Thursday, March 10, 2011

Astartes Power Armor

The Adeptus Astartes are the most powerful fighting force in the entire galaxy.  More commonly known as 'Space Marines', these warriors epitomize the art of war in every way.  In addition to their awesome firepower and extensive training and indoctrination, every space marine is given a suit of power armor.  This armor is the finest protection any foot soldier of any race in the galaxy can ask for.

The armor of the Astartes is the most advanced piece of machinery that mankind has ever produced.  Mixing the most micro-sized machinery and barely-understood biomechanical processes, the armor provides the warrior with additional strength and speed on top of the survivability. 

The armor is most often made from ablative ceramite plates, stacked layer-by-layer over the internal machinery.  This allows the armor to recieve impacts but deftect most blows.  The most vulnerable portions of the armor are the abdomen (often protected by the marine's boltgun-at-rest) and the leg joints (which is mitigated as the marine is constantly moving).  The most reinforced portions of the armor are the shoulder plates, chestplate, and lower legs.  These are the areas of the armor most exposed to enemy fire therefore requiring additional layers of ablative plating.

The interior machinery of the armor is made up of thousands of hyper-servos and mechandritic branches.  The armor weighs hundreds of pounds, which would be impossible to move by an un-augmented human.  The Astartes physiology makes them stronger by many times, allowing them to move the armor with little effort.  This is further enhanced by the psycho-active matrix of the power armor, which activates the machinery and moves the heavy armor plates with only thought.  Added to the space marine's already unimaginable strength, this allows the armor to act as additional muscles.  It is not unheard of for a space marine to be able to throw a tank using nothing but his hands, and power armor.

The entire suit of power armor is controlled by a miniature fusion reactor housed in an armored backpack.  Due to the intricate and super-charged machinery inside and the heavy weight of the armor plates and Astartes warrior enclosed in it, the suit requires a massive amount of energy.  This can only be provided by nuclear forces, and fusion is the simplest and most transportable form.  The energy produced by the mini-reactor is enough to power the suit forever, but the heat would fry a man in the suit instanty.  This is lessoned almost entirely by massive heat dispersing modules on either side of the backpack.  

Power armor is the most advanced battlefield asset in the entire galaxy.  In addition to protecting and enhancing the warrior's strength and speed, it also contains the wargear necessary for space marine shock troops to wage their wars.  Housed in the chestplate is the master power trunk, carrying enough power to sustain an Imperial tank.  Also housed there is nutrient-producing injection machinary, used to physically sustain the soldier without having to stop for food.  The leg armor contains additional gyrostabilizers and gravity enhancers to allow for extremely steady footing.  The feet have magnetized and grounded footpads, perfect for boarding actions and interstellar combat.  More advanced than all of this, however, is the helmet.  The smallest piece of the entire Power Armor suit, it is nonetheless the most packed with machinery.  The helmet of most space marines contains vox-systems, heads-up-display capability, orbital and transatmospheric vox-systems, voice amplifiers, air filtration and air-sealed environmental systems, multi-spectral vision capability, and audible enhancers.  With all this wargear, an Astartes is able to wage war at night, in extremely hostile environments, and against grenades and chemical weapons.

Even more advanced, so advanced that the Adeptus Mechanicus guards the secret closely, is the biomatrix.  The armor has a number of 'spikes' that plug into a space marine's implanted Black Carapace and 'reads' the neurons underneath.  In effect, the power armor's matrix turns the space marine's brain activity into electronic  signals which power the armor.  This allows an Astartes to control the armor with his thoughts in the same way as he controls his own skin and muscles.  What's more amazing is that the warrior doesn't even need to try to control the armor, it moves the same way as his arm when he wishes to move it.  With the space marine's great strength, speed, and skill being augmented by the power armor, the Astartes become more than any other warrior in the galaxy can match.

The only technical drawing I've seen of power armor is from the Rogue Trader days and is of the Mk 6 Corvus armor.  Check out how packed the helmet is, and pay especially close attention to the psy-spikes in the back of the chestplate.  That's how the power armor is told what to do by the marine's brain...

The Space Marine Power Armor has grown over 10 milennia of war across the stars.  Although the basic characteristics and purposes remain the same, key advancements have been made with each upgrade, or Mark (Mk). 

