Monday, February 28, 2011

How To: Mk II "Drax" Pattern Hydra

This tutorial is based off of the wonderful Hydra conversion created by Admiral Drax. I loved the look of the conversion as well as the price at which it could be acquired, but I wanted a bit more adaptability to my design. So, drawing on the pictures at his blog as well as my work with the "SandWyrm" pattern Chimeras I came up with the following conversion.

What you'll need:
1 Chimera kit
1 Aegis Defense Kit
At least 8" of 1/8" diameter wooden rod (obtainable at most hardware stores)
Possibly some modeling putty if you are as poor at crafts as I am.

Step 1: Form the basis of the turret
This part is pretty much straight out of the Aegis Defense kit instructions. Take the four sides of the turret base and put them together, then put the top of the turret (with the circular opening) on top. See the picture below for an example.

Step 2: Prepare the autocannons

The autocannons are not long enough, so we'll need to saw these apart after gluing the ammo barrels to the turrets. Make the incision just in front of the small targeting vane on the bottom of the autocanon barrels, then file down the newly formed edges. See the picture above for reference

Next we need to saw the wooden rod apart into 2" segments. File down the ends of the rods.

Now using a small dremel tool drill into the center of both ends of each wooden rod and into the interior surfaces of the autocannon barrels. Put small pieces of paper clips, gauge wire, etc. to act as pins, then super glue the three segments together as below.

Step 3: Attach the autocannons to the turret

Look on the sides of the paired autocannons for a circular knob. One of them has an additional cube jutting out from it, which you should saw off and file smooth.

Then, attach the autocannons to the sides of the turret like below. Make sure that the slanted side of the turret (the one with the tiny little window) is towards the front. I like to make mine slanted upwards a bit, but orient to your own taste

Step 4: Turret base and top

We're going to close off the top and bottom of the turret and make it so that it can rotate on top of our Chimera. Cut off a rectangular piece of plasticard that is [NUMBER] by [NUMBER] inches, then cut a circular hole in it that is [NUMBER] inches in diameter. It should fit snugly around the circular piece from the Aegis Defense kit pictured below. Make sure to save the circular piece that you cut out.

Superglue the piece of plasticard around the disc:

Next, attach that completed piece to the bottom of the turret.

Now take the circular piece of plasticard that you cut out from before and glue it on to the top of the turret.

Step 4: Start building the Chimera

Begin by building the base of the Chimera just as you would normally do so, but stop before gluing on the top of the Chimera.

Next, take the top part of the Chimera and saw it in three like below. The front part is along the line of rivets just behind the turret and the back part should be cut right where the bottom angles off of the straight line. This is a bit farther back than in the "SandWyrm" Chimeras but I think the extra bit of movement towards the rear of the vehicle makes the Hydra turret look more believable.

You can discard the middle section. Attach the front and rear sections to your Chimera hull, making sure to sand the edges of the rear and front edges to match cleanly with one another. I failed at this task, so be careful :)

You will need to cut out a few pieces of plasticard to cover up the rear hatch, forward hold and the tiny hole in the front, as seen below:

The small yellow piece is a small piece of metal ruler tape; I'll use it to swap in and out magnetized hull weapons.

Step 5: Done!

The Hydra turrets can be placed on top of the Chimera chassis and will fit snugly around where the normal Chimera turret would go. This way they can rotate freely and be easily swapped out with a normal Chimera turret if you so desire.

I've added a few bits from the Aegis defense kit onto the turrets to spruce them up, specifically the vox caster on the rear and the targeting sight on the front.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial, and many thanks of course go out to Drax and SandWyrm for giving me the basis of this conversion.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

40k Twitter Accounts?

I've recently started a Twitter account that will focus mostly on my hobby and gaming activities. You can find it at @MaxterMynd, and I'll be linking my feed to the blog sometime today.

But this led me to wonder, does anyone know of some good 40k Twitter feeds that I can follow? I've heard of a group referred to as "warmongers" but have been unable to track them down, and my searches on Twitter have been less than useful.

Any information anyone could bring to the table would be great!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Army List: Eldar Wasp Assault Walker

Dangit... I couldn't stop myself. I went into complete army list building mode with the lovely Wasp as my target. Since I want to capitalize on those sexy legs we need to look at what the Wasp brings to the table once again.

1. Multitudes of accurate high strength shots.
Since quantity has a quality all of its own, Shuriken Cannons or Scatter Lasers doubled up on the Wasps, combined with their BS 4, will torrent down infantry and give us a good chance to affect light vehicles as well. Heavier weapons could go here, but like it's papa the War Walker the frame is simply too fragile to spend more points on. Plus, 8 Str 6 shots at 36" range is just awesome.

2. Sneaky Deployment Strategies
With Deep Strike and Jump Jets it's very easy for the Wasp to get into position for side or rear armor shots on enemy vehicles, particularly if they're going for the midfield. This plays in with our Shuriken Cannon/Scatter Laser strategy from above which I like.

3. Free up Heavy Support Slots
The biggest thing going against War Walkers was their use of a HS slot. With Wasps in Troops we can now have our cake and eat it too... and I LIKE cake.

4. Objective Contestor Extraordinaire
If these babies survive till late game a 30" assault is a GREAT way to contest troops off of an objective. Sure, they might not last terribly long against anything but GEQ but you can always hope for the Fritz classic 5th turn win if necessary, so sticking around more than a turn won't be needed.

