Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Happy 2014: 2014's Top Six Posts

2014 has been a pretty tough year. Whilst there has been a lot of good, there has also been an Ork junk-planet’s worth of bad. But this blog has been keeping me going, and I thank you all for supporting it, through viewing the blog, supporting the Facebook page and getting involved.

 As of writing, the blog has just surpassed 200,000 views. I know that is nothing in comparison to the bigger websites out there, but to me it is a significant milestone.  I’m hoping to advance the blog next year to a new stage, with better content and more in terms of subscriber involvement. But I need your help. Share the blog, get people subscribing, and suggest content that you are keen to see. Do you want advice on a certain technique? Is there a new range I should review? All of your input is listened to and I hope to do more for you all next year.

To finish this year, here are the top six posts of the year, as determined by viewing figures and popularity with readers. Apologies in advance for the broken images on my links. I haven't a clue why it has happened (I suspect the hosting has changed, thus resulting in all my URL links breaking), but I have placed an image with each post so you at least have an idea of what was shown.

#6-Taurox Alpha Showcase

This was a fun one for me, and at number six it was clearly a popular choice with you guys. This model came about as a two-fold experiment. Firstly, I wanted to try out Forge World’s Imperial Armour: Masterclass books, and see if they made my painting any better. And they did. Secondly, I wanted to see if I could make the Marmite-like Taurox kit look good. And, thanks to some great parts from Blood and Skulls Industries, I managed those aims. What I was left with was a cool up-armoured truck perfect for representing Chimeras and the like in a Renegade army.

#5-Blood and Skulls Tank Treads of Doom!

The first review on this list, these spikey tracks were very popular, and I had many people ask me about them. Another Blood and Skulls product, they are a great addition to any battle machine, be it Chaotic, or just a bit radical. They were a key component to the equally popular Chaos Spartan series. Overall they were a well-received product, and I do hope the guys who make the set have benefited from the glowing review and continue to send fantastic parts my way (hint *wink*).

#4-Home Brewed Lascannons

Building your own parts is a fun way to save money and try something new, and many of you got on board with this next post. Here, I shared my way of building one of Warhammer 40,000’s most iconic anti-tank guns, and judging by the popularity of this post, it won’t be the last.

#3-Plastic Daemon Magnus

Oh boy did you like this. Utilising the popular updated Nagash model, my rendition of the fallen Daemon Primarch of Tzeentch was the most talked about conversion of this year. Although I haven’t updated you all on the model recently, I can assure you that I haven’t abandoned the project, and I will showcase any progress in the new year.

#2-Evil Craft parts

The review of this relative newcomer’s products was very popular, both with you and with me. I loved the design and exceptional quality, and I can tell you all that I have more fantastic EC goodies to review next year, in the form of a ranged squad, autocannoniers, and specialist ranged weapons. This is a company to keep an eye on, and if they go where I think they will, they will do fantastic. Evil Craft, if you are reading this, Terminator parts will do very well in my eyes!

#1 Drumroll please...

And at number one, well what else could it be? In a direct link to number six, we have the fantastic Blood and Skulls wheel set (there’s seems to be a pattern here don’t you think?). Whatever it is that makes Blood and Skulls parts so popular (probably the amazing range and designs?) appears to make any post that covers them popular with you guys. This set, released to meet the demand for wheeled Tauroxes, was your chosen post of the year. I can see why, with an amazing product to review, I really enjoyed writing that post, and having done this for many years, you find that the posts you love working on the most do the best.

On that note, I end the blog for another year. May you all have a fantastic New Year and here’s hoping 2015 has a lot to look forward to.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Rise of Xaphan: Vraks Army Redo Part Ten

I’m back from my vacation, and less than a week into my return to the real world, I’m back hard at work on my Vraksians. Today, I’m sharing the progress I’ve make in creating my essential troops choices: a platoon of renegades, some Veteran Grenadiers with their powerful Hotshot Lasguns, and a small horde of Mutants to throw by the dozen into the jaws of the enemy.

Before my holiday, I made a start on the second squad of three which will make up my platoon. Since Armoured fist squads do not exist any more (and because I want my regular goons to look different to my actual veterans) I’ve downgraded the first squad to part of a platoon. This meant that I need at least 20 more soldiers for the other two squads. Fortunately I had some old cultists, made from the same Empire Flagellants kit, that could cut up. I've also re-purposed my old priest model, which has no rules in the new list. It is now a standard bearer for the unit, allowing me re-rolls to leadership tests. With random leadership due to the Uncertain Worth rule, I'm going to need it.

They all use the same Bolt Action German arms as the first unit, and will be modified to look more like lasguns.

