Thursday, May 31, 2012

Know No Fear Review

Know No Fear is the 19th installment in the Horus Heresy series, and a fine addition to the list. Author Dan Abnett explores one of the crucial battles of the Heresy when the Word Bearers attack Ultramar, the vast region of space controlled by the Ultramarines and in many ways an Empire on their own.

Surely the Ultramarines do not have a reputation like those of the World Eaters or the Space Wolves, but are nonetheless a perfect killing machine and the largest legion at the moment, so their destruction was a key step for Warmaster Horus. The novel provides a rich description on how the XVII Legion of the Word Bearers attack the XIII, Ultramarines, focusing in the first hours before and after the attack. As the Ultramarines casualties pile up and the Word Bearers draw close to victory, there is something inside each and every Ultramarine that makes them face the unexpected and fight to the end.

In the same fashion as we previously were introduced to the ways and customs of other chapters (like the Thousand Sons or the Space Wolves), Dan Abnett creates the Ultramarines personalities and ways, with their own ways to interact amongst themselves and their primarch, with their unique way of thinking, and pretty much erasing for ever the feeling that the only difference amongst Legions was the colour of their armours. Roboute Guilliman appears for the first time in the series (about time!) and his is a portrait of a perfectionist, a ruthless strategist that has everything under his control and expects only the best from their men. All in all it's very nice to finally see the origin on why the Ultramarines are like they are - they are just like Guilliman made them to be.

But don't get me wrong, this is not a book about how the Ultramarines repel the invasion and wipe out the traitors - this is a book about how Ultramar and its Legion is almost destroyed. The description about the attack is long and detailed, almost painful, and certainly most enjoyable by all the Chaos fans. The Ultramarines fleet is almost completely destroyed, the damage in Calth is unbearable and the loses of the XIII legion are above the 100K Space Marines, a most damaging blow to the heart of the Empire. Only their courage and honour will keep the Ultramarines fighting.

The best
Abnett's description of the Ultramarines through their customs and their prmarch is delightful; they will no longer be just Space Marines in blue. The book structure containing different sub-histories makes it very intriguing and addictive.

The worst
The 200-long pages of the Ultramar destruction are tiresome. One of the sub stories doesn't have a clear ending, perhaps that will come in another book.

8/10 Enjoyable, addictive and throughoutly well-written although the Word Bearers' attack description was too long for my taste.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Showcase: Blood Angels Sniper Scouts

Howdy! today's entry is about some BC Sniper Scouts with camo cloaks. I quite enjoyed painting them, except for the the cloaks was a bit of a pain but nothing too major.

Getting started

The kit nicely comes with 6 torsos and five legs, giving the choice to have a missile launcher scout if desired. It only takes 3 magnets to be able to switch over, so well worth the effort. I am also planning to take them around to play games so I also magnetized the other torsos/legs - these long rifles won't last for long in one piece even in a foam tray.

As for the bases, I'm using the urban rubble bases from Secret Weapon Miniatures, as opposed to the normal urban bases the assault marines have. It's a way to link them to the rest of the army, yet showing that they are stepping on a different ground - they're scouts after all!


Until the scouts, the rest of my BA army had been painted with airbrush, at least the armour, so it was the first time I was painting armour with a brush. I had also decided when starting the army that I would go for a darker look so the scouts needed to follow the same scheme. Why not using the airbrush here as well? maybe because the visible armour areas aren't that big, I kind of felt lazy about the airbrush. Silly I know as the airbrush is way fastest than the brush but don't ask me ;)

So the base color is mechrite red, followed by a 50/50 blood angels red/mechrite red mix, then some pure blood angels red glazes in the most prominent areas. Neat and simple. I think I also sparingly added some light edge highlighting with blazing orange.

The suit beneath was painted with one of my favourite combinations: khemri brown basecoat, bleached bone layers and a devlan mud wash. It was looking good already so I just added a few highlights with bleached bone/skull white here and there.

The metallic areas were basecoated with black, then added boltgun metal and a final black wash. Usually with guns this big I would also add some black pigments to show the grease, but these are not machine guns, these are precision guns and I would expect them to be completely clean.

Finally, the lenses. For the night vision goggles I went for a Splinter Cell looking scheme, with a light, ethereal green that seems to glow. To recreate this effect I started with goblin green, and then mixed it with scorpion green and white while working my way towards the centre. A green + black ink wash to soften the progression and a final glaze with an almost white green were the icing in the cake.

