Post-tournament Thoughts

This past Saturday was the monthly tournament for the FLGS. It was run at 1500 points, with straight rolls out of the BRB for Maelstrom mission selections. If I remember right, it was 1, 6, and then 3.

I brought the following list:

Librarian (ML1, force sword)
Three Tactical Squads in Rhinos (plasmagun/multimelta, flamer/multimelta, plasmagun/plasma cannon)
Seven Scouts with sniper rifles and a missile launcher
Vindicator with Siege Shield

Eversor, Callidus, Culexus, and Vindicare Assassins (one of each)

It was a list that I wanted to try out for two reasons: test drive the assassins, and try playing Maelstrom missions the min/max way. It allowed me to have a little bit of fun, while also trying to actually win games. My bikes are great at Maelstrom missions, but their low model count means I don't grab enough points to win by the large margins needed to take the day at the shop.

The first game of the day was against an all-Nurgle Daemons army. Two flying Princes, Herald, Soul Grinder, GUO, and some Plague Bearers. I won this one because I simply had far more models than the enemy, and I think the Culexus intimidated him a bit into deploying more conservatively. Of course, in the very first turn the Culexus was nuked by the Warp Storm table. Six S6 hits and only a 4++ meant he was dead without doing a damned thing.
I spent most of the game just camping objectives and racking up points while trying to get the Eversor or Vindicare the final wound on the GUO. I'd probably have done so, if not for a 2+ invulnerable save from the Herald and his Tome.
I'd also rolled on the Tactical Warlord Traits table for this game, getting the result where you reroll the result of any d3 point value objective. It only came into play once, and I rolled the 3 on the original roll.

Second game was against Iron Hands with a Knight on a VERY open board. The entire middle of the board was unobstructed, and my opponent's Knight was getting unobscured shots on my Rhinos from every single fire lane. I basically just scrambled around trying to grab objectives without being blown to shit. I rolled the Tactical trait which awards 2 points per Secure Objective X card if your Warlord or his unit is the one grabbing it. That netted me two full extra points in this game, keeping it form being a total landslide. I think it would have been 11-5 instead of 11-7. Space Marines without a melta pod have a tough time against Knights, doubly so on a table with just about zero cover.
The best performer in this game was the Vindicare. He put a couple shots into the enemy Warlord's Razorback, and then tying up him and his unit for about the remainder of the game. If I'd played smarter, I would have issued challenges to the Warlord to put all my attacks on him, hoping to crack his 2+ armor save and get 2VPs for slaying the Warlord (one regular, one from the assassin dataslate). But I wasn't thinking, and left points on the table. One thing that was very crucial was the Vindicare's Exitus Pistol. You read the rules for him, and generally describe him as a sniper and are done with it. But his pistol fires all of the same ammo types as his rifle, is still AP2, and you can charge after firing it. Since anyone who's perturbed by the Vindicare will likely try to lock him up in melee or just rapid fire him down, the pistol can allow you to still move and get off those crucial shots. He's a lot of points, so you want him shooting every turn at something.

Final game was against Thor and his Chaos Marines. I think I won the game by a single point. Vindicare was untouched the whole game, Eversor died to a Maulerfiend after a few rounds of combat, Callidus nuked some Cultists camping an objective and then died to Obliterator fire, and the Culexus tied up a big unit of Possessed and a Sorceror for a couple rounds before being taken down by sheer volume of attacks. No Warlord kill in this one, either. I didn't bother with a tactical trait this game, as I already knew there was no way I was going to win (the winner on the day won by a margin of 26 points over the second place finisher). I rolled on the Space Marine table, and got Storm of Fire, which I never used.

It was a fun day. I liked the challenge of trying to get to the enemy warlord with my assassins, but hated playing the MSU objective-camping game. It's just not the way I enjoy playing. I like to have a variety of units on the board, doing a variety of things. Hanging out waiting for cards with tiny units is supremely boring. There's got to be a middle ground between running a super-mobile force that shuffles around the table all game, and one that sits on its ass and waits for pennies from heaven to fall in their laps. I've really got this urge to run a Terminator-heavy force at some point, but the super small model count and complete lack of mobility means it'll get its head smashed in on tactical card points every time.

I like Maelstrom missions, but I'm starting to understand why some people really don't enjoy it and say it favors mobile, MSU builds.


