Friday, June 28, 2013

Apocalypse Is On Its Way

One of Bryce's goals was to eventually get us to Apocalypse-sized games. As the rumors of a new edition of Apocalypse heated up, I decided to get ready:

These little items arrived from the WarStore earlier this month. While I had intended to begin the Ultramar Auxilia with a few Leman Russes and the units that come with the Battleforce, it looks like Ultramar's defense force will be starting out with a couple super-heavies instead.

It turns out that I saved a few bucks by buying them when I did; instead of each tank being sold separately for $115, the two or three sprues that are unique to the Shadowsword are now included in a new "Imperial Guard Baneblade" box that sells for $140.

Within an hour of availability, I bought the Apocalypse rule book, the Imperial Targeting Templates (Bryce is going to be annoyed that his old templates are now obsolete), the limited edition Vortex Grenade Template (I still don't get why such a simple item is limited edition), and the Strategic Asset Cards (also inexplicably limited).

I have yet to purchase the new fortifications, though, since I'll probably get them through the WarStore. What's exciting is that they can be used for both Apocalypse and 40K, with the rules for the latter being included in the box. With these fortifications, it looks like GW is serious in making gun emplacements more than just a gimmick or a minor aspect of the game. The Aquila Strongpoint is armed with vortex missiles and a macro cannon that are capable of threatening super-heavies. While I assume that the Strongpoint's weaponry will be downgraded for standard games of 40K, the Firestorm Redoubt with its 40K-appropriate lascannon batteries looks like it could be a mean addition to any army.

The Firestorm Redoubt

I'm interested to know how these fortifications will fit into the 40K limit of one fortification per Primary Detachment. It may have something to do with the fact that these new kits are designed to match up with the Wall of Martyrs sets, whose lack of rules or points values have caused a lot of confusion. I wonder if the rules will designate an assembly of fortifications linked by the Wall of Martyrs defence lines, emplacements, and/or Imperial bunkers as a single fortification with points values assigned for each segment, emplacement, bunker, etc.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Finished Model: Captain Agemman

Three months after I finally decided to do it, I finished Captain Agemman (my counts-as Lysander). He even took part in a game on the very day that he was finished. My new HQ and my squad of shooty Terminators formed a neat little Death Star that wiped out a number of Grey Knights.

The goal was to make a model similar to Lysander
without being an exact copy with different logos

A Lysander Stand-In
One of the first things I noticed about Lysander's armor is that it isn't too different from that of a Terminator sergeant. Since I certainly didn't want to go out and buy a resin Lysander from which I would have to remove the Imperial Fist logos, I decided to emulate the model with the plastic parts I had on hand. Although I wanted my model to look enough like Lysander to indicate who he was supposed to be, I didn't need or want an exact copy. I especially didn't want to have an impossible to remove representation of the Imperial Fists' logo on my Ultramarine Captain's thunder hammer.

I set aside Agemman's bits when I started preparing the parts for an eight man close combat Terminator Squad (i.e., the largest squad size that will fit in a Land Raider Crusader). Since I wanted Agemman to stand out from the squad's sergeant, I decided against giving the sergeant the same ornate thunder hammer and large storm shield that I was going to put on the Captain. The Terminator sergeant will instead stand out from the rest of his squad with extra purity seals, the ornamentation on his back, and the red sergeant's helmet.

The cape, which seems to be standard for Space Marine captains, was a bit harder to come by. With a lot of carving I was able to remove the power armor section from the Space Marine Commander kit's torso. Using Kaldor Draigo's cape as inspiration, I shaped the top of the cape so that it could be mounted to Agemman's lower back at the corners while the middle sagged below the armor's charging port(?). Like Draigo, Agemman's cape would appear to be attached with two purity seals.

