Where's the Violence? Where's the Blood Spray?

I've been reading upcoming 40K release rumors on the blogosphere lately (don't worry, it's not interfering with my painting), and they have me greatly concerned.
It's widely apparent that a re-re-re-release of Apocalypse is slated for July. Great, but no one really plays Apocalypse locally, though I'm sure there are many fans worldwide.
I'd bet that most of you have seen the new Lord of battles model coming out for Chaos in this release. Big robot guy welded to a Baneblade chassis. Meh. Neat idea, but not something I'd want to put on the table.
I'm really more concerned with the rumors for the next Space Marine codex. They'll finally be recutting the Tac Squad sprues, which is great. I'm all for additional detail, so long as it doesn't force me to assemble all my models in one specific way like the arm/weapon sets on the Grey Knights and Blood Angels (and some small parts of the Space Wolves) kits.
Then there are the rumblings about Marines getting a new "super walker" kit. Something larger than a Contemptor Dread. This bothers me greatly.
I was/am drawn to 40K because of its background and atmosphere. The crumbling, rotting Gothic feeling is appropriate to the universe. I like that humanity is on its last leg, with its ultimate fate poised on a razor's edge. I like the constant threat of Chaos, baroque Chaos Marines, twisted cultists. I like the jagged violence of Orks, lithe, dying grace of Eldar (Dark or otherwise). I like that technology has ground to a halt, with even the most mundane of machinery kept running on prayer and rote. I do not like Tau or their aesthetics, because they break so completely from the Gothic image.
Then I hear about the super walker, and I despair. I love the simplicity of power armor, and I love the idea of Dreadnoughts. Eternally entombed warriors who slumber in forced comas until they're activated and interred in a millennia-old Dreadnought is so brutal, and yet inspiring. It retains the personal grit of warfare in 40K. While the Marine may be isolated from the outside world by his near-death state and physical containment in his ceramite sarcophagus, he still interacts with the battle on a tactile basis. He's there in the bloody trenches, fighting equal opponents.
But if you slap a Space Marine into a giant walker body, you lose that magic. Marines are superhuman, able to take on scores of ordinary men alone. They stride the battlefield in ancient and revered armor, and any Marine lost is a great tragedy for human kind. But to install that walking god into a titanic walker is to lose that tactile, personal level of warfare. A Marine entombed in a Dreadnought has failings: he's shattered wreck of a being, but he fights on despite that through force of will and genius of mind. His armament is formidable, but not titanic.
The super walker violates all of that, either by placing an already godlike figure like a Marine into a pure pilot position, or by making the fractured Dreadnought pilot absolutely unstoppable in an even larger walker. You remove the fragility, leaving a Voltron or a Might Morphin Power Ranger. Impersonal.
I get that GW is trying to sell large kits, and wants everyone to have one, but they're compromising the integrity of the background story by doing so. The Gothic grim darkness is violated when you invent new super walkers for Space Marines who don't need them.
I guess what I'm lamenting is the personal level of warfare that 40K fiction portrays. Yes, ranged weapons are used, and untold millions are destroyed in volleys of massive cannons, but those weapons still possess an appropriate level of Gothic imagery. The orbital bombardment is enacted by a press gang of a thousand men who often die just loading the guns. The gun is prayed over, anointed with oils, and revered as a living being.
Even a Titan requires a crew of hundreds to function, and at great expense. But to shrink down a Titan so a marine can pilot it removes all of the risk, all of the insanity. It's like putting Superman inside a larger Superman. You don't want to see Superman be a driver, you want to see him be super!
I guess what I'm ranting here is that I want my 40K to stay Gothic, stay personal. I don't want it to evolve into a clash of giant robots. Giant robots don't have souls, and a pilot inside a behemoth is not a hero.


Advice Taken

In response to my last post, I've taken the advice of some of the FLGS folks (Thor, who commented on the post, is one of those).

I've boxed up all of the sprues I have for Nids, and put them away temporarily. I cleared my desk of all Nid projects except the Tyrant, five Genestealers I already built, and one Hormagaunt. Now, I'm working on a way to batch paint five Troop models at once.

