Thursday, 26 September 2013

And They Shall Know No Fear...

Work has resumed on my Ultramarines following my venture into the realm of the Hobbit. This is the beginnings of Squad VI Octavian, known for their marksman feats. I know that neither of these squads I've done are legal as of yet, I don't particularly care, I'm just enjoying the painting challenge. The Sargent I'm particularly enjoying painting, the plume I've painted white to simulate the white stripe of a veteran and the red I painted in a similar way to the blue except, obviously, substituting for reds. I want to give the squad a marksman/supression feel, hence the heavy bolter dude at the back. I've chosen to go with a melta gun specialist because, of all the special weapons, it felt it needed the most pinpoint accuracy (anyone who has played the Space Marine video game may get what I mean).

Keeping things on a smurfy level, the thing that has really hyped me up for my Ultras more than anything recently is the Horus Heresy book, Know No Fear. I finally got around to reading it (well, I'm most of the way through it) and good lord it is a work of absolute art. If you like Ultramarines, it really is a must read!

Roboute Guilliman owning Word Bearers like a boss!

Now I've read quite a few books in my time, A Song of Ice and Fire being amongst my top reads (hence my Bretonnian project) but this book is absolutely fantastic. The pacing is superb, it details a lot about, not just Ultramarines but Space Marines in general without going off topic and it's had quite a few moments that made me sad, laugh and even giving a mini fist pump in triumph when the XIII legion kick some major booty! I don't want to ruin anything, but let's just say it explains why Ultra Sargents have red helmets and also gives great insight into Roboute Guilliman himself, who I previously thought was a pretty boring Primarch beforehand. Now I think he's amazing.

So yeah, short review, the book is amazing, the cover art is my favourite of any Horus Heresy books, Dan Abnett is a fantastic writer and the story is an absolute roller coaster that, if you're new to the Horus Heresy, will really make you realise why the series and history is just superb. Very impressed. It upgraded the Ultramarines from a Chapter I love to my favourite Chapter of all time!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Outside Interference and Goblin Royalty

Behind the scenes
Sorry, more silence lately. Been out and about, feeding my social life but I've never let my hobby out of mind, no sir. Lately however I've had more people literally looking over my shoulder as I work, namely a very close friend of mine and her son, neither of which have really spotted me mid-hobby before now. I was even caught by an iPhone whilst I was painting purity seals on my last batch of Ultramarines. Look at that stern concentration and dedication!

So it's rather unsurprising that they would get a bit more involved in the hobby themselves, particularly the son, whom I took for his first ever trip to Games Workshop and his first intro game in which his Chaos Space Marines floored my Dark Angels. Ah well, he had fun and I cried a bit. But I've spent a few hours teaching him the hobby and particular techniques I use myself. Hence the short silence. I haven't gone anywhere, promise.

However, this did lead to an absolutely unforeseen, random painting project that I started at 12pm and finished by 9pm - the Hobbit Goblin King from the box set I bought back in late 2012. When my friend's son found out I had it on our trip to Oxford Street, he promised he would get me to open the box for the first time. I'm kinda glad, he really motivated me to do something with the Hobbit. Here are the results:

Goblin King Finished
Obviously the picture's not great. I hope to get a better picture tomorrow and to go through the process of painting it as well. I'm very pleased with the boils that I painted, I honestly umm'd and ahh'd as to whether I should do them but I'm glad I did. It was a simple process of blotting some red wash and some yellow glaze over each bump to get the effect and it looks awesome in my honest opinion.

So where to from here? Well my hobby group has recently voted on a Group Chapter in which we will all contribute which sounds fun (and I can have an ally for my Ultramarines!), I'm currently working on my next Ultramarine combat squad and I have a hankering to paint some Legion of the Damned. So there's all that to look forward to. Maybe even some more behind the scenes pictures!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Ultramarines Chaplain Kitbash

Rain. The arch nemesis of any hobbyist. My second batch of Ultramarines have been waiting patiently for their undercoat but the rain has only let up today so I quickly dashed outside and sprayed up my next combat squad, ready for their next coat of paint. Last night, however, I had no chance.

