Sunday, 30 April 2017

Showcase: Flesh Tearers Vanguard kitbash


Before I undercoat them, I just wanted to post some pictures of my Flesh Tearers Vanguard made with the Horus Heresy Mark IV armour set and a big old pile of spare melee weapons. I didn't have much of a plan going in, I just slapped things together however they best seemed to fit but I'm quite pleased with the results:




Okay, I'm not too sure what the chap with the power sword is meant to be doing. Exhorting his brothers to advance, perhaps? Regardless, I think they'll look fantastic as a unit (or two, depending on my needs), though that's probably more down to Maximus armour looking amazing than any of my input.

I also slapped together this little fellow out of spares...
and some day he'll act as a colour test to see if I can apply the Angels Of Redemption colour scheme to power armour, which is a bit more complicated to halve than than Cataphractii Terminator plate that was my first experiment. 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

On the imminence of Ultramarines

The rumour mill has started spitting out specifics for the 8th edition starter set. Obviously, this is just a rumour so get your salt out but the reported contents are as follows:

Death Guard
Chaos Lord
Terminators
Plague Marines
Blight Drone(s?)

Ultramarines
Captain
Librarian
2x Tactical Squads
Assault Squad
Devastator Squad

Price point is rumour to be £80 and its pretty good value even if I doubt that the Blight Drone or Drones will be the full size of the Forge World ones (though they will be a damn sight easier to build...). I'm certainly setting aside some money for one on the strength of the Death Guard alone, an army I have wanted for years but find the Forge World versions unbuildable.

The Ultramarines, though...

Now, its not like I dislike Ultramarines, I'm actually rather fond of them and Know No Fear remains my favourite Horus Heresy novel. The problem I have, assuming like the Dark Angels in Dark Vengeance they have embossed heraldry, I don't think its a good idea to have them in the starter set. Or, rather, I don't think its a good idea to have both armies in a starter set be a specific sub-faction rather than generic models.

Take Assault On Black Reach, still my favourite 40k starter set and where are my multi-part plastic Deffkotpas, GW? In that set you had generic Space Marines usable for any sub-faction of vanilla Space Marines, Dark Angels and Blood Angels, plus Orks that you could use as the foundation for any build of Ork army you wished. Even Dark Vengeance, with its very specifically Dark Angels Space Marines, had a completely generic Chaos Marine force and where are my multi-part plastic Cultists and Chosen, GW?

This set gives us two specific sub-factions: Plague Marines and Ultramarines. Having one or both armies be generic was genuinely a usability issue, it provided the player with an economic start to numerous armies. My Dark Vengeance Chaos Marines were Night Lords, my Black Reach Orks were Freebooterz and the Space Marines they came with were, at various times by the grace of brown Dettol, Exorcists, Black Templars and Guardians of the Covenant.

Unless I'm wrong about embossed heraldry, I will have Ultramarines who only be Ultramarines which is one sub-faction amongst dozens in the Space Marine background. Still, I might have a use for them since my Mechanicus come from Ultramar and if not there's always eBay. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

8th edition shooting: I have an issue


There is an issue I have always had with 40k stat lines and the ranged weapon rules Warhammer Community put up yesterday are basically the perfect illustration of it:
You see, I have basically no problem with any of that. I like how the lascannon is balanced to do a lot of damage to a single target (read: vehicles and their many, many wounds), I like how the flamer hits automatically on a random number of hits, I like the -3 armour save modifier on the heavy weapon.

The only sticking point for me is the boltgun and its complete lack of armour save modifier.

Now, a boltgun is basically a grenade launcher held by a man so big and strong that said grenade launcher has the same relative weight and utility as a rifle would to a normal human being. It fires huge bullets that embed in their target and explode.

And it doesn't affect the target's armour value purely because boltguns the most common “basic” weapons in the game. If you gave this gun an AP value under this particular system that would be hugely unbalancing to low armour factions like Imperial Guard and Orks.

Basically, because of how common they are, Space Marines kind of break the “realism” that game stats are meant to describe. Their basic guns should be incredibly devastating to armour, including Space Marine power armour, but it can't do that if the game is to have any hope of working. So I'm here ackowledging that these rules look well considered and balanced but I don't really think they describe the thing they're meant to.

