He Is the Champion, My Friends

I'm lining up additional projects beyond my drop pod, and one of those is to build a Command Squad on foot. I'm modeling the Champion right now, and here are a couple in progress shots:

Yes, that appears to be a cat hair across the lens in the first shot. Damn cat. He's supposed to be in a shield guard stance, with his blade waiting for the opportune thrust or stab. It looks awkward from the side, but I like the look from the front. I ended up using a pair of Rhino gunner arms for this model. The shield arm has the gunner hand cut off at the wrist, a bolt pistol added, and then the shield pinned to the pistol and arm. The sword arm is the gunner arm, hand removed at the wrist and replaced with a power sword from the Assault Marine box, and then drastically rotated. I then had to pin the shoulder joint at an extreme outward angle and will fill the soft armor joint with Greenstuff. I triple checked to make sure the shoulder pad will fit on that side, and still leave room for the backpack. I ran into that issue with my Honor Guard models, and so I'm learning from those mistakes.

The big decision I have to make is regarding his head. I want the model to have character, and look stern and menacing. Sort of a "give me your best shot" look. I wasn't sure if a helmeted head would convey that properly. I grabbed a bit of poster tack and did a lineup of possible heads:

I skipped any heads that had rebreathers, as I felt those really didn't convey anything at all. I do actually like the helmeted head I selected, as well as the head in the fourth shot. The first Blood Angel head (fifth picture) is growing on me, but I'm not sure if a screaming head really conveys the vibe I'm after. The final picture is subtly different in the expression than the fifth, beyond the bionic eye. It looks more like a "Nooooo!" face than a "Raaaar!" face.

What do you folks think? Any heads you like or hate? Do you think the helmeted head will convey a feeling from the model? I do have to crack open my Sternguard box again and check those bare heads, but I'll use another post for that. I plain forgot.

Also, point of trivia: the heads from the old kits have much larger ball joints at the neck. For the first three bare heads, I'd have to trim that area down to make it look right. Not a big deal, just interesting changes to model kits over time.


The Templar Experiment

I was able to make it to the monthly tournament at the FLGS on Saturday.
I brought a Black Templars list, built using my Ultramarines. As I may have mentioned before, I'm working on playing at least 3 games with each Chapter Tactic, just so I know what they all do and to test some theories.

The list I brought was:

Captain - artificer armor, plasma pistol, power sword
Command Squad - power axe, power sword, apothecary, two plasmaguns
Razorback - Dozer, TL Assault Cannons

Crusader Squad (10) - sword brother with power sword, heavy bolter, flamer, one Marine with pistol and chainsword, Rhino
Crusader Squad (10) - sword brother with power axe, missile launcher, meltagun, one Marine with pistol and chainsword, Rhino
Crusader Squad (5) - sword brother with power axe, meltagun, one Marine with power fist, Razorback with Lascannon/TL Plasmagun

Assault Squad (10) - veteran sergeant with power fist, two flamers

It's very simple, and suboptimal. I simply don't have the pistol/chainsword models to do Templars correctly. I wanted to see how a full-on Rhino blitz worked out, and wanted to see how useful the reroll and Rending benefits to challenges worked out.

My first game ruined the day for me. I faced a Tau/Space Marine list that consisted of Farsight, some other Commander in a suit, two 10-strong Kroot Squads, Tigurius, a 5-man Scout Squad, and six Devastator Centurions with grav cannons and amps.
We were playing Bomb Sweep.
The mission didn't really matter, because I didn't really participate in this game. Tigurius, Farsight, the Tau Commander, and the Centurions were all joined in one big unit. It was simply a matter of using Tigurius to Gate the unit 24" away, not scatter at all due to Farsight, point at one of my units, and have me remove it from the board. The Centurions were all twin-linked every turn die to some piece of wargear on one of the Tau models, rrolled failed AP and wound rolls, and had Ignores Cover from another piece of Tau wargear. I tried locking them in melee, but...they have Hit and Run from yet another Tau wargear item or rule.
This list illustrates everything that is wrong with 6th Edition.

