Musings and Opinions on Terrain

Hey everybody,
Most of you fine folks who regularly read this blog will undoubtedly know how much I like the Warhammer 40k universe. While the current edition of the game does feel a little bit weird for reasons I hope to explore in an upcoming blog, I nevertheless enjoy playing games and seeing game boards set up with the “official” Games Workshop terrain.

Sector Mechanicus terrain in particular is just great, especially when you have a lot of it together. I’ve recently finished painting my second such terrain piece, the Galvanic Magnavent, and it looks great, even if I say so myself! The kits are all fantastic, and they can be used quite interchangeably to make some truly magnificent game boards to fight over.

But as of the time I’m writing this, barely any of these kits are available.

What’s going on?!

Let’s go back to the heady days of 2017, when Shadow War Armageddon was released as what many people thought was an attempt to update Necromunda, though the result was closer to Kill Team. The box came out with brand new, multi-level terrain, and it was gone within seconds of pre-order. The terrain included was roughly equivalent to a Ferratonic Incinerator and an Alchomite Stack, though with additional walkways. The box set was followed up in short order by five big kits, each of which brought something slightly different to the table, and could be combined in multiple ways to create some truly mind-boggling displays!

The Alchomite Stack was simply a set of chimney-like structures, ostensibly two, but you could create as many or as few as you like.

The Ferratonic Furnace was a big canister piece with a walkway on top.

The Ferratonic Incinerator was an enlarged Furnace, with some more walkways and the infamous skull-crane thing.

The Galvanic Magnavent was a large structure, with a lot of walkways and a central, slimmer canister piece that linked to a huge chimney piece.

The Promethium Forge was another large piece, with more presence than the Magnavent.

There were of course the special boxes that were released for Christmas or whatever, such as the Promethium Refinery that combined several kits (the Promethium Forge and Ferratonic Furnace, with more walkways from the Forge and elements from the Alchomite Stack). Then a secondary wave of kits was released, which were less structures and more battlefield decoration, almost.

The Haemotrope Reactors were immense terrain pieces that basically serve to block line of sight.

The Thermic Plasma Conduits replaced the Promethium Relay Pipes as the de-facto pipe network that provides an element of running cover for game boards.

Galvanic Servohaulers were a trio of vehicles that essentially serve as scatter terrain.

Thermic Plasma Regulators are a pair of smaller structures, a bit like the Reactors in that they are line of sight blockers, but they also have platforms allowing you to link them to the main range.

Finally, and separately, when the Knights Codex came out, they had a Sacristan Forgeshrine, which was like a mini Promethium Forge with some added bits and pieces. In a similar move, the Genestealer Cults had a Tectonic Fragdrill which was compatible with the Mechanicus range.

Seventh Edition was a crazy time, and most of these kits came out with rules for them. Some scenery pieces granted better cover, or allowed you to re-roll 1s for cover saves. Some made your plasma or flamer weaponry better if you were close by. Some were volatile, and could potentially damage models nearby. It was slightly bonkers, but I loved it. When Eighth Edition sought to initially streamline things, the rules for shooting at models within a certain distance of these terrain features were still there to some degree, but in Ninth Edition all terrain rules have been greatly simplified. Well, they’re still complex, but terrain is now in categories, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a Ferratonic Incinerator (volatile cover) or a Promethium Forge (aegis of the Omnissiah). It’s all just area terrain and that’s that.

However, the big thing today is that only the Galvanic Servohaulers, Sacristan Forgeshrine and Galvanic Magnavent are available to order. The rest of the range disappeared a couple of years back, but then we started to see the big terrain boxes come out, like War Zone Charadon, which featured numerous Sector Mechanicus terrain features. Kill Team Nachmund also included a lot of the Charadon stuff – a Ferratonic Furnace, Thermic Plasma Regulators, etc. But the big pieces have disappeared, and it’s kinda concerning me.

