Monday, 17 October 2016

Battlefleet Gothic campaign finally over

In March, I declared I was “about to embark upon a campaign which will be a 50-50 mix of wargame and roleplay. Like Hornblower in space, what with BFG always harking back to the Age of Sail.” At the time, several of you asked how I planned to run it. Well, we finished the campaign last month, which means I’m now in a position to look back on the whole thing and share what worked and what fizzled. Mostly it worked… mostly.

The final confrontation. Having made a precarious alliance with a band of Eldar
refugees, Commodore Ortano's fleet launches an assault on the ork flagship.

The problem is that there are so many things I could talk about. I’ve made multiple attempts at writing this post, and all of them have descended into a sprawling ramble. I’m left with no choice but to resort to democracy. Oh how the High Lords of Terra would disapprove.

It seems to me that talking about this campaign could be broken down into the following topics. If you’re actually keen to hear my oh-so-wise thoughts on any of the following subjects, leave a comment, and I’ll express myself all over that particular area like an elephant seal landing on a squirrel.

Potential topics of burblage:

  1. The story details of the campaign. How did a disgraced ex-rear admiral from the Gothic Sector end up defeating an ork armada with nothing but a reconnaissance flotilla?
  2. The essential ingredients of a good narrative: conflict and change. For instance, a conflict: Clarence the elephant seal wants to put himself on Nibbles the squirrel. Nibbles is frightened of this possibility, and keeps running away. The change: Clarence sneaks up on Nibbles while he’s asleep and puts himself on Nibbles. As a result of Nibbles’ tragic death, Clarence learns about both physics and consent, becoming a more cautious and considerate seal thereafter. Wait, what was this bullet point about? Oh. Yes. Er… yeah um basically I’d talk about how you can set up a narrative and poke it in interesting directions even though you’re letting the players make all the decisions.
  3. What preparation is needed to run a narrative game? I did a whole bunch of world building and character creation to run this story, so I could go into more details on that, including a rather granular take on the crew of an Imperial capital ship.
  4. Initial thoughts on how the Epic 40,000 ruleset works when used in 28mm scale. Yes, there was a big ground combat component to this campaign. Yes, I was being ambitious. It kinda worked…
  5. Finally, this campaign featured persistent damage. If an Imperial ship was damaged or destroyed in battle, it stayed that way until it was repaired, and there were no reinforcements available. I could talk more about balancing that.

Conspicuously missing from that list is an explanation of the campaign rules themselves. That’s because it’s the one part of the whole shebang that was incredibly simple: we used the Battlefleet Gothic rules for the space battles and ship experience, but no rules at all for the roleplay side of things, despite the existence of various 40k-friendly RPGs.

I’m not averse to having game rules for social situations in RPGs, but in a Hornblower-esque story, much of the narrative centers on the relationships between the ship’s officers, which are revealed through little gestures and snippets of conversation, be it on the bridge or around the dining table. It would’ve felt weirdly unsubtle to say “roll me a social perception check.” Instead, it was up to Jon and Maisey to pick up on whatever hints I gave by the way I described things, and for me to react to the way they dealt with their crew.

Finally, you will have noted the presence of some hitherto unmentioned eldar ships in the photo above. That’s because I painted them in secret and had them turn up during a battle. Here’s another photo of the eldar ships in all their pristine glory:

Since their ships are made of wraithbone, I braved the dreaded white primer spray. It’s not obvious from the photo, but the ships have had all the crevices lovingly painted with a bone/brown shade, and the sails are semi-metallic and glossy. The intention was to get as close to a solar panel as possible. You’d probably need video footage to see how that works. Or your imagination.

Finally, one issue with the prow cannons on eldar ships is that they’re quite tall, largely to avoid having fragile gun barrels and undercuts. To get around this problem, I painted some of the guns as though they’re double-barrelled, as exemplified by this hellebore-class frigate:

OK, that’s all from me for now. Did any of the five subjects mentioned above hold any interest for you? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll get blogging.

Given how long it’s been since my last post, I will of course be unsurprised if the comments section ends up being filled with nothing but crickets and tumbleweed, and I have no one to blame but myself. Bad Charlie.

Monday, 27 June 2016

I've got sand in all the wrong places...


So, been a little bit slow on the old model front recently. Primary reason being due to a house move. Which meant packing everything away, and then moving things, then having to unpack everything again. Hobby stuff was about halfway down the priority list, far below the bed (who doesn't like sleeping?), the kitchen stuff (eating is my third favourite thing!), but above silly little things like clothing. Anyway, we're now safely settled into Nerd Cottage Mk.II. It's bigger, better armoured, and now carries a 57mm cannon... ok, maybe not a cannon, but it does have a shed with a light bulb in it!

Being a nerd, what does a new house mean? Well, it means a new project, and this summer's project is going to be a dusty one. My plan is to create a new gaming board, with scenery, and two (small) armies to play on it. Anyone who has read the title might be able to make an educated guess that I'm doing a desert board.

And the armies? Well, I'm in a bit of a bolt action place, so the first one is going to be a selection of Australian units from the British 8th Army based in Egypt. The second will be the Afrika Korp. I'm going to swapping between doing the 8th and the board. Then I'll be doing a mixture of scatter scenery. With the Afrika Korp coming later. The reason I'm holding on doing the Afrika Korp is being Jeff from Pirate Viking Painting is going be doing a North Africa based Italian Army (He loves the feathery hats they had).

