Thursday, November 28, 2013

Land Raider Crusader WIP, Part I

Although I already knew that foot slogging my new Close Combat Terminators wasn't going to be very effective, the disastrous results of the past few games have only proven it. A large squad of Terminators marching across the board is going to get a lot of unfavorable attention, which meant that my latest models regularly ate so much firepower that they were very nearly toothless by the time they finally reached their target. More often than not, the bulk of the squad was lost to massed AP5 fire rather than AP1 or AP2 weapons. The answer to that, of course, is protecting them inside a Dedicated Transport. Although I'm very excited to start on my new Sternguard models, building the Land Raider Crusader has become my top priority.

Here's the Crusader thus far:

It doesn't look too impressive, but it was a major feat to get the Crusader to this stage. It's late November in Idaho, which typically means cold temperatures and high relative humidity. I've been following the weather forecast for weeks looking for a window in which I could prime the model. Unfortunately, the best times were usually in the early afternoon on a weekday while I was at work.

Finally, the weather service predicted an unusually warm and dry day yesterday, which I had already decided to take off in preparation for Thanksgiving. The temperature was below 30°F (-1°C) with 67% relative humidity up until 10:00AM and it didn't look like conditions were about to get much better. However, around 2:00PM the Emperor smiled upon me and we got a sudden spike in temperature. By 2:30PM the temperature was about 48°F (9°C) with 36% relative humidity. Since the temperature inside my garage tends to be a few degrees higher than the outdoor temperature, I hauled out the Crusader, my trusty Rust-Oleum Camouflage, and a can of Army Painter Ultramarine Blue.

I finished spraying by about 4:00PM. The Fates gave me a couple more hours of good weather to allow the primer coat to dry before the temperature dropped below freezing again and the relative humidity rose.

I might try to get a few more models prepped for their primer coat since it's predicted that we'll have a few more days of good weather. This could be my last chance to spray until early spring; by this time next week we're predicted to have a high of 22°F (-6°C) and a low of 6°F (-14°C). In my eight years living in Idaho, I've learned that once the weather starts to turn that cold, there's a good chance we might not see temperatures more than a few degrees above freezing for a few months.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thoughts on the Upcoming Stronghold Assault and Escalation Expansions

Apparently the 40K community will soon be able to get its hands on two new game expansions: Stronghold Assault and Escalation.

Stronghold Assault
Apparently, Stronghold Assault allows players to incorporate fortifications into their army lists much more extensively than is possible with the current rule book. Rumor has it that the expansion will allow individual fortifications to be grouped into one giant fortification; e.g., two bastions and an Aegis Defense Line can be combined into an Imperial Strongpoint. This expansion is also supposed to finally give points values and rules for the Wall of Martyrs.

While I find the idea of this expansion interesting, other members of the 40K Cabal and I worry about the lack of balance that it could introduce into our games. As pointed out by Bryce recently, an Aegis Defence Line isn't particularly valuable for durable armies like Space Marines or Tau. Sure, with Sergeant Telion my Scouts get a 2+ cover save from it, but the majority of my models already have a better save than they can get from the wall. The 4+ cover save is nice when they're getting hit by AP1, AP2, or AP3 weapons, but the armies I have to worry about with that kind of armor penetration in abundance are Tau (who can easily deny cover) or Imperial Guard (who are often firing over the wall).

On the other hand, fortifications are worth their weight in gold to lightly armored armies like Orks or Guard. For a mere 50 points, Orks can effectively upgrade a couple squads of Lootas from a 6+ save to a 4+. And without a significant number of barrage weapons or the kind of cover-denying abilities that Tau have, they can be difficult for more elite armies like Sam's Necrons, Carl's Grey Knights, or my Ultramarines to dislodge.

The thought of fielding extensive fortifications on the Cabal's tables is appealing from a storytelling point of view, but the disproportionate advantage that fortifications could give to a minority of our players makes some of us a bit uneasy. For now, it's just as well that only a few of us own even a single Aegis Defence Line.

Now this is the expansion that I'm really interested in. This expansion is supposed to emulate a feature of Forge World's Horus Heresy game in that it adds a single "Lord of War" force organization slot to 40K. According to the rumors, the Lord of War slot can be filled with one of 16 Super-Heavy vehicles or Gargantuan Creatures.