So, given the above let's see what we can do. I have a bit of experience with Eldar as they were the army I played before I started buying my own units but definitely take the following with a hefty grain of salt as I'm no Space Elf master.

We'll start with 3 groups of 2 Wasps armed with dual Scatter Lasers, giving us 48 BS 4 Str 6 shots right from the get go.

We'll expand from there by looking at our vacant Heavy Support slots. Eldar LOVE their HS and we have four ways to go here- Wraithlords, Falcons, Fire Prisms and Nightspinners. I want to say here that I love the look of Wraithlords and love that they are immune to anything below strength 5. But the missile spam going around these days will make mincemeat of one lickety split, leaving these overcosted giants on the shelf. Maybe next codex...

Falcons are pretty cool but have consistently failed to impress me. DAVU (Dire Avenger Upgraded, i.e. small 5 man scoring unit) Falcons have their uses but I want something that will bring out the pain in our Heavy Support slot. Falcons do have quite a few shots but we could easily replace them with twice their number in Wasps and still maintain equivalent firepower.

Fire Prisms and Nightspinners both conveniently come in the same kit, but I think the Prism is going to win out here for me as we have enough high AP high strength shots from the Wasps already. The Prisms will give us pretty good anti-tank and great anti-infantry, particularly if we link the blasts for some Str 10 AP 1 or Str 6 AP 3 twin linked goodness. Having duality in a tank is always a good thing, and Lord knows we need something to take out those GK Terminators that are going to start showing up soon... We'll also throw Holo Fields and Shuriken Cannons on these babies to help us deal with One Gun Syndrome. The Holo-Fields might not be a good upgrade but I have a strange habit of trying to make sure my expensive tanks survive...

Next let's look at scoring. We may have taken up 3 Troops slots but we have nothing to score with yet. Enter the Storm Guardian. I've always like the aesthetic of Guardians and these boys seem to me to be the only Eldar troop choice worth taking, except perhaps for min sized Dire Avenger squads. Storm Guardians can at least theoretically do something given the correct support, plus they can take meltaguns fusion guns! Crappy BS 3 fusion guns, but fusion guns nonetheless. Flamers might be the better option here, but since they cost the same for some reason we'll stick with the fusion for now. Squads of 11 with a Warlock (either Enhance or Destructor, take your pick) plus a Wave Serpent with Shuriken Cannon and TWL Bright Lance sound nice, so let's fill out the other 3 troops slots with these boys.

Finally we need an HQ. Since Farseers are great we'll take one of those with Runes of Warding for psychic defense and Fortune and Doom to help our guys stay alive and our enemies become dead. We don't really need Guide because the majority of our force is BS 4 or twin linked. We'll have to take out a Storm Guardian so that he can ride in style.

This leaves us with the following:

Farseer, runes of warding, fortune, doom: 125
11 Storm Guardians, 2 fusion, warlock (125), wave serpent, TWL bright lance (135)
11 Storm Guardians, 2 fusion, warlock (125), wave serpent, TWL bright lance, shuriken cannon (145)
10 Storm Guardians, 2 fusion, warlock (117), wave serpent, TWL bright lance, shuriken cannon (145)
2 Wasp Assault Walkers, each with 2 scatter lasers (150)
2 Wasp Assault Walkers, each with 2 scatter lasers (150)
2 Wasp Assault Walkers, each with 2 scatter lasers (150)
Fire Prism, shuriken cannon, holofields (160)
Fire Prism, shuriken cannon, holofields (160)
Fire Prism, shuriken cannon, holofields (160)
Total: 1847

Having the ability to have 3 Fire Prisms alongside 6 war walkers is an impressive amount of firepower to say the least. And in this list we have every kind of firepower taken care of- big blasts and tons of high strength for hordes, anti-tank Lance and blast shots, and we even have 6 janky assault elements for late game objective grabbing/contesting and horde control. Again I'm not sure what powers to give the Warlocks, or if the fusion guns are the right buy for the Storm Guardians given their low BS. Flamers + Destructor might be better to help them succeed at their chosen mission.

Tactics are shoot, shoot, then late game objective grab/contest. You have the option of deep striking the Wasps to get the side/rear shots or you can start them on the board and Jump Jet into position.

Alternatively we can replace the Storm Guardians with min sized Dire Avengers, cutting the price of our Troops in half and freeing up 187 pts. Taking the Holo fields off of our Fire Prisms will save an additional 105 pts giving us 292 to play around with. We can put in a squad of Dragons with a Shuriken Cannon Wave Serpent for 190. We can also save another 120 pts by downgrading our Wasps' Scatter Lasers to Shuriken Cannons, giving us another 222 to play with. That's enough for another Dragon squad and to give both Dragon squads an exarch with a heavy flamer for some more duality.