So I decided to do some modelling. Once I was done with the finishing touches to my next tactical squad I got bored, so I dug up my neglected bits box (or bits drawer as it should be called) and decided to work on a Chaplain conversion, and this is the results.

I ordered the body off of Ebay a while back as I saw it from Sevrin Loth's Honour Guard set on Forgeworld and knew I would some day want it for a Chaplain conversion for my Ultramarines army. The leather straps really embody the roman theme I'm going for, plus the skulls in the gothic windows on the chest just screamed "Chaplain" to me. The rest was scavenged from various bits and bobs I had, mostly from the Command Squad box set - the crozius arcanum and arm was made using a mixture of the power sword arm from the plastic captain set, a banner pole from an old Space Wolves sprue and the banner top from the Command Squad set. The legs and jump pack were taken from some Assault Squad bits I had, the plasma pistol from the plastic captain box and the head is a Tactical Squad sergeant's head from the last box set. I then adorned the miniature with purity seals, chapter iconography and scriptures to make him look more like an independent character. I also added a metal Ultramarine shoulder pad on the other side as the smaller rims should theoretically look fine once I find a suitable right should pad.

It's not quite finished. Need to pin the base, add some more decorations, find a second shoulder pad, fancy up the crozius and green stuff the gaps, but I feel it's a good start. Thoughts are welcome!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

First Combat Squad V Vandar Completed

"Veteran Sergeant Vandar is the youngest ever recipient of the Iron Halo, awarded for tactical brilliance during the Tamari rebellions of 929.M41"

I decided to restart my Ultramarines with a different squad to my previous restart project. I managed to dig up the old Command Squad Sergeant from my pile of unused bits and figured he was perfect to represent Vandar - an auspex in hand, pointing and yelling commands to his unit with a bolter slung over his shoulder really screamed "tactical" to me. I also took a antenna from the vehicle upgrade sprue and attached it to his backpack to represent a teleport homer, giving my Terminators something to latch on to when deep striking. I also positioned his fellow brother-marines in various stances to reflect the squad's flexibility and ability to adapt.

In order to show the Roman theme I have planned for my army, I attached a crest to the marine second from the left and leather straps to the special weapons marine, both of which were obtained from Anvil Industry. The aim was to make the theme obvious but not overpowering, hence the rest of the marines do not have them. Gold was also used wherever I felt it worked to also demonstrate the Roman theme of the army.

Finally, I decided to make the bases more decorative this time around, mostly achieved by gluing bits of slate to the bases and painting them up accordingly. This was simple and quick to do but really gives the squad depth. I also used a pile of skulls from the GW basing kit for my heavy weapons marine and used texture paint to fill in any gaps that were showing. The skulls were easily painted, I just gave them a base coat of Ceramite White followed by a thick wash of Agrax Earthshade to get the effect I wanted.

I'm very pleased with how these guys came out. Next unit shall be another combat squad belonging to a different sergeant. I know this squad isn't legal at the moment (need 10 marines to field a heavy and special weapon) but I want to try my hands at a different type of look for now...

Monday, 9 September 2013

Blood Angels: A Balancing Act

With the release of the Dark Angels and Space Marines codices, both of which are regarded as fairly close organisationwise but rather different ruleswise, my thoughts can't help but wander to what the future holds for their closest cousins, the Blood Angels.

Now I make no secret of my dislike for the Blood Angels. Not so much for their theme, history or doctrine so much as the over popularity of the pseudo-vampires and their tendency to be better than every other angel of death in almost every way. What once started as a neat mesh of gothic sci-fi and dark fantasy has turned into an over the top combat fest that turned into every tournament player's wet dream. When I started back in second edition, the Blood Angels were nothing more than a fairly balanced Space Marine list with more focus on melee than shooting, exactly how they should be. However, their descent into insane power and seeming increasing lack of weakness began back in third edition.

