And Away We Go...

It's official, the Shadow Captain project is off the ground. I just submitted my order with Fore World for a Captain Korvydae model and the Mk4 Legion Power Weapons set. Expensive!

I bought the power weapon set purely for those old-style lightning claws and the giant chain sword. You see, I really can't stand the current incarnation of lightning claws with their "brass knuckles" look. I can suffer through it on standard Marines and Terminators, but for Raven Guard, I felt they really needed the old school type, because those allow the wearer to open and close his hand. How are you going to perch on spires, climb walls, and otherwise be vertically inclined if you don't have a free hand because you have to hang onto your weapon all the time?

I thought about trying to acquire some of the claws from older GW models, like the Mk2 Veteran or something, but eBay searching turned up nothing, and I didn't want another pile of veteran models hanging around that I'd never use and couldn't sell/trade (seriously, no one wants those any more). If I had bought that set, I was going to try to get a hold of the loose claws from either of the Tartaros Terminator upgrade kits (here and here), and put one on the back of that powerfist veteran's arm. I even thought about grabbing the claws and adding them to the back of plastic powerfists, but by the time I did that, I was better off buying the already-built claws, and it would turn out cheaper!

More than likely, I'll end up reselling all the rest of the Mk4 Power Weapons kit to recover some of the costs. While the power weapons are neat, I have more than enough plastic versions to cover my needs. If you'd be seriously interested in taking the rest of the kit off my hands, leave me a comment and we can haggle about it.

The important thing is that I finally made up my mind on how to build the model. I've spent untold hours looking up possible conversions for the claws, examining possible ways to build the model by reposing plastic parts, and potential poses. In the end, I just wasn't confident enough in my current abilities at sculpting and altering models to pull off what I wanted: a nicely detailed model that I can spend some serious time painting.


Quick Post: The Way Back Machine

I wanted to drop a quick link here, amid the furor of the GW website change. For those of you who've never heard of it, there exists a thing on the interweb called "The Way Back Machine." It's basically a webcrawling archve that displays what certain pages looked like at certain points in time. It's not always complete (often missing images and media), but it's pretty damned useful.

For those of you who pine for the days of GW featuring usable, free content on their website, check out this link:


It's the final accessible crawl of the Black Gobbo e-zine archive. It lists issues 1 through 113 in various levels of completion. Some articles are missing all their images, other have a few, and others are 100% intact.

For those of you who don't know, Black Gobbo was the precursor to GW blogs, and it contained both product information like previews and reviews, as well as a plethora of how-to and tutorial style articles. Anything from how to build cheap terrain, to conversions using the most recent (at the time) model releases done by the GW staff.


Picking Parts

My drop pod now has a midtone coat on the doors, but because I don't have pictures, I won't get into detail about it. However, I think I might have discovered one of the culprits in my poor metallic coverage...my brush. I use a red sable #2 brush for larger areas right now, and the bristles have gone a little stiff of late. It's leaving streaks in my paint, and not just in the silvers. It happened to the blue last night as well. Looks like it's time to buy a new brush for tanks and pods. I run through size #0s for infantry at a regular clip, so I shouldn't be surprised that the brush I've used for tanks for so long is dying. I can try applying a ton of conditioner and cleaner to it, but I'm not sure it'll work.

I've started planning parts and bitz to make up my Shadow Captain. I've done a lot of Google searching for inspiration and come across some neat ideas and some interesting obstacles.
The first thing I want need to decide is how the Captain will stand out from his subordinates. In the past, I've made mistakes when putting together leader models. I tend to make them too plain and they just blend in to the crowd.
But for Raven Guard, I wonder if that's a bad thing. Ultramarines wear a lot of decorations. Banners, ropes, chains, icons, seals, and other gubbins. I figure all that crap banging around makes a lot of noise. Noise and Raven Guard don't mix. Also, long tabards and purity seals have this tendency to get sucked into the intake of a jump pack or wrapped around an arm or leg. So none of those.
It looks like I'll need to use flat decorations in order to differentiate my Shadow Captain. Things that are sculpted onto the armor, as opposed to attached to it.

With that theory in mind, I picked out a couple of models I might like to use as a starting point. First you have Captain Korvydae from the Forgeworld line. He's got a minimal amount of junk on him, just one rope and badge, a couple purity seals, and a short leather strap belt thing. From looking at sprues, his body and legs are one piece, with his head separate, and his arms in three parts without removable shoulder pads. He sports a very cool jump pack as well. I'd discard the head and arms though, as I'm not a fan of that face, or the thunder hammer armament. I could always use them on another model. At current exchange rates, he rings up at just under $30, which isn't bad when compared to the next model I'm looking at...