In the past, I've pondered how to properly mount the thin-legged/thin-ankled Nid gribblies. Genestealers have a single, small foot print that I can drill into very carefully and insert a thin pin for mounting. But, with a thin pin I'm concerned that it will spin in whatever holder I'm using. I don't have enough old Dremel chucks to hold five models securely! I'm thinking that I'll use wine corks instead. I've used them in the past for Marine parts, but found that the natural corks tend to not hold pins securely for very long. The soft natural fibers tend to expand as the pin shifts, slowly allowing it to spin.
I've got one synthetic cork I'm going to try out, and see how that goes. But, I'm also going to try mounting the pin at an angle, instead of straight down. Here's a quick MS Paint illustration:

I figure this should be enough to keep the pin from spinning around in the cork. I should be able to simply remove and reuse the pins from the models without removing them from the corks for each succession of five models.

Due to the wobbly nature of corks, I also need a place to hold them. I've got scrap wood in the garage, and the wife just bought me a new table saw for Father's Day. I figure I can rip a 2x4 down to about a foot long, and use a 1" boring bit to punch some holes in it. Set the corks in the holes, and it should be good to go. Much better than the hanging rig I made from a paint stirrer and some eyelets.

Some progress was made on the Tyrant this weekend. I got his shading wash applied, so I can move on to layer painting now. I'll have to get out my Paint Book, as I can't remember the succession of blends I used for the rest of his body. The Paint Book is just a big, blank book I got ages ago on sale at Borders. I've only used three pages of the 100+ it has, but it has helped immensely in my painting work. I jot down the recipes I use for certain things, like Scout Camo Cloaks or Tyranid skin. I also use it for standard measurements like Rhino top hatches, side doors, etc.

The Genestealers need to have the slotta tabs removed from their feet in order to have pins put in, and also some small gaps filled where their heads meet their necks. Stealers are a weird model. Tons of posability in arms, absolutely none in body, legs, and head.

The Hormagaunt also needs to have the slotta tab removed, as I simply can't think of a way to base an already-painted model. I'm extremely paranoid about getting basing paint or material on the already-painted Nid. I'm thinking that I can cut the slotta off, and then put a pin in between the Gaunt's legs. That way I can complete the base, and then just use the pin to attach him to it. Less ankle and leg breakage down the road as well. If I paint the pin black and hide it a little with some foliage or grass, it should be ok. It would also allow me to recenter the model on the base. Hormas are notoriously front heavy models that tip like crazy. I'll probably also cast up some of my base weights to keep them from falling over.

I think the small batch plan will help me stay motivated with Nids. The Tyrant really has gummed up the works, being such a major project. I'll still be picking away at him, but also attempting to churn out Troops models at the same time.

How do you Nid players store your models, though? Marines are easy, as they have very limited pose ranges and everything fits nicely in standard square tray slots. Genestealers and Hormagaunts, or any other spiky, taloned Nid is going to be a bitch to store. If the storage slot is too small, claws and talons snag on foam and ruin paint or break edges. Too large of a space, and they bounce around and get damaged. What are you folks doing for your Nid models? How about big baddies like Tervigons and Mawlocs?


Cooling on Tyranids

I haven't done much in the last week that relates to 40K. I did prime my Hive Tyrant's main body assembly and give him a basecoat of green, but I stalled after that. I need to apply the shading wash before I can move on, and I just have no real motivation to do so.

I've simply cooled on Tyranids, and I'm mad at myself. I got all gung-ho about building the army, and painting the models to a high standard. The key thing I forgot is that painting to a high standard is not compatible with producing an "army."

I bought my Hive Tyrant kit and was very excited. I took my time assembling and painting (still not done, obviously), but I also sat down with the Nid codex and started building army lists. Every time I did so, I crumpled up the paper and thought "Why bother? The damned Tyrant won't be done for months anyways." I'd get a small jolt of motivation to finish from that act, but it would peter out soon enough.

To make matters worse, I started shopping. As a way to finance my Tyranid project, I started liquidating Space Marine models and all my peripheral books and items. I had all this money sitting in my Paypal and FLGS store credit accounts, and nothing to do with it. So I started buying models. Now I'm sitting on a small mountain of Hormagaunts, Warriors, and Genestealers. All bought at a good price, all sitting around doing nothing. I simply traded my overlarge pile of Marine kits and sprues for Tyranid kits and sprues. Dammit!

