In Which My Attention Wanes

It's been two weeks since I have posted anything besides Sergeant Series articles. I've been busy with life in general and not overly motivated to work on 40K stuff. I'm in the middle of a months-long project of refinishing a toy box my wife had as a child, in order to give it to my son for Christmas. I started stripping the paint back in JULY, and just last night reprimed it in preparation for new paint. Yes, every project I tackle seems to take forever, it's not just 40K!

However, I did sit down and prime my first Drop Pod last weekend, and picked away at Genestealers and the early painting stages of the pod this weekend.

The pod feels like it's going to be a major pain to paint, even though I built it in subassemblies using the From the Warp tutorial. It's a pretty simple model, but the sheer surface area of the interior and exterior is staggering. I need to make sure I have backup bottles of my preferred metallics on hand.

The Genestealers have been much more interesting to work on. I've moved beyond the greens and browns, and am chugging along on the talons and blades now. These models go faster, as they don't have that whole armored carapace brown process to go through. Just some little plates on their heads. After the talons are done, it's purple under-flesh and bases. I'm not sure which Nid model I'll work on next. Maybe a Lictor or Warrior. I'd like to do more Genestealers, but I think I'll jump around a bit. I have no immediate plans to run anything out of the upcoming Nid codex, but I'd prefer not to hop in wholesale on a completely new unit. Maybe the Lictor would be the best bet, as those rarely get a wealth of options.

My attention on 40K projects has been flitting around quite a bit the last week or so. I keep having this urge to pick up an Ork project. I'd like to do a looted trukk conversion or something like that. Maybe even a Deff Dread or a unit of Kans. The new kits for those look great, plus seeing the Kans in the Space Marine video game multiplayer co-op levels makes them look crazy fun (though they aren't as fun on the table).
This is a problem, as I have so many thing already started. Drop pod, Genestealers, a Company Champion in bits in a bog on my desk, a Biker Chaplain in bitz in a bag, etc. This wouldn't be starting an entire Ork army. Just a looted vehicle or something ramshackle.
The other obstacles are that I don't really know much about rough conversions like this. If I were to do this project, I'd likely take the existing tank, drill a couple pilot holes, and use wire cutters to snip away sections. I think that would make things suitably rough for my vision, but am not sure it would paint up well. Painting Ork vehicles also looks like a big undertaking. I'd have to learn paint chipping and weathering techniques. It's a good project to learn on, so I'm not sure. Maybe after Xmas when life settles down some.


Sergeant Series: The Biker Sergeant

I run a Space Marine bike army very often. In fact, it's sort of my specialty. Writing about the Biker Sergeant is less theory and more practice for me (yes, some of the previous Sergeant Series articles were based somewhat in theory).

The basic Biker Sergeant doesn't fill much of a unique role any more, not that he ever really did. You see, Bike Squads are defined not by their leader, but by their special weapon troopers. For the most part, the Sergeant is just along for the ride. In Fifth Edition, he came stock with Ld9, so keeping him around helped on Morale tests.

The first upgrade to look at for the Sixth Edition Biker Sergeant is Veteran status. Its most obvious benefit to a Bike Squad is Ld9 over Ld8. Just like an Assault Squad, a failed Morale test is incredibly dangerous for a Bike Squad in the early going. 3d6 fall back moves when in your own deployment zone can quite often see an entire squad off the board in the first turn.
Less useful is the +1 attack provided by Veteran status. Biker Sergeants don't really need more attacks.

Why don't Biker Sergeants need attacks? Because Bike Squads, no matter how you slice it, are NOT melee units. Ever.
Your Biker Sergeant has access to all of the same melee options as the rest of the sergeants in the book: power weapon, lightning claw, power fist, and thunder hammer. You know what they all do by now, and none of them are worth taking on a Biker Sergeant due to points costs. You can argue that a power sword is good insurance, or that a powerfist serves well against walkers. Bikes are nimble and fast enough to avoid these units and situations. This is doubly true when you use the White Scars Chapter Tactic in order to gain Hit and Run. You should not be stuck in a hopeless combat with a walker for a whole game any more.
One situation of note is the challenge. Biker Sergeants can save their entire squad from a big monster or face-crushing character by issuing or accepting a challenge. On the charge, you will ALWAYS get your Hammer of Wrath attack, because once the challenge is accepted, you move the two combatants into base contact, triggering the Hammer of Wrath attack! You get one free hit at S4 and I10. Against small fry like Guard sergeants and Tau Shas-whatevers, it can end the challenge before it really begins, and mitigates the need to take that insurance power sword or maul.

