Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Month at a glance

Hi all, I thought I would start updating each and every month with what I've been up to and what I'm looking forward to doing in the world of hobby. I know we have another 3 days of January left, but between work and other stuff, this will probably be my last update this month.

Ah, Rhino Chassis
Well first of all the resolution monitor still looks a sickly shade of red, with only one objective being hit. I'm not scared though, January is to me the preparation month where I gather my resources to prepare for more objectives to be hit. For example, this month I have often been found at my friend's house on hobby days out. Whilst I object to carrying all my paints, brushes and models out to work on at his house, I've found that putting stuff together more my niche, so I have a Rhino and Whirlwind ready for spraying as part of my army list objective. You may find because of this that I will be alternating painting/modelling posts from now on.

Not just that but I have 2 more armies willing to undergo the "Another Army" treatment ready for my March/April and May/June editions, but more on those as the time comes. Yeah I missed a painting contest already, but there will be more.

Of course there are other objectives I have not forgotten about. I've already determined my Deathwatch Chapters as well as thought out the basic outlining story that binds them all together, but I hear there may well be Deathwatch rules on the way early next month so I might do well to hold off for the moment. I also have another writing project that I will hopefully be allowed to unveil at the end of February. Exciting times.

So where am I going from here? Well currently I have some basecoated Sternguard on my painting table, so they're in the works. I'm also trekking to the bright and cheerful land of Cambridge on Saturday, back to Table Top Nation where I will even be able to tick Space Marines, Tyranids, maybe Imperial Guard at least off my list of armies to play against. I may even splash out on some more plastic men.

It's all very exciting, I hope you'll all stay tuned!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tutorial: Plasticard Rhino Tactical Symbols

Today I am going to run everyone through how to accomplish my latest achievement in the world of hobbying, namely making tactical squad symbols to put on the tops of your Rhinos. I thought up this idea after deciding after many hours of contemplation that I really couldn't be bothered to just stencil the symbol on the top hatches.

I will warn you all before hand that this effect will take a while to achieve as it involves a lot of effort. But it looks good. Try this out at your own leisure.

Step 1: Sketch the shape - First and foremost is to make sure the shape of the symbol is straight and tidy. To do this you'll need a pencil, a ruler and, of course some plasticard. To get the size you can work with it's worth sketching around the hatch the symbol will go on (important note: do not glue the hatches together or on to the Rhino just yet, this will become evident shortly!)

Now get your ruler and draw a 4 straight lines lengthways giving you 4 boxes of equal dimensions (I think this was about 1.25cms at each interval but check your measurements just in case). Then draw a single line in the middle of the area widthways. Finally draw a straight line from the top of the middle lengthways line to each end of the widthways line. It's a fiddly process but it will give you your shape to work with and it will give the icon accurate and smooth dimensions. There's nothing that ruins these decals more than jagged and in proportionate sizes!

Once this is done, pick out the arrow symbol with a felt tip pen or biro (I personally used the latter) so it's clear what you have to cut out. Finally cut this shape out carefully using a modelling knife. I will warn you all now, however that the thicker the plasticard the more work this will be!

 Step 2: Get the placement right - This is mostly a judgement call on what you think looks best, but my method for doing this is to put the rhino latches in their place (again, don't glue them on, this is important!) and dry fit the icon on the latch.

Once you have got the placement right, use polycement (plastic glue) on one half of the latch only and let it set. It is important that you don't glue the symbol on the whole hatch at this point or you will ruin the effect, but I have shown a work in progress shot of my Rhino to the left without one of the hatch halves to give you a rough indication of where you should be aiming to place the tactical squad icon. Once you got this step down, it's time to start working to make the whole thing look functional...

Step 3: Making the whole thing look real - This is where not gluing the hatch together is important. To put a flat symbol on top of a hatch that should be opening looks wrong and impractical. This is where we fix that.

I will warn you all in advance that this is the hardest part of the process. Taking the hatch half that has had the icon glued to it, use your modelling knife to carefully trace the jagged "teeth" of the hatch, cutting off the unglued part of the plasticard. After doing this, dry fit the unstuck half of the symbol on the opposite hatch door, ensuring that these halves align properly. Using polycement (plastic glue), stick this to the door hatch.

Step 4: Clean it up! - Before finally gluing the hatch doors on to the vehicle, clean up the symbol by aligning your knife along the edges of the model itself and, running it along the path clear up any unsightly overhangs on the symbol. Now you can glue the finished product to the tank and make yourself a cup of tea.

Why stop at Tactical Squad Symbol?

If you're feeling particularly adventurous, don't stop with the tactical symbols, go further! Using simple geometric methods you can make accurate and clean looking symbols for... well, just about anything.

I made this Iron Halo outline using slightly more complex methods that are similar to how I created the tactical squad symbol. The circles were made using a stencil I merely drew round, then measuring the dimensions of the circle I put the points more or less dead center and made every spike equal in width and length (well, apart from the obvious ones). As you can see I've shown you an example of using a biro to outline the shape itself so you can all see how much clearer and easier it is to get the right shape to cut out. Plasticard is a pain to work with at times, but it doesn't take an expert in rocket science to get basic, clean and cool looking shapes. Space Marine tanks are great for this material so go nuts, experiment!

An Ultramarine Symbol with embedded Iron Halo

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Ultramarines and tactics to consider

Hi all and welcome to my (possibly not) final thoughts on Space Marine tactics, specifically the focus is on Ultramarines though a few of these are worth considering for other chapters as well.

I have spent months in my geek cave reading and re-reading the Space Marine codex, trying to think up delicious new ways in which Space Marine units and vehicles can be used to cause havoc and mayhem to my opponents.

