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.


Cursed Machine Spirits!

Hello, everyone.

I had a very nice, long post to share with you all last week, but it didn't work out. I wrote up all sorts of info on the progress I've made on my Raven Guard Vanguard squad (finished, played a couple games with them), as well as my Sternguard squad (paint in progress), and Leviathan Dread (mostly assembled). I put in place markers for pictures, and then went to take said pictures. That's when I discovered the machine spirits of the camera were acting up.

I burned some incense and used motor oil in supplication, to no avail. It seems the replacement batteries I'd bought less than five months ago are Ork tech, and only work on a roll of a 6. In short, the pair of batteries refuse to hold a charge whatsoever. Now I have to same some pennies and buy new ones. Until then, I have no way of taking legible photos of my models. I could try taking some with my phone, but I have a feeling it won't be pretty.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on my Raven Guard in preparation for the April monthly at the FLGS. 1500 points, in what is described as a "random partners" format, but you don't play on the same table as your partner. Instead, you and your partner get to decide who plays who from the opposing team. I'd probably call it a "linked fates" tourney, since you have a partner, but don't actually partner with them in the games. You just hope they/you do well enough in their games to carry the day. Sounds neat to me.

I'm figuring I'll have my full Shadow Force available to play with, and then I'll ally in some of my remaining Ultramarines models. Jump Librarian and some Assault Marines, Scouts, and maybe some Dreadnoughts?

In May we have the annual Fratris Salutem, which is a 1500 point narrative campaign day. By then, I hope to have all my Ultras out of my list, replaced by Raven Guard. Ideally, I'd like to run my Shadow Force, plus a Raven Guard CAD with a Techmarine and Servitors, two Scout Squads, and my Leviathan Dread. Back all that up with a Grey Knights Librarian leading a GK Terminator Squad. Of course, that depends on me painting the Leviathan, Techmarine, three to five Servitors, a 5-man Scout Squad, and all the Grey Knight models by mid-May. That's a tall order!

I'd better start painting faster.


Dread Reinforcement Arrives!

I may or may not have mentioned a while ago that my wife bought me a great birthday present this year. She ordered me a Leviathan Siege Dreadnought from Forgeworld! It's the Claw/Drill variant, which is the one I wanted. The box arrived last week, and I thought I'd share an impromptu unboxing.

Opening the shipping box presents the box for the Leviathan itself, plus the invoice and catalog. The Forgeworld catalog is getting thick these days! The wife immediately vetoed my request for a Warlord Titan as a Father's Day gift.

The arms come in their own individual packages.

The body and legs come in their own bag, as is usual for FW. The instructions for the model are very well done and nicely presented.

There are no images for the arms, but they go together pretty simply.

It's a great kit, and FW must be using a new resin of late, because the whole thing is far lighter than I expected it to be. Not sure why, but I was expecting this thing to be weighty because of its size. It comes on an 80mm base, but feels like it will weigh the same as a standard plastic Dread.

I'll be taking my sweet time on this model. He's going to be a centerpiece of my Raven Guard, so I need to make sure he looks good. His rules (found here) only allow him to take a Dreadnought Drop Pod as a transport, so he'll be charging across the table a lot. With a front AV of 13 and a 4++, he should make it interesting. Plus with all the Scouts, Terminators, and jump Marines around him, he'll present some interesting games. I want to smash him into an Imperial Knight at least a couple times.

As far as the rest of my Raven Guard projects, I'm making good progress on the Vanguard Veterans after stalling on the white. I'm hoping to debut the Raven Guard this coming Saturday at the FLGS monthly tourney. It'll just be an Allied detachment of my Captain, Vanguard, Landspeeder, and some Scouts until I can complete the Shadow Force formation by swapping the Scouts for Sternguard.

The units I have built right now will require me to field a CAD in order to get the Leviathan onto the table. He's not eligible for any formations, and you can't use an Allied Detachment that has the same Chapter tactics as your primary detachment.
I think what I'll do is build a Techmarine and Servitors along with another 5-man squad of Scouts to flesh out the CAD in which the Leviathan will live, so I don't have to dismantle my Shadow Force to get him on the table.

Anyhow, I'm still really enjoying building this new army. It won't be your stereotypical "Pinion Demi Company plus Shadow Strike Kill Team" build that relies on fist turn non-scatter deepstrike charges. Instead, I'm looking at the "headhunter" type formations from Space Marines and Kauyon. These formations facilitate the targeting and killing of specific units from the enemy army. I feel like that's how I want my Raven Guard to play. Slice off the head, while fast, flexible, but not overpoweringly strong units claim objectives and outmaneuver the enemy. We'll see how things pan out on the table, of course.


