11.28.2016

Raven Guard, Tactical Squad Ouvai

After painting my ass off for a couple weeks straight, I have another squad and a drop pod completed. You all know what a standard drop pod looks like, so I'm not bothering to share that. Plus, I cut some corners to get it done in time for the Standoff, so it's not my favorite.

Anyhow, here is Tactical Squad Ouvai. They're led by Sergeant Yasson Ouvai (YAH-sohn Ooh-VUY). It's just a 5-man squad right now, armed with a combiplasma and a plasma cannon.

Here are the bolter Marines. Suitably boring, though I'm trying to break up the wall of black paint with things like pouches and grenades. I've finally gotten a brown leather recipe I like for pouches. It's a basecoat of Reaper Ruddy Leather, a wash of Devlan Mud/Agrax Earthshade, and then an edge highlight of Reaper Leather Brown. Simple and effective.

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

 
Then we have Sergeant Ouvai and the plasma cannoneer.
Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon

Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon

Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon

Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon
 
I really like the plasma cannoneer model for some reason. As I looked at him over and over waiting to be 100% done, I started to become very enamored with his posing and the line of his eyes/helmet toward the target. It's an old, metal cannon from ye olden dayes. Normally I hate the metal heavies, but this one seems to work.
raven guard plasma cannon
 
Sergeant Ouvai isn't all that interesting, as all he's got is a combiplasma. No fancy wargear to paint or dynamic pose, but that's ok. the big thing I did with him is determine how I was going to mark him out as a sergeant. For my old Ultras, it was easy. Red helmet. But a red helmet on a Raven Guard model would look awful. I didn't want a white helmet, because I reserve white for veterans. I could say he's a Veteran Sergeant, but he's not. I racked my brain until I came up with this:
 
raven guard tactical sergeant arrow



It's a red, horizontal Tactical arrow from the Dark Angels section of the standard Space Marine transfer sheet. Red for sergeant, and a squad number. I was originally going to trim one point off it and turn it vertically, but I really liked the result. The only thing I was hesitant about was that I kept seeing an Eye of Horus symbol when I looked very quickly at it. I got over it, and I think I'll be using red squad markings for all my Sergeants in the future.

I played this squad at the Standoff, and it did jack in all three games. The plasma cannon fired maybe three times total across all three games. My guess is that that was the result of not having a transport and my attempts to use them to sit on hidden objectives. It's tough to get a good line of fire for the cannon, and if you need to move to adjust, you can't fire it anyways.
These guys were supposed to be a foray into a trio of Tac squads so I could run either the Pinion Demi or Battle Demi formation, but I'm reconsidering. I either need to paint up some Rhinos or move on. Tac squads just bore me to death with their options and slowness.

11.25.2016

Standish Standoff 2016, After Action Report

Last Saturday (November 19th) was the sixth annual Standish Standoff tournament at the FLGS. It's our community's annual "big" tournament. This year it was 1750 points.

I ran my Raven Guard, with 100% Raven Guard painted models. The last few months and test games saw me using some stand-in Ultramarines models from my old army. I painted and painted to get all RG models on the table for the event.

My list was as follows:

Shadow Force
Captain, Raven's Fury jump pack, power fist, relic blade, artificer armor
Vanguard Vets, 5x, powerfist + pistol, dual lightning claws, grav + bolt pistols x2, sergeant with relic blade and storm shield, meltabombs on the claws and pistoliers
Sternguard Vets, 5x, 2x combigrav, meltabombs on sergeant
Landspeeder, Typhoon Launchers and Multimelta

CAD
Techmarine with servo harness
Servitors, 4x, two heavy bolters
Scout Squad, 5x, camo, pistol and CCWs, one shotgun, vet sergeant with power sword and meltabombs
Scout Squad, 5x, camo, bolters, heavy bolter with Hellfire
Tac Squad, 5x, plasma cannon, sergeant with combiplas
Assault Squad, 6x, two flamers, vet sergeant w/ lightning claw and meltabombs
Drop Pod (fast attack slot)
Dreadnought, twin-las and missile launcher
Devastator Squad, 5x, two lascannons
Leviathan Dreadnought, claw/drill, armored ceramite, three hunter-killer missiles

Fun, if inefficient. I'm looking squarely at you, Techmarine and Servitors.

My first game was against Warren and his Space Wolf list. I played against it in the first round of a tournament last month as well. The list was 95% units in Drop Pods, led by Ragnar. Everythign arrives turn one and gets Fearless and FNP (6+) until their second turn.
As usual, the game was a Maelstrom mission (as was every mission on the day). Warren placed a trio of objectives in a tight triangle near my deployment zone, so I knew he was going to focus his pods there. So, I used my infiltrators and scout moves to congest the area, and then lucked out and seized the initiative to drop my one pod right in the middle of the mess. This was key to the game being as close as it was, as I didn't have to clear a lot of Fearless Space Wolves off of objectives. Funnily enough, neither of us really drew many numbered objective cards in the game.
Warren took a narrow victory on the back of an early lead.