Operation: Assassinate!

Remember back at the beginning of the month, when I lined out my early plans for the hobby in the new year? There was an entry on my list that was "deleted by the Inquisition." That was a little tease of a project I was working on...Assassins!

I bought the Officio Assassinorum dataslate when it came out, and was really impressed with it. Four models with rules that fit their backgrounds, and a bit, fat stack of supporting fluff. I liked that you could take them as a single model detachment. I picked up three of the models, the Culexus, Callidus, and Eversor, secondhand for a reasonable price. I actually had only intended to ever get the Eversor and Culexus, but the price for the Callidus was too good to pass up in the package deal. They sat in a bag on my desk for a good while. Shortly before Christmas, I found a Vindicare for a good price to complete the set.

I started thinking about an army list for the January monthly tourney at the FLGS. I'd brought bikes the last time, and just couldn't get enthused about them or a regular Marine list. I really wanted to play something that would be entertaining. Then I remembered the Assassins sitting on my desk. They'd be interesting to play, so I reread the dataslate a half-dozen times. The problem, however, was that none of the models were painted. I don't roll with unpainted models. Considering my glacial painting pace, I didn't think I'd have time to get all four done.

Turns out, I can paint like a whirlwind when properly motivated, with enough spare time, and a simple paint scheme. In about six days' time, I crushed out these:

Yes, sir. I painted four full models in less than a week. Personal record!

As I mentioned, they're very simple models. I started each with black primer, including on the sand of the bases. Normally, I paint all my models separate from their bases, but these guys have such thin ankles and feet that I had to retain the slotta tabs. The one exception is the Vindicare, as he snapped off his tab while I was trying to bend it to better fit in the base slot. He's pinned with thin-gauge paperclip wire.
After primer was two coats of Reaper Master Series (MSP) Grey Liner. It's the color I plan to use for all my Raven Guard, so this was a nice test bed. Then a nice wash of Badab Black, followed by touching all of the muscles with a 70:30 mix of Grey Liner and MSP Shadowed Stone. Then ever so slight touches of pure Shadowed Stone on the more extreme edges. After that was done, everything else was just small pieces. Metals, leather, power weapons, etc. Simple stuff I was able to batch paint.
However, one thing I'm really proud of is the severed head held by the Eversor.

When I first looked at the model I thought, "That's so hokey and terrible, maybe I'll just chop that hand off and replace it." I'd seen people do that to this model before, and it never looked right, but at least there wasn't a severed head hanging there. But I'd bought Death Mask some time ago, and the story sort of inspired me to like the head. After painting faces on my Ultramarine Command Squad, I figured I was up to the task of this one head.

I started with several thin coats of MSP Fair Skin, and then a wash of Ogryn Flesh that I mixed with flow improver to force it into the details instead of tinting the skin red. Then I brought it back up to Fair Skin with broad, but thin, strokes. After that was small touches of MSP Fair Highlight on the nose, eyebrows, and upper lip. I have learned that for me, skin isn't about subtle blends and realism. That's great for people who can pull it off. I can't, so I go with bold transitions from dark to light, and it works for me. The final touch was a super-thin wash of Leviathan Purple in the eyes, mouth, and at the very edges of the neck stump. I think it really made the skin look freshly-dead, with blood clotting in the "soft" areas of the head first, as well as showing trauma to the neck.

I used to avoid painting flesh like the plague, always helmeting my Marines. But I've discovered now that I really enjoy the process, and will start using bare heads on my Marines more often.

I went with very simple bases, as I usually do. This is a slightly different brown recipe than my Ultramarines, and I used a less vibrant mix of static grass. it's a combination of various grasses I bought from Secret Weapon Miniatures when I was working on Tyranids.

Overall, these four models are painted for tabletop play. I'll never enter them in painting competitions, but they were fun to work on and will hopefully be a blast to play with in games. My strategy will be to get the extra VP they earn for killing the enemy warlord. If I can do that in each of my games this weekend, I'll consider the day a huge success.


Flavius Felix, Command Squad Veteran

I am now the proud owner of a full Ultramarines Command Squad with Style! Here is Flavius Felix:

This is his general back story write up:
Veteran Brother Flavius Felix is the oldest member of the command squad, and is fiercely protective of Numerian Castor. He has taken more than one bullet for the Apothecary, and his extensive bionics are proof of that. Castor ensures the scarred old veteran receives the best augmetics the Chapter's Apothecarion has to offer.

