Spartan & Leviathan

My attack on the resin mountain (no one should have a resin mountain…) continues, this time with the addition of two heavy units for the Heresy-Era Space Woofs – the Leviathan Dreadnought and the Mighty Spartan.

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I picked up the Leviathan earlier this year, but the Spartan has been lying around for more than three years, so tackling it was well overdue!

Painting-wise, both of these are an absolute doddle (any Heresy-era Space Woof vehicle will be, just adapting the instructions from the Prospero Painting Guide). Putting them together…

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The Leviathan was okay, even though I had managed to misplace the instructions. The legs are always a slight challenge on both this and resin Contemptors as you need at least three hands if you are trying to go for a specific pose. Just go slowly and let everything dry properly before moving onto the next bit, and you will be fine.

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The Spartan veered towards bitch territory during construction. Putting on the tracks was ‘okay’, though I hear Forge World now have a newer version where the tracks are more integrated into the side pieces, but the centre hull was challenging. The use of (many) rubber bands helped immensely getting this beast together and, while it is still not perfect, the Spartan certainly looks the part!

On my painting table now are a bunch of rats I have been meaning to get round to for nearly a couple of years, and I am hoping to finish off the Kharadron Overlords and do some more Thousand Sons before the Christmas break – already a few days behind schedule, so I don’t know if that is actually possible, but that is the plan!

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Chapter Approved 2017

I wasn’t going to do a review on the new Chapter Approved book, but I have had some time to digest it now and it is an important publication for Warhammer 40,000, so here goes…

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The idea is, like the General’s Handbook for Age of Sigmar, that the game gets shaken up every year with a book like this, giving points tweaks for Matched Play (which, I fear, is why most people will buy this book, and they are so missing the point) plus a bunch of ‘cool things to do’ in your games.

Like Age of Sigmar, it does this by following the three lines of Open Play, Narrative Play, and Matched Play.

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Open Play has two sections, the first of which brings Apocalypse games ‘back’ to 40k. This is less about rules (as is proper for Apocalypse, too much stuff getting in the way does not make for an easy-to-approach mega-game) and more about how to organise things – basically, if you have not tried doing something like this before it might be easier than you think, so give it a go.

However, there are three Apocalypse missions, plus some ‘cool things’ to try out once you have got a few games under your belt, such as multi-table games (we have tried that, a lot of fun!) and using referees to keep players on their toes.

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The second part of Open Play is all about Kustom Land Raiders – actually building your own with your own choice of weapon fits.

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If you were expecting something like the old vehicle design system in the White Dwarf-that-was, it ain’t that. Basically, you choose one of the standard sponsons (Godhammer, Hurricane Bolters, or Flamestorm, of which Chaos Land Raiders only get the Lascannon), add secondary sponsons (from Predator choices), and then the Hull-mounted weapons (twin Lascannon, Heavy Bolters, Assault Cannon, Helfrost Cannon – Space Woofs only – and Reaper Autocannon for Chaos). Work out what your transport capacity is from all that, and you are good to go.

All Land Raiders created under this system are Power Level 30, and there are no points for Matched Play (if anyone has their nose put out of joint on that, they are not only missing the point but also two-thirds of the entire game…).

Some sample Land Raiders are provided, one of which makes the Terminus Ultra available to all chapters (no longer just for the Ultramarines, which is how things stood in the Index) and, a nice surprise for me, a dedicated Dark Angels Land Raider, the Solemnus Aggressor:

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Stick a Storm Bolter on that, and it is chucking out 44 dice at short ranges – that is Repulsor territory!

Narrative Play also gets two sections, adding Planetstrike and Stronghold Assault games to the mix – and, you know, I really think they have got these games right this time.

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The basic ideas behind these modes of play are simple (again, as they should be). There are a handful of core rules that get added to the game, such as Firestorm attacks that bombard the enemy before the game or Deadly Defence rules that add +1 to hit rolls from Buildings (which is great for Plasma Obliterators…). You then build armies to specific defender and attacker detachments, and gain access to specific Warlord traits and Stratagems, again both divided between attacker and defender.

