Centurions to Obliterators Conversions

(Yes, another WIP project)

It probably is not yet clear to you, as this blog is too young, but I am a hobby butterfly. I constantly think to dozens of projects, and sometimes one of them becomes a vision, a driving idea so strong that I stop to work on whatever I was doing at the moment to embark on this new quest. As a result, I have a lot of unfinished projects scattered through my cabinets, miniature cases and hobby table. Will I ever finish them? Who knows. Probably not, if I keep on buying new miniatures that I like and amassing new projects, probably. These Obliterators conversions, however, were not abandoned due to a new project stealing all my attention from them. They are still unfinished because I seem unable to find the right idea to complete them.

I never added a Obliterator to my Betrayers of Pain Renegade Chapter, even though they are almost universally regarded as some of the most powerful models in the Codex (and I can clearly see why). The reason is simple: I do not like their original models. Never did. So I considered various options to replace them, but none really pleased me. I have seen a lot of wonderful conversions based on Chaos Terminators, but those were not bulky enough. Obliterators are bigger than Terminators, and my skills were not enough to do such conversions. Then the Centurions were released. To me, they looked a bit out-of-place in a Space Marines army, but their potential was clear. Basically, they are a loyalist version of the Obliterators, so it is not a crazy idea to turn them to Chaos. Especially as my Chapter betrayed the Imperium only recently, and a touch of imperial design here and there really fits their background.

So I surfed the net to see how other hobbyists with the same idea (it went without saying that there were) did tackle the problem and found two exceptional sources of inspiration on the Bolter and Chainsword forums, Krautscientist and Biohazard. So, having now get a sense of what could be done and what kind of results one could expect, I started to dig into my bits box and looking for suitable components. And I managed to get there:

Obliterator 1Obliterator 2Obliterator 3

While Biohazard’s and Kreautscientist’s models basically kept the Centurions’ hands, I wanted to integrate the weapons directly in their arms, as a nod to the original Obliterators. There’s a bit of everything in there: a loyalist assault cannon, weapons from the Chaos Raptors and Terminators sets, a couple of plasma pistols from the old (early ’90-ies, I think) Chaos Weapons sprue and even a Heldrake’s leg (the left-hand cannon on the third model).

The main problem of using the Centurions for this conversion is that they have too many big, flat and empty surfaces. They shout “Hey, I am a loyalist!” when you look at them, and to mask this effect you need a lot of components to add or a lot of greenstuff. Both is better.

Obliterator 1Obliterator 2Obliterator 3

I tried to sculpt flames and daemonic faces (and flames which look like daemonic faces) here and there, but that was not enough. I should have probably covered all their legs with them, but then the risk was that they would have looked too “heavy” and “boring”. Unless I can come up with some different, lighter, design to use, I do not think I will go that way. I will probably try sculpting some trims, as Darth Mustard suggested on Bolter and Chainsword. Well, I will try it someday, as now I am too focused on the Adeptus Mechanicus to think to anything else.

I will also need to find a way to make their “forearms” more interesting, by adding some skull, blade, spike or icon. I could probably break their flatness with some freehand, but then, again, they would not be baroque enough – there would not be enough Chaos on them.

Obliterator 1 - rearObliterator 2 - rearObliterator 3 - rearThe icon on their backs is a nod to the Adeptus Mechanicus symbol on the loyalists’ equipments, but, as you can see, the corrupting influence of Chaos is clearly evident.

I hope you liked them, and maybe some of you could come up with some advice for them that is interesting enough to relight my devotion to the Chaos gods and lead me to complete these guys?

A Knight, a Tech-Priest and a Map walk Into a Blog…

Today’s post is just a small update to show where some of my many work-in-progress projects are just now. Yes, as you might have guessed from the title (was it hard, uh? No? Oh, well…) I am talking of the Imperial Knight, of the Cairn Wraith conversion and of the map of Tyran Primus.

The Knight

Not very much to show here, as I have mostly tried (invain) to figure out ways to add more antennae, sensors and cablings. The only new component I have managed to fit, however, is the Land Speeder antenna.