Its not a huge issue because I'm used to it and the accompanying issue that the difference between a normal human's base stat of 3 and a Space Marine's base stat of 4 is so much bigger a representative difference than it is in Fantasy. Still, I had hoped that maybe this version of the game would take the clean break of totally invalidating all previous rules in one go and maybe the shift the stats a bit. At this point, the only way to do that after what we've seen would be to make Guardsmen pathetic and I really don't want that to happen.

Anyway, for the most part I'm still cautiously optimistic and I've been having a lot of fun making Flesh Tearers Vanguard which, hopefully, I'll have some pics of in the next couple days. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A little light statistical analysis

Yesterday, Warhammer Community published a post outlining how stat lines would work in 8th edition. Now, I generally don't take much interest in the nitty gritty of mechanics and so-called “Math-Hammer”. I'm a bit number blind, to be honest, and pretty much anything I buy for an army is based simply on wanting the shiny thing rather than having any idea what it does (which explains how many random plastic Horus Heresy Marines I have).

Still, there are some changes that interest me. As well as some general case explanations, GW posted up four example stat lines for people to look at.
So we have the humble post-human Space Marine. Most obviously they and everyone else has gained a Movement stat. I am very, very happy about this. No more rules flicking to remind myself how a given Unit Type moves, now I just have the stat. Important to note that the Tactical Marine has Movement 6...
whilst the Terminator has Movement 5, borrowing the Age Of Sigmar mechanic where heavier armour reduces base movement. Good change. Terminators now have two wounds, as well, which adds some extra value to heavy infantry.

Initiative is a thing of the past and To Hit rolls for both range and close combat are at set values, though wounding still uses an opposing values system as before (though whether the same system as before is left unspecified). Long story short: there's only one damn logs table now, halle-freaking-lujah!

Another major change to stats is that none of them are capped at 10 anymore, which means...
that if power fists still work the same way, this Dreadnought is Strength 12. Whether that's how it'll work or not, I'm just rubbing my hands in glee at the idea that Dreads will now have eight wounds. Oh, so very yes! Dreadnoughts, as I may have mentioned, are my favourite thing in the entire 40k universe bar none but they've always sort of been more decorative than functional.

So, all good news? Well, I have some questions and they mostly revolve around...
Roboute Guilliman, a living demi-god in a system with no upper stat cap, having physical statistics of six and only one more wound than a Dreadnought. Everything else on that profile is as godly as they can resonably make it but as a physical presence he doesn't seem anywhere near as durable as he should.

So, issues, but the original post has done its job of assuring me that the new system will at least be based in something I understand so I won't have to relearn everything and that this isn't as big a departure as AoS was.

Current mood on this? Cautious optimism, I'd say. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Paint along with Duncan: an experiment

Whilst watching some of WarhammerTV's Tip Of The Day videos, something occurred to me: I never actually learnt how to paint. When I first got into this hobby I got some basic tips from a friend about watering my paints and basing my colours (usually in brown, this was before base paints were a thing, I am old) but aside from that most of what I learnt was from written guides in White Dwarf.

The thing is, I am terrible at learning through reading, at least when it comes to practical things. The most recent set of painting guides have helped me a bit more since they have stage-by-stage pictures but even then the fact that what they call “layering” takes in about five different techniques is an issue, as is the fact that static pictures can't show you how to work the paint onto the miniature, just the effect you're meant to end up with.

So, over the next week or so, I am going to try to paint a miniature by following one of Duncan Rhodes' step-by-step videos. My chosen victim for this experiment?
My Lord Of Change. I bought this model the day it was released and after building it I just sort of got intimidated and he's been sitting on the side of my computer desk as a paperweight ever since. Not the most auspicious position for a master of fate, I'm sure you'll agree.

So, what am I hoping to learn? Well, I've never used these paper pallets before (I still use one of those bumpy plastic ones) and hopefully I'll get a smoother result out of it. I'm hoping to learn more patience with the “two thin coats” approach, as well as better watering my paints as I've never had a proper demonstration of how much water you're meant to use. My highlighting could definitely use a lot of work, which it looks like I'll be able to practice with the feathers.

