Bomb Pod!

I've been taking my time painting now that the Standish  Standoff is over. I've not really been working on improving or anything, just slowly picking away at models for fun. Right now, I'm applying paint to a Forgeworld Deathstorm Drop Pod.

I originally bought this model for my Ultramarines, but never got around to painting it despite having magnetized and assembled it into subgroups. As of this morning, it looks like this:

deathstorm drop pod

It's a pretty simple model. You replace the complicated harnesses with the missiles racks, which is a HUGE chunk of solid resin once assembled. Unfortunately, shortly after snapping this pic, I snapped off one of the little power feed cables you can see down near the base of the doors. I've broken it twice before, once while removing the sprue gates and once while painting. I couldn't find the piece on the carpet, but I don't think anyone will ever notice. If I do stumble across it later, it should be easy enough to slot into place and glue.

The next steps are the hazard stripes on the doors, and then the main black color. I plan to have it done for the monthly tourney at the FLGS on Saturday. It'll be a 2000 point day, so I'm just running my Standoff list (1750), plus this thing and a few other models. In game terms, the pod is impressive. When it lands, it hits every unit within 12" with d3 Whirlwind shots, each. After that, it functions like a regular Whirlwind, one shot per turn. Slap this bugger down in the middle of a gunline and BOOM.

Last Saturday I managed to get in my first ever game of Blood Bowl. I played Orcs against Humans and had a lot of fun. I'm planning to get the Orc models cleaned of mold lines, assembled, based, and primed soon. Painting will wait until after Christmas, as my wife wanted some small things to get me as gifts, and the pink paints I needed were a perfect option. I've already got various greens for their skin, but have never owned pink paint.

The Blood Bowl Orcs shouldn't take too long to paint, and after they're done I have more Raven Guard or some Harlequins to paint. Not sure which I'll go for. I'm struggling with basing ideas for the Harlies, so I'll have to take some shots and see if you folks can help me decide.


Raven Guard, Tactical Squad Ouvai

After painting my ass off for a couple weeks straight, I have another squad and a drop pod completed. You all know what a standard drop pod looks like, so I'm not bothering to share that. Plus, I cut some corners to get it done in time for the Standoff, so it's not my favorite.

Anyhow, here is Tactical Squad Ouvai. They're led by Sergeant Yasson Ouvai (YAH-sohn Ooh-VUY). It's just a 5-man squad right now, armed with a combiplasma and a plasma cannon.

Here are the bolter Marines. Suitably boring, though I'm trying to break up the wall of black paint with things like pouches and grenades. I've finally gotten a brown leather recipe I like for pouches. It's a basecoat of Reaper Ruddy Leather, a wash of Devlan Mud/Agrax Earthshade, and then an edge highlight of Reaper Leather Brown. Simple and effective.

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

Raven Guard tactical Squad bolters

Then we have Sergeant Ouvai and the plasma cannoneer.
Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon

Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon

Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon

Raven Guard tactical sergeant plasma cannon
I really like the plasma cannoneer model for some reason. As I looked at him over and over waiting to be 100% done, I started to become very enamored with his posing and the line of his eyes/helmet toward the target. It's an old, metal cannon from ye olden dayes. Normally I hate the metal heavies, but this one seems to work.
raven guard plasma cannon
Sergeant Ouvai isn't all that interesting, as all he's got is a combiplasma. No fancy wargear to paint or dynamic pose, but that's ok. the big thing I did with him is determine how I was going to mark him out as a sergeant. For my old Ultras, it was easy. Red helmet. But a red helmet on a Raven Guard model would look awful. I didn't want a white helmet, because I reserve white for veterans. I could say he's a Veteran Sergeant, but he's not. I racked my brain until I came up with this:
raven guard tactical sergeant arrow

It's a red, horizontal Tactical arrow from the Dark Angels section of the standard Space Marine transfer sheet. Red for sergeant, and a squad number. I was originally going to trim one point off it and turn it vertically, but I really liked the result. The only thing I was hesitant about was that I kept seeing an Eye of Horus symbol when I looked very quickly at it. I got over it, and I think I'll be using red squad markings for all my Sergeants in the future.

I played this squad at the Standoff, and it did jack in all three games. The plasma cannon fired maybe three times total across all three games. My guess is that that was the result of not having a transport and my attempts to use them to sit on hidden objectives. It's tough to get a good line of fire for the cannon, and if you need to move to adjust, you can't fire it anyways.
These guys were supposed to be a foray into a trio of Tac squads so I could run either the Pinion Demi or Battle Demi formation, but I'm reconsidering. I either need to paint up some Rhinos or move on. Tac squads just bore me to death with their options and slowness.


Standish Standoff 2016, After Action Report

Last Saturday (November 19th) was the sixth annual Standish Standoff tournament at the FLGS. It's our community's annual "big" tournament. This year it was 1750 points.

