Display Board “Sophie’s Choice” Rock Concert

My display board in 2018, “Sophie’s Garage” was well-received. I could have kept using it, but I decided I wanted to do something even better this year.

I started this year with the question: “What would a high-level bard be like in the #Warhammer40k universe?”

I figured it would be some sort of grimdark heavy metal band. That idea was galvanized around the special Noise Marine model that Games Workshop released in late 2018. But, I play loyalest, Imperial Forces, not Heretical Chaos corrupted fiends. I didn’t imagine many Codex Astartes compliant Chapters would wield electric guitars on the battlefield. But, then it struck me: The Legion of the Damned! They’re on FIRE already!

As for the rest of the band, I painted up a Sister of Silence as the drummer. It seemed appropriate; she won’t speak, but percussion should be right up her alley. And an old Primaris Psyker of mine with a fire motif is up front on vocals.

Sister of Silence on drums

I called the band “Sophie’s Choice”. The name had several connotations: First of all, we call our infant daughter Sophie. And there’s the book and movie called Sophie’s Choice. And then there is the rather morbid decision ( the eponymous “Sophie’s Choice”) that is in the book and movie centre around.

Early sketch of how I envisioned the “stage”

Then I thought, this band can’t just sit in the corner of a battlefield; a high-level bard in the 40k universe would be riding on a parade-like float. Their “stage” is Mad Max-esque tank with skull icon, built-in speakers, and flame motif. It is a conversion featuring a Chimera and many parts from the Galvanic Magnavent terrain kit.

And they are performing in a packed stadium with spotlights.

But it wasn’t enough for me to just have this vehicle: It needed a whole display. So, I made a display board that would look like a stadium. It would hold an audience!

Sophie’s Choice are performing in a packed stadium. VIP’s are in the stands. The pit is packed with spectators. Spotlights are being carried my sentinel walkers.

I also entered this display as a diorama in the painting competition for Sword and Brush.

The screaming baby face is my infant daughter, who is named Sophie, after all. I wonder what she’ll think about that someday…

My family and I even wore matching shirts for “Sophie’s Choice: Galactic Tour 42019”

I wasn’t able to be there for the judging because I was participating in a concurrent tournament. When I set up the board, it got a lot of buzz. But I was a little disappointed that it didn’t get any awards. There weren’t even any photos of it on the official Sword and Brush photos of the competition.

Another change I made was to have my “Crusader” models act as the stage security. These “counts-as  Crusaders” are actually heavily modified old Adeptus Arbites models carrying riot shields.

I was a bit disappointed. During the tournament, many people remarked on the flickering flame LED’s on my Hellhound tanks. I got the parts from Zinge. Since people liked them, I put them on the “Party Bus” too.

And I also added music! In the video it’s playing “Purging With My Kin” by Linkin Loyalists, a Warhammer 40k inspired band.

I entered the upgraded display board to #armiesonparade at my local Games Workshop at Heartland Town Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

I was surprised and honoured to win “Best Themed Entry” and “2nd place overall”!

I brought the display board to a local tournament in November 2019, and to my surprise I won best painted! I know my models aren’t super-well painted, but I think the concept and flashy lights impressed a lot of people.

How do I top this for next year? I have some plans already… ūüėČ

BatRep: Vs. Eldar 90 Power

This was my 5th game at Astronomi-con 2018. It was against Josh Curtis who hosts The Drunken Dreadnoughts podcast. He even talked about our match during his Episode 54 starting at 34:50 and he called it the best game of his tournament.

Josh Curtis of The Drunken Dreadnoughts was my opponent for the last round

Josh brought a pretty shiny red Eldar force. I don’t remember exactly what he had, but something like:

  • Farseer on a bike
  • 10 Dark Reapers
  • Shining Spears on Jetbikes
  • More Jetbikes
  • 5 Wraithguard in a Wave Serpent
  • 3 D-cannons
  • 3 war walkers
This was a madcap adventure of a scenario!
There is a Mechanicus Character (who I’ll refer to as the Techpriest for the rest of the BatRep) who has valuable information. He is protected by four Kastellan Robots. He’s trying to run from the centre of the table to a corner. The Techpriest can’t be shot, targeted by psychic powers, or suffer mortal wounds. He must be subdued in the fight phase. Once subdued, he can be carried around like The Relic, but if the carrier is slain, he recovers with 1 wound and continues his escape attempt.
I didn’t like the tiny deployment zone. It was only 6″ wide, and most of my tanks are that long. It didn’t give me much ability to “bubble wrap” my tanks.

My deployment. Getting only 6 inches from the edge sucks since my tanks are about 6″ long…

 

Josh’s deployment

Eldar Turn 1
Josh got first turn, and immediately did some trickery to get his shining spears into close combat range with 4 of my tanks. They have a long move, then Josh used a psychic power that let them move AGAIN! He skewered my wyvern, took 10 wounds off of Pask, and consolidated into a hellhound. I hate the way people can consolidate without overwatch….
This put me on my heels, and gave me flashbacks to many first turn tablings had before. He got his war walkers into close combat with the Kastellan Robots and tried tying up the Techpriest target.

Josh’s Eldar movement

 

Guard Turn 1
 
My turn to strike back. I dropped my “Bullgryn bomb” into the fray in the centre with the Kastellan Robots, Techpriest, and War Walkers. I drove a wounded hellhound towards his wave serpent, as a sort of suicide run; I was counting on in exploding and causing some havoc.
The rest of my troops skewered the Shining Spears that were embedded in my deployment zone.

Turn 1 movement

The bullgryns managed to beat down the War Walkers and Subdue the Techpriest.

All hell breaks loose around the target: War Walkers vs. Kastellan Robots vs. Bullgryns

Eldar Turn 2
 
We were both excitedly invested in the game now. Josh was also double-fisting beers at this time, which I think made him more excited.
He threw almost everything he had at the fray in the middle. He blew my Valkyrie out of the sky, but somehow, one of my Bullgryns survived with 1 wound!
Josh deployed the Wraithguard from his Wave Serpent and shot at the wounded Hellhound. As expected, it exploded and took some of the Wraithguard with it!
Guard Turn 2
 
This turn is a scene that I think would make an epic movie. My last remaining bullgryn made a run out of the middle dragging the Objective with him. I covered his escape with two hellhounds and a taurox.

