Sunday, September 30, 2012

Drop Pods WIP, Part I

Has anyone ever built a Space Marine drop pod model because they actually wanted to? Within the past year I bought three drop pod models, two of which I primed this past May (the third one won't be started until I have a Sternguard to put in it). I tried to work on them simultaneously with a Razorback and a Predator and finished painting much of the metallic areas, but became overwhelmed and decided to focus on the tanks.

So many repetitive parts...

With the two tanks done, I resumed working on the two drop pods, but have had a hard time making progress. As cool as an assembled model looks, and as useful as drop pods are in the game, the darn things make for an extremely tedious build. For nearly every major part or section you complete there are four more of them. Since I made the mistake of working on two models at the same time, I have ten hatches to finish, ten vertical supports to paint, etc. The only break I get is that I've modified one pod to carry a Dreadnought, meaning that its interior is a lot simpler.

Why does the worst model to paint have to be so darn useful?

The worst part is that drop pods need to be deployed en masse to be used effectively. I've played several games using unassembled bases to represent drop pods. I've found that a single pod leaves your unit without support and is often a suicidal gimmick that fails as often as it works (e.g., trying to pop a tank by dropping a multi-melta Dreadnought within 12 inches of it). Two pods are better, but since the second one can't land any earlier than your second turn and could be delayed even longer because of poor reserve rolls, your opponent often has enough time to dismantle your squad or Dreadnought before the next pod lands. Although I've yet to use three drop pods, an obvious advantage is that two of them can be dropped simultaneously so that the units deployed in them can provide some mutual support and give the enemy more than one target to worry about.

During moments of insanity, I've even thought of the potential of five drop pods. You could drop a small, self-supporting army on your opponent's doorstep in your first turn and then follow it up with a significant amount of support. Imagine the effect of dropping a Tactical Squad, an Ironclad Dreadnought, and a Sternguard Squad in your first turn, then dropping two more Tactical Squads or a second Tactical Squad and another Dreadnought over the next few turns.

The biggest problem with this plan would be that you'd have to build five drop pods. I can't seem to finish even two of them.

I had originally planned to go all out on the pods and was even going to paint the hazard stripes on the doors like you see on GW's promotional model:

Games Workshop Promotional Model

When I started having a hard time even bringing myself to work on the models, let alone paining dozens of black and yellow stripes, I wondered how many modelers even bother to paint the markings. Lo and behold, it turns out that even the GW modelers don't bother with the stripes most of the time. Of the several pods seen in the 6th Edition rulebook, only the model that is obviously the promotional one has stripes. The same is the case for the the various drop pods seen in Games Day dioramas; except for the promotional one, they use either blue or metallic colors in place of the hazard stripes. Heck, photos show that the five vertical supports on many of the models are entirely blue since the builder(s) skipped painting the large metallic regions. Even the professionals seem to have a hard time painting drop pods.

The second pod from the front has a simplified paint scheme

Note the simplified paint scheme on these drop pods
(I can't say I blame them)

At this point I've painted all the vertical supports and the hatches are mostly painted. The pods are my first vehicles to use Altdorf Guard Blue instead of the old Ultramarines Blue. The interior of the pod intended to carry Tactical Marines is mostly done while the simplified interior of the Dreadnought drop pod shouldn't take me too long. I've promised myself that I won't use the pods until they're finished, but at the rate I'm going I certainly won't be deploying them in this weekend's game.

Why do drop pods have to be so effective? And why would I even consider using five of them?

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