Welcome to Conflict Valorax, an open-ended narrative campaign for Warhammer 40,000 set deep within the Ultima Segmentum on the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy and close to the limit of mankind’s domain. The purpose of this campaign narrative is to richly detail the setting and history of the Valorax star system in order to bring a depth and storyline to ongoing games set within the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Games of Warhammer 40,000, Epic, Inquisitor, Aeronautica Imperialis, Space Crusade, Space Hulk and Battlefleet Gothic are all set within this greater context, each conflict adding detail to the ongoing plot.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Spotlight On: Ork Kum Bukkitz

Many years ago, not long after I started to love Little Men I got into Orks. 

At this time I had a good ol' giggle about the fact that one of the units were called Nobz. 


Inspired by this frivolity I christened my Ork warband the Shaggin' Dogz. 

... and proceeded to give all the units amusing (to me) names. 

Meet the Kum Bukkitz:

(Shakes head) 
I went to a gaming evening and had a game with this guy, determined to stretch as much humour out of this concept as possible. To this end, as I moved each unit I "happened" to mention their "amusing" name at the same time. 

Boy, was I giggling to myself. 

Unfortunately my opponent didn't giggle. Once. He did the opposite of giggle. 

Giving kinky sex names to wargaming miniatures obviously wasn't his idea of a good time. 

So I stopped mentioning it and concentrated on getting my ass kicked in the game. Perhaps concentrating more on tactics and less on silly names might have been recommended.


In other news, how cool is this guy's power claw?! 

When I opened the blister ten years ago I actually thought this was what it was meant to be but if you look closely you'll see that part of the finger holes are actually sprue and wire curve things. 

Though I think my scissors are better. 

I'm playing a game with my friend Peter with my Orks in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether he is amused by my Ork kinky sex names as I am...

Or whether he decides I am plain sick and refuses to ever play with me again.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Spotlight On: Ork War Buggies

Once upon a time I was so poor that I had to bulk up my armies with ingenious proxies purchased at the local car boot sale in order to keep up with my burgeoning passion for army expansion. 

At about the same time, I read a tactics articale abotu Ork Buggies. 

The article talked about maxing out on Ork Buggies. It said they could be used as moveable scenery to protect the Ork Boy advance and they even suggested using them as a wall right across the enemy eployment zone to block ebnemy moving and shooting! 

It was all pretty devious. 

Anyway, inspired by this deviosity, I ran right out to G&Ts and converted up NINE Ork Buggies!

Each was based on a little toy car. I added odd-shaped cardboard squares for Orky armour plates and to block up the windows and strapped on either a big shoota or a rocket launcha. I had a lot of spare weapons from the toy tanks I'd bought to save money on my Imperial Guard.

In fact, to play with, they were quite annoying for a long time as the old vehicle rules meant they were forever getting in each other's way. With the current squadron rules meaning buggies can shoot "through" one another, this is avoided and they're a little bit better.

As with all my Ork vehicles, they are self-powered. Just pull them back and watch them go!

Note: This can annoy one's opponent as they gleefully ram through their miniatures.

The armour was painted Boltgun Metal | Flesh Wash | Boltgun Metal | Chainmail and the gold bits were Dwarf Bronze | Shining Gold.

My Ork army is still a bit thin on the ground for men so I often continue to need my Buggies.They aren't as great in the game as I imagine they could be but they do look cool, and hey! What's more important than that??

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Spotlight On... Gorgamungus!

Take a look at this!

This is Gorgamungus! 
He's a big gorilla that I bought from a sale that Asda were having and converted up to be an Ork Gargantuan Squiggoth. 

He was a major work of patience. I wasn't able to finish him in one go before my motivation ran out. It took me another couple of tries over the months until he was finished. 

The original  model came with the plastic harness thing you can see under the howdah and the cannon on top (which actually shoots by the way). I added the howdah, the armour plates, the funnels, the smaller weapons and the rope ladders.

 The howdah was made from (very) thick card with cereal packet squares cut to cover it (painted with Tin Bitz). On the sides of the howdah, gold painted plates were added haphazardly for that Orky look.

I had two goals here: to make it split level, to improve the asthetic design, and to have enough room to place the full complement of Orks on the back.

