MOTB: The Beast House WIP

Finished(-ish) product first!

Our long-running Dark Heresy campaign has deposited our mid-high tier characters naked and unarmed in a pit of despair, deep in the bowels of a steel labyrinth. The ‘facility’ is inhabited by pig-masked psychopathic brutes – operatives of the shady xenos-smuggling ring ‘The Beast House’.

The campaign called for some low-level scrubs armed with a variety of enslaving equipment. It’s a cliché trope to have your characters wake up missing all their weapons and armour, but I firmly believed that if done well, it could add a fresh new perspective on the game. After consulting with some peers, the trope can work if:

  • In medias res – don’t dwell on how they were captured, and definitely don’t play out an unwinnable capture scenario. You’re in a pit, naked, with only rocks and bones, and something wicked is howling down a tunnel towards you. Fight or die. Figure it out later.
  • It’s only temporary – assure them their equipment is safe and recoverable. In this case, I seeded some choice equipment from their character sheets among sub-bosses responsible for their capture, and they discovered the rest is in a lockup held by the end-game boss. They’ll get it all back eventually, but for now – improvise.
  • Started at the bottom – acquisition of new kit comes quite quickly if you’re cunning. By the end of our second session, every character had some patchwork armour, a useful melee weapon, at least one ranged weapon and a few bits of gear or tools.

So the Beast House operatives needed to be low-level thugs who relied on their charming demeanor and powerful musk to get their way, relying little on complex or deadly weapons and more on tools designed to hurt, entrap, ensnare and enslave.

To the bits box!

Cleaver? I hardly knew ‘er

The squad was assembled overwhelmingly from three main sources – old plastic Bretonnian Man-At-Arms bodies, Frostgrave Crewmen bits and Kolony Feral heads from Pig Iron productions. The bases were made by supergluing some mesh to a 28mm base and some plasticard strips over the top.

Snipping the Man-at-arms bodies off at the waist gave me more possibilities for leg and body swaps. I wanted them to look part butcher, part slaver – a huge hooked cleaver and a cloak made from flayed skin would complete this particularly dashing look.

Kill the beast

No group of beast herders would be complete without whips and torches, and I’m always looking for an excuse to use the lit torch from the Empire flagellants kit. A barbed whip from the dark eldar wyches sprue helped round off this guy.

Changing with the times

This guy was actually assembled almost a year before, originally with a Genestealer Cult head. Looking for something to do with all those Bretonnian bodies I hadn’t used, I toyed with the idea of a Genestealer Cult on a feudal world, but it never really got off the ground.

When I was sketching ideas together for the Beast House, a simple headswap was all I needed to give me the inspiration for the rest I had thought about swapping the hands out for something less claw-like, but figured that even the Beast House wouldn’t be that fussed about mutation so long as you were strong, cruel and got the job done.

Packing iron

At some point, the Beast House needed to escalate their efforts to contain the problem the players will inevitably become – that’s when they break out the automatic weapons. I didn’t my players getting their hands on an autogun too early, but they’re too great a staple for any low-life thug kill-squad that I couldn’t resist including them. This guy is also a little better amoured than his co-woerkers, and the bag of bones and body bits on his back keeps him themed with the others.

Crack that whip

Changing up the body parts, this little lady used an Empire flagellant as a base and a pair of dark eldar arms. I wanted a second whipper and that part was easy to source, but the only right arm that fit with the theme was another Dark Eldar one. Cue hacking apart a splinter rifle arm to fit a stub revolver to it. I had a mad plan to keep the stock and have a weird stubby revolver rifle thing and I think it worked quite well.

Add another flayed skin cloak, some severed heads and a pony tail and the freaky look is complete!

Flail forwards

Can’t have slavers without a flail guy! I got a load of random Anvil bits a while back when they were selling bits bags, one of those bits was a set of running legs. Empire flagellant arms and a Neophyte Hybrid autopistol rounds this lad off nicely, with a miscellaneous shoulder pad to hide a particularly ugly join.

Polearm to meet you

The Man-at-arms sprue has lots of exciting-looking polearms with various hooky bits for pulling knights off their horses, or in this case enslaving alien beasts, but I wasn’t enthusiastic about the pose they come in. A quick root round found a set of Empire cannon-loader arms – replace the wadding with the end of a billhook and we’re away! One of the simpler conversions but I think it really adds to the overall feel that these guys regularly tackle stuff bigger and stronger than them as a day job.

Overall I’m very pleased with how the squad came out, and I’ll inevitably be adding to them as the campaign unfolds. They definitely need some kind of leadership or tame beasts, and with the release of the new Necromunda Book of Judgement, there are a WHOLE load of options for using these guys as criminal allies too. It’s never been a better day to be a slaver!

MOTB: Hive Noon final wave

Family photo!

It’s been a long road to Hive Noon. You can catch up on the previous ones here:

Last week I’d put together the last few pieces – a gang relic and a genestealer-flavoured stand-in for the Ogryn-Servitor Brute. Now, with both of them painted up, it was a great opportunity to get a whole family photo as well.

The two newest (and last?) additions

I’m unlikely to add any more to the gang in the near future – I’m very happy with how they’ve come out and I don’t have the time or resources to keep adding bits here and there. Perhaps if they release new Brutes, pets or vehicles I could be tempted to add some more, but the foot soldiers are finished and I can move on to other projects.

Kit Clawson

Quick and dirty! This fella was completed in two evenings with judicious use of washes and drybrushing. The colour scheme was no different from previous ‘stealers in the gang so I didn’t have to come up with a palette, so the hardest part for me was already done.

Which reminds me, I really should start writing down recipes for guys I paint…

Somebody’s watered the poison hole

Straightforward paint job with this piece – lots of browns, washes and drybrushing and liberal amounts of Typhus Corrosion. I obviously wanted to continue the running gag and replaced ‘spawning hole’ with ‘watering hole’ on the sign – despite the “well” being obviously unfit for human consumption.

It also gave me a chance to play around with another of my favourite paints – Tamiya Clear Green. It smells like death, but it it produces one of the most exciting radioactive green goop colours I’ve ever seen.

Final thoughts

I’ve had a smashing time building up this motley crew and getting them onto the table. Playing games with an outrageous cowboy accent and playing the moustache-twirling villain has made it even more fun. I’ve talked before about how Genestealer Cults in Necromunda are at their best when played campy and hammy, and I like to think I’ve camped and hammed these guys to their full potential.