Did I say havoc and mayhem? I meant courage and honour!

Anyways today I dedicate this post to tactics that people may like to use in their games, I'm certainly wanting to test them out myself. So without further ado, I give you my thoughts on Ultramarine tactics.

Come get some!

The "Come at me, bro" Method

Honestly, this one came to me in a bolt of inspiration only today. Although we all know the benefits of the Tactical Doctrine, I've turned my attention to it's Assault/Devastator counterparts, trying to devise a useful way of utilising them. The Assault Doctrine, for my 2 cents is that it's a pretty cookie cutter ability. Not using the other two and plan on charging? Assault Doctrine.

The Devastator Doctrine, well that's an entirely different kettle of fish. There is the obvious usage of using it to emulate the Tau tactic of "shoot, move back when they get too close" with Devastators, but that's far too obvious. No, the "Come at me, bro" tactic takes advantage of re-rolling snap shots. It involves sitting behind cover and then, when the enemy comes into charge range, activating the doctrine. Unless the enemy has frag grenades they will be striking you at initiative step 1, which is a bonus, but also all your overwatch shots will re-roll misses. The tactic is two fold, getting shots off and striking in combat before the enemy has a chance to even hit you.

This is even more horrible if you take Tigurius and he has the Foreboding psychic power. The Devastator Doctrine specifically states "re-roll all snap shot and overwatch misses". Cast the power on one of these squads, fire their overwatch at full BS re-rolling misses and then go first in combat. It's a winner in theory.

Tigurius, Lord of Hell Fire

I'm not sure if anyone has clocked this particular tactic, or if it will even work. All I can say is, in theory it is a very, very nasty tactic in theory. It involves taking Tigurius as your Warlord though.

"What!" I hear you cry, "but he has no invulnerable save, this is madness!" Maybe, but he does automatically have the Storm of Fire Warlord Trait if you do this, and he can take the Divination primaris power of Prescience. Looking at it this way, it becomes very tempting to take the Librarian as Warlord.

I recently discovered that blessing abilities don't end until the end of your following turn, which is something to consider. In turn 1 you can give Storm of Fire to a unit within 12" meaning they can re-roll all misses. You can then cast Prescience to another nearby unit within 12" (which, seeing as Tigurius rarely will fail psychic tests, this is pretty reliable) and they too can re-roll all misses. You essentially then leap frog between units casting Prescience and therefore always have two units re-rolling misses without even using up your Tactical Doctrine. Who says Ultramarines are only sub-par at shooting?

Ghost Drop Pods

This is actually one of my favourite ideas so far and it's inspired by a Sicarius story in which the 2nd Company Captain utilises this particular method. It also works with all Space Marine chapters (including Blood Angels and I think Dark Angels) so feel free to use as you please.

Ghost Drop Pods involves taking Drop Pods as dedicated transport... but not embarking the squad on them. You then fit them with Deathwind Launchers. The idea is to start the game with at least one gun emplacement you can stick virtually anywhere on the board on turn 1. The genius behind the idea is the Drop Pods are only 50 points with Deathwind Launchers and have a respectable armour value of 12, meaning most basic weapons (including Tau weapons) can't harm them. This will force your opponent to either waste the cheap Drop Pods using their better weaponry, therefore distracting fire from your main force or be pummeled by large blast fire.

You could even go a step further and double bluff your opponent. Take a second Drop Pod but this time put a Sternguard unit in their and see them add to the severe fire power. That's only about 300 points right there for an incredibly annoying amount of fire power.

Snipers FTW

I'll be honest, I do look at Scout Squads and wonder why I would ever take them. But then one particular set up dawned on me. 9 Sniper Rifles and 1 Missile Launcher with Flakk Missiles. If you play Ultramarines, throw Telion in there too.

It may not sound much but picture this. That's 8 shots with precision shots on rolls of 6 and always needing 4+ to wound they are actually one of the best units for removing Monstrous Creatures from the mix, whilst the Missile Launcher can switch between anti-infantry, anti-tank or anti-air. If you have Telion, rather than fire 2 snap shots at a flyer, use Voice of Experience on the Missile Launcher and instead hit it with a BS6 anti-air rocket. BOOM!

If you can't see your scouts moving from your own deployment, take a Techmarine and bolster defenses on the cover they sit behind. Best case scenario your squad now has a 2+ cover save with camo cloaks, making them rival the savage effectiveness of Eldar Pathfinders. It's the only set up I can think of that could prove effective. Plus Telion is awesome.

Unusual Devastator Set Ups

Here's food for thought - combat squad a Devastator Squad with heavy weapons in each. Sounds weird but hear me out.

Try this. 3 Heavy Bolters and 1 Multi-Melta with a Rhino transport. Crazy, I know! But then you combat squad them like this: 3 Heavy Bolters and 2 bog standard Marines in one squad and the Sergeant and Multi-Melta in the Rhino. Combat Squad 1 will act as anti-infantry and Combat Squad 2 will park in a Rhino and pop tanks out of the Fire Access panel with BS 5 thanks to the Sergeant's Signum. You can be extra cheeky and use the Devastator Doctrine to move the Rhino 6" and still fire the Multi-Melta (you count as moving if you move at combat speed, and seeing as you're now Relentless...)

I can't take all the credit for this though, my friend James inspired the idea. You know, the guy with the really cool Tyranids you should check out if you haven't already?

