5.27.2016

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.

5.05.2016

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.

5.02.2016

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.

4.01.2016

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.

2.22.2016

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.







2.12.2016

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.

2.10.2016

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.