+ Common Core Concepts +

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

+ inload: Hive Confronsis +

+ Golgotham: Hive Confronsis +

Planetrise: From the pock-marked moon of Foretithe, the blighted planet Golgotham emerges over the horizon. The second moon; Corest, is visible on the left of the image.

 + Like most hive-cities of Golgotham, Confronsis runs on hyperfedual lines; with a few powerful spire families extending their patronage glutinously and insidiously into the depths of the hive-belly, where the industrotech clans – great organisations of affiliated family groups roughly equivalent to nation-states – toil ceaselessly beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the spires and authorities in order to feed the rapacious needs of the Imperium at large. Beneath these in turn are the benighted inhabitants of the largely lawless underhive; who live brief, scuttling, parasitical lives of equal parts freedom and fear. +

+ The Spire nobility +

+ Like a maddeningly vast tree or fungus, wealth is drawn ever upwards through Hive Confronsis, out to orbit. The dynastic spire houses jealously guard exclusive rights to communication with the outside Imperium; maintaining their position through strangleholds over advancement and development. The methods for this vary from house to house; but the oldest and most powerful houses operate every means at their disposal – legal and clandestine. +

+ The hypercompetitive nature of life on Golgotham means that the noble houses of the spires are united in just one thing; pursuit of advancement. True charitable works and attempts at general improvements for the populace are, for the most part, long-forgotten – such experiments leading to exploitation by competitors, or causing riots amongst the ever-suspicious industrotech clans, who fear alteration in the status quo. +

A typically well-equipped bodyman of House Graveney.
+ There are a few dozen noble houses; with a population running in the low millions between them. All own controlling stakes in at least one spire, while the most influential – Houses Serpentine, Graveney, Ur, Falconbrook, tegeus-Cromis and Neckinger – dominate swathes of the skyline as well as substantial holdings in the hive itself. Similarly, all will have vassal and allied industrotech houses that operate exclusively for the nobles. Many also have a – carefully shrouded – hand in the underhive; exploiting every possible source of wealth or power the hive has to offer. +

+ As long as they pay their share of the planet's ruinous tithe, Imperial Commander Barquentine – the Planetary Governor – is content for the heads of the houses (generally termed the paterfamilias or materfamilias) to operate as they see fit. Generally, this means appallingly aggressive – and often blatantly immoral or illegal – acts are commonplace. While open conflict between the noble houses themselves is rare (though far from unheard-of), proxy wars between the forces of the industrotech houses that are tithed and bound to the respective Spires are near-constant, as the noble forces tussle for power and influence. +

+ While there are wastrels, fever-seekers and fops in every house, the nobility of Confronsis are monstrously capable and marvellously astute – and to cross them is to be drawn almost inevitably into sadistically protracted ruin to serve as an example to others.

Many bored spire-dwellers become thrill seekers – some so criminally as to attract the attention of the Inquisition...

+ Brat gangs +

+ The children and scions of the Spire nobles are, for the most part, spoiled; wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. Most are rigorously trained; indoctrinated and cultivated as potential successors to the head of the household, for even within the household proper, there is intrigue and danger. Granted influence, power and wealth, most are completely divorced from the realities of life in the hive; and regard the industrotech and underhive populace as a form of game or vermin. Many so called 'brats' form gangs and delve in search of danger and excitement, baiting and killing the very source of their wealth by engaging the industrotech guards in firefights – simply for the thrill. +

+ One might think that such gangs would be no match for the underhivers, but no noble house lasts long without a core of steel. The children of the spire nobles are clandestinely equipped with the best the Imperium has to offer – many indulgent noble houses openly tolerate such 'hive safaris'. Many brats are stimmed with combat drugs, genhanced, or trained by family militia bodyguards. Even exotica as personal protection fields, automedicae and similarly advanced tech is not unknown to the brat-gangs. +


+ The Industrotech clans +

+ Numbering in the billions, the industrotech populace of Golgotham eke a tiring, precarious existence of production, deprivation and daily risk. Their lot is the punishingly physical labour that keeps the crumbling manufactories, refineries, mineheads and mills of Golgotham operating. Most live in cramped cell-quarters near – or even within – their dangerous, noisy workplaces; rarely straying beyond the confines of their occupation. +

+ Bowed, malnourished and resentful, the bulk of the industrotechs are monitored and driven to such disspirited levels of exhaustion that meaningful rebellion is kept simmering; though protests and riots are commonplace. Equally commonplace is the brutal punishment laid down on such rebels; both from without, by the militia of the House's noble sponsors and the Enforcers; and from within, by the House's own internal forces. +