Overall, I'm happy with how he turned out. I did add some static grass to his base shortly after taking the pictures to break up the brown and match the rest of the squad. Speaking of the squad...

In all their glory. It feels really good to finish such a long project like this. I know normal humans would probably have finished these guys in a week or two, but it took me six months.

Now that they are done, I can dedicate more time to completing my Vindicator. I really want to have it complete for this month's 1500 point tournament at the FLGS. I haven't run a Vindicator since the dawn of 5th Edition, when I had a second hand, metal version that I used to run unpainted and half-salvaged.


First Post of the New Year

There seem to be a lot of end-of-year and start-of-year posts on the blogosphere this week, so I might as well jump in the pool too.

2014 was pretty slow for me, gaming and painting wise. I started the year by finishing up some Genestealers and my Hive Tyrant. They were part of that failed "let's start Tyranids!" project where every model was going to be showcase quality, blah blah blah. In short, it got effing boring painting the same exact model over and over. I only made it through five Genestealers!

Then there was a long lull in February, after which I got some inspiration and decided to start work on my Ultramarine Command Squad with More Personality. I wrote up back stories for every model, and armed/modeled them all to match. And then it took me ten months to finish them (yes, I finished the last model last night, but I want to showcase him in his own post later this week). That is how glacially slow my painting tends to be these days.

I did manage to sneak in time to finish my first painted drop pod ever (I'd fielded some template-built pods way back in the Fourth Edition Codex days), as well as my first non-metal Vindicator.

This year I also started buying, listening to, and reviewing Black Library audio dramas as well as various Marine Dataslates.

Yeah, very slow 2014 for me.

I'd like to say that 2015 will be much busier, but I'd probably be lying. This year is going to be a VERY busy one in terms of non-gaming life. I'm currently engaged in remodeling a bathroom in our house in preparation for selling the place. I have a few other DIY projects in line after that, though none as major as the complete gutting of a bathroom. As a plus, I now know how to sweat copper piping, install toilets, reroute plumbing, remove and rehang drywall (rehanging involves paying a professional for sanity's sake), and remove and replace vinyl flooring.
That's all in preparation for buying an old farmhouse to fix up and turn into a working farm. The plan is to "homestead" for a while, while getting the hang of being a farmer and a stay-at-home dad. Vegetables, goats, chickens, and rabbits in my future, with maybe one or two pigs at a time. The wife will be the sole income earner once she finishes her master's degree in early spring.

But, with all of that being said, I do have several projects I'd like to work on for the year in no particular order:

  • Name the Command Squad. I figure the group as a whole needs a nickname. For example, Cato Sicarius' Command Squad in the background fiction are "The Lions of Macragge." I'm not sure if I want to go with an "X of Y" title, or a "The SoandSo" title, or something pseudo-Latin (though that tends to work better for vehicles than living beings).
  • Give the Command Squad a ride. I figure these guys deserve a cool transport, but will likely just end up painting a heavy bolter turret for a Razorback and slapping it onto an existing Rhino chassis.
  • Find a model to lead the Command Squad. Now that the Command Squad is done, I'd like to build a brand new HQ model to lead them. I have several HQ models in my collection, but they're all older and don't match the general design and detail levels of the new kits from which I built the squad. I'll post more about this after the Command Squad is displayed. It'll take a full post to ramble on about.
  • Finish the Vindicator. This one is pretty easy to complete. It's already largely done, needing just edge highlights, metallics, and small details painted. In fact, I'm hoping to have this tank make its tabletop debut at the FLGS monthly tournament for January. *fingers crossed*
  • Start my Raven Guard. This is a pretty big project as well. Not due to its size, but due to the big plans I have for the models. I plan to start with a small, 5-man Scout squad first. Pistol/blade and shotgunners. I'm planning several weapon swaps and arm alterations. Unfortunately, Scout legs aren't all that dynamic, so all the posing will rely on torso and arm positioning. After that, I'll build a Raven Guard Librarian. This guy will probably be the first time I ever magnetize an infantry model. He'll get a magnetized backpack for fielding him on foot or in a jump pack. Once he's done, I'll start on a small Tactical Squad. These guys are where the big, ambitious plans kick in. I intend to model them all in Mk6 armor, from head to toe. In addition, I plan to chop up their legs and arms pretty extensively to achieve some interesting "sneaky infiltrator" poses. This is all a change from the initial plan to build a throwaway 5-man Scout squad to allow me to run a Captain and a gunslinging Vanguard Veteran squad. That can come later.
I figure that's a solid base to start dreaming from. I'm sure I'll get distracted here and there with other projects and likely abandon the Raven Guard idea, but it's good to have goals.


