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Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Kill Team Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Second Kill Team match: Seize Ground, Orks vs. Marines

Hot on the heels of my first match — the first-ever Kill Team game for Lark and me — on June 23rd my friend Reagan came over for a game.

He didn’t have a strong preference for a team, so suggested he play the Marines. We built our teams from my available options, and I set the board up for the Seize Ground mission. This layout used everything I learned from my first board, plus an additional piece of terrain.

We skipped equipment (learning game!), but did use secondary objectives.

The board after initial deployment, Skrudd’s Krumpas on the left and Squad Karios on the right
Deployment from my side
Reagan’s initial deployment

This game was when I started seeing Kill Team as a series of decisive moments. Sometimes you know it’s decisive and plan around it, and other times it’s not revealed to have been decisive until the match has ended. This one one of those moments: Reagan parking his Missile Launcher Marine behind cover with a clear lane of fire caused my problems for the entire game!

So many booms

The pressure from Reagan’s Marines was relentless. I don’t think I landed a single shot on them in the first TP, and I didn’t land many in the second. His positioning walled me off from his half of the board.

Mr. Pink Hair survived more rockets than I expected (my picture stinks, but I wanted to commemorate the moment)
Pretty sure this is during the second Turning Point

Playing as the Orks, it was hard to poke my head out because every time I did a Marine shot that Ork’s ass off. Lark had the same experience. I resolved to push through that as best I could so my guys could get properly stuck in. TP one was figuring out potshots were going to lose me the game, TP two was getting into position for charges.

Advancing on the Missile Launcher Marine’s position was one of my most decisive plays
Plasma + vantage point: just as brutal for my Orks as it was for Lark’s Orks in my previous game

The board was much more cluttered and engaging this time around. We agreed it might even be too cluttered in places, especially where the gaps were too narrow for bases. It’s hard to think about every angle when setting up the table (art, not science). I learned some good stuff to take into my next setup.

Getting stuck in

I can’t remember the VP tally at the end of the first Turning Point, but it was either tied or Reagan had a slight lead. In the second, I held him to a 0-0 tie for that round’s scoring. I lost Orks in both rounds.

Turning Point three was where I clinched the game, taking out 5/6 of his Marines while I still had enough bodies scattered about to claim objectives — the fruits of my careful second turn getting into position. Orks in close combat are pretty fearsome.

The death toll partway through the third Turning Point
Board state in Turning Point three, with the Plasma Marine on the board’s central vantage point — a devastating position, but also very exposed
My best roll of the game, a shot with my Rokkit Launcha
My MVPs, although they spent the early game mostly hiding; in Turning Point three, they put in the work
Skrudd and a Boy claiming two objectives; if Skrudd had died, this battle would have gone differently (and he got close!)
The final showdown between Sergeant Karios and an Ork Boy on the brink of death)
Board state at the end of the final Turning Point (three)

This game was a delight! Reagan and I have been friends for years, but I don’t think we’ve played a wargame together before. He’s a great opponent.

A second game really opened up some of the strategic and tactical depth Kill Team offers. I’m not even engaging the layer of “this team vs. that team means X,” or optimal play of my team, or the wider meta. But even just at my newb level, there’s a lot to chew on here.

Using secondary objectives was a lot of fun. Reagan almost scored one of his, but the turning tide of kill counts axed it. Out of our other five cards, we scored zero of them — but agreed they’d been fun to consider (and mess up) during play.

We got a few things wrong, but also tackled some corner cases and learned a lot during our game. I’m holding more Kill Team in my head now, which I like.

Another match is already on the calendar, and I’m furiously painting Tyranids and Grey Knights so our team options can go up from two to four.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Kill Team Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Our first Kill Team game: Deathskulls Orks vs. Blood Angels

One June 21st, Lark and I played our first game of Kill Team, and it was a blast. This was also the first time I’ve ever played a minis game where I’d painted everything on the table.

Skrudd’s Krumpas on the left, Squad Karios on the right

I got out all the valid options I had for two teams, Greenskins (two Boyz fire teams) and Astartes (one Tactical Marine fire team), Lark picked the Orks, and then we each knocked together a team in BattleScribe based mainly on which minis looked the coolest.

All of my model options for these two teams

Like playing BattleTech with my kiddo for the first time, this whole experience was an absolute joy. It would have been a joy even with Lego people and cereal boxes, but having everything painted was the cherry on top. We both found it immersive to play with painted minis — honestly, I’m still shocked how much of a difference it makes.

