Wednesday 31 August 2016

And finally (on the genestealer front)...

And here's the last current member of the genestealer cult. He was made out of various Crypt Horror, ogre and skaven parts, and has a face that only a patriarch could love. I think he's probably the result of a genestealer/ogryn crossbreed, which is a less than pleasant thought.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Genestealer Cultists!

I've always liked the Genestealer cult. For one thing, it appeared about the same time as I first saw Space Hulk and read White Dwarf, and it still holds a lot of nostalgia for me. For another, it seems to me to be 40k at its purest, much more so than space marines or anything from the Imperium. It was a weird, do-it-yourself army, full of mutants, aliens, hybrids, demons and toy cars - sorry, cult limousines. You really could make whatever you wanted. And thirdly, it was like a cross between Aliens and H.P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Super.

Anyhow, all good things come to an end and for about ten years the genestealer cult and their tubby master, the Patriarch, disappeared from Warhammer history. Last year, however, a game called Deathwatch Overkill was released, which featured space marines (yawn) fighting none other than genestealer hybrids (yay). I considered buying a copy of Deathmurder Overmassacre, because the models are fantastic, but it's not cheap (and I am). Instead, I decided to tart up some old conversions I had and make a few new ones. If they came out looking a bit wonky, well, so did everything else in Rogue Trader.

So without further ado, here are some hybrid cultists. These two are official miniatures:

If this guy can talk, he sounds like Peter Lorre.

This bloke is probably not the public face of the cult.

The next two models were conversions of plastic chaos cultists. I went with a slightly more gangsterish feel.

Probably a former member of House Delaque.

"I hate everyone."

And finally, two oddities. The first model is a conversion from all sorts of junk, mainly Mantic ghoul parts and bits of a slightly melted purestrain stealer I bought off a kid called Ben in 1994. He is wearing a sign around his neck that says "mutant", in case the three arms and home-grown body armour didn't give it away.

And this guy is my favourite model, because he is so ridiculous. He's apparently an imperial psyker, but the sculpt seems to have been inspired by a cross between Ming the Merciless and an unusually flamboyant gangster from a Dirty Harry film. If ever a man dressed as if he lived off immoral earnings, it's this bloke:

"Join the genestealer cult and become FABULOUS."

He even has a fancy stick, for goodness' sake.

So, that's the genestealer cult for now: a band of outcasts, monsters and glam rock musicians ready to take the underhive by storm. Perhaps I should get a copy of Deathskull Killything after all.

Saturday 27 August 2016

"How May I Help You, Sir?"

Here is another Necromundan citizen. I've decided that the last of the stalls will be a robot repair booth, where you can bring your broken robots (or servitors, if you prefer) to have them bolted back together. The stall will need a vendor, and who better to run a robot-mending business than a robot? How could that possibly go wrong?

So here is Magister Manus, the helpful robot, who in no way closely resembles Codsworth the robot butler from Fallout 4. His head was made out of several lights cut from terrain pieces. His arms and the trailing cable were taken from Dark Eldar kits, and the main body is, I think, a Fantasy Battle lantern. I used a base from the game Sedition Wars, because it had a cog-like symbol that reminded me of the vault doors from Fallout.

Getting the dirty metal effect was quite difficult. Some of it was painted on, and other bits were achieved with the ever-useful Army Painter strongtone wash. I remembered to check, and yes, he will fit in the stall (phew).

Monday 22 August 2016

Hard Hat Time

So, the frantic painting is winding down a bit as other real-life things take precedence. I've still got a shop to do for Necromunda, but in the meantime I was able to finish off a model that I started ages ago. I'm not sure what he is: presumably some sort of worker in a protective suit, or perhaps a gangster who has stolen a metal suit and is using it as armour.

He's basically a fantasy orc in heavy armour with the front half of a space marine's head stuck on the end of his neck. I really like these orc models: the armour looks sophisticated enough for space but still lumpy and crude. The right arm/pincer is a piece of tech from an old building set.

I'm pleased with this model because I like the yellow and the chipping has come out quite well. Out of interest, the yellow was painted with a base coat of dark flesh tone, which is a terracotta colour. I then worked it up to a lighter shade, adding successively larger amounts of bright yellow.

Now, on with the robot repair shop!

Friday 19 August 2016


Last Monday, this blog had its thousandth visitor. Given that about a fifth of those visitors are me, and about half of the remainder are probably from people I know, I still reckon that's an impressive number of people who have taken the time to see what this blog is all about. At any rate, I'm impressed.