This gives us the following list:

Farseer, runes of warding, fortune, doom: 125
5 Fire Dragons (80), exarch with Dragon's Breath Flamer (12), wave serpent, TWL shuriken cannon, shuriken cannon (110)
5 Fire Dragons (80), exarch with Dragon's Breath Flamer (12), wave serpent, TWL shuriken cannon, shuriken cannon (110)
5 Dire Avengers (60), wave serpent, TWL bright lance, shuriken cannon (145)
5 Dire Avengers (60), wave serpent, TWL bright lance, shuriken cannon (145)
5 Dire Avengers (60), wave serpent, TWL bright lance, shuriken cannon (145)
2 Wasp Assault Walkers, each with 2 shuriken cannons (110)
2 Wasp Assault Walkers, each with 2 shuriken cannons (110)
2 Wasp Assault Walkers, each with 2 shuriken cannons (110)
Fire Prism, shuriken cannon (125)
Fire Prism, shuriken cannon (125)
Fire Prism, shuriken cannon (125)
Total: 1849

2 more tanks than before and two much better Land Raider hunters. The Wasps should still have plenty of range to reach out and touch things at 24" and our overall Str 6 firepower hasn't decreased at all. I'm not sure which of the lists I like more- Storm Guardians just sound cooler than DAVU Wave Serpents, but I can't argue with the increased weight of tanks in the second list.

So what are your thoughts? How would you build around the elegant Wasp?

*Image property of Forge World

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BATTLE REPORT: 1850 Guard vs Daemons

Another video battle report for you all featuring my latest Adepticon list vs Chaos Daemons. Will I overcome my chowder headed deployment or will the Gods of Chaos have their fill? Watch and see!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eldar Wasp: Love Takes Flight

I've always loved walkers. I played a lot of MechWarrior back in the day and stomping around a virtual battlefield with my force-feedback joystick occupied a lot of my hours in high school.

In 40k there is no shortage of walkers. Dreadnoughts look pretty cool, but Sentinels look a whole lot better to me. There's something about the longer, chicken walker legs and the simple fact that a pilot is driving the robot that make it hit home for me.

Along this same vein is the Eldar War Walker, which edges out the Sentinel to not only be my favorite 40k walker but probably my favorite 40k model period. Those graceful lines, the fluidity of motion and the posability of the model all really speak to me.

Of course now there is the Wasp, and I have fallen in love again. Why? The enclosed cockpit is part of it, but what seals the deal is what's on its lovely rear end:


I. FREAKIN. LOVE. JUMP JETS. What makes the Drop Sentinel better than the normal Sentinel? Well, besides the sweet roll bars, ROCKETS ON A MECH. In MechWarrior I almost universally chose mechs that could take off in a stream of fire, looking for nothing more than to land near/ on top of my opponent while shoving a 30 foot long shotgun in somebody's face. Here is finally a unit in 40k that can make my dreams of DFA come alive... and in a very attractive package too! Heck, it even looks like a Firefly/Raven... Anyway, with the jump jets they can move 24" in the movement phase and assault (but not shoot) afterwards. While they aren't the best assault troops a 30" charge against Guardsmen isn't a half bad way to go about things, and at the very least they can leap out of danger or to contest an objective late game.

But that's not all! These guys finally have the BS 4 that the Eldar so rightly deserve, so they don't have to rely so heavily on Guidance from Farseers to their job. This is great not only for their crazy jumping abilities but also the chance to deep strike away from your forces. But that's not the greatest thing- these fools are a TROOPS CHOICE, meaning that they don't compete for Heavy Support slots. Hot. Damn.

I see these guys sticking in the backfield while throwing out str 6 firepower, then jump jetting to late game objective contest or just to get out of trouble. They also have the option to jump down, shoot up some vehicles in their rear arc then jump away before the retaliation can get to them. They're not the best despite what some early cries of cheese might say, but their play style sounds really interesting to me and can at the very least help make War Walkers a viable choice.

This model almost single handedly wants me to start playing Eldar. They aren't THAT expensive from Forge World, and if somebody doesn't want to play by their actual rules I can always proxy them as War Walkers. And I could finally paint up an orange and grey Yme-Loc craftworld force, which I've been meaning to do for some time...

Dammit Forge World. Damn you and your pretty things that I must have!

So what do you think about this new long-legged vixen? Does function follow form or is it just a great pair of legs?

*All images of the Wasp above belong to Forge World and are used without permission (but much love!). The image of the War Walker above belongs to Games Workshop and is also used without permission (but again, much love!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Psyker Psketches

I'd like to start out by thanking Berks Warhammer 40k for including my Battleforce Tactica as part of their 40k News, Rumors and Stuff You Should Read segment- it's an honor!

Now for the sketches. I may have been... distracted in a few meetings of late so I took the time to doodle out what I'm planning for my Psyker Battle Squad conversions. Take a gander:

If you can't read my chicken scratch at this size, please click to embiggen!

As you can see I'll be using standard Guardsmen for the basis of my conversions. I see my psykers as part of the regular army, soldiers that just happen to be gifted with psychic ability. I really like making blindfolds for my figs, as can be seen from my Gorger conversion- something about the blind warrior trope really hits it for me.

I'll be making the playing cards out of plasticard (though I may have to purchase some thinner stuff than what I use on my vehicle conversions). It'll be a pain but I think the overall effect will be awesome. Tiny pieces of paper that are coated to keep them stiff like in some banner conversions that I've seen might also work.

The tricky part will be making the levitating cards and soldiers. I think I'll be using more of my thin gauge wire that I'll paint up to look like electrical currents racing out and warping around the cards.

And then there's the solitaire... sometimes I just love my theme. Can anyone else think of any playing card game tropes that I should include in this squad?