+ Most industrotechs live from hour to hour, avoiding conflict and finding what diversion they can in prescribed diversionary holos and the Church. Of course, with such a vast populace, it is impossible for the overseers to monitor everyone – resources are thin, and impoverished prefects easily bribed. Grey and black markets abound around synthohol, narcotics, pitfighting and other semi-tolerated diversions. +

+ Crime, both openly violent and the less visible – such as smuggling, protection rackets and gambling – is common. As a result, all inhabitants of Hive Confronsis will bear a knife, hatchet, shortsword or club as a matter of course. Most will carry an improvised firearm of some sort; with many clans issuing signature or honorific weaponry to their workers. +

+ The minor houses + 

+ The vast majority of the population belongs to – or is indentured to – an industrotech clan, or house – the terms are interchangeable. The minor clan-houses – of which there are thousands – tend to be broadly related in massive extended families sharing a distinctive genotype, though exceptions to this are common enough. Small and relatively nimble, the minor houses operate in unique and constantly adaptive manners, producing short runs of a dizzying variety of materiel and product as licenses expire or tithes are withdrawn by sponsors for faults or errors in production. While a vast quantity of materiel is exported from Golgotham, this represents only a tiny proportion of what is produced – most is swallowed up by the hive-cities themselves. +

Low-ranking overseer-adepts of the Mechanicus are a relatively common
sight on Golgotham, though they are rarely tangled up in gang-fighting.
So diverse and large is the industrotech population – even within a single hive like Confronsis – that it is hard to make sense of the melange of cultures and subcultures that make them up. Most of the minor industrotech houses produce goods under monotask license to the Forge Worlds of the sector; stamping out arms and armour for the Imperium's armies alongside agricultural gear for the sector's agriworlds; and gewgaws and fripperies for the civilised worlds. An industrotech might easily spend their adult life as a factotum; moving just one arm in an endless action, stamping out near-worthless keyrings or plastek novelties for distant planets. +

+ Few minor houses make a large profit – there is little incentive, as excess is skimmed off by the protectionist nobles; and obvious growth will lead to raids from and conflict with rival industrotech houses. Most minor houses are grindingly conservative; favouring stability – however gloomy and thin – over additional danger. The minor houses jealously guard their slivers of territory – which may focus around a warehouse district, group of hab-blocks, or perhaps a refino-mill and its surrounding spoilheaps. The territories are as varied as any one might imagine; and limited not to the horizontal plane – indeed, many mining clans will control great vertical shafts through fathoms of the hive, taxing travellers who use these useful means of ascent. +

+ The major houses +

+ Houses that do successfully make a break for profit can find themselves elevated into the major houses – those that can afford to dominate and control subservient minor houses; or completely annex and exterminate them. Such events – where a new major industrotech house expands its ancestral territory – is inevitably the result of bloodshed, and usually leads to further conflict. Most such attempts result in the destruction of at least one minor house; its scions being enslaved or forced into the underhive as they lose what little protection the ancient clan-territories could provide. +

Ill-starred mercenaries, like deserters from the guard or
abhumans are tolerated at midhive, Some achieve notoriety.
+ The result is a new extended clan that combines to form a major house. Some are alliances tempered in blood, with two or more previous rival clans combining permanently through intermarriage, ritual vows of mutual kinship, or through more esoteric means, such as genesplicing or body-piloting. +

+ More commonly, one clan will become dominant over another, forcing the members of the lesser house into a subservient existence as thralls or bondsmen. Subservient houses generally form an oppressed slave caste; branded, electooed, maimed or otherwise marked as 'undermen', and gradually exterminated over time by giving them the most dangerous roles of all, or forcibly tithing them to the Guard draft. Particularly ruthless (or paranoid) house masters will lobotomise their serfs to become automats; deny them breeding rights, or simply chemically/physically castrate the workers to prevent a future rebellion while maintaining their ability to labour. Such is the brutal reality of life in hive Confronsis. +

+ The major houses form their own tier within the hive proper. Able to afford, bribe or bully their way into prime locations near the hive skin or the great thermal vents at the core, the major houses have extensive territories that are (relatively) well-powered or include views onto the outside world. To modern eyes, such a view – of a chemically colourful ash wasteland covered by brooding, churning clouds – would be terrifying, but to a hive-dweller, seeing a horizon is a thing of such wonder that many attribute to the outside world a holy quality. +

+ At the current date, there are thirteen major houses; all bitter rivals. Each has its own distinctive characteristics from long-held prejudices, specialisations and beliefs. Hugely varied, each major house of Confronsis has its own form of government, its own culture, and its own indentured militia, which serve as part of the Planetary Defence Force. These forces range from the lithe and subtle warriors of House Demogorgon, to the muscle-brutes of House Ordovic, and the violence-choirs of House Sephulcrave. +