So thanks for coming to have a look.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Two-Gun Burrito

My "busy and productive" week  continues. Following the Battle of the Barrels, I rolled "gunfighter" as a skill for another of my Necromunda minions, the named-at-random Burrito Discharge. Gunfighter is unusual as it's one of the few skills that I would actively want for a character in Necromunda, rather than something that might prove useful one day if I remembered about it. However, the original model had a cut-down shotgun that I made out of a crossbow and was rather pleased about. I would have to make a new model from scratch. On the other hand, it was a good excuse to make a new model from scratch.

I decided to go for a slightly more extravagant, cyberpunk look this time around. Perhaps the gang has become more flamboyant as time has gone on. For reasons that I can't exactly remember (although the words "very cheap on ebay" might have been involved) I used a Warmachine Khador Manhunter as the base for the conversion. Privateer Press has the great virtue of selling individual models, and for less than £15 each. Unfortunately, they're metal. The Warmachine model looks like this:

I removed the axes, the legs and the head. The axes were replaced with a Dark Eldar pistol and a random thing from the bits box which looked both lethal and suitably home-made. The legs were swapped with a Frostgrave soldier's legs, and the left arm was repositioned and plates were added from green stuff to cover the join. I used a Mantic battle sister's head.

I went with a similar painting scheme as the rest of the gang, but used slightly brighter colours, especially on the hair. I'm not sure the blue hair really works, and I think the bare stomach is just a bit odd-looking. Goodness knows what those brass bits are doing on her jacket, but hey, that's space for you. She has massive boots, too, owing to the difficulty in cutting Frostgrave people off their little bases, but actually I quite like that. They look weirdly futuristic.

New Burrito is now ready for action!

Sunday 14 August 2016

Five Reasons to Like Necromunda

So, given the preference for Necromunda in this blog, here are five good reasons why you ought to head down to the underhive and form a gang.

1. The rules are pretty good. 
The rules are based on the standard 40k rules, with some extra detail and lots of exciting charts to roll on at the end of the game. They run quite smoothly, especially given their age, and make a decent job of simulating a small-scale shootout where the instinct is to duck rather than to trust your armour and lumber forwards. The post-battle rolls can be a bit arbitrary (I’d recommend re-rolling on the Serious Injury table if you end up dead) but they rarely give you a vast disadvantage. Regarding skill progression, characteristic advances are probably better than skills, but you’ll probably get both pretty soon. A few of the skills are ropey, most are better than nothing, and a few are really desirable. That seems fair to me. My only quibble is that most battles, for all their complex rules, end when someone runs away, so you often just try to demolish each other’s gangs as quickly as possible. I’m also not wholly convinced that the ranking system is a fair way of working out who is winning. But there are other, better, reasons to make a Necromunda gang.

2. I like the style of the models.

The artwork in the Necromunda rulebook is dominated by John Blanche pictures, but the models and scenery don’t really reflect the usual 40k style. The standard elements of modern 40k – skulls, monks, huge knights and, er, Prussian officers – just aren’t there, which makes for a change. I don’t want to sound as if I’m having a go at people who do like the 40k aesthetic (I quite like it too). There’s some amazing work being done in the grimy-space-gothic style. But, perhaps by accident, it means that Necromunda has its own artistic style, like a cross between Gormenghast and the Fallout games, or perhaps how cyberpunk would look in some run-down, third-world country.

 3. Conversion city!

Necromunda offers huge opportunities for conversion. Almost any gang can be represented by almost any model, really: because the stats of all the fighters are so similar, it doesn’t matter if what you’re shooting at looks like a goblin or a robot: chances are, it’s going to do much the same as everyone else. In terms of models, you could go from a realistic band of Walking Dead-type armed survivors to a wildly bizarre bunch of aliens and maniacs. Really, almost anything is viable provided that it’s properly explained to your opponent. 

Ok, perhaps there are limits.

 4. Low model count. 
No more tedious bulk painting! No more staring in horror at your bank balance (well, slightly less staring, anyhow). Each model in Necromunda is effectively a unit in itself, or a character. That means that even the lowliest juve can be given a lot of attention. The original lead models for Necromunda were a bit static, although perfectly serviceable. But imagine the stuff you could do with a box of Dark Eldar Wytches, or some suitably converted chaos cultists. And anyone who owns a Sisters of Battle army (me, and probably somebody in the States somewhere) knows what it’s like to haul a model case full of lead around. Now you only need 10 guys!

Enough to make any Sisters player do a little happy dance.

5. You can give your people silly names.

Or, more sensibly, Necromunda can be very immersive if you want it to be. It allows you to follow your little people from green recruits into battle-hardened veterans of Hive City. Even a similar game like Frostgrave doesn't allow you to improve your henchmen very much. Also, the small scale and lack of units as such means that your men can interact with the terrain in a way that Warhammer 40,000 doesn't allow. If you want to make detailed scenery, you're unlikely to get a better chance to put it to good use.

