Monday, March 19, 2012

Necron Speedpainting- A Battleforce in a Weekend

For the 40K 25th anniversary celebration, our local shop had an Iron Builder going- buy a Battleforce box on Saturday, and have it fully assembled by closing time on Sunday.  I enjoy these kinds of challenges, they get people focusing on getting things done, and being more than a bit mad, I decided to take things just a bit further- build AND paint the thing before 5PM Sunday.  Now, it's important to note that I didn't actually have all that much time that weekend, between helping a friend move, and a Pathfinder session that I had to leave for at about 3:30.  So I picked up the box on Saturday afternoon between other obligations, and didn't get to start until about 11:30PM on Saturday night.

Building the models was pretty straightforward.  Necrons have the distinct advantage of not having a whole lot in the way of options- for the contents of the box, all I had to choose was which vehicle to build, and which weapon option to give to the Immortals.  Being as this was the start of a new force, I decided to keep things simple, building the Ghost Ark as a transport for half of the Warriors, and assembling the Immortals with Gauss Blasters.  Of course, the mathhammering and reading up on the guns on Warseer ate some time, but all in all, I had all of the infantry built by mid-day on Sunday (and no, I didn't pull an all nighter- I worked from 11:30PM-1:30AM, and then started up again around 10AM).  I have some rather copious notes on the order I went in, not really sure why I thought that was necessary, but if you're interested in the exact order, let me know in the comments!  The key to all of this is to be working CONSTANTLY.  There's a number of parts that need to be dry before you can move on (namely torso halves and waist joints), so the smarter you are about bouncing between units, the more efficient you can be.   I started out with gluing the legs to the bases and gluing sand on as a second step, before even clipping out most of the parts, to ensure that the PVA would be good and dry by the time I got around to priming everything.  I also made the decision to mount the Scarabs three to a base instead of four- building them that way gives you a whole extra swarm, and allows them to be a quick reference to how many wounds are remaining (Mine aren't glued to the pegs, so I can pull them off when the swarm is damaged).

I will go into some detail on the assembly of the Ghost Ark, as it was kind of a pain.  I assembled the casualties while working on the Warriors and Immortals, but missed the little spines that help join them to the Ark.  That was a problem later.  I also found that the ribs are not quite symmetrical- they have a slight V shape to the joining surfaces that if you don't notice, can make them a hell of a lot harder to get to fit together.  I built it in assemblies, mostly per the directions, leaving out the pilot and the casualties, and ended up sticking the whole thing together while waiting for the first layer of paint on the infantry to dry.  I figured I could get the casualties in afterwards, which is technically possible, but I don't really recommend it.

Painting the force was easy, and a prime example of what I refer to as "materials-based painting".  The way I like to look at it, you have two choices when painting miniatures- you either look at them as a composition, which is where you will see painters that work hard at using the color wheel and manipulating the attention of the viewer, or you can paint them as though they are a real entity, looking more at what each individual part of the figure is, and painting them accordingly.  There are certainly merits to both schools, but I find it to be easier and faster to do the latter, as you can more easily apply the same scheme to every figure in an army.  Necrons in particular are easy, as you basically have three materials to deal with- the metal of the body, the weapons, and the internal workings of weapons and vehicles.  It is also easily applied to other armies as well- for example, the average Space Marine force has ceramite armor, flesh, exposed metal, and stowage, all of which are easy to standardize.  For the Necrons, I was going for quick and dirty, so I did the majority of the painting with a spraygun.

I based the Warriors, Immortals, and Scarabs with Boltgun Metal, followed by a spray coat of Badab Black wash.  Nice and neat, with the classic Necron look.  The Ghost Ark and the weapons were painted Tin Bitz with a heavy coat of Thraka Green wash, which gives a nice aged patina while contrasting with the silver and giving a bit of complement to the bright green accent colors.  The basing is Tausept Ochre, drybrushed Bleached Bone, with Calthan Brown around the base edges, a nice simple desert scheme that I've used before.  I will likely be going back and adding patches of yellowed grass for some extra detail.  I have seen other painters leave the sand bare for desert basing, and actually did it myself for my Warmachine army for a while, but it just doesn't work right- when the rest of the textures on a figure are being simulated with paint, the sight of a real surface just looks wrong, distracting the viewer and taking away from the scale look of the figure.  The hoses and vents on the weapons and the eyes were painted Scorpion Green, along with the barrels on the Gauss Blasters, which then got a coat of Chainmail on the vented shrouds.  I am a little sad that they did away with the green rods on the Immortals- obviously they wanted to leave things more open for other color schemes, but I just love the look of the rods, it's different from every other faction in the game, and ties the army together really nicely.

