Stubborn in Sixth

Warning: this is a "theoretical tactics" article. In other words, it's an article in which I spout off an a subject having never used the tactics described.

I have been thinking about the utility of Stubborn in Sixth Edition.
In Fifth, it was largely panned as useless when compared to Combat Tactics. It was better to attempt to break off the fight and auto-rally in Fifth than it was to stay in melee and get pummeled repeatedly. The only real risk was being chased off the board due to the 6" proximity rule for rallying.
Marines rally automatically in EVERY situation in 6th, which really calls the utility of Stubborn into question now. I've been wracking my brain trying to think of some ways to make Stubborn into an advantage, instead of a disadvantage.
Marines can only acquire Stubborn in two ways: Pedro Kantor or Darnath Lysander.
Kantor allows Sternguard squads to be scoring units, but does NOT allow them to be taken as Troops. Your army will still contain Tactical or Scout squads. He also provides a nice +1 Attack bubble (but it won't stack with an Honour Guard banner). Kantor is "ok, not great" in melee. he is  a safer bet in 6th than he was in 5th, as he cannot be singled out in melee like he used to. One Dreadnought punch in Fifth would routinely hose him before he did much on return. With challenges in Sixth, his life expectancy is a bit longer, especially if he's got a squad Sergeant alongside him to soak up powerfist-armed challengers. Pedro can rampage through non-character models with his three powerfist attacks while Sergeant Nobody dies for the cause.
Lysander only boosts the unit to which he is attached by granting them Bolster Drill, a reroll to hit on all bolter-style weapons. He's also an absolute house in melee with his Eternal Warrior rule, S10 hammer, and 2+/3++ saves.

So, once you've taken one of these characters, how do you use Stubborn? Here are a couple of possible ideas:

Extend the life of combat squads.
Combat Squads is a great rule for instantly doubling your unit count, be it for objective holding or increasing the number of potential enemy targets that can be engaged. The problem is that 5 Marines can only do so much, and one of those resulting combat squads is Ld8. Taking even two casualties from a small squad drops your chances of staying in the fight dramatically. You're suddenly rolling against Ld6 instead of Ld8. The ability to keep a couple Marines holding ground leads nicely to the next point.

Reliable 'tarpits'
'Tarpit' is a dirty word to many, but it's actually a viable tactic in the days of 6th. Objectives are everything now (and they were in 5th as well), and securing them against attackers is vital. A tarpit unit seeks to lock up an incoming enemy in melee, and keep them there until the game expires. A Marine unit that holds til the last man is easier to achieve when you're not taking cumulative Ld penalties for losing an assault. Of course, is this any more desirable than using Combat Tactics to fall back after your opponent's turn, auto-rally, and then open fire into the unit and charging it again?
That's really the best I can come up with in regards to uses for Stubborn. Can you think of anything else, or is Stubborn more of an impediment than a bonus?


We're Still Here!

Since I'm typing this without wearing a Hazmat suit, or while fighting off zombies, the world has not ended. Huzzah! Now we can all get back to 40K-ing.
My short holiday break was light on hobby. I put a few coats of paint on the plasma cannoneer I've been picking away at, but that's about it. I didn't ask for any 40K for XMas, since I have plenty already to work on. However, my brother-in-law bought me a new drop pod as a gift, which I was very impressed with. I might bump up drop pods in my painting schedule as a result. I now have two, new in boxes, and that might help out some of my army builds (The Dreadbash list would love a pair of podded Dreads).

I'm still staring at five Sternguard helmets on my desk, as well (well, four and one finished). I need to get my butt in gear on these, as it's a unit I badly want available in my army options. It's a relatively simple process to complete the helmets, but I just can't seem to get up the traction to bother.

Some motivation might come from the January event at my FLGS. 1750 points, which is a points level that seems to be becoming very popular in the area. I'm fond of the point threshold there, and also like 1850. I feel that any more than 1850 is too cumbersome for 6th Edition tourney games due to the extra time it now takes to play a game. I don't like to go below 1750 too often as a Space Marine player, as I find the fight becomes far too lopsided toward horde-style armies. Marines simply cannot stack up against droves and droves of cheap, effective models like Gaunts, Guard, or Orks.
What points level has become the standard in your area in the new edition?  I know some areas of the US liked 2250 in 5th, but that seems like a really unwieldy number for 6th. 1850 was the European standard in 5th, or was it 1750? Have the players across the pond altered their numbers?

I could promise you folks a picture of the completed plasma cannoneer for next time, but we all know it won't happen. Maybe a quick WIP shot instead so you can see the big mold line I missed on his leg!


Post Charity Tourney Thoughts

This past Saturday was out FLGS' 'food drive' tournament. it was an effort to collect foodstuffs for a local food pantry. Donating items allowed you to purchase in-game effects. You can see the full chart in one of my older posts. I bagged up my donations and headed to the shop.
We had a nice turnout of 12 people, and a whole gaming table (4x8) covered in donations.

My first game was against a Space Wolf list, led by Logan. Two units of TDA wolf Guard, some Long Fangs, a couple units of Grey Hunters in TLLC Razorbacks, a tri-las Predator, and a Bastion with an Icarus.
The game ended in a win for me, mostly because my opponent forgot to read the mission fully and attempted to claim an objective with long Fangs instead of a a scoring unit. I did pull off the one "dirty trick" from my army list. I'd taken a Chapter Master, and used one of the donation perks to have his orbital bombardment not scatter at all. I dropped it so it was touching the Predator, Wolf Guard with Logan, and the Bastion. The Predator made a cover save (5+ from area terrain), I failed to wound the one WG I hit, and the bastion suffered a total collapse (result 7+). The collapse killed all but one Grey Hunter due to Jump Off rolls, and all but two Long Fangs from the 4d6 S4 hits and one "wound" from the penetrating hit. The last Hunter ran off the board as well. It was a nasty trick, but it worked oh-so-well.

Second game was against a Tau/Ork force. This one was a straight draw on every victory condition, due to my Tac Marines holding on in small groups, and me making a single Run roll on the final turn to contest the central objective. I needed a 4+, and had been rolling poorly all game. Thankfully, my dice warmed slightly for that turn, and we split all the points. I'd probably have done better if I'd remembered that units arriving from reserve cannot charge. My Honour Guard were in for a rude awakening when they lined up out of reserve in order to assault some Meganobz. They won the fight on the next turn when receiving the charge (due to a donation perk of granting their attacks Instant Death).

Third game was against Blood Angels led by Mephiston. before the game started, I pointed out that his list wasn't legal, as he'd somehow taken two missile launchers in a Tac Squad, but it wasn't major so we played it out. Mephiston was a pain the ass for my army, as I was short on lascannons and plasma that I'd normally use to cut him down. Despite that, I still managed a small win. I probably could have done better if I'd had a copy of the BA list in front of me, instead of hand written in the opponent's notebook, but nuts tome for not asking to see it again. The Land Raider he had parked on the central objective was a Dedicated Transport, not a Heavy Support slot, and if I'd simply maneuvered around it I'd have had that objective and taken more points. Hand written lists at a tournament are my pet peeve, and even more so when they're written someplace other than a loose sheet of paper that your opponent can freely look at.

All in all, a good day. We collected up a lot of food for the pantry, and I had three enjoyable games. Now, it's back to the painting table. I have Sternguard helmets to work on.


