Monday, April 23, 2012

Hobby Update: Ones and Twos

After wrapping up a bunch of Blood Wing projects last month, I've moved on to giving some of my other armies a little bit of love.

How could he not be awesome?
I am really hoping that whenever the new Chaos codex comes out that Possessed are just absolute filth.  I'm half expecting it as well.  In preparation, I'm grinding on what really amounts to two squads of five.  Initially, it was going to be one of ten, but I realized that when I was picking models for priming I grabbed both of the Aspiring Champion/Chaplain models.  It's not really a big deal, resulting in just a little extra black paint thrown around during basecoating.  For the other troopers, I put on their Mechrite Red, then applied the Scab/Gore Red mixture.  Now I'm up to straight Red Gore, then Chainmail.  There's a long way to go on everything, but it's nice to see things beginning to take shape.  I want to work out some unique details for each unit before I go much further, but Possessed are beautiful models and don't really need much added.

I promise there will be more colors
I've gone back and forth about what to do with the Manticore that I've had sitting around for most of the last year.  If I were to use it in the Widowmakers army, it would be painted in a more realistic (for a mythical creature anyway) style for an animal.  If I went with Chaos Daemons, I would be going for a more unnatural effect.  I still haven't decided what to do with the whole thing, but I thought it couldn't hurt to give the unridden head a shot and see how it turned out.  It would also afford me a chance to use some of the new paint line, since my greens don't get much of a workout currently.  I started off with a layer of Caliban Green on the mane.  From there, it's going to be Warpstone Green and then Moot Green on the more extreme lengths of the hair.  I want to really work on blending the colors well.  I have less space to do it than I'd like, but it should result in a cool effect.  Starting from black and going all the way to light would be a big change from the way I've painted anything in the past.  If all goes well, and I get close to the look I want, it'll definitely have an impact on my eventual decision.

Needs cleaning up, but looking good.
Finally, I'm still doing some Blood Wing stuff, but it is neither elite, nor is it red.  I procured the last Death Company models I needed following the tournament, did a little converting, and have begun working on painting.  Everything is primed, but the only model that's had major work done on it is the Mark of the Wulfen model.  I think this has a lot to do with how much I like how the model looks and how nice the new Ceramite White works.  Go out and try this stuff folks.  It covers black easily.  It covers red easily.  I'm not going to run out and start painting White Scars (or Knights), but I'm certainly more interested in trying to include it in various color palettes. As for the rest of the Death Company, they'll probably take a backseat to the Possessed, but I'm excited to be working with a new set of colors and a different style of armor.  For now, I need to focus on doing the rank and file guys.  It's so easy to get drawn into the shiny bits, but the bulk of armies really does get more time in the long run.

Hobby Accomplishments:
-Got initial basecoats on the Possessed
-Finished basing the Blood Wing
-Built and primed the Death Company and Astorath
-Closing in on finishing the DC Mark of the Wulfen
-Started working on the Manticore head

Hobby Goals
-Finish the DC Mark of the Wulfen
-Get the Red Gore and silver on the Possessed
-Work on blending skills essentially more of what I'm already doing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fantasy 40K, Round 2