I also managed to convert up another set back Chimera:

I'm slowly getting to a more uniform look for these gents, but there's still a few hiccups in the ol' STC to work through.

I hope to have some time to get to those conversions this weekend, but that'll really depend on what my psycho governor has to say about axing all of the public employees' unions. If it's looking bad I may be out on the street campaigning for our teachers, social workers and other public servants of Wisconsin, not to mention my girlfriend's healthcare. Yay!

Politics aside, thanks for reading and see you on Monday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hobby: Beginning Hydra Conversion

Despite what I may or may not have said in earlier posts I'm pursuing Hydras and a Psyker Battle Squad as part of my Adepticon army list. I like the concept of Medusae but they just seem a bit too fragile to me, especially since two of them together would be a significant weakness in the very first game of the tourney. Two AV 12 chassis just don't have a lot of staying power, especially since the have to shoot straight. Better to leave the most expensive unit award to the Executioner, as apart from melta he's a pretty survivable gent.

I came to my decision, like many of my hobby decisions, by going to the game store. I hadn't been down to the Last Square in some time due to a combination of family and work concerns, so it was nice to chat around with the guys even if I didn't have time to play a full game.

I know that I fully intended on walking away with just a pot of paint and a new flamer template, but discussions with the one of the guys who happens to work there added a few items to that list. And I mean, I can hardly be blamed that they just happened to have an Aegis defense kit just sitting there, right?

I'll be pursuing Admiral Drax's fine Hydra conversion with my own personal twist. I'd like to see if I can alter his plans such that I can switch the Hydra back and forth between awesome anti-aircraft gun and troop transport. The set-back Chimera design almost works, so I think with a few minor tweaks and maybe a few magnets I'll be able to better justify the two new Chimeras that I just ordered... man, I'm glad I make actual money rather than a living stipend now... :P

I'll be able to finish up painting my infantry this week and maybe put the final touches on assembling my final Vet Chimera. After that I have 8 psykers, an overseer and two Hydras to complete before April. I have some ideas for the psykers that I might be able to scribble down during the lunch hour tomorrow at work if we're lucky. Think of  a cross between daemonhosts and psychic indian poker and you'll have a basic idea of what I'm going for :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hobby Ennui: First Painting of 2011

The title of this post kind of caught me by surprise, as I was sure that I had painted something before this. But no- looking back through my posts so far this year I haven't had a chance to paint anything beyond putting a primer coat on a tank or two.

I can blame it on being busy at work and on some family crises that have sprung up, but I think the real source of my hobby ennui is just that I'm not excited to be painting Guard anymore. I've been playing only this army for the past almost two years and it's starting to get a bit stale. I had hoped that my Ogre Kingdoms army would have changed that attitude but finding a Fantasy game in Madison is proving much more difficult than I had first expected.

So now when I am trying to paint and model all of the remaining choices for my Adepticon list I find that I just don't have the drive. I still like the Guard, but I want to be done building them and I want the option of playing something else. Something like Deathwing, Dark Eldar or Tyranids...

But I have priorities, and getting my army tournament ready is the top one right now. After I finish basing and squad marking the gentlemen above I will have a Chimera and my mystery 300 pts of Heavy Support to complete before Adepticon. Hopefully that won't be too much of a problem.

What kind of ways have you all found to combat hobby ennui?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Beginner's Guide to the Guard: Tactica Collection

Now that you have your army assembled and painted, how do you win? Hopefully the tactica below will help out.

First, two from my very own site:
Tactica: Armored Sentinel
The Emperor's Scalpel, Tactica Stormtrooper (part 1, part 2)

From Warseer:
Tactica Imperium

From From The Warp:
Imperial Guard, Sledgehammer of the Imperium

From His Pinkness, Kirby:
Hybrid Blast Spam Army List
Ride of the Valkyries, part 1, part 2, part 3
How to Run a Platoon

There's definitely more out there- I'll add to this page as I find them. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Beginner's Guide to the Guard: Painting ye Average Guardsman

 Now, this won't be some kind of super-fancy guide to painting super awesome looking Guardsmen, as even I can't do that quite yet. This is just for those of us who want something that looks respectable two feet away but want to get through them as quickly as possible.

There are six main parts: the cloth of his uniform, his armor, any exposed skin, his gun, exposed metal and boots. For any metal parts I would recommend using Boltgun Metal for things like bayonets and Mithril Silver for any decorational pieces, like Aquilae. The rest, however, is up to you.

For my guardsmen I chose Bleached Bone armor, Mechrite Red cloth, bronzed/elf/tallarn flesh for skin (I like multiethnicity in my ranks) and bleached bone again for his boots.

As always we start by priming our figure. I tend to cheat a bit these days and use one of the color primers that Army Painter makes (in my case it's Skeleton Bone). This way I have already done half of my basecoating right from the get go.

The Unwashed Hordes

Next we need to basecoat any areas that are a different color than his armor. Use foundation paints for this part, as they go on opaque and can therefore easily cover up whatever color you primed with. Don't worry if you make mistakes- you can always clean up at the end.

Once you've cleaned up your base coating you can move on to washes. For the skin I use Ogryn Flesh, for everything else Devlan Mud. Devlan is a great wash that pretty much works on everything and makes it look more "real," and you can probably get away with Mud washing the entire model. You can also try using complimentary colors for the wash, such as Thraka Green on a red color.

