Thursday, December 31, 2009

Secrets of the Noctis. Adeptus Mechanicus fiction part 5 of 10

Part V

“We’re getting something on auspex. Suggest you come up here.”

Her eyes glared at the intercom as it buzzed out the man’s voice then clicked off. The bulkhead remained closed on her order; not that the pilots were complaining. She’d only had a few minutes alone with it so far and already there was something else needing her attention. The shard was just so perfect and it would have to wait.

“Patience is the virtue that is rewarded at the forge.” She intoned. “The gears turn, the gears move the shaft, the shaft drives the wheel, the wheel tips the crucible, the crucible pours the metal, the metal fills the mould, the mould forms the item and we worship Him as He gives His blessing on the new creation.”

It was an old chant that she’d spoken since her earliest childhood days in the Scholam of the forge. Normally the comforting chant of her youth was enough to calm her but this was not a normal time. They were so close and now this auspex reading. The servo skull had taken the map she’d compiled from the servitor memory fragment and made an aerial survey of the canyons. It had to be it. The coiled shape of the rocky fissures was just as Thaleos had written. She uncoiled one mechadendrite and glanced at the data screen it held up like the preening mirror of a court lady.

And the blessed artefacts of the great Omnissiah shalt be made obscure unto the faithless. Into the depths of the snaking dragon’s womb we have concealed them and only with belief and diligence shall any after us find them. We entrust this script unto the Cabal of the Noctis that it may remain a warning against the unbelievers and if the true plan of the Machine-God be revealed, then the artefacts can be retrieved and presented in proper humility to the holy Omnissiah. Faith in the purity of the machine.
- Magos Noctis Primus, First among the Cabal.

Now she would be very interested to find out where Thaleos had obtained this writing. His notes were marked below the text and they were disjointed, as though he had scrawled whenever a thought struck him. It was distressingly illogical. She frowned, as she had every other time reading this. One such as Thaleos should have respected the purity of order.

- The writing is cryptic but I know the Omnissiah will guide me to the end.
- The snaking dragon? This could be a metaphor for an artefact. Perhaps the other artefacts are in the belly of a greater one. A limbless titan perhaps? Some great tunnelling creation?
- Could it be a location?

Here was where the notes diverged into showing hundreds of maps, aerial pictographs of the planet and a mess of poor interpretations. She scanned forwards to the point Thaleos had had his revelation.

- The Labyrinth of the Noctis!
- It is perfect, who would think to look there? Who can even get there? I must find a reason to explore. It must be plausible, I cannot risk any getting wind of the prizes.

Then there was some more useless text about his activities. She had wondered numerous times if his mental faculties had been in decline. The amount of wasted information and disjointed writing was not what one expected from one as esteemed as Thaleos.

- I have it! The snaking dragon is a section of the Noctis canyons. Twenty three servitor fliers were expended but the twenty fourth one retrieved the location.
- It is closer than expected. If I take a crawler from the Explorator Fringe Dome and pass the trench (I must ensure there are no firings and as little activity as possible.) it is barely a cycle from the dome. How can it be that such a prize was so close and none found it? It must be the metal hand of fate on me. I am the one chosen to find the prize.

Some more details followed about his preparation. Much as she despised the waste, it had been useful to have Thaleos’ entire records to hand when she’d planned her expedition. She scrolled through the maps and picto surveys. They’d been useful in plotting the route but now the servo skull had confirmed they were on track she had no further use for them. Finally it came to the end, the end she’d read so many times and still been unable to understand

- I have found something. It is beautiful, beyond human creation, it must be the work of the Omnissiah.
- We are in the belly of the dragon canyon. It is dark and the Skitarii are uncertain. The tangle with the rogue servitor earlier in the journey sapped their confidence. It was only an arm their comrade lost and he will be moved closer to the purity of the machine when we return. They are illogical.
- I have found it! I dare not even write of it but the purity of form, the graceful lines, the quiet power in those dimmed eyes. I believe I would even weep if I still had such wasteful human traits.

Then came the fragmented last record. It was a vocal record that had been scribed by a neuro quill directly into the slate.

- It awoke. Not much time. Skitarii cannot hold it off for long. Curses, I’m losing power, reserves down to twelve percent.
- It’s coming for me. All was well until we brought it within the crawler. The artefact I found glowed, then the eyes lit up and it began the killing.
- Mechadendrite feedback is blowing circuits. I will not be able to escape. I am attaching this memory slate to my servo skull. I calculate a thirty two percent chance the grav motor power supplies will last the journey and it will reach the Fringe Dome. Omnissiah, welcome your servant.

It was hardly the most detailed of descriptions but she knew what the prize would be and she knew what Thaleos’ failing must had been. He was a fool who had snatched for the artefact without the proper humility and no wonder he had been punished. Their deity would not suffer improper treatment of its creations without retribution, especially when the creations were so powerful and important enough to be hidden.

“Something is coming into view,” The intercom cut through her thoughts. “Suggest you get a move on.” There was no hiding the sarcasm in the tone.

She stooped by a crate as she moved to the cockpit, yes the oils and incenses were still packed and in good condition. Satisfied she stepped through the door, ignoring the glare from the two men.

“What is it?”

“Don’t know yet but the auspex,” The copilot nodded at the screen poised over his lap by a mounting arm fixed to the console. “Says it’s pretty big.”

“Hold on,” The pilot interrupted. “Something’s there.”

They strained their eyes, bionic and real, and slowly a shape swam from the darkness into the glow of the crawler’s lights. It was like a ghostly mirror. Before them was another crawler. Except for the cold darkness that marked the depletion of its power cells there was nothing out of the ordinary. It could almost be a vehicle waiting in its hangar to be refuelled and recharged.

