Of Mice and Orks

The green cloaks are so their allies won’t get confused and eat them.  Green = Orks = Our Side!

I happened to stop by Zombiesmith’s booth when I was attending Kublacon up near San Francisco in May.  They had a display case of their painted miniatures. The anthropomorphic rabbits, turtles, rats and mice of their “Netherworld’s Edge” line caught my eye, so I played a small demo game.  The game is a variation on their Shieldbash rules. I bought a few packs of miniatures at the convention and also signed up for their kickstarter, which as it turns out was successfully funded.

For now I decided to use these guys in my games of 40K.  They are about the same size as gretchin and I would imagine that there isn’t any reason why mouse people wouldn’t be at least reasonable shots.

Now my orks have had a long and close alliance with the Tau.  They’ve been our battle brothers in many a doubles tournament and four player game.  Also, the orks control a number of buffer systems on and beyond the edge of Tau space and Warboss Hungry has received the honorary title of Shas’o for his bloody services and odd loyalty to the Greater Good. So when the orks discovered burrows of primitive mouse people on one of the worlds they were warring over with the Imperium, they decided to imitate their blue-skinned friends and adopt these creatures rather than eat them.  Given the usual “Purge the Xenos” philosophy of humankind (in my meta at least!), the mice were more than happy to sign on.

Turning their guns on sneaky kommandos!

The mice do offer some advantages over goblin artillerists.  While neither are what you would call brave, the mice are quite a bit smarter so they are more likely to show some initiative in the heat of battle.  They are also imminently more survivable.  They construct elaborate escape and redeployment tunnels as a matter of course in fortifying their positions.

Further, it is difficult to break the average ork trooper, no matter how steeped they are in Greater Good, of lording it over lesser greenskins.  This inevitably leads to casualties.  There are always plenty of goblins, but the problem is that so many die to natural orky attrition it is almost impossible to keep experienced crewmen.  As it turns out this isn’t a problem for the mice since most orks don’t see them as “getting over on dere bedders” by being allowed to not be stomped, used as edible chits in drinking games, etc.  Abusing goblins seems to be an unshakably entrenched part of the order of things, alas.  Also, the mice with their burrowing tendencies are even better than goblins at staying “out of sight out of mind,” though the grots are starting to catch on to that survival tactic.  A pity most goblins’ instinct for laziness is higher than their instinct for survival!

So my plan is to paint up the other seven mice that came in the pack.  I’ll continue using them as artillery crew until the newness wears off, and then I’ll probably go back to using goblins.  I doubt I’ll field mixed units because I imagine goblins and mice being natural rivals and hating each other terribly.  However, it might be fun to try a mice versus goblins Kill Team game or maybe I can talk some of my friends into trying the new Netherworld’s Edge rules when they become available.

Here Come the Thunderwolves!

I recently finished painting my second thunderwolf cavalry model the other day.  As cavalry goes, these guys are perhaps a little unusual, but I thought it might be fun to include an iconic weapon of mounted warriors — the lance.  There are no pole arms of any kind that come in the kit, so I took one from a box of amazons produced by Wargames Factory.  I thought about buying some brass rod to make my own, but I had the plastic pike on hand so I decided to use it.

Charge!

For the weapon arm, I used a generic space marine arm that is meant to hold a bolter.  I drilled a hole through it for the lance and used a magnet for the entire arm assembly.  The magnetized arm seemed to me like it would serve several uses.  Being able to remove the arm would make transporting the model to games easier with less likelihood of breaking the lance haft.  Secondly, I can switch it out for a different weapon if I want.  Last and most important, I can pose the arm so I can point the lance in dramatic fashion whenever this guy makes his charge.

“‘From hell’s heart I stab at thee!” and all of that sort of thing.

This is the first thunderwolf I completed quite awhile ago now.  I magnetized his plasma pistol arm and will probably paint up a storm shield arm at some point as another option.  I’ve run him a few times as a wolf guard battle leader, the alpha of a large pack of fenrisian wolves.  Now all I have to do is get a third one painted and I’ll have a minimum-sized, legal unit!

