Sunday, October 1, 2017

Models Finished an Edition too Late

As I've said many times before, I'm a very slow modeler. Although events in real life have slowed my rate of painting even more, I've still been able to get a few models done recently. Unfortunately, I started all of the most recent batch during 7th Edition and finished them after the previous edition was obsolete.

Two of the recently completed models are the timeless bolter-armed Tactical Marines. Although I don't really need many more Tactical Marines with bolters, especially now that we can take Primaris Intercessors, I wanted to diversify the Marks of armor in my Tactical Squads. One Tactical Marine is wearing a full suit of Mk VI power armor while the other has a Mk IV helmet. (I'm rather fond of the Mk IV helmet and was very happy to see that the Primaris Marines' Mk X armor has a very similar helmet.) The Marine with the Mk IV helmet also has an archaic outline-only Chapter logo from ForgeWorld's Ultramarine Legion transfer sheet.

Three additional Tactical Marines are armed with grav weaponry: one with a grav-cannon, one with a grav-gun, and a Sergeant with a combi-grav. Although grav weapons are still a decent upgrade option (and are a lot less situational since the new rules make them effective against lightly armored units like Ork Boyz), they're not quite the must-take weapons that they were in 7th Edition.

The grav-cannon Marine is also equipped with Mk VI armor. I made the small Tactical logo on both Corvus-armored Marines' shoulder pads by cutting down a full-sized transfer with a razor.

The final model is Chief Librarian Tigurius, whose pewter model I bought back when I started the hobby in 2011. I don't much care for the old pewter models, but the introduction of the Librarius Conclave in the last Space Marine codex convinced me to build a trio of Librarians led by Tigurius. Sadly, by the time I finished painting the model, the Librarius Conclave was obsolete. The other two Librarians (one with a jump pack and one in Terminator armor) are primed and sitting in my storage case. At this point, the only reason I'll ever finish them is because I'm a fan of GW's plastic Librarian models.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Now for Something Completely Different: X-Wing Nashtah Pup Repaint

I mentioned late last year that I had started playing Fantasy Flight's X-Wing Miniatures game. Jake, our fellow Cabal member, local HobbyTown owner, and favorite pusher of Plastic Crack®, introduced the rest of the Cabal to X-Wing in the first half of 2016. Within a couple months I was spending way too much money on little plastic spaceships as well as little plastic soldiers.

One of the appeals of X-Wing is that the ships are pre-painted. When it comes to 40K I'm a hobbyist first and foremost, but it takes me so long to paint a squad that one or two editions might pass before I finally get that new unit finished (Centurions were introduced in 6th Edition; 8th Edition will have been released before I have a squad of them painted). X-Wing ships, on the other hand, can be played straight out of the box. Now I can play X-Wing when I don't have any new Ultramarines painted up and don't feel like playing yet another variation of the same Space Marine list. Recently, though, I had the irresistible urge to paint one of my pre-painted ships.

(From here on I'll be referring freely to aspects of X-Wing with little background information. Newcomers to the game can find any information they need from the excellent X-Wing Wiki.)

A YV-666 (the kind of ship the bounty hunter Bossk used) can take the Hound's Tooth Title for just six points. With the Title, the Hound's Tooth can deploy a Z-95 Headhunter, the Nashtah Pup, upon destruction of the parent ship. Unfortunately, Fantasy Flight doesn't make a miniature of the Nashtah Pup, requiring players to buy a Z-95 separately. For most people that isn't a problem; you can simply buy a Rebel Z-95 or you can get two Scum & Villainy Z-95s with Black Sun syndicate markings in the Most Wanted pack. However, the Nashtah Pup's pilot card clearly shows that Bossk's Z-95 is painted brown and maroon and has teeth-like markings similar to those on the Hound's Tooth itself. Since buying the YV-666, I haven't been able to bring myself to field a Rebellion or Black Sun Z-95 as the Nashtah Pup.

Pictured: not the Nashtah Pup

On Friday, I bought another Rebel Z-95 with the express purpose of painting it as Bossk's escape vessel. I painted the bulk of the model with GW's Steel Legion Drab, Mephiston Red, Agrax Earthshade, and Leadbelcher. I used a tiny bit of Nuln Oil and White Scar for details. The miniature took the paint pretty well without needing to be primed.

