Wednesday, 29 April 2015

WIP: Dark Skitarii Maniple (Part Two)

The Dark Skitarii continue to grow, and this week has seen me not only buy the codex, but also one of the support units available to the army: an Ironstrider.

First up, the book. Codex: Skitarii a cheaper codex at £20; sure it's about a third smaller than a codex weighing in at 80 pages, but the cheaper entry cost to playing Skitarii over other armies is appealing. They haven't skimped in quality either, as the book feels and looks well made, with some beautiful artwork. Also there is a return to seeing 'Eavy Metal style painted models in the pages, something that is new to me (I haven't seen any other 7th ed books). What would have been amazing is something far older; Golden Daemon entries (like in Codex: Chaos Space Marines 3.5), but that is what Warhammer: Visions is for I suppose.

I've also made up an Ironstrider war walker. I chose to make it as a Sydonian Dragoon since I like the idea of mounted robot cavalry, something that neither my Thousand Sons or Vraksians can claim to have. Also, after my first battle with my Skitarii, I've fallen in love with taser weapons.

The model is also armed with a Phosphor Serpenta, thought a modified version. I didn't like the idea of the rider not holding on with at least one hand (one is needed for the lance) so instead the Phosphor weapon is slaved to the servitor, mounted in place of one of the T-Rex robot arms. In-keeping with the army's fluff (recently traitorous) the model only bears minor mutations; a horn coming from the servitor, and a larger bony protrusion from the Serpenta.

Having pondered the codex, I have this small army list made up for what I currently possess:

TROOPS-10 Skitarii Rangers, Transuranic Arquebus, Omnispex, The Omnicient Mask

TROOPS-8 Skitarii Vanguard, two Plasma Calivers, Arc Pistol, Phase Taser

FAST ATTACK-1 Sydonian Dragoon, Phosphor Serpenta

This army, whilst small, is focused in its role, and each unit is kitted out accordingly. The Dragoon's role is to charge big scary monsters and vehicles, using it's first turn strength eight and doubled initiative to cause some serious damage to an enemy unit. If it goes towards infantry, the Phosphor Serpenta will help mark the unit, making it easier for the other squads to kill in the Shooting phase.

The Rangers' Alpha has the Omnicient Mask , which grants the unit the Zealot rule, meaning it can stay on the table and pick off important models such as sergeants and special weapons carriers.

My Vanguard will fight from the front, using their deadly rad and plasma weapons to take on most foes, be they hordes of Orks or large Tyranid bio-constructs. The Alpha's Phase Taser has the added bonus of toughness-based Instant Death, meaning tougher creatures are less than safe against him.

Though this force is small, it will hopefully be effective. Next in line will be another Dragoon to bulk out the squad, as well as either more Vanguard/Rangers, or another support unit like the Ruststalkers or the mighty Onager (speaking of Onagers, I do have a Forge Fiend not doing anything these days...). As usual, keep up to date with this project, and others, via the Facebook page.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

WIP: RT Chaos Land Raider Achilles (Part One)

Some might call it sacrilege, but modifying a classic model, especially a rare one, can be deeply satisfying, and specially worthy of note of the example in question has seen better days. At 1000 Facebook likes I promised to reveal something special, and here it is, a WIP Chaos Land Raider Achilles based on the original Rogue Trader era Land Raider of legend. 

The original tank, the jewel in a neat RT era haul, was in a dire condition. Huge chunks of the tank had been melted (probably with a lighter), the tracks were damaged, and there was this weird gunk covering parts of it...Nurgle's Rot probably. Only about 60% of the tank was usable, and less than half the visible bodywork was in a good way.

There is little chance of finding spares, so I decided to bite the bullet and commit RT Heresy: I converted this vintage model and made a modern version of it. The first task was to strip the tank down and chop away the horribly melted sections and replace them with plasticard fabrications. The basic hull was easy to do with multiple flat sections, and the usable parts of the floor, front plate and engine bay.

The Tracks were harder to replicate, but I think I've done a convincing job. Strips of plasticard and plastic rod were used to replace melted and missing links and pins respectively. 

A recent idea was to have a Heavy Bolter turret on top, a weapon option available to the Achilles. I didn't have one on a pintle mount, but I did have a spare turret from my Blood and Skulls Chimera review, and the hull plate to go with it. With a lot of trimming it fit flush on top. It also helps bulk out the hull, which is small compared to the modern iteration of the Land Raider.

