+ inload: The Phantom Titan in Adeptus Titanicus +

+ Catching ghosts+

+ Rules for the Phantom Titan in Adeptus Titanicus +


+ Coming up with rules is fun. Getting them right is hard! I've no illusions that these early ideas will be perfectly balanced, but  I hope my design notes below explain my thinking. Developing expansions is an iterative process. As with the Gargants [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], my aims are:
  • To preserve the fun, tension and decision-making of playing the new Adeptus Titanicus
  • To allow players to use Eldar Titans that match the background.
  • To create a balanced, interesting expansion that enhances the broader game and creates new strategic choices.


+ Where to start? +

+ To build on point 2, let's look at an extract from Codex Titanicus, the expansion for the '87 version of Adeptus Titanicus:

The Phantom, or Finnadan, is the most common class of Eldar Titan. As its name suggests, the Phantom is fast moving and very agile, embodying the Eldar military philosophy that prefers speed and mobility to heavy armour. Like all Eldar military vehicles, the Phantom is designed for beauty as much as function, and compared to an Imperial Titan it is very tall, slim and fragile-looking. This appearance is largely deceptive, for the Phantom is strongly built, and can absorb at least as much damage as a human Warlord Titan. 
Unlike human Titans, however, Phantoms do not make use of void shields. Instead, they have a system of defensive screens called dathedi (‘between colours’). The screens project a holographic disruption pattern, whose dispersion is linked to the Titan’s movement. Thus, when a Phantom moves, its image seems to explode into a storm of tiny multicoloured shards. The faster it moves, the more scattered its image becomes. When it stops, the cloud appears to coalesce into a solid shape. 
Eldar defensive screens are designed to disrupt enemy targeting rather than stop incoming fire as void shields do. Compared to Imperial Titans, the Phantom is vulnerable to damage, but its screens make it more difficult to hit provided it keeps moving. While many Imperial Titan commanders see this as a weakness, it is entirely in harmony with the Eldar conception of war; hit-and-run tactics are normally employed, with the Phantoms using their speed and agility to manoeuvre into an opponent’s blind side before firing. 
The Phantom has a crew of four – three living Eldar and one Infinity Circuit. The Infinity Circuit is normally mounted in the centre of the crew compartment in the Titan’s head, and the living crew – frequently blood-relatives of the Infinity Circuit – occupy couches around it. Unlike their Human counterparts, they do not have specific functions. Each crew member is equipped with a headband in which is set a fragment of the carrecenad stone; by means of this they merge their minds with the Infinity Circuit, forming a composite mind capable of handling multiple thoughts and actions. This mind is linked to the Phantom’s mechanical systems by Mind Impulse Units that are far in advance of those used by the Imperium.
The relationship between a Phantom’s living crew and its Infinity Circuit is intimate and all-sharing; they know each other totally, and are marked by their ability to finish each other’s sentences and thoughts out loud. In any other Eldar, this would be unthinkable presumption, but Titan crews are known for the closeness they develop and the eccentricities that arise from it. To Eldar outside the Titan Clans, they are almost a race apart.

+ Key points:
  • 'the Phantom is fast moving and very agile'
  • 'the Phantom is strongly built, and can absorb at least as much damage as a human Warlord Titan'
  • 'Compared to Imperial Titans, the Phantom is vulnerable to damage, but its screens make it more difficult to hit provided it keeps moving.'
+ In addition to these, the Eldar had a number of advantages in the old game – they revealed their orders only after the opponent had done the same (because they had better MIU interfaces), they had a +1 bonus in close combat (because Eldar had better reflexes and interfaces than their opponents), and were better at repairing (because of the crew's shared consciousness and ability to interact)... So far, so much better! +

+ It doesn't make for a very good game if one side hopelessly outclasses the other, and in addition, I want to minimise complication and differences from the core mechanics, bringing in these lesser points only where it seems particularly appropriate for lore or mechanical reasons. +

+ Work in progress +


+ First steps – getting the Titan to walk +

+ When brainstorming like this, I try to bear in mind that while there are some key differences between an Imperial Titan and an Eldar Titan, at root, there are also lots of similarities. Where possible, then, let's use the Warlord as a basis and strip it back to essentials. Working through a turn will let us see what, if anything, needs to be altered. +

+ I – Strategy Phase – At this stage, I don't see any reason that the Eldar should have an advantage (or disadvantage) in the strategy phase. The only things we need to bear in mind are phrasing issues – making sure that things like 'Princeps wounded'  or 'MIU feedback' still affect Eldar Titans. +

+ Orders – These are a key part of the game, adding a lot of tactical choices, so I want to ensure the Eldar retain them, even if we rephrase some of them. 

+ II – Movement Phase – Again, besides phrasing, the Activate Unit, Declare Actions  and Move Unit stages can remain the same. Note that this is the first opportunity Imperial Titans get to push their reactor. Are we going to have a plasma reactor, or will we introduce a new mechanic to better reflect the Eldar? +

+ This is a good opportunity to reflect the speed and manoeuvrability of the Eldar. +

III – Damage Control Phase – I think this may be where Eldar Titans need some differentiation; not least because we'll need to ensure there's something for them to do regarding holofield and reactor mechanics. +

+ IV – Combat Phase – Without Void Fields, this stage is simplified for the Eldar. We need to make sure it remains interesting for both friendly and enemey forces. +

+ V – End Phase – Again, besides phrasing and seeing how the reactor works, this can otherwise be used as-is. +


