+ inload: Thoughts on the 9th edition rulebook +

+ Indomitus +

+ The new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is out, and I've been quietly beavering away building things from it – mostly the Necrons, which I'm assembling as standard. Lovely set of kits that go together very cleanly and easily. +

+ There are lots of reviews popping up about the rules; and that's quite out of my wheelhouse, so I'll stick with the visuals: the new rulebook looks gorgeous. The artwork and layout are lovely, and there's some clever design choices to make distinguishing lore from rules intuitive and simple. From a usability point of view, it's a big step up. +

+ I'm also pleasantly surprised with how the background is dealt with. I was very sceptical of the move from 40k as setting to 40k as ongoing storyline, but the way it's presented in 9th edition feels familiar. It's not a character-led space opera, and the changes in the setting – the first since, well, ever – have been integrated nicely. As an example of what I mean, consider the flagship Space Marines. The Primaris are mentioned, but their importance is understated; almost downplayed. Their appearance is a single paragraph at the end of the spread that introduces space marines. +

+ As a long-time fan, I found it unexpectedly refreshing to have all the various 'new things' that have happened in terms of background/lore since 8th edition collected together. Not having bought any of the chapbooks (like the Psychic Awakening series), it was actually quite nice to have something new to read. I'm more used to the rulebook being lightly paraphrased from previous editions. +


+ Onto models +

Gatebreaker posed next to the Royal Warden and a warrior of the line.

+ But all that's for naught without cool models, eh? Just as the rulebook pleasantly surprised me, so too the Necrons. I was expecting to tear into the marines, but it's the space zombie-robots that demanded their place on the cutting mat. +

+ The Cryptek Designation Samaritan [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] has clearly been busy exhuming the servants of his mysterious masters. +

+ The Space Marines weren't completely sidelined, of course – so once I'd put together the figures above (which took two evenings), I started on the Gatebreakers' reinforcements. These took longer, as it involved a lot more planning and some minor conversion work. +

+ ...Although of course it's also fun to convert, so I ended up giving the big Necron Lord a mask, intending it to evoke the Dawn of War series of games, if you're familiar with those. Double dustgruel rations for anyone able to tell me what the helmet was called, for I've not the foggiest idea.

+ inload: Mud and grime – oil washes +

+ Developing Gatebreakers with oils +

The existing marines look forward to some additional support.

+ With the paint blocked in, the Gatebreakers look bright and clean – lovely for parade ground troops, but not so fitting for soldiers in the midst of desperate warfare during the Dark Millennium:

+ As described in the tutorial in an earlier inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], I used a matt spray varnish to protect the acrylics, then slathered burnt umber oils over the figures, as shown below. +

+ Whereas before I had worked either on an individual model basis or in groups of two or three, I experimented here with larger groups. This was a test for leaving the oil in place for slightly longer, something that'll inevitably be necessary when working up the Land Raider, again shown in an earlier inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +

+ I used white spirit and a cotton bud (Q-tip) to gently wipe away the oil from surfaces, working in consistent downward strokes where possible. Very relaxing. The Dreadnought is a resin model, so I can cautiously suggest that the technique works for that in just the same way. I'd be particularly careful to ensure that resin is well-primed to avoid contact with the white spirit, but that's not based on anything beyond a hunch. +

+ ...and that's where I left them overnight. The morning light [visref: above] shows the glossiness has begun to disappear as the oils oxidise. They're still slightly tacky to the touch, but once they've had a full day, I think they'll be alright to varnish. It's then onwards to tidying and highlighting. You'll notice that I've left a bit more oil on these ones than the previous batch. I felt I had slightly over-cleaned the earlier marines, and ended up adding in more shading later on. Now I've had a chance to practise, I'm more confident that I can successfully overpaint with acrylics, so I left some more dirt and marks to work up and develop further. +

+ inload: Who is Sho? +

+ Killing Quarters +

Closing her eyes, Kills tipped her head back, easing the strain in her neck. She breathed out. Eyes still closed, she took a sip of water from the tumbler in her hand. Never tasted the same planetside, she thought, no matter the planet, no matter the sector. Finishing the water, she stood, grimacing. Nor the segmentum, for that matter. She suddenly felt very small, very isolated. Drawing herself up, she shook off the feeling.

Restlessly, she paced across her quarters. There was nothing for it. It was time to consult the Rogue Trader. Taiwo might be a supercilious bastard, but he was too canny not to have deployed an agent or two in amongst the work crews the Gatebreakers had requested. That in itself was unusual. Two years into the deployment, and this was the first request the Chapter had made of the expedition.

In that time, the Primaris of Chapter 333 had seemingly been integrated into the Gatebreakers. From Haim and Brunski's reports, the two groups operated together very successfully. Kills knew of thirteen primary engagements that the 9th had made; and that was just in the Strikeforces to which she had attached her acolytes. Throne alone knew how many of them there were – the Gatebreakers certainly weren't forthcoming on that.