This is thevideo I'll be using and, with luck, I'll be posting progress every couple of days. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Which Legion do I want to paint?


I've decided to try something I've never done before: paint some models purely for display. I've honestly never done that before, everything I've ever painted has been with the intention of using them in a game.

Now, though, I have this Mark IV Tactical Squad that I have no use for and I can just use it to paint something cooland different, something to challenge myself. I feel it should be a Heresy-era Legion, not just for the look of the thing but because I don't play Horus Heresy so it would be a nice change of scene.

So, which one?

A couple of Legions don't attract me at all for reasons of being a bit plain (Blood Angels, Iron Warriors) or because I'm painting them in other projects (Alpha Legion, Dark Angels) or because I'd really want to buy expensive extra parts to make them look “right” (Iron Hands, Thousand Sons).

So here's the short list and why...

Salamanders

The flame designs would be a good opportunity to practice my freehand and its not a shade of green I've had reason to paint before. Plus, I've always had a soft spot for the Salamanders and it would be nice to paint some of them at last. This is really the only one on the list that might lead to an army someday simply because they've been on my personal to do list since forever.

World Eaters

Dirty white armour is a challenge, not as challenging as pure white and therefore probably a good chance to ease myself into that colour palette. Plus it would be an opportunity to practice some blood effects. Only downside is I'm not too sold on doing a display unit for the XII Legion holding bolters.

Sons Of Horus

They're a gorgeous colour. Sea green isn't shade that comes up much in these systems and there's a cool Duncan Rhodes tutorial for them on the WarhammerTV YouTube channel.

Emperor's Children

Okay, okay, so I don't have chestplates with aquilas on them and that sort of means compromising the “aesthetic”, which is an odd thing to do with a display unit. I admit, that means I probably won't paint them as the glorious III Legion but the pull of painting a rich, deep purple armour is a strong one.

*****

This week I'll be building the unit (along with the rest of my Betrayal At Calth models), so hopefully by the time they're together I'll have made a decision.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

What to do with my Betrayal At Calth models?


I bought the set in a moment of enthusiasm. I have pretty much zero interest in Horus Heresy as a game system. It had Maximus armour in, though, plastic Maximus armour! My issues with Forge World resin are well-documented (another reason the game doesn't appeal to me, too much FW resin) and Maximus armour is my favourite Space Marine armour mark. Hell, I committed to a Black Templars army back in the day just because the upgrade sprue came with a Maximus chest plate.

Aesthetic reasons are the best reasons to do things, shut up!

So, yeah, I didn't have anything to do with those models once I had them. The only reason I painted the Contemptor Dreadnought for my Flesh Tearers was because it was the first opportunity that presented itself. And, of course, the other dsay a sudden craze made me decide to paint the Legion Praetor as an Angel Of Redemption.

So what else have we got to work with?

Cataphractii Terminators

For a start, the Cataphractii Terminators are getting painted as Angels Of Redemption. I really like the way the Praetor came out and I want to have a whole squad like that. This also has a double benefit of giving me something to do with the Dark Angels from my Dark Vengeance set some time down the line (I bought it for the Chaos stuff).

Dark Apostle

He's getting a head swap. Loathe as I am to damage a perfectly good set of Maximus, he needs either a skull helm or a bare head to become a Flesh Tearers Chaplain. I love the plastic Death Company Chaplain but he has a jet pack and the Death Company I'm painting right now are on foot so this will make a good addition to the squad.

Tactical Squad #1

I have been hoarding pistols and melee weapons ever since I started my Flesh Tearers army and here is where I get to use them: a ten man Vanguard Squad with all sorts of cool poses. I have a bunch of pistols, chainswords and various power weapons from different kits so no two models should look the same. Plus, being armed for close combat they won't have boltguns obscuring their lovely armour.

Tactical Squad #2

Right, so this squad of ten models is going to contribute to twenty figures. Here's how its going to work...

For a start, the ten torsos and heads will be used to augment a Blood Angels Tactical Squad. This will leave me with ten spare Blood Angels torsos and plenty of heads to augment vanilla Space Marine kits later on.