The cloaks

I wanted the cloaks to have a digital urban camo, yet this is easier said than done. The idea about "digital"  camo is that from close it looks like a pixelated image. After browsing some time on google I was unable to find a pattern that fulfilled all of conditions, namely i) that I liked it and especially ii) that I could paint it!. The thing with the pixels is that it is difficult to paint small squares in such a curved surface, much more than your standard camo pattern with seemingly random shapes.

At the end I just painted the cloaks in a dark grey/blue color, then added some grey pixels / shapes around, then smaller, darker squares and finally some black pixels. Can't say the results blew my off but look good enough, and I already spent too much time on those guys!

And finally... how to play them!

Blood Angels have some great options in their troops slot. Okay they have Assault Marines with jump packs or in Razorbacks. These guys are the jack of all trades of the army, able to assault / occupy / support pretty much anything as long as there are enough of them, and within 6" of a sanguinary priest.

But what if you want a small, cheap, expendable unit to camp back in the home base, hide from the enemy guns, be left unnoticed but at the same time able to be a nuissance if needed? enter sniper scouts. Under heavy suppression fire they can just go to ground for the 2+ joy (disclaimer: 5th edition! ;) ) and with their sniper rifles and ML, they can disturb these annoying long fangs, lootas, devs, IG heavy weapons teams that camp in some ruin far away from the reach of the main body of the army.

So to summarize:

  • They will sit in my home base, or move to claim a base near my deployment areas and sit there all game long.These guys won't scout, as they don't have the gear for it.
  • If the opponent wants to remove them from afar, a lot of firepower will be needed to go over 5 2++ saves.
  • If not, I will just shoot and annoy whatever enemy infantry in sight. A failed pinning check can mean 3-4 krak missiles less going my way.
  • Same story for annihilation. They will hide and do their best to not get killed, and maybe they'll do something else. It's just 5% of the points after all.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Showcase: Lemartes

This is my version of Lemartes, the berserk Death Company chaplain. It's the first time I paint a chaplain and I quite enjoyed his grim dark look, with the skull helmet and shoulder pad and wielding a crozius. Truly an angel of death. The model is very nice, as with most of Juan Diaz's sculpts, if yet could be a little taller. Not sure if the included base is there for this purpose, or if he's not very tall because of the base. Either way, a finely detailed sculpt that will be leading my infamous DC.


Being the crazy magnet fan I am, I've magnetized both his arms and jump pack in a magnet frenzy so I can use him as a normal chappie / reclusiarch if needed. As for the crozius arm, it's magnetized for those games in which I don't bring a chappie so Lemmy counts as a normal DC. <rant mode on> I'm a big fan of WYSIWYG minis and I'm usually annoyed when my opponent's are not, so I try my minis to look like they're actually equipped. </rant off>.

As for the base I went for the bone fields bases from Secret Weapon Miniatures for my DC, so I wanted Lemartes to be consistent with his crazy brothers. The problem is he already brings a sort of pedestal that wasn't really fiting with the bones bases, so instead I used an urban rubble base from SWM too, which also has a skull or two around it.

So I just carved a line for the metal indentation below the mini, filled the gaps with some greenstuff and added black lava from vallejo on top of it to give it a sandy texture. I'm sure GW will soon release a resin version, in the meantime the metal minis are best kept with their metal tab, or won't last long attached to their base.


Painting is very straightforward sporting a black armour. I primed it black with an airbrush and Vallejo's black primer, which gives it a nice, thin layer that doesn't cover the details. The metal areas were painted with mythril silver, mainly in the armour joints, and boltgun metal for the larger parts.

For the parchments, skulls, feet bones and purity seals, I began with a brown basecoat and then a layer or two of thinned bleached bone. This is important as we want the brown base color to still be there. Next comes a good wash with Devlan mud will do the dirty job, and a finally some light highlights with bleached bone.

The red areas were painted with a mechrite red, followed by a thin layer of 50/50 mechrite / blood red then more devlan mud. After having used GW paints for 15+ years, Devlan Mud is clearly the best wash ever available. Reach out to your LGS before all the stock is gone.

As for the armour, a good basecoating will do most of the job. Just added some light highlights with 50/50 codex grey/abbadon black, followed by spare touches of SW grey for the more extreme lights.

The base is also fairly straightforward. I used a foundation brown, probably calthan brown, to give it a muddy look, followed with codex grey for the big stones. This is the same scheme I'm following for the rest of the army anyway. Then washed it again with my favourite paint -you know what I'm talking about!.

