1.04.2016

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.

12.21.2015

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.

12.03.2015

In Progress: Raven Guard Landspeeder

It's always satisfying and motivational for me when I can share actual progress on painted models, so today I have some shots of the Raven Guard Landspeeder I'm working on as part of my Shadow Force formation.

 
 
 
 
Nothing super fancy, but this section of the speeder is just about done. I assembled this section in two sub assemblies, the top hull plate and the bottom and sides. They were primed separately, and then I painted all of the interior of the cockpit before assembling them together and then painting the exterior.
You might notice that the seats are a purplish color. It was originally supposed to be a reddish color (Reaper MSP Red Brick), but it kept coming out pink. After a wash with Badab Black/Nuln Oil, it's a nice purple that looks nice alongside the green of the console and gun casings and the black armor.
 
I'm still working on the Typhoon launchers, Tornado nose guns, side panel doors (that are used when the Typhoons are not), and the pilot. The Typhoon launchers and panel doors had some deep pits in the plastic from where the sprue was clipped off. When I filed the nubs down, there were air bubbles inside the point where the sprue and part met. It's pretty typical of injection molding, I think. I tried to prime over them, as sometimes primer will "skin" over small holes, but these were too big. I was waiting to buy some Liquid Greenstuff to fill the holes, but decided to use a slurry of sprue shavings and liquid cement. The parts were drying last night, so hopefully I can get them filed and primed tonight.
 
After this model is complete, I will be working on my Captain. I'm short on fancy HQ-style bits, so I think I'm going to crack open one of the three limited edition Web Store captains I have kicking around. I'm torn between going for the typical Raven Guard Captain with dual claws and a jump pack, or something more basic like powerfist and bolter. The question basically boils down to whether I want him to join the Vanguard or the Sternguard in games. I'm leaning toward Sternguard. 

 

11.20.2015

Time for a Shadow Force

I've made a decision on where to start on Raven Guard.

I'm going to build a Shadow Force. For those of you not in the know, it's a Formation from the Kauyon book that consists of a Captain (or Shrike), Sternguard Squad, Vanguard Squad, and a unit of Landspeeders. The Captain cannot have Terminator armor. The formation as a whole gets Acute Senses, Move Through Cover, and Scout USRs. In addition, the units can reroll their Run moves, or move an additional 6" when going Flat Out.

Very tame, but with a lot of options for deployment and movement around the board. One funny trivia point about the Speeder unit is that if you take three in the unit, you get +6" on Flat Out from the Codex as long as the unit still contains three models. In theory, you could have a unit of Speeders that moves 12" in the Movement phase and then Flat Out another 30" (18" for Fast Skimmer, +6 for three models, +6 for Formation bonus. That's Eldar-level movement without the pointy ears.

I've already started building a Landspeeder. Just putting the last few magnets in it, and then priming the subassemblies. After that will be the Captain, as I need an HQ to make my existing Scouts usable as part of an Allied Detachment until the Formation is complete.

The Captain will get a pair of lightning claws and a jump pack to represent some of the awesome relics in Kauyon. Swiftstrike and Murder are the claws, with standard lightning claw statline, but also Flurry, which gives him a free attack roll for every hit he's already made in assault (but no extras from the extras). So you can have five attacks on the charge, hit all five, and get five more bonus swings.
The relic jump pack makes his Hammer of Wrath hits S6 with Strikedown.

One thing I can't decide on is if I want my Sternguard to have tabards or not. When I first planned to paint Raven Guard, I wanted them to be very sleek and largely undecorated. I figured that ninja Marines didn't do lots of bling and decoration, and I really hated the white arms GW is using for RG Vets these days. But as I looked at the GW models in Kauyon, the fancy-pants Sternguard models started to grow on me. I'm not sure I like the tan tabards and white arms, but I think I might be able to modify the scheme to match my Scouts. It would look a little like THIS. Just more white for the fancy armor bits, and likely a white helm as well. Anyone have any opinions?



11.15.2015

Standish Standoff 2015 After-Action, plus Additional Words on Things

Yesterday I attended the fifth annual Standish Standoff at the old FLGS, Crossroad Games. 1850 "semi-competitive" tourney, three rounds, with scores for battle, painting, and sportsmanship as well as a submission-based painting competition.

I put "semi-competitive" in quotes because while it's touted as such by the shop and the organizers every year, some folks abide by the spirit and some...don't.

I brought my Ultramarines on what I declared as their "swan song" as a primary force. Yes, I'm holding on to my Ultramarine models until I can subsume them with Raven Guard, but they'll never be the primary force for my army again. I'll expand on the reasons later in this post.
My list was a Demi Company made of a Captain and Command Squad in a Razorback, three ten-man Tacticals in Rhinos, a 10-man Assault Squad with jump packs, and a 10-man Devastator Squad with missiles. Joining that formation was a Strike Force Command formation of a 9-man Honour Guard unit with a banner, relic-bladed Champion. Half had swords, and half had axes. They were led by a Chaplain, and all rode in a drop pod. Nothing overwhelming, and nothing abusive. I didn't opt to min/max with 5-man squads in a metric assload of free transports, because I'm not a huge fan of 5-man squads, nor do I own any additional transport models.