The final teams, Skrudd’s Krumpas vs. Squad Karios

A light battle report

We played a learning game, leaving out equipment and secondary objectives; I figured we had enough rules to think about for a first game without those. I set up the board based on feedback from r/KillTeam about my test layout, making sure both teams could deploy in cover, no single vantage point could dominate the board, and both halves were similar.

I picked Loot and Salvage for the mission, since it seemed straightforward: long-edge deployment, simple objectives.

The board setup

Lark took some of these photos, but we were just passing my phone back and forth so I’m not sure which ones. If it’s a good photo…it’s probably one of Lark’s!

Half of Srkudd’s Krumpas at deployment
The other half
Most of Squad Karios at deployment
My other two Marines
Plasma + vantage point seemed like a good idea
We tussled over this objective for about half the game

In this mission, you score 1 VP every time you loot an objective. Lark was really good at trading Gretchin for 1 VP (a good trade!). My Marine’s toughness kept all of them alive for the first Turning Point.

All tied up at the end of the first Turning Point, but no Marine casualties yet
Second Turning Point, Ork view
Second Turning Point, Marine view
Orks moving in
Ork Boyz with ‘eavy weapons

I had to pick Sergeant Karios as my leader — he was the first Blood Angel I finished back in 2020. I forgot he was in my case for my first 40k game, so this Kill Team match was the sarge’s first deployment.

One of the key fights in the second Turning Point
Squad Karios hogging objectives
This guy survived a lot of fire
This Boy and his Big Shoota put in the work
As did this Marine and his Heavy Bolter
Mr. Pink Hair cleaning out objective 5
Mr. Pink Hair (we both really liked this guy, and he was fun to paint)
I can’t remember who had a very bad day here, but based on the number of dice the shot had to be from Lark’s Big Shoota or my Heavy Bolter
Skrudd, near death but tough as nails

We called the game partway into the third Turning Point. We cleared every objective, but I cleared more in the second Turning Point.

End of the second Turning Point, during which Lark wiped out my Plasma guy

Lark and I both had a great time with this match, and we’re already looking forward to our next one. Lark’s a sharp kid with a real wargaming spirit, and an excellent opponent.

It’s been three months since we first planned to play, partly because I’m a pretty slow painter. Deciding not to wait until the teams we originally picked — Novitiates and Corsairs — were done, and instead to play with forces I already had on hand, was a good call. Playing trumps not playing!

Post-match thoughts

I missed some stuff in the rules, no surprise there. The biggest thing was not being able to select an action more than once during an activation — part of why we cleared all six objectives (18 loot actions) in less than three Turning Points. That’s what learning games are for, though, and after one play we both had a pretty solid grasp of the game.

With the benefit of hindsight and one play worth of experience, this match-up was a challenging one for Lark’s Greenskins. If I were to do it over with these two teams, I’d recommend that the player with less wargaming experience play the Marines: They’re good at everything, quite tough, and you don’t have a pile of models to worry about.

This board probably had too many relatively clear fire lanes (which also benefitted my Marines more often than it did Lark’s Orks), and felt like it needed one more piece of medium/large terrain. (When I set up the board for my second game, a couple days later, I worked on remedying that.) KT boards are more art than science, and I can see how every iteration will make it easier to spot the potential hang-ups in a given layout.

End-on view of our board for this game

Kill Team combines 40k and Necromunda into a tight, rich package that’s relatively easy to learn, quicker to play than 40k, and full of tactical and strategic depth.

I also dig that I’ve reached the point where I can provide all the stuff for a complete game: board, terrain, two teams, etc. I can’t do that with 40k, and won’t be able to for ages. All of that combines to make KT much easier to get to the table than 40k.

As I write this post I’ve already played a second KT game, also a blast. Kill Team is shaping up to be one of my favorite games.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines Grey Knights Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My first game of 40k since 1993: Blood Angels vs. Dark Angels

Despite a near-lifelong simmering love for the 40k universe, until this past weekend I’d only played 40k once or twice. That was back in 1993, when I pitted a box of Squats against my then-girlfriend’s Tyranids for a game or two. For a variety of reasons — some good, some irrational, let’s file them all under “it’s complicated” — I wrote off 40k for the next, uh, 27 years.