I’m very much looking forward to my next campaign with them (fully painted models for every game, living the dream) as some of the later-wave lads didn’t even get an outing. I’ve even got some terrible plans for running a short campaign set on an arid western-themed penal world, the finale being an elaborate four-way vehicular heist.

The name? The Great Strain Robbery.

MOTB: Hive Noon – Heavy Support WIP

Finished (ish) product first!

Last time I’d pretty much rounded off the gang in terms of fighters – I’d used up all the bodies and legs on the sprues I had and was pretty satisfied I had enough variation in fighters to play the gang again in a new campaign. I just needed one or two bits to round off the gang…

Home is where the hole is

Every gang needs home turf, and Hive Noon are no different. I’ve had all sorts of mad and wonderful ideas about making some elaborate scenery and set pieces, but I think that’ll wait for another time (I can’t shake the idea of a train heist scenario called The Great Strain Robbery). I did need something a little more universal – a Gang Relic.

There’s a ripper in my boot!

Gang Relics are used in certain scenarios and when you have Home Turf Advantage – essentially they’re a little standard or icon that you plonk down on the table and they provide certain buffs to any nearby fighters, and in some cases can be used as objectives themselves.

I had a couple of ideas including a damsel tied to some train tracks for maximum moustache-twirling Machiavellianism, but settled on the idea of a spawning watering hole because, well.. I’d just watched Toy Story recently and I couldn’t shake the soundbite of Woody shouting “somebody’s poisoned the water hole”.

Jeweller’s chain was used for the bucket chain, secured with lashings of super glue.

I had the perfect signpost that had been rattling around in my bits box for a decade, extended with a little plasticard so I can paint on the necessary words to reassure people that it’s a real watering hole. The bucket was assembled from a nubbin from a Russian biochemical factory kit, now sadly quite difficult to get hold of, and a bent paper clip. I’m sure it’ll serve my gang well.

Mungo like candy

The final piece of the puzzle was a heavy. Genestealer Cults (at time of writing) don’t get access to house-specific Brutes so have to settle for one of the generic ones, either an Ogryn Servitor or the Am-Bot. I’d already built an Ogryn Servitor and I have an Am-Bot on the way, so I didn’t feel like using a generic one. I wanted something a little more… alien.

“Sometimes you just need to randomly blue-tack things together and see what sticks” -Abraham Lincoln

Out of the two, the Am-Bot had a neater set of rules for ‘big angry frenzy thing that tears stuff up’ which sat well in my head for some big Genestealer Brute, but I wasn’t excited about the special rule that allowed other gangs to capture it and ‘reprogram’ it for their use. Although unlikely, it would have been weird if it came up. Ogryn it is!

I pinch.

A classic Carnifex crushing claw fit perfectly into the socket of a Chaos Spawn body, and I knew whatever I made was going to use that as a base. I was still figuring things out at this point – a pair of claws looked unwieldy and I wanted it to be equipped with something that could reasonably be described as a melee weapon with the blaze trait to emulate the arc-welder rules. Luckily, I had just the random assortment of bits…

After much fiddling and sculpting, I was happy with the finished product. The left arm was eventually donated by a plastic Lord of the Rings Troll and the head came from a GSC aberrant. I wanted to maintain the semi-human look of the regular-sized aberrants and make him appear as an overgrown mutant rather than a big Genestealer, which was my first thought.

He’s also a pain in the ass to photograph, I can’t seem to work out where the golden angle is…

There’s an upgrade to give the Ogryn Servitor furnace plate, which increases their armour save from the front arc. I couldn’t quite figure out how to make that look natural, so I added a few bullet holes into the huge armour plates on his arm and reasoned that he would cover his body with is as he advanced. Handwavium!

Very chuffed with my arc welder solution – I used a monstrous creature adrenal gland and a couple of pipes from a barbed strangler (I think) to create a long tube to the claw. Add a few more adrenal glands and paint them in bright colours, and I figure it can be some kind of hyper-acid. Hellfire acid shotgun shells already use the Blaze trait to represent acid damage, so why not here?

The green stuff work was a little sloppy in places – I was making him during the penultimate week of the campaign and I was really ill – I wanted to get him finished and onto the tabletop before the campaign ended. I’d loved to have spent weeks lovingly crafting him into the perfect hybrid, but in the end I’m happy I didn’t. Finished, not perfect!

MOTB: Hive Noon – Second wave

Finished family shot first!

Last time we looked at the second wave of gangers added to Hive Noon and vaguely ruminated on the reasoning behind each assembly. This time, we’ve got them all gussied up ready for photo day, plus a couple of extras that didn’t make the cut last week. Let’s take a look!

JONAH FEX

This fella didn’t get a lot of action in the campaign – he was picked up in the last few weeks, by which time he was looked over in favour of heavy hitters or fighters with equipment more suited to the scenario. He’ll definitely be an early purchase for the next campaign!

Puny Owens anD Tiny Oakley

After the outrageous success of Baby Face Fanglayson (the familiar attached to Baron Clint Von Beastwood) I had to pick up more familiars. They’re 25 credits, available from the House list and give your extremely squishy Acolytes a fighting chance to get into combat. Anybody looking for one piece of wisdom to take away for their own GSC gangs: buy all three familiars.

These two were from the Deathwatch: Overkill set that I picked up crazy cheap from ebay. One had a broken hand, so I replaced it with one from the Acolytes kit with a wedge of metal as a makeshift club.

The Maw With No Name

Another star player in the campaign, despite being picked up about halfway through. Cheap to field and versatile on the game board, he kept plenty of people behind cover and away from my advancing hordes.

The only extra kit he picked up was an infrascope – good for popping people behind cover who think they’re safe from his Overwatch skill and useful when all the lights go out.

The Lone Render

Look at that shit-eating grin. He knows what he did. Absolute #Lad. If you’re playing GSC and you haven’t taken advantage of a) the Infiltrate skill b) cheap demolition charges or c) both at once, you’re missing a trick. Sure, he gets killed pretty quickly (and often) if you position him poorly, but the mayhem he causes is worth it.

He was usually accompanied by a familiar to keep him alive a little longer, and acquired smoke grenades and a chainsword for versatility and a fighting chance in close combat when he’s inevitably charged.

