+ inload: Ork forces of the Scallop Stars +

+ Ork forces of the Scallop Stars +

+ The below colour text is drawn from The Scallop Star Purges, a PCRC campaign – please feel free to use it as inspiration for your forces or your own campaigns. +

+ This, like all our campaigns, is supported by a large interactive map [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] on the PCRC website – built and maintained by the inimitable grahamgilchrist. +


+ Within a tribe, orks do not recognise leaders that they have not approved; even if that approval is based purely on not feeling quite 'ard enough to challenge them! That said, most orks are – above all else – eminently practical, and they are far more intelligent and capable of cooperation than the Tactica Imperium tends to imply. A warboss or tribal leader is more than happy to enter into a mutually agreeable alliance with another ork of equal stature, though such alliances do rely on the group of orks having a sufficiently powerful enemy to push against.

+ A mob from the Blakk Kuttaz +
+ Orkspace makes up a sizeable proportion of the Antona Australis sector. Most is uncharted, and only the entrance area – the Scallop Stars themselves – are broadly known to Imperial navigation, owing to the Great Culls of history and the short-lived settlement of Imperial citizens within the worlds of the area. The Lord Commander Ultima was of the opinion that trying to gain the element of surprise over the infamously divided orks was of little advantage on a strategic level – judging that resources spent keeping lip tightly shut were almost inevitably doomed to fail. As a result, freebooters, mercenaries and orks that had simply drifted into the Scallop Stars and heard of the impending Crusade began to spread the word.

+ This proved a costly mistake. The Imperial forces ranged against the orks during the Fourth Great Cull was of such size that word spread quickly and began to attract ork groups from much deeper within orkspace than any previously seen. With such a huge amount of aggressors ranged against them, the various ork forces began to swell in size and gather, held together by a dense mesh of promises, alliances and badly-hidden threats.

+ Orks of Da Golden Horde were responsible for the loss of Clan Trago of the Iron Hands +

+ These were not true Waaaghs – the nearest ork cultural equivalent to ideological crusade, which bear as much resemblance to a pub crawl as a military assault – as they did not admit single leaders. None of the warbosses, warlords or commanders were individually powerful enough to direct the groups; but tribal and klan affiliations as well as orky spirit ensured that they were able to act in a deceptively subtle and intelligent manner.

+ Zogbog of da Shooty Boyz is filled with the Waaagh power of the madboyz mob +

+ Trukk boyz under Warboss Snazgutz +
+ One such gathering became known simply as the Stellar Wells Greens owing to their loose aggregation near the Stellar Wells. The Greens were a group of ork fleets, individual spacecraft and mercenary forces that swelled to such size that they rivalled each of the Imperial Purge Fleets. At this critical mass, the Greens became a semi-permanent entity that could strike anywhere along the corewards front, while remaining safely shielded by the Boten Cloud Nebula. Such was the reputation of the Stellar Wells as a good point for conflict that casualties and groups that left through argument, treachery or betrayal were continually replaced throughout the early stages of the conflict.

Famous Craft of the Group

  • The Space Hulk Worldburner was positively identified during numerous Void War engagements around the Stellar Wells
  • Seemingly built around the hulk of a Pique Lumen battleship, the Slamma's Hammer became infamous for its stealth field technology; accounting for thirteen confirmed kills of Cruiser displacement during the war.
  • Guldreg (Breaker of Bones), is testimony of Warboss Grimduff's twisted personality. The halls are filled with limbs and heads of slaves and enemies he has defeated. Some parts are even painted in blood. Other Orks have very little interest, viewing the morbid decorations as "unorky", but it does seem to have considerable more effect on the slaves.

Ork Armies of the Group

  • Sunfang Tribe – Orks of this group can be readily identified by the flames they lavishly decorate their vehicles, equipment and even skin.
  • Blakk Kuttaz – Skraga Kan
  • The Filthy Vandals – given this unofficial name by Lord-General Matys during the Invasion of Kilsnik in the second year of the Crusade, this rag-tag tribe of orks emerged briefly from the Stellar Wells, led by Scurgog One-hand, the orks' were notorious for their desecration of Imperial STC shrines established for the invading human forces. This led, in turn, to low morale amongst the invaders.
  • Grim Blades – Typically for a Blood Axe, the leader of the Grim Blades, Sniklug Gortoof Og Nargor, wears attire that is a foul parody of the uniforms worn by the Imperial Guard. Unlike most other Orks, Sniklug wears little decorations; his wrist mounts several necklaces previously worn by high ranking Imperial Navy officers and priests.
  • Gouged Eye – Warboss Nazgul
  • The infamous pirate Kaptin Gobnaz Nazbad wears a colorful attire patched together from various pieces of expensive fabric the captain had stolen during his raids. After severe facial injuries that took his left eye and tore up his jaw – combat with a Space Marine captain according to his group, the Jolly Gitz (or to a runty face-eater squig, if you believe his rivals) – his lost eye was replaced by an implant. His jaw is kept together with golden rings.
  • Da Golden Horde – Led by the famed Snakebite Warboss Dances Wiv Squigs, the horde is famed for recruiting heavily from the feral worlds of Rokshak.
  • Bloody Teef Boyz – Known for chewing betel, a rare spice that stain the mouth, teeth and chins of these orks blood red, they are led by the Bloodeater King.
+ The Grovsenor Front Purges Fleet was a joint Imperial and Merchant Navy operation that formed the third drive into orkspace during the Scallop Star Purges of M37. The Fleet was initially tasked with the prosecution of the war on the coreward front, and was commanded by Admiral Thrane, an experienced career officer who had commanded the Ambitine Fleet successfully for decades. He was regarded as a safe pair of hands for command, and was a close personal friend of Lord Commander Ultima Abattol, who held overall command of the Naval forces at the onset of the Scallop Star Purges. +