The banner was made from torn pieces of toilet paper dipped in watered down wood glue. That's Bleached Bone with a brown wash and rehighlighted and a two tone red to match the patchy warpaint on Gorgamungus's face. 

The crew add a nice touch. Both models were ones I'd created for other things and hadn't used. They fit in nicely here so I glued them in. 

The rope ladders were made from string with little wooden rods. I trickled super glue down it then bent it into shapes to get the sense of movement. 

Man! You don't want to know how many times this stuck to the wrong things! I was covered in super glue by the end of it! 

I got the Ork to hold onto the ladder by use a spear arm with the ends cut off. Glued into place and painted the same colour as the other rungs it's hard to see any difference.


Heh heh.  I love this little dude. 

And here he is with the guys on top. In the game, this guy is amazing! Not only is he really great himself but the guys on top can safely put out a massive amount of firepower while remaining immune to reprisal. 

Each model in the unit bears the same warpaint as Gorgamungus himself. 
The Big Shootas were from a bunch of cheap toy tanks I had lying around. Note how the gunners arms are set to hold the guns. I used two arms from the Shoota Boyz sprue that would normally hold a gun for this. They look great there but a bit weird when they dismount. I usually kill them off first. 

Here's  good old Spunkmeista, the Nob of the squad. Back in the days I made him I couldn't afford a real Nob so I converted him up from a normal Boy. Notice the guns attached to his waist. There used to be an accompanying model who stood behind him who was the one who actually pulled the triggers. 

You've gotta love Orks!

And I do love Gorgamungus! 

By the way, if anyone can help me identify the source of this monkey I would be very grateful as I'd love to find him on eBay and do a second (or third!) one. 

Comment below if you know! 

Friday, 1 July 2011

A Great Warhammer Truism

Well a good friend of mine said something to me the other day which struck me as a great truism of the game of Warhammer. In fact of any game where dice come into it.

Here's what he said.

It speaks for itself.

"If you win a wargame you always feel it's because you're a great tactician... If you lose, it's always the dice's fault."  

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Narrative Tactical Review: The Tau of War

Shas’O Tau’N Mal’Caor Run’Al surveyed the battlefield, a pall of smoke drifted across the ruins, the smell of death filling his nostrils and the tang of ionised air from pulse gun and las rifle made his skin tingle. The sudden silence was deafening, making his ears ring. He contemplated the loss of lives. This had been a costly victory as he had known it would be.

 As previously, the Tau air caste had bombarded the area, reducing a sizable part of the city to ruins, but unlike before the “Gue La” had dug in, their sizable infantry squads supported by elite assault troops and a multitude of specialist weapons. This was not the way he preferred the hunt but he had understood the need for consolidation.

He thought back to key moments of the conflict; An imperial troop carrier had dropped off a squad of assault troops that had nearly destroyed his own HQ and had then had made short work of a Hammerhead Gunship. The fearsome kroot that had been totally wiped out only accounting for a single enemy veteran squad and worst, their leader had survived the encounter. One of his Shas’la dying horribly, pierced by a dozen lasgun bolts. Although both Shas’ui from the fire warrior teams had shown themselves to be heroically courageous - either one would make a suitable replacement - his eyes stung from the personal loss he felt.

It had been necessary to use his infantry as a distraction, using them as little more than bait in a trap. The plan had been to surprise the humans with his reserves, who would surround and confound them, pinning them with massed fire. The plan had nearly backfired; partly due to the slight delay of his reinforcements and the resistance to superior Tau weaponry afforded by the cover the Humans had utilised; not to mention the unexpected arrival of so many Gue La by means of their sudden aerial attack. Had it not been for the stoicism of his fire warriors who refused to break even though their losses were considerable, the Tau initiative would have suffered a major setback if not total failure.

“The Hidden Spider” cast his mind back to the moment when victory (and defeat) had been decided.

He had been forced to abandon his stand-and-shoot stance when he realised that both his Shas' La had fallen to concentrated fire from two larger than usual enemy infantry squads and their Headquarters team. His own Battlesuit would not have withstood another salvo, so he had assaulted the snipers who had been targeting him, shooting as he went in.