On the move! Swarming past a slightly confused warboss.

Twin-Linked Grand Tournament (Day One): “Return of the Space Communists”

Back in December, I once again made the drive to Sacramento with Mark of the Farsight Enclaves to fight for the Greater Good in the Twin Linked Grand Tournament.  This is a six game, two-day end-of-year team tournament that is a sort of final exclamation point for the team tournaments of 2014.  It is run by Mark Broughton along with many volunteers, and I have to say they all put a lot of thought and effort into making it a fun experience.

Each player fields a 1000 point army with various restrictions from a single codex.  So each team of two players, who are always “allies of convenience” has a 2000 point force, which cannot change for the entire tournament.  Each battle is a custom affair, very different than the usual rules book missions.

Game One: Trying to Bring the Greater Good to Tau and Dark Angels

We all loved the flat-topped, hovering hills in game one.  The goblin artillerists particularly so!

The early stages of the battle featured a close range clash in front of our opponent’s aegis line between the orks and the Dark Angels, who trundled out to meet them.  The orks got the better of the engagement after a couple turns of hard fighting.  The goblin’s mortar fire may not have decided the issue, but it was extremely accurate and helped our cause quite a bit.  We were hoping our two aircraft would also provide further support, but these were neutralized fairly effectively by the marine’s anti-aircraft dreadnought.

Toward the end of the game there was something you don’t see very often:  two riptides fighting it out against each other in close combat.  Not surprisingly to a draw.  (Sadly the picture didn’t come out.)  We ended up winning that battle when time ran out after five turns, and moved on to the next round.

Game Two: It’s a Trap!

The Air Force of the Greater Good has its Great Moment!

This time we faced a Space Wolf & Eldar force that featured three drop pods of infantry on turn one with Eldar fire support provided by a wraith knight and those hated wave serpents, which would be so ubiquitous through the rest of the tournament.

Although our forces tried to bring the much-needed Light of Reason and Culture to our opponents and we fought valiantly, unfortunately this was a tough match-up for us.  Most of the Space Wolves did give their lives in the early going, but by the end of the battle all what was left was our riptide in a corner making a last stand against overwhelming odds.  With his loss all that was left to do was call in for reinforcements and prepare for the next battle of the day.

Game Three: Communists versus Pirates

Right before impact!

Our opponents for the last game of the day were a father/son team of Eldar and Dark Eldar respectively.  This was an interesting game for me because it was the first time either Farsight Mark or myself had faced the new Dark Eldar codex.

This was a hard fought game with both sides taking heavy casualties.  There were a couple of funny moments during the game.  One was when the Eldar shot down our sun shark bomber.  The pilot decided to sacrifice himself for the Greater Good and plowed right into a space dark elf jet fighter and blew it up in a gigantic ball of fire and melted plastic.

Then there was the invincible squiggoth, who the nobz tamed and brought along as a transport instead of their usual but much abused battle wagon.  Their simple strategy was pretty much, “Melta this, hoomies!”  I guess they didn’t count on poisoned weapons though or tremendous volleys from wave serpents.  The beast pretty much shuffled around the board first in one direction and then the other for the entire tournament, not really wanting to get in anyone’s way or cause any trouble, which generally can’t be said for battle wagons.

Super Squiggoth is much friendlier than he looks.

Despite having every poisoned weapon in the world thrown at him, he was the “Squiggoth Who Would Not Die,” even if he ended the fight with only one wound left.

Still, even with the amazing Super Squiggoth and our friend the kamikaze Tau, we still ended up losing a close game.  We had no way to catch or kill the wave serpents arrayed against us, and by the end our opponents were much more mobile than we were and able to position themselves for the win when time ran out.

Next Time: This was a two day tournament so we rested up, consoled ourselves with steak at the local Outback, complained about wave serpents, fed the squiggoth from the in-hotel buffet (no squiggoths allowed at Outback as it turned out), recruited a new Tau pilot, harvested ork spores so we’d have more boyz, and bribed our meks into throwing together more shockingly disposable trukks in preparations for fresh glories on Sunday.

