Meanwhile, on the Bench: Canals of Syracuse Magna

“As you near the water’s edge, the corpse-coloured province of Syracuse Magna looms in the distance. A thick, dark cloud hangs above it, and the iron-black sea reeks of stagnation and raw sewage. The omnipresent drizzle turns into thick gobbets of oily water falling from the sky. The sound of the heavy rain patters loudly off your driver’s metal hat.

You hug the coastline tightly, giving enough berth to the multi-storey hab blocks that loom uncomfortably outwards over the waters.  She picks an entrance to the maze of waterways and crumbling tenements that make up the district and the motor-skiff ambles lazily into a sluggish canal. A thick film of oil and offal covers the surface of the canal, and everything here reeks of rot

Despite the dilapidation and flooded tenement blocks, there is a semblance of life here. Citizens and labourers shuffle around in the shadows and under the cover of overhanging buildings. You catch the glint of every pair of eyes following you as your motor-skiff chugs down the canal.”

”Welcome to Syracuse Magna. May the light of the golden throne shine on you! Now get off my boat!”
making plans

With a brand new chapter of our Dark Heresy campaign about to begin, set in the decaying province of Syracuse Magna, it was the perfect opportunity to pursue a dream I’d had since I had been flicking through old issues of White Dwarf as a kid – having an awesome game board.

The idea of building a modular board grew organically from the premise. Syracuse Magna needed introducing in a bang – a three-way brawl between the players, some noble House Guard and some local scum.

The campaign book I’m basing the plot off has an interesting map in the beginning – something that looked like it would be really fun to set aside most of a session for a proper honest-to-Emperor dice-fest. It had at least a dozen guys on each side, with the implication of more ‘further away’, multiple levels, heavy weapons, firebombs and boats.

The map from the book, courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games. The names have been obscured in a vain attempt to not tip off my players too much

What started out as something that could be sketched on my wipe-clean hex map evolved as I started to plan the multiple levels. There needed to be guys shooting down from above, so I’d need to build walkways (obviously). Walkways would need something to connect to, so there would have to be buildings (obviously). Heck, the canal needs to be at a lower level from the rest.

At this point, it was becoming increasingly apparent that I was deluding myself into thinking I wasn’t going to build a game board. I had recently had a clear out of my old Elysian drop troopers, and that had freed up a dangerous amount of capital in the hobby fund.

The best laid plans…

The original plan was stuck to as closely as I could with the time I had given myself. Some parts fell by the wayside due to time constraints, such as the inlet board.

Originally I had wanted to go all-out and create full resin canals, but I couldn’t figure out how best to make those modular – I have no use for single-purpose terrain.

That sweet, sweet smell of freshly-lasered MDF

The game board from TTcombat would fit the bill – cheap and lightweight, it would be easy to store and I could get a lot of different configurations out of it.  They should be stackable too, so I picked up some of the TTcombat venice plaza sections of different sizes to add a bit of height variance where appropriate.

I would pick up a bunch of different bits of scenery too, that way I’d have a tool kit of stuff that I could draw upon wherever and whenever my players decide to get into a fight. It could be an open dockside, a drowned slum or abandoned city block.

Just the right height – not impassably tall, but still an obstacle
world building

Assembly began in earnest. I love the TTCombat range for its detail and ease of assembly, and everything in this pack was no different. The broken factory and shipyard went together like a dream, and the containers would be to swell my container collection to a more healthy 9 in total.

I had also assembled some silos from pringles cans which would serve to boost the height significantly and provide more things to drape walkways off.

The crates were a bit fiddly to assemble but they came together in the end, and I made the conscious decision to glue them together in lumps rather than have dozens of loose crates scattered about my board. Where I would lose a tiny amount of customisation, I would gain massively in convenience. I’ve had loose bits of terrain floating around on boards before and the novelty wears off immediately after the first accidental nudge of the table.

Dry fitting the pieces. It’s looking like a board!

As I was doing more research into scenery options, I naturally gravitated towards various Malifaux resources, including the sewers walkway and downtown walkway sets by Plascraft. I can knock rickety wooden walkways together with some PVA and balsa wood easy peasy, but I can’t knock together something that looks like it wasn’t, uh, knocked together. I picked them up off ebay for cheap, favouring the un-coloured plastic sets over the pre-painted ones.

They were an absolute pain in the ass to assemble – they were made of the kind of plastic that mocks every kind of adhesive except superglue. I went through four tubes of superglue and seventeen fingertips before everything was finally assembled, and it was only when it came to basecoating I realised I should have bathed the whole set in acid and set it on fire before starting, as it took three coats of base coat before the paint would stop pooling on the oils left on the plastic. Not cool.

When they were done they looked great – they fit in to the theme beautifully, they’re lightweight, sturdy and flexible enough so they can be knocked around a bit without any paint chipping or structural damage.

I was, however, putting off the longest, hardest (and as it turned out, most damaging to me personally) part of the project – the boards themselves.

foaming at the mouth

I had looked at dozens of different game boards, trying to decide how to design the ones I now had taking up space on my bed. There were plenty of Mordheim and Malifaux game boards on Pinterest and Google Images that tickled my fancy, but none that I could realistically achieve by myself in the time frame I had allotted.

My first attempts with glue and sand were pretty abysmal and not what I wanted at all. I wanted a cobbled/tiled/flagstone look, but the only textured plasticard I could find was expensive and sold by the A4 sheet, I needed something that could cover large areas for not very much money.

I came across some enterprising individual on a Mordheim forum who had used a biro on some thin polystyrene (the kind your supermarket pizza comes on) to draw on flagstones and cobbles. Perfect! All I need to do is find some in my local area and draw some on, right?

My finger hurts just looking at this

Turns out, nowhere sells such a thing, and I wasn’t about to buy and unwrap a dozen pizzas. I finally found some sheets of kids’ craft foam in my local book store and picked up two packs just to be sure. It was the perfect material – much tougher than polystyrene but that just meant I had to push a bit harder. Should take the strain of gaming more, right?

Each one of these sheets took about two hours

You have to press really really hard with a biro to get the indentation. I broke the ball out of four pens making these, and the ones that didn’t lose their ball will never write again due to weird internal rupturing of the ink cartridge.

By the end of the ordeal I couldn’t hold a pen for a few days afterwards. I had lost feeling in the end of my thumb from gripping the pen so tightly and I had a huge blister on my middle finger from where the pen rested. Over a month later I still don’t have very much feeling in my thumb any more, and the blister has turned into a huge callous. Yay hobbying!

Aside from that though, the sheets came out great. For what was essentially 25p a sheet, they were great value for money if you don’t value physical hand health that much. Time to stick them to things!

This was a pleasingly messy project

The sheets were carved up in accordance to the random scribbles I had made on the wooden boards. Harking back to my brief, I wanted them to be usable in pretty much any arrangement, so they needed to be (relatively) even all the way round.

I also wanted to have a conscious divide between cobbled areas and muddy paths where the roads have worn away decades ago. Making these tiled areas variable shapes and sizes meant depending on the arrangement of boards, you could get wide streets, tiny claustrophobic alleyways or snaking dog-legs between buildings.

Two thicknesses of plasticard were used for the edging (black and white)

A few of the boards went against the brief and I edged them with lollipop sticks as a boardwalk or dockside. I needed a dock in the first fight, and I didn’t have the time to figure out how to carve up one of these tiles and make an inlet. Perhaps a project for another time.

The mud was made with a nice big pot of polyfilla I had lying around in powder form at home. When mixed up in some old Chinese tupperware, you can apply it liberally with finger and spoon to create some weird shapes. Some tiles and sand pushed into it for texture helped finish it off.

