Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chaos vs Tau Battle Report

Hey, Folks.

Just wanted to give you a quick battle report of a game I played this past Saturday (9/21/2013).  This is the first game I’ve been able to get in in about 5 or 6 weeks, and prior to this game I had gotten in a game against an experienced Eldar player, which was the first game with all my fully painted models, and my first game in about 2 months.  (I’ll try to remember the details of that battle, too, and give you a brief on it here when time allows; I’m doing this one now because I managed to write down my thoughts and rememberences right after the game while they were fresh in my mind, so let’s get this one out of the way.)

The game that this battle report is for was played against a good friend of mine, Josh Howery, who is a very experienced Tau general, having played Tau since they first came out.  He had gotten in quite a few games in the recent weeks since the Tau codex dropped, so was pretty experienced with 6th Edition Tau, at least the way he likes to play them.  I, on the other hand, and as noted, had only gotten 1 other game in in about 5 months or so, and that was a 2,500 point game against Eldar about 5 or 6 weeks earlier.  I had only played the 6th Edition Tau once before, and that was against another friend of mine, John Grasser, right after the new Tau codex came out, and it ended very badly for me by the end of Turn 3.  So I was not expecting to win in this game against Josh, but felt the need to start getting in as many games as possible before I head off to Valhalla in 3.5 weeks so that I’m not checking every rule every few minutes, and I remember how to play my army.

Now that the preliminaries are over, on to the details of the battle:

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report
Saturday, September 21st, 2013
Chaos Space Maries w/ Chaos Daemon Allies
The Tau Empire
1,850 Points

Chaos Space Marines & Daemons:
Primary Detachment:
  • 1 Chaos Lord on Bike with Mark of Nurgle, Sigil of Corruption, The Burning Brand of Skalathrax, The Black Mace, Blight Grenades, Melta Bombs, Gift of Mutation. – 220 Points.
  • 4 Chaos Spawn with the Mark of Nurgle – 144 Points.
  • 7 Plague Marines with 2 Plasma Guns – 198 Points.
  • 7 Plague Marines with 2 Plasma Guns – 198 Points.
  • 2 Heldrakes with Baleflamers – 2 X 170 = 340 Points.
  • 5 CSM Havocs with Mark of Nurgle and 4 Autocannon – 130 Points.
  • 2 CSM Obliterators with Mark of Nurgle – 152 Points.

  • Great Unclean One, Psyker Level 3, 1 Greater Daemonic Reward, 1 Exalted Daemonic Reward – 290 Points.
  • 10 Plaguebearers of Nurgle – 90 Points.
  • 10 Plaguebearers of Nurgle – 90 Points.

Total = 1,852 Points.

Tau Empire (to the best of my recollection, and without unit points costs):
Primary Detachment:
  • Commander Shadowsun and her retinue of Crisis Suits (3?), Gun Drones (6?), Shield Drone(s), and a Command-and-Control Drone.  (This squad had a mix of weaponry, including Plasma, Fusion and Interceptor.  Big squad, lots of goodies.)
  • Crisis Suit Commander with 6 Marker Drones and Drone Controller.
  • 12 Firewarriors with Bonding Knives.
  • 12 Firewarriors with Bonding Knives.
  • 12 Kroot with Sniper Rifles.
  • 2 Crisis Suits with 1X Air Burst Fragmentation Grenades, both with Plasma, not sure what else, and a Shield Drone.
  • 1 Hammerhead Tank with Longstrike.
  • 2 Broadsides with all the missiles they could possibly take, and Interceptor (and SkyFire?).
  • 1 SkyRay Tank (6 Hunter-Killer missiles and 2 Marker Drones).
  • 1 Riptide, with big gun and shield (not sure of the specifics).

  • None.

Total = ~1,850 Points.  (I didn’t see Josh’s list, but I trust him.)

We rolled up The Emperor’s Will and the Hammer and Anvil deployment.  About the worst combination that I could hope for.  With The Emperor’s Will, it often comes down to who gets First Blood, especially against a static army like Tau, vs a mostly foot-slogging army like mine.  This did not bode well for me.

Another friend of ours had set up the board, and he didn’t provide very much cover for either of us.  This would be a problem for both of us, but more for Josh, I think, since he had so many Marker Drones with which to remove my cover, and smart missile systems which ignore cover, so net-net I think it was OK, as it limited the cover he could take from my low AP weapons.

Since Josh was running Shadowsun, he had is Warlord Trait taken care of.  I rolled on the “Personal” table in the BRB, and got Master of Defense (Warlord and unit have counter-attack while in their own deployment zone), which I knew wouldn’t do me much good, but then I’ve never had much luck with Warlord Traits.