Mk I 'Thunder' armor
This armor was the form outfitted to the Emporer's armies around the time of conquering Terra.  It was thick and heavy, but wasn't fully enclosed and used archaic power sources.  Successful for that ancient time, it's barely worthy of a storm trooper of today.

Mk II 'Crusade' armor
The Emporer sanctioned the use of this armor at around the same time as the launch of the 'Great Crusade'.  As his armies went out and conquered the nearby star systems, they needed a fully enclosed suit of armor that they could also fight in.  Sadly, the armor provided very low mobity, but great protection.  Some feel that Tactical Dreadnought Armor began its development here.

Mk III 'Iron' armor
The Mark III armor saw little more than protective upgrades, especially with the central power trunk.  The problems with mobility still persisted, however, and this mark didn't appear to have a long service life.

Mk IV 'Maximus' armor
This pattern of armor was very widespread, seeing use across the entire galaxy by all 18 legions.  This armor was the most common at the time of the Warmaster's Ascenscion and gained the most popularity.  The armor was far more advanced in mobility, and included an entire comm and sensor suite inside the helmet.  The Maximus armor was really the first true 'power armor' as we know it today.

Mk V 'Heresy' armor
This armor was just being issued to the forces of the Astartes as the Horus Heresy broke out.  It was heavily reinforced with metal studs and was highly sought after considering the vicious close-quarter fighting that the space marines were known for.  Unfortunately, the time was one of great turmoil and some of the technology was lost and the cost of the armor was too much to continue for long.

Mk VI 'Corvus' armor
This is the most common form of armor to rule the Age of the Imperium.  Combining all the modern traits of today's armor with a simple and easy-to-produce construction made this armor very long lived.  It's not the greatest mark of armor in its history, but it certainly held the Imperium together as well as any other.

Mk VII 'Aquila' or 'Imperator' armor
The Space Marine forces of today wear this armor.  It includes all the advanced wargear to allow the warrior to do his craft, but also maintains the highest level of combined mobility and protection.  The deciding factor as to the greatness of the armor is its ease-of-repair.  Because it follows the Mk IV's example and is made up of simple and easy-to-produce components, the tech-priests can more quickly repair and return a suit of armor to duty.  The Astartes find this especially useful on long campaigns when they'll get resupply or refit much later than normal.

Mk VIII 'Errant' armor
This suit of power armor is a more heavily-reinforced version of the Mk VII.  Not sacraficing too much mobility in the lower body section, the heavier suit is perfect for heavy weapon or static units.  It is still rare, most likely because of the ubiquitious Mk VII's consistent performance so far.

'Dornian Heresy' concept Power Armor
This is some fan-fiction found over on another forum.  The basic concept is a change of the history of 40k, leaving the Ultramarines as the most advanced in the galaxy.  This was their version of the advanced power armor.  I dig it a bit, I gotta admit...

And there's the lesson on power armor.  Wait till yo see what the warrior inside is made of.  You might find out that this armor, awesome as it is, really is secondary and little more than a tool.  And that's what makes Space Marines cool!

2011, A unit a week

Makeup for week 8:

2nd Panzerkompanie HQ

Panzer IV E and Panzer IV F2 (special)
10.Panzerdivision, 7.Panzerregiment

2011, A unit a week

Makeup for week 7:

2nd Panzerkompany Platoon

Panzer III L  (special)
10.Panzerdivision, 7th Panzerregiment

2011, A unit a week

Makeup for week 6:

2nd Panzer Company Platoon

Panzer IV F2 (special)
10.Panzerdivision, 7.Panzerregiment

2011, A unit a week

Makeup for week 5:

German Schwere Panzer Platoon

mid-war Tiger 1E
Divisional Support, 10.Panzerdivision, 501.SchwerePanzerabteilung

2011, A unit a week

Makeup for week 4:

German Assault Gun Platoon

mid-war Stug G
Divisional Support, 10.Panzerdivision

Basic Training: Assembling FoW Infantry

Flames of War uses alot of metal, and the infantry are totally so.  I added a mortar platoon to my German army, and figured it'd be a great chance to show off the assembly of these units.  Before you get started on your own models, make sure you have the following:  1. The models and bases.  Duh.  2. a pair of side-cutters.  3. a file, usually flat or triangular.  And finally 4. super-glue.  Okay, let's get going.

