A blast from the past today.
Some of my old 40k stuff today. Plaguebearer Nurgle daemons.
Plaguebearers are Nurgles tallymen, embodying the futility of mortal existence by constantly making lists and categorising myriad life matters which cannot be measured. Just like me.
Plaguebearers all bear the signs of rot and decay in addition to monocular vision and a horn (occasionally more than one). Usually they are portrayed in brownish greens, like everything Nurgle tends to be. I broke from the norm and chose to tie my plaguebearers colour scheme to my Sin Eaters marines.
In that era 40k daemons were summoned into play, popping into existence when certain game criteria are reached (its probably done similarly in current 40k, but I dont know for sure).
In an effort to make my figures unique and to tie them into sci-fi rather than fantasy Warhammer I added cybernetic elements to a number of the figures.
Conceptually I see those as bits of junk that coalesce into usable forms along with the daemon itself (being unliving embodiments of decay and all that). If you imagine Tetsuo fusing with surrounding mechanical objects towards the end of Akira then you are on the right track.
Mainly I did it because I thought that it would be a fun project to make some goofy demon figures into cyborgs, ’cause I like cyborgs more than demons.
The figures are a mix of six of the original plaguebearers from the eighties, plus four of the nineties guys. It is easy enough to tell which are which I think.
The cyborg weapon elements are all Necromunda Pit Slave parts, plus an old Warlord titan chainfist.
My favourite pair of these goofy freaks are shown in the first and final photo. One guy has had his eye replaced with the screen from an Imperial auspex, complete with EEG style readout. He also had a piece from a radar dish glued to his back.
The other guy has a rifle sight in place of his eye. He also has a backpack with an aerial and a Nurgle symbol on it. Far out.
The paint job is quite cartoony, aided and abetted by the comical sculpts and ludicrous bionics. I like the look, even though they might jar a little with some more “serious” looking 40k figures (although at the time of writing Space Wolves mounted on wolves from space have just been released and even they are not as silly looking as the preposterously poorly conceived Dreadknight).
The plaguebearers have featured in very few games. I once used them in a day long mini campaign and then in casual home games a couple of times. They were always lacklustre in rules terms in those days.
I plan to use them for some skirmish games using Inquisitorial retinues and the like at some stage, hopefully during the next couple of years. I might have them lead by Judge Mortis some time too: I can see Dredd Hi-Ex-ing a few of these guys.
For the final game we switched the forces from the previous game around. This time the Kouranaya Craftworld Eldar Kill Team would be attacking the Sin Eaters.
The Sin Eaters set up with squads of three sentries plus Brother Damien leading the defence.
In Kill Team the more exceptions that are made to build the Kill Team force the more sentries are allowed in defence. Additionally, the defenders are allowed to buy one low level character who in this case was Brother Damien.
Brother Damien and his bodyguard are shown above guarding the dark altar with Trixie the captured Eldar tied up and ready for sacrifice.
MT went for a pretty big, pretty bog standard codex squad Kill Team, with few alterations made to it (the added Howling Banshee being the only one that I remember). This also made for correspondingly smaller defending forces.
Personally my preference for Kill Teams is to use mixtures of figure types to make for a fun, idiosyncratic group of badasses, like the guys from Predator or the A-Team or whatever. While this may not always be the most effective way of ensuring a win, the team in itself will be a talking point and fun to use. This meant that I thought that the Kill Team above was dull, even if it meant that it stood a better chance of winning the game.
The vast Kill Team surged forward and swamped the first group of sentries…
…killed them and proceeded towards the next bunch…
…bumped them off…rinsed, repeated…
…and made it to the altar and mangled the defenders there too. Successful, for the victorious Eldar yes. For the people playing it was less so. A humdrum exercise in dice rolling. Yawn.
Conclusions: that was dull, but mercifully quick, showcasing the worst of 40k. The perfect venture to enable me to put all of that stuff behind me again for another five years at least.
I still hope to use my 40k figures in a skirmish level game at some point soon, but as yet I havent found something suitable. Savage Worlds Showdown is the next rule set that I am going to consider.
For the second last game of 40k that we played that weekend we decided to try a “Kill Team” scenario. For those that dont know, Kill Team is a way of playing games using a small, hand-picked force from an army list that doesnt conform to the usual restrictions and getting them to do something cinematic like rescue a hostage, blow up a reactor etc. It is a potentially fun way to use some of the more oddball figures in your collection to do something worthy of a crappy yet entertaining movie. One of the main reasons to play miniature games in my opinion.
Kill Team games are also by definition quick affairs with only a handful of figures on one side and not really a vast amount on the other side either, sentry types mostly.
