Monday, 30 June 2014

Macca on Tactica, Lords of War: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In the Horus Heresy spin-off game, we have a bucket load of Lords of War to pick from. Forge World first came up with the idea of including apocalypse units into regular armies, as the Heresy is a tad different to 40k. In the Heresy, the games are huge in scope. Although you can play at smaller levels, most games seem to be aimed at about the 2500 point level. Consequently, some checks and balances were put in place to prevent these super powerful units making an appearance below the 2000 point mark.

As a side note, in my humble opinion, I think GW really fucked up the concept of the Lords of War (LoW) in 40k. Their game system wasn't designed for them, it's a different game, because the variety of units varies so greatly it is really hard to balance the LoW, and because there are no checks in place it means it is all too easy to further unbalance the game.

So why did they introduce LoW then in 30k?

1) As I previously mentioned, it's a game that is larger in scope. You don't need to use a second Force Org Chart (FOC) at 2000 points, you've usually only half filled your first one. This means you can include more powerful units as they are offset by the amount of lesser units.

2) They are a force amplifier. For about 400-500 points (on average) you get a powerful unit, but it can usually be killed by a unit or combination of units that are cheaper. The advantage is of course that you can cause a ton of damage in your often brief time in play.

3) There was no other existing slot in which to introduce a unit which is so powerful and so rare that it shouldn't be used in any other existing FOC slot. These units vary in role and their type, you can't call a Typhon Siege Tank a heavy support choice, nor can you call Horus a regular HQ. The option was to either take the Warhammer Fantasy approach and give them multiple FOC slots unique to each, or, to take the simple route and include a new slot.

4) You are able to more easily limit and manage powerful units if they are grouped into a single category.

Types of Lords Of War

There are 4 types of Lords of War. These are the characters, the tanks, the walkers and the fliers. Each of these work differently, so I am going to quickly look at each type.

-Characters. This category mostly just includes Primarchs, although in 40k they decided that one Ork in particular needed inclusion. Characters are useful LoW as they are not only a powerful combat unit, but they act as a buff for the army, and this is something no other LoW does.

-Tanks. These are the most common LoW that you will see running around, uh, I mean, driving. They usually possess 3 features: Firepower, Armour, and the ability to use that firepower in extreme ways.

-Walkers. From the basic Imperial Knights right up to the giant Titans themselves, walkers give you some of the advantages of Tanks, but they also give you a close combat option.

-Fliers. These are usually the weakest LoW for their points, and by weak I mostly am referring to their armour. These units usually have excellent firepower, high speed and a large transport capacity.

So what Lord of War should you use?

This is an interesting question, as it depends on several factors. Personally, I love the idea of my Primarch leading my force, it's interesting, dynamic, and you kind of feel like you're really forging the narrative (unlike running a fucking unbound list, what the shit, that's not forging the narrative, that's an excuse to sell giant plastic kits to teenage dirtbags).

Erhem, sorry about that, I seem to have some sort of possession in my hand that makes me type bad things....

Anyway, I like Primarchs. But, really, it comes down to what your aim is. Are you gaming to win, or are you just out to have fun? First, you are restricted by your points, a LoW is no use below 2000 points, as you can't take them. On top of this, even if you hit the 2000 point mark, you can only take a 500 point LoW which kind of restricts you to the lighter LoW like the Knights, Spartan-chassis and Primarchs. At the extreme end, you can't really take a Reaver Titan until you hit the 8000 point-ish mark. This means that although it looks cool on your shelf, it's not likely to get much game time.

If you're into winning at all costs, well, some LoW are far more powerful then others, take the Glaive or the Typhon. These units will do far more damage with a well placed shot then something like an Imperial Knight Paladin. You want to pick a LoW that will do two things: a) survive as long as possible; b) cause as much damage as possible. This is especially important in one-off games. If you know that the other player has massed drop pods, then you are unlikely to achieve success with units like tanks when the other guy is either going to be well inside your minimum effective range or already popping you with their alpha strike.