Obviously this force isn't going to win me any Golden Daemons, but that's not really the point of the exercise.  I've got entire armies, sitting in boxes, waiting for me to get "in the mood" to paint them (my Vostroyans and Space Wolves are particularly guilty of this).  While that's all well and good for someone like me that has other painted armies to use in the meantime, I have played against a lot of grey plastic, which is sad.  For players that are looking for a strategy game, but not a painting hobby, I am puzzled as to why they're playing 40k- there are much, much better wargames out there that use paper counters instead of staggeringly expensive models.  For those that think painting is "too hard", I would put this out there as the counter-argument- there is absolutely nothing going on with this army that I couldn't teach to a 12 year old in a couple of hours- there's not even that much brush control necessary.  At that point, the only thing left is laziness, and disrespect for your opponents- it is one thing to be working on getting a force completed and playing with it while you're doing so, quite another to build an army with no intention of ever actually getting it done.  In my experience, those sorts of players also tend to be rather unpleasant to play against, and rather quickly find themselves "voted out" of a local player group.

Necrons are the obvious choice for this kind of speedpainting exercise, but they're far from the only ones that it will work for.  Drop me a line in the comments, let me know what you think I should try next, or if you want advice on how to structure your painting in order to speed things up- I'm also considering running a workshop on it, so let me know if it's something you'd be interested in.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Painting Step-By-Step: WHFB Nurgle Champion

So, in an effort to stave off building a new Ogre Kingdoms army (good lord their new monsters look cool!), I've been trying to knock out some older WHFB projects- namely my Chaos army. I originally built the force when I worked at GW, quite literally because I was left alone in the store too long. When you get that good of a discount, it becomes remarkably easy to talk yourself into things, and the next thing I knew, I was playing a 2000 point game the next night. Flash forward a couple of years, and I have a strangely configured force that's only half painted. I've been playing some games, and getting some painting done of late, and along comes the new plastic Nurgle hero. I've been a huge fan of the new single-sprue plastic figs that GW has been putting out of late, they use the material very nicely, and are really nicely thought out- if this is what is eventually going to replace Finecast as the replacement for metal figs, sign me up. It also just so happens that our local GW shop is starting up a cyclical paint competition- everyone paints the same model, winner is decided by votes by store visitors, and the winner chooses the next figure. A paint competition? With a figure I wanted anyway? Sounds good to me. I haven't really done this kind of step-by-step since I was logging my painting on Warseer, so I figured it'd be fun to do again.

STEP 1: Basecoats - 90 min.
On a figure like this, I find it helps to get solid colors in first- while it's not anywhere near as absurd as some of the Privateer figs where you really can't tell what some of the greeblies are, there's a couple of things that are easy to miss, like the strap on the back of his helmet. If I'd started working the flesh without noticing it, I'm not sure I would have even bothered fixing it. This part is easy- Tallarn Flesh for skin, Gretchin Green for cloth, Boltgun Metal for all the armor and the axe blade, Khemri Brown for the horns and the axe haft, Calthan Brown for the straps, and a little bit of Tin Bitz for the three little circles on his chainmail tabard. Neatness is key here, as anything that needs to be corrected after the next step will be kind of a pain.

STEP 2: The Easy Bit (Allegedly) - 35 min.
My Chaos army is unified more in technique than actual color. All of the Warriors start out with silver armor, which then gets sprayed with a wash of their god's chosen color, along with matching capes. The nice part about spraying the washes is that if everything goes according to plan, it behaves more like a glaze than a proper wash- you get a nice smooth coat over the metallic paint beneath. This time, it was slightly less according to plan. Turns out I forgot to clean out my spraygun from the last regiment (Baal Red wash for Khorne warriors). (PROTIP: Don't do that.) Once I got it cleaned up, I got to rejigger my jerry-rigged hose connector, as the GW spraygun hose doesn't seem to match anything else I have, and then get the thing spraying properly. After a half hour of cleaning and fiddling, this step took about a minute and a half, plus a couple of minutes later wicking away some excess wash with a brush to help ensure a smooth finish. The all-over coat also serves the same role as a blackline, helping define transitions between materials without being too stark, and also tones the figure into the green spectrum a bit on all the colors.

STEP 3: Axe I, Horns I, Flesh I - 30 min.
The axe is corroded, but unlike the armor, I want it to be mostly silver, so I re-coated it in Boltgun Metal, leaving the green wash in the pitting. The horns get a coat of Khemri Brown, leaving a bit of the washed brown visible at the base, and between the ridges on the shoulder spikes. The haft of his axe also got some Khemri Brown, mostly a very light edge highlight, as I want to keep that a bit darker. His chainmail also got a quick overbrush of Boltgun, to make it contrast with his green platemail. The flesh gets a coat of Tallarn Flesh, leaving the greenish color visible at the edges and in the rolls of fat. Looking at him again, I actually kind of wish that I'd used Dwarf Flesh here- it's a little ruddier and more translucent, but Tallarn covers ever so much better that Dwarf Flesh has largely fallen out of my arsenal.