The engine combines elements from several eras, neat slim pipes of the modern age, but with an archaic vibe about them. They were actually Lascannons from my home made Lascannon guide, but cut down and given additional bracing. 

Creating the main gun was an interesting challenge. I had intended to make a completely custom tank armed with an Earthshaker, to count-as a Legion Basilisk. But something this venerated deserves more than that, so it became the Quad Mortar-armed Achilles. The main barrel is from the Baneblade/Shadowsword kit, with four smaller tubes glues together. They are removable, should I decide that I want to run a custom tank.

Both sides were badly scarred, so the only real option was to re-skin the side panels. Whilst they look plain now, once trimmed and given rivets, they will fit the aesthetics of the tank. 
Once this relic is brought fully from the land of the dead and dying, I will look forward to pulping everything in the name of Tzeentch.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Battle Report: Dark Skitari Vs Necrons (300 pts)

This week saw me not only start a new army, but also get my first game with it; albeit a small one. I pitted my starting units against an equally pointed Necron force. The battle went something like this....

TROOPS-10 Rangers, Transuranic Arquebus, Omnispex
TROOPS-6 Vanguard, two Plasma Caliver, Arc Pistol, Taser Goad

HQ-Overlord, Staff of Light, Sempiternal Weave
TROOPS-8 Warriors
TROOPS, 5 Immortals, Gauss

Table and scenario:

We decided to go for a small table with simplified rules for a nice quick game. We didn't bother with warlord traits, and just went for a standard killpoint game. Necrons went first, Skitarii failed to steal the turn

Turn One

The Necrons advanced slowly forward, with the Warriors going around to the left to attack the Vanguard, whilst the Immortals and Overlord went for the Rangers. A wave of Gauss fire disintegrates two Vanguard, but the squad maintains composure. The Immortals, out of range of the Rangers, make a run move.

Skitarii scrap-code flies through the air, and the half-humans make their opening moves. The remaining Vanguard pour rad and plasma fire into the Warriors, downing two. Despite the punishing fire, the Necron constructs reform and the squad remains at full strength. The Rangers fair a bit better, and manage to take down two Immortals, one of which stays down.

Turn Two

The Necron Warriors continue to obliterate the Vanguard, who are all taken down barring the Vanguard Alpha, whose cold logical mind keeps him in the fight. The Immortals take out a Ranger with their heavier Gauss weapons. 

Realising the end is nigh, the Vanguard Alpha makes a desperate charge. His Arc Pistol fries one Necron, only for it to reanimate. The charge is more successful, and whilst he does loose a wound to reactionary fire, three Warriors are shorted out by the Alpha's Taser Goad. The five survivors hold their ground.

The Rangers pour accurate fire into the Immortals, downing two of these elite machines. A few shots strike the Overlord, but fail to damage it.

Turn Three

The Overlord leads from the front, moving forward and killing a ranger with its Staff of Light. The Immortals fail to cause any damage. In the close combat, the Vanguard Alpha finally succumbs to the tide of silver metal.

The lone Ranger squad focuses on the tougher Immortals, taking down another two. Galvanic shots bounce harmlessly off the Overlord. 

Turn Four

The slow methodical advance continues, with both Necron units firing at the Rangers in cover. Two more Rangers fall to the torrent of Gauss fire.
They retaliate, killing two Warriors, causing the remaining mdels to flee the battlefield. They later regain composure.

Turn Five (Final Turn)

This final turn sees the Necrons steadily enter the Skitarii battlezone, burning several more Ranger with their Gauss weapons. a Failed charge by the Immortals and Overlord sees the last Immortal taken down.

The few survivors fall back, hoping to avoid a chage from the Overlord. Galvanic Rifles aimed at the Warriors cause some damage, killing the remaining survivors.
Game Ends.

Victory points:

Necrons: Units killed (1), First Blod (1), In enemy territory (1), Total=3
Skitarii: Units Killed (2), Total=2
Necron Victory!

