Friday, April 30, 2010

Rules for Shas'o Da'Eldi

Special Character:  Shas’O Da’Eldi
During the Plexus Nebulosa War, Shas’el Da’Eldi managed to lead the Tau to victory over the Imperial forces, minimizing losses to the Fire Warriors under his command by making use of large numbers of drones.  While the loss in drones was in some cases severe, Shas’el Da’Eldi countered criticism to this by pointing out that every lost drone was equivalent to a Fire Warrior’s life saved.  Later in the war, Shas'el Da'Eldi was elevated to Shas'o, and designed a custom battlesuit, the XV-100, suited to his combat style.

Da’Eldi abhors the unnecessary risking of Tau lives, believing that for the Greater Good, Tau Fire Warriors should use drones and other technology to fight battles wherever practical.  As such he commands his own hunter cadre consisting of nothing but drones (and himself). 

Shas’O Da’Eldi
200 Points

Shas’O Da’Eldi

Special Character:  Shas’o Da’Eldi is a special character.  He may be used only in Tau Drone Armies, and must be its commander.  You may not select any additional equipment from the Armory. 

Equipment: XV-100 Battlesuit (Acute Senses, Relentless), Jetpack, Railgun, Airburst Fragmentation Projector, Command-Link Drone, Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones, Ejection System, Shield Generator, Blacksun Filter, hard-wired Multi-tracker. 

Unit Type: Jump Infantry (Jetpack)

Independent Character:  Except when accompanied by his personal drones, Shas’o Da’Eldi is an independent character (see the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook).

XV-100 Battlesuit:  This experimental battlesuit grants the user the Acute Senses and Relentless special rules, and counts as having a jetpack.  It grants the user a normal 2+ save.

Command-link drone:  Networked to the drones under his command, the command-link drone allows Shas’o Da’Eldi to better direct the battle.  Any Tau drone units within 18” may use his Leadership for any Morale or Pinning tests.

“Our brave fire warriors are all willing to sacrifice themselves for the Greater Good when it is necessary.  But it does not serve the Greater Good for our warriors to die when their lives might be saved by our technology.  Using our technology in this way does not dishonor our courage; not using it dishonors our intelligence.”
-Shas’o Da’Eldi

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Three Blood Angels

Now that the Blood Angels Codex is out I've started painting some up.  The problem is deciding on which painting method to use.  Since the early days the Blood Angels have appeared in various colors.  All red, but different shades of red--from a solid, medium red, all the way to brilliant orange.

Now my personal opinion is that the color of the Blood Angels should be, well...the color of blood.  And that's not orange.  It's definitely a deeper red than that--more Red Gore than Blood Red.  So I did up a series of three test models to try to determine which result looks the best:

Model 1:  Primed white, then painted with Red Gore.  This requires a few coats of Red Gore, but the result is pleasingly bright.  The color looks decent, but maybe it's a bit too pink?

Model 2:  Primed black, then painted with Red Gore.  This requires several coats of Red Gore because it takes a lot to cover up the black.  But like the Mechrite Red over black below, the black primer is good in that I get instant shading, and instant dark lines between the armor plates, which adds a lot to the final product, I think.

Model 3:  Primed black, then painted with Mechrite Red.  Mechrite Red has much better coverage than Red Gore does, although I still need to put on two coats to make it even.  And I'm not sure it's quite the right shade of red that I'm looking for.  I think that it has a slightly orange tinge to it.  Also, its opacity makes it look less like blood because real blood isn't completely opaque.

Now which looks the most like blood?  I need to figure out which one, because there are a lot of Blood Angels in the pipeline...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Crisis Suit Conversion, Completed

Finished! Here it is, the XV-100 Battlesuit. I'm not sure if I should come up with another name for it, instead of "Crisis" (others being Broadside, Stealth, and Forgeworld's new "Hazard"). Any ideas?