+ Famous ships of the fleet +

  • The battleships Foeslayer and Sebastian Thor were part of this fleet; serving with distinction. This was their last large fleet movement before they were permanently – and honourably – stationed in the Grovsenor system, where they remain to M41.
  • The Emperor class battleship Rosetta, newly-constructed through funds by the Governor Drblon of Grovsenor VI, was Thrane's flagship for the first part of the war.
  • The famed Sword class squadron Ishmael's Fury became famous for its daring during this conflict.

+ Regiments of the Grovsenor Front +
+ The greater proportion of the fleet was tasked with escorting the heavy regimental transports of the Imperial Guard; their role – like the other Purges fleets – was largely to ensure the Guard made planetfall safely in the Scallop Stars; and then to hold the area until a further drive into orkspace could be made. 
+ The war had huge popular support across the Anton Antecedent subsector, and many worlds provided regiments. At the outset of the war, the following regiments were embarked with the fleet. 
  • Adobe 1st PDF Pioneers – Initiator Batt
  • Anchorpoint 88th Airborne – Marshal Hindmost Travys
  • Anchorpoint 1100th Heavy Infantry – Brigadier Scodt
  • Anchorpoint 1703rd Heavy Infantry – Brigadier 'Guts-deep' Godon
  • Anchorpoint 2889th Light Infantry – Brigadier Bastian
  • Anchorpoint X–9 Reserves – Colonel Krafté
  • Blenheim 1st Expeditionaries – Grand Marshal Blight
  • Blenheim 2nd Expeditionaries – Field Marshal Trentpuddle
  • Blenheim 'Blithes' 3rd Expeditionaries – Field Marshal Gibbs-Foster
  • Brasidine 40th Armoured – Heeresfuhr Litvoll
  • Brasidine 60th Artillery 'Shriners' – Zhong Ho Chi
  • Decens Delphics – [Command Origination unknown]
  • El Migan 72nd Grenadiers – General Selladin
  • El Migan 8th Armoured – General Lowrents
  • Grant's Swell 19th Rifles – Granjuke New Yawk
  • Grovsenor II Storm Corps – Star-Colonel D'arby
  • Grosvenor VI 'Rose-scented' Fourth Infantry – The Baron Punis
  • Grovsenor VI Enhanced 2nd Infantry – [Command Origination classified]
  • Hag's World Irregulars – Principal Armot-Ytter
  • Hunkopian 1st  – [Command Origination unknown]
  • Hunkopian 2nd – [Command Origination unknown]
  • Hunkopian 4th  – [Command Origination unknown]
  • Ibsen XIV Infantry – Kenraali Nukkakoti
  • Lamb's World 7th – Caef-Maior Cig Oen
  • Limbs 20th Cavalry 'The Emperor's Needles' – Hochchevalier Tür
  • Limbs 4th Mechanised Infantry – Hochfyurer Kurtz
  • Melissa V 418th Infantry – High Marshal Lancelot
  • Neues Tremo 'Unloved' 93rd – Seinse Bathory
  • New Republican Browncoats – Land Admiral Glory Standun
  • Plutarch 11th Regiment – Marshal Watkins-Watkins
  • Sedna Slumdogs – King Curd
  • Selenian 1st Abs – Brayshaman Hurdy
  • Sigma-Agrian XIII – General Cleanhart
  • Tenstar Elegants – General Li
  • Varan's World Armoured – Zbora Czarin

+ Mechanicus forces of the Grovsenor Front +
+ Lord Commander Ultima Abattol was known to be disappointed by the poor support the Mechanicus lent to the Grovsenor Front, as only one Demi-Legio answered the call to Arms.
  • Legio Validus
  • Braun VI 2nd Skitarii
  • Braun VI 1010th Skitarii
  • Yoke 1st Skitarii