New White Helmet Technique

I found the time earlier in the week to sit down and work on my white helmet technique. As I mentioned in a prior post, I'm looking at ways to use my airbrush more often, but the initial experiments didn't work all that well with white. The helmets I tested my theories on lacked definition and contrast.
One of my potential solutions was to finish them by hand, instead of zenithal work with the airbrush.
Here's the result of the hand painting over the airbrushed helmet:

I'm thrilled with it, honestly. There's contrast, but it's not cartoony. Details are crisper, and the white is smoother and more vibrant.
How did I get this effect?
I first applied a wash of very thin Reaper Master Series 'Ultramarine Highlight'. However, I simply couldn't get the wash to stay in the seams of the helmet. I was using water to thin, and it just wasn't working. Then I dug out my unused bottle of Winsor and Newton Flow Improver. I've had this stuff for years and never used it.
I loaded a spare brush with some of the liquid, and made a small pool of it on my palette. I then loaded my brush with the medium, and thinned a small section of the Ultramarine Highlight paint. I picked that up in the brush and used it as my wash.
It immediately clung to the seams in the helmet, as you can see above. The process was messy, so all of the other surfaces had a tint of blue as well. I gave it two or three goings-over before allowing it to dry.
I went back over the helmet with more thinned white after the wash had dried, cutting the color back to the thin lines you see above. I then hit the metallic areas using MSP Shadowed Steel, Badab Black wash, more Shadowed Steel, then Hones Steel, and finally Polished Silver.
I also reworked my eye lens colors. I used to use MSP Pine Green, Leaf Green, and Pale Green from the Warm Greens Triad. Instead, I used MSP Forest Green, Grass Green, and Jade Green from the Cool Greens Triad, plus a white dot for a lens effect. I applied the same to the targeter.

All in all, I'd say it's a definite improvement and a total success. I'm thinking that maybe all airbrush, all the time just isn't going to work for me. I think I'm going to end up doing my majority of colors using the airbrush, but going back with washes to fill details and contrast and then cutting back the washes with my main color.

I also took a few minutes to put together the Marine's eventual bolter:

It's a targeter from the IG Heavy Weapons sprue on a regular bolter. It took a lot of fiddling to put on, as the underside of that tiny targeter bit is sloped some and makes it want to point downward. It's supposed to look like an ACOG sight. I think I need to file off the iron sight at the front of the bolter, though. What do you think?
I'm also considering cutting off the sickle magazine and replacing it with a box magazine from a Black Reach Terminator's storm bolter arm. I have enough to choke a horse, so sacrificing a few for Sternguard isn't a huge deal. Good idea, or leave it as-is?


A Batrep?!?!

Today I have a battle summery to share.
Wait, I actually PLAY this game? Yes, crazy but true, I do play this game from time to time.
My wife is awesome, and let me run off to the FLGS on one of the rare Wednesdays she has off. I haven't played a non-tournament game since April (about 8 months).

I brought a practice list for this Saturday's charity food drive tournament at the FLGS. 1500 points.
The list looked generally like this:

Chapter Master (plasma pistol, artificer armor, power sword)
Seven Honour Guard (4 swords, 3 axes, and the Banner)
Land Raider Crusader with multimelta
Two Tac Squads in Rhinos
Seven Scouts led by Telion, with a missile launcher
Thunderfire Cannon

I played against an IG artillery gunline. Lots of infantry squads, a PBS, two Griffons in a squadron, Basilisk, Lord Commisar, Primaris Psyker, Ratlings, Stormtroopers, and Harker-led Vets.

We played an older version of Divide and Conquer from Thor over at Creative Twilight.

The board had a river crossing it diagonally, and a bunch of hills and trees. We went for simple terrain.

Guard deployed behind an Aegis, massed infantry in front of the Griffons and the Basilisk way off in the back corner. Stormtroops, Harker Vets, and Ratlings were to infiltrate.
I deployed my LRC with the Chapter master and Honour Guard front and center in my corner. I wanted to see if it would survive the first turn, so only parked it behind a small hill for a 5+ cover save from the front. Predator just to the back right of the LRC. Combat Squad in a Rhino on the left flank, the other half on a hill with cover from a small ridge at the top. Thunderfire poking out on the left of that hill. Full Tac Squad in a Rhino on the right flank. Scouts to infiltrate.

The Guard won the rolloff for first placement of infiltrators, and put Harker's squad on my far left, in the river. I placed my Scouts mid-right flank, out in the other end of the river. Guard then placed Ratlings in some woods back center of his side of the board, and Stormtroopers out of LOS behind a hill on my extreme right flank (right along the short board edge).

We had Night Fight on the first turn, and I succeeded in seizing the initiative. I pushed the Rhinos forward into the non deployment quadrants, and sent the LRC right up the gut. In shooting, I hammered the main infantry unit behind the Aegis with my Thunderfire. Night Fight is a joke to any unit with an Ignores Cover profile, and the TFC has just that. 12 models were killed in the opening salvo alone. That felt like it was a morale buster for my opponent, and may have drawn more of his attention than it should have.
Return fire at me was of minimal effect due to Night Fight cover saves and limited ranges.
In Turn Two, I floored the LRC forward again, right into the teeth of the enemy guns. I knew there were meltaguns in the units behind the Aegis, but didn't care. It's an Assault Vehicle, so even if I wrecked or exploded I could still charge next turn with those Honour Guard and Chapter Master.
The LRC was indeed exploded about 4" short of the Aegis, and I piled all 8 models out into the crater. 2+ armor kept me from losing any models, and Ld10 kept them from being pinned. Then the PBS hit the unit with Weaken Resolve. -7 to Ld. I wasn't paying any attention when my opponent was going over his psychic power rolls at the beginning of the game, and was unaware that the nearby Primaris Psyker had Psychic Shriek. I lost 5 models to that, plus a wound on the Captain (he saved one with his Iron Halo). Oops. They broke, ran out of the crater, and later auto-rallied.
The game dragged on into a shooting gallery, with my Marines holding as best they could, and Guardsmen dying in droves.
My Thunderfire continued to light up the units behind the Aegis, reducing them from 3+ and 2+ cover to 5+ armor.
The game went a full 5 turns before we called it. We both had only a few models on the board, but mine were spread across the quadrants, and his were largely huddled behind the Aegis. I took all the victory conditions due to that.
MVP of the game was the Thunderfire with its reaping toll on infantry without cover saves. Goat of the game would probably be the Dakkapred. I think it killed one model in five turns? It was simply a matter of either range or cover saves denying its damage output. I also had trouble getting both sponsons on a target due to the stubby shape of the heavy bolter mounts and tracing LOS across the nose of the chassis.

I was disappointed that I hadn't paid attention to the selection of psychic powers, as it would have probably caused me to hold the LRC back a turn instead of gunning forward. That would have let my Honour Guard get into the fight instead of being gutted by Psychic Shriek. If they'd not been reduced to Ld3 as well, I'd have taken zero casualties (I rolled a 10 on the 3d6 test for Shriek).

All in all, a good, fun game and not because I won. I had to make several target priority decisions throughout the game, and corrected myself from making poor ones about halfway through. I was focusing too much on grunt infantry in the early going, when I should have been smacking around the PBS and the squad with the Primaris in it.

I'm not sure I'll run this list on Saturday. I ran into my 'ideal' enemy army last night, but I'm not sure the same will apply in a wider field (though Guard is rampant at the shop right now). I do have some tricks int he list that I did not utilize, but I'm not sure they'll be enough to turn the tide against different builds or armies.
I'll definitely be removing the Dakkapred, both because it didn't do much, and because I discovered something went wrong with my magnetized sponsons, and the heavy bolters refuse to go fully onto the mounting pin. The lascannons work just fine though. I'll have to poke around and figure out what went wrong. They worked fine when I built them...


Hell is Other Armies

I do a lot of brainstorming and daydreaming about 40K armies, and it's a constant source of torture for me.
I own thousands of points of unassembled and unpainted Space Marine models and parts. I also have my several thousand points worth of Ultramarines, painted and assembled.
The players at my FLGS know that I've recently been struggling with the idea of changing Chapters to something a little more exciting or obscure. I go back and forth on that idea repeatedly, and never do anything about it. The reasons are numerous.
Despite my self-knowledge that I'll never restart my existing army, or start a new one, I continue to think about the process of doing exactly that. I have a "game plan" for several armies that I'd build if I had limitless free time and income.
In an effort to alleviate some of my brain pain by writing things down, here's some of my more prevalent ideas:

Chaos Marines: The Horned Host. A warband of Tzeentchian Chaos Marines who have been cursed with mutation. Spines, horns, and quills erupt from their bodies, often bursting straight through their power armor. Pretty generic, but it would be an interesting project to modify all those mutations.

