+ inload: Tutorial – Converting squats from Kharadron Arkanauts

+ Step-by-step conversion: Squats +

For the thronghold and the ancestors! To arms!

+ I thought the release of the first new squat for 25 years deserved a bit of fanfare from hobbyists, so I built the squad above using Kharadon Overlords and Genestealer cultist spares. I've documented the process to share, in case you fancy having a go yourself. +

+ What do I need? +

+ As usual, the fun of conversion is getting your own ideas into the figures; so please use this tutorial as a springboard rather than 'holy writ'. Feel free to vary the parts used based on what you have, to embellish and improve on the basic squat I show here. +

+ For this tutorial you will need: 
  • Greenstuff putty
  • Superglue
  • Craft knife and cutting mat
  • Polystyrene cement
  • A tub of lip balm (or similar lubricant)
  • A sculpting tool with a point, edge and smooth end; such as this [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]
  • The body and legs from the Kharadron Arkanaut kit


[VAL-request=OPTIONAL] + If you find this tutorial useful, please consider using this Ko-fi exloadlink to support the blog's free tutorials. + [+exload:GRATITUDESPOOL//+]


+ Part 1 +

I_ Mix up your putty and apply it over the torso, aiming to fill the space between the collar and belt as shown. You don't need a huge amount.

+ Note that I've filled the neck area; that's because I'm using a flat-bottomed head from the Hammerer/Longbeard kit. Depending on which heads you're using, you may or may not need to do this. +
 II_ Use the smooth end of the sculpting tool to spread out the putt evenly over the area, working into the crevices. Leave a fine gap at the edges. If you've added a little too much putty, simply smooth it so that it overflow the area, then use the sharp edge of the sculpting tool to trim it away neatly.
 III_ Use the smooth end of the tool to gently push the surface of the putty towards the middle. This will create a raised hump, which you then gently flatten to create the impression of a strap. Note that the arkanaut bodies vary – some have two straps. You can sculpt them how you wish, but there are buckles on the collars that provide handy guidance on the placement of the straps, and help you to ensure a uniform thickness.
IV_ Use the blade of the sculpting tool to draw diagonal lines. Keep them as evenly-spaced as you can,and avoid the strap.

 V_ Work back the other way, making diagonal lines running in the opposite direction to create the quilted effect.
VI_ Roll a tiny ball of putty and place it on the upper left chest.
VII_ Use small circular motions of the smooth end of the tool to gently flatten out the ball into a circle. This will be the regimental/thronghold badge.
 VIII_ Use the craft knife to trim away the little bobble at the back of the neck (the part where the backpack is intended to attach). Next, lay a small amount of putty between the belt and collar at the back, just like in step I.
 IX_ Repeat the quilting process (steps II–V above) on the back, then add a small ball of putty where you trimmed away the backpack attachment. Smooth it out into a rough rectangle, then use the flat edge of the tool to refine and sharpen the edges.
 X_ Returning to the front, wrap a small amount of putty around the upper legs, just below the belt. Smooth this into a flat tunic. As you can see, I didn't add enough putty initially, so it doesn't wrap all the way round (you can see the unsculpted end on the left of the picture). It's better to work gradually and add a little more at a time; as it's easier to add and smooth in small amounts than trim away excess neatly.
XI_ Once you have laid in the basic shape, repeat the quilting to pattern the bottom of the tunic all the way round the body. Because there's no break between the front and back, you can work round in one go. Try to match the spacing of the squares you're creating to the size of the existing quilting on the front and back. 
XII_ Gently run the blade of the sculpting tool round the edges of the tunic bottom  to create a border. Use the smooth end of the tool to gently erase any overlapping marks to finish.

