Magnus the Red – Project Change XXI

A Thousand Sons has just been released by Black Library. So to celebrate I will focus on the Thousand Sons for a little. This is Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red, commanding his legion of Epic-scale Tzeentch minions.

Magnus the Red Daemon Primarch of Tzeentch

Magnus the Red was one of four Daemon Primarchs released by Games Workshop in 1992 in Epic scale. Each of the four major Gods got one – Khorne got Angron, Slaanesh Fulgrim and Nurgle Mortarion. Pertarbo and Lorgar are the only other two Traitor Primarchs surviving in the present game setting, and both have been elevated to Daemon Prince status too, though neither have seen models. (And while I’m on the subject of Primarch models, Leman Russ is the only Imperial Primarch to have had one. Oh, and Lion El’Jonson’s Lion Helm comes with the Azrael model. Oh, and one of Horus’ Lightning Claws now belongs to Abbadon. I digress.)

The classic ‘Eavy Metal Magnus the Red is of course blue. It was painted blue by Jay Tanner presumably because blue is Tzeentch’s singature colour, and Mr. Tanner decided that the Red meant that in fact he was a ginger. Cap’n Facebeard of Warseer beautifully points out the 1992 studio colours “made him look like a 90s cartoon villain. You were always waiting for the Ninja Turtles to foil him.” It is so bizarre that during Games Workshop’s Red Era they decided not to paint Magnus the Red actual red.

Magnus the Red, Daemon Primarch of the Thousand Sons of Mangus

With the Horus Heresy series of books it’s stated that Magnus the Red had red skin. And instead of being a goofy Harryhausen Cyclops he has a one normal eye and an eyeless sockect. I will explain away all these differences by saying Tzeentch changed Magnus’ appearence when he elevated him to daemonhood.

I decided to paint my Magnus with pinky red skin akin to some of my Pink Horrors, as I felt bright red skin would make him look Khornate. And I decided my Magnus would also be a redhead with matching orangey wings. I wanted to do his vambraces copper, but that was too many similar colours on one model.

And, to be honest, goofy as this model is it’s also sculpted in a cockingly awful fashion. See his right leg? It’s just a weird amorphous blob I despaired at painting. The back of the model looks like an afterthought. And what’s going on with his giant head, and gibbon arms? It’s either a Jes Goodwin or Colin Dixon sculpt, and I’m hoping it’s Colin Dixon as he’d just started out at the company. I fancy doing one in the blue scheme at some point.

Micro Flamer of Tzeentch – Project Change XX

Yellow is an interesting colour. Doubly so when shaded with the gaudy Warlock Purple. Would you experiment with that combination? I have. Here’s a 1990 Epic Tzeentch Flamer adopting the guise of Maynard Flux‘s Daemonic Familiar.

Epic Flamer of Tzeentch

Interesting? Lurid? Psychedlic? Well, I’m a little glad I didn’t do it on a larger model. Maybe a more sophisticated approach is called for. And now I realise that going forward I should avoid painting any of Tzeentch’s bird minions in yellows to avoid comparisons with Sesame Street.

I noted with the Epic scale Pink Horror that this generation of Chaos models were laughably out of scale. Let me explain this a little more. Epic is nominally a 6mm wargame, meaning the average trooper measures in at about 6mm. Here’s the Epic Flamer next to an Epic Dark Angel Hunter.

Epic Flamer of Tzeentch and Dark Angel Hunter

Why this hideous scale fail?

Theory One – the Epic Chaos Daemons were done at a time when Games Workshop were simplifying the amount of detailing on their Epic-scale models for ease of mass production. This meant chunkier details, less details, and bigger models (all the better to put big chunky details on).

Theory Two – Epic is out of scale with itself. People complain about not being able to fit ten Marines inside a Rhino in 40K. Well, try putting thirty 6mm Marines inside a Thunderhawk only 10mm long. Epic models were more abstract counters representing the troop types present on the battlefield, rather than being scale models.

Theory Three – Chaos Daemons should be this big all the time, it’s the 28mm ones that are scaled wrong.

Well, anyway, Games Workshop corrected it in 1998 with the Epic 40K plastic Chaos sprues. Here’s a comparison shot.

