MOTB: The Elysian Commission Completed

All has been quiet recently what with moving house and all, but with that now behind me I can finally get back to what’s important – painting toy soldiers and writing about it on the internet.

Previously I’ve posted up a part 1 and part 2 update on the Elysian Commission, and I can proudly say the job is finally finished.

I don’t do commissions any more, but as the original ebay lot as so close to my heart, I couldn’t let them go without saying a proper goodbye. After dozens of hours (and more finished Elysians than I ever managed to do for myself…) I’m very proud of the final product. Even more poignant was the announcement that Forgeworld were discontinuing the line halfway through the job, so it was a farewell on multiple fronts.

Will they re-release them in the future? Will they get a more modern take in the coming years? Who knows. For now though, I’ve enjoyed the last ride of the Elysians.

MOTB: Ambull of the Golden Valleys

Finished product first!

As the daring deeds of the Orthesian Herald unfold, our heroic band of explorers find themselves in the Golden Valleys of Cilice, a foreboding place filled with forgotten sins and terrible secrets.

One such secret belongs to an estate overrun with escaped creatures, a perfect opportunity to visit a classic Rogue Trader adversary, the Ambull.

A modern rendition from FFG’s Creatures’ Anathema

There was no way I was going to shell out for a pair of classic metal Ambulls from the 80s, and even if I did, the scale creep of models over the past 30 years would have left them looking very meek relative to the terrifying stat block they have. An alternative was needed.

Cue a quick dabble into the DnD universe for some splendid (and cheap!) pre-built Umber Hulk minis from Noble Knight games. They aren’t perfect, but they’re big, mean and look damn close enough. Plus they were hella cheap, and picked both up from ebay for less than a tenner – a selling point indeed!

The incredible hulks

They arrived quickly, and I was immediately impressed.

These are big bois

I had never got my hands on pre-primed models before, having been skeptical about the quality of such a thing. Given that these were to be my Villains Of The Week, I wasn’t fussed about quality.

Potato quality picture

I had done some reading about the quality of such minis, some people recommending you remove the primer and add your own, others recommend painting straight over the primer, others suggested priming over the top. The last seemed the least hassle for me, and as I was planning on experimenting with paint techniques on these guys anyway, it made most sense.

Upon having a hands-on with the minis, I also discovered some pretty heinous mould lines running across large sections of armour. They would have to be scraped off – a pretty straightforward job considering it was quite soft plastic, but it meant they definitely would need re-priming.

Footloose

They were hunched over quite a bit, and I wasn’t keen on the pre-moulded base they came supplied with. A bit of snipwork with my pinchy-grabbers and they were free. Time to build some custom bases!

Custom bases with my poor attempt at rivets

Using some big bases, presumably lifted from an old Sentinel kit, I wanted them to look like they were lurking in the sumps of an underhive somewhere. At the time of construction, Ambulls were only rumoured to be returning to Necromunda, so I had built this in anticipation of using them in other systems. Of course, now we know about the Am-Bot, which will be an exciting encounter in its own right later on…

Standing tall

The soft plastic took to pinning rather nicely, and I tried to lean them back on their bases a bit to give them more height. They’re described as hunched and gorilla-like in stature, but the amount of stoop the original models had meant their mandibles were basically scraping along the floor. Leaning them back has given them almost an inch worth of height.

Being careful to put at least one pin through a thicker section of base

Rivets were attempted by snipping up lengths of goblin spear. They came out weird and misshapen, so for the purposes of ‘Finished Not Perfect’ it’ll do, but I’ll have to readdress my tactic for doing rivets in the future.

We’re going to need a bigger net…

With both Ambulls pinned, mould lines cleared and bases prepped, they just needed to be undercoated ready for a a different painting technique I was excited to try out.

Ombre Hulks
REEEEEEEEE

These guys were painted in record time and I had a blast doing it. They were undercoated in grey, a daring new technique (for me at least) I premiered with my Escher gang, and then attacked them with washes.

The brief I gave myself was; can you paint a big beasty using only washes and drybrushing? The answer was: ABSOLUTELY

About to drop the hottest rap album this century

I divided the model into roughly three sections, scientifically referring to them as ‘fleshy bits’, ‘armoury bits’ and ‘other bits’. Fleshy bits got two washes of Reikland Fleshshade, armoured bits got two washes of Athonian Camoshade for that dirty green look, and other bits got a thorough going-over with some Nuln Oil.

A quick drybrush of Rotting Flesh across basically everything, with some more Reikland Fleshshade dabbed onto the armour in corners and creases, and the whole weird, disgusting look was complete. Applying the washes took about 15 minutes tops, with the only timesink being drying times.

Closeup of the hand details

I picked out the eyes with a nice evil-looking red. Evil beasties always have red eyes, right? I broke my one rule (only a little bit though) and did an edge highlight on the claws and mandibles in Elf Flesh, if only to draw attention to the sharp pointiness of them.

