Monday, February 22, 2021

Runtherdz (Part 2)


Bad Moon Runtherd.

With the Grotz done, it only made sense to get their Runtherd finished also. It was easy enough to figure out how to paint the squighound as I did an attack squig a while back that is not too dissimilar to this one. But the actual guy himself took a bit of thought. But once I figured him out, it was time to apply the basecoats. 

Basecoats on the Runtherd.

The basecoats are as follows: for the flesh Caliban Green, for the yellow clothes I used Firey Orange, for the fur I used an old Foundation Paint called Adeptus Battlegrey, the leather pants and gloves was Rhinox Hide, the leather straps were done using Abaddon Black and the squig was based in Khorne Red. 

We call this 'cake-topper chic'.

The midcoats were added next. This time I went with the Gretchin Green Foundation Paint that I thought worked well with the Grots skin. The yellow had a Sunburst Yellow basecoat and the staff was based using Tinbitz. The squig was based using Khorne Red and it has been washed with Nuln Oil. 


After base-coating the teeth I quickly moved on to the yellow areas where I added the classic Bad Moon Yellow color and highlighted it with Folkart Lemmonade. I just pushed on, finishing the ork flesh using the same method employed on the Bad Moon Grots. Then I painted the Grot Prod using variety of metallic colors and some Agrax Earthshade. The Squighound was done by washing over the Khorne Red with Nuln Oil, reapplying Khorne Red before going over that with a subtle application of Mephiston Red before settling on a final highlight of Go Fasta Red. Oh, and it's tongue was highlighted using my ancient bottle of Titillating Pink. After a few touch-ups I added some grass tufts and called him done! 


And here's some glamor shots:

Rear shot.

I should probably confess something; As I was finishing this model I was trying to determine what the bump was on the right side of the model's belly. Looking it up on the GW site I was chagrined to discover that what I thought was a shirt was actually supposed to be bare flesh! That "bump" is supposed to be a scar. Oops! 

"Sic' 'em!"

Well I am pleased with how he came out anyway. And since I do have another of these models that I intended to paint up as a Goff, I will probably paint him closer to the GW example. Regardless I am happy to include another model to my growing Bad Moon detachment.


Oops, while reviewing my pics for this post I realized I forgot the final Sunburst Yellow highlight on the flesh, so I did that really quick. And just for kicks I used Blood For The Blood God to make a bloody hand print on his left butt cheek. I'll leave it to you guys to figure out what that story could be! 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Anachronistic 40K: Jump Packs

Today we're looking at the design evolution of the Space Marine Jump Pack and to a degree, their backpacks. We're not looking at the in-universe "lore" explanation as I have long ago recognized the fluidic nature of 40K lore and besides others have already done a better job than I could pull off in achieving such a compilation*. 

White Dwarf house ad for the RTBO1 boxset. 

The Space Marine backpack has been part of the design gestalt of the Imperial Space Marines since the very first blister pack hit the stands. Just what exactly it did was something of a mystery and some players may have had debates regarding it's actual function though; at least in the earliest days of the Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader game.

The Rogue Trader book was both crammed full of detail and also innuendo. Even after countless hours of emersion early players could still discover something "new" the next time they opened that tome. The lead army for the game were the Imperial Space Marines and most players at the time had this boxed set. Indeed, for many it was their intro to the game and often they had this set before they even bought the rules. And the confusion set in right away with the stuff printed on the back of first plastic boxed set, RTBO1...

The back of the RTB01 box. Still very inspiring to me! particular this bit of detail:

The Parts Guide of Truth. (Apocryphal). 

Notice that the copy under the backpack says "Jet Pack"? Notice also that the holstered Bolt Pistol above it says "Needle Gun"? Well, no one in my circle of friends ever second guessed these diagrams, after all they were so precise, how could these be mistakes?  So many a marine was built holding a holstered Bolt Pistol in firing position and claiming it was a needle gun (this eventually stopped, not just because the mistake was figured out, but because back then the rules for needlers sucked! No really, it was the only gun in the game that ever granted the target a +1 to save from it! ) But also we assumed that these were intended to be Jump Packs. Yes, to be fair the box doesn't say that (it says "Jet Pack") but neither does the Rogue Trader book (i.e. "Stabilizing Jets"). The Legiones Astartes army list in the Rogue Trader book doesn't provide an option to buy Jump Packs either but it does say that the whole squad could be equipped with Flight Packs if the GM's scenario called for it.