Dry faster, damn you!

With all the boards in strange primary colours,  things were beginning to look a bit Legoland. I was happy that I had got this far and I was apprehensive about applying colour to them. If the paint didn’t take, I was out of options.

Duncan be praised

Well bugger me, they came out better than I’d ever dreamed they would. I killed off quite a few brain cells applying the black undercoat – I lost count of how many rattle cans I went through over the course of this project.

A light dusting of grey over the black helped break up the big chunks and would make painting easier down the line.

I’ve been painting for 20 years and the power of an undercoat still amazes me

The wood sections would get a light dusting of brown spray and painted up the same way as the other wood sections of the map. The cobblestones were highlighted with a slightly lighter grey, and splodged liberally with brown and green washes applied with a spongy bit snipped out of a miniatures case.

A final highlight was drybrushed with Rotting Flesh. In all the descriptions of Magna it would be described as a decaying, unhealthy place, and everything from the wood to the stone to the metal would have a slightly unhealthy tinge to it.

The path sections would get a thick’n’heavy coat of brown. It was time to get muddy.

Hahahaha holy shit I really hope this dries clear ahahahaha

I picked up some water effect stuff to make bases for the Undertow and this was a great opportunity to use some more of it up. It is very thick, and used for creating water effects like splashing water, so it would be perfect for giving me an unpleasant moistness to my mud. It would also double as a sealant for the polyfilla, as I discovered very quickly that despite it looking great and being super easy to work with, it chips like a bitch.

I applied it liberally and smooshed it into the surface of my board. trying to let it pool in the crevices and get wiped off the raised areas so it would look more like standing water.

I had my concerns at this point that it would look more like a river or literal standing water rather than mud, then realised it didn’t matter. It could be used for either depending on what I might need!

The stuff was touch-dry in less than an hour, but I let it dry overnight just to be safe.

The test fit

When everything was dry, next day I pushed the boards together, sprinkled some terrain on it and set up my antagonists for a photo shoot. I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Yeah, I was pretty fuckin’ chuffed with how these came out. Everything just worked. I was utterly impressed by my ability to paint all the wood in the same dead fleshy colours, despite many of these projects being painted months apart and in some cases, very drunk. The multiple layers worked really well too, something I was going to revisit later on and finish off more of. Everything looked swell, and with only one night to go before the big day, it couldn’t have worked out better.

It was time to assemble the board ready for the final fight.

The board was set up before the players arrived, I just needed to bring it in when the fight started
Some close-ups of the interior. The players will enter at the far end.
It was difficult to contain my excitement at this point. It had turned from random bits of wood and garbage plastic into a living, breathing dockside
Death in magna

I stuck as close as I could to the original map, and made concessions for the areas that didn’t work. I didn’t have the time (or inclination) to make ANOTHER boat, so we used the nose section from a previous TTcombat purchase  which actually turned out great.

The core structures were shuffled around too – the warehouse in the far corner didn’t fit on the tile I had put there and was better suited to being more central so it could be interacted with more. I commandeered some of my old 40k scatter terrain that was most fitting to the scene too – a few bits of ruined building that would stand in for, well, anything really. The one in the bottom left of the map would house a cheeky chappy with a hunting rifle that would just be a massive dick for the whole fight.

The rest of this post is just images, vaguely structured in the order they were taken. I lament not taking more pictures or documenting it better, but luckily many of my players took plenty of snaps on their phones.

So, for your pleasure, I present one of my life-long dreams achieved;

The acolytes approach, wary that they have entered an area with a fully 3D map and models
The noise of the manufactorum to their right drowned out the sound of gunfire until they were practically in the middle of the firefight
An armoured barge had been forced down a dead-end canal by raider boats, and the criminal crews spot a new ship entering, assume it’s enemy reinforcements and open fire
Keenly aware they are under fire, the Acolyte Primus jumps to shore and commands the others to do the same
A raider approaches, manned by an Undertow heavy gunner with a crank cannon. One of the Acolytes pops smoke to try and save them from becoming Swiss cheese
The Techpriest ices the first sniper on the silo, despite the rain imposing a -20 to hit
A lot of things happen except people leaving the boat. A mixture of poor Climb tests, failed Pinning tests and decisive inaction leads to them being rammed by the raider
The tiny Techpriest scampers up a silo to blast an Undertow sniper with her hellgun. Also pictured: the elusive Dreadquill GM
The mad Adept dives for cover and returns fire with any grenades she has to hand
Pop pop pop watching heretics drop
Things started to get a little capsizey

Our brave naval Acolytes eventually all managed to get off their sinking ship (hopefully not too heavy-handed a metaphor for future endeavours…) and brutally murder some starving poor people trying to feed their families see off the criminals and protect the shipment.

The day was won by the Acolytes, and they even won grudging thanks from the House Guard protecting the shipment. It sounded like everyone had as much fun playing as I had building, and we all learned some valuable lessons about the importance of having Willpower as your dump stat, why shotguns with the Scatter trait are so deadly, and just how long you can stay on a sinking ship before your team-mates start to try and bounce grenades off your head.

I’ll get you next time, Acolytes!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Feral Orks

As you pick through the wreckage towards the great crystalline structure in the centre of the labyrinth you hear the sounds of gunfire and animalistic grunting. The snap of lasgun fire is unmistakeable, but there is a single noise that pierces the veil and sends a shiver down your spine. A single, howling, primal “WAAAAAAAGH!”

Finished shots first!

Last week’s Orthesian Herald ended with our plucky band of explorers facing down a ravening Ork horde in the dusty mazes of Gangue Prime. I knew a week or so in advance when the players were likely to arrive at that juncture, and thought I’d give myself a little modelling challenge.

Orks had cropped up in our games of Rogue Trader before, but I’d always proxied them with Blood Bowl models. I didn’t own any Ork models, so why not build and paint a dozen Orks in less than a week?

Assembling the horde

Initially I was eyeing up some of the lovely savage orcs orruks on the Games Workshop website when the compulsion (and cost) suddenly overwhelmed me – let’s kitbash these guys!

A while back I cleared out my bits bag – a collection of stuff that never even made it to any of my bits boxes. Before it went to bid I rescued as many bits as I thought might be useful, many of them were Ork/Orc parts from either 40k or Warhammer Fantasy (RIP).

As I started to dry fit pieces together, more of their story was assembling in my head.

They were to be a band of feral Orks, their original ship having crashed on the planet or a nearby moon (exact details didn’t matter unless the players pursued it), scattering good ol’ Orky spores all over the planet.

As much as I enjoyed the original savage Ork aesthetic, it wasn’t what I wanted. This particular band of Orks had spent too much time around the Star Mirror on Gangue Prime, which had rapidly accelerated their growth. Their brains were still developing the capacity to use technology, but they were scavenging metal from their broken spacecraft to use in armour and weaponry rather than the bone and flint weapons of their rival tribes.

This gave me freedom to use all kinds of bits and bobs strapped to them to give them a savage, primitive but deadly appearance.

I mixed and matched between 40k Ork and Warhammer Fantasy Orc parts quite freely, giving some fancy looking armour worn with leather caps and the like.

A few had two combat weapons, but the rest sported shields made from reclaimed scrap. Not only would this look cool on the tabletop, but they would double as boarding parties when I re-use the models down the line alongside their more shooty cousins.

The setup for the fight would be essentially a shooting gallery – how many of the ravening xenos beasts can you put down before they get to you. I’d hoped the shields would give a few of them a bit more of a fighting chance against that dastardly Arch-Militant and his bolt pistols of death.