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And that is it. That is all you need. Just jump into one of the 12 new Planetstrike and Stronghold Assault missions and you are good to go!

However, they did not stop there. A two page introduction to linear campaigns puts together all the Planetstrike and Stronghold Assault missions into a simple but effective storyline that could keep you going for a month or three and link your games into, well, a narrative – if you have not tried this type of gaming, I would encourage you to give these two pages a try. You can even use Matched Play Points for the missions!

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And then we get to Matched Play.

First up are 12 new missions, split between Eternal War and Maelstrom of War which, it is possible, will become the new ‘tournament standard’ missions for the next 12 months, before they are replaced with new missions in Chapter Approved 2018 – which is a really nice way of keeping the game fresh for those who refuse to go beyond the standard missions (don’t take that personally, I used to be one of you…).

A small section on making your Objective Markers does not actually add anything to the game per se, but is presented more as a ‘this is cool, try it’ kind of thing. Which is the whole angle of this book, not just the 8 pages of points updates at the back.

Please, please, please do not buy this book just for those points updates. You really would be missing  out on so much.

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Those factions (well, most of them) that do not have a Codex yet each get a page granting them a Warlord trait, Relic and a Stratagem or two (Thousand Sons also get a Psychic Power).

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I have already seen some criticism for these on the various forums, most of which seems to amount to not getting all the toys right now but, you know what? I like these rules.

It will be the Space Woofs that I face more often than not, and they get a Warlord trait that allows him to fight first, the Krakenbone Sword which is no slouch in close combat, and two Stratagems, one of which allows Space Woof units to use rapid firing Bolters in close combat.

Nothing to sniff at there.

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An Appendix section adds a few more bits and pieces – specific terrain from the Death World and Sector Mechanicus sub-lines get updated for 8th edition, and there are Battlezone rules that can be added to games to help create specific environments.

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They have been quite clever in the way these Stratagems can be used – for example, the Supercharged Obliteration allows you to doublefire a Plasma Obliterator (ouch!) if it is close to a Haemotrope Reactor. Very characterful but, because it is tied to a Stratagem, never overpowering.

Nicely done.

There are some pages on tweaked points for Matched Play, which will be done to death elsewhere, and then the book ends on some notes for Battle-Forged Armies. This is mostly some reiteration on the use of under-strength units and reinforcements (likely nothing you did not already know), but it also adds a Detachment Roster for your forces:

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Now, is it me, or is there just not enough room on that sheet for anything other than a small Patrol. Sure, you can print out more copies, but even mid-sized Battalions are going to need more than a few sheets.

Can’t help thinking that could have been done a bit more efficiently…

And that is the book. Like the General’s Handbook, the regular publication of this book every year provides a good way to shake up the game and keep it current, with few downsides. Even if you get a bum year where something is, shall we say, less than optimum, you may only have to wait a year for it to be properly reversed (rather than just FAQ’d) as opposed to waiting several years for an entirely new edition.

And for those of us who have embraced the Open/Narrative Plays, the material in these books will always be current and, over the years, will form a nice little library of ‘cool things to do in 40k’ that we can pull out again and play down the road.

I applaud this approach.

 

The Blightlords Arrive

Just a quickie update today, but I did manage to finish another two units for the Death Guard (getting to be quite a’healthy’ force now), the Blightlord Terminators…

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I just went for two units as I did not want to go too overboard, and I think ten chaps will do the job. Nothing really to note in the painting of them, as they are really just large Plague Marines – though, funnily enough, I would say they have more detail (and so take a little longer to do) than the larger Deathshroud Terminators.

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Speaking of the Deathshroud, I tried them out for the first time last week – and they are brutal! Three teleported in with a Lord of Contagion, and charged a Land Raider. They smashed that in one turn, weathered fire from a Venerable dreadnought, charged that and trashed it, then reaped a heavy weapons squad. No losses on their part, just a Deathshroud with a slight limp.

Nasty!

