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.