The Genestealers won't resell for hardly anything, as they're the least popular Troops model out there. The Hormagaunts might recover some of my money, as folks seem enamored with them lately as an alternative to the ultra-competitive build of Tervigons and Gaunts. Warriors are also en vogue, though the allure is limited. I'm going to take a loss on this stuff if I try to sell it. I just have to decide if I want to sell it. The whole point of the Marine sell off was to reduce my collection, and keeping this stuff around goes counter to that.

Oddly, I've been slightly more interested in my Marines the last few weeks. The narrowing of my focus into fast-mover units seems to have helped. I'm looking forward to buying and painting a Storm Raven to support my Marines, but haven't done so yet. I'm thinking of taking a shot at a small unit of 5 Vanguard Vets, because I'm enjoying painting white. I event thought about building a Shrike model (or using the super limited lightning claw Cato Sicarius model I have, or painting up a squad of Doom Eagles Assault Marines (We are the Doom Eagles, and we are dead already!).

So, I'm not really sure what I'll be doing with Tyranids. The temptation is there to just get rid of it all, knowing that I won't have a fieldable army for at least a year or more. By then, they'll have a new codex, but so will Marines. it all seems so very pointless and hopeless.

I probably should have just painted my Space Hulk set as a way to sate my Tyranid interests, and not gotten in over my head. Oops.


The Shakes!

In my spare time, I'm a hobby gardener. I have several raised garden beds, and I like to grow vegetables. Part of this is pragmatism (food grown in your yard is infinitely cheaper and better than grocery store food), and part comes form just enjoying the process of planting and watching things grow.
How does any of this have anything to do with Warhammer or wargaming?

Last night I decided I really needed to get off my butt and clear the grass away from my old raised beds (I made them from cedar picket fence remnants, I'm a salvage nut at heart) and the newly planted beds. I took last week off of work for a vacation (I called it "Mental Health Week"). Sadly, it was too brutally hot to properly work in the yard, so the grass grew almost a foot tall in the areas I couldn't reach with the riding mower.

My plan was to run out there with the push mower, hit the area with the weed trimmer after that, and then go inside and work on a base coat on the Hive Tyrant and some metallics on a Sternguard model.
I got the mowing done, and then fired up the weed trimmer. It's a new piece of kit, as I was sick and tired of my garbage electric trimmer. It's also a tad heavy, and I need to get a shoulder strap for it. I trimmed around the garden beds, and then got distracted and started trimming around the old well head on my property, then the area where the Department of Transportation replanted my lawn after tearing it up during construction last year, and then various other unsightly spots.
Before I knew it, I'd run the trimmer for an hour. I dusted myself of all the grass trimmings, and went inside to paint.

I got my rinse water, a clean palette, and sat down. I picked up a brush, and realized that I would not be painting that evening. I had the shakes! The hour of lugging and using the heavy trimmer left the muscles in my forearms and hands full of lactic acid, causing a complete inability to use the fine motor skills needed for detail painting. Oops!

So, that's my reason for not having progress pics for you today. It'll be Friday or Saturday at the earliest, as I've got a hockey game tonight (first of the summer season!) and will likely be wiped out on Thursday night.
Yard work is bad for painting progress!



Remember the story event/tourney at my FLGS that I was originally not going to, then going to, then not, and then finally, actually attending? It was this past Saturday. I did indeed go, and brought a stripped down version of my old Bikes and Bombs list:

Captain on bike with artificer armor, power sword, storm shield
5-man bike squad with two meltaguns, combimelta, meltabombs
6-man bike squad with two plasmaguns, plasma pistol
6-man bike squad with two flamers, combiflamer
Squadron of two Landspeeder Typhoons
Squadron of three multimelta attack bikes
10-man Assault Squad with two plasma pistols, sergeant with dual plasma pistols
Two Whirlwinds

I didn't get a chance to write the short story that supported the list, like I normally do for large events. In short, it was designed as a rapid strike force (bikes, duh) supported by artillery assets. The Whirlwinds pound the enemy while the bikes close in for the kill. The artillery stops right before the bikes hit enemy lines, but if things go awry, they keep firing and the Marines weather the storm while in amongst the bad guys.

As I said, the event was not a traditional tournament. The players were divided into two teams: Imperials and Chaos/Destruction. Some armies started out Neutral, but were sorted into either side as needed to fill gaps. I do not believe this was done arbitrarily, either. For example, we had Tau supporting Chaos, but also had Necron players on both sides. My guess is that the Crons were split evenly between sides so that everyone had a little bit of everything.