Except for the scattered bodies of a dozen Skitarii on the ground around it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Secrets of the Noctis Part 4 of 10. Adeptus Mechanicus Fiction

Part IV

“We’re hooked on something.” The pilot was straining at the control sticks.

The crawler yawed on its axis, the left side was caught, then a horrid grinding was transmitted through the floor as the gears slipped and fought one another.

“Disengaging the shaft.”

“No I can recover it.”

The words came too late as the gears disengaged and the terrible noise of metal on metal ceased. With a snort the pilot slapped a large switch and the engine rumble cut off into a decaying whine like a huge departing insect. He pulled his headset off and slammed it onto the holding rack.

“I could have got her off it, what’s your damn problem?”

“This place is,” The copilot waved at the heavily shadowed gorge around them. “I know you’re good but you’ve never driven in a place like this and I’m not letting you get us stuck out here. I don’t fancy my life in the hands of some cog-head’s magic beacon.”

The pilot took a deep breath and let it out in a huff. He slapped his cheeks a few times with sweaty hands and, after a pause, nodded.

“You’re right. I didn’t mean to shout but…this place.”

He looked out into the dimness. They were a small pool of light rolling on six wheels and the crawler, normally so massive and reassuring, looked like a child’s toy compared to these massive rifts in the planet’s crust.

“Yeah, this place,” The copilot agreed. “So how about a shot of caffeine then we’ll get out there and get rid of that rock or whatever it is.”

“Sounds good, I’ll go and tell the cog.”

They’d begun using the nickname whenever she was out of earshot in the cargo bay. There was just something about the way she was driven. The pilot couldn’t help but think, as he walked to the bulkhead, that they were completely expendable to her, even if she ended up stranded. It was enough to make a man shiver when he was this far from home or anything even approaching safety. He was glad of that shotgun, that’s for sure.

The door hummed open.

“Why have we stopped, pilot?”

“Hung up on something. We’re going out there with plasma cutters to free her.”

“I shall accompany you,” She stated. “The Machine Spirit may need my calming influence. Also I wish to examine the area.”

“Suit yourself.” He shrugged.

Ten minutes later and they were outside. The two men were cursing as they worked in the bright flare of the cutting torches while she walked into the centre of the ravine. Away from the yellow bubble of the crawler’s lights and the blue-white fountain from the cutters she felt the essence of this place.

The ravine was at least fifty metres wide with a rough floor in the centre from block lava flows. Presumably that’s why the pilot was keeping them on the sloping fringes. She strained her eyes upwards but even with the ocular shutters fully open there was no way to make out the details of the upper walls. It was as though the rocks near her rose into black emptiness, snapped into sudden rust red for a few metres where the sunlight caught the lip of the ravine and then we’re swallowed again by the blackness. No, not complete blackness. She could see the glint of stars, or ships, who knew which? Sol was probably the most crowded system in the Imperium.

But that was irrelevant. She shook herself away from the sight. Of course there would be ships, Terra was the heart of the Imperium therefore, logically, there would be ship traffic. Why was she so jumpy and distracted? It had taken her fifteen minutes to fashion the transmitters when she should have finished it three. They were close, that had to be it. Whether it was the Omnissiah’s hand on her or just her own intuition she knew, just knew.

A cry floated across the canyon, sounding like a lost child in the night. It did not echo, as she would have expected, but was swallowed up as though wrapped in heavy felt. They were done clearing the rock, good, it was time to make the last step. She fished out the memory chip and activated it. It was making more and more sense; this was definitely the route Thaleos had taken. She reached to her belt and pulled an ornate skull free. One mechadendrite went to her temple, unplugged a cable and connected it to a receptacle in the skull’s temple. Its feeble servitor brain struggled, cogitation units clicking and whirring, then it emitted a brief chime. She nodded in satisfaction as her mechadendrite withdrew the cable. Thumbing a brass switch she cast the skull aloft as though it were a hunting bird. It tumbled gracelessly end over end until, at the apex of the flight, the grav motors activated.

For a second she watched the small speck climbing upwards then turned to walk back to the crawler. She had taken only a few steps when something caught her eye. A glint of silver, or so it seemed. No, she’d lost it, wait, there it was. She ran over to it and knelt down.

It was a shard of metal. Just a flake, a hand’s length long, but it shone like polished steel. It shone in the darkness, it shone out in the shadow and she knew it was something greater than she’d ever seen. The double pattering of her bionic heart became a metallic drumbeat. This was it, she could feel the hand of the Omnissiah. Quickly she pocketed the shard. It wouldn’t do to show the drivers, they wouldn’t understand and she was too excited to fabricate another lie. But in just a few minutes she would be able to seal the cargo bulkhead and fully examine the fragment. There was no doubt the prize was nearby, perhaps only a few hundred metres from where she knelt.

As she rose and walked back to the crawler the fragment wriggled in her robes. She must have knocked it when she stood. It was the only logical cause. Anyway, it would only be a few moments and she’d be contentedly holding it. Excitement pushed out her other thoughts like a rushing wave.

In her pocket, its new owner blissfully ignorant, the shard twitched. It had been a long time since the presence of a being had awoken it.

Secrets of the Noctis. Adeptus Mechanicus Fiction part 3 of 10

Part III

“I’m losing the nav beacons.”

“That is to be expected.”

“Expected? Well you can forget about going any further. Golden Throne, I’ll not get lost out here or cut off by a landslide without being able to get back.”

