Saturday, 16 February 2013

Flames of War - Alternative History for 1944 Campaign

In an attempt to get back into Flames of War, myself and fellow gaming buddy Daryl have decided to start new armies. We're hoping that this will give us the impetus to learn the new (ish) third edition rules, and give us a different gaming experience from our usual 40k battles.
You may remember that we started looking at Flames of War last year, but for various reasons we never managed to get into the game properly. For me, two of the reasons were the birth of my first baby and planning a wedding (six days to go... gulp!). However, I would be lying if I said they were the main reasons. In fact, the real reason is that I have a real moral issue with wargaming the second world war. It still feels too close, too real and the politics and issues that underpinned the era are too serious and tragic to make it seem like 'just a game'. This was exacerbated by my picking the Germans - an SS tank army, no less - as my force of choice! Originally I simply wanted to pick a veteran/elite tank force, and the SS Panzergrenadiers in the Earth & Steel book seemed the ideal choice. However, as time went on, I found I just couldn't condone playing the army (they are the bad guys, after all), so the models remain largely unpainted and unused.
Recently though, I've decided to give Flames of War another try. This time I'll be picking an American light tank company. This should help mitigate my worries about doing the wrong thing morally (ie, they're not the Nazis). Another problem is that it's hard to justify games between two Allied armies - Brits vs Americans or Russians, for example.
But this morning I had a brainwave - a slight tweak to the history of WW2 would allow all of the above issues to be avoided. I've laid my ideas out below...
gmap.JPG (487545 bytes)
1944 World Map:
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DATELINE: Europe, July 1944
It is a time of global war. Masses armies, the largest known throughout history, clash all across Central Europe. In the East, the Great Bear advances toward Berlin. From the West, the New Americans and Colonial British push ever further onto the continent, every inch bought through blood, sweat and tears. Caught in the middle are the Germans, a once-proud nation brought low by the evils of Nazism and racial hatred.
Against this backdrop of titanic struggle, the actions of a few brave men tip the balance of war in a most unexpected fashion. Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, in collusion with senior military leaders including Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben and General Ludwig Beck, planned an audacious attempt on Hitler's life. Knowing the Chancellor would be at his secret Wolf's Lair base in advance of his meeting with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 20th July 1944, von Stauffenberg prepared a briefcase packed with explosives, which he undertook to plant under the table in the Fuhrer's strategy room.
The attempt was successful. Hitler was killed instantly, along with several of his closest advisors. As news spread over the days following, support for the mortally wounded Nazi party quickly disintegrated and many - on both sides of the conflict - made concerted efforts to bring the war to a close. But it was not to be...
Hitler's Assassination at the Wolf's Lair
On hearing the news in Moscow, Stalin was delighted. The crumbling of the Nationalist party in Germany was nothing short of victory in his eyes, a vindication of the Soviet communist movement and revenge for the destruction wrought in previous years on the eastern front.
In light of the disarray that resulted from von Stauffenberg's unexpected success, Stalin urged his Red Army to make all efforts to take Berlin at the earliest opportunity. The Soviet armies redoubled their western offensive, with their ultimate goal the annexation of Germany into the USSR and the creation of a geographical buffer between them and the crusading Allied forces.
Having committed untold men and resources into the D-Day landings and subsequent push into Normandy, the success of the Hitler assassination was received with mixed feelings in London. Delight over the collapse of the Nazi party was the predominant emotion, however the victory was bittersweet in consideration of the human cost of D-Day.
Churchill realised instantly that the destabilisation of Germany would lead to a power struggle of unimaginable proportions. The fate of Europe - it's security, financial future and political direction - would be decided either through diplomacy, or through force. In either case, Britain must safeguard it's shores, and those of it's dependants around the Empire.
Having only initially entered the war in 1942 after the provocation at Pearl Harbour, the mood in Washington was one of aggressive self-defence. Having committed so much to the European and far eastern theatres, it was unthinkable to simply withdraw and leave Europe to be overrun by the Communists. It was quickly decided, therefore, that America must maintain a strong presence in Germany, claiming that nation for the peoples of the world as a bastion of freedom and democracy.
Whilst their political leaders may be in disarray, the German armed forces were still largely intact in the summer of 1944. The morale of the common masses was raised considerably as the yoke of facism was lifted, and the armed services rallied to defend the Fatherland behind the unifying forces of  Von Witzleben, Beck and von Stauffenberg (now a national hero) and the remotivated German Home Army.
The German people, under the cosh on both western and eastern fronts, wish only to defend their original national borders against the rapidly advancing Allies and Soviets.
The Soviets see the opportunity to spread Communism throughout Europe, widening it's sphere of influence and creating a formidable geographical barrier between the hungry west and the fertile farmlands and oilfields of her heartlands.
The British Empire, much like the embattled Germans, now only wish to secure her own borders. However, the conversion of middle Europe to Communism cannot be tolerated, and neither can the encroachment of American interests so far from the young nation's distant shores.
The democratic American desire is to prevent it's ideological enemy, the great Red Bear, from controlling the political future of Europe. In addition, America must protect it's own lucrative oil interests from unwanted competition from the Eastern European fields in Maikop (Russia), Grozny (Chechnya) and most of all Baku (Azerbaijan).


