Lesser Known War Machines of the Astra Militarum

The Leman Russ Expectorator
A rare model of Leman Russ battle tank, the Expectorater replaces its main armament with an Expectorator Cannon, which fires congealed globules of Space Marine phlegm at the enemy.

The limited supplies of Astartes saliva (which is collected by specialised Chapter Spitoon Servitors post-combat) restrict the use of the Expectorator to actions where it it expected to prove particularly effective, such as against Emperor’s Children Chaos Marines who have shown themselves to be horrified at the idea of being covered in rancid spit.

The Leman Russ Exasperator
The Exasperator Battle Tank swaps its main weapon with a bank of servitor powered mega-vuvuzelas. The indescribable cacophony produced has proven able to drive even Slaaneshi noise marines off the field, hands clamped firmly over their ears.

The Leman Russ Exnihilator
All attempts to create a hybrid of the Executioner and Annihilator Battle Tanks have so far met with failure, with many Astra Militarum Commanders firmly of the opinion that the Tech Adepts responsible only maintain the effort due to an unhealthy fascination with puns.

It’s finally happened, Bart – You’ve lost your mind!

For those not in the know, this weekend was Perth Open House 2012, which is part of an international movement that lets people in to buildings and facilities that are usually off limits to the general public. Ryan and I headed out on Saturday and took in the Perth Concert Hall, Council House, the heritage buildings on the Terrace and the Church of Jesus Christ Scientist.

Of the four, the Concert Hall had the best tour – with access to just about every nook and cranny including backstage and the roof space above the auditorium! – Council House had the best views, the Church had the best architecture, and the heritage buildings…. well that tour was pretty short and didn’t actually let us inside many of them – but as they’re now occupied by a dozen different businesses that’s probably understandable. And it was all free, so no complaints!

Pictures are slowly going up on my photostream.

You've lost your mind!But that’s not what I came to tell you about – I came to talk about the draft.

No! Wait! I came to talk about how I’ve gone completely mad.

Those who keep up with such things will know that I nominally run a Valhallan army in the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop miniatures game. I say “nominally” because I haven’t played a game in ages – my only semi-regular opponent was Fabes and he’s now got a partner and another kid on the way, both things that make playing with toy soldiers seem rather insignificant πŸ˜‰ One of these days I’ll get myself together enough to pack my force up, take it down to Games Workshop and play a game there – in the meantime I fool around with converting models and building terrain whenever the mood takes me.

And oh boy, has the mood taken me.

One of the elements of the 40k universe I’ve always liked are the Adeptus Mechanicus – the Machine Cult of Mars. There’s a lot of background for them, but no official tabletop army, which is a shame because if there was I’d probably be collecting that rather than the Imperial Guard (which is not to say there’s anything wrong with the Valhallans). One of the coolest things about the AdMech of course are the Titans – ridiculously oversized and impractical battle robots that constitute the Imperium’s ne plus ultra in regularly available battlefield forces – ranging in size from the merely impressive Warhound Scout Titan to the mind-bogglingly insane Emperor Titan, which could quite happily knock down the Statue of Liberty just for the hell of it.

Fielding a Warhound – or even the next size up Reaver – is quite possible with an Imperial Guard force, thanks to the amazing models available through Forgeworld. However, their sheer power (and points cost) limits them to oversized Apocalypse games, and their investment in terms of cash is not be sneezed at – particularly for a more-or-less casual player such as myself. So adding a Titan to my army is not something that’s really possible. That is unless…

…we consider the Knight.

Knight Titans are somewhat obscure nowdays – you hardly ever hear them mentioned in official sources. However they are part of the 40k universe and provide a much more reasonable option for Titanic tabletop goodness. There are no official models for them, so if you want to field one, you need to hack it together yourself out of existing models and whatever else you can find around the house – it’s quite a project to get on with.

Now what did I say earlier about fooling around with converting models? πŸ˜€

Yesterday I dropped a frankly stupid amount of money on eBay to purchase a Nemesis Dreadknight and assorted bits from the Storm Raven and Defiler models, all with the intent of knocking together my very own, homebrew Knight. Unlike most of my conversion projects I have a very clear idea on what I’m going to do with it, which should make matters rather more efficient – but it’s still no excuse for wasting so much money on toy soldiers. But hey, what can you do? πŸ™‚

(At least I can recoup some costs by selling the various bits I won’t use…)

I intend to field the model as an armoured Sentinel. It won’t be anywhere near as powerful as a Knight should be, but I’m more interested in just having a Titan model on the table than I am actually winning with it – which given my general performance with then models I already have is probably a good thing πŸ™‚

So that’s my insane plan. Stay tuned for progress updates when the parts actually arrive…


How to annoy the Customs department and Cyberpunk fans

Long weekend! Hooray!

