One-Day Campaign, and a Farewell

On Saturday the 19th, the FLGS ran a single-day campaign-style event instead of the standard monthly tourney. I think folks were burned out on competitive gaming after such a long period of monthlies, culminating in the Standish Standoff last month. I know I was, and it was nice to just throw dice and not worry about winning.

The basic format was that at the end of each game, the winner awarded his warlord and one Troops unit a stat bonus from a provided list. The loser awarded a Troop unit, and on a 4+, his warlord as well. Missions were Maelstrom, but with some alternate secondaries (Second Blood or Last Blood instead of First Blood, Kill Points, etc). No map taking or anything like that.

For the day, I wanted to start phasing out Ultramarines from my list as much as I could and still play. The only thing I have that isn't Ultramarines and actually playable is a full set of Assassins. I took the full Assassinorum Execution Force formation (one of each assassin). Then I took a small Ultramarines CAD with a ML 1 Librarian, Scout Squad, and Tactical Squad. I finished it off with a First Company Strike Force made of two Terminator Squads, each with a chainfist and assault cannon, an Assault Terminator squad with two hammers, and a five-man Sternguard squad (just bolters). Originally, I'd had an Allied Detachment made of Telion, six Scouts, and a Landspeeder instead of the CAD, but I realized that if I did so, I'd have no eligible warlord under the campaign rules, which required you to have a non-special character as your warlord. I was just going to select an assassin, but they don't get any warlord benefits, so I rewrote the list. This also allowed me to get my Librarian model onto the table for the first time ever.

Anyhow, because it was a campaign day, I decided my army's mission was to kill as many of the enemy army's characters as possible in every game, to the exclusion of all other mission rules as far as the Assassins were concerned.

My first game was against Thor, since the tournament software he wrote really likes to pair us up. The story of the game were the Assassins. Their ability to infiltrate really threw a bag of wrenches into the gears of his force. He had to dedicate some inordinate amounts of fire and effort into clearing them out. In the end, I won by just a few points.

Assassinorum Report, Engagement One:
Terminator Sorceror - Target Eliminated, Vindicare Kill
Power Armored Chaos Champion - Target Eliminated, Culexus Kill
Power Armored Chaos Champion - Target Eliminated, Vindicare Kill
Chaos Champion on Traitor Pattern Bike - Target Eliminated, Callidus Kill
Terminator Armored Chaos Champion - Target Elimited - Adeptus Astartes Kill

Callidus Operative - KIA
Vindicare Operative - Recovered
Culexus Operative - Recovered
Eversor Operative - KIA

Game Two was against my last-round opponent from the Standoff, who was feeling much better this time round. He brought his Krieg and their Baneblade again, and he won by a few points. The highlight of this game was having my Vindicare, who'd camped out on the roof of a building at the far edge of the field, take his final shot of the game at three surviving members of an infantry squad. They were lined up along a wall, and I opted to use a turbo penetrator round. After the dice were rolled, I put all three squaddies down with a single shot. We agreed that he'd probably headshotted all three in succession. FYI, Turbo Pen rounds against non-vehicles produce d3 wounds instead of just one on a successful to-wound roll.

Assassinorum Report, Engagement Two:
Company Commander - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Inquisitor Coteaz - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Various Guard Unit Leadership - Three Targets Escaped - Mission Failure
Various Guard Unit Leadership - Four Targets Eliminated - Culexus Kill, Vindicare Kill, Vindicare Kill, Adeptus Astartes Force Kill

Callidus Operative - KIA
Vindicare Operative - Recovered
Culexus Operative - KIA
Eversor Operative - KIA

The last game of the day was against a Chaos Marines force with very few models. Just a couple Cultist squads, two Maulerfields, two Daemon Princes with wings and Tzeentch powers, a Hellblade flyer (which was really cool to play against), a Chaos Fire raptor, and a Helldrake. We beat the hell out of one another, and tied for primary points, but he took more secondaries. As usual, Assassins have a really hard time with Daemon Princes. I had no anti-air capability, but that was mitigated by his flyers' refusal to show up until turn four.

Assassinorum Report: Engagement Three:
Daemon Prince - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Daemon Prince - Target Escaped, Mission Failure
Mortal Cultist Champion - Target Eliminated, Vindicare Kill
Mortal Cultist Champion - Target Escaped, Mission Failure

Callidus Operative - Recovered
Vindicare Operative - KIA
Culexus Operative - Recovered
Eversor Operative - KIA

So the total for the day was five character kills for the Vindicare, two for the Culexus, one for the Callidus, and two for various Astartes units. The Eversor had no character kills for the day.
The Callidus died 2 of 3 games, the Vindicare and Culexus 1 of 3, and the Eversor 3 of 3. About what you'd expect considering their roles of the table. The Eversor, despite being my favorite of the Assassin types, was very hard to get into combat due to the infiltrate rules for line of sight and distance. Perhaps next time I should simply deploy him during setup. The Callidus might benefit from outflanking or arriving from the opponent's table edge as well.
It was nice, relaxed, and fun day. My list was enjoyable to play. I really liked running the First Company Strike Force with Terminators, and I think I'll be creating some Raven Guard Terminators as soon as I can. The list I ran Saturday helped me solidify my army play style for my Raven Guard, as well as the load out for my Captain. What I want my Raven Guard options to personify is a "blade and mailed fist" option. My Captain will be armed with a power sword and a power fist. His method of combat is to present both a fast, agile attack on one hand (the blade), while holding a crushing, mailed fist as a threat. His army around him will be composed of Scouts, Speeders, and Jump units as the blade, while Terminators and Centurions will be the fist.
My thoughts are that if you are engaged in a duel with a swordsman with a long blade in one hand, and a heavy gauntlet in the other, you might try to deny the strengths of his blade by getting inside his guard. But the punches from the gauntlet force you back out, or knock you down entirely. If you stay at arm's length to avoid the punches, the blade takes you apart with stabs and cuts. I know nothing about actual melee combat, but it sounds neat, right?