+ Industrotech gangs +

+ The hive is vast and echoing. Seething though it is with humanity (and other denizens), vast though claustrophic tracts are unexploited. While the industrotech houses have large territories, these are continually shifting. Unfortunate outlying habs can be cut off from house territories by attack or natural disaster – indeed, there are tales of isolated habs remaining under siege for months or years before succumbing. Unless an area is important to a house – such as containing a taxable link to the heatsink ,or providing some particularly valuable export, many houses will simply write off the losses because reclaiming them is economically unviable. +

+ It is not just possible but commonplace for entire complexes of warehouses, throughways and hab-blocks to be lost as a result of hive quakes, plagues, internecine conflicts or population migrations. Officially restricted from exploiting such neutral territories, it is the gangs of the industrotech houses that explore and exploit such areas. +

+ In addition to their official militaries, all of the major industrotech houses overlook a semi-tolerated gang culture that operates beneath scrutiny and without official support. These provide the houses with groups of unbalanced, frustrated or potentially dangerous house members who are encouraged to explore the hive, raiding, disrupting and unbalancing rival houses – or finding rich plots of land to exploit. Word travels fast in the warren-like bounds of the hive, and a gang that manages to find a route into a warehouse or isolated settlement will soon find itself having to fight to maintain its territory. +

+ While their activities are de-facto criminal, gangs provide kin of the house with much-needed protection, comradeship and a substitute family structure. More importantly to the industrotech house councils is the fact that the gangs – often workmates – work more productively together, and act as a permanent watch and defence against attacks – from rival industrotech houses, from spire safaris, and from uprising underdweller groups. +

+ Gangs are as varied as any group of humanity. Some favour a unifrom paramilitary appearance; others revel in individuality. Distictive and extreme clothing and hairstyles; along with piercings, tattooes, and body modification are common amongst the underhivers – and more so amongst gangers. There is no such thing as a typical gang, but some name themselves after their territories – Cromerty Piston Killers, the Eighteenth-Parallel or Gutterwell Boys are example – or a particular ritual practise; such as the Headtakers, Widowmen or Mara Cavorta. Still others pick a seemingly meaningless, intimidating or even whimsical name – the Yellow Henry Gang, Black Gates or Whistling Sheers. +


+ The Underhive +

+ Beneath the spires, beneath the belly of the hive, beneath even the lowest of the minor industrotech houses, are the twisted and tangled tunnels and caverns of the planet's surface itself. Remnants of ancient mines and ruins of the original settlements, the underhive is where the lowest of the low can be found – scav-gangs, scions of vanished or destroyed minor houses, escaped slaves, abhumans and mutants like the near-mythical vermen all make an uneasy and uncertain living here. +

+ While the hive proper sees gang warfare between rival houses, the underhive is the true palette for the artistry of gang warfare. Here, there are no enforcers to sweep down; no house militia to scatter the small gangs. In the underhive, the heaviest of weaponry can be deployed; proscribed drugs and practices indulged, and the worst crimes of all committed in the name of wealth and personal power. It is a heady cocktail for the young men and women that make up the gangs... +

+ The underhive of Confronsis is lethally dangerous, with precious and long-forgotten technology mingling with brutal chemical pollution. Deluges of literal acid rain – formed by the gradual leaching of chemical waste from uphive mixing with the steamsweat of the populace – is a continual threat, and the thick, close air is tainted with metallic air-borne gasses and poisons. Movement of the hive itself, as it settles further into its agonisingly prolonged but inevitable ruin, sends great gouts of dust and ash shooting up from ancient shafts and tunnels as they collapse; and yawning sinkholes and pits can open up with little or no warning. +

+ The tangled territories of the underhive do not directly contribute to the hive's wealth or society; nor do they benefit from the uncertain benefits of 'trickle-down wealth' that supposedly benefits the industrotechs. Down at hive bottom, banditry and raiding are near-essential to survival. One is either a killer, or a victim. +

+ Nevertheless, there are some things found in the underhive that are found nowhere else – great vaults of archeotech, exploitable hive fungus and direct power couplings are just a few of these. All are of immeasurable value to the industrotech houses and beyond; but too unpredictable to waste already desperately-thin resources on exploiting. This is left to the gangs, who descend to fight each other and claim the spoils. +

+ Known semi-permanent areas of the underhive +

+ Chemsalt Plain

+ The Great Brown Waste

+ The Crumble

+ Shelftown

+ Fastnet

+ The Bight:

Friday, September 15, 2017

+ inload: Golgotham +

+ By Gas Mask and Fire Hydrant: Golgotham +

(With apologies to M. John Harrison and the authors of Confrontation for the amorphous kitbash of their ideas and writing!)