Stubborn, always stubborn and so bound to fear and hesitancy. Did they not realise that lines have to be crossed for reward?

“You are under my orders and you will carry on.”

“No way. Not without a map or a beacon. Once we’re in that maze,” He nodded towards the black gorge before them. “We’ll lose signal entirely. I’m already boosting the receiver to a hundred and ten percent.”

She couldn’t risk them turning against her now, she was so close.

“Very well, I will set up a beacon here to bring us out. Is that acceptable?”

The two men looked at each other. They weren’t happy, that much was clear, but they knew enough to be cautious of her. One did not tangle with one like her lightly.

“Alright,” The pilot finally said. “But you rig up three beacons. Set one up on that rise,” He pointed up a gravel slope nearby them. “Then we take the other two in with us. If we’re losing the signal we stop and set up a new one. If we haven’t found whatever you’re looking for by the time we are losing touch with the third one I’m turning around, rank be damned.”

The copilot nodded firmly along as his comrade spoke. His expression, clearly intended to be tough, amused her. He had clearly never met anybody who was actually intimidating.

“That is a logical plan, pilot. You are commended for your insight.” No harm in a little flattery. “I will need to use components of the main transmitter.”

“Wait, I don’t want to be unable to call for help.” A little unease on their faces now.

“Who are you going to call to? We’re already at the very limits of the beacons of even the Explorator outpost. Nobody could hear us even if you tried.”

“Then let’s turn back now.” There went the copilot’s tough look.

“Do not be hasty,” She interjected to cut off any panic. “We have supplies and water for at least ten cycles. The fuel supplies will last for more than twenty and the atmosphere scrubbers will keep going as long as the fuel is there. We are only three quarters of a cycle away from the Explorator Dome.”

“Yeah,” The copilot looked marginally calmer. “But if something goes wrong, who’s gonna look for us out here. Even the trench doesn’t see much traffic.”

“Very well,” It was time for another lie. “If the fates are against us I will activate my personal beacon.”


“It is in our faith to never leave another shadowed from the Omnissiah’s light. They will come for us with speeders and aircraft, wherever we may be.”

The men looked at each other. What did they know about the inner workings of the cog-head’s religion? She could tell they were the kind of workers who knew the chants, prayed when the supervisors or priests were nearby then dropped snide remarks when they left. It didn’t matter to her, their ignorance would help. When they nodded and turned back to the controls, she stepped through the cargo bay bulkhead to begin working on the transmitters.

What fools. Even if such a beacon existed, she would never activate it and let the Council get wind of the prize. If they did know they’d probably come in gunships not speeders, that was, if they didn’t just obliterate her with a satellite lance strike to hide what she knew she would find.

She would have to tread very carefully upon returning. It would probably be best if these two drivers were to…disappear once she was safely in her Sanctum and the prize in her vault. Yes…it would be a necessary precaution in order to do the Omnissiah’s will.

Up in the cab the pilot looked over his shoulder. The bulkhead had definitely closed behind her.

“Look,” He whispered. “Any funny business with her and we leave.”

“Abandon a cog-head? They’ll know something was up when we get back. You know that lot stick together.”

“Yeah but there’s something about her. She’s not playing by their rules. All we gotta say is she ordered us, we’re just two dummies playing obeying a superior.”

“I ain’t no dummy.”

“Me neither, but they’ll think we are. They think anyone not in robes with a metal face is an idiot. They’ll never suspect us.”

“Oh, gotcha.”

“I just have a funny feeling about this. There must be a reason nobody comes out here.”

He glanced back again, the door was definitely shut? Good.

“And uh, if needs be then we make sure she…stays.” He nodded at the shotgun.

The copilot hefted the weapon and smiled grimly.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Secrets of the Noctis. Adeptus Mechanicus Fiction part 2 of 10

Part II

“This is a Skitarii weapon?”

The copilot of the crawler, tugging with a finger at the heavy rubber straps of his respirator, did not respond. Either he did not hear or, more likely, was doing it to annoy her.

“Answer me. Is it Skitarii?”

He used one heavy boot to kick away the desiccated arm that was draped on the weapon. The limb ended just above the elbow with a ragged edge that had been softened by time and exposure. Idly, he gave the item a perfunctory glance then turned it over with his toe and nodded.

“Aye. See the markings on the magazine rim.” He jabbed a gloved finger. “That’s the insignia of the Menshus sector, Skitarii sub-armoury 4-B. Can’t you read the glyphs?”

“Continue your impudence and I’ll have you assigned to menial status for a cycle.” She glared at him; he went back to adjusting his straps. “I’ll need you to examine it to determine how long it has been out here”

“You want me to pick it up?” His eyes boggled in the bug-like sockets of the mask. “The propellant sealant will have degraded. I’m not losing my hand to a dodgy weapon.” He crossed his arms firmly.

The same damn stubborn streak as that driver, she thought. If only there were two others she could have recruited who weren’t so completely exasperating. Still, they were making good time and there’d been no chance to get anyone else.

“Very well, I will ensure the Machine Spirit is content.”

Ignoring his vaguely interested, vaguely disgusted look she extended her mechadendrites. As the uncoiling metal snakes reached close she willed the sensor probe into activation. A rounded nubbin on the foremost dendrite split and a ball of metallic fibres slid out. They uncoiled like a dust flower blooming then slowly the hair-like wires caressed the weapon. It took only a second until she was connected but there was nothing there. The Machine Spirit had departed and only a metal shell was left.

“Omnissiah, bless and welcome the humble spirit of your creation. In the almighty machine find a place for it.” The prayer, whispered under her breath, was automatic.