This model has a unique Grenade Launcher, which was made from a chopped down Assault Cannon and an SMG.

I did face a big problem though: I’ve run out of FW torsos. I could either buy more, or save money and make my own: so using the thinnest plasticard I could find, I have each body a plate metal armoured vest. The iconic rebreather tanks have been replicated with Bolt Action gasmask canisters.

Next up: the Grenadiers. This is only a small squad at the moment, but I plan to add more models, including a Hotshot Volley-gunner. The models are based on Death Korps of Krieg Grenadiers.
The unit champion has the torso of an enforcer, and a unique power weapon, a cool part from Zealot Miniatures I plan to review soon.

Last of the troops is this Mutant horde. They are based on the Ork kit, with a sprinkling of Forsaken, Pink Horror and Flaggelant kits. Ork shootas make for suitable Shotguns, and the scattering of armour plates is ideal for representing sub-flak armour. I wanted a brutish, misshapen look to them so many members of the squad have growths, odd arms and tiny human heads.

I am particularly proud of the Mutant Leader. I’ve recently bought Borderlands (late to the party, I know), and this model is based on the Badass Psycho Mutant, with giant clubbing arm and a shrunken useless arm, holding an autopistol. The Ork bomb on the back represents crude melta bombs used by the mutants.

The last models for today are a pair of Chaos Hounds, for the Ogryn squad. I was going to buy some Fenrisan Wolves, but for 50p more I could double my doggies. They are straight from the box with no modifications, barring 40mm round bases.

Once the troops are done, I’ll be focusing on some of the more fun units, such as the Arvus Lander, which I am very tempted to scratch-build, and the Minotaur, as I have a plan to make an enclosed variant from my unused Malcador.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

WIP: Chaos Land Raider Proteus Rebuild (Part One)

Mechanicum.0100011001/11.2 File log/open/Corruptus Extremis
Loading Data File
Designation-Adeptus Astartes (Excommunicate Tratoris) Land Raider Proteus 
Current ownership: Thousand Sons {UNKNOWN SPLNTER GROUP SUBFACTION. SEE PICT DATA FILE 1111.000100101011/11.}
Last Recorded Eqiupment update. M.31.121.3. 2x Twin Linked Lascannon (Mars Pattern), heat resistant ceramic shielding. Explorator Augury Web
Advised protocol: TOTAL ERRADICATION.

I’ve been bringing an old project back into 7th edition, and with the new IA:13 list, I am better able to represent it. Remember this guy?

This is my old Land Raider Armoured Proteus, which I make into a normal Land Raider. Whilst happy with it at the time, I was not 100% sold on the front. It seemed very small, even for marines to get out. Also, with the newly finished Spartan, I have little use for it in its current role. So, I have decided to modify and update the model so it can be run as intended…as a Land Raider Proteus.

The first job was ripping off the front assault ramp (A proteus does not have one). I like the details of the Proteus: it was a shame to cover them up.

The panel above the toothed block is a little wobbly, so I’ll either fix it with putty or cover it over with straight plastic strips.

This variant allows me to make the most of this tank, and its armament. I’ve decided to remove the twin heavy bolters at the front. It is common knowledge that many players have a problem with the base loadout: the heavy bolter is useless against armour, and the lascannons are wasted on infantry. So without it, I can focus this monster on tanks. It also saves me 20 points. The heavy bolter section was attached to the hatch and upper hull as one piece, so it was cut from it. The gap has been covered up with plasticard, and I will fill in any gaps later on. At the front, a Baneblade viewing port has taken centre stage, bringing it in line with the other Proteus model.

In-game, I will run it with the Ark of Unnameable Horror and Armoured Ceramite. The Ark forces units targeting it to take leadership tests during the shooting phase (as well as in combat due to naturally having fear). Failed tests mean snap shots against me. Whilst useless against tanks, it is very handy against infantry-strong armies like the guard or Orks. I’ve helped represent this by adding this tormented face-plate to the front of the tank. The armour panels behind were extended; I didn’t want the top part to be floating mid-air. Alongside Armoured Ceramite, units such as Melta-vets and Fire Dragons will struggle to crack this monster open.

The trim is also getting redone, as the previous effort looks chunky and crude in comparison. The trim itself is fine, but will get bead-rivets. The triangles have all been removed to be replaced with smaller examples.

Once rebuilt this tank will be painted in a similar way to the Contemptor Dreadnought. I quite like using yellows with my airbrush, so I plan to make more use of it on upcoming new models and repaints.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Rise of Xaphan: New Rules Changes

I am very lucky, and have an epic girlfriend. As my 22nd birthday dawns upon me (one day as of writing) she was nice enough to let me open one present early. Underneath some eye-burning wrapping paper lay a tome of utter brilliance: Imperial Armoured Volume 13: Warmachines of the Lost and Damned (Special edition might I add).