At this point I added some pigments from SWM. Just used an old brush to add some touches of different browns / greys, then fixed them with a MIG product. If you don't have pigments, some drybrushing will do the job. I've recently gotten onto pigments and they are GREAT for weathering and basing. The final touch is a bit of reallistic water in a small area. Note the greenish look below the water - just added a bit of green pigment to break the monotony of brown and black.

What's next

Well nutty Lemartes will be shortly be spotted in the tabletops leading some more DC that I just ordered from Wayland. I almost have their bases ready - full of bones and skulls! I really wanted DC to look as grim and dangerous if possible, almost as far as you can go before turning to Chaos. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Stormtalon is here!

Blue Thunder or Apache?
Everybody is going crazy these days with the new 40k flyers. Not only by the model themselves, but also because they are likely to anticipate what 6th edition is going to be about.

So onto the Storm Talon. It's a fast skimmer with all around AV11 (meh), nerfs melta, decent weaponry and a couple of fancy rules. It comes standard with a TL assault cannon and TL HB, which can be upgraded to a TL lascannon, Typhoon ML or a new ML type (Str 7 Ap4 heavy 3). Provides a decent dakka although the assault cannon is only 24" and that forces the stormtalon be close enough to the enemy to fully utilize its potential.

Something odd (especially for GW's revenue) is that it can't be taken in squadrons for additional protection and redundancy. 9 storm talons in a list?  Also not happy about being limited to C:SM, which means the Wolves will keep on fighting on their feet , as Russ intended, and that we won't see any crazy aircav list with tons of 'Ravens and 'Talons with Wagner's music blasting off the speakers. Sorry 'bout that, Wagner.

The new rules

The Storm talon comes with a couple of nifty rules that might anticipate what's yet to come. One is about being able to come in reserve together with the unit it escorts, so it does help not arriving from reserve piecemeal. I'm sure people will find some interesting combos.

The other new rule is about not moving in a turn to gain a +1 to the BS against most targets, and adding the Pinning rule. This would mainly benefit the ML as the other weapons are already TL, and again suggests a long range gunboat approach in which the AC sees no use. 150 points for 2/3 BS5 missiles? I'll pass thanks.

Early thoughts on how to use

The HB+AC combination provides good ranged anti-infantry and the occasional anti vehicle, with a TL AC that should get side shots easily. The price is still a big steep but assumible yet.

The new ML has a nice profile and again can benefit from the high mobility to easily access the tanks side armour. Even more tasty if the new cover saves go down to 5+. On the other hands, a 5+ cover save will make it even an easier KP, at least with 5th ed rules..

The escort option of arriving from reserves with a unit (not if DS) is a nice one, with the ability to bring 2 units at the same time. Looks like an interesting option for spearhead, where you can bring 2 units to support your main advance, or send them to the other side of the board.

Now, taking 2 of those is going to be almost 300 points. For less points we can get 3 dakka preds, which of course occupy a different placement in the FOC and are far less mobile, but much harder to get rid of at range.


I really like the new model, maybe because it reminds me of the Blue Thunder. It's amusing how alike the 41st millenium war machines look to the 20th century ones.

In terms of competitiveness, we will have to wait for 6th ed to find out. I suspect the rules will benefit flyers so GW can keep their cash cow healthy. I just can't understand why not all codexes have access to it, which is bad for both the players and GW. Really, and it's something I do as my full time job (product manager). And a final digression: will the rise of the flyers be countered by some special anti air rules, and   finally plastic kits for the hydra and riflemen?

Get ready for air battles!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to Paint Sanguinary Guard

Some people swear by them, others just don't like to play with shiny golden boys with nipples. I'm happy to belong to the first group ^_^. SG could have certainly been much better, as the fluff depicts them as the absolute elite, yet they only have veteran stats. Perhaps having WS5, an additional attack (which you can get through the standard) or some special rule would have made them really outstand by what they do rather than their armour. 
Nevertheless they're a good beater unit, a sort of flying terminators with their 2+saves, assault 2 boltgun (yet with a short range) and PWs for all. They trade a higher mobility through jump packs for the durability of the 5++. A close by Libby can help remediate this to a certain degree in the shooting phase, but better keep them hidden behind razorbacks. Going back to the kit, the models are beautiful, with detailed crafted armours and a great level of detail. The poses and weapons are amazing, and it comes with a good assortment of heads and shoulder pads. All in all a good kit by itself and a good source of bits for your BA army.