I'm even more excited about painting up my Raven Guard now, which is great. Previously, I was very focused on formations and being able to use units in multiple formation roles from game to game, but this revised way of thinking about my army is even better. Yes, I'll use formations, but all of them should revolve around the previously-described combat doctrine.
It was a real struggle to decide how to arm my Captain as well. I originally wanted to capitalize on the new Raven Guard relics from Kauyon, with the new bolter or lightning claws as a priority, but I will instead go with non-weapon relics like the jump pack or armor, if any at all. I'm bu8ilding to model to fit the character, not the character to fit the model. I'd complained about people forming their fluff to the army list before, and I feel ashamed I'd fallen into that same pit!

The farewell I mentioned in the post title is for my Ultramarine bikes. I handed them over to their new owner on Saturday. I've sold every painted bike model I have (I kept all the unbuilt models and bitz). I sold them for a price I considered fair, but won't reveal the exact amount. The new owner can tell people if he'd like, but it's not really about the money for me as much as it is seeing them run by someone who'll enjoy them. Dave actually sought me out to inquire about buying all of my Ultras when he heard I was retiring them. It was pretty flattering. Eventually, I'll sell off all of my Ultramarines as I manage to get more and more points of Raven Guard onto the table.

On the Raven Guard model front, I've got my Landspeeder ready for decals, so I'll get some pictures as soon as it's all marked and sealed. Once that's done, it's on to the Captain.


In Progress: Raven Guard Landspeeder

It's always satisfying and motivational for me when I can share actual progress on painted models, so today I have some shots of the Raven Guard Landspeeder I'm working on as part of my Shadow Force formation.

Nothing super fancy, but this section of the speeder is just about done. I assembled this section in two sub assemblies, the top hull plate and the bottom and sides. They were primed separately, and then I painted all of the interior of the cockpit before assembling them together and then painting the exterior.
You might notice that the seats are a purplish color. It was originally supposed to be a reddish color (Reaper MSP Red Brick), but it kept coming out pink. After a wash with Badab Black/Nuln Oil, it's a nice purple that looks nice alongside the green of the console and gun casings and the black armor.
I'm still working on the Typhoon launchers, Tornado nose guns, side panel doors (that are used when the Typhoons are not), and the pilot. The Typhoon launchers and panel doors had some deep pits in the plastic from where the sprue was clipped off. When I filed the nubs down, there were air bubbles inside the point where the sprue and part met. It's pretty typical of injection molding, I think. I tried to prime over them, as sometimes primer will "skin" over small holes, but these were too big. I was waiting to buy some Liquid Greenstuff to fill the holes, but decided to use a slurry of sprue shavings and liquid cement. The parts were drying last night, so hopefully I can get them filed and primed tonight.
After this model is complete, I will be working on my Captain. I'm short on fancy HQ-style bits, so I think I'm going to crack open one of the three limited edition Web Store captains I have kicking around. I'm torn between going for the typical Raven Guard Captain with dual claws and a jump pack, or something more basic like powerfist and bolter. The question basically boils down to whether I want him to join the Vanguard or the Sternguard in games. I'm leaning toward Sternguard. 



Time for a Shadow Force

I've made a decision on where to start on Raven Guard.

I'm going to build a Shadow Force. For those of you not in the know, it's a Formation from the Kauyon book that consists of a Captain (or Shrike), Sternguard Squad, Vanguard Squad, and a unit of Landspeeders. The Captain cannot have Terminator armor. The formation as a whole gets Acute Senses, Move Through Cover, and Scout USRs. In addition, the units can reroll their Run moves, or move an additional 6" when going Flat Out.

Very tame, but with a lot of options for deployment and movement around the board. One funny trivia point about the Speeder unit is that if you take three in the unit, you get +6" on Flat Out from the Codex as long as the unit still contains three models. In theory, you could have a unit of Speeders that moves 12" in the Movement phase and then Flat Out another 30" (18" for Fast Skimmer, +6 for three models, +6 for Formation bonus. That's Eldar-level movement without the pointy ears.

I've already started building a Landspeeder. Just putting the last few magnets in it, and then priming the subassemblies. After that will be the Captain, as I need an HQ to make my existing Scouts usable as part of an Allied Detachment until the Formation is complete.

The Captain will get a pair of lightning claws and a jump pack to represent some of the awesome relics in Kauyon. Swiftstrike and Murder are the claws, with standard lightning claw statline, but also Flurry, which gives him a free attack roll for every hit he's already made in assault (but no extras from the extras). So you can have five attacks on the charge, hit all five, and get five more bonus swings.
The relic jump pack makes his Hammer of Wrath hits S6 with Strikedown.

One thing I can't decide on is if I want my Sternguard to have tabards or not. When I first planned to paint Raven Guard, I wanted them to be very sleek and largely undecorated. I figured that ninja Marines didn't do lots of bling and decoration, and I really hated the white arms GW is using for RG Vets these days. But as I looked at the GW models in Kauyon, the fancy-pants Sternguard models started to grow on me. I'm not sure I like the tan tabards and white arms, but I think I might be able to modify the scheme to match my Scouts. It would look a little like THIS. Just more white for the fancy armor bits, and likely a white helm as well. Anyone have any opinions?


Standish Standoff 2015 After-Action, plus Additional Words on Things

Yesterday I attended the fifth annual Standish Standoff at the old FLGS, Crossroad Games. 1850 "semi-competitive" tourney, three rounds, with scores for battle, painting, and sportsmanship as well as a submission-based painting competition.

I put "semi-competitive" in quotes because while it's touted as such by the shop and the organizers every year, some folks abide by the spirit and some...don't.

I brought my Ultramarines on what I declared as their "swan song" as a primary force. Yes, I'm holding on to my Ultramarine models until I can subsume them with Raven Guard, but they'll never be the primary force for my army again. I'll expand on the reasons later in this post.
My list was a Demi Company made of a Captain and Command Squad in a Razorback, three ten-man Tacticals in Rhinos, a 10-man Assault Squad with jump packs, and a 10-man Devastator Squad with missiles. Joining that formation was a Strike Force Command formation of a 9-man Honour Guard unit with a banner, relic-bladed Champion. Half had swords, and half had axes. They were led by a Chaplain, and all rode in a drop pod. Nothing overwhelming, and nothing abusive. I didn't opt to min/max with 5-man squads in a metric assload of free transports, because I'm not a huge fan of 5-man squads, nor do I own any additional transport models.