Bullgryn tries to get away with the subdued target. Tanks come in to guard his getaway

I really wanted the last Kastellan Robot to kill my Ministorum Priest in Close Combat so I’d get another narrative objective, but, regrettably, the 4++ save saved him.
With my shooting, I managed to finish off Josh’s wraithguard.
Eldar Turn 3
This is a continuation of that epic scene. Josh used the same psychic trickery to get some jetbikes in front of my retreating bullgryn. Somehow, he still survived! I picture about 20 shurikens embedded in the Bullgryn’s slabshield.
Josh used some psychic powers to debuff my Hellhounds, then destroyed them with the dark reapers and D-cannons. The ensuing explosions finished off the jetbikes, Priest, last Kastellan Robot, and the last bullgryn. Very explosive!
However, that means that Techpriest gets back up with 1 wound!

The flurry in the middle of the match. The Bullgryn trying to escape with the subdued Techpriest. The bodyguard kastellan robot chasing “master!!” and Eldar hot in pursuit!

Guard Turn 3
 
Both Josh and I were desperate NOT to let the Techpriest get away because we would BOTH lose.  This is where things got desperate.
I had an infantry squad heading to get a Narrative Objective by waiting in the escape corner. Instead, I charged them into combat with the Techpriest, and surprisingly, their bayonets subdued the target and I reclaimed the objective.
I also started sprinting my Company Commander and last remaining Infantry squad towards to objective from the corner. I got some very favourable advance rolls with the “move, move, move” order.

Desperation: Guardsmen enter close combat, and re-capture the target

Eldar Turn 4
Josh brought whatever he had left to the Techpriest, including his farseer on jetbike, and a couple of characters. He managed to kill off my infantry squad, so the Techpriest was free, again!

Even more desperation: Company Commander and last squad of infantry try to chase down the target who has awoken again!

Guard Turn 4
 
My guardsmen and company commander were able to charge the techpriest, but unfortunately could not subdue him. The 2+ save was pretty good against my AP0 attacks. Should have given the Company Commander a better weapon than a chainsword.
Eldar Turn 5
 
Josh swept in and removed my infantry, and claimed the objective. That was about it for the game since I had no infantry left to try to claim the objective.
Aftermath
I can imagine the scenario as the Eldar explain what happened to their superiors. Something about the Mon-keigh interfering and trying to take their target, but ultimately they succeeded.
I could have conceded the Relic earlier and tried getting more narrative objectives. But, shooting for the moon made it more exciting.
Looking forward to our next game Josh!

Astra Militarum Stratagems

I mused about making a post like this after my experience at Astronomi-Con.¬† Between this and three other tournaments, I’ve had a chance to try out most Stratagems available to Astra Militarum. Command Points (CP) are increasingly rare, so using them wisely is important. Some Stratagems some are awful, and some are great, especially in combination. I’m going to try to categorize and collect them. They are presented in what I think is best to worst.

Keep in mind that in an FAQ, you can only use each stratagem once per phase. This is especially tough on the Command Re-roll and Vengeance For Cadia!

 

GOOD

Prepared Positions – 2CP
This new one appeared in BIG FAQ 2 and I’m a big fan. It means if you go second, your whole army (except Titanic units) still in your deployment zone get the benefit of cover. I have been decimated SO many times from having the second turn, and this helps protect the second turn’s army a bit. Can still be combined with¬†Take Cover¬†for 1CP to add +1 to your saving throw.¬† Guardsmen or Conscripts are now wearing power armour for their first turn!

Command Re-Roll – 1CP
This gem from the Base Rule Book means you can re-roll any single dice for 1 CP. It still is life-saving (or life-taking depending on the circumstance). Use it to:

  • save a model from a bad grav-chute drop
  • re-roll a charge distance
  • protect against perils in the psychic phase
  • re-roll a critical armour or invulnerable save
  • get that hit or wound you desperately need

An FAQ limited this to once per phase, so need to be vigilant of when to use it each phase. I often use it to re-roll explodes for Hellhounds (if I want it to explode).

Defensive Gunners – 1CP
Your vehicle can hit on overwatch on 5’s or 6’s instead of just 6’s. Very handy to protect your tanks. In some cases, heavy weapons were hitting on 5’s anyways during your shooting phase. So, here’s a chance to shoot just as well but in your opponents turn!

Vengeance For Cadia!- 1CP
Against Chaos, all day long, every shooting phase and overwatch. You get to re-roll to hit AND WOUND against Chaos models until the end of the phase with that unit. Pairs well with Defensive Gunners for vehicles for another 1 CP.

Imperial¬†Commander’s Armoury- 1CP/3CP
For 1CP you get an extra relic, which is always handy. Better spend points on this to get the Laurel’s of Command rather than spending 1CP per turn for¬†Inspired Tactics. for two additional relics it costs an additional 3CP, which may not be so great.

Take Cover! Р1CP
I like this one. Any unit gets +1 to their saving throws in the opponent’s shooting phase. Vehicle get a 2+ save. Guardsmen get 4+, or 3+ if they are already in cover. It may not save a unit that’s in the line of fire, but it will force your opponent to invest more fire into that finishing that unit off.

Superior Intelligence – 1CP
Miltarium Tempestus exclusive stratagem. If an opponent sets up a unit from reinforcements within 12″ of a Militarum Tempestus infantry unit, you get an out-of-turn shooting round on that unit with -1 to hit.
I like this, but I don’t know how often you’ll be able to use it. It’s one of those you need to make sure you remember you have. You’d be out of rapid-ire range for hot-shot lasguns, but rapid-fire plasma, melta, hot-shot volley, and plasma pistols are all getting in their extra shots. Infantry only, so the Taurox prime just sits there.

FOR SELECT SITUATIONS

Insane Bravery 2CP
From the base rule book. Automatically pass a single Morale test. 2CP is rather steep, but if it means a unit doesn’t run off an objective, it may be worth it.

Fight to the death1CP
A little like Insane Bravery above, but not auto-pass for Morale. Instead, you roll a D3 instead of D6. So, if your guardsman squad lost 4 or less guys, this does result in an auto-pass.