+ Drafting the Terminal +

+ Okay, so we've seen that the basic mechanics will work, so we'll need a Terminal to control and monitor the Titan. This'll probably benefit from a spruce-up visually, but it should remain understandable and compatible with the others. Using the Warlord Terminal as the basis, let's see what tweaks we need to make. +

+ I've drawn up an editable Terminal, so let's plug in the Warlord:

+ The basic stats +

+ Let's look at what feels right to change, what should be added or taken away. I'm going to ignore the points for now (my gut instinct is that the Phantom should be slightly more expensive than a Warlord), and reason out the tweaks as follows:
  • Base size – '[...]fast moving and very agile'. It might be odd to present this quote to defend a smaller base than the Warlord, but base size inherently implies the model will have an easier time seeking cover, avoiding blasts and so forth. For that reason, we'll nudge the Phantom onto a 95 x 120mm base, like the Reaver.
  • Scale – Taller but slighter than a Warlord, the Phantom has always been presented as the Eldar's equivalent to the Imperial Warlord. There's an argument for it to be slightly smaller (perhaps scale 9), but for the moment I think it appropriate for it to remain the same scale as a Warlord. 10.
+ Fittingly a greater scale than a Reaver. +
  • Command – I see no great reason that Eldar Titans should be inherently better, so leaving this as-is for the moment seems sensible.: 3+'
  • Speed – 'Fast moving...' this is a great opportunity for differentiation. This should be the fastest Battle Titan, but I don't think it should be as fast as a Scout Titan – or it's going to be far too easy for the Phantom to get where it needs to be, and will leave no space for Revenants. My starting suggestion is a base speed of 7in (faster than the Reaver, slower than the Warhound), and a boosted speed of just 9in. This makes pushing less attractive for the Eldar in terms of raw movement, but it might benefit the holofields. A smaller advantage, then, seems sensible. Secondly, these stats tally quite closely with the original Codex Titancius stats.
  • Manouevre – '...and very agile' While more manoeuvrable than a Warlord, I think the Phantom should still have the inherent ponderous nature of a giant. I think it would be inappropriate to use (for example) the Agile rules for knights, as it strips out the checks and balances the Imperials need to consider. Nor do I feel a Phantom should be as agile as a Warhound – so perhaps somewhere between Warhound and Reaver is a good spot. As with my reasoning on Speed, having the boosted stat providing less of an advantage seems fitting – Eldar tech is more advanced, but their culture is more risk adverse, so I think the Imperials should benefit more from going hell for leather. Let's test with 3/4.
  • Ballistic skill – Doubtless Eldar tech is awesome... but so is Imperial technology. I'd call this a wash and suggest that the BS stays at 3+. Modifiers on weapon cards can alter this if necessary. +
  • Weapon skill – I'm tempted to leave this as-is, but taking in the various minor notes from the lore, I wonder if a 4+ (akin to the Reaver) might be nice. I'm picturing a mid-to-short range philosophy for the Eldar, as they'll be encouraged to move, and a higher WS also provides a nice point of differentiation. I suggest 4+ to start with.
  • Servitor Clades – We'll need a name change at least, but the underlying mechanics should serve. My feeling is that Eldar Titans should be better at repairing, but we want the Eldar to feel slightly straitened to fit their nature. We also need to bear in mind that we're probably not going to have void shields to reignite or repair, and potentially not a plasma reactor, either, so we need to ensure we don't make repairing the Phantom too easy. After all, quick to damage, quick to repair is a Tyranid thing. Eldar should be tough to damage – it is 'strongly built, and can absorb at least as much damage as a human Warlord Titan' – but struggle to make good the damage. It's harder to regrow wraithbone on the fly than it is to weld a critical plate shut. Let's give the Phantom 3 dice, and we'll have to adjust the Damage Control Phase results; perhaps creating a purely Eldar repair table. +
  • Ardex Defensor Cannon – We've given the Phantom quite a lot, and I think this is a good place to take something away. The Eldar are continually noted as being precise with their firepower, so an all-round spray-and-pray defence seems off. Being outnumbered and swarmed by Knights should be a threat to this philosophy of war; the Phantom should have to rely on its mobility for safety, not crude guns like this. Remove this entirely – perhaps using the space on the Terminal for something else. 

+ Armour values +

+ This is a contentious area – most of the homebrew rules I've seen have Phantoms as less well-armoured than their Imperial equivalents, but let's look at those key points identified earlier:
  • 'the Phantom is strongly built, and can absorb at least as much damage as a human Warlord Titan'
  • 'Compared to Imperial Titans, the Phantom is vulnerable to damage[...]'
+ On the face of things, these seem slightly contradictory, but the new Adeptus Titanicus damage resolution mechanics mean we can square the circle. By reducing the armour too much, you also risk introducing awkward unintended quantities: if the armour is penetrated on a 2+ regardless, for example, you implicitly make high-strength weapons, or those with AP capabilities, less valuable, and imbalance things. That's an argument in favour of keeping the armour value (AV) around the same level. +

+ Secondly, Wraithbone is very tough in the background; at least as tough as Imperial plasteel. I think, therefore, we should keep the AV stats roughly the same, and reflect the 'vulnerable to damage' bit through having a shorter damage track, making the modifiers easier to reach, and making repairing criticals harder. This gives a 'tough but brittle' feeling at the opposite end of the scale to the ork Gargants, which are relatively easy to damage, but hugely resilient. +

+ I think sticking with the Warlord's AV stats as they stand is the sensible decision, and reducing the number of pips by one on each track – effectively giving it Warlord toughess, but Reaver resilience. This seems fitting to me, having it sit neatly between the two key Imperial Battle Titans. +