Assembling and painting

First things first, I decided not to include the wings as that is... just too much for me. Maybe I'll add them at some point, but just not now. I also decided to magnetize the arms of the 3 of the SG, those that don't have both hands wielding the glaive encarmine weapon. This is so I could swap their standard gear for a PF, infernus pistol or standard if needed. I also do it to break the monotony of the poses - it's funnier to assemble them in different ways every time.

As for the painting, this is a relatively simple recipe that yields good results, in my opinion.

  1. Prime white - will give the model a clearer look and helps me see the details!.
  2. Base color - a 50/50 scorched brown and shining goal, in 2 or 3 dilluted layers.
  3. Layer - 1 or 2 rather dilluted, thin layers of shining gold. Make sure you don't overkill it, we want the previous color to be still dominant.
  4. Wash with devlan mud.
  5. Light drybrush with mythril silver. This is a light, subtle drybrush in the more raised areas. 

Looking after the details

  • The clothes and purity seals are painted with a calthan brown base, then bleached bone, then devlan mud. Very simple really.
  • The wings were painted with an Astronomican blue base, followed by a dilluted wash with Fenris grey (it's a foundation color, so better use a thinner). Then Astronomican grey again, then gradually add white and work towards the edges.
  • The gems can be painted in a variety of colors and would require a tutorial by themselves. Just let me point out a very simple yet effective trick which is - add a touch of glossy varnish on top them to make them outstand. 
  • The bases are from Secret Weapon Miniatures. They have great quality products, an growing range and a good customer service. My favourite are the largest bases used for the Dreads, Terminators and Storm Ravens, though the small ones look brilliant as well. I painted them with several citadel paints, then added pigments from SWM again and fixed them with a MIG products. 
  • The energy weapons (glaive encarmine) were painted with a combination of regal blue and hawk turquoise, then washed with badab black + a green wash. Then it's a matter of painting the rays with several thin, dilluted strokes of a light grey and white. Maybe I'll redo them with airbrush, for now they stay.
  • The faces were painted with a 50/50 mix of elf and dwarf flesh, followed by a wash of ogryn flesh. Then add some more elf flesh to the original mix and add subtle touches in the raised areas, like the brow, nose, etcetera. My personal touch is painting the eyes, which I do as follows: first, use a thin brush to paint black to the eyes cavity. Once it is dry, add white inside the black, leaving a black rim surrounding. Then use your thinner brush to paint a dot in the middle. While it might sound complicated, I find rather easy and it looks stunning - check it out!
Fist and banner

And that's pretty much it. Overall I'm pretty pleased in how they turned out; they outstand in the table and yet look coherent with the rest of the army. It can't compare to a NMM paintjob, but I'm not a GD painter by any means so this will suffice. Enjoy the pictures!

Comin' for ya!
The group pic

How to run Stormravens

The Storm Raven is one of the main reasons why I started my Blood Angels army. I love the look of the ship, sort of a baby Thunderhawk and filled with heavy weapons! I think that was GW's intention, to make a smaller Thunderhawk usable in normal 40k games. Despite what the interwebs might say about the model, I enjoyed painting it and will enjoy to wreak havoc with it *feral grin*.

So how to use it? let's take a look at what it actually offers. It's a fast skimmer with AV12, nerfs melta and can move flat out to generate its own cover save. With POTMS it will always be able to  fire a weapon anyway, and there is enought to select from. It also houses an assault ramp so you can move and assault out of it - yummy - and it has a good transport capacity, with 12 units (or 6 terminators/jump packs) and 1 dreadnought. Wow.

It comes with a twin-linked heavy bolter, which can and should be upgraded to a TL multi melta with a 30" threat range. Pretty tasty if you ask me. It also houses a secondary heavy weapon system in the turret, and all the options are good here: TL assault cannon for duality anti infantry/anti tank, TL Plasma cannon to bring down those pesky terminators or a TL lascannon to hunt down vehicles. It comes down to personal preference and what else your list has / is missing. The 'Raven also has 4 one-shot Str8 AP1 missiles, and can get hurricane bolters for some extra points. Being a defensive weapon it can always be shot, but points will be tight enough I'm afraid. On the other hand, extra armor is a must if we plan to carry anything valuable in it... and sure we want as we are paying for it.

So these impressive stats are the main problem for the 'Raven - it's damn good both as a gunboat and as a transport, you're paying for both but you can't play both roles at the same time. As I see it there are better options for the fire support - predators autolasers, riflemen dreads and missile devs come to mind -  and hell, I like to play BA the Sanguinius way - unleashed!