The Lord Executioner from the Masters of the Chapter line. I've wanted this model since it was released, but it poses some problems. I really like the head, pack, and body/legs, but that iron halo has to go. Thankfully, it's separate from the jump pack and can be left off. The major problem is that his arms are sculpted on from the shoulder to the elbow/wrist. If I use this model, he's stuck with the power axe. I haven't decided on armament yet, but I'm leaning heavily towards the iconic double lightning claw setup.

Speaking of double claws, I do have the old Medusa V Limited Edition Captain Sicarius model, but I'm very, very hesitant to mod that model in any way, since I know I'll never own another one. (I've owned two, one of which was damaged by someone modding him into another chapter, so I sold it. I've fallen ass-backwards into several copies of some of the more valuable limited edition Marine models, like the Army Box Captain with the horsehair crest).

The final option is to buy the new Vanguard Vets box and cobble together a model. There are some nice pieces in the kit, and I know I'll eventually use all the parts in one project or another. They just don't have the level of detail that the Korvydae or Executioner models have.


More Glamour Shots

I snipped some of the bare heads from the new Sternguard kit, and did some test fits for my Champion. As a reminder, here are the two finalists from the previous batch of heads:

And here are the candidates from the Sternguard box:

Not a huge fan of the bald/bionic one or the mohawk one. The mohawk head looks a lot like a guy I was in the marines with, who always cut his hair in a "horseshoe" cut and was a general jackass. lol. The bald head is too mature for the persona I've given this model. I really like the final head, as it displays a fierceness without resorting to the "show me your war face" route. What do you folks think?

I also took a quick shot of the fin assembly of my drop pod, to see how it looked on screen.

I discovered that I am NOT  a fan of painting large, flat areas of metallic colors. It's damned near impossible to avoid brush strokes and pooling. There's two coats of my darkest silver color, a wash of Badab Black around the edges, another coat of the darkest silver, and then two coats of my mid-tone silver. And you can still see streaks and lines! The Dullcote helped a little, but I really need to find a way to paint big, flat silver surfaces. Any tips?


Names, Stories, and a Plan

I've started this post at least two other times, each one slowly evolved into a very long and rambling post about nothing. Hopefully, the third time is a charm.

Firstly, I've not made any progress on my Champion or snipped test heads from the Sternguard sprue yet. I got distracted painting pieces of my drop pod. That bugger is so close to done I can almost taste it.

However, I did sit down and think up some names for my Command Squad members. I wanted each Command Squad member to have a first and last name, and for each name to be pseudo-Roman/Latin to match the Ultramarine naming conventions. In the past, I've named my various sergeant models and they all got single names. These Command Squad members will get two to differentiate them just a tiny bit more. All my future HQ models will also get two names.
Here's what I came up with:

Company Champion: Pertinus Aemilius.
Apothecary: Numerian Castor.
Standard Bearer: Marius Gracchus.
Veteran: Thrax Gaios.
Veteran: Flavius Felix.

I mostly grabbed names I thought sounded interesting. Flavius Felix was an actual Roman Senator, which I discovered via Google after selecting the name. No big deal. I also drafted up some very general backstory/personality traits for each member:

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.

Apothecary Numerian Castor is a patient, deliberate Marine. While not a coward by any means, he takes very few risks. He knows his mission is to safeguard the Marines with whom he serves, and when necessary, their geneseed.

Standard Bearer Marius Gracchus, "The Youngling." Marius is one of the youngest Marines ever selected to bear a company standard. His youthful features and penchant for humor hide a warrior who is capable with a chainblade and a masterful shot with a pistol.

Veteran Brother Thrax Gaios is the squad's demolitions expert. He carries a combimelta and a satchel of meltabombs. He can toss a krak grenade into the vision slit of a moving tank at a hundred meters.

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.

And there you go. These guys are designed to be a fixed unit that can be led by any HQ (captain, chaplain, or librarian). They're not optimally armed, but are designed more for looks and flavor. It's a direction I'm leaning for most units going forward, though a squad like this lends itself to that very easily. The only armament I'm not set on is that of Flavius Felix. I'm trying not to spend more than 15 points per model on upgrades. I'm leaning towards a chainsword and grav pistol, but am not sure. The model will have as many bionics as I can lay hands on though.