Fissures and cracks in the armour plating were dabbed with Reikland Flesh

The base was done with a liberal application of Tamiya Clear Green, my favourite underhive gunk paint, and splashed a bit up the legs for authenticity. I could spend ages edge highlighting all the armour plates or adding additional shades to the flesh, but it was now Finished, Not Perfect and I was dead happy with them.

You’ll get to see them in action during this week’s Orthesian Herald, but I couldn’t resist doing a little photoshoot with them anyway. Enjoy!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Celestine Wharf game board

The Celestine Wharf of Syracuse Magna (courtesy of FFG)

It is 1pm in the afternoon on the Celestine Wharf. It is raining, and the river carries the strong sense of mould. This man-made dead end of foul-filmed water is shadowed by the close press of warehouses from which loading spars spill their rusting chains to water at high tide.

The docks here are long unused and its bays are crammed with rusted cargo barges, while its warehouses are reputedly the haunts of dregs and gangs.

You had spotted some scum unloading cargo from an armoured motor-skiff on the corner of one of the docks. Questions turned to threats, and when the team’s face draws a hold-out dueling pistol worth more Thrones than the entire cargo of the ship, avarice overcomes the thugs.

At the boiling point of the exchange, you hear a deep guttural roar from around the corner of a warehouse.

“WHO’S ASKING QUESTIONS ON MY WHARF?”

Finished product first!
an investigation on the wharf

Alongside the adventures of the Orthesian Dynasty, I also have a long-running game of Dark Heresy that meets up once every 6 weeks or so to continue a five-year-long campaign that has spanned multiple planets, systems and characters in an investigation into the cursed Samarra bloodline.

They are currently in the province of Syracuse Magna, a rotten, sodden place where the criminals act like nobles and the nobles act like criminals. You might have seen a previous session on the Canals of Syracuse Magna.

I have used scenery in Dark Heresy before, but this was the first time I’ve used a full-blown game board to represent our scraps. They probably taken an extra hour so to resolve (2-3 hours per fight), but as we get together for an 8-hour session every month or so, we think this is an acceptable use of the time. It’s a great scene-setter and we get to have wild fun swinging off the scenery and lobbing firebombs around.

The previous session ended on a “Roll for initiative!”, so we were launching straight into a combat. It gave me time to set up the board before people arrived, so I could get everything just so. It meant, however, I needed some more watery terrain tiles to better represent a wharf rather than the canals from the previous game.

The tiles in progress. Also a few other tiles for future brawls…
Building the wharf

Luckily a lot of my work was already done for the canals fight, so this would just be set dressing. I still had a lot of tiles from TTcombat left over, so I upon them with a coping saw to make some different levels of tile. I had lots of ‘plain’ boards, now I wanted some fancy piers, loading spars, rickety wooden structures, that sort of thing.

I cut a large U-shape out of the centre of this one so it would still tessellate with the other tiles, but would still be obviously a loading dock.

I picked up a bumper pack of balsa wood from ebay for a tenner a while back, and pressed a lot of it into service to make the docks. I really, really like working with balsa wood, and will likely find some more excuses in future to use them…

Less practical was my cobblestones. In a moment of panic before the first session I bought some foam and hand-carved the cobblestones with a bunch of broken biros. This had some pretty awful effects on my hands as I whinge about here, but I didn’t really have any alternative to continue the style for these new tiles.

Luckily there was way less coverage required as most of the tile were covered with loading bays or wooden decking, so I only had to do one A4 sheet rather than the five I did for the first project. I had also picked up some pricey textured plastic A4 sheets with cobblestones on, that I had originally planned on covering the entire boards with.

This, unsurprisingly, turned out woefully impractical and hella expensive, so it was used whenever I couldn’t be bothered to cover another small section of hand-drawn cobblestones and to add a bit of variety.

I also had a fewer smaller tiles that I had planned on using as risers, placing them on top of existing tiles to create height variance and all sorts. They weren’t appropriate for the dock, but I figured I might as well sort them out alongside everything else, as future Rob will inevitably have other bullshit to sort out at the last minute.

Then it was on to building docky bits!

I really enjoyed this part. There is/was a potential for combat to occur in the Sinks, a section of District 13 that is several metres underwater from flooding and mudslips, so the Sinks residents have rebuilt their shanties on top of the old town. I had a million and one large-scale projects I wanted to do for those, but I couldn’t justify it just yet as I wasn’t sure if the investigation would even go there at all.

As with everything I make, versatility is a must. I have too many large scale project ideas to allow myself to run away with something that will only get used once.

These dock parts were assembled entirely from PVA, balsa wood and wooden cocktail sticks for pinning. They needed to be both docks (for the Wharf fight I knew I had planned) and usable as other things in a pinch – rotten scaffolding around a large church or walkways on the submerged parts of town were just a few ideas I came up with.

These were painted in the same way as my other wooden sections to keep some semblance of uniformity. They were undercoated Black first, then given a dusting with a reddy-brown rattlecan. Everything was then given a drybrush with a light brown – I often forget what I used previously so this time it was Zandri Dust. The final highlight was a light edge drybrush with Rotting Flesh (which I’m not sure of the modern equivalent) – a very light brown with a greenish tinge.