Against this backdrop of upheaval and confusion, each nation must fend for itself in a constantly evolving political situation. Former alliances are forgotten as new agendas are drawn up. Previously friendly nations become bitter enemies and unexpected alliances are formed. Far from ending the war, the death of Hitler has instead proved the catalyst for even further conflict. The prize? The defence of your own nation, control of Europe and the world itself!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Building Two Trygons From One Box

The finished article
In order to complete my army for next weekend's Open War XVII tournament organised by the First Company Veterans club, I needed to build two Trygons - and I decided to cut costs by attempting to build both from a single box! Here is how I did it...


Work in progress # 1
First, an admission. Whilst I did make two Trygons from the one box, I did need one or two extra things - the biggest one being a monstrous creature body. In this case, I used the body from a 'spare' Carnifex that our Dave (he of the painting masterclasses soon to grace the Claws & Fists blog) very kindly gave to me in return for lifts to a recent tournament. I addition, I used Milliput, some thick plasticard, some Halfords' wire mesh and an old resin truck from the bitz box.

Trygon # 1

The first model was made from the main tail-pice of the Trygon model, plus the Carnifex body mentioned earlier. I also used the large base from the main kit, which I weighted down with the resin truck to give the finished model some stability.

I wanted this model to look like it had just wrecked the truck, so I positioned the main tail-piece to appear as though the Trygon was enveloping it within it's tail, ready to be crushed and slashed into pieces by the might of this Tryanid moster (much like the Squats were in the late nineties). To finish the look, I fixed the barbed tail-end on the other side of the truck, so it looks like the Trygon is looping underneath the wrecked vehicle.

The body was an easy fit, and only needed a bit of milliput to fill in the gaps. The head was another matter, however. As I was keeping the main head for the second model, I again had to dip into the bitz box, where I found an old Carnifex head (ebay is wonderful, isn't it?!). I sliced off the top of the head and then affixed it to the Mawloc crest (the one with what looks very much like deeley-boppers on it). The hardest part was then to fix this completed head assembly to the body. This was done using lots of polystrene cement and then milliput, the surface of which I carved to match with the ridged armour plates  on the back of the Carnifex body.

Parts used:
  • Trygon main tail
  • Trygon barbed tail
  • Carnifex body & claws
  • Mawloc crest
  • Carnifex head
  • Trygon small spiky claw bits
  • Large base
  • Resisn truck (base decoration & weight)

Trygon # 2

Work in progress # 2
The second model was made from all the bits in the kit that weren't used above. I started by cutting a piece of thick plasticard into the right shape, to act as the base. I wanted this Trygon model to look as though it were appearing from a subterranean sewer, so I cut a rectangle of metal car-repair mesh and then sliced it nearly in half. I folded and bent the two halves over to look as though this Trygon had slicced clean through the metal grating. To finish the base, I cut thin rectangles of plasicard with I stuck around the mesh to look like the concrete edges of the sewer-drain.

The main body of this model was straight from the Trygon box, so this followed the instructions that come with the kit. The tail was fashioned from the tail-loop which usually curls around the base of the Trygon (a bit of a waste, if you ask me!). Firstly I needed to straighten the tail-loop, which I did by slowly and evenly heating the plastic over a small candle (just like we all used to make biplane wing-wire and sailing-ship rigging by stretching platic sprue over a candle or lighter). This worked very well, although I did have to take time on this to make sure I didn't melt the detail off of the tail!