Step 4: Gore I, Flesh II - 40 min.
Green wash looks pretty excellent as a shading tone for red- color theory wins again. With that in mind, I want to keep the highlights on the exposed gore crisp and smooth, so that the green shade shows through, and so that they will look good covered in gloss at the end of the process. They got a second coat of Mechrite Red, making sure to look carefully at the holes in the skin to see the texture beneath- not all of them are flat, a couple have secondary indentations, which were left the darker tone. The skin got a layer of Elf Flesh. OMFG do I hate Elf Flesh. It's lightly pigmented, but for some reason seems to be prone to thickening weirdly- if you're getting Cakey-Face when you're painting skin, you're probably using this color. Unfortunately, it's one of the better light skintones out there, even with the weird 90's GW orangey tone. (I will admit here that I forgot about the P3 skintones- I don't think I've used their lighter one. Rackham's old elf skintone is almost white, much too light for this step.) This step covered even less than the second coat of Tallarn Flesh, for a basic layering technique. I attempted to make the transparency of the color work for me, but it's not very consistent. Here I blame one of my many bad painting habits- do as I say, not as I do, and use a palette. Getting used to pot-painting just screws you up later.
STEP 5: Horns III, Flesh touch-up - 30 min.

Most of this step was fixing my lousy painting in the last step. Working slower, with thinner paint, I went over most of the Elf Flesh again, trying to even out the tone. Painting at 12:30PM instead of 2AM helps with this. The horns got a coat of Dheneb Stone, again leaving the darker tones between the ribbing at the base.
STEP 6: Armor I, Gore II- 20 min.
The armor gets a very soft drybrush of Chainmail, to bring out the edges. This is actually my one complaint about the figure- the edges on the leg armor, particularly the knees, is a little soft, with the delineation almost completely disappearing on the outside of the knees. The exposed guts got a highlight of Red Gore, again trying to increase the dimensional effect of the holes.
STEP 7: Armor II, Flesh decomposition, Cloth- 30 min.
The armor gets another soft drybrush of Mithril Silver, concentrated on the hard edges and places that are visually important- the fly on his bracer, and the "face" of the helm. The wounds are outlined with Rotting Flesh, increasing the contrast between the skin and the wounds, and also making the flesh look unhealthy. All of the various sores and pustules are also dotted with Rotting Flesh. Another highlight on the wounds and intestines, mostly focused on the intestines, with Blood Red. The cloth on the tabard is highlighted with Gretchin Green, using the darker green-washed portions as a nice sharp shadow between the folds.
STEP 8: Axe II -5 min.
To further sharpen the contrast with the corroded portions, the blade gets a coating of Chainmail, and then a sponging of Mithril Silver along the sharp edge to make it look sharp, but not perfectly maintained.
STEP 9: Axe III, Armor III -5 min.
On the back half of the blade, it gets a sponging of Tin Bitz, followed by another of Blazing Orange, to get some more traditional weathering. This also gives a second bright point at waist height- the hands on the figure aren't really the visual focus like they'd normally be, in this case, the eye is drawn more to the bright red of the exposed gut, with the bright orange rust drawing the eye across the figure. This is probably also why the Studio version of the fig has a silver helm instead of a green one- it provides another point to draw the eye, since the figure has no face or real eyes for the viewer to be drawn to, and the head is so tiny compared to the rest of him.
With the drybrushing on the armor, it has depth, but it is not green enough anymore. A light glaze of Thraka Green tones it back to green without taking away that highlight. I specifically went light over the eyeholes on the helm, in an attempt to brighten the "face" of the figure to help keep it visually interesting. The skulls also got a quick coat of Bleached Bone to brighten them back up.
STEP 10: Details
Frankly, if this fig was just going into my army, I would probably have stopped after the last step. The painting is solid, the colors look good, and it fits the aesthetic of the rest of the force. For a competition, however, especially one judged by passersby, there needs to be a little more flash in the scheme. I picked out the fly on the bracer in a corroded brass, and stippled some Tin Bitz and Chainmail onto the axe blade to tone down the orange a little bit. I also added some bright green glow in the helmet with Scorpion Green, while re-highlighting around the holes with Mithril Silver. A little bit of paint on the base and gloss on the goopy bits, and I'm done.

