Monday, September 30, 2013

Tyrannic War Veterans WIP, Part III: What Now?

Before the rumor of a plastic Sternguard kit had been solidified, I had pieced out the entire Tyrannic War Veteran/Sternguard Squad. Except for a late addition, all the parts were primed along with the Close Combat Terminators and the Ironclad Dreadnought. I decided to piece together a final model after I converted a highly prized combi-weapon, which wasn't until after all his squad-mates were primed.

Finding the Parts
I had had a lot of fun dredging up parts from multiple kits and a pile of sprues that Bryce gave me almost two years ago. I spent several hours going through the Commander, Tactical Squad, Assault Squad, Command Squad, and Devastator Squad boxes to gather the bits I wanted. Since I was building a squad of experienced Veterans, I wanted them to look the part.

Helmets with the Iron Skull badge were easy to find, and I was able to collect nearly a dozen of them. I got a lot of great Veteran bits from the Commander and Command Squad boxes. At the time, the Commander box was the sole source for a plastic Imperium-style combi-melta and combi-plasma. The two boxes were also my source for several unique or rare shoulder pads. I got a number of power armor-sized Crux Terminatus shoulder pads and several Deathwatch shoulder pads.

Since Veterans often wear older patterns of armor, I gathered together the bits for Mk V and Mk VI armor from various boxes. These included Mk VI Corvus helmets and Mk V/VI studded shoulder pads. Mk V torsos (i.e., the ones with power cabling instead of the Aquila) and Mk VI legs (i.e., the legs with greaves instead of knee pads) were relatively plentiful. I was able to get a prized Mk IV helmet from the bits Bryce gave me.

I was rather pleased with one Marine I pieced together who had Mk VI legs, a Mk V/VI studded shoulder pad, a right shoulder pad with the rim scraped off to match the plain right pad of Mk V and Mk VI armor, a Mk V torso, a Mk VI Corvus helmet, and one of the more ornate Mk VII backpacks.

But my proudest achievement was the construction of seven Sternguard bolters with box magazines:

and a combi-flamer of my own design:

And Then...
Pictures of the new model kits started to leak:

The Vanguard kit alone was very impressive; the helmets and shoulder pads were far more elaborate than any I had found before and were exactly the kind of thing I wanted for my Sternguard. At the same time, the rumors were saying that the Sternguard kit was even better. In fact, it was said that the Sternguard kit built 5 Marines but had 120 components; that's an average of 24 parts per model. The high piece count meant that the Sternguard kit was going to be loaded with extra bits. Many of these bits were supposed to be combi-weapons; the plastic bits that had been so hard to find in the previous edition. Finally we got to see what the new Sternguard looked like:

... and all of a sudden my Sternguard conversions assembled from a hodgepodge of Marine bits looked pretty paltry by comparison. When photos of the new Tactical Squad box leaked, I found that we now had access to two Mk VI torsos and a pair of Mk IV legs; bits that had never been available in plastic before. I had to have these parts for my squad.

What Now?
For starters, the revised points values of the C:SM 6th Edition and the greater availability of plastic combi-weapons changed my plans for the Squad. Originally I was going to build a 10 man squad carrying the few combi-weapons I could scavange or convert; i.e., one combi-melta, a combi-plasma, and a combi-flamer. I was also going to build one Marine with a heavy bolter and one with a plasma gun. All told, I would have 12 models for list-building flexibility. When I heard that the plastic kit would have more combi-weapons, I figured that I would equip nearly all the Veterans with combi-weapons.

40K Radio eventually revealed that the cost of combi-weapons was going to increase from 5 points to 10 points each; a five point change that more than negated the 3 point per-model decrease that Sternguard received in this edition. Additionally, I realized that I get the most out of a Sternguard Squad that's geared towards a generic anti-infantry role, meaning that the one-shot combi-meltas are of little use to me and that combi-gravs are a bit too specialized. I dropped the plasma Marine when I realized how silly it is to add a 15 point weapon to a model that's already paying a premium for special ammunition. Finally, the heavy bolter fell by the wayside when I soured on using heavy weapons in any squad that's supposed to maintain mobility.

Here's the revised plan:
10 Man Sternguard Squad: 230 points
1X Lightning Claw: 15 points
2X Combi-Plasmas: 20 points
3X Combi-Flamers (two from the kit plus my conversion): 30 points
Total Cost: 295 points

The Bits
As much as I love the new Sternguard models, I didn't want to spend an extra $50 to buy two kits. Not only do I want to be able to take advantage of some of my earlier work, but I also feel that bits in this new box are too distinctive to have two copies of each part without drawing attention to that fact.