In addition to the cape, I took several other items from the Space Marine Commander kit, including a head with three service studs (just like Lysander's) and a backpack banner. Although the Terminator kit has a wreathed skull similar to the one on Lysander's back, I figured that if Sicarius' model carries a banner, Agemman should too. The banner would also further distinguish the Captain from a Terminator Sergeant.

Agemman would also be my first fully based infantry model

I made a few other modifications to reflect certain details of the Lysander model. Lysander's shield has an Imperial Fist logo on the lower portion while the large plastic Terminator shield has a skull. I removed the skull from the shield to make room for an Ultramarines-specific logo. Lysander also has a chapter logo on a small plate on his chest. Although I decided against making a similar plate, I removed the original logo from the torso bit so I could paint the inverted omega in its place.

The Marathon
I started Agemman on the very day that I finished the Ironclad Dreadnought and with less than two weeks left before our next Cabal game. I began with the base, which was going to be more ornate than any I'd ever done before (the Ironclad base doesn't count since it's already molded that way).

With the Ironclad, I finally gave up on the plain gray bases I'd used on all my other models. Thus, the rim of Agemman's base was painted with Steel Legion Drab, just like GW's models. I used Stirland Mud texture paint on the top to give it the appearance of a rocky mud or dark soil. I eventually added rocks and static grass from a kit I won during our last Cabal tournament. Although a lot of the textured paint is now hidden, I liked it quite a bit and am considering buying some Astrogranite to simulate gravel for other models' bases.

Agemman's right shoulder pad. The logo is hand painted, as usual.

Although I was bound and determined to get the model done before the next game night, I enjoy the modeling aspect of the hobby too much to skimp on the details. For example, the Captain's right shoulder pad bears a slightly more ornate form of the Ultramarines logo than my other models. Also, since I wanted to distinguish Agemman's master-crafted thunder hammer from others, I attached a crux terminatus icon to the hammer's face and decorated the weapon with a detailed purity seal from the Ironclad kit.

Agemman two days before game night

There was only one night during those two weeks that I didn't work on the model (my wife has the patience of a saint). Nevertheless, by Thursday night it looked like I might not have a new HQ ready for Saturday's game. Friday night was a brutal slog; I worked on Agemman from 7:30PM to 1:30AM and still wasn't quite done. I'm still amazed that I was able to work for that long; my eyes usually can't focus for much more than two to three hours at a stretch.

Agemman at 1:30AM, less than 24 hours before the game

My kids work me up on Saturday morning at 7:30. The mere possibility that I could finish the model prevented me from going back to sleep (and I usually don't get much more than six hours' sleep anyway), so I ended up back at my painting table. Three hours later I was done.

First Company Captain Agemman
I think the final result came out pretty good:

To further distinguish Agemman's hammer from those of the close combat Terminators I'll be building next, the weapon was painted with brighter metallic paints than I would normally use. Agemman's hammer was painted with Chainmail, washed with Nuln Oil, and dry brushed with Mithril Silver. The standard Terminators will have hammers painted with Leadbelchers, washed with Nuln Oil, and dry brushed with Chainmail.

The stone effects on the shield and crux terminatus was done with a base coat of Codex Grey, a Nuln Oil wash, and a dry brushing of Fortress Grey. I tried to make the banner stand out from the armor by painting it with Altdorf Guard Blue, washing it with Drakenhof Nightshade, and dry brushing it with Altdorf Guard Blue. It turned out a bit closer in color to the armor than I had expected. The white circle in the middle was the perfect spot for the blue Ultramarines decal that I'd wanted to use for a long time.

Gold regions were base coated with Shining Gold, washed with Devlan Mud, and dry brushed with Burnished Gold. The handle of the hammer is Gore Red with a Devlan Mud wash. The handles of the Terminator Squad's thunder hammers will be painted in a much plainer brown shade.

On the original torso bit, the tassel hung from the point where the power armor's backpack passed through the cape (which was cut off when I did the conversion). I used a crux terminatus medallion to hide the fact that the tassel now seemed to come out of nowhere.

