Friday, 29 January 2016

Australia Day X-wing Shenanigans

Hi folks,

This year I spent Australia Day at BennyW's pad where I squeezed in a terrific game of X-wing. I teamed up with Bizman who I have been mates with for about 20 years but very rarely see face-to-face. We were flying my "Imperoyals" list: Colonel Jendon in a ST-321 Lambda-Class Shuttle with Accuracy Corrector, Hull Upgrade and Darth Vader, protected by an escort consisting of two Royal Guard TIE Interceptors (one piloted by Carnor Jax) equipped with Stealth Devices, Autothrusters and Elusiveness. As you can imagine, those Interceptors are awfully hard to hit, but once you do they go down like a sack of concrete. The Shuttle usually offers support by providing Target Locks and long range sniping, augmented by the occasional force choke from Darth. 

We were up against FurySevenSix with a little Rebel list he has been testing: Dash Render in a YT-2400 with Outrider and a Heavy Laser Cannon, backed up by Coran Horn in an E-wing with R2-D2. Taking a look at the Rebel fleet I knew the YT-2400 would be versatile, soaking up fire whilst applying pressure with its turret. Corran, of course, had that 1-2 punch supported by shield regeneration from R2-D2. Combined with his high agility, the E-wing would also be able to soak up a fair amount of fire.

I know from experience that games can be won or lost in deployment, but I had a hankering for something cinematic this game. So without much thought I placed the shuttle in the center of the deployment zone with the TIE Interceptors flanking it on either side. FurySevenSix set up for a pincer maneuver with the YT-2400 and E-wing in the corners of his deployment zone. To enact my plan of gunning for the YT-2400, I had to spend the first turn pulling some tight maneuvers to get into position! As soon they were in range they begin to chip away at the Outrider's shields and FurySevenSix began to realise just how shifty these Interceptors are.

Bizman flew the shuttle off to the right flank to take on Corran Horn, which drew some fire away from the Interceptors. It isn't what I would have done, but if he could use Vader to put a critical hit on the E-wing we would be laughing! Meanwhile, I maneuvered tightly around the shuttle putting as many shots on the YT-2400 as I could while it circled around pumping out shots with its heavy laser.

Bizman got some good solid hits against the E-wing, with the help of Accuracy Corrector, but we were never able to do it consecutively enough to actually take the ship down. What we needed was one good turn of shooting to get past the shields, but Bizman's best chance (below) didn't yield the dice rolls we needed. R2-D2 was working overtime to recover those lost shield tokens!

I pulled another set of tight maneuvers, which put me into position to take out the YT-2400. By this stage my TIEs were also running out of luck, taking one solid hit each and losing their Stealth ability.

At this stage it was three ships against one, except the TIEs didn't have enough hull points between them to make one ship and the Lambda-shuttle was one concentrated turn of fire away from space-scrap! I worked at keeping the E-wing in my sights whilst limiting the number of shots it could take; I was very conscious of Corran's special ability. This included intentional jamming my TIE into his ship to prevent it from getting shot :-) I also made a rookie error and chose a banking maneuver in the opposite direction to what I intended. It took the pressure off Corran during a vital turn and scythed my TIE off away from the fight. Ah well ;-)

We put a lot of shots into that E-wing but it refused to go down and Carnor Jax was finally destroyed as his wing man flew off on a tangent. At this stage I could see the writing on the wall, Carnor Jax was my best chance of eliminating the "undamaged" Corran and we were running out of gaming time, so hit full cinematic mode. The new mission was to save Vader! My other TIE snapped around for a suicide run on Corran whilst the shuttle burned hard for the side of the board. The TIE was vaped comprehensively before it could get a shot off. Corran got one shot off at the fleeing shuttle, getting it down to one hull point (thanks Hull Upgrade!). With that the shuttle just, just, just poked a corner off the board. 

So, Vader escapes the long arm of CorSec law but it is a victory for the Rebels! I really underestimated how effective R2-D2 could be in an E-wing, with the combination of shield regeneration and high agility making it very hard to take down. I questioned why FurySevenSix hadn't used Corran's ability during the game, as I use it as frequently as is tactically beneficial. He replied that he had simply forgotten to use it! Gah! The Lambda-shuttle could have been taken out after all! 

This was a fantastic game with a lot of very tactical maneuvering, coupled with silly mistakes that made us laugh. It was competitive, but also played in a palpably fun spirit, which is my kind of gaming experience. It made me reflect on how lucky I was to live in a peaceful country where we can enjoy these kinds of things. 

See you across the table (of BBQ sausages),


P.S. A big thanks goes out to FurySevenSix for the great photos of the game, I think they really captured the tense maneuvering during the game.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Salamanders Chaplain: TO-DONE!

Hi folks,

For Christmas this year I decided to paint some models for my mates. After my dog Gypsy had her operation early in December we were pretty wiped out financially, so I fell back on the only commodity that I had left; time. Well, also a very, very deep bits box...