In 2020, I decided to start painting 40k minis with an eye to maybe playing the game again at some point. The pandemic’s “official” start date, March 12, was about two weeks later, so I spent the next three years painting 40k minis without actually playing the game. That got me properly into miniature painting as a hobby in its own right.

But once things opening up again lined up with a shift in my family’s pandemic risk calculations, it was time to kick those 40k tires. So on June 10, 2023, I met up with my friend Shay to play the first game of 40k I’d played in 30 years — with two fully painted forces, on a fully painted table, to boot! It was a blast.

Blood Angels vs. Dark Angels

We played a stripped-down 9th Edition Combat Patrol learning game: no CP, no stratagems, no secondary objectives. Shay is a veteran 40k player, but hadn’t played in several years; we muddled through things together.

40k, at least in 9th edition, is an odd mix of relatively simple rules but a complex array of extras, fiddly bits, and exceptions. Even with all the stuff we ignored, it still took us two hours to play two rounds. A fun two rounds! But it’s a commitment.

I know we got some stuff wrong, but despite that, and even after just a single game, the strategic and tactical decision space has opened up for me. I learned stuff; I’d build my force and play differently next time. I came away with plenty of rules questions, but those will smooth out over time. The bones are sturdy. This is a game I’d love to keep playing.

A light battle report

Due to some technical hurdles, we had to work out Shay’s points on the spot with only my copy of the Adeptus Astartes Codex for reference. Those points have changed over the years since that book came out — which didn’t occur to us at the time — so in hindsight I had an unintentional 52-point edge on Shay. I’m also pretty sure 2x Plasma Cannon isn’t a valid option, and I forgot to get my Sergeant out of the case (the first Blood Angel model I painted for 40k, no less!).

Our scenario was Incisive Attack, minus the secondary objectives.

Blood Angels, 497 pts.

  • Chaplain Arrius
  • Close Combat TerminatorsSquad Barakiel – 1st Company, 1st Squad – 4 Terminators led by Sergeant Barakiel (5x Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield)
  • Tactical MarinesSquad Karios – 2nd Company, 1st Squad – 7 Space Marines (6x Bolter, 1x Heavy Bolter) led by Sergeant Karios (Chain Sword and Hand Flamer)
  • Primaris InfiltratorsSquad Dolos – 2nd Company, 3rd Squad – 4 Space Marines led by Sergeant Dolos (5x Marksman Bolt Carbine)

Dark Angels, 445 pts.

  • Terminator Captain (Storm Bolter, Power Sword)
  • Terminators – 5 Terminators (4x Storm Bolter and Power Fist, 1x Assault Cannon)
  • Tactical Marines – 10 Space Marines (8x Bolter, 2x Plasma Cannon)

We played two rounds and the start of a third, and called the game at that point for a late lunch. My Blood Angels won, but again: points imbalance.

The fun was the important part, and man is it every bit as fun to play with fully painted armies as I’d hoped it would be! There’s a real immersive joy to seeing these little dudes on the table.

It’s Bolter time!

My pictures didn’t turn out great, largely due to a mix of interior lighting and my desire to focus on the game rather than the photos. I’ve spared you the irredeemably blurry ones.

Mustering our forces. I’ve had that dice tray for 15 years, but I think this is its first usage for a minis game.

We played at Mox Ballard, which has excellent gaming tables and terrain. It was great to be able to uncover only the amount of battlefield we needed while using the covered half of the table for dice and storage.

The first draft of our table. It got a few tweaks before we actually deployed our minis.

Looking at the Incisive Attack mission map after the fact, I see that I somehow put our deployment zones too close to each other. If we’d deployed differently, that really could have turned this knife fight in a phone booth into a chainsaw fight in a phone booth.

I think this is turn one. I’ve just deployed my Infiltrators on objective 4, and both of us still have our Terminators in their respective Teleportarium chambers.
Squad Karios in the foreground, Squad Dolos near the top.

Our Tactical Squads took plenty of pot shots at each other, which is how I learned that even vanilla Marines are pretty tough.

Dark Angels with a commanding field of fire.
Shay’s Deathwing Terminators make their entrance.

This was my decisive play, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Once my Terminators started taking fire, I got to see just how tough they really are — especially with Storm Shields. We both spent a lot of points on our Termies, but man were they worth it.