I then had to roll for my Daemonic Gifts and Psychic Powers for the GUO.  For the Greater Gift I rolled Touch of Uncreation, which gave my Great Unclean One Armourbane and Fleshbane in close combat, which wasn’t bad at all.  For the Exalted Gift I knew what I was going to do, but rolled on the chart anyway and got Tethered To The Warp, which would allow my GUO to come back from reserves with one wound after he died in the previous turn.  I decided to do what I’d planned to do anyway, which was to swap that out for one of the Hellforged Artefacts, the Grimoire of True Names.  I’d never used the Grimoire before, but it came highly recommended (by John), and I had recently re-done all of my army lists to allow the GUO to take this, so I was looking forward to using it.

For Psychic Powers I rolled on the Biomancy table and got Enfeeble (not terrible), Life Leech (not terrible, and could come in handy if Mr. Fat Pants (the Great Unclean One) was low on wounds), and Endurance (Yeah!).  That was the big winner, right there.  Getting Iron Arm would’ve rocked it, but I was very happy to get Endurance.

Then, I was supposed to roll on the Chaos Boon table for my Lord, since I’d given him Gift of Mutation, but as this was the first time I’d taken this for him, I forgot, which may or may not have made a difference in the game, but we’ll never know.  Lesson learned:  Check to see that everybody made their pre-game rolls.

Josh won the roll to pick sides, but I won the roll to see who goes first, and had him go first, so he deployed his army, leaving the 2-man Crisis Suit team and the Kroot in Reserve.  He picked the side of the table that had the better cover in terms of buildings in which to park his Firewarriors and Broadsides.  Things were getting tougher for me.

I then deployed my forces (rather well, I thought), keeping the 2 Heldrakes, Mr. Fat Pants (the Great Unclean One) and the 2-man unit of Oblits in Reserve.  I deployed the rest of my forces in what cover I had, making sure that there was nowhere that Josh could Infiltrate his Kroot into my backfield, so they stayed in Reserve.

I tried but did not seize the initiative, which was fine with me, as I generally like to go second in objective-based missions, and Josh didn’t have any psychic powers to power up his forces with, but it did give him the chance to move first and start shooting at me, which he did.  A lot.

Turn 1:
Josh lit up my Lord and his “retinue” of 4 Nurgle Chaos Spawn on my left flank with enough marker light hits to ensure they would have no cover save from the cover they were in, and plenty of his other units would get boosts to their BS.  Pretty much everything opened up on them then, whittling me down to just 2 Spawn.  That’s OK, as they’re primarily there as a delivery system to get the Lord into close combat, but they hadn’t even moved and were pretty beat up.  I also lost a single Plague Marine out of the squad that was next to the Lord and the Spawn from a big template from the Riptide.  My other unit of Plague Marines in the middle of my deployment zone fared even worse, receiving a ton of wounds and rolling five 1s for armor saves, and only making one Feel No Pain.  So that squad was down to 3 guys, but fortunately it included my two plasma gunners.

In my half of Turn 1 I managed to whittle down some of the Gun Drones in Shadowsun’s squad, and take a wound or two off of the Riptide thanks to long range shots from the Plague Marines’ plasma guns, but that was about it.  The Lord and remaining Spawn made a run for it to the difficult terrain in the middle of the table, but didn’t quite make it (not that it would’ve mattered), and the Lord was able to use the Burning Brand to knock out a bunch of the Gun Drones in Shadowsun’s retinue.  I knew I had to deal with Shadowsun and her crew, but I also had to deal with the Riptide and somehow try to whittle down all those Marker Drones with the Crisis Suit, but Josh positioned them all very well so that the Crisis Suit commander would get a re-rollable (I think) 2+ armor save (I’m sure of that), which meant he’d be shielding the Marker Drones from the Burning Brand, so I worked on Shadowsun’s unit instead.

Turn 2:
Both of Josh’s units in Reserve came in, and he had the Kroot walk (stumble) onto the long board edge on my left side way back in his deployment zone.  The 2 man Crisis Suit team with the Shield Drone, however, dropped behind cover over on my right side in very good threat range to all of my Troops choices.  Josh promptly used the air-bursting weapon that ignores cover (and doesn’t need Line of Sight) on my group of Plaguebearers that I had all bunched up in a ruin, and scored a “Hit” on his scatter die.  (It should be noted that Josh scored a “Hit” with that scatter die every time he rolled it in this game.)  Without their 2+ cover save, the Plaguebearers ended up losing 7 of their number, as all of them were under the air-burst template and I only managed to make three 5++ saves.

(I should also note that we’re in the middle of a long campaign that our club is running, and this was a campaign game.  Josh’s campaign army is his Tyranids, so he did not have his Grand General in this game, but I had mine, and he has some pretty nice upgrades that he’s earned throughout the campaign, including Feel No Pain (5+) and Eternal Warrior.)