+ Ministorum forces of the Grovsenor Front +
+ The Grovsenor system has long had strong connections with the Ministorum, and numerous Sororitas battle Orders and Missions are dotted around the Anton Antecedent subsector. However, the subsector Grand Bishop was engaged in a long and petty rivalry with the Sector Ecclesiarch Martial VI, based in the rival hesiod-Siculus subsector. As a result, relatively few Adepta Sororitas Orders contributed to this front, to the private dismay of many, who saw the Purges as a great opportunity for the healing of political and spiritual rifts in the wake of the Hesiod Romantic Rebellion and the Hesiod Epidemic. Those that did contribute to the war effort were either disdainful of the Grand Bishop's power or politically savvy enough to recognise the way the spiritual winds were blowing. +
  • Order of Solar Ascendant – Abbess Rigel
  • Order of the Shrouded Sight – Abbess d'Arcy
  • Order of the Unvanquished Night – [Command Origination unknown]
  • Order of the Bloody Ear – Abbess Shrinner
  • Order of First Return – Canoness Louell

+ Astartes Pledges of the Grovsenor Front +
+ In stark contrast to the Ministorum's lukewarm show of force, the Adeptus Astartes pledged reassuringly large forces to the Grovsenor front. Many old contacts, pacts and bonds were honoured – some dating back to the founding of the Sector. The coreward subsectors – and especially Anton Antecedent – have long had closer connections to the rest of the Imperium than the rimwards subsectors owing to the Hyperion Warp Corridor's corewards exit. +
  • Adamants – Captain Charmin
  • Emperor's Hawks – Chapter Master Kanati
  • Imperial Fists – Captain Hunk
  • Knights of Gryphon – Captain Czeyak
  • Novamarines – Captain Mercian
  • Red Talons – Reclusiarch Ghant
  • Scarlet Blades – Chapter Master Zebulas
  • Space Wolves – Wolf Lord Sterneye

+ inload: Agrellan Earth review +

+ inload: Craquelure effects +

+ Games Workshop recently released a new paint in their Technical range, called Agrellan Earth. It's a neutral colour that results in a craquelure effect on the finished piece. I've experimented with a couple of craquelure mediums before, and have liked the results, so I thought I'd pick up a pot. +

+ I've had a load of orks sat around waiting for basing inspiration to strike me, and this seemed the perfect opportunity. It's also a sneaky preview for you on the Blakk Kuttas, the M37-era tribe I'll be using in next year's PCRC campaign (cor, dat's ded sneeky). +

+ Use of the product +

+ The orks were painted completely then glued to their bases. Each base was then painted with a dark brown (Rhinox Hide). This is because Agrellan Earth will shrink – this is what creates the cracks – so you want a sympathetic colour underneath to see through the gaps. Since this was an experiment, I also textured one with sand (he's second from left in the images below). +

+ The craquelure effect usually requires a thick layer, so I sloshed it on using a 12mm (¼in) flat brush. I've found these useful for basing with the GW technical paints as they allow you to carry a decent amount of the pigment and spread it easily while being flat enough to let you avoid the model itself. +

Paint freshly applied.

+ The models were then left to dry overnight in the spare room where I mostly do my painting. 

+ Here are the results after eight hours:
+ Dried effect after eight hours. +
+ As you can see, the effect has worked quite nicely to suggest mud flats. I'd be tempted to use a more midtone colour in the future to avoid the large dark gaps on models like the one second from the right – I hadn't realised the effect would be quite so pronounced. The bases need a little tidying up around the rims, but otherwise look pretty good. A little experiment saw me able to scrape errant bits off the rims of the bases easily, so I'd be a bit concerned about the longevity of the effect for models you're transporting or use for gaming. I'm also a bit sceptical that they'll hold up to any simple highlighting effects like drybrushing. +

+ Here's a closer look at the two effects. On the left, Agrellan Earth was applied directly on to the untextured base (these are 30mm bases from Heresy miniatures [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]), while the ork on the left had a base pre-textured with sand. The effect is less extreme (fewer, smaller gaps) on the right, and I suspect it's probably going to be more resilient. Both effects look quite nice, though, in my opinion. +
+ In future, I'd like to experiment with layering the paint over some of GW's textured paint range like Armageddon Dust, as I think it would provide a nice mid-point between the two extremes in the detail image above. I also wonder whether you could get some nice lava effects by painting the base bright orange and lightly spraying black over the drying Agrellan Earth before it cracks. +

+ I think this is quite a fun product to play around with. Caveat emptor, though, as you don't get much in a pot (12ml, I think) and have to layer it on quite thickly to get the effect. If you want to work quickly, the GW paint is pre-coloured and mixed, which will save you some time and let you get stuck straight in. I don't get as much time to paint as I'd like, so I'm happy to pay for the convenience. I have heard there's apparently a bad batch of Agrellan Earth (kudos to the GW saleswoman at Brighton for warning me of this before purchase, and explaining how to go about getting a replacement) so, if possible, ask about that when buying. +

+ Alternatives and addenda +

+ However, you can pick up colourless craquelure medium from art shops very cheaply, which will achieve the same effects with slightly more time and layering (it may be sold as crackle glaze medium or as a two-part medium). Vallejo do a crackle medium that works well, though I've found it a bit more faff to use – you have to be quite careful with your timings and the results can be fragile. +

+ Alternatively, you can use PVA glue for a similar – though less controlled and more extreme – effect, as seen on the bases of these Epic Eldar grav tanks. The trick to craquelure is simply to get a thin layer of paint on over a slow-drying layer. Aerosol paint works well for this because it creates such a fine layer. Lay on a thick layer of PVA, then simply spray normally over it before leaving to dry overnight. +

Halford's white primer applied over wet PVA glue (white crafters' glue).