This was a close defeat, but a fun and educational one. I learned a number of things from this Firstly, Plasma Calivers, whilst Dangerous, are good, and can put out a high amount of high-strength-low AP shots, triple that of a conventional Plasma Gun at medium Range. Taser Goads are also great, acting like a high-strength Tesla weapon in combat (6's grant bonus attacks). It is worth noting though that bigger squads are better, as my Vanguard were taken out fairly easily. The army could also do with some heavier support, either some Dragoons, Balistarii or an Onager.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

WIP: Dark Skitarii Mantiple (Part One)

The Mechanicum has always been a fascinating army to me. They come across as the anti-hero: an organisation which will help humanity, but only if it supports their own hidden agenda. And then there's the Dark Mechanicum, a splinter group who have removed the shackles of the Mars doctrine, and are free to discover and create all that their artificial hearts desire. Often this leads to daemon-crafting, but it is a liberating view, which Imperialist dogs call heresy. Anyway, onto some models.

I've been tempted into creating a small Skitrii force for my Chaos Space Marines to ally with. Now, I am totally aware that under normal circumstances, I am not able to ally the two without serious penaltes. That is fine, they will mostly come out to play for friendly games (with some altered allies rules), be proxied as Renegades and Heretics models (with the Dark Magos upgrade) or as a standalone force in skirmish games.

The first unit is one made from the review set from earlier this week: basic Skitarii. They have been built up as Rangers; armed with the lethally accurate Galvanic Rifles. A Transuranic Arquebus acts as the units anti-armour.

The unit Alpha was a simple but effective conversion. I am going for a recently fallen look, and this a simple head swap and a few small horns was enough to transform the model. This terrifying skull-mask is from a Warzone: Resurrection model (Mars assassins come to mind, a coincidence perhaps?) and makes for a scary alien-but-familiar visage.

Squad members two to ten are fairly straightforward, and for the most part are build using just the box components. Since they are recent traitors, I want most of the evil appearance to come from the painting, not from a mass of tentacles and mutations. Also, it's not the Mechancus style.

As well as the standard unit, a second unit, this time Vanguard, is in the works. They are based on leftover Krieg Grenadier bodies, with the spare rad-guns from the Skitarii kit.

The army will probably stay quite small after these units are built. They will be supported by either a pair of Dragoons or an Onager. Maybe both if I ever decide to make it a fully-blown army.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Review: Horus Heresy Drop Assault For Android

With Games Workshop pumping out a constant stream of mobile games these days, I thought it would be good to sample one; and what better one to try out than a free one.

Horus Heresy: Drop Assault is a game available for ios and Android devices, and is a free-to-play Clash Of Clans clone, based on one of our favourite hobbies. You take control of one of four of the Space Marine Legions (each with a unique game bonus), and choose to side either with the Emperor's loyalists or Horus' traitors.

The gameplay is fairly straightforward, if a bit slow and repetitive. It all boils down to taking over territories whilst bolstering your forces with a reasonable variety of troops, upgrading troops via research and managing defences with turrets. It does take a while for things to build and level up, unless you're prepared to spend Mechanicum points, the games instant-build currently which can be bought as well as being earned slowly. It is a formula very common for this type of game, so there is no point berating this game for it without considering the fact that every other 'freemium' game out there that came before. It is a sin of the genre, not Drop Assault.

Whilst it is very easy to criticise this type of game (and many do) the game has plenty going for it. First off, it's free! A rarety on GW's part. The best things in life are free, and if you don't like this game, you haven't lost anything financially.

Secondly, it has a cartooonish charm to it. I quite like the graphical style. Having gotten used to the more gritty and "realistic" graphics of Dawn of War and Space Marine, it is charming to see a game with cartoon-styled characters, backgrounds and colouring. It is a refreshing change to the grim-dark style we are used to.

Sadly the game does have a few faults. When I first downloaded it, there were a number of severe (but not game-breaking) bugs. The big ones were having no HUD when performing recon on enemy bases, and no victory/defeat announcement after finishing a battle, meaning I had to restart the game to go back to base. Whilst these have resolved themselves (possibly an auto-update) it is an issue which will put many of you off.

Drop Assault also takes a very long time to load. This might be down to Android 5.1 (which is very slow on Nexus 1st generation tablets) but waiting so long to play a game is a bit frustrating. I often have to refresh and try loading again.

All-in-all Drop Assault a fun little game with plenty of character, that sticks to the fluff and history of the game, but is  product with a few flaws. Whilst it does have a few bugs that needs fixing, and it can be slow-paced at time, it is a fun, free little distraction that is worth a download, for curiosity's sake if nothing else.