In my next battle report, I’ll write about the second half of the tournament and how we did in spreading the Greater Good throughout the Sacramento Sector.  For the Motherland!

Day Two of the Twin-Linked Tourney is here.

More Happy, Red Friends

My first walking mouth gets some new friends.

I finished two more Kromlech “Gnaws” the other day.  They come in packs of three, so that finishes off the ones I have for now.  They are solid, resin casts, so I didn’t have too much modelling work to do.  Just cleaned off flash and trimmed some mold lines.  The pieces didn’t come with bases and I thought that regular infantry bases were too small so I used terminator bases, which seem to be the right size.

My husband was right about one thing.  He looked at them and said, “They seem a little too happy for Khorne.”  Yeah, I agree, they probably would have looked better as minions of Nurgle.  But maybe they are happy because they have just been unleashed from the warp and are anticipating the orgy of violence to come?  Or maybe Khorne has a sense of humor after all?

Good things seem to be coming in three’s lately.  My next piece I’m putting the finishing touches on tonight is my second thunderwolf cavalry model.  They don’t have too much in common with gnaws except they also come three to a box.  So it’ll be a Space Wolf day soon as I stoically paint toward my long dreamt goal of having enough Space Wolves to actually play a game without having to proxy Ultramarines!

“Make sure you get my good side, Mortal!”

“Make sure you get my good side, Mortal!”

I have been working on painting some Kromlech “Gnaws” lately. They come in packs of three and there are currently two sets of different sculpts available. My favorite right now is this guy with the lovely cluster of cheek warts. I doubt they’ll get much use for me in games, though I might dabble with trying to summon a unit of daemons with my weirdboy and run them as Flesh Hounds of Khorne. I suppose I could also use them as markers when someone gets turned into a chaos spawn. They don’t really look like spawn lacking random eyes, tentacles, shifting mouths and so on, but they are about the right size and have a daemonic look, albeit in a walking mouth sort of way.

My thinking, when I painted them, was on Flesh Hounds so I painted them kind of a rusty red-brown color. But I think with their cheerful, toothy expressions, they’d work well painted as Nurgle Gnaws. In any case, I have two done and I’m working on a third. I’ll need five total if I’m going to use them as summoned hounds.

They’ve been fun to paint. It is nice taking a break from painting models festooned with lots of little fiddly pieces of gear and ornate symbols on their armor. I hope to finish the third model sometime over the weekend, and then work on completing my second thunderwolf, which is starting to come together.

Orks Versus Grey Knights: “Uh, Sir, that’s a little too close.”

As if the Grey Knights didn’t have enough trouble.  They semi-successfully defended “the relic” from a covetous space marine chapter, when a bunch of orks rumbled onto the very same battlefield twenty minutes later.  Almost makes one feel bad for the boys from Titan, except there is no pity in the 41st millennium.

The mission was “Cleanse & Control” and we played 1500 points.  As far as I could tell there were four units of knights in power armor.  Most of them seemed to be interceptors, but how is an ork to tell?  One group sat out the entire game sheltered inside a ruin guarding an objective and presumably trying not to get shot up.  (I imagine those were not interceptors!)  Lord Draigo also graced the battle with his presence.  He was accompanied by a librarian and a host of terminators.  Rounding out the marine forces was a dread knight.

Early stages of the battle: The storm trooper sergeant’s head on a stick.

The orks figured they were going to sneak in right before dawn, after the beakies finished beating the crap out of each other, bundle the shiny relic into a trukk and high tail it for home before anyone knew what they were about.  Consequently it was the Too Many Chiefs detachment from page 102 of the codex.  Pretty much everyone important wanted in on the glory.  Two warbosses showed up, one on an enormous motorcycle and another (Warboss Hungry) in a battle wagon lording it over a gaggle of nobz.  Then there was the jump infantry commander — some junior lieutenant who happened to be borrowing Zagstruk’s stat line.  The less said about him the better.  Otherwise, pretty much any ork who could find a ride showed up.  I’m not sure who the mortar battery hitched a ride with, but goblins are nothing if not resourceful.

