Author Archives: Jimmy S

Blackshield Decisions

2018-04-22 14.13.56Here are my first two black shield marauders. They’re still in progress – I need to figure out some insignia. I’d rather not have any at all, to really give that treacherous black ops look. But I think they need something. I’m thinking maybe just some kill-markings, and lightning bolts on the shoulder pads of the Terran-born soldiers.

Anyway this is a surprisingly fun project for me: the first space marine force I’ve built since the early 1990s. That means the last time I painted a space marine, Kurt Cobain was alive. And the Heresy-era armour and weapons remind me of an even earlier time, when I played Rogue Trader – probably incorrectly – with a couple of friends who had even less idea of what was going on than I did.

But anyway, enough reminiscing. My problem now is, which unit to get next? I’m building these guys step by step as a small force to fight alongside my hive gang militia. I have two squads of blackshield marauders, one outfitted for assault with shotguns and power swords, the other for tank hunting with lascutters and an autocannon. But I don’t know what to build next. I have room for one more unit in my little list, and since my local community are big fans of Centurion mode that means infantry, speeders, or walkers only. So this is my shortlist:

Seeker squad These guys really fit the black ops feel of my army. They’re expert marks-marines (BS5) with a variety of specialist ammo and preferred enemy against one enemy unit, chosen at the start of the game. Headhunters with bolters are a good fit, especially since no-one else in my army has a bolter. In an astartes force that just… seems wrong.

Tactical support squad with meltaguns Not a very competitive choice, the internet says. Hard to use well, but I can deepstrike them. Basically they’re Eldar Fire Dragons in marine form, and if Eldar players can do it, so can I. But the best reason to take them: twelve year old me heartily approves of a whole squad of meltaguns. It’s something he always wanted to do and was never allowed.

Terminators Come on, everyone loves termies. They’re a classic unit, and if I’m going with marines I may as well field some terminators while I’m at it. Plus the Tartaros amour looks amazing.

Dreadnought You know what else everyone loves? Dreadies. A good centrepiece model might be the way to go, and he can pack some heavier weaponry too.

It’s just a really hard decision. Anyone out there got an opinion?

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The True Sons of Terra

I sold some painted models a little while ago – an Inquisitor and retinue. It really made my day when the guy who bought them (who was in the UK) sent me a message on eBay saying he recognised them from Instagram, and liked my work!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I try to make my hobby and my art self-sustaining. I keep a separate business account (in the case of art) and a piggy bank (in the case of hobby), and only use money from sales to fund further purchases. In the case of the art stuff, professionalism comes first, so I don’t cut any corners with materials and quality. In the case of hobby though, I take it as a sort of personal challenge to be as cheap as possible, sourcing bits from my mate Chris at Bitz Galaxy or from Bitz Box in the UK.

So I used the money from the Inquisitor and his cronies to fund the start of my Blackshields. In case you don’t know, Blackshields are an astartes faction found in Forge World’s Horus Heresy Book VI: Retribution. They’re marines who are victims of the Heresy and have splintered off from their Legion for whatever reason, gathered under a charismatic commander, and become mercenaries, pirates, or guerillas. They’ve obscured their original heraldry and foresworn their former Legion. Some were loyal, some fought for the Warmaster, and some for themselves. The vast majority of them were annihilated during the Heresy, but a few bands eventually fell to Chaos if they weren’t sworn to the Ruinous Powers already, and still kick around as Chaos Space Marine war bands in the 41st millennium. Others may even have evolved into post-Heresy loyalist successor chapters. But yeah, most died like so many others.

I’ve decided my Blackshields are not Chaos worshippers, but reavers and pirates. Their predecessors (and their commander, Captain Chiron) were Terran-born Raven Guard, the last generation of youths from the Xeric tribes of Terra to be inducted before the chapter began recruiting from off-world. Apparently after the Raven Guard were re-united with their Primarch, he didn’t really approve of the the Xeric martial traditions of his Terran legionaries, so he slowly purged them from the Legion. Chiron was a neophyte when he and his majority Terran-born company were assigned to a Rogue Trader on the galactic fringe.