Josh then proceeded to pummel my Lord and the remaining Spawn with everything that he could reach them with with what he had left, and that was quite a bit.  The Lord made an amazing number of armor saves, invulnerable saves and Feel No Pain saves, but in the end couldn’t hold on to his last wound and was killed.  If I had made one more Feel No Pain he would have lived to assault Shadowsun’s unit on his own, albeit with only a single wound, but, alas, it was not to be.  True to the folklore, the freshly painted Nurgle Biker Lord with The Black Mace failed in his first outing; hopefully he’ll do better the next time around, but he does present a real threat to most armies, and so has a big target on his chest.

Josh now had First Blood (my Spawn) and Slay the Warlord.  We both held our respective objectives.  Score at the midpoint of Turn 2 was 5 to 3 in favor of the Tau Empire.

In my half of Turn 2, all of my 4 units that were in Reserves decided to show up at the same time, which was a huge blessing, as it denied Josh the ability to pick apart units coming in from reseve piecemeal with all the Interceptor ability he had taken. 

Since it was the Hammer and Anvil deployment, there was nothing for my Heldrakes to vector strike when they came onto the board, so I brought one straight on from the left corner of my deployment zone so that it was right in front of Shadowsun’s squad (which had Interceptor), and the other straight up from the right corner of my deployment zone so he could try to Baleflamer those pesky Crisis Suits and their air-bursting badness (not to mention their plasmas).

I decided to position Mr. Fat Pants right in the middle of the board, just in front of a large piece of ruins for his Deep Strike.  Since a GUO has Slow and Purposeful, he can’t run in the shooting phase, which makes him quite slow.  But I thought this was a good spot for him to be in, as with a good scatter I would be in range to assault Shadowsun’s unit the next turn, or just start moving towards the objective in Josh’s deployment zone and choose targets of opportunity to try to assault.  For once my scatter die honored me with a “Hit”, so he ended up right where I put him, a little over an inch away from (and behind) the cover in the middle of the table.

I then placed the 2 Oblits in Josh’s backfield where they would get a good shot at both units of Firewarriers, the Broadsides on the second floor of the ruins back there, the SkyRay, and the Hammerhead, and even could deal with the Kroot, if they wanted to and survived that long.  They scattered 7” straight back towards Josh’s table edge, but I had given them plenty of room, so they were fine. 

Now it was time to roll for Blessings, Maledictions and the all important Grimoire.  Since I’d never used the Grimoire before, I was a little nervous about using it on one of my own units.  For those of you that don’t know, the Grimoire of True Names can either buff one of your unit’s invulnerable saves, or de-buff an opponent’s unit’s invul save.  It has a range of 24” either way, and if I use it on an enemy unit all I have to do is be in range and declare it, and their invul save goes down by -1.  No Deny The Witch, no cover save, they just need to be in range and *POOF*, their invul save goes down by one.  However, if I try to use it on one of my own units (including the bearer and his unit), I have to roll a D6; on a 1 or 2, that unit’s invul save goes down by -1, and on a 3+ that unit’s invul save goes up by 2+.  So a Daemon unit that has the Grimoire used on them successfully ends up getting a 3++, whereas if I try to use it on one of my own units and roll a 1 or 2, their invul save goes to 6++.  (Likewise, if I used it on an enemy unit that had, say, a 5++ save, they would then have a 6++ save until the start of my next Movement phase.)  It’s risky to use it on your own units, but the potential reward is significant.

I decided to target the Heldrake that had ended up right in front of Shadowsun’s unit with the Grimoire, and passed the check, so that Heldrake now had a 3++ save.  Nice.  I then cast Enfeeble on the Riptide, and Endurance on the GUO himself.  Both went off without a hitch, so the GUO now had Feel No Pain, It Will Not Die and Relentless (big deal), whereas the Riptide had its Toughness reduced by 1.

Josh used his units that had Interceptor (and I think the Riptide had SkyFire), and despite scoring a few hits against everything he shot at (mostly the Heldrakes, I think) I managed to make most of my saves.  He did manage to score an Immobilized result with a penetrating hit on the Heldrake on my right flank, which meant it was now Vector Locked at 36” velocity.  That was OK by me.

In my shooting phase the Heldrake on my left flank flamed Shadowsun’s squad, doing some damage before the Shield Drone started making its invul saves, and the Heldrake on my right flank flamed the two Crisis Suits and their Shield Drone, which got rid of one of the Crisis Suits, but not, unfortunately, the one that had the air-burst ignores cover launcher.  The Havocs concentrated on the Riptide and took a wound (or 2?) off of it, and the Oblits in the rear shot their assault cannon into the Firewarriors in the building in front of them, killing enough to force a morale check, which they passed.

I then tested the Chaos Gods’ patience and succesfully cast Life Leech and then managed to hit the Riptide with this Witchfire, taking another wound off of it.