I'm reasonably happy with the final result given that it only took me an afternoon and I was able to use paints that I already have. Although I wish that Steel Legion Drab better matched the YV-666's reddish-brown color, the Nashtah Pup is only deployed when the Hound's Tooth is destroyed; it's harder to notice their differences when they don't spend too much time side-by-side.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jump Pack Sergeant and Chaplain

Unfortunately, I've finished very few models since I completed the Assault Squad back in November. Because I'm a huge fan of how the Eviscerator looks (if not its points cost), I decided to build a second Veteran Sergeant for the Assault Squad wielding a heavy chainsword. Immediately thereafter, I moved on to a jump pack Chaplain conversion to fulfill the HQ requirement for a Space Marine Demi-Company.

The Veteran Sergeant is built with a Vanguard Veteran torso and jump pack, the Eviscerator from the Assault Squad kit, Tactical Marine legs (since his weapon is huge and unwieldy, I wanted to model him with a firm stance as if he were getting ready to swing it), a head from the Sternguard box, and Mk IV shoulder pads.

In addition to being a relatively inexpensive HQ, I wanted to paint a Chaplain so I could work out a technique for painting black armor. That's something I'm going to have to figure out if I'm ever going to start working on the Deathwatch in earnest.

In the end I went with a very simple style, using light strokes of Eshin Grey on the edges of Abaddon Black armor. GW generally recommends Eshin Grey followed by Dawnstone for highlighting black armor, but I was unable to get the lighter gray quite as fine as I would like and instead went with a more subtle look. This is the first time I've ever used line highlighting on a model's armor rather than dry brushing.

The model was built using arms, legs, and a torso from the Vanguard Veterans box; various decorative bits from several sources; a shoulder pad from the Sternguard kit and a shoulder pad from the Ultramarines upgrade sprue; a Crozius Arcanum built from a Vanguard Squad axe and a banner decoration from the Command Squad kit; and a Chaos Space Marine helmet from which I removed a large Chaos arrow on the forehead.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Imperial Agents: The Hobbyist's Codex

I picked up Codex: Imperial Agents last week, mostly because I bought the four assassin models a while ago and I wanted to have their rules in a hardback format. As I flipped through the book, I realized that the codex is ideal for those who want to add some fluff to their games as well as for hobbyists who want to try their hand at painting other models without starting a new army.

The fluff aspect is pretty obvious; any number of 40K stories feature small teams of Grey Knights, Deathwatch Kill Teams, assassins, or inquisitors fighting alongside Space Marine Chapters or Imperial Guard divisions. The new Codex finally gives us the rules to recreate these scenarios.

But what really drew me to the book was the fact that it allows modellers to paint up a single squad from certain armies and to use them in normal games of 40K. If you want to build a single Deathwatch Kill Team composed of Astartes from a variety of Chapters and field them alongside your Imperial Guard, Codex: Imperial Agents allows you to do that. They can even bring one of their unique flyers with them. If you find the Grey Knights paint scheme interesting but you don't want to build an entire army of ornately decorated Marines, you can build a single squad of Grey Knight Terminators or Interceptors. The Codex even allows you to field a Dreadknight or a Land Raider with the infantry.

I already intended to build a Deathwatch army, so I'm rather happy that I can slowly build the army squad by squad and start playing them alongside my Ultramarines before finishing more than a handful of models. Even better, I've wanted to paint up some Grey Knights models for years, but I've never seriously considered starting an entire army of them. I would very happily build a single squad of Grey Knight Terminators, though, and I wouldn't mind having a Dreadknight either. It could be fun to combine them with a Space Marine Librarius Conclave just to put a few more Warp Charges on the table.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Finished Assault Squad

Months ago, in my last post, I complained how real life can get in the way of the hobby. Having broken my leg just over a month before, I fell behind in my modeling. Unfortunately, breaking my leg proved to be relatively easy compared to the next event. Only three weeks after I wrote about the Deathwatch, our three year old was diagnosed with leukemia. Thankfully it's the most treatable form of leukemia, but it's still heartbreaking when your child has cancer, even the "easy" one.

Our family's faith and a fantastic team of doctors have been getting us through this, while 40K and a newfound interest in the X-Wing Miniatures Game have provided me with some distraction. However, I've had a hard time mustering much energy for blogging.

Anyway, I eventually finished the Assault Squad I started so long ago. I'm pretty happy with how the squad turned out:

I'm a big fan of the earlier marks of armor, equipping one Marine in a full suit of Mk VI plate and giving him a bionic arm for extra character. I'm irrationally proud of the small Assault logo I painted freehand on the Mk VI shoulder pad.