The Knight with the Land Speeder Antenna

I think it fits nicely, and adds a welcome asimmetry making to the model, it visually heavier on the sword side. As for the realism, being shorter than the heavy stubber and rotating together with the torso, it wouldn’t be an hindrance for the Knight’s actions. Also, and this is a most important consideration, in that position it wouldn’t make the model more difficult to transport!

Two other details I added are a scroll-work on the heraldic shield…

Heraldic shield

… and a surveillance servoskull column on its base, recently installed by the Tech-Priests in no-man’s land to spy the enemy movements and alert them if someone gets too near the the defensive perimeter.

Surveillance Servo-skull

The Tech-Priest

I must admit that if I did not progress much with the knight is because of my Tech-Priests. It turned out that I was right when I decided to wait until the release of the new Skitarii kits before working any more on it, for these chests with the Opus Machina on them are pretty much what I wanted to use. (I only wish I had waited more to glue its head in place, as I really like what EdT from Bolter and Chainsword did on his conversion with a Sicarian’s mask, and I would have greatly preferred it to the Sanguinary Guard mask I had used.)

As you can see I have also added some Centurion’s cables to stand as mechadendrites (not glued yet, just dry-fitted), but I have not decided yet what kind of equipment or weapons to attach on them. Maybe I should wait for the release of the rumored Codex Cult Mechanicus to see which kind of options there will be for the eventual Tech-Priests that might be in there? I don’t know, if the wait turns out to be too long probably I will end up equipping and using it as a Horus Heresy Magos Dominus. We will see.

I know, I know, you are probably thinking “Hey, this is a Tech-Priest, he should have more cablings!”. I am, in fact, thinking of adding another cable (taken from the Imperial Knight’s battle cannon), but this time pointing to the rear, as I think that the model would be too unbalanced if that too was oriented to the front.

Another tweak I was considering is to cut its robe from that small rock that supports it and make it “float” on a flying stem light those included in the Eldar Jetbikes’ kit. I have not decided yet, so I am open to suggestions, if you have any.

The map

I finally managed to complete a new map for the Tyran Primus campaign that I plan to run someday. This one took me much more time than I thought, for it was really difficult to find the right balance between the earth-masses and the oceans. Since the second edition’s Codex Tyranids, Tyran Primus has always been described as an ocean world, where the seas cover the 80% of the planet (by comparison, on our Earth they cover 70% of the surface), and I wanted to stick to that, but after reaching the 72% it was really difficult to decide which islands to remove, where to split a continent in two or more and where to erode the coastline. In the end, however, I manage to do it (I think I might have reached the 82%), and I am really happy with the result. Maybe the equatorial deserts look a bit out of focus, but I do not think it is so obvious. Also, I am not a professional map-maker, but just a guy who wants to play a Warhammer 40,000 campaign with his friends, so I do not need to reach perfection (which would take me a really long time, time that I would rather spend on other activities), but just a good impression.

Tyran Primus - final map

And with a grid overlay, as if it was a computerised elaboration based on satellite data:

Tyran Primus with a grid overlay

Final Treat

As a final treat, I will show you two other works in progress, my first unit of Skitarii Rangers…

Skitarii Rangers

Notice that I chose to not give the Alpha a pistol, but to leave him his rifle. The Skitarii pistols’ ranges are too short, and I don’t plan to let my rangers be so near to the enemy that one of them would be useful. This forced me to have two models with the same rifle pose, but as they are cyborg that follow combat routines implanted in their brains, I think it would be normal for them to assume similar positions.

… and my second Castellax. I am still waiting for a replacement component to be sent me by Forge World, before assembling its other arm.

Castellax with multi-melta

A New Game Mechanic – Strategy Cards

The Original Idea

When we play Warhammer 40,000, most of the times we do it in a “balanced” way. Same point limit for each army, same mission objectives… many of us even try to arrange the battlefield so that both the table halves have the same amount of cover. In the real world, however, war is not fair nor balanced and, above all, when two armies clash in the no-man’s-land, is it uncommon that they are both going for the same goal. Seeing it as an open and interesting field to explore with new mechanics, I started developing a set of rules for asymmetrical games, based on a deck of “Strategy Cards”. Some weeks later, it turned out that I was right, it really was an interesting field to explore: as soon as I finished writing the first draft of the cards, Games Workshop released the seventh edition’s rulebook. The new Tactical Objectives and Maelstrom of War missions immediately caught my eye, being an egregious way of “colonising” that unexplored field I was thinking about (better than mine, almost surely). I must admit that I was happy to find out that I was looking at the same blank spots that someone in the fabled Design Studio had pointed out.

