+ inload: Death Guard resurgence +

+ Something wicked this way comes +



+ Ah, a new(ish) year – time for a return to the squamous delights of the Death Guard. The new Plague Marines kit is complex, but full of fantastic detail. I can't rate it as highly as the new Warlord Titan for Adeptus Titanicus, which I think is quite the best kit GW have ever produced in terms of engineering, but the Plague Marines have clearly been the recipient of some very enthuastic designers. +

A mix of parts from the main kit, Dark Imperium and easy-builds. Some – like the champion here – are so distinctive that kitbashing will never hide their origin. You can either go more ambitious with conversion, or just accept a little homogeneity. Personally, I don't mind a little duplication: you can do a lot to make things distinct with painting.
+ The Plague Marine box is packed with options and variation, but at the same time the figures you build out of the box are quite limited. In creating ways to have such wonderfully detailed figures, the flat sprue technology has been pushed to its limits. Two-part shoulder pads, optional torso fronts built to fit around spalling flesh and rot... it's a kit that couldn't realsitically have existed prior to computer assisted design. +

As I built the Plague Marine kit, I incorporated pats of the Dark Imperium easy-build versions, too. It's a quick way to create more variety – particularly useful for a kit with such fixed poses. Head swaps and trimming extraneous details goes a long way to making models more individual and preventing duplication.

In many ways it's an odd kit, and the more I built from it, the more I wonder if it was a case of the designers producing too many bits to fit, or perhaps a compromise driven by the sales team. Even the in-game rules seem a bit of a kludge, with far more options than equivalent units; allowing for an assault variant, a shooty option, or a mix of the two. I quite like this flexibility, but I wonder if the original plan was to have two distinct unit types – a 'standard' Plague Marine squad, and a more close-in assault version, or veteran type? +

The three-man easy builds have flooded the second-hand market, and you can buy them very cheaply. With just a few tweaks, you can make some models that hide the origin nicely. My favourite conversion here is the chap on the right. I think the base model, from the Dark Imperium set, looks great, but is very distinctive. Changing his arms gives a very different feel.

+ That would go some way to explaining the odd number of models in the box (although we ought to remember that seven is the Plague God's holy number in the lore), the unusually large amount of weapon variety, and also explain why the release was accompanied by the odd accompanying mini-releases – the three-man easy build version; the limited three-man 'Plague Brethren' version; and the separate icon bearer and champion... +


Some more specialist models here. Two with plasma guns, one with a flail. Note the scattering of green easy-build parts alongside the standard kit. I've aimed to slightly tone down the spikiness – I've used quite a few 'plain' parts from the Mark III kit, too – but chaos isn't chaos if you completely clean it up. By leaving some more flamboyant parts, you improve the look of the force en-masse.
+ Of course, we'll likely never know, but I think a ten-man 'standard' kit, with the regular upgrade weapons (plasma gun, melta gun, flamer) might have been on the cards, alongside a five-man 'elite' kit containing the plague spewers, flails and the like. Who knows? In the end, when the kit's as good as this, it doesn't really matter :) +

+++




+ A Realm of Chaos-era classic. Snippets of colour text at the bottom really help to spark your imagination, and the artwork provides some great inspiration for colour palette and freehand designs. +

+ The Queenking of Cockroaches +


+ A very cool third-party sorcerer; this'll join my force as... er... something. Haven't decided what, yet! Sometimes a model is just strong enough to demand a place. +

+ Nurglings, poxwalkers and support +


+ inload D: Schwerpunkt – Mordheim MMXIX +




+ Something a little special for inload 'D' (that's number 500 for non-Romans). I have been invited by Alexander Winburg of the ever-inspirational Echoes of Imperium blog to get involved in a celebration of Mordheim, the Warhammer skirmish game which turns twenty this year [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +

+ I was very flattered to be involved, then found out the other contributors – and very quickly became a bit intimidated! A list of the hobbyists taking part can be found here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], but far more fun is the blog post with pictures of some of the miniatures [+noosphericinload link embedded+]. I thought I'd give a run-down of what my plans are, in order to give a little insight into my working methods, for what they're worth. +

+ The idea has been churning over for quite some time – Alexander asked if I would like to be involved back in mid-2018. I can only apologise for the time it's taken, but a combination of real-life busy-ness and wanting to do something really special meant it's been a while in the making. +

+ Anyway sufficient excuses; on with the plans. Regular inloaders will know I like to put together a 'conceptinload' of notes, to give me a feel for the idea as a whole. I then refer to this to develop the models. +


+ Theoretical +

+ As I understood things, at the root of the idea was an an affectionate retelling of Mordheim from 1999. Alexander was keen to strike a good midpoint between being us all having the freedom to be as creative as possible; while also not going too far off-piste. I had a little dig around history to find something appropriate to the concept of Mediaeval Europe through a dark mirror, and stumbled upon Jan Žižka.:
Žižka helped develop tactics of using wagon forts, called vozová hradba in Czech or Wagenburg by the Germans, as mobile fortifications. When the Hussite army faced a numerically superior opponent they prepared carts for the battle by forming them into squares or circles. The carts were joined wheel to wheel by chains and positioned aslant, with their corners attached to each other, so that horses could be harnessed to them quickly, if necessary. In front of this wall of carts a ditch was dug by camp followers. The crew of each cart consisted of 16-22 soldiers: 4-8 crossbowmen, 2 handgunners, 6-8 soldiers equipped with pikes or flails (the flail was the Hussite "national weapon"), 2 shield carriers and 2 drivers.
+ Poached from Wikipedia, I've added my own emphasis. That little list seemed to describe a Mordheim band to a T; and I started gathering bits... +