+ Shields and plasma reactor +

+ Here, I think, is where the meat of the differences need to come in. I've retained the Plasma Reactor because balancing that is one of the core mechanics of the game – not to mention it's where a lot of the fun and risk management comes from. It's simply got an Eldary name –  'Plasmaweave' – to give a bit of flavour. +

+ Because the Eldar don't need to consider their Void Shields in relation to their shields (see 'Holofields', below), I've reduced the length of the track accordingly. Note that I haven't cut it back too much. In fact, on the face of things, the Phantom won't need to use their reactor too much. They've got a high enough Speed and Manoeuvrability that they don't need to push it to get where they need. While this nicely reflects the more reliable technology, and safety-conscious culture of the Eldar, this could be a bit dull. To that end, we need to make sure that more decisions are put in the player's hands elsewhere. +

+ I haven't considered the weapons in great detail (beyond intending them to be generally high power, low shots to reflect the precision of the Eldar and to introduce a weakness to hordes), but I think here is where the plasmaweave should be being used – offering the Eldar player far more options in terms of Draining weaponry to give a high reward for daring play – and likewise making them a bit pillow-fisted if they fail to moderate their plasmaweave effectively. +

+ Secondly, we can make sure that Phantoms (and Eldar in general) are encouraged to move a lot and close the distance by making their weapons short-to-medium ranged, and their defences more effective when moving. In essence, this moves the decision-making on defence from the Terminal to the tabletop. As noted above, Phantoms don't get a great benefit from Power to Locomotors or Power to Stabilisers, so gently nudging them to use these rules to gain two fringe benefits (slightly improved movement and slightly improved defence) helps to balance that against the Imperials higher-reward use of their Reactors. +

+ With this in mind, then, here's the playtest rules for Holofields: +


Instead of the energy-absorbing warp-based void fields of the Imperium, or the brute power fields of the Orks, Eldar Titans rely on misdirection, deception and sensor-baffling for defence. 
The wing-like harmonic vanes that form a distinctive crest on the backs of Eldar Titans weave a web of photonic projections about the War Engine. The projections create a field of visual distortion, baffling perception across all electromagnetic spectra, and thus making it more difficult for attackers to target the Titan.
While holofields operate dynamically, their effectiveness is enhanced by movement. The faster the Titan moves, the more effective the defence.

  • A Unit attacking a Target equipped with Holofields suffers a -2 modifier to the To Hit roll, which is cumulative with other modifiers. 
    • This is reduced to a -1 modifier if the Target is on First Fire orders or Shutdown orders, or if the Target is Immobilised.
    • If the Target has Full Stride or Charge orders, successful to Hit rolls of 6 must also be re-rolled.
  • A Unit attacking a Target Unit equipped with Active Holofields may not declare a Targeted Attack.
  • Weapons with the Blast trait that Hit a Target Unit with Holofields scatter D6in before the attack is resolved (use the small arrow on the Hit symbol to determine direction). If the attack misses, it scatters D10 as normal.
  • Weapons with the Beam trait must make a check against BS with no modifiers when attacking a Target with Active Holofields. If the result is a miss, the Beam continues its path; resolve the attack against subsequent models as though the intervening model was not there.
+ The underlying principle here is that the Eldar have no access to physical shields, so they need to rely on movement for protection ('[...]the Phantom is vulnerable to damage, but its screens make it more difficult to hit provided it keeps moving'). It's for this reason that I've made specific exceptions for Blast and Beam. Both would otherwise be unaffected by holofields, and these exceptions introduce an element of chance. +

+ So what's an 'Active' holofield? I've added the rules directly to the Terminal, in the special rules box:

Holofield: A Special result on the Hit Location Dice indicated the attack has disrupted the vanes of the Phantom's 'wings'. The Holofield flickers out temporarily, and no longer counts as Active for the remainder of the attacking Units' Activation, after which it immediately becomes Active.

+ This means that it's beneficial for an attacker to focus fire on the Phantom, in the hope of getting a lucky hit on the Holofield, which means that its other weapons can fire as normal. +

+ The Holofield can be permanently disabled through damage to the Body (the critical 'Holofield Burnout') result, requiring the ELdar to repair it (see below). +

+ Please note that I've also tried to avoid book-keeping in rules terms. Initially, I played with the idea of the Holofields working better if the model physically moved a number of inches, but this is hard to track and easy to forget in the course of a game. It's for this reason that the benefits to the Holofields relate primarily to Orders. +

+ This also has the nice knock-on effect that Orders become very important to the Eldar – giving a more brittle command style, forcing more thoughtfulness in Command Checks and order of activation, and also signalling to the opposing side what you're going to do. Eldar just aren't as unpredictable as humans!. +


+ The playtest Terminal +

+ Here, then, is my suggested 'v0.1' playtest Terminal for the Phantom. +

+ Please do feel free to playtest this. I'll exload it to the +Death of a Rubricist+ Facebook group as a PDF for you to inload. In addition to the terminal, you'll need the following additional rules:


