Monday, September 26, 2011

Battle report(ish) - Thousand Sons vs Blood Angels

Over the weekend my Blood Angel playing friend and I took a whack at a 1500 point game using the Age of the Emperor rules for the campaign weekend we're planning on attending this coming March. Our intent was to try out the lists as well as get a feel for speed of play, knowing that the rounds in the campaign weekend are roughly two hours.

That said, I didn't take the time to meticulously document the game, but just snapped some pictures here and there of things that looked interesting and I thought I'd share the results.

We set up a standard 6'x4' table, and I tries to simulate the terrain setup based on pictures from previous events. Compared to my usual style of setup, the table seemed really barren so I added a couple craters and fences just to give it a better look. We rolled off and got the spearhead deployment (table quarters) and 4 objectives with the Seize Ground mission. An interceptor gun in the center counted as the first objective, and the remaining objectives were represented by a trio of Flesh-changed Thousand Sons that I'd banged together out of some Possessed sprue leftovers.

The Thousand Sons castled up around one building and objective on my right flank, while the Blood Angels gathered around the leading edge of his deployment zone, eager to get to grips with my army. We each had a number of units in reserve, and both happened to take our Sabre Tank Hunters. Looked to be a duel of the big guns on that front!

In my first turn, the Jet Bikes turbo boosted forward to contest one of the objectives on the far side of the table. My intent was to use their Locator Beacon in combination with the Sorcerous Portal psychic power to teleport a Tactical squad over and hold the objective, but due to poor deployment on my part, this didn't actually work out as planned. On the other hand, that's exactly the sort of thing we were playing this game to discover - what works, what doesn't, what needs to happen in what order, etc.

In the Blood Angel's turn, he managed to get a Furioso in my backfield via drop pod, and with a combination of magna-grapple and meltagun blew the Sabre's cannon apart. Left with no weapon, it was relegated to mobile cover status for the remainder of the game. In retaliation, Ahriman and his bodyguard of chainfist-wielding Terminators managed to destroy the Furioso. Mostly lucky dice on my part though, that combat could have easily gone the other way!

A squad of Blood Angel assault marines did a pinpoint drop and in a single round of shooting managed to completely annihilate the jet bikes. A unit that I'd just finished painting the day before and that I was rather proud of, washed off the table in the second turn. Seems like that's how it always works!

On the heels of that devastation, he also Outflanked with his Baal predator, right into the side of the rhino carrying my second tac squad. Tzeentch was with me however, and he failed to damage the rhino with the assault cannons, heavy bolters or the storm bolter. In the following turn the tac squad disembarked and got a lucky shot in with a krak grenade in the assault phase (after the meltagun missed from an inch away), destroying the Baal, much to his surprise.

Ahriman used his Gate of Infinity power to pound forward, and weathered an absolute HAIL of fire from the heavy bolter-toting devastator Squad, absorbing something on the order of 20 hits for the loss of a single terminator. The intent was to continue to bound forward and get the chainfists into contact with his Sabre in a subsequent turn.

The Blood Angel assault squad continued forward, valiantly holding their ground and perfectly executing a Death or Glory attack on the neutered Sabre which attempted to Tank Shock them. Melta bomb, max penetration roll, 6 on the damage chart. Kaboom!

Tzeentch's favor turned against me for the remainder of the game unfortunately. Ahriman and his terminators scattered 11" away from their intended arrival point, putting them well away from their target. I forgot the Thousand Sons assault veterans could use Heroic Intervention, so instead they landed and completely failed to damage the Devastator squad that was their target with some desultory bolt pistol fire.

The Blood Angel Sabre pivoted to bring its Neutron Laser to bear on Ahriman, and the devastators casually spun in place to mow down the Thousand Sons assault squad. Another terminator was reduced to molten slag, and nearly all the assault marines were cut down in a hail of heavy bolter fire.