Squad Barakiel (right) teleports in next to Squad Dolos.
My Terminators make a push for objective 2 — and Shay’s Tactical Marines.
Close combat ensues.
The scrimmage from afar.

My Terminators clinched things by wiping out a chunk of Shay’s Tactical Squad and claiming objective 1.

This fight proved decisive. Storm Shields and Thunder Hammers are amazing.

We both had a ton of fun with this short match. The glitches, shortened game, and outcome played no role in how much fun this was for me. Getting to play 40k for the first time in decades, with my friend, with an army I painted was an absolute hoot.

We’re on the cusp of 10th Edition, so this might turn out to be the only game of 9th Edition I play. I’ve already started learning the 10th Edition rules.

What’s that on the horizon? MOAR TERMINATORS

And, somewhat predictably…I’ve also started planning a fifth army. Terminators were my favorite thing in the 40k universe before I saw them in action. And now, after seeing how well their performance matches the fiction — they just laugh at small arms fire! — I love them even more.

Just a couple hours after our match, I started drafting Grey Knights lists. Terminators as troops! Tiny knight helmets! The Baby Bjorn of doom! Terminators as far as the eye can see!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Terrain Warhammer 40k

Catching up on lightbox pics: 40k terrain and a mantis

I snapped these back in January, of stuff I finished in December of 2022, and then forgot about them until now.

Sector Mechanicus dome/stack

I had a lot of fun building this piece. All of these sets interconnect so well that it’s satisfying to play around and find ways to work in “off-book” connections.

Ferratonic Furnace

I have a couple of these, so I felt free to assemble this one as a single piece — no modular lid. The Wraithbone railings and pipe fittings tie it to my Sector Manufactorum terrain.

There’s something therapeutic about drilling little bullet holes in terrain.

To matched the blasted and ruined look of my Manufactorum pieces, I added battle damage to the railings.

I assembled the platform and railings such that it can play nice with almost any walkway piece. The corner with the hazard stripes has a bite taken out of it with my hobby nippers.

Sector Mechanicus walkway

I clustered the railings in the center, leaving both ends and the “sides” of the ends free to connect with other walkways.

All of my ladders are carefully placed to as to mostly play nice with other terrain pieces.

I wanted this to fit in with my blasted-up Manufactorum stuff, so I used clippers and my hobby knife to tear chunks out of the platform. I kept the holes small enough to avoid being hazards for the actual miniatures.

Thermo-Exchanger Shrine and miscellaneous tank

Shipping containers and misc. bits

The bottoms are fully painted too, but not interesting enough to photograph. I paint the bottoms because these are so modular that they look good at weird angles, on their sides, etc.

Giant dire mantis

My kiddo, Lark, loves preying mantises, so I painted this giant dire mantis (a 3-D print I bought on Etsy) as a Christmas present. I used some glazing and progressive drybrushing layers to try to make it look natural, and the overall model uses something like 19 colors. It was a ton of fun to paint.

And that’s it, I’m all caught up! Now back to assembling Brôkhyr Thunderkyn for my Votanni army.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Miniatures Warhammer 40k

New plan: Let the Wookiee (er, Combat Patrol) win

Thinking of painting goals for 40k solely in terms of 2,000-point armies can be daunting. I’m not sure why I’ve never committed to this simple early goal instead: finish a Combat Patrol.

500 points is a much less daunting prospect, and it still leaves room to paint a variety of models. I have 2,000 points of Blood Angels, which can be sliced up multiple ways to create Combat Patrols — but my Deathskulls Orks, Custodes, and Leagues of Votann armies are nowhere near complete. A concrete, play-focused sub-goal would likely have helped me there.

My one finished army to date, 2,000 points of Blood Angels

Hell, I could field a few different painted Ork Combat patrols…except I don’t have any painted HQ options. If I paint Moonkrumpa or my Weirdboy, bam: instant Combat Patrol. Realizing that was what got me thinking about setting a short-term Combat Patrol goal for all three of my unfinished armies.

None of these Combat Patrols involve buying new models. They’re listed in order of how quickly I can complete them, quickest to slowest.

One of many possible CPs I can make out of my Blood Angels army: Squads Dolos (rear), Barakiel (left), and Karios (right), led by Chaplain Arrius (front)

Deathskulls Orks

The smallest goal, paint my simplest HQ option:

  • Weirdboy, “Warpmek” Nakk (a converted Age of Sigmar Weirdnob Shaman)

With my painted Boyz, Grots, Kans, Trukk, and Deff Dread, there are at a handful of viable Combat Patrols I can make with the addition of just my Weirdboy.

