Saturday, 31 December 2011

Battle Report: Snatch 'n' Grab

You read it here first, folks:  the first ever engagement of 2nd Battalion!  In a game opening our first campaign, fifteen men of 1/7th Company, 2nd Battalion escorted the Battalion X.O. and his Artillery Officer through some deserted streets, evacuating him out of danger after an unexpected shift in the front line.  Except ... they're not deserted.  Lurking in the rafters are a squad of rebel Stormtroopers, backed by a master sniper and tasked with killing the X.O.  In addition, the Artillery Officer is to be captured at all costs:  he knows the positions of all the regiment's artillery!

This was a very small scale game, played on a tabletop (not got a board yet ... ) with a few pieces of terrain from the Imperial City set.  It was designed as a quick (almost Kill-Team) game with a few models on each side, without adhering too strictly to points limits.  As well, we played it with an almost RPG feel, so we came up with 'house rules' on the hop.

Imperial Troops

2nd Battalion X.O., 4 Guardsmen (lasguns, Platoon Standard, Sgt with close combat weapon)

Artillery Officer, 4 Guardsmen

10 Guardsman* (Sgt; laspistol / close combat weapon, Heavy Bolter)

Rebel Troops

8 Stormtroopers* with hellguns

1 Master Sniper (Vindicare Assassin).

* The units were both split half-and-half into combat teams.

The Board

The game was played on a board about 5' x 3', with a line of buildings down either side and an open street in the middle.  The Imperium deployed on the southern flank, the rebels in the north.  All the buildings had balconies and multiple layers, as well as enclosed rooms in places.

The Mission

The Artillery Officer's bodyguards
move cautiously up the murky street
In the first turn, the X.O. moved out along the eastern flank, screened from the view of the street by the ruined Imperial Palace.  The Artillery Officer tried a similar tactic along the western path, with the two infantry combat teams pushing straight down the centre, trying to keep the heavy bolter central in case of any trouble.

As the Artillery Officer stepped off into the street, a shot rang out from a bird's nest and one of his bodyguards crumpled to the floor.  Passing their pinning test with ease, the Officer resolved to push on regardless.  The sniper remained hidden, and so none of the Guard could return fire.

The X.O. and Battalion Standard Bearer
Next turn, the X.O. carried on moving northwards for the objective, taking care to remain hidden from the sniper's bullets in the rafters.  One combat team took up position in a ruined cathedral, and the second (with the heavy bolter) pushed further on, trying to secure a position on the steps of the Imperial Palace.

Guardsmen using the ruined cathedral for a vantage point
Another shot rang out, and one of the guardsmen in the cathedral fell dead from the sniper's shot.  This time, however, the others managed to pinpoint his location: he was dug in to a tower, right at the northward end of the main road.  It was clear that any attempt to get past him to the extraction zone would be very difficult ...

The Sniper would prove a deadly and immovable
adversary throughout the whole game
As the third turn began, the Guard troops were making good progress despite some casualties from the enemy marksman, but still no sign of the Stormtroopers.  All that was shattered as the whining drone of the Valkyrie moving into position.  As the guard continued pushing up, the heavy bolter got into position on the steps of the palace just as a combat team fast-roped onto the western building where the Artillery Officer was hiding.  They leapt into combat, but in the whirling melee neither side could gain the advantage.  Over on the eastern flank, the X.O. and his bodyguard were engaged in a fierce gun battle with the other stormtroopers, each on either side of the ruined palace, exchanging fire over the wrecked and shattered floor.  One of the X.O.'s men managed to take down one of the stormtroopers with a lucky las-bolt.

Over the fourth and fifth turns, the raging combat on the western side still failed to yield a clear winner.  Even when the squad from the cathedral clambered down and made their way into the fray, the Stormtroopers held their own.  The heavy bolter on the steps of the palace barked into action, targeting the sniper and managing to inflict a wound, but the steady sniper fire whittled the 5 men down to 2.  Meanwhile, things looked better on the western flank when the X.O. managed to kill off the last of one of the stormtrooper squads.  Eventually, the close combat on the western side brought the stormtroopers down to two men as well.  With the sniper wounded and only two models left on the field, victory looked all but certain for the guard - albeit a bloody one.