(Yes, I usually take every second Monday off, so I get plenty of long weekends, but this is one I get paid for :))

Been spending much of my spare time messing around with Warhammer 40k models – the sad, nerdy results can be seen in my Flickr Stream. The boards that Fabes and I have been building are starting to actually look good, and my force of Valhallan Imperial Guard now consists mostly of models rather than paper cut outs. Still a long way to go though – for one thing I’ll have to paint them all.

Here’s a thing – if you’re going to post gaming materials to Australia, do not put “Warhammer Parts” on the declaration form unless you want customs to open it up and make sure you’re not sending someone prohibited medieval weaponry πŸ˜€

Oh, and here’s another thing – a promotional video FASA made for their Cyberpunk/Fantasy fusion game Shadowrun back in 1990.


No one ever moves like that in real life. If you want to be stealthy you move in discrete jumps from shadow to shadow or cover to cover. You don’t skip down street wagging your head back and forth like a caffeinated hamster.

When you’re making a movie your first budgetary consideration should be hiring actors who can actually act. Costumes, pink spotlights, hairspray and fog machines can come later.

If you come around a corner and spot a guard, what do you do?
a) Retreat back around the corner and discuss your options
b) Stand out in the open, right under a spotlight, and yell at each other.
(Hint – if you chose anything other than “a” you’re doing it wrong)

The whole video reeks of preaching to the converted. If you have no idea of what Shadowrun is, you would be left feeling confused (and annoyed). Where are the cybernetics? Where are the meta-humans? Why doesn’t that guy put on a goddamn shirt?

So, magic requires your shoulders to be exposed, and causes temporary paralysis. Good to know.

I know Netrunners (or whatever they’re called in Shadownrun, my pedigree is Cyberpunk 2020 after all) aren’t meant to be the muscle of the team, but those panels didn’t seem to require a muscle bound freak to open them.

Oo! It’s a cheap-ass TARDIS control room! And netrunning decks look just like chunky 1980’s keyboards. Retro cool!

If you don’t want the future to laugh at you, don’t blow your entire budget (and half your runtime) on computer graphics that are going to look ludicrous in five years time. And if you are going to whack in a bunch of computer graphics at least include some kind of narrative so people can tell that they’re part of the story and someone didn’t just tape over the movie with an MTV clip.

So, intrusion programs are designed by the Tall Man? Neat.

OK, that’s about all I’ve got to say. Go and make your own entertainment.

Foolish 40k Ideas Number One – Servo Skulls

Skeletons. And Fire. And skeletons on fire.

If your Imperial Guard force includes an Techpriest Enginseer you may take up to three Servo Skulls at a cost of 30 points each.

Servo Skull 4 3 4 1 5 1

A Servo Skull moves as an independent model with a movement of 12″, following the skimmer rules. It may move in and out of cover without penalty and has the Scouts special rule. Servo Skulls count as HQ units and may not claim objectives. They may not join up with other units.

A Servo Skull carries no weapons and cannot fire or assault. It never has to take leadership checks, and in any circumstance where a leadership check would be required is assumed to have automatically passed.

If attacked in an assault a Servo Skull fights as normal, but any wounds it inflicts are ignored apart from for purposes of combat resolution. If victorious in a combat it may disengage and move up to 6″ in any direction at the end of the assault phase.

A Servo Skull is so delicate that it has no Armour Save, and can never receive one. However its small size and high speed grant it a permanent 5+ Cover Save, even when completely in the open.

Destroying a Servo Skull scores no victory points, however if all Techpriests in the force are removed as a casualties, all Servo Skulls are also removed. If all Techpriests are in reserve, all Servo Skulls must also be in reserve.

If a scattering weapon is targeted at a point within 6″ of a friendly Servo Skull, it rolls one less die for scatter. Being in range of multiple Servo Skulls has no additional effect.

So, that will either add some interesting strategic choices to the game, or break it entirely. Have fun kids! πŸ™‚

On second thoughts…

They’re the anchor of the Free Mantle Systems

Maybe my Valhallans were fighting the anchor of the Free Mantle Systems, the Freo Marines?

Freo! Name: Freo Marines
Founding Chapter: The WAFL Marines
Founding: Unknown
Chapter Master: Matheus Pavlach
Homeworld: Freo
Fortress-Monastery: The Dock
Battle Cry: Freo! Way to Go!


Imma Charging Mah Lazers

Reinforcements incoming from Philadelphia

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve gone and thrown stupid amounts of money at eBay to start a collection of Valhallans. This is slightly better than throwing stupid amounts of money at Games Workshop to start a collection of Valhallans, as the stupid amounts of money I’ve thrown at eBay are about half the stupid amounts of money I’d have to throw at Games Workshop for the same amount of models. They’re still quite stupid though.