I ran my Raven Guard, with 100% Raven Guard painted models. The last few months and test games saw me using some stand-in Ultramarines models from my old army. I painted and painted to get all RG models on the table for the event.

My list was as follows:

Shadow Force
Captain, Raven's Fury jump pack, power fist, relic blade, artificer armor
Vanguard Vets, 5x, powerfist + pistol, dual lightning claws, grav + bolt pistols x2, sergeant with relic blade and storm shield, meltabombs on the claws and pistoliers
Sternguard Vets, 5x, 2x combigrav, meltabombs on sergeant
Landspeeder, Typhoon Launchers and Multimelta

Techmarine with servo harness
Servitors, 4x, two heavy bolters
Scout Squad, 5x, camo, pistol and CCWs, one shotgun, vet sergeant with power sword and meltabombs
Scout Squad, 5x, camo, bolters, heavy bolter with Hellfire
Tac Squad, 5x, plasma cannon, sergeant with combiplas
Assault Squad, 6x, two flamers, vet sergeant w/ lightning claw and meltabombs
Drop Pod (fast attack slot)
Dreadnought, twin-las and missile launcher
Devastator Squad, 5x, two lascannons
Leviathan Dreadnought, claw/drill, armored ceramite, three hunter-killer missiles

Fun, if inefficient. I'm looking squarely at you, Techmarine and Servitors.

My first game was against Warren and his Space Wolf list. I played against it in the first round of a tournament last month as well. The list was 95% units in Drop Pods, led by Ragnar. Everythign arrives turn one and gets Fearless and FNP (6+) until their second turn.
As usual, the game was a Maelstrom mission (as was every mission on the day). Warren placed a trio of objectives in a tight triangle near my deployment zone, so I knew he was going to focus his pods there. So, I used my infiltrators and scout moves to congest the area, and then lucked out and seized the initiative to drop my one pod right in the middle of the mess. This was key to the game being as close as it was, as I didn't have to clear a lot of Fearless Space Wolves off of objectives. Funnily enough, neither of us really drew many numbered objective cards in the game.
Warren took a narrow victory on the back of an early lead.

Game Two was against Thor from Creative Twilight. We seem to play against one another at least every other tourney. I'll just point you at his tourney report for the event for general details of our game. A narrow victory for him after I'd taken the early lead.

The final game of the day was against a very unconventional Tau list. Lots of Fire Warrior and Breacher squads on foot, two or three Ethereals packed into a Devilfish, a trio of flyers, and a metric ton of various Drone squads in a formation.
This one was a solid win for me, as my opponent was very rusty on Maelstrom missions in general. Not a lot of killing in this one, as I didn't really want to throw my jump troops into the massed infantry with Supporting Fire. That rule, along with markerlights, is my bugaboo for Tau. So frustrating. I just camped objectives and used my mobility to rack up points. It was nice to see a Tau list with actual infantry and no suits, and not just because I won. Of course, after the new FAQ, the list is neutered because the Ethereals can't use their command powers from inside that Devilfish.

I ended the day in the middle of the pack, 10th place of 22 on overall points. 13th in just battle points. 7th on soft points.
The only thing I did "well" with was the pub quiz, getting 7 of 10 questions right, if I remember correctly.

The event also featured some painting competitions, but I didn't enter any models this year. I had a few reasons for that.
Firstly, I didn't paint anything specifically for the competition. I painted purely to get models into games, and I don't enter models unless I feel they are showcase quality. My Raven Guard look nice, but they don't have much in the way of character. Flat black models don't tend to win painting awards.
Secondly, I've won a good number of the categories in past Standoffs. I've got a drawer full of purity seals from my Ultramarine models. I kind of feel guilty winning awards and just shoving them in a drawer. It sort of feels disrespectful to the competition. I know that's an odd sentiment, but it's how I feel. Finally, I've lost with models I worked super hard on in the past. The painting judges work super hard at a tough job, but I have some lingering feelings of being robbed. Petty? Probably.
All that added up to a simple lack of desire to enter models. It is what it is. I'll try next year with some Harlequin models or something.

I did have an enjoyable day. Three good games and a day out of the house was nice. There's a different energy to an annual event when compared to a standard monthly tourney.

Now that the event is over, I'm back to slowly painting instead of a flurry of activity. I'm picking away at a Forgeworld Deathstorm Drop Pod that I bought and assembled ages ago for my Ultramarines, but never finished. Once that is done, I'm not sure where I'll go. I've got a preorder in for Blood Bowl next weekend, and am looking forward to painting those models. I'm trying to avoid spending any cash on new Marine kits until I've exhausted some of my existing collection, but the lure of a big kit like a Stormraven or a Knight is strong.


Dreadtober Update #4: Work Complete!

This is my final Dreadtober update, because I successfully finished the model!