Ok, enough words, here some pretty!

A rifle section from the Australian 9th Division 

Bren gun team

some rifles

some more rifles

... and that one has a Tommy gun!

Some fire support

A 2pdr QF Anti-tank gun

Crewed by some sunburnt Aussies

and finally, something to carry things

An Austin 8hp light utility truck 

or a Tilly to anyone who used them.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Chaos of Interpersonal Relationships

Good evening Bunkerers (or whatever time of day it so happens to be when you read this).

A little while ago (last August to be exact) we got rather excited about small scale fantasy armies. 750 pts, no units bigger than 20 (unless you are a Goblin or Skaven Slave), No Lords (looking at the Goblins again), the army must be at least 3 units + characters. I can't remember if there was any other restrictions we had decided on (anyone else remember?). Anyway, we had a lot of fun with these little armies and I got the notion in my head to use these rules to build a Chaos warband. There might have been some vague discussions about all of us doing something similar or that might have just been in my head and I was planning on talking about that (this sort of thing happens a lot). In true Maisey fashion I got rather over excited and read the chaos book from cover to cover (or at least looked at the pictures) and worked out what units I wanted in my warband. Then I went out a purchased a bunch of boxes and excitedly stuck them together. Then the butterfly wafted through the room and I went off and did something else (tanks might have been involved). In the meantime these Chaos models sat on the shelf doing nothing but pour guilt into my soul.

A few months back Em and I were having a bit of a spring clean and when we got to this little band of models there was a brief discussion about what to do with them. Do we offer them up to the gods of ebay? Do leave them where they are? Do I actually get on and finish the damn things? Well, the final solution was that she would adopt them into her ever growing Chaos hoard (she's up to 5k, seriously?!?). There was a catch, and catch was that I finish painting the warriors (wait, how does that work?). So I did, and here are the results. 

First up is a few Khornate warriors for maximum killydeathsmash. 

One of the other units that got absorbed was a trio of trolls (that was fun to say, in my head). I ended up painting these pretty early on, they just needed some finishing, they were fun to throw the airbrush at. 

The next unit was little block of converted Marauders. As I cannot be in the same room as the standard Marauder models without wanting to beat the sculptor around the head with an anatomy textbook I had to find an alternative. I started with Empire Flagellants and added some stolen Chaos weapons, shields, and the odd head.  In my head, the concept for the warband was a core of actual Chaos Warriors followed around by some nutty cultists. The Flagellant models fitted perfectly and didn't take a great deal of effort to kitbash into something half decent. Anyway, these I didn't paint, but Em bashed through them in a few days and gave them a far better paint job than I was either planning or able to. 

There was a fourth unit in the warband, some Marauder horsemen (which are far better sculpted). However, I'm going to leave them for Em to post. She's keeps talking about doing a post focusing on Ponies. When it comes to painting horses Em is by far the better of us (what, I can't just dry brush them brown and be done with it?) and her horses are something beautiful to behold. So I'll let her talk about them in detail next time.


Saturday, 16 April 2016

A Hard Days Knight

Hello Everyone,

I've been working on a model. A big (ish) model. I don't normally share everything I do (Perhaps I should?). Anyway, I think you'll like looking at this one. Not much to say specifically, so here is a dump of, what I think, are pretty pictures.

If you do want to know what I did, or how I did it, then drop us a note in the comments and I'll explain myself.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Nerd Thunder 5: Warhammer World - Part Three

Back to part two - the Warhammer 40,000 halls

Yes folks, this is it, the big 'un. We'd all been impressed going around, and even a miserly chap like myself (I can demand the change out of a penny with the best of 'em) had stopped grumbling about the price of admission and had just been going "WOW" a lot. Then we walked into the final hall. And saw this:

I don't think it is possible to convey through pictures just how massive this thing is. I even tried getting a shot with the guys in to for scale:

But even that doesn't give much as you can't see three quarters of the table in that shot. Seriously. Feast your eyes on some of the mini-vignettes that make up the mega-vignette of this awesome table:

the lower section of the table is a vast battlefield, for scale, the bottom left corner includes reaver titans

The bridges over the lower road, high enough for warhounds to walk under.

The citadel has these huge arched walkways, landspeeders and assault marines flying through the archways

Dreadclaws hammer in and dispatch even more chaos marines

Heldrakes dogfight with space marine flyers around the towers.

titans support a desperate attempt to stem the flood of daemons

some very unlucky marines barbecued by a helldrake

far above the battlefield, Marneus Calgar duels a Bloodthirster

A massive force of grey knights fighting for the gateway...

...are practically a footnote in the overall battle!

well, that's one way to deal with a titan.

it just feels wrong to be dwarfed and almost vertiginous around wargames scenery for heaven's sake!

I tried to give you all a sense of it but nothing can prepare you for how awesome this is in the flesh. You owe it to yourselves to see these displays if you at all can. There are dozens of others which the photos never came out or are too dark or whathaveyou - a cracking necron one was particularly galling to shoot! - and they are constantly changing them. The ticket price is worth it. These are not the old miniatures hall. Just walking around them reinvigorated our excitement for the hobby and this was right after we'd been so disappointed by Age of Sigmar. These halls made us feel like bouncy kids again and all of us went around at least twice (you can go around as often as you like on the one day).

Hope you've enjoyed this tiny sample of the awesomeness that is Warhammer World these days.