+ ...however, as more details emerged, the concept slightly evolved to an even more post-Apocalyptic setting – that of the ruined city twenty years on (i.e. Mordheim had moved on with real-world time). Other people's models started emerging at this point, and were very different to the fairly conservative approach I had started with (basically resculpted mercenaries). The stuff that was coming out was fantastic – heavily influenced by Bosch and full of Baroque grandeur. +

+ I scrapped my initial idea, and went back to the drawing board. I had been avoiding looking too much at the other contributor's works, as I don't want to be derivative, but instead give my response to the idea; but felt I wouldn't be giving enough with such a simple idea. So, I mused a bit more. +

+ The idea of 'twenty years on' really resonated with me, and I thought back to what I was doing twenty years ago – namely playing Advanced Heroquest and watching Conan the Barbarian with my brother. 'Now there's an idea,' I thought; and started gathering things together. The following are a few scribbled thoughts as visions of Advanced Heroquest, Heroquest and Warhammer Quest all got a bit bashed together. Hope you enjoy; and I hope to bring some proper models together to show soon. Can't all be planning, after all!


+++

Abstract – a pathetic group of old men and scared youngsters led by a man with a burning need to succeed, but none of the power. Everyday regular treasure-hunters; a mix of everyone. No-one in their prime. Not at all prepared for the monsters. Be a contrast for the other warbands – the regular folk that are scared of the dark
  • Sertorius – Marienburger Captain. An Othello figure – proud but conflicted; hires the greatest warriors of a generation – unfortunately; the last generation...
  • Heinrich Löwen (the fighter) – old and grizzled; Champion in charge of a group of henchmen. Scrubby beard; missing eye?
  • Sven Hammerhelm (the Dwarf) – Champion in charge of another group of henchmen. Imperial Dwarf with ruffs and puffs, or stern classic?
  • Torallion Leafstar (the Elf) – Abandoned the group; NPC that follows them? Elf Ranger NPC
  • Magnus the Bright (the wizard) – senile (NPC); bathchair?
  • Wizard's apprentice from Heroquest
  • Barbarian from Heroquest – Ogre Bodyguard NPC?


At the height of their powers....


Use this shield design – update with Mordheim skull-headed crow?

FISHFISHSFISH

Owls – birds; carrion

Option 1
  • [115GC] Sertorius, Mercenary Captain – 60GC; duelling pistol (25); light armour (20); sword (10)
  • [110GC] Heinrich Löwen, Mercenary Champion – 35GC; heavy Armour (50), sword (10), shield (5) and helmet (10)
  • [73GC] Sven Hammerhelm Mercenary Champion – 35GC; hammer (3), light armour (20), shield (5) and helmet (10)
  • [30GC] Youngblood – 15GC; double-handed weapon [staff] (15), dagger (free)
  • [200GC] 5 warriors – 125GC, three with a halberd (30), two with axes (10), three shields (15), two helmets (20)
  • [70GC] 2 Marksmen – 50GC, each with a bow (20)
Hired swords
  • [30GC+15] Magnus the Bright, Warlock
  • [40GC+40] Torallion Leafstar, Elf Ranger
  • [80GC+] The Barbarian, Ogre Bodyguard
Knight (injured?) and bearded wizard – ancient/senile(?); dwarf and elf absent(?)

Slambo enslaved? Or NPC?

Words:
  • Canticle for Leibowitz
  • Viriconium
  • 'Scarred and scared': old and leathered leading fresh-faced and terrified henchmen
  • Viginti – Twenty years on; aggressive sounding. Spiky.
  • Scherpunkt – critical point. Punky puns.



[T]he most warlike of commanders and those who have accomplished most by a union of daring and cunning, have been one-eyed men, Philippus, Antigonus, Annibal, and the subject of this Life — Sertorius; he whom one may affirm to have been more continent as to women than Philip, more true to his friends than Antigonus, more merciful to his enemies than Annibal, inferior in understanding to none of them, but in fortune inferior to all; and, though he always found Fortune more hard to deal with than his open enemies, yet he proved himself her equal by opposing the experience of Metellus, the daring of Pompeius, the fortune of Sulla, and the power of the whole Roman state; a fugitive and a stranger putting himself at the head of barbarians.
Plutarch: Life of Sertorius


Palette:
Ratspike Ian Miller – greens and blacks; Rembrandt – deep rich darks; reds and yellows. Touch on three-dot yellow-ochre used on Unfortunus Veck – perhaps servo-souls? Punk stylings. Leather jerkins; grubby metal. Pastel pinks? Outré exorbitant fabrics utterly spoiled in the City.