Bike Squads are designed for delivery of shooting systems like meltaguns, plasma, and grav guns. Biker Sergeants have access to pistols, combi bolters, and storm bolters.
I'll tell you early to skip the storm bolter. It serves no purpose on a Biker Sergeant whose bike already provides a twin-linked bolter. The one additional bolt shot at >12" range will rarely be of use.
Pistols are of greater utility on a speedy unit like Bikes than they are on Marine infantry units. A plasma or grav pistol can be maneuvered into firing range by a Biker Sergeant quite well. The trick is finding the points for that pistol when compared to other options. It's important to remember that a Biker Sergeant will never get bonus attacks for having a pistol, as he lacks the capacity to have both a pistol and a close combat weapon.
Biker Sergeants can select from any of the four combi bolter types: plasma, flamer, melta, and grav. They're all useful, and my recommendation is to select the one that matches the special weapon in the squad. taking two plasma guns? Arm the sergeant with a combi-plasma. Grav guns? Combi-grav. It's a pretty simple formula.

Biker Sergeants can also access meltabombs. If you have the points, take them. You won't regret it.

I personally run all of my Biker Sergeants with a combi of some sort (though my plasma squad's sergeant carries a plasma pistol, because I like the look on folks' faces when I say I paid for a plasma pistol). I leave the melee upgrades to the Command Squad. You cannot buy both a shooting and a melee upgrade for Biker Sergeants due to his base wargear only including a bolt pistol. You can't do the "best of both worlds" stuff with this guy, like you can with a Tactical Squad Sergeant. Stick to shooting and grenades/HoW hits for bikes.


Sergeant Series: The Scout Sergeant

Space marine Scouts are some of my favorite models and units in the Space Marine Codex. I'm not sure what it is about these baby Marines, but they reek of cool factor. Go read Sons of Dorn or Courage and Honour and you'll see what I mean.

On the table, Scouts aren't as awesome as their literary counterparts, but they're still a fun unit to use. Every squad you field needs a sergeant, so let's dig into what makes a Scout Sergeant.

Scout Sergeants have the same stat line as every other Marine Sergeant, but have 4+ armor save instead of 3+ due to wearing carapace armor instead of power armor. Scout Sergeants can be armed with a shotgun, sniper rifle, bolter, or combat blade alongside their bolt pistol. Aside from the sniper rifle, the Scout Sergeant is the first unit leader who can take more than two "free" loadouts.

The shotgun versus combat blade/pistol debate is an ever-present conversation. It boils down to whether you prefer to have one extra die to roll in the Shooting phase before the charge, or one extra die in the Assault phase after the charge. Personally, I like the looks of the shotgun, so cool factor points win there. You can factor in Overwatch fire in the enemy turn as well, but depending on what you're going up against, you might be better served with the extra attack in melee over the extra shot in Overwatch.

Bolter-armed Scout Sergeants are also ok, and serve nicely as an objective camper or outflanking option. Sniper rifles now cost you a little extra, but it's not a crazy amount. The Scout Sergeant gains no true benefit by firing a sniper rifle, as all shots with Sniper are Precision Shots anyways. The extra 12" of range over the bolter is nice for backfield campers.

Scout Sergeants can get away with not taking any upgrades beyond a free swap and still be effective. The driving force behind Scout Squads are their special rules, not their armaments. Scout, Infiltrate, and Move Through Cover make them awesome disruption units and objective holders.

The Scout Sergeant can buy a teleport homer. It's an interesting option and a neat way to provide backup for your Scouts while also getting Terminators across the field without taking a Land Raider.

Meltabombs are also available to the Scout Sergeant, where they have a greater chance to be an offensive weapon than when placed in the hands of something like a Tactical Sergeant. The ability to infiltrate a Scout Squad and threaten enemy armor with the meltabombs is valuable. Put the squad in camo cloaks and infiltrate them into area terrain or ruins to help them stay alive, and then maneuver your way towards the target. Your opponent will have to expend some assets in removing the Scout Squad or risk losing their heavy armor.

