MOTB: War Pig WIP

“Generals gathered in their masses…”

In a previous episode of our long-running Rogue Trader game our plucky band of privileged plunderers stumbled across a custom Taurox, left behind by the previous noble inhabitants. The inhabitants were in no real position to refute the claim of its new owners, and the Orthesian Dynasty rode off into the sunset with their brand new whip, quickly dubbed ‘War Pig’ after shooting a palace in half with its main guns.

“It would be terrible if they got into a combat situation and I didn’t have a suitable proxy model for it” I chanted in my head as I handed over my cash at my local game store.

So I was the owner of a brand new Taurox, and the first vehicle I have painted in almost half a decade.

One in the pink

I wanted to do something fancy with it. I mentioned it was a converted Taurox, the original owners modifying it to protect them from the peasantry and look hashtag lit while doing it, so it needed something a little different to make it look less military.

I came across this super cool Taurox from Mr Pink’s instagram while aggressively googling Taurox conversion ideas. Couldn’t be that hard right?

Inspiration from Mr Pink!
Low ride

So I was going to lower my Taurox, keeping it looking butch but with a slight hint of roadster. Time to begin assembling the chassis.

The first thing that had to go was the mudguards. No combination of dry fitting was going to work – there was no wiggle room at all for raising the wheel height and lowering the chassis while they were still attached.

Otherwise, nothing else at this stage looked like it needed work doing to it. It still needed the carry capacity so i wasn’t about to trim its booty down any, and there were no real alternate assembly options, so it was time to crack on with attaching the wheels.

I couldn’t find any guide to help me with this, so I ploughed ahead with the most powerful tool at my disposal – optimistic guesswork.

These little sluts attach the inside of the wheels to the bottom of the chassis. The chassis practically touched the floor already, so it was going to need a fair bit of work to lower it (or give it the illusion of being lowered) without it scraping the floor.

Normally this three-striped part sits vertically, locking the t-shaped wheel legs onto the chassis and giving it plenty of surface area to glue to. I opted to ignore this and create my own bastard child.

Spinning it 90 degrees gave me a little bit of extra height and the much missing extension away from the body – the wheels simply couldn’t be lowered any more without being further away.

The wheel legs (that’s what I’m calling them now, get with it) were rotated 180 degrees in their sockets. This gave me a lot of dip and sufficiently lowered the frame, but presented a complicated problem for attaching it to the chassis. I hacked away a wedge at the end of each leg to make them sit more flush with their new position.

A perfect fit! It protrudes a good centimetre out from either side and glued to the weird sideways plate without much hassle. It was at this point I also realised there was a slight miscast on one of my track parts, but at 1am I couldn’t really be bothered putting in a request for a new piece and was just gonna fill it in later with weathering.

And a view from the front, it’s a pretty good fit! I’ll go back and fill in all the gaps later, but nobody is all that bothered about the underneath of a vehicle anyway. Time for the back wheels.

These suckers were a bit more problematic. There was less room at the back for wheels to be flush with the bodywork (the Taurox has a big ol’ booty) to they needed padding to extend far enough out from the connection point on the chassis. Some knackered bits of sprue will help here!

Fits very pleasingly! Sure the join isn’t super flash but who cares? The only time people will be looking at this is when it’s in a smoking heap on the floor because the Voidmaster took it off one ramp too many.

I was very happy with the overall silhouette. Crouched low to the ground, ready to pounce. To me it looks more maneuverable as well, giving those wheels extra room to move around. Time to weaponise it!

It had already been written in with autocannons, and there’s a pleasingly brutal fancy to them that the other weapon options didn’t really tickle. I tinkered with having a ‘none’ weapon options hatch, perhaps with some observation equipment, but nothing really came of my bits bashing.

Who’s driving this thing

I assembled the rear of the vehicle and worked out how I was going to populate the driver’s seat. It was almost inevitable that one of the PCs was going to be driving it, but the model didn’t seem right without a driver, so out came the bits to see what options I had.