By the time the Heresy blew everything apart, Chiron was one of the last surviving children of Terra in his company, and a Captain of the Legion. He abandoned the Rogue Trader and united his remaining comrades, leading them slowly home towards Terra. His ultimate plan when he reached his destination was unknown, but his band, who called themselves The True Sons of Terra, grew with other renegade and orphan astartes.

The True Sons were not afraid to use prohibited and xenos weaponry they had captured on the galactic fringe, and their tactics were unorthodox, more akin to a band of raiders than a space marine legion. Their small fleet was further bolstered by the remnants of the hive-gang militia regiment the Uruq Immortals, orphaned during the Baylonian Insurrection, who were willing participants in Chiron’s various plots and sabotages. Although Chiron’s loyalties (probably) lay with the Emperor, and the True Sons often fought bravely for the loyalist cause, the fact that they wore no recognisable badge and fought in such a deceptive manner resulted in more than one tragic case of mistaken identity ending in fellow loyalist blood being shed.

The True Sons of Terra are not to be confused with the Chaos warband The True Sons. Chiron and his army apparently vanished during the Age of Darkness, never reaching their destination. The latter are a band of Chaos Space Marines, formerly Sons of Horus, and still exist in the 41st millennium.

So that’s the background for these guys. This is a sketch I did of Captain Chiron, just for some preliminary inspiration. I’m imagining him as sort of Conan-esque, only a Space Marine:

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King Chiron, leader of the True Sons of Terra


Ryza Master of Skitarii and a new project

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Forgive the bleeding obvious re-gram, but I thought I’d post this guy here and write a bit about him. He deserves it – that right there is the most likes I’ve ever got on an instagram post. Also I accidentally deleted the photos I took of him, so I had to screenshot my own Instagram in a self-aggrandising image loop.

So yeah, got a lot of positive reactions to this guy. As I mentioned in my last post I’m getting more and more into the subtler, old school sci fi look of the Heresy era. I did some research and discovered in the old Citadel Journal #21 (which you can read for free here) a Gav Thorpe article about the organisation of the skitarii. Of course it bears little relation to the current 40k incarnation – does it count as ret-conning when there were only ever a few snippets of info to be had? That question aside, in the original Thorpe version the skitarii legions were described as similarly trained and armed to the Imperial Guard, only cybernetically enhanced. There were also more heavily augmented elite troops analogous to storm troopers, so that fits perfectly with my heresified 40k skitarii rangers. I’d like to get some basic troopers as the er… basic troopers. And I decided my old “Alpha” (a term pertaining to the 40k version of skitarii) was too fancy and instead I needed a Thorpian “Master of Skitarii” – a dialled down version visually, with the blunt and simple equipment I think of when I think of the 31st millennium.

So he’s wearing power armour (a bespoke pattern provided to him by the Ryza forges) and is equipped with a humble auto pistol and a power fist. I really like him, and I’m looking forward to using him on the table one day. Hopefully soon. Oh and game-wise he’s an Imperialis Militia Force Commander who brings the cyber-augmented and warrior elite provenances to his troops. Sort of like the old Imperial Guard doctrines in 5th edition 40k.

Right now though I need a break from the Mechanicum. I have been hitting them hard. So I have a new project on the horizon, new models on the table and… they’re Space Marines. I never thought it would happen, seriously. Being the gigantic hipster that I am, of course I’m not really happy with any of the Legions, so I’m building some Blackshields. I read the rules for them and they were just my cup of tea. Orphaned marines with no insignia, just dark military looking power armour, fighting for either (or neither) side, with a selection of field-modified and prohibited weaponry. Plus I can ally them with my frenzon-jacked hive gang militia! It’s too perfect.

 

 


Thunderchild

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Thunderchild of forgeworld Ryza.