Inspired Tactics 1CP
An Officer can make an additional order or tank order. Was great when you could CP farm back so many of these. Now, it may be wise to use sparingly.

Overlapping Fields of Fire 2CP
Cadian exclusive stratagem that adds +1 to hit a unit after it has suffered an unsaved wound. It’s for that unit you’ve nicked and really want to finish off. I like that it can negate -1 to hit shenanigans that many lists have. And it stacks with re-roll stratagems like¬†Aerial Spotter and¬†Vengeance¬†for Cadia. But 2CP can be high to use more than once in a game.

Viscous Traps 1CP
Catachan exclusive stratagem. If an enemy successfully finish a charge to a Catachan unit (which could be a vehicle) wholly on or within a terrain feature, on a 4+ that unit receives D3 mortal wounds. D3 isn’t that many, but might be a nasty surprise for that Demon Prince that just charged you. Only works on one unit, so it doesn’t have then area of effect that¬†Fire On My Position does.

Counter-Offensive – 2CP
From the base rule book. Lets you “interrupt” the flow of the fight phase and have your model fight after an enemy that charged has fought. Situational, but handy if you know you’re going to get smacked and need to hit the other unit first.

The epitome of “Drive Me Closer. I want to hit them with my sword”

Officio Prefectus Command Tank Р1CP
A Leman Russ and all units within 6″ get Leadership 9. More valuable since the nerf to Commissar’s Summary Execution. Handy if you have a Leman Russ already which you plan to wade into the fray surrounded by guardsmen. But 1CP for an auxiliary detachment and an Inquisitor gives you Leadership 10 (and probably a psyker).

Crush Them! 1CP
Astra-Militarum vehicles usually have impressive strength (S6-S7) a WS 6+ and at best 3 attacks with no AP. This stratagem lets them hit on a 2+. Beautiful on a Baneblade; kind of lackluster on anything else unless you really want to Crush something.

Mobile Command Vehicle Р1CP
The rules for transports in 8th edition nerfed them pretty hard. If a unit is in a transport, they are technically off the battlefield, and none of their special rules or auras can apply. This lets your Officer in a Chimera (not Taurox) issue orders from within the safety of a Chimera, which is nice, and boost the range of their order as if they were near a vox-caster (the target unit needs a vox-caster too). If you are spending points on Chimera’s at all, this may be used a little.

Jury Rigging – 1CP
Vehicle heals 1 wound, even without a techpriest! But can’t move, charge, or pile in (guard vehicles don’t do that often anyways). Nice for getting up a line in the damage chart if it improves your ballistic skill. Would have been nicer if it was D3 wounds.

Go! Recon!¬†–1CP
Scout Sentinels move 2D6″ in the shooting phase, but then can’t shoot or charge. Can use it even if the sentinel advanced in the movement phase. So a sentinel could theoretically go 9+3D6″ in a turn averaging around 22″. That’s a pretty fantastic move if you want to grab an objective or something.

Aerial Spotter 2CP
A Wyvern or Basilisk can re-roll failed hit rolls in this phase. Nice effect, but a bit of a steep price for one model getting the re-rolls.

BAD and UGLY

Grenadiers – 1CP
Your whole infantry unit can use grenades during shooting or overwatch. I’ve used this on overwatch a few times and it’s really disappointing. Each model gets D6 shots, that still only hit on 6’s. And it’s equal in punch to a lasgun. Might as well save your CP and take 2 shots per model with the lasgun.
Similarly, on offence, you’ll average about 3 shots per model. Rank Fire at that range gives you 4! Save your CP for something else.

Fire On My Position Р3CP
If a slain unit had a vox-caster, on a 4+ you can rain down D6 mortal wounds for each unit 3″ away. Unless there’s a cluster of 4 ore more units within 3″ your unit which died, you won’t get much out of this. And 3CP is asking a lot!

Preliminary Bombardment – 2CP
I have found this one very underwhelming. Statistically, I should get a wound once on every 6 units… doesn’t usually work out that way. I’m lucky to get even 1-2 mortal wounds from this whole Stratagem.

Consolidate Squads 1CP
I feel like this is a trap. Consolidating squads is nice for orders to go further, but it also means that “battleshock” in the morale phase will be more painful. The meta right now is for multiple small units, and this goes the opposite direction.

NEVER USED, PROBABLY NEVER WILL

Vortex Missile Р3CP
I don’t have any Deathstrikes, and so have never used this. But 3CP seems pretty steep.

What did you think of this list? Should some be higher? Lower?

Astronomi-Con 2018 Debrief and Lessons Learned

I attended Astronomi-con for the first time in September, and I don’t know why I haven’t been going for years!

It’s definitely a different kind of event in ALL the best ways. I understand why people go to tournaments to WAAC (win at all costs), but I think Warhammer is more fun when it’s narrative and trying to tell a story. And I think that’s the real joy of the hobby that Mike and Christian have been able to distill into this event.

Mike and Christian: The heros that brought us Astronomi-con!

I finished the tournament with 2 ties, 1 win, and 2 losses. No awards for me, but as my first time, I think I’m pretty happy. I expected a narrative event, but people still brought lists that were TOUGH and POWERFUL. I suppose you don’t want people taking it easy on you.

I plan on writing battle reports for many (if not all) of the 5 battles. But this may be a good summary for the whole thing.

I should note that BIG FAQ 2 dropped the day before this tournament, nerfing the FAQ farm that Astra Militarum used to enjoy so much. I quickly switched out my Warlord’s relic, but I definitely felt the lack of CP.

ARMY LIST

I was going to write a fluff piece about how this Cadian regement (the 77th) “liberated” a planet, but had no Cadia to return home to. So, they took this abandoned garage as their new home.
And really, I wanted to cram as many vehicles as possible into a list because I like them, and they’re hard to kill.
I used the special Astronimi-con “narrative detachment” (2-3 hq, 4-5 troops, 1-2 Elites,¬†1-2 fast, 1-2 heavy, 0-1 flyers) for +10 CP.