My first game was against Orks, which I haven't seen on a table in a very long time. The list was several units of Tankbustas, Boyz, and Lootaz in Trukks, a unit of Grots, and several units of Bikerz. The core of the army was a massive unit of 14 Bikerz, joined by a Painboy and Warboss on bikes, all led by another special Warboss on a bike who gave them all Skilled Rider and Scout.
We duked it out for only two and a half turns until time was called, with the win going to the Orks. I was rusty and play terribly slow with such a high points level, so I think I lost sportsmanship points as a result.

Game Two was against Tyranids. I don't remember the exact makeup of the force. I just remember that he had no duplicate units, and had GENESTEALERS. That made my day, seeing Genestealers actually played and enjoyed. We got a full four turns before game end, tied, with the Nids player taking some additional points on secondary objectives.

My last game of the day was against a Krieg army heavy in infantry and artillery units, backed up by a Baneblade. I steamrolled a tired and seemingly uninterested opponent. It had been a loooong day. My Honour Guard killed 80% or more of the infantry in his army single-handedly, though I think he took a bit of a fascination in seeing how many men it would take to drown them in blood and body parts.

I did poorly in battle points, and had less than perfect sportsmanship points. That was a first for me, and stung the whole way home and a little of this morning until I realized it was likely because I was so damn slow in my play. Who knows? Less than half the field had perfect sports scores, which is a HUGE departure from all but the very first Standoff.

I was awarded Second Best Army, which was a collation of Painting, Sportsmanship, Pub Quiz, and Favorite Opponent votes. There was some low grumbling from various players regarding their paint scores in relation to others' scores, and I'll freely admit I had a couple grumbles of my own, but those grumbles have been there for each of the five years the event has run. Anything from "How did an army without 100% of its models fully painted get THAT score?!" to "That guy just uses airbrush and washes!" have been voiced over the years. I've had to judge painting personally on two or more occasions, and it is HARD to be consistent across a 40 point scale. So no shade thrown at the judges by me, just some bruised ego on my part.

I achieved the one goal I had for myself on the day though, that being winning the Best Painted Squad category in the painting competition with my Ultramarine Command Squad. Mission accomplished!

There is one huge, glaring lesson that I take from the Standoff though, and that is that the Space Marine Demi Company formation is the most boring thing that has ever bored a player. I've actually been running a list of that type for several years off an on, and I thought that with new rules that support the build it would be more fun. Wrong. So wrong. The Demi Company (and even moreso the Gladius built with a double Demi), is a big bag of yawns thrown in a river of suck. Does it win games? Yes, it does. Does it appeal to me any longer? Not on your life.

I sat down in each of my three games and explained to my opponents what the Demi did, and what all my Ultramarines Doctrines did, and I watched their eyes glaze over. As I lay in bed last night trying to sleep, I realized that an ObSec Marine with a bolter is the worst thing ever. It has no special skills, no interesting stats/attacks, etc. Its role on the field is to exist, take up space, and not die while either sitting inside a Rhino or moving around 6" at a time and taking cover or pot shots with a mediocre weapon. I don't want to aim to win my games simply by existing, I want to win them by outmaneuvering, attacking, falling back, and generally playing more cerebrally. Ultramarines in a Demi Company play and win by Mathhammer, and I hate Mathhammer.

So, I'll be bidding a fond farewell to my Ultramarines from here on out. I picked up my copy of Kauyon, and will be painting Raven Guard from this point on, no exceptions. Ok, maybe a couple exceptions for the Grey Knight Terminators I still have kicking around here someplace, as well as some Tempestus Scions I'd like to pick up to spice things up as allies to the Sons of Corax.

I had built a squad of five Raven Guard Tactical Marines to add to my existing Scout Squad. Here's a couple WIP shots of two of the squad members (excuse the poor pics, I've still not set up my painting desk and photo area since the move to the farm):

Originally, I wanted my RG to be city fighters. Guys who are posed dynamically like they're kicking in doors and clearing rooms. Lots of gear and pouches. I chopped the arms and leg joints on every squad member, reposing them ever so slightly here and there. The sergeant in the first two pics has his legs at new angles and elevations, and the other Marine is about to pull the mag from his bolter. another non-pictured model is high-stepping over some rubble. The models without standard studded pads got scratchbuilt ones made from old third edition pads with the rims filed down and microbeads drilled in as studs. Those five Marines took a week or more of time and energy just to chop and build, and they don't really look all that great to me. The sergeant is too thin in the waist area, and the bolter Marine's hand isn't quite right in its grip or spacing. The high-stepping Marine I mentioned looks unbalanced in his run, like some sort of Khorne Berserker model.
When you combine what I feel is a failed first effort at building chop-shopped Marines with the new focus given by the Kauyon book and my sudden loathing for ObSec Tactical Marines, I'm hitting rewind on the Raven Guard machine. The squad will go into a box, and instead I'm building a Land Speeder. There are six different formations in Kauyon that involve Land Speeders. I've had one sitting in a box since the kit was recut in Fifth Edition, so it'll be my starting point. I will either build the Raptor Wing (Speeders and Stormtalons), Shadow Force (Speeder, Captain, Vanguard, Sternguard), Speartip Strike (Speeders and Bikes/Attack Bikes/Scout Bikes), or Stormbringer Squadron (Speeders and Scouts with Speeder Storms). They all have neat rules, and I can't decide quite yet.
I'm newly excited about my Raven Guard thanks to the new things Kauyon lets me do with them, and thanks to the realization that I've hit my limit with Tactical Marines, ObSec, and Doctrine rerolls. here comes a new way to play, and it dresses in black!
Now I just have to figure out how to fund purchases of so many more Land Speeders...eBay bitz selloff?


Forward with Raven Guard

Yesterday I slaughtered and processed twenty five chickens, and closed out almost all of the crops from the field. That means my farm work is slowing down a tiny bit, and I will be able to sneak in some hobby time here and there.
I've decided to build a five man Tactical Squad and a Librarian. This allows me to field my existing Scouts alongside these new models as a Combined Arms detachment. I can then build outward from there to bulk out the detachment, or into a Demi Company.
The squad will be armed with just a heavy bolter, and probably a lightning claw or combi bolter of some type on the sergeant. Everyone will have a Corvus helm and pads, and each model will be cut and reposed into a non standard pose. For example, one squad member will be kneeling against a rubble pile, the heavy bolter will be sprinting while handle-carrying his weapon, etc.
I need to cast up another set of bases for the squad soon.