Well, those spots had not really always been blank. Back in the days of second edition we already had asymmetrical missions, as the primary and secondary objectives of each player were determined by a card picked at random. It had been seventeen years, however, since when the third edition, with its strong focus on balance and simplification, removed them.

Mission cards from Warhammer 40k second edition

From the top, their English names are: The assassins, Guerrilla, Take and hold, Engage and destroy, Dawn raid, Witch hunt

The Design Principles

What I was trying to do, however, was not a simple revamping of an old mechanic. I wanted something less predictable and which implied at least some degree of choice for the player. So I wrote down a small list of principles to guide my inspiration, but which were not compulsory:

  • Each card must feel unique, and not like a slightly modified copy of another card in the set;
  • In the real world, the commander on the field receives orders from the HQ and is up to him/her to chose how to implement them, so each card, if possible, must let the player free to chose between two different effects;
  • Usually a general does not know what the goal of the enemy is, but must guess it by reading the actions of its army on the battlefield, so the picked card must be kept secret, if possible.

With those in mind, I started designing both the cards and the general rules to use them in a Warhammer 40,000 game. In this post I will present the cards both as images and in PDF format, so that it would be easier for you to download and print them, if you want to try them. I would be most grateful to hear your opinions and playtesting experiences with them!

The General Rules

When playing an Eternal War mission (or any other kind of mission – it is up to the players), the players can use the Strategy Cards. Each player must have their own Strategy Cards deck.
Before rolling to see who has the first turn, each player draws a card from its Strategy Cards deck, without showing it to its opponent. After reading the card, the player usually has two options: reveal it immediately, to gain the bonus specified in the Revealed section; or keep it secret until a later moment (usually the end of the game) to trigger a special effect during the game or to change his/hers mission objectives or the way he/she gains Victory Points, as specified in the Secret section. Note that not every card grants this choice: some of them must be revealed or kept secret, as specified on the card itself.
Some cards have a Special section that explains how to deal with peculiar situations.

The Cards

And, to make it easier to download and print them, here they are, all of the above strategy cards collected in a single file.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I used the amazing and highly customizable (and free) Magic Set Editor software to make these cards.

Starting My First Imperial Knight

As if I were needing help to find a reason to put a project on hiatus and begin a new one, the 2015 E Tenebrae Lux competition of the Bolter and Chainsword community is getting nearer, and this year I intend to take part in it. How does it work, you might ask? Well, the E Tenebrae Lux is a forum-wide event where all the factions there represented “fight” to see which one can paint the greatest army, judging from the point-value of the models. It usually runs for three months, from the 1st of May to the 1st of August, and the models can be assembled and undercoated before the competition starts.

I might have chosen to side with the Chaos Daemons sub-forum, but I had already started painting the Plague Toad, so these would not have been a legal entry. Also, with Codex: Skitarii finally released after a twenty years long wait, how could I resist to the call of the Omnissiah? So, while I was waiting for the other kits I had ordered, I finally started assembling one of the Imperial Knight I had bought last year. I decided to assemble it as a Knight Errant, striding through the desert in search of the enemies.

I must admit that the Imperial Knight is the best kit I have ever worked with. I had read other favourable and enthusiastic opinions on the Internet, but it is only when you start assembling it that you really understand how well it is designed. Each component fits smoothly with all its intended neighbours, and you might dry-fit almost the whole model, if you wanted to. Well, there is nothing that I could write that has not been better written already by someone else, so let’s go straight to the point, and to the pictures.