Of the remaining parts, five sets of legs, backpacks and weapon arms will be used to build a unit of Alpha Legion Headhunter Kill Team for my Chaos forces.

The other five sets of legs and such will be hybridised with some MkIII torsos and heads I have left over from making some Forge World Plague Marines (never... again... I don't care how much I spent on those kits, they are tantamount to unbuildable and I will just wait for the plastics) and a Dark Angel Veterans box set to make a squad of ten Fallen.

Tactical Squad #3

And here I run out of ideas. There's not really anything else I want to do for my Flesh Tearers and I absolutely do not want to paint Maximus armour with its basically bare chestplate in the Angels Of Redemption's halved colour scheme. So, with nothing functional to do with them, I have a few possibilities for more decorative, challenge myself sort of projects.

I could build them as Black Templars. I have plenty of the upgrade parts sitting around. I could paint them as Alpha Legion if the Headhunters come out well. I've also always loved the Sons Of Horus colour scheme so I might try my hand at that, there being an excellent WarhammerTV tutorial on YouTube. 

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Bone armour, a hobby milestone


Away this weekend doing Easter things so instead of Death Company progress and this week's hobby goal here's a picture of something that has eluded me for years and I finally got right by accident:
Bone armour. I've been trying to crack this for years and I finally do it by being overzealous withmy base coating. That bone is just three or four layers of Rakarth Flesh that was meant to be a base for Ushabti Bone but it came out so well I just did a recess wash of Seraphim Sepia and called it a day.

He's an Angel Of Redemption because I had a sudden craze to paint a halved colour scheme just to push my skills a little and I had no plans for this Praetor. Actually, I need to find a use for most of my Betrayal At Calth models, I've still only painted the Dreadnought. I bought it because I love Maximus armour, it is my favourite mark, and yet I haven't found any use for it yet at all.

I have a set of Forge World Alpha Legion Headhunters conversion parts but that's five guys out of thirty. I definitely want to do some of them as Flesh Tearers because that that colour scheme looks so sweet on Maximus plate. 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Hobby Goal #16: What Matters Is The (Death) Company


First off, progress on using the Mephiston Red Spray...
Its coming out pretty well, if a little lighter than I intended. I shall try two layers of Nuln Oil on the next model I paint like this.

And my provisional army list based on what I have built and painted goes a little something like this:

HQ
Chaplain with crozius arcanum and plasma pistol. 105 points (WARLORD)
Librarian with force weapon and bolt pistol, Level 2 Mastery. 90 points
Elites
Death Company Dreadnought with blood talons. 135 points
5 man Death Company Squad with bolters. 100 points
Dreadnought with assault cannon. 120 points
Troops
5 man Scout Squad with boltguns, Veteran Sergeant with bolt pistol and close combat weapon. 65 points
10 man Tactical Squad, meltagun, heavy flamer and Veteran Sergeant with power weapon. 195 points
10 man Tactical Squad, plasma gun, heavy bolter and Veteran Sergeant with power fist. 200 points
Fast Attack
Land Speeder with multi-melta. 60 points
5 man Space Marine Bike Squad with plasma gun and Veteran Sergeant with power weapon. 145 points
Heavy Support
Baal Predator with flamestorm cannon and heavy flamers. 135 points
5 man Devastator Squad, 2 lascannons, missile launcher, plasma cannon and Veteran Sergeant. 150 points

1500 points on the dot. Its mainly just things I have built or can build quickly.

I've yet to come up with a Captain conversion I like so I'm taking the two other character classes but, hell, the Flesh Tearers are undermanned so I don't feel too bad taking a Chaplain as my Warlord. The Elites are just an expression of my love for Dreadnoughts and the fact that you just have to have Death Company. Troops are a solid block of boltguns, a nice anvil for the enemy to run up against. I gleefully admit to stealing a Dark Angels tactic with the Bikes and Land Speeder tag team in my Fast Attack slots. Then there's a big block of high strength weaponry in my Devastator Squad to make up for the fact that I just can't say no to the idea of a flanethrower tank.