Playtesting Eldar Titans

+ These are additional clarifications on how the game runs, and how certain weapons interact with or effect Holofields. +
    • List building – Replace all references to 'Maniple' for 'Conclave'. Eldar do not yet have Strategems. I suggest you playtest without them for the moment.
    • Game prep – Replace all references to 'Princeps Senioris' with 'High Steersman [name TBC]'. Determine Missions, Deployment and Battle Field Control as normal. Deploy as normal.
    • Strategy Phase – Treat all references to 'Infinity Circuit Disturbed' as Princeps wounded'; treat all references to 'Spiritweave Disturbed' as 'MIU Feedback'.
    • Movement Phase – Treat all references to 'Reactor' as 'Plasmaweave'
    • Damage Control Phase – apply the following adjustments:
      • 1. Activate Unit (skip for Knight Households) 
      • 2. If Reactor Level is orange roll D6; if red, roll D10 on Reactor Overload Table.
      • 3. Repair Roll with number of dice equal to 'Shaping' 
      • 4. Distribute results as follows: 
        • X+ Repair weapon (see weapon card) 
        • 4+ Reduce reactor level by 1 
        • 6 Repair 1 critical damage 
        • 6 Repair Holofield Burnout  [Holofield Burnout: Holofields are inactive]
    • Combat Phase – n.b. Weapons on the 'Shoulders' location are not affected by 'Carapace' restrictions.
      • To Hit Modifiers – treat references to 'Steersman Wounded' as 'Moderati Wounded'.
      • Ignore all reference to Void Shields.
    • End Phase – Treat all references to 'Plasmaweave Leak' as 'Reactor Leak'.
    • Orders tables changes
      • Emergency Repairs: Treat all references to 'Servitor Clades' as 'Shaping'
      • Shutdown: Replace text with 'Holofields are no longer Active, can only be activated in Damage Control Phase, make normal repair rolls, reduce Plasmaweave level by 2.
    • Reactor Overload Table changes
      • Treat all references to Reactor as Plasmaweave.
      • 1–2 suffer S9 hit to body, bypass Holofield 
      • 3–5 Holofield Burnout; if Holofield already burned out, resolve as result 6-8
      • 6–8 suffer D3 S9 hits to body, bypass Holofield 
      • 9–10 Titan destroyed; roll D3+total number of Plasma Track holes in inch for radius, all units suffer D6 hits with Strength = Scale+1, bypassing Void Shields and Holofields.
    • Holofields and weapon traits clarifications
      • Attacks with the BypassMelee, Psi trait(s) are affected by Holofields as described above. Note that this means Melee attacks cannot make Targeted attacks until the Holofields are nor Active.
      • Units equipped with Holofields are affected by Concussive weapons as normal if hit.
      • Attacks with the Firestorm trait are resolved as normal against Units with Holofields.
      • Attacks with the Shieldbane or Voidbreaker trait(s) have no additional effect against a Unit with Holofields.

    + inload: Eldar in Adeptus Titanicus +

    + inload: Alaitoc is Ready +

    'Eldar Titans are great, bipedal combat walkers produced by the Craftworld Eldar, the Asuryani.

    Similar to the lumbering Titans that are the greatest war machines of the Imperium of Man, Eldar Titans combine grace, speed and deadly firepower.

    These tall, slender war engines are built to be aesthetically pleasing as well as fully functional, like all Eldar technology, and possess a grace and beauty rarely seen amongst the deadly implements of Mankind.

    Eldar Titans move with a smooth agility and grace unachievable by the Imperium's Titans.'

    + There have been a few different approaches to creating rules for Eldar in Adeptus Titanicus. Here are a couple I've stumbled upon. +
    + Both look good to me – and the reason I'm interested in 'em is that, in the absence of GW's own version, I've laid my hands on a couple of 3D prints that I've started to build and paint. +


    + Building the Phantom +

    + The model came in five parts – head, torso and groin, back piece and two legs – plus weapons. There were six upper arms plus a variety of weapons. While fragile, the model built up quite nicely. +

    + I've magnetised the arms at the shoulder using 5mm x 1mm magnets, though at the moment I've only built the following arms. I needed to use a spot of greenstuff to make a flat surface inside the socket, and trimmed the shoulder joint flat to attach the magnet. +

    + As you can see from the comparison shot above, the figure's slightly taller than I had anticipated, but that might simply be unfamiliarity with the current Phantom sculpt (and the pose of this particular Warlord). However, I don't think it's far off at all – here's the only shot I could find of a comparison of the 28mm Phantom and a 28mm Warlord (taken from The Independent Characters' Facebook page). + 

    + Whether the proportions and scale are 'correct' doesn't really bother me here. I rather like the exaggerated alien proportions of the sculpt, and when – hopefully – GW come out with their own plastic version, these will likely be around the right size. While variety of standardised tanks or too much dissonance between the scale of infantry can be a bit of a bother, perhaps it's fitting that the organically grown artwork-warmachines of the Eldar vary a bit. +

    + Anyway, enough preparatory apologetics. Here's a shot of the rear. I think the space between the legs is ripe for a banner, don't you? +

    + Another scale shot, against the Reaver Titan 'Old Spiteful' of the Legio Sumer-Nikator. +


    + Painting the Phantom Titan: theoretical +

    + Work in progress +

    + Eldar Titan background hasn't had much of an update since 1988(ish), when the Eldar rules came out for the original Adeptus Titanicus. Back then, the Craftworlds were very loosely-defined, and Titans were organised into Clans (the equivalent to Imperial Legios). Their relationship to the Craftworlds was fairly nebulous and ill-defined, but the implication was that the Clans lived aboard Craftworlds, but had their own colour scheme etc. +

    + There was a later Epic expansion called Swordwind that had some tiny snippets of Eldar background, and this only touched on Titans fairly lightly. When the modern 40k-scale Phantom was released, it was accompanied by the Doom of Mymeara, an Imperial Armour book that had a little bit of 'modern' background for the Eldar Titans. The Clans weren't mentioned – though absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence – and the rules mentioned 'Conclaves', which may be GW's then-equivalent to Clans. As far as I'm aware, that's as much as we've had. +