Games, games, games!

Something amazing happened this past Saturday...I played 40K! I managed to find some time off from farm work to get down to the old FLGS and play in the monthly tourney. 1850 points, and I brought an Ultramarines Demi Company formation (Chaplain, Command Squad, Razorback, three Tacs in Rhinos, Assault Squad, Devastators, and a pair of Las/Missile Dreads in a squadron).

I played three games, one against Chaos Marines, one Necrons, and one Eldar/Haemonculus Covens. All three games were fun and exciting, which hasn't happened in a while.

It was the first time I'd played games since June when the new Marine codex dropped. I wasn't sure how it would go with the change to Ultramarines and the new formations. Lots of good stuff in the book, but how would the Demi Company shake out?

Turns out the updated Doctrines are amazing. Rerolls in just about every turn of the game when you use Ultramarines and a Demi Company. The FLGS plays Maelstrom missions, which are HUGE for the other benefit of the Demi: Objective Secured on EVERY unit. ObSec on Assault Marines and Dreads? Yes, please!

The only problem is that you're still relying heavily on bolter-armed Marines to carry the bulk of your army's work. I didn't kill much in any of my games, and won largely based on scoring objectives and maneuver.

Playing Ultras and doing pretty well (third of a field of 8, two wins and a loss), throws a bit of a wrench in my plans to switch to Raven Guard. Raven Guard were buffed in their Chapter Tactics, but the formation bonuses don't mesh perfectly with them. My story behind my potential Raven Guard force was supposed to be an urban combat force. Urban bases, armaments focused on hab block fighting, and lots of cutting and reposing of models for dynamism. I don't know where to start. I have my unit of five Scouts already, so I can go in several directions. I can add an HQ, and immediately have an Allied detachment to add to my Ultras. But none of the HQs mesh properly with Scouts. None ever really have. So I'd want to add another slot to the Allied detachment. I could add Assault Marines or Vanguard to capitalize on the other half of the RG tactics which is specific to jump packs.
Alternatively, I can focus instead on beefing up my Scouts and build a 10th Company Task Force, which has fun rules with Stealth for anyone who infiltrates for the whole game (until they move in any way), and Precision Shots for the first game turn. Problem is, Scout models are boring as hell to build and paint. I've tried to make them as interesting as possible with weapon swaps and such, but there's only so much you can do.
I could also strike out away from the Scouts and build something new entirely like a First Company Strike Force with three units of Vanguard/Sternguard/Terminators. Or start on the long haul towards a Demi Company or Strike Force Ultra.

I have no real idea what I'll do yet, though I'm open to ideas or suggestions.

The other question I have to ask myself about my Raven Guard regards models and bitz. Rven Guard are always associated with Mk6 Corvus armor. You can now make full sets of Mk6 from plastic kits, unlike in the past where you had to buy Forgeworld or convert pieces. I'd originally intended to have all my power armored Raven Guard in Mk6 armor, head to toe. I have helmets for a squad and a half or so, but not enough torsos or backpacks. My hobby finances nowadays are non-existent, so I can't be buying tons of bitz to complete Mk6 armor sets.
How crucial do you think Mk6 is to a Raven Guard force? Is it worth my time to save up and slowly build towards a "pure" force, or should I not bother? Perhaps I should focus on Mk6 helmets for everyone instead, leaving the rest of the armor as whatever bitz I have available, while mixing the occasional non-Mk6 helmet and bare head into squads? If you parked two identical, non-Horus Heresy, Raven Guard armies next to one another and one is pure Mk6 on every model, and one is not, would you even notice? Would the pure Mk6 one look better?


Sorting Bitz

I finally found a few spare moments for 40K stuff last night, after all the farm planning, late season planting, and chicken raising. We've got twenty five meat birds and a dozen potential egg layers (some will turn out to be roosters) on the farm this year. I'm reframing an old shed into a coop, and am almost done after only spending less than fifty bucks or so on it.

Anyhow, I sat down for an hour last night and...sorted bitz. When we moved house, I just dumped everything into a gallon storage bag from the little hardware bins I'd had them sorted in. Putting them all back in the right bins is a chore, but strangely relaxing. It also allows me to take stock of all the stuff I've got and haven't looked at in ages. There's definitely some things that need to be purged or simply thrown out. Reclaimed shoulder pads and backpacks with glue in the attachment points, snipped off plasma pistols, etc.

There's no electricity in my painting room yet, since the house was built in 1800, and running wiring up there is expensive. If I find time to paint, it'll have to be at the dinner table or on the couch like I used to do years ago.

I'm still tossing ideas for Raven Guard lists around in my head. Hopefully I can put pen to paper soon.


Forces Redeployed

Yet another fly-by status update by me.

After a complete nightmare process of closing on the sale of our old house, and then a much more pleasant closing on the purchase of our new house, we're officially moved and owners of our farm. All of my 40K stuff is still packed up in boxes waiting for me to find time to unpack and arrange it all. So, no painting updates for a while. I've got a field to mow and plow, seeds and seedlings to plant, and chickens and rabbits to acquire and build shelters for. So much work! When you add my new hobby of attempting to restore old antique tools to working condition and learning some timber framing for my farm buildings, 40K time is going to be hard to come by.

I am excited to start building models based on the new Space marine codex, which I bought the weekend before we were supposed to move. I really like the changes and formations, though I'm very disappointed about Fast Attack drop pod cheesery, but I think we all saw it coming. I'm also a little torn on how damn good the Ultramarines have become alongside the rules for the various formations. BY my math, an Ultramariens army that is made up of at least one Gladius has enough doctrines stashed to reroll to hit in every turn of a seven-turn game. You get one set of each of the doctrines (Tactical, Assault, Devastator) for being Ultramarines, another full set for taking the Gladius formation, and another Tactical for the mandatory Demi Company that's part of the Gladius. Seven doctrines available to reroll SOMETHING every turn. Oh, plus every single unit taken as part of a Gladius has Objective Secured, or is that just for the Demi-Company? Regardless, it's damn good.