+GOTO 10+

+ The finished models +

+ Finishing the models is now relatively quick work, with little sculpting. Once the putty has cured, you can add whatever suitable head, arms and weapons you wish. The example here use heads from the Hammerer/Longbeard and Ironbreaker/Irondrake boxes – the only addition is a simple blast visor made from a rectangle of putty, similar to that added in step IX. +

+ The arms come from a variety of sources – Mantic Forgefathers, genestealer cultists and the Arkanaut box itself. The shoulder pads here are mostly from the Imperial Guard Valkyrie kit, but that's simply because I had them handy. A more economical way would be to use the  more ornate ones from the Ironbreaker/Irondrake box, as shown on the squad leader in the centre. +

+ The weapons are a similar mix, with autoguns and pistols from the genestealer cultist box and suitably-sized boltguns from the Sisters of Silence kit). +

+ I hope the tutorial's useful – if you have a go, please do share what you make. These chaps will be popping up in the Alien Wars soon – why not have a bash at making one of these little bits of history yourself? +

+ inload: Squat Day +

+ Grab bag o'plans +

+ A hint more building for my Blood Angels last night; I bashed a few WIP marines together for the Devastators, based on the image on the right. +

+ These are using the Forgeworld Raven Guard heads for the most part, as the resin allows for undercuts and sharper detail. However, I do have some mark VI heads with bionic bits from the plastic Devastator sprue – I'm planning to use those for the heavy weapon gunners. +


+ Never skip leg day +

+ Just a happy note that the first squat for two decades or so is released from Forge World today. The grumpy little abhumans will be making an appearance in the Alien Wars, and I'll be pre-ordering one with a view to converting some others in the same style. +

+ In the meantime, I thought I'd show off some of my old squat conversions to celebrate the occasion. +

+ Dabnett Unwerth is Converted from an old plastic squat with some spare Elysian arms. The 'bullpup' design – that is, with the rifle's magazine set behind the trigger – means that this sort of setup works nicely with squats. I think it looks a bit more convincing as the sort of weapon they'd find as handy in a tunnel fight as the open field. +

+ The other chap here was intended as a hearthguard. He's a simple hand swap from a Mantic Games' figure – one of their Deathball range. I'm interested to see how the various heights compare between new FW, old GW and the Mantic range. +

+ inload: Blood Angels squad 1, part II +

+ Fools rush in +

+ With all the Alien Wars enthusiasm, I've been jumping all over the place writing, building oddments and – gasp – playing games. That's meant that the orks of Luggub's Drop Legion leapfrogged the Blood Angels third company (M35) in the painting queue. +

+ With the greenskins out of the way for the moment, I've returned to building 'em up. For those that have been following the project, you'll know that I'm basing the army on the army from WD139; right at the tail end of Rogue Trader. +

+ The ten above are completed, but rather dimly, I ended up building the first combat squad from squad 1, and the second combat squad from squad 2. Doesn't make a huge difference, but was rather nagging at me. Last night I cracked on with the second half of squad 1. The originals look like this:

+ My original intention for the project was to emulate the originals as closely as possible, but after building and painting ten models, I've realised just how limiting the three original poses were. It's testament to the 'Eavy Metal team (Tim Prow for these, I think) and photographer that they managed to get them looking as varied as they do. +

+ As a result, I've emulated the figures, rather than directly copied the poses. This has allowed me to loosen up a few poses, and add some dynamics from such simple changes as turning the heads a bit. +

+ If you compare the two images, I think you get the same 'feel' from the figures, but there's a bit more variety, and I'm making more of the modern material. +

+ Porridge: not too hot and not too cold +

+ I couldn't resist the addition of a couple of special bits – the squad leader has a distinguishing helm (from the Devastator kit), and there are some Forge World shoulder pads and packpacks chucked in, too. I am rationing these, as I'm trying to strike a balance between the opulent, baroque styling of M41 marines and the regimented, factory-fresh M31 Legionaries – after all, this army is set right in the middle. +

+ Were I to add too many very distinctive bits (early mark helms, for example), I'd run the risk of taking them too far from the source. Hopefully, the bits I've chosen add a bit of detail without altering the silhouette too much. You can see the result in the painted examples above – a bit of paint goes a long way to blending things like the occasional mark IV helm in. +