In addition to planning this squad, I'm also planning out small non-Ultramarine painting projects. I realized from my failure with Tyranids that it's ok to paint single models from time to time, as long as I'm not under massive pressure to get them on the table as a force. Nids were a poor choice in that regard, as I was facing the prospect of spending months painting models, only to wait months more to ever use them. I've decided that one-at-a-time is a good way to branch into Allies. My first non-Ultramarine model will probably be a Raven Guard Shadow Captain. It'll be good practice painting black and white without any blue, as well as the chance to possibly try out a non-Caucasian skin tone. No pressure to get a playable unit on the table here, just a fun one that COULD be used alongside my existing army someday.


He Is the Champion, My Friends

I'm lining up additional projects beyond my drop pod, and one of those is to build a Command Squad on foot. I'm modeling the Champion right now, and here are a couple in progress shots:

Yes, that appears to be a cat hair across the lens in the first shot. Damn cat. He's supposed to be in a shield guard stance, with his blade waiting for the opportune thrust or stab. It looks awkward from the side, but I like the look from the front. I ended up using a pair of Rhino gunner arms for this model. The shield arm has the gunner hand cut off at the wrist, a bolt pistol added, and then the shield pinned to the pistol and arm. The sword arm is the gunner arm, hand removed at the wrist and replaced with a power sword from the Assault Marine box, and then drastically rotated. I then had to pin the shoulder joint at an extreme outward angle and will fill the soft armor joint with Greenstuff. I triple checked to make sure the shoulder pad will fit on that side, and still leave room for the backpack. I ran into that issue with my Honor Guard models, and so I'm learning from those mistakes.

The big decision I have to make is regarding his head. I want the model to have character, and look stern and menacing. Sort of a "give me your best shot" look. I wasn't sure if a helmeted head would convey that properly. I grabbed a bit of poster tack and did a lineup of possible heads:

I skipped any heads that had rebreathers, as I felt those really didn't convey anything at all. I do actually like the helmeted head I selected, as well as the head in the fourth shot. The first Blood Angel head (fifth picture) is growing on me, but I'm not sure if a screaming head really conveys the vibe I'm after. The final picture is subtly different in the expression than the fifth, beyond the bionic eye. It looks more like a "Nooooo!" face than a "Raaaar!" face.

What do you folks think? Any heads you like or hate? Do you think the helmeted head will convey a feeling from the model? I do have to crack open my Sternguard box again and check those bare heads, but I'll use another post for that. I plain forgot.

Also, point of trivia: the heads from the old kits have much larger ball joints at the neck. For the first three bare heads, I'd have to trim that area down to make it look right. Not a big deal, just interesting changes to model kits over time.


The Templar Experiment

I was able to make it to the monthly tournament at the FLGS on Saturday.
I brought a Black Templars list, built using my Ultramarines. As I may have mentioned before, I'm working on playing at least 3 games with each Chapter Tactic, just so I know what they all do and to test some theories.

The list I brought was:

Captain - artificer armor, plasma pistol, power sword
Command Squad - power axe, power sword, apothecary, two plasmaguns
Razorback - Dozer, TL Assault Cannons

Crusader Squad (10) - sword brother with power sword, heavy bolter, flamer, one Marine with pistol and chainsword, Rhino
Crusader Squad (10) - sword brother with power axe, missile launcher, meltagun, one Marine with pistol and chainsword, Rhino
Crusader Squad (5) - sword brother with power axe, meltagun, one Marine with power fist, Razorback with Lascannon/TL Plasmagun

Assault Squad (10) - veteran sergeant with power fist, two flamers

It's very simple, and suboptimal. I simply don't have the pistol/chainsword models to do Templars correctly. I wanted to see how a full-on Rhino blitz worked out, and wanted to see how useful the reroll and Rending benefits to challenges worked out.

My first game ruined the day for me. I faced a Tau/Space Marine list that consisted of Farsight, some other Commander in a suit, two 10-strong Kroot Squads, Tigurius, a 5-man Scout Squad, and six Devastator Centurions with grav cannons and amps.
We were playing Bomb Sweep.
The mission didn't really matter, because I didn't really participate in this game. Tigurius, Farsight, the Tau Commander, and the Centurions were all joined in one big unit. It was simply a matter of using Tigurius to Gate the unit 24" away, not scatter at all due to Farsight, point at one of my units, and have me remove it from the board. The Centurions were all twin-linked every turn die to some piece of wargear on one of the Tau models, rrolled failed AP and wound rolls, and had Ignores Cover from another piece of Tau wargear. I tried locking them in melee, but...they have Hit and Run from yet another Tau wargear item or rule.
This list illustrates everything that is wrong with 6th Edition.