+ Conclusion +

 In conclusion, I think Agrellan Earth is a good, if slightly pricey product. Like a lot of GW's stuff, it's aimed at fuss-free and speedy work, and it does this very well. There are good, cheaper alternatives that will give you comparable results and are more versatile (only having one colour rather restricts the effect) but I'm happy to recommend this if you're on the fence.+

+ Since writing this review back in the heady days of 2013, Games Workshop have released a couple of other craquelure paints – Martian Ironearth is a red version, for example. The review applies equally to those; it looks like the carrier medium is identical – just a change in hue. +

+ inload: Captain Carbas Parcer +

+ Like many planets in the Imperium, Aldebaran is hidebound and dogmatic. Being so close to the border of orkspace and within the highly militarised planetary system of Port Cassian, the inhabitants of Aldebaran are afforded no illusions about the terror beyond the stars. Aliens are very real, danger is ever-present. This breeds a certain defiant stoicism and piety into the planet's sons and daughters. A typical Aldebaranian will have an adventurous and dutiful nature, and the society celebrates those who have an ordered and private demeanour, putting aside self-glorification as slightly distasteful, if not shameful.

+ With that borne in mind, Aldebaran is not an unpleasant planet. It is no fortress world like Cadia or Braun VI, and the citizens are mostly free to make their livelihood as they see fit. Many are relatively prosperous, and this helps to maintain a pseudo-feudal system of indentured – but optional – serfdom under a slightly mobile middle class; themselves beneath an aristocratic caste which is – with notable exceptions – admirable in their restraint and sense of duty.

+ Aldebaranian officers are expected to uphold the traditions of the Imperium, their planet, and their home city. Most officers are drawn from the dynastic families – generally the third-born children of the well-to-do aristocratic class – but many are drawn from the mobile middle class, and these bring a certain opportunistic and devil-may-care approach to the office. Those who are conspicuous in their gallantry can reasonably expect their families at home to benefit; and perhaps to find their nearest kin welcomed into the aristocratic circles.

+ Captain Carbas Parcer wears Aldebaranian standard officer kit. The extended helmet offers greater protection to the neck and conceals enhanced communication gear. This is set off by the honorific death mask which is worn by tradition as a reminder of the Emperor's deathless struggle – serving both to remind the officer of his spiritual duty, and to instil in his charges an association between the Emperor and the officer him- or herself. In wearing the mask, Parker is, in essence, reminding his soldiers that his authority is drawn directly from the Emperor.

+ Over his fatigues, he wears a long frockcoat, buckled by brass (rather than alumsynth) buttons, is overlaid with standard issue webbing that holds spare ammunition, a day's iron rations, and secures the chem-mix rebreather.

 + In his thick, weather-cheating gloves, Parcer wields a Mars-pattern power sword, likely sublicensed and manufactured upon the Forge World Bellatrix, which lies nearby. Parker's records note that it is named 'Drawgore'; perhaps a personal flourish, or a family heirloom.

+ It is an Aldebaranian tradition that soldiers that die off-world are buried where they fell; or as near as possible. In this way, Aldebaranians believe the soil is sanctified and purified.
+ This final image shows the lambent purple glow that marks the weapon as of Martian designnear the power sword's generator. The officer's holstered laspistol, with debossed leather flash, and his standard water flask are also visible here.

+ inload: Painting the Aldebaran 18th +

+ inload: Painting the Aldebaran 18th +

+ When starting a new project, whether a single figure or a whole mass of troops, I like to start by having a think about what I want to achieve with a colour scheme.

+ Having just finished an Eldar army for a campaign on Frigia (an ice world), I'd had great fun with bright, vibrant colours. The scheme had a warm-blue and yellow as the main (complementary) colours, with a pair of complementary accent colours (magenta and turquoise) that worked in a tetrad. Quite a complex scheme, it worked well. For this new project, I wanted to try something much more restrained and muted, so I'm opting for a simple three-part scheme of blue-grey as the primary, warm brown as the secondary, and red as the accent.

+ The cool blue-grey here is represented on the overcoat and rifle body. On the coat, white primer is shaded down from a midtone of Fenris Grey to Charadon Granite (essentially black in the recesses) and up through Space Wolf Grey to white, which is the dominant tone of the finished area. Light colours reflect more light and so catch the eye, while the deep tones in the recesses provide strong contrast, which builds on that effect.

+ Little of the midtone remains on the coat, which ensures striking contrast – the target of the paint scheme. The rifle has nearly the same range of tone, but restricted to the recesses and edges, so much more of the basic midtone is visible. This means that the two blue-grey areas are coherent in hue – even if the basic tones are very different. This coherency helps ties the model together, while the contrast in tone makes it visually interesting and striking, and makes the gun stand out against the coat, which stops the whole model becoming visually confusing.