    + Anyway, the space is pretty open for paint schemes, and I think you could quite happily paint your Eldar Titans in Craftworld colours, or a completely unique scheme. I decided I'd use this as an opportunity to play about with the Alaitoc scheme, ahead of working on my 40k army. + 

    + Painting the Phantom Titan: practical +

    + Having built the model, I textured the base in a similar  way to the Epic basing tutorial here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. This was allowed to dry, then I sprayed the base with Halford's brown spray from their camo range. Once dry, I used a piece of kitchen paper to protect the base, took the (magnetised) arms off and sprayed all of the components using GW's Wraithbone spray. +

    + Knowing that this was going to be a fairly involved painting project, I then painted the base – this is a little psychological tactic I use to help make me feel I'm making some progress. Having something finished can help! +

    + The weapons +

    + From there I started with the basecoats, laying down a thin coat of Army Painter's mummy robes on the weapons and internal joints. Once dry, these had a coat of Seraphim sepia. I did the same with blue, using Vallejo's Prussian blue – though I didn't even finish the blue before moving on to the yellow, as time was ticking on and I thought I'd like to tackle the focal point of the head. +

    + The yellow +

    + Here I used a base coat of cadmium yellow (Golden, but any equivalent, such as Phalanx yellow or Yriel yellow, would work) as the base coat. +

    + After that, I used lots of very thin glazes of Liche purple to build up the shadows. Next, I added white (Vallejo cold white, but again any white would work) to the yellow for the highlights. +

    + A few glazes of Lamenter’s yellow (or thinned yellow ink) went over the whole thing to enrich the yellow, then I repeated the shading and highlighting in finer areas to reintroduce the contrast. I went back and forth a bit here as I was enjoying the process. +

    + At this stage it was looking good to me, but I wanted to help give it a bit more of a sense of scale. I'm also in two minds whether to leave the 'blister' on the forehead or repaint it as a gem. +

    + A few little marks and scars were added with the same Liche purple and highlight yellow, and I felt this subtle weathering was enough. Less is more for Eldar, I think. +

    + The blue +

    + With the head in place, I went back and completed the base coat with thinned-down Prussian blue and allowed it to dry. +

    + Working outwards from the head, I started with the chest panel. Using a wet palette (a piece of damp kitchen paper wrapped in baking parchment), I mixed a Teclis blue into Prussian blue and began gradually highlighting. +

    + To get the placement of the highlights right (this is the part I find tricky for curved surfaces), I simply held the model at a consistent angle under my modelling light, then put very thin paint where the light fell. With the positioning correct, it was then a case of layering to blend, blur and soften the edges of these stark, basic highlights back to Prussian blue. +

    + With the three-dimensional highlighting done, I pushed the extremes by adding white to the Teclis blue/Prussian blue mix, and picked out a few edges. Reflected light – that bouncing back off the environment back onto the model, rather than directly from the light source – was added with a more blue version of this mix, to ensure the brightest highlights faced the light source. +


    + Here's how the model currently stands. I'll continue to work outwards, I think, tackling each area as I come to it. 

    + Alright there, shorty? +


    + inload: Warmaster Titan basing and varnish woes +

    + Basing the Warmaster +

    + Well, no surprises about what today's inload's about. With an unanticipated spare couple of hours, I managed to quickly get the base metallics down. I used a dark gunmetal made from a combination (not a complete mix, but a pool of separate slightly intermingled colours) of Valljeo dark stone (a sort of browny grey), Citadel Abaddon black and a little scorched brown. +

    + I used a much of the same palette for the base: dark stone for the road, and scorched brown for the dunes/rocks. Both were then successively highlighted with greys and browns/sandy colours respectively, before a final drybrush of Army Painter's mummy robes. +

    + Why use the same colours in the base and the Titan? Well, this little trick helps to integrate the different elements, so the base and Titan read as a single thing. +


    + Critical damage +

    + Alas, after this successful painting session, things went a bit [+SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT+]. I sprayed the Titan with enamel varnish. This had a muting effect on the metallics, as you can see above – there's no 'sparkle'. This I had anticipated – it won't be a problem, as I'm intending to work over the top with more metallics. +

    + The problem was when I came to use oils on the yellow – while it applied nicely, and could be removed with a bit of thinner, after about fifteen minutes – just long enough for me to be satisfied that the test panel was working – the varnish began to crackle and flake off, taking the oils with it. Fortunately, the underlying yellow seems intact. +

    + I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I abandoned things overnight to allow everything to settle, and allow me to assess in the cold light of day. This was an experimental process, so I'm not too disheartened – better to stop and re-assess before going to far. Potential issues:
    • Use of automotive spray on the yellow – perhaps this was not allowing the varnish to penetrate/settle properly.
    • Not enough time for the varnish to dry. I left it for just four hours; perhaps overnight would have been more sensible.
    • Use of enamel varnish, rather than the acrylic varnish I've previously used.
    • Use of Sansodor thinner, rather than white spirit.
    + Whatever the cause, some further thinking means that I'll see whether the remaining oils can be removed with thinner without affecting the yellow. If so, then that implied to me that I won't necessarily need to use a varnish – in short, the thinners aren't strong enough to penetrate the yellow paint. +

    + From there, I'll begin to reapply the oils to the yellow on a test area, and start again. +


    + inload: Warmaster Battle Titan +

     + Legio Validus: Warmaster +

    + A recent game of Adeptus Titanicus, and the promise of another in a few weeks, has got the old Titan interest flowing once more. While I'll likely be taking Legio Sumer-Nikator [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] out to play, I was more in the mood for modelling than painting, so dug out a problem: my hobbled Warmaster Titan. +