Chaplains are rubbish

I'm all ears if you disagree. Unless you're taking Cassius against Tyranids or to use his awesome gun, I really cannot justify them unless they have a jump pack and are in an Assault Squad. Even then I'm pretty sure there are better HQ options to fill the slot they'd occupy.

Zealot is a very double edged rule. On the one hand, Hatred is useful for combat units (it's particularly nasty on Vanguard Veterans), but on the other hand, why the hell would you willingly replace And They Shall Know No Fear with Fearless when the former is by far a better rule for Space Marines? Just madness.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Review: Tyrannic War Veterans

Whilst I'm in the mindset of new codices and how to use new units, it turned out the rumour of Ultramarines getting a new dataslate wasn't hogwash. As an avid Ultramarine fan I absolutely bounced off the walls when I found out the iconic Tyrannic War Veterans were getting new rules.

Don't get me wrong, using the Sternguard rules did the trick as they are essentially the Tyrannic War Veteran rules from 4th edition minus Preferred Enemy (Tyranids) and more ammo type options. It worked well, but I always felt they lacked a depth that just didn't make them feel like Tyrannic War Veterans.

To be honest when I downloaded the dataslate (as a side note, be prepared to download apps on your PC to read the files if you lack an eReader) I expected them to be more or less the same as Sternguard with a few differences. Whilst I wasn't completely wrong, the Tyrannic War Veterans are far more different than I originally thought. Of course this is no bad thing, to be honest it's an additional unit I can use that's not in my codex so I'm not complaining in the slightest, it's actually a bonus in my eyes. I will try and point out the main highlights of the unit whilst trying to dodge any Games Workshop lawsuits as best I can.

  • Despite internet hear'say, Tyrannic War Vets are actually very slightly more expensive than Sternguard.
  • They also can only use normal bolter rounds or hellfire rounds and they have no combi-weapon or special/heavy weapon options, which is a bummer.
  • The unit has an unusual minimum squad size of 4 and a maximum squad size of 10.
  • Tyrannic War Vets also has 2 distinct special rules that Sternguard don't have. The first is, predictably Preferred Enemy (Tyranids). The second is a unique special rule called "Avenge the fallen 1st" which grants the Zealot special rule to the unit if the opponent fields any units taken from the Tyranid Codex.
  • There's also a formation that allows you to take Cassius, 1+ squads of Tyrannic War Veterans and 0-6 Stormtalons which is very nasty, allowing Stormtalons to begin the game on the board and even infiltrate. Also, any hits scored by the Stormtalons cause all Tyrannic War Veteran squads to gain the Ignore Cover special rule against that unit for the turn, but only in this formation.

I think I will have to play with the unit properly before I make my mind up here. The immediate draw for me is that I can take essentially basic Sternguard with Preferred Enemy (Tyranids) without attaching Cassius to them (although to be honest I can attach Cassius to Sternguard, gain the same perks and still have the weapon/ammo options, plus the squad would be cheaper). In addition they gain Zealot too, although I am not fussed about the Zealot rule as I doubt I would ever want the squad in combat with Tyranids and I've always found And They Shall Know No Fear to be more useful than Fearless.

The bonus for Ultramarine players have however is that Tyrannic War Vets specifically state they have the Chapter Tactics (Ultramarines) special rule, which means they can only be fielded by detachments of Space Marines with the Ultramarines chapter tactics. As much as I feel a little guilty at the fact I personally think Ultramarines already have one of the best chapter tactics and now a unique unit (much akin to the Templars Crusader Squads) I am excited for the other chapters. What new dataslates could be in store for Salamanders, Imperial Fists, Raven Guard, Iron Hands and White Scars? It's all dead exciting.

In conclusion, I love the unit. They lose out majorly to Sternguard against almost every army other than Tyranids (and even then, it's only worth it if you don't take Cassius or you take a unit on top of a Sternguard unit) but they're full of flavour and give you that little extra option against the great devourer. I look forward to testing them out!

6th Edition Codices: Why the hate?

As it says on the tin, why the hate?

I was perusing some of my favourite hobby blogs in my spare time today, notably Faeit 212 when I stumbled upon a genuinely interesting post regarding the new Tyranids capability in tournaments. Now do not mistake my meaning, the post was a good one and I was genuinely intrigued in how Tyranids play now they've been updated and I love the blog a lot, my accusation doesn't lay with Natfka, but rather some of the comments that appeared below the post.

If you ask any hobbyists that know me personally they will all say that I understand that the hobby, whilst social is also a very personal one. You dedicate your time and effort into creating an army and making it look how you imagine, and that might amount to the reason why people are raging about particular changes to the army.

Call me weird, call me naive even but I have never understood this phenomenon of immediately writing an army off as rubbish before they have a chance to shine. As a long, long time collector of both Ultramarines and Necrons (having several armies of each since 2nd edition) I have seen many incarnations of both and have had to adjust accordingly, but it's never bothered me. Well, I say it's never bothered me, the changes made in the 3rd edition codex was a bit of a groin shot but that was only because my miniatures became utterly unplayable - Assault Marines not being able to take power weapons anymore made sure of that.

But that's the thing. Tyranids are just as, if not more playable now than they were back in 5th. Instead of removing modelling options as unit upgrades they've actually added some. People might see this as a money grab effort, but those Carnifex upgrades that you couldn't use before you can now!

The thing is, to me the problem began as people saying the codex is pants and doesn't work. Then when Faeit pointed out that in fact the codex is competitive people begun moaning that there is only one build that works. Yes, Mawlocks and Flyrants appear a lot, yes Tervigons aren't as powerful, yes everyone will still take them. The thing is that now you need to take 30 model strong units to make Tervigons troop choices. Gasp, shock and horror, you have to play the army as a swarm like the fluff intended instead of a Monstrous Creature Mash Up! Before I go any further I must say this...

