That was disappointing...

The monthly tournament at the FLGS didn't happen on Saturday. After a series of family-related delays, I called the shop and let them know I was running late. But when I arrived, not enough people were there to actually run a tournament. Bummer. I went home and dug holes for fence posts in the heat instead.

I was really looking forward to playing my bikes again, but no luck.

Attendance at FLGS monthlies has been very hit or miss for the year or so. Some months you'd see six, and others you'd see eight or ten. It's very disheartening as a player. My schedule just doesn't allow me to play on Wednesdays, and hasn't for a long time. I don't see that changing until this time next year. So, monthlies are my only chance to play, and they still require some serious effort and juggling to get to. Losing a day stinks!

I consoled myself with a little painting time on my Apothecary. Here's where he's at now:

I screwed up several different spots on him. The vials on his backpack, hip, and narthecium aren't very good. It's tough to make them look like they contain liquid. A few of the tutorials I saw recommended adding small bubbles, so that's that the dots are. They did not turn out well. I'm thinking of painting over them.
I need to retouch the metals around his helmet targeter and the bottom of his vials, but that will wait until after I paint his lights on the backpack and helmet.
There's no texture under the left foot, so I painted it in with black and dark silver. I've got to go back in and touch it up some to make cleaner lines. The button lights on his belt gear and backpack aren't done, nor are his eye lens or the green power cables in various spots.

I'm torn on his right shoulder pad. It's a Ravenwing part, and the detail is very thin/low. Once primed, it was very hard to see exactly where each raised piece of the wings was. Painting the prime helix red was a fight, because from one angle it looked straight and clean, but turn it a little and the edges were ragged. All the result of small raised detail edges. Eventually I stopped fighting it and called it good. From arm's distance he looks good enough. My painting skill has atrophied in the last several months.

I'm once again toying with bothering to play the game anymore. I get that way when I'm in a valley on my depression scale. It's why I'm so fleeting in my projects and enthusiasms for 40K.

I'm hoping to have this guy done by the end of the week, and move on to the Standard Bearer. He'll be a challenge to paint, as I've never done a very large piece of multicolored freehand. I'm sort of toying with using custom transfers instead of freehand, but we'll see.


Picking Those Last Few Units

I'm drafting up an army list for the monthly tourney at the FLGS. It's a 1600 point format, and we'll be using the Maelstrom of War missions.
I've decided to go back to my bike army for a while, so will be running a list that uses White Scars Chapter tactics.
I have the core of the army lined out:

Captain on bike, artificer armor, power sword
Command Squad on bikes, various upgrades and weapons
Four 5-man Bike Squads (one melta, one plasma, one flamer, one naked) with a couple of attack bikes sprinkled in
One full squadron of multimelta Attack Bikes
One squadron of two Landspeeder Typhoons

Once I hit this core, I have about 245 points left. I can't decide exactly what to take to close out the list.
I have some options I've put together:
  • Techmarine on bike (servo arm, signum) and a Tri-las Predator.
  • ML2 Librarian with Jump Pack and a 5-man Assault Marine squad with two flamers and a powerfist
  • 10-man Assault Squad with vet sergeant and powerfist, and two flamers plus upgrade the power sword on the Captain to The Burning Blade.
The Techmarine would add another 2+ save to go in a bike squad and the ability to bolster a terrain piece. I could also probably find the points to give him a power axe. But that's a lot of points for a single wound character. The Predator would provide the only shooting higher than S8, as well as the long ranged AP2, but would be the only vehicle without a Jink save and the only unit that wouldn't be able to move 12" and be fully effective.

The Librarian would add some psychic powers, probably Telepathy. The 5-man ASM squad would be his escort. But that's two fragile units combined into one equally fragile unit.

The full ASM squad is large enough to be durable and can be split into combat squads if necessary. The Burning Blade isn't necessary, but would be very impressive in chopping up damned near anything I run into with my Captain. I'm not overly worried about the single S4, AP2 hit he could take at the end of an assault phase. He'll be T5 and have a 4++ from his Iron Halo.