    + The Warmaster Titan is a huge and complex kit – and a perfect example of how even experienced modellers can get tripped up by over-confidence. As noted in my earlier inload on building this kit [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], I'd ended up with the pistons of the foot canted in such a way that I couldn't get the armour plates on. +

    + Cue some 'minor adjustments' – which involved a bit of brute force and ignorance. After a little pulling, twisting and trimming, I've managed to get the foot back into a place where the small – uh – toe armour(?) plates will fit. +

    + The revised version. It's funny how something so minor can really niggle, but I'm very glad I finally decided to quite prevaricating and fix things. In all, it took about half an hour, and now I've got a Titan that I'm really pleased with. +


    + Variance +

    + Unusually, this Titan isn't magnetised. I think it fairly unlikely it'll see much table-time, so decided I'd make my life easier and fix it in position. Since I've used some Battle Bling [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] bits – most obviously the head, but also the Devotional Bell, groin armour plate and their giant Super-Gatling Blaster. +

    + In all likelihood, this'll just count as the same as the plasma weapon (Suzerain-class Plasma Destructors). Perhaps I'll see if there are any fan-made rules to playtest anywhere, but I'm not too fussed. +

    + It's a big imposing model, and while I'm quietly glad I decided to experiment with spraying for the armour plates, it's still an intimidating project to begin. Still, every journey, and all that, so perhaps I'll make a start and get the quick and messy metals in. +

    + Pictured here alongside its stablemate, the Reaver Martialis, the Warmaster is strikingly bright and glossy. That's intentional, as I'm planning on using oils to knock that back, as described here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. I need to start very bright, so it doesn't end up too muted. +

    + I'll also need to be careful about incorporating enough blue. Martialis is almost completely yellow – not a problem per se, but I don't want the Amber Kings get muddled up with Tiger Eyes. +


    + inload: Kroot and Eldar +

    + Kroot and Eldar +

    + Top priority, he says; first things I'll paint, he says. Finished before Christmas, he says. Needless to say, it's a sore point amongst the Kroot of the Bloody Moon that it's taken me 'til the back end of January to get on with painting them. Still, they have arrived on the painting desk... and we're off! +

    + Early days here, but I'm starting by blocking in the skin. These have all received a couple of coats of various orangey-browny-yellow mixes, followed by washes of sepias or muted reds. These will be cleaned up a bit during highlighting, and I'll add the spots, then give them a second wash to tie things together and enrich the recesses. +

    + Pictured are a warrior with scattergun (a short-ranged shotgun-like weapon) a Shaper Kill-broker, and a Tracker. Given I have all the warriors I need for a Kill Team, I should probably have focussed on the specialists in order to have a team ready for the next geekend gaming event with the PCRC, but if I don't tackle the less-appealing models, then I risk never getting round to them – or worse, leaving them all 'til last and having a slog. +

    + There's nothing much worth noting except that I'll be painting the Pech'ra (the krooty bird perched on her gun) with a different skintone to the kindred. Using the same fleshtone within a unit or army gives a slightly sinister feeling, as though everyone's a clone – that's why I try to paint bare flesh on my models uniquely: even if it's just a tiny tinge of a different paint, or a different final glaze, it gives a subtle natural feeling. This is particularly important for the Kroot, where the Kindred are related, while the other krootforms are not necessarily. +


    + Alaitoc +

    + ...and in keeping with the 'small steps, but steady pace' approach my hobby seems to have been taking this year, I added the banner poles for my Eldar Guardian squads. +

    + Apropos of nothing, I read in an old White Dwarf I was browsing that Guardian squad leaders tend to be ex-Aspect Warriors – i.e. those that have previous wartime experience, but are no longer on the Path of the Warrior. Just an interesting little adjunct. I might try to tie that in somehow – perhaps with an aspect rune somewhere or other on the leaders or their banners. +

    + The banner poles are created in exactly the same way as the originals in WD138: a small hole was drilled with a pin vice, and a dress pin glued in. Neat, simple idea for sturdy results, and it even has a built in banner top! +

    + inload: Battle report: The Revenge of Toshiba part I +

    + The Revenge of Toshiba: part I +

    + A Warhammer 40,000 9th edition battle report +

    + The Reginae Obscurae looms over the quailing Lamb's Worlders... +

    +++Doctrinal integrity at 23% and falling+++ 

    +++Noradrenaline spike detected+++

    +++Dopamine levels flat-lining+++

    Archmagos Murasaki Toshiba wiped away lubricant tears from her compound optical nodes with the heavy sleeve of her rubberised red robes, as she approached the sealed vault. Her attendant flock of servo-skulls and cybercherubs wailed binaric litanies of lamentation. 

    As she began entering the hexagrammatic code commands into an ancient but scrupulously maintained terminal, the sacred metal of its outer casing almost completely obscured by solidified wax and purity seals, she felt the holy rage build inside her. Her mem-nodes involuntarily autospooled back to the logically impossible events that had taken place scant days ago when the fleshunits of the provincially-named 'Lambs Worlders' had somehow managed to defeat her forces  – despite a woeful lack of augmentation, and using the most rudimentary of combat STC templates. 

    This blasphemy, this shame, could not be suffered. That drive, an emotional response so strong that it ate at the adamantine-hard strings of her logic like the oxidative process that transmuted holy iron into worthless rust, had brought her here to this place, this tomb of proscribed wonders. 

