Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bolt Action: Inexpensive alternatives for tanks, Part 2

If you caught the first installment of this series, you will remember the low cost Revel Pnz IV kits.

I decided to pick up five of them after finding an ebay seller that gave me a good combined shipping

These kits are decent but not perfect, so I decide to make a couple simple changes to make them a bit more realistic.

First detail that was missing was the round vent on the top of the turret. Adding a simple detail like this really goes a long way and brakes up the empty space, also this one detail is one of the Pnz IVs iconic identifying features.

I used a hole punch and some plastic card and a smaller punch to make a smaller disc that is under it to raise it up a tiny bit.

The second change I made was to trim the rear lower skirt to a taper as it should be, when flipped over to the correct height the corner that is cut off becomes the bottom rear. Check out the difference between the first two images in the post.

After that a quick scuff over the graphics some primer and base paint,

I decided not to paint the track sections, they come black and I just brushed on the yellow to the hull side and wheel centers.

 Then it was off to the airbrush for a Normandy style three color camouflage pattern.

As you can see I masked some of the skirt panels to keep the camo off them to represent replaced sections as they were lost or damaged frequently, I may even cut one or two off at some point and have them missing a few.

after that, painting in the tracks, muffler and tools, painting the tank numbers (these were painted by hand by the crew) and a tan drybrush to pick up some highlights and blend it all together.

Now I have a finished German Pnz IV zug for Bolt Action Tank War for under $50. They are not perfect, but it will get me on the table for some games and didn't have to rack up the credit card.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Painting: giving Inquisitor Coteaz a makeover!

In 2011, SC John and I ran a Top Ten of all Time models from Games Workshop. It was really a wonderful, but time consuming project in which we both dove into the Citadel model history and put 20 models (10 each) on our blog, counting down from 10 to 1. I still think fondly of it. John picked Inquisitor Coteaz as his number 10. And it should not be a surprise; in all the years before and after, this model has become a legend. It is timeless, has not aged one bit and looks the part of a bad ass Inquisitor perfectly. Here's what John said about him 3 years ago:

"Lord Coteaz
This guy has a giant hammer and a pet two headed giant cyber (Psyber) eagle, what's not to like? I always found the Daemon hunter retinues a bit odd looking, but this guy just looks like a bad mofo.
I always thought it would be cool to have an attack bird and I like the fur at the top of the cape, unless its not fur and its a bunch of crazy hair,.... then not so much."

Coteaz received a gold outfit from GW and over time, they have not really changed him and so on the battleboards there always are lots of gold Coteaz models. 

Fast forward
While rebuilding my Space Wolves after the Wolf Wing was made obsolete, I thought it would be cool to have an Inquisitor take charge of those ruffians from Fenris. In the end, the Inquisition trumps over everyone, including Logan and his wolves; they would have to bend the knee. Coteaz is the man for that job. Rules wise he can fit in as an HQ of an allied detachment, and he can be on his own, dishing out orders. But the gold would not do with the Spacewolves, so I gave him a more muted, hardcore look. He truly looks like he can look some tall Spacemarines in the eyes and tell them to get to work.
I painted the Eagles as California Golden Eagles, since we see those around once in a while.
I am not a great painter, but often times effective table top painting is based on a vision; coming up with a story line or idea before you start. In this case I came up with a little back story and then took steps to get there. It no Golden Demon, but I am pleased with the result. 

And here he is with a few of his minions....

And I would really invite all of you to re-read that top ten of all time. It's really a fun series! I kinda want to do it again! Here is the link: SCWH Top Ten models of all time

keep modeling!
SC Mike

Monday, October 13, 2014

The best way to create snowy bases!

When the new Space Wolf Codex dissed the Wolfwing, I decided to expand my wolves a bit and purchased some Thunderwolves. From the outset I envisioned that their bases would carry a lot of snow; the idea is that the Thunderwolves go where others can't and in those places the snow would be nice and thick.
For years I have been playing around with baking soda and PVA glue or drybrushing white paint on sand. I even glued sugar onto bases, but none of it looked really good. But now I have found the best solution; by far! Secret Weapon's crushed glass mixed with 'realistic water'. It's been on the market for a while, but I was surprised that none of my Santa Cruz Warhammer comrades were using it and I had kind of forgotten about it. Not anymore! Check out the tutorial!