This...Isn't Quite Right

Last night I spent a couple hours working on Vanguard Vets., highlighting of their armor and then moved on to base coating grey in preparation for white. What you see below is the result. I stopped after the second Marine, because what I was seeing threw me off. (It's a quick and dirty photo, just to show color layout).

Originally, I'd planned to avoid the standard GW Raven Guard color scheme for veterans that uses all white arms and heads. I wasn't a huge fan of it, because I felt that pure white was a poor choice for stealth-oriented troopers. I decided to go with white decorations and pad rims instead.

After looking at the above Marines, I'm rethinking my plan. At this point, they look very odd to me. The scattered patches of white feel like they frame the black too much, especially on the shoulder pads. I selected fancy pads that had both open, flat areas to which to apply Chapter symbol decals, but that also provided white decoration. It's just not working out. I also selected helmeted heads that contained some sort of brow decoration that I could paint white while leaving the main helm black. Again, it looks really odd.

I'm not sure how to fix these guys. My first thought was to rip all the heads off if I can and paint them full white. But I think I'd still be left with the "picture frame" problem of the shoulder pads. So, perhaps solid white pads instead.

What do you readers think? White helmets with silver brow details, or black details? Solid white pads, or white pads with black details? The only thing that is off the table are solid white arms. Keep in mind that the jump packs will be attached eventually, adding more black behind the heads, with silver in the intake grilles.


Corben Beck, Captain of the Raven Guard

After a couple weeks of work off and on, my first Raven Guard HQ model is ready to hit the table. Captain Corben Beck, armed with a power fist and relic blade.

The model's head is from the Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard kit. I went through a lot of different head options, helmeted and bare, and settled on this one. It just felt right for this character. As usual, I skipped painting eyes on the model, as they're downright miniscule on models of that generation, and you can't see them from table distance anyways.
The chest and legs are from the Forgeworld Shadow Captain Korvydae model. The right shoulder pad is from the Marine Commander kit, while his sword is a Grey Knight weapon. The powerfist is from the Command Squad kit, and the left shoulder pad came out of the Sternguard box. The jump pack is a standard Vanguard Veteran bit. I cast the base myself from my custom made molds, and then decorated it with sand, rock, and moss.
The armament might seem strange to some. A powerfist and relic blade really gain nothing in being paired together. In fact, it loses out when compared to other options. Relic blades are Two Handed, so no bonus attack for a second weapon or pistol. The common option to min/max a powerfist on a Captain is to pair it with a lightning claw, as both are Specialist Weapons and would provide +1 attack due to having two of them. Problem is, I didn't want to use the best armament that everyone else uses. I'd written Beck's fluff before I built him. He prides himself on being a flexible commander who can duel at range like a swordsman or pummel an opponent in close like a brawler. So, to embody that he uses a long blade and a powerfist. It looks awesome at least.
I have a little fluff piece that I'm writing to accompany Beck into my Completed Projects tabs, but it's not done yet. Look for it in the coming week or so.
I've already started work on my Vanguard Veteran Squad who'll join Captain Beck on the table. I armed the sergeant with a sword and shield, and then one Marine with a powerfist and bolt pistol, another with dual lightning claws, and then two who are gunslinging with a grav and bolt pistol each. Then jump packs and melta bombs for everyone. After those are done, it'll be a squad of Sternguard to finalize my Shadow Force formation.
My wife bought me a Forgeworld Leviathan Siege Dreadnought for my birthday last week, but he's still in the mail. I can't wait to build that model. I'll be he weighs a ton! I am dabbling with the idea of buying him a Dreadnought Drop Pod to ride in, but am balking at the price. It's a $100+ model. The rules are interesting (the Dread isn't required to jump out when he lands, but can still fire out since it's open topped, and can then assault straight out of the thing the next turn), but I'm not sure if they're THAT interesting.
I'm continuing to phase out my Ultramarines, and have sold off all my Tactical Marines. Fifty-plus models with various weaponry. The bulk of my playing force is made up of my Terminators now. Once I can field a full 1500 points or so of Raven Guard, I think all the Ultras will go away.


Raven Guard Landspeeder

The second unit in my Raven Guard army is complete! Here is my first Raven Guard Landspeeder:

The model is fully magnetized for all weapon loadouts. The gunner is removable at the waist, and the Typhoon launchers and doors are magnetized inside the housing. The nose guns attach with magnets inside the gun mounts.