+ The Planet + 

The world that came to be known as Golgotham was settled – as far as the Imperium's patchy and unreliable records can tell – as a mining and manufacturing planet nearly 14,000 years ago. In its purpose, little has changed in the ensuing millennia. Encrusted with manufactories, processing facilities and refineries; and pocked with mines, docks and launches, little of the surface is visible. Nothing would be familiar to the early settlers: the oceans have been reduced to shrunken chemical sludge-ponds, the mountains razed to rubble, the topography churned and devoured by the ravenous demands of the Imperium.

The great urban developments – combined housing and factory blocks known as hive-cities – have swelled and proliferated to form great carbuncles that far overtop the lost mountains of ancient times, after which many are named. Sections of these ever-growing hive-cities have expanded, collapsed and broken out into divided city-spires, each building on the ruins of those that came before. Groups, or 'Clusters' of hive-cities that sit closely in geographical terms form interconnected and entwined structures as their roads, tunnels and flight paths form physical networks that mirror the electromatiic, telegraphic and psychic communication networks. Between these clusters are the vast deserts of industrial ash that cover the surface of the planet with a mobile, corrosive skin. Over this desert lies a cloud layer of airborne pollution, so that the great spires of the city hives rise from a drifting mist of tainted vapour like islands out of the sea.

Despite its environmental decline, Golgotham remains productive; and thus of importance to the Imperium. Its natural resources long-depleted, the waste-heaps of previous generations have become a new source of riches. Indeed, the populace, high-born and low alike, are united by the necessity of reclaiming everything – from the food they eat to the air they breathe – from the accumulated wastes of the declining, exhausted world. The planet lives by dint of autocannibalisation; and it is wholly reliant on imported or synthetic nutrition. As with hive cities across the Imperium, each incorporates numerous factory-clusters dedicated solely to converting used organic matter – all organic matter – into synth-food. Real food is an expensive luxury for the most prestigious and affluent aristocrats; and little more than a myth to the bulk of the hive-dwellers. 

It is unlikely that the population will ever be tallied; and all estimates are almost inevitably laughably inaccurate; because like all hive worlds, Golgotham's population is vast. An attempted census of just the uphive zones of a single comparatively well-ordered Hive, Confronsis, recorded over a billion inhabitants; but the hive proper sits on a vastly larger warren of abandoned factories, overbuilt habitations and other ruins; whose enormous population can only be guessed at.


+ What is Golgotham? +

+ In short, it's the thinly-veiled ersatz Necromunda – as you've probably guessed from the suspiciously familiar text above; which is a quickly and loosely rewritten version of the original Confrontation background – which can be read in full through the noospheric inloadlink above. +

+ I personally think this introduction to the planet was never bettered, and not having such detail present in the later release of Necromunda was a terrible shame. Sure, it was 'god-level narration', but having comparisons with the real world made it all the more clear what a crapsack world the planet was. +

+ With the new Necromunda out soon, the PCRC are starting to get enthused; Golgotham is the result. The gangs of the PCRC will be duking it out through the underhive (and beyond?) or Hive Confronsis. By shifting the setting to Antona Australis, we've bought ourselves a little freedom. Different members will be adopting the familiar Houses – this might be as simple as a change of name, or might be a full rewrite and reskin of the underlying house tropes. +

+ What am I doing? +

+ Rather neatly, all of us seem to like different gangs, so there's not going to be too much overlap – though even if two PCRC members want to play (say) Orlocks, it's easy enough to use the same rules but have two separate Houses in the background. +

+ I'm going to be taking the pseudo-religious/mediaeval aesthetic of House Cawdor as the root of my gang. The eponymous Gretchin of Greenstuff Gretchin [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] recommended In Viriconium, a fantastically evocative series of vaguely-linked and aggressively non-genre stories by M. John Harrison to me a while back, and reading that has really sparked my imagination. +

Thursday, August 31, 2017

+ inload: Resupply – Galvanic Servohaulers mini-review +

+ Scatter terrain +

+ I'm not sure if GW's 'Galvanic Servohaulers' [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] count as models or terrain, but they're certainly very cool. Much larger than I had anticipated – check out the night watchman lurking nervously amongst the piles of crates, stacks of barrels and mini tractor/crane things I painted last night. +

+ The servohauler kits are simple but with more detail than I'd expect from terrain; they'd make a great basis for genestealer cult, ork or skirmish-game conversions and kitbashes. I like the fact that the trailer on which the crane stands is compatible with the big crates of the Munitorum Armoured Containers box I reviewed a while back [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. +