+ For the warm brown, I've used Calthan Brown, and this is used on the gloves and respirator. Warm colours draw the eye, so using them on the head and hands makes sense – these form a triangle on most human-shaped figures, which leads the eye around the model and makes looking at the model both restful (because the eye is led around a contained shape) and interesting (because there are multiple points of interest). 
+ As an aside, it's important for this effect that these points (the head and two hands) add up to an odd number – people seem to find these more interesting and visually pleasing. Using an even number of points encourages people to rest on one. This isn't hugely important on a single piece miniature, as the composition is largely done for you, but it's worth bearing in mind when doing conversions. +
+ At this point, the model has interest provided by the strong contrast in tone, but it doesn't catch the eye. For this reason, I added strong reds. These are danger colours that we've evolved to pay attention to! I've used them on the goggles and as a freehand helmet stripe, in order to draw the eye to the head. This, in combination with the wealth of detail here in comparison with the clean spaces of the other areas, makes the head the focal point. 

+ With the red in place, the scheme started looking a bit busy (it's a small model, after all), so I muted the warm brown of the gloves and respirator by adding white to the colour and highlighting them up. This reduces the contrast in hue, and ensures your eye goes straight to the helmet. From here, it travels to the face (respirator), then on to the gloves, where the eye is led back to the focal point.

+ To keep the eye on the model, the figure received a simple base made with Mourn Mountain Snow, one of GW's new texture paints, and a light drybrush of pure white. I added some little tufts of lichen (sponge) for interest. +

+ Profile inload: General Ynginel Howl, of the Aldebaran 3rd Army +

+ Aldebaran, a populous and civilised planet, was destroyed in toto by Warmaster Kaur in late M40; and exists now only as an orbiting band of asteroids and dust. Prior to its destruction, the planet was an exceptionally cosmopolitan planet, staunch in its service to the Emperor both politically and militarily.

+ Aldebaran pledged a huge amount of forces to the Fourth Great Cull of the Scallop Stars (M37), an action which later historians marked as a turning point in the planet's political history. The enthusiastic populace largely burnt itself out in massive and ruinous trading to fund warships, soldiery and equipment, causing terrible hardships amongst the remaining populace; as well as a huge shift in demographics. It is in no doubt that the loss of so many fighting men and women, plus supporting materiel caused a massive shift in the populace's support of warfare, turning the planet's people from a bellicose and confident support of belligerency to a more hesitant and political – though no less dangerous – approach.

+ However, it is undeniable that the raising for the Fourth Great Cull enjoyed huge support. Aldebaranians had always been traditionalists, and the return of the Cull by Sector Ecclesiarch Martial VI was met with approval. 

+ By the announcement of the Fourth Great Cull, General Ynginel Howl was a much decorated hero of the Eorta Crusade, a broadly successful foray by the Imperium into the Scallop Stars, and the affair which led indirectly to the return of the Great Culls. He had a dynamic and ruthless style of command, stand-offish and superior. Nevertheless, his great charisma and personal eccentricities endeared him to his troops, and he led a successful 3rd Army in the first stages of the war.

+ The 3rd Aldebaran Army was made up of over two dozen oversized regiments, mostly Mechanised Infantry, and Howl also enjoyed command over other forces from the Port Cassian intake, including Exercitine Expeditionaries, and light infantry from the Feral Worlds Cepheus and Dorin Antrum.+

+ Scenario inload: Scallop Stars +

Killsnik Engage
Idiotic Navy. If they had landed the Drop Bastion where they were meant to, the orks would never have dared send patrols forward. Still, at least he'd see some action at last. Sergeant Cypheus glanced around warily, before waving his men deeper into the steaming jungle. He couldn't shake the feeling that something was watching him. 

Three-way game played over a 4 x 4ft table, covered in jungle – set up of terrain is determined by the third player. 

A dilapidated bastion (AV12) with an Icarus lascannon is set up in the centre.
The ork army is limited to 600pts, and must include at least one unit with the infiltrate or scout rule.

The Imperial army is limited to 500pts, and must include at least one unit with the infiltrate or scout rule.

Force org is modified to one compulsory Troops; five optional Troops; three optional Elites and one optional Fast Attack. No Heavy Support or HQ.
No coherency rules apply to models, and they are treated as individuals in all respects – though if models are within 2in at any stage, they form a unit exactly as though they were independent characters (this is relevant for multiple shot weapons, ork mob rule etc.).

The ork and Imperial players roll off, the winner choosing a table quarter.

The ork and Imperial players then set up a quad gun completely within 12in of the bastion in a neutral table quarter of their choice.

The third player sets up a squad of terrified Guardsmen (10 men, one sergeant, one flamer) within 3in of the bastion. They may not move more than 12in from the bastion, and must pass an LD test not to shoot at any eligible target that they can see at the start of the shooting phase. If they pass, the third player may choose whether to shoot or not. 

At the beginning of turn 3, the third player receives a Valkyrie with Missile pods and Lascannon.

The winner is the player with a model in the Bastion at the end of turn 5.