Stubber Ocelot

I’m overwhelmed by how well this guy fits in with everyone else. I know it seems like a minor thing, but I was very concerned the one model that inspired the gang wouldn’t actually fit into the gang once assembled and painted up.

As it happens, he was a great combatant too – I wrote about why last week – and the three pistols were also terrifyingly effective in close combat when you could bring all of them to bear.

Strong Wayne

I had a really tough time with this guy. I couldn’t get the blend between pale flesh and blue carapace right and I must have redone those arm/leg sections two or three times. Also, painting between all those chains I added proved to be far trickier than I’d anticipated, and I ended up filling in a lot of dead space with washes just to avoid having to try and paint them. Still, despite all those problems, it ended up coming out rather nicely, and adding the splashes of red to the weapons was good fun and rounded off the figure nicely.

Calamity Gene

Another ganger I’m likely to pick up earlier in the campaign when I play these guys next. The extra pistol combo with the hand flamer is particularly tricksy as you can shoot it at the same target as your hand flamer, so long as the flamer template is centred on the target. If you line your guy up correctly, you can still hit a few people with that teardrop template.

Yoswarmite Sam

This poor fella never even made it into the roster before the campaign was over. A simple loadout of shotgun and bombs (kept ambiguous so it could be either a frag grenade or blasting charges depending on the gang’s wallet) but late on in the campaign such a loadout was never called for – they were too busy saving up for the big guns! Shame really – the shotgun/dynamite combination was one I sketched together early on because of the obvious western aesthetic, but there was always something more important to spend the creds on. Another to pick up early next time perhaps?

Second wave

The second wave is now (obviously) completed, but as much as I’d have liked them to be done and dusted for the campaign, many of them had a few games half-painted or blue-tacked together before getting their final lick of paint. I like to think it added to their charm…

There’s certainly a few slight tweaks I’d do to them before sending them back out again – I’ll likely pop a chainsword on the Lone Render’s belt as it’s a strong addition to his lineup, and I think I’ll be swapping the power pick from Billy the Nid with a shock whip. It’s cheaper, more effective against most targets (power pick only really excels at high wound/armour targets) and gets him into combat faster.

Otherwise I’m very happy with this lot and I can’t wait to use them again in the future! I’d be lying to myself if I said I wouldn’t be adding more guys to the gang, but for now I’ve run out of bodies and legs, so unless they bring out some Necromunda rules for bikes or vehicles, I think all my foot soldiers are done for now. (That is, of course, until the next GSC update…)

I think next week we’ll make something big…

MOTB: Hive Noon – Second Wave WIP

Finished(ish) product first!

Last time we looked at the finished lot of Hive Noon as it started the campaign, and as the weeks rolled round it became apparent very quickly that there was definitely some room for improvements.

Genestealer Cults are currently one of the most exciting and janky gangs to play with – they have huge variety in their house weapons list, access to psykers, heavy hitters and the ever-hilarious familiars, but their champions really struggle with the killer combination of low movement, Toughness 3 and only 1 Wound.

The expensive poncho-wearing fellas I made for the first wave simply weren’t cutting it in straight-up firefights – they would get singled out and blown away very quickly. I needed more bodies…

Calamity Gene

Frankly, if you aren’t packing at least three hand flamers in a GSC gang, you’re barmy. They’re ludicrously cheap, give you a template Strength 3 Blaze weapon and best of all, you can shoot through your own guys with no fear of setting them on fire thanks to your Hazard Suits. Of course you still have to roll to hurt your own guy – I said their tricks would be dirty, not friendly.

I had a lot of fun making the hammer-fanning Acolyte from the previous wave and wanted something similar, this time going for the draw while firing another weapon. I was running out of regular human arms by this point, so the slightly oversized Acolyte arms would be fine. I’m also absolutely not a fan of Fighting Knives in Necromunda – they’re way overpriced for what they do, but I couldn’t resist the aesthetic…

I was also getting pretty good at sculpting hats at this point – I have a tutorial on how to do it in the first Hive Noon post.

The Lone Render

I’m sorry, Acolytes can get cheap Demolition Charges and Infiltrate? Absolutely 100% yes. Give him the coach shotgun and saw down the barrels to count as a sawn-off if i so choose and we have a perfect weapon of terror. I could resist the opportunity to built a guy RAD SHADES and a big-ass bomb.

In-game this guy didn’t always cause a lot of damage, but the panic he could cause by threatening to pop down a massive Strength 5, Damage 2 large blast template was worth the entry cost alone. I found enemy gangs would commit extraordinary resources to seeing this guy off the table, leaving the rest of their gang unable to stop or slow down my own gang’s advance.

Note to self: run this guy with a regular shotgun next time rather than a sawn-off. Although the aesthetic is delicious, he was so rarely in range to use it.

Stubber Ocelot

The origin story for the gang! The Kelermorph was finally released halfway through the campaign and I snatched him up. I thought I would need to do some complicated shenanigans with buying stub pistols, but apparently even in Killteam those weird revolver-looking things are actually autopistols and therefore easy to purchase from the gang weapon list. Definitely going in the starter gang next time I play with these chaps.

By the time I bought him with in-game creds I had been purchasing some Master-Crafted Autopistols and keeping them in the stash for just such an occasion. Holy heck – easily the best 15 credits you can ever spend. I gave him 3 of them, practically guaranteeing he’ll never run out of bullets (who’s got time to reload?) for a meagre 45 credits, turning him into a short range bullet-bastard who can push out up to six hits on a target per turn. With a BS of 3+ and Master-Crafted allowing him to re-roll misses, he would put people on the ground for his familiar to run over and curb stomp them.

Jonah Fex

Another body, this time to take advantage of the cool sabre chainswords I picked up from Anvil Industry and hadn’t got round to putting on a model yet. Chainswords are great for scrubs, the +1 to hit, Parry and Rending gives regular mooks the edge in combat for a very respectable 25 credits.

Escher arms were used on this guy, as they looked lean and lanky enough to work with the GSC aesthetic, plus I really liked the long-handled las pistol and thought it suited the gang’s theme.

Green Stuff moustache was, of course, a necessity.

Strong Wayne

Genuinely can’t believe it took me this long to pick up an Aberrant! I picked him up late to the party, not particularly impressed by the two-handed hammer or power pick combo that the stock models give you.

