Deathwing Squad Barachiel

Deathwing Squad Barachiel
Squad Barachiel with Belial

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Necromunda Bug Bites Again!

As you've seen, I've recently been working on my new Adeptus Custodes army, while trying to finish my Goliath gang for Necromunda.  I've spent the last couple weekends working on the skin and hair for these roid-raging slabs of beef and it's coming along nicely.  Still quite a way to go but as I've said before, even if you can only spend 15 minutes or half an hour working on something, it's still that much closer to finished!

(The other six need their arms glued on after I've painted the bodies)

But, like many hobbyists, I like to keep some variety in my projects so that it never gets tedious.  That does mean I've got a growing backlog of other projects - despite an earlier article about why that's inadvisable.  But I suppose that makes me just like most of the rest, right?

So two other projects have worked their way into the queue.  When the rules for Genestealer Cults in Necromunda appeared in last month's White Dwarf, I figured I'd give them a go.  From the beginning, Necromunda has seemed like the ideal game for a small force of Genestealer cultists to appear.  There were rules for them in Shadow War: Armageddon, and despite some players thinking that such cults were out of place in this setting, I think that an Underhive is the perfect place for an alien cult to fester and spread.

I was reading some articles and watching videos on color theory (something I recommend every painter should do!) and I thought that orange would be a striking contrast to the blue carapace and lilac skin of Genestealer Hybrids.  A couple of Cults use that color scheme - the Cult of the Rusted Claw and the Cult Hydraic.  I think orange would look great on the hazard suits - kind of like the work suits of Brokkrs in Warpath, or flight suits in Star Wars.  Something like these dapper gents, painted by Darren Latham, who also sculpted the Genestealer Hybrid line:

And to see how that kind of scheme looks when we add in the blue carapace and spot colors, these Metamorphs from GW:

I haven't given too much consideration to the loadouts or roster, though my goal is to have a team that can be used in Necromunda and Shadow War interchangeably.  As for the weapons, I plan to go for form over function.  While certain guns might be more effective, I'm likely going to use as much repurposed mining equipment as possible.  I like the idea of Hybrids that have infiltrated the work force and steal their gear from work when the revolution begins.  Mining lasers, drills, saws, cutters, picks and dynamite... it may not be as good as heavy stubbers, shotguns and flamers but it will still be fun!

It will be a little while before I can get around to them but I'm hoping to make that my next project behind the Goliaths.  My FLGS is starting a new league in a few weeks and if I have my Goliaths done, I might actually get to play for a change! (See last week's article for more on that.)

So I stopped into my local Warhammer store to pick up a box of Acolyte Hybrids, and what do I see?  Yes, House Orlock was released a couple weeks ago.  I was kind of lukewarm about them in original Necromunda - they kind of looked like a bunch of dudes who washed out of Cobra-Kai or failed auditions for Rambo.  But my friend Don played them in our league back then and did well.  All of his gangers were named after famous serial killers, which is kind of disturbing until you consider how life in the Underhive is even worse.

But these new Orlocks look badass.  They have a unique appearance that's full of character.  In a way, they sort of remind me of the '80s classic movie The Warriors.  Here's the picture from their web store:

Look at them!  Stubbers with drum mags.... Tommy guns!  The leader's got a low-tech power fist!  And who else (besides Scalies) would use a harpoon gun in the Underhive?  I am going to need to pick up more of those nifty Underhive bases though.

In honor of Don's gang from the good old days, I am going to name them The Ripperjacks.  A Ripperjack is a predatory animal in the Underhives, kind of a cross between a bat and a Facehugger from Alien.  They drop onto their prey and bite out its eyes while tearing its throat open or choking with their long prehensile tail.  It sounds like the sort of thing that would be chosen for a gang name in the Underhive - and it's also a nod to Jack the Ripper, something Don would approve.  Come to think of it, maybe that will be the name of my leader...

This is why I love skirmish games - and particularly why Necromunda remains my all-time favorite.  You can take your time coming up with background and lavish extra time making a dozen guys look great - and then have time to play.

Even though three gangs sounds like a lot of work, it's still only a few dozen models - smaller than my long-term 2000-point Dark Angels army.  My goal is to get them all ready for the table by my birthday in June - it may not happen because I'm terrible with goals and deadlines make a hobby feel like work, but I'm putting that out there as a challenge to myself (and in the hopes that you all will keep me accountable).

Necromunda players - What's your favorite House, and why?  What sort of Gang do you play?  What are they called?  Got any pictures or stories to share?  Let us know!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why I Enjoy Skirmish Games More Than 40K

This post is a stream of consciousness reply to Thor's post on the Creative Twilight blog Why I'm Enjoying Playing Specialist Games Instead of 40K .  Please go give it a read - it's a great blog, and this post will make more sense if you do.