It’s not particularly old, although I know plenty of gamers who think a 5 year old model would require an update. However, even if we were to consider this stuff old, that doesn’t explain why a lot of their terrain pieces that came out for Ninth Edition, such as the new Manufactorum pieces, are also no longer available. The Manufactorum terrain set is, in particular, weird. There were two large pieces, the Sanctum Administratus (still available) and the Sub-Cloister and Storage Fane (no longer on the site), then there was the Command Edition terrain set (still available) which looks like it has some of the Sub-Cloister as well as a bunch of new relay pipes. Then came the big Vertigus terrain box (no longer on the site), which seemed to repackage the Sub-Cloister set alongside the Command Edition terrain, and also included some kind of shrine which was only available in that box.

Terrain seems to be an afterthought for GW these days, and while they are knocking it out of the park when it comes to the stuff they do stock, it’s just upsetting to see so many good pieces just ignored or left to fall out of stock.

Of course, this doesn’t even begin to cover the issues around the new (for Eighth Edition) Sector Imperialis stuff, which was just glorious and beautiful. I’m very pleased with the fact I was able to get some of those pieces back in the day, thanks mainly to the Kill Team box of course. The latest Kill Team Charadon set did give us a second-wind for some of that stuff, as well, although that doesn’t appear to be aimed at the regular 40k crowd.

I’m still in mourning for the Derelict Factorum set that I came close to purchasing, but now can no longer be found…

I can’t help but wonder what’s going on, and why they have such few pieces in the catalogue. It’s most likely due to sales, and I guess you could quite easily say that people are far more likely to buy another squad of marines than they would be to buy a box of industrial terrain. I suppose the pandemic has put a lot of community gaming on hold, so clubs etc weren’t open to need terrain for their gaming spaces. People have gotten by with piles of books or cans of coke for terrain, if they were able to game at all, and so here we are.

For all my doom and gloom, though, it’s good to see games like Necromunda keeping the need for terrain alive, with some mad stuff we’ve had for that game in the last few years, starting with plastic zone mortalis stuff and moving through the Gang Stronghold to last year’s Underhive Market set, all of which is still thankfully available to buy! Of course, Necromunda does have rules for Sector Mechanicus terrain as well, which makes it annoying when you can’t buy more of it any longer.

Rumours are all over the place about Tenth Edition coming next year. Who knows if we’ll get some more terrain to coincide with that, such as we had with the Manufactorum stuff for the current edition?

Painting Updates!

Hey everybody,
I feel like 2022 has started out in a really positive way for me and the hobby! I’ve been painting every evening, which always makes me feel better about things as I can see my progress with stuff.

To start with, I’ve been having a lot of fun painting up the unit of Tau Pathfinders. Initially, there were some hurdles to overcome as I was trying to devise my paint scheme for them, working from the old Citadel pdf guide, and even once that was sorted, I was somehow finding it easier to paint models one at a time. Urgh! However, since the weekend I’ve gone for more of a traditional batch paint style, and have gotten them to a decent point so far.

The cloth is drybrushed with Mechanicus Standard Grey and then Dawnstone, only lightly. I’m toying with the idea of then shading with Nuln Oil, but for now have left it as it is. The armour is then painted with Russ Grey – the original mini I painted up then had an all-over layer of Fenrisian Grey, but I’m thinking I may go for an edge highlight of that instead. I’m also going to try and line shade them with Drakenhof Nightshade. The skin is a light drybrush of Mournfang Brown and Squig Orange – a departure from the normal Tau skin tone, which would otherwise have been too close to the armour colour.

For the weapons, I’ve gone for a layer of Dawnstone and then Administratum Grey, then a shade of Drakenhof Nightshade, aiming for a slightly patchy look to simulate camo. This is largely the scheme – there are some metallic areas that I will paint accordingly, and some of the special kit is painted with Sotek Green and highlighted with Temple Guard Blue, but in the main the basic scheme is quite straightforward. The scheme is also replicated across the drones, and I was initially a bit concerned that they might look a little flat, having no highlights, but really that’s kinda the point – I want a sort of plasticky look to them, if you know what I mean?