Look at... the Nozzle. 

The Rogue Trader book does describe that Marine Powered Armor could be used in space, and it's clear that this is where their breathable air would be stored. Later publications would touch on all this and tell us that these nozzles were to help with zero-G stabilization and short movement thrusts in space. But back in the late '80s this was assumed at best. However some people assumed wrong. It didn't help that even GW's artists didn't seem too sure either. The classic image by Paul Bonner of the Jump Pack wearing Imperial Guardsmen ambushing orks is the obvious evidence of this.

Art by Paul Bonner.

And so it was assumed that those things on the Marines backs had to be Jump Packs and big engine looking things illustrated in the Rogue Trader book had to be Flight Packs. This was not supported by the rules at all, but it was a confusing time.

Flight Packs as illustrated in Rogue Trader.

Eventually White Dwarf published an expanded army list for Space Marines, and for the first time we were introduced to the concept of Assault Marines and in that listing there would be found a 20 point option for Jump Packs. Eventually the catalogs would be updated showing all the previously released metal backpacks, but most importantly the bigger pack now being labeled as a Jump Pack.

Rogue Trader era metal back packs.

You'll notice the Chaos Backpack there also, and the Realm Of Chaos books from those early days did little to explain why these packs were so different from they loyalist counterparts other than that Traitor Marines enjoyed embellishing their armor. A quick search online will reveal that many players in various forums over the years have discussed this topic at length with no precise conclusions (not that I have found anyway). It's also interesting to note that these early Chaos backpacks had a more organic look to them whereas the ones produced after the release of the Second Edition Codex: Chaos had a more mechanical design with countless variants released since then. 

When Warhammer 40.000 2nd edition was released, it was now clear as day that the bigger packs were the jump packs, that the nozzles on the Space Marine back packs were not consequential for game play but were simply part of the defining look of the Space Marines. Also, flight packs were simply no longer in the game and to my knowledge have never returned (unless you count the Tau). In both editions of the game the jump packs simply gave you a speedier movement option. You could still move your models using their standard Movement rate if you wanted too, you just now had this handy option that allowed you to jump up and over obstacles. In Rogue Trader the amount in height that you jumped could reduce your forward movement. Rogue Trader was full of game mechanics more suited for a scaled down simulation than an actual game, but arguably that is that edition's beauty. Same with 2nd edition as well, only it wasn't quite as fine about these details. In both versions there was a chance that jump pack users could deviate and scatter, which made adhering to Unit Coherency a real challenge.

Second Edition era Assault Marines. Yes, that guy has a bolter.

Welcome to Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition, where all that you previously knew has been wiped out and reset down to the most gamey of basic game play. In 3rd edition jump pack wearers can simply move up to 12"  in the movement phase and charge 6" in the assault phase. By simply donning a jump pack your Troop Type changes, which seemed extreme at the time but made complete sense in the context of the game. An important aspect of this is is that instead of the complexities imposed on their movement action by the height of the intervening terrain, they simply ignore it. Unless they land on it. in which case there was a 1 in 6 chance that the model crashes and is removed with no armor save allowed. Ouch! Over 20 years later, we** still speak of Da Masta Cheef's Ultra Marine Chaplin that totally killed himself by trying to land on top of a bunker. It was glorious!

The metal. 

By the end of 3rd edition the cumbersome metal Jump Packs were replaced by the handy and much lighter plastic versions that I believe are still around to this day. This was a real blessing as those old metal pieces were fairly heavy and clunky and got a little frustrating during play. Even more so if one attempted to put a metal one of these on a plastic figure.

The plastic. 