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought
Firstly, I fixed the sepia tone of my images. I covered the table with white paper to prevent the brown color from reflecting up onto the model. I also discovered that the shrouds I put over my front lights actually had small burns on them from the lightbulb heat. I changed those and it may have helped. Of course, fixing the white balance in GIMP also helps.
I replaced the model's right shin plate with one from the Ravenwing upgrade sprue. Many thanks to Berman from A Painted Life for the new plate. I like the bit of asymmetry it creates against the left plate. I really like the brass ribbed pipes. They break up the silver nicely. I didn't go with colored cables like I did on my Leviathan, mostly because the one power cable I'd apply color to is hard to reach on the lascannon. It crosses over that brass cable awkwardly.
The decals on the sarcophagus came out nicely. The XIX numerals came from an IG vehicle sprue, while the icons came from the Forgeworld Raven Guard sheet. I went with a grey-white for this model, and did edge highlights in pure white. You can't really see it in the pictures, but you can in person. I like the effect a lot, and it should stand out even better on infantry models that have more edges.
I played three games with this model last weekend before he was 100% complete. He's pretty ineffective with this armament. He just doesn't have the rate of fire needed to be a true anti-tank threat. After the Standish Standoff, I'll probably give him a new set of arms. Maybe multimelta and Dreadnought close combat weapon.
Next up is my 5-man Tactical squad packing plasma weaponry. I've already base coated the black and am at the edge highlight stage.


Dreadtober Progress Reports #2 and 3: Basic Colors and The Base

This week I have two Dreadtober updates to share in one post. I was out of town last week, so I missed the update on blocking in colors on the model.

Here's the current painting progress on the Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought:
Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

He's nearly done. You can see that I left his shins off for painting. You can also spot a small dot of silver on his left thigh area that needs cleaned up. I used Runelord Brass on small details like bolt heads and ribbed cables, washed it with Devlan Mud, and then touched it again with Ironbreaker because it looked too flat. It breaks up the monotony of silver nicely.

I'm supposed to use this model in a is weekend, so I'll probably concentrate on decals and final details like lenses and targeters next week.

In order to get him table-ready, I also started work on his base. I use a flagstone style base scheme for my Raven Guard, and I covered the process I used to make the first bases HERE.

The first step for the Dreadnought base was to slather the whole thing in plastic glue and start slapping down carved squares and scraps.
40K Flagstone Basing

The scraps are left over from building my original 32mm bases and the base for my Leviathan Siege Dreadnought. All the overhangs are very intentional in order to get a more random placement of the center flagstone on the base. The overhangs go away when I turn the base over a couple days later and use an Xacto knife to trace around the top edge. This scores the plastic and allows me to snap the overhanging parts off. Those scraps go in a bag for later use. The result is here:
 40K Flagstone Basing
After snapping the overhangs off, you angle your knife and carve the flagstone texture into the edges. You can see some of the little curls of plastic produced by this process in the picture above.
 40K Flagstone Basing
The final step is to add bits, rocks, and sand. I have a bin full of random offcuts from which I pulled that skull-arch thing (I believe it came from a 40K scenery scrap), and obscured by the glare in the upper left are two resin skulls from Secret Weapon's "Sack 'O Skulls". Those are top-notch quality, and I highly recommend them.
The bits get stuck on with superglue, and then I use PVA glue top make little puddles where I want rocks and sand. I randomly drop small rocks into the puddles, and then cover the remainder in sand. Both materials came from the springtime washdown at the end of my driveway. That's the little piles of sand and dirt left in the drive by the melting snow.
I try to focus on wonky areas of the base for rocks and sand, like the corners of the center flagstone. I got lazy and didn't carve it up enough, and so it looked too sharp and geometric. The rubble obscures that and solves the problem.
The base is now sitting in my garage, waiting for the primer to dry. I'll paint it tonight during the Bruins game.


Dreadtober Progress Report #1: The Build

As I mentioned last time, I signed up for Dreadtober this year. It's my first time taking part in a blogosphere challenge, though I had made painting vows at the Bolter and Chainsword 5+ years ago.

I challenged myself to build and paint a magnetized Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought by the end of the month. I love Dreads in general (also, Terminators), and the VenDread kit is dirt cheap on ebay because of all the folks splitting up Death Masque box sets.

I wanted to fully magnetize the arms on the model, as I did the first time I built the kit for my Ultramarines. However, I specifically wanted to avoid using any of the parts I used last time to make it more interesting to paint.

Here's the build as it stood yesterday morning:

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought

I selected the lascannon arm from the kit, and added a spare missile launcher from my bits box. I sank 1/4 inch magnets into the arms and the shoulders. I'll build and paint the rest of the possible armaments some other time.

The Body

Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought Sarcophagus
For this Raven Guard Dreadnought, I decided to select the bare glacis plates and sarcophagus. I wanted some nice, uninterrupted area to add decals and paint white. The majority of the model will be black and metals, so I wanted some white that would stand out no matter what arms I gave him on a given day. After test fitting the blank sarcophagus, I changed my mind and went with a more detailed version you see above. Making the whole front of the model plain felt like a waste of the Venerable kit and looked pretty uninteresting as a whole.
The left glacis plate will get an XIX (Raven Guard are the nineteenth Legion) decal and either a black skull or crux terminates design, over which will be placed a large purity seal for visual interest. The right plate will get the Chapter symbol. I've already added another couple purity seals on the body since taking this shot.