+ inload: Scallop Stars – The Fourth Great Purge +

+ Click image to enlarge +

+ Regiments of the Grovsenor Front +
  • Neues Tremo 'Unloved' 93rd – Seinse Bathory
  • Grovsenor II Storm Corps – Star-Colonel D'arby
  • Ibsen XIV Infantry – Kenraali Nukkakoti
  • New Republican Browncoats – Land Admiral Glory Standun
  • Tenstar Elegants – General Li
  • Lamb's World 7th – Caef-Maior Cig Oen
  • Anchorpoint 88th Airborne – Marshal Hindmost Travys
  • Anchorpoint 1100th Heavy Infantry – Brigadier Scodt
  • Anchorpoint 1703rd Heavy Infantry – Brigadier 'Guts-deep' Godon
  • Anchorpoint 2889th Light Infantry – Brigadier Bastian
  • Anchorpoint X–9 Reserves – Colonel Krafté
  • Brasidine 40th Armoured – Heeresfuhr Litvoll
  • Sedna Slumdogs – King Curd
  • Grosvenor VI 'Rose-scented' Fourth Infantry – General Punis
  • Blenheim 1st Expeditionaries – Grand Marshal Blight
  • Blenheim 2nd Expeditionaries – Field Marshal Trentpuddle
  • Blenheim 'Blithes' 3rd Expeditionaries – Field Marshal Gibbs-Foster
  • Brasidine Sixtieth Artillery 'Shriners' – Zhong Ho Chi
  • Melissa V 418th Infantry – High Marshal Lancelot
  • Varan's World Armoured – Zbora Czarin
  • Hag's World Irregulars – Principal Armot-Ytter
  • Sigma-Agrian XIII – General Cleanhart
  • El Migan 72nd Grenadiers – [???]
  • El Migan 8th Armoured – [???]
  • Limbs 20th Cavalry 'The Emperor's Needles' – [???]
  • Limbs 4th Mechanised Infantry – [???]
  • Adobe 1st PDF Pioneers – Initiator Batt
  • Decens Delphics – [???]
  • Plutarch 11th Regiment – [???]
  • Grant's Swell 19th Rifles – [???]
  • Grovsenor VI Enhanced 2nd Infantry – [???]

+inload: Ambush+

She crept slowly forward, legs bent, keeping low. She could hear feet padding on the cobblestones below. Two or three of them, maybe more. Extending a hand as she approached the low wall, she gently braced herself as she settled into place next to an old wooden writing desk, waiting for them to pass. The plaster was cool. Damp, a result of the windows being blown out, she supposed, though the old hab had clearly been cheap and unpleasant even before it was half-destroyed by the shelling.

The sun languidly poured through the rents in the wall and roof, gilding the fungus-bloomed wall and frayed and broken easy chair with sumptuous gold. Dust lazily hung in the air, turning in the red-gold light. It was quite beautiful. It was quite unlike her world.

She blinked.

Bracing herself against the desk, the soldier lifted one knee and braced her rifle across it. Steadying her breathing, she peered down the iron sights through the largest break in the opposite wall. Her face wrinkled in displeasure. Studying the other breaks briefly, she considered relocating. Unconsciously shaking her head, she remained in place, murmuring softly to herself.

'Grant that one shot is enough, if you're up there.'


The war seemed very distant. The crackles of gunfire were now few and far between. He could almost imagine that it was all happening somewhere else, somewhere far away; to some other poor bastard. He sighed to himself, letting his shoulder drop a little. Curc turned to him, his eyes quizzical over the grinning halfmask he wore. Haeg's own eyes were bloodshot, unfocussed. He attempted a dismissive grin, before realising the gesture was futile behind the unfamiliar mask.

'If you can't continue, just say. We can return and pick you -' began Curc, before Haeg interrupted him, waving his mutilated hand in dismissal.

'Worry about yourself.'

Curc, annoyed, peeked over the low fence before vaulting over it with a clatter of armour plates and grenades. He continued rattling as he jogged in a low, awkward, shambling run 'til he he hit the wall. The air was heavy and still. He felt a trickle of sweat run down his back into the crack of his buttocks. He was hot, and sweaty, and annoyed. This whole assault had been one great clusterf-

For a moment, he couldn't quite understand what the noise was; couldn't connect the gentle tinkle of shifting rubble to anything important. He spun around. Nothing quite seemed to fit together. The sun behind him made his shadow seemed huge, ogreish. It was very still. It was very hot. Haeg began to yell.


Cursing, she tried to surge to her feet, but her boots skidded on the loose plaster. Awkwardly thrusting her arm out, using the wall as leverage, she slithered back down as the plaster slipped under her gloved hand. It all seemed too ridiculous for words. Furiously, she planted her feet and stood, swinging her rifle up as she did so. The figure had disappeared – they hadn't advanced up the street as she'd anticipated; instead appearing for just a brief moment as a flickering silhouette in her eye line.

She wasn't at all sure she'd managed to hit the hulk...