At the moment, I have two Shadespire warbands and a Space Woof Spartan and Leviathan on my painting table, but I have just seen that Duncan has finally posted has Mortarion video on Warhammer TV, so that might get bumped up the line a tad…

Behold the Death Guard!

A massive expansion for the Death Guard has been completed, adding all the remaining characters and a huge block of 20 Plague Marines!

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I love the idea of this big block of Plague Marines, just relentlessly advancing across the battlefield behind Plaguebearers or Poxwalkers, absorbing massive amounts of damage by their armour (need to get Blight-Haulers!) and Disgustingly Resilient. Maybe have clouds of flies spring up to force the enemy to shoot the screen in front of them. And, once they reach the opposing force, just using weight of numbers to roll over them.

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Typhus can help out, of course, though I will likely mainly use the Lord of Contagion or Daemon Prince as a warlord.

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This guy, the Foul Blightspawn, is going to see a lot of use, I think – he not only stuffs up enemy charges (so they fight in normal order, rather than striking first), but his Plague Sprayer is just downright mean. Hitting automatically, it is Assault D6, AP-3 and Damage 3. However, the icing on the cake is its Strength of 2D6. That is a serious character-killer on Overwatch and, given a decent roll, will boil away a Dreadnought and put a serious spanner even in a Land Raider!

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The Plague Surgeon is not only one of my favourite character models for the Death Guard (he looks so serious!), his Tainted Narthecium means he gets Death Guard infantry to re-roll 1’s on their Resilient checks. That can be brutal enough on that big block of Plague Marines, but it also works on the likes of Poxwalkers and Cultists!

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The Tallyman has to be tried out as well, getting those Plague Marines to re-roll misses in the fight phase, and clawing back Command Points 1/6th of the time – and Command Points are always good for Death Guard…

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The Biologus Putrifier is a fun model, but I have a feeling he will be the least used of the new characters. That said… boosting the Blight Grenades of all 20 Plague Marines to Strength 4 and Damage 2 while using the Blight Bombardment stratagem has to be tried at least once…

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As well as the actual characters, there are a few of the Plague Marines I was really quite enamoured with, starting off with this Champion, who is available separately from the box set. I needed another Power Fist-armed champion like a Plague Marine needs Night Nurse, but this model is a good ‘un, and I just love the Nurgling who has pinched a helmet from one of the Plague Marines!

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The Icon Bearer is also available separately (none included in the Plague Marine box set!) and while he is not completely awesome in battle (-1 to enemy Leadership), he provides a nice focal point for the unit as a whole.

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This one is made up from the components in the box set, and I quite like the fly head – my photography is really not up to the task here, as the greenish tinge of the head is a lot more subtle than the green of the armour in real life!

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And finally a chap with a Plague Spewer. The block of 20 Plague Marines has two of these chaps, just waiting to give an attacker a nasty Overwatch-based surprise. Nicely done model though.

And that marks the last big job for the Death Guard. I actually have enough Plague Marines left over from the block of 20 to make another small 5 man squad, giving me four Troops choices now just from Plague Marines (so I no longer have to rely on Poxwalkers and Cultists to pad things out).

On the painting table right now are two squads of Blightlord Terminators (hoping to get those more or less done this weekend) and I still have Mortarion waiting, though I am going to delay him until Duncan finally gets round to doing a tutorial on Warhammer TV. Because Mortarion is worth it.

GW have just announced the Blight-Haulers, of which I will just have to get three, along with the new Lord of Contagion (which I don’t need, but it would be a shame not to pick him up…), both of which I hope to get done and dusted before Christmas.

However, over the next month or so I am going to be switching between armies quite a bit as I paint what I want rather than what I need. There will be a Void Shield Generator coming up soon, along with Heresy-era Space Woof vehicles, new Shadespire warbands, and the final Maggoth Lord!