Step one:  Lay out all the models and ensure that each base gets an equal amount of different doods.  The platoons seem to always come with enough different models so that each 'base' or team has different models.  For example, a unit with 6 teams (bases of guys) of 4 soldiers each will come with 24 models.  There will be 4 or more different poses, and up to six of each pose.  Each team may look identical to the team next to it, but you can almost always be sure that each team is made up of different individual doods.
This step may seem obvious, but I already made the mistake on my first infantry company, so it must be said.
Make sure to clip off all the 'flash'.  That's the extra metal bitz just hanging off the extended parts of the model.

Step two:  File each of the models and remove the mould lines.  Remember that the models are created in a vaccuum-molding process, meaning that there will be a 2D line all the way around each piece.  This is because the two flat moulds are pushed against each other while the injected metal tries to force its way out. 
Mostly pay attention to any long gun barrels and helmets.  When you paint the models, these will be the most obvious if you miss the mould lines.  Remember that to file, you simply 'drag' the [flat] file ACROSS the area you want to file away.  More pressure will leave deeper gouges as you drag, so make sure you're careful not to push too hard.

Step three:  Hopefully you've kept all your models sorted as per step 1, which makes this step easier.  If not, add some arbitrary insults to your hobby skills and repeat step 1, then come back here.  This step is so easy:  simply glue the models to their bases.  Make sure to mix up the positioning of the doods from team to team (this keeps it looking 'real') and make sure to use lots of superglue.  I use GW's brush-on super glue, which is amazing.  If you don't have a brush on, no worries, just squirt a goodly amount of glue onto the bottom of the bases and set them down.  If you're not using the brush-on, the models will need a few minutes to set.  The stuff I use took about 4 seconds to set.  Thanx GW!

Step four:  Admire your infantry.  You've got to give them time to dry anyway, so you might as well stare at the coolness of your new platoon.  I do this often myself.

NOT the mortar platoon.  I know, shaddup!
And there ya go!  The units are assembled and ready to go, and with very little real work.  I have to note right now that building FoW infantry is a little reward compared to building GW models. 

Step five:  Move on to basing.  This will save you time later. 

Happy Hobbying and Happy Gaming!

My Chaos bastard-child

Today I am going to go and play my first game of Warhammer in the 8th edition.  I will be using my Warriors of Chaos and I believe I will be facing High Elves.  I could be facing Lizardmen or Tomb Kings as well, but I just want to hit whatever it is.  And Warrriors do that well.

So first I need to wax reminder of the new rules.

This is my favorite part of the new rules.  Apparently, all other things being equal, charge distances are now a matter of luck.  Instead of charging double the unit's move distance, you roll 2d6 and add that to the base move characteristic.  This means that an average unit can charge from 6" up to 16".  Also, there's no more wheeling in the charge moves.  It's measure range, check line of sight, then freely wheel once before executing a straight-line move.  People, I can't lie.  This is by far my favorite part of the new Warhammer.  It adds the strategy of 'hope' to the game, and can make some things really interesting. 

So magic batteries are back, yay!  But it's totally random again.  The player rolls 2d6 and that's how many power dice he gets, while the opponent has as many dispel dice as the lower die roll.  Add a '6' roll on a d6 for each wizard to beef up the pile, and blammo!  I don't know that I really like this, but it keeps Slaan from creating 212 casting dice in a single magic phase of a 1500 point game...
Casting is easy:  Roll any number of dice, add your level, and beat the casting score!  If you roll a double 6, then you cast the spell too powerfully to dispel AND your head might blow up.  Yes.  Thank goodness I'm not playing my High Elves as they get to ignore the bad side of this rule in some cases.  That just feels dirty...

Everything shoots in two ranks now.  Awesome!

Close Combat
This phase is hugely different.  Blows are struck in order of initiative, period.  The charge bonus comes in the Resolution phase (this kinda sucks, especially added onto random charge distances.  But I play high Initiative armies, so I can't complain too much).  Everything fights in two ranks now, just like shooting.  Awesome!  Casualties are removed from the rear instead of the front, nearly guaranteeing that someone will get to fight back.  Fear causes people to fight worse now and can be effective in every round of combat.  All in all, I couldn't be more stoked.  Combat is going to be deadlier, faster, and much more intense.  I just hope I'm on the 'giving end' more often than not...