So, including meals, writing the blogpost, and a few periods of doing more TV watching than painting, I figure I spent about 8-10 hours staring at this little fat dude. Frankly, I'm still not sure I'm happy with it, but I've pretty clearly moved into the stage where additional tinkering might do more harm than good, so I'm going to wrap it up, and look at it again in a day or so- I have until Saturday before it has to be done for sure. If I were going to do another one of these, I might rethink the skintone- while the ruddier healthy skin tone is easier to paint, and provides a nice contrast, it might be more fun to play around with a more necrotic tone, or a bruised, purplish tone like the studio model. It's been a while since I did a marathon session like this, much less for a single model, it's a nice change of pace from painting full units.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Loathsome Ratmen

So, anyone that knows me reasonably well knows that I have Somewhat Peculiar taste in animals. I've got zero interest in owning a dog, and the bird in the house doesn't like me. What I do like, however, is rats:
(This is Marcy, my rat. She is, alas, no more.)

Given that preference, it's really a wonder that Skaven were my 4th WHFB army (not counting a few smaller projects). I find it really interesting that they're in the current starter set- I would not call them a beginner's army in any sense. With huge numbers of models, highly unpredictable (if high-powered) units, and wildly unstable leadership, they have incredible potential for both victory and frustration. But hey, if it means I can get models cheaply from players buying Island of Blood for the High Elves (Thanks Emily!), it works for me.

I built and painted my Skaven force in the waning days of 7th edition, with the last edition of the Skaven army book. The Skryre Army of Doom was the strongest build, but I couldn't resist a horde of Clanrats and Slaves, marching along with the Screaming Bell. With the old Mainstay rule, my force was built in chunks based on the Clanrat units- 25 Clanrats, 20 Slaves, 20 Plague Monks, wash and repeat.

The update to the Skaven book changed that quite a bit. For one, the Screaming Bell changed size dramatically, making my Stormvermin unit suddenly rather the wrong size, and the power level of the weapon teams swung drastically away from the Ratling Gun (the obvious choice previously). Clearly something had to be done, but I let the army sit for a bit, as I was working hard on getting my Dwarfs to a relatively finished state.

Enter 8th Edition. With so many advantages to large units of infantry, the Clanrats started to look better and better, and my old list with it's 25-rat blocks started looking just a little bit inadequate. After getting my hands on the Skaven from the Island of Blood, I finally had the motivation to look through my collection and figure out how the force would work.

First to go was the relatively tiny Clanrat units. With plenty of spare models in the bitz box, it was a simple matter to combine them into a 50-strong unit with spears. Running in 10-wide Horde formation, the first four ranks get to fight, and dropping a Warlord in the unit gets them to Leadership 10 with room to take a few casualties without losing effectiveness. The two smaller units of Clanrats get a role protecting the flanks of the big monster unit.
The Plague Monks didn't have a whole lot to change- the new army book gives them two hand weapons by default, which is what I had built mine with, it was just a matter of adding more models to the unit. 25 should be enough, at least until I build a Plague Furnace.

The Skavenslaves get no help. Nay, they DESERVE no help! Intended as a discount speedbump, I don't know how to improve on 20 models for 40 points, except by churning out a couple more units of the poor guys. Nothing like getting them into combat in order to hold a target in place for shooting. Life is cheap, especially at 2 points per model.

The Stormvermin are a bit of a conundrum. I need to get my hands on some more of the old models- 19 just isn't enough to hack it, and the new figures, while beautiful, don't match up well visually. I have re-based my Screaming Bell, but without the Stormvermin to push it, I think I'm going to stick with a Warlord as my general for a little while.

Ah, the Weird Stuff, the reason to play the Skaven in the first place. Island of Blood comes with some killer Rat Ogres, not to mention the only available model for the Plague Mortar. I also have a stack of Poison Wind Globardiers and Plague Censer Bearers from the Warhammer 25th Anniversary box. The right mix of weird stuff, of course, can define the character of the army. At the moment, I'm leaning towards a Warpfire Thrower with the big unit, though I am seriously considering picking up a Doom Flayer for maximum smashiness. The other units are currently getting Ratling Guns still, since I have them around, but I will likely be switching them out for Warpfire Throwers. The Warp Lightning Cannon is less overtly bizarre than it used to be, but it still certainly merits a spot in the list.
A horde gets nowhere without someone to lead it, even someone as conniving and cowardly as a Skaven general. The Skaven line was hurting for cool looking characters when I got started, but the Island of Blood solved that problem rather nicely with a fantastic looking warlord. My old Warlord model will now be doing BSB duty, and with Ikit Klaw back in the army list, I'll be using a regular Engineer for my pistol-shootin', lightning zappin' duties.