Kills peered out of the viewport for some time, brooding over her lack of knowledge of the Chapter, before finally throwing her mantle around her shoulders and setting out. 

Setting a smart pace down the corridors of the flagship, ratings and servants saluted or genuflected as she passed. She barely acknowledged them. Both of her principal aides had been injured during the sortie with the Sabact, so she keyed in an order to Castaway to meet with her. That would require shuttle time.

How had things changed? After the initial wariness, the Chapter had seemed to welcome the intake of Primaris, directing all contact with the Rogue Trader's fleet through them – as a mark of respect, the mysterious Master Sho had reportedly said, and to avoid unintended cultural misunderstandings. Within weeks, Scipius had begun to demur requests for audiences, claiming his warrior-monks required a period of solitude alongside their new brethren, in order better to integrate.

Kills brooded as she marched. On the surface, the integration was a success. Chapter 333 was no more; the Primaris and Astartes of the Gatebreakers Chapter were as one. Their activity across the region was huge – wherever the Rogue Trader's vessels travelled, Gatebreaker ships accompanied them. Seemingly long-lost worlds were being recovered; alien forces pushed back.

On the other hand, the Inquisitor brooded, the gifting of a thousand battle brothers of the Adeptus Astartes to so insular a group, under the mastership of such an enigmatic figure as Sho, set her mind on edge. It was infuriating. She knew so much about the individual Gatebreakers she'd met – virtually every one had submitted willingly to the most trival minutiae in her acolyte's interviews – and yet so little about the Chapter's workings. Most pressing of all: Where were the rest of them?

The return of the Rogue Trader's fleet from their exploration of the region to anchorage around Andocrine was an opportunity to find out.


The Rogue Trader's ready room was as lavish as the rest of his ship, but Kills had no patience for the luxury, nor the staff. At Taiwo's nod, they dispersed. Kills watched until the last of the staff had left, and the doors had closed. He gestured to a seat, but she demurred. Smiling, the Rogue Trader stood up, his manner easy, but radiating confidence. He began to walk around the large room, and Kills fell in beside him.

"You rarely attend me for pleasure, Barbari; so let us dispense with pleasantries." There was a grin in his dark eyes which took any sting from the words. Supercilious he might be, but he had that easy charm common to all the Rogue Traders Kills had met. "There is much to prepare," he went on, gesturing to one of the many large boards covered with slips of paper and notes, "and my time is, regrettably, the resource of which I never seem to have enough."

Kills began. "The Gatebreakers, then." Taiwo gave a small nod, as though he had foreseen the subject.
"You want to know how repairing their fortress goes?" he asked.
"I know how it progresses, Taiwo. The specifics are coded, but not beyond my sight – nor, I suspect, yours." She took a glance at the Rogue Trader, who remained looking forward. His handsome face hinted only at mild amusement.
"I couldn't say, Inquisitor, of course." The two continued their stately progress, and Kills tried another tack at the corner.
"You have deployed twenty thousand ratings; indentured thirteen construction enginseers, and marked two adepts of the Mechanicus to the support of the Chapter's reconstruction efforts."
"I have."
"I have not spoken with Scipius for some time now."
"Nor I, Barbari. Do you know they call him the Unworthy now?" Master Scipius was tall, and honourable, and straightforward; a paragon of the Adeptus Astartes. He all but radiated virtue and honour – but he had hardly been cordial company during the long voyage to the rim. He didn't deserve the nickname, of course, but neither the Rogue Trader nor Inquisitor quite resisted their urge to grin.
"Yes, Castaway is still getting to the bottom of the reason for that. Captain Scipius now, of course."
"Not quite a demotion, Kills. The Gatebreakers seem to have a very unusual command structure – insofar as I understand things." The Inquisitor arched an eyebrow, but if Taiwo noticed, he made no reaction. "Very dispersed. Scipius retains Commandery of the Primaris."
"Is that so? I had been given to understand the two forces were fully integrated; serving alongside one another in all ways."
"No; not completely. Some Strikeforces remain purely Astartes – and before you ask, no, I don't know why. I can only say that because my forces have deployed alongside them."
Kills hid her eagerness poorly. "Where?" 
"The Kua Fu Cluster worlds. We found three Gatebreaker micro-fleets during our operations there. Frigates; nothing greater in displacement. They nearly fired on us, until the Gatebreaker's Sanctity of Man hove into view around the planet."
"A shield of green and gold, eh?" remarked the Inquisitor, quoting Scipius' declared intentions for his Chapter during the Chapter's honorary welcome to the Rogue Trader's fleet. Both the Inquisitor and Rogue Trader were silent for a moment. It seemed a long time since then. 

As they passed the great doors, redolent in gold, Taiwo broke the silence.
"I'm pleased the Space Marine escort was there, that's all I'm saying. I have no desire to squander my resources fighting Imperial servants – that is, fighting our allies." Taiwo had caught the Inquisitor's eye. He may have leeway as a Rogue Trader, but even suggesting to an Inquisitor that his fleet did not, ultimately, belong to the Imperium, was a dangerous path to tread. Kills waved it off. She was no radical; but the equally she held few puritanical views. Her flexibility and adaptability had been why the Ordo Propter had deployed her to the operation, after all. 

