I was wrong, 30k is actually good

Hi everybody,

Yeah, OK, so I was wrong. I’ve always been hesitant about getting my teeth into the Horus Heresy as a setting, for a variety of reasons. Mainly I guess I was skeptical that today’s Games Workshop had it in them to make a setting that was different from original 40k, but still compelling.

It turns out that they can, and have, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me that much. Rogue Trader was a delicious soup of 1970s and 80s science fiction and Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Not exactly ground-breaking on the surface. But the thing I think that suckered me in was the dystopian hopelessness; the human race distilled into a brutal conservative regime, fighting a last stand against the worst parts of itself made real.

So I never really got the Heresy, as a setting. It seemed to me to be bereft of what made 40k interesting: just a bunch of battles in a golden age of demigods flying around with giant hammers and stuff, and if you don’t already know my policy on superheroes, it’s “yeah, nah.” Oh and also ALL SPACE MARINES ASTARTES ALL THE TIME was a bit of a concern, since I’ve never been into them that much. But my local scene really started to get into it, and more and more people I knew and trusted as gamers and hobbyists quietly recommended Forgeworld’s Heresy rules and invited me to events. Eventually I thought why not, I’ll give it a go, and I set about converting 1000 points of my 40k Guardsmen to be 30k-compatible Imperialis Militia. I also read the first three Horus Heresy novels, to get a feel for it all.

And you know what, it’s pretty great. I like the aesthetic, which is subtly different. And the thing that suckers me in (in a narrative sense) this time is that it still has the hopeless feel. Only instead of being mired in the dying days of a dystopia, the setting is the dying days of a utopia that almost was. The Loyalist forces are (officially) atheist rationalists, confronted by your traditional Lovecraftian sanity-destroying beings that disprove everything they believe about the universe. And, interestingly, what we believe too. I think it’s fair to say that we live in largely secular, rationalist cultures in most of the modern West (barring parts of the USA maybe), so it’s easy to identify with the people of the Heresy era. They’re sort of like us. And we know that they’re doomed to become Emperor worshipping medievals, because faith is the only thing that can fight the Warp. Brutal.

The rules are nice too. My friends locally were telling me it was more balanced than 40k, and from the couple of games I’ve played and what I’ve read, that certainly seems to be the case. Ages ago I wrote a post about how balance in wargames is only really possible when the factions are similar. That’s why historical games (and near future true SF games, like Infinity) are much better strategic contests than 40k, where endless bug monsters and undead robots fight human super soldiers protected by the game designer’s plot armour. Well in 30k, everyone is either humans or astartes, and the variety comes with the legion rules or (in the case of my militia) homeworld provenance. There are deamons and psykers I guess, but they seem to play a much smaller role than in 40k. It’s like a low-magic fantasy setting, contrasted with 40k’s high-magic and aliens and stuff. Different legions can be very different, but within reason. You basically know you’re fighting astartes (you have to call them astartes in 30k, it’s the rules) or humans.

I think for that reason the games I played felt much more strategic than 40k, and I really had the sense my guys were winning or losing because of my actions, not because I was out-listed or surprised by some formation combo. Oh and the other thing that is cool is that astartes don’t have And They Shall Know No Fear. 30k militia are less brave than 40k Guard, too. Everyone is braver in the far future because they have learned to be. So that means you can break Space Marines, and sweeping advance them. Damn it felt good to bayonet some marines into running and then cut them all down. My guys never get to do that in 40k!  It’s amazing how these two things (increasing the importance of morale and levelling the factions to be all similar) make for a much more balanced game.

Of course it’s still 40k in terms of basic rules structure. So that’s a point against it. You have huge armies where individual guys have to be upgraded with weapon choices, and games still take forever. But it’s certainly cinematic, and as long as I don’t play too often I think I can stay interested. My militia hail from a desolate hive world, so I took the Feral Warriors and Al-chem Jackers provenances. This makes them hive gangers hopped up on frenzon, so WS4 and stubborn. Plus I purchased some upgrades for extra attacks. My grenadiers were more than capable of scrapping with astartes up close. Which is the way I like it 😀

So… yeah. Just wanted to pop up and say that I’ve been gaming, and that 30k is actually pretty cool if you like GW’s settings but are a bit over the madness that is 40k list-hammering.

Have a good one!

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A state-of-the-art Leman Russ demolisher stands guard as a squad of Uruq Immortals militia head for an objective.

