+ inload: Prelude to Qu'Ba +

+ Heyn'Am Rim +

Today regarded as the breadbasket of the Tzi'Na Enclave, a province of the Tau's Brightsword Protectorate, this promisingly rich and fertile system was discovered by Imperial explorators in M38, and earmarked for forcible induction to the Imperium at least twice. In both cases, its position equidistant between the two rival Imperial subsectors – Starfire and Hesiod-Siculus – saw much political sabre-rattling, and the invasion was postponed.
It bears an unusual population of abhumans alongside at least two xenos species. The three species seem to have a commensual relationship, all living and working together; benefitting from each others' protection and – mostly – using different resources. Imperial hopes that the humans could be recovered and re-indoctrinated proved fruitless after investigation found the humans to be hopelessly corrupted by intentional genehancing – hence their classification to abhumans.  
The agriworld – or rather sept – is known to the Tau as Heyn'Am, a transliteration of the inhabitants' own name. The world did not voluntarily join the Greater Good, and its population still harbours ill-will towards their new rulers.
Extr. Howtopher Buxcraft's Later Histories of Antona Australis vol. VII

+++

Shambling onwards – work-in-progress Death Guard of the Bleak Vespers.

+ The Feverdream Episode +

The septworld of Heyn’Am was the scene of a flashpoint during the Tzi'Na Crisis. The Space Hulk Feverdream's drift took it through the Heyn'Am Rim, trapping the region between the space hulk and advancing elements of the Curdling Armada. Primed by the threat both in the void, the already-discontented native population was incited to open rebellion against their Tau masters by insurgent elements.

Alarmed by a sudden cessation in contact from their command centre on the island of Qu’Ba, local Brightsword forces hastily assembled to assist the encamped planetary suppression units. Whilst preparing for a full-scale assault on the Bayeaux Pigues region, orbital scans revealed construction of what appeared to be a large military facility further inland on Qu’ba. Fearing that delaying action would have disastrous consequences, contact was made with reliable alien agents planetside (the Bo’Than movement). Construction plans were appropriated and, although many Bo’Thans died in their retrieval, the T’au infiltrators escaped to the rendezvous point at Qi Liym Bay.

Caught between pursuing Qu’Bans and an approaching hurricane, the evacuation seemed to be heading for calamity when th+++ [+/!queryerror!/+] +++ides were turned by the arrival o+++ [+/!nonbinary expression executed!/+] +++ [+/!external override detected!/+] +++ [+/connection lost/+] +++

+++


+ Prepping for a game +

+ The PCRC are meeting up for one of our periodic get-togethers, and Warmtamale will be GMing use through The Qu'Ban Laser Crisis. I've been plugging away to get some more Plague Marines ready [+vizref: above+], and have also finally polished off the build for my Chaos Lord, Simargi of Moroz-Morok: 


+ No plan survives contact with the enemy. His planned armament – a blade and bludgeon – went out the window after they looked a bit crap. I ended up going with a giant axe and combi-bolter; and, as you can see, I also gave him his own little death-knell bell. The bells have turned up in quite a few places as part of the visual theme, so it only seemed fitting for SImargi to have one of his own. +

+ The two accompanying him are a second Blightbringer – again, I really like the tocsins, so another bell-carrier was a given – and a Putrifier, a sort of ex-techmarine (and a very kind gift from my brother and nephews – cheers lads). The conversion here is fairly subtle – adjusting the pose of the arm and replacing the head with the more standardised one I like best. +


+ In addition to the other close combat Plague Marines that are on the painting desk, I've also got this fella with a huge cleaver. +


+ ...and finally for today, a squad of Terminators, made with a mix of the Blightlord weapons (kindly donated by Lucifer216) and the new Chaos Terminator kit. +

+ inload: Dwarfs for Warhammer Underworlds +

+ 'Let me sing you the song of our people' +


+  Not being the biggest fan of the 'all slayers, all the time' look of the Fyreslayer dwarfs for Age of Sigmar, a while back I converted the Shadespire warband [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. I finally got round to painting them up. +