Another feature I added halfway through construction was the addition of carved up tank treads to make shoulder pads. They made them look a bit more beefy and helped visually tie them together a bit more – with such a random assortment of bits and equipment they were looking a bit too disparate. At this point I was hoping a nice paint job in neutral tones, with some stand-out warpaint would help bring them visually together as well.

I did want a bit of ranged capacity though, and I had already written off guns for this encounter. Playing back into the idea of working with technology too advanced for their tiny developing minds, I loved the concept of a bunch of surprise Ork stikkbombas hidden among the horde.

The players would have access to a warbike and sidecar for the fight as well, so it would give them pause for thought if a bunch of explosives suddenly came hurtling out the Ork horde towards them.

As is always the case with these things, the plan didn’t go to plan. All the stikkbombas were accidentally killed by players before anyone knew there was a potential threat. Oh well.

Finally, they needed a warboss. I had a few old school metal warboss/big boss parts lying about, but I was feeling exceptionally lazy that day and I certainly didn’t want to break out the pin vice and super glue for a project like this. Plus, I wanted to keep that model back for when I inevitably need to convert an Ork Kaptin, replete with very fine hat.

There must be some plastic parts I can smash together in half an hour, right?

Meet Big Boss Gutkrusha. He’s made mostly of a plastic Ogre with a bunch of random Ork bits glued on to him. I was toying with the idea of giving him some explosives, or a big harpoon cannon or some such.

In the end I went for the no-frills option. He would be big, tough, and have a very large hammer. His sole purpose would be to soak a lot of damage, hopefully enough so that at least one of his boyz got through to smack the players about a bit.

He certainly soaked up the damage alright. It took several rounds of shooting from the aforementioned bolt pistols of death and a good few maximal shots from the Captain and Astropath’s plasma pistols. Just as well really, he had a very, very nasty hammer attack.

And then I was done! A few hours with the clippers and glue and I had a horde fit for a WAAAGH! A little one, admittedly, but it would suffice.

applying the warpaint

These guys would be a great opportunity to practice my 2018 mantra; Finished, Not Perfect. The only thing that mattered would be getting enough paint on them for the illusion to be complete at arm’s length. They weren’t going to be hero models, they were unlikely to be used again for a very long time after their debut, and were likely to die in droves.

Boy, that turned out to be much harder than I thought.

I used my standard speed paint technique; Base Colour > Wash > Highlight with Base Colour. It took everything in my power to resist doing another highlight afterwards or spending more time picking out details. Lots of mistakes were made, and they were ignored at great pains for the sake of the horde.

Neutral tones were picked to help the green skin stand out more – although everyone around the table knew what an Ork was, not everybody had fought them before, and I wanted them to be visually very different from the colourful mutants and gangers of Mercy. This is the Green Tide, and it doesn’t need ostentation to fuck you up.

Ostentation would come later, of course. How are my players supposed to know the difference between a regular Ork and a Ork Wot Goes Fasta if not by colour scheme alone?

The skull face paint and white dags were a late addition – with all the neutral tones and ‘regular’ armour from the Fantasy Orcs, they were missing a certain something to make them look more primal. A splash of pale flesh tones across the skin and face before the wash was all it took to break up the flat colours and give them a proper angry Orky look.

Boss Gutkrusha was just a bigger version of his boyz, albeit with a little more flesh on show so I had to take a weenie bit more care than on the others. He was a hero model in my speedpaint krew, so I could afford a few extra moments on him right?

The basing was surprisingly adventurous for me – somehow I’d never based anything in my collection in a sandy/dusty desert, and now I immediately want to go through many of my older models based on boring grey sand and sex them up a bit.

There are SO many things I would love to go back to and tidy up, and I was very close to not putting these guys into an article because they weren’t finished “enough” for public consumption. That wasn’t the point of them though, and I wanted to teach myself to break the habit of perfectionism for perfectionism’s sake.

They’re Finished, and we had a great time shooting the crap out them!


Meanwhile, on the Bench: Orthesian Dynasty Armsmen

Prepare to repel boarders!

With our Orthesian Dynasty Rogue Trader game well underway, the time had finally come to stop putting off making any cool models.

We had reached a juncture at the end of one session just before rolling initiative, and half the party were not present. They were being backed up by some NPC armsmen as I knew combat was coming and I didn’t want any players to sit out of dice rolling, so it was a perfect opportunity to assemble a few navybois for the upcoming session.

I’ve made a few different armsmen and House Guard in the past for different Dynasties – the Serafin House Guard are well-equipped, well-trained nobleborn soldiers with a stick up their ass, and the Zini armsmen are renegades with cobbled-together void suits. When those games fizzled out the models were repurposed as NPCs, so I needed something with a different flavour for the Orthesian Dynasty.


Through service comes loyalty

With the Captain being ex-Navy, the Orthesian Dynasty is laced with Imperial Navy traditions and carry-overs, and this was a perfect time to build some naval armsmen as the God Emperor intended.

I wanted them to look roughshod and beaten up, vaguely uniform as though they had been given their equipment but expected to upkeep it themselves. I wanted a very traditional armsmen look – literal Men-at-Arms IN SPAAAACE – which meant hunting around for the right bits.

I picked up a Bretonnian Men-at-Arms kit last year with the express plan of doing something cool with them. 40k lends itself to weird mashups of archaic and futuristic, and the Bretonnian heads and bodies were the perfect combination of detailed and ancient. I had dry fit the heads to a few different bodies over the months but I was uninspired by any of the combinations, so the projects kept getting shelved.

It wasn’t until I joined the INQ28 group on Facebook that I realised the versatility of the Genestealer Neophytes set. A dangerous plan was formulating, and after picking up a box and dry-fitting combinations for HOURS, eventually decided on this combination.

Whaddya lookin’ at? Back ta work!

The Neophyte legs needed a little bit of handy scalpel work to remove the Genestealer Cult icons and quite a lot of shaving down at the hip join so they would fit flush with the Cadian flak armoured torso.

Despite having so many different combinations of legs, bodies and arms, the Neophytes kit has slightly contoured edges where parts are supposed to fit together. It works fine for the kit, but for enterprising individuals who want to bash it together with some other plastic bits, it needs a little bit of work to make fit.

Shaving the Bretonnian heads down was agonising. Not because it was physically difficult – the plastic was actually much softer than modern sets – but spiritually taxing. They don’t make these any more so I can’t afford to make mistakes and ruin a piece!

Luckily the pieces came together better than I’d ever imagined. I had to stop myself from building another half a dozen, knowing I could easily do it, but I have to limit myself on the number of new models I can build until I finish painting some previous unfinished projects.

The whole combination worked brilliantly, and giving them a quick undercoat pulled the whole model together. Unfortunately, the easy bit was now finished.

I call this the ‘black canvas panic’
Coat of armsmen

I knew what I wanted them to look like, but I didn’t quite know how I wanted to do it. I had a very strong, vague image in my head – a cross of Alien-style space suit and medieval men-at-arms, displaying their allegiances to their lord in any way they can afford to. These would not be wealthy individuals, but be given decent arms and armour to carry out their job of policing the ship and performing boarding actions.

I went through a few different colour scheme ideas, and was one of the rare occasions I had to bust out the drawing tablet and sketch some ideas before committing them to paint.

I tried out a few different ideas within the same scope

Luckily I had some colours to work with – dark grey and dark blue were Navy standard colours, but I also had pastel blue, orange and white as part of the Dynasty heraldry. My spot colours were chosen for me, I just needed to work out how to implement them.

You can see from the image above how I reworked the colour scheme until I got something I liked the look of. I actually started painting after number 5, as I was pretty convinced those were the colours I wanted. It wasn’t until I started putting paint on the model I realised I didn’t like the blue for the armour, and the tabard/waist cloth didn’t match the material of the gloves. I was also scratching me head about how to do the various wrappings, armbands and bindings that covered the other models. The neophytes kit is great because it’s so varied, which is a problem when trying to create a uniform colour scheme.