The door chimed; and Kills' communicator buzzed silently. Castaway had arrived.

Before Taiwo could order the door opened, she stopped. The Rogue Trader turned to face her, his broad-cheeked face for once unguarded.
"I'm not going to sanction you, Rogue Trader. To be candid, you and I are mutually dependent. Neither of us is overburdened with friends to hand out here. With the Gatebreakers deployed to Andocrine, my work here is done; as is yours. You are free to explore and exploit this region as you see fit – expanding the borders of Imperium, boosting trade, and all the other worthy acts of which your kind do best. Equally, I am free to return to the workings of the inner galaxy; to retreat from this barren region..." She trailed off, looking once more to the great viewport. It remained blank, and Kills could not tell whether this was because it was switched off, or whether it was simply showing the endless, starless sweep of the end of the galaxy.

"And yet?" Taiwo prompted, as the door chimed a second time. Kills looked straight at him.
"And yet we have both returned here. Of all the places in this cast region, we have returned to a ruined Chapter Fortress, to make it right. We are linked to them, you and I; to the Gatebreakers. And before this Master Sho slips the leash, I would know to whom we have handed over a Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes."


+ Reinforcements inbound +

+ More building, more painting. Three further bodies – this time from the Hellblaster kit – have been added to bring the new intake to ten. I've also cracked on with the painting, using the same batch approach as before. First the grey undercoat, then a few layers of yellow. +

+ After that, the green. It's a relief after the yellow, which is a real slog. Green has much better coverage, so it takes less than half the time than the yellow. It's also a satisfying stage, as you make the lines nice and crisp. +

+ After that, the black went on for the soft armour – further tidying the scheme. Once dry, the squad and Dreadnought (below) were ready to be sprayed with matt picture varnish. +

+ Next up is the oils stage. I've got some arms and heads complete, left over from the first batch, so the Gatebreakers reinforcements won't be too long now, touch wood. +

+ inload: Necron Cryptek +

+ Designation Samaritan finished +

+ Fifteen minutes last night finished off this Necron Cryptek – see yesterday's inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] for the broader info on painting. I won't repeat myself too much here, so this inload is mainly a loomscreed of pict-captures, and some musings on plans for the Indomitus set. +

+ As a test piece, I think this is a success – and very quick, too. I reckon it's reasonable that I'll be able to crack through five or six Necron Warriors in a session, which is about at the limit of the time I want to spend on them. Don't get me wrong, I think the new models are lovely, but I don't want them to become another distraction from my main projects. The poor dwarfs, Legio Nikator and Gatebreakers – not to mention my Blood Angels – don't need the competition! +

+ The staff was painted black, then painted with a mix of black and Russ Grey (the modern iteration of Space Wolf Grey, my go-to cold highlight). I then added white to the mix for highlights, not working quite up to pure white. The reason for this subtlety is that I was really concerned about drawing attention away from the Necron itself, and metallic schemes are by their nature quite neutral. Some warm gold details and a purple gem (again painted in a deeper, less eye-catching hue to the Necron's eye) finished it off. +

+ This figure turned out to be a nigh-perfect test piece, as it included all sorts of bits that should prove useful for the broader army. I've now got a stippled style for non-Necron constructs (like the Plasmacyte), a look to aim for with the Warriors and similar, and some flashy bits for characters. +

+ I'm undecided on whether to develop the basing a bit. Having it bare reinforces the dead world feel of the Necrons, but also looks a bit unfinished. I might try dead grasses and similar to add some texture – or perhaps switch gears and go for full-on swamp. Pools of goo, greenery and perhaps bits on the models themselves might be a cool image. +

+ The bits I'm most excited to paint are:
  • Necron Warriors  Basic troops are my jam, and I've long held a secret soft spot for the Necrons. I held off the older ones due to their posing, the green rods and their complete uniformity; three issues neatly resolved with the new generation. 
  • Overlord and Royal Warden  Likewise, the 'normal' Necron commanders have the same appeal of the troops, along with being an opportunity for a little more experimentation and variation.
  • Scarab Swarms  These promise to be quick, easy and rewarding, and a satisfying way to practise the stippling.
+ Let's see if I'm right, eh? In concert with the Cryptek here, that'll give me a force of around 25 Power; just right to have a small test game with my orks, or the Gatebreakers. +

+ With that core of the Necrons done, I'll turn to the Gatebreakers and get them Battleforged-ready, by building and painting a Lieutenant, Assault Interecessors and a second HQ – likely a Chaplain. +

+ inload: Painting 9th edition Necrons +

+ Designation: Samaritan +


Wind, endless wind. As though some cyclopean being had been petrified in the throes of a final, everlasting exhalation, the wind coursed urgently across the dead surface of the world.