You will probably notice some very inconsistent black on the model. I had never used Nuln Oil/Badab Black on a large model with flat surfaces before, and I ended up with some splotchy areas that I tried to repair by repainting my primary color and then washing again. I thought it helped, but when I sealed the model with Dullcote, all the repaired areas reappeared. I tried like mad to fix it with another coat, but eventually gave up. It's not blatantly obvious at normal viewing distance, and certainly not on the tabletop, so I'm chalking it up as a learning experience. Better luck next time.

The decals were a bit of a bitch to get on. I'd used Forgeworld transfers on my Scout Squad, and had little major trouble with them. The decals on the Marines' shoulders were an absolute bear to get to lay flat, despite slicing the decals slightly at the fold points and using liberal amounts of Microset and Microsol over a gloss varnish on the decal locations.

I did learn that you have to be very careful with how much gloss varnish you apply over the decal areas. If you just apply a little puddle where the decal will be, you may end up with lines around the decal where the varnish sits above the paint. It's like a little plateau. Dullcote hides it some, but it appears to be smarter to varnish entire panels of the model, despite the decal being only on one piece of the panel. That way you don't get the plateau. And certainly never touch the varnish with a brush because you think it's too thick and you need to spread it out. I did that on the area the Chapter symbol is located on the nose, and I ruined the surface of the varnish and had to reapply more. Now I have a plateau with a crater in the middle.

The big numbers on the wings indicate squadron and vehicle numbers. The large number on the speeder's left wing is squadron, and the small one on the right wing is vehicle. I figured it would be much easier to keep track of which speeders belong to which unit, and therefore which models have which special rules, if I numbered them in a coherent way. My plans include multiple formations that use Landspeeders, so keeping them organized is important for and my opponents. I don't want to accidentally nominate targets for a Suppression Force with a Speeder that's actually part of a Stormbringer Squadron.

I'm pretty happy with the model, despite the mistakes I made and the problems I ran into. They're such great models and units on the table.

I have my Captain mostly built. I just need to put some Greenstuff in the neck joint of the Forgeworld Korvydae model I used as the torso/legs, and then I'll mount him for priming and painting.


One-Day Campaign, and a Farewell

On Saturday the 19th, the FLGS ran a single-day campaign-style event instead of the standard monthly tourney. I think folks were burned out on competitive gaming after such a long period of monthlies, culminating in the Standish Standoff last month. I know I was, and it was nice to just throw dice and not worry about winning.

The basic format was that at the end of each game, the winner awarded his warlord and one Troops unit a stat bonus from a provided list. The loser awarded a Troop unit, and on a 4+, his warlord as well. Missions were Maelstrom, but with some alternate secondaries (Second Blood or Last Blood instead of First Blood, Kill Points, etc). No map taking or anything like that.

For the day, I wanted to start phasing out Ultramarines from my list as much as I could and still play. The only thing I have that isn't Ultramarines and actually playable is a full set of Assassins. I took the full Assassinorum Execution Force formation (one of each assassin). Then I took a small Ultramarines CAD with a ML 1 Librarian, Scout Squad, and Tactical Squad. I finished it off with a First Company Strike Force made of two Terminator Squads, each with a chainfist and assault cannon, an Assault Terminator squad with two hammers, and a five-man Sternguard squad (just bolters). Originally, I'd had an Allied Detachment made of Telion, six Scouts, and a Landspeeder instead of the CAD, but I realized that if I did so, I'd have no eligible warlord under the campaign rules, which required you to have a non-special character as your warlord. I was just going to select an assassin, but they don't get any warlord benefits, so I rewrote the list. This also allowed me to get my Librarian model onto the table for the first time ever.

Anyhow, because it was a campaign day, I decided my army's mission was to kill as many of the enemy army's characters as possible in every game, to the exclusion of all other mission rules as far as the Assassins were concerned.

My first game was against Thor, since the tournament software he wrote really likes to pair us up. The story of the game were the Assassins. Their ability to infiltrate really threw a bag of wrenches into the gears of his force. He had to dedicate some inordinate amounts of fire and effort into clearing them out. In the end, I won by just a few points.

Assassinorum Report, Engagement One:
Terminator Sorceror - Target Eliminated, Vindicare Kill
Power Armored Chaos Champion - Target Eliminated, Culexus Kill
Power Armored Chaos Champion - Target Eliminated, Vindicare Kill
Chaos Champion on Traitor Pattern Bike - Target Eliminated, Callidus Kill
Terminator Armored Chaos Champion - Target Elimited - Adeptus Astartes Kill

Callidus Operative - KIA
Vindicare Operative - Recovered
Culexus Operative - Recovered
Eversor Operative - KIA

Game Two was against my last-round opponent from the Standoff, who was feeling much better this time round. He brought his Krieg and their Baneblade again, and he won by a few points. The highlight of this game was having my Vindicare, who'd camped out on the roof of a building at the far edge of the field, take his final shot of the game at three surviving members of an infantry squad. They were lined up along a wall, and I opted to use a turbo penetrator round. After the dice were rolled, I put all three squaddies down with a single shot. We agreed that he'd probably headshotted all three in succession. FYI, Turbo Pen rounds against non-vehicles produce d3 wounds instead of just one on a successful to-wound roll.