Scout Sergeants can spend points to access any of the options in the Ranged Weapons and Melee Weapons lists.
Due to the flexible deployment options available to Scouts, all of the ranged weapons have some utility. The plasma and grav pistols are easier to get on target when you can Infiltrate and Scout, although they are still only a single shot per turn. However, if you're lucky enough to outflank on the proper side of the table, you might be able to get the proper angle for shots on a unit leader, or put a grav wound on a heavy firebase unit or something.
The combi bolter options are also useful in the hands of a Scout Sergeant. Instead of one plasma or grav shot, or slogging across the table with a combimelta or combiflamer, you can pop in closer by outflanking or infiltrating.
The combi option is the most solid selection for a Scout Sergeant if you plan to take some sort of upgrade over the basic bolter, shotgun, blade, or sniper rifle.

While Scout Sergeants do have access to all of the same melee options as other Marine sergeants, the days of melee glory are over for scouts. In times past, it was a viable option to take a powerfist and a combiflamer on a Scout Sergeant and outflank the unit to punch armor or drop the flame template on light infantry. In Sixth Edition, you can no longer assault on the turn you arrive from reserves or after making a Scout move. Melee options lose much of their utility under that restriction. The only melee upgrade I can really recommend is a simple power sword for "just in case" situations. The likelihood of a Scout Sergeant surviving to swing a powerfist or power axe isn't high enough to justify the cost.

The Veteran upgrade is almost always valuable for Scout Sergeants. The squads they lead are almost always operating deep behind enemy lines, or sitting behind your own lines providing token covering fire and solid objective retention. These situations requiring them to pass Morale tests to stick around or risk failing their mission entirely. The extra point of Leadership is important here.

The only Chapter Tactic that directly affects Scout Sergeants is the Black Templars. Rerolls to hit and rending in challenges can make a naked Scout Sergeant a little more useful, but not overwhelmingly so.


Little Things and Talky-Talky

I took a much-needed break from worrying about the hobby for the past week. It's necessary after a long build up to a big event. I've gotten over my general malaise about the Standoff, which is good.

Instead of drafting up lists or planning the next, big unit addition, I'm building and painting some stuff that I think I'll enjoy because they're fun models or projects.

I've made some very minor forward progress on my Genestealers. These guys are nice and simple to paint. I'm using the same general green recipe from the Tyrant, but applying it much quicker and with less minute attention to detail. They lack any brown chitin, so they paint up faster. in fact, the only brown you'll see on them is their little head plates. I think they'll turnout quite nicely for basic troops models once the ivory on the claws and talons and the purple of the ribbed flesh is done.

I also built and magnetized my first drop pod using the From the Warp tutorial. It took several days to get everything glued properly and assembled. Unfortunately, I somehow leaked glue into the pivot disc for the interior gun mount, so while it is magnetized, it no longer rotates. Bah. I've been using Testor's Liquid Cement instead of the usual plastic glue, and it has a capillary flow that is sometimes maddening. Lesson learned. The magnets I used for the doors help them stay shut, except for one. I'm not sure what happened, but one door just flops over without the magnets working. I triple-checked the polarity, so that can't be it.
Overall, it's a really neat kit that is a bitch and a half to put together. I have two doors that keep making contact with those little binding struts near the top of fins, though that does help them stay shut. My concern is that it'll chip off paint with repeated use. I also wish they'd included five of each chapter symbol for the doors, instead of four, but I understand that the sprues were crowded already. I'm pretty sure I already have a couple spares from past bitz trades anyways, and they're plentiful enough on eBay and Bartertown that it's not a huge issue. I was actually a little surprised at how hefty a model the drop pod is. I'd seen them on the table a hundred times, but never actually lifted and held one.

Forgeworld sent out an email about the revised Imperial Armour 2, and while it would have been a good idea for an XMas present from the wife, I went ahead an bought it for myself. There's just so much great stuff in there. I'm hoping the updated rules for the Deathstorm Drop Pod have been fixed to allow them to fire on landing.

Of course, all of this rambling is pretty pointless without some pictures. I need to sit down and take some properly-lit shots of the Tyrant and the Genestealers (maybe just one). It's been a while since I took any shots of anything! I'd tried to do a step-by-step on the process I used to make the Tyrant's base, but got so caught up in trial-and-error that I stopped taking shots a third of the way through.