My second game I had originally drawn Thor over at Creative Twilight, but since I was tied at 0 points with another player and Thor and I had played one another last month, I asked to swap for the bye round and instead played the swing player.
He was using loaned models for the day, running Black Templars as well. Chapter Master with artificer armor and thunder hammer, one Tactical Squad in a pod, a multimelta Dread in a pod, a Vindicator, two Landspeeder Typhoons, a Hunter, five bolter Scouts, and a 5-man Devastator Squad with 4 missiles. We played Target Priority, but forgot to nominate a unit for the double kill points. Oops!
The board we played on was VERY open, with all the line of sigh blockers in corners and no really obscured sight lines. My transports weren't going to last long.
I mucked around trying to keep units alive and kill off the large squad that landed in my backfield as well as the Dread and the scouts. We pointed out Assault Marines at one another and decided to have a punch fight, which was entertaining.
I also completely forgot to have my Captain and Command Squad get out of their Razorback when it was wrecked...which was sort of huge. But we didn't realize that until after the game was over. I laughed about it, because I didn't really care.
We learned that in a Templar versus Templar fight, NO ONE ever leaves combat until they're dead. Seriously. The Assault Marine versus Assault Marine fight was a six-turn battle of attrition. I'd lose by two, and make morale. Or lose by one and fail, but be caught in the Sweep due to the Crusader rule and fight on.

Third game was against the same third round opponent from last month, with his Blood Ravens. He'd made some good progress on painting models. He'd brought a Chapter Master, two Tactical Squads with las/plas Razorbacks, two Dreads with las/missile, a Mortis Contemptor with Kheres Cannons and a missile launcher, and a Stormtalon with missiles and assault cannon.
We played King of the Hill.
The board we played on was pretty diverse with some WHFB buildings scattered about, tree stands, and a massive LOS-blocking tree near the mid-left. It also had a river running through it diagonally, which happened to be the no-man's land between the Vanguard Strike deployment zones. My plan was basically to ram a couple units forward in their transports, block the bridge with hulls or wreckage, and hold on tight. It didn't work out. I faced too much S6+ fire from multiple angles to hold up. Tabled, to a man, but it was an entertaining game.

So all in all, a very mediocre day. I brought a suboptimal list to try some things out, and it wasn't as fun a day as I thought it was.
What I did learn was: the challenge mechanic for Black Templars might work better when you're not blindly trying to get it to work purely for the sake of shits and giggles. I was issuing a challenge any time I could, like having my power fist Assault Sergeant challenge a Templar Assault Sergeant carrying a power sword. Stupid idea, but it led to an entertaining moment later in the game. Honestly,  if I hadn't been knocked off my horse by that first game, I'd probably have played smarter and harder.
Crusader is a very useful USR. I found lots of chances to roll two Run dice (take the highest), and the +d3 to your Initiative during a Sweeping Advance all but guaranteed you were sweeping or at least staying in combat with models you can't sweep. Adamantium Will didn't help at all in the first game (the only one in which I faced a psyker), but it would probably be much better in a larger sample size.
You can't force Templars to run like regular Space Marines. Arming everyone with bolters just doesn't cut it. My guess is that you'd want at least a 50/50 split between bolters and chainswords.
Also, Rhinos are shit for Templars. Total shit. For standard Marines, they work just fine because you have other rules to make up for the inability to charge out of a Rhino. Rerolls, bonuses, etc. Templars simply cannot walk across a board, no matter if you have five men or twenty. But they also cannot roll up, jump out, fire, and survive the replying fire. You need something with the Assault Vehicle rule. I really wanted to add a Land Raider Crusader to this list, but felt that at 1250 points, it was simply too much invested in a single model.
Drop pods might be a better choice for Templars, but you'd have to mix your unit with some bolters in there to make full use of the delivery method. Eight to ten pistol shots isn't worth much, and you're only packing one special weapon per squad. The lack of mobility post-landing is somewhat mitigated by Crusader.