Chaos Marines: World Eaters warband. If you're gonna go "established Chaos fluff" you can't beat the World Eaters.

Dark Eldar: Coven of the Needle's Eye. This is an excuse to scratchbuild a horde of Wracks and Grotesques from various models. I have this nefarious plan to build Wracks from Empire Flagellants models. Sadly, this idea was largely squashed when Webway Portals became pointless for melee armies.

Imperial Guard: Catachan 27th Tank Company and Catachan 30th Artillery Company. The tank company would have used the Imperial Armor Armored Battlegroup rules from the now-defunct downloadable PDF. It would have to come from the newly updated IA:2 book now. The artillery company was a focus on troops units with sniper rifles and mortars, backed by as many artillery pieces as I could lay hands on.

Imperial Guard: Mordian 95th Regiment of Foot. Gunline. Nothing but a sea of out of production metal Mordians as far as the eye can see. SUPER expensive project.

Orks: Scrapgrabba's Loota Boyz. An Ork army led by a Big Mek (Scrapgrabba) with tons of converted, looted models. Lootas, Burna Boyz, Kans, Dreds, Boomwagons, etc. Basically a big mob of mek-smart Orks who build all their kit from scrap. I'd include as many random-effect units as I could. I feel dirty even thinking about making an Ork army.

Tyranids: A completely shooting-less army of gribblies. Masses of Genestealers, Hormagaunts, Raveners, Lictors, Carnifex and Warriors. No spawn-poopers or anything fancy. Just tons of melee dice.

Tyranids: Retro Second Edition army. Build an army using only the units that were available in the old second edition codex. I can't decide if I wanted to build this one using authentic second edition metals, or with current plastics. It would probably make more sense using the old metals.

Those are the sorts of things that bang around in my head every few days. So many cool projects to try, so little time!

On the Marine front, I have actually made some minor progress with my white helmet experiments. I tried out the wash+hand paint method, and I think I like it. I'll have photos and commentary up in the next few days. Last night was a rough night for putting the boy to bed, and by the time he actually fell asleep, I need the catharsis of smashing zombies in Dead Island.


Airbrushing White Helmets

I managed to find the time to start on my airbrushed Sternguard experiment. I'd cleaned and mounted the heads for five models earlier, so on Tuesday afternoon I primed and painted those five heads.
I primed in black, and then applied a full coat of Reaper Master Series 'Rainy Grey' (essentially the equivalent of Codex Grey). I then applied a coat of MSP Ghost White at about a 30 degree angle. It covered nicely, but didn't leave much grey behind at that angle. Just a bit under the bottom lip of the helmets. I then applied Pure White at about a 60 degree angle.
I had a really tough time telling whether the paint was covering properly due to the lack of contrast between the Ghost White and the Pure White. Ghost White is a slightly blue-tinted white, but it's not starkly blue against pure white. So, I kept spraying pure white over and over. I kept seeing small grey splotches under the white, and in hindsight, i think that was because I'd used the same water to thin the white and grey as I'd used to thin primer and olive green. Dummy mistake!

Here's how things turned out:

The completed model is my only existing Sternguard model, and I painted him quite a while ago. I think he was the first model I ever painted with white parts, at least in my Ultramarine army. I'd painted white on other types of models in the past.
You'll probably notice that I used blue as a shade color for the white. It's a super-thinned coat of MSP Ultramarine Highlight, the same color as his armor. It provides a nice bit of contrast and delineation of the white armor parts.
As for the color difference between the two sprayed helmets, I blame that on my lighting. I think my lights were angled a little too far to the left, and that right-side helmet got left partially in shadow, or at least not in the direct lighting path.

I'm not sure how I feel about the new method. On one hand, the white is nice and smooth. On the other, it lacks any real contrast. While the completed, old model isn't perfect, it at least has definition. However, the delineation between the white and blue is a little too stark, and it ends up looking a bit cartoony.
One big hurdle I'm facing is applying white to other parts of the models. My Terminators all have white chest eagles, and I was thinking of doing the same for my Sternguard. I'm not sure details like aquila wings and Crux Terminatus skulls will look right without that deep contrast.
I feel I have a handful of options going forward:

1) Use the helmets as they are. Maybe they'll perk up a little when I paint the targeters, grilles, and lenses.
2) Apply my existing blue glaze method to the helmets as they are, then respray with Pure White. This might help the model more closely match my old style.
3) Apply my existing blue glaze method, and then reapply Pure White with a brush for better control and to make sure I don't "erase" the blue with the sprayed white.
4) Strip these heads, start over, and go for a black primer, then blue, then white. This might allow more blue to appear than simply glazing would.
5) Go back to my hand painting method, and only airbrush the blue armor parts of the model.

At this point I really have no idea which direction to go in.


Review: Forgeworld Dreadnought Dreadfire Close Combat Arm

I'm constantly scouring eBay for out of production models, cheap lots I can break up to turn a profit, etc. I haven't been wheeling and dealing much of late, but I still keep a weathered eye on the Space marine category. I like to keep current on what parts are popular, what sells well, and the going rate for stuff. Plus, I'm hoping that one day I'll actually win an auction for the UK White Dwarf Subscription Marine model.
Anyhow, I've been seeing a lot of Forgeworld models listed, and many of them are Russian, Greek, or Chinese knockoffs. Someone in those countries buys one copy of a FW set, makes a mold, and uses a terrible quality resin to duplicate the kit and sells them for half the FW price. If you see a listing from Hong Kong, Moscow, or The Tver Region (Russia), skip the listing. It's a knockoff, and the pieces arrive  reeking of chemicals and who knows what other toxic substances.
When in doubt, also check the seller's feedback history. You can see a list of every auction they've sold in the last several months. If the person sells the same kit over and over, they're either a recaster or a reseller. Recaster is more likely, as reselling FW stuff on eBay is a losing proposition, monetarily. You can't recoup the investment reliably.
Now that my rant is over...

On an impulse I threw a bid down on an actual FW piece from a US seller. I have a soft spot for Dreads, and have been slowly accumulating my way to a full six in my collection. I have four built an painted, with two more in boxes.
The opening bid was reasonable, so I figured if I won, neat, if not, no big loss.
Turns out, I won the auction for a nice price, and the seller shipped the arm straight away. The only other Dread arm I've ever owned is the Mortis Lascannon, also from an eBay auction (though that one was a bitz lot and I wasn't specifically after the arm). I wasn't overly impressed with the quality of the cast, and it's been rotting in my bitz box for a while now.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when the Dreadfire arm showed up. Here's a shot of all the parts:

I was surprised at how many pieces this thing came in. 9 parts in total, for one Dread arm (though the small canister in the upper left actually goes under the chassis of the MkIV FW Dreads).
The casting quality was good, with lots of sharp detail. It's a simple piece, but the rivets and well-formed flamer nozzles really make the piece.
These arms are designed to go on the Bre'arth Ashmantle Slamanders Venerable Dreadnought, as you can see from the shoulder plate:

Thankfully, the lettering can be easily filled in with a couple thin applications of Liquid Greenstuff.
There are a few mold lines here and there, but nothing I can't handle. The one exception is the huge fault line in the elbow joint plate:

I'm not entirely sure how I'll fix that one, since it's recessed inside the plate, and it would be tough to get a file or sand paper in there without obliterating the trim details.
My only other concern is how I'll magnetize this puppy. I magnetize all of the arms for every Dread I own with D52-N52 disc magnets from K&J Magnetics. They're strong enough to hold even the old, metal Dread arms on without drooping.
The concern comes from the thin resin that makes up the back of the shoulder joint:

That hole isn't quite 1/8" diameter, so when I drill for the magnet, I may end up breaking through that small perimeter at the bottom. I'll have to drill slowly, and possibly recreate the bottom of the mount with plasticard and Brown Stuff.
One other issue I've had with Forgeworld parts in the past is scale. Red Scorpions MkIV helmets are pitifully small next to GW plastic helmets, rendering them almost unusable. Thankfully, Dread arms don't seem to be too far off. The arm, loosely fitted together, next to one of the plastic Dread arms:

Pretty close. I can even make it look larger by using the four points of articulation (shoulder, elbow, mid-arm, fist) available. In the end, this will just represent a standard Dread Close Combat Weapon with Heavy Flamer. I don't have Ashmantle's rules, so have no clue what the Dreadfire arm is supposed to do.