Despite how awesome Ultras are (in my opinion) now, I'm still planning to push forward with Raven Guard. I'm just not quite sure of which direction I'll take them. I need to sit down with the codex and think about it when I have free time.


Hunting Wabbits!

Just a little note to those of you who actually read this blog on what passes for a regular basis, it's going to be very, very quiet in here for a little while. I'm moving homes in a week and a half, and just haven't got the time to paint or play until we're all settled.

Consider me on a short hiatus. See you again soon.


Fratris Salutem...My Army List

This coming Saturday I'll be participating in the Fratris Salutem, which is a local narrative-driven 40K event. I won't really call it a tournament, as it's not about individual achievements. Essentially, the field is divided into two teams, and the members of each team play against players from the opposing team. Each player's point total from their three games are added to the collective points of the team to determine the winning side.

We focus heavily on story for this event, with no traditional, "competitive" lists allowed. You can face tough lists for sure, but nothing cutthroat is allowed in the door.

I was the highest-scoring Imperial player in the first event of this type, running an Ultramarine Biker list. This year I felt some serious malaise about my army list options for a narrative event. I didn't want to run bikes yet again, as I felt I'd already told that story. I thought about running a pretty bog-standard Half Battle Company list led by my new Librarian and Command Squad, but I just wasn't enjoying the prospect of running tons of basic Marines.

Then I started looking at units in the book I'd never, ever run before. I didn't want to start a whole new unit, like Centurions or Scout Bikers, as I didn't have the painting time available. Then I landed on Antaro Chronus. I have the model, but had never assembled it. I scavenged his backpack for a bike-riding Techmarine some time ago, but had a couple of leftover old-school servo arm backpacks to replace that.

Once I decided I wanted to run Chronus, I started rereading all the rules for Warlords, Warlord Traits, etc. Making Chronus my Warlord is legal, plus whatever Warlord trait he rolls would still apply to an Unbound army, and so I set about thinking of a way to capitalize on that. Chronus is a tank commander, so I figured an army full of tanks would make sense. I came up with this list:

MkV Mortis Dreadnought "Hylas", two missile launchers

Land Speeder Typhoon
Land Speeder Typhoon

Land Raider Crusader with multimelta
Land Raider Crusader with multimelta
Vindicator with Siege Shield
Predator with lascannon sponsons, twin-las turret, Sergeant Chronus, and Legacy of Glory: Schism of Mars

Tactical Squad, 5-man, plasma gun, sergeant with bolter
Tactical Squad, 5-man, flamer, sergeant with pistol/chainsword
Razorback with lascannon and twin plasma gun

Essentially, it's an armored assault column led by Chronus in his command Predator. Two small Tactical Squads provide infantry security, as any modern (or far future) mechanized force would have. The Dreadnought is the anti-air platform every tank force needs, and the speeders are the fast-moving flank security and recon element. The Schism of Mars rule is a purchased Legacy of Glory from Imperial Armor 2: Second Edition. It gives the tank the Tank Hunters rule, +1BS when firing at models with the Daemonforge special rule, and the ability to ignore the effects of Haywire hits on a roll of 4+. I originally selected this rule purely for Tank Hunters, as I figured Chronus would be the top tank ace of the Chapter. I wanted him to be more capable of killing tanks.
Then I downloaded and listened to Eye of Vengeance, which is primarily about Sergeant Telion and his scouts, but Chronus makes an appearance as well. In that story, he takes his armored forces out and engages in a huge tank battle with Dark Mechanicum forces. So the bonus to Daemonforge makes sense with that history in place. The save versus haywire is just icing.

I'd already submitted my list for approval by the time I listened to Eye of Vengeance, but was kicking myself because it provided a reason to take a Scout Squad with Telion instead of the two small Tactical Squads. Not a huge deal. The Scouts would have been a weaker choice that adhered to written fluff, while the Tac squads are a slightly stronger choice that adhere to theoretical, non-specific fluff.

I'm pretty excited to see how an army of almost all tanks will fare. I've never done such a thing, but the possibilities for the future are interesting. I've never built more than one Predator because I could never fit more than one in the three Heavy slots of a CAD, and stalled on building my third Land Raider for the same reason. I never touched any of the IG tanks I like so much because of the CAD and Allied requirements. Maybe I can run a combined IG/Marines tank force.


Raven Guard Scout Squad, Work Complete

After some solid paint sessions, my Raven Guard Scout Squad is now complete!


My only real disappointment with this squad is the sergeant's face. He's got some sort of Popeye look going doe to that one poorly painted eye. I also need to look again at the model, because the picture shows a big splotch of blue on his chest, which I don't remember seeing.

Other than that, the squad was a lot of fun to work on, and I learned some new stuff. Decals and decal solution, gloss varnishing, casting bases, and more work on painting faces.

I'm not sure exactly what is next in the Raven Guard pipe. I have parts set out for both a Librarian and a Captain, but I can't decide which to build. I'm stuck on the Librarian because I can't decide if I should stick to my original plan of replicating this guy from some older art, or just go freeform with him.

As for the Captain, I can't decide on armament. Originally I'd intended to build him as a Shrike stand-in with dual lightning claws, but then I realized that Shrike is a bit of a lame duck in 7th. So, I thought about a different loadout of thunder hammer and lightning claw. Looks cool, and is pretty in-game effective. But then I compared him to my potential VanVet squad who'll likely be packing bolt pistols and grav pistols (Gunslinger rules), and he doesn't really match what would be his de facto command squad. I could give him double pistols as well, but then he's pretty pointless in melee where Captains tend to shine. Any suggestions?

I'm stumped at this point. I have time to think about it, as I have a few Ultramarine projects to work on. I have three lascannon Marines in progress, and a drop pod waiting for magnets to arrive in the mail to fix my mistakes. I also want to expand my heavy weapon options for my Terminator squads to include Cyclones and heavy flamers.


More Raven Guard Scout Progress...So Close!

Here's a series of images that show my progress on the Raven Guard Scouts.

This image is washed out and terrible, but you can see the glossiness of the varnish I added to the shoulder pads. I'm told it's a key step in laying a foundation for decals, so I applied it to the shoulders of every model.