Both the stone sections and wood sections were given a final light drybrush with Rotting Flesh instead of a light brown or white. The themes for Syracuse Magna are entropy and decay, so it was only fitting that everything was painted to look like it was dying.

All together I’ve got quite a haul! My favourite part is how compact it all becomes once its disassembled – way easier to store and with so many more permutations than a regular solid board.

Showdown on the wharf

It would be mean to not have some kind of battle report on this lovely set of scenery, wouldn’t it?

Although highly inaccurate, and based off more what I can remember from the pictures taken, here’s more or less how it went down.

Pictures vary in quality and subject matter because I asked my players to take photos too, as I always forget to do so about halfway through the game.

The scene is set, including some Blood Bowl goblins one of the players was dropping round for me.

The players will enter from the right. The Undertow thugs are already present on the Wharf, unloading their cargo from a motor-skiff. The players don’t know (or care) what’s in the cargo currently. Probably criminal stuff. Didn’t matter – it wasn’t pertinent to the investigation. It was time for beef.

Had some pretty harsh light streaming in through the one window. There were five thugs present on the Wharf already, and the roar came from the Wharf Boss who was coming in from the left top corner of the board (from around the warehouse) with another two thugs.

The party is investigating some brutal inhuman murders caused by some strange undead killers in bird masks, and a few leads pointed to there being some answers around Celestine Wharf.

The party had just stepped off a boat from further up river, where they had had to make a hasty retreat from a bar fight that went sour. The Cleric drowned someone under a table, the Adept got off her face drunk on mudder’s milk and the Arbitrator killed their only witness with a throwing axe.

The previous session ended with the scum spotting some criminal activity down the wharf – just some crims doing crim stuff. The Cleric was draped in the passed-out Adept and was till picking chunks of her vomit out of his beard when the Scum strolled straight up to the criminals and demanded to speak to the person in charge.

“Hello fellow criminals, what a good day for crime”

Being criminals, they were more than happy to roll on their boss in exchange for cash. The Scum was upset at that concept so drew his duelling pistol and repeated his question. The sound of players rolling eyes was audible.

Initiative was rolled. The Scum went first and, as a man of his own flexible word, plugged the first criminal clean in the head.

As the Wharf Boss took his turn, the gravity of the situation sunk in. He’s a Named Character with a big-ass axe. Better not let him… axe me a question.

The thugs here weren’t prepared for a brawl, so only had what they were carrying on them. A handful of autopistols and shotguns, one of them carrying firebombs as backup. Their plan was to pin and disrupt everyone until their Boss could get round to axing them to kindly leave.

The rest of the team were following up the rear. In the picture below, we have the Guardsman, the Arbitrator, the Techpriest (who was the Cell’s Primus – their elected leader), the Cleric (represented by fabulous cardboard cutout) and the Adept.

Take cover! Shots ripple across the Wharf as everyone takes their bearings. There was a lot of cover further up the board, but brings you closer to the Wharf Boss. The thugs closer to the water’s edge were squishier, but there was less cover.

The team fan out, taking shots with their lovingly-cared-for weapons and pinning/wounding in equal measure.

After the Scum plugged the first thug he was having a chinwag with, the other thug returned the favour. The Scum took a grazing hit and dived behind the nearby crates for cover.

The Arbitrator battles with his low Willpower and being constantly pinned, while trying to lay down covering fire of his own.

The battle lines are drawn, and nobody seems willing to break cover to close the gap. The Wharf Boss realises going across open ground would invite every single player who knows how Bosses work to concentrate fire and bring him down before he can get the opportunity to burn a few players’ Fate Points.

He doubles back behind the warehouse and heads up the ramp to go across the roof. His minions lay down covering fire.

Dice are used to represent people who are wounded. I don’t bother tracking anyone unless they’re hit, at which point they’re assigned a numbered dice and a number on my sheet.

I found this was a good compromise of personal book-keeping, ensuring some information was guarded from players to avoid metagaming, but also so players could see at a glance who had been hit. They might not know the severity of the hit unless they ask specifically (with suitable Awareness/Medicae checks), but they definitely know which baddies are bleeding.

The Boss’s minions take the high ground.

These guys aren’t stupid. Cover is their friend, and laying down suppressing fire helps out their mates on the front line.

The Guardsman had spotted something like a trench, so dived into it and pretty much stayed there for the remainder of the game, slotting fools with his Sollex-Pattern Deathlight Lasgun (tips for pros: this shit does 1d10+5 damage. It’s every las-weapon-lover’s wet dream).

The squishy Techpriest stayed back to administer military-grade combat drugs to get the Adept up and running again, and the Scum took up a position on the stairs to keep the pressure on any Undertow who got any funny ideas about melee combat.

The Arbitrator was spending much of his time pinned or behind cover (Willpower as a dump stat will keep you alive, but not contributing). She was still technically blackout drunk, but the cocktail of Adeptus Mechanicus combat drugs was keeping her coherent for about 20 rounds.