+inload: Painting The Sons of the Temple +

+ The Sons of the Temple: picking and executing a paint scheme +


+ Restarted painting Legio Nikator last night, which involved getting a bit experimental. When you're making your own paint scheme – and if you never have, I thoroughly encourage you to try it – it's fun to push yourself and try some new techniques. +

+++

+ Old Spiteful +

+ I started with the old man of the Legion, 'Old Spiteful'; more properly known as Senex Codomannus. After undercoating him black, I did a quick drybrush of Boltgun Metal across the superstructure to give that a base, then began work on the armour plates. I used Solar Macharius Orange for this. It's one of the Foundation series of paints that I never found a use for, but's a lovely soft orange that worked wonders as a base for terracotta. +

+ I began with the carapace, and started working down. +
+ After getting a lovely smooth finish' highlighted up with the addition of Averland Sunset, I then [SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT]ed it up with a combination of sepia ink and granulation medium. This... sort of worked. Sometimes experimentation gives great results; other times not so much. There's something I like about the effect, but I'm not quite sold yet. +

+ This may be an example of 'mid-piece funk' – that feeling you get halfway through a painting when everything looks a bit messy and disjointed. It can be disheartening; but if you push through, you sometimes find that you end up with something you're really pleased with. Of course, sometimes it just ends up a bit crap – but you can always repaint it. Push on!+

+ A little later on +
+ Picking out some highlights [+see pictcapture above+] gives form to the damage – though I feel the marks are too large at the moment, and may need tightening up with more of the base colour (Solar Macharius Orange). +

+ The white areas are Vallejo's Off White – it's best to avoid pure white on figures of this scale, owing to aerial perspective. This is the effect of the dust and so forth in the atmosphere that makes things look bluer the further away they area – as a result, the tonal range needs to be slightly shortened – slightly deeper highlights, slightly more tinted darks. +

+ The effect of the medium is clear on the loin armour. +

+ If you're never tried granulation medium, it's a fantastic – if largely uncontrollable – way to create texture. The medium causes the pigment particles to cluster together, drying in a patchy, slightly blotchy way. It works best with inks, particularly naturally granulating ones like sepia and Payne's grey, as the suspension is looser than in (say) acrylic paint. If you do use it with paint, then dilute only with the granulation medium – don't add water too, or you'll lose the effect. +

+ Picking a colour scheme – or, the joys of homebrew +

+ Picking your own scheme gives you a lot of freedom, and the opportunity to make your figures more personal to you.  The low number of models in the game makes Adeptus Titanicus a brilliant choice for trying it out. +

+ A simple way to start is by picking a main colour – this can be literally anything. I plumped for an orange-tinged terracotta. Once you've picked that, select a secondary colour. This is where the challenge starts. Some colours clash – by which I mean that they just don't work well together; either blending into one another, or setting off disharmonies. +

+ To avoid this, consider choosing a complementary colour, which can be determined by its position on the colour wheel. Red is opposite green; yellow is opposite purple, and so forth. A pair of complementary colours will always look good in a scheme. In my example, the orangey terracotta is opposite blue; so I could use that as my complementary as my secondary colour. +

+ Harmonising or analogous colours – those immediately next to your initial colour on the wheel – will also work well. Orange is next to red and yellow; so both of those could work. +

+ You can also try a split complementary scheme. This is a bit more complex to explain, but essentially involves using the colours that are analogous (i.e. adjacent to) the main colour's complementary. With orange as my main colour, blue is the complementary. Next to blue on the colour wheel are blue-purple and turquoise-green. +

+ If you're struggling to find a secondary colour, you can't go wrong with black or white. These paints will always go well in a scheme. +

+ The next step is to make sure the tonal contrast is good. While you can push both your main and secondary colours to different shades and tints, at the simplest level, it's just a case of picking an inherently light secondary to go with a dark main colour – or vice versa. + 

+ Solar Macharius Orange is a midtone – neither particularly light or dark. Since I plan to highlight it up, I want to pick a secondary that can be shaded down, so that the result is light orange against dark secondary. +

+++

+ As with the crew – Princeps Teutates Polassar is shown here for reference – I'll be using Hawk Turquoise (and how the PCRC laughed) as an accent colour – if you don't have access to a colour wheel for complementaries and harmonies, try a noospheric search [viz: Google it] it. +

+ Home decor is a good place to start when searching for colours that will go well with your chosen main colour; though bear in mind those schemes tend to be tasteful and restful, rather than warlike and boisterous. I often look at mediaeval heraldry and banners for colour ideas, as they fit my idea of the 41st Millennium. +

+++

+ In the forges: Gaugamela +



+ Another Warlord is primed and ready for paint – I've just got to make sure that the scheme works! +

+ inload: Librarian, Devastators and... er... something else +

+ Blood Angels +

+ Ecanus, Codicier +


+ Codicier Epigines El'Grigor, known as Ecanus 3:08 of the Withinlookmen +

+ A fairly simple conversion; I wanted to nod to the Librarian from 1991 [vizref: pictcapture below] by incorporating a back banner, and playing about with the pose a little. I think I'll add a little scroll in his open left hand to further cement the bond. I toyed with a Mark VI helm, as per the original, but it just didn't look right. I decided to run with an artificer helm that evokes some of the detailing of the original. After all, we shouldn't be slavish when converting. +