Sisters of Silence

Getting miniatures done right now seems to be like getting a stone to bleed – but progress, however small, is being made! I actually have a sizeable number on the painting table right now that are at the ‘almost done’ stage, and I am hoping to finish them off this week (especially as I have a rather large model I want to get done next week) but I did manage to polish off these girls:

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Another squad of Sisters of Silence, this time a Prosecutor Cadre, carrying twin Bolt Pistols from Forge World.

Not sure I am planning to do too much with the Sisters (though the Custodes are getting some major reinforcements soon), but they are characterful and very fast to paint. I do have a couple of their Aquisitor transports on the way, so they will be fleshed out a little more.

Next up… a real bruiser of a unit for the Death Guard…

Throne of Skulls

This weekend, I made the trip up to Nottingham again, this time to attend the Warhammer 40,000 Throne of Skulls event. Throne of Skulls has a tournament-like structure, but it is intended to showcase all aspects of the hobby rather than being a hardline Grand Tournament where actually winning is key.

They do this by scoring playing in three categories: actually winning games (which accounts for half your score) and favourite game and favourite army votes, which are awarded by your opponents (you basically pick two favourite games and two favourite armies) and account for a quarter of your score each. Tie breaks are done by the total Power Rating you destroy (yes, this works on Power Levels!), along with the number of times you Slay the Warlord, Linebreak and get First Blood.

The missions themselves are drawn up using the Open War card deck which, I have to say, really, really works and is probably what i will now default to instead of the ‘standard’ missions in the rulebook. Seriously, check them out – agree a points/Power Level, draw a Deployment Zone card, an Objective card and a Ruse card, and you are good to go! Army building and actual play follows Matched Play rules (three detachments maximum).

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Here Comes the Death Guard

I went with my Death Guard, and drew up the following list:

Battalion
Daemon Prince (Blades of Putrefaction, Suppurating Plate, Tainted Regeneration)
Malignant Plaguecaster (Miasma of Pestilence, Curse of the Leper)
Plague Marines x 7 (2 Plague Launchers, Power Fist)
Plague Marines x 7 (Plasma Gun, Meltagun, Power Fist)
Poxwalkers x 20
Plagueburst Crawler
Plagueburst Crawler
Bloat-Drone (Plaguespitters)
Bloat-Drone (Flesh Mower)

Lord of War
Scabiethrax the Bloated (Miasma, Curse of the Leper, Plague Wind)

Patrol
Herald of Nurgle (Miasma)
Plague Bearers x 30

This is not what I originally intended to take, but my Death Guard characters and big block of 20 Plague Marines were still on the painting table, so I had to take what I had. I did not want to ‘spam’ units but, rather, take a variety of units that were representative of the Death Guard and the daemonic allies. The two concessions I made to pumping up the army and making things a bit tougher were the Suppurating Plate on the Daemon Prince (and my main problem with that is that it is what everyone does – though it is just too good to pass up, really…) and adding Scabiethrax, the massive Exalted Great Unclean One from Forge World. He is a tough cookie and, it has to be said, worth every point of his Power Level 30.

Was that a little too much for an event like this? Definitely not!

Enemy Forces

The vast majority of people took reasonable armies with a tough back bone – so, you would see Astra Militarum with a Baneblade, perhaps, or Marines with an Imperial Knight.

You also saw people who brought their A Games – the three Shadowsword armies, for example, the all Stompa/Morkanaut/Deff Dread armies, or the all Shadow Spectre force. One chap just brought along a Reaver Titan, which seemed like a fun approach (I think the record was him being destroyed in turn two by Eldar…).

Then you had the utter twats.

The one that springs to mind, and I seriously gave thought to walking into Bugman’s and reading my Kindle for a couple of hours if I had drawn him as an opponent, was some twonk who took eight Wyverns, three Earthshaker platforms and a super heavy, with some assorted other units.

My issue here is that this guy had given absolutely no thought as to whether his opponents would enjoy their games. No one at all. He just wanted to blow them off the table, as quickly as possible, for the least amount of effort. Consider, for a moment, what it would be like inside his head – he had taken an army that required no thought, no manoeuvre, just picking targets every turn and rolling a bunch of dice until they were deleted. You might imagine that he thought he was very clever in putting together such a force.