All in all, a solid purchase. The detail of the piece is impressive, as is the available articulation. It might be enough to entice me to buy more of the Dread arms from FW to stand in for plastics.


Superstition and Wargaming

I've always found superstition to be fascinating. Small little rituals or patterns people use to reinforce a particular belief or influence an outcome.
I first ran into superstitions when playing sports. Athletes might have very specific pregame rituals, "lucky" objects, etc. I, for example, have a ton of little things I do before and during every game. I put my gear on left side first (left skate, right skate, left pad, right pad, trapper, blocker, etc), and remove it in the same manner. Some goalies will tap the goal posts and crossbar in a particular pattern or manner before each period. I respond to a referee's 'ready' signal with the same little stick salute every period. After I tore up my knee in September of this year, I racked my brain for any little detail or procedure I might have forgotten that led to the injury.
Some of my rituals fade in and out. I'll wear the same Under Armor (washed between games) until we lose a game, and then I rotate to another set. For a while, I was winning and playing well whenever I stopped at a particular convenience store and bought a 20 ounce lemon-lime Gatorade and a regular Snickers bar (not almond, double chocolate, or king-size).

Such small displays extend into my wargaming. On the Friday night before a tournament, I drag out my gallon Ziploc bag filled with dice. I spill them out onto the floor or countertop, and sort them by color and set. I roll all of the dice of a given type at once, and pick out any sixes. Those go into a smaller bag that goes to the event with me. I never use the same dice as I used in the last tourney, except my large, white scatter die and my GW dice block.
There is absolutely no actual correlation between this ritual and my dice performance at the table, but I still do this each and every pre-tournament Friday.
I've met other players with more direct, at-the-table superstitions. Some players refer to use the word "missile" at the table, and use "rocket" or "frag and krak" instead. They claim saying the word "miss" before a roll causes the shot to...miss. I personally cannot begin a game until my army is ranked up neatly on my tray or display board. One does not go into battle with his troops in disarray!

How do you feel about game rituals and superstitions? Do you have any of your own, or are they simply a sign of a mental illness like OCD?


Hobbyless Holiday

I hope the holiday treated all of you (well, the Americans, at least) well. Mine was ok, between long drives and a fussy, sick baby boy. Sleep is for the weak, apparently.

I wasn't able to squeeze in any hobbying over the long weekend, since I was away for Thursday and Friday, exhausted on Saturday, and my plans to airbrush on Sunday were altered when I realized I needed my skates sharpened for a hockey game that night. Oh well. Maybe Tuesday night instead.

I did finish reading Dan Abnett's Malleus over the break, and I have moved on to Hereticus. Malleus was good, but had a really floppy ending. The story is action packed and intriguing, but I felt like the last chapter and epilogue were completely phoned in. Eisenhorn spends the entire book (like 3-5 years of time) tracking down the Big Bad, only to defeat and resolve the conflict in six pages. I've often wondered at the editing processes of novel writers, and this notion that it's a lot like writing a movie or TV show. Half of what you intended gets left on the cutting room floor. I suspect there was a conversation that involved the editors saying "Great book, Dan, but it's 75 pages too long. Shorten the ending, please."

The more I read of the trilogy, the more I'm tempted to add a small Allies contingent to my army. I'd really like to add a single Inquisitor model and a small unit of Kasrkin models to my collection. I love the Kasrkin, both in models and in fluff.
Of course, I'm not sure how to implement that addition. I thought of three different options:

1) Run them out of Codex: Grey Knights. Inquisitor as HQ, Kasrkin as Henchmen Elites. This would require em to also run a Troops slot. I'd probably go for a 5-man Strike Squad, because Terminators are too pricey points-wise, and the Strike Squad brings Warp Quake to the board. Of course, I'd probably also want at least one transport, either for the Strike Squad or the Inquisitor. Another benefit here is that I can take a lot fewer Kasrkin models as Henchmen Warriors. The other options below require a full 10.
I flatly refuse to run Coteaz to make the Kasrkin Troops. it just doesn't fit with the reason I wanted to run them in the first place! I don't want big, in-game benefits for these guys. I just want the cool models on the board.

2) Run them out of Codex: IG. Inquisitor model is a Primaris Psyker, and the Kasrkin are IG Vets with lasguns. It's ok, but I'm not sold on the Primaris part. Yes, he brings Divination to the board, but again, I'm not in this for game benefits. Again, I'd probably need a transport.

3) Run them out of Codex: IG. Inquisitor model is a Commissar Lord, and the Kasrkin are IG Vets again. Less in-game benefit, and more wargear options for the HQ (though not as many as an actual Inquisitor).

I really can't decide which I like, though I like some aspect of them all. The IG options would also grant me access to a Valkyrie, which I've wanted to try painting since the final scene in THQ's Space Marine game. The Inquisitor shows up in a black-painted Valkyrie with =I= symbols on the wings. Very cool.

What would you do?


Bored and Apathetic

In the middle of last week I had drafted up a post going over a variety of things I could do to improve my overall army painting scores. I got about halfway done (2 pages, or thereabouts) when I let out a big sigh and scrapped the whole thing.
After the flurry of activity in which I engaged to prepare for the Standoff, I'm finding myself completely apathetic to painting and the game in general. The only thing I've done since then is put half a coat of primer on a plasma cannon Marine, throw a quick coat of Shadowed Steel on a magnetized multimelta for an attack bike, and clean and mount 5 helmeted heads for an airbrushing experiment that may eventually turn into a unit of Sternguard.
I guess I'm just sort of jammed up right now. I have the plasma cannon Marine nearly ready for paint, another attack bike waiting for primer, a comms relay waiting for primer, and the five heads as well. My main priority is the airbrush experiment, so I'm waiting to prime those with the airbrush, at which time I'll likely hit the rest of the stuff as well.
The problem with the airbrush is time. It takes time to set up the brush, mix/thin my paint/primer, and then clean up. The spraying is the easiest and fastest part!
So, when I do have motivation to work on something, I don't have the time available for lengthy setup. When I do have some time, I don't have the motivation to bother. Quite the cycle, but one that happens almost every time I do a big ramp-up for an event. It's sort of like climbing a mountain under a time constraint, and then coasting down the opposite slope.

The next "event" on the horizon is my FLGS's December monthly tourney. It's 1500 points and billed as a charity event. Bring canned goods or peanut butter to donate, and you can buy one-time bonuses based on your donation total. Here's the list of buyables:
  • Dice re-roll:    1 can
  • Auto hit on a deviation dice:   Peanut Butter
  • Redeploy a unit after initial set up:     5 cans
  • Unit/Model  gains Skyfire for the turn:   Peanut Butter
  • Unit/Model Snap fires on 5+ for the turn:    2 cans
  • Unit/Model Snap fires on 4+ for the turn:    5 cans
  • Deny the witch on 5+:    2 cans
  • Auto Pass a look Out Sir:   2 cans
  • Model/Unit gains eternal warrior for the turn:   5 cans
  • Model/Unit attacks gain instant death for the turn:  Peanut Butter
  • Model/Unit Attacks gain +1 Str for the turn:    5 cans
  • Model/Unit Attacks gain Rending for the turn:  2 cans
  • Model/Unit gains fleet for the turn:   2 cans
Some silly stuff, and some really good stuff. All in the name of charity for one of the local food banks. Yes, some folks are inwardly groaning about the prospect of Daemon armies with a flat of peanut butter and unerring scatters for Flamers, but who cares? That's like $30+ donated to a good cause. The auto-hit is also being drooled over by players with Manticores and Deathstrikes.
There are a lot of neat toys here, and hopefully that will entice folks to bring a lot of stuff to donate.