And, to top it all off, at the end of my turn the GUO regained the one wound he lost from Josh’s shooting thanks to It Will Not Die that he got from a successful casting of Endurance, and I believe I managed to put the hull point back on the Heldrake on my right flank that had been Vector Locked when it came in from Josh’s Interceptor by virtue of its It Will Not Die rule.

Turn 3:
In Josh’s half of Turn 3, his SkyRay unleashed all 6 of its hunter missiles at the Heldrake on my right flank (which had not been buffed by the Grimoire in my Turn 2), and I almost made all of its invul saves, but failed one and it crashed, to no effect.  The remaining Crisis Suit on my right flank finished off the three Plaguebearers that were huddling in the ruins in the middle front of my deployment zone, where my objective was, and the Riptide killed two more Plague Marines from the squad that was next to that objective, too, leaving a lone plasma gunner from that squad.

Otherwise, not much else ensued.  Josh concentrated fire from both Firewarrior squads and the Kroot at the 2 Oblits in his backfield, killing one of them.  But other than that, not much happened on his turn.

However, during his assault phase, he did something rather curious.  He moved Shadowsun’s unit into the cover that was in front of my GUO, bringing it closer (I thought) to him being able to assault Shadowsun’s unit in my turn.  I guess Josh was worried about all the plasma guns that I had that could reach Shadowsun and her retinue in my turn, but it looked to me like the GUO had a good chance of getting into close combat with her and her gang in my turn.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

On my half of Turn 3, I used the Grimoire on the GUO, and thankfully it worked, which was good because if he was going to try to charge Shadowsun’s unit, he was going to take a lot of overwatch fire from most of Josh’s army, starting with the Marker Drones.  I measured and we decided that I would need a total of 11 inches to get into contact with the first model in Shadowsun’s unit with the GUO.  Luck was on my side, as he rolled a 6 for his difficult terrain roll, bringing him within 5 inches of that juicy target.

Meanwhile, the remaining Heldrake vector struck the Marker Drones, managing to kill half of them, which left three plus the Crisis Suit Commander, which would be a huge help.  My remaining Plaguebearer unit, well within my deployment zone on my right, but close to the Crisis Suit with the air-burst weapon, decided to spread out a bit to try to reduce the threat of an air-burst on them, and angled themselves closer to the ruins that held my objective; this was still being held by the lone Plague Marine plasma gunner, but was far enough away from those Plaguebearers that they needed to start moving in that direction to be effective in later turns at holding it.

In the shooting phase, the Plague Marines and Havocs concentrated fire on the Riptide, dropping it to a single remaining wound, which meant that Josh wasn’t going to risk using his Nova Reactor to try to supercharge it, significantly reducing it as a risk for 2 turns. 

Then it was time to see if Mr. Fat Pants could make it into close combat with Shadowsun’s unit, charging through the ruins.  I needed a 5 to make it to the closest model, and rolled a 6, a 3 and another 3 on my 3 dice for his charge roll, so he made it!  The 3++ save the Grimoire had given him, plus the Feel No Pain (5+) that he got from a successful roll for Endurance, really paid off when he shrugged off most of the overwatch shots that came his way, which of course were boosted by the three remaining Marker Drones, who overwatched first and put three markers on him.  In the end, he won combat, Shadowsun failed her morale check, and the Big Fella ran down the command squad.  Slay the Warlord for me!  The GUO then consolidated 5” straight towards Josh’s objective while remaining in cover.

Turns 4, 5 and 6:
From this point on it’s not worth giving you a blow-by-blow description of what happened, and if you’re still reading at this point, I greatly appreciate it.  So, I’ll summarize:

The GUO continued to make is way towards the objective in Josh’s deployment zone, and ended up being parked right on top of it, but by the time he got there he was down to a single wound.  I didn’t want to risk casting Life Leech and possibly rolling a Perils of the Warp, as he was my only chance to deny Josh that objective, so he sat tight and hunkered down.  I rolled for the Grimoire of True Names 5 times during the game, and never rolled lower than a 4, so he always had a 3++ save after he had buffed the left Heldrake in Turn 2.

The Plague Marines and Havocs managed to take the final wound off of the Riptide in Turn 4, eliminating that threat.

