at Home and On Campaign

at Home and On Campaign

24 August 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep.5, ON TO ULTIO!

290th Final Embarkation
Muraleous System
Forward Staging Base Fury

The Kingdom of Colores contingent is in the final staging area.  The 23rd Cav is currently transferring from bulk cargo freighters to the assault transports.

The 141st Strike Wing with the 7th Frontier Fleet is covering the embarkation from orbit.

Major Guiscard's Command Tank is the last aboard, ensuring it will be the first to hit the ground to face the enemy. And to the shock of everyone, his tank is flying the banner of the 290th's predecessor and parent, the original and legendary 77th CTF (see LINK).  Those colors have been cased for a decade, and since the death of one of its founding commanders, Admiral "Crash" King (see LINK), no one thought they would fly again.
This is the largest deployment of troops in Sector Six since those heady days.
The flag flies.  The men go wild...
The 290th Combined Task Force will arrive in the battlespace in approximately 24 hours.

24 hours and I'll be in Austin with my boy for Wargamescon and the Narrative Team Event!

21 August 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep.4, Ankori Colony

As a run up to the Narrative Event at WargamesCon, the Narrative Guys are running an online campaign for the participants.  It is interesting because the two main factions, the 290 Combined Task Force (us) and the Hounds of Abbadon (them) live far apart.  So our confrontation is indirect. Our games on the table must be played against members of our own side with one player representing the opposition. For the 290th, we don't decide who is representing the opposition until the game is over, and then we randomly dice for each side. It removes any temptation to hold back while playing the bad guys.  You don't know if you are the bad guys until the win/loss is determined. It reminds me of the "America's Army videogame.  Every player sees themselves as the Americans and the opposition as the terrorists/mafia/ badguys.

The campaign objective is to control the Warp Anomalies. Control of a Warp Anomaly is established by occupying all of the surrounding hexes.

After a couple of weeks of battle, the map looks like this:
I can't possibly report on all the battles, but I can tell you that our guys have played and reported battles from all over Houston: our FLGS Goldmine Games, our clubhouse, our houses, and the Bayou Battles game convention last weekend.

Here are some beauty shots:

Bayou Battles

the Dark Mechanicus are even coming in from the ceiling!

Thanks for looking!

16 August 2016

Draw LOS through THAT, dammit!

If you play 40k (and unfortunately I do), long gone are the days when a simple flocked template and a few trees from a model railroad manufacturer would block LOS.
… a long time ago I used to get paid to interpret / manage /deal with GW’s ridiculousness…

I’ve been free of those people for well over a decade, so… (to quote my 13 year old) …


On the other hand, I like a challenge, and my woods templates needed some love.  I accepted the constraints that the new templates would have to be literal and actually block true LOS.  I was also motivated by observing that model railroad trees are not perfect and have their own scaling issues.  The trunks are too narrow, and although they are taller than infantry and vehicles, they really are almost never tall enough.

So here is my solution…

The trunks are of 2 kinds, some are wooden dowels,  1” in diameter (I used my dremel  router to carve irregular “bark” textures), and some are blue foam trunks carved with a box knife.  The trunks vary in height averaging about 6”tall.

After that, I simply stuffed blue foam carved rocks and cheap craft store vegetation in between all the trunks to about 3” tall.  Then a combination of floral wire and 3”-4” wooden disks were glued to the top of the trunks to make a frame for the forest canopy and lichen was glued to the frame.

Not the cheapest build I’ve ever done, but with the help of the 40% Hobby Lobby daily coupon for one item each trip, and just stopping every day on the way home from work, I managed the costs pretty well. (my wife’s opinion is vastly different)

10 August 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep. 3, Friends That Fight Chaos Together, Stay Together

Intelligence & Signals sealed compartment of the Imperial Destroyer “Emperor’s Hand”

Major John Andre, Imperial Intelligence
The data we are collecting from these warp anomalies on Ankori is incredible. If we can manage to set a sensor line completely encircling even one of them, we might be able to predict a breach almost anywhere.