For the next few editions there wasn't much evolution with the specific Jump Pack rules so much as there was with the terrain rules and their interaction. Long gone is the risk of suicide by simply trying to land on a smooth surface just because it's elevation is higher.***

Although the design for standard (Firstborn) Space Marine jump pack hasn't changed since the '90s, there has been a retrospective need to have Horus Heresy era jump packs for games set in that period that kind of feel like the old Rogue Trader era designs but now have a central jet.
So much heresy...

 For those of you who would rather have something that feels much closer to that Rogue Trader design on their Marines, check out Fromthewarp's brilliant D.I.Y. tutorial. 

In the last few decades we have had Blood Angel versions with ornate wing designs and other variations but for the most part the look of the Space Marine Jump Pack has remained fairly consistent. That was until return of The Primarch and the introduction to the galaxy (and game) of the Primaris variants of Space Marine. These guys don't just wear a special pack, they have a unique unit type called Inceptors with specialized armor and weapons with additional thrusters on their legs as well. This design will likely forever change the look of the jumping Assault Marine (for better or worse, depends on one's point of view) as it is more dynamic thanks to it's unique flight stand (which apparently is very fragile and I have seen a lot of grumbling regarding it). 

Primaris Inceptors. 

What I like most about the design is the look of the large thrusters on the back pack that harkens back to the original jump pack model released in the Rogue Trader era, and I appreciate that a lot. Maybe one day I will finally build mine...


Whew! This one took ages for me to write and compile, so I hoped you liked it. I am curious if anyone reading this played as far back as '87-'90 and and can recall anyone else being baffled by the stuff on the back of the RTB01 box or not. Or if you have any stories regarding fumbles and heroics while employing a jump pack in any edition of Warhammer 40,000. If so, leave a comment please! 

* Indeed, check out the \Jump_Pack wiki
**By "we" I mean "me" and like, every chance I get! 
***I like to think that Cheef's Chaplin died in the scientific pursuit for the betterment of table-top terrain mechanics.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Review: Sanguis Irae

eBook edition. 
 Sanguis Irae by Gav Thorpe is a short story that is often packaged with another short story, Sin of Damnation, both of which are stories adapted from the background of the last (as of this writing) edition of the Space Hulk tabletop game. 

It starts off with Calistarius, the Blood Angel Librarian Terminator from the Space Hulk game* being launched into a space hulk via a boarding torpedo. He was summoned by Terminator Sergeant Dioneas whose squad found the body of another Blood Angel Terminator. Only this one has been dead for quite some time, preserved in a sealed ammunition magazine. The Sergeant had requested Calistarius' presence so that he could probe the mind of the corpse in order to figure out how he had died and who the assailants were...

+++++++++SPOILERS AHEAD!+++++++++++

Vespesario was the dead guy's name, but that wasn't the only thing that Calistarius was able to probe from the body's mind. Vespesario was going through the Black Rage at the time of his death so every time Calistarius probes Vespesario's mind he sees a vision of the Blood Angel Primarch Sanguinius leading his charge against the battle-barge of the traitor Horus as well as seeing a vision of what was really going on with Vespesario and his team in their final moments. He was seeing two events everytime he probed Vespesario's mind: The final actions of their dead Primarch during the Horus Heresy and the final fate of Vespesario. 

eBook edition twinned with Sin Of Damnation.
Ultimately it is revealed that the xenos filth that killed Vespesario and his team were Genestealers (c'mon, were you surprised?) and that not long after their Terminator team had launched their assault on this Space Hulk that it had jumped into the warp, trapping them on board and cutting them off from their support. Not wanting to repeat this scenario Sgt Dioneas wants to push on and purge the Genestealers immediately but Calistarius insists on probing the dead mind of Vespesario more. It is revealed that the Genestealer Patriarch has a unique quality (I'm not going to totally spoil this story!) that allows it to control when the space hulk goes in and out of the warp. In fact it's intentionally trying to a trap Space Marines for it's grim designs. Luckily the insight gleaned from the mind of Vespesario allows the the Blood Angels to prevail. 