Some of the bits in the Sternguard kit actually seem a little too ornate for mere Veterans. For example, the robed torso looks like it belongs on a Captain rather than a Sergeant. And the enormous Aquila found on the left shin of one of the pairs of legs is more commonly found on the armor of a Commander (e.g., Calgar's artificer armor). Thus, I'll be repurposing the robed torso and the legs with the large Aquila for a model of Captain Agemman in artificer armor. Since there's an extra torso in the kit, this leaves me with five Sternguard torsos and four pairs of legs.

This guy is dressed more like a
Captain than a Veteran Sergeant
I'll be able to get several pairs of Veterans' legs by raiding the Vanguard kit. While I felt compelled to buy the kit upon its release, I knew that I would never use it to build an actual Vanguard Squad since they now take up an Elite slot. The squad is justifiable in a Raven Guard army with the Winged Deliverance rule, but it just doesn't work for an Ultramarine army that already has too many Elite choices as it is. However, the Vanguard kit is a great source of parts, including running legs that look great on any kind of model. I'll be saving the most ornate pair of Vanguard legs for an Assault Squad's Veteran Sergeant, but the other four will go into my Sternguard Squad.

The Vanguard kit will also supply the lightning claw for my Sternguard Sergeant, as well as several helmets. I'm particularly fond of the helmets with the molded laurels. And given how much I love the look of a Marine firing a bolter one-handed, I'll be using some of the Vanguard's straight arms as well.

This leaves me with five Sternguard torsos, four pairs of Sternguard legs, and four pairs of Vanguard legs. I'll take one of the Mk VI torsos from the new Tactical box, along with the torso with the laurels in place of the wings. The three remaining torsos will come from the models I've already primed. The final two pairs of legs will probably be the Mk IV legs and the Mk VI legs with the studs from the new Tactical Squad kit.

This mixture of parts will produce a pretty varied squad of Veterans. Four will be more ornate than the others, particularly with the full-length loincloths (for obvious reasons, I won't be putting combi-flamers on any of these guys). The four pairs of running legs will be a bit fancier than the two pairs taken from the Tactical Squad, although the latter have the advantage of being from older Marks of armor.

As much as my obsessive-compulsive personality would have liked to make the Veterans a bit more uniform, it seems reasonable that there could be a lot of variety among the members of a Squad. Among the Ultramarines, you would find experienced Marines who were promoted to the 1st Company shortly after the Battle of Macragge completely annihilated the Veteran Company. Others may have been Veteran Sergeants who had been seconded to other Companies and returned to the 1st to help rebuild it. These Marines may have been Veterans for many years by this point and would probably wear armor that's picked up any number of awards, trophies, or decorations over their years of service. Some Squad members may have achieved Veteran status through subsequent wars with the Tyranids, their simpler armor indicating the recent promotion from one of the Battle Companies. Others may have been made Veterans through unique experiences, such as serving in the Deathwatch. At least one of my 10 Sternguard will be wearing a Deathwatch pad as proof of his service on the Vigil.

As for the Rest of the Converted Models...
The latest plans for the Sternguard Squad don't make use of most of my primed models or the converted Sternguard bolters I put so much effort into. However, I've been inspired to try something new by the recently released Apocalypse: War Zone Damnos. Included in the book is a Deathwatch formation that consists of 2+ Sternguard and/or Vanguard Squads and a Space Marine Captain. These Deathwatch Kill-teams have the Preferred Enemy special rule against a single Xenos codex chosen while determining their Warlord Traits. Additionally, Kill-team members with bolters or combi-bolters are able to take a type of anti-Necron round in addition to their usual special ammunition.

Although I obviously won't be able to give them the Preferred Enemy special rule or anti-Necron rounds in a normal game of 40K, I've decided to paint my extra models as a five man Deathwatch Kill-team, complete with a Watch Captain. I'll build the Kill-team as a simple (and relatively cheap) Sternguard Squad with a heavy flamer while the Watch Captain will give me an excuse to model the Teeth of Terra relic. I like the Deathwatch fluff quite a bit and this gives me a chance to add some variety to my army. Even better, although they're effectively Veterans, the members of the Deatwatch wear relatively inornate armor, meaning that my original Sternguard conversions won't look out of place.

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