The Legs

 Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought Leg Plates

These are the purity seals and leg plates I selected. The light seals are from the Forgeworld Captain Korvydae kit I used as the basis for Corben Beck, while the larger one is from the Land Raider Crusader accessory frame.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the leg plates provided in the Venerable Dread kit. There is an alternative set than those pictured, but they're pointed at the top and look odd. I don't mind the right plate above, but the left one really irks me. It has molded-in text (Arx, Calth, Talassar, and Lost Hope). These are planets with which the Raven Guard have no affiliation. Why would a Raven Guard Dreadnought have the names of these planets carved into his armor plating? I can explain it away as a salvaged plate or some sort of Deathwatch service remnant, but I'd prefer not to. There is a nice, semi-fancy plate in the old Ravenwing Upgrade frame I could use, or I can just grab a plain one from the standard Dread kit. I've not glued these on yet, so there's still time to change my mind. Anyone have any suggestions for explaining away the pictured plate?
only left side option has script on it: Arx, Calth, Talassar, and Lost Hope. The Raven Guard weren't present at any of those planets during their destruction, so I have no idea how I'll explain it away. It bugs the hell out of me, but I didn't have any other options. Thankfully, I've not glued them on yet so if I manage to find a replacement before the end of the month, I can use that.
Anyone have any other suggestions for explaining why the above plate might appear on a Raven Guard Venerable Dreadnought?

The next step is to build the base to match the rest of my models. It'll involve cutting squares of plasticard, carving them, and then gluing them on the 60mm base to make flagstones. I very briefly thought about casting the result for reuse, but I don't think I'll use many more 60mm bases in my army.


Raven Guard Assault Squad Cyrax, Complete

Assault Squad Cyrax is now complete. Let's jump right into photos and I'll ramble afterward.

Hopefully, I've gotten rid of the sepia tones that plagued my previous photos. I did some reading and it was suggested that to take good images of black objects, you point the camera at a neutral gray item, open the shutter (half-press the button on a digital camera), shift to the black item, and then take the shot. I used the bottom of a bottle of gray paint (you can just see the cap on the far left of the first few images). That seems to have helped.

I actually ran these guys in the FLGS's monthly tournament last weekend. They hopped around, trying to stay out of LOS until it was time to kill things or expose themselves to grab an objective. In my first game of the day they only fired once, but accounted for over twenty Guardsmen in a single shooting phase. Double flamers, frag grenade, and bolt pistol shots on grouped Guard was cruel.

I discovered that Raven Guard play MSU very well with jump troops who can stay out of line of sight until the last moment. Provide very few targets and focus heavily on grabbing objectives and maneuvering for others. I don't have any major shooting or death stars in my army other than my Leviathan (who I shoved into a drop pod to great effect), so staying disengaged as long as possible was a key factor to my tied-for-third place finish.

Now that the squad is done, I've been building a small tactical squad with plasma cannon and combi-plasma while waiting for Dreadtober to begin. I'll have my pledge post up soon. I'm going to be painting a Venerable Dreadnought.


Assault Squad WIP 2, Decals

Assault Squad Cyrax is nearly done. I'm at the decal stage, after which only basing is left. This is what the squad-side shoulder pads look like on each Marine:

Raven Guard Fast Attack Pad
Raven Guard Sergeant Fast Attack Pad
You'll notice that the pad is very shiny. That's the gloss varnish I use before applying decals to avoid air bubbles and silvering. Silvering is where the translucent decal paper around the design becomes apparent and ruins the effect of the decal. The gloss varnish, combined with Micro Sol and Micro Set, eliminates that.
I used to despise decals when I was first learning to paint my Ultramarines. I tried using an old set of Third Edition decals on my first ever Ultramarine model (a sergeant). I only used water, and the decals were so bad I had to scrub them all off and repaint the shoulders. I switched to freehand for years, up until I started Raven Guard and realized I would never be able to freehand the Chapter symbol. Ever.
I managed to score a full, untouched sheet of Forgeworld Raven Guard decals. I got them secondhand, as FW no longer produces this nice set. The current Legion sheet for 30K is worthless for 40K models. The Forgeworld sheet is very nice and has a ton of symbols and numbers of all sizes.
The Fast Attack squad symbols are actually straight off the regular GW Space Marine decal sheet. They applied nicely after I cut slits between each arrow. This allowed them to sit flat on the curved surface. After they had dried overnight, I glossed lightly over them. I allowed another night's drying for the varnish and today I layered the black squad numbers over top of them. Layering decals works very nicely as long as you gloss varnish between layers. I wouldn't put too many layers though, or you risk a big, thick area of varnish.
The shiny finish is easily knocked back down to matte using Testor's Dullcote.
I also found some time to start assembling a Harlequin Troupe. Six models in the unit. The only thing I've done so far is assemble the legs. These things are so foreign to me after working with Marines for so long.
harlequin leg bits assembled
Harlequin legs, so dainty!
After looking at the instruction sheet and assembling the legs, I felt a little disappointed that there will only ever be six poses in my entire force. But then I realized that that is actually more or the same variation than there is in most Marine armies that use the older kits. When I combine the swappable torsos, arms, and masks among the units, I think it'll be fine. I can also always try to get some of the most recent metal/Finecast models (not the ancient ones) to provide some tiny variations as well.
I think this will be a great army to build and paint.