  • Did I like it?
    Yes, very much so. It's definitely the better of the two stories in this book. 
  • Was it hard to put down? It was quite a gripping tale actually and just the right length. I do think Gav Thorpe's short stories are his better ones.
  • Could I care about the characters? The thing about short stories is that it's hard to get to know the characters, but it seems that Gav pulled it off since we really only have about four characters to care about here. Calistarius has essentially a race against time to get the info he needs from the body of Vespesario before Sergant Dioneas calls the mind probe off so that they can get on with Genestealer hunting or before the Space Hulk slips back into the warp. There is also the added risk that seeing and reliving (albeit vicariously) Vespesario's Black Rage visions could trigger his own slip into the Black Rage. Calistarius has a lot going on. Sgt Dioneas is there to create tension, so it's tough to advocate for him really. Vespesario himself however, despite already being dead, one cannot help but remorse for his fate, yet his ultimate victory is so rewarding. And then there is Sanguinius, whose story has been written to death (unintentional pun?) so it's no surprise Horus kills him. And although it was kind of neat to see what someone's Black Rage vision would be, by showing this it sort of diminishes (to me any way) the mystique behind the whole curse. The story would go faster also if you just skip the Sanguinius bits as they do not service the story hardly at all.
    Librarian Calistarius.
  • Did the writer truly grasp how the 'world' of the 41st millennium works in the sense that it doesn't betray or retcon previously established (as I know it) lore? Gav has more than earned his lore cred at this point. Oddly, this story works so much better than Sin Of Damnation in the way that it fits into the 40k universe that it's unfortunate that it takes a backseat to that story as it is so much better; it's almost as if Gav wrote this as a sort of penance for the war-porn that was Sin Of Damnation...
    A Terminator Compilation. 
  • Was I being talked down too? This was a good, tight, and focused short story and it didn't trip itself up like some Black Library stories do by getting lost in the minutiae of the setting or devolving into war-porn. 
  • How predictable is this story? The thing about Black Library short stories is that they have a tendency to be fairly unpredictable. Or just predictable enough but with a hard twist at the end. And this story was just weird enough to be just that, which was fairly refreshing. 
  • Do I recommend this book? This is a good short story, and I enjoyed this one. So yeah, if you come across this short story, give it a shot. It has an interesting twist regarding the main antagonist which I really thought was pretty cool, and I have done what I could to not spoil it here. So check it out! 

*The version that came out around 2010

Monday, February 01, 2021

The Third Death Guard Experiment.


Experiment #3.

Inspiration struck me again, or maybe those three primed models at the back of my painting desk were calling out to me, taunting and teasing me to return to their experiment in putressence. Or it was the new Codex beguiling me to get something playable for the army? Whatever it was, I found myself hammering away at Death Guard #3. 

I basically painted this one following all the steps for Death Guard Experiment #2 with a few exceptions: I made the metal on the backpack more weathered as well as the knife, and I painted the power armor trim to match that of Death Guard experiment #1. He was basically done at the Heresy-era stage, but it was time to put on some wear and tear. And a bit of rot. 

Heresy-era scheme, pre-rusted.

I took some thinned Agrax Earthshade and darked some of the low lit areas on the model. Then I used Orange Ink and made some vertical lines in some spot to suggest rust streaks and added some Agrax Earthshade over that. I used Nurgle's Rot Technical Paint in a few spots as well to subtly imply this warrior's increasing decline into Nurgle's embrace. And it looks cool too. 
Rust and rot.

The orange is a tad overwhelming I think, so on future model's I am going to try to be a little more discreet with it's application but I think it looks fine here. I did some touch-ups with Pallid Flesh to tighten a few areas up, but essentially the miniature was done after this.

Pallid Flesh touch-ups.

I really like how the backpack turned out also. And I had to add the obligatory blue wire with white stripes...

Rear rust.

And here he is with the other two models, and you can kind of see how he fits in between the two stages. He is closer to the Heresy-era scheme than the other one. The next two that I do will be closer to the greener guy on the right. 

A rotten progression.