For those who less obsessed with the minutiae of Astartes power armor than I am, the left shoulder pad of a suit of Mk V or Mk VI armor is completely covered in studs rather than the Chapter logo as found on other marks of armor. Thus, the right shoulder pad shows both the Chapter logo as well as a smaller version of the squad logo. Since the right shoulder pad is also rimless, the Marine's Company is represented by something other than the color of the rim. I followed the example of the old Insignium Astartes and denoted the Company number with an Arabic numeral to the left of the Chapter logo.

From left to right: 2nd Company, 2nd Tactical Squad; 2nd Company, 7th Assault Squad;
2nd Company, 9th Devastator Squad; 1st Company, 3rd Veteran Squad

Except for the bionic arm, which came from the Space Marine Commander kit, the Mk VI Marine was assembled entirely from bits from the newer Assault Marine box. Another Marine ended up with a pair of Mk IV legs from the Betrayal at Calth kit:

I've been very happy with the figures in the new Assault Squad kit; the two-part legs allow much more dynamic poses and the arms have a lot more variety.

I've been trying to get the Ultramarine army in a good place so I can start my next one (I'm serious about it, this time). As I said in my last post, I was very excited to be finally be able to field a Deathwatch Kill Team. Who would have known that less than a year later GW would give us an entire Deathwatch army? As much as I love the Ultramarines, I've long wanted to model Astartes from other Chapters; the Deathwatch is the perfect opportunity to do it. For several weeks I've been collecting Dark Angels, Black Templars, Blood Angels, and Space Wolves bits, sprues, and boxes to give my Ordo Xenos Marines a lot of variety. I've also been reading up on the various First Founding Chapters as well as the more colorful Ultramarines successors (e.g., the Silver Skulls, the Mortifactors) and selecting the bits and pieces that best represent their style and culture.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Deathwatch in 40K

It's always sad when real life interferes with 40K. Between my last post and early February, I neglected the blog in favor of trying to finish the Assault Squad. Unfortunately, on February 9 I slipped on a patch of ice in my driveway and broke my ankle. Within a week I had a steel plate and eight screws in my leg and doctor's orders not to put any weight on it for six weeks. Between the pain killers and the need to keep the leg elevated to reduce swelling, I was in no position (literally) to do any modelling. Instead, I've found myself dreaming of future modelling projects and keeping up on the latest hobby news.

That brings me to the new Deathwatch box. I've been interested in the Deathwatch's backstory for several years and was very exited to hear that I would soon be able to field them on the table. As with Execution Force and Betrayal at Calth, I had no interest in the board game itself and bought the box entirely for the models. I split the box with one of my fellow Cabal members, Jake, who is working on a Tyranid army. Obviously, I ended up with all the Marines and he took the Genestealer Cult.

The Models
As usual, GW has done a great job on the models. They're all highly detailed with most having been molded in suitably dynamic poses. I'm particularly excited about the variety of Chapters represented by the kit, each model reflecting the particular aesthetic of his Chapter. Given that GW has started to produce plastic models in Heresy-era armor, it's notable that the Iron Hand Marine, Ennox Sorrlock, is wearing a suit of Mk III armor.

Since the Deathwatch are supposed to have access to non-standard weaponry, GW has given a couple of the models some unusual wargear. The Imperial Fists' representative, Rodricus Grytt, has the fantastic man-portable Deathwatch frag cannon (it fires as an Assault 2, S6, AP-, Rending template or a 24" range, Assault 2, S7, AP3 solid shell), while the Salamander Terminator, Garran Branatar, has a meltagun mounted under his power fist.

The Rules
As I'm sure many hobbyists have done, I bought the board game so I can use the models in games of 40K. As far as I can tell, the Genestealer Cult's rules are pretty good. While the individual units aren't especially powerful, when combined into the Broodkin Formation with its various special rules, I think the Cult becomes a potent force that could significantly boost a Tyranid army.

Unfortunately, the Deathwatch is the opposite. Individually, the Deathwatch Marines are pretty impressive. With the exception of the two Ultramarines and the Imperial Fist (who isn't equipped with a bolter anyway), each model possesses the special traits of his respective Chapter. All models with bolt weapons are equipped with Sternguard Special Ammunition, even those with bolt pistols and the twin-linked bolter on the White Scars Marine's bike. And the unique Deathwatch weapons, the frag cannon and the Terminator's meltagun, are a nice touch. However, the organization of the individual units and the Kill Team Formation itself are nonsensical. I strongly suspect that the Kill Team provided in Deathwatch was designed to given players a wide variety of model types for the board game, with little thought being given to how the units would work in 40K.