Sacred duty carried out she resumed the study of the Skitarii weapon. There! Her filament sensors found the ident flek of the unit and a small speaker grille on her shoulder burst to life.

“Unit 63355572-18365 identified. Personnel-level-area-suppression-rotary-fed multiple-projectile-launcher.”

“It’s an automatic shotgun,” The copilot interrupted. “Don’t need all them words to describe it. So, the spirit happy?”

This blasphemy and disregard for proper manners was beginning to grate heavily. She was glad to have left behind her impure flesh face; holy metal saved the unconscious reactions to bothersome stimuli like witless drivers.

“It is a creation blessed in the Omnissiah’s eyes and should be referred to as such.” She snapped.

Thankfully her augmetic eyes could, quite literally, glow with irritation. She made sure the copilot could see them as she continued.

“The Spirit is placated, now examine the weapon.” A small lie but after all, he was only a driver, barely above a menial in he eyes.

“Just a damn shotgun.” He muttered rebelliously, gingerly bending to pick it up.

Once it was in his hands and failed to explode straightaway he looked a little calmer. Betraying knowledge (that he shouldn’t have, she noted) the copilot detached the drum magazine and racked the chamber. A brass cartridge, gleaming only slightly in the dim light, soared out to slide down the slope next to the trail. A small puff of red dust marked its landing, a small trickle of sand showed its path and then it became one with the landscape. She smiled internally at the sight. It was most…proper when something of the Omnissiah’s became one with the natural world. It marked one step taken towards the Promised Land.

“The seal’s been broken, it was fired,” He said, weighing the drum in one hand. “About a third full.”

“How old is the seal?”

“Can’t see all the markings but it looks like the armoury issued it maybe fifteen cycles ago. Could be a few more or less, some marks are worn off.” He shrugged. “Them shells that’s left are still good though.”

About fifteen cycles…Thaleos had departed sixteen point four cycles ago according to his encrypted file’s she’d broken into. It had to be his expedition; they must have gone this way. She sent a prayer of thanks to the Omnissiah and turned to the crawler.

“We are on course, prepare to leave.” She saw the driver nod through the dusty viewing glass.

“Get back on board,” She said to the copilot. “And bring the weapon. It must be returned to the forges and its spirit soothed.”

“Right.” The man said, a grin visible under his mask as he hefted the gun.

She took a small satisfaction in the faint patchy rash visible on his neck. He’d fiddled with the straps too much and bared some skin to the harsh atmosphere. A short exposure like this wouldn’t kill him but he’d be itchy for days. It was just one more thing that made her eternally glad she had moved beyond the confines of the weak flesh.

She was satisfied the Omnissiah was with them. The witless man would suffer slightly for his improper respect and, more importantly, they were on course.

A small thought routine niggled at her though. What had Thaleos and his expedition met that left a weapon two thirds depleted and ripped off a Skitarii’s arm?

Secrets of the Noctis. Adeptus Mechanicus fiction. Part 1 of 10

Okay, a break from 40k modelling for a while. I've decided to post up some of my 40k fiction that used to be on the Black Library Publishing forums. This first piece is fairly short and went down well with the forumites when I posted it so hopefully people enjoy it here too.

Any comments or thoughts are welcome. If there are spelling errors and the like, please excuse them. I haven't been through the work to weed them out for a long time.

Part I

For the seventh time since leaving the Explorator Fringe Dome she examined the servitor’s memory chip fragment.

For the seventh time, there was nothing new to be seen.

For the seventh time the frustration was invisible on her face. Something was out there and she would find it. An iris coiled inwards as she looked towards the lit cab.


“We are approaching canyon seven zeta. Still reading the navigation beacons.”

“Any degradation in signal?”

“Intermittent. Five point five percent loss on the high ground, maximum of twelve percent during our passage through the trench.”

A moment’s pause. “Did you contact trench control?”

“Of course, eighteen minutes ago. Did you not hear us?”

“No, I was aligning the central navigation cogitator to our destination. Why did you make contact?”

“It is protocol. We must ensure no testing is underway. ”

“I informed you there was no testing.” She snapped. “And I ordered complete vox silence for this expedition.”

“It is protocol.” Repeated the man sullenly.

Had she been able, she would have rolled her eyes. Of course it was protocol, of course they were supposed to stay in contact, of course there could have been an unscheduled testing that would have vaporised them. There were a dozen normal things that she was omitting but it was necessary. If the information were accurate, the prize would be worth far more than every risk and broken rule.

“Very well,” It was too late to change anything. “Continue onwards. Inform me when we reach the first waypoint.”

Settling down in the overlarge seat she glanced at her two servitors. At least they could be counted on to obey her commands and not make their own interpretations.

She allowed herself a moment to dream of the wealth and advancement she would gain if, no, when the return journey was complete and it was in her hands. Her superiors had failed to notice her brilliance thus far but that would change. The punishments and censures she had received after showing her last work to the Council still stung. After this she would be welcomed into their ranks with open arms.

No. The more she considered the potential on offer the more it became clear that the Council were impediments to her rise. If the prize was what she thought, or hoped, then those conservative fools would welcome her in only to steal it away for their own advancement. Knowing them, they would never realise the potential and it would be locked into a study vault for centuries. In order to be tested; She could just hear the words coming from them, knowing that they would simply hide it as a heresy to be forgotten. That could not be allowed to pass, there was so much potential that needed to be tapped.

Still, it would take several hours before the real work would begin. She allowed her eyes to close and listened to the grinding sound of the land crawler’s six wheels churning over the rocky, dusty landscape. A particularly jarring impact disturbed her half-rest. A frown, invisible just like every other emotion, creased her thoughts (if not her face).