Right now, I'm leaning toward the 10-man ASM and the Blade, because we're playing Maelstrom missions with Tactical Objectives. The 12" move is very valuable for shifting around and maneuvering for objectives and also for keeping up with the bikes.


In Progress: Apothecary

I've actually been making some progress on models during the last week-plus, but have been quiet about it. It was a busy weekend that trailed into a busy early part of this week, but I found time last night to pull some images off my camera and clean them up.

Here's is where my Apothecary stands right now:

Obviously, all that is done is the white. I have a couple cleanup spots left here and there, but for the most part the white is finished. I painted this in the hardest possible way. I primed black, then painted all the armor grey. I then started layering white, backfilled any sloppy areas with grey again, and then cleaned up the spots again.

That was dumb. I should have just primed white, washed the seams grey, and then cleaned up. I was concerned about the effect white primer would have on my reds and blues, when I should have just painted black under those areas if I was worried about it. Lesson learned.

I also started picking away at the Vindicator, starting with the dozer blade.

That's my sloppy midtone coat. Once I've got the final color on there, I have to go back and clean up the seams and borders with the shade color. Eventually, I'll be adding an off-centered white or yellow stripe to the dozer to break up the monotony of the blue. I'll likely tape the area off and use my airbrush for that.

This is the old Forgeworld Vindicator kit, and I've encountered a couple problems with it. You can't see the back of the dozer in the pic, but the area behind the vision port is odd. Instead of being framed in riveted steel like the front, it's just a blank surface, but not flat. There's this weird, sunken border there that looks like a miscast, but isn't. I've seen it on other pictures of the model on other blogs. In hindsight, I wish I'd taken the time to add a strip of plasticard around the back of the port to make it look better.

I also had some areas where my hour of scrubbing wasn't able to remove all the mold release. They were small areas, so I didn't want to strip the model down and try again. Instead, I steadily added pure black paint back over the spots til it was covered. Very frustrating to have one half-millimeter spot on top, or some seam at the dozer attachment point that wouldn't hold primer. Here's hoping the mold release has finally washed away and the patches hold when painted and sealed.

It's been tough getting the time or energy to paint this week. I've been busy canning strawberry jam all week, plus hockey, keeping the garden, and the oppressive heat. In an effort to keep our electrcicty bill manageable, I've been closing the doors to rooms we aren't in, which includes the room I paint in. So, when I do have time to plop down and throw some paint around, it's 87 degrees in that room. I end up sitting on the couch in front of the air conditioner instead.

Hopefully this weekend cools down some, so I can move on to the rest of the Apothecary, as well as start cleaning and assembling the Standard Bearer.


Pertinus Aemilius, Company Champion

I finally took passable photos of my new Company Champion last night. I'd taken a set on Monday, but they didn't look quite right. I did a little more work on the paint on his face, and retook the shots. Here we go:

For the life of me, I could not get a good front-on shot of his face. As I mentioned before, I didn't paint eyes or teeth, because the model doesn't HAVE discernible eyeballs once he's primed, and attempts to paint his teeth kept resulting in what looked like an add for whitening strips. In the end, I decided to quit screwing around with the face and call it done. You have to know when to stop.

This is his bio, from the post in which I lined up all the backgrounds for my Command Squad:
Pertinus Aemilius, Company Champion, known behind his back as The Bull. Brave and self-sacrificing, to a fault. He was censured twice as a Scout for engaging enemy sentries in protracted melee, instead of silently dispatching them with his combat blade. The second such action resulted in the death of a fellow Scout when Pertinus' duel with an Ork sentry alerted an entire camp. He served five years penance for that failure. Shortly afterward, he was placed with an Assault Squad, skipping the traditional placement with a Devastator Squad. Selected as Company Champion after fifty years as an Assault Squad member, based purely on his skill with a blade. Pertinus Aemilius is not the smartest or most tactically gifted Ultramarine. He is stubborn and thick-headed, but unflinchingly loyal to his commander.
Next in the pipe is the Apothecary:

Pretty simple. Kneeling legs (which I swore I'd never use for an Apothecary, but did anyways), basic torso (I'd planned on putting his geneseed canisters on his left hip, but they didn't look right), Ravenwing narthecium and apothecarion shoulder pad, and the head from the Marine command squad box. I'd actually ordered a full set of the Ravenwing apothecary parts, but realized once I was assembling this guy that the bitz seller sent me a basic Ravenwing beakie head, not the one with the apothecarion symbol.
That makes twice I've been boned by a bitz shop sending wrong or incomplete parts and not noticing until a month later when I go to use the parts (the previous incident was a seller not including the shrine section of a Ravenwing bike that I'd pegged for a Chaplain's bike; I didn't notice until five weeks later, too late for a complaint). From now on, I'll check every order piece-by-piece. I stashed the regular helmet away for use on Raven Guard, and was lucky that I had a spare basic Apothecary head in my bitz box.

I'm going with a white-armored scheme for this guy. My other two apothecaries used the blue armor and white pad scheme, and they just don't stand out enough from the rest of the Marines on the table. I can paint white relatively well, but have only tried on small areas like helmets so far. This will be a new experience. The one thing I need to decide on is whether to have him shaded in a regular grey, or use the very thin Ultramarine blue that I used for Terminators and Sternguard. My gut says grey, as he won't have the blue armor to tie into. My Terminators and Sternguard all have regular blue armor, and it was important to tie the white to the blue. I don't know if that's needed here.


First Games of Seventh Edition

This past Saturday was the FLGS's first Seventh Edition monthly tournament and my first opportunity to play Seventh Edition.
I slammed together a list the night before, as I had no real idea what I wanted to play. I thought about testing Salamanders Chapter tactics with a lot of flamers and melta (though melta is irrelevant to the CT unless you run Vulkan, which I didn't plan to do). I also wanted to try the Hammerfall Strike Force formation from the Strike Force Ultra dataslate.

In the end, I went with the Hammerfall Strike Force formation, and added a Combined Arms Detachment of a Librarian, Command Squad in Deathwind Pod (4 plasma guns, and an apothecary), 10-man tactical in Rhino, and 7 Scouts with snipers and a missile launcher. I wanted to play some damned Terminators for a change, and wanted to try out the new psychic powers. Everything was run as Ultramarines.

I did discover one question when building the list: Can a Formation be your Primary Detachment? The rulebook defines a Formation as a "special type of Detachment" that only consist of the units defined as part of the formation. The only definition of Primary Detachment is the detachment from which you select your Warlord. With that being said, can you select your Warlord from a Formation so long as he fits the criteria for being the Warlord, thereby making the Formation your Primary Detachment? I played my Terminator Captain as my Warlord based on those readings, and I'm fairly certain that was legal. What say you?

My first game was against Thor from Creative Twilight. We seem to play each other every month now, though with only six players in the field there was a 20% chance of that happening. The players decided before the day started to try out the Tactical Objectives system and track a winner using raw victory points. The first mission of the day was #5, where you had three cards and kept them secret.
Thor ran a Korne-centered force with one or two Nurgle-marked units for effect. He beat me pretty handily (10-3), as I had no clue what the hell I was doing, and made some pretty dumb deployment decision. Dropping the pod full of plasma in front of Kharn and a Berserker squad was pretty dumb, since they're Fearless and rolled Deny the Witch tests on a 2+. My Telepathy casting Librarian couldn't do much to them.
We did learn some valuable lessons about slight changes to USRs in 7th Edition tough. You have to check the wording of your tried and true USRs now, as things like Rage and Hatred no longer confer to a whole squad! Those are now model-by-model, unless another rule like a Warlord Trait or unit ability (Chaplains) says otherwise.

