Saturday, 31 January 2015

"Speed Painted" Death Company

I have been spoiled this month with the amount of gaming and hobby time, and my enthusiasm for the new edition and new codex has grown while planning for a tournament, re-basing using the new 32mm bases, and generally organising my hobby "to-do" pile into manageable goals. What I had failed to plan for was my local FLGS campaign which runs every year Jan-March. Having missed the first week due to family commitments I had an extra week up my sleeve to cook up a new unit for the Kill Team missions. What better Blood Angel unit to game at small points level than Death Company? Relentless Boltguns, Feel No Pain, Rage, Jump Packs... the list goes on. You may recall my previously very susccesful Kill Team list included all Tactical Marines in a Rhino, and while they were quite resilient they lacked extra mobility once the Rhino was taken out. With only one week to get some new models done I knew speed and efficiency was the key.

If you can excuse the awkward photo angle, this rotary air powered dremel is my favourite hobby tool for hacking into large pieces of plastic. While my previous bases were relatively well planned out with rocks and pinning models, this time I needed large areas of plastic to glue the plastic legs to as I had only one evening of preparation before undercoating. 

Hand filing is for those with time up their sleeve! Here you can see quick rounded edges created in seconds using the grinder at work. Not only do you sound busy in the tool room, but by going in early to do this you get bonus points from the boss! My workplace facilities have been a key part in reducing my hobby footprint at home, as with no shed for tools it's prep at work and paint at home.

With a few minutes on the bases at work, and an evening or two of bits box raiding I had a squad of five ready for paint. I ran out of green stuff so the bases are less polished than the last batch, but with speed the essence I felt the black edges would hide any imperfections for gaming with.

With a quick blast of grey from the airbrush and a couple of colours applied in haste I was ready to call them "finished" at three colour minimum ready for the campaign, but with a couple of hours left on my planned hobby evening I decided to go all the way and see what a thick black wash and selective highlights could do to them. After a couple of years trying careful glazing and blending it felt liberating to really slap the paint around.

I have since added a coat of clear enamel to prevent the paint rubbing off (quite common with airbrushed colour) and they are all ready and eager to take to the battlefield. I had particular trouble with Eldar jetbikes last time I played Kill Team, so here's hoping they can keep up! (I also had trouble photographing the dark colours so please excuse the corrected image above. You can click for a larger version too). 

With one month of the year already gone I am happy to have finished my first unit of 2015!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Two Days at Games Workshop Highgate

With Gottacon fast approaching I have been trying to get at least two games in per week against different lists and opponents to test out the resilience of my Blood Angels and the best place to do this is at the local Games Workshop store where I could paint, game and generally chat tactics and rules with various staff and fellow gamers. My work shifts the last 12 months mean I can no longer make the later nights at my FLGS so it's been daytime gaming further from home but well worth the trip for a fun day out with a few more full size tables and different opponents than I usually play.

Here you can see my fearless Imperial Knight getting up close and personal with some Tau Hammerheads in a request game against a Tau gun-line, and in a complete reversal of fortune he also killed a Necron Transcendent C'tan the following day, with the ensuing explosion wiping out the victorious Knight and the rest of my army! An apparent rare event for the Necron player but a suitably epic loss against a tough opponent and great learning experience for me.

The other side of spending two days at the games store was helping my mate Harry paint up his Tyranids. With the assistance of staff we managed to finish all the little bugs to a tabletop standard (in less than an hour!) for a campaign at our local FLGS which prefers painted models. You can see more of these great looking bugs in a photo battle report I posted last year. I look forward to some more in game photos once I finish my Blood Angels. He has also been working on his Tau using his new airbrush, and now has a pair of great completed and work in progress Riptides. These guys look great on the tabletop, I'm sure we will be batch painting some Fire-warriors in the future!

All this painting inspired me to work on my Blood Angels, and after the great progress assembling, converting, basing and undercoating I had stalled at the critical base coat stage. All my previous Blood Angels were far too bright, and I had hoped to make a return to "grim-dark" with more gold elements to reinforce the ornate and historical armour idea which the new codex focuses on, rather than the gaudy 2nd Edition paint schemes. After about six hours in between games I had the base colours down with a few hints from the staff, such as mixing brown into the gold for a more even single coat prior to washing/shading.

The helmets are yet to be painted yellow and the highlighting started, but after a few hours at home shading and drybrushing I am very pleased with the progress. I am also re-basing my Knight this week to match the rest of the army, and will be using the angles of the base elements as guides for facing of the Ion Shield which was difficult to gauge at times from across the table. With a few clarifications to the "Look out Sir!" rules and many many notes on improving my game I can't wait to do the same all over again next weekend!