After the wash has dried we need to highlight and drybrush using a lighter color. For drybrushing make sure to use a... well, dry brush. Be a bit more careful here but as always mistakes can be corrected.

Right: Washed and drybrushed but not highlighted. Left: washed, drybrushed and highlighted.

Once you've finished that step, you've finished your Guardsman! I would recommend doing each step for a squad at a time. That way you can keep on using the same paint for a period of time and get table-ready units all prepared at the same time.

For more info on painting Guard check out the painting section of the Imperial Guard archive on From The Warp or the Imperial Guard articles from Games-Workshop... just stay away from the tactica for the latter, as that's coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Beginner's Guide to the Guard: Battleforce Tactics

For reasons to Go Guard, check out the first post in this series.

If you have decided to Go Guard the first question is "What should I buy?" If you want new in box models you can't go wrong with a few battle force boxes.

Each of these forces contains a command squad, two Infantry Squads, three Heavy Weapons Teams and a Sentinel. The command sprue is an especially awesome inclusion as it contains one of every special weapon as well as power sword and fist upgrades. You end up saving approximately $40 US as opposed to buying them individually. Some don't like the inclusion of the Sentinel but you're still saving $15 even if you don't use it, making this an amazing buy.

The Battle force box also has the curious honor of containing all of the models required for a legal list, a feat that I believe was only challenged by the old school Tyranid boxed set. Granted it's not a very good list, but if you want the minimum of effort you can squeeze out almost 500 pts from this box alone if my math is right.

Two of these boxes will give us a good starting point for the army... in fact, good enough that our first two lists will contain ONLY what is inside those boxes. We now have plenty of bodies and a couple of command squads so we can create a small foot-based force. Here's what I would go for at 500 pts:

Company Command Squad, standard, lascannon: 85
Platoon Command Squad, 4 flamers: 50
2 Infantry Squads, grenade launcher/autocannon: 130
Autocannon Heavy Weapon Squad: 75
Veteran squad, 3 grenade launchers, missile launcher: 100
Scout sentinel, autocannon: 40
Scout sentinel, autocannon, Hunter-Killer Missile: 50
Total: 500 pts.

The Co. Cmd Squad helps anchor the line by allowing your infantry to re-roll failed tests thanks to the standard and can hand out orders to make your squads shoot better. There are tons of autocannons in the list to break light armor and mow down infantry at range, and the Pl. Cmd Squad can rush in with its flamers to clear out any infantry that get too close. The vets especially contribute a large amount of firepower at any target. Finally the Scout Sentinels can outflank to get side shots on armor and contest far flung objectives. I would recommend magnetizing at least the weapons mounts so you can switch them out later. For those who want a challenge, you can magnetize the sentinel such that you can use it as either a Scout or Armored sentinel by following the directions here.

You are well situated to defend home objectives with up to 5 scoring units and can Move, Move, Move! a squad or two plus the SS to take/contest far flung objectives.

We can also move up to 750 points just by adding to this list from our current purchases. We still have 20 infantry and 2 of most of the special weapons left to play with.

Company Command Squad, standard, lascannon: 85
Platoon Command Squad, 4 flamers: 50
2 Infantry Squads, grenade launcher/autocannon: 130
Autocannon Heavy Weapon Squad: 75
Veteran squad, 2 meltaguns: 90
Veteran squad, 2 plasmaguns, Grenadiers doctrine: 130
Veteran squad, 3 grenade launchers, missile launcher: 100
Armored Sentinel, autocannon: 60
Armored Sentinel, autocannon: 60
Total: 750 pts.

I'd love to get some more melta/plasma in those vet squads but we just don't have the tools with two battleforces. Tactics are the same as before, but now we have some low AP shooting from the Melta and Plasma vets and have upgraded our Sentinels to Armored. These boys love charging into combat as few things have a chance of destroying them. Try to avoid power fists if possible, but even then they need a 4 on the penetration roll to even scratch the paint. Check here for my tactica on Armored Sentinels.

The Grenadiers doctrine might require some easy conversion work to make. A few blobs of Greenstuff on their elbows and knees should convey what you want to go for.

Alternatively if you want to keep the scout sentinels from before we could go with this setup:

Company Command Squad, standard, lascannon: 85
Platoon Command Squad, 4 flamers: 50
2 Infantry Squads, grenade launcher/autocannon: 130
Autocannon Heavy Weapon Squad: 75
Veteran squad, 3 grenade launchers, missile launcher: 100
Veteran squad, 2 meltaguns, Grenadiers doctrine: 120
Veteran squad, 2 plasmaguns, plasma pistol, Grenadiers doctrine: 140
Scout sentinel, autocannon: 40
Scout sentinel, autocannon: 40

Our melta vet squad is a bit more survivable now with a 4+ armor save and the plasma squad gets an extra shot with the sarge's plasma pistol.

Expanding from here depends on where you want to take the army. Let's see what we can do to easily take this up to 1k with a few extra purchases. Three Chimeras (1 for the PCS, 2 for the melta/plas vets) while taking out Grenadiers will cost us only 105 points. Getting a Commissar for our blob and giving the sergeants power weapons will cost another 65 bring us to 170. Our last 80 points can either go towards another Autocannon HWS or another squad for the blob. The former leaves us 5 points which is enough to upgrade the plasma pistol to a plasmagun on our vets while the latter, if we leave out an autocannon, gives us 10 which means a third meltagun on the other vets. Purcheses in this phase will run somewhere around $130.

