Tuesday, 31 July 2012

40k Philosophy: Improving your themed army.

We all have moments in out gaming lives where we just can't seem to win. I recently have been experiencing this, probably more than most. I play, as you know, Chaos Space Marines, an army that is on the old side, and is in serious need of an upgrade (thankfully, its coming very soon). On top of this, I play Thousand Sons. One of the least competetive units in one of the least competetive books. Now, it is a personal choice, as I love the models and theme. But even I have to admit its not working in its current incarnation. But how can people keep a great theme, but have a better chance in game? Heres a few ideas on how:

Count-as

Count-as has been with us as long as the hobby itself. For those who don't know, it is all about using other or custom models to represent an existing unit. For example, Using tiny tanks as Ork Killa Kans, heavily augmented bionic Iron Warriors as Plague Marines, or Death Company as Sternguard. Usually anything goes, as long at it is made very clear what it counts as. It's important that the count-as model is of similar or the same size as the unit it represents, and has the same weapons (or it's made clear what the weapons are): so no buggy Battlewagons guys. Using my army as an example, I could use disc riders to represent either Raptors or Bikers (with added twin bolters), and I've seen very convincing count-as defilers using Tomb King Necrosphixes (Sphinxii?).

Allies

The new allied rules are a great chance to utilise other models, and also help plug inherent weaknesses. My Thousand Sons are notorious for being outnumbered, so a big blob of guardsmen can really help in my situation. Allies can easily be modelled to fit tin with your theme. For me, I can make them appear to be fanatic cultists. Arm them with lasguns, and they make a perfect guardsman. Other ideas might be Guardmen being used as the Ultramar Defence Force, Bloodaxe orks allied with Tau, utilising their weaponry and armour, or possibly Necrorks (necron styled orks, which would make great count as orks with cybork bodies).

Experimenting with combinations/unit sizes

You may find that its not the units that are affecting you, its what combination you take them in. It may be that you have more luck with bigger or smaller units. For me, a larger unit of raptors will be the way forward. Whilst five did well for me in their first game, they died just too quickly. doubling the unit size will make them more survivable. If you're downsizing units, you may find that you can make more use of transports, increasing mobility. Inversely, bigger units will be great for holding objectives and fighting in close combat. Either way, your theme remains, since you are utilising the same models, just in varying quantities.

Forgeworld units

Forgeworld also offers gamers the chance to field new, unusual and rarely seen units in your games. Units such as the Decimator, Tauros, Avenger and Contemptor are available for armies, and can give you a chance to boost the capabilities your force. The new Flyers book also gives all armies a chance to utilise air support (which is particularly useful for Chaos, who don't have flyers in their codex). Of course, people claim that Forgeworld units are either over or under-pointed, and not as well tested, but I've found that they're about as balanced as current units. Also, not everyone will let you use the units. But, from experience, it seems more people are fine with people using Forgeworld.

Hopefully, these tips will help you develop and flourish with your cool themed army. I'm also going to practice what I preach, and inform you all of the changes it's made to my gaming. Check out on the Facebook page by clicking the Bonus Content Button/


Saturday, 28 July 2012

WIP: Raptors (Part Two) And The Facebook Secret

If you've been noticing, there have been a number of modelling related posts on Power Armoured Metal. Most recently, there was the third party parts discussion, which followed the tutorial on making your own Thousand Sons heads. A while ago, I begin painting tutorials, starting with gold and shining lenses. All of them have come together, like one of Tzeentch's grand plans, into the manifestation of Raptors of chaos.

As you can see, they are made up of Maxmini jump packs, Death Company, Thousand Sons parts and the previously mentioned custom heads. Only one so far has a 90% complete paint scheme, but with it you can see where I'm going with it. As with my regular troops, its a blue and yellow scheme, with gold used on the headdress, and the various totems and icons on the body. The jetpack uses the same blue, with brass vents and turbines. I will at a later stage add scorch marking, using weathering pigments.

Currently, it is a five man unit, armed with two meltaguns, and a champion with a power maul. I'm hoping to get another five, to make it a ten man unit, but I think I'll wait and see if they're any good in the new rules, or if I can use them as jump-chosen.

The meltaguns are actually converted weapons, each utilising a bolter and an inferno pistol. with some careful splicing, the two components make one convincing weapon.