Army Selection
This is the easiest change to spot in the whole rulebook.  Warhammer armies are chosen again on the 'percentage' system.  Instead of having to take horribly expensive core units by the scores just to meet the requirements, I can knock out the prerequisite points of core and move on.  High Elves got boned by this, but my Warriors of Chaos were certainly benefitted.  I've almost decided to bring a single unit of chaos warriors and be done with it.  Is that cheezy?

Warriors of Chaos
Inarguably the most evil of all the races in the Warhammer world, Chaos is the most basic brute malice given form.
Every year, the Empire braces for the inevitable invasion from the north.  Quickly, armies of massive, bulking, armored warriors appears by the thousands on the horizon.  Not focused on conquering but instead destroying, the armies of Chaos strike terror into the northward lands of the Empire.

The average Chaos warrior stands 2m (almost 7 feet) tall, and weighs hundreds of pounds.  They are armored from head to toe with volcano-forged armor and carry the sharpest, most vicious blades of any army.  They speak little, howl often, and find total joy in slaughter.  A Chaos warrior's bloodlust is matched only by his skill at bloodletting.

There are four major powers, or Gods, that the Warriors of Chaos follow.  These Gods want to see the destruction of all the civilized lands and nothing less.  They gift the greatest warriors in the armies with greater strength, useful mutations, and magical powers.  They also punish failure by turning those champions and non-followers into Spawn and other less-desirable forms.  Of all the Gods, the most powerful is Khorne.

Khorne is the Chaos God of War, Bloodletting, and Slaughter.  He takes the form of a massive beastly canine, so strong and angry that his mere appearance is enough to launch wars.  He demands little of his followers other than the to kill and bring him the skulls to build his great throne.  Those skulls need not be of enemy and sometimes includes the greatest of his own followers!
Chaos armies most often follow the lure of Khorne.  The pure, unadulterated fury that he embodies is easy for warriors to identify with.  Khorne's armies are the largest and fiercest of all of them, but other Warlords tend to trust them little for obvious reasons. 

The Old Days
I am a good-guy player.  As many of my blogs have noted, I'm a human-supremecist and a champion of order.  For many years I actually played High Elves and Empire because of this.  But, after losing my 20th game in a row with the High Elves (thanks last edition codex creep!), I fell to the lures of Khorne.  I wanted an army that didn't instantly die when they got hit, could deal out real damage, and also looked cooler than ballz. 
As it turns out, I've actually really dug Chaos warriors for some time.  As I was packing up to move from the Great White North back to the greatest nation in the world, I found some Heroquest boxes.  With some nostalgia, I happily fondled the contents and remembered fondly the Chaos Warriors- my favorite models.  It figures that those whispers were planted long before I realized it...

My army (or really just my three favorite and painted models)
This model MADE me choose Chaos.  No matter how much I loved my good guys, this model always drew my eye.  In fact, there's probably a few too many Warhammer players with this model for no other reason that they listened to me.  But you gotta admit, what says 'screw you with an axe' more?

This model has a great history.  I had a new player decide to start Warriors of Chaos for Warhammer and I got to teach him all his hobby skills (go go gadget Academy!)  He became really amazing at the painting and modelling side of it and converted up his own Valkia the Bloody model.  I love me some Valkia so I asked him to build me one.  Here's the pieces he used:  old Lelith Hesperax (Dark Eldar), Dark Pegasus wings (Dark Elves), Deamonette head (Daemons), Chaos knight lance and shield (WoC).  I tossed in the skulls from the Warhammer basing kit and went to town painting it.  Is she sexy or what?  Also, throwing some thanx out there to Ryan Murphy for such a cool and simple conversion.  This kind of hobby skill is admirable in anyone, especially newbs!

Finally, this knight is just cool.  I painted him as part of a staff painting contest (and some really cool gamers) and crushed all opposition.  As always, the models look better in person than my camera-work belies.  I apologize in advance. 
If you check out the rear end of the model real close, you'll see the winning brush strokes.  Everyone in the contest was well-known for their painting skills, so I had to take it up a notch.  To win, I painted a Khorne symbol in watermark across the horse's armor.  Hopefully you can see it. 

Hopefully I win today, but moreso y'all are inspired.  Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grey is the new Black

Holy crap, they're here!  The Grey Knights are Games Workshop's most elite and specialized army.  Check out the new models at the link below:

Check out the latest sharing of knowledge at the link below:

Also, I have to note that the Dark Eldar beastmaster stuff is still pretty amazing.  This may be the best advance order page GW has ever put up.  Just sayin...

Happy Gaming!