This means I'm going to use the 'Raven to deliver a strong combat unit + a combat dread to the opponents line. We'll need two for saturation and to avoid putting all of our eggs in one basket. In my experience playing SW, I need to dedicate all my firepower to bring down 1 SR/Vendetta in cover; that is, I need 15~20 missiles / living ligthning shots to bring it down. There's always the chance of having both 'Ravens down before they can deliver the cargo, but at least the cargo will be 24" in. Assuming we deliver the cargo and the SR is still moving, we can use it as a gunboat, supporting our assaulting units, and to rapidly reposition units across the battlefield.

This is putting a lot of eggs into one big, juicy basket so alternatively we could tone it down and just run 1 combat unit per 'Raven, But this brings us back to the original problem - we're paying for the ability to transport 2 units per SR and the assault ramp, so we better use it.

So how to run it? 

It has a LOT of weapons
This is pretty straightforward. Load it with combat rocks - assault terminators with a sanguinary priest, uncle Mephiston, death company, furioso dreads - and wisely select your targets. These units should be selected and equiped to deal with different types of threads: hordes, heavy infantry, MCs, etcetera. I would run one dread with blood fists for str10 ID joy (and vehicle smashing) and another with blood talons (aka meat grinder). Since the DC dread has furious charge and 1 more attack, I'd go for blood talons here. During deployment, combine the dreads and infantry in the most appropiate way.

The rest of the army (typically assault marines in razorbacks) should be following behind largely unhindered and ready to go for objectives or help your rocks finish the job. And if they're not, the 'Ravens are. Fine by me! If going first, deploy the 'Ravens as far forward as possible. If the enemy seizes, well trust in the 5+ saves from the Libby. If going second, reserving is a good choice. Alternatively, you could deploy them out of range of the opponent's guns and either move 6" and shot everything or surge forward.

It's not the most balanced of armies, but it's an army I'm looking forward to play. Being a regular SW player, what interests me of playing BA is the ability to play in a very fast and aggressive way.

The list:

Librarian (Shield, Unleash rage or blood lance).

1 Sanguinary priest
5 Assault terminators (2xLCs, 3xTH/SS).
1 Furioso Dread (with blood fists).

5 Assault marines, meltagun, LasPlas razorback
5 Assault marines, meltagun, LasPlas razorback
5 Assault marines, meltagun, LasPlas razorback
5 Assault marines, meltagun, rhino
8 DC (1x PF, 1x PW)
DC Dread (with blood talons).

x2 Storm ravens, TL Las cannon, extra armor.

Fly me to the moon
But give me a couple of lighting claws!
This is the core of the list. There are some variations, like running all the assault marines either in razorbacks or in rhinos, replacing the libby and one of the assault units for Mephiston, etcetera.

The libby is the most cost-efficient HQ and can give a 5+cover to both 'Ravens if needed (the aura extends from the wings!). Pretty happy with this choice. There are no points for honour guard and with two mobile TL MMs, we should be fine there.

The reclusiarch is needed if we are to take a certain controversial unit, for the sheer joy of to hit and to wound rerolls. Yes that unit.The Reclusiarch could be swapped by Lemartes for the extra joy when hi loses his first wound.

The not so good part is that our elite slots are already occuplied and I'm forced to take DC to be able to access the DC dread. I'd rather leave them home with their rage but that means we need to take a regular dread, which is nowhere near as good as a furioso or DC dread. Or take 2 Furiosos in Elite and take no sanguinary priests; being the staple unit of the BA codex and giving FnP/FC joy, I just can't leave without them. The Sanguinary Priest will normally hang with the termies to give them durability against small arms fire and to give 2 of them Str5/I5 lightning claws attacks which should be devastating against most units.

What's left out

No shiny boys in the 'Ravens
Unfortunately this type of list doesn't match well with some of my preferred units of the codex, namely sanguinary guard or jump packs. Sanguinary guard are a good beater unit but their limitation in numbers and lack of an invulnerable save make them suboptimal as cargo. Plus, they don't need a SR to get where they want to be. As for assault marines in jump packs, well it's best to go the mech way to saturate with targets, and to access some much needed heavy weapons. I'd also like to take some scouts to camp at home but well, assault marines are more versatile and runnning only 20 of them is already pretty tight.

