I started painting Death Guard models about a year ago. I find the models detailed and interesting. I have amassed quite an army by now. But, it kind of bothered me how they are always framed as the “villains” in contrast to the “heroic” Ultramarines. In the grim dark Warhammer 40k universe, I felt that was a little oversimplified, so I wanted to read some more “fluff” featuring the Death Guard. So, I recently finished “The Lords of Silence” by Chris Wraight and wanted to share why I found it so impressive.
Writing this book report reminds me of being back in school and being forced to analyze and review books from a curriculum. I reviewed a couple of running books, but this is quite different.
There are some classically evil characters in this book too. Some characters are almost cliché with their “har har infect and torture.” Other characters are constantly scheming to usurp or betray. Mortarion and Typhus, two of the more notable characters in Death Guard lore have brief appearances, and seem typically villainous.
But a couple of other characters are more nuanced and interesting: One of the protagonists is Vorx, “the Siegemaster”, a Space Marine that has been fighting for the Death Guard since before the Horus Heresy. He is in charge of the eponymous Lords of Silence Warband, a division of the Death Guard, and he commands their Cruiser “Solace.” I found Vorx to be quite an interesting character. He is usually polite, honourable, respectful, and even caring. He has glimpses of being the “warrior monk” that you expect from more noble Adeptus Astartes.
Obviously, Vorx seems like a “bad guy” because his service to the Chaos God Nurgle involves infecting planets, spreading disease, and raising hordes of daemon zombies. But, from his point of view, the monolithic, heartless, brutal, oppressive Imperium is the greater evil. He respects his opponent Loyalist Astartes, and in fact feels pity for them and their plight. He is less sympathetic to the Thousand Sons whose behaviour he considers to be deceitful and hypocritical. I love that complicated shades of grey, where evil and bad are relative terms.
The deuteragonist is Dragan, “the Gallowsman”, a more recent convert to the Death Guard. He left a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter and joined the Death Guard, and is gradually receiving Nurgle’s “gifts.” He is called a “thin blood” because he hasn’t been in the Death Guard as long as some of his peers. But, because of that, he still retains anger, drive, and zeal that seems to elude many older, sluggish, Death Guard. His story is quite interesting too. I wondered how Death Guard recruited or replenished their forces, so Dragan’s recruitment into such an old Legion gives a glimpse into that.
I was also impressed by the genuine use of “science fiction” that Wraight uses. In my experience, better science fiction has commentary or theoretical parables on how a current trend can get much more complicated with advances in time and/or technology. In “The Lords of Silence”, Wraight describes the nightmare that is the agri-world of Najan. The planet is windswept and brutal, with minimal biodiversity, and barely hospitable to its workers. It is being overfarmed so aggressively that it will be completely depleted in less than 100 years, even with constant fertilizing and other interventions. It’s like an incredibly exaggerated version of those “super-farms” that are becoming increasingly common. And, ironically, this world is a hellish nightmare BEFORE the Death Guard invades!
It also frames great battle scenes. Some are scaled in space combat or planet-wide invasions. But Wraight goes into the small elements that make up these larger conflicts, like loading of ship ordnance, or small boarding parties battling in confined corridors. There are lots of great scenarios that could be rebuilt as part of a Warhammer 40,000 game.
I liked the book so much that I want to model some miniatures to represent some of its characters. I definitely would like to have a Vorx model. And I can foresee a great model of Naum the crazed Helbrute dragging the body of a defeated foe like a broken toy.
There is rather limited “fluff” about the Death Guard in the 41st Millennium, so I’d definitely recommend it as a glimpse into this “heroic” army.
Here’s an over the top project of which I’m pretty proud: A conversion of a Chaos Rhino to resemble an Ice Cream truck. More specifically, it is meant to emulate “Sweet Tooth”, the iconic vehicle driven by Needles Kane in the Twisted Metal franchise of video games.
I had purchased a Chaos Rhino kit a few months ago with the intention of adding a 3rd to my Death Guard force. It sat in my to-do pile for a while. When I finished my Foetid Bloat Drone with MOTORIZED fleshmower, my wife remarked that it seemed like it needed music or sound. I’ve done sound in my models before, like my Red Gobbo conversion that sang “Jingle Bells”, and a Land Raider that sings “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. Thinking of the motorized fleshmower, I somehow got to thinking about the spinning pole of a barber shop.