My second game I had originally drawn Thor over at Creative Twilight, but since I was tied at 0 points with another player and Thor and I had played one another last month, I asked to swap for the bye round and instead played the swing player.
He was using loaned models for the day, running Black Templars as well. Chapter Master with artificer armor and thunder hammer, one Tactical Squad in a pod, a multimelta Dread in a pod, a Vindicator, two Landspeeder Typhoons, a Hunter, five bolter Scouts, and a 5-man Devastator Squad with 4 missiles. We played Target Priority, but forgot to nominate a unit for the double kill points. Oops!
The board we played on was VERY open, with all the line of sigh blockers in corners and no really obscured sight lines. My transports weren't going to last long.
I mucked around trying to keep units alive and kill off the large squad that landed in my backfield as well as the Dread and the scouts. We pointed out Assault Marines at one another and decided to have a punch fight, which was entertaining.
I also completely forgot to have my Captain and Command Squad get out of their Razorback when it was wrecked...which was sort of huge. But we didn't realize that until after the game was over. I laughed about it, because I didn't really care.
We learned that in a Templar versus Templar fight, NO ONE ever leaves combat until they're dead. Seriously. The Assault Marine versus Assault Marine fight was a six-turn battle of attrition. I'd lose by two, and make morale. Or lose by one and fail, but be caught in the Sweep due to the Crusader rule and fight on.

Third game was against the same third round opponent from last month, with his Blood Ravens. He'd made some good progress on painting models. He'd brought a Chapter Master, two Tactical Squads with las/plas Razorbacks, two Dreads with las/missile, a Mortis Contemptor with Kheres Cannons and a missile launcher, and a Stormtalon with missiles and assault cannon.
We played King of the Hill.
The board we played on was pretty diverse with some WHFB buildings scattered about, tree stands, and a massive LOS-blocking tree near the mid-left. It also had a river running through it diagonally, which happened to be the no-man's land between the Vanguard Strike deployment zones. My plan was basically to ram a couple units forward in their transports, block the bridge with hulls or wreckage, and hold on tight. It didn't work out. I faced too much S6+ fire from multiple angles to hold up. Tabled, to a man, but it was an entertaining game.

So all in all, a very mediocre day. I brought a suboptimal list to try some things out, and it wasn't as fun a day as I thought it was.
What I did learn was: the challenge mechanic for Black Templars might work better when you're not blindly trying to get it to work purely for the sake of shits and giggles. I was issuing a challenge any time I could, like having my power fist Assault Sergeant challenge a Templar Assault Sergeant carrying a power sword. Stupid idea, but it led to an entertaining moment later in the game. Honestly,  if I hadn't been knocked off my horse by that first game, I'd probably have played smarter and harder.
Crusader is a very useful USR. I found lots of chances to roll two Run dice (take the highest), and the +d3 to your Initiative during a Sweeping Advance all but guaranteed you were sweeping or at least staying in combat with models you can't sweep. Adamantium Will didn't help at all in the first game (the only one in which I faced a psyker), but it would probably be much better in a larger sample size.
You can't force Templars to run like regular Space Marines. Arming everyone with bolters just doesn't cut it. My guess is that you'd want at least a 50/50 split between bolters and chainswords.
Also, Rhinos are shit for Templars. Total shit. For standard Marines, they work just fine because you have other rules to make up for the inability to charge out of a Rhino. Rerolls, bonuses, etc. Templars simply cannot walk across a board, no matter if you have five men or twenty. But they also cannot roll up, jump out, fire, and survive the replying fire. You need something with the Assault Vehicle rule. I really wanted to add a Land Raider Crusader to this list, but felt that at 1250 points, it was simply too much invested in a single model.
Drop pods might be a better choice for Templars, but you'd have to mix your unit with some bolters in there to make full use of the delivery method. Eight to ten pistol shots isn't worth much, and you're only packing one special weapon per squad. The lack of mobility post-landing is somewhat mitigated by Crusader.

Anyhow, despite the lackluster day I was energized to get some more painting done last night. I got the fin assembly of my drop pod edge highlighted, and now I have to go back and do the cleanup on the messy areas. That was a lot of work! Over an hour to get all five fins done.

I also packed up all of my Tyranid models and put them away. My enthusiasm for the army is at zero. When I first started planning for them, I was excited by the prospect of painting something that wasn't power armor, and I really did enjoy painting my Hive Tyrant and Genestealers. But then I got bored, because there's no real variation in the Nid models. Posing is minimal without extensive recuts and sculpting. So, I've put it all away until I either get reenergized about it, need room and sell it, or find someone who wants to buy it all in one go.