+ The crane and tractors have some lovely details, but if you're happy to overlook or remove the Adeptus Mechanicus symbol, they're generic enough to work in most sci-fi or steampunk genres. After all, there's nothing particularly sophisticated about rugged building equipment. +

+ The models painted up quickly – rather a rush job, in truth – but the grimy, battered look built up with block-painting, washes and smoked highlights suits the spirit of the set. The depth of recesses on the crane meant that this piece was far more time-consuming than the tractors, even taking into account its size. +


+ Conclusion +

+ As with the Munitorum Armoured Containers kit, the Galvanic Servohaulers get two mechandendrites up (out of three),for much the same reasons. It's another detailed, versatile set of models that provide perfect scatter terrain for sci-fi, post-apocalyptic or near-future settings. +

+ Like the Armoured Containers, these would be great for dioramas and vignettes; and also offer a lot of potential for kitbashing and conversion work. +

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

+ inload: Night Lords +

+ Kivigilitha Ve Zah Jass +

This group of [REDACTED] renegades are equipped with few of the trappings and advanced materiel of their Imperial brethren, but their undoubted experience and a blasphemous willingness to use scavenged and unreconsecrated armour and weaponry makes them as versatile and deadly at the end of a long – and seemingly unsupported – campaign as they proved at the beginning.


The group seem unified by shared aims – likely symbolised by the poison daggers they wear as a crude gang-sign – and, perhaps, the fragments of a lost dream that they bitterly wish to spoil for those 'still sleeping'. [Non-apposite, potentially heretical, marginalia removed]

Their battlecry – daubed on sub-hive walls and projected through local comms channels (and reportedly, the last phrase whispered to their victims) is 'Kivigilitha Ve Zah Jass' – which loosely translates to 'We bring A Rude Awakening' in archaic Nostramon.

+ Classified information drawn from the Remarks on the Siege of Ur-Niemzca, authored by Magos Titus Manderghast, exiled subsequent to the battle's conclusion. +


+ Creo Fidanza (mark: arrogance) +

+ Such is Fidanza's belief in the inherent superiority of the Astartes that his fighting style is swaggering and ostentatious; deliberately alerting the enemy once there is no escape for them. After all, the prey should spend their last moments in fear, not ignorance. +

+ His armour, a well-maintained hybrid of mark IV and scavenged mark VII plates, is thus embellished and decorated with ritual terror markings; not least of which are his flamboyant trophy racks, which cast an inhumanly long, chiropteran silhouette. +

+ Shullat Avellon (mark: judgement) +

+ Representing what remains of the VIIIth Legion's original aims, Avellon acts as the unifying figure of the group. Through dominance and tactical ability, he is begrudgingly regarded as – if not the leader, for the warband bristles as such terms for all save their warlord – at least first-amongst-equals. Perhaps more importantly to the Claw, he is a neutral party, whose decisions ensure the others can indulge their predilictions. +

+ Gaining the lion's share of the spoils of war, his armour is good quality, largely (thought not wholly) unmarked by the taint of chaos. He bears echos of the trappings of rank – a trophy rack in place of a banner, a defiled tilt shield from a defeated enemy (or rival), and an artificer-modified terror helm. Despite his status, the collar of his breastplate is raised – all the better to ward off a blade at the neck... +

+ Basmu Seachild (mark: dishonourable conduct) +

+ The only non-Nostraman of the group, face-to-face conflict is anathema to Basmu Seachild, recruited to the Claw many centuries after the Legion Wars. Why confront the enemy head-on when you can finish them before they know there's a threat? A creeping, lurking and knife-strewn monster in the dark is how Seachild prefers to operate; his movements sinuous, coiling, and silent. +

+ Barring a Mark IV helm; only now beginning to warp under the influence of his incipient voidcraft, he wears a relatively crude suit of Mark V armour – the best he can hope for as the junior member of the team.+

+ Isimud Vologda (mark: horror) +

+ Colossal, debilitating, overwhelming horror is the Night Lords' modus operandi. For some, it was less a strategy and more an art to be savoured. For Vologda, it became an obsession. +

+ Tactical expediency and teamwork simply does not factor into his crystally straightforward mind; merely the act of spreading individual terror. Draped in skins and pelts, covered with chains and trophies, Vologda's method of waging war is plain and simple; and always, always, secondary to his true aim – sadistic, systematic and excruciating murder. +

+ With a talent for infiltration and stealth, he usually operates at the forefront of the team – all the better to scatter and unnerve the defenders for the others to terrorise; and all the less likely that his individualism will compromise the team. +


Friday, August 25, 2017

+ Battle report: Outskirts of the Plains of Tethys +

+ Battle report: Outskirts of the Plains of Tethys +

A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? 