Also, I'd like to share with you this image. Well, this preview anyway. Its a top secret I'm working on, and a nice incentive for you to join the Facebook page. I only need five more 'likes', and then the rest of this mystery image will be revealed.

You can join the page by either searching Power Armoured Metal in Facebook search, or even easier, you can click the new 'Bonus Content Button' in the top right corner of this page. Hopefully, the whispers of chaos are tempting you. The page is a great place for fans of the blog to check out bonus content, take part in discussion, and of course chat with the master of chaos...me.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Tutorial: Making Thousand Sons Heads


More often than not, you find that you will come across a shortage. In modelling, you may be short of a certain part, which is essential for your model. For example, my army needs to be full of  Thousand Sons heads. The iconic headdress, as well as robes, is an iconic feature of the Thousand Sons, and they simply aren't Thousand Sons without them. So, as you can imagine, I'm running short of them. They never seem to come up on bits sellers either. So, it looks like I'll have to make some.

For those at home, you won't need much, just the following:


  • Plasticard
  • Plasticard rod (smallest is ideal, something suitable for rivets)
  • Greenstuff/liquid greenstuff
  • Tools (blade, leather hole punch, file)
  • Any space marine/chaos marine helmet (non-horned is easier, but horned helmets are suitable)
Right, now for the guide:

1) Cut a small rectangle of plasticard, roughly the same size as an actual Thousand Son's headpiece (for those without one, a 10mm X 13mm shape will be fine, but feel free to alter it for personal taste)

2) Cut The 'basic' shape of the headdress. Here, I've gone for the square cornered design, as it's pretty straightforward. Cut a semi circle at the bottom of the piece, in the centre. This should be made big enough to fit the top half of the space marine helmet. Another, smaller semi-circle needs to be cut at the top, opposite to the previous cut, followed by two larger cuts at the sides. You should end up with the shape shown below. Smooth down edges with your file. 

3) Now its onto the banding. Cut a very long thin strip of plasticard (1mm roughly). Cut this up into smaller strips of suitable size, and glue them on one by one on the headdress. Cut more strips if you need to. Repeat on the other side (but wait for the first side to dry first to avoid shifting the layers).

4) Trim the strips so that they fit within the original shape (see below).

5) Next, glue a thicker strip around the side edges on the corners of the headdress (the piece is about 2mm wide, but its width should be the thickness of all three layers on the headdress). Trim to fit. 

6) Get your space marine/chaos marine helmet. Trim off any spikes, halos or horns which would affect the positioning of the head. Cut a small groove across the top of the head (shown in red).

7) Attach the headdress to the helmet. Trim the headdress if it's necessary.

8) Add a thick band of plasticard to the front and back of the headdress, running all the way down. It should be central, and join at the helmet's crest vent.

9) Finish the helmet off by adding rivets on the front and back bands. Use Greenstuff to fill any gaps. Below is a finished version, with a black wash to highlight the details. At the same time, I'm also hinting at a current project, so keep an eye out. 

Hopefully, this tutorial will help you build your legions of ghostly automaton-warriors, ready to be commanded. Enjoy.  


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

WIP: Thousand Sons Raptors And Something Big(er)

We all love shiny new things to play with: something new to work on, something new to experiment with. In my case, it was Maxmini. Having sold my Warriors of Chaos army, for a fairly good sum, I decided to spend a fair bit on adding to my 40k: the only game I seem to play at the moment. With around half of the money, I got a good selection of third party kits, parts, and discounted GW products.



Two of my purchases are the focus today, the discounted box of death company, and some Maxmini 'iron' pattern jet packs.






I love these. They're very reminiscent of the jump-infantry of old, and for me, are more accessible than Forgeworld's (and a bit cheaper). The ones I got were well cast, especially when compared to the Microarts 'iron angel' I got, but at least its workable. And when combined with Thousand Sons parts, and the previously mentioned death company, they make an interesting take on Raptors.

The idea behind these guys was to veer away from the daemonic predatory style of current raptors. I wanted them to look like efficient, focused warriors, made up of recent non-original recruits. The story is that they were originally a loyalist squad, which was killed in battle. Then, the unit's bodies were then 'ressurected' using souls from dead Thousand Sons (it has happened before). The sorcerer in charge then takes a jetpack for himself, and thus leads this rapid attack unit. It'll follow the same scheme as the rest of the army, but the jump-packs will be interesting to paint. I might attempt burn marking and flame source lighting.