Review: The Glorious Tomb, audio drama by Guy Haley

As I've mentioned in prior posts, I love the Black Library audio dramas. I've never been a fan of audio books, as I don't much enjoy being read to. However, audio dramas are not books.

I paid for and downloaded The Glorious Tomb after listening to the preview clip on the Black Library website. I found it intriguing enough to pay for, unlike many of the other audio dramas available. What caught me was the fact that the story is told from the perspective of a Dreadnought, or rather a Marine entombed within a Dreadnought.

Dreads are a Marine unit I've always been fascinated with, both on the table and in the lore. The opportunity to experience a story from the point of view of one was too much to pass up!

The story is that of Black Templars Marshall Adelard, entombed in the Dreadnought chassis Invictus Potens. You get to experience the awakening of a long-sleeping machine and its pilot. This segment is very enlightening, showing that the wakening of a Dread is no small thing (though we've been told that in the lore many times).

Once awake, Adelard/Invictus is dropped via pod onto Armageddon as part of the spearhead of an assault force tasked with destroying an Ork Rok. He, along with an ironclad Dreadnought and a squad of Centurions assault the Rok, blasting the way clear for the follow-on force of Templar infantry.

I can't give away all the plot points without destroying the story for you, but one theme prevalent throughout the story is the struggle between machine and Marine. Adelard wrestles with the idea of separating his own consciousness from that of Invictus' machine spirit. At times he confuses himself with Invictus, and at others purposely distances himself from it. And at yet others, he becomes wrapped up in it, switching freely between narrations.

Another theme is that of time and how a Dreadnought pilot experiences it. We know that Dreads are only woken in times of great need, and that decades or centuries can pass between activations. The idea that a Dreadnought has an incredibly long memory, but one that is riddled with holes is fascinating. Imagine remembering events and people from two hundred years past, but not having the benefit of knowing what happened while you were 'asleep.' The idea feels a lot like discussions on immortality I've read in the past. The idea that you can grow old while those around you age, eventually dying is always present in discussions of immortality. Could people withstand that constant anguish? Dreadnoughts have neither the choice, nor the ability to remember it. For example, while arming for battle, Adelard/Invictus sees Templars that look familiar to him, but finds that some have aged greatly, and others are simply wearing the wargear of their forebears. Could your mind withstand the agelessness of immortality, while decades of blankness prevent you from knowing or witnessing the fate of your comrades?

One of the defining traits of Black Library audio dramas are the sound effects. You can imagine things like bolter rounds, las blasts, and other 40K things when you read about them, but to hear them is completely different. The best effect in this one is the synthesized voices of the Dreadnoughts. To hear the grinding, rumbling voice of Adelard/Invictus say "Praise be!" as he strides into battle is a special thing.

Overall, I'd give this drama five of five stars for being beautifully written, strongly acted, and just a gem in general. I think I've found a new author to follow in Guy Haley.


Look at me, I'm bionic!

The painting bug continues gnawing on my brain, so I've been painting and painting these last several days. The result is some very solid progress on the final member of the Command Squad, the bionic bodyguard.

Here's where he's at right now:

The head is pretty much done, though I'm not so sure about that bionic eye. It's miniscule on the model, so I'm not sure there's much else I can do with it. I'm not sure if I should dot his other eye or not. I really should, but I fear I'll screw up the whole eye if I do. At arm's distance it looks ok, but in pictures the missing pupil is pretty glaring.

As for his body, he's got a Mk5 torso, bionic chainsword arm from the Commander kit, a stormbolter and arm from the Sternguard kit, one pad from the Command Squad box, and one from Sternguard, and those bionic legs. They're from Kromlech. I'll do a review of them in the future.

His pose is a little off. I'd intended it to be a walking forward type of pose with him having his arms out in a "give me your best shot!" gesture. I think I missed on it a little, and I think the reason is because I didn't roll his shoulders back. Instead of him having his shoulders back, baring his chest to the enemy, he's just walking forward with his weapons lowered. I really wish Marine torsos had ball joints on the shoulders.