Game Two was against Thor from Creative Twilight. We seem to play against one another at least every other tourney. I'll just point you at his tourney report for the event for general details of our game. A narrow victory for him after I'd taken the early lead.

The final game of the day was against a very unconventional Tau list. Lots of Fire Warrior and Breacher squads on foot, two or three Ethereals packed into a Devilfish, a trio of flyers, and a metric ton of various Drone squads in a formation.
This one was a solid win for me, as my opponent was very rusty on Maelstrom missions in general. Not a lot of killing in this one, as I didn't really want to throw my jump troops into the massed infantry with Supporting Fire. That rule, along with markerlights, is my bugaboo for Tau. So frustrating. I just camped objectives and used my mobility to rack up points. It was nice to see a Tau list with actual infantry and no suits, and not just because I won. Of course, after the new FAQ, the list is neutered because the Ethereals can't use their command powers from inside that Devilfish.

I ended the day in the middle of the pack, 10th place of 22 on overall points. 13th in just battle points. 7th on soft points.
The only thing I did "well" with was the pub quiz, getting 7 of 10 questions right, if I remember correctly.

The event also featured some painting competitions, but I didn't enter any models this year. I had a few reasons for that.
Firstly, I didn't paint anything specifically for the competition. I painted purely to get models into games, and I don't enter models unless I feel they are showcase quality. My Raven Guard look nice, but they don't have much in the way of character. Flat black models don't tend to win painting awards.
Secondly, I've won a good number of the categories in past Standoffs. I've got a drawer full of purity seals from my Ultramarine models. I kind of feel guilty winning awards and just shoving them in a drawer. It sort of feels disrespectful to the competition. I know that's an odd sentiment, but it's how I feel. Finally, I've lost with models I worked super hard on in the past. The painting judges work super hard at a tough job, but I have some lingering feelings of being robbed. Petty? Probably.
All that added up to a simple lack of desire to enter models. It is what it is. I'll try next year with some Harlequin models or something.

I did have an enjoyable day. Three good games and a day out of the house was nice. There's a different energy to an annual event when compared to a standard monthly tourney.

Now that the event is over, I'm back to slowly painting instead of a flurry of activity. I'm picking away at a Forgeworld Deathstorm Drop Pod that I bought and assembled ages ago for my Ultramarines, but never finished. Once that is done, I'm not sure where I'll go. I've got a preorder in for Blood Bowl next weekend, and am looking forward to painting those models. I'm trying to avoid spending any cash on new Marine kits until I've exhausted some of my existing collection, but the lure of a big kit like a Stormraven or a Knight is strong.

10.28.2016

Dreadtober Update #4: Work Complete!

This is my final Dreadtober update, because I successfully finished the model!

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought
 
 
Firstly, I fixed the sepia tone of my images. I covered the table with white paper to prevent the brown color from reflecting up onto the model. I also discovered that the shrouds I put over my front lights actually had small burns on them from the lightbulb heat. I changed those and it may have helped. Of course, fixing the white balance in GIMP also helps.
 
I replaced the model's right shin plate with one from the Ravenwing upgrade sprue. Many thanks to Berman from A Painted Life for the new plate. I like the bit of asymmetry it creates against the left plate. I really like the brass ribbed pipes. They break up the silver nicely. I didn't go with colored cables like I did on my Leviathan, mostly because the one power cable I'd apply color to is hard to reach on the lascannon. It crosses over that brass cable awkwardly.
 
The decals on the sarcophagus came out nicely. The XIX numerals came from an IG vehicle sprue, while the icons came from the Forgeworld Raven Guard sheet. I went with a grey-white for this model, and did edge highlights in pure white. You can't really see it in the pictures, but you can in person. I like the effect a lot, and it should stand out even better on infantry models that have more edges.
 
I played three games with this model last weekend before he was 100% complete. He's pretty ineffective with this armament. He just doesn't have the rate of fire needed to be a true anti-tank threat. After the Standish Standoff, I'll probably give him a new set of arms. Maybe multimelta and Dreadnought close combat weapon.
 
Next up is my 5-man Tactical squad packing plasma weaponry. I've already base coated the black and am at the edge highlight stage.

10.20.2016

Dreadtober Progress Reports #2 and 3: Basic Colors and The Base

This week I have two Dreadtober updates to share in one post. I was out of town last week, so I missed the update on blocking in colors on the model.