The purpose of the suit is a command unit for a large force of drones, as well as a long range support unit for that force.  The suit has a additional armor protection, an extensive communication and sensor suite, with an integrated drone controller system.  The primary weapon is the railgun, with an Airburst Fragmentation System for close-in defense.  The suit is equipped with a larger jetpack to to handle the extra weight, and yet maintain the mobility of a standard XV-8 Crisis Suit.

I had been working on the high-lighting for a while (mainly extreme highlighting on the edge of the armor plates, etc.), and it seemed to be taking forever, and then, almost suddenly, I realized I was finished with most of the pieces.  I started assembling them all together, and before I knew it, it was practically done!
Currently the post that supports him is only 1/8" plastic tube, so he wobbles a little.  The weight of the rocks on the base help keep him from falling over, which would have been a real concern otherwise.  I may provide some additional support to the tube by filling it with a brass rod, or, if necessary replacing it entirely with something more sturdy.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I decided that I needed to varnish this guy.  I approached it with some trepidation, but decided to bite the bullet.  I took some pictures of him before I varnished him, just in case I ruined him I could point to the photos and say "Look at the model I made, before I destroyed him!"
Checking the weather before I sprayed him, the temperature was 66 degrees F and 35% humidity, so I had near ideal conditions.  So I went outside and gave him two light coats of Testors Dullcote.
The results were even better than I hoped!  The dullcote dulled the finish down a bit, reducing the annoying gloss that the Vallejo's paints had given it.  Another side effect of the original gloss finish was that the imperfections in the sculpting I had done really showed up.  The matte finish reduced that, so the finished product looks better than it really should.  But I'm not complaining!
Here's a close up of the armor plates around the hips.  It's hard to see, but the attachment points for the hip armor is a rectangular piece, parallel to the ground if the suit was standing up straight.  The anterior and lateral armor plates attach to that piece, angled off of it.  The lateral and anterior plates protect the hip joint, but they "float" above the leg, and don't touch it anywhere.
The white marks on the plates and on the chest above the Tau symbols is supposed to be markings on the suit itself (things like "Danger" and "No Step" etc., that you see on real world aircraft, etc)

In painting up the rail gun, I was partially inspired by the video game Fire Warrior, where one of the weapons you can get is a rail rifle (the coolest looking weapon in the game).  In the game, when you're holding the rail rifle, little charges of blue electricity crackle their way down the barrel of the weapon from the receiver to the muzzle and then starting at the receiver again.  Really cool.  I didn't think I could achieve an effect like that, so I decided instead to try to make it look like there was a glow inside the barrel that was being reflected by the edges.  I think the result came out ok...but hopefully I can do better next time.
Originally I was going to mount the Airburst Fragmentation Projector on the right shoulder, but after test fitting it a few times, it didn't look all that good, so I decided to scrap that idea. Instead, I drilled a pair of holes into the left arm. The left forearm of the model is very bulky, so I think a good argument could be made that the AFP is integrated directly into the forearm, rather than a separately mounted system.
The suit is really much larger than the standard Crisis Suit, which I first realized when I set them up next to each other.
And finally, an "action" shot, showing the two suits heading off to kick some butt.
In the end, I learned a lot in making this guy, not the least of which was building up my confidence in using both greenstuff and plasticard.  The other side of the coin, is that it just gives me more and more ideas for new projects!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Crisis Suit Conversion, Part Five

Next I decided to work on the base. Both to make it look more realistic and to give the base some heft, so as to help keep the model upright, I went outside and found a couple of rocks, which I then glued to the base.
Here's the base fully painted and, ready to go.
I also started painting the main body of the battlesuit. I decided to paint the body, wing, hip armor, and arms separately, because trying to paint it fully assembled would be really difficult.
A comment on the paint--the primary color for my Tau forces is Jade Green. This is a shade that GW made a long time ago, but then discontinued. I despaired what to do for my future Tau forces until I found out that Vallejo Game Color also makes a Jade Green, and it's an exact match. So now I just use Vallejo's paints instead... I've noticed two differences between the GW paint and the Vallejo paints. The Vallejo paints produce a glossier finish, and they also seem to rub off rather easily. So I'm thinking I may have to varnish this guy once I'm done. I'm a little nervous about something going wrong with the varnishing, but I think I'll have to bite the bullet. I picked up some Testors Dullcote, we'll have to see how it goes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two kinds of Imperial Guard Players