She then launched her coherent plan:

“I draw and throw as many firebombs as I’m allowed to”

We then discovered the exciting combination of having lots of grenades and having a Strength Bonus of only 2. We have an enthusiastic pyromaniac who can’t throw very far.

Cue one long-range missed firebomb later, and the first of the Undertow’s shipments has gone up in flames. Let’s hope there isn’t anything flammable in there…

Using the commotion as cover, the Wharf Boss uses the patented Gears of War roadie-run to cross the platform and make his way over the warehouse, hopefully getting a jump on someone.

The Adept, high on life, sprints across the board (now bottom right behind the cotton wool) to join the Guardsman in his new cover. Naturally, this meant it was time to lob more firebombs.

The poor Undertow thug who had been shot in the face in the first exchange was now on fire. He screams and rolls around for a bit, but ultimately decides to take a dip in the scum-lined waters.

The no-man’s land was now empty, and barring the efforts of the mad Adept, it had become a long-range shooting match which the Undertow were not convinced they would win. Time to cheat.

The Wharf Boss, “Massive” Masslow, injects his combat drugs and becomes subject to Frenzy. With a mighty bellow, he screams down the warehouse firing his massive revolver.

The revolver pings off some nearby cover, but the Arbitrator still decides that discretion is the better part of valour, and hopes that hiding behind the container will make the big bad guy go away.

The Wharf Boss charges down the ramp and takes a couple of huge swings with his Great Weapon. Everyone knew this could hurt, but when the dice came up as near maximum damage, the Arbitrator started sweating when 26 damage knocked him down to -3 health. Medic!

Now it was the Undertow’s time to respond. As all their assets were up in flames now anyway, collateral damage was not something that bothered them any more. They have firebombs of their own, and started blindly hurling them wherever they heard gunshots.

It was at this point that the crates were revealed to be packed with high-grade Obscura, and as the highly-illegal narcotic was wafting across the dock, several members of the party were succumbing to feelings of light headedness and pink elephants.

In a shockingly accurate toss, the firebomb lands between the Guardsman and the Adept, catching them both ablaze. The Guardsman prefers his chances in the toxic soup than with the flames, so goes for a paddle.

Not pictured, but entirely relevant, was the Adept also leaping into the water and clambering back out on a nearby dock, face to face with poor headshot-burning-guy from the first turn, who had taken a dip to cool off as well.

Both dripping with stagnant water, they face down. He grins. His pair of punch-daggers glinting in the half-light. The Adept grins. She draws her fishing wire (?!?) and shouts “I see you’ve played knifey-fish wire before!”.

I’m sure it would have been epic if it had been pulled off, but the Adept’s attempts to parry the pair of punch daggers with a length of wire Jackie Chan-style ended with her in negative hitpoints, just as the comedown of the combat drugs was hitting her and the effects of the Obscura were taking hold.

It was in everyone’s best interests, including hers, that she passes out for a bit.

At this point the Arbitrator is panicking as Masslow looks to take another swipe and finish the job. Luckily for our brave law-maker, our friendly neighbourhood criminal was on hand to make a placed shot into combat and literally explode the Wharf Boss’s head like a grape, pushing him into -12 damage.

As most of the remaining Undertow see their boss explode, they recognised it was time to make a move. The rest of them fleed, apart from one on the stairs who was looking for an opportunity to get some wholesome stabbing in before he had to run. Unfortunately the Guardsman snuck up behind him and critically bayonetted him in the butt, killing him instantly.

All in all a fantastic game which will no doubt be reminisced about in drinking halls for years to come. Here’s to the next one!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: The Jade Kunai

Finished product first!

I got the new Necromunda boxed set back in Christmas and finished the Goliath half of the gangs that come with it back in February. To my eternal shame, the Eschers remained assembled but unpainted ever since. As a break from the Elysian Drop Trooper commission I’m working on, I thought I would treat myself to painting some acid green.

These were the first models I had undercoated in anything under than black, and I wanted to go for vibrant colours to offset the Goliath’s dull metal tones. A nice diseased skin tone would work well for them, as they spend a lot of their time around hazardous chemicals.

As I was going to paint them in light colours, why not undercoat them grey? A splash of Athonian Camoshade on the skin with a highlight of Rotting Flesh gave me the perfect skin tone I so desired.

Test model done

It took a while to settle on colours other than green – they needed to still be colourful but not distract from the overall greeny-ness, and had to give me enough wiggle room to have some radical glam-rock hair colours without a clashing of colour palettes.

The greys and dark purples worked really well with this brief in mind, and it was only after putting the base coat over all the gang that I realised I had inadvertently picked the Joker’s colour scheme for my poisonladies.

Why so serious?

I was also experimenting with a new rust technique. Start with a solid base of a dark brass and give it a liberal wash of Nuln Oil. When that’s dry, stipple on some orange with an old brush, then roughly highlight any edges with a bright silver.

Easy peasy to do, and the bold orange works very nicely with the acid green colour scheme.

First colours and washes on

I left all the hair until practically the end. I wasn’t sure what colours they were going to be, and I wanted everything else to be pretty much finalised so I could work out what would complement or clash.