The combination of Bretonnian heads and sci-fi bodies was becoming ubiquitous in my Orthesian conversions. I figured the drivers/pilots probably had a little more high-tech jackets than the armsmen, so I opted for one from the Genestealer Cult Neophytes kit.

His arm and hip joins needed shaving down to fit the flat-sided parts of the original driver, but that wasn’t an issue with a sharp craft knife.

Noot noot! With the driver in place, I was happy I didn’t need a gunner – he was all the scale that was necessary.

finishing the pig

The only part that I had still to decide on was the front grille. The kit comes with a very cool grille that I desperately wanted to use, but no longer fitted the silhouette of the vehicle any more. I also wanted to affix lights to it, but with the mudguards gone I couldn’t fit them on top of the wheels any longer. They needed to go somewhere else…

With a bit of shaving I discovered they fitted perfectly around the outside of the nose of the vehicle; they couldn’t look any more like porcine nostrils if they tried. After digging around in my bits box I also stumbled across a set of spikes from the front of an old Sisters of Battle Rhino, and their Gothic-But-Chunky appearance (title of your sex tape) gave me the perfect flare I was looking for.

And it was finished! I’m very happy with how it came out, and unfortunately I’ve found myself in a position where I need to actually paint the bugger now. I’m still not happy with the amount of flare on it – I’d like a few more gothic stylings, perhaps some railings across the top of the wheel covers, or some kind of gargoyles to break up the flat surfaces. I do have a few gothic buttresses from a recent project

 

MOTB: Hab Block part 1

(Semi) finished product first!

A long time ago I found myself with a HMRC-related windfall which coincided with the release of a neat-looking kickstarter for a modular mdf terrain system. I was very taken with it, especially with the Gothic Upgrade pack making it look like the creepy hive city hab block from my dreams. I dropped some cash on the project and forgot about it for a year.

Fast forward past a house move and some postage misadventures and this (very) heavy box was sitting on my proverbial bench.

What’s in the box?!
Unpack the block

I don’t know why it surprises me how much mdf weighs whenever it arrives. I had a hundred and one other things that needed to be done that day, so I of course cancelled all my plans and tore into the package.

A tight fit

Lovely packaging, barely an inch of wasted space. It began to dawn on me how much assembling I was going to have to do.

Freebies!
an inelegant start

I can’t talk about the kit without mentioning the elephant in the room when it comes to MAD gaming – there were a lot of problems with the Kickstarter. They raised money in orders of magnitude greater than they (apparently) planned for, which caused massive backlogs of production. Their expected delivery time went up from one month to another month, to next month, to the month after…

I stopped following after the first few months – there was only so many times I could read “Hey so we’re delayed again because of [some other reason] sorry backers” before I got bored of checking in. They were on Pledge level 2 after the first few months, I was waiting for Pledge 6.

There were some issues with postage and an ill-conceived attempt to plug the next Kickstarter before they’d finished delivering on their already super-late current Kickstarter. If the product wasn’t great, I’d find it difficult to recommend MAD Gaming Terrain.

As it stands though, the product is well-made and extremely well engineered. I found myself genuinely daunted at the prospect of assembling it from the sheer volume of options available. As of right now, most of this stuff is also available to purchase from their local supplier too, and depending on how this assembly goes I may well be picking more up in the future.

If regular online shopping goes well, I will be back to recommend them whole-heartedly!

So many parts

There were a lot of sprues, many of which I couldn’t work out the utility of. The assembly instructions were very useful, but when it came to optional parts the rules were “Go nuts” or “Check out our videos on Youtube for ideas”.

I am unreasonably angry by such blatant abuse of hy-phens

I am loathe to watch construction videos – I don’t like scrolling through a 15 minute video of people talking about their product to get a grainy 480p flyby of the thing I’m looking for. Give me a big picture to pore over or give me death.

It’ll look pretty when it’s done!

I began to unpack in earnest, trying to work out the best way to approach the project. After several hours I came to the conclusion that there was no best way – I was just going to chunk through random sprues and pray it worked out.

Got Wood ™

I picked things that had instructions – namely the base hab blocks and the walkways. It was all straight forward and well-documented – I had no issues following the base instructions that came with the kits.

