Thursday, March 8, 2018

Step-by-step - Rogue Trader habitat

I’ve designated 2018 as my Year of Rogue TraderTM. I’ve accumulated a modest pile of RT miniatures over the last couple of years and have painted precisely one of them. So this year I’m going to make a dent in the pile.

My aim is to paint enough minis for a small skirmish game – say a dozen a side – covering two or three different forces, plus scatter terrain and a 4’x4’ board. I reckon that’s achievable even if I get distracted by some side projects along the way!

Progress is going well. My Mentor Legion squad was finished yesterday, and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. The freehand insignias weren’t as tricky as I thought they would be! I entered the dreadnought in the Eavier Metal 20 Year painting competition with no expectation of winning but just for the heck of it. I spent a bit more time on it than I might have otherwise, but I just don’t think I have the patience to produce really quality work. I’d rather have lots of OK painted minis than a few good ones!

Mentor Legion ready to rumble
 I’ve also been working on the terrain. So far I’ve completed some plants (and have a few more on the way), and some floating gas spore greebies. I’ve also finished three habitats for my campaign world of Zenithal Prime (see what I did there?), and I thought people might be interested in a step-by-step.
Death world flora at its finest

Giant purple gas spores - but of course
 The main part of the structure is a plastic thing I picked up (along with most of the rest of the bits I’ve used) from Reverse Garbage. If you live in Brisbane, go and check it out. They take office and commercial waste that would otherwise go to landfill and re-sell it. It’s a great source of odds and ends for terrain building. I’ve no idea what these things were originally used for, but they’re the perfect size and shape for a habitat on a harsh frontier world.

Odd plastic thing
Bits and pieces were stuck on with PVA to give the models a bit of interest – old computer bits, bency straws and the things that cover plugs on electical appliances. The door way was cut out, a piece of cereal packet card glues over the inside of the hole and thicker card cut to form a door and stuck to it. The buildings are based on old CDs.

Now with extra bits
I was almost going to leave them untextured, as the plastic thing had a bit of roughness to it, but changed my mind and was glad I did. I mixed polyfilla with water and sand from the kids’ sandpit to make a gritty paste and slathered it on. Once it was dry, I spray primed it grey and painted it with emulsion that I had tinted P3 Rucksack Tan for my wizard’s tower. I drybrushed it with 2:1 white:Rucksack Tan and voila!

Texture added
The bits were painted P3 Sulfuric Yellow, washed with Agrax Earthshade and then weathered by sponging on P3 Bloodstone and P3 Greatcoat Grey, followed by more Earthshade. I’m really happy with how those bits turned out – just the look I was going for!The doors were GW Ironbreaker washed with Earthshade and splotched with Bloodstone.

Ready for the settlers to move in
Next up terrain-wise is a larger habitat followed (probably) by the power generator for the growing settlement. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Battle report - skaven vs chaos dwarfs

'Bossboss! Manymany short short baddwarfs coming through valley!'

Snikrit Mansbane looked up from the goblin head he was gnawing on and fixed a red eye on his lieutenant. 'How manymany?'

'Manymany!', came the reply.

'Hmm. Manymany baddwarfs, muchmuch loot. Make ready. Time to fightfight.'
Let battle commence!

As well as my wood elves, I’ve recently finished a decent-sized skaven army. If I go a bit over the top with character models and magic items I can just nudge 2,000 points. It was time to give it an outing, and Neville suggested a battle against his chaos dwarfs.

Now, Neville’s chaos dwarf army is something special. It’s made up exclusively of Citadel models from the 80s, and includes both a Whirlwind and a Tenderiser – two models that greatly impressed me back in the day.
A thing of beauty!
 My army comprised literally every painted skaven model I own! The main unit totals 34 clanrats including the general and army standard bearer, with a smaller unit of clanrats, a unit of stormvermin and the compulsory unit of slaves providing the rest of bulk. Four rat ogres and their handlers give me some hitting power, and a selection of specialist troops, giant rats and war machines round out the force.
Manymany skaven
 As far as tactics go, skaven can’t afford to hang around! Low Ld and Cl and no missile fire to speak of means you’ve got to get into combat quickly and use weight of numbers to break enemy units. The warpfire throwers and jezzails can soften up enemy units and plague censer bearers provide a random but potentially deadly boost.