One of the Human squads had broken cover, presumably aiming to overwhelm him with numbers. From the corner of his eye he had seen the veteran squad leader who had survived the Kroot attack charging though the ruins toward him, but the man levelled a powerful-looking hand gun and promptly disappeared in a ball of plasma energy. Luck had played its hand, so it was in this as it had been in many previous battles, and so it would always be “for the greater good”

The Humans had clearly learned from their comrades mistakes and had largely ignored the Broadsides, which having had no tanks to target had made little impact in the battle. Although savages, the Gue La were clearly not fools.

Mal’Caor Run’Al signalled to the Shas’ui for the force to move on to the next rendezvous point. He felt grief and anger over the heavy Tau losses, fuelling his desire to destroy all Gue La resistance. His mind was already formulating plans for the next and final conflict, this time it was not just for Tau, not just for “The Greater Good.”

This time it was personal.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Tau of War

Tau vs Valorax Guard | Peter v Tim | 40k | 55 | 109.997.M41 

The Tau had struck a hammer blow in the heart of the Chalice against the loyalist forces of Valorac, but they hadn't reckoned on the massed infantry of the Valorax Guard.


As the Tau war machine glided into occupied territory, vaporising resistance,  the call finally got through to Valorax High Command, still reeling from the death of the Planetary Governor. The threat assessment was made and orders came straight back down the pipe, mobilising reinforcements. Victor Tensk, High Marshall of the Tridents, took direct command, manoeuvring hundreds of infantrymen to get into position to defend their land. 

Where before the men of the Guard had run angrily across open ground to meet their attackers, only to be gunned down, now they took up well-defended positions amongst the rocks and craters and in the ruins of a Temple of the Divine Emperor.

The Tau closed in, taking cover in craters themselves but the guardsmen moved forward unleashing devastating salvoes of lasfire. At their initial encounter, the energies of the officers had been wasted ordering their men to run as fast as they could toward the enemy. 

Now they demanded only coordinated and focused volleys of fire. 

And the Tau fell.

The anti-tank weaponry of the xenos was all but useless against such massed infantry and their numbers began to whittle down, despite the cover they maintained. Meanwhile, their own pulse rifle fire was insufficient to pull down enough of the Valorax Guard numbers.

Then the Tau reserves arrived: Crisis Suits dropping from the skies and Piranhas zooming in from the horizon. Immediately the battle swayed back in the Tau's favour as an entire infantry platoon was devastated by flame and pulse fire, the remnants fleeing.

The Guard commander called for his reinforcements, hoping to direct them to deal with this new threat, but only static answered the comm. The Tau were blocking his communication. No reinforcements were coming! 

Then howling from the clouds came Mack Tempest and his squad of elite Stormtroopers on grav-chutes, carefully aiming their landing zone into the thick of the fighting. It was likely a suicide mission but the enemy priority targets needed eliminating. 

They let fly with three meltagun blasts on the squadron of Piranhas but fate was against them. Even with their perfect positioning, minimal damage was accrued and the Piranhas immediately fired back, cutting them down. 

Simultaneously, the Hammerhead at the other side of the battlefield burst into flames as a Vendetta gunship appeared, letting fly with three twin-linked Lascannons. The Tau signal jamming had evidently been more than inefficient.

But the battle was still going badly.

A vicious assault had broken out on one flank and no matter how many guardsmen ran to give aid, the Crisis Suit Commander smashed them aside. 

The Guard Commander looked out across the swirling battlefield, signalling the general fallback. 

The conflict was escalating. Reserves were being funnelled in from both sides. They were losing here - that was doubtless - but the war was only beginning. 

The next exchange was going to be overwhelming in its bloodshed and brutality.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Spotlight On... The Genestealer Neo-Patriarch

The idea of a Genestealer Cult has always fascinated me: infiltrating alien creatures slowly consuming aculture from the inside out; slowly turning its own strengths against it; taking over; and all the while, broadcasting a stregthening beacon to the Tyranid Hive Fleets, drawing them ever closer...

Then Inquisitor came out... and I realised that I had to have an Inquisitor-scale Genestealer of my own.