Expanding further depends on what your preference is. If you like mechanized troops, Chimeras are amazing at only 55 pts and Vendettas are one of the most points efficient units in the game. Leman Russes love large infantry bubblewraps which you should have the tools for at this point. If you just want more infantry battleforce boxes are probably the way to go. If you need more special weapons try finding the Marine melta and plasmagun blister packs. At only $6 US for 5 guns they are a steal.

Thanks for reading, and we continue our Beginner's Guide tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Beginner's Guide to the Guard: Why Go Guard?

Over the weekend I had a follower comment on my YouTube profile saying that he was getting started in 40k and wanted my opinion on which army to choose to have a Dakka-filled list. He also mentioned that he had heard that Imperial Guard were a poor choice for starting out.

Naturally I took offense to this last part. Imperial Guard are my first and only 40k army and I believe that they bring a lot of advantages to the table for newcomers to 40k. So, this week I thought that I'd do a few articles on starting out with IG.

First let's talk about the possible reasons that a new player might choose the Imperial Guard for their first army.

1. The Imperial Guard is one of the strongest armies in the game
I know this is not just my opinion- ask any player what they think of Imperial Guard and talk of the dreaded Leafblower, Mech IG and autocannon spam will dominate the conversation. IG has a strong book with relatively few weak options, and even those options can make it into a halfway decent list simply thanks to the efficiency and power of the other choices.

Having more power in a list means that a new player can make a few more mistakes and still manage to put up a good fight. This is opposed to an older/less powerful book like Eldar or Tau that have a few good builds that require consummate player skill to use and master. IG's raw power level enables them to be a sledgehammer in the command of a newer player, grinding out victories simply through sheer mass.

2. The Imperial Guard have a lot of flexibility

This is along the same lines as point 1. Because so many of the options in the book are good the Guard is capable of a frightening array of options that can cater to pretty much any player.

Like huge gunlines? Play with platoons backed up by heavy weapon teams, tanks and artillery.

Like tank companies? Imperial Guard has TONS of tanks, and their mechanized forces are second to none thanks to the awesomeness that are Veterans.

Want to play Air Cav? Guard invented the term, and Valkyries look damn cool to boot. You can even branch out into Elysians if this is your particular cup of tea.

Enjoy the reserves game? With options like the Astropath, Master of the Fleet, Al'Rahem and CREEEEED! you can boost your reserves, hurt the enemy's and outflank with the best of them.

Even if you like having some close combat Guard can make a halfway-decent build with Straken backing up platoons and plenty of firepower backing him up. While they might not deal a ton of damage hidden nigh-unbreakable power weapons in platoons will take down any opponent given enough time.

If there is a type of force that you want to play, Imperial Guard can almost certainly build it.

3. Through sheer numbers the army is very forgiving

The Guard has always been known for its quantity rather than its quality (though it certainly has both!). With a force like Space Marines losing a unit can be a huge deal, simply because you don't have that many of them. With the Guard you fully expect certain members of your force to die, as you will have plenty more where they came from.

More than any other army the Guard can abuse the Force Organization Chart. Whether it's through bloated platoons that can easily encompass over 50 men or entire squadrons of tanks and planes the Guard will usually simply have more and tougher threats than an opposing army. Platoons don't care if you annihilate 20 of their number- as long as the Commissar holds they aren't going anywhere. Squadrons of tanks are hard to shut down and can enable staggering amounts of firepower to be brought to bear.

This also applies to simple probability. There is a wargaming truism that goes "if you throw enough dice at a problem it will go away." This is the Guard maxim in a nutshell. You will almost always have enough guns or attacks that you can accurately predict how a given unit will perform simply because they have so much redundancy. Where one battle cannon won't do the job three probably will.

Just remember the Imperial Guard motto- bring three to do a job as one will miss and one will be dead.

4. Assembling lots of models builds skills quickly

Because the Guard has so many models it can be a bit daunting at first. However after building and painting a few squads of infantry you will build your skills quickly, making the rest a breeze to do. Plus most of the models in the Guard range are easy to paint and assemble- even with three colors and a wash your average Guardsmen will be looking pretty snazzy indeed.

5. The Guard are not Space Marines

I'm going to catch a bit of flak for this one, but it's true. Some people have a stigma with going for Space Marines for a couple of reasons. I know that I was one of those when I first started out. Marines have all of the advantages going for them- multiple codices, fancy power armor, genetic engineering... pshaw! Who needs it?

The Guard appealed to me because they were just mere mortals standing in front of all of the horrors of the universe, ordinary people tasked with fighting and dying to protect peoples and planets that they have never seen let alone heard of. While your average Guardsman doesn't match up to a Space Marine they have plenty of friends to back them up and see victory in the face of even the greatest odds.

6. The Imperial Guard are Fun!

This last point might be a bit biased, but IG are fun to use! Do you like throwing buckets of dice at things? Making *vroom* *VROOM!* noises as you maneuver tanks around the battle field? Placing huge explosion markers that wreck the competition? Enjoy the fact that your gun is bigger than theirs? Then you'll like the Guard!