The tortuous spires of black rock did nothing to impede the howling progress of the wind, nor the abrasive sand that it carried along with it.

There were no local people to raise legends of the Samaritan; not any more. The world was lifeless; the Imperial tithesmen aboard the Rogue Trader's fleet reckoning it extincta summa summaram. As the human vessels turned away, the tithesmen granted the bleak, empty sphere the dubious honour of changing it from a mere dead world to an official Imperial Dead World; tithe grade: Aptus Non.

Even as the eyes of the Ẹtì Alubarika, flagship of Taiwo's fleet, turned away, something moved against the wind. A single lithium-pink eye turned in a socket.

Not all life, it appears, is alive.


+ Painting the Samaritan +

+ The imminent release of Indomitus, the big 40k boxed set, has got me psyched, and while I'm most excited about the Astartes inside, I'm determined not to leave the Necrons lurking in the cupboard of shame opportunity. To that end, I thought I'd see what I could achieve quickly – I'm hoping that I can get good results without investing huge amounts of modelling and painting time. +

+ An hour or two last night ended up with the following Necron looming large on my desk. He's not finished – the staff is still plain black undercoat, and I'd like to poke about a bit more to tidy things up a little – but I'm pleased with the result, particularly given the speed. +

+ Not having tackled Necrons before (at least, unless you count Chaos Androids from Space Crusade), I went with a variant on my approach to painting Iron Warriors [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]; black undercoat, muddled metals, then repeated layers of inks and washes before bringing back the highlights. +

+ This figure, a Cryptek that I bought on a whim a few years ago, proved a good tester, combining as it does elements of the more humanioid infantry with the beetle-like details of the Necrons' war machines. +

+ The front's fairly unadventurous; but given the level of sculpted detail, that's unsurprising. I picked out a few bits here and there in gold, but other than that, I kept the scheme simple to ensure speed. I picked the eye out in a very pale cold pink, aiming for maximum contrast. +

+ The back's a bit more fun. This cryptek is joined to a creepy spider-thing (must look up the background!) by an immense carapace/cloak device. I used  lots of short fine lines of varying lengths in a uniform direction for the highlight on the edge of the cloak 'scales'. This gave it a sense of texture, and hopefully helps distinguish it as equipment/clothing, despite the shared palette with the Necron's own body. +

+ Metallics are very forgiving, so they're a great place to experiment with texture. You'll see here that I've used clean, plain brushstrokes for the Necron, stippling on the less sophisticated spider-thing, and drybrushing on the base details alongside the sharp lines technique on the cloak. This – hopefully – translates to the different areas reading as different things, rather than all blending together. +

+ This shot shows the discoloration and patina on the Necron (the shoulder plate on the left is a good example). I found it tricky to balance a sense of it being simultaneously aeons-old and super high-tech, so getting the contrast between the clean, bright eye and the age-patinated armour plates was the challenge here. +

+ Characters and testers are both great places to play around, and there's a balance to be struck between having a plan beforehand and having a response to the figure once it's in hand. The cloak here is a good example. I planned to distinguish it from the Necron's body, but didn't really go in with any strong ideas of how to do that. I ended up giving it additional layers of inks and washes to build up the patina more, and then using starker highlighting with the parallel lines described above. +

+ I initially tackled the large glowing region in the centre – a gem? A power pack? Mysterious hypertech? – as a simple light, but the more I looked at it, the more it looked boring. It was screaming out for some freehand, but I couldn't bring myself to just paint a boring logo on it: that just seemed too 'human'. In the end, I looked to the setting – the Endworlds of the galaxy's rim – for inspiration, and painted a simple representation of a nebula in black, edging it with white to help it stand out. +

+ The semi-abstract result isn't entirely successful – it could equally well read as a crack! – but there's something of interest there, and it looks deliberate. I'm chalking that up as a win. +


+ Painting Necrons +

+ Since this was as much exploration and experiment in speed as anything else, I'm afraid I didn't take any work-in-progress pictures beyond those you see elsewhere on this post. I did, however, decide to document the paints I used, and will post up a proper step-by-step once the 9th edition 40k box lands. In the meantime, here are the ingredients for the recipe. +

_1: Undercoat black.

_2: Combination of Balthasar Gold and Ironbreaker. Note that this is not a thorough mix, but used wet-in-wet. By this I mean that I transfer a little of each paint to my palette and lightly muddle them together, so I have areas of each pure paint alongside an area where the two mix. I then apply this roughly to the whole surface, giving a mottled result. 

_3: Once dry, I apply Seraphim Sepia and Leviathan Purple, dipping in and out of each pot and letting them mix and muddle on the surface of the model. Before they dry, I use the brush to prevent pooling and steer the wash into recesses, before switching to a clean dry brush to lift out excess from highlight areas. You just touch the dry bristles to the area, and they'll draw up the wash, leaving the surface bright and clean. 