Overall, I think the new army book is a vast improvement, and with a couple of players spinning up WHFB armies right now, it's a good time for me to stop resting on my Dwarfy laurels and get to painting again. The original Clanrats and slaves are some of the most effective and easiest models I've painted- once I fire up the spraygun, I'll take some step-by-step shots.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Army Update: Dwarfs

So, one of the first posts I made here, about a year and a half ago, was about getting my Dwarfs ready for a small tournament. Since then, I've done a lot of terrain posts, a few battle reports, had about three posts with no content at all, and used Valten in more photos than he's really worth. So I figured I'd revisit the Dwarfs, since the launch of 8th edition spurred on quite a bit of painting.

The first time the Dwarfs appeared on the site, they looked like this:
Now, that was hardly all I owned at the time (I had a couple thousand points back then, too!), but that was about all that I had done, apart from a Grudge Thrower and a couple of heroes. Here's what the force looks like now:
It's a little harder to get the whole thing in a decent picture now... Time to pull out a few highlights, I think.

The core of any Dwarf army build of mine is the war machines. Depending on the role they're called upon to perform, there's nearly always a combination of weapons and runes to get the job done in an impressively explosive manner.
The War Machines
The Grudge Thrower dates back to the Hobbytown days, before I even had a Dwarf army, and the Cannon from my first post on the Dwarfs is joined by another. Relatively new to the party are the Organ Gun, and the Bolt Thrower. There's some interesting stuff going on with the paint schemes, since there's about a five year window between when the Grudge Thrower was painted, and finishing the Bolt Thrower. The Grudge Thrower is very bright and shiny, going way back to my older painting, though the crew has some detail from my first flirtations with strong use of inks. The Cannons and Bolt Thrower are much more modern in terms of my paint style, with heavy use of washes and a more utilitarian look. The Organ Gun occupies a funny middle ground- while it's painted using the same techniques as the other newer guns, it's painted with the bright, bluish silver tones that I used on my Ironbreakers. More on them later.

Core Units
With the change in the army construction rules in 8th Edition, there is more of a focus on Core units than ever. (Gee, maybe that's why they call them that? I should ask about that...) Points-based requirements mean that a lot of my army lists are fielding more Core than I'm used to, and that means that I had to expand my basic unit selection. Not a lot, mind you, as Dwarfs are still pretty pricey models. The half-finished Warriors from the first post are still the first choice, though now they look a bit better.
Backing them up are two units of Thunderers. Shooting unit choice in the Dwarf book is interesting- everything is Move or Fire, and the Quarrelers trade off a +1 to hit for 6" of extra range. I have never managed to get them to work for me, but they may get a second look now that the rules allow for shooters to fire in two ranks. In the meantime, the Thunderers have quite a few kills to their tally.
The final Core unit is the Longbeards. Modelled with Great Weapons and shields slung over their backs, they are one of the most expensive units in the army, but they repay it in versatility, striking power, and support for nearby units through the Old Grumblers rule. Built before the lovely metal Longbeards were rereleased, they're built from the Warrior kit, with metal facemasks and quite a bit more gold detailing to differentiate them (not to mention their much paler beards).
Special Choices
The Special units are really where the Dwarf army book comes into its own. Containing most of the war machines (with the exception of the Gyrocopter, Organ Gun, and Flame Cannon), it also has several of the most deadly (and coolest looking) Dwarf infantry units. In Ye Olde Days of 7th Edition, it was a careful balancing act to get all the different army roles filled, as there are several very different units in the Special section. Now that army construction is percentage based, with up to half of the total army points spent on Special units, there is much more room to expand and use a variety of different units in concert.
The Ironbreakers are probably my favorite Dwarf unit. While not always the highest performing on the table, the concept of Gromril-armored dwarfs that specialize in clearing infested tunnels is a pretty cool one. Here's hoping that in the next army book, the Dwarfs get something similar to the Vault Wardens from Lord of the Rings. The Ironbreakers were originally going to be painted in P3 Platinum in order to get a very different finish to their Gromril armor. After painting my Grey Knights, however, I ended up changing my mind, and going for the blued, polished steel look. It sets them apart from the rest of the force, without going too far off the mark.
Hammerers just might be the best unit in the Dwarf book. Damn near uncrackable when a Lord is joined to the unit, and brutally powerful in close combat, they know how to get the job done. Funnily enough, though, they're the most recent addition to my army. As older metal models, a full unit is damned expensive. Big ups to the Joes for a superlative birthday gift. They're painted in the same way as the Longbeards- similar colors to the Warriors, with extra gold trim, and a unique beard color for the Champion. I would like to go back and dress up the standard at some point, though- compared to the newer ancestor pole bitz in the plastic kits, it just looks a little dull.
You've already seen these guys, there's not a lot to say other than that no matter how many times they get shot full of arrows crossing the battlefield, they keep finding their way into my army lists. It's hard to say no to that kind of daft enthusiasm.
The Heroes
And finally, the leaders, the shouting gits that get the Dwarfs to run willy-nilly at much taller and angrier opponents (Except the Slayers, there's nobody as angry as they are). The bloke with the white beard and the grouchy look on his face is actually the model that made me want to start the army- released at the same time as the army book in the waning days of 6th Edition, I was unpacking an order at Hobbytown, pulled him out, and thought "Well @*&#, now I'm going to have to start a Dwarf army." There are very, very few models I've ever seen that get across the character of a race as effectively as he does. Joining him are the Lord on Oathstone, a model which I like quite a bit, but haven't been able to quite talk myself into using as my general, the Battle Standard Bearer, the Runesmith, the Skull Pass Dragon Slayer (who also occasionally does time as a Giant Slayer in the Slayer Regiment), and an Engineer. Previously, the Master Engineer was a foolish waste of a character slot, so he was just occasionally a regular Engineer serving with the Bolt Thrower crew. With the low cost of Dwarf Lords and the new rules, I've been tinkering more and more with running my Runesmith as a Runelord instead, and using the freed up points in the Heroes allotment for the Master Engineer. Now that heroes cannot join war machine units, his rules have changed, allowing him to hover in a cluster of war machines, choosing from turn to turn which of the machines he's going to aid. It's always fun to see a model get new use like that.

