Antares battle at Warlord HQ

Rowan and I went to Warlord Games HQ in Nottingham for their fortnightly Antares games night last night. They are open till 8.30pm and there are four tables available, such as this rather nicely sculpted desert. We played two games, which were against each other as we were first to set up, but all four tables were in use by the end, one for Bolt Action. Ghar seem very popular, being 3 out of the 4 armies on the other tables. In our first game I took 750 points of the store’s Algoryn army and faced off against our newly painted Ghar.

Algoryn prepare for the onslaught

I took the Algoryn, who are heavily armoured, but their base guns use mag technology which isn’t as good as the plasma weapons that Concord have. Critically their penetration is too weak to cause pins on the Ghar battlesuits, so they are reliant on the Ghar rolling a zero on a d10 when hit (not very likely). Rowan fielded 3 squads of battlesuits and a squad of outcasts with a disruptor cannon. His outcasts (being puny goblin creatures) dug in at the back in some rocks, while the Ghar trundled forward, my mag rounds pinging off their armour.

A lucky shot from my command group took down one Ghar on my right flank, but other than that I caused no casualties. In the following turn the command group was obliterated when a Ghar shot deviated from its intended target of the skimmer. The skimmer which carried my only substantial weapon spent most of its time ‘down’ and didn’t do much. The game ended on turn 6 when I lost over half my command dice and my army broke altogether. Total Ghar casualties – just one battlesuit.

Ghar close in on their luckless victims

In the next game Rowan took the Algoryn and I used Concord. This time we played a scenario in which I had to capture at least 2 out of 3 objectives on his back line. I had 4 Concord squads plus two support squads consisting of two light support drones. All had buddy drones – these are spotters which allow you to re-roll any misses, which makes them very useful but they do die immediately if your opponent rolls a 1 (low is good) when firing at your unit. I hung back and used my superior firepower to blast him. Again the Algoryn skimmer didn’t do much. It got pinned and then rolled badly to activate several times. The Algoryn right flank was weaker, so I concentrated fire there, putting just enough fire on the other flank to interfere with their firing. One Algoryn squad was destroyed and another seriously weakened. I had lost the odd trooper and quite a few buddy drones, but was winning the firefight. With time running out, one Concord squad started to rush forward but took a couple of casualties and went down near the Algoryn troops, however, with supporting fire from another undamaged squad, it got back up again and sprinted for the first objective on the far right of the Algoryn line. With one turn to go, I had to clear his command squad and advance the depleted lead squad into the middle of his deployment area. Some lucky shots blew away the two troopers and his general failed his break test, so my squad could sprint to the second objective and secure a last minute victory.

All in all a good game, and we might well be back in two weeks time.


Antares arrives

Not many posts recently – I’ve been busy, so here’s a quick update. I’ve finally finished off a massive building that I started around er, 15 years ago. It could do with more detailing etc. etc. but I thought it was best to just press on and get it finished.

I’ll post a bit more detail on how it was made soon. I’m particularly pleased with the staircases (which can’t be seen in the photo).

Rowan has bought the starter set of Gates of Antares, after being inspired by our visit to the official opening of the Warlord games store a  couple of weeks ago. We’ve already painted the entire contents of the box – 38 models. The style is much more hi-tech sci-fi than the techno barbarity of 40K, so a bit of aesthetic culture shock at first but I’m warming to it. The drones which are used quite extensively for spotting, are a great addition to the usual selection of sci-fi infantry and are very believable as part of future warfare.

Ghar advance

Here you can see two squads of Ghar (degenerate, savage abhumans in primitive powered armour), advancing to crush some luckless Concord (conventional humans) in the distance. The rules play well – they are fast, a small game can be finished in an hour, but there are a reasonable number of tactical options. The turn order is decided by randomly picking dice out of a bag – whichever side’s colour comes out, they can activate a unit. Units become pinned when shot at, making it harder to move them and less effective when firing, and if subjected to enough incoming fire can break even before everyone has been killed. Another neat rule is that a natural roll of 1 (low is good) is always a success and often carries some bonus over and above just succeeding – e.g. if you roll a 1 to hit a unit, you can choose the specific unit member to hit, so you can pick off a leader or heavy weapon. Likewise if you roll a 0 (=10) then you well and truly fail, and may take an additional penalty. This adds an extra layer of unexpected outcomes without too much complexity.