Once that was dry, I started applying decals. I used Micro Sol and Micro Set to get them nicely adhered. The first I applied didn't go very well, as I mixed up the order of the solutions. You want Set, then Sol. Set makes the area tacky so the decal "sets" in place, and then you use Sol to soften the decal to conform to the shape of the piece. It's a SOL-vent. After I figured that out, the remaining decals went quick and easy.

I used the Forgeworld decal sheet for Raven Guard, which is absolutely fantastic. I'd say you could probably do an entire army with a single sheet.

I then set the models aside after giving them a quick blast of Dullcote to lock down the decals, and proceeded to work on making a mold for my custom paver/flagstone bases. I dug out a very old canister of mold silicone. I'd had the kit for something like two or three years, and the canister was half full. When I went to use it, I realized it was probably no good because the silicone was very thick and goopy. Proper silicone is thick but flows easily. Being the cheapskate I am, I figured I would give it a shot anyways and mixed up a batch.
Turns out I was right, the stuff was too far gone. It refused to cure after three full days. Uncured mold silicone is just about impossible to remove from anything, so I had to throw the mold box, the acrylic sheet I'd glued it to, as well as four master bases in the trash. Here's a pic of the whole disaster before it went in the trash. The bases sticking out of the top were actually pulled free from the hot glue I'd used to fix them to the acrylic sheet because of the air bubbles underneath!

I thought about giving up on making a mold, as I wasn't sure I wanted to spend more money on more silicone. But, I gave in and bought more. This time I bought Alumilite Quick Set, where in the past I'd used High Strength 2. The Quick Set cures more rigid and less squishy. HS2 is more for one-piece molds with big undercuts, while Quick Set is for two-piece molds and one-piece molds with no undercuts.

I got my shipment in less than a week, and poured a mold over four of my masters. The result? Success!

One thing I'm a big fan of when I make molds is recycling. In the past, I'd saved small spills and sections of cured silicone and added them to my new molds. Silicone cures solidly to old silicone, which is why you need mold release agent when making two-piece molds. But I wasn't sure if Quick Set would bond to HS2, so I didn't include any recycled chunks in the master mold. Instead, I sliced off a couple pieces of an old HS2 mold and put them in the bottom of some plastic cups. I poured the leftover Quick Set into the cups to see what would happen. Turns out they bond nicely! I can now use chunks of old molds to save volume when pouring new molds. I even added these two little experiments to my pile of old silicone for chopping up and inclusion in new molds down the road.

My first pour into the new mold wasn't great, but it wasn't a total failure. Below you'll see four bases. The top right contains a lot of unmixed resin, while the top left contains a little less. I didn't spend long enough stirring the bottom of the cup. The two casts on the bottom came out perfectly, as they were the first ones poured from the cup.

 After another mix and pour, I had six usable bases and two failures. Here are the five for the Scouts:

Because pure, flat bases are boring, I got out my tubs of sand and small rock and added some to each base to make them look like small rubble piles.

These will then be primed white and painted a stone grey color. You'll notice the bottom left base has a small notch out of the largest tile section, at the bottom. That was an air bubble from the casting that I carved the edges of to make it look like wear or damage. You don't have to worry too much about bubbles on bases of this style, since you can just cover them up with sand and rock, or expand them into cracks or damage.


Epistolary Librarian Laetus Falco

A little while ago I finished my Ultramarines Librarian, but wasn't able to get good pics until last night. So, here he is, along with his fluff:

Epistolary Librarian Laetus Falco
From his induction into the Librarius of the Ultramarines, Laetus Falco displayed a penchant for using his powers to unlock the physical and psychic potential of his battle brothers. Those Marines who go to battle beside the Epistolary find themselves possessed of great strength, unassailable mental fortitude, or able to endure or recover from the most dire of wounds.
As a Codicier, Falco was able to use his powers to keep his mentor alive long enough to banish Nodosus, a greater daemon of Nurgle, back to the warp. Falco's mentor died shortly after, but lived long enough to pass his force staff, Reach of Empedocles, to Falco. He has carried it ever since.

I used a darker blue for his armor, since the Codex Astartes indicates that Librarians are marked out by a deep blue. I use a lighter ultramarine shade for my army, so I just stopped one shade darker. You can see the difference in the second picture that shows the shoulder pad with the Chapter icon on it.
His backpack is magnetized so I can swap in a jump pack if I want.

This was a fun model to paint, and I'm really enjoying all of the new clam pack characters GW releases. I'm thinking about painting the Reclusiam Command Squad Chaplain next, after I've finished all the other Ultramarine models in my queue.


Just a quick redesign...

Last week, I read Thor's article on HoP about writing articles and successful blogging. One of the points that I focused on after reading was knowing what your blog is supposed to be about. So I thought about it for a while.

I'm not a tutorial guy, as I tend to progress too quickly in my work to stop and document it. I'm not a batrep guy, as I can barely remember the turn-by-turn of a game ten minutes after it's complete. I'm not a tactics guy, because I think a lot in Theoretical, but rarely transition to Practical (yes, I did just finish Know No Fear last night, why do you ask?).

This blog is more like a personal journal and scrapbook. I don't have a large readership, nor much engagement, and that's fine with me. It's really just a spot for me to pin my projects so I and a few others can look at them later on. It's also a spot where I can centrally access the blogs I follow on a regular basis instead of using browser Favorites. The blog is sort of a personal Instagram/Pinterest thing.

So, I decided to organize the blog layout around that knowledge.
I changed all the colors to a more work-friendly layout, as black backgrounds and teal lettering scream "not work related!" to passers-by of your cube or desk.
There is also now a series of Completed Projects links across the top of the page. For now, it's limited to Ultramarines and Miscellaneous, but I'll add Raven Guard later. If anyone knows how to make Blogger turn those links into dropdown menus that lead to separate pages, please let me know. Once I get more completed projects up, I'll need a less linear way of navigating from project to project. For example, on the Ultramarines link, I'd like to have a dropdown menu for the Command Squad, and another for my upcoming Librarian. I'd like to split Miscellaneous into Tyranids and Assassins.

So the blog should read more like a journal and photo album now, as opposed to a chronological line of brain spew.