I really need to spend an afternoon getting static grass on all the new units, I keep putting that off. Next up in the queue is the Anvil of Doom, and I'd like to add another rank or two to the Ironbreakers. A Gyrocopter might be a good idea too, the flying machine and the Flame Cannon are the only Dwarf units I've never actually tried out. With the way the Dwarfs have been doing in 8th Edition so far, I'm seriously considering a unit or two of Warriors with Great Weapons, or using the special rules from the Lord to allow for a second unit of Longbeards. Somehow, no matter how many points get finished up, there always seems to be just a little more to add...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Battle Report- Ultramarines Vs. Tyranids

Played a game tonight against the ZombieArchivist as part of a Planetary Empires campaign that's been going in fits and starts. It's supposedly also a bit of an Escalation event, so tonight's game was at 1000 points. Just enough points to fit in a few nasty things, but not enough to take everything.

We played the Seize Ground mission, with 4 objectives, with Pitched Battle deployment. Nice and easy, especially when compared to my 5-6 game streak of only playing Dawn of War deployment. My force consisted of a Captain with bolter and power sword (my cheap replacement for Sicarius in small games), Tactical Squads I and II with plasma guns and missile launchers, Tactical Squad III with a flamer and a missile launcher, 5 Scouts with a power fist for the Sergeant and a heavy bolter, a Dreadnought with an Assault Cannon, and a Vindicator with Siege Shield. Lots of bodies, but with the tank and the Dreadnought to handle any big angry bugs.
The Tyranid force was not quite what I was expecting. I'd been seeing lots of Genestealers out of him lately, and this list was basically the opposite of that. A Tyranid Prime with Rending Claws and Adrenal Glands, 2 Venomthropes, a unit of 30 Hormagaunts with Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, 30 Termagants, a Tervigon with Catalyst, and a Mawloc. Way more bugs than I'd planned to be seeing across the board.
My deployment was pretty straightforward- I split all 3 Tactical squads into combat squads, while the Scouts got into position on the objective in the near crater with their Scout move. The back halves of Squads II and III (IIB and IIIB) parked on the hill with their missile launchers, while IB got ready to set up shop on the wrecked Rhino with the objective. IIA and IIIA were escorts for the Vindicator, and getting ready to take the far crater objective, while IA ran with the Dreadnought to leapfrog the Scouts and take the objective in the forest on the Tyranid side. At least, that was the theory- we all know what happens to plans at contact.
The Tyranids set up in a couple of huge groups- the Hormagaunts in the forest on my right flank, the Termagants and Tyranid Prime on the hill on the left, with the Tervigon and the Venomthropes in between.
Taking the first turn meant that things were easy for me to start with- everyone moved up as planned, and my shooting phase was tremendous. With Squads IIB, IIIB, the Scouts, and the Dreadnought shooting at the Hormagaunts, I was able to thin their numbers very quickly, and an incredible stroke of luck with the Vindicator obliterated BOTH Venomthropes. All of the A squads ran, moving into position for the next turn.
Turn One for the bugs was not nearly as positive. Awful Difficult Terrain checks left the Hormagaunts swinging in the breeze right in front of the Scouts, and the Tervigon rolled 1-1-2 for his spawning, creating a unit of 4 Termagants and running out of eggs for the game.
In the second turn, the A squads continued to move up, while pouring fire into the Tyranids. The Scouts, IA, IIA, and the Dreadnought continued to lay waste to the Hormagaunts, while all of Squad III and the Vindicator dropped fully half of the Termagants.
In the bottom of the second, the Mawloc showed up, right in the midst of Squad IIIB, easily chowing down on four of their number, the missle-armed trooper just staring up at the massive beast in shock. The Hormagaunts finally remembered that they were hungry, assaulting the Scouts and Squad IA. The Scouts weathered a terrific number of attacks, managing to lose only one of their number, along with one Tactical Marine. Only managing to kill three of the Tyranids, that fight continued. On my left flank, Squad IIIA managed to account for 5 Termagants to no losses of their own, with the additional armor saves from Fearless accounting for 4 more dead Termagants.
