Friday, 22 June 2012

Workbench: Dwarven Shield-fence

Greetings fellow bunker dwellers. I thought I would share with you one of the first fruits of my work with my Dwarf army. Eagle-eyed readers from my previous post will have noticed that the thunderer unit are equipped with shields. Trouble is that the models I am using do not support shields and they always look stupid glued to their backs without the proper strapping. I needed a solution, read on and see if you can guess what I'm up to before I get there!

Step one was breaking out my trusty Chopper II and cutting nine lengths of plastic rod at a cm long. The chopper helps here because the cuts are at precisely the same length and perfectly perpendicular.

I glued the rods to the rim of the movement tray (I texture all of my movement trays to help them blend with a table). I used the gaps between bases to give a guide as to regular placement.

Once all the vertical rods were in place I used the 60° mitre on the Chopper to create angled braces for the end uprights. A strip of plasticard was cut to length and glued on top of the vertical posts to create a crude fence.

I glued various Dwarf-sized shields together in an overlapping strip extending the length of the fence. I left the whole thing to dry for my usual cup-of-tea duration (a useful measure of time as it means you also have a cuppa!).

Once dry the strip of shields was glued to the uprights. I also added a tankard, a pipe with its pouch of tobacco, a bag for handgun balls and a spare pistol to the top of the fence.

Finished. In the immortal words of Rolf Harris "Can you guess what it is yet?".

With the thunderers on the movement tray it forms a palisade fence with shields forming a sort of defensive obstacle. Annoyingly the right side of the fence drooped and slid down the uprights when this photo was taken! I fixed it and left it to dry properly, impatience is the enemy of wargaming.

Another angle on the droopyfence. I think this is the best solution for the thunderer shield problem. Given that they will mostly be used at range it gives a nice arrow-catching obstacle to hide behind. It doesn't, however, look strong enough to be a proper defensive obstacle under the rules. Let me know what you think! Until next time folks,


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Giving apocalyptic battles a story

There’s a bunch of stuff that has to be sorted out whenever you want to play a game of Warhammer 40K Apocalypse: your friends all getting the same day off work, transport, a venue, and Ork-glyph-themed cupcakes (you’re the best, Mark).

The thing is, the wargaming demographic crosses over quite extensively with the I couldn’t organise my way out of a wet paper bag even if you gave me the Jaws of Life demographic. Concordantly, amongst all that last-minute faffing, there’s one thing which is often left behind.

That thing is a narrative.

So, when myself and three of my fellow Beard Bunkerettes* decided to head up to Warhammer World for Nerd Thunder III (our third annual game of Apocalypse) we needed a narrative. To my mind, the constituent components of a game’s narrative are as follows:

  • The armies being used
  • The battlefield being used
  • The overall narrative concept (Last stand? Planetary assault? Hold the line?)

The armies were Blood Angels and White Hands Space Marines versus Orks. The battlefield? See below.

The twelve-by-six-foot table representing Helsreach Bridge (on  the hilariously-named planet Armageddon, for those of you unfamiliar with the lore).
Thus we had the overall concept: during the Third War for Armageddon, Chapter Master Spektre of the White Hands would be cut off from reinforcements and surrounded whilst holding Helsreach Bridge against the Ork advance. Having spent several days holding the bridge against all comers, the White Hands are about to be overwhelmed. It’s at this point that Captain Tycho and the Blood Angels 3rd Company come to their rescue.

This gave us the overall shape of the game, but it put too much emphasis on the middle of the table. We needed more objectives than that to break the game up and stop it becoming one grinding ruck in the centre. At this point, we looked at the photo of the board, thought about the scenery, and added two more objectives.

Firstly, the Imperial buildings in the photo were scatter scenery, which meant we’d be able to cluster them on one side of the river to represent the outskirts of Helsreach Hive. On the other side, we’d bring our Ork shanty town** to Warhammer World and use that to represent the Orks building a forward base.

So, we now had three areas: the hive’s outskirts, the bridge, and the Mek’s garage. Maisey’s Imperial Guard Redshirts would attempt to hold the outskirts in case his White Hands lost the bridge, and the Blood Angels, whilst coming to the aid of the White Hands, would also attempt to knock out the Ork base.