    The last of the command codes entered, the silence was broken by the metronomic thunder of vast gears at work and the vast portal began – 

    +++Doctrinal integrity at 48% and rising+++

    +++Dopamine spike detected+++

    – to open. She stepped past the threshold, her many mechanical insect-jointed legs clicking on the hard floor as she did so. With a thought, the head of her axe of office ignited, casting a wan light across the chamber. Dimly, it reflected from the red lenses of scores of ancient battle-automata – Domitars, Castellax, Kastelans... even the mighty Thanatar. They stood in their serried ranks, unmoving, their compact reactor cores quiescent. 

    +++Rise. Awaken. Your Hive Queen demands it. Rise. Awaken+++

    + Magos Toshiba of Bezoa, amid a sea of her underlings. Defeat, she decided, would be avoided by placing her reliance entirely in the hands of capable machines, not puling partial-fleshunits. +


    Game type and Mission +

    Belligerents: Bezoan Skitarii and allies (Lucifer216); Lamb's World Imperial Guard (Apologist) +
    Limitations of conflict: 200 Power Level +
    Battle site: Westward Spill, the outskirts of a proto-hive on Neues Tremo, a frontiersworld in the Magyar system, Sector Antona Australis. [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] +

    + An unapologetic 'big game', Lucifer216 and I had been keen to continue the campaign begun in Tensions over Neues Tremo [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], where the plucky boys and girls of Lamb's World had pulled off an unlikely victory over the increasingly erratic Bezoans. The roots of the war lay in a conflict of doctrine between the Bezoans and the Slav Nasr Enginseers assigned to the Lamb's World regiments. Toshiba of Bezoa an ambitious, and covetous Magos, had secretly instigated conflict on a frontier world and manipulated events to ensure Lamb's World regiments were assigned to suppress the rebellion – which left them, so she supposed, isolated and vulnerable to destruction at the hands of her forces. +

    + Alas for Toshiba, Caef Whittaker of the Lamb's World 18th proved a capable commander, and he managed to fight off the ambush. As the Bezoans retreated to lick their wounds, Whittaker and his forces high-tailed it to Westward Spill, where he hoped to report the betrayal. Scant days passed before the Bezoans appeared again, and the exhausted forces of the Lamb's Worlders were forced back into the field. +

    + Caef Whittaker, of the Lamb's World 18th, frantically redirecting his forces to avoid a collapse of morale in the face of the Lords of War. +

    + I mustered pretty much everything Lamb's World related that I could find, and the inimitable Omricon pledged an allied platoon from the Lastrati 3rd Rifles, supplemented by the famed Righteous Indignation, an ancient and storied Baneblade. +

    + Magos Toshiba (commanded by Lucifer216) meanwhile, opted to shelve the partial-fleshunits that had clearly caused her defeat(!) and raided the deep vaults of Bezoa in search of the dubiously-permitted technomancy that she calculated would bring her victory. +

    + Mighty robots from 'the Hive' – some sanctioned, others... not so much. +

    + In addition to an army of robots, she called in favours from the ill-starred House Temporis, a peculiar – and arguably* heretical – Navigator-led Knight Household. Two Knights of legend attended the Magos: Gnosis and the Reginae Obscurae. +

    + Being a bit rusty on the rules, and aware we'd have our work cut out with such a big game, we opted to minimise additional rules, so there were no warlord traits, non-modelled unit upgrades or the like in this game – just a big game involving the simple underlying engine of 9th edition. +

    + There were six objectives to fight over – these represented critical noospheric spoor that the Bezoans could use to justify their apparently treasonous attack on the Slav Nasr Enginseers (and – by the by, as far as the Bezoans are concerned – their Lamb's World and Lastrati hosts). Denied these, the attack would be completely unjustifiable – and there were be call in higher places to sanction the aggression of Bezoa. Perhaps worse for Toshiba, they might instigate investigations into their shadowy domains. +

    * Omricon's Inquisitor Josiah Maltheus always argued they were!


    Nothing happened for the span of many mortal hearts and breaths. With machine-born patience, Toshiba waited in the silent azure gloom. Then she felt it, the first waves of electromagnetism as the fire in reactor-hearts kindled. Turbines spun up, heavy metal limbs let out pneumatic hisses and the blue glow of her axe gradually gave way to the blood red glow coming from countless active sensor nodes and diode displays. 

    The local noosphere, a moment ago near-absent, sprung into eager, buzzing life. It was filled with dozens of reports indicating successful activation. In a microsecond they were drowned out by a flurry of failed target acquisition notifications. If Toshiba had retained her human throat, she would have swallowed involuntarily. The sheer… hunger of the automata always took her by surprise, despite her eidetic recall. That and the extent of their animalistic awareness.

    +++Bide. Target acquisition will commence in 22 hours sidereal. Such is the will of the Omnissah. Follow+++

    With that cant, Toshiba turned, ignoring the thunderous cacophony behind her, and began to march out of the tomb, beginning the long procession to the bulk lifters that would carry this maniple of machines to where they would make holy murder in the Machine God’s name.  


