Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tactical Squad Midas of the 5th Company of the Angels of Absolution

I just dropped a post 2 hours ago but I wanted to document the updated bases and weathering I put into Tactical Squad Midas over the last 2 days. Though they died to a man, they are the only Squad I can think of in the tournament over the weekend that put up a real fight and had some heroic moments.  The plasma gunner even broke and ran, rallied, and came back to try and contest the objective he was driven off of. He then died in a blaze of glory. This is Tactical Squad Midas:
Veteran Sergeant Midas with Octaviel, Lassar, Trojan, and Mosneriel.
Squad Leader Balor, Hol, Alion, Hol, and Valderiel.

Steady Hands Are All I Can Boast - Reflections On My First 40K Tournament of 6th Edition

On Sunday August 26th I was whisked away from my Humboldt Park apartment and into the suburbs by Brian Parisi. We headed out to Downers Grove, IL to the Chicago Battle Bunker for the 4th tournament of the AWC (Adeptus Windy City) season. Previous to this tournament I had played a single game of 6th Ed about a month or so ago against Brian, with another friend, Aaron Schmidt, dutifully researching rules as we went. Needless to say, my experience with the edition was limited. In fact, it was so limited that during the tournament all 3 of my opponents directed me on how to use my ordnance barrage from my Whirlwind three different ways. Each time I shrugged my shoulders and said, "okay" because I didn't know and I didn't want to slow down the game too much by looking it up and sometimes I feel like if I say, "well that's not how we played it the last game" it sounds like I'm balking when in all honesty I'm sort of indifferent, and everyone's explanation seemed reasonable enough. Note to self though: read up on ordnance barrages for next time!

I played against 3 nice yet varied chaps and I must say I was way out of my league. I'm not really a tournament player. I go to tournaments from time to time to get all of these models I've spent years on out of the display cases in my living room and onto a table where I might get a pat on the back and hopefully get inspired by something someone else is doing while I'm at it. My sincerest hope is that I don't let anybody down with my lack of a competitive edge. I go and I play with what I have painted. Honestly, my army might as well just be Tactical Squads and Rhinos all with no upgrades, because I show up not with the tools of victory, but with the prettiest models I've painted thus far and that is the bulk of what I have in the display cases.

Just to highlight how out of my league I was, my first game was against Mitch, who was fielding a mixed Dark Eldar/Eldar army that included Lelith, Eldrad, and a monstrous squad of Hellions. It was a partially painted horde of models, and based upon the highlighting on the Hellion skyboards it should be a pretty sharp looking army when its done. Regardless, with my limited firepower I was overwhelmed by his Hellion squad supported by Eldrad using Fortune for rerolls while his Shadowfield on his front model was just soaking up fire. 2+ saves, Look Out Sir rolls, and then Feel No Pain rolls once he got a Pain Token were just absorbing everything I could throw at him. In 5 turns I had never cleared a single unit off the table and he had destroyed every last model in my army. That was the 1st time that has happened to me since 2nd Edition I think. Usually there is still at least an Immobilized vehicle or some straggling Tactical Marines, but not this time. Everything died. It was such a mauling that Mitch had a look of guilt or pity on his face when we were done. I don't think the game was that fun for either of us. Back in my home town of Amherst, NY the police periodically put out corn in the fields to attract deer, and then gun down the herd, an act of complete savagery supposedly for the common good of the town. That's what this game felt like, I was just the deer stoked to eat some corn, and Mitch was a line of police blazing away. We live in a hardened cold world, so I just sucked it up and took my annihilation as cheerily as I could.

My 2nd game was against a gentleman named Tom. He also brought along an allied contingent as well as an Aegis Defense Line. He has Daemons at the forefront on his army and two resilient Nurgle Chaos Space Marine Squads parked behind the Aegis Defense Line right on top of one of the 2 Objectives. Once again my attention was dominated by my immediate threat of the Daemons and I only managed to kill some Daemonettes and a Nurgle Chaos Space Marine the whole game. My biggest triumph was Immobilizing one of his Dreadnoughts. This game didn't feel as lopsided since I wasn't slaughtered to the man but it was rough. Luckily, I had already resolved in my head that death and loss were my only true friends for the day. (Editors note: In retrospect, since he never claimed the Primary Objective and beat me on Secondary Objectives instead, I shouldn't feel that morose.)