In passing, I mentioned a fun exercise some friends and I had conducted previously that we called "Fantasy 40K."  The concept emerged as an amalgamation of other favorite pasttimes.  Namely, 40K (obviously) and fantasy football, with some other odds and ends likely contributing.  Essentially, we held a draft in which we pooled all the units in 40K, with the intention of filling out exactly one slot for each space on the force org, plus two more troops and two dedicated transports.  Each player would have to fit everything they picked into a 1500 point army, and we invoked the "Rule of Cool" to govern it all. 
I walked into the draft with a plan and walked away from the draft very pleased with the following list:  Ork Boyz, Tau Crisis Suits, Tyranid Mycetic Spore Pod, Grey Knight Interceptors, Blood Angels Death Company, Dark Eldar Haemonculus, Eldar Jetbikes, Grey Knight Dreadknight, Blood Angels Rhino.
The vision of the list is to use the Crisis Suits and their Orbital Relay to bring in the Haemonculus in the Spore Pod on turn two.  The Haemonculus drops a webway portal, then dies horribly as he's really the only thing on the board at this point.  From there, everything emerges from the portal and the fun begins.  That's the plan anyway, and we all know how plans go.
I managed to get in a game of this shenaniganery (shenaniganry?) on Tuesday and thought I'd spare a moment to talk about it.  My opponents list included Nemesor Zandrekh with the Stormlord, plus Bloodcrushers, Grey Knight Terminators, Blood Angel Assault Marines in an IG Vendetta, Eldar Rangers, a Chaos Marine Obliterator, a Chimera, and a Drop Pod.  We rolled Capture and Control with Pitched Battle, and I took the first turn.
It's a little bit of a proxy-fest.
I hid my Crisis Suit as far back and out of sight as I could.  It's always fun to spend three seconds to deploy a single model and it makes for a quick first few turns.  Unfortunately, nothing could stop his Vendetta from picking off my lone guy after a long scout move.  With that, I had to adapt my plan and hope some things broke my way.  I failed my initial reserve roll for the spore pod, but also failed for everything else except my Rhino and my Jetbikes. My opponent responded by committing his Terminators forward and wiping out my Jetbikes.  This was bad news since they accounted for one of my only two scoring options.  

Turn three opened more productively, as my Death Company, Orks, and Dreadknight all walked on, while the Haemonculus dropped in next to my opponent's objective.  Between the jump packs and the Waaagh, I managed to get three units into the Terminators, which more than did the trick.  The Orks jumped into the building containing my objective, while the Death Company and Dreadknight received a counter-charge from the Bloodcrushers.  It wasn't until after the first round of combat that I actually took the time to look up what Dark Excommunication did, and at that point, I realized the valuable lesson of always knowing your rules.  

In turn four, I hopped the Interceptors out of the webway portal, with the intention of assaulting the Rangers controlling my opponent's objective.  I thought I'd pour a few shots into them just for the heck of it and ended up killing two of the Eldar.  My opponent promptly spoke the magic words:  "It's leadership ten."  He promptly rolled box cars, and fell off the board in the following turn.  With no scoring units left near that objective, all focus shifted to mine.  I shunted the Interceptors back to try and take down the Vendetta, but just couldn't manage it.  My Dreadknight held off the Assault Marines to protect the Orks, but with the Vendetta contesting on the bottom of the turn, the game ended in a draw.

I was a little disappointed not to come away with the win, but we both had a really great time.  This goofy method of getting in games has proved to be extremely enjoyable.  Hit me up if you're interested and I'll point you towards our ruleset.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Clubbing Baby Seals Sustainably

First game while fully based and fully painted.
This past Thursday, my army was volunteered to play the youngest member of the league and his Orks.  To clarify, we're talking about someone who's voice hasn't quite changed yet.  This posed a question that I don't think I've ever had to answer in war gaming.    How do you play a kid?

My opponent had an OK grasp on the basic rules, but it was certainly not complete and tended towards giving him an advantage.  For example, he assaulted out of his Trukk after moving it, then informed me in the next round that it had an 'Ard Case so it wasn't open-topped and I wouldn't add one to my damage roll (sidenote: turns out Trukks can't even have 'Ard Cases).  Movement was spotty, with models starting behind the tape and ending pretty clearly past six inches.  Rulings on cocked dice seemed based around whether they might fall on success or failure.      

I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because he's young.  This is especially the case when recalling myself at that age.  I suppose the question posed is how best to respond.  If I let things slide, it'll reinforce mistaken notions about rules.  If I correct him too often, I might come off as nitpicking or exploiting his lack of knowledge, and ending up only discouraging him.  I ended up taking a middle road, letting the dice and movement slide, but reminding him about things like assaulting closest models to closest, and then showing him the best way to position his models in the movement phase to get the match-ups he wanted.