The slaughter continued on the right flank. The Blood Angel's last assault squad had been lurking in reserve for three turns but finally was able to enter the fray, dropping into the backfield - another thing that I failed to do during the game was to destroy the drop pod, whose locator beacon allowed the assault squad to come down with pinpoint accuracy. Doh! The squad did massive damage to the Thousand Sons investing the building, and they broke and fled from their assault.

At that point we had to call the game at 2 hours. Well, technically we managed to get 4 full turns done in 1 hour and 50 minutes which we both agreed was a bit too slow and was a function of not knowing the lists as well as we needed to. Not too bad though - with a little practice and some cheat sheets to help me remember what phases the numerous psychic powers need to be done in, we should be able to bring the time-per-turn down to the point it needs to be.

The end result was a complete and utter Massacre of the Thousand Sons. Given another turn I may have been able to take one of the objectives on the left flank that was more or less unguarded, but the Blood Angels had two objectives in hand and uncontested. Not the most auspicious beginning for the tabletop career of my Thousand Sons, but I claim a moral victory as nearly all of my models were painted (or at least had SOME paint on 'em)!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Heresy Era Thousand Sons - You've got red on you...

The Shaun of the Dead quote is apropos for this post! A couple readers have asked how I do the red on the Thousand Sons, and as I had a free evening yesterday I documented the process - hopefully it'll be of use!

To start with, this is my work area. I usually paint 10-20 miniatures at a time, so I'll lay out what I have in a semi-ordered grid, and pull out all the paints that will be going on them. In the back of the first picture you can see all the various colors that go into the Thousand Sons. Between each major color I'll change out my rinse water - I use a pair of cheapo plastic containers, for a basic two-rinse system (first rinse gets rid of the majority of the paint, and the second rinses out whatever's left from the first rinse). I've been using a wet palette for a little while now and I absolutely love it - I used to menace my more painterly friend by painting straight from the pot, but I have to admit, the control and consistency of the paint is so much better with a wet palette. Speaking of travesties in painting technique, those of you with weak stomachs should look away, for these are the brushes I use to paint the red on this army:

The horror! Now to be perfectly fair, these are particularly egregious examples of beaten-up brushes, but for the purposes to which I will be putting them, they really are exactly what I need.

The whole process starts with a Dark Flesh undercoat on the armor plates that will be red, as well as anything that will eventually end up being gold. I find painting gold directly over a black undercoat ends up looking rather patchy, but the red hue of the dark flesh gives any gold applied over the top a nice rich tone. I used the old beaten up Number 1 to block in the color, and I'm not particularly concerned if I get a little spillover, as at the end I go back in with Chaos Black to clean up any place that needs it.

Now that horror show of a tank brush comes into play! [Ominous Horns!] The next step is drybrushing Red Gore onto the models. For the jetbikes and other larger vehicles, I use the big brush, as the splayed hairs add a little bit of a stippling effects which is good for larger smooth areas. For the scouts it's all done with the same #1 used in the basecoat. In the pictures above you can see a basecoated model on the left, and the Red Gore drybrushed model on the right. At this point I'm giving the entire basecoated area an even drybrush, to bring the red up a bit overall. Interestingly enough, it turns out that painting the initial basecoat of Dark Flesh actually takes longer than the rest of the red steps combined - once you make it to this point, rest assured, the end is near!

An overhead shot of the group shows how the Red Gore brightens up the whole unit. The next step changes things up a little bit and really helps the models start to come into focus.

Next up is a more directed drybrush of Blood Red as shown on the right of the pictures as compared to a model from the previous step on the left. In general I follow a process similar to the Zenithal Highlighting tutorial that Ron at From The Warp posted recently - I just didn't know there was a name for it! Essentially, before drybrushing the Blood Red on, I take a look at the model from above and focus the drybrushing primarily on the parts that I can see from that vantage. As that's where the light source would be coming from, those planes and angles get the Blood Red treatment, whereas the underside relies more on the prior Red Gore drybrush and Dark Flesh undertone.

