Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tyranid Spires Pt 1 and DaBoyz GT Tau List

Grubnards GT Countdown T-6 Weeks

This week I thought I would showcase part 1 of the Tyranid Spires terrain that I have been working on for a good part of the past month. This portion of the project was much more difficult than the other terrain pieces since I was working with new material and did not know what to expect. I will be breaking up the project into two part, this week focusing on the initial stages of development and next week I'll wrap it up with the final results. This weekend is also the Da Boyz GT primer being held at Millennium Games and Hobby so I plan on bringing the full set of the Tyranid terrain and see how it holds up before next months GT.

Tyranid Spires

During the later stages of a Tyranid infestation, huge Tyranid spires erupt from the ground, breaking and tearing through large buildings and structures. Ever since I conceptualized working on Tyranid terrain I knew I wanted to create something that looked utterly alien erupting from the ground but I did not know the best route to start the project or what materials to use.

After much wandering around various hobby and craft stores I settled on florist/plant foam (from here on out I'll refer to it as green foam) as it looked easy to work with and comes in brick shaped blocks. If I were to use pink foam I'd be forced to glue multiple layers together to achieve the desired thickness and if I went with white packing foam I could not think of an easy way to shape the material so green foam would be my material of choice for this project. While green foam comes in an ideal shape and is easy to work with, the downside is that it is very fragile and any little bump, scratch, or even squeezing it too tight will damage the foam so I had to be careful with it while I was shaping the material.

For the first step I shaved out the foam in the shape of a curving horn.

I cut out the shapes in various sizes so I could represent the different stages of growth.

My original thought at this point is that I would carve out the chitinous plates along the back of the spire directly in the foam. This would alleviate any tedious work of finding a material to place over the foam but the end result looked to manufactured and "neat" to represent an organic form.

But after looking at the shape I knew that this would not work, plus I did not know how I would protect the foam from the abuse terrain usually takes on the table top.

So after much searching and testing I decide to fall back on my favorite terrain medium. Das Clay.

Before I could work the clay into the project I needed to revise the spires so I shaved off the layered plates.

Once that was done I rolled out sections of the wet clay into 1/4" sheets and cut out pentagonal shapes in various sizes. While the clay was wet I draped it over the spires in layers, staring with the smallest pieces up at the top and the largest ones at the bottom so that it would dry into the shape of the spire.

Once the clay dried I was able to pull it off of the spire and started shaping it with a dremel tool.

In the above image you can see I fleshed out the points and carved grooves into the plates.

Close up of the groove work.

In the next picture you can see how easily the clay pieces fit back into place once I finished cleaning them up. The two smaller ones have yet to be cleaned so you can see the difference.

After all of the clay pieces were shaped and in place I needed to do something about the exposed foam. Knowing how fragile the green foam is I knew that even just trying to transport the terrain from various locations would ding the foam up, not to mention the wear and tear it would suffer during games so I opted to use the tried and true white glue/super glue method that I used in my other tyranid projects.

Plague Bearer added for scale.
Close up of the glue effect.
After the initial coat of the glue mix had dried I added a second layer to increase the alien looking effect and once the glues had hardened it created a tough exterior shell that should protect the foam from almost all wear and tear.

Next I started to paint the spites. I wanted to keep the fleshy parts raw and sick looking to match the white I painted in my digestion pools and spore pods. The chitin layers I painted red to match the rippers I painted in the ripper pad project. The end result looks something like this.

Next week I will show how I incorporated the spires in terrain pieces to match the other tyranid pieces I have created. I also hope to have pictures of the terrain in use after this weekends event. So for now here is a sneak peek of one of the terrain pieces.

Da Boyz Tau Army list update.