The final game of the day was against a beautiful Grey Knights army played by a fine fellow named Mike with no Allies or Aegis Defense Lines. The result was much the same but since I actually killed some of his models and even destroyed one squad, it was a moral victory. His army was intimidating because I didn't know what some of the units did having never faced Grey Knights - that Dreadknight is terrifying as it barrels across the battlefield. Luckily his low model count and my understanding of powered armored armies gave me a little more confidence and I had a lot more fun getting demolished by my peer. After a day of getting beat down his beautiful army and relaxed demeanor were a joy to play against.

For me the highlight of the day was all the compliments on my army. I was like a proud dog dad taking my beautiful pups out for a walk (Editors Note: I think only a proud dog dad will get this analogy, but since I am one, it makes perfect sense). This particular tournament elected not to do Best Painted based upon the entire army, expecting that people are still retooling their armies for 6th Edition and have a lot of painting to do. Instead the award was called Steady Hands and was based upon a single model, squad, or vehicle. Selecting which unit or model I was going to put into the competition was difficult. I've been working on this army for almost 20 years so my squads will have models that have only been painted a year ago next to models painted over 10 years ago and though they look sharp on the table top my painting has only tightened and refined with time and experience. I elected to go with my Devastator Combat Squad even though it isn't my favorite just because I had just used weathering powders on it last week giving it another element of technique and complexity that the rest of my army doesn't have yet. The choice paid off. It was a hard decision to be made by the judges and they even had to call in the opinion of Golden Demon holder and painting guru Tim Lison to help make the call. The model I was up against was a Rhino with a fantastic free hand mural on the top hatch. It was honestly gorgeous. I was so infatuated with the mural, which just happens to be a major weakness for me in my own painting, I didn't happen to notice what details he might have neglected that put me over the edge. All I know is that if I want to keep taking home painting plaques, I'm going to need to up my game when it comes to mural work because I'm sure with some minor tweaks he would have taken me.

I posted a group shot of the Devastator Squad last week but since I got this cool plaque I decided to give them each a moment in the sun so people can see some of the details that gave me my edge because I'm clearly not going to talk about my game strategy and tactics. I walked away from the tournament with 0 wins, 3 losses. Thanks to all of my opponents, all of the people with nice things to say about my army, the tournament organizers, and Brian for driving. Here's some pretty Space Marines:
Marine Alexitus has devotional script on this purity seals, gem work done on all the lense in the photo (this is standard throughout the army), a cool skull on jewelry chain hanging from his belt, and caution stripes on the missiles hanging off his backpack. Weathering powder was used more subtly on his boots/greaves.
This is Alexitus again. This angle shows his Squad and Company markings on his pads, caution stripes on his missiles, and the devotional text on his missile launcher. The "parchment" is actually a thin fragment of old rubber band.

This is Veteran Sergeant Terril. The obvious element that stands out in this pic is the weathering on his robes and feet involving Devlan Mud wash and Medium Earth FW Weathering Powder. Much less obvious is the purity seal concealed by the grip arm that has script. One of the advantages of painting things piecemeal.  
This is Kalu. Before I painted Terril he was considered the Sergeant, but since he doesn't have robes he'll just become the Squad Leader for the other half of the Devastator Squad once I get it to 10 strong. He's sporting a cool pewter skull shoulder pad with the KALU painted neatly on the banner beneath the skull. He also demonstrates the gem effect on the lens of his scope and use of weathering powder.
This is Marine Valdir. This shot shows off his Devastator and Company markings. He's from the 9th Squad of the 5th Company. Once again weathering powder is evident.
This is Marine Naelor. This gives a good shot of his Chapter icon.
This is Marine Valdir. This shot gives a good look at his Squad and Company markings and the subtlety of the weathering powder. I had another angle on him so you could see the scroll on his opposing shoulder pad with devotional text but the shot was blurry so I deleted it. 
Thanks again for reading. I just did some weathering and basing work on Tactical Squad Midas and need to get back to work on the more dynamic/elite portions of the army. More later this week.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Angels of Absolution Tac Squad Flamer