Here's the current painting progress on the Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought:
Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

He's nearly done. You can see that I left his shins off for painting. You can also spot a small dot of silver on his left thigh area that needs cleaned up. I used Runelord Brass on small details like bolt heads and ribbed cables, washed it with Devlan Mud, and then touched it again with Ironbreaker because it looked too flat. It breaks up the monotony of silver nicely.

I'm supposed to use this model in a is weekend, so I'll probably concentrate on decals and final details like lenses and targeters next week.

In order to get him table-ready, I also started work on his base. I use a flagstone style base scheme for my Raven Guard, and I covered the process I used to make the first bases HERE.

The first step for the Dreadnought base was to slather the whole thing in plastic glue and start slapping down carved squares and scraps.
40K Flagstone Basing

The scraps are left over from building my original 32mm bases and the base for my Leviathan Siege Dreadnought. All the overhangs are very intentional in order to get a more random placement of the center flagstone on the base. The overhangs go away when I turn the base over a couple days later and use an Xacto knife to trace around the top edge. This scores the plastic and allows me to snap the overhanging parts off. Those scraps go in a bag for later use. The result is here:
 40K Flagstone Basing
After snapping the overhangs off, you angle your knife and carve the flagstone texture into the edges. You can see some of the little curls of plastic produced by this process in the picture above.
 40K Flagstone Basing
The final step is to add bits, rocks, and sand. I have a bin full of random offcuts from which I pulled that skull-arch thing (I believe it came from a 40K scenery scrap), and obscured by the glare in the upper left are two resin skulls from Secret Weapon's "Sack 'O Skulls". Those are top-notch quality, and I highly recommend them.
 
The bits get stuck on with superglue, and then I use PVA glue top make little puddles where I want rocks and sand. I randomly drop small rocks into the puddles, and then cover the remainder in sand. Both materials came from the springtime washdown at the end of my driveway. That's the little piles of sand and dirt left in the drive by the melting snow.
 
I try to focus on wonky areas of the base for rocks and sand, like the corners of the center flagstone. I got lazy and didn't carve it up enough, and so it looked too sharp and geometric. The rubble obscures that and solves the problem.
 
The base is now sitting in my garage, waiting for the primer to dry. I'll paint it tonight during the Bruins game.



10.07.2016

Dreadtober Progress Report #1: The Build

As I mentioned last time, I signed up for Dreadtober this year. It's my first time taking part in a blogosphere challenge, though I had made painting vows at the Bolter and Chainsword 5+ years ago.

I challenged myself to build and paint a magnetized Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought by the end of the month. I love Dreads in general (also, Terminators), and the VenDread kit is dirt cheap on ebay because of all the folks splitting up Death Masque box sets.

I wanted to fully magnetize the arms on the model, as I did the first time I built the kit for my Ultramarines. However, I specifically wanted to avoid using any of the parts I used last time to make it more interesting to paint.

Here's the build as it stood yesterday morning:

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

I selected the lascannon arm from the kit, and added a spare missile launcher from my bits box. I sank 1/4 inch magnets into the arms and the shoulders. I'll build and paint the rest of the possible armaments some other time.

The Body

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought Sarcophagus
 
For this Raven Guard Dreadnought, I decided to select the bare glacis plates and sarcophagus. I wanted some nice, uninterrupted area to add decals and paint white. The majority of the model will be black and metals, so I wanted some white that would stand out no matter what arms I gave him on a given day. After test fitting the blank sarcophagus, I changed my mind and went with a more detailed version you see above. Making the whole front of the model plain felt like a waste of the Venerable kit and looked pretty uninteresting as a whole.
 
The left glacis plate will get an XIX (Raven Guard are the nineteenth Legion) decal and either a black skull or crux terminates design, over which will be placed a large purity seal for visual interest. The right plate will get the Chapter symbol. I've already added another couple purity seals on the body since taking this shot.
 

The Legs

 Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought Leg Plates
 

These are the purity seals and leg plates I selected. The light seals are from the Forgeworld Captain Korvydae kit I used as the basis for Corben Beck, while the larger one is from the Land Raider Crusader accessory frame.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the leg plates provided in the Venerable Dread kit. There is an alternative set than those pictured, but they're pointed at the top and look odd. I don't mind the right plate above, but the left one really irks me. It has molded-in text (Arx, Calth, Talassar, and Lost Hope). These are planets with which the Raven Guard have no affiliation. Why would a Raven Guard Dreadnought have the names of these planets carved into his armor plating? I can explain it away as a salvaged plate or some sort of Deathwatch service remnant, but I'd prefer not to. There is a nice, semi-fancy plate in the old Ravenwing Upgrade frame I could use, or I can just grab a plain one from the standard Dread kit. I've not glued these on yet, so there's still time to change my mind. Anyone have any suggestions for explaining away the pictured plate?
only left side option has script on it: Arx, Calth, Talassar, and Lost Hope. The Raven Guard weren't present at any of those planets during their destruction, so I have no idea how I'll explain it away. It bugs the hell out of me, but I didn't have any other options. Thankfully, I've not glued them on yet so if I manage to find a replacement before the end of the month, I can use that.
Anyone have any other suggestions for explaining why the above plate might appear on a Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought?