Second game was against an Eldar force that was built to dismantle Gargantuans and Superheavies. it was perfectly adept at dismantling my cobbled together army. I think the final score was 14-1. Proof that strong units are still strong in 7th.

My last game of the day was against White Scars, but not in bikes. Tactical Squads, Scouts, Terminators, Land Raider, Sternguard, and a Storm Raven. This one was much closer, ending 7-6 in my opponent's favor. I actually had a nice, early lead but a strong couple of turns near the end flipped the situation, which was interesting to see.

All in all, a very good learning day. Here are some of the lessons I learned:
  • It's much harder to one-shot vehicles without AP1 weapons. Expect far more wrecks than explosions.
  • Psychic powers are tough to cast, and Deny bonuses make that exponentially harder. Trying to throw three dice at an ML1 power when your opponent denies on a 4+ or even a 5+ makes things so much harder, and throwing yet more dice makes the risk of Perils huge.
  • Objective placement in Maelstrom of War missions might as well be flatly dictated as equidistant across the board by the rules. In all three games, the objectives ended up in a pretty standard spread across the board. In the two Dawn of War games I played (two and three), the objectives were in damned near identical places.
  • Tactical Objectives are fun and interesting, but they require you to build a list based on them. if you can't move to other objectives, you're boned. However, if you're lucky enough to draw the same objective numbers in multiple turns, you can pile up a solid lead on points that your opponent has to overcome.
  • It's important to remember your Warlord traits and Chapter tactics every game! I rolled Strategic traits in every game, and got a different one each time. One was -1 to enemy reserve rolls, but Thor forgot to roll his reserves until Turn Four. Game Two was to force a Pinning test on three enemy units at the beginning of his first turn, which I forgot to use (might have helped keep some fire off my guys early). Game Three was Stealth (Ruins) and Move Through Cover (Ruins), which I remembered, but there was only one ruin on the board, and it had solid walls. I forgot my Chapter Tactics completely in Game One and half of Game Two.
  • Terrain is shitty and boring in 7th Edition. Seriously. EVERYTHING is a 5+ save now except ruins, and area terrain is so ambiguously defined that it's confusing. Of course, that makes Stealth and Shrouded that much more valuable.
  • I need to stop experimenting with crazy lists. While it's neat to try new things every month with the different Chapter Tactics, I'm stunting my ability to refine and better my game with one Tactic. Simple things like remembering to even use CTs become easier with practice, and I've spent too many games jumping from CT to CT that I've made myself rusty on applying my Ultramarine CT. I need to write an "ideal" list, and work towards refining it instead of toying around. Not so I can win all the time (read as: "ever"), but so I can play the game competently. it's a HUGE detractor to the game being played if I build an Ultramarine list and forget to apply all the Ultramarine bonuses!
So, going forward I'm planning to stop with the CT experimentation and build towards an "ideal" Ultramarines list. I need to hash out what I feel will be interesting to play, but also viable as a challenge to my opponents. Slammed together lists make for clumsy games on my part. I figure I can keep the spirit of my "play what you like" approach while still sharpening the edges on my unit selections.

After all of that, I can happily report that my Company Champion is now complete. The paint on his base was drying last night, but I hope to get pictures up tomorrow or Wednesday. Next up is the Apothecary...


Review: Space Marines Strike Force Ultra Dataslate

I bought the Space Marines Strike Force Ultra dataslate for my Kindle on Saturday afternoon. Now that formations are an ironclad "official" part of the game, I figured it would be good to own the Marine ones.

The dataslate contains two fluff sections. One is a general description of what a Strike Force Ultra is and does, and the other is a series of descriptions of historical formations in action. Standard fare for a dataslate.

It also contains three formations and all the unit entries you need to make them work. Of course, all the entries are straight out of the Space Marine codex.