All of the frantic painting of Warden Biker's came to a grinding halt today. I was making great progress but I realized I wasn't going to have them done for the tournament on Sunday so I needed to look at what I needed to get my army list done and in tonight, and I'm going with a force that includes a horde of Tactical Squads. I needed to finish this one Flamer marine in order to complete the Tactical Squads I've selected. This guy is a new development in my army building - his Flamer is magnetized in place. Nothing groundbreaking for the rest of the hobby community, but its something new for me.

He's going to need his base decorated, tactical markings, and weathering once the new Codex comes out but in the meantime he looks good enough to put on the battlefield at the tournament.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Angels of Absolution Devastator Squad: First Attempt at Weathering Powders

Last night I posted a photo of the bike I'm working on. This morning while I was working on the bike fairing I took a hobby detour to pull out one of the squads I intend to use at a tournament on Sunday and give them a quick update. These changes are subtle but add just another level of detail to my figures. The first photo is the squad before I applied Forgeworld Medium Earth, some spotty use of Devlan Mud, and some additional basing material like Broom Bristle, Clump Foliage, Static Grass, and Grass Tufts
Angels of Absolution Devastator Squad as they looked this morning. 

As they look with some detail added. (And on a nicer background)
Thanks for checking them out. More later today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Working Along: Warden Bike #2

This is just a quick update to show a slight variation in my process. Currently I'm cranking away on my second Wardens Bike. I had a partially completed base (painted a year or so ago) that I elected to apply Static Grass, Grass Tufts, Broom Bristle, and Clump Foliage to before I attached the bike. I test positioned the bike all along the process to make sure nothing looked out of place or would impede it's path.

The bike itself is coming along. I still need to paint the fairing/bolters (not pictured), a skull on the opposing side, and any iconography. The goal is to have this bike and one other ready for the tournament this coming Sunday.
That's it for today. Hopefully I'll have this complete or near completion tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Using My Hobby Skills a Little Differently Today.

Citadel Paints aren't just good for painting models, they have nice vivid colors good for painting, I don't know... Art for your girlfriend? This took me 2-3 hours.
Today is my girlfriend Lisa's birthday. We are partners, we've lived together for a couple years, and we have dogs together. This morning I was reposting Lisa's Birthday Wish on Facebook and ran across an image of a pendant that Lisa would just love, if it wasn't for one thing - she doesn't really wear jewelry. This is the pendant here:
This pendant is available on Etsy here:
$5 from every purchase goes to pit bull rescue.
Anyway, not only would she love this art, it just so happens that the shape of this pit bull's face is just like our girl Harlow:
Harlow is the girl in the back with the 1/4 black face. Isn't she adorable?
With a bit of time available to try and do something a little extra special for Lisa I decided to use my hobby skills to modify the image slightly to Harlow's coloring, and then hand paint it. I used Photoshop to turn the pendant photo into a sketch. I had to redraw the right side with pencil, add the flow of her 1/4 black face, and then remove the chain and shadows:
Photoshop turned this little puppy into something akin to a coloring book image for me to work from.
Two and a half hours of painting using my Citadel Color Paints and the original image as a guide I had a painting of Harlow in Mexican Sugar Skull style to give to Lisa for her birthday. I'd like to give her something else though. I know none of you out there know Lisa or Harlow, but Harlow is a special little girl. At 12 weeks old, as just a tiny little puppy, her previous owner kicked her and broke her jaw. She has a spirally pig tail as well because the previous owner broke or deformed it trying to dock it. She was rescued and taken away from her original owner by the people at Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue and after she got the proper veterinary care and jaw surgery she needed she was put into foster care with one of their wonderful organizers. Once she was nursed back to health and was ready to be put in a forever home, she joined our family. For Lisa's birthday she is trying to give back to the people who do so much for pit bulls in need like Harlow. Veterinary care and surgeries are not cheap and the organizers commit most of their free time to rescuing pit bulls from awful situations, fostering and finding foster homes for those they rescue, and advocating for this very misunderstood breed of wonderful loving animals. So if you can spare $10 to make Lisa's Birthday Wish come true and help out these dogs it would be fantastic and we'd all be extremely appreciative. As I said, I know none of you know Lisa or Harlow, but that would make it such a surprise. She's trying to raise $500. Here's the link: Lisa's Birthday Wish. 
That little puppy on that punk flyer with the "cone of shame" and the wrap around her jaw is Harlow at 3 months old. Please help out if you can. More Angels of Absolution models and grim dark rambling next time!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wardens (Ravenwing) Bike Continued and Preparing for the Next AWC Tournament