In fact, the only problem I encountered was boredom after assembling my millionth walkway – which I only have myself to blame for trying to build everything in an afternoon (and for ordering so much damn wood).

I had to enlist a few extra pairs of hands
Coming together

I love building complicated kits, and although they are a ballache or tedious (or both) to assemble, the finished article is very impressive. I’m a huge fan of kits that have enough detail on them that makes painting easier, as applying colour is something I find particularly difficult. These kits look like they’ll take a few rattlecans very nicely, and after they’ve been tickled with a drybrush and had a few details picked out, they’ll look amazing on the tabletop.

It’s starting to look like a block of habs

I also had an experiment with the Gothic upgrade sprues. I remember adding a few of them to my Kickstarter, as I’d prefer to have too many than not enough. I was endlessly impressed by the modular nature of the whole kit – everything can be attached basically anywhere, which is a nightmare for someone who hates having too many options.

I compromised by adding a few gothic buttresses and lights to a roof and one of the bases just to see how the kits worked. I was very impressed by how well they all stacked up on top of each other.

It was starting to take shape, and the prospect of making harder decisions with the resources I had was daunting. I also wasn’t sure I had enough magnets to see me through the magnetisation process, and I didn’t want to be caught short.

The plan of attack for this building session was to get all the core stuff assembled – let’s see how tall I can make this sucker.

“Citizens of Peach Trees…”

Turns out, quite tall. I already began visualising some daft things I could do with magnetised walkways coiling round the outside of this. It’s a terrible design for playing in, but it looks cool!

I was impressed with how well it all slotted together considering how slap-dash I was in assembly. I’m looking forward to having the whole kit together.

to be continued

This is where everything was left – all the hab pieces assembled with a couple of experimental Gothic parts added. Most of the walkways are tucked away waiting to have magnets added once I build up the courage to take them out of their box again.

The full spread

Overall I’m very impressed with the kit. I can easily populate a board with them in ‘unstacked’ mode, but it remains to be seen how much I can cover once I start layering them up. As of a week or two ago, MAD have started selling the individual habs on their store, so depending on how it looks like when I’m finished, it’s nice to know I can always pick up a few extras to round off my collection.

As for construction, perhaps Christmas will have a few spare days for me to bite the bullet and finish the project off. Watch this space!

 

MOTB: Warp Geists

In a previous episode of the Orthesian Herald, we had our band of noble scallywags have their first bad warp jump coincide with their first daemon encounter.

I wanted to make some Ebon Geists – an interesting warp predator from the back of the Rogue Trader core rulebook. They’re not affiliated with any of the four main Chaos gods, so I felt easy throwing them at the party without any of our 40k veterans being able to guess what they were up against.

They had a spooky introduction, as the crew were responding to a faulty life support conduit deep in the underdecks of their ship. When the wall of ice from a leaking pipe came to life and shredded an armsman like an egg slice, there was considerable panic.

They were assembled from some parts of spirit hosts I had from my bits box, as well as a healthy helping of weird Chaos tentacles and probably a Tyranid bit or two to bulk them out.

They were assembled in an evening with copious amounts of plastic glue, so it didn’t hugely matter if things didn’t line up.

They needed to be painted up super quick, as I was playing on the same day as I finished making them!

A white undercoat followed by a number of different washes did the job. Blue all over, with a black wash towards the extremities and a crimson wash in the centre.

They had a good going-over with a grey-blue drybrush with a very fine drybrush of white at the extremities and they were done! I painted the bases to match my other minis, and the black rim around the edge to tidy them up was still drying as I read the intro to the game. Close call!

In the game they were quite brutal – a combination of Phase and Warp Weapon meant they could move about quite freely and harass players at the back of the group who thought they’d be away from melee range.

They were the cause of our first limb-loss as well, with one of them pulling our Explorator’s arm clean out of its socket with an unexpectedly deadly strike.

All in all I’m very pleased with how they came out for a few hours of kitbashing and washing – our players got their first taste of the warp and I managed to satiate my GM’s bloodlust for a little longer!