Moonkrumpa cries out, “Paint me!”

Adeptus Custodes

Finish painting 3x of these Custodian Guards, who are mostly painted:

  • Custodian Guard Squad, Inkaef, Halfden, Konstantyn, Baptiste, and Adomako (5x Sentinel Blade and Storm Shield)

And then paint these 4x models (all their gold is painted and washed, and their bases are done):

  • Captain-General Trajann Valoris (Warlord)
  • Custodian Guard Squad, Telvaer, Anselm, and Sadiki (3x Guardian Spear)

I think with the changes in 9th I need to glue Misericordia to some of my custard lad models; they weren’t free when I built this army.

Last seen in…holy shit, 2021. It feels like a year ago, but it’s been two years!

Leagues of Votann

I have precisely zero of these guys fully painted, and only a few partially base-coated. I also don’t own any of my favorite models for this faction, because Hearthguard were impossible to find when I started acquiring this army. This is the fuzziest goal — I don’t even have names for my models yet! — and the furthest from completion.

Finish painting 5x Hearthkyn (based and primed), and then paint another 5x of them:

  • Hearthkyn Warriors (7x Warrior, 1x Warrior with Magna-Rail Rifle, 1x Warrior with EtaCarn Plasma Beamer, lead by 1x Theyn with Concussion Gauntlet and Autoch-Pattern Bolt Pistol).

Finish painting this squad of Beserks (based and partially painted):

  • Cthonian Beserks (4x Concussion Mauls, 1x Mole Grenade Launcher; plus the 2x Mole Grenade models)

And paint an HQ option (unassembled):

  • High Kâhl (Rampart Crest, Mass Gauntlet, Autoch-Pattern Combi-Bolter)
Dang, I lost motivation so hard that this is the only photo I have of my WIP Votanni…and it’s the very first one I took

Hither and thence

That’s 26 models, ignoring the fuzz factor (the Mole Grenade team is two minis on one base, etc.).

If I’m in a good groove, I can take one squad of five troops from sprue to sealed and ready to play in a week, although two weeks is more realistic. Some of these models are considerably more complex than Joe Space Marine, notably Moonkrumpa and Trajann, so 26 models would take me something like 5-10 weeks to paint.

Under three months — good groove permitting! — to go from one finished Combat Patrol to a whopping four would be awesome.

But the obvious step one is to go from one CP (Blood Angels) to two by painting a single model: a Deathskulls HQ.

6/19/23 update: Well, maybe not thence. Now that I’ve read up on the details of Combat Patrols in 10th Edition, my approach in this post isn’t viable anymore. Combat Patrols are These Specific Minis With Special Datasheets, played against one another.

I can’t see GW sneaking rules for custom Combat Patrols into the core book; the updated CP mode is in lockstep with the dedicated CP boxes. There’s nothing wrong with just making 500-point armies and playing 40k, of course, but from what I’ve read the current edition isn’t balanced around that option.

That said, “Have an achievable shorter-term goal” is still a good approach. Maybe that goal is to paint 1,000 points (the new floor for vanilla 40k) while ensuring that a viable Kill Team is created in the process. A thousand points is like six months of painting for me, assuming I stay focused; the Kill Team portion would only take maybe a month, making it the initial goal.

So having just started working on Grey Knights, maybe I paint a squad of 5x Brotherhood Terminators first because I love them, paint a 10-strong Strike Squad next and make sure their wargear lines up with Kill Team, and then finish off the remaining 500 points for a viable 1,000-point 40k army.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Aeldari Kill Team Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My Corsair Voidscarred: the Void Tigers (with color guide)

While working on my Corsair Voidscarred kill team, I spent a few days reading about Aeldari and Corsairs and noodling about names. I adore the warband name “Sunblitz Brotherhood,” and that’s the energy I wanted to capture.

I jotted down all sorts of ideas, but eventually returned to one of my first good ones: the Void Tigers.