Final thoughts

This is a rock list, and as such limited in concept - it will have a hard time against certain armies, and some bad dice rolls can ruin its day. On the other hand, it will wreak havoc against some armies as not many things can survive a combined charge of 4 specialist combat units. I once played against a list with a ~900 points super rock containing Dante, a Libby, Lemartes and a lot of DCs with JPs and lots of special weapons. Had it been annihilation it would have autowon, but it was a variation of objectives and it was close to autolose.  I'll be playing it for fun's sake though, happy to leave the 9 rhinos / 15 long fangs home and go head to head with whatever nasties I'm facing. I'm also glad to bring a couple of Dreads, which are characterful and choppy enough. And it's going to look amazing in the tables!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wolf Scouts

Wolf Scouts are different in many ways to the Vanilla scouts: better WS/BS, different placement in FOS but especially their unique behind the enemy lines rule, that allows them to come from any board edge on a 3+. Unfortunately this also means there is a 33% probability that they will show up from a random border edge, which is sometimes works but more often than not leaves them stranded and far from the action.

One of the usual points for taking them is their low cost - 85 points give you 5 scouts with a meltagun, your most basic setup. Don't even get me started on things like camo cloaks, missile launchers or even bolters, because that is not why you want them. They are taking a precious elite slot (or 2 if you like redundancy) and with the toll Wolf Guard slot means it's either Scouts, or Lone Wolves, or maybe a Rifleman Dread. I wouldn't waste an elite slot on a small home objective holder when you can just have 5 GHs with a Razorback. The Wolf Scouts are in the Elite section, and for a good reason.

Common loadouts

5 Scouts with meltagun, 85 points
Cheap and cheerful, they have the minimum they need to do their job. If you're very short on points this is an acceptable loadout, although for a few more points we can dramatically increase their damage input as we'll see now.

5 scouts with meltagun, wolf guard with combimelta 108 points
So what does the extra wolf guard offer? well quite a lot: a second melta shot to reduce our chances of blowing up that manticore / predator / dreadnought, 3 more attacks on the charge, a 3+save and Ld 9 (which you will most likely need!). I'd say this is the standard loadout and the best points per value, as you have a better chance to a) blow up tanks and b) tie up infantry.

5 scouts with meltagun, wolf guard with combimelta and power fist 133 points
Starts to get more pricey for a suicide unit. The added fist helps if we are to charge a vehicle, or sometimes multicharge a vehicle and a backfield unit. Usually in this area you won't find CC specialists, bur rather a  bigger unit like 10 devastators or 30 guardsmen, so the fist comes really in handy to ensure yuo get away with a couple more casualties that could decide the combat - and if you win, your opponent will likely run off the table.

Some people purposedly load out their wolf guards in a flexible manner (combi-melta, combi-melta+fist, combi-flamer, wolf claw...) to ensure that whatever the army you are facing, you have the right tool for the job. A couple of meltas won't do much against a 30-men IG blob or Lootas, but a combi-flamer and potentially a mark of the wulfen could be devastating. Or a multicharge with melta bombs to a tank squadron. I don't take it this far but I always have the choice between a PF toting or CCW wolf guard with a combimelta.

How to use them

Easy as chips - you basically want the wolf scouts to appear behind some enemy's arse and blow up an expensive tank, or at least tie a backfield unit like devastators or IG platoon. Their 3 attacks on the charge and WS4 allow them to assault most units in there, although don't expect them to come up on top very often due to their low numbers. Making the squad bigger has its own issues, like the cost increase or may impede you to charge as you can't fit that many bases.

If you are lucky, they will show up on a 3+ on a board edge of your choice and wreak some havoc. If you are not, and this seems to happen to me more than 33% of the time, well they might still have a target or objective near by, or in the worst case there will be nothing for them to do, you will forget about them and not pack them when leaving (yes guilty as charged).

Endgame and flexibility

It's important to identify the key threads you want expect the scounts to tackle, but as the game unfolds there might be other uses, forcing you to stick to the plan or improvise. For example, you can use them to reinforce a flank or unit who might be in trouble, especially if it's near a board edge, can show up close to falling back units to ensure they can't regroup, or simply melta a tank too close to your lines and the board edge. If your opponent is not putting any tank near the board edges, then the threat has worked and they have a narrower space to move. This capacity to influence the opponent deployment should not be underestimated.