From the barber’s pole, I somehow started thinking about ice cream trucks. Then I made the connection to Sweet Tooth. For those that don’t know, Sweet Tooth is a vehicle in the “Twisted Metal” video games driven by a clown-themed serial killer named Needles Kane. It is a weaponized, beat up ice cream truck. And, in the games, it plays an ice cream truck melody that seems creepily out of place.
Needles Kane is the flagship character of the Twisted Metal games. He is depicted as an insane, violent, crazed killer full of rage. He seems to be more of the Khorne type of Chaos. But, I am instead playing on the clown/circus element of his persona. From there, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine undead crazed zombie daemon clowns. And, in a truly Nurgle fashion, how better to spread Grandpa Nurgle’s gifts, than Ice Cream.
I started the project by getting a reference: I bought a paper Ice Cream Truck centrepiece that was roughly twice the size of a Rhino. This gave me a reference for scale and shape.
The next thing I built was the iconic macabre clown head that would go atop the vehicle. Ice cream trucks can have giant ice cream cones or clown heads on top, but I decided to go with the clown head. I started with a leftover head from the Great Unclean One kit. I installed a big red LED on its nose to look like a clown nose. I replaced its eyes with flickering purple LED’s to look like bulging eyes. And I wired five flickering LED’s around the head to be the flames later. The circuitry also involved two batteries, a switch, and a resistor. I balled the whole thing together with a large wad of Miliput. After priming and painting it, I strategically used clear kitchen caulking as a medium to represent the shapes of the flames. I’d like to think that it diffuses well is a fine Warhammer interpretation of Sweet Tooth’s clown head.
After the clown head, I made the two characters to put in the vehicle. I converted a Chaos Cultist to be the driver. I replaced the head with a clear resin head and installed an LED in it. I am trying to emulate the techniques of one of the best LED modelers, Chris Buxey. Now the driver looks sort of demonically empowered.
And I converted a Poxwalker to be the ice cream server. I replaced his weapon with an ice cream scoop, and made an ice cream cone for his other hand.
The body of the vehicle took a lot of work. This is my first time ever working with plasticard. It is rather hard to cut, but I’m glad I had a self-healing mat to absorb errant knife stabs. The sheets are a bit imprecise, and I used a lot of Green Stuff to fill in gaps. But it seems acceptable considering how run-down the truck is supposed to be.
I start by making a scale template of the side of the ice cream truck reference. It’s exactly half the size (1:2). I used that to trace the side walls of the truck out plasticard. Then I cut the side sections of the Rhino to fit the plasticard walls. I use the original Rhino roof and back door. The rest is even more plasticard.
The interior has two barrels with some glowing, noxious substance inside. I suspect this what they are serving as ice cream. I used a couple of LED’s to really make them glow. The headlights also light up, as does the drivers’ eyes, and there is one internal light.
There are few interesting attachments to the truck. I used wooden letters I got at Micheal’s for the large side. It spells “Ice Cream”, but I’ve had the “CE” fall off and an “S” is scrawled in blood so it now reads “I SCREAM”. There are boltguns on each side of the truck matching their positions on Sweet Tooth. And there is an awning over the serving window, supported by two missiles. The front grill is from a Taurox Prime kit, modified slightly with some sprue bits. The license plate simply reads “VII”.
I used plastic for all the windows. There is a Nurgling hiding in the back window. The technique for the cracked window in the front is from this youtube video. Actually, I learned a lot from that video about weathering too.
I had fun decorating the truck too. It is supposed to be a white truck with pink polka-dots. Then I covered it in ice cream stickers. That’s how it started, then I weathered it like crazy. Many layers of Apothecary White Contrast, Plaguebearer Flesh Contrast, Typhus Corrosion, Ryza Rust, Nuln Oil, and Agrax Earthshade. I even did some highlighting in Corax White to try to get the edges to pop.
I have been teaching myself how to use VSDC Video editing software. I had some fun splicing together photos of the finished model, the music, and some video effects.
Now I’m considering making a full 20-model squad of Poxwalkers as undead zombie daemon clowns.
2020 has been a complicated and memorable year, to say the least. I had been very focused on my two Loyalist armies: Imperial Fists and Astra Militarum. When the first COVID-19 lockdown hit home in March, I found myself not worrying about painting to play, but instead having the freedom to try something new. That’s when I started painting Death Guard models.