Also because I’m a barbarian who holds his minis with his hands instead of using a mini holder, the tops of models tend to get a little wear and tear as I paint them, so I tend to leave those til the last.

This one does not photograph well

The kit was nicer to assemble than the Goliaths – fewer preset options that needed tearing apart just to edit. Without any real games under my belt, I just went with Rule of Cool for most of their equipment.

I did manage a few conversions though, most notably the twin autopistol ganger had a hand swap to allow her to hold two autopistols, and the leader had an arm transplant to give her a plasma pistol. Nothing particularly exciting but they were different enough from the core box to pass muster.

All in all I’m very pleased with how they came out. They were a chore to finish – I was very close to giving up on all that green a NUMBER of times during production but I’m glad I stuck with it. It was only when the black rum went around the base that they looked truly finished, and I think they look absolutely stunning on the browns and reds of the Necromunda board tiles.

Game on!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Battery Lord Kimbal

Finished product first!

This week’s MOTB is the third party member of House Patroneus’ elite staff, after Lord-Militant Hyde and Explorator Eutropius. They form the senior officers, advisors and bastard-hard combat group for Aoife Patroneus, the head of the rival Rogue Trader family to our own Orthesian Dynasty.

This is Battery Lord Kimbal, Master of Ordnance on board the flagship of House Patroneus, the Banshee. Although he has the highest honorific of Master of Ordnance and controls every weapon on the ship, he prefers his old title of Battery Lord from his time serving as master of a single battery of macrocannon.

I was putting off painting him as I found him the least interesting of the four characters, but I wanted to finish on a high with the Rogue Trader herself. I stopped dragging my feet and got to work.

Building a battery lord

As with the others, Kimbal started out life as nothing but some random scraps of purposeless plastic. I knew I wanted to use the coat that comes with the Tempestus Scions, but for some inexplicable reason I decided it would be really fun to not use the specifically-designed torso to fit into that fiddly overcoat, but to use a totally unrelated torso and somehow make it fit.

I had a few parts I definitely wanted to utilise, but not all the missing pieces of the puzzle. I found the head very quickly – after how pleased I was with Hyde I knew I wanted another Oldhammer Empire head, I believe it’s the Champion from the Empire Pistoliers set (read Freeguild if you’re coming to the hobby from Age of Sigmar).

The second part I wanted was the Imperial Guard hand holding the rangefinder from the heavy weapons team sprue. This guy was going to be more of a support character – while the Arch-Militant would be in charge of  actually shooting people, this guy would be marking targets and commanding orbital bombardments. I wasn’t sure how it would work in-game, but who cares! We’d cross that bridge if we came to it.

The rest of the parts were filler. Plastic Space Marine Scout legs and an old Space Marine torso fit the bill (with LOTS of cutting – there was barely half the torso left by the end).

I wanted a regal weapon in his off-hand – a bolt pistol seemed too crass. I have plenty of Space Marine plasma pistols in my bits box but not an awful lot of human-sized right hands. When I held it in place to test the fit it was too perfect. I didn’t fancy rooting around for another hand when I could quite easily say he had a bionic right arm. Sorted!

After some filler work on the coat he was good to paint.

The colour of gun

It was tricky coming up with a colour scheme for Kimbal. It sounds wanky I know, but sometimes you get a good feeling for a colour scheme before you start, and sometimes you are utterly uninspired and you just keep trying out different colours until something passes your “Yeah that’ll do” margin.

Unfortunately for this guy, it was the latter. I tried at least half a dozen different armour colours but they all ended up making him look like a beardy space marine.

I also wanted to keep him looking vaguely different to the others to emphasize his individuality, so I avoided doing anything particularly flamboyant with his overcoat. That, and the overcoat covers more than half the body, and I didn’t fancy freehanding something huge across his back for a model that might get one, maybe two outings.

For want of a better tenuous metaphor, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other with colours. Alternating lights and darks, keeping the palette from being too busy, deciding on a spot colour at the last minute.

He’s done and I can move on – 2018 is the year of Finished, Not Perfect after all!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Elysian Commission part 2

In what is increasingly sounding like another unwanted Jason Bourne sequel, the Elysian commission is taking shape. Two ten-man squads have been assembled and painted, with only another two ten-man squads left.

Tiny fiddly resin friends

This batch has been a weird milestone for me. Not only because this is the first time I’ve painted Elysians in almost ten years, nor about how much of a pain these kits are to assemble (you darn kids and your Easy Fit models! *shakes walking stick*), it was absorbing the news that Forgeworld is discontinuing the range. A strange feeling of simultaneously opening and closing a door on a past life playing 500 point battles of Warhammer 40k with my schoolyard chums in the shed at the bottom of my garden.

Regarding Forgeworld’s business practises though, who knows! Internet rumours are whirling (naturally), people seem to be split between “They don’t make enough money so are being canned” to “GW are doing plastic Elysians! Tell your friends!”.

All I know is these tiny resin bloodsuckers (RIP my fingertips) suddenly became way more valuable overnight. Damn my eagerness to sell a few months ago!

