Forward with Raven Guard

Yesterday I slaughtered and processed twenty five chickens, and closed out almost all of the crops from the field. That means my farm work is slowing down a tiny bit, and I will be able to sneak in some hobby time here and there.
I've decided to build a five man Tactical Squad and a Librarian. This allows me to field my existing Scouts alongside these new models as a Combined Arms detachment. I can then build outward from there to bulk out the detachment, or into a Demi Company.
The squad will be armed with just a heavy bolter, and probably a lightning claw or combi bolter of some type on the sergeant. Everyone will have a Corvus helm and pads, and each model will be cut and reposed into a non standard pose. For example, one squad member will be kneeling against a rubble pile, the heavy bolter will be sprinting while handle-carrying his weapon, etc.
I need to cast up another set of bases for the squad soon.


Games, games, games!

Something amazing happened this past Saturday...I played 40K! I managed to find some time off from farm work to get down to the old FLGS and play in the monthly tourney. 1850 points, and I brought an Ultramarines Demi Company formation (Chaplain, Command Squad, Razorback, three Tacs in Rhinos, Assault Squad, Devastators, and a pair of Las/Missile Dreads in a squadron).

I played three games, one against Chaos Marines, one Necrons, and one Eldar/Haemonculus Covens. All three games were fun and exciting, which hasn't happened in a while.

It was the first time I'd played games since June when the new Marine codex dropped. I wasn't sure how it would go with the change to Ultramarines and the new formations. Lots of good stuff in the book, but how would the Demi Company shake out?

Turns out the updated Doctrines are amazing. Rerolls in just about every turn of the game when you use Ultramarines and a Demi Company. The FLGS plays Maelstrom missions, which are HUGE for the other benefit of the Demi: Objective Secured on EVERY unit. ObSec on Assault Marines and Dreads? Yes, please!

The only problem is that you're still relying heavily on bolter-armed Marines to carry the bulk of your army's work. I didn't kill much in any of my games, and won largely based on scoring objectives and maneuver.

Playing Ultras and doing pretty well (third of a field of 8, two wins and a loss), throws a bit of a wrench in my plans to switch to Raven Guard. Raven Guard were buffed in their Chapter Tactics, but the formation bonuses don't mesh perfectly with them. My story behind my potential Raven Guard force was supposed to be an urban combat force. Urban bases, armaments focused on hab block fighting, and lots of cutting and reposing of models for dynamism. I don't know where to start. I have my unit of five Scouts already, so I can go in several directions. I can add an HQ, and immediately have an Allied detachment to add to my Ultras. But none of the HQs mesh properly with Scouts. None ever really have. So I'd want to add another slot to the Allied detachment. I could add Assault Marines or Vanguard to capitalize on the other half of the RG tactics which is specific to jump packs.
Alternatively, I can focus instead on beefing up my Scouts and build a 10th Company Task Force, which has fun rules with Stealth for anyone who infiltrates for the whole game (until they move in any way), and Precision Shots for the first game turn. Problem is, Scout models are boring as hell to build and paint. I've tried to make them as interesting as possible with weapon swaps and such, but there's only so much you can do.
I could also strike out away from the Scouts and build something new entirely like a First Company Strike Force with three units of Vanguard/Sternguard/Terminators. Or start on the long haul towards a Demi Company or Strike Force Ultra.

I have no real idea what I'll do yet, though I'm open to ideas or suggestions.

The other question I have to ask myself about my Raven Guard regards models and bitz. Rven Guard are always associated with Mk6 Corvus armor. You can now make full sets of Mk6 from plastic kits, unlike in the past where you had to buy Forgeworld or convert pieces. I'd originally intended to have all my power armored Raven Guard in Mk6 armor, head to toe. I have helmets for a squad and a half or so, but not enough torsos or backpacks. My hobby finances nowadays are non-existent, so I can't be buying tons of bitz to complete Mk6 armor sets.
How crucial do you think Mk6 is to a Raven Guard force? Is it worth my time to save up and slowly build towards a "pure" force, or should I not bother? Perhaps I should focus on Mk6 helmets for everyone instead, leaving the rest of the armor as whatever bitz I have available, while mixing the occasional non-Mk6 helmet and bare head into squads? If you parked two identical, non-Horus Heresy, Raven Guard armies next to one another and one is pure Mk6 on every model, and one is not, would you even notice? Would the pure Mk6 one look better?