It is a fantastic book, and I will be review it and its contents soon enough. But first, I want to discuss the new Renegades and Heretics list located within, and how this will affect my Vraks forces. This new army list will mean a few things will be changed to my small Vraks army, and here are a few things that will affect my lists and overall army appearance:

No armour saves (at first)

Pretty much all units now come with no armour, with options later on to take sub-flak (6+), or the well-known flak or carapace. This is a benefit, as it has made units very cheap. It also has the added bonus of matching my Vraksian models, which wear little in terms of combat armour. I'll still be adding flak to most though, should cover not be good enough.


What’s a chaos army without some disfigured purple-armed scaly freaks…erm, I mean, Chaos’ blessed, totally not the Gods trolling, honest guys! They’re cheap, simply armed, and since every mutant is different, I have free reign over their looks.
I am in the process of making a Tzeentch “blessed” squad using random bits, mainly Forsaken mutations, Pink Horrors and Bolt Action and Forge World arms and guns. I will soon have a small rag-tag bunch of Chaos’ leftovers, ready to be thrown into the battle in the vain hope of glory.

Preists are gone

Sure I only had one model, but it was a nice way of boosting Ogryn units. Guess I’ll need another use for this model…Heretek Magus anyone?

Ogryns are still mean (but expensive)

These muscle-bound oafs are still brutal as ever, and can now have a pack of angry chaos hounds join them. These mean doggies give you bonuses to chasing units down, and give you some faster attacks. Ogryns are really expensive though (60 points each before upgrades), so even though I love using them, I may downsize to a squad of three with five dogs (going up to five Ogryns at bigger games) for my first 1000 points. I can also choose to take a power drill (power weapon?) and a Lascutter, but I cannot find any reference to their stats (if anyone can help, thanks).

Chaos Scions (Sort of)

Whilst you cannot take Scions as a unit, you can make a unit that’s pretty much the same thing. If you give your HQ command Squad the Bloody-handed Reaver perk, you can upgrade Veteran units to Veteran grenadiers, giving them BS4 and Hot-shot lasguns/pistols (with the chance to buy one Hotshot Volleygun). Give them Carapace Armour and Deep Strike, and you have essentially the same unit, only spikier and with the chance to be blessed by one of the Big Four.

Bye Bye sniper Enforcer :(

The Enforcer has changed a bit since the older rules. They are cheaper, no longer have a leadership value (they add one to units, using that value) and their options have been streamlined. And the sniper rifle is not there (in fact, it’s hardly present). Sad days. What I may do is change this for a shotgun for a cheap and cheerful booster unit.

No Taurox (Super sad face)

This isn’t the be all and end all (as I shall explain) but it does suck. Everything else is there but the love/hate pig-truck. However, I plan to simply use my current and future Taroxes as Chimeras. I’ll be adding additional front armour, and a hull-mount, to make them as chose to WYSIWYG as possible.

Arvus lighter

This dinky, lightly armoured flying fridge might make for a fun addition to this army. It’s a cheap was of getting units to the battle fast, and can take a few weapons for added punch. They can be taken as squads, but each flyer can act separately. Due to the Improvised Weapon Mounts rule, I’m effectively BS1 with it at all times, so it’d only be given a load out with a high ROF (double twin stubbers). I might also give it Illum Flares, if they do what I think they do (light up the battlefield).

To end this post, here is a rough draft list for about 1000 points, based on what I currently have, and what I plan to get soon, based on the changes mentioned above. I’m still sticking to my theme, so there will be very few specialist energy weapons like plasma guns, mostly sticking to solid shot guns and las-weapons:

HQ-Renegade command squad (bloody handed reaver, Hotshot Lasgun, heavy bolter team, Chimera with two heavy bolters, militia training and a Dozer Blade)
HQ-two Enforcers (shotguns)
Elites-3 Ogryn Brutes (one power drill, one packmaster, five hounds, carapace armour)
Troop-10 Mutants (melta bomb for leader)
Troop-8 Veterans (grenadiers upgrade, hotshot volleygun, Carapace Armour, Helguns, power fist, Chimera with militia training, autocannon and heavy bolter)
Troops-Renegade platoon (30 models, command squad with covenant of Nurgle and sigil, platoon with one special weapon each, one Grenade launcher, one heavy bolter, one heavy stubber, all squads with flak armour and militia training)
Fast Attack-1 Arvus Lighter (two twin linked heavy stubbers)
Lord of War-Macador heavy tank (militia training, three autocannons)