Early Battle: The orks spread out all over the field.  They wanted to control the objectives early and take advantage of their mobility before the marines blew up all of their lovely transports.  The assault lieutenant drove his large squad of jump troops down the middle of the field.  He wanted to impress both warbosses.  Further it didn’t occur to him that a small squad of marines would dare bring the fight to him.  But bring it they did.  A group of five or six marines charged guns blazing into three times their number of orks.  When the dust settled all of the orks were dead or routed, including the green lieutenant.  Just as well.  Saved higher command the trouble of executing him for being an incompetent git!

Otherwise the ork plan seemed to be working.  They were recovering valuable archeo-technology out from under the very beakies of the grey beakies!  “Fer da Greata Gud an’ da Revulushun!”

The Junior Assault Lieutenant puts some of his men through their paces in happier days.

Mid-Battle: The goblin mortar battery, for which the orks are (in)famous, was placing accurate hits on strike and interceptor squads.  They weren’t doing much against power armor-clad troops, but this heavy shelling could not be allowed to go unchallenged.  The marine commander ordered his dreadknight to teleport in on the ork right flank.  The artillerymen took one look at that ugly, giant walker shimmering into existence ten feet from their position and high tailed it back to base.  This allowed the Grey Knights to secure an objective valuable both for its skyfire potential and as a treasure trove of hidden supplies, i.e. victory points.

The battle raged back and forth with both sides exchanging small arms fire.  Neither could be said to control the situation.  Despite the early surprise by the orks, the Grey Knights were able to re-secure much of what they had originally lost.  Lord Draigo teleported in with a large squad of terminators, though due to some garbled communications he almost materialized directly inside the strike squad corporal, who was fumbling with a particularly high-strung teleporter beacon.  Still, all turned out well.  The terminators withstood a powerful ork air strike with minimal casualties, and anchored their lines with a force the orks had no means to approach head-on, sideways or any way whatsoever.

Late Battle: The orks did meet dread knight threat.  General Hungry ordered his battle wagon to proceed at top speed toward the ork right flank.  He radioed the bike squad leader to back up his efforts and engage a supporting interceptor squad.  The ork bikers took more casualties from riding at top speed directly through the walls of a ruin than they did from the fight itself.

“Furst man ta krump dat fing gets ta be boss nob!” he bellowed, standing on the cab of his wagon waving his klaw.  Hungry mentally congratulated himself for speaking in orky pidgin, then promptly tumbled off accidentally on purpose with all of the frantic klaw-waving.  He almost got left behind.  Three nobz killed each other in their zeal to reach the dread knight.  Another nob or two died shrieking beneath the walker’s huge blade.  In the end they ate the grey knight driver and spent the rest of the battle fighting over who would get to pilot the new “dread”.

The remaining bikers dismounted and stood in a circle around their leader’s motorcycle, trying to figure out how to get a suit of power armor untangled from his forks.

Meanwhile, Hungry received a communication from the battle analysts aboard his command strike cruiser.  They had determined that the orks had achieved as much as they could possibly expect in their opportunistic raid.  Any further indulgence in battle would most likely only serve the ends of the Grey Knights.  So he sent up the red flare and as one the orks rolled, ran, flew, crawled and swam for home, leaving the marines scratching their heads and wondering what the hell just happened.  Theories included that Tigurius from the last battle summoned the orks using some “unknown and possibly broken” summoning spell.  (Wouldn’t it be typical of Roboute Guilliman to pull something like that?)

In any case, the game ended in a draw.  Happily, I achieved style points by having Hungry fulfill his Saga of the Cowardly Warboss by not putting himself in a situation where he had a good chance of dying. (See post-script.)

Saga of Wat? Yooz can’t do dat in 40K!

Post Script:  As has been mentioned before in the dim recesses of the past, Warboss Hungry (so named because of his appetites for goblin flesh) is rather unusual as ork warbosses go because he believes in using guile, tactics, and intelligence over strength and brute force.  In fact he is secretly a coward, though he goes to great lengths to not appear so.  In fact he is quite well-spoken, speaks several languages fluently and is an avid reader on a variety of subjects.  Shockingly, he is capable of loyalty and friendship, and has close ties with non-orks on many different worlds, especially amongst the Tau.  If he has a failing with his men, it is in the heat of battle he sometimes forgets to “speak orky” and the boyz don’t understand a word he is saying.