And a final note - my first impression was rather negative, with the scouts appearing nowhere near or when I needed them, even when fielding 2 packs of them. My expectations were just too high. Now I don't rely on them anymore, and think my strategy as if they were not there. If they appear when and where I need them - great, and if not it's not affecting my plans. Everything has worked better since I approach them this way, and I have to say their performance was great in the last couple of tournaments I attended.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What's behind the new GW paints

At this point we all know about the new lines of paints GW has released. Not only they have expanded the line with more colors and other additions  (i.e. textured paints, glazes, etc) but the whole look and feel of the line has also been refreshed. All of this while keeping the prices. Emperor bless GW for caring so much about their customers!

Well yeah... that's not exactly true. GW has not changed their paints line to improve the quality, to expand the line, or simply to give it a fresher look. Gosh it doesn't even know from the feedback of their customers (side note: GW is notoriously known for not giving a s*** about what their customers say, and GW's customers are notoriously known for complaining about everything). I digress...

The reason behind the new lines is simply saving costs. Sure yeah, thanks for the article. Well it really is. Large companies usually outsource secondary / complementary lines of their business, for reasons that we don't need to discuss now. It's  fairly simple - GW focuses on their core business which is selling miniatures, and the games in which these minis are based. They can of course also sell you paints, brushes, cases and even orange juices if need be. The simplest way to go about this is to go meet the larger suppliers of these products and send them an RFP (request for proposal). This is basically a document in which they disclose what their looking for (i.e. what type of quality, prices, volumes and guarantees) and they just screw with it the main suppliers, those big enough to support the large volumes GW is going to be asking of them, big enough to be reliable and to respond to unexpected issues, which I can tell you happen often.

So some guy with an expensive suit and a rock hard face sources different suppliers, and closes the deal with the cheapest one. Not the best quality-for-price. Not the one with the most innovative or better product. The cheapest price gets the contract. That's how it goes. Think about it - how many GW customers have actually tried paints other than those that GW sells? and why should them, if GW paints are accessible and easily related to what they want to paint? if someone is actually looking for something different, well they will go to any other brand that focuses on what you're looking for, be it Vallejo for quality, Army Painter to get a couple of platoons ready in Sunday morning... you get the point.

This is the sad, ugly face of business. The new paints are here just because they are cheaper, and once the contract is over (typically 2~4 years) they will look for even a cheaper price. Don't get me wrong, the fact that the whole point is about lowering costs doesn't mean that we users don't get anything out of it. Getting lower costs (and thus improving the margins as the retail prices are kept) means GW could go to market with lower margins in other lines as the paints compensate for it. For example, say the production costs of brushes (of course also outsourced) suddently go up. The higher margin of the paints could help GW to keep the price on the brushes.

Another benefit is that changing the supplier actually helps to redefine the lines, and you fix more easily recurrent problems with the old lines, like the sealing of the pots or certain type of colors that the old supplier could not be getting right. And internally puts the focus in the paint lines and helsp create the appetite to solve other gaps, like that book/video from the 'Eavy Metal team, or the detailed painting guides.

Bottom line is that, even all this is just about money, the users can still get a few good things out of it. Even if GW never considered them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Learning from loses - Deployment

This is going to be a long series of articles about things I've done wrong in the games, hopefully to help me and others to learn from mistakes.

I remember well the last 20 or so games that I've played, with a level of detail that is surprising. And I especially remember well my loses, because I can't avoid thinking about those games and what went wrong.
It's part of my philosophy of life to get better at things, continuously. It's not that I need to win, or win more, it's that I have to get better at it.

This is the deployment from a game I played in the last Barcelona GT. My opponent was an experienced Eldar player with a mech list including Eldrad/Yriel, some walkers with multilasers and serpents/falcon. Mission was Annihilation, table quarters. He was going first and set ups everything close, ready to go. He has Eldrad so he could move things anyway.

My list was fairly standard with Grey Hunters in Rhinos, a Rune Priest, 4 LasPlas and missile Long Fangs. I know I'm going to be alpha striked in turn 1. Problem is, my long fangs are static, so I need to risk them and deploy them in cover, which in turn forces me to deploy the rest of the army, or go to reserves with the complete army. I elect deploying as the Eldar player can easily reposition his units due to his mobility and slowly take down whatever comes from reserve.

Turn 1, the walkers whittle the long fangs, some rhinos are stunned / destroyed. Game over. Of course the game carries on, I kill a couple of serpents and Yriel but never had any chance to win.

What could I have done differently? well to begin with, deploying the fangs meant getting them killed and my firepower diminished for the rest of the game. That's the more reasonable output unless dices do some crazy shit, which they sometimes do. If I deployed, I should have put them out of sight of the walkers, either behind the ruins (even though their visibility would have been very limited) or Rhinos. I should have played a game of hide and shoot, and not expose my army.