When it comes to tabletop wargaming, there are basically two levels of games that I play:  army-level games like 40K or Warpath, where you might have 50 or more models on each side; and skirmish-level games like Necromunda, Blood Bowl or Kill Team, where your entire gang (or squad, or team) is a dozen models, give or take a few.  Games like Warmachine or Hordes kind of straddle the line, depending on the points level and your army composition.


I don't get a lot of time to play - and I don't like playing with unpainted models.  So my spare time is "paint first, play later".  As much as I enjoy 40K, I know it will be a while before I get either my Custodes or my Dark Angels armies ready for the table.  Even though Custodes are a little easier in terms of model count, there are still many more models than in a skirmish game.  And that means not just less time, but less money spent on your squad.

And let's be honest, looking at a pile of plastic and realizing how much time it's going to take to clean up, build and paint dozens of models is daunting and often discouraging - so one might decide to spend time doing something else entirely.  But my philosophy is that any time hobbying is progress - even if it's just priming a model or laying down a glaze or wash before I leave for work so that it will be dry when I get home.  The benefit of doing this with a small force is that you can see the progress more readily.  I've spent the weekend working on the flesh tones for my Goliaths and they already look far better than they did two days ago!

So, for someone who doesn't have as much time to spend on the hobby, skirmish games let you put a team or gang on the table quickly - because you have far fewer models, it can take much less time to paint, you have more opportunity to paint to a little higher standard.


So you've got that small force ready fairly quickly, and now you can spend your hobby time actually playing!  When you finally get a chance to play, the games tend to go quicker - and you can get more of them in.  Or you might find the opportunity to squeeze in a game of Necromunda or Blood Bowl when you have 2 hours free, where you probably couldn't fit in a game of 40K.

Like Thor says in his article, I'm a fluffy gamer too and I also don't care to put in the effort to "git gud" at 40K.  I do enjoy playing it  - and I haven't noticed 8th being particularly unfriendly to fluffy players, but that might have more to do with how laid-back the players in my area are.  Even the guys who play in tournaments are pretty easy going in pickup games.  It's not 2nd Edition to be sure, but better than 6th or 7th for certain.

But I digress.  I've probably played a few dozen games of 40K in the past 30 years, but skirmish games got a lot more play than that.  We played a couple games a week of Necromunda for a couple years (then I moved away from my gaming group and sold my gang) and a lot of Blood Bowl (still use my 2nd Edition metal Skaven team because they look so good):

(Here's a recent addition, though I do have a WHFB Rat Ogre conversion I used until I got this one)

(My 2nd Edition End Zone overlay)

(I even have a goalpost!)


The extra time we saved let us really go all-in on our Necromunda league - we had a newsletter (the Underhive Press™, coming soon to a blog near you) and a special rule that let players trade randomly-generated territories for ones of their choice, as long as they built scenery to represent it.  We would never have had the time to do all that with our 40K games - although we did get in a few very memorable ones.

We used to enjoy a skirmish game by Grenadier called Future Warriors: Kill Zone and came up with a load of house rules and scenarios.  My favorite was a scenario based on John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, where my Enforcers had to hold their station against waves of Scavengers and Savages bent on killing the prisoners.  I still have my Enforcers and Troopers in my display case - perhaps some day I'll get around to rebasing them and feature them here!

And like Thor, I'm good at skirmish games.  My Goliaths were top of the league and I honestly don't remember ever losing with the Doomtown Rats™ in all the games I've played).  My record in 40K is not quite as good.  Back in 2nd, maybe - my army was dubbed "Cheatin' Space Wolves" because they did so well (I didn't actually cheat)... but when I came back in 5th it was a rude awakening.  Casualty rules meant you lost special models much more readily - the "Look Out, Sir!" mechanic replaced the more sensible concept that if your machine gunner went down, one of the riflemen would pick up the weapon and fight on.  It wasn't much fun when my Space Wolves that had given me many victories were wiped out to the man by the perfidious Eldar, after epic tales had been written of their previous glories against the "Space Elves".

So, which kind of game is a better fit for me - the kind where I need to paint dozens of models and stand a better-than-average chance of getting my butt kicked (if and when I finally have an army built and painted)... or the kind where I can take my time and show off my skill on a dozen models and not only have the chance to enjoy more games but maybe actually win some too?  It's a no-brainer for me.

One of the other factors for me is space.  I don't have a dedicated gaming room like I did years back, and the closest store with big tables isn't exactly close by.  So a game that fits on my dining-room table is a lot more likely to see play.  I don't have a lot of storage space for terrain, either - but a Blood Bowl pitch or enough terrain for a pitched battle between two Kill Teams will easily fit on the 3-by-5'ish table at home.