With that all said, it's easy to get a bit precious about homages like this. I've never felt the need to be obsessive about these things, and will happily go a bit off-piste in the name of fun, or because I've had what I think is a bright idea. One of the things I liked best about Space Marine artwork from 3rd edition onwards was the increased diversity of armour. Not just a mix of the armour patterns within a group, but a literal variety of details within individuals – one-off shoulder pads, Mark IV legs with a Mark VII torso, minor variations in the helm seals etc. +

+ Not only did this greebling add interest and detail, it all suggests age and the reverence with which these suits of armour are held in-universe. It reminded me very much of photographs of soldiers from real conflicts; where equipment, tanks and uniforms were improvised, adapted and jury-rigged. The background and artwork has always suggested that this is the case for Space Marine armour and equipment, but it only really started being represented in models after the period I'm emulating. +

The original army

It's for this reason that I won't be duplicating the uniform marks of armour within squads. The original army had Devastator squads decked out purely in Mark VI, and Tactical Squads purely in Mark VII. I'm going to retain a heavy proportion of those armour marks – so the dominant armour in the Devastators will be Mark VI, for example – but I will be adding in the occasional alternative helm or similar detail. This is to help the army as a whole seem cohesive. +

+ Beyond the inspiration +

+ In the short term, I want to build the models from the army in the picture above – helped no little bit by the PCRC's kind gift of a Rhino, Librarian, Medic and Thudd Gun (thanks again!) – but for anyone who knows my preferred style of army, you'll know I love the basic infantry. +

+ I'll mostly be running the army using the modern 8th edition rules, and one of the things that most interested me about the new list was the increased options for small arms within troops. Subtle additions here – three new types of boltgun – give huge opportunity and got my mind turning over. +

+ The original army is based around two Tactical Squads and one Devastator Squad. I'm committed to building the Tacticals with Bolt Rifles, but I've been toying with the idea of building the Devastators with Stalker Bolt Rifles – a better complement to the heavy weapons, more fitting of the battlefield support role, and a bit of welcome variation. In addition, if I ever need to stick to the strict letter of the rules, I can field them as a Primaris squad; using the missile launchers to proxy as grenade launchers, while the rest of the squad remains a valid choice. +

+ So, with two varieties of new boltgun accounted for, I got thinking about the third: Auto Bolt Rifles. I'm not a fan of the Reiver models, but their Bolt Carbines look awesome; I couldn't resist buying some bits and playing about: 

The standard Auto Bolt Rifle, is, rather disappointingly, simply a minor variation of the standard rifle; but the Reiver's guns have a more distinctive silhouette – snub-nosed, with forward handles, they remind me of 80s action movies.
+ I thought I might build a squad of these, but I'm in two minds. Game-wise, they'll be a Primaris squad with Auto Bolt Rifles, but in terms of painting and background, do you think they'd be better as one of the four remaining Tactical Squads, or as a ground-based Assault Squad? The main differences are going to be whether the helms are yellow or red, and the squad markings. I'd love to hear your thoughts. +

+ inload: Origin of an Empire: The Divided Mechanicus +

+ Origin of an Empire: A Divided Mechanicus +

For all their precious logica and supposed rationality, in my experience, the followers of the Machine seem wilfully capable of twisting their orders to suit them. 
Keep your friends close; and your enemies closer, as the proverb has it. What then, are we to make of the symbiotic dominions of the Emperor and Machine God?

Extract from All Human History – Inquisitrix Barbari Kills, Ordo Xenos

Neomechanicus Adherent Enginseer:
note diagnostic chequers.

+ An Overview of the Adeptus Mechanicus +

Since the Treaty of Mars; or Treaty of Olympus Mons, to give it its Martian title, the Mechanicum – and later the Adeptus Mechanicus – has been an empire within an empire, loyal to the Emperor as a symbol of the Machine God. Operating with a degree of independence from Imperial worlds, the Forge Worlds and their denizens have enjoyed relative autonomy from the Tithe for five millennia; instead being oathbound to supply Imperial forces – Navy, Guard and Astartes – with weapons, armour and supplies.