Right now I have both Dreadnoughts, the Librarian and one Tactical Squad painted and everything but the Predator, one Tactical Squad and Bikers built. Still, 8th edition doesn't seem to be imminent so there's plenty time.

Hobby Goal #16
Paint some Death Company

Its a simple fact that a Blood Angels army is not complete without Death Company, especially as I already have a Death Company Dreadnought built and painted. So my goal for the week is to add some black to the army, maybe even paint up the Chaplain to accompany them since they'll be using basically the same pallette. 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Why 40k needs a General's Handbook

This week on "A Man And His Dog"...
Okay, so one thing before we start: this whole chain of logic is based on the idea going round that a General's Handbook 2nd edition is coming sometime this summer. The whole idea I'm about to lay out pretty much relies on the idea that the Handbook is going to become an annual-ish release.

That said, let's talk about the single greatest gift to game balancing GW has ever created.

Let's look at the customer experience of buying a Codex. You buy your Codex, which in itself is £25 or £30 on top of the cost of the main rulebook, the miniatures, glues and paints and such. You can't really cut down that list much except in terms of the books and the most expendable of the two books is the Codex.

Add to that the fact that every edition is basically honour bound at this point to produce a new Codex for every major army with a few small timers getting a book every other edition.

So every edition you're in for an instant cost of the main rulebook/starter set and sooner or later you're expected to fork over another £30 just to keep using your army in most settings. Yes, there are places you could play older versions of the rules but most gaming clubs, certainly the most accessible ones that GW runs on its own premises, is going to insist on current rules so everyone is playing the same meta.

So let's talk about limiting that cost and doing a favour to game balance at the same time.

In AoS, buying a Battletome is an incentivised purchase. Yes, there's stuff in any given Battletome that isn't available for free: Warscroll Battlions, Allegiance rules and Battle Plans for the rules side, background sections for the fluff side. Essentially, though, those are all add ons as full rules of every unit and characters, aside from points cost in Matched Play, is available for free download.

Because the points costs are available in a seperate (and relatively cheap) book, I don't think we'll see a second edition of most Battletomes any time soon. Oh, Stormcast Eternals will definitely get their fourth book, fat golden poster children that they are, and maybe some other housekeeping exercises like smooshing Khorne Bloodbound and Khorne Daemons together to match Disciples of Tzeentch's formatting. However, I don't think a new Ironjawz or Flesh Eater Courts books is on the horizon.

Because there's very little reason to create it, let alone ask for the player for fork over the cast. If GW has a sudden inspiration to add a unit to, say, Clan Pestilens they can just release the free PDF and lay out its background in White Dwarf. They give it a provisional points cost on the Battlescroll and codify it when the next General's Handbook comes out. This way new model releases don't have to be tied to book releases.

And what's more, as points costs are the main game balancing strategy of these games, if they can be updated once a year that gives GW a lot more chance to both shake up and rationalise their meta.

There was a problem once where Space Marine tanks were massively over-pointed for what they did and the rules designers committed to lowering the points cost in new Codexes. However, for some Space Marine factions this took years because they had to wait their turn and so you had one army spending peanuts on their Razorbacks and Predators whilst others were paying through the nose for them. Instant imbalance and a years long wait to see it fixed.

With a General's Handbook it could have been done in one release.

Honestly, this is all motivated by the fact I've been playing this old game for four editions now, soon to be five, and one version of Codex: Space Marines doesn't read much different from any other. Maybe its time to just release one version of the thing and let it sit, a background resource supplemented by PDF downloads and whatever campaign book system rises from the ashes of The Gathering Storm. I also think it would be of benefit to GW to de-empahsise buying books over miniatures, especially with how short these editions are getting. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

A couple of lucky finds


Most hobbyists, I think, have one or two models they regret not buying when they had the chance, things that we were going to get some day but then went out of production on us. In our modern age, of course, this is a major motivating factor in why many of us have eBay accounts.

In my case, the other day, the chance came up to get two such models at pretty reasonable price and they're two of my favourite models ever.
Eltharion The Elf Without Fear by Frank Miller
The first is Eltharion the Blind, one of the earliest dynamically posed character sculpts and a relic of GW's first attempt at rolling storyline (the one that didn't end with the world being destroyed). I love the motion of the model, the way the pose captures a moment in personal combat that is very rarely used in miniature design: blocking an incoming attack. It actually conveys the skill of the character more than having him in a static or attacking pose would. Yes, the model has certainly aged but it has a real place in my heart as one of the miniatures that inspired me to start collecting.