WIP shot: My Corsair kill team, three of Lark’s Novitiates, and a pile of KT terrain (March 18, 2023)

Yes, there are already Void Dragons and Void Warriors, but there are also Eldritch Raiders, Sky Raiders, Dusk Raiders, and several other Raiders (and Sky Reavers and Skyslayers). There are thousands of Anhrathe warbands and kill teams out there, and the Aeldari know a good theme when they see one. I’m cool with some overlap.

Void Tigers lore

The Void Tigers are a tight-knit band of pirates, a mix of outcasts, escaped prisoners, looters, hunters, assassins, and freebooters. My kill team is part of the Golden Dirge warband, united by its members’ common belief: The universe is in its final centuries, so why not kill, plunder, and have some fun on the way out? The Void Tigers live by this credo, carving a bloody path through the stars and living it up on their ill-gotten gains.

The Golden Dirge operates from a fleet of voidships, giving them the ability to strike just about anywhere. The Void Tigers’ ship is the notorious Final Embrace, which has plagued the space ways for centuries.

Kill team roster

As of March 2023, I’ve built nine Void Tigers. My rule of thumb for Aeldari names is, “If Kylo Ren thought of this name while he was shopping at Hot Topic, would he think it was cool?” They’ve gotta be the right amount of extra, emo, and 40k — which is a fun balance to try to strike.

  • Felarch: Iradel Voidlight, Strider of the Glittering Way, a flamboyant pirate who thinks “too far” is a good start. Raised on Alaitoc craftworld, Iradel chafed at the stultifying purity and boredom of Aeldari society.
  • Heavy Gunner: Morroruin Vathesh Maulathar, who left the Lugganath craftworld to experience this world for as long as it exists, rather than fleeing into the Webway with his kin.
  • Kurnathi: Celayla, Daughter of Isedra, Wielder of the Star-Shards, an assassin who once trained with the Harlequins.
  • Kurnite Hunter: Ralial Firehawk, devout follower of Kurnous. Imprisoned for poaching on Ulthwé craftworld, Ralial is now a bounty hunter who excels at finding valuable targets for the Void Tigers.
  • Shade Runner: Xynha Veshan of the Bloodweb, an assassin and former Drukhari Wych Cult member hiding out from her comrades.
  • Starstorm Duellist: Xirhadru Meleer Eth’ar Lidaena Duskwarp, a reckless thrill-seeker who loves nothing better than a good duel and the excitement of combat.
  • Warrior (shuriken rifle): Vyparis the Bloody Thorn, a Drukhari pleasure-seeker who grew weary of his Kabal’s obsession with pain.
  • Warrior (shuriken pistol and power sword): Ylloné of the Citrine Shadow, a brash swashbuckler who spent centuries in the employ of various rogue traders before finding the Void Tigers.
  • Way Seeker: Siac-Zar, who abandoned the Iyanden craftworld to its fate so that she could live a life of excess among the stars.

Void Tigers color guide

Revised 7/1/23: I was originally planning to paint each Corsair differently, but in hindsight I think that’s been making the project feel too intimidating. Plus the classic warbands all have a color scheme — it’s how you know who’s stealing your shit.

So I’m going to paint the Void Tigers with armor in matching colors, plus a unifying element: orange and black tiger-striped back “blades” (or Blink Pack, for the Shade Runner).

As always, the recipes below are the Citadel studio recipes with some tweaks. Nothing is drybrushed unless noted.

Bases

The main recipe comes from the White Dwarf Basing Cookbook.

  • Terrain: Armageddon Dust > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Tyrant Skull drybrush
  • Rocks: Pick one or mix in both:
    • Dark grey: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Celestra Grey drybrush
    • Light grey: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > 50/50 Corax White/Grey Seer drybrush
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Corax White drybrush
  • Horns: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia all-over wash > Ushabti Bone drybrush
  • Base rim: Baneblade Brown
  • Tufts: Army Painter swamp, winter, or both