It was then it dawned on me – flags! These guys would do anything to show their allegiance to their Dynasty and their home, so tattered bits of heraldry here and there were perfect. I also remembered a reference from an old Kal Jericho comic about gang brawls in the underhive – everyone fighting everyone looks totally the same except for the coloured armbands everyone wears. Made sense to me – you really want to be able to tell friend from foe in the dark, brutal meatgrinder of ship-to-ship combat, so you’d want to splash those colours across you wherever you could!

And so it came together, part planning and part luck. I couldn’t be more happy with how they’d come out, and I’m doing everything in my power to avoid building more of them. Maybe one with a lascutter for opening sealed doors? Ooh! I need a few guys with boarding shields obviously. Perhaps some with demolition charges, some more with melee weapons…

And one final one, because I couldn’t resist

Meanwhile, on the Bench: completed Longshore Brassnecks

I’ve had a lot of fun painting these guys. Normally, muscle-bound knuckle-draggers aren’t my jam – I swerve from barbarians and fighter-types in any roleplaying game – so I didn’t think the Goliaths from Necromunda would appeal to me.

Boy was I wrong.

I got the Necromunda set for Christmas and I had such a great time assembling the two gangs that I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to the painting. I knew I wanted them to be multi-role, usable both in  Necromunda and as goons for our games of Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader.

The Longshore Brassnecks were the result – beefy gangers who show off their prowess by hauling cargo around without the need for lifting equipment, and running security for the point defense guns of Mercy. I liked the idea that they made their furnace plate armour out of spent shell casings from macrocannons (if there is such a thing…), so the armour would be painted to look like battered copper.

I think they came out rather well, and I left two models back for the inevitable campaign amendments or new recruits. As much as I’d LOVE to buy another box set of these guys, holding two back for spares seemed like the more prudent idea. Plus, I fancied trying my hand at a lady Goliath, but that’s a project for another time…

squad goals

First up is the leader, Musgrave. He’s armed with a power hammer, stub cannon and a fighting knife for those delicious extra dice in combat. Sure you have to split your attacks between the weapons this way, but I reasoned it was better to roll more dice at a problem and increase my chances of hitting with the hammer in the first place.

I picked the bulkiest armour, head and shoulder pads for him too so that he would stand out, and slung a stub cannon on his back to make use of that 3+ Ballistic Skill. I did a little conversion work on the power hammer too, swapping the head for the Renderizer gave it the heft I was looking for.

Next is Zastava, a Juve armed with a stub pistol and a spud jacker. As one of two Juves in the gang, his job is very simple – run around and be generally irritating.

He originally had a knife rather than a pistol, but there were so many moments in our test games when he found himself behind cover not able to do very much. Even with a 5+ Ballistic Skill it’s better than nothing, and opens up his tactical options a little bit. I’d rather get one shot at 5+ than no shots at all.

The pistol is from Zinge Industries, as the core Goliath box set sees fit to only furnish you with two stub pistols…

The other Juve is Gat, wielding a brute cleaver rather than a spudjacker but his role in the gang is still the same as Zastava’s. His stub pistol is from Zinge again.

Next up is Roth, armed with a Renderizer and a stub pistol. He had a little conversion work done to him too – swapping the head round with Musgrave’s power hammer so it’s slung over the shoulder instead of wielded two handed. The pistol had to be swapped round with the combi-plasma pistol arm too.

Considering the work that went into him, he’s not actually played in any games yet, he tends to get left on the sideline. Poor Roth.

Next up is my boy Sturm, the Champion of the Brassnecks and very dear to my heart. I’m not sure why the rivet cannon gets such a bad rap among the community, it’s been a pleasant surprise in every game we’ve played so far. Granted, the 9″ range can totally hamstring your plans, but Sturm is a Champion armed with a spud-jacker – he’s got two Strength 5 WS 3+ attacks he can throw out if you think charging him is a good idea.

Opponents tend to underestimate the Goliath ‘heavies’ into thinking that just because they have a heavy weapon they’ll be a pushover in close combat – something Sturm has used to his advantage more than once.

Attaching the spud-jacker was easy enough – the hand that was holding it was carved away with a craft knife. I tried my hand at a bit of object source lighting on the rivet cannon and although I’m not super pleased with how it came out, I’m glad I tried it!

This is Vektor, the cheekiest of the Brassnecks, known for his tendencies to pull off trick shots with his grenade launcher or bounce missed shots round corners much to the frustration of opponents.

He comes with an axe and stub gun too (in a holster on his back), as we’ve played enough original Necromunda to know the importance of a backup weapon if you’re the heavy.

Up next is the dark horse, Pounder. When we were making the gangs as a group, we didn’t really know how silly the combat shotguns were until one of did a double-take on the character sheet halfway through the test game and pulled out the flamer template.

He’s great for in support for keeping a whole bunch of people pinned, and every now and then one of those Strength 2 shredder shots actually does something!

He has a stub gun as well, because let’s be honest – why look excited about one weapon when you can look excited about two?

Finally we have Ruger, a humble support ganger with a stub cannon and fighting knife. The theme for this gang was BIG GUNS, as my aforementioned aversion to muscly brutes hitting stuff meant I decided to take them in a different direction. Their job was to haul big munitions to use in even bigger guns, so it was only reasonable they took a liking to big guns themselves.

After running a game or two, I’ve realised just quite *how* much I like the stub cannon, and there will be several more gangers being equipped with them after this!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Pringle Silos

Finished articles first!

We had just finished our first proper session of the Orthesian Dynasty Rogue Trader game, and one thing I’m keen to encourage is the bringing of food and snacks to the table in exchange for bonus XP.

After said session, during the tallying of corpses and clearup operation, I discovered we had managed to get through two and a half tubes of Pringles. As I was idly finishing the remaining point five of a tube of Pringles, the thought struck me – I owned NO terrain that used Pringles tubes as a base.

Scandalous! I had used them in the past for various projects as a nipper, but never brought any of them with me or kept around after house moves or purges. I knew what had to be done. I had a spare weekend, some lollipop sticks and a whole box of paint.

It begins
Once you pop

Construction began with the core concept – Some tall structures that (probably) once had a purpose, perhaps grain silos or fuel depots, that have now fallen into disuse and now their only function is as watchtowers or vantage points. Verticality was the name of the game.

The original concept was to build some kind of ladder arrangement with lollipop sticks. That concept went up in a puff of smoke when I got to grips with each tube and realised there was a perfect spiral seam where the packaging was glued on that runs from top to bottom of each tube.

No mini-milks were harmed in the production of this terrain

This acted as a pre-drawn guideline for my new spiral staircase idea: snip the ends off a bunch of lollipop sticks, stab a hole into the tube with a craft knife and shove the stick through. Apply PVA glue liberally to both sides – I needed to dribble it from on high like a master chocolatier to reach the lower sticks inside the tube. I wanted to make sure it was well-stuck to avoid any accidental wobbly stairs later on.


I didn’t want them fancy, but I also recognise the importance for a few key details to tell the story of a piece. It would also serve to break up the large flat surfaces of the Pringles tubes when it came to painting.

Starting to look like towers now

Platforms were constructed at the top of each staircase to give it a landing instead of a sheer drop off the tower. A big circle of balsa wood was cut out and glued into the ‘bottom’ of the tubes. I wanted to keep the ‘tops’ of the tubes (now the bottom of the towers) open in case I needed to perform emergency repairs or add weights to it at a later date.