I'm not sure what I would bring for a list to this one. I drafted up a few lists before the change to charity format, but I think I'll revise now to make the list a little more goofy and fun. Do I run something outlandishly top-heavy, like a 10-Terminator list? Something far too elite and small, like Deathwing? Marines are hard to make silly!
What would you bring to an event like this?


Standoff After-Action Report

The dust has settled, and I've had some time to rest and reflect on my attendance at the Standish Standoff 2 on Saturday.

I woke up at a typical 6am for the day as I'd been up til 10pm Friday night finishing off my final two models for my army. I packed up my gear and hit the road around 8am. Stopped for a coffee and a pastry, and arrived at the shop just before 9am.

My first task was to unpack and get my marines ranked up on my display board. One thing i find aweseom is that whenever I run my Biker Army, I typically get a couple "Man, that's a LOT of bikes!" comments by passers-by. Saturday was no exception. I got at least two comments on the biker volume, lol.
Here's the list I played:

Captain on Bike (artificer armor, relic blade)
Bike Command Squad (Champion, Banner Bearer, Apothecary, Storm Shield Vet, Power Axe Vet)
Techmarine on Bike
Bikes One (5 bikes, 2 flamers, combiflamer, meltabombs, heavy bolter attack bike)
Bikes Two (6 bikes, 2 meltaguns, combimelta, meltabombs)
Bikes Three (6 bikes, 2 plasmaguns, plasma pistol, meltabombs)
Attack Bike Squadron (3 bikes, multimeltas)
Landspeeder Squadron (2 Typhoons with heavy bolters)
Assault Squad (10 strong, 2 plasma pistols, sergeant with 2 plasma pistols)

It's my standard Go Fast syle list. I've got running fluff for the army that I add to every time I run it in a GT-style setting.

I ended up with a 36/40 for painting, which was good enough for 6th of 32 (three points behind 1st).

My first game was against a Necron army. I've known the player for a while now, as he ispart of a great club down in Massachusetts. It was a throwback style Necron Phalanx list, with some toys thrown in, like a Tomb Stalker. We were playing Special Ops. I selected Blitzkrieg as my primary, Battlefield Cnotrol as Secondary, and Domination as Tertiary.
The Necrons deployed with obscured LOS behind a big building, in a solid block. I was spread across my zone, and maneuvered myself to execute a textbook pincer movement. I ended up winning by jamming up the Necron movement in the center of the baord, preventing them from taking the central objective as their primary goal. I had 5 units in the Necron Zone as a result of my wide flanking maneuver. We tied on secondary (I didn't hold a majority of quarters) and tertiary (same KPs).

Game two was against a heavily converted/self-built/sculpted Chaos Daemons army run by another great player from the same club. We played Vengeance.
I'm not a huge fan of the mission format, but you play what you play. I know how to deploy versus Daemons pretty well, and filled my deployment zne with my models, and then pressed forward a bit during Turn One.
There were just too many monsters in the Daemon army for me to take down, though my opponent's save rolls were crazy good. I'd sink 4-5 wounds on a monster, and he'd save all but one. I'd then remond him about his Feel No Pain roll, and he'd make that too. That happened three times!
I ended up losing primary, winning secondary (due to a sacrificial Sergeant challenge keeping me on an objective on the final turn), and splitting tertiary.
I was near top-of-the-middle after the game.

Game Three was against a Blood Angels/Guard force. Very much a 5th Edition list with lots of Razorbacks and Predators and two Flyers (Storm Raven and Vendetta). We played Battlefield Superiorty.
I originally had first turn, but the initiative was seized, and I lost a couple random models and my Predator to a Manticore shot on the first turn. Halfmy heavy guns were gone in one shot. Damn.
I retaliated by running my Captain, Command, and Techmarine right up the gut. Bikers can murder transports handily these days with krak grenades. An IG Chimera went up in smoke from the Captain's blade and a random krak grenade or two.
The game ground on and on, with me losing bikes a few at a time, and then assaulting transports with grenades over and over. I had the game with 17 minutes left, but we determined that because we had both had so few models left, we could fit in another turn. That final turn saw the arrival of the enemy Storm Raven carying a small Troops squad and a Dread. The troops landed fine, but the Dread mishapped back into Ongoing Reserve (scattered back onto the Raven when dropping out via Skies of Blood). That swung the primary to my opponent, but tied the secondary and tertiary.
Good, close game that saw me make a crazy number of Jink saves when it mattered!

I ended the day in 16th for raw Battle Points, which is exactly what I expected to do.
I took second place for the pub quiz with a 6 (I think that was 12 correct answers?).
I'd designed my list to be solid on composition, and had an 80 there (-5 points for the third Fast slot).

All told, I ended up in second place for People's Champion (soft scores only) by 2.5 points. The irony was that the winner was my second round opponent, who'd gotten my Favorite Opponent vote for another 5 points. Damn him for being so cool! lol.
I landed at 7th place of 32 for Overall. Not too bad!

Overall, it was a great day. My knee held up to standing for the whole day, which was nice.
My army performed as I thought it would, being very good against some opponents and less useful against others. But for a few rolls here and there and things might have gone more in my favor than they already did.

The one, glaring lesson I took from the day is that I need to improve my painting again. I'm a "clean and smooth" painter. My Ultramarines are always sharp, but I don't do blended highlights, weathering, etc. Clean and smooth doesn't stack up against other folks' styles and armies.
I need more.

To that end, I am either going to attempt to start painting using zenithal highlighting and my airbrush, or start painting another Chapter. I keep gravitating toward Howling Griffons for some reason. I showed my wife the lineup of Marine schemes in the last few pages of How To Paint Space Marines and she liked the look of the Dark Sons. I also thought about doing Subjugators in the past, but if I change, I'm going with a quarter or halved scheme to up the challenge value of painting.


Just Over 24 Hours

Yes, in just over 24 hours I'll be stepping into the FLGS for the second annual Standish Standoff. 32 player 40K event. 1850 points, composition rubric, and painting competitions.
I've been working on models to shore up my army for a while now, and spent another 3 hours on them last night. I need to put in a couple more hours this evening, and then I'll be ready.
I've spent all my free time painting, so beyond a general breakdown of what armies will be present (pretty much one of almost every conceivable combination of core and allies), I have no clue what I'll be facing. I haven't played all that many games of 6th Edition, either.

All I really care about for the day is getting in three enjoyable, non-contentious games. Oh, and the pub quiz. Pub quizzes are my favorite extracurricular at these events, because I really like to see how my fluff knowledge stacks up againt the test.

I'll have short batreps availabel next week for your reading pleasure. I don't do turn-by-turn batreps anymore, because I can rarely remember the turn-by-turn of games more than an hour after playing them. I focus on general tactics and specific situational outcomes. I find that more useful than the turn-by-turn rundown, because the specific turn-by-turn will never be repeated by anyone, ever.

Wish me luck in hammering out the rest of these last two models before tomorrow!


Real Wargamer?

I found this while hopping blogrolls this morning, and found myself over at Frontline Gamer. It's apparently a list of qualifications to be a "real" wargamer. Let's see how I do, shall we?

* Spent at least £500 on figures / tanks - and you get extra kudos for every £500 you've spent
What is that, about $750 bucks? Yeah, I've got that one covered. I dont' have a true calculation on what I've spent, and I think it would be depressing to attempt to total it up.