It seems to me that there are two main kinds of Imperial Guard Players:  The Gamer and the Hobbyist

The Gamer plays games often.  He wants to win games, and enjoys the competitive aspects of the game.   He has a lot of experience tweaking his army list in order to get the most out of it.  The Gamer posts his army lists to the forums to get feedback and advice from other players.  He reads tactics articles religiously.  

The Hobbyist designs armies, not army lists.  He plays games when he can, but usually this is far less frequently than the Gamer.  The Hobbyist enjoys the game, but spends far less time playing than he does just thinking about his army.  The Hobbyist is more interested in creating an army that fits the background or "makes sense" from a real world perspective.  He's interested in fielding a force according to a real world organization, and be damned to its effectiveness on the 40k gaming scene.  This "real world perspective" can be simulating a modern force (e.g., my army is theoretically based on a US Army Combined Arms Battalion) or something historical, like a WWII formation, or the Praetorians, simulating the British during the Anglo-Zulu War (q.v. Col. Gravis' fantastic Praetorian Army).

Warhammer 40k is designed as a company-sized game (although you could almost say platoon sized for the more elite armies).  For a game of this size, the Gamer might field several armored fist squads, a Leman Russ or two, a Basilisk/Medusa, and a Vendetta.  (Or perhaps they'd field the Leafblower list.)  There's a little bit of everything, designed to handle many tactical situations. This may be tactically effective within the game, but an organizational nightmare (at least to the more bureaucratic Hobbyist).  The Hobbyist is more likely to field something like an infantry company of three platoons of three squads and a weapons section each, with an armor platoon for support.  If the Hobbyist were to consider using Vendettas or Valkyries, he would more likely consider using entire platoons of them rather than a singleton--platoons fit better into the TO&E.

The Gamer arms his Command HQ squad with an eye to getting the most damage from it.  A typical Gamer Command HQ squad might be armed with an officer with power weapon and plasma pistol, four meltaguns, plasma guns or flamers (4 of each, no mixing), riding in a Chimera.

The Hobbyist may not even consider arming his Colonel with anything more powerful than a laspistol, except maybe a ceremonial power sword.  (If he gives his Colonel a power fist, it's probably because his model has one and he wants his army to be WYSIWYG).  After all, a Colonel should be commanding his troops.  The fighting strength of a regiment is in the arms of the soldiers that make it up, not the commanding officer.  His job is to employ the fighting strength of his men, not embody it.  His squad would therefore consist of his command staff and liaisons such as a Master-Vox, Master of Ordnance, Officer of the Fleet, bodyguard(s) (aides, rather) and possibly standard bearer, depending on the army style.

The Gamer prowls the forums, reading about other gamers' battles, reading tactics and strategies, and discussing army lists.  He will also check out the blogosphere--basically anywhere he can get information on how to improve his game.  The purview of the Hobbyist is primarily just the blogosphere--he frequently has his own blog, and discusses painting, modelling, and army organization (as opposed to army lists)

When a new Codex Arrives, the Gamer asks "What new tricks do I have available now?  Which units are worth fielding and which aren't?"  The Hobbyist asks, "How can I fit the vision of my army into a legal force?"

The Gamer speaks in gamer jargon.  He talks about army "builds", refers to other armies by terms such as "Nidzilla, Smurfs, Clown Cars, Lash Armies, Daemon Bombs, and discusses tactics such as "Melta-spam".  The names of the armies builds frequently are the same as the primary tactic they use.  The Hobbyist speaks in military jargon, and he usually doesn't talk too much about other armies at all.  He refers to things like "sections", "detachments", "combined arms", "order of battle", and knows how to spell "ordnance".