My 90 Power Level army for Astronomi-con 2018 and my “award winning” display board

My army for all five games was the following 90 power list.
“Sophie’s Garage” Narrative Detachment. Cadian doctrine.
HQ
  • Company Commander with Boltgun, Grand Strategist, and Relic of Lost Cadia (Warlord)
  • Knight Commander Pask in Executioner Leman Russ with Plasma Sponsors, Lascannon, Hunter-Killer Missile, Storm Bolter and track guards
TROOPS
  • 2x¬†Infantry Squad with Vox-caster, plasma, Lascannon, and boltgun for sergerant
  • 2x Infantry Squad with Vox-caster, plasma, and plasma pistol and power sword for sergeant
ELITES
  • ministorum priest with laspistol and chainword
  • 3x bullgryns with Slabshield and bullgryn maul
FAST ATTACK
  • 2x hellhounds with heavy bolter, storm bolter, Hunter-Killer Missile and track guards
  • 1x hellhound with heavy bolter, storm bolter
HEAVY SUPPORT
  • 2x basilisks with heavy bolter, and Hunter-Killer Missile
  • wyvern with¬†heavy bolter, and Hunter-Killer Missile
FLYER
  • -Valkyrie with Lascannon, Multiple Rocket Pods, and 2x Heavy bolters
DEDICATED TRANSPORT
  • 2x taurox with 2x autocannons and storm bolter

The Bullgryns and Priest were in the Valkyrie and used the tactic that is apparently called the “Bullgryn bomb.” The Valkyrie can move up to 40″, and then the transported units inside can disembark at any point of the movement path, as long as they are 9″ away from an enemy. Then, it’s a regular disembarkation, so the troops inside can move their usual 6″. So, these 3 big angry bullgryns wind up 3″ away from a priority target on turn 1. They really do hit like an avalanche of muscle, with 3 attacks each (4 on the bone ‘ead), +1 attack each on the charge, +1 attack each from the priest = 16 S7 attacks, hitting on 3+, -1 AP,¬† 2D each!

 

LESSONS LEARNED

Many things I learned during this tournament:

Hellhounds are THE BOMB! Literally and figuratively. The 2D6 auto-hits are a wonderful trick. There are so many things that reduce the already pitiful accuracy of guardsmen so having something automatically hit is lovely. Especially with overwatch!

I even took out a flyer, with flamethrowers! Does’t sound right, but given how the hitting mechanics works, this is how to do it.

And then, when they run out of wounds, they explode on a 4+. I think I did more damage with my hellhounds on my opponents turns with overwatch and explosions. I literally used that tactic on purpose in my 4th game, driving a hellhound into the middle of his rush and expecting him to blow it up, only to have the bomb decimate all the nearby units.

I’m going to bring 3 hellhounds with EVERY list I make from now on. Perhaps the only thing is that I would try to use Catachan doctrine to re-roll a random dice; the Cadian doctrine, though nice, didn’t synergize well with the aggressive nature of the hellhounds.

The aforementioned¬†Bullgryn Bomb worked well, but doesn’t last long. Even with a 2+, at T5 they go down a lot faster than my tanks. I may substitute an additional Bullgryn for the priest in future lists; I’d have the same number of attacks. Or do a Crusader bomb instead and buff them with a priest and psyker to give them 2++. Crusaders are only S3, but 30 attacks at AP-3, re-rollable 3+ to hit will make a dent, and probably be more survivable.

The Valkyrie in my bullgryn bomb was a bit of a let-down after it dropped it’s troops. The Multiple Rocket Pod was a big let-down. I should have stuck with the hellfire missiles, which are cheaper. The heavy bolters achieved nothing the entire tournament. Lesson, keep the Valkrie cheap.

Indirect fire artillery is awesome! My two Basilisks were wonderful for beating up on whatever target I wanted, from anywhere on the board, no line-of-sight required. I have a model for a 3rd Basikisk I should built and paint soon. The Wyvern was great at erasing infantry units too, but not as good as hellhounds. The thing I need to continue doing is to keep these artillery protected in the back behind layers and layers of the rest of my army.
The Cadian doctrine was good, but mathhammer says Catachan is slightly better; and MUCH better if I plant Sergeant Harker nearby.

Knight Commander Pask is a MONSTER! I can honestly say that about half the damage I caused through the tournament was from this one model. Some of my opponents knew that right off the bat and aimed to remove him quickly. He’s SUPER expensive, but ridiculously damaging, even on overwatch. If I bring him again, I need to keep layers of bubble wrap to protect him.

The Taurox’s were good… not great. The beauty of the Tauroxes is that they’re cheap; only 4 PL. In points, would I rather have two Tauroxes, or a Leman Russ?

Their autocannons did a whole lot of nothing. Hitting on 5+ when they move doesn’t help. The storm bolters ironically forced more armour saves. It’s nice that they protect my squishy troops from first round massacres. And T6 3+ with 10 wounds is a pretty good bargain for 4 PL.

In power level games, all the upgrades are free, so I should continue to abuse that. Hunter-Killer missiles for everything. Track guards wherever I can find them. A put Augur Arrays on my list, but never used them. I should even include dozer blades to improve the ramming accuracy for my tanks (hits on 5+ instead of 6+).

 

Now that I have a feel for the zany Astronomi-con scenarios, I would probably want more “shenanigans” that can more around quickly and/or deep strike. I’m thinking Sly Marbo and/or Scions. Many narrative objectives required the Warlord to kill something, sometimes in close combat, but my warlord was equipped for hiding in a corner shouting orders. Maybe I should finish that Celestine model I’ve had for a while. She can easily move 24″ in a turn, and would buff my guard with a 6++.

And, I need to use Command Points (CP’s) more carefully, or generate more, or both. I wasted a lot of CP’s on useless strategems. I may write a blog post about which CP’s are worth it, and which COMBOS work really well.

And it is worthwhile to generate CP’s cheaply. I think a battalion of Scions should be a go-to for every list I do now. A Tempestor prime, Primaris Psyker, and three scion squads is just 14 PL for 5CP!

 

All in all, I loved ASTRO, and want to register for next year already! I’m even thinking of new ideas for my display board and narrative things to get more points in those categories.

My Display Board “Sophie’s Garage”

This is my first post in a LONG time, but I think it was time to dust off this old blog. And I felt this was definitely worth sharing: My display board won two awards at my local Armies On Parade.