If you need any convincing at all regarding the value in play-testing an army before any sort of competition, here is a list of mistakes and notes I made over only the last three games:

- forgot to deploy my Attack Bike,
- forgot to use my Captain's relic to make Fear tests in combat,
- forgot to move/shoot/charge after my dreadnought survived turn one (see above for the result!),
- allowed my Captain to be swarmed by a horde with no backup,
- forgot to move my Knight into charge range of two Leman Russ tanks,
- forgot to move on to an objective in turn five,
- decided against using Hatred as I thought I wouldn't make a charge,
- lost a game due to lack of Objective Secured when using the "Baal Strike Force" Detachment.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Blood Angels Captain Conversion

It's a double Blood Angels post this weekend, with the last of my new-to-seventh-edition models I am building for an upcoming tournament. This guy started life as a Azrael, Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels and a gift from the archives of a departing co-worker who knew I collected "The Warhammers". Despite being around for many decades he has still not made the transition to finecast, making conversions a little more time consuming but thankfully much sturdier as a gaming piece.

Being an unexpected addition to my bits box and with no plans for a Dark Angel force in the future I was less hesitant in tearing out his heart (literally) with a rotary tool and replacing it with an artificer armoured torso. In game he is equipped with two of the relics from the new codex, an AP2 power sword, and a death mask which causes Fear. He cradles a helmet from the Sanguinary Guard box using a hand copied for an earlier project, and is mounted on a new 32mm base with parts from the limited Imperialis Basing Kit.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Blood Angels Tactical Marine (Test Paint Scheme)

After a few more games under my belt, including a very close one against traitor guard (blob infantry in a Spartan Land Raider!) I am starting to paint up the models I know I will be taking to the tournament at the end of February. Following some advice on photography thanks to Tale of Painters and the limited settings on my Nokia 1020 I was able to snap some much crisper shots of my test model. These are all simply cropped, as I have no editing skills at all!

The palette is quite darker than I was originally planning, but really captured the "grimdark" I was looking for. The return to metallic paints after about two years is also enjoyable and much quicker than the layering/glazing/blending on some of my recent projects. I also used washes for my darkest shadows rather than glazes, as I am able to crate quick smooth shadows using two brush blending with regular paint and then crisp lines with washes and edge highlighting. Speed is certainly a goal with this project, and this guy took less than two hours to finish after airbrushed basecoat, which makes an army size project much more achievable.

I really like how the use of a green-grey colour on the boltgun and the base tie the model together, while complementing both the red armour and greens of the eyes and shrubbery. No squad markings yet, I am still playtesting the weapon configurations so I may move some models between squads. The Heavy Flamer has been much more useful than I was anticipating!

I stuck to a very basic freehand for the chapter symbol, this is an army rather than a display model, and you can see where I have left some of the overspray from the airbrushed grey rocks on the bottom of the feet. A crisp red/gray line would have been more time-consuming and difficult to paint without it looking like he is 'floating' as red can sometimes 'pull forward' when viewed against a cool background. I think it looks dusty rather than lazy, and shouldn't detract too much once there are a few more models around him.

I highly recommend you read the Tale of Painters photography guide I mentioned earlier, even if you've read hundreds of similar guides before. Above you can see the earlier photo I took before applying some of the tips Garfy outlines, and the blurry legs are much crisper along with less shadows. I would love to try taking some photos with an SLR one day, but I'll have to paint a lot more to make it worthwhile borrowing one. I hope all your new year projects are going well and you're all trying something new to stretch yourselves (even if it's just better photos)!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

"Take all Comers" Blood Angels 7th Edition List 1750pt

I have been slowly crafting (and now re-basing for the second time) a 1750pt Battle Forged list comprising of the "best performing" units from my collection, using quite a few second-hand models I have re-appropriated from various sources in my local gaming community. I deliberately went against the tempting jump infantry with Dante style list and have crafted it based solely on my experiences gaming with the new Tactical Objectives in many games against Tyranids, Tau, Eldar and Space Marines over many months, now tweaked with the new codex in mind. Gone is the Flamestorm Baal (no Scout), the Tacticals have picked up a new Heavy Flamer and swapped their ride with the Assault Squad (who combat squad with the Land Raider and characters).

Ordo Xenos Inquisitor (Warlord), Plasma Pistol, Rad Grenades
Liber Heresius, 3 Servo Skulls
Blood Angels Captain with Artificer Armour
Valour's Edge, Crown Angelic
Librarian, Force Axe
Furioso Dreadnought, Heavy Flamer
Frag Cannon
Dedicated Transport (Drop Pod)
10 Assault Marines, Vet Srg, 2 Meltaguns, Grav Pistol,  Power Fist
Dedicated Transport (Rhino)
Attack Bike, Heavy Bolter
5 Scouts, Camo Cloaks
Sniper Rifles, Missile Launcher
5 Tactical Marines, Heavy Flamer, Storm Bolter
Dedicate Transport (Razorback), Assault Cannons
Baal Predator, Assault Cannon and Heavy Bolters
Land Raider, Multi Melta
Knight Errant

The low model count still scares me coming from many years gaming with Orks, and from my initial Blood Angels lists using multiple ten man jump infantry units to soak up casualties. I also went against the "Feel No Pain" side of most Blood Angels lists, preferring to utilise the overlapping bonuses to improve my first turn assault with my characters loaded up in the Land Raider. Why bother trying to protect yourself with an apothecary when you could just wipe out the enemy before they have a chance to retaliate? At least that's the theory, and as long as I charge it seems to work.