Even within the Adeptus Mechanicus, individual Forge Worlds – of which there are several hundred thousand, scattered across the galaxy – are sovereign realms, typically under an Archmagos Prime (their equivalent of an Imperial Governor). For much the same reasons as the worlds of the Imperium must look primarily to their own protection (cf. Inquisitrix Kills' earlier notes on Origin of an Empire: Nova Terran Interregnum), the individual Forge Worlds are left to their own devices. Mars insists only upon the submission of Holy Data to the Martian Altar Mechanicus. This comes in many forms; from physical screeds which must be transcribed, to recovered second-generation STC documents, to the physical remains of great Magi, whose mnemo-patterns are inloaded to the Altar.

The popular image of a Forge World is of a world-spanning factory; with great spills of drifting waste, and a dead, desert climate of chemical sands – and such a scene is common; not least amongst the pre-eminent Forge World Mars. However, Forge Worlds are nearly as diverse as any planet on which humanity has settled – both Imperial and the barbarous beyond-worlds.

2nd Regiment of Skitarii: Braun VI designate

+ Internal divisions +

Like any large empire or group, the Adeptus Mechanicus is full of behind-the-scenes factionalism. Most famously, this led to the division that split the Mechanicum during the events of the Horus Rebellion [...]
Now-lost technology: [Unknown designate]
[+Appendnote: Prior to the Inquisition's adoption of the resurgent Ministorum's preferred term in late M35, the Horus Heresy was referred to by many terms – a perhaps inevitable result of the idea being surpressed for so long. The decision of the Ecclesiarchy to promulgate a mythologised and highly redacted version of events as part of the official Imperial Cult cemented the term in its religious nomenclature. My learned predecessor, Barbari Kills, can perhaps be seen chafing at a resurgent Ecclesiarchy at the time of writing.][+Auth: Unfortunus Veck+].
[...]and the subsequent refounding of the faction as the 'tamed' Adeptus Mechanicus, now officially a pillar of the greater Imperium, and guaranteed both responsibilities and rights as part of the High Lords of Terra. Since then, many factions have come and gone.

Officially, the split between the Nova Terra Interregnum did not affect the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the various Forgeworlds continued to supply the local worlds to which they were indentured. Nevertheless, individual Archmagi obeyed blockade instructions between Nova Terra and Ancient Terra, and the movement of materiel. Thus in practice, if not in spirit, the Adeptus Mechanicus became divided during the Nova Terra Interregnum.


+ Domains of the Adeptus Mechanicus +

The splits in the Mechanicus, being spiritually driven and more diverse in concept, meant schismatic Forge Worlds were spread broadly across the galaxy, rather than being concentrated in a single Segmentum.

Foremost amongst the principal factions were:
  • Adeptus Mechanicus – sometimes referred to as the 'Adeptus Mechanicus Maior'; this was the largest, most influential and most conservative faction, continuing to serve the greater Imperium under Ancient Terra, and to have a seat on the High Lords. 
  • Neomechanicus – Also known as the Adeptus Mechanicus Minor, the preferred title was 'United Neomechanicus forces of Segmentum Pacificus', but it quickly became known simple as the Neomechanicus. This group was supposedly formed as a self-policing independent group of Forge Worlds within the seceding Segmentum Pacificus, in order to ensure compliance with Martian edicts during the crisis. In essence, it was a puppet state, though the Neomechanicus was forced to make a number of difficult compromises and harbour certain individuals that meant a gradual drift away from Martian rule began almost immediately. Outwardly staunchly loyal to Mars, the Neomechanicus' main distinguishing feature from their parent was their strict application of the wording of the Treaty of Olympus Mons, which means that the Archmagi of their Forge Worlds – with varying degrees of eagerness and reluctance – continued to supply the worlds of the Nova Terran Imperium. 
  • Praximal Adherents – A small group of Forge Worlds, principally in the Segmentum Solar, rallied around the Forge World Praximal to defend its right to recognise itself as truly independent. In essence, the Praximal Adherents promoted secession not just from the Imperium, but from the broader Imperium itself. That such rebellion was tolerated for so long was a mark both of how stretched Imperial resources were at this time, and the unwillingness of the High Lords to officially recognise – and thus legitimise – a second powerful group of Secessionists. 
  • Martian Suprematists – Inspired by the charismatic Prophetech Hos Chu of Vacuna, a number of Forge Worlds openly declared their support for the Ur-council, on the condition that Cult Mechanicus philosophies and laws would be recognised as official across the Nova Terran Imperium. While this was not fully successful, the Suprematists did manage to have Temples to the Machine God erected across many Imperial worlds, much to the disgust of the Adeptus Ministorum. 
  • Moirae Schismatics – The most famous group of the period, the Schismatics are fully deserving of an account of their own, which can be found later in this volume. [+noosphericinloadlink inactive+] 
  • Ancient Mechanicum of Triplex – Later to be stereotyped as independently-minded, the magi of the frontiers Forge World of Triplex-Phall were amongst the most devout and religiously-minded of all members of the Mechanicus at this point, their society all but indistinguishable from a shrineworld. Many influential Magi from Forge Worlds including Druent, Xibalba and Suzo No Otoko, expressed political sympathy for this divisive regime.
Coven of Praximal Adherents