 

DISPLAY BOARD HISTORY

The story for this display board starts at my first tournament over two years ago. I showed up to my first tournament with no display board at all. At that tournament, I displayed my army in the plastic tub I brought it in.¬† I didn’t even know that display boards were at thing!

My “display board” from my first tournament in 2016

In 2017, I also attended the same Lords of War Tournament again: The 40k Classic. I had idea of using a a tool holder as some sort of castle. The castle was well-received.¬† I used the “game mat” from the 8th edition “First Strike” starter kit¬†, and although it served is purpose, it was bit of a “cop out”. The castle had a digital photo frame that played “Imperial propaganda”, but someone said seeing the buttons broke the suspension of disbelief. And someone suggested the “castle” needed more detail.

My “display board” circa 2017.

BUILDING MY 2018 DISPLAY BOARD

The highlight of my 2018 was going to be the Astronomi-con event.  I liked that it emphasized the hobby elements rather than just competitive tournament play. The event had a lot of points for narrative and display, and thus, I needed to get going on a display board.

I started with this early prototype for a display board that folded into a case, and gave height.

Prototype for my 2018 display board

I enjoy playing with a lot of tanks, so I wanted my display board to have roads. My first thought was to have some sort of tunnel on the lower level. The lower level later became a garage, which seemed vehicle appropriate.

The prototype also had a sort of bridge, but that didn’t make it into the final design.

A lot of display boards are made from styrofoam, but I didn’t have a foam cutter, and I was told that spray paints would dissolve foam. And since I’m much more familiar with wood, I started with a big slap of 1/2″ thick MDF. I cut the pieces in the store using the circular saw, but my calculations didn’t account for the thickness. So I had to do some rougher cuts with a handsaw.

Assembled display board base

There was another piece I made to extend the lower level.

The board had hinges I took off of a dollar store box. The top was meant to fold over for nice transport. But, because of my imprecise cuts, it didn’t fit quite well. I later filled in the gaps in the build with wood filler.

The display board in its closed state. I later fixed the imperfections in the fitting with wood filler.

With the base built, it was time to start decorating and adding the theme. I added cork board as the roads. They have a kind of texture that already simulates asphalt. I made the “sidewalks” with plasticard, and then used a spray paint for the even texture. I did a thick coat of paint over the cork boards.

Painting the display board.

The MDF wood looked kind of cheap. I decided to try to stain the wood. I had NEVER done this before, but found that it produced a wonderfully rich-looking effect. It was a messy process, and I’m glad I wore gloves! And, the wood filler I used to cover the imperfections made it look like it was meant to be.

After adding a gel-coat stain. I think it looks really rich now!

As some of my readers know, I like to add a lot of electronics to my tanks. I wanted my display board to have some too. This board was going to feature a lot of lights. I also wanted the option to power it from a plug, which was a first for me. And, I added a fuse for the first time, because I didn’t want this board to catch on fire if I did something wrong.

Last thing to do was dress it up. I printed some photos of “diamond steel” for the floors of the garage. And then printed A LOT of “Imperial Propaganda” photos I found on the internet. I scaled them to guardsman size, and put them all over the board. The posters probably got a lot of attention at a recent tournament I went to. There was a sticker of Saint Celestine in a chibi-style by The Great Geraldo. And, I added some graffiti touches that were kind of meta-meme worthy like “Cadian Stands” and “Rowboat Girlyman”.

Propaganda posters abound!

So, why is it called Sophie’s Garage? The garage part should be obvious. And Sophie is what my wife and I are going to name our first daughter, who’s due in about a month.

Sophie’s Garage sign. And yes, that’s the 40th Birthday Grombrindal in the window brandishing a beer

Even though the model has nothing to do with the army, I really liked the work I did  on the 40th birthday White Dwarf Model (Grombrindal), so he seemed to make a nice cameo behind the glass.

When I was preparing my board a couple of nights before Armies On Parade, my wife noted that it looked kind of like a military parade for a fascist dictatorship. I thought that seemed thematically rather appropriate, considering that Warhammer 40k’s Imperium of Man could be considered quite dystopian.

Experimenting with the layout of models on my display board a few days before Armies On Parade

At the last minute, I printed out a couple of slips of paper that said: “Push the buttons. They light up and make sounds!”¬†I think that may have been one of the most important additions, because people were apparently really impressed that my tanks had electronics in them.

I submitted my display board featuring A LOT of tanks to the Armies On Parade event at my local Games Workshop location at Heartland Town Centre.  My wife helped me set it up, and I liked the layout even more.

My display board as presented at Armies On Parade 2018

 

There were a lot of great entries. I was proud that I won two certificates:

  • MONSTERS AND MACHINES
  • BEST THEMED ARMY

With my wife and my display board after winning in the “Monsters and Machines” and “Best Themed Entry” categories of Armies on Parade 2018 at Games Workshop Heartland Town Centre

There were some really good entries, so I’m not surprised I didn’t win a medal. But winning two categories made me feel pretty happy with my work.

Winners from Armies on Parade 2018 at Games Workshop Heartland Town Centre

 

Only one year until the next Armies On Parade. Should I just tune up my board a little? Or something completely new?

I know my painting will probably never rival that of really good players; I need to keep with my strengths of electronics and tricks. Perhaps a board with a water feature? Like real water with a waterfall and an electronic water pump? And steam? And better use of the LED’s?

40k Classic Tournament Debrief

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first tournament, the Lords of War 40k Classic.  I posted my list here. I will write detailed battle reports later, but this post will capture my initial thoughts.

In brief, I’ll just say I had a great time, and look forward the next one. It renewed my interest in the hobby, and has inspired me to continue playing.

Selfie at the Warhammer 40k classic, my first tournament
Selfie at the Warhammer 40k classic, my first tournament

The crowd was very friendly; mostly young, all white men. There were a couple POC among the tournament organizers, but mostly very white. Milling about before the tournament, people were friendly, and genuinely interested in the hobby and excited to talk about their armies and the game.  There was a variety of people from students to bank managers, many guys were married and some even had kids (this was their guys day out). The Legion that hosted us had ample parking and great Air Conditioning. I also liked the vibe that there was a bar downstairs and many people bought a beer and brought them up to sip during the tournament.