Also, I thought I'd show you a little teaser. Think back to my Land Raider Proetus, but 'bigger'...

Saturday, 21 July 2012

40k For Thought: 3rd Party Parts

Many converters will come across this problem: "there just isn't a suitable part for me". Even though a company's range of parts and products is far and wide, it still has limitations which hinder your imagination. What if you want to make a convincing ad-mech army? What if you want to make something that doesn't have a kit? What if you want something cool, and current stuff just doesn't cut it? Well, for many, the answer is to find third party companies, such as Maxmini, Puppetswar and Kromlech.

So, what are the pros (and cons) of utilising these parts developers in your 40k armies. Well, I've decided to create a handy list to help you decide:

Pros

+ Wider Variety
Many companies who specialise in parts, as opposed to full kits, often have a wide range to choose from, and at least one will have something to your tastes. There's dozens of companies which offer different products, and some often specialise, which can be useful for you.

+It's easier than making parts
Lets be honest, not everyone will be great at making their own parts. Some people might not feel ready to make their own parts, and, in the case of needing multiple parts, will be less likely to be able to get them all consistent and identical. At least this way, the parts you're buying have been designed by professional sculptors, and replicated in the same moulds.

+Kits exist for armies which GW doesn't do
A number of people love the concept of owning Cult Mechanicus armies, WW2 Orks and Squat battalions. But, to be honest, GW doesn't really supply anything suitable to make a whole army of the more unique forces. Plus, they did ret-con Squats. There are a number of models out there which have been designed to fill these gaps in the market, and provide an opportunity to create a force designed around the more secretive armies from the deep fiction.

+The quality is often just as good
Nay-sayers tend to claim that products from third party developers are of inferior quality: meaning they're made of poor materials and badly cast. However, this is not the case, mostly. Sure, you will get some places offering inferior products, but the main ones I've seen, both on-line and in person, have great quality, occasionally even better than GW them self. As with the big names, companies are willing to replace faulty packaging, so don't worry too much.

Cons
-You can't take them into GW
Games Workshop has a very strict policy on third party parts: they don't allow it. So if you did get any parts, make sure not to take them into a GW store. That, or use the more subtle parts which wont raise suspicion

-They can be expensive
A number of parts providers, whilst good looking, often charge quite a bit. They cannot always afford the economies of scale on materials, and a number of companies are in other countries, meaning postage can add a fair bit to your order. This also has the added effect of increasing delivery times, often extending into weeks.

-They still may look 'off'
Whilst parts maybe designed for existing models, and have the right themes in place, there is the risk that it'll still look "not quite right". Partly this is to do intellectual property, which GW is excessively protective of. Therefore, companies are often inclined to alter the usual designs in order to avoid lawsuits. this results in parts which don't always fit in the the natural aesthetic of the army, and can create unwanted clashes.


Conclusion
Overall, I feel that third party parts companies are a great area worth looking into, an area which fills in important gaps in the market, and often create a number of great products, sometimes even exceeding standards or GW's offerings. However, it is important to research the parts, to get exactly what you want. Also, remember where you game. Sadly, they wont be a suitable option if you go into GW stores, but for those who attend outside clubs or stores, go for it.

(images taken (in order) from SouthmsGamers, Kromlech, everystoreneedsone, and Maxmini)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

WIP: Chaos Cultists (Guard Allies)

Almost every super-villain in any series, comic book or computer game needs minions, man-servants and underlings to boss about and carry out the more menial tasks of villainy, like transporting doom-lasers, or being cannon fodder for more important people within the evil order. So, when it comes to the Chaos Space Marines, an elite foe made up of millennia-old veterans of the dark gods, who is worthy of serving these advanced post-humans?





Us, it seems. In the fiction, Chaos Marines look down upon us humans, and uses us as general fodder and menial workers at best. So, I went about starting a large unit of cultists, to help bulk out number in my small-but-elite army. In-game, they'll serve as objective holders, cannon fodder, and general nuisance for my enemy. Also, in keeping with their theme of expendable scum, they're lightly armed and will have little in the way of support weaponry, bar a flamer here, a grenade launcher there, and a single Leman Russ support tank. Though saying that, it'll be driven by the cult overseers, and their elite (well, elite for cultists).