+ Besides the twist in pose and bits swapping, the left arm has been fairly subtly repositioned to look a bit more passive than the standard sculpt. This took a fair bit of trimming and testing for not much obvious result, but I think it was worth it – if I'm adding a scroll, I want the focus of the model to be on it. A sword held more tensely robs the pose of that focus. +



+ The only other thing of note in the conversion is the Mark VI torso – a simple case of scraping away detail and replacing it with other detail is part of what will make this model feel like part of the overall force. It's easy for character models to stand out in a bad way. +

+++

+ Devastators +


+ Woo; big guns! These two mark the final outstanding members of the line infantry for the army; leaving just the Chaplain and Medic to build. +


+ Just to demonstrate I am a glutton for punishment, the Mark VI cabling and detail is present on the bolter-armed marine; it's just completely covered up! +


+ I ummed and ahhed about whether to go with boltguns or boltrifles for the right-hand marine, and ended up going with the boltgun – mainly swayed by comments from the Bolter & Chainsword blog [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+].  +


+ Glad I did; he looks much closer to the source material as a result. +

+++

+ Other bits and bobs +

+ Besides Ecanus and the Devastators, I built another casualty, this time taken from the new Black Legion character Haarken Worldclaimer. Really wish GW would release some more casualties as a standalone. +


+ Finally, an 'assault' marine. Not the jump-pack equipped sort, but a unit intended to leg it across the battlefield spraying bolts into all sorts of nasty xenos. +


+ Likely counting as an Intercessor in-game, he'll probably be painted up with Assault markings. +

+ ...and finally +

+ Something I'm disproportionately pleased with: the glass panels in my Rhino. +


+ inload: Ongoing Warfare +


It is the thirty-fifth millennium. The Imperium is in turmoil.

Faith wars with rationality as the Ecclesiarchy and Administratum tussle for power.

In disgust, the Ur-council of Nova Terra has led a fifth part of the Imperium into secession, striking out to form a new Imperium of their own.

Seers speak hauntingly of the half-remembered terrors of Old Night, as warpstorm activity increases across the galaxy. The veil grows thin.

The smouldering embers of rationality and hope slowly fade out, one by one.

Against a galaxy in flames, mankind falls on itself; and as the eyes of man turn inwards, the horrors of the wider galaxy gather in the darkness. 

The Alien Wars begin.

+++

+ ... Or continue, depending on whether you've been following along with the semi-retro Alien Wars project. This year, I'm planning to get some more games in, to build up the Nova Terra Interregnum background with some battle reports. As with the modelling and painting, please consider yourself cordially invited to join in. If you've got something to add; get in contact via the +Commentary Submission Access+ at the bottom of the inload and we can chat. +

+ Hobby time has been precious, but I did get a chance to shoot the Blood Angels in action:

+ Blood Angels confront orks of the Charadon Empire on Lurtz. +

+ The fighting gets close and bloody. +

+ Eldar of Siaob [+nooosphericinloadlink embedded+] use their potent witchery to combat the indomitable Astartes+

+ As ever, Tycho is at the heart of combat +

The eternal struggle: human and xenos.

+ inload: Standard Autocycle Renewal+

+ [/END] Subcycle MMXVIII – Boot subcycle MMXIX: in progress PART I +

+ Happy new year, inloaders; and hope that the break for Sanguinalia treated you all well. Apologies for not updating over the Christmas break, but I fancied a proper rest! New year is always a good time to look back over things; so I thought I'd start with a quick reminder of some different ways you can interact:


+ However, the blog here is always at the heart of things, as I prefer the long-form writing. In this inload, I'll go over a few things I've done, and at some point in the short-term I'll do an inload on what's coming up here, and some cool blogs, projects and links that I've found. +

+ Last year's summary post [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] ended with the note that I wanted to get out and do more with other hobbyists; building some links and sharing ideas. I'm pleased to say that little resolution was a success, as I headed out for a couple of great campaign weekends (thanks chaps!) and got invited to something very exciting. Oh – but that's for next time... + 

+++

+ Resting on my laurels +

+ Something that's popping up on Instragram is the 'top nine' trend, which is basically a quick mosaic of the most popular images you've put on there. Here's mine. Pleased that it's a relatively varied mix of my different projects (quite a few rather shameful unfinished bases though!) +

Top row: Officio Monstrosa Iron Warriors; Alien Wars Blood Angels; Catipürnan World-Turners.
Middle row: Legio Nikator; Praetors of Calth Ultramarines; Praetors of Calth.Ultramarine.
Bottom row: Lamb's World cavalryman; Praetors of Calth Ultramarines; True-scale Terminator tutorial.

+ I am glad to see it's generally the newer stuff that's caught people's imaginations. Bit sad that none of the orks and various aliens made it in – but I think that's fairly inevitable when they're up against Space Marines. 