The lone Plague Marine plasma gunner made a valiant attempt at taking out the Crisis Suit on the right (the one with the air-burst fragmentation grenade launcher), rolling a 6 for difficult terrain to get into rapid fire range!  But, then he failed to wound it.  It took the Havocs shooting through cover at that pesky Crisis Suit to finally get  rid of him, which allowed the Plaguebearers to move out of cover and head towards the SkyRay that had moved into that part of the board in an attempt to tank shock the lone plasma gunner, who was now standing on my objective, and get Linebreaker.  However, the Plaguebearers had other plans, and charged the SkyRay, scoring a ton of hits with their 20 attacks, and rolling four 6s to glance it to death.  The Plaguebearers’ plague swords have Touch of Rust, which always causes a glancing hit on a roll of a 6 after hitting, but I forgot that they were already Str 4 and needed 6s anyway, since they were hitting the SkyRay’s AV10 rear armor.  But, it was a good exercise, and either way it got rid of the SkyRay, which could have rushed forwards and parked itself right on top of my objective, keeping any of my scoring units more than 3” away from it.  However, the lowly Plaguebearers had proven their worth and eliminated that threat.

The remaining Oblit in Josh’s backfield managed to take out a Broadside with his twin-linked melta gun, and thin out the Firewarriors in the same building and even cause them to break a turn later, but they rallied the next turn and he eventually died to weight of fire.

The game continued to Turn 6, and Josh continued to pour firepower into my GUO, but Mr. Fat Pants kept rolling above 2 for the Grimoire, and had a 3++ save to help him hang in there to the end of Turn 6.  This was a very fortunate thing, as my remaining Heldrake, which had had to fly off the board earlier having been Vector Locked, flew off the table at the end of Turn 6 and would not be able to provide insurance for me to get Linebreaker.  The unit of Plague Marines that was still mobile were still too far away from Josh’s objective to try to contest it and get Linebreaker, as I had to use their shooting phases to try to get rid of the remaining missile Broadside.  In the end, they could only get that MissileSide down to one wound, and were too far away from the objective to make any more of a difference to the outcome of the game. 

My only hope of pulling out a victory was for the GUO to survive being camped on Josh’s objective, in his deployment zone, with two heavily reduced units of Firewarriors and a full unit of Kroot shooting at him, backed up by the remaining 3 Marker Drones and their Controller, Longstrike in his Hammerhead, and the MissileSide in the building above him.  At the end of Turn 6, he was still there, with only 1 wound left, and I had firm control of the objective in my deployment zone.  We rolled to see if the game would go to Turn 7, and it came up a 1, so the game ended there.


Chaos = 5
Tau = 2

Victory =>> Chaos!!!

Wow!  I can honestly say that I did NOT expect to pull off a victory in my first “real” game against Tau.  It was a close game, and after my Biker Lord and his Spawn retinue got decimated in the early game, I was not optimistic.  Josh had a lot of Marker Drones to light up pretty much whatever he wanted.  However, I used the Grimoire of True Names 5 times and it never failed me.  I failed a few psychic tests, but never periled, which saved the GUO’s big butt.  And I have to say, my dice were HOT!  I was making invul saves and It Will Not Die rolls like crazy all game long.  The only time my dice started to show the strain of doing so well was at the very end of the game, when the GUO took a bunch of wounds and ended up with a single wound by the end of Turn 6.

Josh and I quickly rolled out a theoretical Turn 7 of him shooting at my GUO, and I did fail the last save, which would have given Josh the game, as we both would have held an objective and had Slay the Warlord, and neither of us would have had Linebreaker, but he had First Blood.

Well, this Battle Report ended up being a lot longer than I’d originally intended, but as I got writing it, I just kept going and the story told itself.  If you’ve lasted this long, thanks very much.  I’m very encouraged by the results of my army against such a powerful 6th Edition codex, run by a very experienced general.  Overall I’d say that Josh and I are 50/50 in terms of wins and losses against each other, and as I said, I fully expected to get schooled on just how well Tau can shoot down pretty much whatever they want to.  But it just goes to show that even the under-appreciated Chaos Space Marine codex, backed up by some solid Chaos Daemon allies, can still win games, especially if your dice are on your side!

Josh thought that it would’ve been better if I’d Deep Striked by GUO where I put the Obliterators, in his backfield where the GUO could’ve romped through unit after unit, but in retrospect he would’ve just been shot to hell by two units of rapid-firing Firewarriors, a unit of Kroot, and 2 MissileSides, and probably Longstriker in his Hammerhead, all after being lit up by all those Marker Drones.  Even with the 3++ save that the Grimoire could confer, that would be a lot of shots to have to make saves against, and I don’t think he would’ve lasted until the end of the game, as he did; plus, if he’d failed a Grimoire test, he would’ve only had a 6++ save, as he definitely wouldn’t have any cover save given how many Marker Drones were in the area.  As it was, the two Oblits were a distraction to the Firewarriors and Kroot to shoot at while they were back there, and managed to thin out one of the Firewarrior units and cut the number of MissileSides in half.

The Man of the Match was definitely my Great Unclean One (although an honorable mention needs to be given to my blue dice, which were absolutely on fire most of the game!  And also the lone Plague Marine plasma gunner, who valiently chipped away at the annoying Crisis Suit and its Shield Drone, and held my objective by himself at the end of the game.).