To match the bases I had been giving the Death Guard models, I decided it would be a more forest/nature-like environment. My two previous boards had been urban environments, so this was quite a departure for me. But, it was a nice opportunity to try something new.
Now, on the actual construction of the board. The base is actually a bamboo drawer organizer from Ikea. I wanted to have a variety of heights and different levels, so there are lots of boxes and platforms. All of the shapes are boxes from Dollarama that I have disassembled, cut and re-assembled as I needed. Once I had a layout I liked, I added the steel.
It wouldn’t be one of my boards if it didn’t features lights. The lighting on this board was actually rather modest: Just two flickering green LED’s on the upper dias.
There are a lot of practical elements to this board. First, it fits perfectly on the foldable cart that I bring to tournaments. I installed handles to make it easy to transport. And, every horizontal surface is clad in sheet steel, so that models with magnets in their bases stick to the board.
I used an “ebony” wood stain to make it really dark. Then finished it with three coats of a shiny polyurethane.
The board has lots of corkboard for texture. And I used the bases of the trees from the Souldrain Forest kit.
I wanted to add some texture to the steel. I mixed sand, white glue, and water and intended to smear that over all the horizontal surfaces to mask the steel. I didn’t get the ratio quite right, so that sand started collecting into bands. That turned out to be a nice, rippling effect.
I used spray paint on most of the board. It’s like a poor man’s airbrush. As you’d expect of me, there are lights on the top balcony flanking where the Great Unclean One would go. The band is set up with their own little nook. I was planning to have them on top of the Land Raider, but didn’t have time to finish the stage properly. That Land Raider will get some more interesting treatment and I’ll share that soon.
I had custom nameplate engraved for the board. It’s a brass plate reads: “Ritual to extend 2020” Nurgle Daemons / Death Guard by Paul Radcliffe The gentleman at the engraving store gave me the funniest looks when reviewing the order…It’s very tongue-in-cheek, but I think the Noctilith Crown, and instruments, and green waterfall and daemons running amok fit them theme of wanting this pandemic year to continue. And Chaos / Nurgle Daemons / Death Guard are supposed to be the “bad guys” right? So they’d have some sort of sinister plot like this!
Another little touch was the adding of a leather banner. My neighbour has a leatherworking business and I commissioned her to laser-etch the Nurgle symbol into a piece of leather. I then weathered the heck out of it and hung it from the upper platform of the board.
A definite focal point on this board is the Nocticlith Crown featured on the upper platform. I painted it to look more Nurgle-like and rusted. I like that the crown looks like some sort of malefic portal or stargate. To play on that, there is a plasma disk suspended in the middle of the ring. It’s actually supposed to be a belt buckle. It is hung on fishing line which very difficult to see.
There are a lot of great models and elements on this board. But I think one of my favourites is some Nurglings on the base of the Great Unclean One overseeing the “procession.” In a very ironic twist, these little daemons that serve the Daemon God of Disease and Decay, are wearing masks.
The board features a few trees that also came from the Souldrain Forest kit. I painted them to look like cherry blossoms, because my wife loves cherry blossoms. She was less impressed with the tree that I converted to look more like a Feculent Gnarlmaw. They had magnets installed in their bases so they would attach to the steel sheets on the board.
This display so features a sort of ragtag Nurgle Band dropping some sick beats: -Spoilpox Scrivner on lead vocals -Tallyman on guitar -Sloppity Bilepiper on bagpipes -Plaguebearer on drums -Noxious Blightbringer on bells (naturally) -Nurglings on French Horn, Trumpet, Flute, and Strings
I wanted to exceed the Rock Concert from last year. The previous board had lights and sounds. So, to exceed that I decided to add RUNNING WATER! I bought a terrarium piece meant for lizards that has a built-in pump. This was always going to feature on the board. For the final product, I put green food colouring in the water. The effect is green water coming out of the glowing skull!
There was music too from a speaker in the display. It’s playing the Red Hot Chili Pipers‘ cover of “Highway to Hell”. Not Peppers, Pipers, as in the Celtic Rock Band that features bagpipes. It’s a nod to the Sloppily Bilepiper’s bagpipes.
I already have a Malignant Plaguecaster model for my Death Guard army. But, like many others, I think the model doesn’t match the awesomeness of its rules.