I also applied a shading wash to my Vindicator but haven't cleaned it up yet. I've got the stormbolter hatch to add to it, which has been assembled and primed as long as the tank itself, I've just not touched it with paint. I also added a Razorback turret with heavy bolters to the painting queue, for use by the Command Squad and whomever they ride with.


Thrax Gaios, Command Squad Veteran

I've been on a bit of a painting tear over the holiday weekend. I managed to get time in on just about every day in the four-day weekend. As a result, I finished off the tank hunting veteran for my Command Squad, put a ton of paint on my Vindicator, and started working on the final member of the Command Squad.

Here is Thrax Gaios' back story:

Veteran Brother Thrax Gaios is the squad's demolitions expert. He carries a meltagun, his bolter, and a satchel of meltabombs and grenades. He can toss a krak grenade into the vision slit of a moving tank at a hundred meters. Where the other squad members wear armor featuring ornate designs and decoration to reflect their veteran status and membership in the Command Squad, Gaios wears bulky, reinforced armor with little adornment. Because his armor is so often dented and scraped when he stands in the blast wash of exploding enemy tanks and fortifications, he has opted to forego ostentation in favor of smooth lines and heavy plating.

And here are the pictures:

As you can see, he's pretty plain. I could probably drop him into a tactical squad and he'd blend right in. I had originally planned to put a brass etch aquila on his chest, but the damned things never lay flat and gluing them down is a major pain in the ass, as you either end up gluing it to your fingers or tools, or with a spread of lumpy superglue residue around the area. I tried briefly to add one freehand, but it looked terrible and I scrubbed it off. His Ultramarine symbol is also a tad crooked, though it doesn't look quite as severe in person. I might have to go back and redo that, if it starts to irk me.

Now that he's done, I've only got one squad member left. The Apothecary's bodyguard. He's largely bionic, so I used as many bionic bits as I could on the model. I forgot to take a picture of his body, but here is his head so far:

Pretty simple bionic head. The skin is done, but the metallics are not. The rest of him is made from GW parts with Kromlech legs. I'll get a shot up in the coming days.

While waiting for Dullcote to dry, I also started plugging along on my Vindicator. Here's a quick, largely uninteresting shot:

As of this morning, the blue is about 90% done. I decided to try a different technique for painting vehicles. Instead of painstakingly applying each layer, leaving careful shade lines as I go, I decided to paint each layer quickly and thoroughly, and then apply the shading with a wash of my darkest color. If it turns out right, it'll save me a TON of time when painting tanks and pods.

There is a bit of bad news to go along with all my painting progress. Yesterday afternoon, while scrubbing mold release off my Forgeworld Raven Guard Captain Korvydae model parts, I dropped one of the fuel lines for his jump pack down the sink drain. I soak my FW resin parts in Simple Green, which is a great degreaser and perfect for cleaning resin. Unfortunately, the dissolved mold release makes the parts VERY slippery. I thought to myself "I should probably close the drain plug for this." I decided that I was almost done, so didn't bother. Fate punished me by sending that little pipe part squirting out of my fingers and right down the drain. ARGH! If anyone knows where I can get another fuel line for that kit without buying the whole thing over again, or has an example of rebuilding the line from other parts, I'd appreciate it!

In general gaming news, it looks like GW is revamping the base sizes for models. 32mm bases are up for preorders, with all of the new Blood Angel reboxings and kits having new sizes. I do like the idea of added space for posing Marines, but not the idea of buying scads of new bases at fifty cents a pop. I'm not hurting for hobby funds, I just hate spending money on simple pieces. I'll wait to see what the reasoning behind the bases is before jumping in. The timing is fortunate for me though, as I'm just about to start assembling and posing Raven Guard models. Id 32mm is standard for Marine infantry, that gives my Scouts, Assault Marines, and Jump HQs a lot of space to work with. One of the basing ideas I had for them was a desert city ruin with small tumbles of bricks and broken walls, but that is largely lost on 25mm bases. 32mm would give me room to stack bricks, sculpt pavers, and add little windswept sand piles to the debris. I'd wanted to jump right in to the RG models, but new bases put a little delay in the process. I have plenty of Ultramarine tanks to paint while waiting though.