The Sin Eater Kill Team consisted of three Chaos Space marines (here and here), of which one had a Plasma Gun (right), two Possessed Marines from Squad Nemesis and Sgt Damien, a vintage Nurgle Chaos Renegade that I am very fond of (he oozes character), representing a Veteran Sergeant/Aspiring Champion type.
The Kouranaya Eldar set up around the table in an unalerted state, talking about the good old days ten thousand years ago when they didnt have to live like monks for fear of their souls being devoured by an evil god (represented by the yellow markers. The unlaerted state that is, not the evil god). The floating pyramid in the middle of the table is the webway portal which the Kill Team has been sent to destroy.
The Kill Team enter from the East…
…and quickly blow one unit of Guardians to pieces, forcefeed knuckle sandwiches to a second squad and send a third running back home to tell on them. All in a days work for paranormal, post-human, pestilent pantheon proclaimers.
Although the Kill Team kept the noise down a reasonable amount, most of the Eldar cottoned on (the yellow markers have turned red) and they regrouped ready to provide a reasonably coherent defence of the portal.
The Kill Team is surrounded. What we got here is a Mexican stand off… ‘cept there aint no Mexicans.
In a potent display of why the Kill Team is comprised of the best of the best (with honours), the Guardians are either killed or driven off, with some casualties to the Sin Eaters.
Sgt Damien allows himself a rare, rotten-gobbed smile as the corrupting influence of Chaos permeates the sacred ground of the Eldar, all according to plan.
Conclusions: The game was fun, but would probably have been more so if another gaming system was used: it was hampered by the Warhammer system.
I was surprised at the time when GW published the Kill Team rules and even more so when they codified them fully and comprehensively in the 4th edition rulebook. It showed that they were willing to acknowledge that there was more to figure gaming than just their usual tedious big battle fare. Within the limitations of the 40k system they did a good job too.
I dont think that the Kill Team rules are included in the current rulebook which is both a sign of the times and a pity.
Part 1 with some preamble is here.
There was only a little bit of vague information about Eldar Pirates in the Rogue Trader book before White Dwarf 127 brought in swathes of background and info regarding the Craftworld Eldar. Before that the only Eldar worth talking about were the Harlequins.
Last year MT painted up a bunch of Harlequins that he had traded with me years ago which were last seen in a Space Hulk here. Despite how cool the original Harlequin stuff was back in the day neither of us had been involved in a game using them (apart from a few abortive attempts to use the silly Harlequin list from the Citadel Journal circa 2001).
The current Eldar Codex and the new Dark Eldar Codex both have rules for Harlequin Squads that looked good to us. It seemed like GW had finally got the Harlequin power level right: stylish and effective rather than bland and ineffectual (Eldar Codices 1 and 2) and playable rather than broken (Citadel Journal Harlequin list). So we were pleased to be able to finally play a game of 40K with them so many years later.
GAME 2: Sin Eaters Vs Unknown Harlequin Troupe
We set up an Altar of eeevil in the middle of the table with Sin-Eaters holding it and four Chaos Marine sentries surrounding them. We decided to play a second, more involved scenario with daemon summoning etc after this one, once we had an idea of how well the Harlequins functioned. This game was to be all about how the Cosmic Elf Ninja Clowns work in their current form.
The Troupe started off on the Western edge.
With all of the panache that one would expect from a group of almost immortal space ninja elves devoted to a god of violent deception, a pair of Chaos Marine sentries were silently bumped off.
A trio of Sin-Eater bikers rush in from the East in response.
The irresistible force of the Harlequins meets the immovable object of the Plague Marines. Something had to give.
It turned out that the Plague Marines caved to the flurry of attacks brought about by the Harlequin ability to Hit and Run. Say what you like about 40k, but it felt just right, one of the rare marriages of the background and the game mechanics in action.
The last Plague Marine regrouped with the depleted biker squad, but the fight was gone out of them. Their indistinct would-be assassins encircled.
The last of the Chaos forces were wiped out and the Harlequins won by a large margin.
Conclusions: Already a number of the tried and utterly untrusted mechanisms of 40k were starting to wear thin. We glossed over these with the wave of our hands and the application of hazily remembered other rules from the various editions of the system over the years. This kept the game going, but obviously wasnt ideal. Also the IGo/UGo nature of the game felt scripted and dull.
On the plus side it was nice to play with Harlequins that felt like how we thought that they should feel after all these years (thin and muscley with an excellent skincare regime in case you were wondering).
Digging out older figures that havent seen the light of day for a while (like the Sin Eaters) for a game is always a little bit of a kick. The fight between the Harlequins and the Plague Marines on the altar was evocative because of the thinly applied setting/scenario and because the rules actually helped the events to feel authentic. This is a main goal for me with miniature games so that was a big plus.