I equipped him with a cheap axe and flail, 30 credits total. +1 Strength with both weapons, one has +1 to hit and Flexible, the other has Disarm, and taking both pumps his Attacks up to 4 when he charges. Turns him into a machine that turns gangers into paté. He played 4 games and racked up 8 kills – he’s definitely coming on the roster earlier on next time!

I wanted to go for a hangman/executioner vibe with a big axe and noose, but I couldn’t get the noose to look convincingly like a flail. A bit of rooting through my bits box found some old Warhammer Fantasy tombstones that would work great as makeshift armour just lashed to his side, and little bits of the stone left over would be great attached to a length of chain! It gave him a great sense of motion, even if it did make him look a little busy before he got undercoated.

The Maw With No Name

Acolytes have terrible defense stats, so shouldn’t be treated like normal Champions (ie front line fighters and weapons platforms) and instead, in my humble and evil opinion, be deployed liberally, cheaply and sneakily. Give your opponent a lot of low-value but utterly frustrating targets to play against – the key here is the Cunning skill tree that all Acolytes get access to. I used Infiltrate for the Lone Render further up, and for this guy I opted for Overwatch.

Given a cheap long-range weapon (I picked Hunting Rifle from the rare trader for the extra strength and knockback, but a store-bought Long Las will work too), a pistol or two for backup, and sit him somewhere out the way ready to cause headaches .

GSC excel at area denial – a combination of Infiltrate, Overwatch and cheap hand flamers mean you can push and pull enemy gangs to where you want them to be – forcing them out into the open to pick them off, or bunching them up so you can charge them with your combat characters. The fear of getting shot with something is often more powerful than actually getting shot by something!

I broke ranks and gave this guy a hat too – he was wearing a poncho on his legs instead of his top half and I felt his top half was missing anything westerny.

The weapon is from a 3d printed batch of 54mm scale weapons I picked up a while ago, that weirdly fit this guys hands just perfectly.

One of my favourite things about Necromunda is building models to fit the gang as it grows – usually in response to purchasing new toys for the gang, the effectiveness of certain combinations or the need for extra bodies. It’s incredibly time consuming, often rushed and means many of my other projects have to go on hold, but it’s extremely rewarding to watch the gang grow in this way.

Stay tuned next time for the painted pictures!

MOTB: Hive Noon – First Wave

Hive Noon First Wave banner
Finished product first!

Last time we looked at the WIP of Hive Noon, my latest Necromunda gang, and the tribulations involved in hand-crafting tiny cowboy hats. Wowee, I sure hope I won’t be painstakingly assembling any more tiny hats in the immediate future, thought I. Welp, let’s wait and see what’s on next week’s MOTB agenda eh?

For now, let’s enjoy the original gang in all their glory, ready to get stuck in to their first game.

Baron Clint Von Beastwood

With the colour scheme strongly in mind, the Baron was one of the easier models to pick colours for. The tricky part was tying it in with the rest of the gang, many of whom did not have large amounts of cloth.

I needn’t have worried – the skin tones, washes and base tied him in very nicely with the rest of the crew. A heavy application of gloss varnish on his tentacles moustache finished the look off nicely.

Billy the Nid

Inspired by the cowboy himself, I had decided to freehand all the designs onto the Acolyte’s ponchos. What I originally thought was going to be the world’s biggest ball-ache turned out to be actually rather pleasant. The South American flavour of design meant lots of straight lines and square spirals – something that lends itself quite nicely to freehanding onto complicated fabric shapes.

Deathspitter dan

The Neophyte flesh tones were a very pale flesh tone washed with Druchii Violet ink, then highlighted again with the same pale flesh colour. Some areas needed a little wet blending to avoid them looking too high contrast, but overall I’m pleased with the effect.

Biovore Bill

They were undercoated in Army Painter leather brown, which aside from going on extremely thicccc is a very pleasant shade of brown to work from, easily taking washes or highlights and allowing you to cover a lot of the model very quickly. The dusters were done by applying two washes – black and brown – one after the other and giving it a light drybrush to give it a beaten leather effect. Other sections of the model were given lighter touch with a sepia wash and generally left at that!

I was pushing hard for my ‘finished, not perfect’ mantra for these guys – I knew I would be adding more to the gang as the campaign rolled out and I didn’t want to be stuck painfully wetblending my 14th cowboy jacket…

Jesse Genes

The same ‘Finished Not Perfect’ principle was applied to the metal. I’m really, really bad at resisting the urge to edge highlight but I’m glad I did – it would have been nightmarish on this many little fiddly bits. The metals were done with a medium metal colour and washed with Agrax Earthshade to mucky it up a bit, then Athenian Camoshade to give it an uncomfortable green hue.

Lashy Luke

Darn. You only notice that tiny bit of cotton wool fluff days after taking the photos and packing away all your minis.

The lash was a pale flesh colour, washed with Reikland Fleshshade. Once that was dry, a deeper crimson wash was added to the tip, and ‘artfully’ blended with my big sausage fingers rather than bother with any of that glazing nonsense.

Brood Cassidy

Probably one of my favourite conversions, it’s simple but dynamic, and the combination of goggles, rebreather/scarf and cowboy hat gives him a wonderful post apocalyptic vibe. He could easily stand in as an informant or crook NPC. The goggles were done with a dollop of yellow paint and a light orange wash.

Old One-Eyed Charley

Another simple conversion, but I never quite got the kink out of his gun. I wanted all of them to look like they were wearing jeans (gold star cowboy attire) so these were painted in Ultramarines Blue with a light Agrax wash and highlighted with bone colours blended into the blue to make it stand out from the genestealer flesh.

Quick Draw McClaw

Another poncho, this time a nice earthy orange but still with the same straight lines and square spirals to tie it in with the overall aesthetic. I gave both ponchos a light wash of sepia over the top to bring all the hues together.

Final thoughts

I was very, very happy with how the whole crew came out. Inspired by a single model (that hadn’t even had a release date announced at this point) and a niggling idea to give him some friends to play with, I’d built this bunch of weirdos from the ground up. I could already tell I was going to have a lot of fun roleplaying this lot and I already had a dozen new ideas for minis! Roll on Wave 2…

MOTB: Hive Noon – First Wave WIP

Finished product first!

Back in the wistful days of early 2018 a particularly interesting model turned up in blurry previews of the new (at the time) Genestealer Cult – a mysterious three-armed gunslinger. Perfect conversion fodder, we all thought. I’d never really been into the purple-skinned freaks before, and any interest in the model was strongly around it’s potential as something else.