+ The Adeptus Mechanicus during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

The Nova Terra Interregnum was a time of resurgent Imperial ambition, but the Mechanicus was at its most inward-looking during this period; with co-operation becoming ever more strained, discoveries jealously hidden, and the Prime Archmagi of many worlds forbidding exloading or inloading material from off-world, for fear of sedition, rebellion or worse. As a result, the fruits of research, always few and far between, ground almost completely to a halt across the broader Imperium.

With the physical aspect of the machine – and its concomitant cultural association with duty to the Imperium – losing its appeal for many individual Magi, many turned more to more esoteric or mystical personal researches. Attendance at Cult Mechanicus meetings swelled across the galaxy as the faithful turned from their temporal research to the metaphysical search for the Machine God.
Shrine-servitors – mobile automatons bearing priestly relics and capable of automated blessing, became commonplace during this period as a result of the paucity of trained machine-clerics. [model by j.vandamnit].
Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps in cultural sympathy, the denizens of the Forge Worlds became closely aligned with the broader Imperium in this increased religiosity. With the Emperor officially recognised as the God-Emperor, expressions of faith were already on the rise across the human galaxy as a whole; and for the Forge Worlds, this came to be expressed in a ever-more heightened ritualism.

Long-standing questions regarding the nature of the Emperor, the morality of the Adeptus system and the very meaning of existence were examined from every conceivable angle; and led to many full-scale wars and conflicts. From one angle, this caused stagnation and a rolling-back of understanding not seen since the fell events of the Horus Rebellion. Those crumbs of knowledge re-gathered in the centuries since were sequestered away once more, hidden in datavaults as demands for processing power turned from the physical to the spiritual. As Forge Worlds fell, or Magi were deposed, the knowledge or license to manufacture once-popular weapon systems, such as the Astartes' Sicaran and Sabre tanks, were lost or forbidden.

Conversely, the period also saw huge advancements in metaphysics, machine ethics and cultural understanding between the Twin Imperium and the Empire of Mars. Previously restricted material flooded onto the galactic stage as the Nova Terran Army (and later, in direct response, certain regiments of the Greater Imperial Guard) began to field Rhino transports and Land Raider battle tanks once again.

It is to the Sophist-priests of the Mechanicus that many Imperial archeaohistorians have attributed the continued co-existence and alliance of the Imperium and Mechanicum; their hard-won understanding and knowledge easing rising tensions, and allowing both Imperial Commanders and their Archmagos Prime counterparts greater understanding of one another and the oppression of their respective vulgar masses.


+ Role of the Adeptus Mechanicus during the Alien Wars +

Limited local refusal or personal political statements aside, on a broad scale, adepts of the Mechanicus continued to supply their Imperial charges, regardless of their sympathies to Constantium or Nova Terra. Their own forces swelled as the now-defunct Collegia Iconoclastis gathered religiously-minded forces and led them in holy wars against 'incompatible' Forge Worlds; resulting in the loss of irreplacable knowledge.