Sorting Bitz

I finally found a few spare moments for 40K stuff last night, after all the farm planning, late season planting, and chicken raising. We've got twenty five meat birds and a dozen potential egg layers (some will turn out to be roosters) on the farm this year. I'm reframing an old shed into a coop, and am almost done after only spending less than fifty bucks or so on it.

Anyhow, I sat down for an hour last night and...sorted bitz. When we moved house, I just dumped everything into a gallon storage bag from the little hardware bins I'd had them sorted in. Putting them all back in the right bins is a chore, but strangely relaxing. It also allows me to take stock of all the stuff I've got and haven't looked at in ages. There's definitely some things that need to be purged or simply thrown out. Reclaimed shoulder pads and backpacks with glue in the attachment points, snipped off plasma pistols, etc.

There's no electricity in my painting room yet, since the house was built in 1800, and running wiring up there is expensive. If I find time to paint, it'll have to be at the dinner table or on the couch like I used to do years ago.

I'm still tossing ideas for Raven Guard lists around in my head. Hopefully I can put pen to paper soon.


Forces Redeployed

Yet another fly-by status update by me.

After a complete nightmare process of closing on the sale of our old house, and then a much more pleasant closing on the purchase of our new house, we're officially moved and owners of our farm. All of my 40K stuff is still packed up in boxes waiting for me to find time to unpack and arrange it all. So, no painting updates for a while. I've got a field to mow and plow, seeds and seedlings to plant, and chickens and rabbits to acquire and build shelters for. So much work! When you add my new hobby of attempting to restore old antique tools to working condition and learning some timber framing for my farm buildings, 40K time is going to be hard to come by.

I am excited to start building models based on the new Space marine codex, which I bought the weekend before we were supposed to move. I really like the changes and formations, though I'm very disappointed about Fast Attack drop pod cheesery, but I think we all saw it coming. I'm also a little torn on how damn good the Ultramarines have become alongside the rules for the various formations. BY my math, an Ultramariens army that is made up of at least one Gladius has enough doctrines stashed to reroll to hit in every turn of a seven-turn game. You get one set of each of the doctrines (Tactical, Assault, Devastator) for being Ultramarines, another full set for taking the Gladius formation, and another Tactical for the mandatory Demi Company that's part of the Gladius. Seven doctrines available to reroll SOMETHING every turn. Oh, plus every single unit taken as part of a Gladius has Objective Secured, or is that just for the Demi-Company? Regardless, it's damn good.

Despite how awesome Ultras are (in my opinion) now, I'm still planning to push forward with Raven Guard. I'm just not quite sure of which direction I'll take them. I need to sit down with the codex and think about it when I have free time.


Hunting Wabbits!

Just a little note to those of you who actually read this blog on what passes for a regular basis, it's going to be very, very quiet in here for a little while. I'm moving homes in a week and a half, and just haven't got the time to paint or play until we're all settled.

Consider me on a short hiatus. See you again soon.


Fratris Salutem...My Army List

This coming Saturday I'll be participating in the Fratris Salutem, which is a local narrative-driven 40K event. I won't really call it a tournament, as it's not about individual achievements. Essentially, the field is divided into two teams, and the members of each team play against players from the opposing team. Each player's point total from their three games are added to the collective points of the team to determine the winning side.

We focus heavily on story for this event, with no traditional, "competitive" lists allowed. You can face tough lists for sure, but nothing cutthroat is allowed in the door.

I was the highest-scoring Imperial player in the first event of this type, running an Ultramarine Biker list. This year I felt some serious malaise about my army list options for a narrative event. I didn't want to run bikes yet again, as I felt I'd already told that story. I thought about running a pretty bog-standard Half Battle Company list led by my new Librarian and Command Squad, but I just wasn't enjoying the prospect of running tons of basic Marines.

Then I started looking at units in the book I'd never, ever run before. I didn't want to start a whole new unit, like Centurions or Scout Bikers, as I didn't have the painting time available. Then I landed on Antaro Chronus. I have the model, but had never assembled it. I scavenged his backpack for a bike-riding Techmarine some time ago, but had a couple of leftover old-school servo arm backpacks to replace that.