You’ll notice that’s only three objectives; we weren’t using the standard Apocalypse mission from the book (which was, in fairness, intended only as a rough guide). To represent how badly surrounded the White Hands were at the beginning of the game, the diagram below shows the deployment/reinforcement zones.

Ork deployment in green, Imperial deployment in red (naturally).

We made certain other adjustments, namely, that the Blood Angels were allowed to deploy as many units as they wanted on turn two, to represent their heroic intervention, whereas the Orks would use the normal Apocalypse reserve rules. Furthermore, the Blood Angels could deploy everything by deep strike, as Thunderhawks came roaring out of the sky (Rhino-sized tanks would have to land in pairs, back-to-back, to represent the Thunderhawk Transporters doing the work).

One final rule we introduced, to better take Captain Tycho’s background into account, was to make him roll for Black Rage every turn (for those of you who don't know their background, the Blood Angels have a flaw in their geneseed which can make them throw all their toys out of the civilisation pram; it's an awesome slice of backstory that I don't really have the space to explain here, but it's all in their Codex). After all, it was the Battle for Helsreach in which Tycho finally succumbed to the Curse, and we wanted to game with the knowledge that he could lose it at any moment.

To further emphasise the narrative aspects, Mark and I agreed to deploy the Orks in clans, so that the Orks in different parts of the board would all have distinct colour schemes and look like three different tribes rumbling around the same battlefield.

Oh, and one final thing: as with pretty much all our other games, we would use only finished models. It was so satisfying seeing a bunch of armies that had benefitted from time and love all beating the snot out of each other, and I can’t imagine enjoying the game half as much as I did had Maisey and I not spend the previous night desperately slapping paint all over my 'Ard Boyz.***

Anyway, that was the theory behind Nerd Thunder III. In the event, having a story encouraged us to play fast and loose with the rules if it meant doing something cool, and as such, even the losers had fun. Who were the losers? I shall tell you soon, via the medium of a battle report, as the last one seemed to go down well.


*The Beard Bunkerettes sound like an Post-apocalyptic motown band.
**We’ll do a showcase of the Ork scenery in another post, because we’ve not really touched on scenery yet, and I fear that’s something of an oversight.
***Dear sweet baby Jesus on a snowboard did that sentence sound less filthy in my head.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A Meeting of Butterfly Brains Anonymous

 We all sit in a circle, dodgey coffee in plastic cups. I stand:

"Hi, I'm Jeff and I've got a Butterfly Brain."

We all chorus "Hi Jeff" and I get to the confessionals part:

Yeah, as you might have guessed there's trouble in them thar hills. Sadly I have made no progress whatsoever on my Nurgle Chaos at all. Not a sausage, nada. This got me to thinking why recently, as diagnosing the underlying causes of "project flitting syndrome" can help you avoid it in the future. Here's what I think are the problems with my Chaos army at present:

  1. They take forever to assemble. Oh dear god do they take forever. The corroded armour is lovely and I adore the effect but it needs a huge amount of work to achieve before paint is even applied. While the army is small in number the slow progress is incredibly frustrating.
  2. As a coda to part 1, I like the army concept too much to cut corners and rush it but I want to make progress, it's satisfying to finish things.
  3. Repetetive colour scheme fatigue: I've painted a lot of corroded and rusted stuff lately, seems like most of my armies have been painted in this way. I'm bored.
  4. Whispers on the wind of an impending new army book for Chaos Warriors, now, this is not the most important problem but it does tend to slow me down before I invalidate a whole bunch of work. The Internet can be a real problem sometimes.
  5. There has been a long break without any progress (commission work, house move, the above points) so my mind tends to flit off to the next exciting thing.
  6. Moving house has left me church-mouse poor and the Chaos army needs stuff buying for it.
So the long and short of it is this: I love the concept and look of the army; I want to do it justice; I don't think I can do that right now. Hmm. Well beardlings, there is only one cure for this problem, a different project chosen to avoid the problems listed above.

So how to solve this? Well, lets take the points as we go, point 1 is solved by choosing an army with straightforward assembly so I can get to the fun bit, the painting. Point 2 is solved by choosing an army which has fairly simple paintwork or for which I have a lot of practice, thus guaranteeing rapid progress. Point 3 is an easy fix, don't choose an evil army! Point 4 is more awkward but can be gotten around by choosing an army with no impending murmurings. Point 5 is to find an army list that I like every single model in, everything is therefore exciting. Point 6 means choosing something from the ludicrously large pile of unpainted lead I have lying around.