They would be a long few hours.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The hobby in 2010 for me.

Hi there everyone.

What are your hobby-related (or unrelated) resolutions for 2010? Have you got particular goals that you're aiming for or do you think you might branch out into something new?

I'm also trying to figure out my resolutions and where I'm going to spend my money.

So far it looks like finishing my current models will take another month or so. After that I'll probably round up my Tau force to 1850 points (add a battleforce, 2 crisis suits and 2 piranhas). I think I'll stop there for the time being. Perhaps I'll get a little more to make it able to play at 2150 but that is a good end point for me. I'd love to scale up to apocalypse but it's just too much money for the time being and it's hard enough to find time to play a regular game, let along apoc.

I want to add a few nuggets to my marines but mostly just fun models. I'll be ordering Marneus Calgar's boxed set so I can have a big, nasty honour guard set and some great models to paint. I've still got a dreadnought, land speeder and land raider to finish as well. My big question mark there is whether I paint the land raider as a Grey Knight vehicle or if I paint it in a snazzy white colour scheme to match the honour guard unit I'm working on. Any thoughts are welcome.

I also really love the witch and daemonhunter models so I might pick up some of them. I want a squad or two of Battle sisters and some of the cool direct-only models (like the inquisitor on the throne of judgement and penitent engines). I'm not sure when I'll get the money or time to have those but little by little is my plan. Fortunately, with those two codices being out of date there are a fair amount of people selling them secondhand so fingers crossed for some good deals.

My final big plan is to clear out our basement enough to set up a gaming table down there. After I get the table, I'll need to spend some time and effort on terrain to make it look good.

What about you all? What plans are out there for your year?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Ghost Knight honour guard finished.

Well, I'm all done with the first member of my space marine honour guard squad. I picked up the banner bearer from the marneus calgar boxed set (from with the intention of creating a cool banner guy for a command squad. I took my time getting around to him but when I started painting in a different colour scheme all sorts of creative juices started flowing and I remembered how much fun it is to paint the complex metal models from GW.

Now my plan is to get the full boxed set of honour guard and paint them up in a nice white and gold colour scheme. I'm not going to play with them using Marneus' rules since I don't like importing special characters into other armies but I might write up some custom rules for the commander. I've also come up with some neat fluff to explain away the white armour and ultramarine's symbols alongside my other army.

Anyway, here is the finished model. The fluff etc. will come later on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Try doing something's fun.

Okay, so I've been a little slack with my models and painting recently. I guess I just got a bit bummed out by having so many unpainted models left to do. That's probably a common enough occurence among gamers I would think. My current list of unpainted/partly painted models is mostly ramshackle games ( stuff but some GW things are in there

- 5 Dungers (boar-like beasties), 4 giggles clan (cyber nutcases), 3 victorian explorers, Isembard Kickass brunel (steampunk inventor), 1 Marine honour guard, Mad Larkin (Gaunt's Ghosts IG sniper), Dreadnought, Land Speeder, Land Raider, Chimera traction engine, Boneyard Truck and the superheavy Huntsman Spider Tank.

I'll be honest, that stack of models looking at me is enough to make me want to go and find something else to do instead of painting. Still, I love having things finished and painted as much as possible so I needed to find something to give myself a kick.

A note to players in this area. Playing against Old Shatter Hands will make you want to have a fully painted army. His tau look fantastic.

So I decided to kick off the shackles of my other colour schemes and just paint some things for fun. I picked up 'Scope' from the Last Chancers boxed set to stand in as a vindicare assassin and I decided that the honour guard would be the other model. I am a little tired of painting scab red and gold marines so I decided to try something totally different. So I went with white armour. The picture below isn't the best but it gives a good idea of what it looks like. As soon as I finish up the painting (just the banner details and a few tweaks/highlights left) I'll get some better pictures. The sniper is camouflaged up as it seemed most appropriate and I decided to root around under the tree in the back yard for a few twigs and bits that would make him look like he was stalking through a forest. Use nature when you can, it's free!

PS: I know the white is looking a bit thick. My paint needs watering down. I guess I let it slide because I've never done this much painting with white.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Revised 1850 point marine army list.

Okay, so thanks to a work scheduling error (grrr) I may not be able to attend the Inner Circle tournament this weekend. Still, I've been list crunching a little bit and thinking about what changes I wanted to make to the list. Also, Old Shatter Hands was kind enough to pass on some of his old marine models so I have a bunch more freedom to do things with the play style of the army.

So here goes:


Captain with power fist (125 pts). I wanted to spring for a chapter master for the fun of a S10 AP1 pie plate but that necessitates a turn standing still and he's just all around better for punching holes in things.


- Multimelta dreadnought (105 pts). A solid stompy choice.
- TL autocannon dreadnough (115 pts). This one is modelled with a TL lascannon because OSH did not have the weapon arm that comes with it, so he gave me a metal weapon arm. I figured it can count as an autocannon without looking too wrong. The lascannon just seems a little pricey points-wise and seeing OSH's deathrains in action gave me a good vibe for S7 AP4 TL guns.
- 5 Terminators with a cyclone missile launcher (230 pts). A solid firepower soaking unit. I must learn not to deepstrike too close to plasma guns though. I'm a sucker for CMLs since you get versatile shots and can still fire the storm bolter. 2 S4 shots plus 2 S4 blasts/2 S8 Ap3 shots stacks up well against 4 S6 AP4 rending in my book Also I was too cheap to buy the multi-part terminators ($50 for 5 models) so I made my CML out of sprue pieces and those little grenade pairs from tactical marines.