Until someone said to me “All he’s missing is a hat and he’d be a great cowboy alien”, and something stirred in me that refused to die – I needed to make a gang of cowboy aliens for this guy to hang around with. The GSC gang from Necromunda was weird and wonderful, and had access to some delightfully shonky gear and skills that would make them perfectly thematic.

But how does one go about building cowboy aliens? Cue the Kill Team box set. It had all the necessary genestealer arms, heads and legs, and a bunch of great space guns and leather dusters from the Mechanicus part of the kit. Smashing them together would be easy, right?

round peg, square hole

The first two models I put together as testers went together a dream – the heads and arms worked surprisingly well with the Mechanicus torsos, I only had to shave a little off the underarms to make them sit flush against the body.

First lad sketched together

The legs were another story though. Apparently Skitarii must all be a size zero because holy heck those hips are small. The GSC legs are almost twice the width of the aperture in the AM bodies so a LOT had to be painstakingly shaved off every set of legs to fit each body.

Fancy cowboy-looking rifles from the Mechanicus sprues

I was happy with the concept. All of them had their dusters bashed up a bit with a pin vice and craft knife to make them look a bit weathered, and I made sure to cut off any Mechanicus symbols on the chest and the rear backpack nubbin and replace them with armour plates from Anvil Industry.

In fact, much of the extra parts came from Anvil – I wanted lasguns that looked more like rifles, but I didn’t want to shell out top dollar for Krieg bits or the new Blackstone cultists. I had an issue finding proper ‘pistol’ laspistols and in many cases just ended up tacking a las muzzle onto the end of a gun to make them look sci-fi.

This fella’s gun was bent so needed a touch o’ the flame to correct it

Some poses worked really well – the Mechanicus torsos have so much movement in the flappy bits that I feel gets lost with all the other gubbins the models have.

Some parts didn’t fit quite as nicely together, but that’s what green stuff is for!

As a rule, I try to avoid making gangers with the same equipment. It makes every model interesting to create, and it helps me pick them out on the tabletop when I’m still learning everybody’s names. GSC got access to shock whips, which I thought was thematic for cowboys even though the rule were garbage.

Unfortunately/fortunately the rules for Versatile weapons changed when I was basically finished building the gang, making shock whips and shock staves SO much more effective. Many of my Acolytes are likely to have a slight adaption done to them before their next bout…

Pew pew pew!

I tried to equip my Acolytes cheaply as they’re pretty much glass cannons. With Toughness 3, 1 wound, Movement 4 and only a 6+ save they’re no more survivable than the regular mooks, but because of their nature they have a big “SHOOT ME” sign above their heads. Multiple arms gave me an option to try out some exciting poses for them, including this hammer-fanning guy that I’m particularly proud of.

Then there was the boss – with the Necromunda Genestealer Cult you get a choice of two – a souped-up version of the Acolyte (on paper the better option) or a psychic guy who can make enemies shoot their teammates through walls (utterly garbage statline). There was, obviously, only one option for me.

Using the Warhammer Necromancer as a base, he got a genestealer squid-face and the Serpenta pistol from the Adeptus Mechanicus Magos kit. His staff was carefully replaced with the majority of a force staff from the Grey Knights kit and topped with the GSC icon.

All that was left was the easy part (what a fool I was) – making hats.

Suits you, sir

No self-respecting alien cowboy would be complete without a proper cowboy hat, and there must be dozens of 28mm cowboy hats floating round on the internet, right?

After several weeks of fruitless searching (apart from one paltry TTcombat offering) I resigned myself to having to make all the sodding things out of green stuff. I tried a number of different ways, but this one worked the best for me in the end.

Step 7 complete!
  1. Make a little ball of green stuff and smoosh it thin onto a flat surface, lubricating the underside with a bit of water to make it easier to peel off.
  2. Let it cure for about half an hour.
  3. Cut a hole in the middle where the head will go (I used the little protector tube from the end of a brush).
  4. Gently peel it off and place it on the head of your intended victim
  5. Using all four of your arms, cajole, corral and stretch the brim to fit over the head. I used a tool in each hand and had to bluetack the model to my desk, your mileage may vary.
  6. Apply a little tab of superglue at the back and front to keep it in place.
  7. Apply the trademark bend to the brim and leave it to dry.
  8. Put a little blob of superglue on his head and apply another little ball of green stuff.
  9. Gently smoosh the green stuff into the shape of the upper part of the hat, paying attention to actual hat references to get the trademark bumpy bits correct.
This one was more Clint Eastwood than John Wayne

Luckily there are so many different types of hat people associate with cowboys, not just the traditional ten-gallon, so it was very easy to turn happy accidents into different hat styles. Doing the hats was extremely frustrating but rewarding, although I might have sent some of these guys into orbit if I was trying to make them all look uniform.

All that was left was to fill in any spaces and make the rest of the hats!

Biovore bill

One of my favourite conversions, I was pleased with how his hat came out and how well all the bits fit together. I wanted a second guy with a lasgun for ranged support but needed something to fit the left hand that wasn’t just a boring pistol. Weirdly, GSC get hand flamers super cheap, so I thought I’d take a punt.

Turns out this guy ended up being MVP more times than I could count. He maybe fired his lasgun twice during his life, but that hand flamer racked up more bodies than I could keep count of. It’s a cheap template weapon that messes up a front line, causes panic and sets people on fire and I absolutely should have more of them in the gang!

Lashy Luke

Taking no small inspiration from Stinky Pete the Prospector, Lashy Luke was my attempt to make a more aged-looking fellow.

Weirdly his shock whip ended up being most effective in defense – people would charge him to negate its effect and he’d annihilate them with a counter-attack.

The Acolyte arms were a little long, but I don’t think it made much of a difference. If anything, it added to the slightly weird proportions of the minis and made them even odder-looking.

Brood cassidy

You can’t have a team of cowboys without a gunslinger! The original plan was to have mostly stub weapons in the gang for A E S T H E T I C reasons, but it proved to be far more complicated as they’re not in the gang list – they’d have to play their first game to get access to the Rare Trader to purchase stub guns from the common list.

Bit cheesy and meant a lot of guys would have to sit on the sidelines for the first game. Not really work the faff when you could just get revolvers and smash some las muzzles on the end.

