Painting Progress: Company Champion

I've been making some solid progress on my Company Champion over the last several days. At this point, he's about 80% done.

Here's his head:

The hair is shiny because I've not sealed it with Dullcote yet. I used a paint from the Reaper master Series line called Brown Liner. It's a nearly black brown color, and the liner paints tend to come out glossy. I then did some rough lines in a dark grey across the top to break up the surface some (but you can't see them in the pic, and I couldn't photograph it because of the glare off the shine).
You can see that I missed some spots near the hairline, so I'll have to go back and touch that up. I've repainted the face a couple times due to stray dots of Brown Liner. I do still have to go in and touch the teeth with an ivory or something, but I don't plan to paint eyes. The model doesn't seem to have actual eyeballs in there, and if it does, the squint obscures them.

Then there's the rest of him:

As I said, only about 80% done. I have to hit all his soft armor joints, the purity seal, gems, laurel, and tabard. He's wearing a laurel shoulder pad on his sword arm as well. I'm going to go with green for the laurels, but can't decide whether I should go ivory/linen or red for the tabard. My old Captain model wears red, but I'm not sure if I want to keep with that trend. Here's that old Captain:

Since I'm retiring some old models (my old Apothecary, especially) when I finish this Command Squad, maybe I'll retire this Captain as well. Hilariously, I can't remember if I've updated this guy yet to my new gold recipe and power sword technique.

As a quick note, while I was digging through my Photobucket for the pics of the Captain, I stumbled across this image:

It's my army for a monthly tournament at the FLGS, back in September of 2009. All of those non-Ultramarine bikes were eventually stripped and rebuilt into my current bike force, but it's neat to see the models I used to put on the board.


Reviews: With Baited Breath, Labyrinth of Sorrows

I was so impressed with the audio drama Helion Rain from Black Library, that I went ahead and bought two more. These things really help get through a long day at work when I'm stuck on lengthy, repetitive processing tasks.
I bought and listened to With Baited Breath and Labyrinth of Sorrows. Both were written by George Mann, the same author as Helion Rain. I wanted to indulge my current obsession with the Raven guard.

I'll talk about With Baited Breath first, as I bought it a couple weeks ago and have listened to it a few times. It is voiced by Toby Longworth (the same main actor from Helion Rain) and Ramon Tikaram.
The story follows a lone Imperial Guardsman, Sergei, who is slowly dying on a battlefield. He encounters Shadow Captain Koryn of the Raven Guard. Koryn is the same captain from Helion Rain. There's some brief interaction between the two, but the bulk of the story is actually told from Sergei's perspective, and is the tale of how Sergei came to be in his situation. While I liked the overall plot and story, the narration style falls a little flat when you shift to Sergei's narration. The problem lies in the fact that the words are written in a very vivid narrative style. Sergei becomes an omniscient narrator, and uses descriptive language that a Guardsman would never use (unless he was an author in his pre-Guard life), and certainly never as he's trying to retell his tale as he's bleeding out from a gut wound.
I was able to forgive the implausible character narration because the story is so good. The background effects (music, sounds) are well done, and really help you visualize the enemies and action. I can't fully describe the sounds of one scene without spoiling the story, but rest assured that the sounds attributed to the Chaos minions are chilling.
Overall, its a solid buy for the price. It's only a half-hour long, but worth a listen. There's not a ton of Raven Guard fluff exposed in the piece, since it's mostly about Sergei, with Koryn serving as a plot device.