The next step is to build the base to match the rest of my models. It'll involve cutting squares of plasticard, carving them, and then gluing them on the 60mm base to make flagstones. I very briefly thought about casting the result for reuse, but I don't think I'll use many more 60mm bases in my army.

9.29.2016

Raven Guard Assault Squad Cyrax, Complete

Assault Squad Cyrax is now complete. Let's jump right into photos and I'll ramble afterward.









Hopefully, I've gotten rid of the sepia tones that plagued my previous photos. I did some reading and it was suggested that to take good images of black objects, you point the camera at a neutral gray item, open the shutter (half-press the button on a digital camera), shift to the black item, and then take the shot. I used the bottom of a bottle of gray paint (you can just see the cap on the far left of the first few images). That seems to have helped.

I actually ran these guys in the FLGS's monthly tournament last weekend. They hopped around, trying to stay out of LOS until it was time to kill things or expose themselves to grab an objective. In my first game of the day they only fired once, but accounted for over twenty Guardsmen in a single shooting phase. Double flamers, frag grenade, and bolt pistol shots on grouped Guard was cruel.

I discovered that Raven Guard play MSU very well with jump troops who can stay out of line of sight until the last moment. Provide very few targets and focus heavily on grabbing objectives and maneuvering for others. I don't have any major shooting or death stars in my army other than my Leviathan (who I shoved into a drop pod to great effect), so staying disengaged as long as possible was a key factor to my tied-for-third place finish.

Now that the squad is done, I've been building a small tactical squad with plasma cannon and combi-plasma while waiting for Dreadtober to begin. I'll have my pledge post up soon. I'm going to be painting a Venerable Dreadnought.

9.16.2016

Assault Squad WIP 2, Decals

Assault Squad Cyrax is nearly done. I'm at the decal stage, after which only basing is left. This is what the squad-side shoulder pads look like on each Marine:


Raven Guard Fast Attack Pad
Raven Guard Sergeant Fast Attack Pad
You'll notice that the pad is very shiny. That's the gloss varnish I use before applying decals to avoid air bubbles and silvering. Silvering is where the translucent decal paper around the design becomes apparent and ruins the effect of the decal. The gloss varnish, combined with Micro Sol and Micro Set, eliminates that.
I used to despise decals when I was first learning to paint my Ultramarines. I tried using an old set of Third Edition decals on my first ever Ultramarine model (a sergeant). I only used water, and the decals were so bad I had to scrub them all off and repaint the shoulders. I switched to freehand for years, up until I started Raven Guard and realized I would never be able to freehand the Chapter symbol. Ever.
I managed to score a full, untouched sheet of Forgeworld Raven Guard decals. I got them secondhand, as FW no longer produces this nice set. The current Legion sheet for 30K is worthless for 40K models. The Forgeworld sheet is very nice and has a ton of symbols and numbers of all sizes.
The Fast Attack squad symbols are actually straight off the regular GW Space Marine decal sheet. They applied nicely after I cut slits between each arrow. This allowed them to sit flat on the curved surface. After they had dried overnight, I glossed lightly over them. I allowed another night's drying for the varnish and today I layered the black squad numbers over top of them. Layering decals works very nicely as long as you gloss varnish between layers. I wouldn't put too many layers though, or you risk a big, thick area of varnish.
The shiny finish is easily knocked back down to matte using Testor's Dullcote.
 
I also found some time to start assembling a Harlequin Troupe. Six models in the unit. The only thing I've done so far is assemble the legs. These things are so foreign to me after working with Marines for so long.
harlequin leg bits assembled
Harlequin legs, so dainty!
After looking at the instruction sheet and assembling the legs, I felt a little disappointed that there will only ever be six poses in my entire force. But then I realized that that is actually more or the same variation than there is in most Marine armies that use the older kits. When I combine the swappable torsos, arms, and masks among the units, I think it'll be fine. I can also always try to get some of the most recent metal/Finecast models (not the ancient ones) to provide some tiny variations as well.
I think this will be a great army to build and paint.

As a final note, you'll notice that I've started adding captions, title, and alt text to my images after reading a great article over at Broken Paintbrush. I'm also loading my images directly to Blogger instead of hosting them on Photobucket. Photobucket has become nearly unusable for me due to all the ads and scripts. I opened the Photobucket page an HOUR ago and it's still not loaded properly. Does anyone know if there are any down sides to hosting images with Blogger?