I love tabletop wargaming - and don't get me wrong, I do still enjoy playing 40K when the stars and planets align and I find the opportunity and the spare time at the same moment.  But when you take a look at all the factors - time to play, time to build and paint your force, the cost factor, space, and so forth - skirmish gaming is easier all around and can offer more opportunities for enjoyment, especially for a new hobbyist.

So if the idea of spending hundreds of dollars (and hours!) getting an army ready for a large-scale game is what's keeping you from really getting into the hobby, think smaller.  There are so many skirmish games to try - from the aforementioned Blood Bowl and Necromunda, to Guild Ball, Malifaux, Infinity, Frostgrave or Gaslands and the list goes on.  There's sure to be one (or more) that you'll really enjoy.

What's your favorite skirmish game, and why?  How many do you play, and how long have you played them?  Do you have any favorite stories - or even pictures of your squads - you'd like to share?  Let us know!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Custodes Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought

A couple weeks ago, I showed off the unpainted model with some added parts to make it look like a Venerable member of the Custodes.  Here's the finished work:

I'm trying to depict the ruins of Tizca when the Custodes accompanied the Space Wolves to Prospero to eliminate Magnus.  Though I'll be playing this as a 40K army, I still think the basing style is a nice change of pace from the sand-and-tufts bases I've done in the past, or citadel texture paint.

This is my first attempt at anything like Object Source Lighting (OSL) and I'm sure I'll improve with practice as well as reading up on the technique and watching some videos from painters who've got the knack of it.

I hope you like it!  On the painting table I've got Trajann Valoris, a couple of Shield-Captains and a squad or two of Custodian Guard.  Stay tuned to see them in the next couple of weeks!  Thank you for visiting!
I've just about finished painting my first Custodes model, the Vexillus Praetor.  I used the one from the Wardens kit because I wanted him to be more impressive than the standard Custodian, and as a Dark Angels player I'm accustomed to robes indicating an elevated status.

It's not really visible in the picture, but I also added a Shield-Captain's cloak from the Custodian Guards box.  It gives the model an even more impressive appearance.

After taking this picture I realized I had forgotten to attach the tassel to the helmet.  I still haven't decided how I'm going to base the entire army, but once I have I'll get this guy in the lightbox for some proper photos!

I've begun work on a couple of Custodian Guards, and hope to have some photos of them soon.

[UPDATE: I've acquired some Shattered Dominion bases and plan to base the army in the ruins of Tizca.  The Contemptor is my test, see an upcoming post!]

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

[Review] The perfect Primer

This is something that may be of particular interest to Adeptus Custodes or Stormcast Eternals players, but might also be helpful to anyone looking for a good undercoat for gold.

For the longest time, I'd been priming miniatures in black, and then using something like Mournfang Brown to basecoat sections that were to be gold.  It works okay, but you have the primer, then a couple thin coats of brown, then 1-2 thin coats of gold.

I've used Vallejo AV primer for the longest time, and I brush it on because weather and space concerns really keep me from using aerosol sprays or an airbrush.  But I've heard a lot of good things about Stynylrez from Badger.  They have a red-brown primer that looked to be perfect.  However, with the really cold weather we've had here for the last couple months, there was no way I could mail-order it and not have it frozen to uselessness by the time I get home to get the mail.  Well, the weather's finally warmed up to the mid-40s so I ordered some a couple of days ago and it arrived today.

I have got to say, the stuff is wonderful.  It goes on nice and smooth, even with a brush,  It's self-leveling like Vallejo but it dries with a matte surface rather than the shiny finish of Vallejo primer.  It's got more tooth for what you'll paint over it, and coverage is great.  And where Vallejo's ideal cure time is measured in days (one to three days was killing me to wait), Stynylrez cures in hours.  I primed a couple of Custodians before dinner, watched a little TV and came back to basecoat the gold.  They were ready to go.

Here's the best part.  Where I used to have to do three thin coats of gold to cover the black primer, Gold goes over red-brown Stynylrez in One. Thin. Coat.  And the brown undercoat makes the gold look really rich and warm.  Because you're applying fewer coats of primer, basecoat, and gold to cover, detail is preserved far better and the model doesn't look "painted".  I highly recommend this stuff for anyone who paints Custodes, Stormcast, or anything where you'll be doing a lot of gold.  You'll wonder why you waited so long.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Work-In-Progress: Custodes Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought

Just a sneak peek at something that's on my painting desk right now...

Because the Custodes are an elite army of few models (my 1500-point army numbers all of 17 models!) I want to make sure they look special.  Even the humblest Custodian Guard has ornate armor and weaponry, the Wardens and Shield Captains even moreso.

So then you have the Contemptor.  It's a pretty basic plastic kit (around 12 parts total) and there's nothing about it that makes it look like a revered veteran of centuries (or even millennia!) or warfare.
I've wondered what I could do to solve this - I've seen Contemptors from other Chapters that conveyed the image of a venerated warrior.