As a final note, you'll notice that I've started adding captions, title, and alt text to my images after reading a great article over at Broken Paintbrush. I'm also loading my images directly to Blogger instead of hosting them on Photobucket. Photobucket has become nearly unusable for me due to all the ads and scripts. I opened the Photobucket page an HOUR ago and it's still not loaded properly. Does anyone know if there are any down sides to hosting images with Blogger?


Assault Squad WIP and an Army List

My half-hour-a-day plan is working quite well. I've managed to get that time in every day except the weekend and Monday. The ability to make small advances each day is great for my motivation. Assault Squad Cyrax is all done with paint, and is now waiting for decals and bases. Here's a couple of shots of Sergeant Cyrax and his lightning claw.

Once these guys are done, I'll build a troupe of Harlequins or maybe the Death Jester. I'm not sure yet if I'll paint them immediately afterward or hold off.

This past Saturday I got a three-player game in with Berman from A painted Life and Falconator from Falconator's Painting. We each brought 1750 points and had a go at beating the snot out of one another. We only got two full turns in before we had to break it up for the day, but it was a lot of fun. they were working on testing elements of their Standish Standoff lists, and we talked about various aspects of list building and such. I was lamenting my inability to keep lots of formation rules straight in my head when Berman pointed out that if what I was taking didn't get ObSec from its formation, nor from the CAD, why not take it in the formation anyways and use the rules when I remember them. For example, my Shadow Force fits inside the CAD I was planning to take, gets a lot of rules from the formation, but nothing from the CAD. Why not simply take it alongside the CAD and use the Shadow Force rules when I remember them?

With that being said, my draft Standoff list is:

Shadow Force
Captain (relic blade, power fist, Raven's Fury jump pack, artificer armor)
Vanguard Vets x5 (two with bolt+grav pistols, one with dual claws, one powerfist, and sergeant with relic blade ans storm shield, three meltabombs on the pistols and claws, jump packs)
Sternguard Vets x5 (two combigrav, sergeant with meltabomb)
Landspeeder (Typhoon Launcher, multimelta)

Techmarine (servo harness)
Servitors x4 (two with heavy bolters)
Scouts x5 (veteran sergeant with power sword and meltabomb, camo cloaks, everyone is pistol/blade except a single shotgunner)
Scouts x5 (camo cloaks, heavy bolter with hellfire rounds, everyone else with bolters)
Assault Squad x6 (jump packs, flamers x2, veteran sergeant with lightning claw)
Devestator Squad x5 (two lascannons)
Leviathan Siege Dread (claw/drill arms, armored ceramite, three hunter killer missiles)

This leaves me 270 points to play with. I want my Leviathan to be a little more threatening, so I'm going to build and paint him a Drop Pod. The current 40K rules sheet for him allows it, so long as it's a Fast Attack pod.
One of the falling down points of my list is the shortage of bodies and of anti-tank weaponry. I can expect to see a boatload of transports at the event, so I'm going to paint five Tactical Marines with a heavy weapon and possibly a combibolter on the sergeant.
With the final points, I'm going to add a Venerable Dread with a lascannon. You see, I signed up for Dreadtober. makes sense to add that Dread into the list.

I know the list overall is weak. I'm super motivated to turn it into a Talon Strike Force right now by building fifteen Tac Marines for a Demi Company. I'm going to concentrate on painting those usints I mentioned, and then if I have time do some swapping or adding. The first thing I'd like to swap out is the Techmarine, as he and his servitors aren't really all that efficient or useful. I'd likely swap in an ML2 Librarian with or without a jump pack, and then some individual models added to other squads. I have to get the pod, tacs, and Dread done first though.


I Have Time!

Yes, dear readers, I once again have free time for 40K! It's a minor miracle!

The growing season is winding down, and the farm's first year is almost behind me. It was an interesting year, but you don't really care much about that. The great news is that I now have a little bit of free time to myself to work on 40K. Granted, it's not an immense amount of time. Just a half hour or so each weekday while my son is at school, but that's a lot when compared to the last year or so. I'm specifically setting that half hour block aside each morning after the farm animals are fed, but before I work on other farm projects. Expect to see more frequent "small bite" blog posts from me. I'm hoping to take at least one picture every other day, excluding weekends. This may all fall to pieces, but it's good to have dreams.