Void Tigers

  • Armor: Abaddon Black > Dark Reaper > Fenrisian Grey
  • Cloth capes: TBD, but glaze to a lighter shade at the bottom (see the Harlequin Shadowseer on GW’s site for an example)
  • Hide cape: TBD but probably a vibrant green
  • Weapons: Rakarth Flesh > Reikland Fleshshade pin wash > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Back “blades” and Blink Pack: Jokaero Orange > Abaddon black tiger stripes, applied in a single coat > very light Jokaero Orange drybrush along the edges only, to provide highlights
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil all-over wash > Ironbreaker > Stormhost Silver
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade all-over wash > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Leather: Dryad Bark > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Gorthor Brown > Baneblade Brown
  • Gems: Stegadon Scale Green > Coelia Greenshade all-over wash > Sotek Green in a crescent from 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock > Temple Guard Blue in a smaller crescent over the Sotek Green area > dot of White Scar at 11 o’clock
  • Skin: Pick one:
    • Dark brown: Catachan Flesh > Reikland Fleshshade all-over wash > Bloodreaver Flesh > Knight-Questor Flesh
    • Pale: Rakarth Flesh > Reikland Fleshshade all-over wash > Flayed One Flesh > Pallid Wych Flesh
  • Hair: TBD, but mainly wild colors

I love the Corsair minis, and coming up with names, backstories, and the lore behind this kill team has been a hoot. I’m excited to paint them!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Godsbarrow Miniature painting Miniatures Tabletop RPGs

Housekeeping updates

Hark! A wild round-up appears. I usually find writing housekeeping posts super boring, but things have been quiet here and I wanted to post a little update on the irons I have in the fire. (This post wasn’t boring to write.)

Godsbarrow and the Gilded Lands book

I haven’t posted any new Godsbarrow material here in months, but not because I’ve lost interest in my setting — I’m still working on it every day!

I really want to put out a second book, so the new stuff I’ve been writing is all part of The Gilded Lands: Godsbarrow Guidebook 2, which will hopefully be out this year. (I published The Unlucky Isles: Godsbarrow Guidebook 1 [affiliate link], in November of last year.)

So far my experience with the first book is holding true: about 50% of The Gilded Lands is new material. Revisiting and expanding it is a hoot. The best days are the ones where I get a wild hair about something, write it, and it feels like I’m just describing something that already existed because it fits the setting so perfectly. (On the days I’m just not feeling it, my “safety valve” is doing the bare minimum: jotting down a name, tweaking a snippet of text, etc.)

All of my Godsbarrow energy is going into fleshing out the Gilded Lands.

#dungeon23

My #dungeon23 project, the Black Furnace, is ticking along nicely. I write a room a day (which is the whole idea), and I’m currently about 75% done with level 2.

So far the pace is manageable, and the empty room safety valve is there for days when I need a break. Even if I don’t finish my megadungeon (not my plan, but you never know), I’ve already designed my largest-ever dungeon.

Miniature painting

I’m still working on BattleMechs, just much more slowly than I was in January. This is the third of my “do it every day” long-term projects, and at any given time one of the three is just getting prodded along without any meaningful progress. Right now, that’s painting.

Once Lark and I play a game with all eight painted minis, I’ll be more motivated to finish the next four.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Everything: a working definition

For the past thirty years or so I’ve been fascinated by the concept of “everything” and how difficult it is to define.

The concept of “nothing” gets all the attention. It scares us more. By comparison, it feels easier to define — it’s both more poetic and more directly relevant to our lives.

This is the definition I’ve come up with for “everything.” I’ve honed it over the years, but the current version has been stable for at least a decade. I don’t think I can improve on it, although I’ll keep trying.

Every possible and impossible past, present, and future position of every possible and impossible particle.

A working definition of “everything,” by me

It’s as concise as I can make it. Daydreaming about what it means, and why it works, has occupied many a car ride, long walk, and wait in line for me.

I hope you find it handy.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Godsbarrow Old school Tabletop RPGs

First level of the Black Furnace complete

I’m quite enjoying #dungeon23 so far. Having 1/3 empty rooms is a fantastic safety valve, allowing me to bank the fire of inspiration for days when I’m feeling it.

Dungeon23 logo created by Lone Archivist and released under a CC BY 4.0 license

Although it’s now day 40, level 1 of the Black Furnace is “only” 35 rooms — because this dungeon has five entrances, and I wrote those up first.

Notes about level 1

Here’s a stitched-together photo of level 1, with wing A on the left and wing B on the right. Wing A is the home of the cult of Hürak Mol, which performs some vital dungeon functions whenever the Black Furnace is in the mortal world — and, by keeping the faith, and even more vital function: keeping long-forgotten Hürak Mol from being entirely forgotten, and thereby still alive. Another faction, the bone automatons, claims part of this wing and is often at odds with the cult.