Missionary force of Zelb
These forces were to prove essential, as many Forge Worlds were to find themselves under increased threat from xenos sources, primarily owing to the Imperial withdrawal from previously-patrolled routes. The War of Kontol Oltdell saw the triple Forge Worlds of Glim all but destroyed by a combined host of Eldar. Barathrum was besieged by orks; and even Ryza was beset by an upsurge in Ymgarli activity.

Fortunately for the Mechanicus, and the human galaxy as a whole, the spirits of the devout Magi of the time were roused in defence of their empire. Divided as they were, all factions of the Mechanicus stood firmly against the xeno.


Aspirant Techmarine of the Iron Souls Chapter Astartes
Particular note should be made of the Astartes' relationship with the Adeptus Mechanicus at this time. While many Chapters – including luminaries like the Imperial Fists, and almost all the Iron Hands' successors – continued to send aspirant techmarines on a pilgrimage to Mars for their training, other Chapter Masters broke with long-standing tradition in order to avoid appearing to favour the Greater Imperium of the High Lords of Terra. 

Instead, their aspirants were variously apprenticed to existing Techmarines (often grudgingly, owing to the Techmarine's split vows), sent to nearby primary Forge Worlds in lieu of Mars (the Ultramarines pragmatically requested their local Forge Worlds to be sanctified by various Mechanicus factions in order to mollify all sides, then extended an invitation to their successor Chapters to send aspirants for training there), or even inducted through the Chapter cult; resulting in the peculiar creation in some Chapters (such as the Desert Lions) of a generation of techmarines with no official qualification; instead reliant entirely on jury-rigging the famously resilient STC-derived wargear systems. Such actions resulted in warfare between 'heretek' Chapters and the Adeptus Mechanicus on more than one occasion.


+ Post Script +

Understanding the nature of the God-Emperor is as vital to the survival of humanity as a whole, as is oxygen, water or succour to its individual subjects.

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.

+ inload: Battle for Geostation Erpes +

+ Alien Wars: Battle for Geostation Erpes +

+ A Warhammer 40,000 8th edition battle report (with apologies to Rogue Trader) +

+ The preamble for this scenario, and a copy of the mission itself, can be found here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +


+ Apologist's Orks: Luggub's Drop Legion +

"Iss quiet." murmured Thrugg, slowing his pace and brushing aside the scrub with the blade of his choppa. "Almost... too quiet."

The ork beside him, Urglab, brightened up. "Too right, boss!" he said eagerly, ratcheting his shoota and firing a burst off into the woods. Thrugg closed his eyes and sighed as the squad leader, Splatta, cuffed Urglab soundly round the ear.

Splatta drew alongside Thrugg. "Wot izzit, boss? Reckon yer can smell oomies?" Thrugg nodded. The two orks remained kneeling in the scrubby cover for a moment in silence, before Splatta looked down and ran his thumb along his blade, testing the edge. "Might be da ones we burned last time we were 'ere, don'cha fink?"

"Nah," Thrugg shook his head distractedly. "We ate dem, remember?" For a moment he paused, brow furrowed, before continuing slowly, 'Sides, dere's sumfing... diff'rent about dis oomie smell..."


+ Bob Hunk's Crimson Fists: 4th Co. Strike Force Cerulean Rampart   +

Brother Gomez tapped two fingers to the Chapter symbol on his pauldron as Grimstone passed by on his patrol of the farm perimeter. The Captain returned his salute distractedly. Damn greenskins, he thought. The Astartes were no stranger to hardship, but the hero of Fell Reach and the Antares Wars found grubbing around on a backwater agri-world frustrating – doubly so when the inhabitants had revealed they had neglected their orbital defences for months; and even the Crimson Fists had been forced into hiding.

Still, they were alive, and ahead of the main ork force. If they could avoid interdiction by roving ork patrols, the Fists would be back in Driffield Urb within hours; and they could begin a counter-insurgency to uproot and throw back the orks.