- 10 Tactical marines with Multimelta and flamer (170pts).
- 10 Tactical marines with Missile Launcher and Meltagun (175pts).
Both of these are there to provide solid troop choices who can move forwards or stay steady on objectives. Both have melta capability and will be combat-squadded if necessary.
- 10 Grey Knights with two incinerators (295pts). Now these are some lovely models and I'm really glad I bought them. The paint job came out really well also so that's good. They will be the heavy hitting assault unit that can ride in the Land Raider Redeemer and perhaps with the captain alongside to absorb some more shots.
- 5 Scouts with bolters (75pts). These guys get to sit in my Land Raider and make it scoring so it can stay on a home objective and still blaze away.

Fast Attack

- Land Speeder with Heavy bolter and multimelta (70pts).Fast moving multimeltas are all good. Thanks for this one OSH.

Heavy Support

- Land Raider (250pts).It's an AV14 bunker that will sit on an objective with scouts inside and shot up things at a distance. I think that it will do better than my devastators have managed recently and for fewer points. We'll see. Also I'm going to paint it up to be all lovely and Grey Knighty :-)
- Land Raider Redeemer (240 pts).It's a nasty, burney, assaulty, scary brick of a tank. I'll probably put the Grey Knights and my captain inside this one. they should make quite a dent on the charge.

Now if I've added it up correctly that should come to 1850 points. It should come out to be a little more mobile than my last list. I think the accumulated damage from walking across the field is too great to keep my marines intact for the most part. Claiming objectives in my last couple of games has been shakey as I've only had a few bodies left from my troops choices.
With the landraider on the home objective and sending my Grey Knights out to take another one, I should be in place to do well with objectives. The rest of the army will aim to kill the opposition as much as possible and push to contest their objectives.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Battle report against Old Shatter Hands' cadre. December 2nd

Spidertank, Spidertank,
Does whatever a spidertank does
Spins a web, superheavy size,
Catches vehicles just like flies
Look Out!
Here comes the Spidertank.

So here comes the battle report that was teased about a little while ago. Old Shatter Hands sent me all of his pictures so hopefully I can get them loaded into the post and formatted properly.

The game was based on the rules for the upcoming Inner Circle tournament on december 12th in Glen Burnie. Basically it's 1850 pts, standard FOC, five objectives (one in each quarter, one in the table centre) then you pick 5 killpoints from the other army that decide the game if objectives are drawn. It's a neat system because you can pick out the squishy bits of your opponent's army and it means that you don't get really penalised for having too many killpoints (since only 5 can be claimed). This will probably help balance IG vs marines etc.

With Old Shatter Hands' encouragement, I brought my Hunstman Spider Tank (HST) out for its first outing since I finished building it. We used the rules in teaser post below and it seemed to work out alright. It's important to note that we're playing on a 4x4 table instead of a 6x4. This turned out to be a big factor in OSHs ability to manouvre.

Army lists were in the teaser as well so let's just get on with the game.


So basically that shows everything that was on the table. My captain is with the central tactical squad to avoid any first turn sniping. Technically it's turn 1 you're seeing but we forgot to do top down photos until then. My scouts are infiltrated behind the central building and the terminators are deep striking. OSH has his Devilfish and Fire warriors in reserve, the kroot are outflanking.

For kill points, OSH chooses my three tactical squads, the dreadnought and my captain. I choose the kroot, the hammerheads, sidestriker and the piranha gun drones. My thinking is that the kroot will go down easily, sidestriker only needs a lucky shot and I'll get a killpoint, the gun drones will pop off easily enough, and the heavy support is something I'll be firing at anyway so it makes sense (I think) to add them.

Turn 1

OSH goes first, boosting the piranhas into the centre of my formation. He keeps them facing outwards so that all shots will be on AV 11 (you must fire at the closest facing of the closest vehicle in a squadron). His firing is pretty good. The hammerheads drop a bunch of marines from each tactical squad on the flanks. The deathrains chip in firing at my left flank and I lose six marines from that squad by the end. The broadsides get no such luck against the HST and miss, even with Targetting arrays.

My turn one is mostly moving. I surge forward with everything. The captain detaches to charge the piranhas and my scouts make a run forwards to try and krak grenade the hammerhead (like last game).

Come on Brothers, we can make it...

My firing is not too hefty. The devastators and spider tank fail to damage the hammerhead on my right flank. My assault phase is good and bad. The scouts fail to do anything, leaving them out in the open to get shot up next turn. However, the captain and spider tank roll three 6s from seven attacks. The captain destroys one piranha and knocks the gun off a second, which the spider tank then shreds. Never forget that super heavy walkers can assault different target to what they shoot. The gun drones break off and form a squad by the central objective, though they are pinned

Turn 2

OSH gets one devilfish from reserve and his kroot come in on my left flank. He uses the devilfish to take the objective in his right quarter and the kroot charge my remaining 4 tactical marines on the far left. The deathrains stun the dread as well, darn it. OSH and bodyguards gun down the scouts. Fortunately the remaining piranha misses with its fusion blaster (good since it had flown over the HST to shoot the rear armour) and the railguns fail to make any impact. Not for the first time, OSH kicks himself for using the hammerheads in an anti tank role. In assault, the marines kill off kroot for no losses (love power armour) but the bird men stay in the fight.

In my turn, the terminators show up. I drop them in OSH right backfield but they scatter into the centre of his lines. Oh well, let's trust in our 2+ save. My left tactical squad moves into combat with the kroot, the right one runs forward, the captain charges the gun drones, the HST and sternguard move forwards. My shooting is pretty good with the HST blowing up a shield drone and broadside, terminators killing OSH's drones and the devastators knocking down the piranha (two lascannons and two krak missiles to the face will do nicely, thanks very much). In assault, the kroot drop and I roll high for my consolidation forwards. I pop smoke on the dread as well.