 

Long overdue picture dump

Well hello there miniatures wargaming blogosphere. I’ve not been posting here at all, for months, because I’ve been too busy doing stuff. Like this:

riptide

This is the pirated riptide that rides with my mercenary Tau. Note his replacement foot. I actually lost it while I was putting him together because this kit has a stupid amount of parts. Sometimes… I just wish things came fully assembled.

But not always. This is an old beastlord I had lying around for years, from one of my many aborted attempts to collect a Warhammer Fantasy Battle army. I stuck a giant sword on his back that came from an SD Gundam kit. He is supposedly for Mordheim, but who knows if that will ever eventuate. Either way I like him.

This is my Macharius Omega, my first superheavy. It took ages simply because it’s so big and the tracks! They are sooo boring to paint. With things like this I always put freehand paintings and markings on them because it makes it more interesting to paint. It also looks more like they’re grizzled vets in a warzone. Or at least my Hollywood-inspired idea of grizzled vets in a warzone.

bowie

Here is a painting I did for a local exhibition as a tribute to David Bowie. It was my first exhibited painting and it rained all week beforehand so I couldn’t varnish it (it’s an oil painting and you can’t varnish them in wet weather). No-one bought it so now I can varnish it properly.

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I’ve also been drawing a fair bit, and I did this design of a banshee and put it on one of those vanity sites where you can buy art on shirts and phone cases and stuff. The link is here if you’re interested. I plan to do more of these, and hopefully they’ll get better and better.

I’ve also nearly finished my Irish hearthguard models for SAGA, but they’re not internet worthy just yet.

Thanks for reading, see you in another few months maybe!

Jimmy

 

Ratlings!

An ex-pathfinder and two ratling sharpshooters make up the team.

An ex-pathfinder and two ratling sharpshooters make up the team. The “ratlings” are Hasslefree space dwarves.

Here are my ratlings, mercenaries who work for Trinh Lomax. I love these guys. The tiny squad of three costs a pittance in points and can be a minor annoyance to my opponent, or, deny enemy infiltrators space on the battlefield. Or they can, you know, kill a Lord of Nurgle. Like they did in my last game. Straight through the eyepiece, son.

Is it weird that I think the ratling girl is kind of cute?

Is it weird that I think the ratling girl is kind of cute?

Ordo Xenos Inquisitor + retinue

L to R: crusader, crusader, Inquisitor, gun servitor with multi-melta, death cult assassin, acolyte with plasma gun

L to R: crusader, crusader, Inquisitor, gun servitor with multi-melta, death cult assassin, acolyte with plasma gun

This is Trinh Lomax, the Ordo Xenos Inquisitor who is my warlord in the narrative 40k campaign I’ve been playing in. She has been living among the Tau for the last ten years, posing as a rogue trader.

The model is by Hasslefree, but I rebuilt her weapon to be a combi-melta.

The model is by Hasslefree, but I rebuilt her weapon to be a combi-melta.

inq2

Personal update

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Hi everybody,

I’m tempted by long habit to write a story about how I’ve been suffering what feels like a demon-haunted mid-life crisis, and how I’ve recently come out the other side with a new outlook on life and a whole new set of personal goals. I have let go of a few decades-old dreams and ways of living that were holding me back, and have woken up to a part of me that feels like it’s been asleep for twenty years.

But one of my new resolutions is not to waste any more time explaining myself for no reason. So, above is a work-in-progress photo of an oil painting I’m working on; the first one I’ve ever done. I’m learning a lot every day.

I’m not very interested in writing any more. But I am still interested in the artistic side of the hobby – even more than before in fact. So I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you for reading, my friends.

Till next time,

Jimmy

Glad I have a blog

bastable

I go in and out with blogging, and I know it’s probably tiresome to read my agonising. I write too much; I don’t write enough; I don’t have enough pictures; I have too many opinions; I hate the internet; I’m changing my name, etc.

So yeah, sorry about that. My mood fluctuates a lot with the seasons I’ve noticed. Maybe I should see someone about it because I think it’s getting worse…

Anyway, today I just wanted to say that I’m glad I’m a blogger. I’ve lost one of my favourite models – can’t find him anywhere. The Ministorum Priest above.

I’ve had him for… hmmm. Eight or nine years. The way the sculptor captured his confident, tireless pilgrim’s stride is one of my favourite things about him. And my paintjob worked out well too. I just really liked him, even though he’s a simple old-school model. I called him Bastable.