Imperial Knight Pose

The variety of poses that you can get from the kit is enormous, so make sure to spend a lot of time trying them before gluing all the mobile parts. I tried different poses before the one I settled on, but none of them really satisfied me. In the beginning, I was thinking of assembling it like this:

Imperial Knight - Tony Manero Style

… but the more I looked at it, the more it reminded me of Tony Manero dancing in Saturday Night Fever. I do not know why it was so. Maybe the sum of the angles of the sword, cannon and unmasked head gave me that suggestion, maybe it was just a moment of madness, but once you see something like that, there’s no way that your brain will un-see it. I will do something similar for my Knight Paladin, but its torso will be turned to the right and the head will look that side too.

Then I started detailing the base.

Knight base

Having the desert as the main theme of the bases od my Mechanicum models, I did not want to clog it with too many details, so I opted for a simple set up: the ruins of a destroyed building, an unexploded missile (from a really old GW resin kit… released maybe at the time of the fourth edition, maybe of the first incarnation of Planetstrike) and a piece of wreckage. The rest will be mostly grass turfs and maybe the odd spare bit here and there, maybe an abandoned weapon or piece of tech from a Skitarii kit.

This is how the Knight will look on it (the carapace and the banner are just dry-fitted for testing purposes):

Base test

And then it was the time to start detailing it. First step was adding some cables to the ion shield generator (or at least what I think is the ion shield generator) and heavy stubber. There is nothing as too many cables on a model tied to the Adeptus Mechanicus, isn’t it? On the finished model they will be mostly hidden from the carapace armour, but when painted with the right colours, they will stand out on a closer examination.

Right cablingLeft Cabling

As the Errants are the Knights that go nearer the enemy lines, I think they should have more sensors, antennae and relays, to acquire essential data and transmit them to the HQ. I have tried using some Land Raider Crusader components to cover that strange hole on the top of the carapace, but still I am not fully satisfied. I wish I had not glued the heavy stubber in place yet, as I could have substituted it with the antenna from the Land Speeder kit, sigh.

I must admit that I like that sort of radar that you can see in the first picture, while I am not completely sold on the other antennae. I might try to place them somewhere else, though (after cutting part of the highest one, probably), or I might try to integrate somewhere the backpack from a Cadian vox operator, that has similar devices on it.

Radar testAntennae test

On the thermal cannon shield I added some purity seals to cover a previous mistake that included a drop of plastic glue, a hobby knife, some and a couple of rivets being removed. It’s not exactly what I was thinking to do there, but I think the effect is nice. Maybe those are prayers to the Omnissiah to invoke his blessing on a weapon recently repaired or brand-new from the forge.

Prayers to the Ominissiah

On the Knight’s back, instead, I added the chain with skulls that comes with every Chaos vehicle kit. I thought of putting it on the front of the model, but unfortunately most of it would have ended up being covered by the chest-piece of the armour. This position, however, is in fact more advisable, as those are not trophies – I cannot see the pilot of such a giant machine considering small human skulls as trophies taken from worthy enemies. Those are, instead, the skulls of the most noble of the previous Knight’s pilots, ad as sacred relics it wouldn’t be wise to put them where the enemy is most likely to hit them. Being on the back, they are surely more protected.

Relic skulls

I do not know still if the skulls will be covered in gold or will be bare bones. It is a decision that I am leaving to the painting stage.

A Custom Warhammer 40,000 Mission: Rescue the Prisoner

In Warhammer 40,000 there is never such thing as too many missions to play. I constantly try to come up with something unique and different from everything else, but, be warned, I do not care too much of balance. What I want from my games is mainly to create a good war story, and in the real world, war is never fair. Rare is the battle in which the opposing generals have roughly the same forces on the field and the same goals to reach. So I think that a wargame, even Warhammer 40,000, should represent this, and be a tactical challenge where both players must try to do their best to reach their objectives, regardless of the starting conditions.

This is an example of one of the last missions I wrote, followed by an alternative version with a different deployment map and some rules tweaking.

One of the high-ranking commanders of your force has been captured the enemies, and you cannot leave him in their hands. They might discover precious information analyzing or torturing him or, even worse, they might us him for strange experiments or sacrifice him to their dark gods. You cannot allow it. Save him, no matter the cost.

The armies

Both players choose their armies as described in the Prepare for Battle section of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. The army tasked to rescue the prisoner will be the Attacker, and the other army will be the Defender.