Nothing much else to add about Batch 2 other than roll on with the album. Batch 3 will have photos of the whole commission, but for now enjoy these guys.

Squad 1

Squad 2

Squad 1 and 2

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Explorator Eutropius

Finished product first!

On last week’s MOTB we had a look at Arch-Militant Hyde, the first of Lord-Captain Patroneus’ crew and the rivals of the plucky Orthesian Dynasty. This week we’re looking at the second crewman, Explorator Eutropius.

The crew in grey
How to build a techpriest

The first thing that struck me during this project is that, despite my passion for all things Adeptus Mechanicus, I had never assembled anything Admech-related in 28mm.

This was partially due to never having any parts – AdMech legs and torsos aren’t easy to come by unless you have a stash of them already. Luckily for me, one of our players had picked up a bunch of second-hand Skitarii rangers to use in the construction of his own Explorator. Using second hand bits that were originally intended for a PC to construct the PC’s rival? How delicious.

The easiest part was the head. I’d picked up some medieval helmets from Anvil a while ago and I still had one with the bionic eye, which was perfectly suited. The previous owner of the Skitarii had been quite enthusiastic with the ol’ plastic glue, so there was a bit of damage around the neck that needed patching up with green stuff.

Armament was quite tricky, I went through a number of different variations figuring out the ‘best’ combination. They all seemed so cool!

I opted for using some arms from the Tempestus Scions in the end, partially because I wanted to use that rad plasma gun and partially because it gave the model a bit more armoured bulk that the Skitarii rangers otherwise lacked. It went quite nicely with the medieval helmet as well, and I could already envision lots of lovely gold trim around the edges.

The melee weapon was the trickiest thing to settle on, again mostly due to the glut of options available for an Explorator. I wanted something deadly but also not necessary typical – something from the bottom of the AdMech cupboard of secret technology that doesn’t get much outing. After flicking through the 40k Codex for the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus, I found a pleasingly harrowing weapon:

Transonic blades emit a low, insistent buzz that makes stomachs turn and eyes vibrate in their sockets. When they strike armour, these weapons will adjust their hostile sonic field to match its resonant frequency, quickly slicing right through it and turning muscle, bone and fat to jelly.

These brutal weapons don’t have any official rules for the 40k RPG line, but luckily for me some enterprising individual on the internet has already made some homebrew rules for them. I present the Transonic blade:

Melee, 1d10+4 R, Pen 4, Balanced, Transonic.

Transonic: On the first round of combat, the weapon has the Razor Sharp trait. On subsequent strikes, it counts as having Pen 12.

Colours of mars

Unlike the conversion, the paint went on this guy with zero fuss. Bizarrely, as this was a straight-up loyalist Techpriest of Mars, his colour scheme was extremely easy to sort out. No mess, no fuss – bright red cloak, dark grey fatigues and a mixture of dulled silvers and ornate brasswork for the armour. In fact, the hardest part was the cog motif on the cloak (freehand can go suck an egg), which I didn’t handle brilliantly but hey – it’s finished!

Pretty much the whole model was painted to my lazy tabletop standard – a flat base coat colour followed by a heavy wash of something (mostly Nuln Oil in this case) and highlighting back up with the same base coat colour. If I’m feeling saucy they might get an edge highlight (like the red cloak) but usually that’ll be enough.

Picked out a nice bright green for the optics and screens and a lovely lightning blue for the plasma gun and transonic blade and he was done.

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Lord-Militant Assamar Hyde

Finished article first!

As our Orthesian Rogue Trader game gathers momentum, my eyes have been cast to counterparts of our seemingly unstoppable group of Explorers.

Where many of our players already have personal rivalries, either due to their backstories or in-game run-ins that have developed into feuds, none of them will have the same resources as a full-blown rival Rogue Trader Dynasty – House Patroneus.

A few weeks back I found myself dry-fitting odd parts of my bits box that didn’t have any other home – half a Commissar Gaunt, the overcoat from the Scions box set, that sort of thing. House Patroneus had already been established as rivals in name only by this point, why not add some flesh to those bones?

Fight fire with fire

The characters began to form as the models did. This MOTB is looking at the first to be painted, Lord-Militant Assamar Hyde, but the rest of the Patroneus crew is here.

It takes a Rogue Trader to stop a Rogue Trader

Each will get their own MOTB in turn, but this should serve as an appetite-whetter. I may add a few more in turn, as currently they are outnumbered by player characters anyway. Perhaps Lady Ash might find her way onto the crew… we shall see!

Assembling the Lord-militant

As you can see from the WIP shots, this guy really was cobbled together from random parts I found. I still had a bunch of part-painted Cadians from the Box o’ Bits and I found one with no hands or head who would serve as my shop mannequin.

I have lots of esoteric guns in my bits box, and when my internal brief is “The Gary Oak to our Arch-Militant”, it didn’t take me long to fish out a weapon.

This combi-melta is from some Space Marine kit (Blood Angels maybe?) and still had the hands attached. I suffer from a chronic lack of shootin’ hands (for this very reason) but rather than go rooting around for some poor schmuck to liberate a pair of hands from, I thought I would stick with the Astartes hands. It gave him this cool Iron Man vibe that made him seem real fancy.