+ Anyway, it's an interesting result, but not really a bellwether for the upcoming year – I'm quite happy ploughing a little furrow of my own – this is, at root, my hobby, so it'll always be led by what's caught my fancy on a particular day. +

+ Anyway, thank you for reading this blog (particular this very self-indulgent bit!), and I hope you continue to digest and get involved. In the meantime, back to the manufactorum... +

+++

+ Legio Nikator expands +

+ Adeptus Titanicus has taken root in the PCRC, and I've now finished building my Maniple (for now, at least). With Coropedion, the first Warlord, built, I experimented a bit with the pose of the next, Manifest Law:

+ Ipsus Granicus, known as Manifest Law +


+ The main conversion here was to cut into the toes and reposition them, to look like it was striding through low rubble. I posed the ruins and added some spare rubble to the raised foot to look like the Titan was in the process of kicking through. +


+ A pin runs up the rear leg to help offset the weight, but that's not really proven necessary – the plastic is so lightweight that it's fairly sturdy. Note I've put the ruins on a plasticard platform, rather than embedding them in the rubble directly. Little bits like this can help sell the idea of scale. +


+ These primed shots shows the pose more clearly (I sprayed it black after priming with grey), and also shows alternative carapace weapons in place. As with the rest of the Maniple, I've got these – along with the heads and arm weapons magnetised. I'm erring on the side of gatling blasters for the carapace. Who doesn't love multi-barrelled machine guns? However, I've also converted up some missile launchers with trailing smoke – adapted from a technique I used for indicating damage on Aeronautica Imperialis 'planes, it turned out to be quite a good way to add some dynamism to the weapons. +


+ When building the model, I had to keep stopping myself from posing it looking downwards, as though attacking infantry. This isn't Epic! The final pose brings with it a sense of forward momentum and weight, aided by the angle of the upper body and the trailing fist. A final note – I love the head. It's by far my favourite of the four designs we've seen for the modern Warlord. +



+ inload: Variance Hammer contest +

+ Meanwhile, in other news +

+ I entered a writing/model contest on a blog called Variance Hammer a few weeks back; and was slightly startled (and very flattered) to find out yesterday that I won. You can read about it – and see the other awesome entries here: [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] +

+ The contest was themed around the 'unsung heroes of the Horus Heresy – my entry was Zaricus Cjarn: 



+ Centurion Cjarn: Aquila +

'Dheneb. The inhabitants might not call it that, but it is. It's an old one.' Zaricus Cjarn sat in the cold chamber alongside a scattered few of his Mustermates, listening to the gritty voice of the Palatarch of the Chain. He couldn't remember the speaker's name; or rather – like anything of little importance to him – he had determined not to remember it. The Kheledakos demanded discipline; and sometimes that required wilful ignorance. The lodge could always rely on its brethren to be circumspect.

The Palatarch continued. 'It's the last star in the zodiackal chart for the region.' Cjarn had remembered that. The fanciful shapes the Ancients had drawn between the stars might serve little practical use, but they were somehow iconic, unforgettable. They spoke to something deep within Cjarn, within the Iron Warriors as a whole: a need to draw patterns, forms connections.

Priding themselves on pragmatism, on the Imperial Truth, the Iron Warriors refused to confront or discuss this urge, even as they conquered the stars, even as they justified their irrationality to themselves. The Signs had demonstrable propaganda purposes, they reasoned. The Remembrancers shape their work into lions, and sea-goats, and weighing scales in turn as, one after another, the constellations came into the Emperor's realm. Humanity will respond. 

Even so, the primarch Perturabo would not have deigned to recognise this inefficient structure; but for the increase in recruitment for the Imperial Army – and the concomitant support for his Legion – that such  symbolism attracted. This star, then, was particularly special. This star marked the final point in the constellation Aquila.

+++

Ah, to the Legions, there is no speed too fast; no achievement too rich. They are too eager, too capable,  too fast for human frailty to concern them; certainly not to delay them. They are harriers loosed; darting out to find new lands, and bring them, forcibly if necessary, onto the stuttering, swelling maps of mankind. The Reserves become the IVth, become – briefly, quietly – corpse grinders, then spill over Olympia, and then...

And then... they make pause, for a little while. They are reforged; beaten into shape. They become the  Iron Warriors.

+++

The promethium-rich caverns of Dheneb Primary are a net of tunnel fighting; the Astartes of the Footsore 242nd Grand Company clashing with the combat rigs of the defenders, bottling them into boltholes and bringing down the fury of the Legion on them. Fury is not enough on its own. Reactive piledrivers give the combat rigs a punch that shatters ceramite; and debased STC trans-rifles give particles of heavy metal sufficient stopping power to reduce even armoured Space Marines to cooling corpses.

Cjarn is at the forefront, Comitas in hand. Cjarn fights well with the axe. The blade is flat-edged and a dull carbon-black at the apex of an unusually long handle. With the nudge of a runekey, it glows a subtle violet, just at the edge of sight – eye-watering and uncomfortable, like staring at an open fire from just too close.

The knob of the eagle-chased generator on the poll robs the bit of weight – but when your blade is hefted overhand by the swollen musculature and poise of an Astartes, and aided by the crackling, matter- disruptive technology of Old Mars, the difference is rendered moot.

In any case, the poll acts as a counterweight – which allows Cjarn the speed to de-power Comitas, add his other hand to the grip and heave. Ten foot tall and braced against the tunnel walls by secondary limbs, the combat rig nevertheless staggers forward, the axe embedded within the outer carapace like a fishing hook. The Iron Warrior releases his off-hand and reaches for a grenade, blindly.