As far as painting goes, I’m working on the legs of my last Plague Hulk, and that’s the last of the painting that I have to do.  I definitely want to get my first stretch goal of edge highlighting all of the metal on the two Heldrakes done, but given that I’m about half way through with the legs of the Plague Hulk, and then all I’ll need to do is assemble the legs onto the Plague Hulk’s body, I’ll definitely have plenty of time to get that edge highlighting done on the two Heldrakes.  I want to spend as much time as I can in the time remaining before I go to Valhalla to get in some more games, especially against Eldar, Tau and any flavor of Space Marines that I can find.

Thanks for taking the time to read this Battle Report, and look for an update on how easy it is to store and transport my Plague Drones (which I forgot to discuss at length when I posted that I’d completed painting them), and the final word on finishing up the last Plague Hulk.  After that, I’ll try to post (shorter) Battle Reports as I’m able to get games in, and then will post as much as I can while I’m at Valhalla in October.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

6 Plague Drones Completed in 1 Week+

Hey, Folks.

Here’s the latest group of models to join my Daemons of Nurgle forces:  6 Plague Drones of Nurgle, which I can run either as two units of 3 or one larger unit, up to 6.

Several months ago as I was planning out what I would be building and painting, and when I’d be doing it, I was also trying to plan out how I would be transporting both my Chaos Space Marines army and my Nurgle Daemons army.  I use Battle Foam P.A.C.K. 720s for each army, but the trick was how to configure the trays of foam that I would need for each army.  One problem that was particularly prickly was how to transport these Plague Drones once they were finished.  I pondered how to magnetize the wings, or the legs, or both, as when fully assembled these models are a bit bulky, and look a bit fragile.  Nothing seemed to work in terms of magnetizing the wings and/or legs to the bodies so that they would not droop due to gravity pulling the pieces down, rather than having them positioned properly.

As I was working through this problem, my friend Josh Howery suggested that we try to see if we could magnetize the two halves of each of the Drone bodies together, and if that worked then I could glue the wings and legs into whatever position I wanted to on each body half.

As it turned out, there are on the insides of each half of each Drone body two round, flat spots that line up exactly with each half.  That is, there are two round, flat spots on inside of the left body half that line up exactly with the same sized round, flat spots on the inside of the right body half.  The following picture is a bit dark, and in it we’ve already glued magnets onto these spots, which happened to be the exact diameter of magnets that I had on hand.

It’s almost like GW planned on you being able to magnetize the body halves.  Hmmmm…

In any event, and to make a long story short, it worked.  Josh glued a magnet onto the circular spots on both halves of each Drone body, put in enough magnets on each half so that they would meet in (or nearly in) the middle of the Drone’s body when the two halves were put together. 

Simply gluing the magnets in place wouldn’t hold them when the two body halves were put together and then separated, so Josh then filled in the space around the magnets with Apoxy Sculpt, which is a two-part modeling putty similar to Green Stuff but less expensive and easier to work with.  (The problem with Apoxy Sculpt is that it takes overnight to dry, and comes in two large containers, but for large projects, it’s more cost effective and easier to work with than Green Stuff.  Josh used Apoxy Sculpt to make the custom Nurgle Chaos Spawn as my 5th Spawn for me a while back, which I wrote about a few months ago here.)

Taking this approach also allowed me to magnetize the two different styles of heads that come with the Drones.  As I hadn’t played any games with these models, I wasn’t sure if I would always (or ever) use the Rot Proboscis option, which makes the Plague Drones’ close combat attacks Poisoned 3+ instead of their standard Poisoned 4+, at a cost of 5 points per model.  Certainly Poisoned 3+ sounds good, but I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to take all the time.  So I shaved down the plastic on the inside of each half of each drone where the heads would attach, and glued a larger diameter magnet there on the inside.  Then it was a simple matter to flatten the ends of all of both types of heads and glue a corresponding magnet onto them.  Of course, I made sure that the polarities of all of the magnets were working in the same direction, so that I could use any head on any Drone at any time.

After that, it was easy to glue the wings and legs into the positions I wanted them for both sets of 3 Drones.

That was several months ago, and I’ve been holding off on painting the Drones and their Plaguebearer riders for one of the last tasks that I had to accomplish to get ready to go to Valhalla.  Two Fridays ago I finished up the Nurgle Biker Lord, so on that Saturday (September 7th) I was able to get started painting the Plague Drones and their riders.