I’ve bought a Start Collecting set for the army as well, as I thought it would be good to get the Crisis Suits and Fire Warriors for such a good price, as well as a bonus Ethereal. They have recently announced the Combat Patrol box, which switches up Crisis Suits for a Ghostkeel and Stealth Suit team, and includes a Cadre Fireblade as well as Ethereal and Fire Warriors. So that’s very impressive, though the price will be adjusted as well, no doubt! However, I paid £54 for the SC box, and CP boxes are £65.50 at my local shop, so it’s not much of a hike – and I have been thinking about a Ghostkeel recently, more for the model than any kind of desire for a stealth aspect to the force! I really think the Stealth team looks goofy, so I don’t know if I’d want those guys as well. But anyway!

I’ve also been painting some more terrain, which is just wonderful! Back in 2020 I painted up a Ferratonic Incinerator but didn’t make any notes on the scheme, more fool me. Interestingly, though, it is fairly close to my Tau – the actual vats are drybrushed with Russ Grey and Fenrisian Grey, and then Administratum Grey, in a crosswise pattern to try to simulate paint. The walkways are Macragge Blue, which has been heavily drybrushed on, then further drybrushes of Fenrisian Grey and Screaming Skull have been added to lighten it up a little. The support struts are just drybrushed with Administratum Grey. I’m then picking out pipes and associated bits and pieces with metallics, trying not to go too overboard.

I’m painting up a Galvanic Magnavent this time around – it’s one of two that I have built, though neither of them is built according to the instructions! I think I’ve always been a bit like that – as a child with Lego, I would always enjoy more the alternative builds from the back of the box, you know? So I have the current build, and I have this one, which was the first one I had built.

I love this scenery, and I really want to do something fancy with it all. I mean, certainly do something fancy to link up some of the kits that I have! In addition to the big pieces, I’ve got the Haemotrope Reactors and Alchomite Stack stuff that would possibly look fantastic with something to link it all together. I’m not sure what, though, and I’m not sure how, but I think it would be marvellous! I guess we’ll just have to see.

Post 999!

Hey everybody!
It’s my 999th post on this blog! What an incredible milestone! I honestly didn’t give things much thought back when I started this endeavour back in 2014, but I suppose as time has gone on, I suppose it’s been quite exciting to see the blog growing – even if it is with my inane babble! As we gear up for post number 1000, which is already written and scheduled to go live tomorrow, I thought I’d have a bit of a catch-up blog with you all, and dip into some of the stuff that has been going on in recent weeks!

Curtain Call

Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of Arkham Horror LCG, and enjoying myself immensely. Back when I first played the game upon release, I definitely knew that I enjoyed the game, but always seemed to struggle to get round to actually playing it. It wasn’t until last year, almost three years after the initial release, that I got round to actually trying out a full campaign.

Now, however, I’m firmly entrenched in the whole thing, having really revitalized my enjoyment of the game and throwing myself in whole-heartedly! I’ve made my way through two full campaigns now, and I’m poised to start on a third over the festive season, tackling The Circle Undone with Diana Stanley and Joe Diamond. Having sleeved the cards for this cycle, it’s been exciting to see that this one focuses more on the classic trope of regular cultists trying to bring about the end of the world, rather than fantastical creatures and the like. I’ve been recording my games here on the blog, and I’ve set up a page specifically to collect these posts together. I’m sure I’ll be trying out some campaigns multiple times, too, but I want to try out all the game has to offer me, and make up for lost time!

Interestingly, all of this Arkham Horror LCG has got me thinking about trying my other great card-game love, Lord of the Rings LCG. It’s been a long time since I have last played this game, I think I tried my hand in one of the early scenarios in the summer-time, but playing this game has really dropped off my radar in recent years. It’s interesting, of course, because I still really love it, and I still call it my all-time favourite card game. I suppose part of the reason for me having stepped back a bit from it resides in the fact there is just so much of it now. The game wound up a few months ago, after the last cycle took an absolute age to actually see all six packs released – in total, we have nine full cycles, eight deluxe Saga expansions, and about a dozen standalone scenarios. It’s quite mind-boggling, really, and the player cards have become quite the beast to wrangle!