His hand scrabbles at an empty belt. He turns his head to look.

+++

Deneb Al Okab Australis. The south star in the tail of the eagle. In truth, it was nowhere near the other
stars. As soon as craft left Terra, the lie was put to the constellations through simple astronomical
parallax; the still, glittering stars proving nebulous and reluctant to accede to humanity's dreams.

Reluctant. But dreams are sometimes irresistible.

+++

The distraction allows the combat rig pilot to rally; to whirl a primary limb down and across Comitas,
crushing Cjarn's hand and flinging him into the side of the tunnel wall. The rockface explodes with a
cloud of rubble and dust, and his armour begins to chime insistently, warningly.

He is bleeding. He is injured. He is furious.

Disarmed and scrambling backwards, Auto-gyros destabilised, he can't find his feet. His armour is dead weight; blank. It is coming back online too slowly. Cjarn skids over on the detritus as he tries to stand, the mass of his armour slowing him. Tearing off his helmet, Cjarn looks up at the looming combat rig, its primary arms raised to smash him. Comitas is lodged in its flank; yearningly out of reach.

His injured hand is bleeding angrily; the musculature clamping and spasming around shards of his gauntlet. He can feel the cold stone dust settling, turning the wet blood white. Scrambling backwards, his hand clamps around a cylinder. He doesn't look this time. Whatever the object is, it feels metallic in his dust-and-blood-caked grip. It feels solid. It will serve as a weapon.

+++

Cjarn is found, eventually. He is at the centre of a junction, breathing heavily amidst bodies. Blood – in great crimson loops – decorates the walls. Stimms and pain-suppressants render him near-insensible, his eyes wheeling and breath sawing in and out. The Apothecary pauses, before advancing warily towards him, palms up. Cjarn would not be the first Iron Warrior to suffer from combat psychosis.

In any event, the Legion recognises and rewards success. The events of Dheneb make Cjarn a  Palatarch, stepping into his dead sergeant's shoes. After Kolosos, the eye falls on him again, marking him as a brevet officer. And then... the Warmaster calls.

+++

Later, he can't remember how he had come to find the other axe – or rather, it is irrelevant.

He fights well with both, now. Comitas remains reliable; versatile. The other axe... is not. It is slightly too fast; the heavy head drawing on the shoulder. Where it strikes, it bites deep – too deeply, unless arrested. It requires more concentration to wield. Cjarn has had to adjust his expectations of what an axe can do; adapt his style. Now he can catch it by the throat reliably, collaring it. For all its shortcomings, it is a wonderful weapon.

A single piece of some curious metal, engraved and sculpted into a fanciful shape, the blade is otherwise plain. Unlike Comitas, it is unpowered; its technology begins and ends with being weighted, sharpened metal. To assist his grip, Cjarn has bound the whole handle with plaited leather. He did it personally, sceptical of the epimiletis-armourers' ability to match his requests.

+++

The Crusaders return to Terra, abandoning the cold constellations once more. Not in the winding manner in which the routes were found; not in a contracting halo, but in a spear-tip aimed at humanity's cradle. The maps of the Imperium are ignored. Lines and nodes collapse, like a chemical structure buckling; promising and hinting at possible new forms.

Too fast! too much!

+++

'Give me my armour! Give me my armour!' The phrase, which had started as a demand, had become a froth-laden bellow. The bondsmen, their backs to the cell, wince slightly as the marine begins to slam his fists against the dirty armourglass again. Over and over, he repeats his attacks, his hands little more than clubs of blood.

They try to ignore the battering, which continues frenziedly, without rhythm. His words – his mantra – become an atavistic howl, then a wordless shriek. One of the bondsmen nervously peeks over his shoulder. The naked Astartes' eyes are bulging in rage, unfocussed and pink with broken blood vessels. The armourglass is smeared with blood, with spit, with acid burns.

'Should we stum him again?' one of the bondsmen whispers. The other opens his mouth to speak, just as the door to the dimly-lit chamber begins to open. The great wheel in the centre turns, ponderously at first, then more freely. The bondsmen unlimber their rifles and bring them to their shoulder, trying to ignore the garbled, spitting demands of their charge.

'Pax.' The Iron Warrior's command is given as he steps into the room, and the bondsmen relax their aim and step back. As the caged Astartes sees the new arrival, the hammering slows, then renews. 'Give me my armour!' The last word trails off as the Astartes screws his eyes shut in rage and begins battering his  head against the glass, his hands open and trembling. 'I'll kill you! I'll kill you all!'

The new arrival steps forward, and raises a hand to place it against the armourglass, quizzically. He holds it there. It doesn’t so much as tremble under the other's barrage of blows.

'Is it meet to treat with us so, because a stranger is dead?'