The only way to get all eleven members of the team on the table at one time is to run Kill Team Cassius. In this Formation, the entire team forms a single unit; none of the models are permitted to separate from the group, even if they have the Independent Character special rule. This means that a Raven Guard Vanguard Veteran, who can use his jump pack in both the Movement and the Assault phase, has to maintain unit coherency with a Salamanders Terminator who can't even make Sweeping Advances. Other than being able to field the entire unit, the only advantage the Formation gives you is the allowance to re-roll To Wound and armor penetration rolls of 1. That's not much of a consolation prize for forcing two jump pack Marines and a biker to foot slog alongside a Terminator.

[Update 3/13/16: After thinking about it, it occurred to me that the allowance to re-roll To Wound and armor penetration rolls of 1 (which I incorrectly referred to as Preferred Enemy) is not the only benefit of Kill Team Cassius. Most of the special rules possessed by the various team members have the "A unit that contains at least one model with this special rule..." caveat. Thus, the full team would benefit from the following special rules:
Zealot (from Cassius)
Stubborn (from Gydrael)
Shrouded for the first turn and Stealth for the rest of the game (from Setorax)
Heroic Intervention (from Setorax and  Delassio)
Fearless (from Branatar)
Hit & Run and Split Fire (from Suberei)
This is a pretty impressive list of special rules and might compensate for the disadvantage of mixing model types.]

With the Kill Team Formation [possibly] being less than ideal, the only other way to field members of the Kill Team in a Battleforged army is in an Allied Detachment. That means that a lot of models will be left at home while others will be poorly supported. For starters, there are two HQ models: a pre-Battle of Macragge Chaplain Cassius (who is pretty unimpressive without his bionic enhancements and the Infernus combi-flamer) and Blood Raven Librarian Jensus Natorian. Natorian is a Mastery Level 2 Psyker who generates his powers from the Biomancy discipline. Which of the two will sitting out the battle is pretty obvious; when most of your assault-oriented units have jump packs or a bike, you have little need for a foot-slogging Chaplain.

The single Troop choice, Squad Donatus, would be the highlight of the Detachment. The Sergeant, the Ultramarine Donatus, is equipped with a bolter and the Precision Shots rule. The Space Wolf, Redblade, has a boltgun, two close combat weapons, and the Counter-attack rule. The Imperial Fist, Grytt, has the aforementioned frag cannon. The Iron Hand, Sorrlock, has a combi-melta and Feel No Pain (6+). Finally, the Dark Angel, Gydrael, has a plasma pistol, a power sword, and the Stubborn rule. Since all five Squad members are characters, the appropriately-equipped Gydrael can handle any Challenges.

The only complaint I have about this supercharged Sternguard Squad is that they don't have a Dedicated Transport. Unless your primary army is providing Donatus and company with a transport, the unit won't last long on the average table top.

The Allied Detachment only has one Elites slot, meaning that you have to chose among the Deathwatch's three options. There are two Marines with jump packs: Edryc Setorax of the Raven Guard and Antor Delassio of the Blood Angels. Setorax has a pair of lightning claws, Stealth, and the Raven Guard-specific rules, effectively making him the Kill Team's assassin. Delassio has the less-impressive hand flamer, chainsword, and the Blood Angels' universal Furious Charge rule. The third Elite, Branatar, wears Terminator armor and has a heavy flamer, a Master-crafted power fist, a Master-crafted meltagun, the Fearless Special Rule, and Feel No Pain (4+) against Flamer weapons.

Oddly, each of these three models makes up its own unit of one. Since none of them is an Independent Character, each model has to go solo. This is not a good recipe for survival. If I had to choose a single model, I'd probably choose Branatar, who can be brought in with a teleport homer to provide crowd control with his heavy flamer or to attempt to take out a vehicle with his Master-crafted meltagun. After that, though, he is an expensive one-wound model with almost zero support. It's unfortunate that I have to make the choice at all; I really like the jump pack models and would hate to have to leave them at home.

The lone Fast Attack entry is in the same boat as the Elites. White Scar Jetek Suberei is equipped with a power sword, a teleport homer, a Space Marine bike with a twin-linked bolter, and the host of special rules White Scars bikers get. Again, Suberei is a one-model unit without the Independent Character rule, meaning he's unlikely to survive for very long. Suberei's gimmick is that he carries a teleport homer, allowing him to bring Branatar or a Terminator Squad from another Detachment safely onto the table.