So with all that being said, what are my immediate plans? Well, I've had a six-man Raven Guard Assault Squad in the works for what feels like ages (and probably is). Two flamers and a sergeant with a lightning claw in the squad, backed up by a trio of pistol/chainsword Marines. I know six is an unusual number for a squad, but I was working on burning up the remainder of my old Assault Marine bits. I had six torsos and legs, so I built six Marines.
Here's a shot of them as they sit right now:
Black-armored Marines don't photograph well. I think I may need to print up a colored gradient sheet to put behind them from now on.

I've named the unit "Assault Squad Cyrax." Sergeant Aron Cyrax is a veteran of numerous campaigns against the Greenskin filth. Yes, the name is from Mortal Kombat 3. Everyone loves robot ninja assassins! Maybe I'll have a Sektor and Smoke unit?

Once these guys are done, I'll be turning my sights to the annual Standish Standoff in November, the FLGS's annual autumn event. It's 1750 points this year, max of two Factions per army. I'll be taking my Raven Guard, and have been drafting up various lists. I've got a couple ideas kicking around revolving around a Talon Strike Force built on the back of a Battle Demi Company. The struggle I'm having is that the Battle Demi and Pinion Demi (Raven Guard version of the generic Demi Company) require a bunch of Tactical Marines. I'd need to paint fifteen, plus another HQ. I'd be paring almost every unit down to bare bones in order to fit in the rest of my RG models, because my Leviathan Siege Dreadnought is NOT sitting on the sidelines. I want to play with units I like. The formation benefits are great, but there are just so many rules!

I'm seriously thinking about going back to basics and running my Raven Guard as a CAD. ObSec on the Troops and that's it to worry about. Let the army run on the merits of its component units, not on janky and sometimes downright confusing bonuses (played against Tau formations recently?). It might help me out as a player to run my units "pure" before I try to run them "special." Is anyone else sick of the millions of special rules coming about from Formations and overarching Detachments?

Also of note is that I split the Death Masque box with another player at the FLGS...I took the Harlequin half. Yes, that's right, I own fancy schmancy Space Elves. Perhaps the fanciest and schmanciest of the bunch! I wanted something other than black power armor to paint every now and then. I put aside my anti-elf bias that dates back to my D&D days long enough to see how interesting and challenging these models will be. I will likely be assembling them as six-model troupes and then painting them in pairs or trios in between all the Raven Guard models. I've not picked a color palette yet, but I'm hoping to avoid blue and black due to the history of my Marine armies (Ultramarines and Raven Guard). I quite like the look of the Shattered Mirage (teal and white with red/white checking). I also have to think about how to base models like that. I believe many of the models have integral wraithbone base bits in order to make them stand up on a base at all.

I'm hoping to capitalize on my half-hour-a-day blocks and paint up a whole bunch of my existing Space Marine kits. I'd really like to have half my stash painted by the New Year. In fact, I think I'll do a full inventory soon, post the list here on the blog, and do a little self-imposed challenge to get half the stuff done by January. Sprinkling Harlequins in there should help break up the monotony.

Here's to having a plan and at least a little time to implement it!


Raven Guard Leviathan Siege Dreadnought

Morning, all. I've been absent from the blog for quite a while now, so I wanted to share some pics so you know I'm not gone. Just busy with farm work. I opened our farm stand the other day, and have been busy with general farm life.
Originally, I wanted to pen some fluff to go with this guy, but I haven't typed anything up yet. I'll just have to add it later when I've had a chance to get it typed up. In short, he's a lost relic that was recently rediscovered and can't fully remember who he is.
The model itself was an absolute blast to work on, and on the table he's incredibly fun whether he lives or dies. I point him at the biggest enemy model and drop the leash. I'm thinking of a way to add kill markings to him for auspicious kills like Knights and such. Anyone got any suggestions? I thought about adding small red lightning bolt transfers around the "wrist" of whichever weapon made the kill. The drill for vehicular kills, the claw for monsters.


Fratris Salutem 2016 After Action

Hello, everyone.

This past weekend (May the 21st) was the annual Fratris Salutem at my FLGS, a narrative story event. Thor from Creative Twilight has been running the event for the last three years and invests a lot of time and energy into it. It's always a blast, with great games and nice looking armies.

This year I had been painting my ass off to bring my Raven Guard. My intended list was:

Shadow Force
Captain, 5-man Sternguard, 5-man Vanguard, Landspeeder

Raven Guard CAD
Techmarine with 4 Servitors, two 5-man Scout Squads, Leviathan Dreadnought

Grey Knights Nemesis Strike Force
Librarian, 5-man Terminator Squad

Unfortunately, I just couldn't paint hard enough to get all of that done. Instead, I swapped out the Nemesis Strike Force for some of my old Ultramarines in the form of a Suppression Force. It was made up of two Whirlwinds and two Typhoon Landspeeders with multimeltas. I wasn't thrilled with using more Ultramarines, but the Landspeeders were really valuable in all my games.