After each game,  the Hobbyist considers painting on honor badges to the models in his army that performed well.  The Gamer considers how to tweak his army list to improve game performance.

The Gamer is more likely to be younger than the Hobbyist.  There are plenty of older Gamers, but many players who used to be Gamers got older, got married and started families, and suddenly had much less time to play.  When they did have free time, they might only have time to work a little bit on their armies, and suddenly found themselves morphing into Hobbyists.

All in all, there's nothing wrong with either type of player; they are both equally valid ways of being involved in the hobby.  I find myself firmly in the category of the "Hobbyist".  I consider myself lucky if I get a game in once a month, and when I do, half the time I make my army list the night before, and don't even start thinking about my strategy until game time.  Most of the rest of the time I spend painting/converting my guardmen and thinking about their regimental organization.  Would I like to play more often?  Absolutely...but that'll probably have to wait until my daughter's in college and/or I retire...or win the lottery.

I keep saying to myself that GW would be far better served if they just paid me to play their games.  I could then quit my job and do this stuff full time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Medic with Honors

Last week my granduncle died. He served in the US Army in World War II as a medic in the European Theater, reaching the rank of Technician 4th Class.  I don't know too much about his time in the service, basically because he wouldn't talk about it.  But after the war he was a hometown sports legend in a semi-pro Baseball league, playing in the New England Championship in 1946.  He served as a coach and umpire/referee for local basketball, baseball, and softball teams all his life.  He served as a letter carrier in the US Postal Service for over 30 years.  Personally, I'll always remember him in his USPS uniform and smoking his pipe.

Charles J. Tracy
1925 - 2010
T/4 US Army World War 2

In one of my recent battle reports, the Arduen Campaign Part Three, my medic performed admirably, going 12 for 14 Feel No Pain saves. I had intended on giving the model some kind of medal, but he'd be put on the shelf while I worked on other stuff. He was "Medic Schmidt" in that battle, but now he's Medic Tracy.   I've given him an an updated paint job and an Imperial Laurel in recognition of his performance in the last battle, but I think the name change is the bigger honor.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Crisis Suit Conversion: Part Four

The next thing I worked on is some extra armor plates, which would protect the hips of the battlesuit--The ball & socket joints where the legs connect to the torso of crisis suits are completely exposed, so adding armor to this section makes sense as an upgrade.

Tau Battlesuits, as is well known, are inspired by Anime depictions of mobile suits and other giant robots.  Being a fan of the Gundam series, I wanted to give this battlesuit a definite Gundam influence.  I particularly like the RX-93 Nu Gundam, as I think the Fin Funnels it has look pretty cool (the wing-like structure behind its left shoulder).

So I decided to duplicate the Fin Funnels and add them to my design.  For the Nu Gundam, the Fin Funnels detach from the main suit and act as drones that support the mobile suit.  Drones are definitely in character with the Tau, but the style of the Fin Funnels look nothing like Tau drones.  So for my battlesuit, rather than make them detachable and act as drones, I will assume that the "wing" shape that they form is a support system that is integral to the battlesuit itself.

I started construction on the funnels and assembled them...
...but after putting them next to the rest of the model, I realized that I made them way too big.
Back to the drawing board I made some that were much smaller and more manageable.

This looks much better...
Here's a shot of the rear of the fin funnels, with sundry parts strewn about my work table.
Here's a shot of the rear of the suit, with a plasticard piece of additional armor protecting the um...posterior of the suit.
And finally, with some of the sensor spines added onto the suit.  I trimmed off one spine on the left hand set of spines to provide an attachment point for the funnels (or wing, as I should start calling it).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chaos Daemon Bloodbath

Seeing this post by Ron over at From the Warp got me thinking about this again.