Having been used to skirmish games where scenery is WYSIWYG, and each model manoeuvres independently, Antares, being very much squad based, feels a bit imprecise, but it is just a different scale of battle and at that scale it seems to work very well.

Back to the hive

After many months of being covered in miscellaneous junk and boxes of models, after weeks of picking away at the debris, I finally gritted my teeth and cleared the table in the shed. 4′ x 8′ of glorious emptiness. It was time for a game.

Finally cleared

Rowan had found rules for a Genestealer Hybrid gang in Necromunda, and was keen to give his new army an outing. He could only afford a very small gang – 1 Magus, 2 Purestrain, a hybrid and two Brood Brothers. I went with an 11 man Delaque gang. I got to pick the first mission and picked Raid, because it sounded interesting. It was only when I looked at the scenario details I realised what a tough proposition it was – he had his whole gang but I could only pick five of mine. Worse still, we were using the dangerous terrain from Outlanders, and this battle was taking place with an unstable roof dome above. If I fired my Heavy Stubber, there was a high chance that I would bring the roof down and kill everyone.

Necromunda table

In this scenario, the attacking gang has to sneak up on the objective while the defending sentries mill around aimlessly. The objective was the staircase in a mesh box visible at top right. Rowan had positioned it in fairly open ground right in the corner of the map – very difficult for me to get to. Ideally I would have opened up on it from the other side of the map with the Heavy Stubber, but I couldn’t do that because of the unstable roof.

Ready to fire on the objective

I crept closer, and still at a respectful distance from the Stealers I opened fire. 3 hits on the objective, but with T6, they did no damage at all (I needed 6s to wound). The alarm was raised and the Stealers bolted towards me. I retreated hastily, hoping that the Genestealers would become sufficiently far ahead that I could pick them off. Things got worse when the Magus used a hallucinogenic mind power on my flamer. Thinking his buddies had betrayed him, he turned round and flamered the gang, taking down two of them and I bottled.

Stealer on guard

The second battle was a shoot out. This looked much more promising. We had three gangers each – in this scenario they walk towards each other and the first to lose his nerve and open fire loses victory points. I had my Leader, a Flamer and a Heavy Stubber.

Gang stand off

We were both going slowly until I realised that my flamer needed to get into range and sped up – but too late; the Stealers triggered the shoot out. The Magus and my leader fired first – he missed and I took out a Brood Brother. Then the hybrid missed, and finally it was the Heavy Stubber’s turn. With two shots on each of the remaining targets he took them both down.

One win each – a straight gang fight next..

Rusty debris

I love to make scenery out of found objects. These rusty bits of debris are exactly that – rusty debris. There was an old farm implement rusting away at the end of the garden, and before I took it to the tip, I noticed that some of it was actually flaking apart into these fragments. Just the sort of corroded and unidentifiable remains that the underhive would be littered with.

Rusty Necromunda debris

I stuck them to scraps of hardboard, covered the base with sand and then all I did to paint them was to give them a very light orangey brown drybrush on some of the edges. All the colours and patterning were already there. They aren’t very large (I wish I’d salvaged a bit more now), but they have great texture and a satisfying weight.

Brethren are complete – for now

The ‘Brethren of Ultimate Sanction’ – a batch of models that started with last year’s Oldhammer figure from Ramshackle Games has finally cleared the painting tray.  The first two can be seen here

Monk and flagellant

On the left is a Black Tree monk – I bought a pack of 4 in a drive to collect medieval civilians. I was going to paint them in plain brown robes, but then it occurred to me they could join the group. On the right is another Casting Room flagellant. He had a rather funny little medieval hat, which I didn’t like, so I replaced with this more menacing green stuff hood.


Here are the rest of the monks. I thought about giving them weapons, but didn’t in the end – they are still semi-civilians, not a warband. The abbot in the middle is clearly a magic user of some power, and probably doesn’t need one anyway. You can see him here calling down a bit of divine wrath on his enemies. His blind eyes were a spur of the moment decision. I painted in the whites ready to do normal eyes, and then I realised that they gave him a bit of interest and menace. The red scars were added to hint at some ritual mutilation or torture – he clearly has a dark past.