So where does the magic lie? Provided you can keep him alive, the Xenos Inquisitorial Warlord provides many bonuses to assault and pairs very well with the Librarian using Sanguinary Powers. I generally like to divide these bonuses into "Static", "Random", and "Situation Dependent" when building the list to make sure I don't get carried away with the wargear and forget to invest in the units themselves!

Static Bonuses (when charging):
+1 Initiative (Baal Strikeforce)
+1 Strength (Furious Charge)
-1 Enemy Toughness (Rad Grenades)
Re-roll hits from Hatred (Using Liber Heresius)

Random Bonuses:
Enemy WS 1 from Fear (Using Liber Heresius)
Enemy WS 1 from Fear (Taken at -2 LD using Crown Angelic)
Hatred for the entire unit (Warlord Trait, Ordo Xenos)
+D3 Attack/Initiative for the Captain from Quickening (Librarian Psychic Power)
Rage bonus attacks for the entire unit (Librarian Psychic Power)

Situation Dependent Bonuses:
Enemy Initiative 1 (Psyker/Deamon, using psyk-out grenades)
Enemy Initiative 1 (Concussive unsaved wound from Grav Pistol)
Preferred Enemy for the entire unit against non-Imperial forces (Warlord Trait, Ordo Xenos)
Split Fire Plasma/Grav at seperate target when charging (Using Liber Heresius)
5+ Invulnerable Save (Librarian Psychic Power)

All of these bonuses work quite well with each other, and I am sure to find a few more depending upon the mission and opponent. I can already see Concussive working well against Monstrous Creatures, and I don't yet feel the need for the increase in WS provided by a Sanguinary Priest given the high chance of re-rolls using Hatred (another nail in the coffin for the Chaplain). I had initially included the Inquisitor because I liked the model so much as the backpack full of books certainly matched the "Liber Heresius" fluff, but the thought of bringing a Toughness 3 model with a 4+ save as my Warlord really pokes fun at the competitive nature of the rest of the list (Drop Pod Frag Cannon, Land Raider, Imperial Knight...). I had hoped to be extra cheesy and use the Scout rule (thanks to Liber Heresius) while deployed inside the Land Raider, but as it is not a Dedicated Transport the rule doesn't transfer. As the list stands currently I can always deploy him inside the Razorback, scout 12" forward, move 6" then disembark, and Turbo Boost 12" for an objective secured critical first turn objective 30" away. 

So far the new codex has really helped streamline the play as I don't have to roll for each unit to receive Furious Charge, the Psychic Phase is much quicker with the Librarian embarked for the first turn or two (The loss of Shrouding/Invisibility thanks to a change in psychic disciplines and a move to HQ really reduced the utility of the Librarian Dreadnought), and only one unit to be concerned with charging out of a transport, I have a lot more time to plan moves ahead and pick targets carefully with the mission objectives in mind, rather than charging blindly forward to beat the clock in a tournament setting. It's certainly a more rewarding gaming experience having durability compared with Orks or a jump infantry army as it gives me more options in later turns. I've only played two games with the new book and list so far, but look forward to many more!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

WIP Blood Angels Assault Marines on 32mm Bases

Recently I signed up for my first tournament in eight years, so you'll most likely see a lot more Blood Angel content over the next couple of months. It's time to dive head first into 7th Edition and see what all the fuss is about, and with a new codex and some new models my enthusiasm is very high as we welcome a new year.

Last week I shared with you some of my work in progress Tactical Marines on new 32mm bases, and this week I've been dusting off (literally scrubbing paint off) some older chainswords and bolt pistols to go with the new running legs from the Vanguard Veterans box. I had these legs saved away for a "cool project" some day, so why not use them as part of my first fully painted army since 5th Edition?

I used some of the leftover cast pieces and rocks from the Imperialis Basing Kit to give these guys extra height and room to sprawl without toppling over, and I love the amount of basing detail the new 32mm size allows. I also broke about seven drill bits trying to pin these guys to the rocks, but I will be rewarded should they tumble off the table as I'm sure they will stay attached to the base!

This week will mostly be undercoating and basecoating (saving a ton of time thanks to my airbrush), so if you are looking for cool picture of well painted models don't hold your breath. Instead, head on over to a brand new blog by three of my favourite Finnish painters, title "Iron Sleet". You won't be disappointed!