Level 1 of the Black Furnace (February 9, 2023 draft)

Wing B is largely in disrepair, but is home to two warring factions: the corpse-drivers, fungal beings who hollow out fresh corpses and pilot them like little “flesh-mecha,” and the lichenate, a hive mind moss-entity that worships a moss god on a lower level (who I haven’t written up yet). This wing is also full of malfunctioning and dangerous creations of Hürak Mol, which is another reason why the cult from wing A doesn’t spend much time here.

You can see my love of interconnectivity on this map. There are two ways down to level 1: the main entrance (S1), which offers an immediate choice of wing A or wing B, and the chimney (S3). Wings A and B have one sub-surface connection point (the long corridor to the north). Both wings connect to level 2, and the S3 chimney also leads straight down to level 4.

I’m also trying to pack in lots of the other stuff I love about a good megadungeon: factions, weird and gonzo elements, a nod to practicality (especially where it pertains to giving players information that lets them figure out what a level/wing is all about), an emphasis on new monsters, temptingly dangerous objects, and a mix of stuff that looks worse than it is and stuff that’s much worse than it looks, among others. Some bits I had a lot of fun with: the prison (9), a mirror that duplicates whatever you put in front of it in an internal pocket dimension (7), a magic oven (15), an abomination that extracts hearts (18), a waterfall that whispers portents (26), and a long hallway full of incredibly suspicious-looking clay statues that mostly just want to help new arrivals (27).

As this is a draft, I’ve left some work for Future Martin — random encounter tables, stat blocks, random item and magic item tables, and the like. Those feel like roadblocks in the moment, and the last thing I need is roadblocks. This is already the largest dungeon I’ve ever written up, and I don’t want anything sapping my momentum.

I also know from publishing my first Godsbarrow book, The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], last year that I’ll be revising this dungeon if I ever take it further than a notebook full of maps and a spreadsheet. My approach is to get the raw ideas down, have fun with it, and tidy it up later.

On that front, the Black Furnace is definitely consuming almost all of my Godsbarrow processor cycles — or at least, it is for now. But while that’s slowing down my work on Godsbarrow Guide 2: The Gilded Lands, neither project is an obligation so I’m not treating them as obligations. I still work on them both every day, and there will come a time when the balance will swing back towards the next book.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Miniatures

Pure joy: playing BattleTech with my kiddo

I haven’t played BattleTech in 20 years, and if you’d told me a few years ago — when I started enjoying miniature painting, and painting Warhammer 40k stuff every day — that my first-ever game using miniatures I’d painted would be BattleTech, or would be played with my kiddo, Lark, I wouldn’t have believed you.

We used the old (2015, I think?) Alpha Strike Quick Start intro scenario, for which I painted four specific ‘Mechs to make two balanced teams of two: Marauder and Valkyrie (Lark) vs. Archer and Wasp (me), with the win condition being first heavy ‘Mech destroyed.

Lark surveys the battlefield during the first turn
The first face-off between the two heavies; both took a solid hit
Things are looking grim for that Marauder
Lark’s damaged Marauder takes cover in the woods about halfway through our game
A beautiful move by Lark, who won initiative: getting into my Archer’s rear arc; the game could have gone either way at this point
My Archer survived this rear-gunning, and I stacked my Wasp behind the Marauder to close out the game

Last year I got to play D&D with Lark for the first time, and playing BattleTech — the wargame I’ve loved the longest and played the most — with Lark was just as awesome an experience. We had a blast, and we’re already looking forward to our second game on a larger map, two full lances per side (these four plus the next batch that I painted with our second game in mind).

One of my favorite moments was watching Lark get a ‘Mech’s-eye view to establish line of sight for the first time and being excited by how much fun that was. Sharing the visceral and tactile joys of miniatures wargaming with Lark was just pure joy for me.

On top of that, Alpha Strike was a great intro for Lark, a great return to the game for me, and not in any way “kiddy BattleTech.” AS 100% succeeds in distilling CBT into a shorter, punchier game without losing sight of what makes BattleTech fun. It’s streamlined and simplified, but not in any way simplistic. That’s a thing of beauty.

The core box is one of the best values in gaming, too: It’s actually everything you need to start playing, and for barely more than the ‘Mechs would cost in separate force packs.

I took some time during our game to talk a bit about the differences between AS and CBT, and I suspect Lark and I may have some CBT in our future, too.

What a fantastic Saturday all around!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.