The process of painting them (well, washing them with Citadel shades, mostly) went remarkably quickly, and I was able to get them all finished in seven days of painting over 8 calendar days, committing a total of 45.5 hours to the task.  Wow, that was a lot of work for one week.  I ended up getting 10 hours of work done on that first Saturday, and then had problems with my work laptop where it needed to be rebuilt by our IT department, and that took more than a day, so I had a lot of free time on my hands late last week to put into getting these Drones finished as quickly as I could.  Also, the wife has eased up on giving me a hard time about spending so much time working on my stuff to get ready for Valhalla, and my daughter has had more rehearsals for her upcoming shows, so I’ve had more time in the evenings during the week to spend working on painting that I have had in previous weeks.

One problem that I ran into as I was finishing up the Drones’ bodies and started working on the Plaguebearer riders’ bodies was getting the riders to stay on top of the posts on the tops of the Drones after each Drone’s body halves were put together with the magnets.  These guys really were meant to be glued in place on these posts, so I was faced with a late problem that I had to address pretty quickly. 

What I ended up doing was drilling a hole into the posts of each of the Drones’ and inserting and gluing a thin brass rod such that it was anchored inside one body half with superglue and Green Stuff, and stuck up far enough above the post on the outside of the body so that any rider would stay in place when mounted on the post + brass rod rig.  This was a bit challenging and very delicate work, but with patience and perseverance I was able to get all 6 Drones drilled out and the brass rods installed and anchored with Green Stuff in the same night.

With the brass rods in place, the riders stay put and don’t fall off their perches when being moved around the battlefield.

With a lot of time and working very quickly, I was able to finish up these 6 Plague Drones and their Plaguebearer riders by last Saturday, which was a huge relief.  And with the heads magnetized, I can swap them out depending on whether I want to use the Rot Proboscis or not and by WSYWIG.

I’m really happy with how they turned out, and would love to hear your opinion of them!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Update On Nurgle Biker Lord

Hey, Folks.

I realized last night that I was in such a hurry to (finally) put up a post about the completion of the Nurgle Biker Lord with The Black Mace, that I forgot to mention how long it took me to paint him and the bike up, and customize the bike to enable it to pop a wheelie on demand:

29 hours.

That might seem like a lot of time to put into one model, but that includes the time it took to magnetize both the front and the rear.  Also, there's a lot of detail on the bike, and it took some time to get The Black Mace put together with Green Stuff, toothpicks, plasticard tubing, brass rod and the chain from a pair of nail clippers.  Also, being the Warlord for my Nurgle CSM forces, I wanted to be sure I did the model justice in terms of painting.

Just wanted to give you that quick update.

I also wanted to give you a quick tease:  I've completed the 6 Nurgle Plague Drones (and their riders) already.  It only took one week + one day (total of 7 days work over 8 days) to get them finished.  I'll be posting about them soon, with lots of pictures...

As always, comments and feedback are always welcome...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nurgle Biker Lord Finished on 9/6!

Hey, folks.  Sorry this has taken me so long to get posted, but my laptop had to be rebuilt last week after my last post about the Nurgle Bike being able to pop a wheelie, and this is the first chance I’ve had to write about getting the whole model, bike, rider and The Black Mace, completed.

I got the rider finished on Friday, September 6th, and got him mounted on the bike with The Black Mace in his left hand.  I was able to take a slew of pictures, so here they are:

It was a lot of fun working on this model, and I’m really pleased with the way he turned out.  Now I have a proper Nurgle Chaos Biker Lord to lead my Death Guard and other forces into battle!

Please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nurgle Bike Pops A Wheelie!

Hey, folks.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to make a post, mostly because two weeks ago I didn’t get any hobby time in during the week due to family responsibilities. 

The Nurgle Bike and Lord with The Black Mace is finished.  But before I show it to you (that will be another post, once I get good pictures), what I wanted to tell you about is about the bike itself.  When I first put the bike model together, I made sure that both wheels would spin freely.  It was my intent to be able to “pop a wheelie” with the bike to give it some dynamism, and to have a cool in-game effect when turbo boosting or charging.  (Hey, if you’re gonna play with toy soldiers, make the most of it, right?) 

As I was finishing up painting the bike last week, I started working on the wheels, painting them with a basecoat of Abaddon Black.  As I turned the front wheel to paint the other half of it, the paint that I had already applied kept scraping off due to the closeness of the wheel housing to the wheel itself.  I eventually gave up on being able to spin this wheel, and glued it into place.   So much for that wheel.

But the rear wheel still moved.  I had glued the rear wheel down to the bike base at the rear of the base, so the bike was able to be angled up to pop a wheelie.  However, I had done such a good job of making sure the rear wheel would spin freely, and with all the metal of the front plate and bolters at the front of the bike, it meant that the bike had to be held up in place in order to affect a wheelie position.  This was not what I had intended. 

Also, another problem that reared its ugly head was that when I picked the bike up (by the bike), the front of the base would drop down, since the rear wheel could move.  This presented a real problem for me, as I am quite a klutz, and could envision myself snagging the dropped front portion of the bike’s base on other models and terrain when I tried to move it in game.   