As many of you know, during August's monthly tournament at Millennium Games I ran a trial version of my Tau GT list to see how it would work and I ended up with 1 win and 2 losses. Overall I liked the list that I ran but for this month I opted to drop the devil fish and upgrade my commander, fire warriors and pathfinders. So the list I plan on running this weekend will look like this:

Airburst Fragment Projector, TL PLasma, Shield Generator, Multi Spectrum Suite, Iridium Armor, Onagar Gauntlet, Puretide Engrim Chip

XV8 Crisis Team
1. MP/TL Plasma/Bonding Knife
2. MP/TL Plasma/Bonding Knife
3. Plasma Rifle/TL Fusion Blaster/Bonding Knife

6 Stealth Suits - Bonding Knife

Riptide - Ion Accelerator, TL Fusion, Early Warning Overide

10 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui, Bonding Knife
10 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui, Bonding Knife
10 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui, Bonding Knife 
12 Kroot with sniper rounds

Fast Attack
7 Pathfinders, Shas'ui
7 Pathfinders, Shas'ui

Heavy Support
XV88 Team 1
1. TL Heavy Rail Rifle/TL Smart Missile System/Velocity Tracker
2. TL Heavy Rail Rifle/TL Smart Missile System/Velocity Tracker

XV88 Team 2
1. TL High Yield Missile Pods/TL Smart Missile System/Velocity Tracker
2. TL High Yield Missile Pods/TL Smart Missile System/Velocity Tracker

Hammerhead Gunship
Railgun, Smart Missile System, Submunition Rounds, Seeker Missile, Disruption pod, Blacksun filter

What I changed:
I opted to give the commander the Puretide chip as I know many players will be fielding Wraith Knights and other monstrous goodies so putting him with some Broadsides made sense. So between the TL high yield missiles and re-rolling wounds with monster hunter I should hopefully do some damage. Plus having the option to make the broadsides Tank Hunters will help against those pesky wave serpents and flyers.

I added bonding knives to fire warriors so that if they do break I can still attempt to rally them before they flee.

With the Pathfinders I added in a shas'ui to each unit and bumped their unit size up to 7 each. The higher leadership should hopefully keep them on the field a little longer.

Next week I'll conclude the Spire project and have images of the final project plus images and feedback on how I did at the tournament.


  1. Have you thought about dropping the velocity trackers off of one broadside unit and giving it to your riptide instead? Riptides can take two support systems. You would have an interceptor w/ skyfire. Not mention you'd have an extra 20pts. to throw around.

    1. @dave, I did think about giving the riptide the VT tracker when I first made my list but decided that it is better off being a troop killer rather than my anti-aircraft. Interceptor is nice for trying to hit droppods with my TL Fusion blaster that come in too close to the riptide. The nice thing about the broadsides with the VT is that all of their weapons are TL plus attaching a commander with the Puretide Chip should make sure that I am able to take down the flyers as needed. In last month's event I only faced two flyers and I was able to take down a Storm Raven but not a HelDrake. We will see how this list does this month before I make any final decisions. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Really like the spire approach - very surprised you went with floral foam and still managed to make it work! =) Fired up my imagination! Thanks for posting.

    1. @Ghostin, Yeah, I knew working with floral foam was going to pose issues but it is so easy to work with and sculpt. The key is adding the glue skin to protect the foam from damage. I know the picture cannot convey the toughness of the dried glue but it is pretty solid. Hopefully some of the other writers on this blog will be able to see the terrain this weekend at our monthly tournament and provide their feedback as well. Glad you liked the outcome. Wait until next week when I post pics of all of the terrain pieces in use.

  3. You are buying bonding knives for the entire unit, right? I wasn't sure as it seems you have them at singular.

    I like the additions of the Shas'ui's a lot. Morale is key to keeping those fish heads in the fight. Also surprised your broadsides don't have shav vre upgrades. Then again, without missile drones i guess there isn't much point.

    1. Yeah, Bonding Knives are for the entire unit where listed. As for the broadsides I've thought about taking drones but each time a drone gets killed I'll be forced to take a leadership test and since shield drones no longer have the armor save of the controlling unit I'd rather take my chances with just the broadsides. Putting a commander in with broadsides not only gives them a higher leadership but he can also absorb some of the more dangerous shots. Although last month I did have a bad roll that forced my unit to flee off the board on Turn 1 and in game 2 my commander got turned into a squig so I need to rethink how to position my commander depending in the army.