We need more troops. Where are the forces that the Kingdom of Colores promised?
 I’m not sure our approach of reconciliation to Colores was effective Sub-Ambassador

Sub Ambassador Sulla Tigh
Give them time. They are a passionate people, they will come.

Major Andre
Isn’t there a proverb that is phrased something like “Ask me for anything but time”?

Signals Officer
Ambassador, incoming transmission from Kingdom of Colores ship “Passereaux”.  It reads,

“Dear Sub Ambassador Tigh,
Thanks for the invitation to the party.  If it’s alright with you, we’ll skip the reception line and get right to business.  Where do we land and who do we fight?
Sincerely Yours,
KC Ambassador Sophie Blanche-Andres”
SA Tigh
Outstanding, send her coordinates to where Blackwood and the Knights of D’Ley are operating.  Sync up their communications and they can handle operations between them.

Ambassador/Agent Sophie (her background is HERE) and her combat team are landing north of anomaly 5.1. Waiting to contest the space is a contingent of the Karmesin Brigade. 
Team Colores
Amb/Agent Sophie - Team Leader
AJ Quest -  Scion Officer
Dr. Applebeck - Psyker
Scion Fireteam

Karmesin Brigade Force
Kommander Helga - IG Officer
Reich’s Berzerker - Chaos Marine
2 Veteran Squads

The Colores forces must place monitoring equipment at key geographic points that resonate with the nearby Warp Anomaly. If they can place beacons in at least 3 of the 5 locations, the Colores forces will win.  The Karmesin Brigade must prevent the Colores victory conditions.

The Colores Team may deploy anywhere on the table, but may not make any attempts to place the sensors until turn 2.  The Chaos forces will all come in on Turn 1 from a random board edge.

The Battle
The Colores Dropship lands in the middle of the 5.1 coordinates.  The locations suitable for placement of the sensors are all around.  The team disperses to cover more ground.
The enemy comes in force from the east.

Due to a lucky deployment for the Colores Team, placement of 2 sensors is completed without opposition. The third however, looks like it will be more of a problem.  AJ Quest is facing almost all of the enemy by himself.
He is wounded in an exchange of fire with Helga, and the Berzerker charges in

...but he somehow rolls away from the Bezerker’s charge and unloads a full clip into him

And boots up the last sensor, completing the mission!
I have been holding off on this post until my miniatures from the Colony 87 kickstarter arrived and I could paint up "the Recordist".  I have known I wanted him to play the part of the Imperial Intelligence Analyst since I first saw him months ago. He's everything I imagined him to be. I hope you like him.

So the Narrative Guys have set up a online campaign as a prelude for the Event at WargamesCon in a couple of weeks.  All the participants are furiously playing games because apparently our results will set the battle lines and missions.

We've never participated in one of their games before, so we have no idea how this will actually shape the setup, and that seems to have spurred even more excitement. This report is just one of the 3 missions between my kids and I.  I think my Club has played something like 6 or 7 more.

01 August 2016

Building Stuff...well mostly my Shuttles

Hello Readers,
Looking back through the older posts on my blog I noticed that in the first year or two, I would post a batrep / episode and then provide some “in process” shots and small building explanations for any new scenic elements at the end. Since I stopped doing that for some reason, this post will be a catch-up.

Design Philosophy
I wrote about it at length here LINK, but to sum up: Table space is at a premium, and I personally enjoy “bathtubbing” the heck out of the gaming surface.  I would be perfectly happy using 3 skyscrapers to represent a city in one part of the board, and then transitioning to a river and rural farms. But of course my “personal” preferences are tempered by my gaming group, the rules and scales we play, what caught my eye that day, and other random influences.

In the end, I usually gain some on the table footprint issue, and I usually compromise on the bathtubbing end.  A “city” table is a city, a “desert” table is an oasis and a few dunes, etc.

I’ll talk about flyers, since I just did a giant campaign with them (and you guys have been asking).
I will kitbash the heck out an existing model if a suitable model exists, like my 2 Ork fighters into Thunderbolts, and that process is relatively straight forward,

BUT if needed, I will start from scratch.