The base models for these conversions are WHFB Empire Flagellants. The arms are taken from the Forgeworld Chaos Militia arm set and from Death Korps Grennadiers (spares). The squad leader of this unit also has a knife arm from a Dark Eldar Wych.

Paint wise, I'm going to use much plainer colours when compared to the regal blues and yellows of the Thousand Sons. As shown, a light khaki brown will be the main colour, with light grey sections on the front and back. These will also have light blue detailing. Any armour plating will be painted like worn bronze.

 Hopefully, you'll be able to identify their allegiance, but know that they are the under-society amongst the legion, and slaves to their will. 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Living With 6th Ed, Part Seven: An Actual Battle

So, having read a week's worth of 6th edition discussion, you may be left wondering how this actually affects gameplay. Well, to find out, I've taken part in a 1000 point Chaos (with guard) v Chaos game, and recorded the details, to create a nice little battle report for all of you, especially the ones who have read the other six posts.

To start, we rolled 'relic' for the mission, as well as short edge deployment. The enemy command trait was Master of Manoeveure, whilst mine was Strategic Genius. Here were the two lists, mine is the Thousand Sons list, and the other is my girlfriend's rockband army:

Thousand Sons

  • HQ-Sorcerer, Plasma Pistol (rolled Gate of Infinity)
  • Elites-Dreadnought, extra DCCW
  • Troops-10 marines, plasma gun and meltagun, icon. 9 thousand sons (rolled Spontaneous Combustion)
  • Heavy-Predator, auto/las combo
  • Allies-Primaris Psyker (rolled Warp Speed). 10 veterans, flamer, chimera
Rockband of chaos
  • HQ-Lord, power sword, jetpack
  • Elites-Dreadnought, multimelta. Dreadnought, plasma cannon
  • Troops-6 Noise marines, 4 sonic blasters, blastmaster, champion, plasma pistol, doom Siren, power sword. 10 marines, flamer, missile launcher, champion, power fist.
  • Fast Attack-5 Raptors, meltagun.
  • Heavy-1 Obliterator.

Deployment
The Rockband of Chaos won the roll to go first, and deployed everything apart from the raptors and lord, who were now outflanking, thanks to her commander trait. The two dreadnoughts took the right side, with the noise marines. The regular marines deployed on the left, with the obliterator. My Thousand Sons made a similar deployment. My Dreadnought faced the two enemy ones, with marine support. My Thousand Sons, with their Lord, took up the right side, with a Chimera/truck full of cultists. The Predator was held in reserve.

Turn One
The sons, feeling the favour of Tzeentch, manage to steal the initiative. Taking advantage of this, my sorcerer attempts to cast his Gate of Infinity, only to suffer a perils attack. It appears the gods of chaos are indeed fickle today. The Dreadnought fire frenzies, but due to its arc of fire, has no targets. The Thousand sons move up, as do the regulars. The chimera bolts forward towards the relic, spraying heavy bolter rounds at the enemy marines, and downing one. The thousand Sons take down one more.

The enemy begins its turn.The multi-melta dread fire frenzies into the regular marines, to no effect. A very lucky snapshot from a missile launcher knocks a hull point off the Chimera. Plasma fire from the Obliterator takes out a Thousand Son. the Noise Marine's sonic fire kills two marines, but doesn't pin them. The plasma Dreadnought fires at mine to no effect.

Turn Two
The Predator arrives from reserves, rolling on at the back. However, its gunners are inaccurate this turn. This time, Gate of Infinity is cast, but I scatter back 12". One son dies as a result. The cultists jump out of their transport, and gun down two marines with mass lasgun and flamer fire. Their psyker fails his Warp Speed power. The Thousand Sons fire at the Noise Marines. Spontaneus Combustion is successful and takes out the blastmaster carrier, in a spectacular fireball. The sons take out two more. 

Both of the enemy Dreadnoughts enter a frenzy, firing wildly at the enemy. The plasma dread knocks two hull points from my combat dreadnought, and the multimelta kills three marines. the Noise Marines retaliate, and kill off two Thousand Sons. The regular marines charge the cultists, and easily overwhelm them, thanks to poor rolling on my part. Noise marines charge the Sons, but two of them get cut down, to no losses on my side.