So there you have it. Play Necromunda: if you want a faster (if still complex) wargame with a low model count and a lot of immersion, it's for you. If you want vast armies and huge tanks, it probably isn't.

Incidentally, none of the pictures in this post was taken by me or is of models I made. I'm not sure what the formalities on this are: I've included them really to illustrate the article and break up the text, but if ever anyone is bothered by their inclusion, please let me know and I'll take them down. Obviously, I don't own the images or have rights to them. 

Friday 12 August 2016

It's the Blimp!

Necromunda might be at war, but the great companies and trading guilds still need to make a profit. Huge blimps drift through the cities and over the wastelands, advertising all kinds of dubious products. As gang war rages in the streets below, the blimps sing the praises of Soylent Sushi and a new life on an Imperial colony world (indentured service guaranteed no longer than 2 decades).

A while ago I was discussing my Necromunda scenery with my friend James. We felt that, although the terrain was good, it needed some more colour to make it more interesting. The problem is that Necromunda is set in a decaying city that at its very best is like Blade Runner when the neon signs have shorted out.

I happened to have a dwarf airship model from Titan Forge games lying around. It's a slightly fiddly resin model, in that all of the details are very detailed and it's quite hard to assemble. But it would make a perfect, if useless, piece of Necromunda terrain. What could be more dystopian than one of those blimps in Blade Runner floating overhead, advertising sushi or a better life on the off-world colonies?

"Come to the off-world colonies - it can't be worse than here!"

So, I decided to make my own version of the blimp. The main body would come from the Titan Forge kit, with a wad of sensors on the front made out of old guns, offcuts and bits of sprue. The adverts on the sides were cut out of a free pamphlet about the game Infinity, stuck onto plasticard and "laminated" with blister pack plastic. Some of the bolts on the model were painted to look like lights (hopefully).

The blimp required a stand. I had a flying stand but it was much too short for the desired effect, so it needed to hover over a piece of terrain. The terrain was constructed from two pieces of GW 40k building kit (some of their best-value kits, I reckon) with a Mantic prop on one side to give it stablility. I like the contrast of the new-looking prop with the rotting masonry it's holding together.

Here is the finished blimp sitting on its rather wobbly stand. I like the idea of it advertising another franchise to the people of Necromunda as an alternative place to live.

"Come and live in Infinity! It's clean and we're not covered in skulls!"
Of course, a hovering bit of terrain isn't incredibly useful, as it doesn't block line of sight much, but it is characterful. Perhaps it could move randomly. Anyone within 6 inches would have to take a leadership test or suffer a penalty to their shooting, as the shiny images distract their aim. "Come to our setting! We have girls and it's not full of chainsaw-waving monks!"

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Come on in, the water's lethal

It's been a busy and productive day today, in the broader sense of "busy" and "productive", and I've been able to get a couple of pieces of terrain finished.

First, this fantasy barn was built around a papier-machine chest that I purchased for about £3 in a craft shop. I added cardboard tiles and beams made from coffee stirrers, and doors bought from Mantic Games. The doors are a little too solid for that sort of building, especially the stone frames, but I don't mind. It'll do the job.

Secondly, here is my first proper experiment with Vallejo Water Effects. This started off as the metal lid to a cardboard tube, probably from something eaten or drunk around Christmas. I'd been using it as a mixing palate, so that there were bumps and swirls of paint on the bottom. I sprayed it black and painted the bottom a suitably lurid green. Then I added a couple of bits of floating junk and poured in the Water Effects. Small amounts of yellow, green and red paint were half-mixed into the Water Effects for added muckiness.

The edge of the pool needs a couple more coats of black and strongtone. Although I really like the effect of the poisonous sludge, I  think I could have achieved it with a couple of coats of very shiny varnish. But this was much easier, and looks pleasingly toxic. I think it will be stored next to the large red barrels full of petrol to avoid any potential accidents.


Sunday 7 August 2016

Khador Decimator Conversion

My plastic robots arrived! I bought the Khador Battlegroup set, which cost £30 and was, I think, very good value. It includes everything you need to get started, including an impressively dense colour rulebook. I doubt I'll ever really play Warmachine, but if you are planning to do so, it's a good starting point.

The box includes a warjack (that's Warmachineish for "robot") called a Decimator. Now, I wouldn't want to invest in a battle robot that killed only a tenth of the enemy, but perhaps I'm being a bit picky here. The Decimator looks like this, and is definitely the weaker of the two warjacks in the box in terms of looks:

He's got a funny circular saw thing and a sort of revolver-cannon with a rather weedy barrel. And his arms are spindly. And his head is too low and - well, generally, I don't like the design much, especially with those weapons. So I made a few changes. Brace yourselves for redness on an epic scale.