Raven Guard Scout WIP Post #4

More solid progress on my Raven Guard Scout squad. In fact, all of the painting on them is now done! Here is a final WIP shot of painting on one of the models:

This was the addition of Caliban Green on the gun casings. I really like this color here, as it breaks up the sea of black. It'll be even more apparent on power armored Marines, since those guys will have no grey pants to break things up. I'll need to rely on pouches, grenades, and gun casings to break up the black and silver.

An example of a couple final shots:

I really like the Caliban Green on the shotgun. I forget what the green I used for the edge highlights was, but it was a Reaper MSP paint.

I also made some serious progress on my base masters for casting. I took all of the 1" squares of plasticard I'd cut out, and carved a rough bevel into each edge. When I had four squares, I'd slather the base in plastic glue and randomly stick the first square on the base. Then it was a matter of sticking the other three on as well, pressing very firmly, and then  letting them dry.

Once the glue was fully cured (wait at least 24 hours), I flipped the base over, and used my X-Acto knife to score the plasticard around the top of the base. You have to be careful not to slice off pieces of the base itself while you trace around, and also be careful that you don't press so hard that you break the knife blade. One or two passes around are plenty, and it doesn't need to be perfect. It all gets cleaned up at the next step. Once the pieces are scored around the base top, you can just snap the plastic off of the base. Don't throw out the pieces you snapped off!

It's not really visible in this picture, but the next step is to go around the newly-snapped card and carve bevels into it in the same way you did when making the squares in the first place. Again, be careful not to slice the black plastic of the base and take the opportunity to cut away any glue drips that got onto the black plastic. It'll reduce the amount of filing you'll do on the final casts.

Now, for the second base, take those pieces you snapped off and use them to make another pattern. I like to randomly select one, glue it down, and then arrange the other scraps based on its position. It keeps things reasonably random. I don't want all of my bases to be perfectly lined up with the center of the stone seam in the center. That'd be pretty boring.

I repeated this process until I'd made five base masters, and since then I've made three more. I stopped at a total of eight because I only had ten bases to work with, and wanted to save a couple for backups, plus I wanted to save some of my card squares to make some 40mm bases for Terminators someday (Raven Guard actually do use Terminators, not just Assault Marines and Scouts!).

The next step is to check for any fine seams under the stone squares that the silicone for the mold might get into, seal them up with glue, and then get to casting.

In other projects, I've finished painting my Ultramarine Librarian. However, he's still in pieces as I haven't glued all the subassemblies together. Once he's done, I'll set up the lightbox and get pictures taken. After that, I'll mount my lascannon Marines for painting and get started on them. I'm hoping to paint them in a batch, but if they won't hold still in the mounting corks I'll have to paint them one-by-one.



I have pictures to share of my painting progress, but unfortunately/fortunately I wasn't able to pull them off the camera last night because I was busy negotiating to sell my house.

Instead, I'm going to ramble on about yet another project I'd love to do if I had the free time: Scrapwing.

What's Scrapwing? Well, it's this idea I have where I buy a unit of used Terminator models one at a time on eBay or Bartertown, strip them down to plastic/metal, and rebuild them into a Deathwing force. Deathwing from scrap models = Scrapwing.

I like to pride myself on my ability to rehab old models. There's a significant percentage of my Ultramarines that are made from pre-owned models or pre-owned bitz. Building an entire Scrapwing army would be neat, but it's not a project I'll actually tackle right now.

Why not? Well, here's where I ramble. The reasons are twofold:

1) Time. This is the big one. I'll be moving soon, if all goes well. Once that happens, I'll be up to my ass in farm work. I forsee a lot of my painting being done in the winter.

2) Money. Honestly, I'm not hurting for hobby funds, and if I were buying secondhand models and repainting them, things would be even cheaper. But the part that doesn't make monetary sense is the comparative costs.
You see, GW has been putting out some very good box set bundles and campaign sets. Dark Vengeance is a great starting point, and I'd likely pick up one set of the five Terminators in that set to start the project (if I were actually to do take it up). Right now, you can get a full set of the five DV Terminators for about $10-15. That makes each Terminator cost about $2-3. A multi-part model from any of the Space Marine ranges is $5 or $6 (for Chapter-specific models). So the DV models come in at less than half of a retail Terminator. Not bad, but you don't want to build a whole army from the same five models!
You can land used squads of various Terminators for anything from $10 to $100. These are typically someone's old Black Reach models, or poorly painted/assembled normal Terminators. Prices vary wildly based on the seller. You even have sellers hawking squads of old, metal Terminators in various states of paint and assembly for foolish prices. The more times the words "vintage" or "OOP" are used in the title, the more outrageous the price.

And then there's the seller I found who's been selling five-man, multipart Terminator squads for $25 shipped. It's the torpedo that sinks the Scrapwing boat. Tons of half-price, multipart Terminator kits are available for less than the cost of USED models. These are all being sourced from the Shield of Baal: Deathstorm box set.

Why, other than to be quirky, would you spend MORE money on used models to create a Scrapwing army when you can spend LESS money on brand new models? It's sort of a funny state of the game right now, with GW's awesome bundle deals in the form of campaign sets.


Raven Guard Scout WIP Post #3

My progress on these Scouts is still slow, but it has ramped up quite a bit. I've had to accept the fact that I am simply flat out terrible at step-by-step updates. I'll have to content myself with incremental updates. So, here are some incremental updates!

In my last post, I had applied the basecoat of Grey Liner to all of the armor parts. The next step was to wash it all down with Badab Black. You can see the wash is still wet in this image:

It doesn't bring the armor all the way back down to pure black, but definitely provides some darkening effect. After the wash was dry, I went back and applied edge highlights with Shadowed Stone, and then ever so slight touches of Stone Grey (those are Reaper MSP colors). Next was the pouches/holsters/straps. The color below is MSP Ruddy Leather, washed with Devlan Mud, and then brought back up a bit to Ruddy Leather, and a very light touch of Leather Brown on all the panels. Then, I hit the chest armor with plain grey, and then white. The grey is lost in this image because of the bright light. It didn't look quite right in the end, so I eventually washed it in thinned Badab Black and went back with the white again.
You can also see in the shot below that the chest armor is messy, especially at the left side of the skull, lower right wing, and the right side pouch lids. I'll go back and touch all those areas later. I like to do my cleanup all in one go at the end.