The upshot of all of this is Warboss Hungry must be fielded with the “Finking Cap” upgrade to account for his intellect.  He also has the “Saga of the Cowardly Warboss” though if he knew that his reality were in fact a 40K game he’d prefer to call it the “Saga of the Tactical Super Genius.”  Those of you who are familiar with the concept of sagas from the old Space Wolves codex know that the idea is to gain style points by winning the game while playing your character the way your saga says you are supposed to.  If you don’t, then you have to redeem your honor the next time around!

So Hungry’s saga requires that he not subject his person to anything where he has a good chance of getting killed.  Charging a dread knight with a squad of ten nobz?  Send in some “boss nob” mook for the challenge, let the rest of the nobz do the hard work and take credit at the end.  He gets word his powerful nob bodyguard is staging a revolt to replace him as chief.  Does he reassert his authority by fighting it out with the alpha-nob?  No, he “agrees” fresh blood is needed, steps down as boss and then manipulates the nobz into multi-charging three squads of terminators led by Logan Grimnar the next battle and letting nature take its course.  So, you get the idea.

Next Time: My impressions about playing in my third “Twin-Linked” tournament up in Sacramento with my charismatic partner, General Mark, of the Farsight Enclaves.

Charge of the Light Briga– … er Wolves!

I’ve been working on my Space Wolves for several months now, and decided to play them in a live game for the first time, with liberal amounts of my husband’s Ultramarines sprinkled in as “counts as” Space Wolves.  So I took a few pictures with my cell phone.  I was originally attracted to painting the Wolves because of the canines in the army, but I’m finding I like how they play as well with their balance of capabilities between shooting and assault.  They’ll make a nice change from my orks.

Land Speeder Pattern “Confused”

I had the speeder kit laying around for a couple of years, purchased back when my husband was playing the game.  I ended up playing in a marine tournament where we all had to bring the same list and this was one of the units, so I built it with the weapons the tournament called for.  I had misgivings about not specializing, but after playing it (unpainted) in Ultramarine armies a few times, I find I like the general utility given my play style is to generally show up not necessarily knowing what I’m playing against.  Plus sometimes it has survived long enough to destroy a vehicle and later in the game torch an infantry squad.  Being over-specialized can be a problem if you are fielded as a suicide unit but end up not dying as planned!

Charge of the Light Wolves!

The fenrisian wolves charge down the field, bravely ignoring the mega-armored warboss.  The giant ork is a rock in a snarling river of brown and tan fur.  The wolf guard battle leader, “Thor who rides the thunderwolf,” says it is because they wanted to destroy the enemy’s battlewagon.  I think the truth is they knew they couldn’t do much to the warboss between his armor and that lucky stick thing, so they figured on leaving that particular headache to what was left of the terminator squad.

Strangely, my Space Wolves don’t have last names.  They are known as “Thor who rides the thunderwolf,” and “Terminator Thor,” “Henpecked Harald” and so on.  I guess it isn’t so strange since space marines usually leave their past lives behind them when they join the Adeptus Astartes.

Those sneaky gitz!

Here we have Snigrot, his nob lieutenant (“Power Klaw Pete?”) sneaking his boyz right through the middle of the Space Wolf table edge.  I thought their grass camo cloaks were a very nice touch!  They chased my whirlwind around for awhile.  It shot a lot of missiles but never really hit much.  Then an outflanking squad of grey hunters showed up and got massacred by the greenskins, who then went back to chasing the whirlwind around some more.  They also paused to throw rotten fruit at some long fangs, who were too busy with their own troubles to do much about it.  I don’t think anything in general got them, just attrition from running around attacking everything in sight.

It is pretty keen how Snigrot lets his guys come in from any board edge.  I really wish they hadn’t taken that away from wolf scouts.  I guess despite the keen senses and hunter’s instincts of the Space Wolves, there is still a thing or two they could learn from that wily old ork!