1. create a good base with lots of rocks on it. You can nestle the snow up against it.
2. Here's the product, available at Secret Weapon Miniatures
3. Pour some crushed glass on a tray or container; don't breathe it in!! It's very fine, like powdered sugar.
4. add some Realistic Water
5. Then mix it with an old brush
6. It will become slushy. If you want your end result to be slush, melting snow, this is how you want it. I envisioned dryer, glimmering snow, so....
...I added some more crushed glass.
7. Brush it on in the thickness that you want in certain areas, but don't worry about what it looks like.
8. Once you have filled up your area, use a sculpting tool and massage the snow around, how you want it. Look at some winter images and study how the snow crests up against rocks.
9. Here's the finished, wet, snowy base. Now you will have to let it dry overnight.
10. Here's the end result, dry, glimmering, crispy looking snow! I think it whitened and hardened out even more after 48 hours. It will become rock hard.
And here are his buddies, all playing in the snow!

Mr. Justin of Secret Weapon sells the bundle for 12 bucks. You can do a LOT of bases with this, give it a try!
More good modeling posts at Santa Cruz Warhammer
SC Mike

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bolt Action: Inexpensive alternatives for tanks!

With the release of the new Tank War supplement for the Bolt Action WWII system, many of us find ourselves dreaming of lots of tanks rolling over the tables in our upcoming games.

Warlord has a few new releases and some plastic kits , but most ring in at $30-50 for an oddly underscale lump of resin and lead. (don't get me started on those tiny jeeps)
Most of us have gone the way of using some of the high quality plastic kits in 1/48 scale or even some nice die cast stuff that is already built, but even these options hammer away on the wallet still around $20-50.
How about some super cheap kits that you can buy truckloads of you say?

How about $8 Shermans and Panzer IVs? Two of the most prolific tanks for the two big armies are available in 1/48 scale for the price of a Mclunch.

 Revell has rereleased a couple of 70's snap together WWII tanks that you might consider for your gaming needs. The Combat Crushers kits are definitely targeted to kids but I ordered a couple to see if these toys can be used as a decent low cost option to bolster your armor to the sizes needed for the new Tank War games.

These kits are blister packed and prepainted in crazy graphics to grab the attention of kids , but I figured with a little work and some paint they might be useable.

You can find them searching for Quake and After Shock with Revell on Ebay.

Unboxing reveals how simple these kits are and they go together in a few minutes. The horrible graphics are tampo printed and need to be knocked down a bit with some sanding before you paint over them to avoid seeing the designs under the paint.

The Sherman is an odd kit with the late war HVSS type chassis with what looks like a 105 turret and a early 75 gun. Purists out there may not want to deal with this, but on the good side, it looks like a sherman tank if you dont look too close and its scale is pretty good.

Here are some pics with a Tamiya Sherman based Firefly, as you can see the height length and width all compare pretty well.

A little paint goes a long way and this odd kit can look pretty presentable with a simple quick paint job. The .50 cal machine gun looks pretty silly so  drilled out the grips and added a bit of rod to make the barrel look better

The Panzer IV kit fares a bit better, once you flip the side skirts over where they should be, it looks pretty good. You could even make an earlier version by ditching the skirts and turret shields, and even chop the barrel and do a little plastic card work to make the F1, sure the details are molded on and not too amazing but it's really pretty decent on the table with a paint job. A nice airbrush camo job will really make this thing a contender.

 Here is mine waiting for some camo. I drilled out the barrel but that's about it.

One other problem is that these kits don't have decals. 1/48 decals are available out there, and if you have been using plastic kits, odds are that you have some extra sitting around and if you are planning to make a fleet of these you can find a sheet with lots of 1/48 decals reasonably,

So is it worth it? I think the average player would say yes, if you love building superdetailed models, not so much. A Tamiya kit can be found on Ebay for around 30 bucks and is a wonderful kit to build, and that's cheaper than a rhino, but you can buy 3 of these Panzer IVs for that and they look pretty good on the I guess it's up to you.

I think I will be buying a few more of the Panzers and a decal sheet set for my Germans, add some weathering and some stowage and see how they look.