My first game was against Orks, which I haven't seen on a table in a very long time. The list was several units of Tankbustas, Boyz, and Lootaz in Trukks, a unit of Grots, and several units of Bikerz. The core of the army was a massive unit of 14 Bikerz, joined by a Painboy and Warboss on bikes, all led by another special Warboss on a bike who gave them all Skilled Rider and Scout.
We duked it out for only two and a half turns until time was called, with the win going to the Orks. I was rusty and play terribly slow with such a high points level, so I think I lost sportsmanship points as a result.

Game Two was against Tyranids. I don't remember the exact makeup of the force. I just remember that he had no duplicate units, and had GENESTEALERS. That made my day, seeing Genestealers actually played and enjoyed. We got a full four turns before game end, tied, with the Nids player taking some additional points on secondary objectives.

My last game of the day was against a Krieg army heavy in infantry and artillery units, backed up by a Baneblade. I steamrolled a tired and seemingly uninterested opponent. It had been a loooong day. My Honour Guard killed 80% or more of the infantry in his army single-handedly, though I think he took a bit of a fascination in seeing how many men it would take to drown them in blood and body parts.

I did poorly in battle points, and had less than perfect sportsmanship points. That was a first for me, and stung the whole way home and a little of this morning until I realized it was likely because I was so damn slow in my play. Who knows? Less than half the field had perfect sports scores, which is a HUGE departure from all but the very first Standoff.

I was awarded Second Best Army, which was a collation of Painting, Sportsmanship, Pub Quiz, and Favorite Opponent votes. There was some low grumbling from various players regarding their paint scores in relation to others' scores, and I'll freely admit I had a couple grumbles of my own, but those grumbles have been there for each of the five years the event has run. Anything from "How did an army without 100% of its models fully painted get THAT score?!" to "That guy just uses airbrush and washes!" have been voiced over the years. I've had to judge painting personally on two or more occasions, and it is HARD to be consistent across a 40 point scale. So no shade thrown at the judges by me, just some bruised ego on my part.

I achieved the one goal I had for myself on the day though, that being winning the Best Painted Squad category in the painting competition with my Ultramarine Command Squad. Mission accomplished!

There is one huge, glaring lesson that I take from the Standoff though, and that is that the Space Marine Demi Company formation is the most boring thing that has ever bored a player. I've actually been running a list of that type for several years off an on, and I thought that with new rules that support the build it would be more fun. Wrong. So wrong. The Demi Company (and even moreso the Gladius built with a double Demi), is a big bag of yawns thrown in a river of suck. Does it win games? Yes, it does. Does it appeal to me any longer? Not on your life.

I sat down in each of my three games and explained to my opponents what the Demi did, and what all my Ultramarines Doctrines did, and I watched their eyes glaze over. As I lay in bed last night trying to sleep, I realized that an ObSec Marine with a bolter is the worst thing ever. It has no special skills, no interesting stats/attacks, etc. Its role on the field is to exist, take up space, and not die while either sitting inside a Rhino or moving around 6" at a time and taking cover or pot shots with a mediocre weapon. I don't want to aim to win my games simply by existing, I want to win them by outmaneuvering, attacking, falling back, and generally playing more cerebrally. Ultramarines in a Demi Company play and win by Mathhammer, and I hate Mathhammer.

So, I'll be bidding a fond farewell to my Ultramarines from here on out. I picked up my copy of Kauyon, and will be painting Raven Guard from this point on, no exceptions. Ok, maybe a couple exceptions for the Grey Knight Terminators I still have kicking around here someplace, as well as some Tempestus Scions I'd like to pick up to spice things up as allies to the Sons of Corax.

I had built a squad of five Raven Guard Tactical Marines to add to my existing Scout Squad. Here's a couple WIP shots of two of the squad members (excuse the poor pics, I've still not set up my painting desk and photo area since the move to the farm):

 
 
 
 
Originally, I wanted my RG to be city fighters. Guys who are posed dynamically like they're kicking in doors and clearing rooms. Lots of gear and pouches. I chopped the arms and leg joints on every squad member, reposing them ever so slightly here and there. The sergeant in the first two pics has his legs at new angles and elevations, and the other Marine is about to pull the mag from his bolter. another non-pictured model is high-stepping over some rubble. The models without standard studded pads got scratchbuilt ones made from old third edition pads with the rims filed down and microbeads drilled in as studs. Those five Marines took a week or more of time and energy just to chop and build, and they don't really look all that great to me. The sergeant is too thin in the waist area, and the bolter Marine's hand isn't quite right in its grip or spacing. The high-stepping Marine I mentioned looks unbalanced in his run, like some sort of Khorne Berserker model.
 