Grimstone's jaw tensed as he heard a brief rattle of small arms nearby...


+ Theatre of war +

+ Temportus system; Driffield sub-urban Region; Geo-station Erpes +

Geo-station Erpes – top right of this pict-capture – is an example of a basic agri-world climate monitoring station.
Little more than a collection of sensors to the north-east of a small farm, the Geo-Station was destroyed along with the farm and its inhabitants within days of the ork invasion. The burned-out ruin of the farm  acted as a temporary barracks for a platoon of orks for a few days before they moved on, having stripped the nearby orchards of provender. 

A few days later, retreating Crimson Fist forces paused in order to attempt to use the Geo-Station for communion with the local town. As night fell, the Crimson Fists settled down for a brief respite. Unfortunately for them, an ork patrol had been sent back to investigate raised electromagnetic levels from the Geo-Station...


+ Deployment +

Grimstone's Marine are dug in behind thick bocage. The two sentries (marked with muzzle flashes) are front and centre, and Grimstone accompanies the squad on the east. The two lieutenants are with the second squad, opposite the rad-apple orchard.

Using a split deployment, the orks use the orchard and low scrub to cover their cautious approach, leaving a central gap. Thrugg is on the western flank, leading two small squads towards the farm through the orchard.


+ Turn 1 +

Crimson FIsts (CF): A sentry picks out the approaching greenskins through the trees. With the Crimson Fists' Chapter Tactics making cover useless, a single bolt explodes a luckless ork.

Luggub's Drop Legion (LDL): Thrugg urges his troops forward, directly towards the farm. While cover won't help, being out of line of sight will!

LDL: Second-in-command Hruk opts for a more cautious approach, finding the sweet spot within the orks' range, but outside of the marines' rapid fire. Trading shots, the orks clip one of the Astartes, sending blood spattering. Cursing, the marine resumes his place in the line.

+ Victory points total +
CF: -1
LDL: 1

+ Turn 2 +

CF: With time pressing, the Fists on the western flank break cover and move into the orchard, relying on their spirits of their battlegear to protect them.

CF: Rapid fire! Deadly boltgun fire cuts down one mob of orks. The nob is killed cleanly; the alarm remains unraised.

LDL: It's now or never for the orks. Urged on by Thrugg, the remaining mob decides chopping is the better part of valour and flanks the marines.

LDL: The mob and Thrugg charge the Crimson Fists' squad simultaneously, forcing the group to split to defend themselves. Unfortunately, this leaves them in range for the Lieutenants to both heroically intervene.
Apologist's note: D'oh! I thought I was being ded kunnin here, but clever positioning of the lieutenants rendered my trick moot. 

LDL: A fierce axe attack brings Brother Gabron to his knees, and Splatta administers the coup de grace, ending this hero's tale. Retribution is swift; and the orks (including their squad leader) are quickly finished off by his squadmates and the marine officers.

"'Ere, can't we talk about dis?"
LDL: Even Thrugg is no match for three bio-engineered star knights. His blows land, but fail to find purchase in the ancient Mark IV armour.

CF: The response is swift; Thrugg is bludgeoned into unconsciousness.

+ Victory points total +
CF: 3
LDL: 2

+ Turn 3 +

CF: Their way clear, lieutenant Griguez dutifully orders his men to sprint for the northern border. The other lieutenant accompanies them, but ducks eastward slightly, so lend his embattled brothers fire support from his auto-bolter.

CF: Knowing time is against them, Grimstone orders his men to break cover and advance on the orks.

LDL: Wortoof's squad knocks another marine sprawling, but the bloodsoaked Astartes gets back up with a grunt.

LDL: The ork firepower is just not enough; the remaining orks hesitate between advancing and staying put.

CF: Before the decision can be made, combined fire from Grimstone's squad and the distant lieutenant combine to wipe out Wartoof's mob...