* Pricked your finger or thumb on a pike block - several times
Oddly enough, I've never cut or damaged myself while modelling. I'm careful and have pretty good dexterity.

* Tried at least 10 different rule sets and vowed never to play half of them ever againNope. I've tried 40K, WHFB, and Reaper's Warlord system. I only quit on WHFB and Warlord (and Warlord only because no one plays it). I played Star Wars minis and Heroclix for a while, but I'm not sure those count.

* Bought an army off EBaySort of. I've bought a couple of discarded collections that I rolled into my army, but never an entire complete army.

* Sold an army on EBay
Nope. I've sold bitz and single models here and there, but not a whole army. The closest I can claim is selling my fledgling Sisters of Battle collection on Bartertown. It was hardly an army though.

* Spent months painting an army - then used it in anger once
Hell no. I'm a one-army kinda guy. I've been building for four plus years, and playing for the same.

* Tried several different periods and genres
See above. Just sci-fi and fantasy for me, and since I now HATE fantasy, just sci-fi.

* Dropped a box of figures on the floor from a great height
No. Who in their right mind stores their models in a box?

* Lost a battle on the last throw of the dice
Sure, plenty of times. But the problem is that 40K now ends games on a die roll, so that applies to almost EVERY game of 40K where it's not a lopsided win/loss.

* Made at least one enemy for life
No comment!

* Had a proper, stand up argument over a wargamers table
I don't have time to shout at folks over toy soldier games any more. I'm not sure I ever did.

* Thrown a dice across a room
In exasperation, yes. In anger, no. I've "banished" a few dice from time to time. Just a casual toss over the shoulder to be rid of the saboteur in my camp.

* Rebased an army for a different rule set

* Inflicted a whopping defeat on an opponent
I've rolled a couple people, but mostly newbies. Close games are FAR more fun than a stomping.

* Suffered an embarrassing defeat due to a stupid tactical decision
I don't get embarrassed when I lose. I might do a little headsmack, but I don't lament losses.

* Joined a wargamers club

* Bought a ton of lead that remains unpainted
Oh yes, I have boxes and shelves full of unpainted items that I've had for a couple years now.

* Been to a wargamers show
Nope. Not exactly sure what that is. A convention? Still no.

* Have more dice than is logical or necessary to own - and have used most of them
No such thing as too many dice. I have my GW cube, a retired Chessex cube, and a gallon zipper bag half-filled with other dice. I have a little ritual I use for selecting dice the night before a tourney. That's NOT insane. Not at all. My wife doesn't make faces at me as I roll dice across the counter while she's cooking dinner. Never.

* Have taken boxes of troops down to a club just to show them off to your matesJust one box. My first trip to my FLGS was actually taken in order to scope out the place and show off my first painted Tactical Squad to someone besides my wife.

So, by this list I'm not a proper wargamer. Bummer. I think I'll keep painting and playing though.


Sweat the Small Stuff

In looking back over some of my past work and comparing it to my more recent work, I realized just how crucially important small details on your models are. It's the tiny details that really make a model stand out from its peers.
Let's look at some of my past Space Marine Bikes as examples, and then compare them to my most recent work.

Here's my Biker Apothecary:

He's "ok, not great." He uses my old gold painting method, which was very flat, and some subdued edge highlights. The white is ok, and I'm sort of proud of the fact that the liquid levels in the narthecium match the gravity of the model. The purity seals lack depth in the red. Keep an eye on that box magazine for the bolters, as well...

Here's the first biker I ever painted:

Again, gold is super flat, highlights are thin and pale. The metals are dirty and lack any sort of depth.

My biker Captain model:

More of the same problems. That tarp on the back is just terrible. The bolters on his bike aren't even squared to the front. They point downward!

Finally, my first Attack Bike:

Same as the other bikes, but look closely at the tire on the sidecar. Nice mold line, man! Sheesh!

Now compare those to my recent Attack Bike:

Highlights are brighter and more crisp, the gold has actual levels and depth, as do the metal parts. Remember the box magazine? I actually painted the exposed rounds! Go back and look at all the older bikes. Does the contrast of the loaded brass look better or worse than the all-silver box mags?
I don't have a photo to help illustrate this one, but on the recent attack bike I painted all of the console and handlebar buttons one color, red. I attempted some lens effects on them, and they look pretty good. On all my old bikes, I painted each set of buttons a different color. Yellow, green, red, blue. The consoles look like a Christmas tree. No lens effects, just flat paint. When I first painted those old bikes, I figured the Marines would want different colors for what each button does. The effect is just too busy. It doesn't provide contrast or crispness, it creates visual confusion. Besides, Marines are psycho-indoctrinated and battle hardened. They don't need multicolored buttons!

I'm rapidly learning to take my time and examine the small details of my models, like exposed brass casings in a magazine or the purpose of using colors on different objects. I'd have to say it improves the end result quite a bit. Would you agree? Do you have any small details you always make sure to paint? Any favorite little bits to touch with paint?


How I Prime Models

Want to know a secret?
I can't run a spray can to save my life.
Seriously. Every time I've ever tried to use spray can primer on a non-terrain model, I've screwed it up. Too much primer, gritty primer, missed spots. Spray cans and I just do not get along. As a result, I switched to brush-on primer years ago. At first I used Reaper's Brush-On Primer in white, but was clued in to the following method by someone whose name I cannot remember. Props and credit to that guy, whoever he was.

The recipe hinges on two main components: black craft paint and glass and tile medium.

I use Delta Ceramcoat black craft paint, as I've found it to be the best there is for craft paint. You can use whatever you like. The key is the FolkArt Glass and Tile Medium. This stuff is used to allow crafters to paint on smooth glass and glazed tiles. It gives the craft paint some "tooth." That's basically the attribute that allows paint to stick to a primer.
This stuff became hard to find in my local craft shops a while ago, so I bought a handful of bottle online one day when I found a supplier that carried it. If you attempt to find some for yourself, try the craft paint additives at your local Michael's, AC Moore, or JoAnn Fabric.
Pour out a 50/50 mix of paint to medium. I use an old blister pack for all my priming mixes.

Mix well with a few drops of water. Maybe a 25/75 water/primer ratio. Here are the pieces I'm priming today (my next attack bike, its driver, and a couple Rhino hatches):

Use a crappy old brush and start applying the thinned mix to your model. You have to find a nice balance between too thin and too thick, and too much and not enough. It takes some experimenting to get used to.

Keep going until the model is covered. Make sure to avoid any small air bubbles. If you get any, pop them with a hobby knife or something sharp.

He looks like hell right now, but set the model aside for a couple hours to fully dry. Be patient. If you try to paint or add another coat before the first is dry, you'll tear the 'skin' of the primer and it'll look like crap. Should you do so, use a damp brush to wick away any clumps and then let it redry before trying again. Once the model is fully dry, the paint and medium cause it to 'shrink' to the model's contours.

Some larger, flatter areas might not have as much primer on them. If so, apply another thin coat.

The hole in this guy's back is for a pin for his back pack. These older models didn't have large enough torsos to allow the backpack to attach properly when the shoulder pads are in this position. The pin reinforces the connection between pack and nub.
Once everything is completely dry, you can start painting!


Finished Attack Bike

Remember that attack bike I've been going on about in my last few posts? It's done!

Iron Halo base, magnetized heavy weapon, metal sidecar and gunner. Simple stuff. That's Ultramarine brass etch on the front wheel well, and the sidecar. The squadron number was a major pain to paint. Something about trying to paint a perfect circle eludes me, even if it's a premade brass circle.
Just one more of these to go for my Standoff army.


What's Missing?