_4: Next up we build the contrast. A mere hint of Warlock Purple is added to white (I used Arctic White from Instar) and used to pick out the glowing bits – eyes and so forth.

_5: With the model completely dry, I switched to using a pair of favourite inks; Sepia and Payne's Gray. These add depth and richness to the shadow areas, and can be used to help develop the patination. Usually I'd stick with Payne's Gray for a cool effect, and Sepia for warm. Here, as the scheme is essentially neutral, I used both to add interest and variety. +


+ How will the Gatebreakers fare when they encounter the Samaritan? Hopefully we'll find out soon... In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts, and if you have any ideas for what you'd like to see done for the step-by-step. Just a regular Necron warrior? +

+ inload: Simplex Surpalus +

+ Stellar Cartography +

+ Working away on the Gatebreakers got me thinking more about the region, so I whipped up a star-chart to explore the broader region a bit. It's a common instinct to fill in all the gaps, but leaving space and mystery is important, particular for a region like this. Out on the edge, far from Imperial control and mapping, Sector Surpalus – the name itself a bit of a pun on being 'beyond the pale' – is the domain and protectorate of the Gatebreakers. +

+ I've therefore restricted the map to a fairly 'top level' one of the principal systems – those that are either seemingly permanent stellar phenomena or Imperial-controlled systems that are still in some form of contact with the Imperium at large. +

+ However powerful a space marine Chapter, they can't expect to be in direct control of a sector – and that's intentional. Even the Ultramarines are exceptional in having dominion over a scanty few planets, precisely because the Adeptus Astartes are quite a scary prospect. +

+ With this in mind, the Gatebreakers are split into semi-autonomous Strikeforces that roam the regions of the Sector, occasionally returning to roost at their shattered homeworld, Andocrine. +

+ Monstrance, a relic claviger (honorific mace) +

+ The destruction of Andocrine is probably the subject for an inload of its own, but the Gatebreakers Chapter Fortress-Monastery was lost, along with a great deal of their history and relics. This didn't intrinsically alter the Chapter's method of warfare – they have always roamed semi-nomadically – but it, along with normal cultural drift, accounts for some of their oddities. +

+ Trying to get ahead of the release of Indomitus – the big boxed set for 9th edition – I've been building new figures. Those above will form expansions for the existing squads, and also allow me to add some variety and avoid duplication in the new Assault Intercessor squads. +

+ inload: Stripping plastic from miniatures, and affectionately updating old models +

+ Directive: Refurbish and restore +

+ Sometimes the tail wags the dog, and I've always felt that the most organic, natural army backgrounds come from a mix of pre-planning and creative adaptation to events. Too formal and fixed a plan can trip you up when – for whatever reason – something goes wrong: you can't find a particular part, the scheme doesn't work on a particular model etc. Conversely, being too adaptive and led by events leads to a patchwork, unsatisfying army, lacking visual coherence. +

+ We looked at planning in part I of the 'Creating an army of your own' series [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and saw how those loose seeds developed into something of their own in a later inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. While I planned the broad strokes of the Gatebreakers early on, the details weren't fixed, and as a result, the process of painting informed the naming scheme. +

+ A similar process can happen with modelling, narrative, gaming events or real-world events: the important thing is to keep your eyes open to it. +


+ Fellow PCRC inmate Warmtamale gave me the incredibly generous gift of a Rogue Trader Land Raider recently. It got pushed up the queue for obvious reasons, and I knew I wanted to include it in the Gatebreakers. Not only is it an iconic model, but the idea of including scavenged and ancient gear fits right into their background as impoverished guardians of the outer dark. +

+ Now, had my army background suggested the force had been more well-supplied, or my model choices were only the latest stuff, I likely would have found another place for the gift, but this is an example of that wonderful serendipity that sometimes strikes. +


+ Theoretical: Bringing a tank up to date +

+ I'm usually unsentimental when it comes to older or limited edition material – at the end of the day, these are all toys; bits to be adapted and developed to better fit your vision of your army. Of course, if something goes wrong with such material, it's sometimes unrecoverable, so I do spend more time thinking things through than something easily replaced with an off-the-shelf kit. The old saw 'measure twice, cut once' is very applicable here. +

+ The first thing to do when looking at pre-built models is to assess them.
  • Is everything present?
  • What do you want the finished piece to be?
  • Do any modifications need to be made?
  • What processes will be needed to prepare it?
+ The following inload looks at my process in answering those questions. As always, it's not the only way of doing things, and you should always let your muse lead you where it wants – so if the following is helpful only in helping you decide what you want to avoid doing, that's also fine. + 

+ Hallowed relic – a more brutal weapon from a less civilised time! +

+ Eagle-eyed exloaders will spot that the kit's non-standard. Warmatamale had made a start on repainting the kit, many years ago (hence the red panels); but it was already second-hand, and the original owner had assembled it in an unusual way – the top panel had been reversed, so what was the front was now the roof, and vice versa. This gave the tank a taller, snub-nosed look. It wasn't a bad look, but I decided that if I could restore the frame, I would. +