+ A Warhammer 40,000 8th edition battle report +

New Bartle was the last sinktown before the open plains, an exposed and inward-looking frontier settlement, but important as the only reliable source of fresh water for the South-western flats beyond it. It was inevitable that the invaders would strike here – particularly given the warlord Og Throatchoppa's demands for a solid supply line to support a second front in his assault on the coastal cities. 
Unseasonal storms – that some claimed were caused by the atmospheric displacement of the wallowing, hovering starcraft of the green-skinned aliens, and others put down to the Emperor's wrath – had battered the town, but the Arcturan planetary defence forces were dug in around the sink, with ranging patrols exploring the outskirts.  
Hot, heavy rain was lashing one such patrol when the orks emerged from the murk...

+ A Narrative game using lists of 50 power; we played the Patrol mission +

+ Opening moves +

+ Ork boyz and a mob of killa kans advance alongside a big mek. The rain fizzed and boiled in a crackling half-dome over the creature's strange generator, indicating some sort of force field. +

+ The orks close on a temporary command post, defended lightly by a company commander and his retinue, an infantry squad and some ratlings, all sheltering from the rain. +

+ The orks close the gap quickly, racing forward to engage the defenders. Blurted reports from both sides draw in reinforcements – including the fabled Space Marines. +

+ Bolstered by the presence of humanity's champions, the guard turn the street into a killing ground, the central mob being shot to pieces, and one of the killa kans detonating with a dull thump. +

+ ...But there are plenty more where they came from! A mob of orks arrive on the eastern flank, and the big mek jogs to meet them – diving over a hedge to do so. +

+ The battle escalates +

+ As more guardsmen pour in, the killa kans advance on their power-armoured counterparts. As the Astartes and walkers trade fire, a gout of blood is torn from one of the Blood Angels. Grimacing, he gets back to his feet, continuing to fire. +

+ Throatchoppa himself arrives on the field, yelling angrily through the rain for his boyz to 'urry up!' +

+ The guard grenadiers meet the ork charge, but even these elite humans are no match for the raw power and ferocity of the aliens – they are swiftly overwhelmed. +

+ The orks allow the Imperials no space. Desperate screams are heard from the eastern flank, and the central street has turned into a brutal close-in brawl. + 

+ The Astartes struggle with the killa kanz. At last, Brothers Barbarigo and Engel manage to barge one of the clanking behemoths over, pinning it for long enough for Farnese to unload a full magazine into a weak point. Thick, murky blood sobs from the rents in the kan's armour and it falls limp. +

+ The melee in the east continues to rage, bodies steaming in the humid air. More Imperial Guard reinforcements arrive and are drawn in – but the press favours the orks and the squad and their platoon commander are torn apart. +

+ The final killa kan batters aside the Astartes and turns his spiteful attention on Commander Burton-Gogh, seizing him in a wicked claw. The Commander struggles free, bleeding and injured. +

+ Closing stages +

+ As the remaining Imperial forces drive into the centre, Throatchoppa reveals his ace in the hole – a mob of kommandos on the west. +

+ The orks on the Eastern flank start to flounder as they advance into the centre. Their numbers are thinned by disciplined fire from the guard and Astartes. +

+ Throatchoppa's reinforcements finally arrive, but too late – he grunts dismissively and waves forward his kommandos, who leap on and butcher the Rough Riders. +

+ With Burton-Gogh gravely wounded, Sergeant Raphael rallies the guard. Splitting the forces in the centre, he directs the guard to drive off the mob advancing from the east, while his warriors turn to confront Throatchoppa and his kommandos. +

+ With booming bolt and scything laser, the lightly-armoured kommandos are cut down. Seeing how the wind is blowing, Throatchoppa scowls and shakes a threatening fist at the scarlet-armoured champions of humanity before loping off into the rain. +


+ Imperial Victory +

+ The orks have been driven off – this time – but doubtless they'll be back, and in greater numbers... [/Obi Wan] +

+ Well, that was quite an intro to 8th edition! Regular inloaders will recognise Bob Hunk's awesome Blood Axes, who have clearly been plaguing the Imperium for millennia. It was great fun to get the Lamb's World back on the table – orks and guard are a classic match-up; and it was fun to have a new pairing of enemies in place of Nuzzgrond and Dresden. +

+ While it ended with a victory for the Imperium, I think that was down as much to luck as anything. Had Throatchoppa's boyz arrived more evenly – rather than half right at the start, and the rest dribbling in on the final turn – or the central mob had held back a bit to draw the Lamb's Worlders in earlier, I wonder if things would have been different. +