I have had a love/hate relationship with Warhammer 40000 since 1989.
Although I played a lot of games in that setting for years, I finally put it to one side in the mid 2000s. I stopped reading White Dwarf, stopped buying Codices and stopped painting 40K figures. I love the daft futuristic dark age setting but the games themselves extremely rarely lived up to the potential set by the background and so, that was that.
To make a long story short-ish, a few factors combined recently (namely the Horus Heresy series of novels, the totally unsuspected GW re-release of Space Hulk and the Fantasy Flight Warhammer/40K themed boardgames etc) that gradually worked on my subconscious to the point that I planned a gaming weekend with the main emphasis being on playing some small (400-600pt) games of 40K. I guarantee that I am more surprised at this than you may be.
Despite my 180 degree turnaround on earlier standpoints regarding my willingness to play games of 40K at all, I still wasn’t prepared to play the rules as they are currently written. Long time game co-conspirator MT and I decided to play using a hodge-podge version of the rules based mostly on our favourite 3rd edition, except where we didn’t want to because we felt that newer rules were better. None of the rules selected as “better” were written down in advance.
Needless to say, that made this is an imprecise art, best only attempted by players that have successfully played the game together for a long time and who are not obsessed with trying to screw each other over. I decided to play with MT anyway (thats a joke, geddit?) Despite the fact that “jamming” with rules sets isn’t really our scene and the high potential for friction it worked out for us for these games.
We mostly played scenario heavy games, rather than the line-them-up-and-knock-them-down dice fests that 40K is infamous for.
This short series will document a small number of those games, mostly pictorially.
GAME 1: Sin-Eaters Chaos Space Marines Vs Emperors Voice Space Marines
As this was the first game that I had played for a very long time we decided to go with a quick scenario-less game first of all.
Unsurprisingly both sides moved towards the middle, with the exception of the Emperors Voice Devastator squad who too the high ground in their deployment zone. So far, so predictable.
The Sin Eaters Plague Marine Squad Klaus and Possessed Squad Nemesis along with Squad Van Helden took cover in the ruined temple.
Sgt Klaus (with Klaus played by Brother Bakul in this instalment) is the only surviving member of his squad to reach the loyalist lines, where he begins to make them pay by bludgeoning them with his power weapon.
Chaos firepower almost wipes out a squad of loyalists, while Squad Nemesis is reduced to two survivors from reciprocal shots. Sgt Klaus shrugs off the assault marines attacks against his bloated undead and armoured hide and kills a marine.
The remnants of Squad Nemesis combine with Sgt Klaus to kill another pair of Assault Marines.
The Tactical Sergeant kills the two Possessed with his power axe but Klaus kills everything in the area including the Tac Sarge. Standing in the open and covered in gore, Klaus screams his defiance at the heavens. Then the Devastators on the hill finally get a target again and blow him into rotting, slimy chunks with heavy weapon fire.
The Loyalists win.
Conclusions:In theory, having a large number of units in a game can provide some redundancy so that odd changes in fortune can either be exploited or countered by units held for such a purpose.
That’s the theory anyway, it never applies to games of 40K as the armies are set up so close together and have been min/maxed in such a way as to render thoughts of tactical or strategic play more or less redundant. It’s a game of point your guys in the direction of the enemy and press “Go”.
This effect is exaggerated by smaller forces like those that we were playing with. That said, that game was essentially a standard game of 40K in microcosm.
Squad Boyle was a pretty late addition to my Sin Eaters army. They nonetheless got used in a tournament or two as well as in a number of casual games.
My income levels at the time were pretty low (a perennial condition at sho3box towers Im afraid) and so I used a few components that up until that point I had been avoiding, in the interests of keeping things cheap.
Most notably in that regard was the use of the quite goofy zombie head with the beard and the tongue hanging out from the GW zombie sprue. For the earlier squads I had avoided that head as I regarded it as a bit too wacky for my purposes. Finances were low and I had a number of those heads sitting around so I decided to use one along with the new-at-the-time Space Wolf heads (and a Khorne head).
At that late stage of painting an army (roughly about 80 models or so into the project I would say) painting techniques tend to have evolved, usually in the interests of expediency. In addition to that slighly more oddball units and concepts start to crop up, usually in my case in an effort to keep interest up. Hence the heavily armed unit of jet pack-ing zombie space soldiers.
There has been some crazy talk about playing some small games of 3rd ed 40K amongst SOS and MT recently. If my resolve breaks and I engage in some of those shenanigans it will likely involve games that include the more elite and oddball units like Squad Boyle.