Strangely, one of the reasons I like the Guard is how unlikely making a save is or hitting with certain units. Unlike power armor where you are crushed when you don't make that crucial save with the Guard you are ecstatic when that 5+ miraculously comes around. Likewise when firing with a whole platoon at a hard target like Terminators seeing sheer weight of numbers force failed saves on 2+ armor is a brilliant feeling.

The same goes for winning or only narrowly losing close combat. I'll never forget the day that an old school Hive Tyrant charged a squad of Veterans and they held combat. Next turn a squad of Marines charged in, flailed about but failed to do anything. My Sergeant, chainsword in hand, spat on the ground and leapt onto the giant beast and felled it. The Dark Angels tried not to look too ashamed...


Those are my top reasons to start with a Guard army. Throughout the rest of the week we'll be looking at where to start when building a Guard army, good places to look for Guard Tactics, tips on painting your average Guardsman, and some good pics. For you experienced generals out there, what are some of YOUR favorite reasons to GO GUARD?

Friday, February 4, 2011

STC in Real Life!

Before we get on to the topic of this post I just wanted to add to the pimping of Sons of Taurus' awesome sarcastic HyperBowl 2011. Have a unit you love to hate? Try to write the most ridiculous paragraph or two promoting that God-forsaken set of rules and you may win something!

Anyway, I was on Gizmodo and came across this video:

GVCS in 2 Minutes from Adam Mitchell on Vimeo.

Is it just me, or does thing remind you of an STC? Available to everyone, able to construct modern civilization from just a few parts... man, I didn't know we were living in the Dark Age of Technology already!

So now that we have bolters, STCs, and cybernetics and power armor research are going full bore, who has bets on when the first Space Marines will start coming off the line?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

40k Thought: Counts As

It seems that this particular debate has been making its rounds about the blogosphere of late, with Old Shatter Hands throwing out some particularly good insights on the matter. Still, my ire has been roused by what I perceive to be people being wrong on the Internet, so I thought that I'd throw my hat into the ring. Whether it changes anyone's mind, I don't know, but at least I'll feel better for having spoken my part.

To start us off on an argumentative note I am in favor of counts-as armies. I believe that they add three things to the hobbyist's arsenal: amazing creative opportunities for army construction, a longer lifespan for a given army and much more varied lists to choose from. However in order to tap in to these benefits there need to be some rules in place.

1. Counts As Adds Creativity to the Hobby

Image stolen from Musings of a Metal Mind

Doing something crazy like Tyracrons, Dark Mechanicus or Skaven Dark Eldar is awesome. The imagination and skill that these gentlemen have used to pull off their model designs is simply amazing and something that I aspire to approach with my future armies. Sure, they might not exactly have the correct weapons shapes but their design leaves nothing to the imagination as to what they are standing for.

Image stolen from Path of the Outcast

That rat over there with the crossbow, drug pumps and dagger? It has a pistol and CCW so it must be a Wych! That floating processor unit in the opposite corner? It's got the spine and macroencepholapy so it must be a Zoanthrope! That menacing dude with a glowing staff surrounded by warped creatures of the abyss? Must be a chaos sorceror! Could they do this without counts-as? No. This alone should validate it.

2. Counts-As Enables Older Collections to Still Be Competitive

My second point should also be easy to grasp. Given GW's notoriously slow codex release cycle it may be years or even a decade or more before a given army is updated. Ask any player whether an older codex is more powerful than a 5th edition one and they'll just laugh in your face. The combination of this fact, plus the amount of money and time that one must put in to crafting an army will lead the typical gamer to look for alternative, more competitive ways to field their forces.  I know some people will cry out that "you need to stand by your colors" or some such but let's face it- do you LIKE giving yourself a handicap? I know that there are certain players who do, and more power to them, but for the rest of us who just want a fair chance at victory the opportunity to use their old models and still compete can be a godsend. You can still play your Dark Angels like Dark Angels, but except for a few excellent builds C:SM plays it better.

3. Counts-As Lets Players Add Variety to Their Gaming Without Adding Cost

As long as they are modeled appropriately I see nothing wrong with switching up the codex every so often. "But wait!", you might cry, "how can you use Dark Angels/Chaos Marines/Rainbow Warriors to represent Blood Angels?" Easy. It's just a paint scheme.

Image stolen from DakkaDakka

Let's say I create my own chapter. We'll call it the Angels Excelsior (motto: "We're better than you"). I'll paint them white, black and gold with all of the standard squad markings. If I brought this army to the table and had appropriately modeled figures and said that they were Blood Angels, would you believe me? Look, I even have Baal Preds and Sanguinary Guard.

Now let's say I take my same chapter, switch around a few assault squads for tacticals and take out the Baals and Guard and say they are Codex Space Marines and show up to play. Would this convincingly look like a C:SM army?

Next week I throw down with a bunch of terminators led by a terminator captain. Same scheme, and let's even say that I used the same land speeders in each game. I say they are Dark Angels and roll up against another player. Would they believe me?