The fancy Ultramarines logo I was planning to put on the shield fell by the wayside late one night. I decided that Agemman's shield had some inspirational saying by Roboute Guilliman along with a small (and easily painted) Chapter logo instead.

This model came out a lot cleaner than some of my others. The dirty look comes from a heavy wash or two with Nuln Oil followed by a lot of dry brushing to bring out the edges and lighten up the wash. This is easy on a vehicle or basic troops where there are relatively few detailed areas. The detail I painted on the Captain before doing any washes made it difficult to dry brush the model without getting paint where I didn't want it. Thus, I used only a single, relatively light Nuln Oil wash and was a lot more conservative with the dry brushing. Given that Agemman is the Veteran Company Captain, you could expect his armor to be kept a bit cleaner than that of the rank and file.

At S10 and with +1 to the vehicle damage table, my stand-in Fist of Dorn is as destructive as the Ironclad Dreadnought's seismic hammer. I'll have to enjoy this model while I can; I can't imagine that Lysander will pack so many awesome abilities into a mere 200 points in the 6th Edition C:SM.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finished Model: Ironclad Dreadnought

Earlier this week I finished an Ironclad Dreadnought. I'm not exactly a quick modeller so I was proud to have finished it in about a month (I started painting around May 9th and was completely done by June 10).

I literally built the whole thing from the ground up; i.e., I finished the base (weathering and all), then painted up the feet and glued them down, fully painted the legs and glued them onto the feet, etc. This method gives me a sense of progress and prevents me from becoming overwhelmed and taking too many nights off from painting. (Five Sniper Scouts plus Telion took an embarrassing three months to finish thanks to that habit.)

The Ironclad was painted in my usual vehicle style, although I used Mordian Blue as the base coat like I do with my infantry. I'm not really sure why I decided to do that early on, but it may be because I always think of Dreadnoughts as Battle Brothers rather than mere pieces of machinery. Similarly, although all my vehicles bear the black skull over the white circle logo (which I use to show that the vehicle is part of a cohesive force under a single command), my Dreadnoughts lack them. Unlike a Rhino or a Predator, a Dreadnought knows where he belongs.

Left: my first Dreadnought. Right: my partially completed Ironclad.

Earlier I was concerned that the use of Macragge Blue for the final dry brushing had given the Ironclad a significant violet tint. By the time the weathering was done, the newer Dreadnought was pretty close in color to the older one (a little Drakenhof Nightshade helped out in places). However, a side by side comparison still shows a slight difference between the two paint jobs. It's not the huge divergence seen between models in my What Color are Ultramarines? post, though, and I can easily live with the difference.

The finished Ironclad Dreadnought

Putting the Dreadnought close combat weapon on the right hand was a no-brainer given how useless a single hurricane bolter is. I went with the seismic hammer rather than the chain fist on the left hand based on a little bit of MathHammer. In all cases I assumed that the Ironclad gets the charge bonus and hits on 3s (i.e., it assaults a moving vehicle or a WS3 walker like a Soul Grinder).

The math shows that the chain fist's 2D6 armor penetration is more effective against AV13 and AV14 vehicles. The chain fist will explode AV13 81.5% of the time and AV14 74.1% of the time versus 66.7% and 44.4% respectively for the seismic hammer. However, if you want an all-around vehicle killer and don't expect to be facing Soul Grinders and Land Raiders all the time, the seismic hammer's +1 on the vehicle damage table (which becomes +2 on the table when it's combined with the fact that the weapon is AP2) gives it the advantage against AV10, 11, and 12 while still performing respectably against AV13.

And, admittedly, I think the seismic hammer looks cooler, which usually ends the debate for me.

The chain fist couldn't possibly look as cool as the seismic hammer

Given the composition of our Cabal, I went with the dual heavy flamers. Jon employs huge mobs of Orks and bikers, often with significant Loota support, making the heavy flamers the most logical option. The Ironclad will almost always enter play in a Drop Pod, allowing it to lay down two templates of S5 AP4 pain on his Greenskins early in the game.