Banana-coloured man for scale

Some long strips of balsa wood helped give it more of a ‘container’ vibe and I added some steel mesh around half of each rim, supported by three wooden pillars. Holy hell, that steel mesh cut my hands up something awful.

They look kinda like giant metal daisies from directly above/below

Some final details were added in the form of plastic pipework and a bit of plastic support strut for the larger of the three silos, all from the ubiquitous chemical plant terrain set.

By this point I was damn happy with how they were looking. It had been a very, very long time since I’d created scenery from junk, and following my 2018 hobby mantra of “finished, not perfect” I figured they were good enough to hit the rattlecans and get a lovely undercoat on them to start painting.

Ready salted

A quick blast of own-brand black car primer spray later and they look a much more coherent whole. Unfortunately, the busyness of the Pringles packaging distracted me from what it really was – a big, flat smooth surface on every side.

That’s a whole lot of flat surface to cover

I wasn’t mad, just a little annoyed at the oversight. Given more time I might have added some panels or more pipes and tubes to help break up those big featureless expanses.

No matter, the deed was done, and they just needed to be finished. Onwards to dusting!

They’ve got a great silo-huette AHAHA

I can’t remember when or why I started using this technique but it has a been a flipping life-saver. I’m sure I’ll use it more once I have consistent access to an airbrush, but for now cheapo rattlecans serve my purposes just fine.

It’s pretty simple – over a hard black undercoat, give it a light dusting from one angle with a colour of choice. It’ll retain much of the black underneath, but provide a time-friendly alternative to blocking out all the colours by hand and following up with a million drybrushes.

The metal was painted on with a thick, stiff brush – I found an old metallic acrylic paint that had a super weird consistency, but once I mixed it with the dregs of a Dwarf Bronze I had lying about in my paint box, it produced this neat off-silver colour that was great for slapping onto flat surfaces.

I was going to weather it a LOT later on to help break up the shapes too, so it didn’t need to be perfect. A second drybrush of a lighter metallic colour (horizontally rather than vertically this time) helped produce a pleasing brushed metal look.

Flat colours are not pretty to look at

I wanted some signage on them too – large identifying marks that would help players differentiate them on the table top and give the models a spot colour to again, help break up those big flat shapes.

I liked the idea of something really simple, A B and C stencilled onto opposite sides of the silos. I set about making a stencil for them, hand cut from heavyweight cartridge paper.

It was at this point after an hour of stencil-making I realised I didn’t have a white rattlecan to spray through the stencil, so I opted to just apply paint over the stencil with a brush. What could go wrong?

Lots, apparently. The paint was great at getting under the stencil edges and made a big horrendous mess, like someone had tried to paint it on with their bumcheeks with surprisingly little success.

I ended up using the stencil to trace a stencil shape onto the silos with a pencil, then painting each stencil design on by hand. Ah well, it’s the time-saving thoughts that count, right?

Breaking them in

I really enjoy weathering techniques – they’re always really easy to do and add so much character to a model, especially scenery. They give it a really lived-in feel, and as I’m super lazy time-efficient I have a number of weathering tricks that make this part fly by.

90% done, just needs another final edge highlight on the wood to make it pop

The technique couldn’t be easier – stipple some brown paint onto your metal in random patches with a big flat brush. The cheaper your brush, the better the effect.

After that, bust out a nice vibrant orange colour. With a slightly smaller brush, stipple on some equally random patches of orange, but try to concentrate them in the middle of large brown areas. You’ll get this great two-tone effect that looks like the outer layer of metal has flaked away to reveal different layers of rust underneath. Neato.

I use only high-quality paints for my projects, such as this budget brown acrylic paint picked up from my local bric-a-brac store for about a quid. Only the finest for Dreadquill.


For a very final detail I did a fine highlight on the edges of the wood sections with a pale skin tone to really make them stand out.

from snacks to stacks

And with that, they were all finished! It took two evenings to finish these off, and I have to be honest and say I admired them for a very long time after i finished them. They came out way better than I had anticipated, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had such a feeling of accomplishment after completing such a relatively simple project.

I pulled out some of the antagonists from our upcoming Syracuse Magna campaign and set them up for a mini photoshoot. The colours worked just wonderfully.

I’ll be putting together some walkways out of long bits of balsa wood so I can string these guys together over long distances, but for now I’m just super stoked to play with them!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: The Ash Garrison

Over the last few months I’ve been assembling some rusty senpais in the form of the Ash Garrison Enforcers of Syracuse Magna. Brutal, corrupt and underfunded, the Ash Garrison attracts only the worst of the populace to help tread the rest into the rain-slick cobblestones of Magna’s streets.

The full troupe
Painting the masses

Assembling these guys was equal parts fun and complicated, with little regard for how they would look when coloured. I only had one colour requirement from their description in-game, they needed dark green vulcanised cloaks to protect them from the relentless drizzle and acid rain showers of Syracuse Magna. The rest I would have to make up on the spot. Great.

This is the painter’s equivalent of a writer’s blank sheet of paper

They were all undercoated black, which had the immediate benefit of pulling all the incoherent pieces together into one uniform whole. They were starting to look like a unit!

The immediate downside to this was the daunting prospect of adding colours to the test models to see what would work. Green cloaks were a given, but what about the rest?

I am quite taken with the Death Korps of Krieg aesthetic, as they spend a lot of their time around mud and rain, so I was going to use lots of neutral earthy tones for the clothes. I decided to try something a bit different for the armour and weapons and see if I could pull off a kind of rusty metal look.

Based black and blocked bronze

Base coats were added to the test models – a dark brassy metallic colour would form the base for the equipment – normally I’d go for a steel silver, but I wanted to go Full Grubby this time.

A nice grimy grey was applied to the overcoat, the cloaks blocked in with dark green, and the details were picked out with variant browns and lighter greys.

As the majority of the big areas dried, I splashed on a healthy amount of black wash to dull the colours even more (and do like 90% of the shading work for me because I’m a lazy painter).

Shout out to Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil for making all my work not look like garbage
Getting rusty

It was during this blocking and washing stage (read: literally watching paint dry) that I started to experiment with a rust technique.

I’ve used this technique for verdigris/patina on bronze before and the process was fun and straightforward, if a long-winded process. I know you can get fancy pigment paints and stuff these days, but I have a perfectly serviceable orange paint and plenty of water so let’s do this.

The process involved getting some really, really watered down orange paint (little more than paint-flavoured water) and blobbing it on willy-nilly across the exposed parts of dark metal.

Couple of rusty bois

It would seep into crevices and leave weird watermarks, but the more layers I did the more this began to turn into a cool rust effect. After the 5th-ish layer of orange, I did another few layers of a lighter orange, then one final layer of pale flesh colour in the centre of the worst-affected areas.

When I die, bury me with my washes so I don’t have to Git Gud in the afterlife

Fantastically, it was beginning to look like something I hadn’t quite anticipated – rust from water damage rather than just age. My damp senpai were turning into rusty senpai!

The final touch was to roughly pick out edges with a silver paint to give it some wear and tear. Holy smokes, what a difference that made. The rougher and quicker I applied the edge highlights, the more realistic it seemed and the better it looked on the tabletop.

Hardcore weathering action

With the majority of the models’ feature colours finished, it was on to the tidy up. The greys were highlighted with their original base colours again to keep the neutral tones, the gloves were given a little extra highlight to help pick out the fingers. Masks were highlighted up to white with a red visor to give them a terrifying appearance under their big metal hats.

I had left the shock mauls til last, as I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted them to look. Perhaps it was time to try my hand at some origin source lighting?

OSL – Positively shocking

I avoid dabbling with origin source lighting (OSL) because a) it’s always an afterthought and b) painting new colours over pain(t)staking highlights gives me terror chills like no other.

