Welcome to the Raging Goblin Reviews, the segment where I look at some of my favorite hobby tools and products and review them for all you budding hobbyists and wargamers out there. Continuing with the theme of support units and pieces for the Trenchers, we’ll cover some of their specialty weapon crews. Starting off the batch is the iconic Trencher weapon crew, and a must-have in a trench-warfare-themed army, the Trencher Chain Gun Crew!
I’ve deal with a lot of fiddly and irritating models in my time, but HOLY CRAPOLY was this kit fiddly! Sorry, must remain professional. Let’s start with what you get in the box:
- 1 Chain Gun
- 1 Chain Gun Tripod
- 1 Chain Gun Shield
- 1 Gunner Body
- 2 Gunner Legs/Forearms
- 1 Loader Body
- 1 Loader Crate/Hands
- 2 Rifles
- 1 50mm base
- 1 30mm base
When you assemble the kit, the loader is the easiest to assemble. You just glue the hands onto the forearms, glue the whole thing down onto the base, glue his rifle onto his backpack, and you’re done. The gunner is a whole other story. You begin by assembling the chain gun, which sits in the tripod base well enough, but the shield is quite a tight fit, and is prone to slipping out of position while it’s drying, so expect a lot of frustration and holding things together to make it look right. And even then, don’t be surprised if you end up with a gap between the gun and the shield. The gunner’s forearms and legs are connected, and have to be glued onto the body before he can be glued down onto the base. THEN, you have to do a bit of fiddling with the gun to make sure it fits into his hands, and even then you’ll have to deal with gaps and pieces breaking off and needing to be replaced. The rifle is the easiest part to glue onto him, and sits reasonably well between his entrenching shovel and shoulder pad on his back. The model looks nice when it’s assembled, as you can see in the provided photo, but it’s a real headache to put together, and I plan to prime mine as soon as possible to cover up some of those gaps. Also make sure to have plenty of acetone on hand so you don’t inadvertently glue your fingers together mid-assembly like yours truly.
But anyway, onto the details. Despite the infuriating assembly, the Trencher Chain Gun Crew remains one of my favorite models of the line, and looks great alongside a unit of Trencher Infantry. In this model, the brow plates on the Trenchers’ helmets make even more sense, as German machine gunners in WW1 had similar plates on their helmets to protect them from snipers. The two models you get look just like your average rank-and-file Trencher, but have details to set them apart and give them a bit of character. The Gunner is wearing goggles to keep his eyes safe from hot casings flying out of his gun, and is posed to look like he’s sighting down the barrels of his ridiculous weapon, like he’s drawing a bead on a poor Winter Guardsman somewhere in the distance. My only complaint is that the position of his right hand looks a bit too relaxed, like he’s just sitting in the mud and holding the handle of the gun without really seeming to care. It would look a lot better if he was holding the handle with both hands and leaning into it, like he’s mowing down rows of Menites or Cryxians. The Loader looks a little better, and comes with a highly-detailed ammo crate, complete with detailed interior filled with bullet belts. The pose works a little better here, as it looks like he’s just stashed his rifle and is pulling a fresh belt of cartridges to load into his teammate’s gun. They aren’t too glaringly different from an average Trencher, with the exception of their poses and armaments, but I think it works to their advantage. They look like they belong in a uniform military force, and were just ordinary Trenchers that were chosen to wield this ludicrous weapon in the field. This will make sense later on when I get into rules. Being Trenchers, they have all the standard details covered, like bandoliers covered in pouches and smoke bombs, entrenching shovels and bedrolls on their packs, and their heavy riveted armor complete with their trademark tortoise-shaped helmets, so they both stick out and blend in in your Trencher force.
As Trenchers got a huge overhaul in MK3, the Chain Gun Crew’s rules have gotten an update as well. Statwise, the Loader and Gunner have the same stats as your average Trencher grunt, but the Gunner has a much lower speed value, as he has to lug that heavy gun around with him. The way around this is the new Mobile Artillery rule, which means that the gunner gets a +1 SPD boost for every grunt in the unit in B2B with him. This works thematically, as the grunts are now working together to hump the artillery piece across the battlefield, but it also gets around the old problem in MK2 of artillery units being ludicrously slow. The Chain Gun has lost the Rapid Fire rule, and instead has an ROF (rate of fire) value of D3+1, which means that on any combat activation, you’ll have between 2 to 4 shots to throw at the enemy. Very nice and fun, but the lackluster POW of the weapon means you won’t be killing anything tougher than solos, unless you’re really lucky in your dice rolls. Fortunately, it still has Covering Fire, so you can lay down a 3-inch AOE of gunfire to drag your opponents into. A big update for the Chain Gunner is that he now has the Take Up rule, which means that if he falls, the Loader can take up the gun in his place and keep firing, even though he’ll lose the Ammo Loader ability. Speaking of which, the Ammo Loader action has been updated, and instead of cranking extra shots out of the Chain Gun, it allows the Gunner to deal an extra D6 of damage against enemy warrior models. It makes the chain gun effectively useless against warjacks or warbeasts, but it’s useful for clearing out enemy infantry and opening up charge lanes. Kiss your shield walls goodbye! Armaments wise for the Loader, he has the standard military rifle and trench knife of an ordinary Trencher, but given his rules, he’s better off keeping the chain gun fed instead of trying to take potshots at enemy troops. They also come with the standard Trencher rules of Advance Deployment, Dig In, Smoke Bombs, and Tough, so they can be deployed early for laying down covering fire for the lads, and become a real headache for enemies to remove once they’re entrenched and firing at them. Their cost is still relatively cheap, and a Field Allotment of 2 means you can easily fit two of these crews into a list that needs a little fire support. If you’re using Commander Sturgis as your warcaster, these crews come in handy, as they provide some nice and deadly AOEs for him to drag enemies into on his feat turn.
With all these things in mind, I have to give the Trencher Chain Gun Crew a 5/10. On the tabletop, they’re a useful and cheap artillery piece that excels in clearing out enemy infantry, so it’s useful for breaking defensive lines and clearing charge lanes. If you have the ability to drag your enemies around, like Sturgis, units like this are great for pulling your targets into friendly fire and thinning out their numbers. The Master Gunner also works well with them, with his new Battery Fire ability that enables them to crank out an extra 2-4 shots per round. Model-wise, they’re incredibly frustrating to build, and you need a lot of patience to make sure everything fits together properly without any gaps between the parts, and even then, you’re not going to get a completely perfect fit. If you’re a novice, DO NOT pick up the chain gun crew. Stick with something simpler to begin, don’t go right for the throat and get fed up with a complicated and fiddly model. If you’ve already been collecting Trenchers, the chain gun crew fits in with them nicely and fits their theme, and it’s just a logical step when building a theme force based around trench warfare. If you’re running a Trencher force and need a cheap support weapon, go for the chain gun. It won’t cost you an excessive amount of points, and works well against enemy forces running infantry-heavy. Also, if you like the look and have a trench-warfare/steampunk/WW1-themed army in progress, this is a must-have for your collection, and if you use your Trenchers in Warhammer 40k like some, it makes a nice proxy heavy bolter crew. However, if you’re new to the world of Warmachine or model-building and want a starting point, give the chain gun crew a wide berth. True, it looks nice once it’s assembled, but it’s a nightmare to get is assembled properly, and will be more of a pain than a good time for you. Start with something simpler like the Trencher Infantry, and then work your way up to something more complicated like this.
Anyway, this has been the Raging Goblin’s review of the Cygnar Trencher Chain Gun Crew. God’s blessings on your week, keep up with your hobbies, and stay green my friends!