Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bureaux Astatres Post two of two.

Somewhere in the Admistorium, possibly reporting directly to the High Lords of Terra, will be the office that oversees the Adeptus Astartes.  Possibly comprised of experienced and trusted officers from across all branches of the Imperial Machinery of Government, as their task is a complex and delicate one, given the nature of their charges.

When a Chapter is declared Excommunicate Traitoris, someone has to not only make the call (the High Lords) but someone has to compile the case.  And to compile the case, they have to be watching the Chapters in the first place.  Individual Inquisitors may get a bee in their witch finder hats about an individual chapter, but that’s not proper governance.  Hence the Bureaux Astartes.

As well as declaring renegades, which is important, as there were at least 30 instances in the M37, it has other duties.

As previously discussed, the only way to keep your Chapter at strength is to over recruit.  You may end up with 1200 battle brothers, but then, you can always send a couple of companies to join a crusade.  Generally, the universe will do a reasonable job of keeping the Chapters numbers down.  The Chapter Master has a vested interest in compliance – the overall discipline of his Chapter relies on compliance and therefore this aspect of governance, in place for other reasons, demonstrates his fitness to hold office. 

Which is important, given the lessons of the Astral Claws; over expansion brings hazards all of its own, brought on by excess capability.  So the Bureaux Astartes has to find an outlet for the occasional run of good fortune that might see a Chapter potentially three or four companies over strength.  A Chapter cannot afford to take its foot off the gas when it comes to recruiting, just in case a Hive Fleet arrives on its doorstep or the Tyrant of Badab takes a personal dislike to the Chapter.   So with a spate (centuries) of operational success and favourable warp currents, the Chapter Master may see units return that he had expected, statistically, to have written off.

However, on the flip side of this is the possibility of excommunicated Chapters, as well as those lost to attrition.  Thinking about keeping a Space Marine Chapter alive in these terms, a Chapter is much more likely to just fade out than to go out in a blaze of glory.  Perhaps bearing this in mind, a Master of a Chapter in terminal decline might put his remaining force in a position where it makes a glorious last stand.  A form of hubris ?   Possibly.  But he is a Chapter Master.

So out of a thousand Chapters the imperium could be loosing as many as 10% per millennium.  So perhaps there are still foundings.  Successor Chapters being raised from each over strength Chapter, dictated by the rate of information coming into the Bureaux Astartes and based on the availability of resources, not necessarily on the perceived reputation of the donor Chapter. 

Given the nature of warp travel and the fact that the Astronomican is not a reliable method of communication at the best of times, there can never be a definitive list of Space Marine Chapters.  There can only be the information that the Bureaux Astartes has at any one time, which is always going to be years, perhaps decades, out of date.  

What’s my point ?  There can be no cannon. Bearing in mind their origins, the Veterans of the Long War may actually show much less, variety, than modern Chapters.  Who is more chaotic now, Abbadon ?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bureaux Astartes Post One of Two

Ok, this a post about Space Marines where I will not be calling them ‘Spaze Muhrines’ as I normally do.  My apologies to the rest of the Galaxy. 

A Chapter is theoretically composed of 1000 marines, almost always in ten companies of 100.  Now, even power armoured gene engineered super warriors are not invulnerable; just look at the Batreps on the ‘net and the amount of famous last stands in the fluff.

In HR terms, a SM Chapter has a high ‘churn’.

Selection is from limited populations; the candidates have to be young enough for indoctrination and to make it worthwhile in terms of potential longevity (ie if it takes 100 years to get a marine fully trained and into first company, you don’t want that to be at the very end of his useful life), but old enough to actually be worth testing for the physical, mental and emotional attributes needed for SM neophytes.  So these candidates are extremely unlikely to be very young – and they can’t be too developed otherwise the physical alternations wouldn’t take.  So they have to be on the very cusp of puberty.  And there are likely to be self imposed restrictions on the populations selected from – the fluff is full of examples of this.

So recruitment is a problem.  On to the next HR bugbear – retention.

The first retention problem is the recruitment process itself, this has the following outcomes:

  • ·         Failing to take the genetic modifications resulting in death or servitortude.
  • ·         Acts of rebellion or displays of individuality resulting in death or servitortude.
  • ·         Training accidents resulting in death or servitortude.
  • ·         Failing to make the grade training wise or devotionally, resulting in death. 

 Congratulations, our neophyte is now a scout.  

The next retention hurdle is death in service.  Let us assume that the battle brothers all share a similar in service mortality rate.  Death in battle is actually quite likely – continued use a shock troops and forlorn hope troops make long term survival prospects unfavourable to say the least.  In a given battle, a greater number , literally or pro rata, of Iggies may die in combat, however that regiment will spend longer on garrison duties and on furlough and less time in actual battles, even when on an operational campaign, whereas the SM are propelled from front line to front line at the best speed their technology can manage.  