Giant Epic Daemons

This is one of the few examples of Games Workshop’s models getting smaller over time.

Tzeentch Doomwing – Project Change XVII

Another foray with the teeny-tiny aircraft. I think it’s because I saw Top Gun recently.

Doom Wing - Daemon Engine of Tzeentch

The Doomwing was one of the three Dave Andrews Tzeentch-specific Daemon Engines released in March 1993 – the other two being the Fire Lord and the Silver Tower. The concept of welding technology and warp creature together was never introduced properly into 40K-scale until a decade later with the plastic Defiler kit in 2003.

The Doom Wing was a small interceptor armed with a Flame Cannon. Quite how it shot down other aircraft using forward-firing gouts of fire puzzles me, but both fire and flight are Tzeentch’s trademarks. It also carries over the horse skull vibe from the earlier Tzeentch-aligned 40K and Fantasy models.

The colour scheme was inspired by the cover artwork for Queen Rocks.

Queen Rocks Cover

It would have been perhaps more fitting for the larger Fire Lord model which has more flat surfaces to have fun blending, and also the word “fire” in its name. Oops.

Thunderbolt Fighter Squadron

We’re faster than evil! We’re faster than crime! We’re faster than love! We’re faster than tiiiiiime! Oops. That was Ring Raiders. I always get flashbacks when I play with Epic aircraft. Especially with those transparent stalks.

Epic Thunderbolt Squadron

So, these Thunderbolts are the 3rd and 4th aircraft from C Squadron from the 1337th Imperial Navy Fighter Wing, in the colours of the 1st Ager Hominis campaign where they famously supported the Grand Master Obtusius of the Dark Angels Chapter (DEFFWING COMPANY).

These guys are glued to the stalks, but the stalks aren’t glued to the base so I can swap them between standard flying bases, retro hex flying bases and Aeronautica Imperialis bases. Heck, I should go scour eBay and mount them on actual Ring Raider rings. Though sadly I doubt they’d fit my adult fingers.

I also decided not to base them to match the army (like my Ork Fighta Bomberz) so I could recycle them for other Imperial armies.

Epic Win – my Grand Tournament Report

This weekend my housemate and I made the long trip from the deep south to Mansfield to attend the last Epic tournament of the 2009 season – the Epic UK Grand Tournament. I had my spangly new well-behaved Dark Angels and Ole had his Biel-Tann.

Dark Angels

I was quite nervous. I’d had only two games with Space Marines prior to this (one proxying with Si’s Shadow Scorpions and one with my own figures) and had lost horribly both times. In fact, the second game was disastrous as by turn three I was left with only a single Thunderbolt, and that was only because it chose to stand down to avoid a completely humiliating defeat. And that was against Ole who was only on his second game of Epic ever. It seems that my air assault Space Marines were as fragile and underpowered as their most vocal critics would have me believe. Add to that my last Epic event (May’s Club Challenge) had me finishing last and I was expecting to achieve a whole new low in gaming history. But hey ho, at least my army was nicely painted. Not that it would stay on the table long enough for anyone to spot the squad markings.

The list I eventually settled on was:

Tactical formation
Supreme Commander
Hunter
Razorback – twin lascannon

Devastator formation

Devastator formation

Terminator formation
Chaplain

Land Speeders

Thunderhawk

Thunderhawk

Strike Cruiser

Thunderbolts

Reaver Titan

So, I consulting Grand Master Jeridian (Si) for how to make my Marines work. Paraphrasing the exhaustive essay he provided from his years of experience pilotting Thunderhawks to their dooms the plan was:

  • Choose corners to cluster for the benefit of my Strike Cruiser’s orbital bombardment
  • Keep the Tacticals on my Blitz to ensure the survivial of the Supreme Commander re-roll
  • Sneakily advance the Titan until turn 2-3 when it would stride forth into the middle of the enemy
  • Swoop in with the Thuuderhawks and land the Devesators for lots of mutually-supporting engagements and crossfires
  • Have the Terminators on hand to open up a second front or support as needed
  • Use the Land Speeders as zippy harassing units that could swoop in on objectives in the later turns

As Si says: “SR5 and the mobility does make the army great fun to use though, as YOU get to decide when, where and what happens in the game.”