Labyrinth of Sorrows is an hour and fifteen minutes long, and is voiced by Rupert Degas and Saul Reichlin.
It is the story of a small squad of Raven Guard, led by the oft-recurring Captain Koryn, and a squad of Brazen Minotaurs led by Captain Daed. Note that these are the Brazen Minotaurs, not the Minotaurs. Big, huge difference in mindset and doctrine. The Brazen Minotaurs land on the planet Kasharat, a mortuary world, in order to retrieve "a weapon" from the clutches of the Empyrion's Blight Chaos Marines and the various forces of Nurgle. The Rave Guard are there to clear a path for the Brazen Minotaurs as repayment of an honour debt incurred when the Brazen Minotaurs sacrificed an entire company so the Raven Guard could destroy an Iron Warriors fortress (this event occurs before the events of the audio drama).
The first thing you learn about the Brazen Minotaurs is that they're based on a Greek or Persian culture. Unfortunately, you learn this from their voices. I say "unfortunately" because the accents given to the characters in the Brazen Minotaurs squad are god-awful. They're almost a caricature. At first, I thought they were trying to pull off a Rasta Jamaican accent! The speech settles down some as the story goes on, almost as if they did they whole drama in one take while ironing out the kinks of the accent as they went along. Sadly, it never reaches "good" quality. Late in the story, one of the characters' accents is butchered so badly that it sounds like he's having an emotional breakdown. He shouts "What has happened here?" in such a poor accent when looking at dead Chaos Cultists that you get the impression that he's anguished over the death of Chaos scum, instead of just confused. At one point, one of the Raven Guard speaks so slowly it takes half a minute for him to finish a sentence.
One thing that is done well on a voice acting level is the narration. When narrating the Raven Guard, the narrator's voice is low and whispery. When narrating fight scenes, it's loud and terse.
The sound effects are well done, as they were in the previous two dramas. My only problem was that weapons sound differently in this story than in the prior two. Bolters in this drama sound like rapid fire submachine guns, whereas in prior dramas they sounded like shotgun blasts. It's a little disconcerting, but not a huge deal.
One confusing point are the recurring Raven Guard characters. Koryn leads the squad, but Grayvus and Argis from Helion Rain also appear, both as Tactical Marines or Command Squad members. It's odd to see characters in different battlefield roles entirely from their previous appearances.
There are also two actions in the narrated fight scenes that don't make much sense from a lor/fluff perspective. During a fight one of the Brazen Minotaurs, Torgas, fires his heavy bolter...but only one shell. He then fumbles to reload another single shell. He's not a scout, and isn't described as using Hellfire rounds, so why is he loading a single shell into his heavy bolter at a time? That's tactically moronic. Also puzzling is when Koryn sneaks up behind a Plague Marine, and instead of chopping him apart with his lightning claws, pulls out a combat blade and slits the Traitor's throat. This obviously fails to kill the Plague Marine, and Koryn is actually surprised by that. A Shadow Captain who's fought Chaos for centuries...doesn't know you can't kill a Plague marine by cutting its throat?
Overall, Labyrinth of Sorrows is an interesting story that falls a little flat in execution of the script. Inconsistencies, terrible voice acting, and some minor missteps in the action mar an otherwise great story. One of the things I really have to be careful about when listening to these dramas is not getting too excited about obscure Chapters. I could totally paint some Brazen Minotaurs after listening to Labyrinth of Shadows!

For those keeping score, I'd give With Baited Breath 4/5 stars, and Labyrinth of Sorrows 3/5 stars.


Final 6th Edition Tourney Report

In my last post, I presented an Iron Hands list I intended to run at the final 6th Edition monthly tourney at my FLGS. I figured it would be a fun army to push around the tables.

I played my first game against Thor from Creative Twilight. We play against one another quite a bit, as we're both regulars at the FLGS monthlies. Odds were a little longer this month, as we had 11 people show up, a nice increase from months past.
We played on a city fight board heavy in ruins (I think they're the ruins from Pegasus Hobbies). Beautiful scenery but it made for some tough deployment. Thor went first, and wisely crammed my army in the most congested quarter of the board. I probably could have overcome the congestion, but I deployed very poorly. I didn't look hard enough at his army list, and planned for anti-tank shooting that he simply didn't have!
It was a good fight as always, with some fun moments (his Raptor squad repeatedly failing charge distances was fun for me, less for him). He outplayed me for a 31-5 win.

My second game was against a new player, playing his first ever tournament games. He ran a Space Marine list using Ultramarines tactics, and largely just models he owned. Nothing optimized. It was a hard game to peg down, as I wanted to provide teaching moments, but didn't want to throw the game or steamroll over him.
Hopefully the game was enjoyable for my opponent, as despite me taking a 28-3 win, it was a close fought game. I hate giving new players list advice, especially when they've told you that they're playing with the stuff they liked the looks of and enjoyed painting. We talked about some idea for adding more contrast to his black-and-bronze Marines, like adding small additional bronze details on rivets, skulls, etc.