+ With that decision made, I also knew I wanted to help the kit fit in with a mostly modern army. Citadel design and production work has changed since this kit was made. Whether you prefer the simpler, imagination-led and uncluttered aesthetics of the 80s or the rigorously designed and engineered modern approach, some concessions and adaptations needed to be made. I decided that I wanted to do some greebling – that is, add more surface details to break up the lines. +

+ With this decision made, I helped myself channel my planning towards an affectionate update of a classic rather than a literal restoration. I find such decisions important – if you're vacillating between maintaining and developing, you'll end up with an unsatisfactory halfway house. +

+ I find my mind works best when the broad strokes of a plan are in place, but I've left myself the creative freedom to adapt on the fly. Find a way that works for you. +


+ Practical +

+ What would this update involve? Once I had the model in hand, I made a start. Gently, then with increasing pressure, I tried to find weak spots in the seams. This was all initially done by hand – no tools. The tank proved to have some flex and give, and I managed to create a small gap that allowed me to lever off the top/front piece without any damage. With the additional access, I could pop the doors off, too. I wanted to remove the tracks entirely, but these had been more firmly secured, so I decided the risk of damage was too great. I'd have to work around this. +

+ It's worth noting that breaking down a kit isn't always necessary. Don't regard it as holy writ that second-hand necessarily means lots of modelling work. If the second-hand kit has been cleanly assembled (no sprue burring or mouldlines etc.), and the paint is thin, you can sometimes work straight over, treating the previous owner's work as a base coat. Here, while the assembly was decent, the paintwork was quite thick: I decided I needed to strip the paint back. +

Stripping infantry models is usually fairly simple, but a tank was going to be trickier. I was never going to be able to submerge the whole thing, so I approached it in stages. As described above, I broke the kit up into separate pieces, using a hobby knife to help me cleanly trim some areas. I ended up with the main hull, the top/front plate, the lascannons, the doors and an odd section of hatches and boxes that the original owner had used to fill a few gaps. This included a rather odd rubber box; which had the look of something from a radio-controlled car. +

+ Stripping the paint +

+ I used a 500ml bottle of Dettol Liquid antiseptic (the brown liquid type used for swabbing injuries) and the smallest Tupperware I could find that would fit the hull of the tank. This meant that there was little wasted space, and I could fill it up with Dettol to just over the halfway mark of the tank. +

+ I left this overnight, then turned it over and repeated the process on the top half. Once that was done, I used a toothbrush to remove the paint, which came away readily from most surfaces. +

+ A word of warning, when stripping with Dettol Liquid Antiseptic, don't rub it: gently lift the paint away with the bristles. The Dettol does something to the paint that makes it smear – something that I'd never seen when using the (sadly reformulated) Fairy Power Spray I used to use. Similarly, don't rinse it with water until you've got as much off as you can – the chemically-treated paint remnants bond with the water and form a sticky, jelly-like substance that's a real pain to deal with. +

+ I found that stripping the paint had weakened a few of the glue joins; too (I suspect it was partially assembled with superglue rather than polystyrene cement), so happily I was able to gently pry the side panels off, giving me access to the recesses. +

+ Re-assembly +

+ The fun bit! I glued the tank back together, and stepped back to admire it. I'd made an order with Zinge Industries [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] for some hatches and bits, and attached these too. Warmtamale has since dug out the original hatch, but I'll save that. It may come in handy if I need to do something the other way – that is, if I need to convert a modern tank to look slightly old-fashioned. This is a good example of what I mean about integrating different aesthetics. Once you've made a decision, it's good to stick with it where you can. +

+ The Zinge hatch fitted nicely, and I think it works well as an example of the sort of variation that you'd get in the 41st Millennium; a minor tweak added by a particular Forgeworld, or owing to inferior replacement parts after battle damage was sustained. Adding such differences inherently personalises the kit and starts to suggest character and history. +

You can see the odd smearing remaining after stripping the paint (see 'Stripping the paint' above).

+ I would dearly love to add some modern sponsons, from the Sicaran or Land Raider Proteus kit, as I think the guns are the weakest part of the original design. Unfortunately I've thus far been unable to source any, so in the interests of getting on, I've retained the originals. If I do ever find a set for a decent price, I'll likely revisit the tank – another fringe benefit of being happy to work with second-hand stuff is that you tend to get a lot happier to treat your own work in the same way! +

+ The remainder of the process was simple. I pinned the notoriously flimsy and floppy lascannon sponsons, and drilled out the barrels. In terms of updating and greebling, I covered the other hatch hole with doors pinched from a Chimera, and added modern auto-launchers and a searchlight. +

+ The other obvious addition is the amount of stowage. There's no real plan for this, beyond deciding you want to do it. I looked at some pictures of World War II and Vietnam War tanks to get an idea of where things would go. The original kit has big spaces – presumably for stowage – on the front near the tracks, so I filled these (it seemed likely to me that the crew would use these first, after all) with some jerry cans and crates. Liking the look, I began adding more, placing the crates in places that seemed to make sense: on the front, where the kit provides primitive extra armour; and on the top. +