I’m working on a Death Guard list that uses the Poxmongers Plague Company. I’d like to have a model carrying the Poxmongers exclusive relic, the Ironclot Furnace. This relic is supposed to spout some sort of smoke that helps protect one unit of Daemon Engines. So, I felt the model carrying this relic should look like it’s producing smoke.
I saw the Master of Possession model and the flaming skulls on its back made me think it was a great model to be converted to a Malignant Plaguecaster with Ironclot Furnace. But, I would add some personal pizazz with flickering LED’s and creative use of clear resin and diffusers.
I started by drilling out 3 clear resin skulls and one clear resin flame from Zinge. I drilled them so I could put an LED inside each of them.
Then, a lot of soldering later, all 4 were wired up for lighting.
I also replaced the model’s head with a Plague Marine head, so it has the same Mk.3 feel as the rest of the Legion. I drilled out its eyepiece and hollowed it out to put an LED in too. Now its eyes light up!
Instead of my usual, bulky 24AWG wires, I used much smaller 28AWG wires. They were much more fragile and difficult to work with. But, with an infantry model rather than a vehicle, I needed to use these smaller wires.
I’m particularly proud of the base. I wanted it to represent undead plague zombies and suggest the Plaguecaster was a sort of necromancer. This base has the torsos of a new Plaguebearer, old metal Plaguebearer, and a Poxwalker. I wanted them to look like they were bursting out of the ground.
I also replaced the tip of the Master of Possession’s staff. The symbol is from an old metal Plaguebearer banner.
I spent a lot more time than usual shading and edging this model. I think the quality is pretty good. The skulls even look good with the LED’s off.
I got the First Strike Warhammer 40k Starter Box several years ago. I painted the Space Marine models quickly, but the Death Guard models stayed in the box for years. Something about the COVID-19 pandemic got me thinking about plague, disease, and the Death Guard / Nurgle models. And, since I was prettymuch where I wanted to be with my Imperial Fists tournament list, it seemed like a good time to try something new.
For those that don’t know, in the fictional Warhammer 40k universe, Nurgle is the Chaotic Daemon god of disease, decay, death and destruction. Death Guard and the Poxwalkers are thralls or servants of Nurgle. Seemed a bit appropriate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And The Hooded Goblin friendly local gaming store (FLGS) was running a painting competition, so it was even more incentive to paint them up real good. And, the Rhino won me second place in the category!
So, I actually have 4 different batches of models painted for 3 different categories:
Squad of Death Guard Marines and Poxwalkers
Large: Myphitic Blight-hauler (vehicle)
Character: Daemon Prince of Nurgle
Large: Death Guard Rhino “The Goober Uber”
Death Guard Chaos Space Marines and Poxwalkers
I wanted to really push my painting abilities with this new little project. So, I decided I would try all the “tricks” of contrast paint and washes. And using a brand new very fine brush for details helped too.
I started by making really fancy bases. I bought a box of 340 skulls, so I put 3 skulls on each base as a nod to the Nurgle symbol. The bases for the Space Marines even feature bodies of fallen foes, like a Dark Angel on one, and an Imperial Guardsman on another. And then each base got some “texture” from Milliput putty.
The Space Marine models were even more detailed than the Poxwalkers. I used a similar formula to the Poxwalkers. But I added shading of Death Guard green on armour, and lots of brass-looking parts I painted Balthasar Gold. And I actually did use Dark Angel Green contrast paint for the body on the base.
I’m really happy about how they turned out. I kind of begrudge having to paint more. I did such a detailed and careful job on these that I realize I will have to spend a lot of time on future to finish the squads if I want to keep up the quality.
I bought this on a bit of a whim. I had so much success painting the Death Guard models, I thought I’d try it with a vehicle. And the Myphtic Blight-hauler model is actually pretty cheap as far as Games Workshop models go, and looked pretty fancy.
But, as with all of my favourite models, I wanted to add some electronics to really make it stand out. I decided the “eye” in the front would be a little more sinister and used a red/green/blue flickering LEDs from Zinge. And in the multi-melta I put two yellow flickering LEDs. Getting them IN the barrel of the gun was quite a trick. I had to drill a lot of small holes, but then it still wasn’t enough room, so I sort of expanded the gun and filled in the gaps with Milliput.
The model was actually quite a bit smaller than I expected, and I didn’t have room for the batteries to be in the model. So, I put them and the switch in the base and masked it with a lot of Milliput.