As it happened, he met two or three good players who were switched on enough to shut him down but, honestly, who goes to an event like this with that mindset, eh?

Battles Aplenty

So, how did I do?

Well, I haven’t been playing as much of 8th edition as I probably should, so I was fairly daunted, especially as my first opponent had brought an all-tank Militarum force which included a Baneblade (which I have not faced before!). However, you can rely on the Death Guard to be very forgiving as they absorb huge amounts of firepower.

I placed the Plaguebearers up front, Scabiethrax (he quickly became Scabbie over the weekend) behind them, with Miasma of Pestilence providing further protection – for a total of -3 to be hit on the Plaguebearers and most other things benefiting from Scabbie’s aura which gave them -1 to be hit. Then you had the daemonic saves, followed by Disgustingly Resilient…

It turns out that Guardsmen, even when they are in tanks, cannot shoot straight under those conditions. The Plaguebearers swarmed over the Leman Russ line, while Scabbie just caved in the side of the Baneblade in a single round of combat.

Good game, with a fun opponent – job done!

Game Two

Next up was an Ork player, going in with a Stompa, three Deff Dreads, two Morkanauts and a couple of characters. This was a tough battle and, while the Deff Dreads were dealt with quickly and I gave the Stompa a right smack in the nose (reduced to something around 15 wounds), this guy was just all over me. Scabbie was popped and the rest of my force was quickly following him.

The only reason I pulled a win here was because I seized two objectives early on(Death Guard are nothing if not great at holding objectives) and then burned my Ruse Card (we all had a Ruse Card which could be used just once over the weekend, which allows you to do something funky) to bring back a unit of Plague Marines who promptly popped up on his back line, mobbed a lone Mek, and stole his objective.

A very narrow win, but a win nonetheless. And if my opponent is reading this (highly unlikely!), you might well have earned a favourite game vote from me, my friend, but texting with whom I presumed is your girlfriend throughout the battle is Not Okay.

Battle the Third

This was one of my favourite battles of the weekend – six objectives on the table, one of which is the key item the armies need (all other objectives are removed once it is found), and I was up against Tyranids.

It has been years since I have fought bugs, and I was looking forward to seeing how they had changed. Grandfather Nurgle smiled on me early and the main objective just happened to be underneath one of my Crawlers. The Bloat-Drones also acquitted themselves nicely, with the Plaguespitters annihilating a six-strong unit of Zoanthropes and the Flesh Mower munching its way through 30 Hormagaunts before zipping around to generally create hassle among the remaining bugs.

The big swing in the game came when the Tyranid player cleverly timed his main assault so that everything nasty hit my line at once – even the Miasma-wreathed Plaguebearers took serious losses as Carnifexes, Gaunts and Genestealers all piled in at once. To cap it off, the Swarmlord dropped right next to Scabbie and charged in.

However… my opponent opted to attack with his Genestealers first, and I used the Counterattack stratagem to turn Scabbie around and clobber the Swarmlord. 24 points of damage later, and a major headache had been removed!

The fight ended up with a Trygon and ‘Stealers assaulting the objective I was holding, and they very nearly broke my defence. However, some tough fighting from Plague Marines and the Plaguecaster (who, unlike in every other battle I played with him, suddenly became good in close combat – and against ‘Stealers at that!) managed to finally beat them back.

My opponent in this battle was one of the greats at the event, and I would happily play him any time. Gold star to you!

And Then Eldar

The first battle on Sunday was against an Eldar force, and I knew I was in for a tough match. I get to the table, and I see all his infantry are Shadow Spectres, his three flyers are Hemlocks, and he has two Farseer Skyrunners.

His first turn was fairly savage, with even the Plaguebearers losing half their number, and things looked bleak. However, I had a turn, and things started to turn round.