I’ll definitely be making some more of these guys for future though, I don’t think two alone can threaten the party any more…

MOTB: Ogryn servitor WIP

Our Necromunda Callowdecks campaign has been great fun, and it’s presented me with a bunch of cool new modelling challenges too.

One of those challenges was to produce a ‘robot automata’ model as represented in the ‘Archeo-hunt’ scenario. Basically you use a big stompy robot that stands in the middle of the map and gangs have to fight for control over it, guiding it to a vault to break it open and steal the goodies inside.

It hilariously recommends using the Ambot model, recommending it as ideal to represent the automata. A bit dry, considering (at time of writing) they’ve not even announced the Ambot model (despite us knowing it exists from a grainy image in one of the Gang War books) let alone have it available for sale.

Official, yet unattainable

Additionally, one of the generic Brutes you can purchase is an Ogryn Servitor, complete with plasma hand for when you don’t just want to knead and punch something until the consistency of skittles is achieved, but you also want to set it on fire too.

Time to crack out the bits box.

This guy was going to stand in as both ‘generic automata’ and ‘Ogryn servitor’, so the weapons needed to be generic enough to represent whatever was on those stat lines. In this case, it was big hitty hand and melta gun/plasma cutter, so something suitably shooty in the other hand.

The base was the last plastic Ogre Kingdoms mini I had in my possession from the Bag o’ Doom and it was heavily soiled in thick paint. I’m lazy, so I just scratched most of it off with a knife. Finished, not perfect!

The face piece was from a plastic Lord of the Rings armoured troll helmet turned upside down, the belly plate from some Ork vehicle.

The arms came from a bunch of toys that were recycled from a friend’s old office space – they were going to be thrown out, so he harvested all their tech arms and donated them to my bits box. I couldn’t tell you where they were from – perhaps transformers? Regardless, they’ve been too big to use on most projects I’ve done so far, but they were the perfect size for this one.

Cables were made with trusty guitar wire, the thickest I could find. I’ve not tried bass guitar wire yet, but I’ve got a few more beep-boop projects ahead, so there’s still time!

The Ogre Kingdoms range come with adorable little Sinbad slippers, which wasn’t quite the aesthetic I was going for. I shaved the toes down and stick on some heavy shoulder pads from Anvil Industries to give them a reinforced look. A searchlight from an Imperial vehicle sprue finished off the Angry JCB look I was going for.

All told I’m very pleased with how he came out! Considering he was nothing but a bunch of weird bits and cables for a long time, I’m excited to slap some paint onto him. I’m not super excited about the prospect of painting so much yellow, though…

And he’s undercoated!

MOTB: Gun servitors

Finished product first!

Last week I built some friendly beep-boops out of odds and ends from my bits box, this week I got round to painting them.

Hellgun beep-boop

These guys were a cheap and cheerful colour scheme – undercoated black, base colours layered on and washes applied. The metal was simply Leadbelcher with a black wash followed by a brown wash – no extra highlights applied. It was particularly harrowing to not go back and highlight it, but it probably saved me an entire evening’s work.

Heavy bolter beep-boop

The heavy servitors were painted to look more ‘official’ – they would be Navy-issue battle servitors, so needed a uniform on the lower half, along with some heraldry to make them look a bit fancy. The paper was just a bone coloured paint with a sepia wash (really loving the sepia wash at the moment, might even start preferring it to Agrax…)

The final touch was the Mechanicus heraldry on the shield. The cogboys keep the servitors going, even if they’re loaning them out to others. I wanted something to visually tie it back to my tech gang 16th Law as well, so the red and white helped.

Heavy stubber beep-boop

For the more ‘civilian’ models I originally had them in dark grey, but quickly got bored of that as everything I paint is dark grey these days. One of my gaming circle had just finished painting up some Poxwalkers in Convict Orange, and I really liked the contasting colours, so tried to do something similar.

These were just an orange base, washed black and highlighted again with the same orange. I drew the line at highlighting more – finished, not perfect!