The whole gang


Yoric – Another Frostgrave Captain

Yoric has travelled from his tribe’s hill fort to plunder Felstad and bring back much needed riches to his home. Although toting a curiously small axe, his strength and savage fighting style mean he is in demand amongst wizards to head up their fighting men.

Frostgrave Captain

Another Pict Frostgrave Captain. I’ve gone for more of a primitive tribal look with this one. The only conversion was to turn his bare legs and slippers into trousers and fur topped boots with green stuff. The shield came with the model.

Frostgrave Henchmen

More finishing off of Frostgrave troops. These are mostly from the soldiers box, except for the Infantryman on the right below. He is a Perry Miniatures mercenary with Frostgrave arms and halberd and a green stuff fur cape to ‘winter’ him up a bit.

Thug and infantryman

The Frostgrave models have lots of layers of clothing, which can be a bit of a painting challenge. It doesn’t feel right to paint them the same colour when they look like separate garments, but on the other hand you have to pick the colours carefully or they will end up looking a discordant mess. To try to avoid these I use quite a few browns and greys with a couple of brighter colours to add interest.

Two thugs

I’ve based everything to WFB standards – 20mm square for these, and I haven’t used snow because it looks so weird in other settings, limited the uses for them. I have used a bit more grey stone that usual to increase their suitability for the city ruins.

Frostgrave Captain

Last year I ordered a load of Black Tree Picts for my Inquisitor Cynole game. A couple of them were in chainmail, which didn’t suit the look I wanted for the natives in the game, so I decided to use them for Frostgrave. This chap needed a little conversion – his sword looked more like a dagger (Picts didn’t have much metal), so he got this one from my bits box. He had bare legs and sort of slippers, which didn’t look suitable for the cold, so I gave him green stuff fur topped boots and trousers. It seemed a good idea to equip him well, so I gave him an old Citadel crossbow on a green stuff strap. Finally he had bare hands, so I sculpted glove ends around his wrists.

Frostgrave Captain

This model is slightly taller than most of the Frostgrave ones, which adds to his air of authority.

Freehand Undead Shields

They don’t seem to be in fashion so much now, but I like a classic old school shield pattern painted on a flat shield. Here’s some I did last year. Usually I make them up as I go along.  I paint a base colour on the shield, then I think of something to put on it, and I had extra details, colours as necessary. For example the red circle on the middle shield wasn’t part of the plan, but the skull in the centre looked a bit small and I needed something to fill up the space around it.

Freehand skeleton shield patterns

With skeleton shields I’ve always wavered between doing them as rusty, ruined versions of human shields or the more common emblems of skulls, bones and death. In the case of the latter, who paints them on? Imps summoned by the necromancer to give his army a touch of style, or perhaps necromantic students paint them in the evenings to finance their studies. Maybe Chaos Dwarves have a warehouse full of them that they sell to up-and-coming lich lords.

Female Rogue Trader Mercenary

This rather elegant female mercenary is another one that has taken a couple of years from start to finish. To my mind, modern 40K doesn’t have nearly enough random aliens, abhumans and other such interesting and disparate inhabitants. I imagine the fringes of the Imperium to be packed with the sort of weirdness found in the Mos Eisley cantina, so I’ve taken to building up a good selection of oddities. She’s humanish, but not human standard, and from some kind of feral hunting culture that’s into its ritual ornamentation.

Alien mercenary

The model is from Foundry’s Africa range. I picked her up from the discount cabinet at BOYL 2015 at the end of the day. Bryan Ansell prompted this by commenting that he was surprised nobody had bought her, because you could make anything like that sci-fi by just sticking on a pistol. Hmmm I thought, the bald head and jewellery is a rather cool look.In the end, I went a bit further than just adding the pistol. I modelled on boots, an ammo pack, and the Y shaped back of a top with green stuff to make her a little less primitive. Initially I had her leaning on the gun (small grenade launcher from Street Violence range), but it didn’t work very well, so I repositioned it so she was actually carrying it.

I wanted her to look a bit alien and exotic, so I used a bluish skin tone, with some strongly coloured eye makeup, and strongly patterned sarong again to suggest some kind of tribal background. The gun is rather elegant and decorative, which complements her look nicely. The red colouring on the gun was prompted by some paintball guns I have seen, that are really very decorative – metallic reds and purples, fancy little chrome detailing etc. This a piece of sculpture as well as a weapon.