I tried to get a decent shot of the model from a couple angles to show what I mean. The upper planes of the marine's armor and the jet bike are a fairly bright red, whereas the underside is a bit more shadowed, though still distinctly red.

The units are significantly bright at this point, and would be more or less where I'd stop if I was doing Adeptus Mechanicus or World Eaters. I'd probably do one final light highlight of Blazing Orange on the extreme edges in that case. However, it's time to bring it all down a bit and tie it together instead!

The next step is a Baal Red wash over the entire red area. In general I start at the top and work my way down the model. The wash takes longer to dry than the paint, so definitely give it time to completely dry before moving on to another step. In the pictures above, the models are still a bit awash with, well, wash which I'll go in with a clean brush and absorb as needed.

The group shot shows them all drying, which is where I left off for the evening. I usually let the washes dry for an hour or more before I work with the models again, but at this point it was time to call it a night. Hopefully that info is helpful, the process is really rather simple, but it seems to result in a neat look in the end. It's definitely messy though, suffice it to say my fingers, knuckles and a fair bit of the painting station were all various shades of crimson by the time I was done!

This morning before work I had an hour to mess around so I went in and added the Graveyard Earth to the bases, and anything that will end up being cloth on the models. The dirt and cracks in the paving stones were given a pass of Devlan Mud, as were the cloaks on the Scouts (they'll be getting a camo pattern to match the bases, as seems appropriate.

One further little update -I'd finally gotten around to building the bottom section for the faux Dreadclaw Drop Pods, and I got the initial metal colors onto and affixed in place. I made sure to find bits that I knew I had plenty of, so I could replicate it on the other one I've yet to build.

Wow, that was a long one. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Heresy Era Thousand Sons - HQ and Elites get some brush time

Pretty full weekend of hobby goodness - now that the temperatures are starting to drop, we were able to play some Rogue Trader in the hobby loft on Saturday without succumbing to heat stroke. That evening my band had a gig which is always a hoot, though during the last song I managed to break a bass string. Of course, my first thought was "hey, more conversion fodder!" but my second thought was "Ah crap, gotta transpose everything to a different string". Gotta have the proper priorities after all! Sunday was spent doing a little painting, I decided I wanted to get cracking on some of the HQ and Elite slot's infantry:

I ended up painting all of the models shown here at the same time, but photographed them separately for organization's sake. Leading off with the model I've built to represent Chief Librarian Azhek Ahriman, he got the basic Dark Flesh/Red Gore/Blood Red/Baal Red Wash and then I started picking out the details. Going with a blue cloak (see below under the Sorcerer Coven) and the Force Weapon and little ball o' fire were blocked in with a Jade Green basecoat. The purity seals and loin cloth were based in Graveyard Earth, followed by Kommando Khaki and Bleached Bone highlights.

The Scarab Occult are the Honor Guard unit that accompanies Ahriman, and follow the same basic painting recipe. In general I'll only be running a 5-man squad, so I have an extra if I don't want to spend the points on a company banner in a given game. The Company Champion was given purple robes to help distinguish him on the table top from the rest of the squad, as they're all identically armed. Not sure if the purple works for me, though. Once I get the gold on I'll have a better feel for it I suppose...

The Sorceror Coven all have blue and gold robes, partially to tie in to the fact that in the current era, Librarians generally wear blue, and partially to tie in with Tzeentch's colors. I'll be adding a bunch of runic script to the cloaks to tie them in with what I'd done with Seraphis, the Librarian Dread. Still quite a lot of work to go on all of these models - the gold filigree will definitely help them 'pop' more than they do so far.