From time to time, I get stuck on what unit I should add to my army/collection next. I have a pretty diverse collection already, as can be seen in my inaugural post pic. I focus heavily on bikers and tactical Marines, with a lot of different supporting units.
Currently, I'm slaving away on a pair of additional attack bikes and an Assault Marine sergeant for use in the upcoming Standish Standoff. The Standoff is my FLGS's annual "big show" for 40K. 32 player slots, painting competition, and a $30 buy-in. I TO'd last year's event, and it was a great event.
Our community has refined the event over the last year, so this one should be just as good, if not better.

Anyhow, back to my army selection overall...

Right now I'm focusing heavily on bikes, as that is sort of my area of expertise. I've been running bike lists for a few years now, and am the local "expert" on their use. I'm trying to nail down their usage in 6th Edition, and can only do that by actually fielding them. I've got enough bikes to field three significant Troops slots, a Command Squad, and a Captain. The two additional Attack Bikes I'll be capping off soon will bring my total to four.
Alongside the bikes, I like to shuffle through my supporting units, though I strongly prefer my Fast Attack slots: Landspeeders, Attack Bikes, Assault Marines. I'll either take a Predator in my heavy slot, or load up on templates via Whirlwinds and a Thunderfire Cannon. I've got a jump pack Librarian who will sometimes make an appearance alongside the Assault Marines, but not often. I don't think I've used him in 6th Edition yet.
Bikes are largely a small arms and special weapons force that operates at the 12-24" range band. You can get plenty of melta/plasma/flamers into a bike list, but you'll have a tough time loading up on long-range weaponry, melee capability, and small arms wounds that "stick." Yes, thinned boltguns are accurate as hell, but they lose half their hits when rolling to wound.

With those things in mind, I'm leaning toward one of these options, which are based on models and parts I already have in my to-build/paint collection:
  • A new landspeeder. I magnetize all my vehicle models, so this would be fully swappable to various armaments. Problem is, it would either have to eat a Fast slot, or boost my existing two-strong Landspeeder Squadron. Landspeeders are even more fragile in 6th than they were in 5th, and it's not a problem for a unit to blast all three out of the sky in a single go. 
  • Redo my Jump Librarian. I built my current Jump Librarian from a mish-mash of parts, and scratchbuilt his staff.
    (WIP photo, Photobucket ate my finished one)

    His pose is a tad wonky, and his armament is sub-optimal these days. I'd like to remake him using more modern parts, a better pose, and maybe a sword instead of a staff.
  • Scout Bikers. Another Fast slot, but one that goes with the rest of my army. I have the parts to make about seven or so of these guys, though only three are the new all-plastic kit. Four or so are the old, metal kit. These guys might bring another dimension to mt biker army, as they can Scout and Outflank and whatnot.
  • Sternguard. This breaks from the biker/fast mold, and goes toward something I'm desperate for: reliable wounds. Hellfire rounds are HUGE now, as everyone and their brother is piling on Biomancy psykers with Iron Arm, Nurgle units, and what have you. Twin-linked bolters just don't cut it in those areas. I'd likely start with a small, 5-man unit to test the waters. Of course, a unit that small will likely end up as fodder. I'm also torn on what models to use for these. I have a ton of metal Veteran Marines of various sorts that would fit the bill, but my initial vision for Sternguard involves every member being in Mk8 armor with a targeter helmet, box-magazine bolter, and loads of gear and grenades.
  • Biker Chaplain or Librarian. These would be force multipliers for my Command Squad, most likely. Very low on the priority list, honestly.
What do you folks think?


How I Base Models

Every model in my army is based nearly identically. They all stand on a display board that is also based in the same manner. Here's how I base my models, as well as a brief review of the resin base I used.

The base was purchased from Iron Halo. It is their Generic Round Pill 65x90mm. They're reasonably priced, and fit attack bikes perfectly. I've found that other companies attack bike bases are either too large or too small. These fit beautifully and leave some room for basing decoration.
Iron Halo is a small family operation in New Zealand.

The bases come pretty standard from the shop.

Very smooth, and a minimum of air bubbles. The air bubbles that were present were pinprick small, and can be safely painted or glued over.
As always with resin, be sure to wash the bases in cool, soapy water before attempting to use them. I didn't notice any mold release agent on the bases, but better to clean them up just in case.
After the bases are clean and dry, I set an attack bike on the blank base and sketch carefully around the tires with a colored pencil. You can use a regular pencil, marker, or whatever you prefer. You're just getting the general location of the tires down.
I then cut small squares of plasticard and glue them to the center of each tire area on the base. This makes sure the bike doesn't look like it's sinking into the sand. A valuable tip from From the Warp (in the blogroll, to the right).
I also draw around the perimeter of the open spaces available for basing. This ensures i don't glue rocks or bitz under the body of the bike, which is both pointless and can prevent the bike from being glued to the base.

The next step is to grab a bottle of white glue, a cheap brush, and your base.

Pour out a good amount of white glue onto a smooth, disposable surface. I like to use the inside of a blister pack. Load the brush with a bit of water, and thin the glue ever so slightly. Then start slathering it onto the base, being sure not to drown nay of your detail bitz.

You then want sand. I have a pound of craft sand that I got for a dollar at the craft store several years ago. It's a lifetime supply. One pound will last forever. I then filled a plastic squeeze bottle with sand. It's a cheap bottle from the candy making section.

Pour the sand liberally over the base, making sure to cover every bit of glue.

Let this sit overnight. Doing so ensures the glue is completely dried before you start working with paint. After your overnight wait, you can pick the base up and knock off all the loose sand. Tap the underside with your fingers for a while to get any loose grains off the base. Pour the sand back into your bottle.

You'll invariably have some grains of sand glued to detail pieces and the lip of the base. Gently pick them away using the tip of a hobby knife, a toothpick, or other pointed object. For the base lip, just use your thumbnail to peel away any bonded sand. Be careful not to get too close to the base top, or you'll have small gaps at the edge. If you have good eyes, you can spot such a spot at the leftmost edge of the base above.
Now to start painting.
I first apply a very liberal coat of Reaper Master Series Muddy Brown.

I do mean liberal. You need to cover every grain of sand to make sure it tints to the correct color and hides the base from showing through. While you're at it, go ahead and cover the detail bits as well. it makes them easier to paint in the following steps.
Let this dry for a few hours. Do not attempt any further steps until this coat is 100% dry, otherwise the glue will not have reset (the thinned paint softens it temporarily) and it will pull off when you drybrush.
Once the paint is dry and the glue recured, I apply a heavy drybrushing of RMS Leather Brown.

Follow that up with a lighter drybrush of RMS Amber Gold. (Autolevels altered the following photo a tad too much).

Paint your detail bits. I used RMS Shadowed Stone, Stone Grey, Weathered Stone, and Leather White for my rocks; Stained Ivory, Yellowed Bone, and Creamy Ivory for the skull. The chainsword was done with black and silver and GW washes.
Paint the base rim your desired color (I always use black craft paint), and seal the base. After sealing, apply any static grass.
The result:

A nice, neat base.


Quick Tip: Acetone

I just wanted to share a quick tip for refurbishing old models: acetone.
When I first started in the hobby, I was a poor waiter struggling to pay my phone bill, let alone buy models. As a result, I was turned on to eBay and secondhand models. I quickly learned how to remove paint and recover abused models, all for a fraction of the cost of new stuff. I no longer buy used models (I only buy bitz online, and all my new kits from the FLGS), but I haven't lost those salvage skills.
One trick I learned was the use of acetone. Any hardware store employee will tell you that acetone is a solvent and used for thinning paint or removing adhesives and glues. Any Poison Control Center employee will tell you it's perfect for removing superglue from one's fingers.

I have a love affair with metal models, and hoarded a ton of metal jump packs, seen here:

I stripped the paint off of most of these using a process involving Simple Green followed by overn cleaner. I'll cover that process in a later post. The problem with those two methods, though, is that they don't remove glue, enamels, or varnishes.
As you can see in the photo, some of these packs have significant amounts of old superglue, plastic, and general crud built up in the seams. The pack in the far upper left actually has part of a plastic torso stuck to it from when I ripped it off the unsalvageable Assault Marine. There's a ring of Testor's enamel paint around it, and a whole lot of superglue.
Enter the acetone!