I played 4 games and thought I acquitted myself admirably: 2 wins and 2 losses. After one win I felt accomplished. The second win was a surprise and at that point there was nothing that was going to make this day bad. Well, I got massacred in the last game to an ultra-competitive player.

A few players complemented me on my Chimera/Rhino conversion combination thing. One guy was so excited that he took lots of pictures because he was going to “steal the hell out of this idea.” I was quite happy to oblige.

My Rhino/Chimera conversion that was well-received by many at the tournament
My Rhino/Chimera conversion that was well-received by many at the tournament

 

Tactics thoughts:

Oakenhawk was right about a lot of things:

Company Command Squads issuing their Senior Officer Orders of Ignore Cover or Bring It Down are devastating:  My CCS with 3 meltas was a monster-killing beast! It took down a Riptide, and one-shot killed a Vindicator!

Flamers were beautiful: There were a lot of cover-camping units, and the heavy flamers auto-hit and ignore cover. And in many cases, if the Chimera’s flamers didn’t work, there were more inside.

My vehicles are hard to kill: Surprisingly, my tanks all took a lot of beatings, but few lost hull points, and even fewer were destroyed. Having such quantity meant the damage was usually spread around.

Leman Russ Tanks were worth it: Each of my Leman Russ tanks were about 150 points, but I wouldn’t have traded them for anything else. They could move 6″ and fire everything with impunity, and unloading my Exterminator with lascannon and sponsor heavy bolters was my way of saying I wanted something to die! And the Demolisher’s ¬†S10 AP2¬†large blast was the baseball bat I needed at times to batter tanks. And, their AV14 armour held up surprisingly well to most barrages. Keeping them facing the deadly threats helped, a lot!

The Wyvern is amazing! It became the highest priority target in my army in almost every game. My first opponent destroyed it in turn 1. After it decimated infantry squads in my 2nd and 3rd games, it was also their highest-priority target. That worked to my advantage in some ways because it drew their forces into a trap.
Long story short, twin-linked, 4 large blast barrage, re-rolling to wound was ridiculously good. I want another Wyvern!

Expendable¬†guardsmen and¬†expendable: The redundancy of that statement was quite on purpose. The blob squad of 20 guardsmen was kind of an afterthought for me, but proved to be valuable in a way I didn’t expect: Yes, the autocannons¬†had a bit of a punch and drew attention, but I got an equal punch from my Taurox.¬†This blob squad in cover was the first natural and obvious target for each of my enemies. The squad wasn’t worth much, but drew a lot of fire while my more dangerous units maneuvered. In the end, it didn’t bother me to lose them

Guardsmen in cover doing what the do best, distracting!
Guardsmen in cover doing what the do best, distracting!

Lessons Learned:

Finish off units: In my first game, I missed out on a lot of points because several units still had 2-3 models, or a vehicle had 1 hull point less. I should concentrate on destroying something and then move on. Part of the success in my second game was mopping up objective-claiming units, as exemplified in using my warlord’s¬†Chimera to chase down a lone Kroot and heavy flamer it to death.

Don’t let the opponent set the terms: I made the mistake of waiting for my opponent to come to me in my first and last games,¬†consequently¬†I lost both games. In my second and third¬†games I moved out of a bad deployment zone and outflanked my opponents.

Gets Hot Sucks: The S7 plasma didn’t have much impact on the game, probably because I was trying to keep my Warlord safe. And at one point, they both fried themselves on overwatch! Without some form of twin-linking or Preferred Enemy to mitigate 1’s, I don’t feel like it’s worth it.

Medic not worth it: The feel no pain (5+) granted by the medkit didn’t save one model in my command squad. Another plasma or a flamer (or two) would have been a much better investment.

Don’t fear Close Combat: Guard are pretty lousy at close combat, but in some cases, their numbers help out. The last daemon army I faced had a ridiculous cover save, but if I charged them instead I could have gotten bunch of blows in because of higher¬†initiative and no overwatch.

Photo of the tournament underway
Photo of the tournament underway

Logistics thoughts:

A quantity-based, horde-like army is great in theory and practice, but not practical. Most armies at the tournament had less than 30 models. I had 75 infantry, 8 tanks, and a massive plane! I needed two containers to bring just 1500 points! And setting up and moving models is a drag too. I might as well have had old-school Warhammer Fantasy movement trays and square bases!

I need a display board. I discovered that this was a thing only a few days before the tournament. I almost bought a cafeteria-like tray from a dollar store right before the tournament, but decided to use my case as a makeshift display board. It didn’t work too well. And It would have been nice to display my army nicely.

My "display board" (i.e. one of my cases...
My “display board” (i.e. one of my cases…)

Several players shared their lists made with Army Builder which was really nice because it listed the stats and special rules of each model. I have never played against Tau or Chaos Daemons, and didn’t know their stats, so it was nice that they were there without me having to root through their codex. I’m thinking I’ll model my next list for sharing using the rules for Adepti-con as critera, and Army Builder lists from my¬†opponents¬†as templates.

There were chairs at the tables, and I should have sat more. My legs hurt by the end of the day.

Lunch at 2:15pm is a drag. I’m glad I brought snacks to get me through until then. I scooted out for lunch to get a KFC sandwich and I ate it much faster than I should have.

Tables are kind of crowded, so there isn’t really anywhere to put down your display case and/or codexes and such. In my first game there was an empty table beside us which was great, but in my last game we were in the middle of two other games and kinda stuck.

 

What’s next for me?

I want to join another tournament! I want to play more! It was all a good experience, and I like the honesty of paying to be there: Going to the store to play feels like I’m free-loading or something.

I think I need a display board. There were great ones at the tournament, and I’d like to have one that reflects me and my army. The scoring guide for Astronomi-con helps, but there are also SO many examples online of things that work too. ¬†Maybe I can be crafty and make a display board that can also be a carrying case…

The most ridiculously awesome display board I've ever seen! Look at that plasma-webway portal thing! And it's base is a Millennium Falcon!
The most ridiculously awesome display board I’ve ever seen! Look at that plasma-webway portal thing! And it’s base is a Millennium Falcon!

I think I’m done painting Guard for a while I may paint one or two more melta infantry, but that would be it. ¬†I have a lot of options: Inquisition, Arbites, Space Marines…
But I saw a Tempestus Scions army at the tournament and was¬†intrigued. The Taurox Prime is pretty awesome…

Tournament List (1500 Points) Astra Militarum

The tournament I mentioned several weeks ago is coming up this weekend. And I think I’ve FINALLY got my whole army together for this adventure.