However, we should not underestimate warp travel; like driving is for us, so warp travel is fraught with risk for the fictional denizens of the 41st Millenium.  Put simply, the higher your mileage, the more likely your unplanned demise.  And as these SM are constantly moving from war zone to war zone, so they are clocking up the mileage.  We know that they usually deploy in small fast transports which only carry a couple or three squads and small strike cruisers with a slightly larger contingent and a modicum of support equipment or vehicle or two.  

So most of the Chapter’s combat power is spread out across a vast area of space chasing down these often very modest missions to bolster non-superhuman local forces.  The time spent in warp travel is considerable.  

Having consigned his battle brothers to the warp one of the most important tasks of the Chapter Master, possibly in concert with his Masters of the whatever and taking advice from the ex brothers in their canoptic jugs, is to decide when to declare any of these penny packets of his chapter lost and transfer their names to the rolls of honoured dead. 

It does not seem unreasonable, given the time and distances involved, for a particularly active Chapter to loose as many to the warp as to combat.  And this gives the Chapter Master a particular problem.  He has to try to maintain a Chapter of 1000 battle brothers.  Which means constantly over recruiting.  The most important functions of the Chapter are recruiters and the Apocatharies, without whom the Chapter will simply wither away. 

As for the third, unspoken, retention hurdle, the fall from grace, this may well be a larger factor than anyone cares to think about.  But the Adeptus Astartes are unlikely to even share data on this delicate subject.

I’ll look at the over recruited Chapter in a later post.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

What are we doing here ?

Feldwebel Ekontto of the Necromundan 1st was quite used to not asking questions.  The remnants of his regiment were assigned to be the security unit for 17 Korps HQ.  He had become used to being roused from his bunk for odd tasks by various members of the top brass.  Now he and his three riflemen were stood in light drizzle guarding, preventing entry to, a field laundry in the wee small hours .  His fire team were loosing sleep they would not recover whilst one of the scarier commissars, presumably, did his laundry in peace.  Regardless of the oddness, the four men were alert and tactically aware; they were not men to be found wanting, no matter how strange the assignment.

“Commandant Colonel Welbahn wanted to know why we are here, in terms a little more precise than those described by General Zhukov. “  The slightly overweight Cadian in the unmarked uniform stopped talking.

Commissar Nissarawa peered over the top of his reading glasses.  The innocuous looking Cadian didn’t blink in the Commissarial headlights as most would.  But Token Nissarawa was undeterred, perhaps even a little pleased.  After all, Sergeant Major Arra is an experienced interior guard operative.  In some ways their unconventional relationship was flagrant breach of trust.  Neither Lord Commissar Harris, Nor Colonel Polpodnik Michov, Sgt Major Arra’s Commander, knew of their liaisons.  But they had met twice before, working for other men in other warzones.  Theirs was an old alliance; it had made wars shorter and uncovered treachery.
The Commissar knew better than to ask the violet eyed man who he had been speaking with.  Most people saw a slightly overweight unimportant looking man, possibly passed over for his commission.  Crom Arra was almost always overlooked and underestimated.

Without his poker face cracking, a slight twinkle came to Arra’s eyes.  The Cadian finished loading the damp uniforms into the large drier and somewhat ostentatiously set it spinning, the noise making it even more unlikely that anyone would overhear them. 

“Two hundred years ago, the Prelate on Devos IV was a liberalistic, intellectual man called Simplatta.  He was coming under pressure from redemptionist factions to do something about intellectual liberals.  Nothing serious at first, just energetic debating.

Simplatta tried to manage the situation by increasing the knowledge of interdicted things lower down the Ecclesiastic food chain.  He was counting on his Bishops and Gurus, the senior priesthood figures to recognise the potential danger and come down on their own congregations.”

Watching Arra sort though the damp clothing, Nissararwa realised that the Cadian’s eyes took in the details on all of the labels, not just garment care, but manufacturer, material and place of origin.  Not much got past him, thought the Commissar to himself as Arra continued:

“They did what they always did, and pushed what Simplatta gave them out across their diocese.  Simplatta still tried to manage by consent and loosened up existing restrictions on the various media, trusting that the effect would be to scare everyone who mattered into locking away any potentially dangerous knowledge.”

The Cadian paused, allowing the Commissar to draw forth the inferences. 

“Over the next few decades, the office of Prelate yo-yo’d  from liberal to reactionary, with each side encouraging the increasingly deregulated media.  With each new Prelate, more and more freedoms were granted.  By the time of the Quintelle/Vicorum incident, the media in Benq were all for pinning the blame on the Inquisition and so on.  If not for the Praetorian garrison on the third moon, it would just another planetary civil war.”