My main material is MDF
The good
1. It’s durable and strong for gross structure components
2. It does not show wood grain
3. It joins well with superglue and hot glue

The bad
1. It’s wood, I cannot cut it with a hobby knife
2. 3mm MDF sometimes looks a little too chunky

I MUST have 2 power tools to accomplish my builds
1. Small table saw
2.  Mounted Crosscut saw

A couple of months ago I acquired a Belt Sander.  It is a great addition, but my 3 shuttles (and ALL of my buildings) were completed without it, so I would classify it as a “nice to have”.

While we are on the subject, other “nice to haves” are:
1. A dremel with sanding wheel, cutter, and router
2. Mouse Hand Sander
3. Jigsaw
4. Hot Glue Gun (although superglue and accelerator work just fine, options are always good)

The Process
After thinking about how to describe my process, I realized I operate as sort of a manual 3d printer. I look at what I’m trying to build in MDF layers from the bottom up.

I’ll go through building the Shuttles as an example.
The shuttle’s gross construction was layered in MDF templates like this:
(Now, you will notice in the final models, I used wooden blocks for the payload and cockpit sections on 2 of them.  My instructions are written for the way I finally executed the build on the 3rd shuttle.  I should have done this for all 4.  The visibility of wood grain on the final product drives me crazy. My only excuse is that every build is a learning process, and it took me 2 tries before the dim lightbulb in my head went off.)

The downward wingtip canards were done just by angle cutting a thin strip of MDF, then using the crosscut saw to cut the correct length.

After that, I found 1.25” garden hose nozzles for $0.75 each at Home Depot for the engines.  They simply rest on the engine shelf and are superglued to hold them in place.

I built 4 of them and I wanted to vary up their appearance, so I used a couple of different configurations. I changed up the size and shape of the tails, on one of the shuttles the payload area is removable, one shuttle has two engines, and I used cardstock windows on 2 of them versus actual plastic bits for the windows on the others.

I am sure all of this could be done with foamcore or other hobby knife friendly materials. My method just happens to be where my hobby journey has led me.

I am not going to go into such detail on the Marauder build, but it was done using the same method. Gross construction is simple strips of MDF in layers, then griblies until it sags under the weight.  The main wing sits much higher to accommodate the 4 engines, and the cockpit is stolen from a Valkyrie. I am very happy with how there is an illusion of a complex (almost undulating) fuselage.  The dive (atmospheric entry) brakes are dozer blades from a Leman Russ sprue and I think they add to the heavy “brute force” appearance.

I hope this little tidbit triggers some ideas to help you with your own gaming environments. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can expand on any concepts.


28 July 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep. 2, Bloody Introductions

Rilti Prime
Sector Six

Red Scorpions Lord Commander Culln faces a mission that seems hopeless.  Reinforcements are desperately needed in the Ultio system to stop the Chaos machinations.  Here, in Sector Six, there are almost enough troops to at least give the civilized universe a fighting chance, but this Sector is violently divided.
For Culln, it is unknown whether the local Imperial authorities will aid or oppose his mission.  Rather than landing on Sector Six Prime, he arranges to meet clandestinely on Rilti Prime with Captain Blackwood and a small force of Salamanders Space Marines to discuss the situation.

Librarian Balderius of the Grey Knights was on edge.  The fighting on Rilti had just ended weeks before, and now an unknown starship was attempting to land undetected.
Luckily, the Imperial Knight Wun Wun was near the landing site.  A quick call to the ready force, and Balderius was on his way.
The Battle

Culln and Blackwood were taken by surprise by the eruption of gunfire. As the explosive rounds impacted all around, the Salamanders' Captain began calling into his comms for information.  It became clear that this was a colossal mistake.

There was no time to try and talk the Grey Knights down.  Escape first, then contact the attacking Grey Knights. Blackwood issues the order to break east
Librarian Balderius ordered his forces forward.  Wun Wun would be the beater, driving the intruders east, toward the Dreadknight.