The base features a dead Space Marine like the Death Guard Chaos Space Marines. This time an Ultramarine because I had lots of Ultramarine decals to use. It was actually one of the bodies ripped out of the Land Speeder for Da Red Gobbo project.
The paint was similar to the Death Guard Chaos Space Marines above. But there was a lot more “organic” parts, so those were done more like the poxwalkers using lots of Magos Purple.
It was kind of liberating to paint such “dirty” models. The imperfections of using putty actually resemble the “fleshy” parts of the models. And pooling and splotches in the armour look grungy, which is a feature. A far cry from the clean, prim and proper loyalist Space Marines.
I am overall super-happy with how it turned out. I’m considering getting two more to make a full squad!
Daemon Prince of Nurgle
I got a Lord of Contagion model on eBay, but I wasn’t too excited about its rules and use in the game. I was much more excited about potentially adding a Daemon Prince with Wings to my list. But the Nurgle Daemon Prince model doesn’t look so great to me. So, I made a conversion!
I started with the Lord of Contagion model. The head is from a different Death Guard Chaos Space Marine. I added wings I plucked off of a Tyranid Gargoyle. And the “malefic talon” is a lightning claw pilfered from a Space Marine Terminator model from the Space Hulk boxed set. The rest of the Terminator is a corpse on the base.
Painting this guy took quite a bit of time. He’s a BIG model too! I used prettymuch the same colour scheme for the Space Marines. Magos Purple was the main colour for the wings and cape. The “green fire” from the censer hanging behind him is many layers of Biel-Tan Green shade.
Death Guard Chaos Space Marine Rhino “The Goober Uber”
I started this project almost by accident. I was thinking about how much I enjoyed painting the Blight-Hauler. And I realized that if I was going to every play with the Death Guard Marines, it might be nice to have a transport. Well, I have two or three Rhino hulls lying around, so I decided to try my hand at another conversion.
So, I’m starting with a very old Ultramarine Razorback. This is one of the first models I painted back in like 1997. I actually base-coated it yellow already in anticipation of adding it to my Imperial Fists.
I had a lot of fun “decorating” the tank. I don’t have a Chaos vehicle upgrade sprue, so I improvised. I used the original bulldozer spikes as trophy racks. Then many skulls from the aforementioned skull pack to adorn the doors and front. And LOTS of Milliput for tentacles and some sort of brain/puss thing growing in the back.
The Lord of Contagion model I converted to the Daemon Prince had an icon of sorts that I removed to make room for the wings. I attached that to the top of the Rhino with magnets, and I think it looks pretty sharp.
I posted the above “work in progress” picture on a Facebook group. Someone commented that it looked like someone waiting for his Goober Uber. I think that name is going to stick.
The colours are the same idea as the oher models in this post. I was surprised how good the Plaguebearer Flesh contrast paint looked on flat surfaces like the tank. The tentacles were especially fun to do with Magos Purple, because the contrast paint really highlights the “imperfections.”
Overall, I’m quite happy with my little Death Guard collection. I’m itching to buy more, but I have most of the Death Guard side of the Dark Imperium box to paint. I am just not looking forward to having to paint all of them so well!
In Fall 2019, Games Workshop’s Christmas Marketing was centered around the (re-)release of Da Red Gobbo model. It’s a Gretchin/Grot revolutionist, who in this iteration has a Santa-like motif. I haven’t painted an Ork since 2nd Edition, and currently had no Orks, and had no plans to get any Orks, so I thought I’d safely ignore the whole thing.
In late November 2019, I went to my local Games Workshop store (now called Warhammer Heartland) to buy some paints and supplies. The gentleman there said there would be a painting competition and events for Da Red Gobbo model. I wound up buying Da Red Gobbo model.
I got home, looked at my pile of things to get tournament ready, and yet decided to start painting the Christmas-themed gremlin thing.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to win “Best Painted.” I know there are much, much more talented painters at my local GW store. But, I know my strength lies in creativity and electronics. So I put my creative juices to work .
I dug through some models that have been languishing in a box and found a Space Marine Land Speeder that I painted back in my 3rd Edition Days (circa 1997). That got me thinking that this could be a Grim Dark Santa Sleigh that Da Red Gobbo and “Da Revolushun” commandeered. I had a couple of Grots lying around that came with a model I bought second-hand. I decided those guys would be the co-pilots.