The next step was metals. The shot below is blurry and a bit of a poor example because the Marine only has a knife. I just applied Leadbelcher to everything, washed with Badab Black, then touched it all with Ironbreaker. The exception is the flats of all the combat blades. I left those dark, and applied brighter metal colors to all the cutting edges. It's a neat contrast effect.

I also started working on the bases for the models. Because every model will be on a 30mm base, and I had to bitz-buy the ten bases I have, I wanted to try making castable bases. However, my big problem with resin bases is that you only have so many designs. If you buy one of the beautiful sets from Secret Weapon or Dragon Forge Design, you're limited to the 10 or so bases they have. I didn't want to be limited in that way, so I decided to try casting "minimum detail" bases. Instead of adding all the sand, rock, and other decoration on the master base, I am just building the basic floor section and adding all the sand and deco to each cast afterward. That way I have a quick, easy startup but a lot of individuality in the end.
I wanted a broad stone paver design as the underlying detail, and then I can add sand and vegetation over top of it. To that end, I got out a bunch of scrap plasticard I had squirreled away, and used a rotary paper cutter to score it into 1"x1" squares. I will then carve the edges of each square a little to look like chiseled and worn stone, and arrange them on the bases. It's a technique I stole and modified from Grubnards at the Mandulian Chapel.

By altering the location of the four stone corners on each base, and then rotating the eventual casts by any of 360 degrees, I figure I can produce an unlimited number of similar-yet-unique bases from five or ten masters.

In regards to non-Raven Guard projects, I've also made some good progress on my Ultramarines Librarian, though I didn't take any pictures. I'd say he's about 95% done. I need to find a good jump pack for him. Right now he's only got his standard power armor pack, but I magnetized him to accept a jump pack. I'm looking at the plastic Vanguard Vets packs, a Finecast version of the previous VanVets packs (I have them all in metal, but that's FAR too heavy for 1/8" magnets), or even something from the Blood Angels range. I can't decide if I like the Sanguinary Guard jump packs with the wings left off. Anyone know if the gap left over from leaving the wings off is very noticeable?

My drop pod sits, incorrectly magnetized until I decide to order some new 1/16" magnets to fix it. It's a low priority. I've not touched the lascannon Marines beyond assembling them and picking their bases.


Help! Help! I need ideas to fix this...

I finished building and magnetizing my second drop pod last night. My first one went off without a hitch, following Ron's tutorial over at From the Warp. For this second one (a Forgeworld Deathstorm with missiles), I got a little cocksure and didn't double-check the steps of the tutorial. I realized once I'd glued the doors to the bottom hull that I'd placed the magnets in the doors too far back. As a result, the pod now stands with all the doors open about 30-40%, instead of firmly closed. In short, it looks stupid.

Can anyone think of a way I could fix this? The problem lies in the magnets in the doors, which are now inaccessible because the two halves of the bottom hull are glued together. I need to either move the magnets in the doors, remove the doors and replace them, or nullify the magnetic pull between the magnets in the doors and those embedded inside the bottom hull section. I need some way to hold the doors fully shut. Once they're opened, the model is just fine. I just can't put it on my army display tray looking like a half-opened flower.



Raven Guard Progress Dump

I've made some good progress on my Raven Guard Scouts, but unfortunately I did a really poor job of documenting the process. So, this post is more of a photo dump with words. With that warning out there, here are some pictures:

I continued working on the skin from the prior posts. After the thinned down Ogryn Flesh wash, I went back to Fair Shadow, then to Fair Skin, and a final touch of Fair Highlight. After those were try, I spot-touched again with Ogryn Flesh wash, thinned to an almost transparent look. Unfortunately, I am far too lazy to set up my light rig for WIP shots, so the whole effect is washe dout by my bright painting light.

After the skin was done, I put a coat of Brown Liner on the hair of each Scout. Reaper's MSP "liner" colors are near-black shades that were designed for dark-lining fantasy gaming models that have alot of material transitions. Honestly, I think it's a technique that's dying in the wake of easy washes that pick out detail withmuch less effort. But, I still have the Grey, Brown, and Blue versions, and the Brown Liner makes a nice base for dark hair. I'll go back later and lightly add lines to insinuate the hair texture. Basically, you rapidly paint a series of pencil-thinlines in the direction of the hair "flow" and then lightly wash over them to dull them down some. Depending on your monitor settings, you can see the difference between pure black of the primer and the brownish black of the liner paint.

The next step was the cloth, which I base coated using MSP Shadowed Stone.

I then applied a liberal wash of Badab Black to darken things down. This picture also shows the rudimentary eyes painted in. I am terrible with eyes, which is a bit of an obstacle for a Scout-heavy force!

After the wash was done, I went back to Shadowed Stone, then rough highlights with Stone Grey, and then very thin and sparing highlights of Weathered Stone, as it's a very light grey compared with the others. I tried a strong highlight initially, but it made it look like the model was wearing pants made of Siberian Tiger skin, lol.

I am now at the hard armor stage, to which I applied a basecoat of MSP Grey Liner. As you can see, it's a near-black grey color, and it makes a great base for black armor. If I'd started with pure black as a basecoat, there's only one direction to go...up. Highlights only. But by starting with Grey Liner, I can go both directions, up and down. I'll apply a wash of Badab Black, and then highlight upward with a mix of Grey Liner and Shadowed Stone, then refined highlights with Shadowed Stone and maybe Stone Grey.

Progress has been nice and steady on these models, but I'm stumped on the next step, the chest decoration. GW likes to paint Raven Guard with a lot of white on them. I've never been a big fan of that idea. Why put a ton of white on a Marine whose specialty is ambush and infiltration? Sort of gives away your position, you know? I cannot decide if the chest decoration should be a light grey, a dark grey like the pants and arms, or a silver metal color. What color do you think would fit? Keep in mind that my gun casings and frag grenades will be Caliban Green, kraks will be red, and pouches will all be a dark brown with silver fasteners and buckles. There will be NO gold on these models.

What color would you paint the chest decorations, keeping in mind the above and the fact that whatever color I choose will also carry over to the power armored models?