The Salamanders have a Manticore attached from the Imperial Guard, and it repeatedly fires at Wun Wun all the way in.
The Salamander scouts break cover and intercept the Grey Knight Purifiers to slow them down.
The Salamanders' have air support in the form of a Storm Talon, and combined with relentless volleys from the Manticore, Wun Wun is disabled.
...Blackwood and Culln make their break.

Unfortunately, they failed to see the Dreadknight.
Suddenly, the massive war machine hesitates, as if there was a flash of recognition by the pilot, and Culln and the Salamanders slip the net.  Wun Wun was severely damaged by fire and the Dreadknight was swarmed by Salamander reinforcements before he could pursue.

Librarian Balderius heard his headset crackle with new signals. 
“Cease Fire, Cease Fire! Balderius!
This is Blackwood, we are shooting each other”

What was Blackwood doing out here?   …and who was on that ship?

Kingdom of Colores Recon Flight
“Yessir, the Imperials got ahold of Lord Commander Culln first.”

Yes, the part of the Salamanders is being played by the Ravenguard. I didn't have my camera at the club when the game was played, so we used them as stand ins for the shots.

Thanks to the Narrative Guys for giving us a scenario to play.  We had four games with guys at the club playing the scenario and all of them went down to the wire.  As a note to the game above, the Grey Knights player had the game in the bag and he FORGOT to assault with his Dreadknight.  Yes, the key move of the game, that he totally set up...
and he....

Lastly, I know I should have waited to reveal my scratchbuilt Marauder Destroyer in it's own post, but I couldn't wait. Consider this a sneak peek. :)

17 July 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep. 1, Prelude

Imperial Sector Six Prime
Office of Sub-Ambassador Sulla Tigh
Sub-Ambassador Tigh
The "Kingdom of Colores" must be collection of mad men.  They have completely lost their minds.  This whole Sector is at the breaking point, and then they back the Rilti Rebellion against us???!!!.

Colonel John Andre (Imperial Intelligence)
Yes, Sub-Ambassador, unfortunately their barely concealed support of the traitors seems to have left us no alternative to the dissolution of the alliance. If only they had been more covert, we might be able to paper it over, but…

Sub-Ambassador Tigh
To quote my infinitely irritating Colores counterpart,
“Yes, quite”
Let’s table this for now.  You mentioned a signal intercept, what is that about?

Colonel Andre
The Astropathic Choir forwarded a fragmented message that seems to indicate an urgent visit by a ship of the Red Scorpions Space Marine Chapter regarding assistance in the Ultio Warzone…

Office of the Governor Genral
Travis Point
New Cypress, Kingdom of Colores
Sector Six

Admiral Jones (Colores Royal Intelligence Corps)
I am afraid, Governor, that the situation with the Imperials is moving toward an open break.

Governor General Andres
Let’s table that for now. What is this signal from a “Red Scorpion”?

Admiral Jones
Claims to be a Captain from the Imperial Space Marine Red Scorpions Chapter
This "Captain Culln" is asking for military assistance in a remote warzone

Gov Gen
Remote warzone? Good Grief Jones, if they need assistance, don’t they have enough local warzones? He should at least have the courtesy of not making us travel to the next Imperial debacle.

We should absolutely talk to this Captain Culln, and talk to him before his Imperium friends.

Admiral Jones
...but what should we do about his Imperium friends?  I mean, the local ones, who would like to kill us.

Gov Gen
Very confusing these Imperials:
Space Marine this, Mechanicum that, and now “Astra Militarium” rather than “Imperial Guard”. It’s as if it’s all just made up so they can sew new patches on each other’s uniforms…

Admiral Jones
It’s enough to put a man off his mid-afternoon cocktail hour.

Gov Gen
Yes, quite
The 290 Bunker Crew, my gaming club, has 9 players (including me) going to the Narrative Event at WargamesCon in Austin on the last weekend in August.  As it is the Narrative Event, there is a strong "narrative" component. We are starting with how the 290th Combined Task Force is put together, and will run the storyline from there.

Here is the facebook page of the "Narrative Guys" who are running the event:

Most cool, I get to share the event with my son.  Woot!

Looks to be fun!