 and a 3+ save. Units ca buy weak FNP. Can take Decimators and Defilers in the army.
Bloody Handed Reaver-Can upgrade veterans to Veteran Grenadiers (+1 BS and free Hotshot guns). All units must take Militia Training if they can. Essentially Codex: Chaos Tempestus Scions.

The main downsides of this unit are its random leadership and a lack of orders. Due to the Uncertain Worth rule this command unit can have a leadership as low as five if you roll really badly. The Fanatic rule does give you a re-roll, but it’s not great to have a HQ choice that can potentially have a worse Leadership than the rest of your army. If you roll low, the best thing to do is hide: you don’t want to give you opponent extra points for an easy kill. Also, with the lack of any orders, this HQ choice plays just like any other unit. Whilst it makes the game run smoother, it does take away a key part of any Astra Miliarum force

Suggested loadout: five extra Disciples, carapace armour (squad), carapace armour (leader), autocannon, Bloody-handed Reaver (based on wanting hotshot guns), Hotshot Lasgun. Chimera with Autocannon and Militia Training (225 points)

Rogue Psykers Coven


This unit changes slightly from their previous incarnation. They are now two wound characters, but cannot join other units (which makes them easy kills), have no weapons and have no options other than unit size. You can spread them out and make it harder to kill the whole unit. Each army can only take one coven (unless you buy the Pimaris-rogue Witch option). The psychic power options are down from five to three, but each is arguably more useful. For example, Creeping Terror. This power reduces a targets initiative to one and only lets them take snap shots. A perfect power in synergy with charging units like Ogryn. The unit also has a bit more anti-tank potential with the Warp Flux power, which is a STR 7 haywire blast. You may have to choose powers randomly, but each psyker can roll separately, so taking three or more gives you a  good chance of getting all of them.

Another thing which follows on from previous incarnations is their ability to never die from Perils of the Warp. Instead, should they fail a test, they become possessed, and gain a totally different stat line and regain any lost wounds. Whilst its nothing to write home about, having a combat unit with rending might be handy for distracting units.

Renegade Enforcers Cadre


This choice took a bit of a hit, but is still quite competitive. You don’t get an automatic Leadership of ten any more (just a +1 to a unit’s existing one), and can only join units of Infantry, Veterans or Mutants. They also have fewer ranged and combat options, meaning my sniper conversion above needs a new gun. They are, however much cheaper at 25 points per, can be taken in units of five (ten with an Arch Heretic Revolutionary) and can boost units in close combat, via combat drugs. They provide re-rolls as before, but you can choose which model is removed, rather than being forced to remove the unit leader . Whilst not as colourful as they used to be, they are a must-have advisor if you’re worried about your chaotic hordes fleeing the battle, or want to dope up your combat squads for an added kick.

Suggested Loadout (per enforcer): Carapace Armour, shotgun, Combat Drugs, Melta Bombs (45 points). Attach to a Mutant Rabble geared up for close combat. Drop combat drugs for non-combat units, replace with Plasma Pistol.

Next time I’ll be analysing the Elites section, which is choc-full of units for all tastes, from hulking ogryns to stealth specialists.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Eleven

For my vraks army, I wanted a key centrepiece model that would be the main power of my army. From the start it was going to be a malcador. "But which one?" I asked myself. Today I have an answer: all of them.


I have begin making what could possibly be the first fully modular Malcador chassis. I plan to make the three key variants available in the Renegades And Heretics list from IA:13 : the Defender (heavy bolters), plain (battle cannon) and the Minotaur (twin Earthshakers). I may built a Valdor section later on, but I won't be making the lascannon or infernus versions, as this army van no longer take them as options (unless you play apoc I guess)


The first task was blocking off the shared structure. The infernus that I am basing my work only has half the usual superstructure to allow the inferno cannon to fit. This needed rebuilding to bring it in mind with my variants. Using plasticard I followed the lines of the resin body, to create a mirrored section. This was then another out with putty to create a flat surface. The trim was also replaced with plastic strips.





To make the top sections modular, I made a raised peg on top of the tank. The idea is to have the weapons systems simple rest on top of the tank. The raised bit will ensure the turret or structure stays on the tank and aligned.


I've made a start on the first variant, which features a battle cannon in the fixed turret. I've tried following the lines of the official model but the unique shape of the hull is helping give off a cool and different design. It will end up being slightly taller due to the hull height, but I don't think the vraksians will care too much. The battle cannon is currently just two plastic tubes,and will receive more detail later.


The next items on the agenda will be the alternative secondary guns (mainly autocanons) and the frontal gun mount. Once they're done I will proceed onto the next main weapon, the twin Earthshakers).

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Review: Imperial Armour Volume 13

IA: 13…very, very good. There you go…

…OK OK, here is a proper review.