When you combine what I feel is a failed first effort at building chop-shopped Marines with the new focus given by the Kauyon book and my sudden loathing for ObSec Tactical Marines, I'm hitting rewind on the Raven Guard machine. The squad will go into a box, and instead I'm building a Land Speeder. There are six different formations in Kauyon that involve Land Speeders. I've had one sitting in a box since the kit was recut in Fifth Edition, so it'll be my starting point. I will either build the Raptor Wing (Speeders and Stormtalons), Shadow Force (Speeder, Captain, Vanguard, Sternguard), Speartip Strike (Speeders and Bikes/Attack Bikes/Scout Bikes), or Stormbringer Squadron (Speeders and Scouts with Speeder Storms). They all have neat rules, and I can't decide quite yet.
 
I'm newly excited about my Raven Guard thanks to the new things Kauyon lets me do with them, and thanks to the realization that I've hit my limit with Tactical Marines, ObSec, and Doctrine rerolls. here comes a new way to play, and it dresses in black!
 
Now I just have to figure out how to fund purchases of so many more Land Speeders...eBay bitz selloff?


10.04.2015

Forward with Raven Guard

Yesterday I slaughtered and processed twenty five chickens, and closed out almost all of the crops from the field. That means my farm work is slowing down a tiny bit, and I will be able to sneak in some hobby time here and there.
I've decided to build a five man Tactical Squad and a Librarian. This allows me to field my existing Scouts alongside these new models as a Combined Arms detachment. I can then build outward from there to bulk out the detachment, or into a Demi Company.
The squad will be armed with just a heavy bolter, and probably a lightning claw or combi bolter of some type on the sergeant. Everyone will have a Corvus helm and pads, and each model will be cut and reposed into a non standard pose. For example, one squad member will be kneeling against a rubble pile, the heavy bolter will be sprinting while handle-carrying his weapon, etc.
I need to cast up another set of bases for the squad soon.

9.20.2015

Games, games, games!

Something amazing happened this past Saturday...I played 40K! I managed to find some time off from farm work to get down to the old FLGS and play in the monthly tourney. 1850 points, and I brought an Ultramarines Demi Company formation (Chaplain, Command Squad, Razorback, three Tacs in Rhinos, Assault Squad, Devastators, and a pair of Las/Missile Dreads in a squadron).

I played three games, one against Chaos Marines, one Necrons, and one Eldar/Haemonculus Covens. All three games were fun and exciting, which hasn't happened in a while.

It was the first time I'd played games since June when the new Marine codex dropped. I wasn't sure how it would go with the change to Ultramarines and the new formations. Lots of good stuff in the book, but how would the Demi Company shake out?

Turns out the updated Doctrines are amazing. Rerolls in just about every turn of the game when you use Ultramarines and a Demi Company. The FLGS plays Maelstrom missions, which are HUGE for the other benefit of the Demi: Objective Secured on EVERY unit. ObSec on Assault Marines and Dreads? Yes, please!

The only problem is that you're still relying heavily on bolter-armed Marines to carry the bulk of your army's work. I didn't kill much in any of my games, and won largely based on scoring objectives and maneuver.

Playing Ultras and doing pretty well (third of a field of 8, two wins and a loss), throws a bit of a wrench in my plans to switch to Raven Guard. Raven Guard were buffed in their Chapter Tactics, but the formation bonuses don't mesh perfectly with them. My story behind my potential Raven Guard force was supposed to be an urban combat force. Urban bases, armaments focused on hab block fighting, and lots of cutting and reposing of models for dynamism. I don't know where to start. I have my unit of five Scouts already, so I can go in several directions. I can add an HQ, and immediately have an Allied detachment to add to my Ultras. But none of the HQs mesh properly with Scouts. None ever really have. So I'd want to add another slot to the Allied detachment. I could add Assault Marines or Vanguard to capitalize on the other half of the RG tactics which is specific to jump packs.
Alternatively, I can focus instead on beefing up my Scouts and build a 10th Company Task Force, which has fun rules with Stealth for anyone who infiltrates for the whole game (until they move in any way), and Precision Shots for the first game turn. Problem is, Scout models are boring as hell to build and paint. I've tried to make them as interesting as possible with weapon swaps and such, but there's only so much you can do.
I could also strike out away from the Scouts and build something new entirely like a First Company Strike Force with three units of Vanguard/Sternguard/Terminators. Or start on the long haul towards a Demi Company or Strike Force Ultra.

I have no real idea what I'll do yet, though I'm open to ideas or suggestions.

The other question I have to ask myself about my Raven Guard regards models and bitz. Rven Guard are always associated with Mk6 Corvus armor. You can now make full sets of Mk6 from plastic kits, unlike in the past where you had to buy Forgeworld or convert pieces. I'd originally intended to have all my power armored Raven Guard in Mk6 armor, head to toe. I have helmets for a squad and a half or so, but not enough torsos or backpacks. My hobby finances nowadays are non-existent, so I can't be buying tons of bitz to complete Mk6 armor sets.
How crucial do you think Mk6 is to a Raven Guard force? Is it worth my time to save up and slowly build towards a "pure" force, or should I not bother? Perhaps I should focus on Mk6 helmets for everyone instead, leaving the rest of the armor as whatever bitz I have available, while mixing the occasional non-Mk6 helmet and bare head into squads? If you parked two identical, non-Horus Heresy, Raven Guard armies next to one another and one is pure Mk6 on every model, and one is not, would you even notice? Would the pure Mk6 one look better?