Once I decided I wanted to run Chronus, I started rereading all the rules for Warlords, Warlord Traits, etc. Making Chronus my Warlord is legal, plus whatever Warlord trait he rolls would still apply to an Unbound army, and so I set about thinking of a way to capitalize on that. Chronus is a tank commander, so I figured an army full of tanks would make sense. I came up with this list:

MkV Mortis Dreadnought "Hylas", two missile launchers

Land Speeder Typhoon
Land Speeder Typhoon

Land Raider Crusader with multimelta
Land Raider Crusader with multimelta
Vindicator with Siege Shield
Predator with lascannon sponsons, twin-las turret, Sergeant Chronus, and Legacy of Glory: Schism of Mars

Tactical Squad, 5-man, plasma gun, sergeant with bolter
Tactical Squad, 5-man, flamer, sergeant with pistol/chainsword
Razorback with lascannon and twin plasma gun

Essentially, it's an armored assault column led by Chronus in his command Predator. Two small Tactical Squads provide infantry security, as any modern (or far future) mechanized force would have. The Dreadnought is the anti-air platform every tank force needs, and the speeders are the fast-moving flank security and recon element. The Schism of Mars rule is a purchased Legacy of Glory from Imperial Armor 2: Second Edition. It gives the tank the Tank Hunters rule, +1BS when firing at models with the Daemonforge special rule, and the ability to ignore the effects of Haywire hits on a roll of 4+. I originally selected this rule purely for Tank Hunters, as I figured Chronus would be the top tank ace of the Chapter. I wanted him to be more capable of killing tanks.
Then I downloaded and listened to Eye of Vengeance, which is primarily about Sergeant Telion and his scouts, but Chronus makes an appearance as well. In that story, he takes his armored forces out and engages in a huge tank battle with Dark Mechanicum forces. So the bonus to Daemonforge makes sense with that history in place. The save versus haywire is just icing.

I'd already submitted my list for approval by the time I listened to Eye of Vengeance, but was kicking myself because it provided a reason to take a Scout Squad with Telion instead of the two small Tactical Squads. Not a huge deal. The Scouts would have been a weaker choice that adhered to written fluff, while the Tac squads are a slightly stronger choice that adhere to theoretical, non-specific fluff.

I'm pretty excited to see how an army of almost all tanks will fare. I've never done such a thing, but the possibilities for the future are interesting. I've never built more than one Predator because I could never fit more than one in the three Heavy slots of a CAD, and stalled on building my third Land Raider for the same reason. I never touched any of the IG tanks I like so much because of the CAD and Allied requirements. Maybe I can run a combined IG/Marines tank force.


Raven Guard Scout Squad, Work Complete

After some solid paint sessions, my Raven Guard Scout Squad is now complete!


My only real disappointment with this squad is the sergeant's face. He's got some sort of Popeye look going doe to that one poorly painted eye. I also need to look again at the model, because the picture shows a big splotch of blue on his chest, which I don't remember seeing.

Other than that, the squad was a lot of fun to work on, and I learned some new stuff. Decals and decal solution, gloss varnishing, casting bases, and more work on painting faces.

I'm not sure exactly what is next in the Raven Guard pipe. I have parts set out for both a Librarian and a Captain, but I can't decide which to build. I'm stuck on the Librarian because I can't decide if I should stick to my original plan of replicating this guy from some older art, or just go freeform with him.

As for the Captain, I can't decide on armament. Originally I'd intended to build him as a Shrike stand-in with dual lightning claws, but then I realized that Shrike is a bit of a lame duck in 7th. So, I thought about a different loadout of thunder hammer and lightning claw. Looks cool, and is pretty in-game effective. But then I compared him to my potential VanVet squad who'll likely be packing bolt pistols and grav pistols (Gunslinger rules), and he doesn't really match what would be his de facto command squad. I could give him double pistols as well, but then he's pretty pointless in melee where Captains tend to shine. Any suggestions?

I'm stumped at this point. I have time to think about it, as I have a few Ultramarine projects to work on. I have three lascannon Marines in progress, and a drop pod waiting for magnets to arrive in the mail to fix my mistakes. I also want to expand my heavy weapon options for my Terminator squads to include Cyclones and heavy flamers.