+inload: Dire times+

+ Further paintwork on the Dire Avengers, which aren't far away from being ready for the table now. Can't tell you how much of a sense of relief that is!

+ It's surprising to me how little I actually play with an army once it's complete. I'll tend to have games as I'm building an army, but once it's done, I move on to the next project. I'm looking forward to the Scallop Stars as an opportunity to pull some finished armies off the shelf and enjoy some gaming without continually looking to the next piece.

+ I'm pleased with how the scheme has come out on these Dire Avengers. While they share elements with the rest of the force, I've upped the amount of blue (using it across the gemstones as an accent as well as for large areas of the bodysuit) and reduced the purple to hints on the loincloth and metal of the shuriken catapult. This latter detail's a nod to the Eldar Titan the great Mike McVey painted when the old metallic paint set came out back around WD140–150.

+ I've written about this Exarch before (see earlier in the blog), but I'm very happy with how he's come out. Its not a stellar paintjob – he could certainly do with a little tidying – but I think that shows off how a well-selected scheme can make or break a model. 

+ That said, I think Eldar have been pigeon-holed into an idea that the only aesthetic that works for them is very clean and polished. Perhaps it'd be worth experimenting with dirtying them up. +

+inload: Fallout on Frigia+

+ Work on all other projects has rather ground to a halt as I get my Eldar painted for the PCRC's big Apocalypse Finale on Frigia. Currently on the desk are the Dire Avengers and Seers. These are the only ones that aren't painted – though there are quite a few details to tackle on the rest of the army. 

+ Forgive the slightly blurry pictures. Obviously their holofields are preserving their modesty at being half-painted.

+ Overall, the Frigia campaign has been great fun, but I've been frustrated – and rather embarrassed – all the way through by my inability to keep up with the modest painting 'deadlines' we set ourselves. The project was intended to expand by 250pt blocks every month, which I just haven't been able to do. This has been for a number of reasons; including being distracted by my guard and marines, dissatisfaction with the results of the ones I have completed, and various real-world things like moving house etc.

+ I'm looking forward to next year, where I can simply bring some old armies out of mothballs to ensure I get back to playing with completely painted armies. It makes for much better games – both visually and because I don't have my suspension of disbelief shattered every two minutes by undercoated models. +

+Project inload: PCRC Scallop Stars build-up, lead-in and general ephemera+

+ My friends and I have a gaming group we call the PCRC (pcrc.org.uk). For the past few years we've played games in our own little corner of the 40k universe, a sector called Antona Australis, a loose 'High Gothic' translation of Southampton, where most of the group met at University.

+ While the sector started out simply as a place to record the battles we fight with our armies, it's gradually grown to become a quite fleshed-out backdrop, full of political intrigue, danger, excitement and quite a few awful puns! Graham Gilchrist, the gang's Earth Caste Engineer, has made a really cool interactive sector map that we've populated over the years with subsectors, star systems and sundry fleets, warp storms and other interesting oddities.

+ If you get a chance, please do have a little explore. The sector map has a zoom function, so simply scroll the mouse wheel in and out to get closer, then click on whichever system or other item you fancy. The tabs at the top will take you to info and images of the various armies, characters and stories associated with them.

+ We'd really like to hear what you think – the sector's an eternal work in progress – so feel free to leave a comment here or fire us off an email +


+ Campaigns +

+ The sector backdrop has given us endless backdrops for stories and games, and for the past two (three?) years we've run a loosely annual campaign, concentrating on a specific planet or system. 

+ In 2014, we're going to explore what happened in M37, when the forces of the Imperium launched an assault into the Scallop Stars, a notorious den of greenskins that borders the Hesiod-Siculus subsector.

+ Here's where you come in +
+ We're hoping to include a frequent update service on this – a sort of ticker tape 'news from the front' for readers. I'd like to invite everyone to come up with Imperial Guard regiments – of any type – to join the Crusade. Please make up your regiment and leave a comment below with the name and anything else, like a history or interesting facts – and we'll see if we can incorporate it into our ongoing history.

+ Feel free to pick a blue world (Imperial) from the sector, make up an out-of sector regiment, or create a new world!

+ Of course, the 'oomies can't have it all their own way, so if you'd like to create an ork warband in the same way, we'd be very interested indeed. Again, pick a green world (ork)  – or make one up – and leave the info below.

+ Looking forward to seeing what you come up with – and a sincere thank you in advance.+

+ inload: Lamb's World Imperial Guard command +

+ Dramatis Personae: Caef Terentius Dresden +

+ The oldest character I still use, various iterations of Dresden have commanded my Imperial Guard forces for over a decade in real-time. This latest version represents him at Lief-Maior (bt.) rank during the closing battles of the Shale Campaign, when he was still relatively young. +

+ The model is based on Brian Nelson's brilliant cadian officer, with a very simple head swap for the Dresden head I use on all the figures – the capped head from Forge World's Cadian Respirator pack [+noospheric inload link embedded+]. The fact it's not a bare face goes some way to show how old it was – I made my first conversion of him back when I didn't like painting faces! +