In the Age of the Emperor codex pack I'm using to build this army, one of the Legion Tactical Squads may be led by an upgrade character by the name of Sergeant Hesyre. He has a couple special rules - one of which grants the squad Specialist Ammunition so they get a decent Inferno Bolts analogue, but counteracting that is a rule called "vulnerable to the change" which causes his squad to have a sympathetic reaction to friendly units that test for Perils of the Warp. From a modeling perspective to show the effects of the rule, I went with one of the arms off the Possessed sprue to show him in the beginning stages of flux. I also built a trio of objective markers out of the possessed bits as Thousand Sons who have succumbed to the change and need to be recovered to hide the chapter flaw.

That done, nearly all of the models in the army have at least some paint on them, and I'm planning a smallish (1500 point) game with them against my buddy Dave's Blood Angels next weekend. I'll definitely snap some pics of the game, it's bound to be a table full of red models!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Heresy Era Thousand Sons - Tactical Marines nearly complete

Part of the Tempus Fugitives Age Of The Emperor codex is the idea that during the Crusade/Heresy Eras, the Space Marine legions could field much larger armies than they can in the 'current' era. On the table, this is represented by squads being allowed to take up to 20 marines rather than the standard 10. That being the case, I cranked out the basic paint job on a number of Tactical Marines. I started off with a pair of 10 man squads, just to get a feel for the paint scheme.

At the 10-man level, the unit is allowed a 'Designated Squad Leader' who is allowed a limited selection of wargear, including a back banner. At the 20-man level, the unit may include a Veteran Sergeant (most legions also include a number of upgrade characters as well).

The marines are a mix of kits - the heads from MaxMini are very reminiscent of the artwork in the Visions of Heresy art books and really help set the tone. The Bolters, Melta Guns and Missile Launchers are from Forge World, and the bodies are a mix of Chaos and Loyalist Marine bits. All of the legs for the infantry are of the same style, with the solid shin-and-knee guards, and all of the torsos are lacking the Aquila (though the squad leaders do have a winged shield). With the loyalist backpacks and shoulder pads, the smattering of Chaos bits is downplayed, and simply give the models a bit of decoration rather than being awash with iconography.

All that remains are to do the shoulder pad decorations. I'm a bit torn on what I want to do however - While the nova starburst symbol is a given on the left shoulder, the artwork is not particularly consistent regarding what the right shoulder pad has. Certain pictures seem to indicate they follow the standard Marine iconograpy (Arrow for Tac, "X" for Assault, etc.), while other pictures show alternate iconography such as scarabs, flames, etc. I'm open to suggestions!

Over the weekend I built a few more marines to round out the squads, more pics to follow!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Heresy Era Thousand Sons - Contemptor Dreadnoughts painting in process

I've had these assembled and primed for a couple weeks now but just got around to getting a little paint on them and snapped a few pics (black primed models don't photograph particularly well).

I decided I'd do one 'furioso' style with twin DCCWs and one with a single DCCW and a magnetized weapon arm to take advantage of the upcoming (at the time) alternate weapons. Since then Forge World has released/put up for pre-order a number of other options that I'll be picking up at some point in the future. For now a twin linked Lascannon should do the trick!

For the twin DCCW variant I wanted to pose it in a dynamic running pose to show it has Fleet, and I was really pleased with the options the Contemptor kit gave me. The model has joints at the ankle, knee, hip, waist, torso, shoulder, elbow and wrist, so it could be posed pretty much any way I could imagine. I went with a storm bolter in the left fist, and a heavy flamer in the right, and posed it such that it appears it is thrusting the right arm out prior to unleashing a gout of flame over its opponents.

The ranged variant I built with a bit more of a static pose, as though it is bracing itself to fire the Lascannons. Overall the models were a blast to assemble and thus far I'm enjoying painting them quite a bit. I am going with a mirrored paint scheme on the two of them though at the moment all I've done is block in the alternating shoulder and knee pads. Further pics as progress allows!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Post #200 - An excursion into the depths of the Closet of DOOM!!