Turn 3

OSH gets another devilfish (in on his left). His firepower whittles away at my marines but the HST keeps getting saved by his poor rolling or my good luck on 5+ cover saves. That luck flips in spades when OSH turns his fireknives and sidestriker on the terminators. They are wiped out except for the cyclone guy. Ouch, when will I learn how deadly tau plasma/fusion fire can be? Luckily the smoke saves my dread from the attention of the deathrains.

Now that's a big spider infestation...

I surge forwards again. The HST knocks sidestriker down to 1 wound, the cyclone guy brings down one of OSH's bodyguards and the tactical melta stuns the devilfish (I think anyway). I run the captain up to the shrubbery (bring me another shrubbery!) by OSH's backline. Hopefully he can get into combat with that powerfist of his. Some other fire must have gone down too as OSH was on 1 wound by the next turn but I forget when that happened.

Turn 4

OSH gets his last devilfish so everything is on the table now. He pushes one forwards on his left to block up my movement and hold the objective. I lose my reduced tactical squad on the left to OSH and bodyguard and my captain gets melted by Sidestriker (oh well, that didn't work). The HST continues to be elusive and gets missed by the railguns. Maybe those spidey senses are tingling :-)

The HST has ineffective shooting but charges the devilfish in the way. My plasma tactical squad shoots down the broadside gun drone. My other tactical squad misses the devilfish on the objective but the dreadnought wrecks it, forcing the Fire warriors to bail out of the back. The sternguard gun down some fire warriors in the centre (can't remember when they deployed, oh well). The HST hits once on the devilfish and immobilises it. The terminator manages to land a krak missile and a storm bolter wound on OSH and bodyguard. Luck is not on his side as the bodyguard is hit with instant death and OSH fails his 3+ and bites the dust. The tactical squad nearby guns down the fire warriors who bailed out of the devilfish.

With their backs to the giant red tape measure, OSH and his bodyguard have no way out

Turn 5

OSH jumps his hammerheads back and to the side, looking to put fire on my tactical squad holding the objective. He kills off a few but can't get them all. The lone terminator is blasted however. The dreadnought finally succumbs to the hails of missiles that the Deathrains have been sending his way.

My 'stunt thumb' in the photo to show the Deathrain's celebration

Unfortunately for OSH, the HST is still in contact with the devilfish. Three damage rolls later (auto-hit for immobile target, S10 +2D6 penetration on rear armour 10) and the devilfish is a smoking wreck, leaving just two fire warriors alive to face down the rampaging super heavy (see first photo).

The spider tank then rampages forward and opens fire. Its rail rifles bring down two loose gun drones from a devilfish and then the demolisher gets a perfect shot and wipes out the deathrains in one go. My tactical squad nearest the HST charges into combat with the broadside to stop it shooting up the HST. Unfortunately they fluff against the 2+ armour and lose combat, though don't run.

Turn 6

One hammerhead comes to the centre to try and blast off my marines from the objective. The squad is knocked down to 2 members but stays in the fight. The other hammerhead jumps over into my backfield but doesn't get a good hit on the HST. Sidestriker also has a go with his fusion blaster but no luck. He jumps back into cover. I fluff against the broadside again. Drawn combat.

Desperate to hold onto the single objective I tuck my marines as far into the nook of the devilfish and terrain as I can.

And we shall know no fear if there is a great honking wreck to hide behind

The HST has nothing to eat up and the demolisher cannon scatters off the board when I go for the hammerhead. The sternguard do better. They can see sidestriker through the trees and rapid fire 10 S4 AP3 vengeance rounds at him. Enough hit that he fails a cover save and drops, killpoint. My devastators fail to land anything damaging on the hammerhead and, once more, I fail to scratch the broadside.

We roll and the game ends at this point. I win with two marines on an objective. The others are contested (OSH's left flank with the broadside, tac squad and two fire warriors) or not held by troops. For killpoints we end up even at 3 apiece. I claim the kroot, sidestriker and the piranha gun drones and OSH gets the captain, one tactical squad and the dreadnought.

To show how much death was inflicted, here is the board at the end of the game. Note that only the two hammerheads are still functioning. The other Tau vehicles are wrecks we left to look cool and show dangerous terrain.

Thoughts on the game

Well first of all. Big kudos to OSH for hosting the game at his place (thanks for the dinner too) and letting my bring a super heavy to the table for a normal game. We talked through things and decided that the HST is not overpowered, though it is a little bit potent on such a small board. To be honest, that was one problem with the game. On a 4x4 arrangement, OSH was very limited in his ability to get out of the way and use his mechanised mobility. On the other hand, the limited manouvering space meant that I was exposed to his firepower a lot of the time, or had to move into fire zones in order to advance any further.

I feel that OSH's tournament list is strong though we both discussed alternate piranha tactics (since i have two and am going to get two more at some stage). In our first game he used them mostly in a harassing role and avoided my best efforts to take them out. This time around he was much more agressive and perhaps paid the price for that. Overall the little skimmers are very resilient to firepower but can go down quite easily in assault. The trick to beating them is to charge with things that aren't easily affected by flechette launchers. That means walkers and independent, multi-wound characters. Where a squad of 10 marines would take 15 wounds on average (3 flechette launchers wounding on 4+) and lose 5 before getting to attack. My captain on the other hand, would be wounded 1.5 times on average, and only take 0.5 of a wound. In this game, he took one wound and dealt back two hits (good rolling admittedly). Overall, a mixed strategy would seem to be best for the piranhas. Use them to corral and threaten things so that they can soak up firepower and save the aggressive stuff for really critical times in the game. Anyway, just a few thoughts.

