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?


Assault Squad WIP and an Army List

My half-hour-a-day plan is working quite well. I've managed to get that time in every day except the weekend and Monday. The ability to make small advances each day is great for my motivation. Assault Squad Cyrax is all done with paint, and is now waiting for decals and bases. Here's a couple of shots of Sergeant Cyrax and his lightning claw.

Once these guys are done, I'll build a troupe of Harlequins or maybe the Death Jester. I'm not sure yet if I'll paint them immediately afterward or hold off.

This past Saturday I got a three-player game in with Berman from A painted Life and Falconator from Falconator's Painting. We each brought 1750 points and had a go at beating the snot out of one another. We only got two full turns in before we had to break it up for the day, but it was a lot of fun. they were working on testing elements of their Standish Standoff lists, and we talked about various aspects of list building and such. I was lamenting my inability to keep lots of formation rules straight in my head when Berman pointed out that if what I was taking didn't get ObSec from its formation, nor from the CAD, why not take it in the formation anyways and use the rules when I remember them. For example, my Shadow Force fits inside the CAD I was planning to take, gets a lot of rules from the formation, but nothing from the CAD. Why not simply take it alongside the CAD and use the Shadow Force rules when I remember them?

With that being said, my draft Standoff list is:

Shadow Force
Captain (relic blade, power fist, Raven's Fury jump pack, artificer armor)
Vanguard Vets x5 (two with bolt+grav pistols, one with dual claws, one powerfist, and sergeant with relic blade ans storm shield, three meltabombs on the pistols and claws, jump packs)
Sternguard Vets x5 (two combigrav, sergeant with meltabomb)
Landspeeder (Typhoon Launcher, multimelta)

Techmarine (servo harness)
Servitors x4 (two with heavy bolters)
Scouts x5 (veteran sergeant with power sword and meltabomb, camo cloaks, everyone is pistol/blade except a single shotgunner)
Scouts x5 (camo cloaks, heavy bolter with hellfire rounds, everyone else with bolters)
Assault Squad x6 (jump packs, flamers x2, veteran sergeant with lightning claw)
Devestator Squad x5 (two lascannons)
Leviathan Siege Dread (claw/drill arms, armored ceramite, three hunter killer missiles)

This leaves me 270 points to play with. I want my Leviathan to be a little more threatening, so I'm going to build and paint him a Drop Pod. The current 40K rules sheet for him allows it, so long as it's a Fast Attack pod.
One of the falling down points of my list is the shortage of bodies and of anti-tank weaponry. I can expect to see a boatload of transports at the event, so I'm going to paint five Tactical Marines with a heavy weapon and possibly a combibolter on the sergeant.
With the final points, I'm going to add a Venerable Dread with a lascannon. You see, I signed up for Dreadtober. makes sense to add that Dread into the list.

I know the list overall is weak. I'm super motivated to turn it into a Talon Strike Force right now by building fifteen Tac Marines for a Demi Company. I'm going to concentrate on painting those usints I mentioned, and then if I have time do some swapping or adding. The first thing I'd like to swap out is the Techmarine, as he and his servitors aren't really all that efficient or useful. I'd likely swap in an ML2 Librarian with or without a jump pack, and then some individual models added to other squads. I have to get the pod, tacs, and Dread done first though.


I Have Time!

Yes, dear readers, I once again have free time for 40K! It's a minor miracle!

The growing season is winding down, and the farm's first year is almost behind me. It was an interesting year, but you don't really care much about that. The great news is that I now have a little bit of free time to myself to work on 40K. Granted, it's not an immense amount of time. Just a half hour or so each weekday while my son is at school, but that's a lot when compared to the last year or so. I'm specifically setting that half hour block aside each morning after the farm animals are fed, but before I work on other farm projects. Expect to see more frequent "small bite" blog posts from me. I'm hoping to take at least one picture every other day, excluding weekends. This may all fall to pieces, but it's good to have dreams.

So with all that being said, what are my immediate plans? Well, I've had a six-man Raven Guard Assault Squad in the works for what feels like ages (and probably is). Two flamers and a sergeant with a lightning claw in the squad, backed up by a trio of pistol/chainsword Marines. I know six is an unusual number for a squad, but I was working on burning up the remainder of my old Assault Marine bits. I had six torsos and legs, so I built six Marines.
Here's a shot of them as they sit right now:
Black-armored Marines don't photograph well. I think I may need to print up a colored gradient sheet to put behind them from now on.

I've named the unit "Assault Squad Cyrax." Sergeant Aron Cyrax is a veteran of numerous campaigns against the Greenskin filth. Yes, the name is from Mortal Kombat 3. Everyone loves robot ninja assassins! Maybe I'll have a Sektor and Smoke unit?