If you do go after these snap kits, be careful of the shipping fees and find a seller that will combine at a reasonable fee, most of the 8 buck kits seem to have that much in shipping fees, and that kind of kills the great deal, so make sure you get a good combined rate.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: SPACE HULK - Mission Files

Santa Cruz Warhammer Product Review:
Space Hulk - Mission Files
Bringer of Sorrow- Duty and Honor - Return to Kalidus

With the recent re-release of Space Hulk, GW has released three Space Hulk expansions for the Dark Angels, Ultramarines, and Space Wolves. Let’s take a look at what you get in a Mission File and what the differences between the three are. 

The files are available in the iBooks store and they each retail for 15.99USD. You’ll need an ipad or other product that can handle the iBook format, which is an initial hurdle to entry to a lot of us; but the sting is slightly lessened, as the iBook format choice is not completely arbitrary (with the inclusion of an interactive mission status display). The missions also utilize the new space hulk tiles included in the 2014 version of Space Hulk so you’ll need those (or you can craft your own as the missions show what you need and how big it needs to be).

-Shared content-
To begin let’s start with what the files have in common (Nearly half of their content is identical word-for-word),  then examine what sets them apart from each other. Each file has an introduction and a bit of the Space Hulk story, each a page in length. Each Expansion also provides three missions to play, that can be played stand-alone or as a linked campaign. Also included is a reference section and an interactive mission status display. Then rules unique to the chapter are listed, along with a bit of background on the chapter and their Terminators. Finally, there is a section on creating your own space hulk missions.

This is the layout for the digital Mission Status Display

The Interactive mission display is a nice touch for the expansions, turning your device into something more than a rulebook during the game. With all of the bits you need to track (reloads/ammo, psi/command points, and a three minute turn timer). However they did the bare minimum for the display, as you’ll need to track your other heavy weapon ammo (cyclone, heavy plasma, etc.) using the flamer included with the basic template or record it by hand. It seems a little lazy that the same expansion that gives you the rules to use a new heavy weapon, can’t support it in it’s own mission status display. 

An excerpt from the creating your own missions section.

The ‘creating your own missions’ section is a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from sections that basically admit that you’re going to have to test & feel it out to get it right, to charts to help you determine mission and victory conditions (spoiler alert: they involve the same things that you were doing in basic space hulk like recovering the CAT, kill ratios, etc.).  On the other hand, there are a bunch of really useful charts also included like point values for various terminators (for you to create your custom force with) that will correspond to a recommended genestealer starting presence/spawn rate.

Overall I like both of these sections, but they really only achieve the minimum. They would have been a lot better if each expansion had a mission status display and rules tailored to creating space hulk missions for the chapter that was featured, instead of a word-for-word copy and paste of these sections.

Moving on to what differentiates the expansions let’s take a look at the story and missions included in each.

The Space Hulk pros

The Bringer of  Sorrow takes place above the hive world Corinthe as they face a tendril of hive fleet Moloch. Just when things look like they can’t get any worse, they do when the space hulk bringer of sorrow translates into the system. Knowing that the system is doomed without help, calls for aid are made and the Dark Angles strike cruiser Vengeful Blade responds. Knowing that they lack the resources to battle both threats head on, the Deathwing contingent is dispatched on a daring mission to overload the still functioning plasma reactor of an ancient grand cruiser within the hulk, while the Vengeful blade moves to intercept the hive fleet.

I think this is the only Space Hulk image in existence where every single genestealer in-frame is about to get shot.

Mission I requires the Deathwing to deploy a CAT to gather data to plot a path to the plasma reactor. The normal CAT fun ensues and victory is achieved by getting the cat and a marine through one of the exit points of the map. In mission II the CAT is acting normally (i.e. has gone completely haywire) and needs to be recovered for a manual data download. Victory is achieved by securing the CAT which enters from a random point, but if the marines failed mission I the genestealers will have a greater say on which point the CAT enters the map from. Mission III places the marines in a race to the plasma reactor’s controls, with less marines to do the job with if they failed mission II. On turns 3, 6, &9 the genestealer will be able to generate new breach points on the map to keep things lively.

The Codex Astartes does not support this boarding action

Duty and Honor finds us back on Ultramar where “the most famous and respected of all space marine chapters” are super-pumped to get some payback for the Tyranids coming and wrecking house in the Ultramar system. Earlier in our story, every Ultrasmurf that didn’t draw the short straw, had jumped onto their cruisers and headed out of system to kill Tyranids in the Forian crusade. When the Space Hulk ‘Hunter of the void’ shows up near Ultramar, there’s only one ship: “the will of the emperor” lead by Commander Troilus [sic] to stop the threat.   