+ Not the most free-flowing of painting sessions, these were a bit frustrating to paint. I got there in the end, and painted is better than perfect, as the saying goes. +


+ One of the main stumbling blocks was simply that I don't have a handle on dwarf colour schemes. I keep thinking them through, and changing my mind halfway in, or finding they don't work, and... urgh. In the end, I went for ornamanted but uncoloured metal (as these will probably find a home in my Throng of Nog, made up almost entirely of fully-armoured dwarfs), and picked out the clothing in muted creams, blues, greens and browns. +


+ In addition to letting me experiment with and explore potential colour schemes, this slightly hotch-potch result turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I think the scheme fits the feel of these four as adventurers and treasure-hunters rather than professional soldiers. +


+ With such small faces – and even those mostly hidden beneath helms – I decided to make the beards the focal points of the figures, bringing in some natural variation. +


+ Since I've changed the background to make these proper hill dwarfs rather than the more high fantasy Fyreslayers, I didn't think the embedded gold runes made sense, so I painted them up as tattoos. +

+ inload: On the workbench, and experiments with GW's Contrast paint +

+ Experimenting and expanding armies +

+ Games Workshop recently released their 'Contrast' range of paints. I'm always interested in new developments of mediums and ranges, so picked up a few pots to play around with. +

+ The range is explicitly designed to make painting quick, the carrier working to deposit the pigment in a way that suggests natural highlights and shadows – a sort of bizarro-glaze. Where glazing aims to get the pigment applied as evenly as possible across a miniature's surface, the Contrast paints are designed to recede from ridges and deposit in crevices. The result is something that is intended to simulates the same effect as you'd get from laying down a base coat, then adding shading tones to the recesses and layering highlights to the raised areas. +


+ I've been looking for an excuse to paint these figures – lovely characterful sculpts that I've had waiting patiently for a project. Robes seemed like the perfect testing ground for this new product, as working out how the tones should be applied amongst their folds and creases can be challenging. +


+ I can see Gryph-hound Orange taking a permanent place in my palette. It's a lovely warm rusty muted earth-orange, a bit like the sadly-lamented Solar Macharius Orange from the Foundation range. The picture above shows it applied as a single layer over a Halford's white undercoat. You work straight from the pot, so it's quite an odd experience, but it applies nicely, with the right balance between flow and surface tension to stay where you put it. +

+ The effect above was very quick. It took – quite literally – seconds to get an equivalent effect to a more traditional base coat and wash. +


+ GW advise you to work over one of their proprietary off-white sprays, as the paint relies on having a completely smooth surface. You can see here what happens over a standard pure white spray – there's a certain graininess to the finish. You'd want to avoid this if you're using this purely to speed up your workflow, so in those cases I would recommend the GW spray. However, if you're looking to add it as another string to your painting bow, you might find this an advantage. I quite like the effect it has on the fabric here; adding very subtle surface texture and still working into the folds. +

+ The big advantage I see for me here is that the Contrast paint has established the areas of shade and highlight in one quick, clean movement – which means I can now use other techniques to push those areas without second-guessing myself on how the light should fall. Very useful – almost like a 'light map'. +


+ This kroot was an experiment in using the paint wet-in-wet; something that suits these fluid paints nicely. Snakebite leather (no, not that one) is the brown here, and Apothecary white for the belly. You can see how the colours have flowed and merged nicely in the recesses of the belly – something I find very promising. +

+ Again, it's the speed – something all but impossible to show here – that's the impressive thing. He (she?) must have taken two minutes at most; and while not great, it's a hell of a better base layer than I would be able to create with traditional paints and techniques. The figure above is ripe for further development – and when time is at a premium, being able to shave time off the dull 'grunt work' of base-coating to give you more finishing time is very valuable. +