Old One-eye Charley

You might be sensing a slightly Niddy theme with the names here…

I loved how his hat came out. Old One-Eye (Charley) ended up being a staple in most of the games, standing at the back and keeping rival gangers pinned down.

Stirland Mud was also applied around the hem of their dusters before undercoating to give them more texture – I intended on doing most of these guys with drybrushing techniques so the more texture I could give them, the better.

Deathspitter Dan

Pew pew, long las! My preference is for the hunting rifle as you get the Knockback trait too, but the long-las was a healthy (and cheap) addition to the long-ranged firepower. I had considered grenade launchers many times because they’re so darn good, but decided in the end to go strictly with the aesthetic. Handsome rough-toughs out on the prairies…

He also got a particularly fancy moustache, as nothing says “praise the regular two-armed emperor” like facial hair.

Plenty of nicks and scratches on the dusters to break up all that flat surface.

Quick Draw Mcclaw

Time for some clawbois! I think this guy was originally intended to be a duel pistol wielder, but when I acquired the arm set with the power sword and needle pistol, it was too good an aesthetic to pass up. Yes it makes him super expensive, but cool models always kill more right?

I wanted the Acolytes to stand out from the mooks, but fit in with the gunslinger when he arrived. The classic Clint Eastwood poncho demanded I make ponchos for my champions.

Making them was surprisingly simple, and way easier than the bloody hats. It followed similar steps to making hats, just with a larger amount of greenstuff. Roll it out flat but more of a rectangle than a circle, and cut a much larger hole in the middle.

Before it gets peeled off, take a blade to the edges to make them look like tassels. After leaving it to cure for 30 minutes or so, peel it off and apply it over the head of your guy. making sure to bend it just enough to give it plenty of life. Nobody likes a limp poncho.

It was fine that it looked a bit scruffy – they’re supposed to be weather-beaten after all. I had HILARIOUSLY told myself I would freehand on the Peruvian/south american design to give it more of an Eastwood feel.

Billy the nid

I hadn’t worked out how I was making the ponchos before assembling the models. Who has time for planning? It makes the improvisation stage less interesting.

Some models had to have their ponchos in more ‘dramatic’ poses to get around the fact I couldn’t stuff it down between their arms and chest…

This guy is definitely getting a shock whip in the future. The power pick is nice for killing high-toughness targets, but the 3″ Versatile range of the shock whip is invaluable for Acolytes in making use of their high WS and Strength and actually getting them into combat.

If GSC get a re-do (which they are rumoured to) I’d like to see a movement increase for these guys. I don’t mind them being glass cannons, I object to them being slow glass cannons.

Baron Clint Von Beastwood

And my favourite evil villain, the Baron.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a Dastardly Whiplash-type villain that I could enjoyably ham up all my evil deeds with. I couldn’t even get made if I lost, because despite how dastardly my plans might be, he’s always destined to fail in a spectacular and hopefully amusing way. Such is Necromunda!

He has a battered top hat and a “moustache” made of tentacles, and I reasoned he gets away with being a real-life human because of all his mind-control powers. Plus, it gives him something to twirl when everything is going According To Plan.

It’s hiiiiive noon

I’m very happy with how the whole squad came out, and as the Necromunda campaign unfolded more fighters were added to the roster. I can’t wait to show them off as well!

Until then, here’s a sneaky peek:

Citizens of Mercy WIP

Final(ish) product first!

As some of you may recall, I fell down a bit of a Necromunda hole last year and had the BEST time and much of my work since has been reflecting on the grimy underdecks of the setting, Mercy. I had grand plans to make various factions, NPCs and scatter terrain based on the different scenarios that cropped up.

Since then, I’ve already put together some shooty beep-boops and a big angry Ogryn-servitor so it was time to turn my attentions to less metallic pastures. One scenario in particular stood out as being a) fun and b) in dire need of some miniatures – Downtown Dust-up. Two (or more) gangs bump into each other in a crowded area and go for their guns, but the area is populated by up to a dozen underhive citizens who don’t take kindly to gangers opening fire in their neck of the woods. Sometimes they flee, sometimes they draw a stub gun and take a pop at the nearest ganger, regardless of who set them off. The gangs are trying to drive their opposition off while avoiding civilian casualties, all the while the civilians are trying to kill them for starting a ruckus – it’s an absolute hoot.

Unwashed masses

I bought a sprue of Soldiers and Crewmen from the Frostgrave line and dived straight in. I’d been intending on picking up some sprues of these for a while as I’ve seen a lot of conversions that use parts from them, and this was the perfect opportunity to make the armed 40k civilians/crewmen minis that I so desperately craved.

So many options!

I had no real brief in mind, other than I needed to make a bunch of them. As it turned out, the maximum civilians that could be used in that scenario was 12 rather than 10, so I added another two from my bits box later down the line.

The kits went together so pleasingly, and really didn’t need much in the way of accessories to make them into the kind of scum and villainy you might find in the underhive or, specifically in this case, round the docks of Mercy. The trickiest part was actually snipping off the pre-cast base attached to their feet so I could base them separately.

Base of operations
Custom bases ready for trimming

The bases were custom constructed from bits of plasticard cut into strips and glued in random arrangements. Once they’d dried, I trimmed them down with some heavy duty scissors and tidied up the rim with a sharp craft knife.

They didn’t need to be anything special, just cheap and cheerful!

Building the civvies

Mixing and matching the Frostgrave parts was an absolute dream. They were so cross-compatible I often forgot which parts belonged to which sprue I only had to use a smidge of greenstuff in some of the arm gaps where I had tried to mesh Frostgrave and GW parts together, or attempted a particularly bold arrangement of arms.

The most pleasure I had was constructing little stories in my head for each one as I was assembling them. They look like they come from all walks of life (something I’ll highlight with their paint job) and caught in the middle of their day job or leisure time when a gunfight breaks out.

Adding those little details that give them character was not only highly enjoyable, but also meant I could use them as standalone NPCs in other games if I needed to. There are some which could clearly be religious characters, hive scum or gang bosses.

Let’s take a closer look at them (in the order I took the pictures, not the order I assembled them…).

First up is Hammer Girl. She is uncomplicated – she has a very large hammer and is pointing at something that needs hammering. Industrial worker? Blacksmith? Religious fanatic? Hammer enthusiast? There are many options for hammer girl.

One of the things I did notice on the Frostgrave sprues was the lack of lady heads, and although my own bits box is filled with gruff-looking male heads, I pressed whatever I could find into service to break up the sea of men that would have made up my civilians.