Once these guys are done, I'll be turning my sights to the annual Standish Standoff in November, the FLGS's annual autumn event. It's 1750 points this year, max of two Factions per army. I'll be taking my Raven Guard, and have been drafting up various lists. I've got a couple ideas kicking around revolving around a Talon Strike Force built on the back of a Battle Demi Company. The struggle I'm having is that the Battle Demi and Pinion Demi (Raven Guard version of the generic Demi Company) require a bunch of Tactical Marines. I'd need to paint fifteen, plus another HQ. I'd be paring almost every unit down to bare bones in order to fit in the rest of my RG models, because my Leviathan Siege Dreadnought is NOT sitting on the sidelines. I want to play with units I like. The formation benefits are great, but there are just so many rules!

I'm seriously thinking about going back to basics and running my Raven Guard as a CAD. ObSec on the Troops and that's it to worry about. Let the army run on the merits of its component units, not on janky and sometimes downright confusing bonuses (played against Tau formations recently?). It might help me out as a player to run my units "pure" before I try to run them "special." Is anyone else sick of the millions of special rules coming about from Formations and overarching Detachments?

Also of note is that I split the Death Masque box with another player at the FLGS...I took the Harlequin half. Yes, that's right, I own fancy schmancy Space Elves. Perhaps the fanciest and schmanciest of the bunch! I wanted something other than black power armor to paint every now and then. I put aside my anti-elf bias that dates back to my D&D days long enough to see how interesting and challenging these models will be. I will likely be assembling them as six-model troupes and then painting them in pairs or trios in between all the Raven Guard models. I've not picked a color palette yet, but I'm hoping to avoid blue and black due to the history of my Marine armies (Ultramarines and Raven Guard). I quite like the look of the Shattered Mirage (teal and white with red/white checking). I also have to think about how to base models like that. I believe many of the models have integral wraithbone base bits in order to make them stand up on a base at all.

I'm hoping to capitalize on my half-hour-a-day blocks and paint up a whole bunch of my existing Space Marine kits. I'd really like to have half my stash painted by the New Year. In fact, I think I'll do a full inventory soon, post the list here on the blog, and do a little self-imposed challenge to get half the stuff done by January. Sprinkling Harlequins in there should help break up the monotony.

Here's to having a plan and at least a little time to implement it!


Raven Guard Leviathan Siege Dreadnought

Morning, all. I've been absent from the blog for quite a while now, so I wanted to share some pics so you know I'm not gone. Just busy with farm work. I opened our farm stand the other day, and have been busy with general farm life.
Originally, I wanted to pen some fluff to go with this guy, but I haven't typed anything up yet. I'll just have to add it later when I've had a chance to get it typed up. In short, he's a lost relic that was recently rediscovered and can't fully remember who he is.
The model itself was an absolute blast to work on, and on the table he's incredibly fun whether he lives or dies. I point him at the biggest enemy model and drop the leash. I'm thinking of a way to add kill markings to him for auspicious kills like Knights and such. Anyone got any suggestions? I thought about adding small red lightning bolt transfers around the "wrist" of whichever weapon made the kill. The drill for vehicular kills, the claw for monsters.


Fratris Salutem 2016 After Action

Hello, everyone.

This past weekend (May the 21st) was the annual Fratris Salutem at my FLGS, a narrative story event. Thor from Creative Twilight has been running the event for the last three years and invests a lot of time and energy into it. It's always a blast, with great games and nice looking armies.

This year I had been painting my ass off to bring my Raven Guard. My intended list was:

Shadow Force
Captain, 5-man Sternguard, 5-man Vanguard, Landspeeder

Raven Guard CAD
Techmarine with 4 Servitors, two 5-man Scout Squads, Leviathan Dreadnought

Grey Knights Nemesis Strike Force
Librarian, 5-man Terminator Squad

Unfortunately, I just couldn't paint hard enough to get all of that done. Instead, I swapped out the Nemesis Strike Force for some of my old Ultramarines in the form of a Suppression Force. It was made up of two Whirlwinds and two Typhoon Landspeeders with multimeltas. I wasn't thrilled with using more Ultramarines, but the Landspeeders were really valuable in all my games.

I won't get into a blow-by-blow for my games, but each one was a lot of fun. I faced Orks in the first game, Daemons in the second, and Tau in the third. I struggle against that particular Ork list because I lack ranged anti-tank in enough volume to crack three Trukks in the first turn. Trukks filled with MegaNobz tend to steamroll my line in a hurry. The Daemon opponent's dice turned on him early, leading to a very close-fought bloodbath after six turns. We had a total of four models on the board at game end. tau are tough to beat these days with all their markerlight tricks. I kept forgetting about Supporting Fire as well, which is a rule I grumble incessantly about.