Assassinorum Report, Engagement Two:
Company Commander - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Inquisitor Coteaz - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Various Guard Unit Leadership - Three Targets Escaped - Mission Failure
Various Guard Unit Leadership - Four Targets Eliminated - Culexus Kill, Vindicare Kill, Vindicare Kill, Adeptus Astartes Force Kill

Callidus Operative - KIA
Vindicare Operative - Recovered
Culexus Operative - KIA
Eversor Operative - KIA

The last game of the day was against a Chaos Marines force with very few models. Just a couple Cultist squads, two Maulerfields, two Daemon Princes with wings and Tzeentch powers, a Hellblade flyer (which was really cool to play against), a Chaos Fire raptor, and a Helldrake. We beat the hell out of one another, and tied for primary points, but he took more secondaries. As usual, Assassins have a really hard time with Daemon Princes. I had no anti-air capability, but that was mitigated by his flyers' refusal to show up until turn four.

Assassinorum Report: Engagement Three:
Daemon Prince - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Daemon Prince - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Mortal Cultist Champion - Target Eliminated, Vindicare Kill
Mortal Cultist Champion - Target Escaped, Mission Failure

Callidus Operative - Recovered
Vindicare Operative - KIA
Culexus Operative - Recovered
Eversor Operative - KIA

So the total for the day was five character kills for the Vindicare, two for the Culexus, one for the Callidus, and two for various Astartes units. The Eversor had no character kills for the day.
The Callidus died 2 of 3 games, the Vindicare and Culexus 1 of 3, and the Eversor 3 of 3. About what you'd expect considering their roles of the table. The Eversor, despite being my favorite of the Assassin types, was very hard to get into combat due to the infiltrate rules for line of sight and distance. Perhaps next time I should simply deploy him during setup. The Callidus might benefit from outflanking or arriving from the opponent's table edge as well.
It was nice, relaxed, and fun day. My list was enjoyable to play. I really liked running the First Company Strike Force with Terminators, and I think I'll be creating some Raven Guard Terminators as soon as I can. The list I ran Saturday helped me solidify my army play style for my Raven Guard, as well as the load out for my Captain. What I want my Raven Guard options to personify is a "blade and mailed fist" option. My Captain will be armed with a power sword and a power fist. His method of combat is to present both a fast, agile attack on one hand (the blade), while holding a crushing, mailed fist as a threat. His army around him will be composed of Scouts, Speeders, and Jump units as the blade, while Terminators and Centurions will be the fist.
My thoughts are that if you are engaged in a duel with a swordsman with a long blade in one hand, and a heavy gauntlet in the other, you might try to deny the strengths of his blade by getting inside his guard. But the punches from the gauntlet force you back out, or knock you down entirely. If you stay at arm's length to avoid the punches, the blade takes you apart with stabs and cuts. I know nothing about actual melee combat, but it sounds neat, right?

I'm even more excited about painting up my Raven Guard now, which is great. Previously, I was very focused on formations and being able to use units in multiple formation roles from game to game, but this revised way of thinking about my army is even better. Yes, I'll use formations, but all of them should revolve around the previously-described combat doctrine.
It was a real struggle to decide how to arm my Captain as well. I originally wanted to capitalize on the new Raven Guard relics from Kauyon, with the new bolter or lightning claws as a priority, but I will instead go with non-weapon relics like the jump pack or armor, if any at all. I'm bu8ilding to model to fit the character, not the character to fit the model. I'd complained about people forming their fluff to the army list before, and I feel ashamed I'd fallen into that same pit!

The farewell I mentioned in the post title is for my Ultramarine bikes. I handed them over to their new owner on Saturday. I've sold every painted bike model I have (I kept all the unbuilt models and bitz). I sold them for a price I considered fair, but won't reveal the exact amount. The new owner can tell people if he'd like, but it's not really about the money for me as much as it is seeing them run by someone who'll enjoy them. Dave actually sought me out to inquire about buying all of my Ultras when he heard I was retiring them. It was pretty flattering. Eventually, I'll sell off all of my Ultramarines as I manage to get more and more points of Raven Guard onto the table.

On the Raven Guard model front, I've got my Landspeeder ready for decals, so I'll get some pictures as soon as it's all marked and sealed. Once that's done, it's on to the Captain.