Angels of Absolution Warden (Ravenwing) Biker
For those who have just discovered this blog, I am not really a tournament player. I've been working on my Angels of Absolution for 18 years now and my success at tournaments dwindles with each passing year as the culture of competitive play escalates and my painting speed stagnates.

There was some discussion on various forums about how bikes have improved in 6th Edition and it inspired me to drag out a partially completed squad of bikes and start tinkering with them. What makes bikes better in 6th? Well, they can move 12" in the Movement Phase, they have Jink, Relentless, Hammer of Wrath, Armoured Steed (T5), and can Turbo Boost. Yeah, they had all of these things effectively in 5th except for Jink and Hammer of Wrath, but the Armoured Steed rule gives them a flat Toughness 5 making them more resilient against S8 and S9 attacks. Additionally, in the DA 6th Edition FAQ, Apothecaries can give the entire squad Feel No Pain. Of course, in order to have an Apothecary I need to have a Master of the Ravenwing so that I can give a Ravenwing Squad command upgrades. But thinking about it, taking a full Ravenwing Squad of 6 with an Apothecary and then adding a Chaplain on Bike to the Squad could make them a serious threat to someone's flank. Add in the Ravenwing Attack Bike, Ravenwing Landspeeder, and the Master of the Ravenwing. Maybe I might be a threat to someone? Nah, I'll probably end up fighting all Tyranid opponents or something. Regardless, it seems like a cool unit so I'm going to strive to eventually build it. But for now, I just want 3 Bikes and an Attack Bike for the upcoming tournament.

Here's some pics of my first completed bike. This model was a hassle because it was assembled and started at a time before I started painting models piecemeal. One of the biggest issues was that I had broken off the arms and when I went to glue them back on they didn't line up the same and wouldn't attach properly because of the shoulder pad placement. I had to pry the arms out of their shoulder pads with increasingly larger tools because my first attempts to break up the old glue with an hobby knife resulted in me breaking the tip 3 times. Luckily I hadn't replaced the blade after each break or I would have been pissed. Even though its a plastic model it has several pins holding it together to make sure things did what I wanted them to. The arms are both pinned on, the bike is pinned to the base, and even the backpack had to be pinned on because the paint and old glue were interfering with gluing and the old nub on the back of the torso had broken off in his original backpack when I tore it off. I had some really frustrating moments with this model but he's considered "Done" - for now at least. He'll eventually get more squad markings and some weathering when his squad starts to come together more.
The banner pole on the back of the bike will eventually have something more unique a nd distinctive added, once I think of what to add. Possibly a sword and shield icon or a wing trailing off the skull tying it to the Angels of Absolution chapter icon.
He looks sort of plain from this angle without all the squad markings and weathering.
The wheels haven't been highlighted either. They will eventually get the faintest grey highlight and then get weathered over.
I wanted to come up with a symbol for the Wardens that tied in with the Ravenwing and Dark Angels so I put a white sword on black shield.
Thanks for reading.