This year was the best Salutem yet. Great turnout (sixteen players I think), varied and interesting missions, and lots of interesting armies. I took home the Judge's Choice award for the Imperials, which I believe is the highest soft score total.

Now that the event is over, I'm taking my sweet time on any additional painting. There's some burnout that comes with a month-long push to finish models. I'm working on a small, 5-man Devastator squad with a pair of lascannons. Nothing fancy, but it starts to fill the lack of ranged anti-tank that is glaring in my army. I won't bother with WIP shots here on the blog, because everyone knows what Marine infantry looks like. Instead, I'll be catching up on taking pictures of my existing RG models that I never shared due to the rush to paint everything before the event. Watch for those on the blog in the coming days and week. I've got a lot of farm work to do around here, so painting time will be limited to nights when I'm not completely exhausted. My plan is also to name and put down on paper the stories for each squad in the army, or at least the more important ones.


Leviathan Dreadnought: Nearly Done

My Leviathan Dreadnought is nearly done! More phone photos, because that's all I've got for now:

Front shot. Right now, he's pretty basic. Black armor, metal understructure, little brass details here and there. I wasn't too sure about how plain he looks, but then I remembered that I'll be adding white decals to him as well. He's not a Venerable Dread, so he won't get a bunch of white paint. I briefly thought about a white helmet, but skipped the idea. I'm still writing an intro story for him, but he's basically a long-forgotten relic of the Chapter, nearly expunged from history due to data degradation and the vagaries of a Chapter having a massive armory. He'll start out plain and unadorned other than a few markings, and start earning honors again as I run him in games.

 Close up shot. You can see where some wash pooled under his eye lenses. Because I haven't finished the eyes yet, I didn't bother cleaning this up. I like to overpaint the lenses, and then cut back in with the armor color. I also tried something new for me, and painted the rivets with the armor highlight color instead of a metallic. I like how it came out. I felt the little dots of silver would havelooked out of place on the big planes of black armor.

 Rear shot. I've since added some brass details on those little box things on his back, as well as whatever those little round things are just under the top armor. It was too much silver.

I took these shots before starting painting last night, and stopped for the evening after completing the power cables and washing the brass details with Devlan Mud/Agrax Earthshade. The cables are green and purplish red. He'll also get green eye lenses. I figure one or two more nights and he'll be complete. Then we'll see how the phone pictures turn out when I use three lights instead of angling him under my OttLite.


Testing Phone Photos

I've been making headway on painting my Leviathan Dread, but haven't taken any pictures because the nice digital camera we own is currently without batteries. I took Thor from Creative Twilight's advice and tried using my phone. Here's what I got (after passing it through GIMP filters):

Not bad, considering I just took it directly under my OttLite with no major adjustments other than GIMP auto levels filtering. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini. The trick was finding the Magnifier widget. The camera doesn't normally zoom in far enough to take good macro shots, but some quick Googling told me that the magnifier widget did the same thing.

So now I can start posting images again, though I've found that the black armor of raven Guard really requires some better lighting setups than I have right now. I might have to make some adjustments to white balance and such to get rid of the sepia tone that seems to be invading my low-rent lightbox images.

As for the Leviathan, right now I have him about 75% done. I have all his black armor done, as well as all the silver metallics. Last night I dabbed some Runelord Brass into various details, and really like how it breaks up the silver and black look. For example, I added brass to the little round nubs inside his calves, as well as those grille/vent things on his claw and drill arms. I think I might continue that step into all of my vehicles and maybe infantry as well.

I know the pose above isn't super dynamic, but it's funny how limited the Leviathan kit is in that regard. You have a very limited range of motion for his arms due to the sarcophagus armor extending out over the shoulder area. You can't move the legs too far without leaving gaps under the shins. That kneecap armor bit is only so large. My Leviathan's left leg is bent about as far back as it can be before you leave a gap in the area between shin and knee. Regardless, it's an impressive model and I'm enjoying painting him. I did have a brief mishap with a Nuln Oil wash. I keep fighting tide marks in my washes, despite using flow improver to avoid it. On this model I had huge patchy tide marks on all the armor. Some areas actually ended up being sticky instead of drying. I had to scrub some of it off with a damp brush and repaint the MSP Gray Liner I use as the armor base coat. I wonder if it's the water in my new house. We had to install a filtration system for hard water (very common in Maine), and there's a salt pellet tank involved. Maybe the softening salts are jacking up the paint chemistry?

I should have the Leviathan done in the next week or so, and then it's on to a small Scout squad.