Stop moaning about Tervigons being nerfed - they churn out free, that's right FREE scoring units!

Mini rant over, I shall continue. Tyranids had a problem in previous editions where they were too hard. There were builds in there that were just impossible to defeat - one I was made aware of recently was taking 3 10 man swarms of Termagaunts just so you can take 3 Tervigons who just pumped out more scoring units, as well as a Trygon and a few Flyrants. That's just silliness for silliness sake, but also a build everyone took.

A build that everyone took. I will let that linger in peoples minds a moment whilst they contemplate the reason they're moaning about the new codex.

The bottom line is this. Warhammer 40k and it's Fantasy counterpart are tactical wargames. You have to outwit your opponent, carefully pick your armies and use them strategically. In all honesty that's why I absolutely adore the new codexes, they give you new toys to play with and change how the old toys work, encouraging you to look at your army in a different light. Hell, does anyone think I wanted my Reanimation Protocols to go down to 5+? No. Did I complain at it though? No. Why? Because a 3+ save followed by a 4+ resurrection roll is silly hard. On the plus side Necrons don't phase out. It balances out.

In conclusion, my recommendation is to stop focusing on the negative and start focusing on what you CAN do with your army now. Tervigons aren't as hard, but you have Exocrines now, how is that a bad thing? If you can't hammer your opponent like a blunt instrument then starting thinking about how else you can beat them. For me that's the most enjoyable part of actually playing the game. I'm still reading my Space Marine codex through and the more I read the more I find little changes that could potentially turn a game in my favour, I'm always finding new stuff I want to try.

Give the new Tyranid codex some time, get a feel for the changes. They might surprise you yet.

P.S. I've played Ultramarines for 18 years now, so don't even think of replying saying I don't understand what it's like to be nerfed horribly in the new codex - may I remind people of chapter traits in 4th edition and how Ultramarines were the only chapter that couldn't take any? Yep.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Kill Team - Layout and Chapters decided

So after a lot of thought, I have finally decided on my 200 point Kill Team and which chapters I want to use. It's been a fun challenge, finding different chapters that would have not only good individual backgrounds but chapters that worked with a great dynamic storyline. To be honest there were certain chapters I loved that were definitely going in there along with chapters I thought would work well together. Anyways, here's my decided squad for Kill Team.

7-Man Sternguard Squad (may change to being Tyrannic War Veterans if they're suitable enough):

  • Crimson Fist (Veteran Sergeant w/Melta Bombs) - I figured it'd be interesting to have one of the quieter chapters represent the veteran sergeant, plus giving anyone of Rogal Dorn's line melta bombs is just fitting. I specifically chose Crimson Fists from the Imperial Fists line for a few reasons, one I find them more interesting than Imperial Fists and Black Templars, two they have a history with Orks and three, I have such a cool painting idea to represent the "crimson fist" look without deviating from the Deathwatch colour scheme.
  • Ultramarine (Normal Set Up) - It had to be done. This one will be a grizzled Tyrannic War Veteran, the background is perfect for Deathwatch and I love Ultramarines. I decided not to have him as a veteran sergeant because it's too obvious and boring.
  • Space Wolf (Normal Set Up) - I decided on having a Space Wolf purely because, although I don't think I could ever collect the Wolves (I don't hate them, I love them in fact, just not my cup of tea) I think that having the one in a Deathwatch squad will look amazing. It's all about looks, I know I'm shallow. But it works out well...
  • Dark Angel (Combi-Plasma) - Dark Angels would also look cool as Deathwatch and they're famed for plasma weapons, so this was a no brainer decision. Plus with a Space Wolf in the mix, it'd give me some interesting avenues backgroundwise to explore.
  • Exorcist (Heavy Flamer) - Since reading the novel "Fulgrim" I've actually been fascinated with the idea of Xenos Heretics, and the Exorcist chapter would give an extra specialist in the squad who could advise on how to deal with daemons as well as xenos. Of course the heavy flamer is just tied in with the typical religious "burn the heretic!" and I do so love heavy flamers.
  • Lamenter (Combi-Grav) - This choice actually comes courtesy of JDC in the comments section of my last Kill Team related post. To be honest there were two ideas I loved from this comment, the first was using the Aurora Chapter which I was tempted by, but decided I didn't want an Ultramarine successor with an Ultramarine already in the squad. The second was the idea of an isolated marine cut off from their chapter that found a life with the Deathwatch. Loved the idea so much and I figured, there are no Blood Angel successors and Lamenters have a perfect background to fit random pockets of isolated troopers. I did toy with the idea of giving him the combi-plasma just because it'd actually be ironic if he killed himself, but decided the Dark Angel deserved it more. Our Lamenter can carry a combi-grav.
  • Pit Viper (Normal Set Up) - My custom chapter choice. Honestly picked this one because I wanted a single custom chapter to make people go "what's that??" but also I've helped write some of the background for the chapter, so it'll be interesting to write them in a mixed chapter set up.

Total Points: 199

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Another Army: James's Tyranids

Today marks the first "Another Army" post of 2014, and I thought what better army to showcase this month than the latest force to join the ranks of 6th edition codexes?

James is a good friend of mine, you may know him as the Tyranid player that has beaten me time and time again in my own battle reports. He is a veteran hobbyist in every sense of the word, having been a massive fan of Wood Elves and Empire in Warhammer Fantasy Battles as well as having played pretty much every army going for 40k. After many years in the hobby he fell in love with Tyranids and hasn't even given mind to anything else. No new games or codexes have detracted from his one goal of having a massive Tyranid swarm of his own devising and the love for his army is clearly evident in how well thought out and painted his 'nids are.