Since Fabes’ Space Marines seemed to be fairly intimidated by my Laser Cannons, I’ve bought a couple of them. Also a mortar team, an officer and a couple of large, nasty surprises, the nature of which I’m not going to mention because then they wouldn’t be surprises any more (you have read up on all the vehicle rules haven’t you Fabes? πŸ˜‰

When my reinforcements arrive from Sunny Philadelphia I’m planning to do some conversion work on the officer. He’s a very fine model, but is basically a bit too 19th century for my tastes. The general look of the Valhallans is World War II Red Army – having them commanded by a mustachioed Cossack in a giant fur hat just doesn’t gel with me.Β  I’ll be chopping down his hat and replacing it with a ushanka for a start, and plan to go with a more subdued paint job than the example above.

I’ve also bought some scary neodymium magnets for weapon swapping. They’re very tiny ones, so hopefully I won’t accidentally amputate anything trying to get them glued into place.

Finally I’ve avoided blogging about the floods because really, what’s to be said? It’s a disaster, and me going on about it in my usual irreverent style wont make it any less so. I’ve donated to the relief appeal and my thoughts and sympathy are with all those affected. That’s about the best I can do.

The Black Swans

Aussie Marines

So, today at work I was thinking – exactly what Space Marine chapter were my Valhallans fighting on the weekend? After some thought I decided it had to be the Black Swans…

The Black Swans
Name: Black Swans
Founding Chapter: Unknown
Founding: Unknown
Chapter Master: Septimus Rowe
Homeworld: Cygnus Occidentalis
Fortress-Monastery: Ratnast
Battle Cry: Cygnis Insignis!

Hailing from the semi-arid, sandy world of Cygnus Occidentalis the Black Swans dwell in the orbiting fortress monastery of Ratnast and hone their combat skills fighting the fearsome burrowing creatures known by the natives as sand-gropers.

OK. Done now πŸ™‚

No Battle Plan Survives Contact With Fabes

In the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium there is only Fabian

Back to work tomorrow. Kill me now.

Headed up to Fabe’s place for another test game of Warhammer 40k yesterday. This time we had 1500 point armies and played on a full sized field on his living room floor – which left both of us with agonisingly painful necks and knees.

I fielded a force of Valhallans (printed out onto paper and stuck onto bases with blu-tack), while Fabes rolled out his newly purchased Space Marines, backed with a bunch of the Space Hulk models Matt left behind when he debunked to the Alps. Because we’re still learning we played without vehicles, which led me to some interesting conclusions…

1: Footslogging Imperial Guard across a battlefield is not much fun.

2: Footslogging Imperial Guard across a battlefield without any kind of mobile cover is even less fun.

3: Footslogging Imperial Guard across a battlefield when your opponent has spent over half of his 1500 points on Cyclone Missile Launchers and Conversion Beamers is possibly the least fun thing ever.

It was basically a prolonged duck shoot. I barely got any units out of my table quarter, and conceded defeat at the start of round five when a Space Marine Captain took out my Company Commander in single combat (and my knees were killing me).

That said, I did manage to hold off disaster for quite a while – mainly by rolling an unreasonable number of fives and sixes while Fabes kept rolling ones and twos. My heavy weapons teams inflicted a fair bit of damage and my Company Commander survived far longer that he should have thanks to his refractor field. The champions however were my ratling snipers, who managed to eliminate Fabes’ Master of the Forge despite drawing the attention of numerous grenade and missile launchers and a nearby group of snipers containing some whiz-bang special sniper character who seemed to have spent the entire battle huffing obscura (The sniper! He does nothing!).

My least useful unit was the massed one consisting of 20 veterans (with various heavy weapons) and a Ministorum Priest. The first round of missile strikes reduced this to about five models who promptly fled – I managed to rally them but the game was over before they got back in range of anything (The Eviscorator! It does nothing!)

Despite being smashed by Fabes’ somewhat underhand weapon choices it was a really fun day. I think I may have to consider buying some models…

Alles klar, Herr Kommissar

For the Emperor!

Spent an entertaining day up at Fabes’ place yesterday figuring out how to play Warhammer 40k. We ran a very small scale (375 points) test game in which my Valhallans completely wiped the floor with his non-specific Space Marines. My stunning victory was down to a number of points..

  • We had very little idea what we were doing
  • The ridiculously low points value we ran with meant the Valhallans outnumbered the Marines about 3 to 1
  • Fabes kept rolling 1s

But hey, it was just a run through to figure out the movement and shooting rules, so I shouldn’t crow too much πŸ˜€

I enjoyed the game enough to go and check out the cost of some Valhallan models (we were using proxies for everything) but – as one expects from Games Workshop – the prices are insane. If I can be bothered I might look at some alternatives, World War II Red Army figurines obviously – but no promises. I mean seriously, do I need another hobby? πŸ˜€

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