Once the tail had been glued onto the base and the body had been glued onto this, the claws and head were fixed on. Again this was as per the normal instructions. Once all the gluing was done, I used Milliput to fill in all the gaps - in particular underneath the tail-loop, which is basically hollow as it's supposed to be glued down onto a base.
Parts used:
  • Plasticard (base)
  • Trygon tail-loop
  • Trygon 'scorpion' tail
  • Trygon body, claws & head
  • Car repair mesh

The two models were undercoated with Halfords grey primer (my primer of choice). Once this was dry I base-coated with Ice Blue, and then liberally applied a wash of Asurman Blue over this. Armour plates and claws were based with Liche Purple, over which I layered rough stripes of successively lighter shades of purple/white mix onto the edges of the armour plates. Finally the teeth were painted with Skull White.

The bases were base coated with (very old) Codex Grey, which I wet-blended with various shades of darker and lighter greys. I washed the base with a thick coating of Ogryn Flesh, and once this was dry I drybushed with a couple of light shades of grey. The resin truck and metal mesh were drybrushed with Gun-Metal and the edges of the drain were picked out with stripes of black and yellow.

Paints used:
  • Ice Blue
  • Asurman Blue wash
  • Liche Purple
  • Skull White
  • Grey, yellow, black & Ogryn Flesh (basing)

Friday, 6 April 2012

White Dwarf Spine Image - Death Guard?

I've just seen on the always-excellent Faeit 212 blog the combined spines of the last four White Dwarf magazine spines.

It seems to be the general consensus that the image depicts a Dark Angel, however I would like to offer an alternative - could it be a Death Guard plague marine? The clues are there:
  • Dark green armour? Check.
  • Off-white tabard? Check.
  • Red detailing? Check. 
All these basic colours fit perfectly with the classic Plague Marine colours. And if you look closely at the White Dwarf spine image, it appears there are some Nurgle-style plague mutations on the chect, and the backpack looks non-standard too.

Now, I am quite willing to be wrong (it happens a lot), but we know rumours of a Chaos Legions codex are rife, and I think it always helps to have alternative opinions to balance any argument!

Plague Marine (thanks to

Monday, 6 February 2012

Achieving the Impossible - Competitive Chaos Marines

Recently I've had an itch which I need to scratch - that is, to revisit the Chaos Space Marines codex and see if there are some left-field ways of building a CSM force capable of competing with Space Wolves, Grey Knights, Imperial Guard mech/leaf-blower builds and other armies which are rightfully considered to be competitive in tournaments. The reasons for this are simple - firstly, my original 40k army is Chaos Marines, and right now they are simply collecting dust, and secondly, I think we can safely expect a new Chaos Legions and/or Renegade Marine codex any time soon, so time is short to 'enjoy' the current codex.

The Masterplan

Whenever I plan an army (no really, I do plan) I aim to be able to achieve three main things:

1. Destroy enemy transports early in the game
2. Eliminate opposing troops
3. Have enough surviving scoring troops alive at the end of the game to claim objectives

This may be a bit over-simplistic, but it helps me to approach a codex with clarity of thought. I am a mainly fluffy player, and I will often compromise my army's overall efficiency by including units that I love, or by building the whole army around a theme (all drop-spore Tyranids, all jump-pack Marines etc). Nothing wrong with fluffy playing of course, but you can only lose so many times before the  novelty wears off! 

Thinking Outside the Box

So this week's plan is to take a fresh - and more importantly critical - look at the Chaos Space Marines codex, and to try to address the three tactical points above. I'm hoping that, with the advent of elite, low model-count tournament favourites like Grey Knights, Loganwing, Deathwing et al, that this might give  the old book a new lease of life. Of course I'm a realist so I'm not expecting miracles, but it's worth a try.

Where Your Help Comes In

I'd love to hear from you! If you play Chaos Marines, let me know what works for you (let's keep it positive; there's plenty of blogs dedicated to negativity already out there!). If you regularly play against Chaos Marines, let me know what you have come to dread facing.

So, thanks in advance for your comments!

Later this week I will comment on your responses, and also publish my thoughts on what I think could work. Finally, I intend to play some games with the best 1,750pt list that we can come up with here. So Mick, Andy, Gav, Dave - this means I'll be looking for some practise games! And if the army works reasonably, I may even take it to the Open War tournament in Manfield in April.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Doom of Malan'tai

When drawing up a list for my Tyranid army, one of the first names on the team-sheet is always the Doom of Malan'tai. When delivered into the heart of battle using a Mycetic Spore, the Doom is a very useful unit. This article is not, however, about how to use the Doom of Malan'tai, but rather about how people feel about facing this particular unit.

What do you get for the points?