Sgt Waz and I have been discussing how I could paint something for him for a while now. I have often received beautifully painted miniatures from him, so the idea of giving something back struck a chord with me. Having said that, painting something for Sgt Waz is like giving Mozart your mix-tape! So, here is my mix-tape: a Salamanders Chaplain armed with a Crozius Arcanum and the Heraclean Maul.

Now a Power Maul is a pretty silly thing to give a Chaplain, in that the Crozius has identical stats, so I have cooked up some house rules for it which allow the Chaplain to perform Smash attacks, at the risk of it getting hot: I'm sure a Salamander can handle a bit of heat! On the topic of heat, the purity seals in the next shot are painted grey and black at the tips to show they are being scorched by the lava.

The Power Maul comes from the Ravenwing command sprue and looks a lot like the weapon Hercules (Heracles in Greek) is depicted with in many sculptures in Europe, hence the name Heraclean Maul. Here's one I took on a holiday in Rome:

Considering the Greek origin of the weapon, perhaps this could be a gift from the Iron Snakes to a courageous Chaplain of the Salamanders on the dawn of some great battle...

I added a little bit of carbon scoring to the jump pack exhaust, using sepia and black glazes.

I painted the... loin cloth?... with a dragon scale motif. Originally I was just going to paint it off-white like the purity seals, but there is something about that shade of green that just screams Salamanders. I'm glad I did it now, but at the time it was just another rod for my own back.

I undercoated the base black but built up the colour on the lava pool very gradually to achieve some brightness, all the way from dark gray to bright yellow. After that I touched up the "obsidian" rocks with black then highlighted with leadbelchers. The metallic highlight gives some very harsh edges.

So that's it: Merry Christmas Sgt Waz! Sorry it is 4 weeks late, it turns out I didn't have that much time in the bank either :-)

As a "Paint my Present" project, it also falls under the fearful auspices of my 2015/16 To-Do list.

Drum roll...

See you across the table,


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Tukkayid Campaign: Diamond Sharks Part 1

Hi folks,

On Tuesday the Diamond Sharks commenced their invasion of Tukayyid, which historically didn't go to well for them. In fact, if you follow the story, they never make it out of the vicinity of their drop zone. After having my butt handed to me last game, I was ready for some payback. For this game I would be teamed up with Wade and Heinz, controlling a small contingent of veteran ComStar Mechwarriors in a Black Knight (Atlas figure), Lancelot (Dragon figure) and Flashman (Shadowhawk IIC figure). Against us were BennyW and KuriboGoomba controlling two Elite Diamond Shark Mechwarriors in a Warhawk C and Hellbringer Primary. Once again the Comstar Mechs would launch an ambush, affording them a free turn of fire, against Clan Mechs moving in formation.

The game started with the Hellbringer moving onto the board and being engaged by our Mechs. BennyW moved his Warhawk onto the board in such a way that our turn of free shots were very limited. The Hellbringer and Black Knight traded heavy fire, both taking considerable damage from PPC and laser fire. The Black Knight went pretty far up the heat scale and would lose some movement points next turn.

In the second turn the Hellbringer bolted past us, quite unexpectedly, to bring the Warhawk into the fight. It lost its rear center torso armour completely but avoided any critical hits. We decided that the Hellbringer would have to go down first, and quickly, if we were to have any chance against the Warhawk. With its elite pilot, targeting computer and large pulse lasers, it had no troubles putting a head shot on the Lancelot, which had strayed into Partial Cover (shots go to Punch Hit locations). No criticals were scored, but with only two points of internal structure left in the head the Lancelot was vulnerable.

The Hellbringer maneuvered so that the Warhawk could cover it with accurate, heavy fire, then opened up with everything at the Black Knight. Surviving the onslaught, just barely, the Black Knight returned fire causing heavy damage but failing to take the Hellbringer down. Like always, I was spreading the damage at the most crucial moment!


My Black Knight failed its roll to avoid engine shutdown at 8+ on 2d6 and I prepared to watch it go down in flames next turn. The Hellbringer fared much worse, failing its ammo explosion check:

It was hilarious that the Hellbringer could survive everything that we could throw at it, but couldn't survive its own heat production :-)

With just the undamaged Warhawk to beat (AHHHH!) Wade, Heinz and I took stock of our forces. My Mech was shutdown and would take a turn to recover. Wade's Mech was heavily damaged and Heinz's Mech was ok after avoiding and one-on-one duels. Wade bore the brunt of the next turn's shooting phase, causing a small amount of damage but getting pounded in return. Crucially, one shot hit the Centre Torso Critical location, causing a Gyro hit and destroying the flamer there (which is notorious for taking hits you wish went somewhere else!). 