I've turned the body back-to-front and mounted the head from an ork banner on the new front, with cut-down horns. The ankles have been "fleshed" out with sprue to make them look less puny. He's got a Warlord Games barrel in his, er, power port (where his head is supposed to go), which contains fuel. A second fuel drum has been strapped to his back in a plasticard cradle. I cut the legs a bit to open them out so he could stand dramatically on a bit of slate and removed his metal loincloth, which probably wasn't protecting much, after all.

And now for the arms. The saw blade has been removed and replaced with teeth to suggest that his arm is a massive pincer claw. Silly, but less silly than before. I took the barrel off his gun, stuck on a shield made of thin plasticard and replaced the barrel with some leftover guns from an Adeptus Mechanicus walker. For no real reason I cut the spikes off his left arm and put some extra struts on the shoulder. Both arms had more pistons added to make them a little bit less flimsy-looking.

Now for the painting! I'd originally thought of him as a friendly-looking guy, but it didn't work out that way. I did a lot of shading and then used a lot of weathering, mainly to cover up the shading that I'd just done. It's probably excessive but I think it works in a cartoony sort of way. The base was bulked up with modelling clay, and some Vallejo Water Effects were added to form a little pool, along with a couple of tufts of grass made by Army Painter.

At this point in proceedings, I would usually say that I think he's not too bad or something like that. But to be honest, he's one of the best conversions I've done for ages, so I think he's great. So there.

A Barrel-load of Trouble

 Weak sunlight filtered through the huge hole in the cavern roof, throwing shadows across the rubble. The Terror Bird Cavalry crept through the ruins, weapons readied, boots crunching on the loose stone.

“Slow down,” said Ned Killy, “I can’t see a damn thing.”

“Then take that bucket off your head,” snarled Algebra Flaps, the leader of the gang.

“I can’t. It’s stuck there.”

Emanuelle Porridge tapped Flaps on the arm. “Boss, what’s that?”

She pointed with her gun. Among the ruins, a row of barrels lay half-buried in the dirt, where they had fallen.

Flaps smiled. “That’s our loot.”

“What’s in the barrels, boss?”

“The good stuff. Guns, money, women, that kind of thing. Maybe not women, actually.”

“You don't really know, do you?”

“Of course I know! I’m the – wait, someone’s out there.”

Ahead, figures moved in the dim light. Flaps saw a long coat, and the glowing nozzle of a flamer. The weak light caught on a snarling brass mask.

“Dammit,” he growled, “I’d know that daring fashion statement anywhere! It’s Biscuit Tuesday and the Filthy Rag Gang! Those barrels are ours – get ‘em, boys!”

Not content with squabbling over kebabs in the underbelly of Necromunda, the gangs plunged deep into the bowels of the hive to quench their thirst for booty. Here, among the ancient ruins, vicious combat was commenced to see who would walk away with the five barrels that represented treasure (although, given the size of the barrels, they'd be walking away pretty slowly).  

The mission was Scenario 2: Scavengers, and we played two house rules: first, rolls of "dead" on the "wounded" chart would be re-rolled, and secondly, the word "scenario" had to be said in the voice of Anthony Hopkins. With these unusual (or, shall we say... "exotic"?) rules in place, we let battle commence. 

The fight was swift and savage. Emanuelle Porridge and Keith Violence tore up the left flank, supported by Ned Killy and Pancake Amoeba. Killy grabbed a barrel of loot, presumably thinking it was full of pies, and quickly hauled it back into cover. As mayhem broke out, Algebra Flaps took careful aim with his bolter and shot down Biscuit Tuesday, finally taking revenge for the indignity of being set on fire outside a kebab stand.

Ned Killy and his new friend Mr Barrel.

The Filthy Rag gang put up a fierce fight, using the ruins in the centre of the board as a bastion from which to rain fire on their enemies.Twice Warbastard was felled by gunfire, but twice the indomitable point-sink staggered upright and opened fire with his heavy stubber to deadly effect.

Meanwhile, the fearsome combo of Frogman Stunt and Clam Tickler got to work on the right flank. Although their fire was as lethal as ever (ie not very lethal at all), Stunt was felled by that legend of the underworld, Jerk Manpassion of the Filthy Rags. Try as they might, they just couldn't get the treasure.

But the furious shooting of the Terror Bird Cavalry for once paid off. The Filthy Rag Gang quit the field with one piece of loot, perhaps realising that the barrels really weren't worth the hassle. Cackling evilly, Algebra Flaps and his cronies returned to their lair with their very own barrel, to celebrate.

It was worth every second.

The gangs seem pretty equally matched. While the Oily Rags have slightly better equipment, I get the feeling that the Terror Bird Cavalry have been luckier in the skills that they've acquired. Man of the match (although he appears to be a robot rather than a man, but never mind) was Warbastard, who for once actually achieved something.

Next time, dirty great warjacks.