+ Stars of the match for me were Burton-Gogh himself – the rules now allow Guard commanders to be a bit braver – and, of course, the Blood Angels. They were critical to the victory; holding and eventually destroying the killa kanz, who would likely have rampaged through the guard. +

Og Throatchoppa and Maxim Burton-Gogh give each other the stink-eye.
+ We picked the mission to ease us into 8th – it starts with a small number of units on the board, and gradually builds up. +

+ My first impressions are that the game's much cleaner. It is simpler, but that's definitely a plus point for me. Since we play more detailed skirmish stuff when the fancy takes us, it's good to have a good clean system for bigger games. Similarly, we both agreed that the 'power' system of picking an army was quick and simple – both faster and more convenient than the more familiar granular points system. +

+ It did turn into a bit of a scrum in the centre; which meant that my guard were basically forced into the defensive – it was just a case of throwing more men into the melee and hoping we'd outnumber the orks. Not particualrly tactically satisfying, so I hope that a bigger game with a different mission (and perhaps on a bigger board!) would help add a bit of breathing room. +

+ Another big plus is that everything feels a bit more like a company-level game than older editions, which have swung from over-burdened skirmish systems with needlessly complex rules for vehicles and monsters; to soulless exercises in exploiting paper-scissors-stone type mechanics. 8th edition seems to have made basic troops – my favourite thing – more relevant. Ork boyz have received a lot of great boosts, and the order system makes even Imperial guardsmen something to be respected. +

+ So, a cautious thumbs-up from me for 8th edition. I did very much like the command point system, and the cleaner, simpler organisation in both army building and the game itself is very welcome. Perhaps the best bit of all was how much more like the stories the game played – far fewer weird game mechanic interactions, and less need to check the rules (even taking into account our unfamiliarity with the system). +

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

+ inload: Infantry and specialists +

+ Lamb's World infantry +

+ I still think of this as a 'new army', but the Lamb's World 117th is getting on a bit now. The models are essentially Elysians with head swaps (mostly the FW Cadian Respirator heads, but some from other sources including the short Specialist Games run of Necromunda Van Saar) and the rebreather on the torsos removed. +

+ I've always like the image of well-trained but regular soldiers, and so as with my other armies, the army was built with that in mind – the troops as the standard, middle-of-the-road option; determinedly non-elite, non-specialist. +

+ I've found this handy. First off, it means the army is largely future-proofed. Like space marine tactical squads or ork boyz, Imperial Guard infantry are always going to be the basic choice in the army list. I've seen other Guard armies change from being 'Veterans' to 'Conscripts' and back, but the Lamb's Worlders have always been (and likely will always be) plain old guard infantry. This makes writing lists from one edition to the next relatively painless. +

+ Despite the age of the army, I'm pleased with the paintjob on them. Camouflage and a little clean painting to contrast with it goes a long way to cover up flaws, and earthy colours are amongst the easiest to paint. I am glad I went with a semi-desert scheme, as it's versatile and works on most gameboards. +

+ Looking back over the army is a good way to see how my hobby has changed. These were definitely painted with an event in mind; and tackled en masse rather than individually. Still, I think they hold up if you inspect them – they're all done to the largely the same standard, even the characters. I've never been good at painting models more or less carefully in relation to their battlefield importance or role. +

+ The number of mortars in the army – nine or so – is a good symbol of contrariness. At the time the army was built, mortars were the cheap, rubbish option. You never saw them on the table; and I thought that was a shame – I've always liked things being a bit different. Perhaps they'll prove their worth in 8th edition? +

+ Having said there are no elites and that the army was all done at once, the grenadiers here belie that. These models are from Heresy Miniatures, and wer added after the campaign weekend I took the army to. I think they've only seen the field once – where they and their Valkyrie transport were shot down in short order! +

+ Finally today, a platoon commnder. Nothing much to say here except that the torso of the model is from the FW tank commander kit, I think. +


+ Gaming with the army +

The list for tomorrow looks like this:

Lamb’s World 117th – Arcturus theatre

[50 power]
Battle-forged: 3 Command Points
Battalion Detachment: +3 Command Points – required choices in bold.