The Ork skull on the base might be a hint as to why it's armed the way it is

I included Ironclad assault launchers thanks to 6th Edition's general unfriendliness towards walkers. The assault launchers act as both offensive and defensive grenades, ensuring that the Ironclad assaults at initiative and preventing those pesky power fists and klaws from getting that charge bonus that could put an early end to the Ironclad's fun.

An Ironclad gives you a lot of opportunities for trying out weathering effects

I had a lot of fun with weathering effects, although my techniques are still pretty simple and I rely on dry brushing like it's going out of style. The rocks on the base were painted Codex Grey, washed with Nuln Oil, and dry brushed with Fortress Grey. The sooty regions around the exhaust stacks and at the tips of the heavy flamers were produced with a light dry brushing of Tin Bitz and a heavier dry brushing of Abaddon Black. I used some Nuln Oil to smooth out the effect. Metallic regions were painted with my usual Leadbelchers under coat/Nuln Oil wash/Chainmail dry brush combination. I finished off the model by dry brushing Leadbelchers onto corners and other regions where you would expect paint to be chipped or worn off.

I placed the Ultramarines logo on the right shoulder, which is complemented by a gold Crux Terminatus on the left shoulder. The Ironclad's heavier armor and focus on close combat often remind me of the Terminators' role, so I decided that the Marine interred inside the Ironclad was a veteran trained in the use of Terminator armor at the time he was wounded. The placement of the symbols reflects their location on his Terminator armor.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Color Are Ultramarines?

When I started my 40K army, I painted my troops with a black undercoat, a Mordian Blue base coat, and a heavy wash of Badab Black. I finished them off  by painting the highlights with Ultramarines Blue. At first I tried to replicate GW's method for painting highlights, but I soon switched to a dry brushing technique when I found that I wasn't very good with producing consistent fine lines. Dry brushing with Ultramarines Blue had the added benefit of lightening the models, which I still tend to wash a little too heavily. The final color of the models could be described as more or less cobalt blue.

My first Tactical Squad
Base Coat: Mordian Blue, Wash: Badab Black, Highlights: Ultramarines Blue

Cobalt Blue

I wanted my vehicles to look a little lighter than my troops, so I painted an Ultramarines Blue base coat over a blue undercoat. I washed the models with Badab Black and then dry brushed Ultramarines Blue over the wash to bring out the highlights and lighten the overall paint scheme.

My Third Vehicle
Base Coat: Ultramarines Blue, Wash: Badab Black, Highlights: Ultramarines Blue

By the time I had started working on Drop Pods, GW had introduced their new paint line. Since Altdorf Guard Blue was the official replacement for Ultramarines Blue, and since my early tests suggested that they were close, I tried to replicate my original technique using the new paints. While the Altdorf Guard Blue looked fine over the blue undercoat and Nuln Oil was a perfect replacement for Badab Black, to my horror I found that Altdorf Guard Blue wasn't remotely like Ultramarines Blue when I reached the dry brushing phase. Fortunately I was able to save the project by resuscitating the dregs of my bottle of Ultramarines Blue.

My Drop Pods
Base Coat: Altdorf Guard Blue, Wash: Nuln Oil, Highlights: Ultramarines Blue

I've since started on an Ironclad Dreadnought. I treat Dreadnoughts like troops rather than vehicles, so I started by base coating with Mordian Blue. (I bought two bottles before the color was discontinued.) Since I no longer have Ultramarines Blue, I decided to use Macragge Blue for dry brushing over the Nuln Oil wash. (Macragge Blue is supposed to be the replacement for Mordian Blue and is GW's recommended base coat color for Ultramarines, but nearly all modelers say it's closer to Ultramarines Blue.) As I started dry brushing, I noticed something peculiar; Macragge Blue had added a slight purple tinge to the model.