The beautiful city board.
Tactically, I played a little looser than normal.  I committed Logan's unit early, allowing him a chance to counter charge with multiple mobs.  Unfortunately, he didn't capitalize on my "mistakes", choosing instead to bring his reserves in on the other side of the board.  For the most part, his units were falling off the board on their own as non-horde Orks tend to do.  I did walk a unit of Nobz off the board by leaving a unit just within six inches of them.  Honestly, I felt like a heel doing it, but I tried to make it a point of learning, telling him to remember how to do it for when he played his dad's Marines.  That didn't make me feel better.  At the same time, I've never been a fan of "letting them win."  I've always tried to get better by playing against people that are better than me.

The game turned out to be one-sided, and my opponent was visibly frustrated.  I tried to make a few suggestions regarding wargear (power klaws over big choppas) and tactics (using bait units and how to bring numbers to bear), and told him to stay positive, but I can't help but worry I had a negative impact on his hobby.  Obviously, it's important to me for opponents to enjoy themselves, even when they're having a rough game.  In this case though, what's the most sporting way to play someone so young?  How do you help them along while not taking it overly easy on them?  And how do you ensure that they have a good time, so they'll stick around to become full grown seals?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Based Up

After a week of staring sullenly at figures laid gently onto their armor, I spent Thursday happily gluing Terminators back onto their bases.
Pre-painted resin casts.
Detail shot with both varieties of floor.
I built the master copies of each 40mm base from the inside of a bunch of Rhino doors.  Each of the sides is made from the edge portion of a Fantasy movement tray.  I was trying to communicate the idea of a hallway in a space hulk without blocking off much of the model.  The edges create just enough of an illusion that when someone cares enough to look closely, I believe that they'll infer what they're supposed to.

Once the masters were built, I turned them over to a friend of mine to be cast.  The turnaround time was just about a week, and I have to say, I'm pleased with the result.  On a few of them, you can see where the mold started to degrade a little bit after several casts, but he managed to get more than enough quality bases finished to complete the project.  As an added bonus, even the miscasts will be usable because of the simplicity of the design.  A little puddle of superglue can become a fluid leak.  I can also add pipes, hoses, and dead Tyranid bits to further accentuate the bases, while also providing splashes of color to add to the visual interest, and confusing you into thinking they're not all essentially the same.  And all this out of a bunch of people's random scraps!
Vargheist bases all painted up.

Group shot.
Painting was simple enough.  I primed black, then airbrushed with Blackened Steel from the Reaper Master Series paints.  I exercised just enough patience to allow that to dry, then set about trying to pose them.  I ran into much more trouble than I expected for a couple different reasons.  First, Terminator stances tend to be extremely wide.  I suppose there's a reason why they're on 40mm bases.  This leads immediately to problem two.  If you try to put Terminators facing into what would be a wall to make them fit easily, it spoils the illusion.  It ended up taking a little bit of finagling, but I got each model in a position that works.  There's a little more work to do as far as getting them all flush, but they're definitely fieldable again.
Try to pick the master from the copies.
Now try it double-blind style.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The League Gets... Bloody

There always seems to be something a little perverse about playing my army against an actual Blood Angel's force.  We make plenty of jokes about training exercises and dum-dum bullets, but it still looks weird to have all the red on red crime.

This happened on a Thursday, when the league organizer finally gave up and said, "Fine, Imperials can play Imperials because they outnumber the Axis this week."  This led to my match-up with a heavily meched up Blood Angels army.  It consisted of three different Predator tanks, a bunch of Razorback and Rhino transports with Assault Squads inside, some Sanguinary Guard, and a squad of scouts.  I had just finished building the Vargheist's bases, so I decided to run a full squad of Thunderwolves.  I also wanted to run the Land Raider once again, and decided to use the extra random points to make the squad inside seven strong, including Logan.  That should strike fear into most units in the game.