The final game of the day was against a Space Marine (White Scars without bikes) and IG combo. Two Thunderfire Cannons, tons of lascannons and autocannons, an ADL, Yarrick, a Vanquisher, some blobs, and a beat stick Chapter Master on Bike (Shield Eternal, powerfist, etc).
As usual with the final game of the day that isn't on a top table, I aimed for pure entertainment in my tactics. I was trying to win, but not at the expense of cinematic and crazy moments. There was the tank duel between my tri-las Predator and his Vanquisher Russ, which ended with me exploding the Russ after he repeatedly whiffed on twin-linked cannon shots. My Ironclad roasting Yarrick alive with his heavy flamer and meltagun, only to see him get back up. One Tactical Marine in one of my combat squads taking 18 armor saves by himself, and passing them all. A single enemy marine blowing up one of my Dreads with a thrown krak grenade at rear armor. Lots of craziness and lots of laughing, which made for a great game despite the 31-0 loss I took.

It was a nice send-off of 6th Edition. As for the Iron Hands chapter tactics, they're nice, but not spectacular for my play style. I don't do min-max units, so the Chapter Master on Bike with Shield and powerfist/hammer/whatever won't ever show up in an IH list for me. I only made a few successful It Will Not Die rolls all day, and entirely forgot the 6+ FNP save in the first two games. I never made a repair attempt.
What I did like was the Armor Indomitus on the Master of the Forge with his conversion beamer. I was able to move him around for better sight lines and still fire, as well as have him hop out of a transport and still fire. The beamer itself wasn't a blockbuster, as I either scattered off target or my opponents made all their saves (we play on some boards with significant cover, as the rules intended).

Seventh Edition is next week, and I broke down and put in for the rulebook and both sets of cards. While I have my reservations about the new edition, I've decided to take an "embrace the changes" stance. I realized that our little community at the FLGS might squawk a lot about spam and OP lists, but in practice, we rarely see them run by our group. I think it's highly unlikely that I'll jump into Unbound armies or anything, and will soldier on with my Ultramarines.
I thought about buying the rulebook in Kindle format, but I find it easier to learn a rule set by having pages to flip. I bought the 6th Edition rules in digital format because the rulebook was so damned HUGE. With the three-book format of 7th, that shouldn't be an issue.


Last List of Sixth

This coming Saturday is the final monthly tournament at the FLGS before 7th Edition drops. I'm able to go, so I had to decide on a list. I thought about running bikes as a goodbye to 6th, since they've been my calling card for so long. But to be honest, I've neglected that whole sector of my collection lately and not kept up with the times. My Captain is poorly armed for the modern game, and I've not added any new models on bikes in a very long time.
I decided to keep plugging forward with my little project to try out all of the Chapter tactics in succession. So, that meant I needed to build an Iron Hands list. Here's what I came up with:

Master of the Forge - conversion beamer, The Armor Indomitus

Tactical Squad - 5 men, sergeant with bolter and meltabombs, missile launcher, las/plas Razorback
Tactical Squad - 10 men, heavy bolter, flamer, sergeant with pistol/chainsword and meltabombs, Rhino
Tactical Squad - 10 men, lascannon, plasmagun, sergeant with pistol/chainsword and meltabombs, Rhino

Landspeeder Squadron - 2 speeders with heavy bolters and assault cannons
Attack Bike Squadron - 2 bikes with heavy bolters

Dreadnought - plasma cannon, DCCW+storm bolter
Dreadnought - twin-linked lascannon, missile launcher
Mark V Mortis Dreadnought - two missile launchers

Ironclad Dreadnought - chainfist+meltagun, DCCW+heavy flamer, Ironclad Assault Launchers, 2 HK missiles, Drop Pod
Predator - twin-linked lascannon, lascannon sponsons, HK missile, storm bolter.
Thunderfire Cannon

1850 points on the nose.