Now there wasn't, at the time, a model for a Genestealer at Inquisitor level (and the one they brought out later was pretty grim). I decided to convert one from the Tyranid Hive tyrant at the time.

Now this beauty was converted to match the old style Genestealer style. hence what might now seem an odd style.

The hardest part was doing the head as I had to saw through the metal frill of the Hive Tyrant. Man that was difficult!

I built up the detail on the Patriarch with milliput, posing him in a fairly passive pose. I did this because I wanted him to be totally different from the normal charging pose; more furtive and contemplative.

The claws were actually made from Ork knives. I'm particularly proud of spotting that possibility.

And I'm also pleased with the paint job. Considering I did him a good many years ago now, this remains one of my best ever paint jobs, especially on the head.

I am a huge Space Hulk fan and I use this chap as a 40k scale Genestealer Patriarch in that and Space Crusade. It's a little known fact that I have a site dedicated to making Space Hulk better called Space Hulk Smooth.

In 40k I either use the rules for a Broodlord (a bit whimpy for his scale) or a Hive Tyrant. It's possible to choose upgrades that match him quite nicely.

My biggest quandry has been about the colour. Since I painted him I redid all my Tyranids in yellow. But I just couldn't bring myself to repaint this guy. He's too nice. As a result he stands out a bit. But hey, why not! He deserves to stand out! 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Scenery Workshop: Landing Pad

Take a look at my latest 40k building!

Now let's get a bit of ancient history.

Many many years ago, when building terrain for Mordheim was my overriding passion and my son, wife and I spent all our time doing it, I got a hairbrained idea to build a mayor's house that way raised up on my pillars. It was going to have a balcony all round it and a thatched roof.

I built the platform and started on the house, but needless to say, the house remained unfinished. The teddy bear fur I was using for the thatch looked terrible and the hosue itself was too squat. I lost the impetous and left the project unfinished for about ten years.

Until this weekend just gone that is.

I got it down from the shelf because I'd got me an idea.

I'd been using the piece all these years in games but it never made much sense to me - there's not even a way to get up to the top. But I figured I could build onto it without damaging the original structure and bring it to life in a more realistic and useful way that I could use in games of 40k and Necropolis.

Using foamboard, I build flat upper surface to go over the platform and scored squares into it. Then using parts from an old wooden dish drainer I added a skirt that would disguise the top edge of the original platform.

I'd made a helipad years ago out of foamboard circles. I never used it and this seemed the ideal time to get it back into circulation. Raised up on a little box my wife gave me, it would look cool and the differing heights would make the piece look more interesting.

But how were characters to get to the top? A ladder would preclude taking any luggage or equipment so a lift seemed the way to go. I built one from foamboard, adding cardboard stips for a bit of sci-fi detailing and some 40k building doors top and bottom. The base of the lift is an extension to the original footprint that I kept in line to make sure it would still work in my town. Again, with a ramp going from the lift to the landing pad I felt the walkway would add another level of visual appeal.

Et voila!

It's unpainted obviously but when it's done I think it may just look quietly cool.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Coming of the Hellspore: Slumbering Evil

Being the report of Inquisitor Harlon Jade of the Ordo Xenos, submitted via astropath 109.997.M41

As part of my ongoing investigation into what could become a serious threat to Imperial security on many worlds, I present the following report of my activities on the mining colony of Valorax X and an explanation for my team’s extermination of all colonists.

I became aware of the threat caused by what I now call Sleepers thirty eight standard months ago on the hive world Goorad Prime.

A small cell of what appeared to be eco-terrorists were apprehended in an attempt to poison a large proportion of the principle hive’s water supply. This would have resulted in well over forty thousand deaths.

On convalescence and curious, I involved myself in the follow-up investigation. During interrogation, all three of the surviving eco-terrorists, though human, exhibited odd patterns of speech and psycho-neuroses. They proved 100% resistant to all forms of torture and gave up nothing. I conducted one of the interrogations myself and must admit to feeling unsettled by the curious insect-like way that the cell leader stared at me as I severed all ten of his fingers one by one.

During post-mortem examination, all three terrorists were found to be infected by an unusual strain of the same virus they were trying to infect the hive with. Further examination revealed a discoloration of the cadaver’s bones. Although all members of the group appeared human in every physical respect, their skeletons were yellow.