The army is pretty much a shooting force, with some assault elements (the Ogryns/dogs and to an extent the Grenadiers). The Malcador is the backbone of the force, kitted out to engage medium armour and act as a bullet magnet (people are scared of super-heavy tanks, even the Malcador can instil fear). I am tempted to swap it for the Minotaur for some big-blast goodness, but we’ll see). Most of the platoon will hold objectives (with Enforcers to keep them in check), with the not-scions travelling around in the chimera, supported by a random squad in the Arvus from the air, to help take forward objectives. The Ogryns will do their usual thing and smash crap, doubling up as a second bullet sponge. A simple plan. The army does lack anti-AV14 so I may add a few Lascannons to units or the Malcador.
That’s all for now, but I plan to work on the Vraksians soon, likely after Christmas.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Review: Maxmini Matter Displacement Guns

Weapons specialists are great ways of adding an extra kick to units. Whether you need a big gun to take out armour, a rapid firing monster, or a bunker-busting weapon, there is a gun for every occasion. Today, I'll be looking at a third part weapon that has a wide variety of uses. Today I present Maxmini's Matter Displacement Guns.

Retailing at £5.55, this set comes with six MDGs, cast in resin. They are suitable for 28mm models, though due to their bulk they are best used on Space Marines and other superhuman models.

The details are very Imperial in nature: blocky structure with techy do-dads, tipped with a strange crystal. The details are a bit crude, but well done. The casts are quite clean with little to no warping on any of the five rifles.

The guns are large when compared to other guns, and herein lies an issue. The guns are too big to fit in normal arm pairings. You have to options: either use arms with wide spacing, or as shown below...

Trim the gun down. To make it fit, I cut off the butt of the gun, and the protruding section on the underside. Whilst this dies make the gun fit, it does defeat the point of having these details. To combat this, you could have the gun held one handed or "at ease".

In terms of an in-game use they are fairly universal, as they have generic design features, with none of the defining features that Melta, Plasma or flame weapons have. I could imagine these guns being suitable for any of these. The distinction could be masks by painting the crystals different colours (green for plasma, red for flame etc.).

Overall these MDGs have plenty of potential. Whilst blocky and potentially awkward to fit, they are a nice change from the widening array of similar looking special weapons offered by many companies out these.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

WIP: Magnus the Red (Daemon Form) Part One

“The chosen son of Tzeentch will rise again", that's what the prophecy foretold. And it is thought to have manifested. Magnus the Red, primarch of the thousand sons, the fallen leader of Tzeentch's favoured sons, walks realspasce once more, alongside the brotherhood of change. The daemon primarch has laid waste to many armies. Many sorcerers within the Thousand Sons warband welcome there return of their lord with joy, but some, those who were the first to see the Red Sorcerer, silently suspect they are being deceived. There are a number of powerful daemons who take joy in bending reality to their wills. Could this be a false Magnus?

Finally, I have done it. I am making headway on bringing the Thousand Sons primarch into model form. And with the rules for Aetaos'rau'keres (the super lord of change) and the release of Nagash, I had the perfect rules and base model to bring this daemon lord to life. To help tie the model into a 40k army, it was mounted on a custom round base, made from a spare 5" large blast template.

A lot of the Nagash model was used for this conversion. The main change is the head, which is more human-like. The only heads I had of a suitable size were Ogryn heads, so that's what I used. It is a little bone-headed in facial structure, but it is fine. I've covered most of the head with a hood anyway, and plan to add hair, to help make it more suited.

The pole axe was another key change to the base kit. I decided to use the shaft from Nagash's staff, with a custom chain/power blade hybrid inspired by this artwork of a pre-daemon Magnus. A pair of Tzeentch icons help remind us that he is not a fallen demi-god.

The spirits, whilst cool, aren't entirely suited. I noticed that the super LOC has an ability to summon Horrors, so that gave me the idea to add flying daemons  in place of some of the spirits. They still need arms, but blended in they are a neat addition to this Tzeentch powerhouse.

The model isn't done quite yet. I still need a suitable pair of shoulder pads and need to modify the armour. I also plan to fill in some of the tears in the cloak. The model is incredibly imposing already, next to infantry and even tanks he is a giant, and weigh some more work it will make for a fantastic display piece and gaming centrepiece.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

WIP: Close Combat Contemptor (Part Two)

This month has been good for getting stuff done. Today I have a lot of new progress to show with the Contemptor Dreadnought.