For those who weren't around for third edition, which I now dub as "40k for Dummies" due to it's bare bone, lack of variety nature, close combat ruled the roost. If you were a shooty army, you might as well skipped every one of your turns. As you can imagine, as an avid Ultramarine (and, later in the same edition, Necron) player, I lost pretty much all the time. This mindset, however, did wonders in boosting the popularity of the sons of Sanguinius as bandwagon players left and right came out of the wood work to take an almighty Space Marine army that ripped most anything to shreds in combat. I was ridiculed when I walked into a Games Workshop as inevitably someone would hark "He's a smurf player! So boring, everyone plays them!" to which the rest of the store, who unsurprisingly were Born Again Blood Angels, would shake their fists and mutter "Yeah!" like that kid who follows the bully who stole your lunch money everyday to look tough.

Even then Blood Angels took their fluff well. Space Marines would randomly succumb to the Black Rage and become Death Company, or would frenzy randomly as the Red Thirst took over, both of which magnifying your close combat abilities whilst inconveniencing you ranged abilities. It was insanely hard, yes, but that's how Blood Angels should be, and surely once Games Workshop ironed out the rules edition by edition, they would even out... right?


Blood Angels are harder than ever. EVER. If it's a chapter strength, it's rules are amazing and if it's a chapter flaw, it's even more amazing. How does that work? The Red Thirst is meant to be a curse, not a boon. I dare you all to point out one flaw with succumbing to the Red Thirst nowadays. You can't, can you? Then there's the units that a hard but have no specific relevant to Blood Angels at all. At what point were Blood Angels the only chapter to be so amazing with psychic powers that they were the only ones who thought of sticking a Librarian in Dreadnought armour? It's preposterous.

I dread the next codex, especially with the power upping and points dropping Warhammer 40k has gotten into as of late. However, all is not lost. I have a few ideas on how Blood Angels can be an enjoyable army to play as and against without hogging the lime light like a fat Eldar.

1. The Red Thirst

As I have stated before, the Red Thirst is a curse. It went from being a nuisance (making your unit move towards the nearest enemy when you fail a leadership test) to being something you'd hope would happen (gains furious charge for the rest of the game on the roll of a 1). Now I get this is meant to improve the Blood Angel's close combat abilities, but it's a flaw, not a boon. I suggest changing this to something similar to the Knights Errant in the Bretonnian army book. Something like:

Roll for leadership for every unit at the start of the assault phase. If the unit fails, it has to attempt to charge a unit if it is possible to do so (even if you would usually opt against it) and in that phase, the unit also gains Furious Charge.

A simple change over would make Blood Angels randomly dangerous when charging and makes the Red Thirst less permanent. It would also mean that, even if an enemy unit is 12" away, they have to attempt a charge and would prompt an overwatch attack regardless. It now has a flaw but it's still deadly.

2. Mephiston

Of all the Blood Angels, Mephiston is something of an oddity to me. On the one hand, I feel he has the best fluff of any Blood Angel special character, but on the other hand he's is overpowered to the max. Mephiston doesn't have to be unstoppably hard to be a good choice! He is, by far, one of the most insanely hard models in the game. Ridiculous stats, psychic powers, a good gun, artificer armour and a psychic hood that amplifies his power. In my opinion, if a single model can feasibly wipe out half my army, he needs nerfing. I have some modifications I think would help keep him hard but not over the top:

Psychic Mastery 3: It has been said on several occasions that Tigurius is thought to be the most powerful psyker in the Imperium, yet he is still ML3. I don't disagree with this as I personally feel Eldrad and Ahriman should be the only two ML4 characters in the setting. So why is Mephiston ML4? I hear you Blood Angels cry "because he pushed through the Black Rage!", but that still contradicts Tigurius being more powerful. You can still show this in the rules...

One Extra Warp Charge: I would change it so Mephiston still only had 3 powers, but 4 warp charges to show his psychic powers are super charged. It means his discipline and pure knowledge doesn't match Eldrad or Ahriman, but rather boosted by his willpower.

Drop Strength and Toughness both to 5: No Marine should be able to equally arm wrestle a Swarm Lord without special gear. Initiative 9? That's fine, it's essentially a "I'm quicker than you" stat and doesn't improve with every point unless your opponent's stat is also improved.