Earlier this week, as it happens, I spent a sleepless night looking through my collection once more, and reliving some past memories as well as tinkering a little with my favourite Rohan deck. The whole thing was brought about because I wanted to re-sleeve some of the cards, requiring the transparent sleeves for Arkham Horror as it happens, but it really took me on that journey down memory lane, to the time when I would excitedly play each pack in the Mirkwood cycle as it was released – spending yet another sleepless night back in, what, 2011, playing The Dead Marshes. Ah, memories!

I’ve currently got four decks built up and ready for the game – the Rohan deck, a Dwarf deck, an Elf deck, and more of a generic/mix that uses a number of Dúnedain and Outlands cards. Going over these (and re-sleeving them), and sorting out a lot of the later packs from Harad, Rhovanion and Mordor, has got me thinking how I’ve never really ventured very far into this game, always returning to Mirkwood and the Dwarrowdelf, without really exploring any of the cycles from Ringmaker onwards, really! Looking back, I got as far as The Dunland Trap from that cycle (the game’s fourth, just fyi!) while playing what I would call regularly, back in 2015, and have pretty much given up, since! Sporadic plays of a scenario from Angmar and Harad notwithstanding, I’ve pretty much let the bulk of this game pass me by, whilst still compulsively collecting it!

Well, hopefully that will change soon!

Lord of the Rings LCG

I’ve got my eye on playing some of the newer quests, potentially with that Dúnedain deck, or else with the re-tuned Rohan deck, over the festive period (although probably more like the new year weekend). I’ve even been considering building up an entirely new deck, using the newer player cards to build around the Dale theme. I’ve got my eye on trying maybe The Lost Realm, or else Vengeance of Mordor as that has struck me as a very intriguing cycle. I’ve heard so many good things about the Ered Mithrin cycle, though, so that is also a strong contender. Of course, I playtested on the Angmar Awakened cycle, but I think I came into the game after the playtesting for the deluxe expansion had finished. I have lots of bad memories of never being able to escape from the dungeons, but it’ll be nice to actually play the game in its finished form, with artwork and not the badly-formatted black-and-white printouts that were sleeved on top of other cards!

So that’ll be something good to look forward to!

What else has been going on?

Well, I’m quite excited to say that I’ve pretty much finished my first major terrain piece! I mean, I’ve painted up some ammo crates before, but I’m quite excited for this one! The Sector Mechanicus stuff is really nice, and I have rather a lot of it after all, but I think after the game of Necromunda the other week has got me thinking more about terrain and whatnot, so I think it’ll be nice to have some done. I’ve been working on a Galvanic Magnavent lately, building it up to reflect the back of the box rather than the “standard” build from the front (I’m pretty sure I did that with another piece, too…) so I think when I have these big pieces painted up they’ll look really good out on the table!

Let’s talk about Necromunda though, as it’s something I’m hoping to try out again over the festive break (first Lord of the Rings, more Arkham Horror, and now this?! Where will I find the time…) I’ve been reading up the rules for scenery from the Book of Peril, and I’m quite excited by just how interactive the battlefield can get! So it should be really interesting to see how all of that works (although it might not be something that I get to straight away, as there are a lot of moving parts in this game, after all!)

It’s not all about the scenery though, as I’ve also been building up some more Van Saar folks as the excitement around House of Artifice increases! My current leader comes in at a whopping 310 credits – I know Van Saar are expensive, but that’s a third of the starting gang, so I needed to slim them down a bit. This chap, above, is a much more respectable 245, which means I can actually fit in another body, between trimming down the leader and champion options. I think that game I linked to earlier definitely showed just how much the advantage of numbers can go in your favour – and expensive gangers are of no use to anybody if they’re Prone and Pinned!

Finally…

We need to talk about this. I don’t think I’ve properly recovered yet, of course! But 10 new Star Wars series’ is just phenomenal! The Mandalorian is showing that Star Wars can absolutely have a future on the small screen, and I am so excited to see what they’re going to do with it all. I probably need to confine my thoughts on this to a separate piece, but suffice it to say, I’m really happy with what’s going on there right now!

So, folks, that’s almost a thousand posts finished! Come back tomorrow to celebrate my birthday with Post 1000 itself – I think it’ll be a good one!