The other model I just bought is, I admit, rather less spectacular. In fact, the reason he went out of production is that he isn't as spectacular as the competition.
"Come along, Dobby!"
This is one of four Spellsingers released for the sixth edition Wood Elves book and the first to go out of production. The other free all have these floating poses, held aloft by sculpted magic effects. Next to them, a dude standing there with a staff just doesn't cut it, especially given that at the time characters floating in mid air was this amazing thing we astonished to see achieved in miniatire.

He also, I think, was designed to represent the darker, more capricious side of the Wood Elves. He has a more sinister aspect than the surviving Spellsingers, an impression not helped by the sight of whatever the hell he is doing to that spite. Funnily enough, he fits better with the sort of character the Wood Elves had in the 8th edition and I'll probably use him as a Dark Magic Spellweaver.
"I walk in eternity (also swamps), Sarah Jane."
He also rather reminds me of Puddleglum as played by Tom Baker in the Chronicles Of Narnia TV series. Not a terribly villainous figure, I admit, but a central character in one of the most mentally scarring viewing experiences of my childhood so you understand the association.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Hobby Goals #14 and #15: Pay and Spray


Let's jump straight into Flesh Tearers Month with some... okay, to be honest, housekeeping exercises to set an agenda whilst I spend my hobby time filling in details on the Sylvaneth I've spent the last month finishing all the boring bits on.

Hobby Goal #14
Write a 1,500 points army list

One of the reasons I decided to build this army in the first place was because I had a bunch of Space Marine kits lying around and I wanted to do something with them. As a result, I reckon I probably have a decent sized army if I just got around to organising it. So, I should write an army list to decide what to paint first and also work out just what I have and how much its worth points wise.

Hobby Goal #15
Test out Mephiston Red spray

I've recently discovered how useful sprays that aren't Chaos Black can be. Whilst the main colour of Flesh Tearers is the good and noble Khorne Red, I have found that it comes out rather patchy over black when painting large areas. My chosen guinea pig for this experiment will be the plastic Blood Angels Terminator Captain. He came with the Start Collecting set and, nice as he is, I don't think I would have bought him otherwise. Nothing against the model but he is a bit glorious to be a Flesh Tearer and I view him more as a stop gap option until I can convert myself a nice, bespoke Captain of my own. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Flesh Tearers Month

With 8th edition just around the corner, I should probably knuckle down on getting an army ready for it. That is originally why I started cobbling together a Flesh Tearers army from random Space Marine kits I had lying around.

Flesh Tearers are a personal favourite of mine, though I'd be lying if I said half the appeal wasn't their very simple, very easy to paint colour scheme. There's also the fact that they're Blood Angels and thus have access to so many different Dreadnoughts. I love Dreadnoughts, they are one of my favourite things in the whole of 40k.

I'm also a fantastically biased player in that I love me my assault phase. I like red. I really like red but I don't like how Khorne armies play.

I also really, really like the background the Flesh Tearers have had for the last couple of editions. The idea that, faced with certain knowledge of their coming extinction, they have just decided that by the time they're gone the Imperium isn't going to have any enemies left. They now range ahead of Imperial armies and by the time the army arrives at their destination the enemy are dead, the local animals are dead, everything is dead and a small note is pinned to the skull of the enemy commander reading:

We won. Yours, Gabriel Seth.”

I'm not overly fond of the Black Library fiction for the army but I can pretty much just ignore it since its almost exclusively about Seth and his immediate circle.

So, the current state of the army: I have a single Tactical Squad, a Librarian, a Death Company Dreadnought and a Contemptor Dreadnought painted. I have a bunch of other models built, mainly infantry. First job, the, will be to see what I actually have and how to cobble it together into something approaching a useable 1,500 points army. Second job is to come up with some characters and a mission for them to be pursuing.

All in all, I'm rather looking forward to returning to the grim, dark future where there is only war.