+++

+ My initial conclusions? The Contrast range are a useful new tool. While not miraculous, equally they're definitely not a case of 'emperor's new clothes'. I can see them working very nicely in batch-painting (something I find terribly tedious), and in combination with other techniques, will help out a lot for particular effects. As with any tool, then, it's more down to getting familiar with them, and working out how you can use it for something creative and personal. +

+++

+ Expansion +

+ Painting's been mostly off the boil owing to the heat, but I have got some more building done for various armies. Too many unbuilt kits! +

+ Lamb's World +


+ More Lamb's Worlders – a combination of Forge World Elysians, Cadians and Van Saar, plus Victoria Minature bits. It was nice to build some more basic troops. +


+ Something a bit different – a dog handler. The dog's from Anvil Industries, the handler's head from Victoria Miniatures. Not sure what he'll count as, but the important thing is he was fun to make. +

+ Bleak Vespers +


+ Ho ho ho. Grandfather Nurgle's forces gather in the Warp. A nice ol' pile of Death Guard get their bases and undercoat done, ready for the main painting [+noosphericinload link embedded+]. +


+ A quick close-up of the first few off the priming pad – mostly specialists. +


+ ... and apropos of nothing, this chap got built. Using far more mutated and warped parts than the rest of the (relatively restrained) Bleak Vespers, he'll perhaps be a Lord or Greater Possessed. +

+ Ambull +


+ Giant rock-boring pile of bad attitude. What's not to like? +

+ inload: Battle report – Devils in Hong Tan +


Whatever happened to Shas'Nel Naseel, the unfortunate Fireblade sent to stop the advance of the Bleak Vespers towards Waygoan City in the battle report detailed here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]? That's what we set out to explore; as the Tau veterans defending Or'Na decide to rescue their compatriot.

This was an introduction to Kill Team, 40k's small-scale brother, for me – Bob Hunk led me through the rules for a tense and exciting game!

+++
+ Game type: Kill Team
+ Mission: Rescue
+ Combatants: Apologist, commanding the Prokemina, Death Guard counter-insurgents; vs Bob Hunk, commanding brave Tau special forces team The Unblinking Eye.
+ Battleground: The Septworld Or'Na – a day's march from the G'loshes Pass lie the ruins of Hong Tan, an industrial district that the Bleak Vespers have converted into a forward operating base.

+ The forces +

+ Prokimena +

Before the mass of the Bleak Vespers advance the Prokemina, advance parties of Plague Marines skilled in infiltration and small unit tactics. Seeding unrest, fear and destruction amongst the luckless foe's rear lines, the Prokemina's true threat is not to the fuel bowers they sabotage or sentries they kill; but in the moral and physical pestilence that blooms in their wake.
  • Mečiar – Plague Champion [Leader] with plague knife, boltgun, blight grenades and krak grenades (15)
  • Konstantin – Plague Marine Gunner [Heavy] with plague knife, meltagun, blight grenades and krak grenades (15+3)
  • Bezdeda – Plague Marine Gunner with plague knife, plague spewer, blight grenades and krak grenades (15+4)
  • Oratorio – Plague Marine [Veteran] with plague knife, boltgun, blight grenades and krak grenades (14)
  • Chrobák – Plague Marine [Demolitions] with plague knife, boltgun, blight grenades and krak grenades (14)
  • Bastian – Poxwalker (3)
  • Un'Ela – Poxwalker (3)
  • Damocles – Poxwalker (3)
  • The Bohemian – Poxwalker (3)
  • Osto – Poxwalker (3)
  • Tenzig – Poxwalker (3)