The missions were simple in their design, but there were table-based "call outs." These were terrain-based objectives that when held, provided a small bonus to the entire team. For example, capturing the Medicae Facility on Table Z granted a single unit in your teams' armies a 6+ Feel No Pain roll. If you grabbed that facility, you immediately shouted out that your team had it. If you lost it, you'd shout that as well (and listen to the cries of "Noooooo!" from your team). I wasn't lucky enough to play on any of those boards, but it was still great fun hoping and waiting for them to be taken by my teammates.

My first game was a simple capture of table quarters mission. I faced a Tau army, and it was the first time I'd seen new Tau. It was a pretty standard Tau list. Lots of Fire Warriors, an Ethereal, suits, suit HQ guy, Hammerhead with Ion and the named tank commander guy, Skyray, and a pair of Forgeworld Sensor Towers. Those let a single unit within 6" become twin-linked for a turn. So, two units per turn because of two towers.
I took the table corner with better cover and LOS-blockers, and lined up for a cavalry charge. The Whirlwinds were parked firmly out of LOS, and I used a mission special rule to swap the melta bikers out as a scoring unit, and swapped in the Assault Marines. I combat squadded those and left 5 basic guys out of LOS in my deployment corner to claim it.
I hauled ass forward, knowing that the key against Tau was to hit their lines and weather as much fire as possible. I lost my attack bikes early, and several bikers as well, but I managed to get in close. However, I used the Whirlwinds to murder the Ethereal first turn by barrage sniping him. With his death, a lot of the bite was taken out of the grunts.
I was very wary of the Supporting Fire rule, but eventually charged in anyways with my Captain. His 2+ armor save from the artificer armor and 3++ from the storm shield made him tough to kill. He ran two entire Fire Warrior squads off the board by himself.
I ended up winning 3-1, and leaned that Supporting Fire sounds scary, but is largely a puppy if the Tau do not have the ability to boost their shooting reliably on Overwatch. Markerlights fired in overwatch help, but aren't reliable. It's probably scarier with lots of Crisis Suits nearby, who pack harder-hitting weaponry. Pulse rifles just didn't bother bikes much, especially not when most of the wounds were soaked onto a 3-wound HQ with a 2+/3++.

Second game was objectives, but with a twist. In order to grab objectives, you had to defuse them with a d6 roll. The Imperium was the attacking force in this one due to our performance in round one. The defenders got to place all three objectives, but they had to be in the no man's land between deployment zones in a Dawn of War setup. Ours were spaced evenly in the middle, but close to the defending zone. I was facing Orks: Forgeworld Biker Boss guy, generic Warboss on Bike, max size Nob Bikerz with all powerklaws and invulnerable saves and a Painboy, max size Ork Bikers, and a Dakkajet.
This one was a 1-1 tie. I made a few tactical errors as a result of bloodlust and desperation. Twin-linked dakkaguns are stupid good (S5, Assault 3 is like every bike in your army having a heavy bolter). Dakkajet is ok, but not all that threatening to power armored armies.

The final game was pure kill points with some small mechanics that could boost or degrade your KP total. I faced a MSU Venom Dark Eldar force. All Warriors and Trueborn in Venoms backed up by Ravagers, led by the Duke. I was a little frosty when I started this game, as I was concentrating really hard on how I'd approach it. I probably came off as a little stand-offish. In the end, I just resolved to go all-out into the enemy in a cavalry charge. It worked, and I rolled through 13-5.

At the end of the day, I took home Best Imperial Overall (and had the points or best overall of the whole field, after tiebreakers). I was stunned. I've never won overall in anything before. Neat!

I didn't enter anything into the painting competition, as I hadn't painted anything specifically for it, and I just don't like my Marines anymore from a painting stand point.

On Sunday night, I glued the Hive Tyrant's body section to a 40mm base. I used a small amount of glue under the tail mounting point in order to make it so I could remove the 40mm base after he was all done, and then mount him on his proper 60mm base. I just needed something to hold him by while painting, and paperclip mounts just weren't going to cut it. I have a couple small gaps to fill tonight, and then it's primer time!
I also picked away at a Sternguard model, finishing the blue parts. I also selected the parts for another and bagged them for when I finish the current one.