Heavy flamer beep-boop

Who doesn’t like fire? These servitors were my first experiment with multi toned flesh. Ironrach Skin was used as the base, washed with Athonian Camoshade to get a sickly hue and highlighted with Ironrach again.

Some crimson washes were dabbed liberally around painful areas where metal meets flesh, then another highlight of Ironrach on extreme edges. Quite pleased with how all that came out!

Very happy with how all my beep-boops came out. I don’t have any more Goliath bodies to make more big servitors, but I’ve got quite a few odds and ends to make little ones. Perhaps some combat servitors are on the distant horizon…

MOTB: Gun servitors WIP

Finished product first!

I use gun servitors a lot in our games of Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy and have always eyed up the old gun servitor models on offer on ebay, but could never justify forking out a tenner for a single model, given I would need quite a few.

The original beep boops

As our Callowdecks campaign has got into full swing, my own personal Orlock gang has been saving up its pennies to pick up one of the ‘Lugger’ Servitor Brutes that is available to them. 3+ armour save from the front, 3 Wounds, Toughness 5 and can move and shoot with a Heavy Bolter? Sign me up!

The brief had become clear – build me an army of robo-friends worthy of Mordor. They needed to be suitable for use across multiple systems, so different weapon configurations were a must, and one of them needed to have a heavy bolter. Easy peasy!

Automated construction

Assembling the smaller servitors was fun – the heads were from Pig Iron miniatures from an old Dark Heresy project I had lying around, suitably grotesque but with their faces largely covered. The bodies were from the Genestealer Neophytes kit, and the legs donated from some old plastic Space Marine scouts with the pouches shaved down.

 

This first lad was given a heavy stubber from the Orlock kit, which with a bit of random circular plastic I had lying in my bits box, made the perfect cowling to glue the weapon straight onto the arm socket.

Robots, so hot right now

The next one build used a piece I’ve had in my bits box since I first started the hobby waaaaay back in the 7th Century. I have a lot of weird sponson weapons from old plastic vehicle kits that never fit on anything other than vehicles, or in this case, boopy robo-friends.

Flamers are great fun and dangerous to PCs regardless of what system you’re using.

Laser-like focus

I also wanted to build some slightly larger servitors, partially for variety, partially because I’d run out of scout legs, partially because I’d seen someone make them out of Goliath parts and I happened to have to spare in my bits box. They would make good military-grade war-bots rather than your run-of-the-mill civilian grade, plus sticking a heavy bolter to the side of those Neophyte bodies would be hilarious but woefully lopsided.

I had some bits from a vehicle project I’m working on, the heavy fusion repeating hellgun hot-shot volley-gun thing from the side of a Taurox. It is helpfully completely absent from the 40kRPG lines regarding rules, and it’s still a (relatively) new addition to the traditional Imperial armoury, so its silhouette is not as recognisable as, say, a lascannon. This would give me free reign to upscale it or downscale it depending on the encounter without someone going “why is that shooting like a lascannon when it’s clearly a lasgun”

absolute unit

In awe of the size of this lad. The final servitor would be the one (hopefully) attached to my Orlock gang. They got some extra heraldry odds and ends to cover up the worst of the Goliath furnace plating and give them a bit of extra bulk.

This head was from the classic Space Marine tactical squad, the bionics made from a combination of Anvil Industry bionic parts and odds and ends from my bits box. The heavy bolter, again, from a weapon mount for a vehicle – this time the pintle heavy bolter from the sidecar of a Space Marine attack bike with the stand snipped off. Some little bits of guitar wire as cabling rounded them off quite nicely.

I’m very happy with how they’ve all turned out, to the point where I wished I’d made another 8 for a full gamut of robo-lads. I’ve been staring intently at some ebay lots going soon, but those kinds of projects will have to wait til after Christmas I think.

Sneak preview

And in a sneaky sneaky preview, here’s a quick snap of the lads all painted up. I’ll get some better pictures up once I’ve had an opportunity to snap them in daylight!

MOTB: 16th Law

Finished product first!