+ When placing the stowage, I was mindful that it didn't look too neat. That wouldn't fit with the impression I wanted to give – of a faithful old tank that has been heavily burdened with everything a strikeforce might need – and would also have read slightly oddly; as though the crates had been carefully placed, rather than heaved on top wherever they'd fit. +

+ There's also a consideration of realism. I'm never hugely slavish to this – after all, these are space knights – but you want things to have some verisimilitude. Would Space Marines really sling ammo crates on the front of their tank, or block a hatch with them? Unlikely – but I decided that the visuals outweighed that consideration. If it annoys you, then put it down to typical 40k ignorance! +

+ Speaking of the balance of realism, you'll probably spot the candles. I wanted to get some of the general 40k insanity into the build, but integrate that with the (to the 40k mind) very practical nature of spiritualism. The addition of little shrines to the machine spirits has some visuals in common with the Roman household gods – the lares and penates; and similarly with Shintoism. Since the Gatebreakers have a mix of Far Eastern cultural referents, this seemed to fit quite nicely, tieing in lots of different threads. +

+ The candles are mounted in three main places, representing different machine spirits. The principal space is the 'ruling spirit' of the Land Raider itself, and this is represented with the large cluster of votive candles at the front of the tank [visref: pictcapture above]. I picture this being directly above what we might recognise as some advanced form of fire control system. There's a smaller one, with fewer candles, next to the searchlight; to honour the simpler spirit of this addition. Finally, the engine block has a purity seal (I think of it as a grim, dark MOT certificate) and more candles. +


+ The result – the the future +

+ The finished Land Raider (barring the potential appearance of Sicaran sponsons) has been primed with grey, and I'll be using it to tackle the thorny issue of quartered schemes and tanks – an issue for a future inload. It's pictured alongside a fan-sculpted dreadnought that will also be joining the Gatebreakers. I had been saving this second one for my Blood Angels, but the decision to fold the Land Raider into this project just made it seem to fit. +

+ I'm trying to work out whether – and how – to bring the dreadnought into the modern era, as I have for the Land Raider. Stowage seems less appropriate here, so I'll have to have a further think. There are no modern equivalents of giant robot suits piloted by dead heroes, so it's trickier to find source material. +

+ The bikes are also on the painting table, and I've made a start on the riders, too. These will be made using my terminator-based truescaling techniques. +

+ A closing shot of the Land Raider alongside the Gatebreakers. I think it fits quite nicely already. +

+ inload: 9th edition Battle Report +

+ The Fall of Djaih Principal +

Member-Cardinal Naqib wept. I remember that most clearly; for seeing Astartes shed tears was utterly beyond my expectation. Every time I thought I had a handle on this Chapter, one of them would dumbfound me. 

It clearly had an effect on the stoic Primaris, too. Septimal looked discomfited; insofar as an eight-foot tall armour-clad giant could look anything other than intimidating.

Neither he, nor I, made any movement towards Naqib; but his weeping was taken up by an ululation of woe by the other Sons of Djaih that shared the shuttle. 

I turned away, horror running up and down my spine, and looked through the viewport. Built for Astartes, I was rendered doll-like; and had to stretch slightly to see, adding further to the unreal atmosphere.

Defeat. The loss of a world to the ork. 

It later became apparent that such losses were far from uncommon. Perhaps once or twice in an Astartes generation, the Gatebreakers' line – always tenuous and thin – would be broken by xenos. This was sobering to me; but not half so affecting as the grief-rituals of the Gatebreakers.

The whole journey back was accompanied by ritual wails of his brethren; but Naqib's grief was as genuine as ever I have seen. Unsurprising, perhaps, for a godling who has lost his birthworld.

Remarks – Inquisitrix Barbari Kills

+ So, 9th edition, huh? – First impressions +

+ Games Workshop recently released the Core Rules for the 9th edition of Warhammer 40,000 [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] as a preview, so I gave it a try last night, with a skirmish between greenskin raiders and the freshly-painted Gatebreakers. +

+ It was a small game – 15 power level a side; but the new rules give specifics on the size of board to use. My first impression is that little has changed from 8th; but also that the subtle refinements make surprisingly large differences. I don't want to draw too many conclusions from a single small game, but it's certainly promising! +

+ The more intimate – and scaleable – table size, combined with the reduction of overwatch and new terrain rules seemed to go a long way to getting the orks into combat, which I know will be welcomed by some of my gaming buddies (and lamented by others!). +

Chopping's back on the menu, ladz!