The bondsmen look uncertainly at one another. Were the visitor's words a question? Again, the second bondsman opens his mouth to speak, and again stops short. The two Astartes lock gazes. They pause for a moment, their faces preternaturally alike; their individual birth-seed overcome and subsumed beneath the bleak dominance of the Emperor's genetic manipulation. Their faces, like so many of the legion, are scarred and imperfect reflections of Perturabo's; their features hard, as though chipped from a great flint. Their expressions are similarly bitter and bilious. Hard lines cluster around the free Iron Warrior's pinched, thin-lipped mouth. In its fury, the other's face has become a patchwork of strained white-yellow and red-purple, the skin pulled taut by muscle and clusters of tendons. Their faces are inches apart. His nose and brow are pressed against the glass, straining, desperate. His eye wheels, searching.

All of a sudden, as though a switch had been flicked, the caged Space Marine stops. His hands drop, smearing wetly down the glass. His breathing slows, though ragged puffs of condensation beneath his nostrils belie the suddenly-chilly exterior. He seems to relax a little, though his face remains pressed firmly against the glass, the flesh distorted, any nobility made grotesque under the pressure. The silence is as eerie as the rage.

He wets his lips, slowly. Then, his eye fixed on the visitor, and in a voice no louder than a whisper, he
speaks.

'Give me my armour.'

The new arrival appears to reach a decision. His face remained dour, but the bondsmen detects a hint
of amusement as he turns to address them.

'Give him his armour. Tell the centurion a very particular duty awaits.'

+++

The Primarch. Orders from the Primarch! Direct from his mouth; special orders, a special duty – and on
Terra! The hubbub, while low, is audible. The officers and specialists, variously seated or standing around the tiered chamber, try to anticipate Perturabo's purpose here; to find patterns or meaning in the choices of personnel summoned to the lodge chamber.

Cjarn, alone of those gathered, remains truly impassive. The others wear their masks: whether literally, in the shapes of their formal helms, or emotionally, their faces carefully – and wisely – blank as their mercurial Primarch steps in.

Words are spoken.

Comitas is belted at his waist. The other axe is in front of him. Cjarn's armoured thumb toys with a loose strand of the braided, bloodstained leather. The movement is not born of distraction. Cjarn's impassiveness is not a lack of care, or empathy. Nor is it a desire to reject this terrible duty – for the truth is that it is not merely onerous, not merely dangerous.

It is a duty monstrous in its implications: to cage and preserve a Primarch.

Neither for anger; nor cold revenge, but for the simple act of trapping an immortal in an eternal cage of iron, and allowing isolation to break the unbreakable.

Cjarn's humours remain in balance for one simple reason: because it is no longer just Cjarn that influences them.

+++





+ inload: The Perfidious Eldar +


+ More Blood Ange- no, wait – something else. The heading's probably given it away. +



+ A group of fay Eldar; most inscrutable of the xenos. When I saw the Van Saar models, I thought they might make a nice basis for some retro-styled Eldar to fit in with my Alien Wars project. I'll let you be the judge, but I'm pleased with how these came out. 

+ It's a relatively simple conversion; mainly consisting of trimming down the raised details on the legs. The arms were a bit more time-consuming owing to the odd multipart arrangements of Van Saar arms and guns. The heads are metal, from an Ulthwé Black Guardian kit; with the Eye of Isha trimmed away. For any future ones, I think I'd stick with plastic for ease (though I'd love to use heads from the current resin Rangers, as they're a bit pointier and more sleek). +

+ Speaking of guns; the weapons and some arms come from a few Rogue Trader-era spares I had lying around. It's surprising what a difference slightly smaller (I hesitate to say more realistically-sized) weapons have on the feel of the models. +



+ What to do, what to do.. +

+ With the itch scratched on building the models, I now need to decide how to paint them. I think I've thinned it down to the following options:
  • Paint them as Alaitoc.
    • Fits with the WD138–141 feel of my Blood Angels.
    • Nice scheme; good complement to the red Angels and green/grey orks
    • Bit slavish and predictable.
  • Use the opportunity to explore the Halator Eldar [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]
    • More freedom
    • Moves away from the theme I've followed with the Orks and Blood Angels.
    • Explains the difference in models/scheme.
  • Explore a more obscure Craftworld.
    • Fits with the concept behind the WD138 period; where the authors picked Alaitoc precisely because it was obscure and little-explored.
+ I'd appreciate any thoughts on the matter; and any comments on the models. +

+ inload: Tzi'Na Crisis – Invasion of Cha'Anxi +


Por'bo wrinkled her face in distaste. There it was again. When the sea-breeze dropped, the faint tang of the ocean was replaced with a scent of corruption: a sour, bitter aroma. Hearing a comms-ping, she pulled her helm back on, feeling it slide down over her hairless grey-blue pate. As she ran a finger around the neck to check the seal, she hefted her pulse rifle. Whatever these invaders were, she didn't like the scent of them...

+++

The PCRC have been playing narrative campaigns for over a decade now. They've all helped to populate Sector Antona Australis, our far-flung corner of the 40k galaxy – and provided a great excuse to paint up models and get them on the ground. The Tzi'Na Crisis represents an invasion by Chaos forces (represented by the Curdling Armada [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]) of a newly-settled region of Tau space, the Tzi'Na Enclave [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+].