I go with my same conclusion for the last game about OSH's firepower. It doesn't seem like too much at any one time (a marine here, two more there) but by the end of the game I'd lost 6 terminators, a dread, captain, 5 scouts and about 25 tactical marines. My units generally performed well and I'm mostly happy. The devastator squad didn't have as much of an impact as I might have liked so I may try something else next game. Thanks to OSH I have a new godhammer land raider so perhaps putting a combat squad of tactical marines in there and holding a home objective is in order. It'd definitely be tough to crack an AV14 bunker with lascannons and heavy bolters that is blazing away at you.

Anyway, thanks for reading and we'll see if the spider tank wants to come out and play again sometime.

PS: I managed to snap off the raised leg of the HST when I got home and put the box down to get my keys out. Damn resin and its brittleness. Fortunately it's a neat break so I'll break out the epoxy and fix it up soon. I need to get carving on some foam for that thing.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Small tip for clearing needle glue bottle applicators.

Okay, so something useful but small I came up with last night. I have the polystyrene cement that comes with a thin needle thing to apply the glue. I love it as far as use goes because it's so easy to get the needle right where you need it for gluing and it puts out a thin layer of glue.

The problem that I came up with last night while gluing a Land raider, Dreadnought and Land speeder I was given (thankyou Old Shatter Hands, you rock), was that my needle has got glue dried somewhere inside it. Now this is an issue because very few things are thin enough to poke through 2 inches of very fine metal tube.

However, I was fortunate enough to look over at my guitar and a lightbulb moment occur. I pulled out my spare strings...lo and behold, the upper E string (the thin one) fits perfectly. Two seconds later and my glue needle was clear and ready for use.

For reference, the string was a 0.11 gauge (I use heavy strings) so on normal electric guitar sets (0.09-.048) you should be fine with the E or B strings (the two thinnest ones).

Batrep coming soon, I promise :-)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Battle Report Teaser and special rules.

Hi folks.

For those who read the Tau of War ( you might notice that i've started playing against Old Shatter Hands with my marines. Last night we had a very close fought and brutal game to test out his tournament list and new gaming table.

First of all, this post is not the battle report. I've been working through my memories of the game and trying to place when all of the key events happened. OSH has promised to send me over his pictures of the game so I can make it a proper report.

It was a small and deadly game. OSH has a 4x4 urban style table and there was a reasonable amount of terrain given the size. He brought his mech tau list which is:

- Old Shatterhands (Fireknife (FK) Shas'El), two FK bodyguards and two drones.
- Shas'El Sidestriker (Fusion and Missiles)
- 3 Deathrains
- 3 x 6 Fire warriors in Devilfish
- 3 Fusion Piranhas
- 2 Broadsides with 2 shield drones
- 2 Railgun Hammerheads

I came with a specially made footslogging marine list (similar to the last battle report with me on OSH's blog)

- Captain with power fist
- Multi-melta Dreadnought
- 6 Terminators with cyclone missile launcher
- 5 Sternguard
- 3x10 tactical marines (Missile/Plasma, Missile/Melta, Multi-melta/flamer)
- 5 Scouts with heavy bolter
- 10 Devastators with 2 missile launchers and 2 lascannons
- Huntsman Spider Tank (Super heavy with custom rules)

Now the last item is probably the one that will draw the most attention and justifiably so. Since I don't have the pictures of last night ready yet, I will shamelessly use one taken from the gallery of the guy who makes the model (

This thing is a beast of a model. It's baneblade sized with its massive legs and we had a few problems figuring out how to fit it around the terrain and other models. It's a really intricate resin kit but fits together very well and has so much character. Curtis, the guy who runs Ramshackle Games, is one of the nicest people you can deal with. I got the spider tank, two other vehicles and a host of figures from him for a great price and he even included a set of miscast pieces for conversions etc. for a cheap cheap price. More info on my vehicles can be found at and

Now the tank was made for a different game system so I needed to make some suitable rules for it. Thanks go to OSH at this point for agreeing to play against custom designed rules and a superheavy unit in a small game.

Name: Huntsman Spider Tank
Points: 350
Type: Super-heavy walker
Structure Points: 3
Armour (Front/side/rear): 13/13/10
Ballistic Skill: 3
Weapon Skill: 2
Attacks: 3 at Strength 10 (2D6 armour penetration) with no armour saves allowed OR stomp attack (1 attack at each model in contact with it during assault phase resolved at WS and I 1. S10 power weapon, 2D6 penetration)

- Turret Mounted Demolisher cannon (R:24", S:10, AP:2, Ordnance 1, Barrage)
- 2x chin mounted twin Rail rifles (R:36", S:6, AP:3, Heavy 2, twin-linked)
- Two crushing claws (-1A per claw destroyed)

Fleet walker (6” + D6” + 6” assault)

I made the rules this way so that it is a resilient unit that is not too outright killy. I wanted it to be tough but not as over the top as some of the apocalypse units. At first I thought twin linked rail rifles might be too much, then I saw the Brass Scorpion has a Heavy 10 S6 AP3 gun, 2 heavy flamers, a demolisher cannon, more attacks and goes nuclear more easily, all for 50 points less.

Overall, it was a very solid unit in the game but didn't dominate overly or unbalance things. More on that later.

Stay tuned for the real battle report when i get the photos from OSH and get a chance to write everything up.