+ Recon Team The Unblinking Eye +

A veteran of the Fourth Sphere expansions and the Brightsword annexation of Imperial space in this sector, Teisat'su and his Pathfinders lead the operations of this recon team. Supo'ta and his Fire Section are experienced veterans of patrol and enforcement operations on newly annexed worlds, often operating without immediate cadre support for days or weeks at a time. Okam'i is a veteran Stealth Suit operator and last survivor of his unit. He works with others only reluctantly, and only ever for the Greater Good. Ren'as and Ren'por are local scouts and guides working with the T'au. Referred to as 'The Twins' by their T'au comrades, their actual familial relationship is actually unclear.
  • Teisat'su 'Clear Sight' – Pathfinder Shas'Ui, [Leader]
  • 2 x Pathfinder Shas'ui
  • Supo'ta 'The Vigilant' – Fire Warrior Shas'Ui, [Comms]
  • 4 x Fire Warrior Shas'ui
  • Okam'i 'The Wolf' – Stealth Suit Shas'vre, [Veteran
  • Ren'as - Kroot Carnivore, [Scout] 
  • Ren'por - Kroot Carnivore
  • Helper - MV1 Gun Drone
+++

+ The Game +

The main force of the Bleak Vespers had pushed on to Waygoan City, there to begin the siege of the T'au's strongpoint on the world. Mečiar, however, was invested with considerable leeway by his lord Simargi. Perhaps alerted by whispers in the warp, he had doubled back, taking his hand-picked troops – and some of the swaying, regretful humans that had welcomed them as rescuers – with him.

Picking their way through the ruins, his hunch proved correct – the booby traps that laced the ritual area had been de-activated.
+ Bob Hunk had had his fingers burned by booby traps in another game – and our scouting phase options cancelled each other out. +


Still, the crates and barrels that contained the critical sacrifices were still intact. Dread Mečiar cautiously waved his forces forward.


Praying to Grandfather, his men watched in detachment as seizures surged over their leader's body, and he slumped to the floor in a torpor.
+ Not an auspicious start for the Death Guard, as I used a strategem to call Nurgle's favour... only for my commander to prove unworthy and keel over! As the first roll of the game, Bob Hunk graciously offered to let me re-take things; but sometimes the best stories come out of things like this. We may be able to write it in as some sort of vision from Nurgle – or perhaps he'll learn his lesson and do something impressive in-game before calling for his god's blessing next time! +


The Death Guard veteran, Oratorio, caught sight of Tau clambering over the ruins opposite, and barked an order to his comrades. As one, they broke cover and surged forward as the Tau readied their rifles menacingly. Konstantin sprinted towards a Pathfinder Shas'ui, who nervously trained a markerlight on him. His run had caught him some cover, and his armour proved sufficient shelter from those that could target him.


Okam'i noiselessly jetted up to the top of the ruin, and opened up with his burst cannon on Bezdeda as he strode forwards, the tanks of his plaguespurter sloshing. Ion fire spanged from the Death Guard's ceramite, sending him staggering but unhurt. He turned his blue lenses on his attacker.

Cracks of boltgun fire reverberated, but to little effect.


Konstantin slammed into the Pathfinder with his shoulder, sending him sprawling; but unharmed.



Oratorio cracked shots off on the move, but they either failed to hit, or were frustrated by the Fire Warrior's armour. The Poxwalkers sprinter to the base of the ruins, out of line of sight.


Okam'i checked his sensors again – there seemed to be life signs near this point. Perhaps in the rubble..? His attention was broken as a wave of pestilent filth sprayed up from Bezdeda on the floor below. He grimaced as the bubbling matter melted plates of armour and drew blood.


Supo'ta directed the shots of his Fireteam, splitting poxwalkers into shards of bubbling black flesh; but the Astartes were proving as frustratingly tough as their reputation.


Okam'i jetted from the roof to the objective opposite, but the plaguespurter's tide of waste followed the elegant arc of his jump. He crashed to the floor and lay, unmoving.


Clear Sight clambered to the roof alongside a comrade – and as he unbuckled his clamber-gravharness, he heard a weak voice cry out. It was Shas'Nel Naseel! The Tau instantly called for medical evacuation.
'Courage now, honoured one. We will depart shortly.' He gritted his hard palette and began shooting down at the Plague Marines, who had all ominously turned to look at him.


One poxwalker died a second death to the readied guns of the Tau firebase, but the other managed to get into contact with the front T'au. Meanwhile, the Astartes clambered to the roof.