I got Imperial Armour Thirteen: War Machines of the Lost and Damned last month as a birthday present, and boy was I excited. This is the book that Chaos needed. Why should all the loyalists get all the fun? Inside this 203 page tome is a wide selection of chaotic contracts, both old and new, for us to use in our games of Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse.


This example is one of the rare limited edition copies, limited to only 2000 worldwide, with a hefty price tag of £50 (which will admittedly only rise value). It came in a hardback slipcase, with a glossy bright chaos star embellishing the worn-look design. It is a lot sturdier than I thought, as I was expecting only a flimsy paper-card slipcase.





The LE copy also comes with a huge A1 double-sided poster: one side depicting a star map of chaos-occupied planets, the other being a larger version of IA: 13’s front cover. It is make from thick glossy card, so it should be quite durable, if heavy for a poster.


Now, onto the book. In typical Forge World fashion, it is a large, expensive and heavy tome of knowledge. This £45 book has a lot of fluff in it; a good third to one half of the book is all about the many machines Chaos uses, from captured tanks and rare archeotech all the way up to the Daemon Titans. It goes into far greater detail than GW’s Codexes, and if you are a story lover, this book is perfect for you, even if you don’t play.

The book contains rules for over 20 new units, each with a lot of variety and customisation. Newcomers to the Chaos line-up include the Sicaran (which is brutal), the Ferrum Infernus Dreadnought (Veteran Dreadnoughts), and the Fellblade, something which I prepared for months in advance, luckily enough. We don’t have any of the more unique variants on the Horus Heresy Tanks (such as the venerator and the Glaive) but even these simpler additions are more than enough to make Chaos armies both competitive and fun.

As well as the new units, this book also comes with a fully-fledged up-to-date version of the Renegades and Heretics list from the Siege of Vraks days. This list on its own is worth its weight in gold for anyone who played the Vraks campaign armies and wants something that can take on any modern codex. The list comes with unique war gear options and a tailored warlord traits list which offers many nice bonuses to the army


Essentially a hybrid of the old Vraks army list and the newer Codex: Astra Militarum, it combines newer rules with old. You still have random leadership, but have access to options and combinations to help tackle it, such as Enforcers and the fanatic rule. The list is based around cheap units, with many units being discounted over those found in codex: AM. They do start at BS2 though, but can be upgraded with Militia Training, bringing them in line with their Imperial cousins. Is also a list with endless customisation, with the addition of marks of chaos for most units and commander upgrades. You want to run a horde of mutants? Go ahead. Do you like the idea of a Dark Mechanicum force supported by daemon engines? Perfectly fine. Do you want an evil version of the Hotshot-totting elite Scions? Get cracking. You can make virtually any style of army using this list.


Whilst you do only get one HQ that can be taken as a warlord (Psykers and Enforcers cannot be your warlord), it has six possible upgrades which subtly change your army, bring with it a unique way of playing. Take for example the Dark Magos upgrade, which gives your leader a 3+ save, FNP and T4, access to the Decimator, Defiler (in addition to the Blood Slaughterer and Blight Drones you can take as well) and a range of extra super-heavies, and gives many units the option for FNP. This makes for a much tougher army with access to many deep-striking vehicles. Certainly not your average Guard army.

The list is lacking in a few areas, such as lack of access to some of the AM’s other tanks such as the Taurox/Prime, Manticore/Deathstrike, and weirdly some of the Malcador variants, namely the Twin-Lascannon variant and the Infernus. Still, it has a few new additions, such as access to the Hotshot weaponry, Marauder mercenaries, the Wyvern and Arvus squadrons.

The list has a ton of potential, and in a future post I will be looking at the Renegades and Heretics list in greater detail, taking apart each unit from this mini-codex.

All-in-all this is a must-buy for any self-respecting Chaos player. If you want some added punch, or want to start a Renegade and Heretics army of your own, this is perfect for you. To finish off, here are my top five new units from this book:

Chaos Sicaran-With a twin-linked six-shot rending main gun that ignores jink saves on a tough fast tank frame, this tank is perfect for gunning down the likes of Eldar shielded grav tanks and biker hordes.

Ferrus Infernum Dreadnought-The dreadnought we all wanted. An improved non-crazy Dread with access to more weapons and upgrades, including Siege Dreadnoughts and Daemon Dreadnoughts. Can also be marked for added punch.

Ogryn Berserkers-No longer self-harming, this unit packs a serious punch with a bigger unit cap. Now with added chaos hounds and marks of Chaos.

Chaos Fellblade-Yes! Yes! Yes! A great alternative to those who don’t want a titan or a Brass Scorpion, it comines tough armour, a lot of hull points and a beastly main gun that’s twin linked. That and many Lascannons and an upgrade making Melta near-useless.

Chaos Fire Raptor-as brutal as the imperial one, but more so. With the option to give most of its guns rending (Malefic Ammunition, which is an option for most units with heavy bolters or autocannons) and the ability to shoot separate targets, this attack craft will tear big holes in the enemy.