Battlefield

Use the deployment map included in this mission. Set up the terrains as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

Deployment

Before deploying any model, the players must roll for their Warlord Traits. The Defender deploys first, placing a model or a marker to represent the Prisoner within 3″ from the center of its deployment area and attached to one of its units, but not embarked on a Transport Flyer or Super-heavy Flyer. The Attacker deploys second.

First turn

The Attacker goes first, unless the Defender manages to Seize the Initiative.

Game Length

The mission uses the Variable Game Length special rule.

Victory Condition

At the end of the game, the player who has scored the most Victory Points is the winner. If both players have the same number of Victory Points, then the game is a draw.

Primary Objective

At the end of the game, if the Prisoner is still on the table, the player that controls it gains 3 Victory Points. If the Defender manages to bring the Prisoner out of the table from the Attacker’s table edge(see below), instead, it automatically wins the game.

Secondary Objectives

Kill the Warlord, First Blood.

Mission Special Rules

Night Fight, Reserves.

Prisoner: At the beginning of the game, the players must choose an Infantry (Character) model from the Codex of the Attacker. The Prisoner follows all the normal rules of that model, but it cannot do anything but move, and it cannot move more than 4″ in the Movement Phase, as it has been drugged or is constrained by some xeno parasite, psychic powers or a strange archeotech device. The Prisoner is counted as having no faction. The Prisoner cannot voluntarily leave the unit it is attached to, and it is controlled by the player controlling that unit. If the Prisoner is not attached to a unit at the beginning of any Movement Phase, then the Attacker controls it; then if the Prisoner comes within 2″ from a unit (friend or enemy), in any moment, it is automatically attached to that unit (this means that its controlling player can change during a turn). No model can shoot to the Prisoner or attack it in an assault, and Wounds cannot be allocated to the Prisoner, but it can be normally Wounded and killed by scattering Blast weapons or the Vehicle it were in suffer an Explodes! result on the Vehicle damage table. If the Prisoner is attached to a Defender’s unit, that unit can leave the game from the Attacker’s table edge. To do so, the movement distance of all the models in the unit must be enough to cross that line. Rescue the Prisoner

Designer’s note

The Defender has many options on how to reach victory. Will it place a Fortification in the centre of its deployment area and defend the Prisoner with hard walls? Will it move as fast as it can to avoid the enemy attacks? Or will it bring to the field many pieces of ordnance to annihilate the enemy before it can come too near?

An alternative: armoured convoy

The enemy is transferring the prisoner to their HQ. Ambush its convoy and rescue our commander. The rules for this alternative version are the same as above, except for the following:

The armies

Players cannot add Fortifications to their armies. The attacker divides his army in two halves, with roughly the same number of units in each. The Defender’s army must include at least a Transport Vehicle and, possibly, as many Vehicles as possible.

Deployment

Before deploying any model, the players must roll for their Warlord Traits. The Defender deploys first, placing all his models in his deployment area. Only the models that must begin the game in reserve, like Flyers, can be kept in Reserve. The Prisoner, and the squad attached to it, must begin the game embarked on a Transport Vehicle. The Attacker must keep all his models in reserve. Half of the Attacker’s army (he chooses which) enters play from the Reserves at the beginning of the first turn. Each of his units can enter play from any Attacker’s table edges.

First turn

The Attacker goes first. The Defender cannot try to Seize the Initiative.

Victory Condition

In this alternative version, the Defender wins automatically if he can bring the Prisoner out of the “escape table edge”, instead of the Attacker’s table edge. Armored Convoy

An alternative special rule

In both of the variant mission above, you might decide that, when it is not attached to a Defender’s unit, the Prisoner may move and act normally, as he managed to break free to whatever was restraining it. In this case, enemy units must assault it and inflict it at least one “fictional” Wound to attach to it and make it their prisoner again; note that these wounds are not removed from its profile real, for the enemy is just trying to subdue it, and not kill it. To represent its enfeeblement, however, you might decide to apply a -1 modifier to all his characteristics (to a minimum of 1), or something more elaborate. If you think that it would be cool that the Prisoner lost a hand, you might reduce its WS, T and A without changing its BS or Ld, for example.