Last week we looked at the test ganger for 16th Law which I had sneakily made several months ago but with the time-bending powers of the internet made it appear like it was only seven days ago. I was dead happy with how he had come out, so it was on to the main event.

We had 1000 Credits to assemble a gang for the Callowdecks campaign. I’m running it as well as playing it, so I wanted to try a list that was a little more thematic. Bolters are cool and emphasize the slavish devotion to tradition that these guys follow, so I managed to squeeze a bolter, heavy bolter and combi-melta-bolter into the list.

I filled the rest of the gangers with some staples – an autogun, a shotgun and a Juve with an autopistol. I even managed to squeeze a grenade launcher onto the list, which has so far turned out to be one of my star players.

The huge downside to this was the lack of bodies on the tabletop – hopefully if I play conservatively in the early games I can earn some creds to add some extra techybois to soak some bullets up for my Leader.

The only thing left was to name them – I played with some Adeptus Mechanicus names but I wasn’t sold. I remembered an old White Dwarf article with a Van Saar player who named his gangers after obsolete computer systems and did some quick google-fu. Turns out, the list of obsolete programming languages is also huge and filled with really daft names. Problem solved!

These pictures are taken for posterity and we’ll look back at them after the campaign is over to see how the gang is grown!

Leader – superplan

The most expensive fighter on my list – I knew I wanted the combi-melta the moment I saw it on the House Equipment list. When Forgeworld announced the weapon kits, it was love at first sight.

He’s got nothing other than this though, and I’ve been lucky that nobody has engaged him in close combat. He might get a chainsword or something down the line once I’ve stacked some more bodies on the board.

He took the Munitioneer special ability – with so many bolters on the board, a few extra re-rolls for ammo checks wouldn’t hurt.

champion – superplan

The heavy bolter from the Forgeworld weapon expansion was just too damn pretty not to include. It’s a heavy stubber that is better in every way and kills stuff dead. The only downside is the ammo check of 6+, but that’s what his backup autopistol is for!

He took the Fixer ability – Cash is King in Necromunda, and an extra D3x10 creds at the end of every fight win, lose or draw will (hopefully) keep my gang afloat in the early games.

ganger – smalltalk

There’s more photos of Smalltalk in the previous Meanwhile On The Bench, so I won’t repeat them here. Although the shotgun/autopistol combination looked cool, it turns out that they’re a bit of a redundant combination as they operate at the same ranges and are both super-reliable. Ah well – Rule of Cool!

Ganger – Sue

Dakka dakka dakka! I couldn’t resist having another bolter ganger on the squad. I had just enough creds to squeeze on a stub pistol for when they inevitably run out of ammunition in the heat of battle.

Ganger – Bliss

Blast weapons are awesome in this version of Necromunda and the grenade launcher is a superb example, hitting and pinning multiple targets from 24″ away and the chance to avoid a miss with a good scatter roll all for 65 credits is not to be sniffed at. It also comes with Krak grenades, so you can reach out and fuck someone with a S6 D2 AP-2 hit. It’s tasty but I’ve still not got round to Krak grenading anyone yet – frag grenades are just so much fun!

Ganger – bash

A cheap body to put at the front of the pack! With such a compact gang, I can’t afford the Leader or Champion to be taking any fire. People like Bash will be there, heroically provoking Target Priority rolls and making unnecessarily aggressive flanking actions to keep the heat off the boss.

Juve – Mumps

Juvie power! It’d be rude not to include at least one Juve on the roster, and Mumps will get a buddy once the campaign gets underway. Owing to the super-tight roster he could only be bought an autopistol for his starting equipment.

I modelled him with the knife as I didn’t have the heart to snip it off and reattach it later once he had purchased it. I made my opponent explicitly aware he had no knife, and he would be purchasing one with his first lot of winnings.

Family photo!

And that’s that! They may be some of my favourite minis I’ve painted and I’m really excited to see how they’ll progress and grow throughout the campaign!

Internet time-warp note: Bash has already been killed in action, performing his job admirably. His identical brother, Bash-II, has taken up the time-honoured tradition of bullet sponge in his absence.

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!