Bloodied but unbowed, the brave Clear Sight managed to fend off the clubbing blows of the Death Guard just enough for help to arrive and whisk the team away from the dread grasp of the Death Guard.


+ Result: Tau Victory
+++

+ Thoughts on the game +

+ A fantastically close game that came right down to the wire – with two Death Guard and two Tau models near the objective, the rescuers (Tau) would win ties – but both Helper the drone and Clear Sight were badly injured. If they failed their flesh wound rolls, the Death Guard would carry the day. +

+ As it was, Bob Hunk used his very last command point to reroll the failed result, just scraping enough to rescue their comrade – phew! A victory for the goodies. +

+ I thouht that was a great introduction to Kill Team, and a great way to showcase how a little thought can lead to an unfolding narrative from game to game. Shas'Nel Naseel was a character created purely to lead a force in a previous game of 40k; but put up enough of an entertaining fight for us to wonder what became of him. He was thus a perfect excuse for a rescue mission. +

+ The game was clean, quick and fun; and I'm interested to play a bit more Kill Team. +

+ Thoughts on narrative and character +

+ Captured and rescued, is the Shas'Nel that's going home the same one who led his forces bravely? Will he recover from his trauma, or become embittered and vengeful? Worse, is this all a trick? Has the stolid Fireblade become a Trojan Horse for the siege of Waygoan City? Will he become a shining symbol of overcoming adversity – a propaganda coup for all the Tau in the embattled Tzi'Na region? +

+ All these things are possible, but the important thing is that it'll all unfold organically – and according to what Bob Hunk wants to do with the character. +

+ Dread Mečiar is another thread we can pull. The bald game rules killed him off before he did anything; but that can be spun into something more interesting – Did a vision from Nurgle overcome him? Was he stricken down for hubris? How will he react? Not everything needs hard rules; sometimes it's enough to have the only thing special about a character be his or her story. +

+ Of course, not everything needs to be followed up. Sometimes characters like Mečiar can just die; but it's worth making a note of amusing, heroic or unlikely things that figures do in your games, as they lead to the development of character and narrative. The PCRC have another game set in the Tzi'Na Crisis coming up soon – perhaps what's happening on Or'Na will affect that? + 

+++

+ inload: Continuing campaigns of the Alien Wars +

+ Requesting fire support! +


+ Further following the Lamb's Worlders around, I wanted to add some thanks to the contributions and brilliant conversions for various Guard regiments I've seen on the + Death of a Rubricist + Facebook group [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +

 +++

+ Highside +

Circa 379.M34 Highside made contact with the outside. Hesitant at first when the bubble of reality began to break down and fragments of the greater galaxy broke through. Had the traitors won? Did the Imperium stand? 
Sadly, the genetic forces of the Geno Zweitausend, lauded and hailed as heroes on Highside, were seen as aberrants and walking visions of distrust in the Imperium of today. 
Sidelined out of the Imperial forces they remain as the PDF of Highside.

Extr. Liber Corvus – Scribator Tewarts Finlay-Dye

The Highside Reintegration Campigns were a series of hard-fought battles between Regiments loyal to the Old Imperium, who invaded the long-lost Forge World with the intention of housing settlers displaced by warfare with Nova Terra. The Highside defenders – only recently finding the world's place in the Imperium – fought the clearances bitterly amongst the highlands and rocky places of their planet.

At the core of the – eventually successful – resistance, were the Geno Zweitausend; a genetically modified elite corps that outmatched even the Lamb's World own elite Grenadier corps.