With no further answers to find I closed the investigation, completed my convalescence and moved on.

Twelve thousand light years and many months away, my ship approached the mining colony of Valorax X for much needed supplies. We were welcomed to dock and trade but when my team and I boarded we found the colony almost deserted. It was run by a skeleton crew of eight. We accepted their hospitality, however feeling nauseous, I declined their offer of food. It was that happenstance that saved my life.

Half way through the meal, the team I had taken with me began to convulse as though violently ill. Simultaneously the eight crew members entered the hall carrying light arms of obvious xenos manufacture. I fought them off and fled back toward the docking bay, calling for help on my com.

Suddenly however, the halls were filled with abhorrent yellow-skull-faced colonists, all reaching for me, using makeshift weapons in an attempt to apprehend me. I was captured and taken back to the dining hall.

The link between my investigation on Goorad Prime and this chance encounter was clear. The distinctive yellow skulls of my captors as well as the odd glassy stares of the apparently human “colonists” made it definite. Most horrifying of all was seeing several more of the leering skull-faced creatures wearing the clothes of my team mates. The poison in the food had evidently caused a transformation into these monsters.

One of the human-looking fiends began to prepare an injection of yellow fluid and I started to form an impression of what had occurred here. These “sleepers” - the human looking ones had not been part of the original colony. They had arrived as we had and used their macabre drug to transform each of the colonists into one of these skeletal spectres, just as the team on Goorad Prime had attempted to do to the entire hive. They wanted to infect me too; possibly with a variation that would make me like them; and use my ship to move on.

Before I could be injected, the remaining members of my team stormed the hall and rescued me. Every one of the skull-faced abominations was killed, though several more of my men were cut down as well. The sleepers were also exterminated.

On further investigation throughout the station, it was clear an exodus had been planned. Ships had been made ready for departure.

I now believe that these sleepers, and the virus they insidiously try to propagate could cause severe problems for the Imperium. If this vile corruption spreads exponentially, it could soon form a major threat to our dominace of this area of the galaxy.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Trip to the Big City!

I am cooking with gas when it comes to 40k right now.

Inspired by my recent game with my wife the other day, I decided to build a whole bunch of new buildings for my war board.

I've had quite a lot of 40k buildings for years but not enough to cover my eight foot board and have had to make do with a bunch of homemade medieval buildings that didn't allow models inside them. As this was bugging me I decided to push it a little further:

Now I can get a little single minded so one building wasn't enough for me.

I decided to do TWELVE new buildings. 

Here's the first one.

It's a temple using the old GW ruins that came with 3rd edition 40k. Now I count this as four of my twelve because although it makes a nice big building it can also be split  up into four smaller ones.

I added cake pillars to the base to make it look more like a ruined church and painted the rocks on the base to match in. The trick with the The statue and aquilla from the Honoured Imperium set add a little something but they can be removed if they bug me. 

Now this building is good but its weakness is that it's a little too striking. I wonder if it'll bug me long term having it in every game. I like my buildings to be slightly more generic where possible.

My next big four part building was this one:

Again, I built it to be split-downable, using Ork obstacles to suggest walls, especially for when they're split up into separate buildings. You'll notice the aim of the game here was to maximise the surface area of the buildings to fill the war board, rather than building tall, but smaller buildings. I'll be focusing on that next.

The main lesson I've learned with my buildings is to build them all on the same sized footprint, each one having a little edge round it to suggest a pavement. This way, the buildings fit together to form roads VERY easily in any direction but also look good standing alone.

The next part of my project was to get my bastions to look good in a town setting. They already look good in a countryside game but without a base they look wrong in a town. So I built flat foamboard bases for each one that I could add a bastion and obstacles to to make it look like it's a proper building - maybe a little guardhouse or something...?

I'm not entirely happy with how they've come together but I'm planning to add a streetlight or two which should make a big difference. I tell you what would add something, thinking now: how about a vehicle parked off-road? That would be cool.

Man, this is a long blog.

(Deep breath).

Next I produced the Shrine of the Aquila. This is a lovely big building that adds some much needed height. Height is something my town doesn't have enough of yet. To make it look interesting it has to go in all three dimensions. I'm planning to rectify that soon but in the meantime this helps.