I posted a preliminary army list in a previous post.

I don’t have a lot of experience in tournaments, or playing 7th Edition 40k in generals, so I read up a lot of battle reports. In particular, I went through a lot of Oakenhawk’s battle reports. He even noticed that someone went through his reports and mentioned it in a blog post. Oakenhawk was nice enough to critique my list, and make constructive¬†suggestions.

Here’s the list he suggested which he nicknamed Oakenlist LOLFIRE

  • CCS: Carapace Armour, 4x Plasmaguns
  • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • CCS: 4x Meltaguns
  • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Vet 1: 2x Flamer, Heavy Flamer, Camo Gear & Trip Mines
  • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Vet 2: 2x Flamer, Heavy Flamer, Camo Gear & Trip Mines
  • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Vet 3: 2x Flamer, Heavy Flamer
  • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Infantry Platoon:
  • Platoon Command Squad, 3x Flamers, Heavy Flamer
  • Squad 1 (totally naked)
  • Squad 2 (also, totally naked)
  • Vendetta
  • Basilisk
  • Wyvern
  • Leman Russ Demolisher

I never thought of using so many flamers and heavy flamers. But, it makes sense for a few reasons. First, they’re kinda cheap, especially flamers at only 5 points. Many guardsmen only shoot at BS3, so they only hit 50% of the time. But template weapons like flamers auto-hit! And template weapons ignore cover, and that should help flush out units camped behind cover.

So, I tweaked the list as follows:

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Tournament Oakenfire (1499 pts)

HQ

  • Company Command Squad: Boltgun, 2x Plasma Guns, Carapace, Medic (110 points)
    Chimera “Eaton”: Multi Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer (65 points)
  • Company Command Squad: Boltgun, 3x Melta Guns, (91 points)
    Chimera “Repressor”: Multi Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer (65 points)

TROOPS

  • Veteran Squad: Boltgun, 2x flamer, heavy flamer, Carapace (96 points)
    Chimera “Mako”: Multi Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer, Dozer Blade (70 points)
  • Veteran Squad: Boltgun, 2x flamer, heavy flamer, Carapace (96 points)
    Chimera “Dauntless”: Multi Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer (65 points)
  • Platoon Command Squad: Boltgun, 2x flamers, heavy flamer (51 points)
  • Infantry Squad: Autocannon (60 points)
  • Infantry Squad: Autocannon (60 points)
  • Infantry Squad: Flamer (55 points)
    Taurox “Lechon” (50 points)

FAST ATTACK

  • Vendetta “313-PHAN T” (170 points)

HEAVY SUPPORT

  • Leman Russ Demolisher “Cyclops”: Hull Heavy Bolter (170 points)
  • Leman Russ Exterminator “Tsunami”: Hull Lascannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsors (160 points)
  • Wyvern “Hound” (65 points)

Yup, 8 tanks and a flyer, along with 65 infantry! Go Guard! That’s quantity! I imagine for the first few turns my opponents will be unsure of what to shoot at. And yes, of course all the vehicles have names.

I had to build a lot of infantry, another Chimera, and modify a Leman Russ, but I’m happy it’s all together.

Oakenhawn was a big fan of the Company Command Squads (CCS) and I can see why: The Senior Officer Orders can buff their own unit to allow for Tank Hunter or Ignore Cover. The 3 melta CCS is a going to be a heavy hitter.

Few players online are fans of the medic for the CCS. He grants 5+ Feel No Pain, which gives a little more survivability to my warlord‚Äôs squad, especially if those plasma guns have some ‚Äúgets hot‚ÄĚ shenanigans. But, I wonder how useful or valuable the medic really is‚Ķ maybe I should have just gone with another plasma gun?

I plan to have the Platoon Command Squad start off in the Vendetta. They’ll make a great objective grabbing surprise later in the game. And the Vendetta’s 3 (!!!) twin-linked lascannons should do some serious damage.

The vets in Chimeras are meant to grab the objectives, and have campfires, be it clearing out enemies, or protecting themselves from close combat.

The Heavy Support options are pretty self-explanatory: Leman Russ Demolisher terrifies anything within 24 inches with its S10 AP2 large blast! The Leman Russ Exterminator is a kind of ‚Äújack-of-all trades‚ÄĚ to pepper infantry and medium-vehicles alike. And the I‚Äôll hide the Wyvern out of sight¬†and shred far-off infantry in cover.

Deployment will be interesting with 8 tanks on the battlefield. Only two infantry squads won‚Äôt be in transports. I‚Äôll ‚Äúblob‚ÄĚ them together into a combined squad and place them nicely in cover, preferably on a backfield objective.

The Taurox is my ace in the hole. I don‚Äôt expect it to be a target for the enemy, and I‚Äôll try to keep it hidden in cover taking nice pot-shots with its TL autocannon. Late in the game it can make an impressive 18‚ÄĚ dash for objectives.

I kind of wish I had a second Taurox. I could trade out one of the other infantry squads and get a MOBILE autocannon.

As my first tournament, I’m not sure what to expect. But, I’ll go in, try to remember the rules, play with good sportsmanship, and try to have fun. That’s a nice low baseline.

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I’ll be sure to share Battle Reports after

Chimera “Mako”

I had a lot of fun building this Chimera. ¬†I had fun building the Chimera “Dauntless” and updating the Chimera “Eaton,” but this one was more fun because I got to give it more personality and electronics like this Basilisk.

Like most of my models, I got this model through eBay. Actually, I think this was part of a Armoured Fist set that also included 10 guardsmen.

I’ll start this post with a photo of a toy truck. I know that must seem really strange, but this toy truck is really important. I got it at a garage sale over a year ago for $2. The buttons on top made noises so I decided to use the electronics inside to make a special tank.

 

Toy truck which the circuity was removed-from for Chimera "Mako"
Toy truck which the circuity was removed-from for Chimera “Mako”

 

Despite being such a big toy, when I stripped out the electronics I was left with very small¬†parts. Most of this very large toy was hollow.¬†The sound generation and buttons were on a single small circuit board. It was powered by three really small “button” battery cells. Rather than re-wiring AA batteries to match, I decided to just cut out the battery holster too and put it in the tank.