+ With thanks to Andy of Corvuspaints for the fantastic setting. I hope to feature his Highsiders as a guestinload soon. +



+ XXIX: Braxas Bree. Highside Reitegration Campaigns. KIA confirmed – punjee trap +



+ XVII: Chastener Abrams Meph. Highside Reintegration Campaigns. KIA confirmed – martyred by ploughshare. +


+ XXX and XXXI: Ob Cwmbrae and Maras Fell. Highside Reintegration Campaigns. KIA confirmed – counter battery fire. +



+ XXXII and XXXIII: Zara Fanwy and Teeh Senwicce. Highside Reintegration Campaigns. KIA unconfirmed – MIA. +


+ XXXIV: Breffy Ap Tyl. Highside Reintegration Campaigns. KIA confirmed – blood loss. +


+ LeGuin's Star campaign +

Lamb's World forces were deployed alongside the Salizar 71st and 13th during the attempted Pacification of Urras. They operated with distinction under the command of Salizarian General Lõpez. The death of the reactionary Caef-Maior Tunte early in the war saw a brevet promotion for an up-and-coming officer Rhian ap Humphrey. Her canny leadership improved relations with the Salizarian forces, and saw LeGuin's Star won for the Nova Terrans in short order. +


+ XXXV: Briony Van Dam. LeGuin's Star campaign. KIA confirmed – Multiple bayonet wounds. +


+ XXXVI: Osc Druit. LeGuin's Star campaign. KIA confirmed – Decapitation. +


+ XXXVI: Keel Taif. LeGuin's Star campaign. KIA unconfirmed +



+ XXXVII: Genny Isdda . LeGuin's Star campaign. KIA confirmed – Insubordiation  +


+ Chu Tzu Offensive +

The chem-swamps of Chu Tzu – a 'protectorate' of the little-known Fomor species – proved a deadly deathtrap for the Lamb's World 103rd; with the regiment suffering near total losses in the brief hours of the initial offensive. Specialists from Veet Ling and abhumans from Balzene were deployed in support, but the campaign settled into a bloody quagmire for years afterwards. Hundreds dies of swamprot and fever; but many thousands more simply vanished into the mists during patrols.


+ XXXVIII: Mothy Shirefew. Chu Tzu Offensive. KIA confirmed – battlefield execution following being rendered unfit for service through limb loss. +



+ XXXIX: Bran Shummer. Chu Tzu Offensive. KIA unconfirmed + 


+ XL: Mothy Shirefew. Chu Tzu Offensive. KIA unconfirmed. +


+ Camazotz War +

Fought against the Krell over the previously-Imperial world of Camazotz, the Lamb's Worlders found themselves in a good position to finish the job begun by the Stellar Steeds Chapter Astartes. Deployed in an anti-insurgency role, the Lamb's Worlders took part in only one set-piece battle, a one-sided affair that saw the herds of dominated citizenry sent across a desert plain against the long-range specialists of the Lamb's World 88th.


+  XLI: Soddo Caprig. Camazotz War. KIA confirmed – battlefield execution. +



+ XLII: Bantas Toast. Camazotz War. KIA confirmed: caught in explosion. +




+ XLIII: Capy Fenton. Camazotz War. KIA confirmed: limb loss. +



+ Neomunda +

The Lamb's World 12th Armoured Corps were deployed to the borderworld of Neomunda (formerly New Mundus; renamed following its double-secession from both Old Imperium and subsequently Nova Terran forces). A month-long three-way armoured duel began between the forces of the Old Imperium, Nova Terrans and the Neomundan's own Stalk-Brigades.


+ XLIV: Caspor Brokenspar. Neomunda. KIA confirmed – catastrophic haemorrhage +




+ XLV: Crew of the Delivery Service. Neomunda. Lost with all hands – artillery strike. +


+ XLVI: Isti Vayl, Commander of the Echo of Breakers. Neomunda. KIA – asphyxiation. +


+ XLVII: Remaining crew of the Echo of Breakers. Neomunda. Lost with all hands – unidentified cause. +




+ XLVIII: Crew of the Lamb of the God-Emperor. Neomunda. Lost with all hands – magazine detonation. +


+ XLIX: Crew of the Lovely Girl. Neomunda. Lost with all hands – boarded. +



+ L: Enders Walt. Neomunda. KIA – mass-driver strike. +


+ LI: Erun Iax. Neomunda. KIA – dehydration. +

+++