I had some garlands and trees left over from a terrain piece I started and never finished. And, to light-up Da Red Gobbo’s star and flame to his gun, I went to my stockpile of Zingeflickering LEDs and transparent flames.
Then, a trip to the store (mostly Dollarama) for supplies. I found some ornaments that looked like Christmas Gifts would were almost the right scale for the sleigh. I also found a necklace that had light-up Christmas lights.
I felt like It needed to be more than just a creative conversion and lights. It needed MORE. And so the piece de resistance was adding festive music! I went to Wal-Mart and greeting card that had the electronics to sing “Jingle Bells” with chipmunk-like voices. Perfect!
First, I had to break down the Land Speeder: Rip out the Space Marines, chop off the “spoiler” on the top to make room for the presents, and drill a bunch of holes for the electronics wiring. I felt kind of bad mutilating the marines, but they would get life again… as bodies on enemy bases :p
As for the Red Gobbo, I decided I wanted to have the option to remove him from the Land Speeder, so I hid the battery and switch in an extra-large base I disguised as a Christmas present. His “Icon of da Revolushun” has a star at the end. I replaced that with an LED and made a translucent star around it so the whole star would light up. From the muzzle of “Kustom grot blasta” I wired a flickering LED inside a translucent flaming lens.
The hardest part was probably the music. The circuit board and speaker were actually quite large, about the width of the Land Speeder, so I couldn’t fit it inside. It did fit below, and in the final product you can’t see it unless you turn the vehicle upside-down.
Painting the vehicle, naturally it had to be red for Santa, and because “red wunz go fasta.” The plow in the front is really for a tank, but Santa’s sleigh transitionally has some sort of plow. The candy cane striping makes it festive. The sharp pointy bits make it grimdark.
With a final festive nod, I named it “Slay Ride”
I entered it into the painting competition at the Games Workshop Heartland Town Centre store and won for Best Conversion! Yay!
For an upcoming 2000 points Imperial Fists list, I decided I wanted to include a Venerable Chaplain Dreadnought model. 1d4chan calls it one of the best models Space Marines can field. It is from Forge World, and a discontinued model, but I was able to get one from eBay. It didn’t come with arms, but fortunately I had one for sale. I also bought the Imperial Armour book so I could legally use it in tournaments. I’m a little concerned that the Forge World units will be getting new books soon, but hopefully I can make use of that rulebook I bought.
The popular meta is to give it two close combat weapons (CCW), or a CCW and twin-lascannons. But I didn’t feel like I could put a motor on either of those. So, it has the option to take an assault cannon, which I see as a rotating gatling kind of gun, which would be fun to motorize.
I started by going all out with the lights. First, the four exhaust ports at the back would have the flickering flames that worked so well on my hellhounds. I use these flickering LED’s and transparent flames from Zinge Industries. I also wanted the eyes of the “skull” head to light up. Unfortunately, instead of drilling out the eyes, I drilled out the whole skull. Fortunately, Zinge had a solution for that too: A Transparent Flaming Skull.
I had an oversight putting the skull light and flickering lights on the same battery, because the light for the skull drained so much current that both lights wouldn’t work at the same time. So, I re-wired them onto different batteries but the same switch.
Finally, the motorized assault cannon. This was SO much harder than I thought it would be! First of all, the arm space I have to work with is tiny. Fortunately, I was able to find a motor that would fit in the arm. It’s meant to make cell phones vibrate. I broke 3 of them trying to get it wired correctly. Then, I realized the CR1220 batteries didn’t have enough power for the motor and weight of the “gun barrel part”. So, I added a CR2032 battery.
That left me with a spare switch and battery in the base. I wired that to a light in the front of the base. I think I’ll use that to indicate if the Chaplain’s canticle is in effect for that turn.
I’m very happy with the end result. I can’t wait to bring it to a tournament, and when someone says “it would be even more awesome if the gun worked.” Then I’ll hit a switch and watch the jaws drop!
I shared this on a few Facebook groups, and below is my favourite comment:
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.
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.
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.
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… 😉
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
5 Wraithguard in a Wave Serpent
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.
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.
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.
The bullgryns managed to beat down the War Walkers and Subdue the Techpriest.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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! – 1CP
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 death –1CP
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.
Officio Prefectus Command Tank – 1CP
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 – 1CP
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 – 3CP
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 – 3CP
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?
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