As a result, lots of Escher bits got used in these conversions (even for some of the guys) as they were a great source of female heads, and the arms/hands were a much better proportion to the Frostgrave plastics.

Where would a busy market place be without a mad old man with a “The End Is Nigh” sandwich board? A simple club and pistol combination and he’s ready to irritate some players with his endless religious ramblings and occasional acts of violence.

Perhaps one of the only female heads on the Soldiers sprue (at least I’m counting it as), she was given a laspistol and stiletto knife from the Escher kit. She’d make a good stand-in as a Hive Scum (or any Dark Heresy character really…) and she came out so well I’m genuinely tempted to do a whole gang of these…

This was one of the first conversions I did, using the utilitarian parts from the Genestealer Cult sprue to give him an industrial feel to him. Perhaps he’s a deep void miner or a work gang boss caught in between shifts?

(Also don’t worry, all the mold lines were cleaned off just after the photo was taken)

Tech Guy also benefited from a Genestealer Cult head, but also from a spanner from the Forgeworld Orlock weapon sprue, an arm from an old metal Necron (I think?) and a pistol from Zinge Industries. Perhaps some kind of technomat, rumourmonger or vox repair team?

Another angry disheveled lady, this time toting an autogun with a belt feed rather than the usual straight magazine. All the extras came from the Escher sprue apart from the belt of bullets which was donated by an old school plastic Chaos Space Marine bolter.

It was at this point I was seriously considering making a whole gang of these and running them as Orlocks – I really like the raggedy aesthetic.

Where would we be without an angry old man with a shotgun? The head came from an old Empire/Free Guild Free Company set, withthe arms coming from the GSC kit again. Although the arms are a little too large and the hands a little too claw-like, I figured there would be a bit more leniency for ‘tolerable’ mutation in Mercy…

Bag Guy! When I saw the parts to make a dude with just a club and a sack over his shoulder, I couldn’t resist.

I gave him a stub pistol on his hip just in case, but I pretty much had to leave this guy as he was, his stupid face and giant sack gave me too much pleasure to change.

Next up is Petrol Dude, who was just popping out for a gallon o’ the good stuff when a fight kicked off. His head was from a leftover Syracuse project from a previous year, and the mix of high-tech rebreather and low-tech conical hat was perfect for the kind of person that might make a lot of trips down corridors filled with dripping fluids and noxious gases.

Some kind of manic street preacher, also toting the ‘literature on chest’ chic that is very in right now. Perhaps more refined than Mad Hobo Guy, he’s brought a lamp with him so people can actually read what’s written on his belly-book.

Bonus round

The previous 10 civilians were made using the Frostgrave kits and a selection of odds and ends from my bits box. It wasn’t until I was all finished and finalised that I re-read the rules for the Downtown Dust-up and discovered the civilian count was D6+6 per game, meaning a maximum of 12. Guess I’d have to build a few more!

This is ‘off-duty guardsman just trying to enjoy his pint’. The core of this model has been ratting around my bits box for a while (I picked him up in the Bag o’ Doom) without much idea of what to do with him until this project came along. I snipped off his old guardsman head and replaced it with an Orlock one, and he held a Catachan fighting knife in his left hand which was swapped with a tankard.

A little Cadian helmet on the belt implied he was some kind of off-duty fighter, and that was the character I wanted him to be. Out minding his own business, taking his promethium can for a walk down the pub…

And finally Spade Guy, another long-time bits box dweller. He’s predominantly Warhammer zombie with an Empire head with other bits added. I wasn’t keen on the bone leg, it was Undead for my taste, so I snipped it off and replaced it with a bit of lance as a peg-leg. Naturally he still carries round his old leg on his belt, just in case…

I had a lot of fun putting these civilians together, and I’ve a new-found respect for the entire Frostgrave line for its versatility and ease of use. I’ll certainly be picking up more of them in the future, but for now… to the spray paint!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Cathedral Assault

Our Dark Heresy campaign has made it to the planet of Syracuse -a dank and miserable affair perfect for acolytes tramping around in the mud and rot. For the campaign I wanted some epic set pieces, and even put together a game board to help build the mood.

It was time to return for another brawl, this time to defend an Imperial Cathedral (or what was left of it) from rampaging Undertow during a full-blown civil war.

The setup used parts from previous encounters, as well as some lovely houses from 4Ground to make it appear a little better lived-in than previous encounters. The cathedral came from the Kill Team boxed set I picked up when it was still circulating, and now goes by Sector Imperialis. It’s a nice kit that I went a bit overboard with, and I’m sure will get a write-up at some point.

I wish I’d taken more photos, but c’est la vie. The players were entering on the opposite end of the board to the Cathedral, with angry Undertow in the middle laying siege to the beleaguered Adeptus Arbites defenders (who did have a write-up for them done here.). If the players got to them in time, they would make valuable allies in the war to come.

The rain was bucketing down. Weather was a big part of this campaign, and nasty environmental effects include reduced vision and penalties to shooting. Not ideal for a predominantly ranged band of Acolytes!

The Undertow were out in force, showing that fancy equipment isn’t necessary to be a threat in such environments. Armed with reliable weaponry that won’t jam when dropped in the mud, firebombs filled with water-retardant chemicals and good ol’ fashioned shivs, they were more than a match for the players on the day.

They even set up a heavy weapon in the house across the street, ready to spit out a harrowing amount of lead if the Acolytes didn’t neutralise it.

The gang were joined by a temporary character, an ex-Zini armsman mercenary guardsman handy with a mono-club and with a penchant for explosives. The player would come to be a regular part of our gang in future campaigns, but for now we enjoyed having the extra muscle.

The house with the heavy weapon was unceremoniously lit up by the new guardsman, who had acquired a single-shot missile launcher earlier on and had been holding onto it for a special occasion.

On the players’ right flank, the Arbitrator had made a dynamic entry on a stolen dirt bike, ramping off a pile of debris and landing in the fountain for cover. It kept the Undertow at bay, but not for long. A criminal with a massive two-handed meathook charged up a set of stairs and bit deep into the Adept’s leg, dropping her into -5 Critical damage. It was at this point that we all realised how little armour the Adept was wearing – she still had on her starter set of armour that her career is given at character generation – a flak vest and some loose-fitting robes. In almost 6 years of playing with these characters, it had never come up that she might be under-dressed for the occasion of saving the world!