Ideas for a Future Deathwatch Book
I think a lot of us are hoping that the Deathwatch will get more models and an expanded ruleset in the future. I have a few ideas that I think could make a fully developed Deathwatch work better than the initial offering.

First of all, I think Squad Donatus is a pretty good example of what a Deathwatch Troop unit should be. The fluff suggests that Deathwatch Kill Teams are never particularly large, so their squads should be limited to five or six well-equipped models. The unit definitely needs a Dedicated Transport, though, with the Razorbacks seeming like the ideal vehicle. As a plus, GW could release an Inquisition upgrade sprue, with icons and symbols that could be added to any Deathwatch, Grey Knights, or Inquisition vehicle.

Second, Deathwatch fluff suggests that they have few Marines in Terminator armor. Thus, Terminators may often be part of a squad dominated by power armored Marines. The background of the Deathwatch board game states that, because of his slow pace, Branatar is typically teleported in when necessary. To represent this, a unit like Squad Donatus could include a single Terminator as a member. For a small upgrade cost the Squad could have a teleport homer and a special rule circumventing the usual Reserves rules, allowing their bulky squadmate to arrive at the end of a Movement phase when close quarters support is needed. The Terminator could arrive in unit cohesion with his Squad and remain a part of the unit for the rest of the game. Since Razorbacks can't accommodate Terminator armor, teleportation would allow the rest of the team to use a Razorback as a Dedicated Transport until they disembark and get into close range combat.

As for jump pack Marines and bikes, GW could release more such characters and allow them to form small units. I would love to put Suberei in a group with other fast attack-oriented Marines; e.g., a Ravenwing biker, a Raven Guard biker). Alternatively, jump pack Marines and bikes could be grouped into mixed units given that jump infantry and bikes move somewhat similarly.

However, if GW intended to keep Deathwatch in a support role only (which would be keeping with the fluff), an expanded ruleset could treat Deathwatch specialists like Branatar, Setorax, Delassio, and Suberei as "advisors". Unlike Independent Characters, they would be attached to a specific unit at the beginning of the game and would remain a part of the Squad throughout. In turn, the unit would benefit from the Deathwatch member's special rules and wargear. For example, an Ultramarine Vanguard Squad with Setorax attached to it would be Shrouded until the second turn, after which it would have Stealth.

Friday, December 18, 2015

First Assault Marine

The release of the 7th Edition Space Marine codex threw my whole modeling schedule for a loop. Just as I was ready to start on a Tactical Marine-heavy list with a cheap Librarian at its head, GW introduced the concept of the Demi-Company and the Gladius Formation and I lost all interest in fielding a solitary CAD. Models that I felt no urgency to build suddenly became necessary additions to the army while certain other models (e.g., Librarians) found their futures in question.

The Assault Squad ended up on my must-build list, not only because it fills a position in the Demi-Company, but because I completely lack any fast attack units. (That's right, I've been playing the game for over four years and I've never taken any units in the Fast Attack slots.) I don't know how many times I've found myself in a mission where I was too slow to grab objectives in time.

Although I already had Assault Squad bits that I bought a few years ago, I grabbed up a new Assault Squad box immediately after its release. The kit has a good variety of bits in it, including normal backpacks and torsos without jump pack straps for those who want to build a foot-slogging squad. It even has a Mk VI backpack (the first ever in plastic, I believe), allowing you to build a Marine in 100% Corvus armor.

My first Assault Marine is a Veteran Sergeant with dual lightning claws. Unfortunately, the model is a tremendously expensive 57 points with these upgrades (a Vanguard Marine with the same exact wargear and stats is only 32 points), but it looks great.

The legs are from the new Assault Squad kit, the right shoulder pad, torso, jump pack, and lightning claws are from the Vanguard kit, the left shoulder pad is from the Commander kit, and the head is a Mk IV helmet from the Betrayal at Calth box. (Yes, I said I probably wouldn't buy Betrayal at Calth, but it was a great value and Bryce and I split the cost.)

I'm very happy with how the model turned out. The Mk IV helmet looks great and I'm fairly proud of my hand painted laurels. The Assault logo on his right shoulder worked out pretty well, too. After cutting off the bottom third of the transfer, I used my usual technique to apply it to the shoulder pad. Once the decal was dry, I used a razor to scrape away the bits of stray decal from the Imperialis on his shoulder pad.

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