A familiar enough story, thought the Commissar to himself.  “Any idea why Colonel Commandant Welbahn is so interested ?”

“He was on the same initial commissioning course with General Horpan, the PDF’s C in C.  And they shared time in staff appointments on Agrippina twelve years ago.  I think our man is trying to get inside Danny Bloodcoat’s head.”

“Danny Bloodcoat ?”

“Colonel Daniel Horpan was the Commanding Officer of the 99th Regiment of the PDF, the ‘Bloodcoats’ before he was picked as a star by Maj Gen Firth, then the Planetary Governor and sent to Staff College, where he ran into Welbahn again.”

“Are they friends ?  Enemies ?”

“From what I can gather, there is perhaps mutual respect between them; each knows the others background, training and career.  I would not say there is any emotion one way or the other, more like well rated regicide players who have never faced each other before.”

“Nonetheless, you should make sure I know if the situation changes.”

Arra nodded his assent and stepped subtly back into the shadows.  Their clandestine meeting was over.  Commissar Nissarawa picked up his laundry and left with no further word.

Monday, 12 November 2012


What ?

Really ?

If I had to explain, you wouldn't understand....

Friday, 9 November 2012

On the workbench

The T-65 Yavin Strike Fighter, better know as the X-Wing.  Remeniscient of the Lockheed Starfighter, perhaps.

Note the Las cannons on the wing tips and the little man for scale.  The cockpit is upstairs pending some work putting a 40k size pilot in there.  Which is why you can see daylight through the fusilage.  So far, base coated German Grey (like a lot of my tanks ?!?!).  Thinking of a USN type colour scheme. Perhaps.

This is the Revell snap fix kit.  Gonna get rid of them Storm Drains and Duncan the Dragons.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

IWM Duxford

If you have seen Big Lee's miniature adventures, then you'll be passingly familiar with IWM Duxford.  It really is worth the visit, even if you live in Byzantium.  There is something about being in a room full of aeroplanes that reduces crowds of grown men to small boys. 

We may stand around discussing aviation as it relates to the sunset of the British Empire and the decline of our manufacuring industry, but inside we are all Biggles.  Thoughts ranged from defending our beleaguered island from the Luftwaffe to 'You wouldn't get me up in that' to just 'wow'.  I stood under the Vulcan, reached up and touched it. If you don't get why that's exciting, your probably a girl.  Check now.
This is a Eurofighter Typhoon.  In the restoration hanger.  Already.

The Lancaster.  I have a grest uncle in a cemetary in Holland somewhere, he flew one of these. until 1943, having transferred out of the Royal Artillery.  He also spent part of his career flying Blemhiems from RAF Bicester, so there are plenty of family connections there (Royal Artillery, Bicester etc).

Yours truely.  I was amazed that it was so big; but then considering the crew and ~20 tonne payload was also amazed that it was so small.

I had a great day out with a lot of my friends.  (Sounds like 'what i did in my hollydaze')  These picures are from the 'Avaiation Hall' which shows quite well why we won (innovation and 'having a go' on a massive scale) and then lost (too many ideas, not enough focus) an Empire, all in aeroplanes.

We visited the American Hall, which is possibly more impressive, being laid out specifically to display the exhibits it holds, rather than a shed that happens to fit all the 'planes in it. (See previous paragraph).

And the Land War hall.  Which has in it things I remember from what seems like not too long ago.  My early working life is in a museum, that really makes me feel a bit funny.  This was outside.
Yes, it is a Hydra, yes the weathering is suberb.

We got around about half of the place and spent a fortune on books in the shop.  My personal highlight:

From the Sea Power conservatory.  If ever there was a plane built for one thing (hitting Soviet warships) this is it.  So ugly, it's beautiful.  If I had an aircraft carrier, this is what I'd want to fly off it.

There is precious little magic in many people's day to day lives.  This place had a handful of grown men with responsibilities wandering about wide eyed.  Marvelous. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Obligatory Kaos Kodex refew

Now, a lot of people have already reviewed the new Chaos Codex.  They will let you know that Noise Marines are the new black; that the Dark Apostle is a nice fluffy HQ choice but a tooled up Termiantor Lord is still better and so on and so forth.

Some of you may not be surprised that my review doesn't really focus on these things and that taking different flavour of chaos in your HQ choices 'unlocks' various flavours of Chaos as troop types.  Bonza.  What ever.

My review:

The new book is hardbacked and decorated like the AD&D 3.5 Players Handbook.  A huge step forward in production values.  And cost.

I don't like it.  Can I have a softback one please ? With B&W decoration like the old ones ?  Not looking forward to a new set of Codices in the new 'improved' format.  I prefer the old style (less expensive) codices. 

Review over.