In my post the other day, I forgot to share this fine fellow. That’s poor quality blogging right there, since he’s the centrepiece of my force. So behold!

Or uh, re-behold. He’s above the text I guess, so by the time you read this you shall have already beheld.

Anyway this is Thunderchild, my Thanatar siege automata. Was an absolute pain in the arse to build, and I swear I’ll never build another one. Fun to paint though.

I’ll run him as a Paragon of Metal. In case you’re not familiar with the Heresy rules, this is an upgrade that one robo in your army can have. It means his programming is so sublime that he is effectively a true AI not an AI, haha, as that would be heretekal. He can operate independently though, without needing a controller nearby, and is extra tough. I gave him that particular name because it’s the Horus Heresy – it all hearkens back to classic science fiction, and you don’t get much more classic than H.G. Wells.


Ave Omnissiah

 

magos

Lachrymalus Magos Prime Sohai

I’ve been working like a maniac on my Heresy-era Ryza Mechanicum Taghmata (I really should abbreviate that. H.R.M.T?)

We just had a long weekend and I was really run down. My day job’s been mental, I’ve got two paid art commissions at the moment, and I’ve been taking medication for a duodenal ulcer, which has been hurting like mad for about six months. It’s finally getting better. Things are looking up. I pretty much just painted models in the living room all three days of the weekend while the family watched movies, taking breaks to play sword fights with my son and going out to pick up food. It was very relaxing.

And I got it all done! Well, all the niggly little half-finished units anyway. You can see them all at the Warp Signal instie account (link here), but above is my first magos prime, and below are my combat engineers, who I particularly like. Probably because they’re grey.

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I hope I can keep up this momentum. To make 1000 points I need to build ten chainsaw wielding tech-thralls, six scyllax guardian automata (not looking forward to these little bastards), two more magi prime, and two more sentinels. Heresy is intense. I suppose I don’t really need the magi prime, but now I’m firmly lodged in the Heresy era, mechanicum are my natural element. They’re like the 40k Inquisition in terms of modelling opportunities – so many options, and pretty much free reign to model bizarre Blanchian monsters. I only need two magi but I have three planned, each one a unique cyborg.

Oh yeah, the sentinels. These are skitarii scout mecha, counting as Imperialis Militia sentinels. I make them out of kastelan robots and various other bits:

sentinel

This one has a heavy flamer and a combat blade. There’s a bit of an internet parable to go with these guys. When I first had the idea, it was really hard to work out if a kastelan and a sentinel were of comparable size. I found measurements, and it seemed like a crouching sentinel was shorter than a kastelan, and a standing one was slightly taller. Out of habit, I went to a venerable 40k forum (one of the big old ones, I won’t mention the name because they’re going to come off a little… negatively in this story). I asked the people what they thought, did they reckon I could get away with it reasonably, etc.

I got six or so responses, all telling me not to do it. Not one person said “hey that sounds like a cool idea, you should do it.” Most of them voiced some variant of “oh no no no, they’re not exactly the same size and shape, you’ll be cheating, etc.” Several ignored that I wanted to make mecha, and told me to use 40k ironstriders. If I wanted a two-legged avian walker guess what, I’d use a bloody sentinel! Not wanting to settle for the frankly conservative answers I was getting, I went to my local Heresy era facebook group. Since they’re the only people I’ll ever actually play against, I asked them. Surprise surprise, got an overwhelmingly positive response. People were all like “sick dude, rule of cool, etc.”

The moral of this parable as I see it is that forums are of questionable use these days. Unless you don’t have a local community at all, and everything you’re doing is hypothetical (I’m sure we’ve all been there at one time or another), I can’t think of anything a forum is good for that isn’t done better by a local social media group or chat. Plus, having people I don’t know tell me what to do like they know what’s best for me? It seemed weird, even though I did ask. So there it is. I’ve been involved with forums to do with the hobby, with various levels of intensity, for over a decade now. But I’m pretty sure from now on I’m done with them, except to lurk and steal ideas find inspiration.