So, how did it go?

Game 1 – Mark Preston’s Black Legion

Mark Preston! By way of cool coincidence we’d already played each other at the Club Challenge, where Mark had been using his Dark Angels pretending to be just regular Space Marines. Mark was borrowing some beautiful Black Legion that were surprisingly Daemon-free. However, that didn’t stop my regular anti-Chaos strategy of exterminating the closest units to prevent Daemon-bombing. Turn three 0-2 defeat.

Game 2 – Matt Otter’s Orks

Orks – the army I’m most familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. However, I made a fatal mistake of sending in a Dev Thudnerhawk to engage a large Boyz formation spread over two objectives – effectively committing suicide. I should have simply landed to contest objectives and drag out the inevitable another turn. I did however spectacularly set fire to his Gargant and destroy it – the one time I achieved Break Their Spirit. Some sort of loss for me, but it was technically a by so I got the points for a 2-0 turn three victory.

Game 3 – Matt Arnold’s Space Marines

Aha! Some Blood Angels pretending to be just regular Space Marines. I just need to play some Black Templars and White Scars now…

Turn one went very well with Matt teleporting his Terminators immediately and pushing forward with his Warhound. I focussed everything on a counter assault and wiped out both, feeling very confident I’d eliminated his main threat units. However, I had over-committed and his counter-counter assault broke my Reaver, and not even the Deathwing teleporting into ruins straight on top of his Blitz could stop this being another turn three 0-2 defeat.

Game 4 – Kevin Bott’s Biel Tann

Against received wisdom I avoided drop-podding anything in. Though it would protect the incoming units from the horrific Eldar AA I wanted some maneuverability to counter the Eldar’s insanely fast marching jetbikes. I focussed on breaking Kev’s Revenants to deny him their awesome firepower and also allow me to air assault without running the gauntlet of their AA.

Turn three held some appalling activation rolls for Kevin, and the normally hyper-maneuverable Eldar were unable to perform their regular objective-grabbing marches, letting me win turn four 2-0.

Game 5 – Andy Harris’ Biel Tann

Apparently the worst Eldar list to have ever graced the planet. Buoyed up by the success of mounting the Devs in Thunderhawks rather than the Strike Cruiser I did it once more. Very dangerous as Andy had Nightwings and a Vampire. After two largely bloodless turns of maneuvering for an all-out air assault Andy masterfully broke my Reaver before I could use it as a fire base for air assault Devs. Instead I used the Devs instead to cause Andy a lot of difficult decisions in where to press me in order to get objectives.

No-one had won on objectives by turn four, so it went to victory points which Andy had easily more than the 150 difference with the annihilation of my prized Terminators.

So, five great games and not that shabby a performance – one win, one drawn, one bi and two losses. Yes! A win! And the points for painting catapulted me up to nine of fifteen. With the bonus points for attending the GT, and playing different armies that also starts to lift me away from the bottom spots on the 2009 Championship.

But best of all, my Dark Angels got the Judge’s Choice painting trophy.

Cup of Titan

In the aftermath, the plan was fairly solid. It falls down if the opponent anticipates the all-out assault and dig in with overwatch.

The only let-down was the Strike Cruiser. Rather than lazily bombard the deployment zone turn I experimented with clustering my objectives and plotting a turn 3 bombardment to place Blast Markers before I began my air assault. It did work, but was quite a gamble. 200 points is a lot to pay for the one attack, and not once did I use it for drop-podding. I think I’ll drop it at 3000 in favour of some Scouts or Speeders to give me an additional formation on the ground to get objectives and support the handful of ground formation that aren’t flying or teleporting in.

So, all in all a great event. I particularly enjoyed attending the Epic UK Annual General Meeting which was almost drowned out by the David Bowie tribute act in a pirate hat we were sharing the venue with. The best way to judge whether an event’s been enjoyable for me is whether I want to play another game that week, and start painting my next army as soon as I get home, and this was very definitely one of them. Many thanks to all the Epic UK organisation and efforts. And thanks to all five opponents for five brain-sweating games (and not defeating me in the humiliating fashion I was expecting).