I thought about taking a Chapter Master on a bike and all that garbage, but I just can't bring myself to do that stuff. I thought about a master in TDA with a hammer and the Shield Eternal, but he was almost as expensive as Marneus Calgar and would have needed either an Honour Guard or Terminator escort and a Land Raider. Simply too expensive for the modern game.
Instead, I went with a fluffy Master of the Forge who would allow me to cram a fourth Dread in the list. I thought about poaching the Techmarine model from my Thunderfire Cannon to represent him, but settled on my conversion beamer-armed model. I was going to leave him naked, but then I struck on the idea that the Armor Indomitus gives you Relentless. One of the biggest weaknesses of the MotF with a Beamer is that he can't move and shoot, meaning he tends to get closed on and eliminated or weakened. Well, in the Armor he can move and still shoot. We'll see how it works out.

I don't have any Servitors painted (but a small horde of them laying unused), so I opted for a 5-man tactical Squad as his escort. Good enough to serve as meat shields, with a missile launcher for complimentary fire. Plus they can squat on an objective and fire that beamer all day.

I sank a lot of points into the Ironclad, because he's fun as hell and I figure dropping him in the pod someplace nasty will be a nice way to baptize the pod. I've got the two "basic" Dreads, and then the Mark V Mortis with missiles for anti-air. It'll be interesting to see if I can keep him alive long enough to fire shots at flyers.

I put way too much gear on the Predator, and I may strip some of it off. But I've been running up against a lot of MCs in recent memory, and the tri-las Predator can knock down big bugs as well as armor and Terminators. The Thunderfire is another fluffy way to get more Iron Hands style models in. It doesn't hurt that it's freaking AMAZING now.

The Fast Attack choices are largely there for gunning down infantry. The speeders put out six heavy bolter and eight assault cannon shots per turn, and the attack bikes have six heavy bolter and 2-4 twin-linked bolters.

We'll see how the list works out. I need to actually remember to use the 6+ FNP saves, as well as roll for IWND on the vehicles. Should be an interesting three games at least.
Once 7th drops, I'll try a Salamanders list and then close the experiment with Raven Guard.


Meet Brontes...

This past weekend was spent assembling an old Forge World Vindicator. I've named it 'Brontes'. The name was taken from one of the trio of Cyclops that assisted Zeus against the Titans by crafting his lightning bolts. Brontes means "thunder" (from which you get Brontosaurus). The other two Cyclops are Steropes (lightning) and Arges (brightness).
I like to name my tanks and vehicles by theme, and the trio of Cyclops fit perfectly. I tend to draw my names from Hesiod's Theogony. Cyclops just feel right for Vindicators...tanks with one massive gun in the center of their heads. I've named all my Dreadnoughts after Argonauts, and tried to name my Rhinos after steeds, but found that it was hard to do so for chasses that I switched around from Rhino to Razorback to Predator to Whirlwind.

Here's the nearly-done result:
 (The siege shield isn't glued to the hull, so I can paint it properly).
I got the upgrade kit from a guy on Bartertown who was leaving the hobby, if I remember right. I got a great deal on it, just shy of the cost of buying just the current plastic Vindicator sprues online. The kits are nearly identical, but the FW version is missing side armor plating. I thought about buying the plastic side armor from a bitz seller, but it wasn't worth the $5-8 price tag. Instead, I'll just be putting basic blank doors on, and using some banners and icons from the Venerable Dreadnought and Ravenwing Upgrade sprues to break up the big, flat surface. I figure the linen color of those, plus some silver/white crux terminates icons and then purity seals will do nicely over the big, wide blue surface.

Speaking of big, flat, blue surfaces, I'm not sure what to do about that siege shield. I know a lot of people love to use it for freehand murals, hazard stripes, or very involved battle damage or weathering. I don't do weathering on my Ultramarines, so that option is out. I do feature some small areas of freehand, but I just can't wrap my head around the idea of Marines or their serfs spending ages on a fancy mural on the front-facing surface of a tank that is designed to doze through rubble, smash down walls, and deflect incoming munitions. Some poor bastard spends hundreds of hours pouring his soul into an intricate rendering of Guilliman...and the paint is blasted off in the first volley of incoming heavy bolter rounds that smack into the Vindicator. Oooops!

Hazard stripes might be interesting, and they do look very good on the examples I've seen. I've also seen some examples where just a simple Chapter symbol and some unit markings work nicely.

Anyone painted a Vindicator? What'd you do with your siege shield, and why?