The flare of thinking up ways to make an models stand out that lives in myself also lives in James. We both have a very like minded approach to our models, including always having flying bases based and not left clear, always thinking of little things that make a model feel more alive and interesting ways of interpreting how his minions would work in a real battle. Indeed many were the times that we both sat down pre/post battle or on our off days just talking about ideas we've had for our own armies. Many of those ideas have taking form in James's army as you will see in the rest of the post.

Creepy Crawlies

The army is just brimming with subtle suggestions and reoccurring ideas, one of the biggest being that James has created his army with the overlapping theme of bugs and insects, highly fitting for an army of 'nids. But unlike a lot of armies James did not splash out all his best ideas on the big stuff and has added some neat little touches on the minion models. Take his Termagaunts to the left for example. If you look closely you'll notice that the tails are bent whereas the basic sprues have straight tails. By using a lighter and softening the plastic James has been able to look his gaunts look more dynamic and alive. The carapace (as with all his models) has also been finished with 'Ardcoat to give it a shininess and, well hardened look. James stated that he wanted to avoid metallics for his purely biological army (with a few exceptions that suit the swarm's background) and everything is painted with a fleshy palette in mind.

But it's not just the Termis that get the dynamic pose treatment. Take a look at these amazing Hormagaunts that were modelled to look like they were leaping out of the terrain straight for a killing blow.

Whilst we're on the subject of minion gribblies, here's some eye candy Spore Mines and Hive Guard.

4 different kinds of spore mines fully painted

Hive Guard

Monstrous Appetite

I hate to pick a favourite model in another person's army, but James has completely understood my choice. By far my favourite miniature in his Tyranid force is the Flying Hive Tyrant, the pure amount of thought that went into the modelling and painting of this miniature is absolutely staggering and mind blowing and it completely sums up the entire army's theme in one go. Firstly James decided to paint the Tyrant in a much whiter colour than the bulk of his force. He told me that this was done to make the Tyrant look like he was illuminating with synaptic energy, something he has incorporated elsewhere in his army (his Zoanthropes will have the same colour in mind and his Warriors have "synaptic spots" on their temples to name a few examples).

The one thing that really strikes out with this model however is the two Gargoyles that come out from underneath the wings. When asking James why he did this, he told me the effect was two fold. It is an interesting take on representing 2 twin-linked devourers for his choice but also it reinforces the whole vision of Tyranids as a swarm. It's an amazingly simple idea that is both practical and visually pleasing.

Slime & Shadows

The Tervigon for anyone who couldn't tell in my battle reports is my absolute arch-nemesis. I would hate it if the model wasn't so damn gorgeous. James has declared that he only wants the one Tervigon in his army because he doesn't want to be "that guy" but utilises the Tervi as that model that your opponent wants to kill but usually has more pressing targets. It was only fitting then that he went all out on this one model. The slime was created using green paint a UHU glue, strung between fleshy lips and teeth to give the impression of repulsive xeno bodily fluids. The spawning sac beneath the Tervigon is drenched in green ooze to make the new born Termagaunts look slimey and not prestinely dry/clean. Extra PVA glue was blobbed on the base and painted below to further give this impression and the extra Termagaunt on the base was added just to add to the swarm look.

Of course James kept the slime theme going as he painted venomous looking poison on the tips of his Venomthrope's tentacles.

One of the swarm's more interesting models, in my honest opinion has got to be the Deathleaper. Keeping the whole insect vibe going James has painted it green to make it look like a praying mantis, but he didn't stop there. He strategically placed slate beneath Deathleaper's leg and blended the colours to look like it's blending in with the rock. A fantastic idea that is subtle on the battlefield but really adds some flavour.

The full Deathleaper model

Deathleaper's camouflage

So, what now?

James's Tyranids are already sizeable and some may consider it "finished", but as a hobbyist myself I can safely say that an army is never "finished". With the release of the new Tyranid codex James has told me of his excitement of seeing how the army truly plays in 6th edition and has splashed out on some of the new models, including a Harpy and an Exocrine.

But before that all takes effect, James is also interesting in adding units he wouldn't consider most of the time to his army for the sake of fullness and also to give him a few new ways to play his army, new tactics to try out as it were.

Swarmlord WIP

Amongst the works in progress is the Swamlord, or as I like to call it "that nasty thing with 4 swords that keeps killing all my damned Immortals". It's getting a lick of paint at the moment. When asked "why is it orange?", James responded that in the insect world, the most dangerous of species wear the brightest and most vivid colours, and what is more dangerous than the Swarmlord?

Fair point.

Of course the Swarmlord isn't the only giant bad boy in the works. Check out this Trygon that has been modeled to look like it's bursting out of the ground.


Finally, no Tyranid swarm would be complete without some Genestealers. To keep with the dynamic look of the army James managed to get hold of the Space Hulk Genestealers which are being made 40k friendly.

So that's it for this edition of Another Army, I hope you enjoyed it. There are more armies out there that I have had interest to do a spotlight on, but for now I am going to allow James's Tyranids take the spotlight they so richly deserve a bit longer. Until next time!

Check out the Resolution Monitor!

Friday, 10 January 2014

In Preperation of Kill Team

I've been given some flippant thoughts towards my goal of building a Kill Team squad. As models that will operate separately each will have to exude personality and look individual. At the same time to spend so much time and effort on a squad and not even be able to use it in my normal games of 40k would be a tragic waste. Unless I can think of something especially ingenious to do with Necrons (it's hard to justify this backgroundwise with them anyways) I've decided that it will be a Space Marine squad. In other words, Deathwatch.