If however, you are forging the narrative, you want to pick a LoW that backs your vision. Would the Raven Guard prefer to take to the field with Heavy Armour, or a Thunderhawk? Would the Iron Warriors, conversely, take light armour and poor ranged units? Highly unlikely. Same thing if you're taking a Primarch. If you take a Primarch that is designed to buff your force, such as Lorgar, then you don't want to pick a fist fight with a Primarch like Ferrus Manus, as you are wasting the gifts of that particular LoW by having him squished in turn 3.

What Lords of War do I recommend? 

Characters: ALL THE PRIMARCHS. I love them all, they are all fun, I can't wait to have them all, it's like freakin' Pokemon, you gotta catch them all!

The Good: All of them.

The Bad: Waiting for them all to be released.

 I actually brought a copy of this image from Black Library I love it so much. This is what fans do when they appreciate a product, they will pay for it if they think it's worthit.

Tanks: I like the Typhon and the Glaive, as far as tanks go, these units are just brutal. The ability to wipe units and to hurt armour makes both of these units excellent inclusions. Where most LoW fail is that they often bring weaponry to the field that is best at killing armour. Whilst they are very good at this, they lack the versatility to make them worthy inclusions. The Falchion for example is the perfect example of this. It is incredibly heavily armed, but it basically (on a good turn) will pop 3 vehicles, maybe kill half a dozen terminators, and this is assuming that they fail their saves. With this in mind:

The Good: Typhon, Glaive, Fellblade, these are all versatile and can cause massive damage to both infantry and armour.

The Bad: Falchion, Cerberus.

Fliers: With the fliers, again, I want versatility. This in mind, the Thunderhawk is excellent, you have a high powered main weapon, numerous lighter weapons and the transport capacity. The Transporter however.... ugh. I get why they made them. It's cool, they had them in epic 40k, they are purely for the fluff. Unfortunately, they just don't have the goods, and the ability to move a pair of rhinos (even loaded rhinos) around the battlefield is a waste of both your Lord of War and the points.

The Good: Thunderhawk Gunship.

The Ugly: Thunderhawk Transporter.

Walkers: With the walkers, it's all down to practicality. All the Knights are great, they all work with the already badass Mechanicum. Unfortunately, the Titans are just too expensive to see any real action until you hit the 4000 point mark, and at that point, the other guy might just be bringing too much for even your one titan to handle.

The Good: Knights.

The Bad: Titans.

The Ugly: The price in points and $$$$.


Like anything, taking a Lord of War is totally up to you. Everything I have just written about is my own opinion, and it is up to you how you choose to take what I have said. That's all for now,


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Barbarus Table: Part 2

 Here we are, about 3 days later then I aimed for, but here is my finished craters and ruined tank battlescape. For the how-to on the reeds and wetlands, I used this technique from Secret Weapon Miniatures.

Now everywhere that you see a brown tone or a rust-effect, that's weathering powders. All up, apart from the green depths of the craters and the trees and rhino, EVERYTHING is covered in powders. Tonally, these look so realistic (from where I'm standing in real life), with the dark mud moving up to the lighter dried mud.

I have built and painted a few corpses that I want to have melting, rotting or dissolving in the acid water

The most fun part to work on was the busted ass rhino and craters. This was crazy trying to blend rock tones, weathering powders, a lightly coloured rhino and a bunch of trees.

More rotting corpses, in this case, a marine from the Death Guard

Cue Monty Python, I decided on.... A SHRUBBERY! 

I also added small pools where the acid rain has collected in the damaged upper surfaces on the Rhino.

I used Rust Orange weathering powder and some old Fiery Orange paint to achieve my rust effects, which I applied with a mix of sponging and stippling. I also applied a very light weathering powder to the upper surfaces.

I have also added a bunch of shrubs, mold and fallen leaves, especially in the acid pools, just because they represent the theme of death, they were alive, but now they are dead and fallen. Artsy.