In the 3rd turn, Squad IIA, accompanied by the Captain, moved up to support the Marines fighting the few remaining Termagants and their extremely angry Tyranid Prime, while the Dreadnought turned back towards where he started in an attempt to go deal with the Mawloc. His shooting was inadequate, but the two missile launchers on the hill were able to account for a wound on the huge monstrosity. The Dreadnought was slightly better in the assault, wounding the Mawloc twice while being immobilized itself, as the Mawloc failed its attempt at Hit and Run. The Captain and the Tyranid Prime squared off, with the Tyranid scoring one unanswered wound on the Marine hero. The Scouts and Squad IA continued their stalemate with the Hormagaunts, with the other Tactical Marine forward elements accounting for five Termagants, the rest of them falling to extra wounds from fearless, leaving the Tyranid Prime in combat with a full ten marines and the Captain.
The third turn for the Tyranids was almost entirely done in the Assault Phase. The Tervigon jumped into the fray to defend the Tyranid Prime, while the Hormagaunts were cut down by the Scouts, leaving the two remaining Scouts to consolidate their hold on the flag in the crater, with the Sergeant and Plasma gunner from Squad I making a break for the lightly defended forest objective. The immobile Dreadnought managed to inflict an unanswered wound on the Mawloc, while the fight between the Tyranid Prime and the Space Marine Captain continued to be a tied contest.
Turn 4 was a big shuffle for the Ultramarines, with squad IB moving from the wrecked Rhino forward towards the unoccupied crater objective, while IIB and the lone survivor of IIIB moved to take up their positions in the wreckage. The remaining Scouts, IA Tactical Marines, and the Vindicator collectively only accounted for 3 of the 4 Termagants guarding the forest objective. The Dreadnought managed to inflict a fifth wound on the Mawloc, though it got exploded for it's troubles, while the Captain continued his streak of bad luck, still failing to injure the Tyranid Prime, while it cut down two Tactical Marines. Their resolve held fast, however, keeping the fight going for another round.
With it's mechanical opponent now scrapped, the Mawloc took the opportunity to dig deep into the desert sands, avoiding any hostile gunfire. With a lucky Fleshborer shot, the lone Termagant in the woods managed to bring down the plasma gunner from Squad IA, leaving a lone Sergeant to face off against the vile Xenos. The Captain finally managed to wound the Tyranid Prime, but not without cost, with three more marines killed, while a fourth fell to extra wounds from combat resolution.

Returning from the ground, the Mawloc, eager for vengeance against the Vindicator, attempted to bore straight through the armored behemoth, but miscalculated, missing completely, a move that would take it almost completely out of the fight. The Vindicator, unfazed, brought it's Storm Bolter to bear on the lone Termagant, robbing the Sergeant of a chance to best it in single combat. The Tervigon crushed the last member of Squad IIA, but the Sergeant from Squad III and the Captain held fast, with all four objectives now solidly in the hands of the Ultramarines.
With the random game length forcing the Ultramarines to hold on, they had little to do besides hope that their Captain could hold the Tervigon and the Tyranid Prime in combat. The Vindicator easily obliterated the already wounded Mawloc, but the Captain again failed to wound the thick-shelled Tyranid Prime. The Tervigon had no such problem, eviscerating the Sergeant from Squad III, and feasting on his remains.
With only two models on the table, the Tyranid turn progressed quickly. Now undistracted, the Tervigon easily devoured the Captain, with Consolidation moves allowing the Tyranid Prime and the Tervigon to contest the objectives held by Squad IB and the Scouts, respectively.
Another unlucky turn roll led into turn 7, with nearly every Ultramarines model on the board firing on the Tyranid Prime in hopes of dealing a deathblow. The Heavy Bolter from the Scouts managed to deal a wound, but it was not enough to bring it down. With the Tyranids getting the last chance at assaulting, the Tervigon handily beat the Scouts, with only a single wound from the Sergeant's Power Fist on his way down the Tervigon's gullet. The Tyranid Prime managed to kill two of the five Marines holding the far crater, but the rest held fast as the game drew to a close.
With the Forest and the Rhino firmly in their grasp, and the Tervigon in the near crater, the Ultramarines held the field, two objectives to one for the Tyranids.