The first formation is the Hammerfall Strike Force. To use it, you MUST take a Terminator Captain (or Captain Lysander), one Terminator Squad of 5 Marines, one Assault Terminator Squad of 5 Marines, and either a Land Raider Crusader or Redeemer. You can take upgrades for any of the units as you normally would for a unit from the Marine codex.
The Terminator Captain must begin the game embarked in the formation's Land Raider (it specifically notes this, so you can't get away with taking a second land Raider and putting him in that one) and it an either be deployed normally or in Reserves. The Assault Terminators have no restrictions on deployment (but logic would dictate you'd want to put them in the Land Raider), but the standard Terminators must start in Reserve and arrive by Deep Strike.
The benefits of the formation are that models from the formation get Hammer of Wrath on a turn in which they disembark from the formation's Land Raider. The standard Terminators receive the ability to shoot and run on a turn they arrive by Deep Strike.
Nice, simple benefits for a simple formation. Also, no extra points costs!

The second formation is the Skyspear Strike Force. This one requires you to take a 5-man Assault Terminator Squad, a 5-man Terminator Squad, a Venerable Dreadnought, and a Storm Raven Gunship.
The Assault Terminators and the Venerable must begin embarked on the Storm Raven, and the standard Terminators must arrive by Deep Strike.
You get the exact same benefits as the first formation: standard Terminators can shoot and run when they arrive, and anything disembarking out of the Storm Raven gets Hammer of Wrath (which is a non-factor for the Venerable, as walkers get HoW standard in 7th).
Again. No extra points cost.

The third formation is the Strike Force Ultra, which is basically just taking both of the formations together, and retaining all the benefits of both. In addition, so long as your Terminator Captain is still alive, you can begin rolling for the units from the combined formations to arrive from reserve starting at Turn One. You still have to abide by the other restrictions though, so no shuffling the shooting terminators into or out of the transports, etc.

It's important to note that this is not an Ultramarines specific formation. You can take it using any chapter tactics you like, though if you lead the Hammerfall or Ultra formations with Captain Lysander, you have to use Imperial Fists.

Overall, I think it's a couple of nice, simple formations that a lot of people can find a use for, as Terminators are pretty common in Marine collections, as are Land Raiders and Storm Ravens. In the age of Chapter Masters on a bike with Shields Eternal, regardless of Chapter, rewarding use of a Terminator Captain and some of his associates is nice. All without an added points cost, and without over the top rewards.

Now, if only they'd make that Captain Agemman model available outside of the strike force bundle...


Painting Progress: Company Champion

I've been making some solid progress on my Company Champion over the last several days. At this point, he's about 80% done.

Here's his head:

The hair is shiny because I've not sealed it with Dullcote yet. I used a paint from the Reaper master Series line called Brown Liner. It's a nearly black brown color, and the liner paints tend to come out glossy. I then did some rough lines in a dark grey across the top to break up the surface some (but you can't see them in the pic, and I couldn't photograph it because of the glare off the shine).
You can see that I missed some spots near the hairline, so I'll have to go back and touch that up. I've repainted the face a couple times due to stray dots of Brown Liner. I do still have to go in and touch the teeth with an ivory or something, but I don't plan to paint eyes. The model doesn't seem to have actual eyeballs in there, and if it does, the squint obscures them.

Then there's the rest of him:

As I said, only about 80% done. I have to hit all his soft armor joints, the purity seal, gems, laurel, and tabard. He's wearing a laurel shoulder pad on his sword arm as well. I'm going to go with green for the laurels, but can't decide whether I should go ivory/linen or red for the tabard. My old Captain model wears red, but I'm not sure if I want to keep with that trend. Here's that old Captain:

Since I'm retiring some old models (my old Apothecary, especially) when I finish this Command Squad, maybe I'll retire this Captain as well. Hilariously, I can't remember if I've updated this guy yet to my new gold recipe and power sword technique.

As a quick note, while I was digging through my Photobucket for the pics of the Captain, I stumbled across this image:

It's my army for a monthly tournament at the FLGS, back in September of 2009. All of those non-Ultramarine bikes were eventually stripped and rebuilt into my current bike force, but it's neat to see the models I used to put on the board.