So there you have it, half the terrain for my Barbarus table. Next stop: a whole bunch of trees.... Overall I am pretty happy, I have to finish the water pools still, as they aren't dead flat, but that's for another day. Let me know what you think,


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Barbarus Table: Part 1

G'day, Macca here. Today I am looking at some terrain. I have started work on a new table themed on Barbarus, the home planet of the Death Guard. I decided early on that it had to not just be a swamp, but that it had to echo the horrors of the Third Battle of Ypres in World War One, commonly known as Passchendaele (after the village near the heart of the battle). This battle is also rumoured to have been the one that provoked Tolkien to write the chapter on the dead marshes in the Lord of the Rings.

These haunting images, especially this last one, exemplify the very themes I am aiming for. Swamps, quagmires, damaged, rotting vegetation, horrible mists, the carnage of warfare. Why these as opposed to plain swamps? Well, it's a warzone, it'll have good sized craters and such. The table would also need to be workable for the game, so by limiting the pools of water, I can achieve this.

Of course, I have to be careful that these 'interesting humans' get nowhere near my table. Swamp People, get some teeth you weird inbred (well, likely inbred) hicks.

So, with these images at hand, I began to put together my plan. The basic outline called for a Games Workshop Realm of Battle board. This is because I needed the table to be easily transportable. Whilst I can make my own really swampy board, I wanted to limit the pools of murky water, so by picking terrain that I can move and place I will keep the table more playable and easier to actually game on.

Cue: The terrain.

To start with, I have a Games Workshop 'Battlescape'. I traded a bunch of old 40K Terminators to Cat for it, so it was a good bargain for me.

So, I got to looking at the kit, and needless to say, it's kinda half-assed. The rhino front right end is floating in mid air, and the interior of the open rhino is a hazard for model placement. I decided that I would thus fill it. On top of this, there are numerous marine and Cadian parts lying around on the terrain. I am led to believe that no Games Workshop product is complete without having either: Aquila...
.....or a bunch of skulls.

Please, if anyone at G-Dub is reading this, stop sculpting fucking dead Cadians onto everything. Please. PLEASE.

Now that my rant is sorted, I moved onto the Battlescape. I carefully used a de-grinder (re: hacked into the plastic like a serial killer into a bunch of skinny dipping teens at a haunted campsite). I then glued some card into the rhino as a foundation, before carefully sculpting on some texture using car body filler. In order to get a good texture, I merely pressed some large grit sandpaper into the wet putty.

The idea with the rhino is that it has filled with sediment and it's falling out the side hatch. In an ideal world, I would have got the kit brand-new with both the top hatches and side ramp not attached, but I have made do.

The other bit of kit I have on hand is some 'Moonscapes'. These are simple but effective swampy craters. I could use other brands, or the new 'Quake Canon' kit, but I just plain like the look of these.

The other kit I will be using is the Citadel Woods. I am not including pics of that here as they are using the same techniques I am using on these terrain bits, so why double up?

First up, I gave the pieces a coat of brown acrylic paint. This paint cost me $5 from an art store, and I mixed it with water and put it through my full size spray gun. This is my undercoat, and I applied 2 layers to get exactly what I wanted.

Next, I used a mix of brown, white and pale green, and I have something similar to Camo Green. I then did a coat that wasn't quite aimed at covering the entire surface of the terrain.

As you can see, at this stage, the terrain is fully base coated. From here, we will move inside and I will begin the mud effects. These use a combination of secret weapon powders, a small amount of plaster and a little PVA glue. I painted the surface and allowed them to dry.

You can see the difference between wet and dry (wet is much darker).

Next, I mix up some much lighter powder, then I apply it to the higher surfaces, when dry, this will be a lighter tone. so. Here is the lighter mud. This simulates the dried mud, and is best used in a less is best fashion.

Next up, I airbrushed all my rock surfaces.

I also have airbrushed the rhino base colour.

Airbrush once more... this time I applied a dark green to wherever a pool of water will be. I also used it as a base coat for the trees.

I used a much lighter shade of green to add 'ripples' to my craters, as this is where the water will go later.

So there you have it, the basic colours and patterns for the craters. I will throw up a few pictures of the craters with some additional work tomorrow. Maybe.