Now I was originally planning to include this kit in the temple above but I realised it was going to get too big. Wanting to keep my buildings on the same size footprint I was forced to build it in this conventional way. I'm still pretty happy though. It is cool.

And here, finally is my third "building" that I wanted to transplant into the town: a homemade bunker that I constructed from foamboard and balsa wood. Again, it's a nice piece but looked odd in my town. Now though it fits in a lot better and can still be removed for a more rustic setting. I'll add a streetlight to this as well when I get round to it to make it look more real.

The gun on the top, by the way, is the Forge World gun emplacement thingy that no longer seems to be available.

Annoyingly, the practically free quad gun in Planetstrike is ironically better than this expensive model because it's twin-linked. This one looks a lot better though. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Narrative Tactical Review: The Tau Go To War

Hello readers. Peter here.

When Tim asked me to submit a tactical summary of our latest “Conflict Valorax” battle - and what a delight this campaign is to be involved in. I decided that as my tactical acumen has historically been shocking, and having had a little success writing narrative for my Chaos Marines Sorcerer, Erasmus Bachmann (which Tim kindly added to his battle reports) it would be fun to share with you the thoughts of my forces leader, Shas’O Tau’N Mal’Caor Run’Al

And so over to “The Hidden Spider”

Shas’o Mal’Caor surveyed the battlefield and shook his head sadly. The Gue La had fought courageously, and had even managed to badly damage his own Battlesuit. However, the fight had been a surprisingly easy victory, especially considering the losses suffered by his Brother-in-arms Shas’O Shi in a previous engagement with the Humans.

The Guardsmen had employed a rather unusual strategy, which may or not have been in response to the immediate loss of two of their Tanks to his Broadsides’ accurate and devastating fire.

They would certainly have been hard to shift from cover, especially considering the amount of small arms fire those large units of Guardsmen could dish out, but for some reason they had been forced forwards by their leaders into the range of his gun-line. One squad had faltered and retreated after suffering particularly heavy losses and had then been targeted by their own side - Truly these were savages who would benefit from the “Greater Good” as did his people.

Mal’Coar had had no option but to subject the Gue La to concentrated and deadly fire and had deliberately targeted the command units and guardsmen who were closing on his lines. The combination of two Devilfish, two squads of Firewarriors with Pulse Carbines and Rifles, supported by a squad of Battlesuits and his own command squad (using experimental weapons) took a terrible toll on the poorly armoured humans.

Tau losses had been minimal, four Battlesuits, including his own, were heavily damaged or destroyed mainly by Orbital fire from an Imperial Navy Battleship which was being directed by the Master of Ordinance, who had annoyingly fought to the bitter end. One of the Devilfish transports had been destroyed after flying within range of a Melta weapon; the Firewarrior squads suffered no more than superficial wounds, thanks mainly to taking advantage of the large craters and debris formed during previous battles.

Mal’Coar reflected that the Gue La had been foolish to exclusively target his Broadsides, who had set up at each flank in the hope of creating a deadly crossfire, until most of their forces lay dead or dying - the ruined Battlesuits lay testament to that.

Tau support in the form of a squad of Piranha, had arrived late due to the humans’ air superiority, but once behind enemy lines the use of Seeker missiles directed by “Markerlight” hits from the Firewarriors had easily destroyed the third enemy Tank, and then the fourth and last “big gun” was terminated by the Piranhas’ own weapons.

With the tanks out of the fight the Broadsides’ had made very short work of the heavy weapons squad which had been targeting them, the first team being vaporised resulting in a total rout.

The Tau forces had discovered an unusually high ratio of flame weapons among the Human dead; this may be part of the new tactic and certainly a development to keep a watch out for in the future.

The Tau leader mused that had the Imperial Guard targeted his infantry with their Ordnance and close-assaulted his Broadsides, things may have turned out differently. As it was, the “Greater Good” had been preserved – for now.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Tau Go To War

Tau vs Valorax Guard | Peter v Tim | 40k | 54 | 109.997.M41

Up to now, the Tau Shas Sha'is Contingent had made probing attacks, undermining the industrial/military infrastructure. Actions taken had been met with some success but nowhere had appreciable gains been made. Aun'Ko, Ethereal leader of the expedition knew that it was time for a new direction.

