Friday, October 30, 2009

My Must Have Unit

Ron from FTW has been asking around about people's must have units. It wasn't a very difficult choice for me and I responded back with a unit of 10 Sternguard in a Drop Pod with 3 combi-meltas, heavy flamer, and power fist.

image from GW

Why is this very expensive, very fragile, very shooty unit of death my must have?
  1. Making big, scary armoured threats disappear on turn one before they can hurt me. Three close range melta gun shots to the rear or side armour makes any tank go boom.
  2. I can combat squad these guys into a melta squad and heavy flamer squad, meaning I can pop a transport with the melta and then hose down the squishy soldiers inside or assault them with a power fist.
  3. After the initial strike (ideally on something expensive and / or valuable to my opponent) he has the option to ignore the 10 marines with special issue ammo, a power fist, and heavy flamer hanging out on his back line or he can waste a turn of shooting trying to get rid of them. If he goes for option A, I get another round of shooting or assault with the Sternguard for free. If he takes option B, I get another round of movement and shooting with the rest of my army for free. Sounds good to me.
  4. Psychology. My first strike hits something important before it ever gets to do anything and then my opponent has to deal with a very dangerous unit in his back line. Those are big changes to his plans very early on that will hopefully throw him off his game.
  5. How awesome are the Sternguard models!
There are a few things that aren't so hot about the unit.
  1. They die like normal marines and are unsupported. A single squad of marines will very rarely last a round of shooting from an entire army. Their job is sort of suicide attack squad, but it would be nice to get to use them in the late game too.
  2. They're expensive. When it's all said and done, the squad costs about 33 points per marine. Those are a lot of point to lose on the first turn. Hopefully they're making them back between the first strike and their worth as a distraction.
  3. They're suddenly less useful if your opponent reserves everything. Being the only Drop Pod in my army this squad is guaranteed to come down first turn. If there isn't anything worth striking at they're suddenly a very expensive, short ranged unit that is walking across the board.
In one of my few games this year, this squad (only 5 men strong and with 2 combi-meltas) popped a Land Raider on the first turn. They died horribly next turn, but the loss of the Land Raider and the free turn of moment put me in a great position to win the game (I didn't win, but the Sternguard can hardly be blamed for that).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting Back on Track with the Crimson Fists

I've been trying to save some money by working my way through the pile of models sitting on my shelf. For a while I've just been bouncing around - Imperial Guard, random Space Marines, Empire, Wood Elves, and Crimson Fists. I've had fun painting a bunch of different things and I think I've learned a bit about painting but I'm starting to miss working on an army. I can fix that and still avoid buying new models by finishing my originally planned second wave of Crimson Fists.

A few months ago I finished my first 1000 points as part of a Tale of Painters on Librarium Online. It included a Jump Captain, 5 Terminators, two 10 man Tactical Squads in Rhinos, and 6 Assault marines.

1000 points

The plan was to finish a second wave of stuff for Games Day but I started to get bored painting blue power armour and eventually stopped. Over the past few months I've finished a Drop Pod, 5 Scouts, and a Venerable Dread (wave 1.5?).

300ish points

I'd like to get back on track with the Fists, finish off the second wave, and take a good chunk of models off my undone shelf. My goal is to finish off the other 4 Assault marines (for a full squad of 10), a squad of 10 Sternguard, and another Dreadnought. I'm missing a pair of running legs and a jump pack but I think that's a fair trade for moving 14 infantry models and a walker from unpainted to painted.

500ish points

I'm just about done with my Wood Elf Spellsinger (look for some photos soon) and once he's finished it will be back to painting blue!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Thoughts on the Space Wolves Codex

image from Games Workshop

I'm not much of a gamer (I'm lucky if I can play a half dozen games in a year) so I won't be saying much about the the effectiveness of the codex from a gaming standpoint. This is more of a review of the codex as a whole - the models, the stories, the history, and the unit descriptions.

What I liked:
The new kits look to be pretty great. For once I'm not at all interested in the character models but the power armour box and the Wolf Guard box look great. There are tons of bits in each one and they can either be used alone or combined with vanilla marine kits to do double duty.

Games Workshop look to have gone the extra mile in crafting a list that is true to the fluff. The option for up to four HQ units, Lone Wolves, sagas, and the restrictions on characters taking identical wargear really emphasizes the heroic nature of the chapter.

Blood Claws are are actually reckless unless reigned in, hit like a ton of bricks, and can be in packs of up to 15 models ('cause none of them have died yet). Grey Hunters can take two special weapons and no heavies and max out at 10. Long Fangs max out at six models and are smart enough to divide their fire. This matches the fluff exactly as it is presented at the beginning of the codex and means that someone like me doesn't have to feel like I'm forcing the list to build like I imagine it should be.

The Warriors of the Fang section was well written and helped to make up for the otherwise lacking fluff sections of the book (see below). I find that Games Workshop usually does these sections well but this one in particular was very good.