I won't get into a blow-by-blow for my games, but each one was a lot of fun. I faced Orks in the first game, Daemons in the second, and Tau in the third. I struggle against that particular Ork list because I lack ranged anti-tank in enough volume to crack three Trukks in the first turn. Trukks filled with MegaNobz tend to steamroll my line in a hurry. The Daemon opponent's dice turned on him early, leading to a very close-fought bloodbath after six turns. We had a total of four models on the board at game end. tau are tough to beat these days with all their markerlight tricks. I kept forgetting about Supporting Fire as well, which is a rule I grumble incessantly about.

This year was the best Salutem yet. Great turnout (sixteen players I think), varied and interesting missions, and lots of interesting armies. I took home the Judge's Choice award for the Imperials, which I believe is the highest soft score total.

Now that the event is over, I'm taking my sweet time on any additional painting. There's some burnout that comes with a month-long push to finish models. I'm working on a small, 5-man Devastator squad with a pair of lascannons. Nothing fancy, but it starts to fill the lack of ranged anti-tank that is glaring in my army. I won't bother with WIP shots here on the blog, because everyone knows what Marine infantry looks like. Instead, I'll be catching up on taking pictures of my existing RG models that I never shared due to the rush to paint everything before the event. Watch for those on the blog in the coming days and week. I've got a lot of farm work to do around here, so painting time will be limited to nights when I'm not completely exhausted. My plan is also to name and put down on paper the stories for each squad in the army, or at least the more important ones.


Leviathan Dreadnought: Nearly Done

My Leviathan Dreadnought is nearly done! More phone photos, because that's all I've got for now:

Front shot. Right now, he's pretty basic. Black armor, metal understructure, little brass details here and there. I wasn't too sure about how plain he looks, but then I remembered that I'll be adding white decals to him as well. He's not a Venerable Dread, so he won't get a bunch of white paint. I briefly thought about a white helmet, but skipped the idea. I'm still writing an intro story for him, but he's basically a long-forgotten relic of the Chapter, nearly expunged from history due to data degradation and the vagaries of a Chapter having a massive armory. He'll start out plain and unadorned other than a few markings, and start earning honors again as I run him in games.

 Close up shot. You can see where some wash pooled under his eye lenses. Because I haven't finished the eyes yet, I didn't bother cleaning this up. I like to overpaint the lenses, and then cut back in with the armor color. I also tried something new for me, and painted the rivets with the armor highlight color instead of a metallic. I like how it came out. I felt the little dots of silver would havelooked out of place on the big planes of black armor.

 Rear shot. I've since added some brass details on those little box things on his back, as well as whatever those little round things are just under the top armor. It was too much silver.

I took these shots before starting painting last night, and stopped for the evening after completing the power cables and washing the brass details with Devlan Mud/Agrax Earthshade. The cables are green and purplish red. He'll also get green eye lenses. I figure one or two more nights and he'll be complete. Then we'll see how the phone pictures turn out when I use three lights instead of angling him under my OttLite.


Testing Phone Photos

I've been making headway on painting my Leviathan Dread, but haven't taken any pictures because the nice digital camera we own is currently without batteries. I took Thor from Creative Twilight's advice and tried using my phone. Here's what I got (after passing it through GIMP filters):

Not bad, considering I just took it directly under my OttLite with no major adjustments other than GIMP auto levels filtering. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini. The trick was finding the Magnifier widget. The camera doesn't normally zoom in far enough to take good macro shots, but some quick Googling told me that the magnifier widget did the same thing.

So now I can start posting images again, though I've found that the black armor of raven Guard really requires some better lighting setups than I have right now. I might have to make some adjustments to white balance and such to get rid of the sepia tone that seems to be invading my low-rent lightbox images.

As for the Leviathan, right now I have him about 75% done. I have all his black armor done, as well as all the silver metallics. Last night I dabbed some Runelord Brass into various details, and really like how it breaks up the silver and black look. For example, I added brass to the little round nubs inside his calves, as well as those grille/vent things on his claw and drill arms. I think I might continue that step into all of my vehicles and maybe infantry as well.

I know the pose above isn't super dynamic, but it's funny how limited the Leviathan kit is in that regard. You have a very limited range of motion for his arms due to the sarcophagus armor extending out over the shoulder area. You can't move the legs too far without leaving gaps under the shins. That kneecap armor bit is only so large. My Leviathan's left leg is bent about as far back as it can be before you leave a gap in the area between shin and knee. Regardless, it's an impressive model and I'm enjoying painting him. I did have a brief mishap with a Nuln Oil wash. I keep fighting tide marks in my washes, despite using flow improver to avoid it. On this model I had huge patchy tide marks on all the armor. Some areas actually ended up being sticky instead of drying. I had to scrub some of it off with a damp brush and repaint the MSP Gray Liner I use as the armor base coat. I wonder if it's the water in my new house. We had to install a filtration system for hard water (very common in Maine), and there's a salt pellet tank involved. Maybe the softening salts are jacking up the paint chemistry?