It was time for the full force of the Shas Sha'is Contingent to go to war.

In the eastern regions of the Chalice, the scorchmost habitable region of Valorax, a sizable force of Tridents were on manoeuvres when the call came down the pipe about the strike on Qualitat by the forces of the Inquisition: the Grey Knights and Adepta Sororitas. The news of the disastrous assassination of Ivan Chord, the Planetary Governor, was like a hammer blow.

The men had been in the midst of an attack training mission but the timeline was broken as the news decimated on an open channel. Every tank ground to stillness. Every trooper stopped running and lowered their arms, disbelieving.

It simply wasn't possible. They were devastated; all of them; looking from man to man, trying to make sense of the impact this would have; what it would mean for the future of their entire planetary system in this impossibly dangerous time.

All motivation was gone; the training exercise forgotten. The soldiers wandered out of rank, murmuring to one another or simply staring into the middle distance.

And that was when the Tau struck.

A deluge of aerial barrage pummelled the battlefield, sending up huge clouds of debris and turning the plane into a crater-riddled wasteland, annihilating swathes of infantrymen and ripping apart tanks.

Manta heavy transport craft flew out of the sun and touched down, disgorging hordes of Tau troops, Devilfish transports and Battlesuits. Immediately pulse fire shot out across the dusty ground, taking down guardsmen as they ran to take up positions.

There were vast numbers of Tau making landfall in the middle distance - hostilities were clearly about to escalate immeasurably - but the Chalice Tridents were angry. They had been struck a wound by the assassination of their leader and it didn't matter whether the Tau were responsible. It would be them that would pay!

The Guardsmen roared in rage and charged across the scrubland, haring toward close combat as Basilisks fired shell after shell in arching trajectories down into the Tau lines. Leman Russ Battle tanks lumbered forward, pumping shells at the enemy.

But though attacking, the Tau dug in, luring the Guardsmen forward onto their guns and with little though to strategy the Tridents kept going, being cut down in viscous numbers, far before they could reach their enemies.

Hoping to protect themselves, the tanks fired on the Broadside Battlesuits, but the xenos armour was two strong for anything shy of anti-tank fire and held as the twin-linked Railguns knocked out tank after tank after tank.

It was turning into a massacre!

One combined platoon, terrified by the horrific casualties they were taking, turned and fled; but the Morale Squad behind them let loose a string of krak missiles into their ranks to force them to reconsider. With several men torn apart by the explosions, the rest of the squad, caught between frying pan and fire, turned back to face the Tau ranks, seconds before being torn open my pulse cannon fire from a hovering Devilfish.

The battalion commander called through his vox, trying to bring order to his men, focus fire on key targets; but it was too little and too late. The Tau gave out an unrelenting level of fire and as Piranhas dropped from the skies behind their lines, the last of the battle tanks in that part of the field was blown to smithereens.

The Tau beachhead was all but secure. The last remaining guardsmen gave return fire as the comms officer called in to Regional Command. They needed more men! Now!

Seconds later he was incinerated.

And seconds after that the last of the men in the Tau drop zone was eliminated.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

A Brand New Home-Made Army is Coming...

In 1999, shortly after I got into Warhammer 40,000, I invented a brand new army; converted miniatures, rules and all; that for some years has sat in a box in the shed.

The original concept of Valorax as an ice world was originally created as background for this unique home-grown race, though back then it was called Valoron and much of the other elements of the story didn't exist.

Now for various reasons, I haven't done anything with these guys for about eight years but all that is about to change as I feel ready to roll them out again to continue playtesting and perfecting the army list.

The box is still out in the shed but I'll be bringing it in soon.

Until then, here's a taster for this brand new Warhammer 40,000 army...

“We didn’t even get a warning. The perimeter alarms didn’t go off. The sentries at the main gates didn’t even scream although I know for a fact now that they were killed long before I saw the fog. It rolled through the wire fence, inexorably moving toward the compound buildings, the bulk of it hidden in the darkness. Only the sickly yellow wave billowing forward was visible in the spotlights. I was outside for a smoke with Johnson. We couldn’t work it out.