+ Game type: Open Play
+ Mission: Blitz, 100 Power Level
+ Combatants: Apologist, commanding the Iron Warriors 242nd Footsore; vs Bob Hunk, commanding the Hunter Cadre Hun'k.
+ Battleground: A pair of newly-settled and highly-miitarised Septworlds, the twin planets Tsu'as and Or'na boast bountiful and beautiful oceans. Both have a population of little over a million each, with around seven per cent believed to be under arms. In Tau terms, these are essentially military bases, though to Imperial eyes the civilian population is relatively under-exploited.
+ Background: Tau of this Sept most commonly bear coral-coloured equipment and uniforms, though many exceptions exist according to the campaign and purpose. The armies are not experienced; though a core of veterans has been tasked by the Sept's military command with bringing the new troops to an elite level. This battle records the initial stages of invasion: the Iron Warriors have made planetfall in typical fashion, and are advancing on the regional capital in M'Kel Bay. With the Or'Na Defence Corps still fortifying the city itself, it falls to Hunter Cadre Hun'k to delay the advancing Astartes...

+++

+ Deployment and early turns +

+ The Blitz mission uses hidden deployment, so the Iron Warriors – a mixed force of tanks and infantry – deployed fairly evenly. The Armoured Column, spearheaded by a Land Raider, planned to swing round to the right flank, pushing through the ruins of the farm, while a cluster of infantry advanced beneath the cover of the cliffs to approach the bastion unawares. +

+ Iron Warrior deployment +

+ A short rush across open field would see the Iron Warriors safe in the dead ground beneath the hill – assuming the bastion itself was not too heavily defended +

+ The Tau forces were revealed as the air support swept over, dropping the pre-battle barrage. A number of crucial strikes were made, with Commander H'unk himself gravely wounded, along with a Broadside destroyed and a Hammerhead suffering heavy damage. +


+ Even as the fresh, clean breeze cleared the smoke and dust, the Iron Warriors were pushing forward, the Predators and Land Raider landing a number of punishing blows on the Hammerheads. In return, the Hammerheads badly damage a Predator; but even the canny deployment of an orbital laser strike fails to stop the advance. +


+ A drone squadron negotiated the steep hills, but quickly came under fire from advancing Iron Warrior infantry supported by a Predator tank. +


+ Casualties remained light overall, and advanced sub-repair systems kept the Hammerheads at full fighting capacity. Hun'k cautioned his force to be patient, waiting for the crucial time to strike. The Hammerheads and reserve mounted forces hovered in place. +


+ As Pathfinders guided their forces during the firefight, Iron Warrior infantry started to fall, and the damaged Predator was reduced to limping forwards trailing smoke, critically damaged. +


+ The return fire was all but undimmed, however, and the Iron Warriors armour continued to thin the Tau lines. A formation of Kroot, sent forward to pounce on Iron Warriors emerging from their wrecked transports, found themselves facing a wall of armour – damaged but unbroken! +


+ At this point, Hun'k springs his trap: the Hammerheads sweep forward to add steel to the Fire Warriors' line – and bail out their auxiliaries! The Rhino  cresting the ridge is halted as the damage mounts up, and the squad inside are forced to bail out. +


+ The Fire Caste of the Hunter Cadre are determined and experienced, veterans of campaigns against the orks of the Scallop Stars and the Imperial Guard of the region – but the Iron Warriors prove to be frighteningly tough. As the Space Marines close, their physical superiority begins to tell. +


+ The kroot launch a whooping, cackling assault on the squad evacuating the Rhino, but are pulled apart in short order by the ferocious Space Marines. Aghast but unbowed, Hun'k himself emerges, his missile pods striking down one of the monstrous Astartes – but more are emerging over the hill. +


+ The Hammerheads soak up firepower until first one, then the other, are sent crashing to the ground. Worse, one explodes in the midst of the Tau line, shredding Fire Warriors and painting the ground cyan with blood. +


+ As the Tau line wavers, the Iron Warriors push forward on the crumbling right flank. The Devilfish sweep in to bolster the centre, even as the Iron Warrior heavy weapons reach the top of the hill. +


+ At this point, the Iron Warriors' armour has broken through into the first line; but another turn or two will see them deep in the second line. +


+ Things look bleak for the Fire Warriors, but they dutifully keep fighting for the Greater Good. Every moment the invaders are held at bay is another moment their comrades can reinforce M'Kel Bay City. +



+ The burden of command is heavy. Hun'k wisely orders his Cadre's Orca to wheel round and begin an evacuation. At close range, pulse rifle shots start to tell; the valiant Fireblade getting the most out of the troops under his command. Iron Warriors start to fall... +


+ ... though not fast enough. The Iron Warrior armoured column brushes past contemptuously, gunning their engines for the border. Things look bleak for Hun'k as the Iron Warriors infantry make the line – and blood starts to flow. The Tau begin to fall back in good order – their officers stopping a retreat becoming a rout.  +


+ The battle is at risk of becoming an extermination, and Hun'k is relieved to see the Orca swooping down. A haptic motion detonates a pre-prepared series of blind-baffles, giving the few survivors precious moments to scamper to the Orca and escape. +


+ Result: Decisive victory for the invaders. The shadows begin to draw around the Tzi'Na Enclave; and a crucial foothold has been made on Or'Na.