The head was probably the hardest part to choose, as I have SO MANY cool heads that fit the 40k universe. Lots of old-school Warhammer Empire and Bretonnian heads always fit the bill, and I pulled out one with the fanciest plumage I could find.

He was starting to feel more and more like The Hound as a character, and this particular head nailed the aesthetic I was grasping at.

He needed accessories, but I didn’t want to go overboard. He could have had a fancy power sword or a big axe but that didn’t feel right. I settled on a few grenades and a whip that I decided would be some kind of vicious shock whip that he’d save for mutineers and traitors.

A great big animal cape (that I had immediately decided to try and paint some freehand wild animal patterns on FOR SOME HORRIBLE REASON) indicated he was a man of the stars and a trophy hunter. It balanced the model out quite nicely too, as with the massive gun it was starting to be very forward-heavy.

Trying some techniques

I had three colour techniques I wanted to incorporate in the model somehow. First was colonial British uniforms – very vibrant colours with white trim. Next was a deep brass colour I had found on t’internets that involved two (?!) washes over a metallic brass. Finally was some kind of freehand on the cape, which I’m still not sure why I thought would be a good idea.

First colours layered and washes applied. Looking good so far!

It was quite a broad colour palette, and using three kinds of metallics on the same colour scheme can be quite tricky not to make it look gaudy. Luckily, gaudy was what I was going for here, and after all the washes were applied over the base colours, I was very happy with how it had turned out.

One of the great things about doing these weird kitbashes is I get to utilise colours and techniques I wouldn’t normally experiment with if I was building something to a brief or commission.

Then the tricky part. With references in-hand, I set about attempting a leopard-print pattern and was pleasantly surprised with how simple it was to do and how effective the technique turned out to be!

First I painted the cape an orangey-brown, giving it a brown wash and highlighting it back up again with a lighter brown to bring out the fur texture.

Then I splodged a dark brown on using an old brush that doesn’t hold its point much any more. They were arranged roughly symmetrically, but it didn’t hugely matter.

When that was done, I painted little black brackets round each brown dot, trying to leave a bit of gap and ensure some variance in line thickness.

What this meant was the quicker and lazier I painted my brackets, the better it turned out. This is my kinda freehand.

With everything in place, it was just a case of painting on my highlights and picking out smaller details and it was done!

Trooping the colours

The armour was Scorpion Brass with a Nuln Oil wash followed by an Athonian Camoshade wash, and edge highlighted with Scorpion Brass again.

The tunic was Screamer Pink with a Carroburg Crimson wash and highlighted with Screamer Pink again.

And he was completed! A great mini to assemble and I really enjoyed painting him. Expect to see the rest of his crew on MOTB in the coming weeks, and I think I’ll be starting a new Irregulars segment with some of the stat lines for these guys too but for now, watch this space…

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Orthesian Reinforcements

Reinforcements, m’lud!

Our Rogue Trader games have been going down really well, and the handful of armsmen I assembled for a warp incursion session went down a storm. The bits worked so well together, they were thematic and, most importantly, colour coordinated with the rest of the Dynasty. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough!

As our team of brave Explorers are regularly taking trips in their Aquila Lander or their recently acquired pimped-out Taurox (keep your eyes peeled on the Orthesian Herald for updates on that one), they always have slightly more than three armsmen in tow. Plus I had a few more Genestealer Neophyte bits kicking about, and it would be rude not to use them up on my favourite kitbash to date…

(re)assembling the horde

The process was much swifter this time round. I had already settled on the design, so the only thing I needed to tinker with was weapon configurations and head options.

I’ll give ’em a taste of Imperial fyceline, m’lord!

First up was this rather handsome toothy chap. I’d picked this weapon configuration out for the first batch but was umm-ing and ahh-ing over whether to include the explosives or not. A few sessions later, given our high turnover rate of armsmen, a few extra explosives would certainly make things easier.

He’s a blast to be around

This guy had a tricky join – the shotgun wouldn’t sit at a reasonable angle with the holstered pistol, so much shaving of both parts needed to be done to let it sit comfortably. I also did a fair bit of damage to the front of the leg carving off the Genestealer Cult icons, which would be filled in later with green stuff.

Anyone need clubbing, m’lord?

Second on the bench is this piece of eye-candy, snaggle-tooth and all. I knew from the off I wanted another guy with a club ‘n’ pistol combo so the other chap would look less like a sergeant. The autopistol was pinched from the Necromunda Orlock box set, as you only get the one autopistol with the Neophytes box set.

You there! Being crushed by Imperial munitions is a punishable offence!

Armsmen are military police first and foremost, protecting the crew from insurrection and mutiny by breaking skulls at the slightest whiff of insubordination. I particularly liked the policemanofficer vibe this guy gives off – it’s some combination of heavy gloves, flappy trenchcoat and hat with a little shield on it.