Get yourself a small glass jar and a can of pure acetone. Don't waste your time with nail polish remover. It's actually cheaper by volume to go to the hardware store and get a small can of pure acetone.

Also, save yourself a disaster and do not use plastic jars, cups, or containers for this. Acetone eats most plastics almost on contact.
Fill the jar with your models and bitz, and pour in enough acetone to cover them all. Put the lid on tight and set the jar someplace no one will disturb it overnight.

Come back in the morning and open the jar. Pull out the pieces and rinse them off under warm water. All of the superglue and paint should have dissolved away, leaving you with fresh metal parts.

The jump packs are all now squeaky clean and ready for use by my Marines!
I wanted to show you what happened to the plug of plastic on the previously highlighted pack but as I was pulling it out of the jar, I dropped it down the sink. Oops! Acetone essentially reduces polystyrene (the plastic our models are made of) to the consistency of Silly Putty.
Never, EVER attempt to remove paint from plastic or resin models with acetone of any sort!


How I Mount Models for Painting

Everyone has a different method to their painting process. Some folks like to paint on the sprue, paint bitz before assembly, after assembly, partial assembly, etc etc. I've developed a process of my own, and I'll be sharing the bulk of it with you over the next couple weeks' worth of posts.

The first step I take is assembling models. I tend to assemble as much of the model as I can before priming and painting. For basic line troopers and such, I'll assemble everything but the backpack, and leave some of the obscured areas basic primer or shade coat colors. You can't see behind the bolter held tightly to the chest, so leaving chest armor in your primer or base coat colors typically won't sink your quality of painting.

After assembly, I mount my models for ease of handling. For this example, I'm working with a couple tank hatches and a pair of Black Reach Terminator storm bolter arms:

The hatches are fiddly to handle while painting, unless you have long fingernails or something. Normally, I would assemble the storm bolter arms to bodies before painting, but these will be used in an upcoming segment or two, so I don't want them glued to a body.

I typically mount flat objects like tank hatches onto a bottle top using poster tack. The example in the link is blue, but mine is yellow. The stuff is great, as it's almost infinitely reusable. One package will last you a lifetime of modelling. Even when you get primer and paint on it, just knead it back into a ball, and the flecks of paint are broken up and mixed into the putty.

For the arms, you can simply jam toothpicks into the socket, or if the arm has no socket, use more poster tack and a bent paperclip to create a thin handle by which you can hold the arm or bit. I do this every time with backpacks.

For infantry, I drill a shallow hole in a foot and insert a short length of paperclip with a tiny dab of superglue. (The pictured model is a refurbished plasma cannoneer I'll get to painting some day.)

You then grip the length of paperclip in a Dremel tool or pin vise, or even a power drill. I use an old, burned out, battery-powered Dremel I use to use for modelling, but that no longer holds a charge. (The model here is a primed attack bike gunner for my next attack bike, you'll see shots of this in the near future).

Once you've completed painting, remove the pin from the vice or holding tool, and grab a pair of needle nose pliers. Gently hold the model in one hand, and use the pliers to twist the pin out of the hole. So long as you didn't use a ton of superglue or a really deep pin hole, it will loosen up and pull right out. You can even save that length of paperclip and use it to mount the next model.

What do you think? Do you use a similar method, or something completely different?
The next how-to session will focus on my primer creation and application methods.


Book Review: Xenos (No Spoilers)

I'm a pretty avid reader of Black Library fiction, being a fan of the 40K universe in addition to the game. I get a lot of my Black Library books from paperbackswap.com. That's where I got this copy of Dan Abnett's 'Xenos'.
The series was highly recommended by gamers at the FLGS, and I was running low on my backstock of novels. I decided to start reading the series, despite my love-hate feelings toward Inquisitors in general.

The story starts out in a gumshoe detective fashion, which I found to be quite good. I'd not really thought of Inquisitors as detectives, but more as warrior-psykers or covert spies. As the book goes on, you learn that the detetive vibe is because of Eisenhorn's personal style. There are several Inquisitor characters, each with their own methods and attitudes. You get to see some interesting play between the Inquisitors of the different schools, from extreme radical to fanatical puritan.

The book's pace is good, though there are a few points where it slows down for exposition and introspection. Thankfully, the pace stays brisk overall, whether there is an action scene or not.

The large majority of events in the book are believable within the fram of the 40K universe. Eisenhorn isn't a one-man army. It's important to note that the background details are of the older GW canon. Example: Deathwatch Marines are referred to as a Chapter, not an organization. There's no reference to the Marines being from individual Chapters at all, which is fine. It may even be possible that Abnett glossed over those details, or misrepresented them, because Eisenhorn simply doesn't know them. The book is written in first-person perspective, after all.
There is also a believable passage of time, versus character development. For example, the characters make a 30-week journey through the Warp on a ship. They spend their time constructively, and layman/amateur characters manage to evolve into capable skill users. Those are small details that make the story work.

My only gripe abut the book is the ending. The final climax is ended by a bit of a deus ex machina. I'm aware the book is the first part of a trilogy, but the heroes get off way too easy, with the Big Bad simply running off at the end though no actions of the main character. It's my one pet peeve in fiction writing. Solve your characters' problems through their own actions, authors! You don't end a story with a minor character saving the hero with a small act.

All in all, I'd give the book a solid A grade. The only thing keeping it from an A+ is the ending, and the fact that said ending is a lead-in to the sequel.
The entire trilogy is available from the Black Library as an omnibus now, as opposed to the three book format in which I acquired it.


Inaugural Post!

Ahhhh, the inaugural post of Thin Your Paint! Feels nice.
The first post of any blog should introduce the author, so here we go.

I'm known at my FLGS (Crossroad Games in Standish, ME) as Todd the Goalie, but online I go by TheRhino (or at Bolter and Chainsword as ShinyRhino). The history of the Rhino handle goes far back into the mists of time, before I started playing Warhammer 40K. It actually goes all the way back to Quake 2. I'm old, man. Old.

I'm a Space Marine player, through and through. You'll often see me pining to start a new army in my posts, but it may never happen. I started painting Ultramarines in...2008? Myabe 2007. Since then, I've amassed this:

That, Dear Reader, is four years of work. It's mighty tough to move on from four years of work comprising hundreds of man-hours. I'm still going strong on my Ultras, and the main content of this blog will be works in progress and projects involving my army.
I've won a couple painting awards in my time. Two "Best in Show" style awards in small GT-style events, and a couple individual model awards. Honestly, I'm still amazed I've won anything at all.

I'm not much of a competitive gamer. I've always played the units I like, in the lists I enjoy. That being said, the only time I really get to play the game is at the FLGS's monthly tournaments. You won't find a ton of army list ideas or power builds here on the blog. I'll opine about this option or that, and make some suggestions or such here and there.

One thing I'm semi-known for in my area is my love of Space Marine bikers. You probably spotted the large number of them in the picture above. I've loved the speed and style of Marine bikes since the first time I fielded them. I'm a fan of the "fast" army build, and take bikes and Assault Marines whenever I can (and when I'm not bored with them). I wrote a tactica article on Marine biker armies over at the Bolter and Chainsword that is referenced from time to time by posters there, but it's in dire need of an update for 6th Edition. You'll be seeing bits and pieces of that here on the blog, as well.

I should note that this blog is a result of moving my existing blog from the Bolter and Chainsword site. It was a good place to start, but I'd like to expand my readership and project base beyond the confines of the B&C. If you're curious about the content of that blog, you can find it here: BLOG.

I think that's a pretty good inaugural post, so I'll stop the rambling for the day. Expect an update on the attack bike project I've been working on in the next couple days!