+ The big change for the better is definitely the clarity of the rules. From the previews, I was a bit concerned that the language had become extremely stylised and formal, to the detriment of readability, but that doesn't seem to be the case overall. +

+ The addition of summary bulletpoints and general layout is a huge improvement, and the additions and clarifications over 8th were minor but useful. I wonder if the latter is a sign of being designed for tablet/screen; the rules are much more compact and stripped-down, and seemingly designed for quick comprehension – exactly as you might expect for screen reference, rather than a traditional instruction manual. +

+ But as I say, I don't want to judge too much on abstracts; how did it play? + 


+ Djaih Principal +

+ Djaih Principal is – or was – a recruiting world for the Gatebreakers; one of the few under their purview which submitted candidates willingly, rather than them being taken by force. For the past centuries, this has made the planet a valuable source of manpower for the ever-overstretched Chapter, and a substantial number of the recruits from the planet – the so-called Sons of Djaih – have become officers or otherwise noteworthy members of the Chapter. +

+ The Gatebreakers rarely establish Chapter keeps, even on valuable worlds like Djaih – their numbers are too low and their area of responsibility too large and diffuse to make it practicable. As a result, their long-ranging sweeps of the sector often leaves decades between visitations. This was the fate of the planet; for the Gatebreakers' last recruitment took a substantial proportion of the world's most promising young warriors, just at the moment their presence was needed most. +

+ Of course, the few thousand individuals taken (for the Gatebreakers' harrowing implantation protocols work as much by fate as design, and failure is near-total) made little practical difference to the fighting strength of the planetary defence force, but as a symbol, they were so much more. The ork invasion found a surprised populace that quickly grew demoralised when their pleas for aid resulted in no support – all the more heartbreaking when they had seen the flower of their youth offered up to the sky-warriors. +

+ When the greenskin invasion came, it bulldozed the main cities in short order and drove the defenders into hiding in the matrix of steaming jungles and mineral deserts that make up the surface of the world. Eight long years passed, during which the enslaved populace was forced into manufacturing weapons and equipment for the ambitious and greedy ork warlord. +

+ At this point, salvation appeared to some, for the Gatebreakers returned. Alas, the strikeforce was heavily depleted; sent only to draw a further tithe for the Chapter, and ill-equipped for deployment. Restricted to minor strikes, the Astartes launched a series of stinging raids to liberate or support regions of resistance; but could not afford to enter extended warfare. +

+ What follows is the melancholy reports of the final action taken by the strikeforce before the Gatebreakers were to admit defeat and abandon Djaih. +


+ Mission and deployment +

+ We used the standard Only War mission in the pack, with the objectives (entrances to sewers occupied by the human resistance, and critical raw materials left in the ruin) spaced fairly evenly across the board. +

+ As a very simple starter game, the Gatebreakers were represented by three five-man squads of Intercessors; while the orks fielded a mob of boyz, a mighty deff dredd and a nobz mob. +

+ Early turns +

+ The Gatebreakers advanced through the ruins, their bolt rifle fire frustrated by light cover and the thick stone of the ruins. A handful of orks fell, but return fire from a large mob on the right flank took two marines out of the fight. +

+ Worse was to come – with the central squad prevented from offering fire support by intervening terrain, a clanking behemoth strode into view; blasting another of the depleted squad into smithereens! The cackling orks broke cover and charged into the Gatebreakers' hastily-made barricade. +

+ Scrambling to redeploy, the Gatebreaker's fire on the left was again frustrated, only lightly wounding one of the nobz. The central squad moved up into the ruins to claim an objective and in an attempt to lend support to the embattled and overwhelmed squad on the right, which left the left-flank squad on its own. +

+ Mid turns +

+ Mighty as the Astartes are, when faced with the cream of the greenskins (well, they're greasy and smell a bit of gone-off milk), they met their match. The nobz charged in, swinging their weapons and taking the Astartes by surprise. +

+ The fighting swung back and forth, but the orks were having the better on it. +

+ The central squad were caught in a quandry – charge their comrades in combat with the nobz, or continue to claim the objective and fire at the larger mob? Their Member-Cardinal opted for the latter, lending support fire that took down four or five orks as the two survivors of the right flank fell back. +

+ With nowhere to retreat to, the two survivors prepared to sell their lives dearly, and were swiftly overwhelmed. Their broken bodies were hefted into the air by the triumphant orks, who swiftly took to stripping the armour and looting their weapons +

+ The Deff Dread lumbered into a surprising burst of speed and managed to engage the central squad with the squeal of pistons and hiss of venting power. +

+ Closing turn +

+ Their foes downed for no loss, the nobz sneered and closed in on the Gatebreakers struggling against the Deff Dread. With a horrific tearing noise, the war engine sheared three of the Astartes into pieces. The last survivor commended his soul to the Ten Divine Princes, and voxed in a last report. +

+ Confirm: Beast Triumphant +


+ After action report +

+ A fun and quick game – particularly given that the other player was a (very indulgent!) first-timer. The new edition is quick to pick up for an old hand like me, but also looks nice and accessible. +

+ Tentative mechadendrites up for 9th edition; I'm looking forward to some bigger games with some variation in missions. In the meantime, I'll need to get painting – looks like the Gatebreakers need some heavy support! +