The tables were dramatically turned as the turns continued.  Despite being heavily outnumbered, the stormtroopers managed to beat the combined squads of guard and broke them both, scattering their terrified and exhausted members southwards.  One of the squads was overtaken and hacked down with bayonets, and the Artillery Officer was finally captured.  With the final two guardsmen being expertly dispatched by the sniper, the situation was reversed and the X.O. found himself in a tricky position.

The two Stormtroopers were extracting northwards, bundling the Artillery Officer to the Valkyrie.  The X.O. had to choose: give chase to the stormtroopers, and risk his own life to try and save the Artillery Officer?  Or, knowing he was the primary objective, stay safe in the alleyway and deny the rebels a complete victory?

In the end, after eight turns of fast-paced, cut-and-thrust action, the X.O. decided to keep himself safe and let the stormtroopers escape.  Both sides had paid heavily: from a table total of 29 models at the start of the game, both sides could only offer 7 now.  By hiding in the alleyway, the stormtroopers had got away with the Artillery Officer but the X.O. was still safe.

For now...

Artillery Officer:  CAPTURED
Executive Officer:  SURVIVED
Result:  NARROW IMPERIAL VICTORY

Despite their victory, the Imperium paid dearly to save
the X.O.  Some of the casualties lay bloodied
where they fell, on the steps of the Imperial Palace.






Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Palladian Tactics and Doctrine

Right, we've done some modelling and stuff, so now it's time for more fluff.  I'll be posting the whole document up, but on here I'm going to take out some select bits, which hopefully might inspire a few others if it's even any good ... This admittedly rather hefty section is taken from a bit which combines a bit of history and background, and goes on to look at artillery doctrine.  

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Step-by-Step: Palladian Infantryman

As (regularly) promised, here's a simple step-by-step for painting up regular 2nd Battalion Guardsmen.  There's nothing very complicated here; I don't think any of the steps will surprise even the newest players, but I've been asked a bit about the technique so here it is.  I hope to do a few more of these and move on to more advanced ones as I get the hang of writing them (and remembering to photograph every stage ... )

Step 1.     The built model is cleaned and glued to a good old slottabase in the normal way.  It's been based with fine sand, along with some bits from the 40K basing boxed set. These seem quite expensive but if you're economical with the bitz, one of these can comfortably cover 20-30 minis.  It's undercoated with a Skull White spray; as you can see, fairly sloppily.  It doesn't matter, almost none of the original white will show through by the end.


Step 2.     The tunic is painted Dark Angels Green.  This includes pretty much all the fabric, except the trim and aguilette/eppaulettes.  Again, sloppiness is acceptable here but if you are careful (as I've tried to be here) you can use the original white undercoat later on for some of the trim.  If you make a mistake you can easily correct it with Skull White later, but minimising unnecessary layers is key to maintaining detail.












Stage 3.     The boots, bayonet frog, belt and pouches are painted Scorched Brown.
Stage 4.     The lasgun, belt buckle and peak of the cap are painted Chaos Black.  It's important in this stage to make sure all nooks and crannies are painted to cover up the white undercoat:  focus on the area between the lasgun and body.  I find sometimes that as I paint on each colour, the corners and crevices qualify as neither bits of tunic (so I don't paint them green), nor webbing (so I don't paint them brown) nor gun (so I don't paint them black).  They end up being left white and it gives it a horrible unfinished look.  After doing the gun, take a moment to find any white bits that are left and cover them up with black.
Stage 5.     The skin is painted a suitable colour.  I like to mix and match between colours like Dwarf Flesh, Tallarn Flesh, Bronzed Flesh ... varying the skin tones, like the hair tones, gives each model a bit of individuality.
Stage 6.     The raised areas of the tunic are painted in Catachan Green.  This is the key to my style of painting:  an awful lot of the Dark Angels Green is left showing through on the creased bits, not just the edges and cracks.  Almost like a fine highlight, rather than a new layer.  This minimalist approach looks silly on individual models, but in an army of about 100 minis, you need to exaggerate the differences in highlighting and shadows otherwise it won't be noticeable.  On individual and character models, you can be a bit more realistic and blend them together more naturally, as they will often be inspected close up.
Stage 7.     The white areas are given a liberal wash of any Black Ink.  This is also extended to the gaps where the brown, green and black areas border each other to add shadow to things like belts, buttons etc, as well as covering up any tiny bits of white showing through.
Stage 8.     The trim is all given a fairly hefty and obvious coat of Skull White on the raised parts, for the same reasons given in Stage 6.  (NB: this is about the point where I stopped remembering to take photos after every stages so the next few are blurred together a bit.)
Stage 9.     The raised bits of the tunic are given one final highlight of Knarlock Green.  Also, I start on the flesh by washing it with a brown ink, then re-highlighting it with the original colour.  (You can see skin isn't my strong point; hence Mordians not Catachans ... )
Stage 10.     A final highlight of Elf Flesh on the skin tones, as well as some Boltgun Metal dry brushed roughly on to the barrel, and very lightly onto the lasgun itself.















So there we are, as I promised nothing game-changing I hope, and also hopefully simple enough for a new painter to follow.  It is also basic enough to be done continually on the same model, i.e. if you follow it step-by-step, you shouldn't need to leave much/any time between each step for drying, which helps enormously in speed painting.  On a sergeant I might add some more sophisticated flesh work, and a very light Goblin Green highlight works well on some models, but this chap here is pretty much ready to take up position in the firing lines and defend the Immortal Emperor!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Tanks for the Memories

More pictures today, I think.  After a look at the artillery pieces a few days ago, now I'm going to have a look at a few of the tanks I've got on the go.  The colour scheme is a simple Catachan Green / Graveyard Earth combo, but I've also been experimenting with a few different types of weathering and mud. First up:  Imperial Guard Vanquisher.  As I say, there's nothing too fancy about the paint job.  Some good hints and tips are available in some of the Imperial Armour books, as well as looking at some old Golden Daemons.  Looking at historical photos of tanks is a good start and there are lots of specialist modelling sites out there for historical and 1:35 gamers, with some really great tips.  The mud is done with household filler, applied very roughly after painting then washed with successive layers of brown.  The ones you see here have all been painted, then the unpainted filler added on top.  You can see the haphazard way the 'mud' goes on to the painted tank gives quite a realistic effect even at this unfinished stage, my eye is always drawn to the mud on the red fuel cans on the back.  



Next up, this is a rear view of the same tank, along with the edge of my finger.  This shows rather nicely two different mud effects you can get.  The left track shows what it looks like if you wipe off all the excess mud.  This 'flattens' all the texture in a realistic way, as the mud is pressed into all the gaps by the weight of the tank.  On the right, this is what it might look like after going through particularly soft mud that sticks to the tracks.  All I'll say is, if you're experimenting remember the old rule that you can always put more on later, but it's very difficult to take off if you put too much on. 


Another shot of the same tank next, you can see some of the stowage.  The stuff that comes on the tank accessories sprue is a great starting point but if you have lots of tanks, there's the risk that it all looks a bit samey, and everyone's got the same fuel cans and ammo crates on the back.  Mixing it up with some scratch built items (like the rolled up tissue paper / PVA glue combo) and bits from other kits (the slightly different black fuel can next to the right track) can add a bit of variety and realism. 
Now, for the Demolisher ... my army has two of these beasts, and their (predictable) job is to roll up with the infantry and provide some close-in support to the battle for objectives.  The first thing I should say is that this one has had  Zimmerit anti-magnetic paint applied to the sides.  This is just a flat layer of filler onto the unpainted tank, with a few horizontal lines (about 3-4mm apart) and lots of regular vertical lines (1mm apart).  The purpose of this paint is to repel magnetic charges, and so there's a Houe Rule that it gives a 4+ save against attacks from melt bombs, krak grenades etc.  


The rear of the tank shows a few attempts at freehand painting.  The red crosses on the fuel cans (used to indicate that these water cans in fact have fuel in) give a sort of improvised look, the feel of an Imperial Guard army on campaign.  The numbers and letters are very basic but this is not one of my fortes.  The good thing about free hand painting is that it is always unique, as opposed to transfers.  The way to do this if you've never tried it is start simple.  First, I did the red crosses, then the safety writing on the engine cover (small white writing just below the two cans on the turret - it's just white lines and dots), then the safety symbol (yellow-on-black triangle just below), then finally the '14 Coy' on the fuel drum.  This way you can work up to however far you feel confident.  


Next up, a close up of the turret with the commander in black tank uniform.  One thing I don't like about Imperial Guard tanks is the strange compulsion the modelled tank commanders seem to have about going into battle with half their body poking out the top of a perfectly safe tank, waving a sword around.  If I was a tank commander I'd be a lot more careful - hence the rather cowardly commander just poking his head out the top.  It's just a cut-in-half Mordian with a spare arm from the Cadian Heavy Weapon set.


Finally this is a bit of a clearer shot of the Zimmerit anti-magnetic paint, as well as some of the pre-painted mud.


Well, that's enough for today; stay tuned for some more shots of the regular rank-and-file Guardsmen tomorrow, and hopefully a step-by-step for them.


 


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Regimental Histories

Today, I'm putting up a bit more about the history and background of the Palladian Guard.  This document covers both my armies, 2nd and 9th Battalion.  The first part is on the 121st Company, the 9th Battalion army which has fought in a campaign or two in its past.  The background, battle reports and characters are all based on real game events.

After this, the entry on 1/7th Company, 2nd Battalion, is much more bare since this army is still untested in combat, and I'll be filling in battle reports and background as they fight.

The point of all this is to show just how much you can add to your army.  If you're just a painter, or just a gamer, then that's fine.  But for me, it's everything about the game.  My models aren't just units on a tabletop, they're units I've painted, built, and who have a history and character all of their own.

The document is just one small part of the 'Codex' for the Palladian Guard, which includes reams of detail on every aspect of the army from organisation and insignia, right down to buttons and boots.  I hope to be uploading more of it soon ...

(By the way, the picture on the right hand side in the sidebar is my model for Capt Nero!  Based on the 'Classic' range Schaeffer's Last Chancers model, this one is based on Grease Monkey.)

Read 'Appendix A' here!

Friday, 23 December 2011

UPDATED: Heavy Artillery


UPDATED with new pics, 11 May 2013

Time for more pictures, I think.  Today, I'll show you a few of the Forgeworld artillery pieces I've done, along with a converted gun trailer.

The Palladian Guard make a lot of use of heavy artillery, with their lumbering, WWI-style tactics. Each position is methodically pounded with tonnes of ordnance prior to an assault, so the infantry advance upon a field of twisted metal and churned earth ... or at least that's the plan.

For my artillery models, the Heavy Support slot allows me three guns.  After some careful weighing up of the options, I decided to go for Earthshakers.  Although the Medusa's better stat line was tempting, the lure of 240" worth of range was too much.  At those sorts of ranges, you can dominate the largest of battlefields with the enemy powerless to react.  Another factor in my choice was of course the Forgeworld Earthshakers look really good on the trailers.

This is a good set of shots showing the Earthshaker Cannon as a whole.  The carriage is removable from the main gun, the gun traverses and the support legs at the back can be locked together with a pin to display it in 'limber' mode.

Obviously the biggest thing about these beasts is the cost ... especially if you want three in your army. There's nothing stopping you converting a gun carriage from scratch, and it seems fairly simple but it's very hard to make them look realistic.  These Forgeworld pieces are really great quality and if you can afford them, they'll make an excellent centrepiece.

The guns are painted using the same colours as the infantry to tie them in; the same military olive drab that is the Palladian Guard's mainstay.  The colours are the same:  Dark Angels Green, Catachan Green, Knarlock Green and Goblin Green highlights.  These are all added with a big tank brush, with very very light drybrushes.  Literally, when you rub the paintbrush across a piece of tissue paper it should leave no paint on at all.  This is drybrushed on; with about 5-10 repeats, this very subtly builds up each colour.  Catachan Green is painted on pretty much everywhere except recesses, Knarlock green onto large flat areas, and Goblin Green again on flat areas, but only 3-5 highlights.  It's a time consuming process, and one which requires loads of patience but the end effect is great.

I haven't yet tried using the Citadel Spray Gun.  I'm told you can get a similar effect to what I've just described but with much less effort, but I like the control and subtlety you can get with a brush.  One day I'll dig out an old Chimera and try a Spray Gun.

Heavy Mortar (minus mud)
The transfers are all from the Death Korps set, again from Forgeworld and again very expensive.  This one, however, pays for itself since you get an A4 sheet with hundreds of transfers, from individual shoulder pad numbers to artillery and tank markings too:  probably enough to do a decent-sized army with.

Next up, the Heavy Mortar.  Accurate and cheaper in points than the bigger guns, these scrappy mortars are really valued for artillery 'sniping', that is precision targeting.  Quote of the Day:  A Strength 3 hit is better than a Strength 10 miss...  Same paint job went in to this beast.  Incidentally, the brightly coloured objects are the included ammunition canisters.  They've been painted to represent gas shells, with a colour coding system that's a bit like the WWI method.  Maybe there'll be some House Rules for gas to follow, who knows.

Toolboxes, fuel drums and tools for flavour
With the Earthshaker in particular, the mud was done using household filler.  This takes a bit of experimentation to get the right make, Quick-Dry Polyfila was the best I've found so far.  Try it out on wheels and tracks, and you'll find real reference photos invaluable, as I say WWI is a great place to start for Imperial Guard with all the tanks and artillery.  Remember when you do it not to worry if it looks awful, it stays workable for a while and a toothbrush will take it off if you need to try again.  Be adventurous with the painting and modelling techniques, and you'll find out what works for you as well as probably coming up with one or two of your own to spread around.
Quick conversion of a Chimera to make a 'hauler'
Next up, the gun trailer.  This is really just a Chimera with the top and back left off, and I've added in some odds and ends from the bits box.  It's been left empty on purpose as I'm planning to convert some engineering crew to be working on a broken engine in the back of it.  It's a nice conversion because it looks 'natural', there's no huge structural changes involved and it almost looks like another tank out of a box - exactly what I was going for.  The simple conversions are sometimes the best.  Again, painting the same.  The brown stripes are Dark Flesh then a normal drybrush of Graveyard Earth, highlighted very lightly with Bleached Bone.  The mud is done with filler as above on the Earthshaker wheels, and the rear tow hook crucially fits the tow loops of both the Mortar and the Earthshaker.  An 'in-motion' artillery train would make a great objective for a game, and I always try not to 'glue down' (literally and figuratively) the models, allowing them to be moved and weapons to be interchanged for that added versatility.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll follow with a few weathering tips!  In time, I'll start doing more step-by-steps with pictures for each stage as I buy and build new units, but at the moment this is all the existing stuff in the army.

House Rules

A post of thoughts rather than pictures.  Firstly, this is just to talk a bit about my army, and the house rules I use for them, as well as how I go about creating my own rules.

So, the Palladian Guard has thirty regiments.  My planned army will represent some units from the First Regiment, nicknamed the Praetorian Guard.  Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted a Roman theme here ... the first Imperial Guard army I own is from 9th Battalion The Emperor's Light, a light infantry battalion.  These chaps are about 2,500 points worth of Cadians.  The current project is for an army of 2nd Battalion troops, Governor's Life-Guards.  These are parade ground troops, requisitioned by an Inquisitor (that's the background to a forthcoming campaign).

So, let's take a look at the universal special rules, first of all.  These apply to all First Regiment troops, so both the 2nd and 9th Battalion get to use these.
___________________________________________________________________________________

PRAETORIAN GUARD UNIVERSAL SPECIAL RULES
Any units representing elements of the First Regiment, the ‘Praetorian Guard’, benefit from the following special rules:
Steely Resolve
The Praetorians uphold a martial tradition of ten thousand years and would rather die than suffer the shame of retreat. A Praetorian officer demands and expects nothing less from his men. Any unit that is falling back but has at least one model within 6" of a Praetorian officer (of any rank) may attempt to regroup, even if it is reduced to less than half strength.
Brothers-in-Arms
The Palladian Guard have fought shoulder to shoulder with the Cadian Shock Troops for thousands of years and have died together in countless battles. Palladian squads can use the leadership value of any ally with a Cadian army, either an officer in range or through a vox-caster.

Orders
Praetorian squads can use the Imperial Guard Orders rules as detailed in the Imperial Guard Codex.

________________________________________________________________

So, those are the rules.  Again, the most observant of you will have noticed that Steely Resolve is pretty much the same as some of the Death Korps rules, which it's based on.

The key thing to making up your own rules is playability: would you want to fight someone else who had these rules?  To that end, the key here is to make sure you're not just making up rules to make your army indestructible.  The rules should add depth and character, and ideally:

  • Represent a trait you have as a player:  maybe if (like me) your foes all see you as a heartless armchair general, feeding wave after wave of men into a battle of certain death, maybe some kind of Relentless-style rule would fit.
  • Play up to your army's traits and history:  your army will already have Codex special rules to define it, but you could include a rule based on your army's performance in a campaign. This is where Steely Resolve came from.  In a campaign fighting Space Marines, my chaps never once fled despite being regularly shot up by those damn AP5 bolters ...
  • Follow some background you have written:  this is my favourite reason.  Maybe if you write a short story detailing the exploits of your commander, and you portray him as a ruthless devotee to the Imperial Cult, you could give him some of the special rules borrowed from the Commissar slot?
There are some key rules here, namely:  be sparing, don't go overboard, be sporting, and try and base the rules on something that already exists.  And be sporting!  I can't stress that enough.  My solution is usually to encourage an opponent to make a special rule for every one I make, and we agree them before the battle.  

These rules can unbalance the game and a certain about of trial-and-error is needed, but if you're careful you can add real character to your army, and allow its history and background to shine through on the battlefield as well.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

+++ INCOMING TRANSMISSION +++

Welcome, visitor, to Palladian Guard!  This blog is all about a series of Imperial Guard armies, all themed around the hive-world of Palladia.  As well as looking at aspects of the 40K hobby including painting, collecting and gaming, I also hope to share some of the extensive background work on this army which has been going now for over five years.


Feel free to view, comment and even be inspired by (plagiarise) the work here.  Especially, I hope that this can provoke some discussion amongst players old and new alike, and encourage them to look beyond the rulebook and develop their own views of the fictional 40K universe.  Things like background, or even (for the talented) fiction and artwork can add real depth and character to an already enjoyable hobby.


Right, that's the commercial over, now for some drama!  I'm going to start by looking at my current project, which is a 5,000-point Imperial Guard army using Mordian Iron Guard models.  They key theme is that all my 'Guard' armies represent one particular unit of the Palladian Guard.  At the moment, this consists of around 2,500 points of Cadian models (representing a company of ordinary line infantry: the 121 Company of 9 Battalion, the First Regiment).  The current Mordian project is a 'full-dress' version (7 (Pioneer) Company of 2 Battalion, the First Regiment).


Palladian Guard manning a dug in Lascannon
Here's what's just come hot off the painting desk:  The lascannon teams in my army are all modelled to be static, dug-in guns closer to German PaK-40 AT guns, rather than lighter, man portable weapons.


The crew, together with the 'legs' and shield of the gun carriage are taken from the normal Mordian heavy weapons blister.  The lascannon itself, the power pack and the cable are all Cadian spares.  The crew are mounted on pennies individually and not fixed to the 55mm base.  This lets me take one off as a casualty in a game.


Front view, showing the mud into which the gun has been dug.
The mud at the front has been made with a small piece of card stood up and bent around half of the base, then filler has been added to build up the effect.  For detail, some odd bits have been thrown in to break it up (a link of tank track, a metal plate, some real nails as support struts, etc...)  The base is finished with a bit of sand and sealed with PVA.  Next time I do one of these, I'll post a step by step.


As for painting (again, detailed step-by-step to follow), the crew and gun are both built up from a white undercoat, to Dark Angels Green, Catachan Green, Knarlock Green and highlighted with Goblin Green.  The metal is simply dry brushed Boltgun Metal on black, and the white parts of the uniform are washed with black ink and the highlights picked out in Skull White.  This is a good first post as it illustrates a theme of mine:  fewer colours can still look good.  Be strict with your palette; the crew only use green, black, white and metal (with brown trim) and the final effect for a large Guard army is spectacular.  Save special colours for special models.


I love this conversion, mainly because it is easy and cheap.  Two of my favourite modelling words.  Aside from the Cadian lascannon (a bit of a luxury; it'd work just as well with the normal Mordian one), this has been done entirely with household clutter and a very minor skim of the bits box, and with very little extra effort.