So I’ve been playing in a narrative 40k campaign with my radical Inquisitor’s private army of mercenary guards and Tau. Last week I needed some spiritual support, and Bastable was nowhere to be found. I’ve looked high and low. I had to use a sanctioned psyker model as a stand-in (I have ten of them I never use. Yeah, thanks for that 5th edition).

The ironic thing is that the psyker priest did really well – tying up some plague marines and a sorceror for three turns with his ogryn flock, making save after amazing save with his Rosarius. That witch was blessed by the Emperor!

He’s no Bastable though. This is an opportunity to create my own priest, at least.

And to finally get to my point, I’m glad that I have a photo of him online that I can pull up any time. And not just him, but all of my models I’ve sold over the last few years. The internet is good for something.

Till next time,

James

Merc Tau Fireblade

This is Shas’n’el Rei, the cadre fireblade for my mercenary Tau. She has a head from zealot miniatures, and an old metal Eldar ranger’s backpack.

Merc Tau fire warriors

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. Between writing at the House of Paincakes network and working hard for the money, I haven’t had much inclination to post.

Here are the mercenary fire warriors I knocked out for the 40k event I played in a little while back. I got a pack of female uh… “not-Tau” heads from Zealot miniatures, because I figure half the fire caste warriors would be female. If you have a whole sub-race who are physically evolved as warriors, I reckon the fire caste men and women (which Tau seem to have, e.g. Shadowsun) would be pretty much the same in size and muscle mass. I just used heads because boobs armour (also available) is stupid. You heard it here first.

merc Tau front

There’s another problem too: it’s the middle of winter here in Canberra and we’ve been having mornings as low as -6 degrees. I can only do hobby stuff in the daytime, seeing as I’m getting on a bit and me old eyes are starting to go, and I’m finding that cold fingers in the morning are really slowing me down. I have a bunch of SAGA models to assemble and base, and it’s just too hard to find the time and the daylight and the warmth all together. Oh and our new kitten keeps attacking me when I’m trying to model. So all in all, I’m having a few difficulties. Advice much appreciated. New cyber-eyes perhaps? Anti-cat spray?

The Zealot miniatures female heads, and the Shas. I really need to do something about my eyesight. Either the cameras are lying to me, or my ability to paint detail is deteriorating rapidly.

The Zealot miniatures female heads, and the Shas. I really need to do something about my eyesight. Either the cameras are lying to me, or my ability to paint detail is deteriorating rapidly.

Top-down view of the squad, so you can see their redback spider-inspired uniforms.

Top-down view of the squad, so you can see their redback spider-inspired uniforms.

Red Sun Corporation

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+++++Master,

I can confirm that Hanzo, the commander of the xenos mercenary company “Red Sun Corporation” (RSC) is the same individual who was wounded – and presumed dead – by the Ultramarines last year on Gloominwald. It appears as though his blasphemous battle armour was damaged beyond repair, and he now leads on the ground, with his lieutenant and rumoured lover Ayame. His predilection for sudden attacks and bold strategy has not waned, it seems.

More interestingly, I have determined that the RSC is somehow beholden to your colleague, the honourable Lady Inquisitor Lucienne Izumi. This means that she currently has at least two mercenary outfits at her disposal in the sector, and it seems as though she has folded the Kings of St. Arkham into the RSC. I would not presume to guess at her motives.

Faithfully your servant,

Brasidas++++

++++Yes, that’s my job. Thank you old friend, this is most interesting++++

Work continues on my mercenary army for Warhammer 40,000. This weekend I am playing in a doubles event so I am frantically trying to cram painting into my few spare hours. As the story above relates, Hanzo now counts-as Darkstrider. I’ll be back with more pics later in the week, before the battle.

Till then,

James

Warhammer 40,000 Forbidden Stars review in the Swedish Guardian

One of my friends on facebook just linked to this, an extensive review of Warhammer 40,000: Forbidden Stars. I guess it shows how “relaxed” I have become about keeping up with Warhammer 40k that I had no idea this was coming out.

Interesting I think for two reasons: the Guardian (which is a pretty big newspaper) is running a long review of a sci-fi board game, a GW IP no less; and it looks like just the sort of thing that might save GW from their current problem. Which to me can basically be summed up as “no-one wants to buy into that mess, so the only people playing are those already invested.”

This looks like one of those big complicated 1990s-style token-and-card strategy games like Shogun and Axis and Allies. I used to love them. A large-scale gateway game is what many of us in the blogosphere think is lacking from miniature wargaming these days.

We’ll see,

James