Then I saw a picture in the Codex and it was exactly what I wanted:

And I realized it wouldn't be difficult to do at all.  I have 2 boxes of Custodian Guard and so I have a spare vexilla I'll never need.  The parts are basically just the "wings" of the standard, with the ribbons clipped off and reapplied elsewhere on the arms.

So I studied the photograph and did exactly that.  Here's what I've got:

Visually it goes so well with the other models, and because of its size the eye will be drawn to it (and probably a considerable amount of enemy fire, as well...)

I've got two more models finished on the desk - My Shield-Captain and Vexillus Praetor from the Wardens kit.  I used one of the capes from the Shield-Captain in the Guard kit to make my Praetor look even more special and impressive. 

In my next post, I'll be featuring the characters of the army, after I've completed Captain-General Trajann Valoris as well.  Three models down, only 14 to go!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Adeptus Custodes are here!

Last week saw the release of the newest faction for Warhammer 40,000 - The Adeptus Custodes.
These gold-clad warriors are the Emperor's household guard and possess physical characteristics, training and equipment beyond even those of the Adeptus Astartes.  They number 10,000 strong - ten times the size of any individual Chapter of Space Marines - and they are effectively immortal unless killed in battle.

Why would someone want to play this new faction, you might ask?  Well, there are a few reasons:
 First of all, the stat line: Each of these warriors, even the line troops, is easily the equal of a character in any other army.  Even the basic Custodian Guards have an impressive set of characteristics.

Those of you who may be familiar with the datasheets from the Talons of the Emperor box set might notice that the Ballistic Skill has gone from 3+ to an even more impressive 2+.  These guys are comparable to Space Marine Lieutenants - and they are your Troops choices. As you might expect, the Custodes characters are accordingly more powerful than the basic Custodian Guard.

The second reason for playing Custodes is that they are fairly easy to paint - someone with a basic amount of painting skill can still get a good result with a few colors and a wash, while a more skilled painter can take the time to pick out the lavish detail.

Which leads to the third point: These models are gorgeous.  They are covered with all sorts of embellishments, symbols and details.  You can truly believe that the ornate suits of armor they wear are ten thousand year old heirlooms.

But to me, the most important reason that this is a beginner-friendly army to collect is the low model count.  Because each individual Custodian is a powerful character in his own right, their cost reflects that.  Where a Space Marine army might contain 50 or more models, a Custodes army can be much smaller.  This does mean that it's more challenging to play them, but that makes victory more rewarding!

To give you an example of how easy this army is to collect, here's a sample 1000-point battalion that can be made from just three Custodian Guard boxes - the same models that are also found in the Talons of the Emperor box and the Burning of Prospero game:

HQ - Shield-Captain:  Castellan Axe (124)
HQ - Shield-Captain: Castellan Axe (124)

TR - 4x Custodian Guard: Guardian Spear (208)
TR - 4x Custodian Guard: Guardian Spear (208)
TR - 4x Custodian Guard: Guardian Spear (208)

EL - Vexilus Praetor: Castellan Axe, Misericordia, Vexilla Magnifica (128)

EDIT: It was pointed out to me that the Custodian Guard box does not include Axes, which are found in the Wardens kit.  This leaves you a few options:

1)  Get the axes on eBay or a bits reseller (I use Hobby Titan personally)
2) Do a little conversion work - I'm sure there are suitable substitute axes in the Age of Sigmar range, but this may require a little extra work.
3) Rearrange the list a little - replacing the Axes with Spears frees up 6 points.  In that case, take the Misericordia away from the Praetor and give one to each Shield-Captain.  That'll leave you at 998 points.
4) (And this is my favorite option) If you can afford to - especially if you are planning to expand your army in the near future - invest in a box of Wardens.  The 1500-point army list I'm working on has a squad of three Wardens in it.  Use the other two to model your Shield-Captains - or one Captain and one Praetor.  The robes and other extra details will make your Characters stand out better!

If you play Open with Power Levels, this is a PL52 army - within the normal range compared to the Matched Play points (I've found that generally points/20 gives a rough power level to aim for).  Because it's a Battalion, you'll have 6 Command Points to use for Stratagems - and Custodes get some pretty nice ones that will help to offset the low model count and lack of high-powered weaponry.

Because the kit contains parts to make a Shield-Captain and/or Vexilus Praetor, you won't need to buy other kits or models to start.  And you will find that it's easy to expand on this core.

I picked up the Codex the other day and I'll be getting my models over the weekend.  I still need to finish my Necromunda gang in the upcoming week before our league begins, but I hope to see how quickly I can get my Custodes army ready for play!  If I had somewhere indoors to undercoat the models with gold spray, I imagine it would be quick indeed.

Stay tuned - I hope to have some pictures to share very soon.