I believe that the answer to each of these things is "yes." Even if I went to go so far as say Space Wolves I'm sure that, if I had appropriately modeled everything, my opponent would believe me. So, if I can do this with a generic chapter (which, as OSH mentioned, has been condoned by GW), what's to stop me from doing it with, say, Dark Angels? In the end even with all of their monkish habits (which have been stolen by plenty of legitimately intentioned C:SM and Blood Angels successors because they look frikkin' awesome) they are still just a paint scheme. A paint scheme with history no doubt, but still just a paint scheme.

Being able to play as different codexes doesn't just bump power levels but also lets you switch tactics completely without spending huge amounts of money on models. Want to play Jumpers? BA! Want to go all shooty? C:SM or Space Wolves! Terminators galore? Space Wolves or Dark Angels! All in the same paint scheme? Sweet!

4. Form Must Follow Function

But of course, there must be rules to govern this madness. We fortunately already have this widely followed rule in the form of WYSIWYG. Does your model have power armor, a bolter and bolt pistol? Congratulations tactical marine! Does it have armored plates and a lasgun? Looks like a Grenadier or Stormtrooper to me. Does it have a thunder hammer, storm shield and TDA? Assault termy FTW! Vehicles are a bit tougher, but if it has the same profile and the same weapons a Rhino is a Rhino by any other name.


Now, as mentioned in my first point, there can be a bit of leeway for some more exotic conversions. I certainly don't know what all of the different Tyranid/DEldar special weapons look like but if you make something that looks convincing (i.e. splinter rifle shoots darts, venom cannons are big guns built into the body, etc.) I'm cool with it. Some might not be, in which case the actual gun should be used, and I can understand that too. But as long as it conveys exactly what it's going for there should be no problem. That thin open topped boarding skimmer? Raider. The Guardsman on a Segway on a cavalry base? Rough Rider.

But ESPECIALLY for Marines (and to some extent the other Imperial armies) the code of WYSIWYG should be followed. This is because the weapons are so well known and nigh universal that to get them wrong is just to invite confusion and resentment. A Meltagun MUST be a Meltagun and ONLY a meltagun, a lascannon MUST be a lascannon and ONLY a lascannon.

5. Wolf Pelts Do Not Grant You Counter-Attack

Now, of all of the Marines, Space Wolves are the ones earning the most ire. Maybe it's because their book is awesome and has that "power gamer" aura, but every time Counts As comes up Space Wolves take the hit. To an extent, this is fair. They have a lot of visual cues that are built into their army that tend to set them apart like the spikes on Chaos Marines. But, in the end, does this go against the rules? No. Nowhere in the BRB or codex does it say that Space Wolves, Chaos Marines or Space Marines have to look a particular way. Nowhere does it say that their wolfy trappings give them any kind of rules benefits. There are certain upgrades that deserve special attention (Mark of the Wulfen, Wolf Tail Talisman, etc.) but beyond that there's maybe a CCW (and, to be honest, how many of the ACTUAL Space Wolves or Chaos Marines models are actually equipped with the correct wargear... not to mention grenades and the like, particularly on Guardsmen) to set them apart.

In the end, your army is your army is your army. Paint it red, green, blue or grey, but at the end of the day if it has power armor and the correct load out a Space Marine can earn his right as a 7 foot tall god of war to be whatever color he damn well wants.

Finally, some closing remarks to answer some challenges that I have heard all to often:

"Why do marines get to do it but not my [insert army here]?"
Because GW loves marines and gave them the gift of six army books while sharing the majority of their wargear. If another group of books could pull off that feat I'm sure that we would be swimming in them as well, and if you want to make sure that happens go check out the Codex Project. If you model your conversions appropriately you can also do crazy things like Necron/Tyranid or Dark Eldar/Tyranid armies. It just takes imagination.

"It makes it hard to remember what is/does what."
If the weapons/wargear are a bit more exotic, I can understand this. But if a meltagun is a meltagun where's the confusion in holding the single fact that your opponent is playing Blood Angels, not Chaos Marines? If you're doing your job as a player you know the rules and at least know your book's rules. The argument that the counts-as will make remember their rules more difficult just doesn't cut the mustard. Think of it in the context of playing an army that you've never faced before. If I haven't faced off against Blood Angels (and... actually, I haven't. Huh.) I certainly might be expected to not know their particular rules. Just go through each unit with the opponent and learn what they can do. It will be the same level of misapprehension as if I had been playing against C:SM the entire time and blamed not remembering that the appropriately modeled Sanguinary Priest gives FNP and FC to his buddies for losing the game- unacceptable.

"They're all modeling for advantage!"
If this is happening they are breaking the game. Tiny mk. 1 Rhinos are one thing but purposefully modeling your counts-as to be dramatically larger/smaller can have a very large impact in TLoS games, especially where vehicles are concerned. While to some extent this can't be stopped (legal crouching armies can easily be made with smart bitz shopping) except by local policy/fist to the face feel free to explain to your opponent that a certain model seems to be taking advantage of the rules through construction. Most of us are nice guys and if we aren't feel free to not play.

I think that's most of them. Hope you enjoyed the article, and I'll be back here tomorrow. Some apologies are in order for the lack of posting this past week and a half. Work and family matters have been stressful of late and I haven't had much opportunity to sit down and do a post or do any modeling in some time. Add in the fact that my computer has decided that it will no longer upload to YouTube and you have one unhappy Max. We may see a drop in posting to three days a week, but we'll see how I can string this out. Again, thanks for reading and comments are always appreciated.