Does anyone out there still find hobby forums useful? Just wondering.

Anyway, got to go. Till next time.


This one weird trick will keep your army going all night!

This is something I’ve been thinking about ever since I started clambering back onto the old 40k warhorse maybe six months ago. I’ve been lurking on hoary old forums and certain disreputable mega-blogs, as they were the best places to get news and community discussion about 8th edition once that ball was rolling. Needless to say, the tone of these places is generally not as positive as on your smaller nicer blogs like this one.

To be honest I’ve noticed a bit of edition fatigue in the air. Or perhaps edition rage is a better term. People get angry, sometimes quite angry, when models they relied upon in previous editions to kick ass suddenly aren’t quite so effective. They rail at Games Workshop for changing things up and “making” them buy new things. I’ve been playing this bloody game on an off for like a quarter of a century now, so I thought maybe I should do my bit and help out with this. Even if it’s likely that the only people who will read this already agree with me. Maybe somewhere, someone who needs help will see this and save themselves hundreds of dollars and a lot of needless stress.

So here it is, the magical secret to making your army edition proof, forever, in two easy steps: Continue reading


Signal Transmogrified

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Classic MKVI space marine. Looks like Jes Goodwin drew him? I love the balance and confidence in his pose.

 

Hello friends,

It’s been a little over four years since there’s been a Warp Signal post.

A lot has happened in that time for me, in terms of the hobby, my own personal creativity, the online gaming community, and how I relate to all of those.

I started another blog. I wrote on and off for the House of Paincakes blog network, and was deeply involved in that community before it proceeded to implode in a fairly dramatic fashion. I stopped playing Games Workshop’s mainstream games, and even went for a year or so without painting a miniature. I had a go at historical gaming (SAGA), cyberpunk skirmish gaming (Infinity), and I began (and still am) DMing a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition campaign. I left my budding academic career, stopped writing fiction utterly, and returned to my first love: drawing and painting. I’m still doing a lot of that now, and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop. It’s good for me.

So… a lot has changed hasn’t it? The last time I posted here was at (perhaps) the peak of the wargaming blogosphere. We were legion, and the conversation was abundant and almost primeval in its creativity and intensity. Now we are few.

Well, there are still a lot of blogs –  but the light of conversation has dimmed a bit. And now there are not just blogs. There are facebook pages, and instagram accounts: thriving communities that are tied to the rest of our online personae as we inexorably come under the umbrella of the All Powerful Social Intermediaries. Anonymity seems a bit quaint and old-fashioned these days. When I started Warp Signal, I took the comparatively rare step (at the time) of using a variation of my real name. I thought it would keep me grounded. It did not; and one look at facebook will show you that what you call yourself makes little difference to how you behave. So I was wrong about that.

The reason I’m posting here again, now, is because I’m at peace with all of this. I’m feeling inspired by the universe of Warhammer 40,000 again, and I’m making models again and painting them, and planning games. Even playing them a little bit.

In keeping with this new era, the new Warp Signal is primarily an instagram account. Hence the title of this post. It is @warpsignal.

I might post blogs every now and again when I feel like writing something, but mainly I’m doing this because I’m tired of writing. I spend most of my precious personal time making art, and painting models, which are of course the same thing only in different worlds. I’d like to show my models to the world and commune with like-minded people, but I don’t want to sprinkle models all over my instagram art account, as I have been. I want a dedicated account for my Warhammer-related art and miniatures hobby, because now it truly is a hobby. It’s no longer my escape or my main creative outlet. It’s something I do to refresh myself during other artistic projects.

I hope you’ll join me on this new venture. When I left Warp Signal years ago, I asked all of you to keep me on your rolls in case I ever came back. I guess now we’ll see if anyone did. And who amongst you is still out there.

Jimmy (James) S.

 


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