This battle was tough – his Shadow Spectres, combined with the Alaitoc Craftworld rules, meant most of his units were at -2 to be hit. However, they are still Eldar, and rather weedy when hit in the face. The Plaguespitter drone annihilated a Spectre unit and then it and the Flesh Mower raced after his warlord and damn near mowed the Farseer down! The Farseer managed to (finally) get away with just three wounds, and the Eldar just pipped me for points (if I had got that Farseer, my own points would have been doubled and I would have got the victory).

First loss of the weekend!

Finally, Blood Angels

I fought Blood Angels in the last battle, and I had already been informed by James that my opponent was officially a Good Guy, as they had just fought. My opponent had been somewhat perturbed by James’ Shield Drones constantly deflecting his attacks – I had a feeling he would enjoy the combination of penalties to hit, Daemonic Invuns, and Disgustingly Resilient!

Right at the start of the battle, two Stormravens swooped behind my army and dropped off Dante and his Sanguinary Guard to raise a bit of hell. Unfortunately, they ran right into Scabbie, who promptly ate Dante.

Mephiston and a squad of Terminators then dropped from the other Stormraven, and went after a Plagueburst Crawler. It sustained some damage (thanks invuns and Resilience!) before pulling back, and then Mephiston was faced with a choice – charge into Scabbie or the badly wounded Herald next to him. He chose the latter.

But forgot about Heroic Intervention.

So, a second Blood Angels hero ended up in Scabbie’s belly!

After that, the Blood Angels were kinda swamped – the Stormravens were shot down, the Vindicator and Redemptor mired in Plaguebearers who they were killing at a rate of 1 per turn, and the Hellblasters holding the far flank were over run by the Drones, when they were not killing themselves with supercharged plasma shots…

My opponent took all of this in his stride, even as he bemoaned Miasma, Scabbie, Invuns, and Resilience, and made this another of my favourite games of the weekend.

The Results

I didn’t think I had done all that well overall, as I had lost one game, and among 160 players, you only get the top slots if you win all your battles.

However, as it turned out, only one player had won all his games (Eldar), and he received very few favourite game votes and nothing for favourite army – so, the field was open to several players.

James had won two games but, by virtue of being a Good Egg, managed to scoop the award for Best Tau player. Unbelievably, I managed to get the award for best Chaos player: four wins, accounting for 24 points, 4 Favourite Game votes (another 12 points) and 3 Favourite Army votes for another 9 points – a total of 45!

That was enough to put me in second place, just three points behind the winner of the whole event (if only I had painted my models a bit better!).

All in all, this was a good, fun event, and it looks like we will be going to the next one!

Heavy Metal for Death Guard

Work on the Death Guard progresses, albeit at a reduced rate – I was doing quite well this weekend but then made the mistake of installing Xcom 2 on Sunday afternoon (hey, it was on sale!), so the painting kinda, well, stopped.

However, I did manage to get these chaps done, the heavy stuff for the Death Guard…

Two Plagueburst Crawlers and two Bloat-Drones. I was preparing to paint these in a slightly different way to the troops (edging rather than drybrushing) but the drybrush worked on the Helbrutes and other drones, so I kept to the theme. The tanks are kinda funky, and I added some Nurgle’s Rot to the mouth of the mortar to get the right ‘feel’ across.

No idea how these are going to perform on the battlefield, but on paper they look just the ticket.

I just went with two extra drones and, on the table, I think the mangler and existing ‘spewer’ variants will see more use than the belcher-armed one, but variation is nice. With the bigger Forge World drones, I am getting a veritable fleet of these things and, with an Outrider detachment, can fairly fill the skies with Nurgle goodness!

I also managed to re-base these two guys so they fit better alongside the Death Guard army and, given how easy it was to do, I am now eyeing up the rest of the Age of Sigmar Nurgle Daemons…

On the painting table right now, and what I really wanted to finish this weekend, are all the Death Guard characters and a nice big unit of 20 Plague Marines (the Diseased Battering Ram, I call them). Managed to get all the base armour colours done, along with the gun metal, and am now ploughing through the brass. Once those colours are done, they should be fairly quick to polish off and, given I am going to GW HQ this weekend for an event, that is indeed the aim – but Xcom 2 is calling…