The mercenary handily finished off the offending criminal before he could finish the job of hacking off the Adept’s leg and swept round clubbing anyone she could find.

Many, many firebombs are thrown back and forth over cover. Some Undertow accidentally blow themselves up, but one particularly mean firebomb scatters over the heads of the tough frontline characters and directly onto the squishy techpriest who was patching up the near-dead adept at the back of the battle. Both immediately catch fire, the Adept passing out from excessive crispiness and the Techpriest doing everything in her power to avoid the same fate.

Meanwhile our damage-dealing characters had broken out into no-man’s land, identifying themselves to the Arbites to avoid getting shot and moving in to support. Everything, of course, is now either on fire or has been set on fire.

With the bulk of the criminals put down by a combination of Arbitrator and Scum, the injured support characters at the back of the pack gingerly move forwards through the fire and smoke.

They get ambushed by one last Undertow who had hid behind a ledge, who gets speared to the floor by an enthusiastic Cleric and choked to unconsciousness for interrogation later. You know what they say – it’s better to dive for the Emperor than live for yourself…

The team rendezvous with the besieged Arbitrators at the Cathedral and plot their final moves against the campaign’s villain(s). A very enjoyable battle to run and great scenery to play it on!

MOTB: Adeptus Arbites

Finished product first!

For all my sins and Dark Heresy games set around investigations, I didn’t own any Adeptus Arbites models. They had cropped up in our sessions before, but only as set dressing or background NPCs. Now, with the finale of our Syracuse campaign looming, I needed some black-clad crime-punchers to either help (or hinder) the player’s assault on an Adeptus Arbites precinct house. They would need to be equipped at the appropriate level to my players, but could reasonably be used in future games in higher or lower power settings.

A uniform approach

I’d seen lots of different conversions of Arbites/Necromunda enforcers, many of them these days involve either Human Blood Bowl team or Imperial Guard Scion bodies with Skitarii heads. They give you a particular look that I’m not too keen on, and despite my own *ahem* use of those heads, I’m loathe to gravitate towards them as I think they’re a bit overdone.

Luckily, Puppets War had me covered. I can always recommend those guys for heads of any type, they’ve got a great selection and I often find myself buying heads for projects I’ll never get round to, just so I can own some heads! Plastic space marine scout bodies formed the rest of the mini – I’ve always liked those models (even if the heads are a bit goofy) and it was super cheap to pick up a group of 6 pre-made scouts off ebay.

The finished WIP

The only thing that was missing was a big silly shoulder pad with an Aquila on it. I’d purchased some brass aquilas a while back, but I didn’t feel I could easily get those to fit on a round surface, so I hit the bits sites. Luckily, one particular shoulder pad from a Blood Angels kit was the perfect size and eagleness. You only got one per sprue, so luckily I found a bits site that would sell me 7 at once, and I just prayed they would fit…

It wouldn’t be a squad without Screaming Leader

They fitted perfectly over the regular scout shoulder pads, and even though they’re comically over-sized, I think they absolutely work with the Arbites OTT aesthetic. Some green stuff was used to give some key areas some Arbites-typical padded armour, like gloves, boots and kneepads, and that set the look off nicely.

Deciding what weapons to give them was tricky, as I wanted them to have as much utility as possible for the future, but bearing in mind that whatever they’re equipped with, the players will want to ruthlessly loot in the likely event of an NPC death, accidental or otherwise.

The greatest hero of them all.

I settled on a ‘combat guy leader’, a handful of combat shotguns, a bizarre combi-weapon from an Anvil industry pack that looks like a melta gun but could easily be a stun-gun or web launcher, and a weird looking heavy weapon made from a cut-down Action Man toy pistol. It could easily be a heavy webber, heavy stubber or some kind of laser weapon – whatever I would need at the time!

The bases were ‘Old Factory bases’ from Micro Art Studios, giving the perfect impression of some tired battle-weary enforcers slogging through a broken city in the middle of a riot. With that done, it was on to the base coat!

Squad, fall in!
Trooping the colours

After putting them all together, the levels of Dredd were almost overwhelming. I know the Arbites are based off 2000AD’s bastard-cop, but these guys were close to carbon-copy with those Puppets War heads. Although the flirted with the idea of painting them in typical Judge colours, I bowed out at the last minute for a more typical Arbites colour scheme. It would be quicker to paint, and it would be very clearly Arbites with some Judge Dredd influences, rather than actual Dredd on the tabletop. I like references in my work, but I like them subtle.

*Shotgun racking noises*

I continued to channel my 2018 mantra of ‘finished not perfect’, and went with a striking colour scheme that wouldn’t involve too much work. Black armour, white highlights and a red spot colour.

The fatigues of the armour were painted in dark grey, the armour left black from the undercoat and the whole model was washed with Nuln Oil (praise be unto it) to pull the hues together and remove some of the shininess from the base coat. Armour edges were picked out in a lighter grey and left at that.

Your move, creep

White parts were painted in very light grey, washed back and highlighted back up to white. Red and bronze got the same treatment – basecoat, nuln oil wash and fine edge highlight. Simple!

I played with three skin tones as well to try and break up the monotony. The 41st millennium is a brutal, oppressive, theocratic dystopia, but that doesn’t stop it being diverse.

Weapon casings, the visor and stripes on the armour were all picked out in red to make the weapons stand out on the tabletop. I toyed with traditional necromunda chevrons for the chainsword but I decided against them in the end.

The bases were painted in similar colours to the rest of my Syracuse terrain – brown with hues of green and highlighted with a fine drybrush of Pale Flesh. I wanted the necrotic feeling of a rotting city coming through wherever possible.

Light brown was drybrushed around the base of the models, legs and dangly bits mostly, to give them the impression of having been out on the march for a long time.

I saved chevrons for the special weapons, namely the weird combi-weapon and Action Man heavy web blaster thing. Hopefully it would help make them stand out as something of note, especially against the drab scenery they’d be playing on.

Black Widow pose

All in all I’m very pleased with how they came out. The conversions were simple to do and surprisingly effective. The colour scheme was similarly simple and very striking on the tabletop, especially when deployed together.

I have a few extra scouts in the box that might make themselves into more named characters in the future now I’ve seen the effectiveness of the conversion, but I’m happy with them for now. I’m looking forward to terrorising some Dark Heresy acolytes!