I think this game was a pretty good example of going in with a well thought-out plan, while remaining adaptable. I had hoped to get my Captain and Squad IIA onto the far crater, but with the Captain's power sword the only real shot at cutting into the Tervigon (with the exception of the Scout Sergeant's Power Fist, and he already had a job to do), I had to play leapfrog with my units on the left flank. The Mawloc was extremely disruptive- during turn 5, I spent my whole movement phase trying to spread out the squads holding objectives in hopes that the Mawloc's return wouldn't blast me off of an objective- really the only thing that kept it from being devastating was Joe's intense hatred for the Vindicator, even going so far as to admit that it wasn't the smart tactical play. There were a couple of rules errors that should have been obvious to me at the time- we misplayed And They Shall Know No Fear for a couple of turns, defaulting the Marines to Fearless when they failed a morale check, rather than after being caught by a Sweeping Advance. That cost me a couple of Marines and probably a few attacks from charging back into the fight, and there's really no excuse for it- I've been playing Space Marines for more than a decade, and ATSKNF has not really changed all that much. I also was panicking over the Tyranid Prime during Turn 7, forgetting that because it wasn't a Troops Choice, it had no chance at taking the objective away from Squad IB, just contesting it. Really, Turn 7, especially the Tyranid half, was a formality- there was no way for the two remaining bugs to contest or destroy enough Marines to keep the victory away from me. My own mental failings aside, however, it was a well-fought game by Joe, especially considering his poor luck early on with the Tervigon, and a pleasure as always. Certainly a worthy game for his debut in the Steamwerks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finishing an old terrain project

So I've had the CNC Workshop church sitting around on my terrain shelf for like three years now. I bought it, built it, sprayed most of it with GW Roughcoat, and then couldn't decide how to roof the damn thing. After taking a whole pile of pictures with it for yesterday's battle report, I figured it was about time to finish it up. I had tinkered with thatching the roof, but I didn't think that'd make a whole lot of sense in the desert, plus I already had a bunch of wood slats handy. Here's how it started out:
Unfinished Project
Slat roofing is pretty much as easy as it gets, and I got lucky- the roof on the entryway was just the right size to fit nice and even without any overhanging sticks. This was pretty much the only part that fit that neatly.
Foyer Roof Complete
The tricky part about the roof was fitting around the belltower. With shingled roofing, like on my Flying Tricycle buildings, you have some room to fudge any minor fit issues, since they overlap. With the slats, everything has to fit at least close to flush or it'll look funny. I initially started laying slats from the top of the roof down, but as I hit the bottom of the belltower, I realized I was going to run into trouble, with the roofline under the tower being about half a slat out of the pattern. I ended up redoing it with a slat under the belltower edge, then working my way up and down from there, leaving a small gap at the top that would be capped off later. Throughout the process, I tried to keep the spacing fairly irregular, using slats cut to different lengths to keep it visually interesting.
Main Roof Complete
Checking ahead this time, I found that the tower roof was just a hair longer than an even set of slats, but since I planned ahead, I was able to use a bit of extra spacing across the whole section to eat the extra space.
Starting with slats flush to the top and bottom of the roof, I started laying in pieces to fill in the middle, adding a tiny bit of extra space between slats in order to take up the quarter-slat of extra space.
Getting the Spacing Right 2
With the guides in place, it was a simple matter of filling in the gaps to finish it off.
Finished Belltower Roof
With the roof laid down, all that was left was to cap off the roof with one horizontal slat, to cover the peak of the roof, and deal with a few warped slats.
Warping Shingles
A few drops of glue and some patience (while watching a little TV on Hulu) got them sorted out. I like a bit of irregularity in the roof, but obviously the lifted edges in the photo are a little much.
With the roof done, there were still a couple of details to attend to. The kit is designed with a big crucifix on the back of the belltower. Given that it gets used mostly for Warmachine and Warhammer Fantasy, two settings where Catholicism doesn't have a whole lot of sway, something had to be done about it.
Original Belltower View
A quick trip to Michaels netted me a half-dozen wooden discs about 1.5" across, for the princely sum of $1.30. Craft stores are awesome, and these feel like the kind of things that may come in handy later.
Belltower Fixed
Belltower Fixed, 3/4 view
The other issue that remains is the windows. CNC Workshop likes cutting out windows. On their village buildings, that's not so bad, as they have interiors, but for my church, they either just look dark, or show off the tan table underneath the building. Once I get some paint on this thing, I'm planning on gluing paper inside the building, colored to look like stained glass. The last part I leave as a question to the gentle readers- What denomination is this church? Certainly not Sigmarite, as there is a beautiful GW piece for if I decide I need a church in the Empire. Menite? Bretonnian? Generic "Church of Happiness" a la Pelor in D&D? Let me know your thoughts!