When I saw the Apocalypse Bloodthirster Bloodbath formation, I thought:  That would be an awesome formation to field.  Just imagining the spectacle of 8 Bloodthirsters suddenly appearing on the battlefield, led by Forgeworld's Bloodthirster Ann'ggrath is just fantastic.  While Ann'ggrath is both huge and expensive, I can almost justify getting the centerpiece to my Bloodthirster Bloodbath.  The problem is, I hate the current GW Bloodthirster.

The current one is dated,  expensive...and limited.  I really wish GW came out with a new Bloodthirster model, preferably a plastic one.   If GW made a new model, that looks better than the current one and in plastic with options to provide some variety, I'd have a very hard time resisting picking some up.  The temptation to field a Bloodbath would just be too great.

I dislike the current model enough that I got a fantasy model instead to represent a Bloodthirster, Bel'Akor the Dark Master: 

In the meantime, the closest substitutes for Bloodthirsters are:
  • Soul Grinder - This is something of a stretch, with its Defiler lower half, but the upper half has possibilities.
  • GW Daemon Prince - Also a stretch--the model has a great head & claws, the but the rest of the model is too obviously a Chaos Space Marine to really work as a Bloodthirster in its own right.
  • Forgeworld's Daemon Prince -Great model, and would serve just fine as a Bloodthirster.  Only downside is that it's somewhat expensive, about ~$100.  If he was $50, this would be a no brainer.
All three would need conversion work to give them wings.  But I do like the idea of each Bloodthirster being unique and having its own "personality."  But it looks like I'll have to wait...sigh.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crisis Suit Conversion: Part Three

I started work on the arms next, the first being the shield arm. I wanted to both extend the arms, and alter the pose, so I needed to trim off the connector on the left forearm/shield, and make one that would be a socket joint for the ball on the end of the upper arm piece. 
After a lot of test fitting to get the right pose on the model, I glued the parts together.

Next was the right arm--again, in this case I had to trim the Broadside's arm to accommodate it holding the railgun like a rifle rather than the intended underslung method. I also had to greenstuff parts of it to fill in various gaps, and again lengthen the arm. Again more test fitting to ensure the proper pose, and then I glued it together.

And finally, the current state of the body, with legs attached and posed, the additional engines added, as well as the head.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crisis Suit Conversion: Part Two

The next step on the legs is to put in spacers using some plastic tubing...

And then build it up with greenstuff.  The challenge is getting it to blend seamlessly with the original pieces, and that's always been something I've struggled with.  This time I tried sanding it a lot--and I think I was partially successful.  We'll have to see how it looks once I get to the painting stage.

Here's a picture of most of the various pieces laid out during construction...

And again, I've laid out the pieces in a vague representation of the final battlesuit.  Eventually I'm going to have to bite the bullet and start gluing some major pieces together.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lord of the Rings Orc Army

Finally, I completed my Mordor Orc Army for The Lord of the Rings. I didn't build this army with any concern for the army list--rather, I just picked a bunch of models I liked, put them together, and came up with a company-sized warband.

The leader of the company is named Shargror, a particularly mean and surprisingly intelligent uruk, hailing from Barad-Dur itself. Several of his subordinate Black Guard followed him from his last command and now form his command group.

A selection of the core of the company, composed of Mordor Orcs and Morannon Orcs.

The Morgul Stalkers are a strange breed even among orcs--these guys provide some scouting and infiltration duties for the company before the battles, and do some assassination-style killing during the fighting.

The Orcs, frankly, don't know what to think about the two Castellans. They are regarded with a mix of respect and trepidation by the orcs--they are fearsome in battle. Shargror himself isn't sure if they were provided to him as extra punch for his company, or if they're spies for his commanders, making sure he doesn't overstep his bounds. Frankly, he doesn't care which. They take his orders, and that's enough.

And finally, the heavy hitters of the army, the three war trolls. These guys are dangerous enough on their own, but when supported by the rest of the company, they're terrifying.