I won't bore you with the details of my thought processes going through the points with each army but instead tell you what I settled on: Dwarfs. Now some of you who know me are going "Dwarfs? Weren't you bored of them, having played them since you were 10?" and indeed I have said this, but... I realised I hadn't actually played a game with Dwarfs since I was running GW Harrow, that was almost a decade ago. I haven't played a game with Dwarfs in the new, more exciting edition. I haven't painted any Dwarfs in a decade. I don't think it is fair to write them off! Plus, so many people think of me as a natural Dwarf player and I don't have an army that I wouldn't be embarressed to put on the table.

The long and short of it is that I want to paint some Dwarfs, so hell with it, I am going to! I am thus shifting my attentions to the short, stunty fellows. Playing around with the army lists gives me this:

If some of the unit sizes look a little odd, this is because several of the units are being based 6 or even 7 wide to maximise the number of attacks they can deliver in a single round. Dwarfs are expensive in points and as an elite army will never get the maximum benefits of ranks or outnumbering, equally, their Initiative of 2 tends to mean that their numbers will be somewhat whittled before they get to fight. Hence, you look to win combat on wounds caused. This army, hopefully, solves all of my problems, I know how to get the best out of the figures quickly. I own every figure in this list already (plus, ahem, a couple of hundred more, no really, but that is a different addiction) and there is no figure I don't like in it (because I'm not using the stupid new war machines. More on that in later posts).

Hopefully, this means that you will see some hobby progress soon and might even help some fellow BBA members with their own problems. We take every day at a time etc.

I sit.

"Well lets all thank Jeff for sharing with us today..."

Scene fades to black.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Back in Tanks!

 Oi, is that action compliant with EC framework directive 2008/98/EC?

So, Hi.
Yeah it has been a while…

(awkward silence) 

I bet you’re all wondering how my Skaven are getting on then? What magical ratty delights are on offer?

A ferocious horde of er, Skaven?

Now… The observant amongst you may have noticed that those weren’t *exactly* Warhammer Skaven; and were in fact a huge bunch of 40K Orks and some vehicles. This pretty much directly contradicts what I said in my previous post – about how I was going to do less Orky stuff and more ratty stuff.
If I have an excuse (and I really don’t have a good one) it’s that the sort-of-annual ish Nerd Thunder has come round again, and it is very nearly time for the denizens of the Beard Bunker to head up to Warhammer World and play with lots of our toys all at once. It’ll be a bit like the Famous Five, but with more shouting; more dice; more beards; there won’t be five of us or a dog or a crime to solve and there won’t be any repressed transvestites - although I’m still not too sure about Maisey. So in short, absoloutely nothing like the Famous Five.  
Last year’s Nerd Thuder was a blinding success, and we all had a great time. Saying that,, I welled up a bit when 100 of my Orks got killed all in one combat phase – Oh the Orkmanity!

The Maisey Marines about to take names - the names of MY ORKS damnit.

Snippy and Zippy about to deliver violent, hydraulic, klanking deff!

So this year I’ve been busy building some vehicles in which to transport some of my Orks to keep them safe from Beakys with choppas.

First up is the Kilkrusha, Da Yeller Peril

Da Yeller Peril is commanded by a grot - Major Fret

Major Fret - waving for encouragement

Next is a new battlewagon modelled on a patriot missile tractor – the snappily named HEMT M983A4.

Hur hur hur - OrkshKorksh

Finally, there are a couple of trukks for getting the boys around in. One has bitchin’ red rims -to make it go faster - and one is optimised for transporting nicked stuff.

Guess which one is fer nickin stuff in?

What would be the use of Trukks if it weren't for a huge number of Boys and some Nobs to shout instructions?

From Left to Right - Rekkjor, Bunka, Dregzod & Nazzlug

And that's it from me for now. I'll be back to rats by mid June, and I'll have a bit of progress to show by then - I've got some exciting plans for the rats. Just got to savagely beat a few beakies and umies first!
As a great ork once said: