"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." — Gary Gygax.

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Every Dog Has His Day

This morning came with the news that The Shell Case, that most ambitious of hobby blogs, would be calling time. Something Phil wrote in his last post could very easily have fallen from my own fingertips, and might explain why my contributions to the House of Paincakes and Corehammer have trailed off.

More than anything I need to stop pretending to be relevant. As much as I love writing reviews, that’s all this site was becoming because I’m not active in the hobby any more…beyond the odd game of Mordheim. I’m hoping that will change but it would be fraudulent of me to profess to be a hobby expert when I barely know what’s going on in the hobby.

I don’t play that much any more. I buy things, out of a collector’s impulse and a nostalgic urge and to have things available for the odd away-day to play a few games, but I’ve done so little interaction with the Hobby At Large this year that I’ve not really anything much to say. I can’t write army list posts because I’m so far behind the new release churn; can’t write tactics posts because I’m so out of practice that I’m almost a new player again; can’t write decent reviews of RPGs because my player base is so thinly spread across… well, across Europe now. I have no interest in Telling You About My Character, really – unless my hobby adventures illustrate some greater point, blogging about them is like Instagramming photos of your #dinner and who gives a shit about that?

I’m not packing it in entirely. Every time I say that’s what’s happening, a wheel turns on the interest cycle and I end up back on the blogamatron again. I also have a deep contempt for bloggers who flounce off only to crawl back a month later when their lust for attention is temporarily satiated. Don’t expect much though. What irregular output I can muster is better off thrown behind the Corehammer juggernaut than selfishly hoarded and clutched to my own bosom. Go there for the rest of the Road to SmogCon stuff and the event itself, and then we’ll see.

The blog as it stands won’t be deleted. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of words, hundreds if not thousands of hours, and a great many intelligent comments (plus one or two stupid ones) here, and I believe they’ve all been worthwhile. Especially the comments. I’ve never done this for the attention but I have done it for the conversation, and there have been some good ones over the years.

Salut. Happy New Year. Have a good one.

[WM/H] Road to SmogCon II -“Nobody move! I’ve dropped me brain.”

I don’t know why, but I invariably cock up every game I play with Pete. I don’t even have the excuse of heatstroke this time. Not to take anything away from him, of course, the big lad played a solid game and I manifestly failed to do so, but I did end up just shoving figures across the board into the teeth of Cygnar POW 10 and it’s only Pete’s frequent inability to roll numbers like 4 or 5 on two or three dice that kept me in the game. For what it’s worth, I brought the same army as last time and Pete had something like this:

Commander Coleman Stryker (*6pts)
* Defender (9pts) (the only dubious choice here)
* Ironclad (7pts)
Black 13th Gun Mage Strike Team (4pts)
Trencher Chaingun Crew (2pts) (underrated, lemme tell you)
Gun Mage Captain Adept (2pts)
Journeyman Warcaster (3pts)
* Charger (4pts)

I’m not going to bother writing up the game because a) no photos (my army’s still not painted) and b) you’ll get the gist from examining the big lesson that I learned. I’m not playing Makeda or the Titan Gladiator as far upfield as I should be; both of them are melee pieces which I’m treating like spell support, and the consequence is a piecemeal attack.

In this game, a more bold advance and a spot of Fate Walking with Makeda would have let me keep Karn in her control area, which in turn would have meant I could force a few rerolls on Pete’s Ironclad, which in turn might have meant I’d had a living Molik Karn to mess with on my third turn. I also need to ease off on the running to engage nonsense and look for opportunities to smash things; again, with the benefit of hindsight a properly ramped up Molik Karn (Enraged and under Road to War and Rush for extra verve) could have been trashing Pete’s Ironclad and engaging his Defender rather than going for a “if I survive this turn you’re dead” run against Stryker with both heavy warjacks alive and well.

I have to either adapt my play to the army list, or alter the army list to conform with my playstyle. I’m more tempted than ever to roll up with Lord Arbiter Hexeris instead, for reasons which warrant a post all to themselves.

Progress on the scenario has been nonexistent bar the acquisition of two more player character models (a Gatorman witch doctor/bokor and a Farrow slaughterhouser/chieftain). I’d like to plead “busy with work” but the truth is I’ve been through a bit of a slump in which the only miniatures I’ve given a damn about are the Oldhammer Orks I’ve been buying to cheer myself up, and the only gaming I’ve been doing is a long weekend of WoW which induced dough-like immobility until a looming deadline forced me to engage with real, productive work instead of low-outcome work substitute.

WoW really is like aspartame or methadone; it’s not a second job you have to pay for, it’s a job-like experience for the conventionally unemployable or the chronically depressed. Which you have to pay for. I think that’s why a disturbing number of WoW roleplayers choose to roleplay ordinary civilians with boring jobs and civilian problems; for these people, that’s an implausible and enticing fantasy that’s an improvement on their actual lives. For me, the game is an equivalent to binge drinking. If I’m feeling miserable I don’t go out and get tanked up (stupid medication makes that an unpredictable and rather short experience); I sit around pulling the WoW lever for cheese until the experience has become so stale that I start doing things again to avoid its numerous and sluggish obligations.

Anyway, the point is that I haven’t felt like either statting up any antagonists or painting any models, which must change over/after Christmas. I’ve deliberately not booked any work between the 21st of December and Epiphany; for once, I don’t have to spend Christmas fretting over money and income, and so I’m not going to. Hopefully I’ll spend that time actually doing some hobby, putting the Mammoth together (it’s cleaned up! that’s progress!) and giving everything a good coat of spray primer and its first layer of ink at least.

[40K OSR] Waa-Bozgof, Second Edition

A little later than anticipated, here are some pictures of Oldhammer 40K Orks. There are others like them, but these are mine.

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Waa-Bozgof! Together at last.

After all adding up, checking books, finding spare pistols, counting on fingers, knitting, purling and taking away, the army comes to something in the region of 2250 points (under second edition rules) and doesn’t even have all the Wargear cards it’s allowed.

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Da Boyz! Keep going forward, don’t get killed.

Against my better judgement, I have always been of the opinion that Ork armies need lots of footsloggers. It’s quite satisfying shoving a huge mass of models around – the only tradeoff is that it’s considered good form to paint them at some stage. That might be why most of mine are Goffs (at least half black, so done in one layer). Also, these aren’t sitting-around-in-poet-shirt-having-a-mope goffs, these are go-out-and-get-pissed-and-stomp-around-listening-to-KMFDM goffs. Two units of fifteen Skarboyz, with a few chainswords scattered through for parrying and a plasma gun each in case they have to slow down and shoot at things for a turn or two. Nob for each with a power fist because a) they can and b) it makes them viable under the current rules if I fancy trolling the Newhammer scallies by fielding models older than they are.

2015-12-08 11.40.43

Warboss Bozgof and Nogbad the Banna Wava, plus Painboyz.

Bozgof is exactly the same model who led my original Ork army back in the Nineties. He probably even has the same kustom blasta. His weaponry’s pretty much dictated by the model (power axe, spike arm, bionik leg) and I’m giving him a kustom blasta because he’s got BS6 and might as well make something of it.

Nogbad is an older Goff Nob model with a bit of pin vice work done to drill through his hand and slide a brass rod banner pole in there (with the top bit off the Dreadnought). This is actually the second attempt at his arm; the first one pinged off into the distance when I was trimming the pole down and is somewhere on my horrible telly-static-looking carpet. I don’t usually like mucking about with pin vices, but if I wanted an Ork Battle Standard Bearer (and I did, because I don’t want to trust the vital “stop running away” stick to a weedy Gretchin) I had no choice. Surprisingly easy. Deceptively easy. I suspect trickery.

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Kopzag the Weirdboy.

It took some patient hunting, seeking and sniping to get my hands on a Goff Weirdboy who still had the top on his staff. This one was bent when he arrived (stop that sniggering) and is going to need careful handling lest he end up like every other Goff Weirdboy model I’ve ever seen. I paid more for him than some of the units in the army, but I regret nothing.

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Mek-Gar and Steely Dred.

Mek-Gar is the most eccentric model I’ve built for this army, I reckon. The idea came when looking through my first job lot of Orky bits and the second edition Wargear cards. Teleskopic Legs and a metal body from the old Bionik Boyz range, plastic arms with the big shoulderpads from the Rogue Trader Boyz, a busted-up Stormboy jump pack, a weird hammer thing that turned up in a job lot and remains unidentified, and part of the Planet Killer. One Mekboy who can keep up with the Dreadnought (Teleskopik Legs) and chuck down a nice invisible, impenetrable wall for the Boyz to advance behind (Force Field Projekta).

2015-12-08 11.41.13

Blood Axe and Snakebite Orks hangin’ around at the back.

The Blood Axes are there because of Rogue Trader rules: only they and the Evil Sunz can bring extra Mekaniaks along and Blood Axes are a bit cheaper. Also, they have the best Nob model doing, and can have multi-meltas. By the way, you may have noticed that one of them looks a bit… strange. Say hello to Kurtz Brando, agent of the Ordo Xenos, assigned to infiltrate Kilgore’s Blood Axe household and destablise the Waaagh from within. Unfortunately, the psychically-sensitive Brando has gone a bit native from surplus Waaagh-power, and now he’s starting to think the Orks are on to something. At some point, the Imperium’s going to realise his methods of manipulating the Orks have become ‘questionable’, and do something about him. (One of the heads from a Rogue Trader Ork was missing, but for some reason I had a Rogue Trader Imperial Guard head and a Space Marine boltgun lying around. This seemed like the logical solution.)

The Snakebites represent something of a sore point. I didn’t originally want any, but in second edition rules only they can bring along extra Runtherds, and I do want a Runtherd looking after each of my war machine crews (or Gretchin mobs if I ever find the right period of metal Gretchin). If I can find enough of the nifty metal Snakebites I might build some of those instead and fold these guys into the other mobs.

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Da Big Gunz!

Ye gods that’s a bad photo. (Deal with it: this isn’t Von’s Super Rad Photography Blog.) Here we have the Orks who hang around behind the Snakebites and try to hurt things from a safe distance, including my Squig Katapult and Hop Splatta Kannon Gun (it had a bit of an identity crisis between the Black Codex and the first Codex Orks). Note the mega-armoured Nob hanging around in the middle somewhere. I can’t resell him with an arm missing and I can’t find a replacement arm anywhere, so he’s had a plastic power claw stuck on and now he’s going to be an expensive, inefficient squad leader, because why not? He’s not my favourite Bad Moon model, but he’ll do.

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Badaka the Other Weirdboy and Bad Moons.

I could very easily have built a much, much bigger mob of Bad Moons with plasma guns (yes, they can all have plasma guns if they want). Seriously, there’s so many plasma guns hanging around, just because the plastic Ork Weapons sprues all had one on there. It’s sort of tempting and I’m not ruling out nicking a few models back from the Snakebite unit to bulk this one out. Also, one of my favourite Weirdboy models – the one who looks like he’s having a good time. I prefer two middling psykers to one big expensive one who is, ultimately, still a deathtrap in a flak vest. Most of the battle reports I’ve read turned south when the Orks lost their Warphead, so I’m going to try building a force that doesn’t need one.

2015-12-08 11.41.43

Snagadak’s Deathskull Lootas.

Expensive, fragile, and potentially hilarious. Also some of the most wobbly models I’ve ever built. Snagadak is an unreleased Deathskull Nob who’s probably worth loadsamoney to the right collector, but I have stuck a kustom shoota onto him (with much finagling of arms that were designed for a slanted shoulder joint, not the straight-on joint of the Nineties models) and some big shoulderpads and he’s staying with me.

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Da Buggiez! Under-represented. Needs more Boarboyz.

At the moment the collection is a bit lacking in fast stuff, partly because I want to keep it compatible with Rogue Trader rules to the best possible extent and partly because I think five Wartraks is quite enough. I do have my eye on some Snakebite Boarboyz though; five of those plus a Nob and a Bigboss could be had for about twenty or thirty quid and they’d give me another wave of speedier stuff to run around making a nuisance of itself. They’d also give me a home for the handful of power swords and axes that are left over from putting the Skarboyz together.

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Shelf of odd “this is for Rogue Trader” stuff, with unnecessary view of Von’s kitchen.

From right to left: spare Mekboy, Goff Big Mob (ordinary Boyz with a couple of heavy plasma guns), Goff Boyz Mob (ordinary Boyz with bolters, sadly not an option in second edition, although they’ll serve well as Minderz if I decide to take a Warphead after all), and the Rokk Band, the first bits I acquired for the project (back before there was a project at all).

Is it over? Not really. I’d like some of those nifty metal Snakebites (on foot and on boars, and with two units of them I can probably justify a Big Boss on a Cyboar, making them the largest subordinate tribe in the Waaagh and an independent skirmishing force in their own right). Some Gretchin would be nice, although hardly anyone seems to have bought the cute Colin Dixon Gretchin back in the day, so I might have to swallow my distaste and go for either Gorkamorka metals (quite commonplace) or one-piece plastics (half and half Space Crusade and second edition 40K would be good, one unit with autoguns to screen the artillery and one unit with blunderbusses to screen the troops). I’d also like at least one Battlewagon, since they’re free to a good Retinue under Rogue Trader rules and will be quite useful for ferrying my Nobz Mob (or a small mob of Goffs with chainswords, led by my assorted Oddboyz) around the place.

Worryingly, I’ve discovered that my old mate Curis, of Ninjabread and Mantic Games fame, is also working on an Oldhammer Ork army, although his are mostly Bad Moons because he’s a masochist and likes painting yellow for some reason. Nonetheless, he’s already bought a space Dreadnought and some Rogue Trader Stormboyz off me, and I’m waiting for the moment when he starts beating me to Battlewagons. We shall have to arrange some sort of Ork-off for the New Year. After SmogCon. For which I really need to get those Skorne painted…

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