The time has finally come - the 200th post! I figured it was a good time to take a look at the state of the hobby and take some time to thank all of you readers for your encouragement and awesome suggestions and advice, as well as a thank you to the 40k bloggers community at large, there's so many great sources of inspiration out there that it's impossible to list them all (Though Ron over at FTW does a respectable job trying)! A couple quick shout outs though:

  • Admiral Drax for being the inspiration for me starting a blog in the first place.  
  • From The Warp for not only being chock full of fantastic ideas and tutorials but also being the gateway to hundreds upon hundreds of other awesome blogs. 
  • Oink's Overambitious Terrain Projects as my favorite new blogger from 2011, his weathering techniques and conversions are top notch!  
  • Eye of Error makes me despair of finishing my own Dark Eldar out of envy of his work, and also deserves a thank you for being the designer of the fancy new blog banner and the various banners for my Heresy-Era Thousand sons. 
  • And last but not least, Ex Fide Vivo, a brand new blog started by my buddy Dave - only a couple posts so far, but he's a hell of a painter and modeler, and I'm excited to see his stuff online!

I reference the Closet of Doom in a number of posts, but really haven't documented the full extent of what it entails. Below are a couple pictures of my hobby loft, in it's natural state of disarray in the midst of a project. At the moment the entire 4x8 table is covered in the detritus of the Thousand Sons army I'm working on. However to the left looms the gateway to madness. MADNESS!

Opening the blinds (no I don't know why the previous tenant had blinds installed rather than doors) reveals the looming shelves full of 20+ years worth of the hobby. Boxes and boxes of bits, drawers full of more bits, shelves of terrain and half finished projects and quite possibly the missing bodies of Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart and the gateway to lost Rl'yeh for all I know.

The shelves continue on to hold a bewildering array of boxes of conversion fodder, from old Robogear models to a selection of fantasy units and even yet more terrain. Down in the very bottom corner of the shelves are a few boxes that miraculously don't hold hobby stuff. I really should get those out of there...

Against the opposite wall is yet another small shelf, this time stacked with battlefoam trays of models in various states of assembly and painting. It is here that a number of the half-finished projects languish in despair of seeing completion - I really do intend to finish a project someday, honest. Against the far wall is the door to the Attic of Oblivion (and you thought the Closet of Doom was bad)!

I was able to extricate myself from the Closet's evil clutches and thought that it's a good time to take stock of all the projects that I have going at the moment and figure out where the hobby will be taking me in 2012. Of course, the guard is my first love, and packed up in trays is the glorious Mordian 7th. I recently rebuilt the core of the army and more or less packed them up right after the primer dried. At the moment it's about half painted, but another project has me in its grasp:

The Heresy Era Thousand Sons army I've been working on of late has, to the exclusion of all other projects, taken control of the hobby loft. The main reason for this is the fact that in March of 2012 my buddy Dave and I are planning a trip across the pond to attend the Tempus Fugitives Age of the Emperor event being put on at Maelstrom Games in Mansfield, UK as well as seeing the GW offices and Warhammer World in Nottingham (and a few days of other standard tourist-y stuff around the UK too). There's a lot of pre-planning going on at the moment with further details to follow as our plans firm up, but I'm really looking forward to meeting the awesome folks involved in the TF events, and would love to lift a pint and have a chat with any readers in the general Mansfield/Nottingham area when the time comes!

The Kabal of the Crimson Woe is just inches away from completion but I came down with a terrible case of Army Painters fatigue in the home stretch. All of the models in yellow on the chart are 50%+ painted, but I am having a really hard time finding the motivation to finish them off. Soon enough though I'll get over it, polish them off and get 'em up on eBay. They were an interesting experiment, but I found that I didn't enjoy playing them as much as I do the Guard or the Thousand Sons. They are a bit too fragile for my ham-fisted command, I suppose!

Finally, there are still a smattering of Orks lurking on the shelves of the Closet of Doom, forming the seed of what will undoubtedly be yet another Waaagh in the future...

In any case, I want to say thanks once again to all of my readers, your input and support have been invaluable to me over the years, and I hope to continue entertaining you all!