Facing dwarfs meant that I had the advantage of waiting until Neville had deployed his whole army bar the Tenderiser and Whirlwind. I lined by three main units up with his main ones, and deployed the giant rats to go after the artillery, with each one accompanied by a poisoned wind globadier. The fire throwers would sit in the gaps between the units and try to get shots in as the units advanced. The jezzails were paired up on the hill on the right flank. The rat ogres were to provide support on the right flank, and the gutter runners were sent up the left with the slaves stuck there out of the way.
Bipedal man-sized rats as far as the eye can see
 I won the dice roll to start, and moved everyone forward. Instantly I realised my mistake of starting the ogres in the forest! Half move and no reserve move meant that they would spend most of the battle trying to get out of the damn woods! The jezzails shot at the Tenderiser and missed, and my wizard tried a wind blast spell on it but was out of range.
Ready, aim...
 In Neville’s turn my smaller unit of clanrats took a few casualties from the crossbow dwarfs, but the real damage was done by the artillery. The mortars scored direct hits on the jezzails, with only one gunner surviving the blasts. The main unit of clan rats lost 10 of its number – including the champion – to bazuka fire. This was always on the cards, though, so I wasn’t too worried.
Flamethrower's eye view
 Turn 2 saw the skaven advance continue. On the left flank a censer bearer was released from the smaller clanrat unit. The noxious fumes damaged the Whirlwind (don’t ask me how!), causing it to become unstable at high speeds. The warpfire throwers incinerated a couple of dwarfs and the swivel gun crew, which was handy as those things can be lethal against large units. Over on the right, a rat pack charged the Tenderiser, damaging its steering gear so that it could only turn right. The rats drew the resulting combat –result! The dwarf berserker unit was held in place by a well-directed wind blast spell.
Mouse meets lawnmower
 The bazukas again took their toll on the big clanrat unit, wiping out another 8! The Tenderiser pulped the rats, but the mortars took aim at the rats advancing towards them and missed. At this point I was feeling pretty happy about the giant rats! 22.5 points per unit and they’d damaged a war machine and drawn fire from some dangerous artillery.
Build a better mousetrap...
 Combat was well and truly joined in round 3. The stormvermin charged the bersekers, and the smaller clanrat unit charged the crossbows. My elite unit won the combat, as did the clanrats (the dwarfs stood and fired as the skaven charged in, and missed completely!). In the heat of battle I forgot to move the rat ogres, who continued to languish uselessly at the back.
Whirling gaseous death mice
 Neville charged the Tenderiser at a lone globadier, who bravely turned and ran! The war machine instead ran into the surviving jezzail gunner, who I had been manoeuvring to try to get between the Tenderiser and my main force. A second unit of chaos dwarves joined the battle against the storm vermin. Not only did the stormvermin win the round, they routed the dwarfs who had just charged in. Great success!
Greater love has no rat than this: to lay down his life for his friends
Bring back the biff!
 At this point, I thought we’d be done in a couple of turns –units would soon rout and either get cut down in free hacks or disappear off the table edge and we’d had a clear winner.

Suffice to say – that didn’t happen! Instead, it turned into a meat-grinding war of attrition. The slaves charged the whirlwind and held them up for about three turns, passing a couple of rout tests along the way. In fact, passing rout tests was the theme of the evening. The crossbows lost every round of combat, but didn’t give up until they were pushed back off the table edge! As soon as the rat ogres emerged from the woods, they were pummelled by the mortars then charged by the Tenderiser, wiping them out.
Best 40 points I ever spent
 The general’s unit was pushed back by dwarfs with a dread banner (causes fear), automatically routing. They rallied just in time to be charged by both the war machines! I managed to take out the smaller artillery, and the berserkers were reduced to about 3 models, but at half past midnight I threw in the towel!
Run away, run awaaaaay
 It was a fun game, and I learnt a lot. I was happy with my tactic of using the giant rats as warmachine hunters and I don’t think I did much wrong in the centre of the table. I will never again start a unit on difficult ground, as my rat ogres were wasted. I also managed to run a unit of giant rats into a dead end, and my gutter runners were badly positioned at the start and took a while to come into the game. I’ll have to paint up another wizard, as I think more magic would have been handy.
Tight squeeze
It's over, guys
Skaven against dwarfs will often be a slogfest, I think. Their high Ld means they’ll rarely rout, while skaven force of numbers and higher initiative will mean they’ll often win a round of combat, avoiding the rout test they’d be likely to fail.

So I’m off to refine my army a bit and look forward to the next battle!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Making a terrain board

After the recent heavy defeat of my skaven, I realised that I need a bigger board to play on. My current 3’x3’ board is fine for skirmishes or up to about 500 points a side, but anything much bigger than that and it’s really too small. Hence my new project to make myself a 6’x4’ table.

Like battling on a pocket handkerchief
My requirements are that it be relatively quick to make, looks good, and can be stored easily. I prefer using scatter terrain over having terrain moulded into the board – the latter option looks great but I would get bored playing on the same terrain over and over. Even if the table is modular, you’re always going to have that hill somewhere on the board.

Which is good, because a plan surface is a lot quicker and easier to make! I’m going to make three 2’x4’ boards, which will make it easy to store and give me a 4’x4’ option for smaller games. Having done some research, I’ve decided to texture the boards using polyfilla, following this tutorial from Mel Bose (aka the Terrain Tutor). I’ll get a 6’ folding table to sit them on for games.

A trip to the local hardware shop on the weekend yielded two 2’x4’x12mm mdf boards. I’d have got a third, but the other boards all had a bit more bowing to them than I was happy with and I was worried they wouldn’t all sit flush. Not too worried, as I was planning on doing one as a test so I can pick up another board soon.

Let's get cracking...
The process for texturing the board is pretty simple. Add water to the top of a container of polyfilla and mix lightly. Brush the water on to the board. Brush again, using a thicker paste. Stipple the board with polyfilla. Allow to dry. Stipple again. This should lead to a nice organic texture that is till flat enough to stand figures on. Naturally, the tutorial has much more detail on how to do this.
Here’s where I got to with the texture. Not quite the coverage of the board in the tutorial – Mel doesn’t have any mdf showing, but I’m still happy with it.

Nearly forgot to take a photo before I painted it!

 Painting was straightforward – dark brown paint from the hardware shop as a base coat, drybrushed with a progressively lighter mix of the base and a light brown, up to straight light brown. The drybrushing was a bit heavy in places but I figured a lot of it would be covered in flock so I didn’t have to be too neat. Again, I’ll be a bit more careful on the next boards.


 To flock it I painted about a quarter at a time with slightly diluted PVA glue, then sprinkled with flock. I added some colour variation with a darker flock, which for the next boards I’ll concentrate on blending in a bit better.

...and done!
I’m pretty happy with the finished product! It just needs a spray with matt varnish to fix the flock and I’ll paint the back at some point to seal it (should have done that up front but I was too impatient to start texturing!). Total time spent wouldn't have been much more than an hour excluding drying time.

Hopefully I’ll get the other two boards done in the next couple of weeks…