This would not do.

So I pondered what to do for a while, and came up with several options.  One was to prop the front wheen up on something, like a fallen Loyalist Space Marine or a rock or piece of bark.  Another was to glue the rear wheel to the rear of the chassis in a permanent wheelie, and another was to just give up on the idea of being able to pop a wheelie when moving fast and just glue the front wheel flat to the base.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t do any of those things.  Last Wednesday, I was able to get some hobby time and headed over to Empire Games in the late afternoon.  Two of my friends, Aaron Smith and Dana Mork, were at Empire, and I brought up my dilemma and showed them how the front of the base would drop down when the bike was picked up.  I also explained that I was almost to the point of just gluing the front tire to the front of the base and being done with it.

But we bounced around a few ideas, and one thing Aaron said was that, since I’d gone to the trouble of allowing the rear wheel to move freely, that we really needed to take advantage of that.  Anyone can glue the front tire to the base, or to something to prop the bike up in a permanent wheelie, but it would be so much cooler to be able to pop a wheelie at will.

Dana then made the penultimate suggestion:  Magnets!  Of course!  I was fully stocked with a wide variety of rare earth disc magnets of various diameters and thicknesses, which I had purchase online some months ago from K&J Magnetics (  (I highly recommend any hobbyist get a wide variety of magnets from K&J Magnetics, as you never know when they will come in handy!)

So we quickly figured out that I could glue several thin, relatively wide magnets to the underside of the front of the base directly under the front wheel, and then carve out a small cavity in the bottom of the wheel where it touched the base and put a thin magnet of a smaller dimension in there.  In order to ensure that I would have a good magnetic bond through the plastic and paint that would separate these magnets in the finished bike, I patiently shaved down and thinned the plastic of the underside of the base using a hobby knife with a curved blade, and also shaved a bit off the top side of the base, to the point where I just broke through the thinned plastic with a small diameter hole.  I then glued three 1/4” diameter 1/32” thick magnets to the bottom of the base in the space that I had thinned out, directly under where the wheel would touch the base when down, and then sealed them in place with a generous amount of Green Stuff.  When doing something like this, you need the Green Stuff to make sure the magnets don’t pop off from the superglue if the model is dropped, or they get too close to another magnet and be ripped off from the superglue (this has happened to me before; those magnets are strong!).

I then carved a hole into the underside of the front tire, and superglued a single 1/16” diameter 1/32” thick magnet into this cavity so that it was at the same level as the tread side of the tire.  I then filled in the extra space that I’d had to carve out of the tire in order to get deep enough to fit the magnet in with more Green Stuff, and sculpted it the best I could to look like the normal tire before I’d taken my hobby knife to it.  I knew I’d be painting this part of the tire with Stirland Mud textured paint, so figured what I had was good enough.

This solved the problem of the front of the bike’s base dropping down when the bike was picked up.  

But that left the problem of how to hold the bike up in a wheelie when I wanted to.

When Aaron and Dana and I were brainstorming how to do this, we bounced around several ideas, including adding a kind of kickstand under the bike’s undercarraige that could be dropped down to prop it up, putting a strong spring under the undercarraige to push the bike up, or hanging a hook of some sort from under the back of the bike that could be hooked on the back of the base to hold the bike up.  I liked the hook idea the best, but as I was working on getting the magnets into the front of the bike, I thought more and more about it and realized that with all the Nurgly stuff that was at the back of the bike it would be next to impossible to get some sort of a cross bar up into the underside of the rear of the bike so that a hook could hang freely.  Also, judging the length of the hook would be a challenge.

As I chewed on this idea some more, I had an epiphany:  I still had lengths of chain from a nail clipper left over from when I’d made The Black Mace.  I could superglue the chain to the underside of the rear of the bike, anchor it with Green Stuff, and then let it hang down behind the rear tire.  If I put another three 1/4” diameter 1/32” thick magnets at the very back of the base and hung a smaller diameter, thicker magnet (1/8” X 3/32”) from the chain hanging down from the back of the bike (cut to the proper length), it would probably hold the front of the bike up, despite all the heavy metal that was on the front portion of the bike in front of the handle bars.

Well, it worked!

I used some more Green Stuff to make sure the magnet suspended from the chain would stay in place at both the connection point under the back of the bike and at the bottom end of the chain when I wanted to disconnect it from the magnets in the base and let the front wheel drop down again.

Now the front of the bike stays put when I pick the model up, and I can pop a nice wheelie at will when it’s time to turbo boost or charge.

Of course, I wish I’d thought of doing this before Josh had built up the Shrine to Nurgle at the back of the bike, but that’s 20/20 hindsight.

The effect is, I must say, very cool.  At least, everyone I’ve shown the bike to thinks so.  Please post a comment below and let me know what you think of this conversion.