Just to remind everyone who may not be familiar with the 5th edition Tyranids Codex, the Doom of Malan'tai is a 90-point unique unit (but not an independent character!) which is usually selected along with a 40-point Mycetic Spore. So to summarise:
  • Worth 130pts, and giving your opponent two relatively easy kill-points
  • A Toughness 4 single-model infantry unit that cannot be attached to another larger 'bubble-wrap unit
Let's compare what else costs about the same. How about: 
  • A lascannon-sponsoned Predator?
  • A Vindicator?
  • A CSM Daemon Prince?
  • A Furioso Dreadnought?  
  • A 10-man squad of melta-toting IG Veterans or Stormtroopers
  • An IG Vendetta, Basilisk or Medusa
.... and the list goes on. So, it is clear that there are plenty of very effective units throughout the game that are the same cost (or cheaper) than the Doom. So the question is, why are folks so perturbed about playing against it?

Psychological warfare (aka, the bottom lip wobbles)

The impetus for this article is the tournament I played in last weekend at Malstrom Games in Mansfield. The tournament itself was fantastically organised as always, and the guys who I played were all friendly and competitive-but-not-waac. Trouble was, every time I placed Doom onto the board, I found that I had to explain the model's special rules, which on more than one occasion was met with slack-jawed surprise, followed by petulence, annoyance, or outright anger. I also thought one guy was going to cry, or at least call over the tourney ref to complain that 'it's not fair'!

I realise that against some armies the Doom is phenomenal - Ork hordes and IG infantry are particularly susceptible. I actually find it's even better against elite armies such as all-Terminator forces, where the loss of a handful of models represents a big percentage of the army. On the flip-side, most players nowadays have the sense to hide their infantry in transports, against which the Doom is impotent.

I field the Doom of Malan'tai almost as much as a pyschological shock to the opponent, as much as an offensive unit in it's own right. Just like other 'shock' units, your opponent will focus far too much attention (and shooting) against this model, which pleases me - it means the rest of my army is surviving relatively unscathed!  

In conclusion

So is the Doom 'broken'? Compared to the effectiveness of some other similarly-valued models, I don't think so. Especially not when it is only toughness 4 - a decent round of shooting from bolters, shuriken catapults or sluggas will quickly wear him down, and of course missile launchers and lascannons will 'double him out' and instantly kill, should a single 3++ save be failed.

Which units do you include in your army that your opponent is unreasonably scared of?

Which units do you not like facing? Or think are 'broken' or overpowered for their points?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Upcoming 40k Tournaments

Not all tournaments are about
winning at all costs!
I've just returned from a fun weekend at the Caledonian Uprising tournament, and have promptly signed up for another two tournaments!

Whilst the Scottish ETC team's Caledonian Uprising was a competitive affair, it was also good fun and a real social event, where like-minded people (ie us 40k-playing geeks) can have a good laugh together. I've made a good number of friends at tournaments in the last year or so, so I always like to have a tournament or two on the calendar to look forward to.

The next two events I'll be attending are Open War XVII, which is the  First Company Veterans club tournament, and Blog Wars III, which is an independently-organised friendly competition.

Open War is on Saturday 14th April (my birthday, no less!) and comprises three games at 1,750pts. In keeping with the current zeitgeist, special and unique characters are allowed, which I think is great - a lot of the recent codexes rely on special HQ choices to unlock certain army builds, so I'm hoping to see a lot more variation at tournaments in 2012 than we saw last year, where cookie-cutter Space Wolves, Grey Knights and Leaf-Blower Guard forces ruled the roost. This tournament features three unique 'in-house' missions, which also adds to the fun. You'll find the tournament pack (inclding the three missions) here.  

The second tournament I've signed up to is Blog Wars III, which is my personal favourite of the year. It is organised by Alex of the 'From the Fang' blog, and is really a chance for us 40k bloggers (and our gaming mates) to get together, play games, swap stories, and generally have a good laugh together. The feel of this tournament in particular is friendly and easy-going, which is a big draw for me. Alex also goes to great lengths to devise new missions for each tournament he runs, and this is another reason I like it so much.

I'll probably also try to make it to one or two other tournaments this year too; one I'm very keen on is Tim King's Summer Skirmish, which is a twelve-game 500pt weekend cometition. Last year's inaugural event was great fun, even considering the 8-minute tabling delivered to me by the UK's top player, Josh Roberts, in the first round. Ouch! Humbling, to say the least.