HQ [7]
  • Caef Burton Gogh – Company commander [3]
  • Commissar Salem-Czet – Lord Commissar [4]

Troops [23]
  • Blood Angels Squad Raphael – 5 Intercessors [5]
  • Imperial Guard Infantry squad – 10 men [3]
  • Imperial Guard Infantry squad – 10 men [3]
  • Imperial Guard Infantry squad – 10 men [3]
  • Imperial Guard Infantry squad – 10 men [3]
  • Stormtroopers – 10 men, flamer [6]

Elites [14]
  • Lief Moorwing – Platoon commander [2]
  • Ratlings [2]
  • Special Weapons Squad [3]
  • Command Squad [3]
  • Command Squad [3]
  • Astropath [1]

Fast Attack [3]
  • Rough Riders [3]

Heavy Support [3]

  • Heavy weapons squad [3]

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

+ inload: Cavalry and tanks +

+ Recon in strength +


Onnagh flicked the lho stick up in a long, long arc through the dreadful, endless rain that had set in since the invaders had touched orbit. It was like the planet had got a stick in its eye and was trying to wash it out. The corporal and I watched the tumbling stick trace a graceful path to its zenith, then descend to land unceremoniously in a murky puddle a few yards away.

We looked back.

"Do that again, and I'll stick you myself." I said, warningly. "Do you want the green bastards to find us?"

She leaned back against the wet concrete and grinned broadly, eyes glittering. Stimms? Possibly. Then again, Onnagh was always the sort of lunatic that relished an argument. The invasion was probably the best thing that had ever happened to the stinking old criminal.

"You're late, anyway."

I grunted in reply. Late for what? As far as we knew, we were the last damned humans on Arcturus – though the crackling gunfire at least implied some of the PDF were still out there. We'd made a tactical retreat – which is to say, that Onnagh and I had belted it after the young corporal the second she'd soiled her breeches and legged it during the first firefight. She was still twitching; still wide-eyed. Onnagh and I, re-drafted regulars from the first Plateau War, had seen it before. Jumped at a noise and never came back.

'Course, that was against those dirty raddlers from the northern jungle and their weird pamphlets; not against these lunatic greenskinned aliens. Both fought like nobody's business – but then, maybe I'd do the same if I believed a big eye in the sky was watching me.

"There's word them off-worlders are coming through here soon. We should make it look like we was fighting."

Connagh pulled a pack of lhos – blessedly dry – from behind her webbing somewhere, stuck one in her mouth and half-heartedly gestured it to me as the Corporal shivered, her eyes trained on the wet road outside.

As I put the stick between my cracked lips and held the chem-blaze to the tip, I had another thought.

I guess the greens didn't believe the Emperor was a god, either.


+ Rough Riders +

+ Rough Riders are one of those things that makes 40k a gothic dystopia, rather than a sci-fi space opera. I love the contrast of 'ruffs and laser guns' in the setting, and horse-riding soldiers charging hovering battletanks and scuttling alien beasts is an image that I think fits perfectly. It's a sort of 'anti-sci-fi' image that provides contrast and reminds you how advanced and alien the glittering gauss beams of the Necrontyr or fluted wraithbone ammunition of the Eldar would appear to the Imperium's military. +

+ There's an inherent Imperial pragmatism to the concept too; far easier to maintain horses than badly-understood technology; so just like the Romans adapted technology from the lands they conquered, the Imperium is happy for its forces to equip themselves to fight as they're best able to do. +

+ Quite apart from that is the modelling and painting opportunities. Horses (or whatever steed you pick) are living creatures, and thus benefit from a bit of variety. In turn, that gives you something interesting to paint to relieve the tedium of uniforms. The squadron above includes a palamino, a bay and a chestnut, amongst others – and they allowed me to try some interesting techniques such as wet-in-wet stippling (for the dappled grey on the right). +

+ Freehand opportunities abound; the markings on this horse were taken from a holiday snap. +

+ Matching the colours and getting the 'borders' between areas of colouring was a fun exercise. +

+  The models themselves are relatively simple conversions; mainly kitbashes. The rider is made up of legs from the Empire Pistoliers (the layered armour was smoothed down into flak-style plates) mated with an Elysian upper half. Again, the only conversion work here was scraping away detail from the torso and removal of the tubes that run down the side. The rest is a kitbash similar to the Lamb's World infantry, using a Cadian head with respirator from FW. +

+ The horse is from the Wood Elf range; with the armour slightly reshaped. The addition of some packs (from tank sprues and the same upgrade sprue as the rider's head, I think) helps to fit the horse into the universe. +

+ The Rough Riders are one of my favourite parts of my army; I've got the bits somewhere to make five more, so perhaps I'll expand this little group. +


+ Not so subtle +

+ Main battle tanks are much more popular than horses with most guard players – understandably so; what's not to like about cool model tanks? – but I struggle to enjoy painting them unless I can find some way to give them a bit of character and human interest. This example, E-118, has a Lamb's Worlder hitching a lift on the back. +

+ On the other face, another of those anti-sci-fi touches: a 'requisitioned' cow. I wanted to get the idea that the Leman Russ is an all-in workhorse; likely used as much as a bulldozer and tractor as it is a weapon of war. +