Page 80 is dedicated to the different squad and Great Company markings that Space Wolves use. I can spend hours looking at stuff like this and use it when I'm trying to paint my models.

What I didn't like:
My major complaint with this codex is the fluff itself. A lot of it feels poorly written and sophomoric - yes, they're space vikings, but they're not goofy. I really got this impression when reading the War in the Sea of Stars section. None of the stories seemed particularly grand or exciting, and a lot of them painted the Space Wolves in a childish, petulant light.

The one time they do talk about the exploits of the Space Wolves at any length is well done, but it only happens once. The sections about Fenris, the chapter's history, and the Great Companies were also good but just not enough. The Space Marine Codex was full of long and short stories detailing many encounters and battles the Ultramarines were involved in, and in sufficient quantity that I felt I had a good grasp on the chapter. The Space Wolves Codex had just enough to get me interested and then it was over.

My only other complaint is that I wanted more photos of models in the A Company of Wolves section. Again, comparing it to the Space Marines Codex, I just didn't think it had the same breadth and depth. There are so many conversion opportunities and chances to showcase the versatility of the new kits that I wanted more. They've been putting a ton of good stuff on the What's New Today blog - why not include this in the codex?

In Conclusion:
Overall I found the codex to be good for what it was, but lacking the amount of depth I wanted.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cool Video Tutorials

I don't know if anyone spends much time on but he produces some very cool video tutorials on painting. Two in particular have really caught my eye as things I'd like to try. Again, these are NOT my tutorials.

The first one is a tutorial on mixing up large batches of your own washes:

The second one is about how to wet blend:

I really recommend checking out the rest of his site, watching the other videos, and subscribing to his youtube channel. He's currently in the process of doing how to videos for a ton of Space Marine chapters.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Finished Alter Noble

I didn't have much left to do but it's been a busy week so I've just gotten around to finishing this guy off. I wanted to stay away from painting anything as metal since an Alter Noble is supposed to be very much of the forest. The sword is supposed to be wooden but I don't know how well it came out.

I was a bit more successful doing the runes, which transition from a dark green near the hilt to yellow at the end. It's a bit easier to see on the detail shot below.

I have one more Wood Elf model left (a Spellsinger) and then I think I'm going to paint Crimson Fists for a while. I'm also most of the way through the Space Wolves Codex and I have a few thoughts on that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alter Noble WIP

I am back from vacation! The city of Chicago was great, the marathon was a huge success, and my vacation was relaxing. I took yesterday off work to recover from the race and travel and took the opportunity to get stuck in on my next project, a Wood Elf Alter Noble.

Sorry for the horrible picture, he's pretty washed out. His face was promising when I started but ended up being a bit of a let down. Otherwise I'm quite pleased with him. I had forgotten how much I enjoy working with this color pallet and my familiarity with it made the painting go by quickly.

I'm thinking some kind of blond color for the hair since his armour is so dark, although I'll have to see when some more of the details are done (I'll probably do the hair close to the end). I'd like to do something cool on the sword since it's such a focal point but I'm not sure what yet. My current thought is to make the blade look like wood and then do the runes in bright greens and yellows, but I'm not sure I can pull off wood grain on such a thin piece of metal.

I'm also hoping to pick up the Space Wolves Codex today at lunch so look for some thoughts on that soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Empire Captain Done and Vacation!

After several people on Librarium Online suggested doing a purple cape with yellow trim I went for it. I'm quite pleased with the result.

I decided to paint the shield up as wooden and tried to get some wood grain - this wasn't as successful as the cape but it still turned out well.

The model itself is phenomenal. It has a ton of character from the pose and facial expression and the level of detail is just right - enough to be fun and challenging but stopping short of being tedious.

The face especially was great to paint. The sculpt had many facial ridges and valleys that held on to my washes and made it very obvious where to highlight. Although the photo doesn't show it I think this is probably the best face I've ever painted.

Up next is going to be the last two models on my shelf for my Wood Elves. After finishing that army 13 months ago I needed a break but I've recently had a desire to break out my greens and browns again.

First however, I'm going on vacation! Tuesday afternoon I leave to run the Chicago Marathon and enjoy a week's vacation! I'll be checking blogs and leaving comments but won't have anything new to add here. Spoony has promised to update in my absence.

See you all in a week and a half!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Empire Captain WIP

I've been working on this guy a few minutes at a time for the past few weeks. I wasn't very happy with him initially but the more I do the more I like him. However, I've come to a problem and I need some help.

His major colors are the purple, yellow, and armour and I have to paint his shield and cape. I don't think any of those colors would make a good cape or shield (maybe a the armour color would be good on the shield but there is so much metal already) but I can't come up with any other colors to pair with them. Take a look:

I considered a gray cloak (but that's pretty similar to the armour) and a wooden shield but I'm just not liking any of my ideas. So, does anyone have any thoughts?