I wanted the shock mauls to look zappy, but I wasn’t enthused about doing the usual lightning blue that’s associated with shock mauls, but not did I like repeating the red from the visor.

Sticking with the grimy colour scheme I opted for a poisonous shade of green, which when highlighted up had this wonderful effect of making it look pale and sickly. You can almost imagine them flickering and sparking like a faulty bug zapper in a meat shop.

An attempt was made

I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I started by applying some very thin layers of green to anything the light might get cast on, and slowly highlighting up to lighter shades of green on more prominent surfaces, such as the rim of the hat and edges of the armour.

Some other details on the body picked out too – belt straps and greatcoat buttons

I was genuinely surprised by how well it came out! As an effect, I’m definitely going to be trying it again in the future. I’m comfortable with the technical side of it now, I just need to get better at understanding how light falls on strange shapes and applying more paint to those areas. I’d say the biggest problem with the OSL on these guys is that I didn’t do enough of it!

The finished product

The final stages were detailing the bases. I’d learned a lot about water effects from my time with the Enforcers’ nemeses, the Undertow – I needed lots of thin layers of water effect, otherwise you end up with weird air bubbles and pockets of cloudy water.

A billion layers of water effect later (and I’m not 100% happy with it but sod it), the rusty senpai were finished.

Senpais in full force
Lads lads lads

As mentioned in the conversion article, these guys were split into two groups – Remedials and Disciplinaries, depending on how severe a response is required from whatever uppity nonsense the local populace are kicking off with that day.

The Disciplinaries are the first responders, armed with sizzling shock mauls and flashbangs, their job is to brutally repress any kind of sedition with shock and awe and to round up anyone who might be persuaded to part with some important intel on enemy movements.

Disciplinary squad on tour

They’re lead by a member of the rightly-feared Mandato – the terrifying secret police and interrogators for the Shogun that excel in rooting out sedition and extracting information from those slow enough to be caught by the Disciplinary snatch squads.

So tempting to make a whole squad of these guys
But holy crap, this guy was a lot of work to assemble
It’d be SO worth it though
Some closeups of the Disciplinaries

The rest of the troopers make up the second wave of Ash Garrison – the Remedials. If/when the Disciplinaries can’t scare the populace into submission, the Remedials are rolled out to reduce the population to a more manageable size.

Remedials with a sniper specialist

These guys will only be seen if when things escalate into a full-blown insurrection, and Enforcers become less fussed about taking anyone alive.

They also come with exciting grenade launcher options for frag, gas or photon flash flavours.

Remedials with a grenade launcher

A few more of the damp baes;

Kinda wished I had another ten of these guys to make a full squad
Your lips say ‘No’ but your eyes say ‘Pick up that can, citizen’

All in all I’m preeeetty chuffed with how they’ve all come out. I’m not sure I could done them better if I’d tried, and the fact I’m aching to make another dozen of these guys is a great indicator that I really shouldn’t. They will serve their purposes well in the sodden, rotting alleyways of Syracuse Magna in our upcoming campaign.

Speaking of sodden, rotting alleyways, watch this space…

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Conan the Unkillable

A rare Inquisitor update for this week’s MOTB; Conan “The Unkillable” – an ex-hive ganger turned mercenary and bodyguard for powerful people the Inquisition have interests in.

Conan started out life as most of my projects do – a pile of parts loosely assembled because I liked the pose, flow or combination, and then left in a tray or bits box for several orbits of the sun because it was missing the Final Piece that brought the model together.

A while ago I began porting some scum and villainy over from our Necromunda, Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader sessions – there are plenty of colourful, interesting gangs and organisations that we play with at 28mm, so why not try and bring them to 54mm?

Conan and TJ Razor

TJ Razor was the first, a member of the Pursers Grim, and then I wanted to bring over a member of the notorious Red Hand Gang – a ubiquitous Orlock gang that originated in our games of Necromunda and appeared in Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader ever since as the go-to miscreants.

The Red Hand Gang tattoo their left hand red as part of their initiation, and get subsequent stripes up their arm for every confirmed kill. This was the only brief – the character needed a red hand.

I like my bangsticks in Inquisitor, and with the creation of the Revised Armoury a few years back by the Inquisitor Community, they became a lot more varied and a LOT more deadly. I wanted to experiment with a character that ‘just’ had a rifle of some kind – I needed more regular mooks, but with a little suttin’ suttin’ that sets them apart from the regular rank and file.

The weapon came from a burst of inspiration when trawling the Anvil Industries website for one of any dozen other projects and found the perfect rifle. I already knew the scale would work fine from previous experiments with Anvil’s line of space marine Exo-Lord scale weapons, and all the spare parts would make choosing the right gun for the job much easier. I know from experience that a dedicated sniper character in Inquisitor is boring to play both with and against, so although this guy was going to be a ranged support character, he was going to have a little bite to him with some fully automatic shootybangs.

Dr Seuss characters also have lots of confirmed kills

Putting him together was simple enough – he is pretty much a straight lift of the Talon Hive Ganger expansion with different legs. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything else interesting to stick to the model except a backup pistol, he didn’t look right travelling heavy. I reasoned he’s got some brass knuckles in a pocket somewhere that would do in a pinch.

I knew from the get-go I wanted my 54mm gangers to be a league apart from their 28mm brethren, each having a certain trait that helps them play with the Big Boys. I wanted to have a ganger with the Regeneration trait, and after watching THAT scene from Luke Cage, I knew what had to be done. The pin vice came out and holes were drilled everywhere, touched up with some putty to make them look like bullet holes.

When it came to painting, I already had the colour scheme pretty set in my head – I had over a dozen members of the Red Hand Gang to fall back on with khaki green trousers and dark grey clothes – lots of lovely neutral tones to help offset the gang colours and make those red hands really pop.

For a skin tone I wanted a very pasty colour – for someone who spends their entire life away from the sun, they would never have developed much of a tan. I had also re-watched one of the Riddick films recently, and with the goggles Conan was wearing, I could really resist going one step further.

Good grief I hate painting white. This was doubly awful because I have the super-thick foundation white from Games Workshop, which is excellent when you want to paint over a dark colour (which is basically always) but the worst thing when you want to do a bunch of really really thin layers.

I called it quits after maybe the 20th or so watered-down layer of white – it wasn’t going to get any better than it was. I wasn’t a fan of the really chalky texture the skin had picked up by this point, but you’d have to drag me to my table kicking and screaming if you wanted me to strip him and do it again. F that N.

The base was finished off in much the same way as TJ – assembled from bits of weird sci-fi scrap from the rather excellent Chemical Plant box set and painted in drab colours to look like a forgotten section of space station deep in the bowels of Mercy.

And that was him finished! All that was needed was to draft up a character sheet for him including his heavy caliber autogun, regeneration and discomfort in bright lights and Conan the Unkillable was ready to hit the tabletop.

Conan got his first outing (admittedly only in a half-painted state) in a battle report “The Asus Prime Kidnapping”.

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Syracuse surface map

From the viewport you can see Syracuse in the distance – a concentration of pinpricks of light in the infinite darkness. It draws vessels from far and wide like moths to a flame. The skies around the planet are polluted with starships of all sizes and classes, from the mighty warships of the Imperial Navy on patrol outside their home dock of Port Sempect, to the bloated Universe-class mega-haulers carrying a world’s wealth of resources and people, to the smaller system ships scuttling about carrying precious cargo between the planets.