Deathwatch are the perfect focal point for a Kill Team based squad for so many reasons. Firstly I collect Ultramarines and if I want some allied Space Marines these are the perfect bridge unit to use as I can use them for pretty much any Space Marine army in some way (especially if I'm using the Space Marine/Blood Angels codex). Secondly the fact that a Deathwatch Kill Team incorporates different chapters, it'll allow me to really go to town on different themes for every model. Thirdly, I think it's universally accepted and, in some cases encouraged to use Deathwatch as a fantastically elaborate Sternguard Squad and, oh look! 0-1 Elite choices in Kill Team. Perfect!

But as I have a flare for the dramatic and theatrical, I don't want to choose my chapters willy nilly. I've got to write background for every single model in this unit as stated in agenda number 3 of my 2014 resolutions. Therein lies my challenge, to have a visually striking unit that looks great together that I can logically write for.

This is where comments are actively encouraged by myself.

I want to hear your ideas of chapters you would think would be interesting to use in such a Kill Team and why. I'm surfing through thousands of chapters and I only have to pick, realistically, 6/7 of them so I want to make them good. The below chapters are hot contenders at the moment.


You probably all predicted this one, but having thought about it Ultramarines are probably one of the most fitting chapters to use in a Deathwatch Kill Team. I don't just say this as a massive Ultramarine fan but purely due to the fact the Deathwatch Kill Teams form a part of the Ordos Xenos - alien hunters for those who lack the savvy. I always imagined an Ultramarine Deathwatch Marine to look roman, as per my basic theme of my army, but having thought about it I would love to have a grizzled Tyrannic War Veteran form part of the squad. Being that he would be an expert against Tyranids it forms the perfect alibi for induction.

Crimson Fists

I chose Crimson Fists as a possible chapter candidate for similar reasons as the Ultramarines. One of the most major parts of the Crimson Fists background is their home planet Rynn's World where they fought off hordes of Orks, so much in fact that Pedro Kantor grants Preferred Enemy (Orks) to fellow Crimson Fists. Also the fact that the focus is Orks as opposed to Tyranids like the Ultramarines candidate would really work with the fact that the Kill Team are trained to deal with all kinds of xenos and not just focus on a singular threat. Think of it as pooling the combined knowledge of different species into one highly specialised unit.

Imperial Fists

If I am perfectly honest, I am not a massive fan of the progenitor Fists other than the fact that nicely painted ones look really nice in small doses, but look like a sickly sea of colour as an army if done too brightly. On top of this, they are, in my honest opinion the most boring First Founding legion in the whole 40k setting and Rogal Dorn is a snooze fest. So why am I suggesting the Imperial Fists as a possible choice? Well I only have one explanation and that is that an Imperial Fist carrying a Heavy Bolter looks DAMN COOL. Yeah, it's a shallow reason, but a reason none-the-less right?

Space Wolves

Admittedly I overlooked the Sons of Russ originally. I've never been interested in collecting a full army of Space Wolves, but I've always loved the idea of toying with individual Wolves. I actually originally dismissed doing a Space Wolf as part of the Kill Team as they are best known for fighting Thousand Sons, which are not xenos. However someone did make the point that there are so many cool things I could do with a Space Wolf Deathwatch Marine, and with such different Wolf bits available (and more importantly in my bits box) the Sons of Russ may yet live in my squad.


The Exorcists is my wild card option that was actually suggested to me by someone in my hobby group. For those who aren't familiar with the Exorcists chapter they are from an unknown gene seed but are suspected to originate from the Grey Knights. They induct their Marines by forcing possession on their new recruits and then exorcising them - those who survive are then inducted as Neophytes. Naturally this would lump them more on the Ordos Malleus side of things, but having read the novel "Fulgrim" lately there are plenty of xenos cultures that worship the pantheon of Chaos, so why wouldn't they have numbers amongst the Deathwatch as a specialist that blurs the lines between alien and daemon? Plus if Exorcist Marines have such a harsh trial to be accepted amongst the chapter's ranks, just how hard would their veterans be!?

A Custom Chapter

Nothing screams uniqueness quite like a home brew chapter does there? The problem I want to avoid however is to litter the squad with unfamiliar symbols that make people go "what the heck are they?" to every single model, but to have people say that to a particular model would add just the right amount of mystery to the squad. Of the custom chapters I want to do there are 3 that I love - The Celestial Knights, the Jungle Serpents and the Pit Vipers (the first and second being chapters I wrote and the third being my hobby group's signature chapter).

Of the 3 I am most likely to go with the Pit Vipers and I will go through why. I adore my Celestial Knights idea and I really want to do an army of them some day, but their "gift" best suits the Ordos Malleus and fitting them in the Deathwatch will be pretty difficult. The Jungle Serpents are more fitting as they have a history of fighting Necrons and would tie in with the multi-specialist idea I stated with Ultramarines and Crimson Fists, but aesthetically and, in some cases personalitywise are far too similar to the Pit Vipers.

The Pit Vipers however have been written in such a flexible way that they can encompass many different ideas and as such I can pick and choose themes that would best round the squad aesthetically. Additionally it would bridge the gap between my Ultras and any Pit Vipers I would do in the future...