[angry laser noises]
Perhaps my favourite conversion? I love love love the Bretonnian heads – I don’t think this project would have worked without them. Despite them being a 20+ year old plastic kit, and the body/leg combos are monopose and pretty dull, the heads are jam-packed with character I’ve not seen on another plastic kit since. They’re just so ugly. If I could have anything I’d like some ugly lady heads in there too, but a man can dream right?

A lot of fiddling was needed to reduce his arms down from 3 to Imperial-regulation 2

The gang needed a utility guy – someone who could painstakingly cut open a bulkhead while the players are fending off waves and waves of angry space denizens. It’s an important job, but pretty dull for a player, so best delegated to a loyal armsman with a big chunky backback. Guaranteed to only jam only at moments of extreme peril!

I had assembled a fourth chap as well, an adorable little mushroom-headed armsman whose neck is pretty well shrunk into his chest. For some reason I didn’t take any WIP photos of him, but he’s painted up all nice.

Trooping the colours

First is my squashed button-mushroom guy. I really liked the head on the Bretonnian sprue, but in my endeavour to shave it down to fit, accidentally removed more of the overall height than I’d anticipated. He looks like he’s receding into his gorget like someone with a scarf against the cold. That, or he was hit on the head by a particularly large piece of falling bulkhead and his spine has never really been the same since.

Did I mention how much I love the Bretonnian heads? Well I also love the accessories that come with the sprue too. I’m still trying to justify why there would be pheasants running around the Orthesian flagship just so I can use a few of them hanging off people’s belts.

I had the weirdest sense of deja vu working on this guy though, I couldn’t help but feel like I had painted exactly the same head before, just way bigger.

Yeah! Explosions! We’ve not currently had any explosive mishaps involving armsmen, but it’s surely only a matter of time. The belt accessories were pinched from the Escher box set – their strange gas grenade thing was pressed into service as a holder for more blasting charges by painting the interior tube section red.

I could have spent hours detailing the lascutter, there were loads of cool little bits and bobs that would have suited elaborate heat damage or object source lighting effects, but I persevered with my 2018 mantra of ‘finished not perfect’ so I could get these guys on the table. I particularly like the little axe and pouch (again, from the Bretonnian kit) on his belt. If the lascutter fails…

Squad goals

And finally, some group photos of the whole gang headed up by Lord-Captain Orthesian himself, painted by Dan Taylor. The Captain will get his own article soon, for now though, enjoy these guys looking like they’re about to drop the hottest war hymn album of the 41st millennium.

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Elysian Commission part 1

Finished articles first!
More finished articles!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it

A while ago I made the hard call to put my Elysian Drop Trooper collection up on ebay. The last time they had rolled dice in anger would probably have been ten years ago, and since then had only been used as occasional proxy models and gathered dust. The money raised from them went to an outstanding cause, however.

Many of them were unfinished, and although I had considered finishing some of the half-painted squads, I decided to put them up as-is. I tried to group squads as best as I could remember so that there wasn’t too much of a mix, but there was the inevitable Veteran squad which had some pretty extensive conversions and couldn’t really be mixed in to the other squads.

How they appeared on eBay

The whole lot went for way more than I had anticipated, and the buyer of the veterans contacted me before hand and asked if I would be interested in finishing them as a commission. I had been avoiding commissions recently for a number of reasons, but as these guys were close to my heart I couldn’t really refuse.

On top of that was another two five-man squads, unpainted. They would be part of the commission as well.

When the buyer (now the Client) then asked if I would be up for doing another thirty or so troopers, well…

It’s been a while since I’ve opened a box from Forgeworld
Gee whizz that’s a lot of resin
Finishing what I’d started

First thing’s first, while we hashed out the details of unit composition, special weapons and the like, I set about finishing off the previous squads – a five-man squad with lasguns, a five-man squad with close combat weapons and the remainder of the veteran squad.

They needed grav-chutes, easy enough for the lasgun guys

A specific request was for all troopers to have grav-chutes, which meant retro-fitting the existing models as best as I could.

Most of them went on fine. There were a few issues with the veterans and their more, uh, elaborate decorations. Some had their grav-chutes left on their base, as if they’d just landed and ejected them.

Tricky little sods ain’t ya
A question of bases

When they were all assembled and undercoated, it was time to hit the paints. Then I realised that every technique I had used when I first painted these guys 10/15 years ago had been rendered obsolete by new washes and colours. I had to re-learn how to paint Elysians, using the three painted veterans I had for guidance.

Let’s just say, thank the God-Emperor (again) for the invention of washes.

Colours on! Just need the bases sorting
Looking spangly

With both the 5-man squad and Veterans pretty much finished, there was just the decision of the base to make. There were two options – keep the Cityfight grey or try a sandy desert yellow.

As much as the yellow works better against the blue and grey colour scheme, it’s a bit out of place for their camo scheme to be running around in the desert. One of the pitfalls of painting army guys – you can’t aesthetically pair your uniform with your surroundings, you have to blend in!

No more excuses

With the decision made on bases, it was time to pull my finger out and finish these squads off. I had also been given direction for the assembly of the other squads, so it’s full steam ahead on the Elysian commission!