LDL: ... except for Wortoof himself. The nervous old ork grabs his communicator and raises the alarm – disastrously for Hruk, who now has no chance of regaining his loot.
Bob Hunk's note: The Alarm roll by Apologist means that I've only got two turns to get the Crimson Fists off the northern table edge...
+ Victory points total +
CF: 3

LDL: -3

+ Turn 4 +

LGL: It's do or die now. The orks have to hold as many Crimson Fists back as they can, to trap them on the battlefield before the reinforcement arrive and end the mission.

CF: Firepower from the Crimson Fists kills Wortoof and Hruk's mob, but leaves the canny ork alive. Grimstone charges, his power fist energising...

CF: ...and before Hruk knows what's hit him, he's crumpled in a broken heap, leaving the field entirely to the Crimson Fists.
Apologist's note: The mission doesn't end when the orks are wiped out; as the Fists still need to make their escape. This added some tension, as the late breakout meant that the squad would have to make two good advance rolls to get off the board. It was a clever ploy by Bob Hunk to charge Hruk, as it gave him a crucial extra burst of speed.
+ Victory points total +
CF: 5

LDL: -3

+ Turn 5 +

CF: Aside from the groans of dying orks, the field was silent. But victory could still elude Grimstone and his men. Urging them forward, all the remaining Crimson Fists sprinted for the safety of the northern border.

CF: The lieutenant looks back before exiting the field, shepherding his men as he goes. Six Crimson Fists Astartes are secure.

+ Victory points total +
CF: 11

LDL: -3

+ Turn 6 +

CF: Injured, stumbling, some of the the squad cannot keep up with their brethren. Bitterly, the Captain is forced to continue his retreat as engines rumble ominously in the distance. Just one precious Astartes from the squad makes it off the field before the night erupts into explosion from horizon to horizon with battlecannon shells and mass-driver cannonfire falling all about.

CF: With Command Points to spare, Bob Hunk nervously rolls for his Captain's advance...  and scores a natural six – the only result that would get him off the board to fight another day!

LDL: With just two marines off the board this turn, the remainder are quickly butchered by the overwhelming  force of the full ork army.

+ Victory points total +
CF: 9

LDL: 2

+ Result +

Crimson Fists victory!

The brave survivors live to fight another day.
Falling back to Driffield Urbs, Grimstone and the six survivors vow vengeance on the orks.


+ Conclusion +

+  A fantastic game; we really enjoyed ourselves! Bob Hunk and I discussed the scenario afterwards, and agreed that it was a little unbalanced in favour of the marines – but that was clear from the start. When playing games like this, think of them as scenes in a film. It creates a bit of distance and stops you getting too involved in events! Such an approach works best with small-scale skirmish games, as there's (typically) not as much time invested in the game, so you can roll with the punches while your spirits are still high. If you do want a closer, more competitive experience, Bob Hunk suggested the following:

  • Using Tactical marines rather than Primaris
  • Removing the Lieutenants
+ A variant that occurred to me on the way home would be to use Nob rules for all the orks (with Thrugg as a Warboss). The stat changes for Primaris make Nobz a more credible threat at the numbers faced. Basically super-orks to face super-marines! +

+ A spectacle and an ongoing narrative +

+ For games like this, it's all about enjoying playing setpieces that bring up unexpected tension – will Thrugg survive? Will the Captain escape? – and might lead to something else. Bob Hunk and I are pretty fired up for a sequel to this game; and perhaps we'll go for a larger, evenly-pointed contest at some point. If we do, that will be informed by the events of this game – perhaps it'll give Bob Hunk some ideas for a Warlord trait, or maybe I'll be able to model a banner with some Crimson Fists trophies front and centre. It's stuff like this that makes your army yours; and really gives them a history that develops with you – it ain't all about winning! +

+ In any case, here the result was rather irrelevant compared with the spectacle of the game. Playing this scenario with a good friend, using lovingly-built modern iterations of the classic forces, on a fully modelled board that was made specifically for the game, has been a long time in preparation – and worth every minute, I think! +

+ Strike Force Cerulean Rampart will (hopefully) return in: The Battle of Jadeberry Hill +