    + Set up and deployment +

    + Move up, we can barely breathe! +

    + Coo, well this was a big game. More than a hundred Guard infantry, a score of robots, nearly a dozen tanks and three super-heavies meant that the Guard barely fitted on an 8 x 4ft board – and with the number of huge bases on the Mechanicus side, things weren't better there! To an extent, this is part of the problem of the increasing size of games (not much room for meaningful manouevre), but as we were aiming for spectacle, I think it works well! +

    + Guard's-eye view. The forces barely fit into the 12in deployment zone – not, I suspect, that these Lamb's Worlders would complain about the shield of steel around them! +


    + For big games, we find it generally more sensible to discuss set up etc. rather than rely on the luck of the dice. A diagonal deployment might have worked, but short edges would have just meant most stuff wasn't involved. Long board edges mean everything can get stuck in – for maximum carnage and over-the-top spectacle. +

    + Three-quarters of the board represented part of the badland deserts of Neues Tremo, the remainder representing a small xeno-archaeological outpost of the planet's proto-hive. The Guard gathered in the south, while the Mechanicus approached from the north. +

    + The Lamb's Worlders deployed an armoured wedge in the centre, anchored by the Righteous Indignation and supported by first platoon – directly behind the tanks. To their west, their urban-fighting allies, the Lastrati 3rd, waited in the urban edges of the Spill (bottom of picture), supported by a heavy weapon platoon (a battery of mortars and heavy bolters) and a Rapier squadron. +

    + To the east of the Baneblade, Second Platoon and the company's auxiliaries (Rough Riders and Ogryns) advanced alongside the grumbling Lastrati tanks. _

    + Opposite this gathering of might drew up the dread robots of the Mechanicus, with the unmistakable Knights seeking a mighty kill in the centre. In the Spill, skittered a mass of Vorax, directed by a Datasmith. +


    + Early turns +

    + Vorax rush forward to secure the peculiar xenos technology + 

    + Commanding the Mechanicus western flank, Datasmith Teslo Murakoshi urged his Vorax forward, keen to push up to the walls of the complex, where they could muster for a brutal assault, sheltered from the small arms of the Guard. +

    + As Whittaker struggled to direct his forces through vox-static, Toshiba  smoothly ordered her unshakeable forces forward. A sea of bloodshed-eager robots kicked up clouds of dust in their urgency. The Magos lingered over an irrelevant feeling of satisfaction; but dismissed it. Such indulgences, she mused, were clearly the cause of her earlier defeat. +

    + The Lastrati, a mongrel regiment made up of the battered survivors of decade-long conflicts, grimly looked down their sights. With no targets visible, they were wearily aware that the order to advance must come – the noospheric datapackets must be kept from the hands of this lunatic priesthood. +

    + A battery of Lamb's World mortars begins to bombard Murakoshi's forces, arcing high over the reinforced walls – with the aim of softening up the defenders and make the Lastrati's work easier. Alas, anti-personnel shells do little to robots designed to withstand high-intensity attacks. + 

    + Urged forward with the digital equivalent of bloodlust, the battle-automata made advance at the double, their shooting paltry. +

    + The noise is cacophonous, the confusion total! +

    + With what little sense of self-preservation being furiously overridden by the Magos, they marched towards a killing field. +

    + Before events overtook them, the order came for a general advance. Whittaker favoured a policy of oversaturating target acquisition – in essence, by making everything an equal threat, unwary opponents would spread out their fire, diluting its effect instead of concentrating on key targets. +

    + To ensure compliance, Commissars and Priests were seeded amongst the Lamb's Worlders – though thus far, the nearby Righteous Indignation had proven a reassuring presence for the Guardsmen. +

    + Toshiba had adopted a 'horns of the bull' strategy, with a solid centre flanked by faster units on both the west and east. Hovering drones spearheaded the eastern flank, their Thallax jet-troops making the most of the Munitorum supply depot, which had only just seen the end of the assault on the proto-hive. +

    + With neither side willing to back down, the centre of the battlefield quickly filled with troops and vehicles from both sides. Casualties at first were light, with the Mechanicus' short-to-medium range weaponry unable to cover the distance. +

    + The same could not be said for the Guard. Shells and missiles began to fall amongst the centre, blasting apart the advancing Castellax. The Rapier squadron in particular proved their worth, an entire maniple of the battle-automata being reduced to scrap metal in one volley. +

    + The Leman Russ squadrons focussed their fire on the Knights – Whittaker was all too aware that these Lords of War would be intent on the biggest prize... +

    + Second platoon, spearheaded by the Company's elite mounted Grenadiers, lends their fire to the attack, their small arms contributing little in damage. +


    + Mid battle +

    + Toshiba's forces have taken the majority of the damage and casualties at this point – but the forces are now arrayed at the optimum range for the inhuman robots. Besides, casualties overall have been light. The Reginae Obscurae and Gnosis, both smoking but operational, close in on the Righteous Indignation, determined to claim the scalp. +

    + For its part, the Righteous Indignation was living up to its name, it weapons proving considerably more effective than the slightly-smaller bore battle cannons of the Lamb's World tanks. +

    + A Valkyrie swept in, performing a strafing run on the Vorax as it carried its Grenadier squad towards the central objective. Murakoshi's forces had little to answer, and so continued their metallic advance, heedless of the myriad small explosions around them. +

    + This was not a battle that men could win by strength of arms – but perhaps the power of their weaponry could overcome their hulking foes? This Special Weapons team finds out the hard way that even melta guns can fail to find their mark... +

    + A panoramic shot shows the flow of the battle. The two forces are poised to meet in the middle, where the bulk of the noospheric datapackets lie. The speed of the Mechanicus means that three lie in Bezoan hands – and this keen eye on the mission early on is to prove crucial. +

    + Second Platoon demonstrate why the Mechanicus cannot rest on their laurels – fewer than a dozen Thallax now need to hold their prize from a reinforced platoon of determined Guardsmen for an extended period. +

    + The duel of the Superheavies heats up. The Reginae Obscurae and Righteous Indignation trade hammerblows, both taking grievous damage. The Gnosis, meanwhile, almost disappears under battlecannon and Manticore fire...+

    + As the battle begins to stretch, the two forces grapple with each other; neither yet able to find the telling advantage. Where will victory fall? +

    + We'll find out in part two! +


    + [+ Part II currently inloading – [awaitpend] updates +] +