Character-wise, he's a fairly hands-on commander, so I painted him in a scheme that marks him firmly as one of the men; being marked out by a blue sash and some standard honorifics on his armour. +

+ I decided for a nice clean scheme, so no camouflage (in any case, I don't like the look of it on dress coats, like the ones he's wearing here). Otherwise, however, he's painted with the same approach and techniques as the infantry of this army – there's a tutorial here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] for that if you're interested. +

+ Dresden lived for at least 450 years thanks to juvenat treaments; though doubtless some of that length was owing to the effects of warptime, so he probably didn't get to quite that age. +

+ This shot shows Dresden during the Shale campaign, with a command squad of the 310th Lamb's World regiment.+

+ inload: Squat Volksmen +

+ inload: Squat Volksmen +

+ A bit of a closer look at the squat warriors I posted up yesterday. The torsos and heads of these are ebay purchases, and a little damaged from over-enthusiastic polystyrene cement application. This rather forced me to put some of the arms into rather contorted positions to help cover things up; but I think they work fairly well overall as concept models, so I'll use the same approach on the remaining ones, but work a little more carefully.

+ In addition to the Volksmen (the regular line troopers pictured above), I've picked up some models to use as Hearthguard. These are from Mantic's Dreadball range; but with a little weapon swap, they look pretty cool, I think.

+ I've been wondering whether to use Imperial weaponry or not. This basically boils down to whether my reimagined background has them as Imperial abhumans or not (i.e. separate species, or otherwise using their own tech).

+ Currently, I'm leaning towards giving them Imperial stuff. The test Hearthguard (left) has a bolt pistol and chainsword from the Space Wolves terminator set, which have some lovely runic/Norse touches that fit in nicely with how I picture the culture.

+ Concept inload: Squat weaponry + 

+ Special weapons – grav-based and volkite. Both of these weapon types are cool and (to me, at least) fairly unusual; having grown up with the standard flamer, melta, plasma (and grenade launcher). They're high-tech, which suits the 'cunning metalworking dwarf' trope. Grav weapons work nicely in the context of the high-gravity worlds that shaped the squats, and volkite weapons appeal for their novelty and short-range. As an extra bonus, there are two 'basic' types of volkite guns, which gives me three options to choose from (volkite charger, volkite caliver and graviton gun) to neatly replace the traditional flamer, melta and plasma.

+ Standard weapons – a personal mix of boltguns, lasguns and autoguns. I see squats as having much more freedom in personalisation and choice than the guard – a mix of revered hand-me-down artefacts, stubborn insistence that 'X is better', and a refusal to back down from clan/family traditions.

+ Close combat weapons – Chainaxes and power mauls. Unusual but not unknown to the Imperium, this is a great way of showing that they have a common ancestor with the Imperials, but differ in detail.

+ conceptinload: Iron Staff League +

+ conceptinload: Iron Staff League +

Dabnett Unwerth, goguth of the Iron Staff League

+ Early History of the Iron Staff League +

+ The Iron Staff League formed a formidable micro-empire in the Antona Australis system between M23 and M36. Its origins lost to the Imperium, and shrouded in myth by the abhuman inhabitants, it is known that all of the original Holds of the League, which weathered the Age of Strife, were lost during the civil war that shattered the Second Yig Federation in early M28.

+ The Newholds that sprang up from the scattered survivors in the following decades were marked with an understandable wariness of outsiders and adopted a doggedly insular form of politics; refusing to meet directly with any of the species of the sector. This insularity extended even to their fellow abhumans, and many minor holds sprang up in isolation across the sector.

+ Nevertheless, by the closing years of M28, a new Iron Staff League had formed, with its core around the old stars rimwards of what is now the Invictus subsector. The League had extensive settlements and mineheads in the rich planetoids of the Mere Marches and Genosan Expanse, both in the south of the Starfire subsector; and extended as far north as the Peckim system. By the closing years of M28, the abhumans had made extensive trade agreements with a number of worlds and species.

+ Sadly, warfare remained a necessary constant for the League, particularly with the orks, which continued swelling in numbers. By the time of the Great Crusade, many Holds had fallen, and the League was hard-pressed on all sides. Far from their zenith in M28, the League was impoverished and in serious trouble. Their isolationism and hard bargains ensured they had few allies amongst the species of the sector, and things looked bleak.

+ The reigning Althing (High King) of the League at the time of the Great Crusade was Hurthar the Thrice-Cursed. Unpopular amongst the Hold Thanes of the League's components, he had been selected as High King mainly because he represented a neutral compromised between the power blocs of the League.  Aware of his lack of power in the League, he cemented his unpopularity by welcoming the Expeditionary Fleets of the nascent Imperium with relatively open arms.

+ Having allowed Imperial dignitaries to enter the Thronghold of Ibistan, he signed away the League's Independence by agreeing to become a Protectorate of the Imperium. This in essence forced Compliance on all of the worlds of the League while nominally allowing them independence. +


+ Here are the first of the Iron Staff League's foot troops, a squad of plastic squats with arms from Forge World's Elysian and Renegade ranges.