 “Then emerging from the fog we saw dark figures, barely more than wavering silhouettes, and the wonder in me turned to tension and fear. I heard the whistle of wind, like a dart,  as a shot passed close by, though I’d heard no gunshot. It missed me but when I turned to look at Johnson I saw him clutching his chest. Yellow puss was bubbling from the open wound and he fell backward, his lungs rasping. Terrified, I unslung my lasgun. The figures were becoming visible: glistening black armour on spindly humanoid bodies, grinning yellow skulls where their faces should have been. Another dart whistled past me and impacted on the closed steel door. I let off a volley of shots in response. To my left, Johnson’s body collapsed as the yellow puss spewed out from his lips and his eyeballs burst. I screamed for help, desperately blasting the closest intruder. Then my blood froze as I felt a hand grab my ankle.

“I looked down and saw Johnson, the diseased skin sloughing from his hands and face to show sodden yellow bone beneath, his vacant putrid eye sockets glaring at me with total all consuming homicidal rage.”

Friday, 3 June 2011

Building a Diorama: Forge World Death Korps of Krieg - Before the Push

I've already written an article about my intentions when building my Before the Push Diorama, but I thought it might be interesting to look at the process I went through... with pictures.  

My original concept of the commissar giving last instructions to his men had been intended to be delivered from a low stage but my mind quickly jumped to doing something in a trench. But how to do that without forcing the viewer to look down on the tops of the heads of the miniatures???

I decided to go with a cross-section of a trench and hope to God that viewers knew what it was supposed to be.

I needed a base, which caused me a lot of trouble as I couldn't find one of the fancy display bases you see in Golden Demon anywhere! In the end I found a handy cake stand which fit the bill perfectly.

I made the wall of the trench using a block of cheese insulation foam which I cut to match the edge of the cake stand. At this point I laid out the men to see how it would look (very important).

Now it looked far too rigid obviously so I cut away at the foam to blend it down into a more natural trench-top. I wanted to have a look-out post so he needed a shelf to stand on high enough to give him a view.

To give an impression of depth I thought it would be nice to have a bunker entrance. I built the entrance from balsa wood then hollowed out deep enough so that, painted black, it would look like it went somewhere.

 To give the earthy texture, I add %£&"^ loads of multi-purpose filler mixed with gravel and PVA glue. I stuck razor wire in so that it went under the surface of the mud.

 Then dried it under a table lamp with Wilma keeping watch.

At this stage I worked towards making it a bit more "trenchy." The walls were made from fabric that I planned to paint with metallic colours. I cut them into small enough sections to make them look like sheets of metal. I had the "mud" overlap the tops of the barriers.

Now how to suggest the opposite wall of the trench without it actually being there...?

I went with piling up some barrels. It isn't perfect. But seeing the models clearly was a higher priority than perfectly representing a trench.

 And after adding a little rat amongst the barrels that was about it. It was time for painting!

 The mud was done in greys and browns and I also added some water effect for puddles. I did the metals in boltgun metal with the now unavailable Flesh Wash for rust.

Finally came the trickiness. I'd painted the Death Korps of Krieg separately with Adeptus Battle Grey, black wash, then up through the greys with bestial brown webbing, inked dark then highlighted up.

My friend Joao gave me some tough love, telling me my previous Death Korps weren't as well painted as I thought they were (bastard). But he was right and I went the extra mile on these guys.

The trickiness was positioning all the men so they were realistically listening to the commissar or getting on with making preparations. This took a while and I had to flatten a couple of spots on the ground to give some of them a good support where before there had been potholes. I used sand and glue for this.

Last of all I added a stub gun to the look-out position to look like it is off its stand, ready to be clipped into position.

It seemed rather criminal to me to "waste" expensive Forge World Death Korps models on a diorama and for a while I toyed with placing them on it on bases.. or maybe dismantling it after the competition.

Now I'm glad that never happened. this is probably the best piece I've ever done. My Tyrannosaurus Rex and Alpha Level Psykers, Goliath and Golgotha come close but I think they probably lose.

Comments and feedback will be gratefully received.