Turn Three
The lord decides to separate from his unit, and casts infinity on himself. The gods are again fickle, making him scatter back 8". The sons move up, and fire on the marines who killed the cultists. Spontaneus Combustion kills one, and the Son's AP3 bolters take out the rest. The Dreadnought moves towards the plasma Dreadnought and assaults it, only to die to multiple glances and existing wounds. Predator fire takes a hull point off the melta Dreadnought. The Chimera fires on the Obliterator, to no effect. Combat with the marines sees that the final Noise Marine is killed, and the survivors bolt for the relic. 

Turn three was somewhat limited for the rockband, but effective. The lord and his raptor guard come on, and flank the predator. Melta fire takes a hull point, and the heresy-era battle tank is finished off with carefully placed krak charges. The sorcerer is melted unfer heavy bombardment from the lone obliterator. The aspiring sorcerer leading his unit sees the death, and smiles darkly. 

Turn Four
With all the heavy hitters gone, I decide to make a run for the relic. A marine picks up the ancient device, with his comrades covering his exit. Plasma fire from the unit is ineffectual against the Dreadnought. The chimera damages its drive-shaft, in an attempt to run down the Obliterator, immobilising it. Its fires ineffectually on its target. The Aspiring sorcerer combusts a raptor, whilst the sons are of no effect. 

The gods show me some slack, as the enemy plasma Dreadnought fire frenzies once more, but at the raptors, melting one under a sustained plasma barrage. the multi melta Dreadnought kills two with melta/bolter fire, inlcuding the relic bearer, who drops the ancient device to the ground. The obliterator kills two more maines with plasma fire, and assaults, killing the final marines.

Turn Five
Right, time for drastic action. The Surviving Thousand Sons fire on the obliterator to no effect. They then assault, the obliterator breaks through the armour of one Son, but the sorcerer's force axe manages to down the mutated monster. The squad finds itself base-to base with the relic, but facing a charge from two dreadnoughts and a lord lead retinue...

But no charge comes. All three units get stuck in the ruins of the mining town, and I am spared a painful defeat. 

Tzeentch decides to be favourable, but at a great cost, and the game ends here.

Overall scores:
Thousand Sons: First Blood, Relic held (4 points)
Rockband of Chaos: Slay The Warlord, Linebreaker (2 points)

Winner: Thousand Sons

That was certainly a close one, and probably down to a lot of back luck on my part. I suspect my girlfriend stole much of it, which often happens. But in the end, my Thousand Sons pulled through. I do have to say that I enjoy the warlord traits and new powers, they certainly helped both sides. my MVP has to be the aspiring sorcerer, who managed to burn a number of key models, and slay the Obliterator. I think the AP2 of the force axe certainly helped. Hopefully, with a little more luck next time, It'll be a more engaging combat. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Living With 6th Ed, Part Six: Terrain And Battle Missions

Terrain is an important aspect to any wargame, because, lets face it, playing on a plain open batlefield is one, boring, and two, doesn't stimulate the imagination anywhere near as much as a fully sprawling battlefield, lined with ruined buildings and craters.




6th edition's take on terrain is vastly different to its predecessor. A large selection of terrain items have been added, and much of it is interactive. Things like land-mines, shield projectors, collapsing buildings and holy relics can now be scattered across our gaming boards, making each movement decision more interesting, and carefully thought. Yes, the relic may look interesting,but in 6th edition, it could easily be a trap, and set to explode in your face. This is because more specialised items have randomised effects, a design cue taken from 8th ed fantasy. Whilst a number of people dislike the idea of a game they now dub 'randomhammer' I like the concept of mystery in my games, and whilst it does lengthen the process, it makes it a great deal more entertaining.

Now, the battle missions we play have been expanded. We have three slightly altered missions from last editions, plus three more. A number of these use the new mystery objectives, which is certainly going t be interesting. Also, they've got rid of the  'dawn of war' deployment type, and added an angled deployment very similar to Warhammer: Apocalypse. I hated the old dawn of war deployment, mainly because my man-portable heavy weapons were useless, and my tanks had little effect when moving. Now in this edition, they start the game on the table, and as a bonus, some missions even let them count as scoring.

The rulebook even comes with six example 'special' missions, cooked up by their design teams, to represent custom scenarios and specific battles the the storyline. Special rules and terrain maps are included with them, to help recreate their epic games. Overall, the new terrain, magic objectives and more missions will greatly expand what people experience in each game they play.

Tomorrow's post will cover everything discussed thus far, and concentrate it into an actual game; a 6th edition battle report. Come back soon.