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!