The Contemptor has been given a unique colour scheme, something greatly different from the usual blue scheme. This blue/yellow halved scheme was inspired by another Thousand Sons dreadnought, seen in the preview images for Imperial Armour 13: Warmachines of the Lost and Damned. The yellow was applied with the airbrush for a smooth shaded tone.

Having done the main colours and made a start on the trim, I've started working on some icons and freehand designs. Seeing as the colour scheme is new, I thought I'd have a go at a few new designs. The main one is this 'infinity' variation of the Thousand Son's symbol.

As I add more to this model, it is slowly building up a story to go with it. I imagine its occupant being a powerful sorcerer, despite internment into a metal shell.

The crushed necron warrior has also received a lick of paint. It is being painted in the same scheme as my girlfriend's necrons, because, you know, fun rivalries and all that. The soul burner in the other hand has yet to be painted, but I plan to paint it in aqua/faded greens to achieve ghostly colours.

That is all for this week, but here is a little surprise for you all. Here is a sneak peak at my next big project. The fallen lord emerges from his towers of silver after millennia of contemplating the ever changing strands of the warp.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

WIP: Close Combat Contemptor and Chaos Rapier

First off, an apology for the recent peace on the blog. A combination of work, family life and car-related work has taken up most of my time, leaving little for the likes of 40k. But now I can get back to writing, and I'll be starting off with my current projects.

For a while I've been meaning to show you more of my redone chaos contemptor dreadnought. This one was my first contemptor, and is the one you've seen at least once each time you've visited the blog (hint: look at the top). It had been looking quite tired against my newer projects, and if I am honest, a little plain. So here's the latest version.

The trim you see around the edges brings it in line with my other Contemptor.

I wanted to add more chaotic details to this model. Two gargoyle heads have replaced the exhaust rings (which were actually reused to make the gemstone surrounds on the shoulders). two small horns have gone in the rings above the contemptor's head. these are the horn tips from the CSM Icon of Tzeentch. I think that they are subtle, yet suggest that this is a dark machine of Chaos.

My favourite part remains the Soul Burner. Using parts leftover from Nagash, I've created a "spirit cannon", which fires the flaming souls of the damned at my enemies. Painting has begun, and I hope to achieve results similar to those on my recently finished Spartan.

Now, onto this fun little side project. I was so excited to discover chaos space marines could finally use rapier weapons platforms. Having made a few for kicks, it’s great to be able to use them. I plan to get a squad of three heavy bolter armed rapiers for some serious anti horde.

I did notice one interesting load out...the Cyclotrathe pattern conversion beamer: essentially a short range hcb. This looks like a fun powerful gun, so I've turned one of my planned custom builds into a Cyclotrathe variant.

The track unit is make from thinned down Taurox units, with plasticard tracks. The gun is mostly Necron Gauss Cannon components, with added pistons, spikes, and mechanical do-dads. The read is made of random junk, mainly part of a Grenade launcher from the Bullgryn set, and Necron cut-offs. Despite being made of junk, I think it works well as a rapier gun. All it needs now is a brother and some Chaos Space Marine crew.

That is all for today, but stay tuned on Facebook for more.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

WIP: Chaos Spartan Kit-Bash, Part Nine: Painting Begins

The Spartan has finally received some paint, and with some colour on it the tank really comes together: no longer being a collection of parts, but a single uniform battle machine.

So far only the main colour is close to completion. I still have to work on the metallic and freehand.
My original plan was to use the salt weathering technique to add a heavily chipped look to the tank. However, for one reason or another, the water used to affix the salt never dried; in fact it was absorbing water in the atmosphere.

Weathering attempt number two went much better. I ditched the water and salt, and went with a can of my girlfriend’s hairspray. A few layers of this, paint, and water to aid in removing the blue, left a very effective, and far easier, effect. This technique provided realistic looking scratches, with a slight 3D bonus effect. The whole deal was sealed with matte varnish to prevent additional paint chipping away. All that’s left is to highlight the chips to make them pop.

Here you can see the effect in full. I applied a lot of scratches to the front: this is the rammy end after all!

Once the blue and chipping was completed and sealed, I moved on to the details and freehand. All the colours will be done before I move onto the next stage: oil weathering. The icons will be painted in whites and yellows, befitting the Thousand Sons colour pallet.

The gunner and missile have been painted separately, and are closer to completion. Here is the gunner, with near-complete metallics and blue. All that is left is the freehand work and detailing.

I’m also 95% done with the hunter killer missile, which has been converted to suggest it is host to a daemonic entity. I painted it like a conventional missile, but with chaotic influence, in the form of blue veiny flesh patches and a baleful yellow eye.

I plan to have this tank completed by the end of the month, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Better get back to work then…