All of a sudden, something I'd only vaguely noticed before became obvious: GW has pushed the paint scheme of the Ultramarines (i.e., their flagship army) towards a more violet color. It's very apparent in their image for the one-click Stormraven/Dreadnought/Tactical Squad package:

Two of these things are not like the others.

The obsessive-compulsive in me wants to scream

The Tactical Squad models have been used in promotional material for years. However, those particular Stormraven and Dreadnought models are relatively new and were presumably painted with the currently recommended colors. The end results are models whose color is between blue and violet. An Ultramarines Predator model on page 70 of the 6th Edition Rulebook also seems to have a violet hue compared to the surrounding vehicles.

After a quick search on the Internet, I found that Ultramarines models painted as GW now recommends all come out slightly purplish:

Artists' webpages here and here

Oddly enough, the shift towards a violet blue color makes the Ultramarines' armor and vehicles literally ultramarine blue. Apparently, ultramarine blue is a pigment produced by crushing (usually synthetic) lapis lazuli. The resulting color isn't anything like the 4th or 5th Edition Ultramarines colors we're used to but more like those that we've been seeing since the release of the new paint line:

GW's Mordian Blue and Ultramarines Blue

Ultramarine Blue and Violet Blue

So what colors should we Ultramarine players use on our models? Do we try to recreate our previous color schemes or do we embrace the new, official scheme?

While I still intend to use Mordian Blue as a base coat for my troops and Dreadnoughts, I don't really have a replacement for Ultramarines Blue. The fact that I'm still using Mordian Blue means that my models aren't quite as purple tinted as the models above. In fact, the difference between the dry brushed Ultramarines Blue and Macragge blue is subtle enough that I couldn't see it in photographs comparing my Black Reach Dreadnought to the in-process Ironclad. The difference is obvious enough to my unaided eye, though.

Additionally, I just don't have enough Mordian Blue to base coat all of my vehicles; I expect its replacement with Macragge Blue will give the models a definite purplish tinge. I've considered experimenting with other colors, but I have the feeling that I won't end up any happier with the results since it's unlikely that I'll ever be able to perfectly match the models I've already finished. From a practical standpoint, it would just be easier to accept the Ultramarines' new color.

The biggest problem for those of us with an obsessive-compulsive streak is trying to replicate the look of the "real" Space Marines. A glance through the model showcase of the 5th Edition C:SM shows that GW itself hasn't been consistent in its colors. While there are plenty of artists' depictions of cobalt blue Ultramarines, I've since found several of Ultramarines with actual ultramarine-colored armor:

Our choices are therefore to assume that the Ultramarines paint their armor and vehicles with a wide variety of blue pigments that range from a light azure blue to a dark violet blue, or that they have used a consistent color for the past 10,000 years and any deviations are artistic license.

I think it can be argued that a Chapter's color scheme could vary with era, company, available pigments, and even the solar spectrum of whatever world the Marines find themselves fighting on. There's precedence for something like this in the significant variety found between individual suits of armor and vehicles, which even extends to the use of multiple styles of the Ultramarines' inverted omega. If even the look of the Chapter's logo is allowed to change, then it would make sense to assume that the color of their armor and vehicles would also be allowed a reasonable degree of variation.

For that reason, I'm willing to paint future models in the new Ultramarines color scheme rather than to try to maintain consistency. I may even try a few different shades of blue just to further diversify the models. After all, what are Space Marines of the 41st Millennium but mere shadows of the Space Marine legions of 10,000 years before? Although still fearsome, the remaining Angels of Death have been reduced to nursing their ancient weapons and equipment along in a desperate fight against mankind's inevitable extinction. Trying to maintain a uniform paint scheme is probably low on the list of priorities when you're having to cannibalize 5,000 year old equipment to keep your 1,000 year old equipment functioning.
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