3. Dante

This one might confuse some people. What do I have against Dante? Well, first of all he suffers from what I like to call "I'm Batman" syndrome fluffwise. All you hear about Dante is that he's an amazing strategist who will one day save the Imperium. "But why? What's he done? What will he do?" I say, to which he will reply "I'm Dante!". He could do with a bit of an in depth account. Compared to the other main Chapter Masters, he's a little thin on the details.

But it's not just that, his Death Mask of Sanguinius is horrible. It drops the stats of an enemy character of his choosing. So you know that ultimate character you sank all your points on? Massive waste. Oh and who's that? Dante's BFF Mephiston? Oh look, he just chopped your 250 point character in twain. With his pinky. It needs a serious looking over. Maybe it should cause fear and/or drop a stats of a character within 12" or so once a game for a single turn? That could be used much more tactically and would at least give your opponent an incentive to keep his Warlord the heck away from him.

4. Librarian Dreadnoughts

I just cannot work out why Blood Angels get these things, yet no-one else does? If having a psychic wielding maniac in Mephiston wasn't enough, they also encased them in 3 feet of plate too? There is nothing in the Blood Angels background that I can find that warrants this unique unit. My stance for this is the same as the stance I took on Storm Ravens: All or nothing.

If there is a single Space Marine legion that should warrant having one of these units, it would be Thousand Sons having Sorcerer Hellbrutes.

Well, I've had my fair share of gripes. Was I fair? Was I being unfair? Games Workshop, are you looking for rules writers?

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Tutorial: An alternative Ultramarine blue

I decided to change up my method of painting blue when I restarted my Ultramarines. I tried several methods, including experimenting with glazes and washes, different undercoats, basecoat techniques etc. but eventually I came up with a method that made me just go "this is it". I've had plenty of people loving my work on this blue so I thought I would share my secrets here on my blog. So here are the colours you're going to need:

Kantor Blue
Altdorf Guard Blue
Drakenhof Nightshade
Fenrisian Grey
Guilliman Blue Glaze

Steps 1, 2 & 3

Step 1: Mix 50/50 Kantor Blue and Altdorf Guard Blue and basecoat the all the bits you want blue using the mix, even the recesses. I found it easier to pour the two colours into a separate pot with a little water to thin it down and mix together vigorously just to avoid constantly mixing the colours up and to keep a nice, consistent layer.

Step 2: Wash the entire model with a generous (but not too generous) coat of Drakenhof Nightshade.

Step 3: Highlight every raised part of the model, as well as the blues inside the shoulder pads with thinned Altdorf Guard Blue. Do not use the mixture from step 1 for this, use the colour as is.

Steps 4 & 5

Step 4: Mix 50/50 Altdorf Guard Blue and Fenrisian Grey and apply it to all the upper most points of the raised areas. Don't make these highlights too fine, that comes at the next stage...

Step 5: Finally, apply pure Fenrisian Grey to the finest points of the highlights just to add some sharpness and vibrancy to the miniature. This will really make your dark blues pop out. Once you've done this, you're done!

There ya go, your Ultramarines are one step closer to being ready to wipe out Xenos scum!

The boys are back in town!

So, how about that new Space Marine codex, huh?...

Yeah, I'm back, it's been too long and you all deserve an explanation. The last few months has been very tough for me financially, I've moved home, gained a job, lost the job then gained another job and lots of other personal problems that have been far more important to concentrate on than hobby stuff. But in the last week I've donned the paint brush once more and started once again.

Well since the Space Marine codex came out today (still awaiting the arrival of my prestigious limited edtion Ultramarine book though), I decided to give constantly painting silver a break and focus on my boys in blue. You've already seen my Cato Sicarius, so here's a sneak peek at my next addition...

Tactical Squad Vandar
I've had a lot of fun painting the boys in blue so far. I love my Necrons, make no mistake, but they do become so boring to paint after a while. These guys have been painted very differently from the last batch of Ultramarines I painted and, honestly, I prefer these guys, I think I've really nailed the Ultramarine look I wanted.

I will post how I did the blues soon as I've had many, many people ask me about it, but if you want to know how the golds were done, you need only to check out the tutorial I posted back in February.

So until next time, hello hobby, I missed you!