(Images from, used for review purposes only)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

WIP: Chaos Fire Raptor Redo (Part One)

A few years ago, I bought a second Storm Raven kit, with the intentions of building it into  Fire Raptor gunship: a unit which has recently been given new (and official) rules in Imperial Armour Thirteen. However, after a number of failed attempts to make it look right, I gave up and left it for a bit. A bit turned into a while, and after over a year of no action, I've restarted work on the gunship.

The main thing that put me off was the hull. This was different to my previously made Storm Eagle, as I needed two round indentations for the ball turrets. I had attempted to sculpt these recessions using milliput, but I was (and still wasn't) happy with the results; the surface was far too lumpy and uneven. 

I have since skinned the old work with plasticard, the thinnest stuff I had. I used a circle cutter intended for use on paper to cut the holes: the thinness of the plasticard make this very easy work. For the turrets, I am going for a non-spherical shape, and more of a dilapidated functional shape, a half-circle turret with a flat face for the guns. It may not look as nice as the official ones, but it will work well. The basis for the turrets is a pair of 40mm round bases.

The front of the flyer has been make to look daemonic, with boney tentacles bursting out of the armour. These parts came from the Nagash kit and were leftover from my WIP Daemon Magnus conversion.

Some were shortened, and the cut-offs have been glued along the hull. Greenstuff was used to make it appear that these appendages have torn through the armoured flanks. 

Next up on the to do list is to finish sealing the hull, ready for additional armour plates to be added. The wings will be made up so I can work out what to do with the top of the hull section. Once the basics are done, I ca move onto the fun stuff like weapons and finishing the driver.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Review: Mechanicum Skitarii Boxset

Once in a blue moon, GW comes along and gives us something new. For the first time, the Skitarii are a full-blown codex force, with several plastic kits and a hardback book. Today, I'm cracking open a box of their core troops, a Skitarii boxset.

A box of Skitarii will set you back £23.50, which for a box of ten multi-option models, is fairly good for GW these days, when you consider that Scions cost about the same for only five, and some Warhammer Fantasy sets are almost double.

This set contains enough components to make either ten Sktarii Vanguard or ten Skitarii Rangers (or half and half, since the minimum squad size is five). You get three sprues with the components, a transfer sheet, instructions WITH rules for the models (a new trend perhaps?) and a pack of 25mm round bases, with a new mini-oval shaped base, for use if you decide to field a model with a Transuranic Arquebus (AKA a relic-50Cal).

I'm surprised GW is giving people free rules for these models. Sure you should buy the codex to get the full flavour of the faction, but it is a nice touch for those just starting the hobby, and either haven't had the chance or money to buy the codex yet. 

The components fit the fluff: plenty of robes, bionics and arcane equipment. Whilst vastly different to the more servitor-like Mechanicum models from Forge World, this plastic kit still looks like it belongs to this previously under-represented wing of the Imperium. They share a few features with the 30k Solar Auxilia (armour style, robes, and Vanguard helmets), so I see many people using these as an alternative set for making Lasrifle Sections.

The parts are well detailed, with crisp cabling, small style features like the multiple lenses nd rebreathers, and fine iconography on the chest pieces. In terms of optional weapon upgrades, you get one of every option available to the squad, including choices of special weapons for squad members, and pistol and close-combat options for the unit Alphas. As well as weapons the kit comes with an Omnispex and Data Tether.

Modelling-wise, they go together very well. You don't have to fight any of the pieces, and everything has its place. Each pair of legs has a corresponding torso, so it is difficult to fully pose or customise these models without some greenstuff. The arms, however, can be used on any model with no physical restrictions. The robes will need a bit of liquid putty, as there were a few join lines on show.
With the leftover arms, it is very easy to make another unit using other bodies.

The arms are about the same size as those on most Astra Militarum models, and should fit on them with no issues. Here is a pair of arms from the kit used on a DKOK grenadier I had lying around. They need a tiny bit of work to fit these bodies (FW scale differences) but for the most part it is an easy enough conversion.The models stand a tiny bit taller than human models, owing to their bionic-enhanced physique.

Overall this kit is a must-buy for any modeller or gamer. This kit is a great way to start this new army, or as an addition to another one via allies. It is relatively cheap for what you get, and after finishing the squad, you have a ton of extra components to either add to other models, or to help create a second squad. Whilst it's not totally customisble without some cutting, there is plenty of potential for modellers both new and experienced. If this kit is anything to go by, the Mechanicum range will be a fun range for modellers everywhere.