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Stern Lesson

I spent the better part of last night assembling my Sternguard last night, as you can see in the picture to the left. I love the kit very, very much, there's just so many bits left over that I'm already planning to use in other projects, oh the bits I can use. I have combi-weapons I can give to other models, I'm thinking of giving some of my tactical squads bolters with straps on them (the guns seem compatible), there's a hand I think would look perfect on a Librarian, there's a shoulder pad and sheathed sword that can give a future Space Marine a certain captain-y look about him... seriously the possibilities are absolutely endless and I'm sure I will be happily buying more of these box sets just for bits to spice up my Ultramarines force, not to mention the models are absolutely gorgeous!

There are a few things I will warn you all about the kit if you haven't already used it though. Unlike the Tactical Squad kit which is a dream to work with, the Sternguard can be much more fiddly and time consuming. Here are my top nuisances to bear in mind if you want this kit:

  • The Heavy Flamer: As a general rule, any gun that has a wire attached to the backpack is a massive pain in the backside, and the heavy flamer is no exception. To get the thing to align properly you need to put the backpack and both arms at precisely the right angle, and yes the loin cloth does get in the way. I spent quite a lot of time stifling screams of utter annoyance. Blu-tac is the way forward with this I feel but be careful not to jar your carefully positioned limbs.
  • Mould Lines: I found with the Tactical Squad set, mould lines were pretty unnoticeable and very easy to remove. Make no mistake, the Sternguard do not follow in the same footsteps. They have annoying mould lines that stick out like a sore thumb and are lodged in the most annoying places you can think of.
  • Big Rimmed Shoulder Pads: I love these shoulder pads, but unfortunately you will need to be tactical in how you position them. If your arms are at just the wrong angle they will collide with backpacks and faces. Dry fit them first before you commit.

That's  all from me for now. Til next time fans!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Comparison, comparison, comparison

This rather humorous scene from the Simpsons is a similar feeling we've all felt when checking out the boxes of our favourite miniature kits or other peoples painting projects. That feeling of looking at a damn fine paint job and thinking, to paraphrase Homer Simpson "That's one fine looking model... why doesn't mine look like that!?"

Commonly thought of as a negative way of thought, believe it or not it is a philosophy I've personally used to actually improve my painting and modelling skills. As much as I always appreciate and take in beautifully painted/converted pieces like a fine vintage wine, even I am a little jealous of the skill required to pull off these works of art.

"But wait!" I hear you cry. "Didn't you say not to let other peoples work put us off our own works in your painting guide for beginners?"

Well done for questioning me if you did, you get a virtual cookie. Yes, I did indeed say that and it would not do to make myself a hypocrite. I said I am a little jealous, I never said it put me off, in fact quite the opposite!

Some find me a little arrogant for thinking this way, but I always assure people that by saying this I am in fact praising their work, not putting it down. If I see a model that looks nicer than mine (but keeping it realistic - not too far above my skills!) I take the attitude "That's a nice model, and I will make it my duty to paint better than that." Yes it's competitive, but no-one becomes the best without competition, do you not think Golden Daemon winners think this way?

Fact is competition is a necessity in most areas in life. Businesses often compete to be the best choice for their customers, athletes compete against others for that fabled gold medal. It's not the fact we like to put other people down that makes us compete, but to set the bar higher that we can push ourselves further and achieve better things. If you believe you're the best, what's the point in improving?

Anyway, I thought I would share my philosophy with all you readers out there. I already have friends who have adopted my attitude here and they have frequently said to me "One day, I will paint my miniatures better than you" and my response has always been "I look forward to the day you do, then I will have to work harder to improve even more". Friendly competition is great, as long as it doesn't turn to arrogance.

Until next time fans!

Friday, 3 January 2014

The Resolution Completion Monitor

To help myself and others keep track of my 2014 objectives, I have decided to dedicate this post as a monitor and update on my progress. Throughout the year I plan to update this post and refer back to it, partially to remind myself I need to be doing stuff and partially to let you all mock me when I fail miserably. I hope that last part was a joke.

The stats so far...

1. Fully paint my Ultramarine Army List

(Find the complete army list here)

Points painted so far: 390
Points still need painting: 1,110

2. Enter 6 of my hobby group's painting contests

Jan: Know thy Enemy/Snakes in the Grass (Not Entered)
Feb: Lords of War (Entered - Chief Librarian Tigurius)
Mar: DUEL! (Not Entered)
Apr: Not announced
May: Not announced
Jun: Not announced
Jul: Not announced
Aug: Not announced
Sep: Not announced
Oct: Not announced
Nov: Not announced
Dec: Not announced

3. Put together a Kill Team and play a game of it

Storylines: Yes
Miniatures: No
Game: No

4. Write at least 4 short stories in the Warhammer Universe

Story 1: The Sabik Skirmish: Prologue
Story 2: Flesh & Steel: Prologue
Story 3: Kill Team - The Backgrounds
Story 4: No

5. Play against every 40k army

Adeptus Sororitas: No
Blood Angels: Yes
Chaos Daemons: Yes
Chaos Space Marines: Yes
Dark Angels: Yes
Dark Eldar: No
Eldar: Yes
Grey Knights: No
Imperial Guard: Yes
Necrons: Yes
Orks: No
Space Marines: Yes
Space Wolves: No
Tau Empire: No
Tyranids: Yes

6. Feature "another army" at least every other month

Jan/Feb: James's Tyranids
Mar/Apr: Dave's Blood Angels
May/Jun: Will's Imperial Fists
Jul/Aug: No
Sep/Oct: No
Nov/Dec: No

7. Write at least 6 battle reports!

Report 1: The Sabik Skirmish
Report 2: Flesh & Steel
Report 3: No
Report 4: No
Report 5: No
Report 6: No

8. Play a game with my Ultramarines

Games Played:

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year, New Resolutions: 2014 Aims!