I really want to get this onto the table
Earlier this year I bought a Baneblade and a Shadowsword in preparation for the upcoming Apocalypse 2.0. Unfortunately, the Cabal is far from being able to actually play games of Apocalypse, meaning that my new Super-Heavies have remained untouched on my hobby shelves. Escalation may finally give me a reason to paint up the tanks and get them on the table.

My only real concern is that I might be forced to paint up an Imperial Guard Command Squad and a Veteran Squad before I can field either of the tanks (and that's assuming that an allied force can be the one to fill the Lord of War slot). When I first heard about Escalation, I had hoped that it would function like a mini-Apocalypse and that the Ultramarines could field an Imperial Guard Super-Heavy tank as their Lord of War. However, the rumors I keep seeing seem to suggest that the only Super-Heavy that Astartes can take directly is the Thunderhawk Gunship.

Some rumors suggest that D-weapon
will be downgraded to S10, AP1 for 40K
Ironically, GW's move to put more Super-Heavies on the table emphasizes the fact that the sole Super-Heavy vehicle their flagship army can field is only available in the form of a $650 slab of resin from Forge World. Of course, along with the rumors about Escalation we've also heard rumblings about a plastic Thunderhawk. Since this rumor has circulated off and on for years, it has been met with extreme skepticism. I think the probability that we may soon see a plastic Thunderhawk has increased, though.

It may be wishful thinking, but I suspect that GW's intent with regards to Escalation is to increase the demand for larger plastic models, thus giving the company a financial justification for producing more of them. As things currently stand, I assume that many 40K players are like our gaming group; we would love to get into Apocalypse but none of our armies are currently large enough for it, nor do we really have the time to regularly play large games. Because of this, I'm the only one in the Cabal who has actually bought an Apocalypse model. But if we were each allowed to take a single Super-Heavy in regular games, I think I can guarantee that my fellow gamers would become a lot more interested in some large models of their own.

Given the huge number of Space Marine players and an increased interest in fielding Super-Heavy models, it would only make sense for GW to finally produce the mythical plastic Thunderhawk. Even though I already own a Baneblade and a Shadowsword, I would certainly add one to my army.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Close Combat Terminators WIP, Part III

It took an embarrassingly long time, but the Close Combat Terminators are finally done:

The eight man Terminator Squad with Captain Agemman

As I've mentioned before, the squad is composed of eight Terminators: three with thunder hammers and storm shields and five with lightning claws. The unit was sized to fill a Land Raider Crusader, although it will probably consist of seven Terminators or less in most games to allow room for an HQ in Terminator armor.

Nine Terminators are noticeably more imposing than a full Tactical Squad

I'm pretty happy with the models overall; definitely happier than I am with the Black Reach Terminators I painted a couple years ago. Unfortunately, I've found that Terminators aren't the most interesting models to paint, in part because they're relatively featureless compared to models in power armor. I tried to break up the monotony here and there with script.

The Terminator in the foreground with the outstretched hammer is my favorite

This squad has finally convinced me that I shouldn't focus on more than five models at a time. My practice of doing most of my painting prior to assembly and the use of mass-production techniques mean that I usually don't have a playable squad until all the models are completely done. With the Terminators complete, I've turned my attention towards Sternguard and Tactical Marines. Fortunately, five man Sternguard squads are reasonably viable while the 6th Edition of C:SM has made five man Tactical Squads useful again.

"Give me a hug"

My only problem with the lightning claw Terminators is that the positioning of their arms is somewhat awkward and static. The lightning claw arms provided with the new Vanguard Kit are a lot more dynamic and characterful. The Terminators look like they don't know what to do with their hands while the Vanguard Marines' arms mesh very well with the poses of the models.

Vanguard lightning claws have much better poses

With the Idaho winter quickly approaching, I don't have much time left before I'll be unable to confidently use spray paint in my garage. My next project will involve prepping a lot of parts for priming before the weather becomes too cold and humid. At the top of my priorities is the Land Raider Crusader that will ensure that my new squad won't have to footslog through too many games.

"When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a xenos skull"
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...