The next turn my Mech came online again and we maneuvered so that we could all take shots at the Warhawk. BennyW split fire between us, taking the Lancelot out and critically damaging my Black Knight. When it cam to my shooting phase I unleashed everything I had left, 1 ER PPC, 1 Large Pulse Laser, 1 Large Laser and 2 Medium Pulse lasers. Every single shot hit the center torso! Five consecutive rolls of 7 on 2d6 afforded me three chances to cause critical hits. This translated to four locations being destroyed, which made it impossible for the Warhawk to survive the turn. Four engine hits took it down.

A decisive victory for ComStar and two kills for my Black Knight!  Even so, I am still smarting from the Jade Falcon loss that I suffered last game. It will be a while before I get a chance to settle that score and, the way the Clans are performing so far, I don't like my chances of redemption.

See you across the table,


Monday, 11 January 2016

Japanese Garden Themed Terrain Part 2

Hi folks,

I think there must be some cosmic balancing act at work in my man-cave. A few days ago I painted the bridge for my Japanese Garden themed terrain piece and made sure the circumference of the pond was sealed as much as possible. Yesterday I mixed a poured the resin and half-way through the curing process I can see that...

...something is awry.

There is a weird cloudy film on the surface of the resin in some parts, which may be due to high humidity. It looks almost like the start of a bacterial colony on an agar plate, if you have ever done bacterial cultures before you will know what I am talking about.

Weird swirly film.

There are also some strange ripples in sections, which look almost as if some resin has started to cure but then been moved by some kind of flow. Weird.

"Are those fish... actually swimming." Weird.

Overall it doesn't ruin the piece, but I wish this kind of stuff had happened on my practice piece instead of this one! After another 24 hours I'll take a good look at it and decide whether the project is a bust or not. If it doesn't get any worse and sets properly I'll be happy, otherwise I'll be pulling off the bridge and starting again.

You will recall that at the start of the post I thought some kind of cosmic balancing act was at work, well, my mate KuriboGoomba found a 20 year old box of rare Battletech miniatures ("Unseen", for those in the know) and solemnly placed them in my care.

I am lovingly restoring them and it is an absolute blast. More about them next post!

See you across the table,


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Japanese Garden Themed Terrain

Hi folks,

As a side project I have started working on a small Japanese garden themed terrain piece for my mate Wade, with the aim of combining foliage, animals and water effects with some human influences all in a small space. I have never used so many components all in one terrain piece before, so the challenge is to make it all work spatially, practically and thematically. Thankfully, the Japanese already do this in their gardens, so there is plenty of inspiration around if you go looking for it. The terrain piece is primarily going to be used for games of Ronin, though I can imagine this kind of garden in an Imperial palace, Eldar Craftworld, or even a samurai themed Space Marine army's Fortress Monastery.

The first step was to look for some reference material and visit some Japanese gardens. We have a local cherry blossom festival, so I was able to get a good look at what a Japanese Garden looks like in Spring and take some photos.

My daughter doing her best samurai impression :-)

I also engaged in some search-fu and found two images that I thought would be helpful:

I like the colour of the water and the koi in this one.

I like the lily pads and vermillion bridge in this one.

Wade was kind enough to give me an ornamental cherry tree terrain piece out of a set he had ordered in over the internet. I also found a groovy little bridge at my local pet store that would fit the scale, and some two part epoxy resin for the water effects. The next step was to mark on the display board where all of the elements would sit. I arranged them in a vaguely triangular shape with the bridge, tree and pond at the vertices.

I smoothed out the polystyrene hill with some clay, allowed it to air-dry and then sealed it with a few coats of PVA. When it was completely dry I painted the water a dark turquoise colour, then ran a bead of PVA around the pond and added some shell grit to represent the bank. The entire circumference of the "wet" area of the terrain piece will have to be raised ~ 2 mm to that I can pour the resin; at the moment there are gaps where the bridge will fit. Using a photo for reference, I started painting some small fish in the water.

I added a black shadow to each fish to maximise the illusion of depth and coloured them, again using the photo as a reference. I love the autumnal palette of koi :-)

The next step will be to paint the bridge and make sure the circumference of the pond is sealed, followed by the moment that will make or break the project: pouring the resin!

See you across the table,


P.S. I found the samurai themed Space Marines on the Painted 40K blog which, if you haven't discovered it already, is a wellspring of inspiration for 40K artists. Check it out :-)

Friday, 1 January 2016


Hi folks,

Just a super-quick post for the folks who recently had a look at my new Dark Angels Dreadnought squadron. As I mentioned in the previous post, I didn't quite get the greens right, as the new Caliban Green is darker and less... green than the old Dark Angels green.

I tried to fix this using the Army Painter Angel Green colour, but it didn't work very well either. In desperation I rummaged through my old paints and managed to find a half-full pot of the old Dark Angels green. I popped the lid and, yep, still good (thin your paints people; it saved me, it can save you too)!

Here are some quick shots from my mobile phone to show the difference:

The close-combat weapons were glazed with the old Dark Angels green.

So... problem solved for now. In the short term I can use this pot as a glaze for quite a while before it runs out. In the long term, I may have to focus more on my Deathwing and Ravenwing models :-)

See you across the table,