Anyhow, despite the lackluster day I was energized to get some more painting done last night. I got the fin assembly of my drop pod edge highlighted, and now I have to go back and do the cleanup on the messy areas. That was a lot of work! Over an hour to get all five fins done.

I also packed up all of my Tyranid models and put them away. My enthusiasm for the army is at zero. When I first started planning for them, I was excited by the prospect of painting something that wasn't power armor, and I really did enjoy painting my Hive Tyrant and Genestealers. But then I got bored, because there's no real variation in the Nid models. Posing is minimal without extensive recuts and sculpting. So, I've put it all away until I either get reenergized about it, need room and sell it, or find someone who wants to buy it all in one go.


Yes, It's a Long Break

Yes, yes. I know there has been a very long break between posts here. I'm in one of those super busy points in non-war gaming life (aka "real life"), so free time isn't as plentiful as it used to be, and what little I've had has been spent on other things.

I finally finished the play kitchen for my son, and it's a huge hit. In the end, I compromised on the wiring of the oven and stove top just to get it done. However, I made sure to leave a removable access panel in the back so I can update it eventually. I had put XMas lights under the holes drilled in the stove top for light-up burners, but I plan to buy a bunch of loose LEDs and wire those in instead. The fridge light works great though, and it's his favorite part of the whole thing. The little "whooooah" every time he opens the door and the light comes on is awesome.

Now that I'm not spending nearly every spare moment in the basement working on that, I can get back to painting 40K stuff. I have picked away at my drop pod from time to time, and now have the fins up to the final coat, and ready for line highlights. After that is metallics, which should go fast. It's surprising how hard it is to paint something like the fin assembly of a drop pod. I found myself constantly forgetting to paint inside the little vent areas on each fin and had to go back several times to make sure. I won't get into too much detail here, as I don't have the picture to support the talk. I'll have to snap some tonight between periods of the Bruins game.

I have also collected up the parts for my Company Champion and begun cleaning them of mold lines. I', hoping to pull off a neat arm chop job in order to pose him in a shield-guard stance. I did notice a minor irritant when working with the new Sternguard kit. Seems GW switched the location of the alignment pitons (pegs, plugs, whatever, I wanted to use "pitons" in a sentence!) from the front torso half to the back. If you try to put a new torso front on an old torso back, you have to slice off all of the alignment pitons. Minor issue.
I'll get pics of this guy's components up as well.

This Saturday is the FLGS's monthly tourney. 1250 points, and I'm hoping and praying I can make it. If so, I plan to slap together a Black Templars list using my Ultramarines models. Not for cheese purposes, but to get a feel for how each Chapter Tactic plays out on the table. My feeling is that a Templar list has to rely a lot on its Sword Brothers. I figure I can use my Ultramarine Honour Guard models as Sword Brothers leading bolter-armed guys as Crusader Squads. Sadly, I have no non-sniper Scouts to use as Neophytes. I can toss all my sergeant models in those squads as the "extra" power weapon/fist allowed in each squad. Stuff them all in Rhinos and you have a bare bones Templar test list.

The crew at the FLGS recently gathered up for a Forgeworld order. I put in for a Deathstorm Drop Pod (missiles) and a Mortis Missile launcher arm for my Dreads. I've always wanted a couple Deathstorms, and the math on converting them turned out to be more expensive than just buying one. I figure the Mortis missile arm is also a cheap anti-air option. Slap a couple missile arms on a Dread and you have a model that can frag infantry, fire missiles at ground armor, and stand still to hit aircraft. Better than the Icarus lascannon and ADL I've been using. that Hunter/Stalker kit is growing on me though, as are the rules for the Hunter.