I should have the Leviathan done in the next week or so, and then it's on to a small Scout squad.


Cursed Machine Spirits!

Hello, everyone.

I had a very nice, long post to share with you all last week, but it didn't work out. I wrote up all sorts of info on the progress I've made on my Raven Guard Vanguard squad (finished, played a couple games with them), as well as my Sternguard squad (paint in progress), and Leviathan Dread (mostly assembled). I put in place markers for pictures, and then went to take said pictures. That's when I discovered the machine spirits of the camera were acting up.

I burned some incense and used motor oil in supplication, to no avail. It seems the replacement batteries I'd bought less than five months ago are Ork tech, and only work on a roll of a 6. In short, the pair of batteries refuse to hold a charge whatsoever. Now I have to same some pennies and buy new ones. Until then, I have no way of taking legible photos of my models. I could try taking some with my phone, but I have a feeling it won't be pretty.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on my Raven Guard in preparation for the April monthly at the FLGS. 1500 points, in what is described as a "random partners" format, but you don't play on the same table as your partner. Instead, you and your partner get to decide who plays who from the opposing team. I'd probably call it a "linked fates" tourney, since you have a partner, but don't actually partner with them in the games. You just hope they/you do well enough in their games to carry the day. Sounds neat to me.

I'm figuring I'll have my full Shadow Force available to play with, and then I'll ally in some of my remaining Ultramarines models. Jump Librarian and some Assault Marines, Scouts, and maybe some Dreadnoughts?

In May we have the annual Fratris Salutem, which is a 1500 point narrative campaign day. By then, I hope to have all my Ultras out of my list, replaced by Raven Guard. Ideally, I'd like to run my Shadow Force, plus a Raven Guard CAD with a Techmarine and Servitors, two Scout Squads, and my Leviathan Dread. Back all that up with a Grey Knights Librarian leading a GK Terminator Squad. Of course, that depends on me painting the Leviathan, Techmarine, three to five Servitors, a 5-man Scout Squad, and all the Grey Knight models by mid-May. That's a tall order!

I'd better start painting faster.


Dread Reinforcement Arrives!

I may or may not have mentioned a while ago that my wife bought me a great birthday present this year. She ordered me a Leviathan Siege Dreadnought from Forgeworld! It's the Claw/Drill variant, which is the one I wanted. The box arrived last week, and I thought I'd share an impromptu unboxing.

Opening the shipping box presents the box for the Leviathan itself, plus the invoice and catalog. The Forgeworld catalog is getting thick these days! The wife immediately vetoed my request for a Warlord Titan as a Father's Day gift.

The arms come in their own individual packages.

The body and legs come in their own bag, as is usual for FW. The instructions for the model are very well done and nicely presented.

There are no images for the arms, but they go together pretty simply.

It's a great kit, and FW must be using a new resin of late, because the whole thing is far lighter than I expected it to be. Not sure why, but I was expecting this thing to be weighty because of its size. It comes on an 80mm base, but feels like it will weigh the same as a standard plastic Dread.

I'll be taking my sweet time on this model. He's going to be a centerpiece of my Raven Guard, so I need to make sure he looks good. His rules (found here) only allow him to take a Dreadnought Drop Pod as a transport, so he'll be charging across the table a lot. With a front AV of 13 and a 4++, he should make it interesting. Plus with all the Scouts, Terminators, and jump Marines around him, he'll present some interesting games. I want to smash him into an Imperial Knight at least a couple times.

As far as the rest of my Raven Guard projects, I'm making good progress on the Vanguard Veterans after stalling on the white. I'm hoping to debut the Raven Guard this coming Saturday at the FLGS monthly tourney. It'll just be an Allied detachment of my Captain, Vanguard, Landspeeder, and some Scouts until I can complete the Shadow Force formation by swapping the Scouts for Sternguard.

The units I have built right now will require me to field a CAD in order to get the Leviathan onto the table. He's not eligible for any formations, and you can't use an Allied Detachment that has the same Chapter tactics as your primary detachment.
I think what I'll do is build a Techmarine and Servitors along with another 5-man squad of Scouts to flesh out the CAD in which the Leviathan will live, so I don't have to dismantle my Shadow Force to get him on the table.

Anyhow, I'm still really enjoying building this new army. It won't be your stereotypical "Pinion Demi Company plus Shadow Strike Kill Team" build that relies on fist turn non-scatter deepstrike charges. Instead, I'm looking at the "headhunter" type formations from Space Marines and Kauyon. These formations facilitate the targeting and killing of specific units from the enemy army. I feel like that's how I want my Raven Guard to play. Slice off the head, while fast, flexible, but not overpoweringly strong units claim objectives and outmaneuver the enemy. We'll see how things pan out on the table, of course.