Syracuse is a sight to behold. Visible long before you can make out its details, half the planet is shrouded in utter darkness, the other half in burning sunlight. Tidally locked, the planet orbits the Tangenian sun perfectly in time with its own axis spin. Only a thin strip of habitable space runs the equator of the planet from pole to pole, and every inch is covered with a sprawling hive cities

Haloing the planet is a broken ring of drydocks, ports, loading yards, warehouses, space stations and detritus. Syracuse once boasted a proud, unbroken run of orbital docks, but these days it is mostly abandoned, fractured and isolated, left to the devices of scavengers, pirates and reclaimators.

The Grey Halo

Our new Dark Heresy campaign begins in earnest, set on the twilight ringworld of Syracuse. As an oft-mentioned place and the capital planet of the Onus Region, Syracuse needed a map worthy of its stature – not just for this Dark Heresy game but also for any future games I choose to set on the planet. I needed a map that was not only informative, but robust enough to be used in the future with little or no editing.

The entire process was recorded and sped up, in the first illustration timelapse Dreadquill has produced to date. A lot was learned on the technical side of things, but the biggest one being: do a test recording before starting a four-hour drawing process. As a result, we get this weird artifact in the middle of the screen, so apologies for that.

From little acorns

The process started with a hastily scribbled map on some lined paper made on a late-night Megabus journey. I’m a big fan of the Total War series, and I drew a lot on my 300+ hours of Shogun 2, a strategy game set in the Sengoku Jidai, or Warring States period of Japanese history. I had a lovely framework to balance powerful households, civil strife and interesting factions without needing too much legwork up front.

Highly technical cartography

The planet is covered in a strip of hive cities, joined together by fields of slums, so the whole map was only ever going to be a straight line rather than a series of continents, so that made the planning a little easier. I didn’t have too many requirements for what needed to be present either; I needed a ‘Province 13’ for setting the spooky campaign in and I needed a ‘Province Prime’ to introduce the planet at its most opulent, to meet the Inquisitor in, and to build the Kismet Palace – the seat of Inquisitorial power in the region.

I thought it would be interesting if the different major households had suzerain status over different provinces, swearing fealty to an independent province (Prime) where their Imperial overlords were set. This had the potential to set up lovely clandestine operations against different houses and cold wars bubbling over into direct border violence in the slum areas.

As a side note; the campaign is based loosely on one of the written campaigns and astute readers may pick it up, so please try not to spoil it for my players in the comments!

I also needed to emphasize the isolation of Province 13. It is one of the last independent provinces left on Syracuse, and slap bang in the middle of the destroyed, desolate and abandoned provinces ravaged by thousands of years of civil war and neglect.

Province 13, or Syracuse Magna, are fiercely independent despite having no exports or being capable of raising tithes or contributing to the planetary defense force. It is run by utterly corrupt, self-serving nobles who have ruled for generations, and there is no limit to how low they will stoop to claw on to whatever fleeting power and wealth they have left.

The concentration of the sprawl of slums between the provinces begins to thin out the closer you get to Syracuse Magna, roughly on the opposite side of the planet. I enjoy little details like this in maps, as it serves not only as wordless world-building, but also as a valid in-game reason as to why the players can’t just ‘pop out’ to get some help from nearby neighbours. Isolation is the theme of the campaign, after all!

I am very pleased with how the map turned out, and although I learned a lot from the timelapse process I think with all the technical difficulties I had assembling it, very few of them are noticeable in the final cut. Huge thanks to my old chum Frazer Merrick for the sound too, go check his stuff out and throw money at him.

Syracuse Magna has been my most ambitious project to date, with three factions planned for models (The Undertow, the Ash Garrison Enforcers and the at-time-of-writing-unseen Arbites) AND a gaming board, it’s going to be a busy few months for me!

Check out the timelapse for the map on the YouTubes, and give us a follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well – all your support is greatly appreciated!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: The Wobbly Goblin Tavern

We’ve been working with the lovely chaps at Hobgoblin 3D for quite some time now, it’s been a joy and a privilege to watch them grow and paint their stuff.

They currently have a Tavern Kickstarter finishing on Friday 12 January at 23:00 UTC, and after getting my hands on it (and one or two late nights and sticky fingers assembling it) I can say it is absolutely worth the cash. You can get the deets on their kickstarter and drop them a few dollarydoos here.

Come, stay a while…

As part of their Kickstarter, they asked me if I wouldn’t mind splashing some paint around on a corner diorama to indicate what it might be like when it was finished and painted. I can never resist an invitation to a bar, even if it’s a tiny one.

The prints are surprisingly robust. I say surprisingly, because every piece has been dropped at least once, and if it was any other material it would be showing some wear and tear by now.

After getting to grips with the whole tavern when I helped the guys out with a photo shoot before Christmas, it struck me how bleedin’ big it was inside. The actual render was still very much a prototype, one of my main criticisms was that it didn’t have enough character – too many right angles and straight edges. They showed me the 3D render of what the finished article would look like and all my concerns were quashed.

It’s even bigger than the temple!

The sections inside are a nice grid, so it’s clear the whole thing was designed from the ground up with bar brawls in mind. With so many campaigns starting off in a local tavern, it’s a wonder there aren’t more tavern scenics built with the malicious intent of players in mind…

Taking interior photos of the assembled tavern

I used to have concerns with 3D printed terrain with the layering effect potentially making drybrushing a lot harder, but on the few sections the striations are noticeable, it only adds to the effect. An injection moulded flat surface would have no texture to pick up the paint, and this makes it quick and easy to add colour to a big model.

This project has definitely confirmed in my mind that I need to invest in a decent airbrush. Tools and techniques used for painting figures only scale up so far, and when I inevitably paint the whole tavern, I don’t want to be sitting there for hours drybrushing tiny bricks across a million different wall sections.

I also realised mere minutes before I was about to start taking photos that the picture frame hanging above the fireplace was still blank. I despise freehanding at the best of times, and when I’m on a tight deadline and just about to start shooting I despise it the most. Luckily my trusty PC Gamer was to hand, and we now have a very attractive portrait hanging above the mantlepiece of the Wobbly Goblin. Can you tell what it is?

Necessity is the mother of invention

Finally, no MOTB would be complete without a picture of my overly-expensive professional setup. I know, try not to feel too shamed in this opulent display of wealth and arrogance.

A £4 chef’s hat from ebay, a Bic biro and some bluetack formed the perfect diffuser for my bedside lamp, a 5 year old camera and some sheets of A3 paper masking taped to some cans of deoderant is all you need to get started!

I am stoked to see what they’re going to do with the range next, and once I get my hands on an airbrush you bet I’ll be attacking the next tavern they print out.

Check out the Hobgoblin 3d Raghaven Hamlet here.


Meanwhile, on the Bench: the Longshore Brassnecks

It’s the new year, and what a better way to celebrate than with a lovely new box of plastic bits to snip out and assemble? Necromunda always had a place in my heart for the somewhat anarchic rules and huge customisation options, and when GW showcased the new minis for the game I knew I had to pick up a copy.

Luckily for me, my supergreat chums bought me it for Christmas, so I can now no longer use the “I need to get other stuff painted first before I buy it” excuse.

So much plastic!

We got heavily into the Community Edition of Necromunda in anticipation for GW’s inevitable re-release a few years back and we’ve clocked up a lot of hours and gang kills, with almost a dozen different gangs between us.

In a cruel twist of fate, none of us made Escher or Goliath gangs, so we’re not able to port over old gangs to the new rules YET. The rumour mill suggests we’ll be seeing Van Saar and Orlock gangs in the next few months, hopefully with a new gang supplement book, and that’ll open up more possibilities for using our older gangs (and lovely photos of our converted gangers).

Happy 20th birthday, blast templates!