I am also thinking about checking out an 'away' fixture. All the tournaments I've entered have either been held at Warhammer World (our club's home) or at Maelstrom Games in Mansfield, which is a superior venue for wargaming, in my opinion. So my targets for 2012 are to concentrate on getting better at playing (you'll notice I still haven't mentioned my position in the final standings of this weekend's Caledonion Uprising) and to play at an away tournament - possibly it'll be Vanquish V, on 31st March to 1st April in Bristol.

If you're interested in getting involved in a tournament, the best place to start is here: Warhammer Forum 40k Tournaments List. And if you've played at a tournament recently, or you're thinking of attending one, let us know!  

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Going Green

The Ramones: The Perfect
Band for the MTV Generation?
As you may know I am a true product of the MTV generation, and as such my attention span is short. This manifests itself most obviously in my inability to stick with one army for more than a period of a few months, which is unfortunate as my modelling & painting time is limited to only a few hours per month. This means that I have several armies which are partially-completed and playable, or very much works-in-progress. Let's see:

Chaos Space Marines
My first 40k army since rejoining the game in 2009. The Chaos Marines are actually a finished and fully-functional army and total over 3,000points, although they are certainly not optimised for tournament use (ie no Lash-Daemon Princes). This army are in hibernation until Games Workshop delivers us a shiny new Codex!  

Ahem. Anyone who knows me knows I cannot play Eldar, any more than I can rub my stomach and pat the top of my head at the same time. The debacle at last summer's tournament is testament to this fact. The 2,000pts of Eldar I have are in deep storage until either I get a LOT better as a player, a new easy-to-play codex arrives, or until I decide to sell the lot. The last option is a distinct possibility.

Now my main army, and one I enjoy playing, especially now I am using as an all-reserve 'Drop-Spore' force. I have a couple of additions to make to this army - a Trygon and a Mawloc - and then this army will be completed.

Pre-Heresy World Eaters
This is my 'suitcase' army which I take away on longer work-trips in a shoebox so I can get a few games in, even when I'm a long way from home. This army performs reasonably at about 1,500pts, and really only needs a couple of Dreadnoughts with Blood Talons, and attendant Drop-Pods, to finish it off (though I don't think Drop-Pods will fit in the shoe-box, but that's a problem for another day).

Finally, my labour-of-love, the Squats-as-Imperial Guard. For almost as long as I've been back in the hobby (about two and a half years now) I've been boring people with how I'm going to bring Squats back, and how I'm going to make all these fantastic conversions. Well, the army is.... nearly there! I have about forty infantry painted and another twenty on the painting table waiting for some attention. In the last two weeks I have also converted five Chimeras into heavy support tanks - specifically, two Hydra, two Medusas and one Manticore/Colossus (depends how big a gun-barrel I fit to this last one). Pictures will appear over the next few weeks to prove I have actually done these! In addition, I have already made two Termite Transports and two Skylord Airships, although these all need repainting. Finishing off the Squats is this summer's job, and my target is to have a good 1,750pt force ready for Alex's Blog Wars III tournament this summer.

So What Next?
...apart from finishing off the above four armies, you mean? Well, I fancy doing a few one-off modelling pieces, for example a dinosaur-riding Eldar Exodite which I have wanted to do for ages now. After that though.... it'll be Orks!

To be honest, I think I should've just started with Orks two years ago and that would've been that. I really think that Orks could be the perfect army for my highly-complex 'heads-down-and-charge!' tactical mentality. Therefore, I had a quick look on ebay last night and I may have bought a few models (better not say how much I spent, in case Mrs. Grazer is reading). Suffice to say I now have enough Ork models to keep me going for quite a while!

Ork Tactics 101: Chaaarge!
The exact models I have are:

HQ choices:
1 x Warboss
2 x Weirdboys
3 x Meks
Elites Choices:
5 x Nobz
3 x Painboyz
8 x Bikes

Fast Attack Choices:
4 x Deffcoptas
2 x Half-Trakks
1 x Scorcha
3 x Buggies

Troops Choices:
60 x Gretchin
42 x Boyz
5 x Trukks

So there you go! This will be my 2013 project I suspect, once the Squats-as-IG are finished. Now all I need to do is think about army lists... ...and that is where you guys come in! I have played against Orks a couple of times, and all I can remember is a terrifyingly-fast green horde devouring my forces at lightning speed.

What Ork army builds have you successfully used? Or had used against you?

Based on the above list of models, what army builds would you recommend to a novice Warboss like me?