Happy New Year all! It's that time of the year again (the 1st January to be precise) where I start listing off all the objectives I wish to aim for in the new year, a whole 12 months in which to complete them, oh boy. Still I suppose I can't do much worse than 2013. So here are my new 8 goals to complete hobbywise.

1. Fully paint my Ultramarines Army List

Yep, you remember this list I put up recently right? Well instead of saying "I want blah amount of points painted", I decided to stick to my chosen list and try not to let my mind wander. That's right, I have to have all the stated units in the army list painted. If I have 1,500 points of Ultramarines painted and yet that all important Techmarine isn't amongst the hordes I have acquired, instant failure. I'm aware that I messed this up last year with just the point value targets, but this is a brand new year and hopefully my life won't keep crumbling around my ears.

Of course this is not to say I can't dabble, I already have deviated by doing some Legion of the Damned and promising to make my next project whatever my sister got me for Christmas (Sternguard, by the way). But this army list needs to be completed by 31st December 2014. I already have 2 combat squads and Sicarius done so it's a start.

2. Enter 6 of my hobby group's painting contests

So entering every single painting contest was a bit ambitious last year. How annoying that I couldn't do some because of other commitments or because I couldn't get the relevant models. This year I have decided to grant myself a little bit of breathing space and allow myself to pick and choose which contest entries I can feasibly do, and in a time that suits me better.

Now you all might think I'm just trying to put in an easy target so I get more successes and to that I say, why not? Banks and schools do it all the time! But more seriously it is still more than I entered in 2013 and it shouldn't impact my other goals as harshly. All I need is some convenient painting contest subjects and I should be set. My tactic will be to try and paint miniatures that helps push my first objective as well.

3. Put together a Kill Team and play a game of it

It seems I just can't look at any hobby blog nowadays without everyone raving about Kill Team. I've always heard the phrase when referring to the Deathwatch (see left) but I have to confess, I have never played the 40k setting, but I have been massively intrigued for a long ol' time. So my third objective will be to write, create and play a squad specifically designed for Kill Team.

For this to work to my advantage, my tactic will be to create a squad that I can use for normal games of 40k but look individual enough for me to use happily in Kill Team as well. Note that I have also said "write" and part of my goal will be to actually write the backgrounds for every single member of my Kill Team. I plan on getting the digital download for the rules but if anyone can drop me a comment or message saying what units I can use and how many points I'm limited to, please do so I can at least get started.

4. Write at least 4 short stories in the Warhammer universe

As some of you may remember I was published in a roleplay book back in March and have since written a few short stories for my hobby group and for my own fluff, including my Necron Dynasty (see related articles to the right). Becoming a writer is a dream of mine, and to make it more of a reality I will start writing some short stories based around my own projects, ideas and armies. I always find my hobby feels more alive when my armies, characters and home brew ideas are fleshed out in full.

Now I am well aware that in my last objective I said I plan to write out every member of my Kill Team, and I have catered for this loophole accordingly. I was going to put "3 short stories" but have increased the number by one and I am saying now for you all to witness, the whole Kill Team background will count as a single story together, not individually. This still gives me some room to not complete objective 3 and still complete this objective, but it benefits me to do so.

5. Play against every 40k army

A slight twist on my "play two games every month against different armies", now I want to take them all on! To be truthful I have never played against Grey Knights (see left) or Tau so to try my hand against them would be amazing. There's a lot of xenos scum to fight out there and they all need to feel the force of the Imperium/Necron Dynasty. To be precise, between now and 2015 I have to go up against: Space Marines, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, Grey Knights, Chaos Space Marines, Daemons, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Necrons, Orks, Tau, Imperial Guard and Adeptus Sororitus. I won't be including Inquisition in this list as they are technically a mini-dex. Also if I've missed any, do let me know.

6. Feature "Another Army" at least every other month

By every other month, I do infact mean I have a 2 month gap to do an Another Army article, so Jan-Feb, Mar-Apr etc. I have to do a piece on someone else's army. I have a few people who have said they'd be happy for me to do this and I intend to take them up on the offer, besides it's always nice to see what ideas other people have for their forces. Surely my ideas are starting to get a little grating and stale? (This is the part where you say "no, of course not!").

This will probably take the most amount of effort on my behalf because I will likely have to journey out to take photos within the allotted time limit. 2 months sounds like a lot, but when you have work and other projects to get on with, it can be difficult. Wish me luck with this one.

7. Write at least 6 battle reports!

I've received much praise for my battle reports, apparently people like reading them, who knew? Well it's about time I got on and wrote some more! I will endeavour to actually keep up with writing my battle reports and I hope to have at least 6 written before 2014 ends.

Originally I was going to say "battle report every other month", but then that would massively conflict with objective 6, so I'm thinking tactically with my resolutions this year, more so than last. Chances are I will go get pictures for my Another Army pieces, then play against the army and do a battle report in any case so hopefully, not too difficult a target as long as I remember my camera this time!

8. Play a game with my Ultramarines

I'm psyched about playing a game with my Ultramarines, I seriously cannot wait. It has been so long since I've played with Space Marines and my tactics are sharper than they were back then. Moreover, the new Space Marine codex is such a beautifully written codex, it'd be a crime against Games Workshop not to use it at least once. The beauty with this objective is that I can do it alongside objective 1, I don't need to play a game with a whole army of fully painted models (though it does look nicer to be completely honest). Here's to hopefully several games of hunting down xenos and heretical scum with the might of the Emperor behind me!

Emperor Protects.