The box set is, as GW has repeatedly proven with their latest releases, utterly lovely. There is so much stuff crammed into those carboard walls, and even the bottom box itself doubles up as an arena for some of the tutorial scenarios. I also got a lovely shiny web-only event card, presumably from the web edition of the game.

Lovely card terrain

I’ve never really liked the Goliath aesthetic, they’re very traditional Barbarian archetypes that I tend to avoid in my media as (to me) they don’t offer much in the way of depth or a play style I enjoy. Naturally this changed the moment I laid eyes on the gorgeous miniatures that GW has assembled. Stupid giant revolvers? Massive spanners? A rivet cannon? Yeah okay, I’m in.

I had to enlist the help of a comrade to snip out all the terrain parts, there are a lot of flat surfaces that need their mould lines clearing off, so don’t expect to power through this box particularly quickly.

You get a lot of great generic scatter terrain

I wanted to start with the Goliath gang first, partly because if I screwed them up, I wanted it to be for my least favourite of the two gangs…

I brought the gang books with me over the Christmas break so I could digest the rules and plan the gang in advance. It all looked fairly straightforward, with some lovely streamlining for the more esoteric rules from the previous editions of the game. Once I’ve played a few games of Newcromunda I’ll write a little suttin’-suttin’ up comparing the two, but for now let’s just look at pictures of models.

These guys are *big*

I didn’t have much in the way of a spec when I was designing the gang. I’m not 100% sure how progression/adding new gang members/equipment will work in the long run – the biggest change from a modelling perspective is that you can’t change equipment on a ganger once they’ve been given it, freeing you from the need to keep snipping off weapons on your leader as you acquire better stuff.

This time round, you seem to only be able to put new equipment on new hirelings, but with no games under my belt I can only speculate how that works. To give myself some leeway, I decided to only plan a gang using 8 out of the maximum 10 models for each gang, so I can add extra gangers without needing to buy any new gangs (just yet 😉 ).

The agony of choice

My biggest mistake was not getting properly acquainted with the sprues before meticulously planning a gang. The combinations of parts are so well executed, it’s really simple to put together a radical, unique gang with the box set, but the way the poses are assembled makes it quite difficult to do anything overly specific.

For example, there are knives and axes available for Goliath melee weapons, but neither of which have any representation on the sprues (aside from a sheathed knife), and stub pistols are super cheap and practical but you only get two in the entire set, and even those are posed in a way to make them only really work with one set of body/legs.

Of course, a sane person would simply readjust their gang list to take this into account. I, however, prefer hours of agonising clipping, sticking and slicing my fingers open to a few minutes of maths.

A quick dip into the bits box later…

I wanted to have at least one of everything from the gang list, partly so I could test out the rules for them, and partly so I could make full use of everything available on the sprues. I can worry about min/maxing a gang later on in life once I’ve worked out what works, and when GW inevitably release some conversion packs later in the year.

It was also halfway through construction that I realised I had made another oversight – there is no difference between single and double-handed weapons other than their stats. I had assumed there would be a restriction on using the heavier weapons in melee (improved strength, improved armour penetration etc in exchange for fewer attacks) considering models like the Renderizer (angry skull-axe guy) are using them in two hands.

As far as the rules go, even though the model has a double-handed heft, the off-hand is still free to shank with a knife or pop with a pistol in close combat, earning them an extra dice. This threw me a little bit, and had to reshuffle some credits round to purchase an extra knife on the models I had planned to be double-handers just for the extra dice in combat.

All the weapons are blocked out with vanilla poses, time for conversions

Still, I was determined to build what I’d planned. I just needed to do some jiggery-pokery on the available arms and weapons to make it happen. The big one I wanted to look impressive was my Leader, but I didn’t equip him with the plasma/stub combi-pistol (because holy hell 65 credits), so the default pose was a bit of a waste.

I also had another ganger with a Renderizer and pistol for backup, but after re-reading the rules and realising that would afford him an extra dice in combat, I wanted to model him in a way that I’d remember the guy with the two-handed weapon actually has multiple weapons that he’s juggling like a madman.

Hammers gonna ham

A nice weapon head swap between the Renderizer and Power Hammer worked rather pleasingly.

Renderizers gonna renderize

The Longshore Brassnecks

Some whiskey and a season of Parks and Recreation later, and the whole team is assembled. They’re missing a lot of accessories, but the majority of the work is done and I’m chuffed with how they came out.

Hi mum yeah I’m in a gang now

They’re called the Longshore Brassnecks, a gang of thugs and hoodlums from the exotic harbours of Mercy Longshore, where I was planning on setting most of our games. Not only is it an interesting twist on the setting (Hive City in Spaaaaaace) but gives me a very valid reason to re-use these models as thugs and crims in Rogue Trader.

They get the ‘Brassnecks’ moniker as they run security and haulage for the various defense platforms around Mercy, carting around the ammunition and macrocannon shells for use in the station macrocannons and point defence turrets.

All of their armour will be made of hammered brass from the massive macrocannon shell cases, so the bold black/brass combination should be very evocative on the tabletop.

If I had a gun that big I’d look that happy too

In addition to that, I also wanted to give them a focus on guns rather than fist fightin’. Obviously they’re going to be very good at that, but I wanted lots of large caliber projectile weapons to reflect their obsession with big-ass cannons.


I found it fascinating that someone took the decision to make the automatic combat shotgun one-handed, and couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a very silly pose.

Double your gun, double your fun

For the Leader (as yet unnamed) I wanted to biggest version of the available accessories to try and make him stand out on the tabletop. There was a particularly fancy shoulder pad on each sprue (so two in total) that worked quire nicely when doubled-up, and an imposing respirator head and gorget body fit the bill quite nicely.

It’s clobberin’ time

He also has a stub cannon slung to his back and a knife sheathed somewhere, but I’ve not got round to attaching those yet.

Can’t touch this

The other weapon swap was the Renderizer-over-the-shoulder pose, which when combined with a stub pistol and the effortlessly cool cigar-chomping head gave the model bundles of personality.

Taking these pictures earlier made me realise I still need to drill the barrels out of their weapons as well, so that’s been added to my to-do list before they get primed.

A goddamn sexual Tyrannosaurus

Time for Juves! They appear to have been changed in a massive way from the Community Edition, as they narratively appear far more important than regular gangers. Gangers have a much more simplified progression tree but get access to better weapons and equipment, so I have no idea how these guys play out in the long term.

They were also planned to have double-handed weapons, but seeing as there was no disadvantage to giving them an extra knife (aside from the measly 10 credits it costs) and the sprues didn’t have enough two-handed weapons, they were all promoted to Guy With Two Knives. 

Once again, trusty Ork parts to the rescue

Big wrench and tiny knife makes for an interesting fighting style, but I managed to squeeze a few extra poses out of the limited ‘free’ arms I had left.

I’m representing these Juves by leaving off any shoulder pads or thigh guards to make them appear a little slighter than their heftier brethren. Despite Juves advancing faster than gangers, and having more varied advancement options, they never ‘graduate’ to becoming gangers like they used to – they stay Juves for their entire careers.

I now pronounce you, man and knife

I had to convert an axe-hand for this guy, the first of the two special weapons guys, made from a Chaos Marauder axe and trimming down the handle of the Brute Cleaver arm from the Necromunda sprue.


The second heavy weapon guy was this Riveter. Looks super cool on paper and the model is rad as heck, but I have no idea how it’ll play out in the game as it seems quite short ranged. The skull-faced respirator head was pretty awesome, so that went on as well.

Absolutely riveting

I really enjoyed assembling these guys, even if they did suffer from being strangely restrictive in the poses available. There’s still a bit of extra work to do on them, such as adding spare weapons and accessories, but overall they’re pretty much finished.

I’m looking forward to tackling the Escher gang now!