Enough red to make your eyes bloody.  Get it?
The mission we rolled was called "The Listening Post."  The primary objective would be one piece of terrain, based on making a 5+ die roll attempted each time we initially entered a wood or hill.  The secondary objective was a marker that was placed in the middle of the field, while the third was who could pop the most tanks.  With only one tank, I was pretty sure I could pick up the tertiary easily enough.  It was Dawn of War and I took first turn.  My plan was pretty simple.  I wanted to move into as many pieces of terrain as possible, as quickly as possible.  If I could find the main objective, I could castle up and I'd be hard to shift. 

I managed to make a mockery of this fairly simple tactic by failing roll after roll over the course of the first two turns.  I countered this by rolling well to pop his tanks and was stoked to have four points in the bag from turn one.  My opponent found the listening post deep in his back right corner, which would present a problem for me as I had already committed the Thunderwolves on the left flank, and the rest of the army was going to struggle to make it across the field fast enough.  The only thing close by was Logan's squad, safely delivered by their transport just before a string of 6's from the lascannon Predator blew it up.  They'd have to do the dirty work alone and quickly set to it.  Even with poor rolling, they just put out so much damage that they quickly carved out all the resistance in that corner.  To compound this, my opponent deepstruck his Sanguinary Guard in my end, and victory was preserved when the Thunderwolf Lord made it 24" to finish them off.  Unfortunately, they wiped out the remainder of my Terminators, so I could only secure the points for the primary and tertiary objectives. 

Thirty Guardians vs. five Death Company = Not Fair
My second was something of a surprise bonus game.  All my models have been pulled off of their bases while the master copies of the scenic versions are being molded and cast, so I had anticipated being out of commission.  However, the army that won best overall was offered to me while the owner went to lunch so his friend could get in another game, which meant I was playing real, actual Blood Angels for once.  Speed, light armor, and a Storm Raven makes for a very different army, but similar employment.  I was playing against a foot Eldar list with an old school, 3rd edition Rescue mission that would see us looking for two hidden objectives.

I elected to go first again and chose the side with more markers to search.  It turns out my decision was a good one, with my troops jumping out and quickly finding both markers.  The two units carrying the markers used their transports to quickly relocate to the opposite corner of the board from his firebase, while the Death Company and Assault Marines applied pressure, killing off Guardians and forcing a reaction.  My opponent was so busy dealing with them that he never had a chance to go after the objectives.  That said, he pretty much annihilated the rest of my force, leaving a grand total of thirteen marines alive by the end of turn five. 

That adds 28 points to my league tally.  We'll see how quickly I can get the rest of the boys back in action.  Hopefully the bases will be done by tomorrow, but if they're done by the weekend, it'll work. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Newish Hotness: On Not Knowing Any Fear

I finished reading Know No Fear recently, and I thought I'd share a few quick thoughts. 

Amongst all the Horus Heresy books, this one is easily in the top three, and could quite possibly be my favorite.  I found the structure of the book itself to be entertaining.  Dan Abnett creates a framework for the story by inventing a way in which the Ultramarines track engagements.  This both builds a sense of tension and provides a chronological timeline. 

I thought Abnett struck the right balance between story and action.  There were all the things we read these books for.  Starships blew up.  Tanks fired giant shells.  Chainswords crossed other chainswords.  Yet I still wouldn't describe this as bolter porn.  Despite a four page list of characters, which made me blink a few extra times when I first saw it, the author developed a lot of very interesting arcs that all tied together very nicely, while also creating distinctive, unique characters.   

That said, the book wasn't entirely without flaws.  A few of the engagements were a little unsatisfying.  Whether they might have used a little more description, or the character's actions didn't make sense, a few of the resolutions felt imperfect.  I hate to be vague, but let's just say one of these was climactic.  Additionally, it was very "in."  It was such a quality book, but I fear I can't recommend it to my non-40K friends because they'll have no idea what the larger storyline looks like or about the driving themes and nuances behind this confrontation.

These complaints are, for the most part, extremely minor.  As I said before, I thought this book was fantastic and if you only have a limited amount of time for reading and enjoy Black Library books, this one is a page turner.  It's definitely worth your time.