Self portrait of Commander Troilus 

Mission I has Commander Troll and his terminators making entry to the hulk to try and shut down the ion shields that were preventing accurate scans of the core of the hulk. The mission requires accessing a cogitator terminal then moving two marines off board, with the genestealers getting new breach entry points on turn 4 & 8. With the Ion shielding deactivated the true scope of the infestation is revealed and the only option is to destroy the hulk before it reaches Ultramar. In Mission II the ultramarines must advance to an access shaft and drop explosive charges to trigger an explosive chain reaction that will tear the hulk apart. The marines win by making it to the drop point , but the genestealers get a broodlord reinforcement on a variable turn mid-game that will make survival difficult. The resulting explosions shift the structure of the hulk and the marines must race to a turbo-lift to reach a secondary extraction point before they are crushed or ejected into the void. This is my favorite mission of all of the expansions, the marines must advance to the turbo lift to escape; but starting mid game you begin to remove map tiles as the hulk explodes and vents to the void (there are even special void rules for sections attached but not separated by a bulkhead!). 

So in summary, the heroes must send a small force to shut down the shields, and then drop explosives down a shaft, which causes the whole place to slowly blow up as they try to get out… yup, I liked Empire too.

I'm pretty sure these guys would rather be posing in the middle of a snow storm rather than a space hulk.

Return to Kalidus follows the Wolf Guard as they board the Scion of Darkness in a surgical strike to deactivate the Shields that protect the Hulk and prevent Teleportation. In a refreshing twist, the fleet will actually be able to bombard the Space Hulk and destroy it once the sheilds are down. 

We had to leave the wolves, but we brought the Frost Axe

In Mission I the wolf guard must reach the console that will activate localized power, activating turbo-lifts that will take them deeper into the hulk to reach their objective: the shield generatorium. The marines make entry via boarding torpedoes that land in random areas, then, win by activating the console on the other side of the map. Mission II has the wolves progressing to the now active turbo-lifts, but if mission one was successful the genestealer starting numbers are reduced. There’s a further twist with two lifts: one will jam and the other will be the operational lift determined randomly once a wolf presses the button on the elevator. The wolves that make it to the lift and escape are recorded for inclusion in Mission III. The final mission starts with only the survivors from mission II (if you’re playing as a campaign) with the possibility of remaining marines arriving later in the game or being killed in the lift before they arrive. If the marine player lost Mission II then a new squad is deployed but the delay means more genestealers. The marines win by deactivating the three shield control consoles, minor victory for deactivating two.

-Chapter specific rules-

The expansions all offer some new rules for weaponry and armor.
-The Ultramarine expansion comes with rules for the Cyclone missile launcher Terminator.

-The Space Wolf Expansion includes rules for the Frost Axe, and Wolf Guard Pack Leader (equipment options for the frost axe, lightning claws, power sword, and thunder hammer).

-Finally, The Dark Angel Expansion includes rules for the Cyclone missile launcher, Plasma Cannon, Apothecary with Narthecium, Banner Bearer with Revered Banner, Deathwing Champion with the Halberd of Caliban, Knight Master with the flail of the Unforgiven, and a Deathwing Knight with the mace of absolution.

As you can see from the list of what’s included, not all of these expansions are created equally. It’s wonderful that they took the time to create rules for every variant of the Deathwing, on the other hand it’s really a shame that they couldn’t be bothered to think of some character or loadout (or anything unique. You can get the same Cyclone rules from the DA expansion) to attach to the Ultramarines to fill their roster out in some way.


So should you buy the expansions? Well, If you already have an ipad (it’s a shame that they don’t sell this content in another format. The mission screen is nice, but I don't think it was worth limiting the audience like they have by going ibook-exclusive) I would recommend the Dark Angels Expansion as your first purchase. If you’re on a budget you can skip the other two and create custom rules for your chapter of choice using the wealth of examples that the DA expansion gives you.

The Space Wolf expansion has a unique piece of wargear, and the Ultramarine expansion has the escape from the disintegrating-hulk mission, which I really enjoyed; but it’s hard to justify the price for such a small amount of unique content in the other expansions.

Deathwing. The reigning champ of Space Hulk expansions since 1990.

Mike M (cornumortem)