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Circuit board and battery holster scavenged from the toy truck

 

 

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Chimera “Mako” posing with a Leman Russ Exterminator and Leman Russ Punisher

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I plan on running this tank with a veteran squad I’ve called the “Irregulars”. I got most of Colonel Schaffer’s Last Chancer’s from eBay and decided they make a rather interesting composite squad. I imagine them as the¬†remnants¬†of a much larger company that has whittled down over the years, and they’re the remaining hardy, grizzled veterans. And I imagine their ride would be similarly non-uniform.

And, their ride has a loud horn, and plays rock music. Seemed appropriate.

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Tactically, as an objective secured troops unit, they’re going to be prettymuch auto-take for me in every game. In the pictures above I have have 3 meltaguns in the squad, which seems to be heavily preferred in the 7th edition meta.

 

 

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Name Origin

The name for this tank, “Mako,” has several inspirations:

The first and most obvious is thata Mako is a shark, and the Orky, teethy dozer blade is definitely shark-inspired.

Another part of the inspiration is the tank from the first Mass Effect Game is the M-35 Mako. It’s a jalopy of a tank that gets constantly beat up, but incredibly important in the gameplay.

One of my favourite recent TV shows is The Legend of Korra. A major character in that series was a firebender named Mako . In addition to the practicality, the fact that this tank has a heavy flamer is supposed to be a reflection of that character.

And the last reference was largely unintentional. One of my favouite recent movies was “Pacific Rim.” This isn’t a giant monster-fighting robot, but Mako Mori is a powerful character in the film and so I suppose this tank is also something of a homage to her.

With all the homages in the name of this tank, it will certainly see a lot of deployment in games I play.

Early Draft List for Upcoming Tournament

I mentioned last week that I’m registered to participate in a tournament on August 20. Time is ticking down and I’ve been pondering list building quite a bit.

The most interesting part of building this list is the rule that only troops are scoring. To that end, I am putting WAY more troops than usual.

Astra Militarum is not known for being very mobile, or durable, so I’m hoping the dedicated transports help buff my “squishy” infantry squads.

I have only two Psykers in this army. I worry I may be a little lean in this department. Though, part of me wonders if I’d be better off losing the Primaris and taking another infantry squad.

But, with only troops scoring and no allies, I don’t have to worry about super-heavies.

Section of my Astra Militarum Army
Section of my Astra Militarum Army. Not exactly as will be fielded.

Combined Arms Detachment: Astra Militarum [1500 Points]

HQ

Company Command Squad, Company Commander, two Veterans with Plasma Guns, Medic, Astropath, Master of Ordanance, Officer of the Fleet, Chimera with Dozer Blade and Heavy Stubber [246]

Primaris Psyker [50]

Techpriest Engiseer with two Servitors [60]

Ministorum Priest [25]

Ministorum Priest [25]

Commissar [25]

 

Troops

Veteran Squad, Veteran Sergeant with Boltgun, two Veterans with Meltagun, Chimera with Dozer Blade and Heavy Flamer [138]

Infantry Platoon [453]

-Platoon Command Squad, Platoon Commander with Boltgun and Melta Bombs, Melta, Heavy Flamer

-Infantry Squad, Sergeant with Boltgun and Melta Bombs, Autocannon, Chimera

-Infantry Squad, Sergeant with Boltgun, Flamer, Autocannon, Taurox

-Conscript Squad (50 models)

 

Fast Attack

Vendetta [170]

 

Heavy Support

Leman Russ Exterminator with Lascannon and Heavy Bolter Sponsors [160]

Wyvern [65]

Hydra [70]

 

There are 7 tanks and a flyer on this list, which I think is pretty mighty.

Everything on this list is already built except the two autocannons, one ministorum priest, and the 50 (!!) conscripts. That could be a long and tedious process, but any conscripts I don’t finish can probably be replaced with some other units I have left behind.

And, regrettably, I’m leaving ¬†a lot of units behind. No Temptestus Scions / Stormtroopers, 2 Leman Russes, 2 Hellhounds, 2 Sentinels, bullgryns, ratlings, rough riders, Basilisk, several techpriests and servitors, and special characters Creed and Nork Deddog.

I’m considering switching the Commissar for a Lord Commissar to give the conscripts squad some heft.

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Let’s see how many models I get done in time and then I’ll re-evaluate this list.

Escher Juve with Flamer

I got this model from eBay quite a while ago. She’s from the¬†Necromunda game, specifically the Escher all-female gang. She was labelled on the tab as “juve” which I assumed meant¬†juvenile¬†or young person.

Image of painted Escher Juve model from Lexicanum
Image of painted Escher Juve model from Lexicanum

I have very few female models in my army, so I felt compelled to add more.

Her original model has her holding some sort of autopistol. I decided I wanted to make her as useful and flexible as possible, so I wanted her armed so that she could be used as an Inquisitional Acolyte or a guards(wo)man. So that end, I decided to replace her autopistol with a flamer. I borrowed the flamer from a¬†commissar¬†model I haven’t finsihed yet, and Commissar’s can’t use flamer’s anyways, so this worked out nicely.

Escher Juve from Necromunda below, and a Commissar's flamer arm I will graft onto her
Escher Juve from Necromunda below, and a Commissar’s flamer arm I will graft onto her

I wanted to give her a paintjob similar to the rest of my guardsmen so she’d fit in. To that end, she has a black shirt (flakk jacket?), administratum grey pants, and her knee-high boots are black.

 

Finished model with flamer
Model with flamer almost finished

 

Female Guardsman or Inquisition Acolyte with flamer
Female Guardsman or Inquisition Acolyte with flamer

 

Female Guardsman or Inquisition Acolyte with flamer (back)
Female Guardsman or Inquisition Acolyte with flamer (back)

She’s also really tiny. Most guardsmen look similar in size to Space Marines, but they totally dwarf her.

Considering that guardsmen (and guardswomen) and Inquisitorial Acolytes have a ballistic skill of only 3, the auto-hit nature of template weapons is very appealing.

I’ll probably make sure to include her in my army for the upcoming tournament.