Alternatively, I could have gone to reserves and use my 4 LasPlas to shoot down things as they arrived. They have the range and strenght for it, and can easily get cover. Let the scouts come in, shoot/charge the walkers or a falcon too close to the border. Living lightning things from the other side of the board (unlimited range!).

Funny thing is, I'm sure I'll read this some time in the future and will think that my conclusions are completely wrong! which is great, because it means I'm learning.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Showcase: Thunderwolf Cavalry

Thunderwolves not only are a different and unique unit for the Space Wolves, they are also very characterful and look awesome in the tabletop. If I can say so they can also  affectyour opponent because - how do you deal with them?

"I'll charge them with my death star / 30 orks mob!"  well you have five T5 2W badasses with 2/3 storm shields, 5 S10 attacks, 6 S6 power weapon attacks and ~20 S5 rending attacks. Add in a Warrior Born Lord to taste. And with wound allocation. Who in their right mind is going to charge onto that?

If you want to shoot them - well good luck! the only weapons that really worry me are either S10 (not that common) or mass shots. I don't really care about plasma cannons and the like but medium strength, high shoot rate thinkgs like the Eldar multilasers can be troublesome.

Anyway good or bad I really like their look and it feels good to leave the Razorspam / missile spam home and bring something different.


I strongly recommend magnetizing the TWs for added flexibility and safety during transportation. So I added magnets to both arms and the torso, (so it fits easily in the foam trays. Running one unit of 4, with 2 SS? no problem, I have the arms. Perhaps 2x2 with hammers and SS? there you go. It's not that much of a hassle, and you will get the best out of the kit.

If you plan to use them in games (and why you wouldn't!) then try to pin them to the base. One model only has 1 leg in contact with the base, and another has 2 - unless pinned you will be rolling for dangerous terrain every time you carry them around :).


All I can say is look at the WD 203 (Spain). I just followed their painting guides, with some personal touches here and there. You can vary the colors and the tones and is going to look good as long as you keep the spirit of it. If you don't bought it (usually a good practice given their content) then just apply a base color, apply washes (browns and blacks), drybrush and highlight. Try to separate the different areas, like the legs/head, the bottom and top of the body, etcetera.

The bases are made with GW's basing kit, but you can really make them with pretty much any type of slate. They key is to have different sizes to break the monotony. To give it a volcanic look, I prime black and then daybrush adeptus battlegrey or charadon granite, then codex grey, then fortress grey and a final, subtle touch of white. Add some skulls, chaos helmets and of course a couple of thousand sons and you'll be all set!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thunderwolves list!

This is one of the core lists I’m currently running. I first took it to the last AEPDA tournament, finishing 5th out of 40 which is fantastic for a painter! And surprising given it was my very first time running this type of list.

Anywho I dearly wanted to run Thunderwolves, even though I was pouring way too many points onto them and thus making the rest of my army either less strong. Overall I feel comfortable playing this army, as it is more aggressive than your normal SW list. To me, the wolves play just like the fluff describes them – patient killers that hunt their preys in packs. My game style is more straightforward and I enjoy sending the TWs ahead to the neck of my opponent! They can’t go toe to toe with everything in the game, but can certainly put a dent or 2 in even the worst monstrosities out there and will wipe out any troops they find in their way. 

So the list is:

  • Rune Priest, LL & JoTWW, Chooser.
  • Rune Priest, LL & Murderous Hurricaine
  • Wolf Lord on TW, runic armour, wolf claw, SS, saga of majesty (morale checks rerolls)
  • 5 scouts, meltagun
  • 5 Wolf Guard (3x combimelta/PF, 1combimelta, 1 CML/Combimelta TDA).
  • 8 GHs with meltagun, standard in a drop pod.
  • 3x 7 GHs with meltaguns, standard in Rhinos.
  • 5GHs with flamer
  • 4 Thunderwolves (TH/SS, SS, meltabombs, normal).
  • 6LFs, 5ML
  • 5LF, 4ML

How this works

The WG are attached to the GH squads. Depending on what’s in the opponent side I might include a PF or just the combimelta guard. The CML can drop pod or just sit in terrain with the Long Fangs and shoot things. The Rune priests are also embedded with the Rhino GH and move midfield shooting LL out of the top hatch. If anything gets to close, it will be melta gunned to death or jaws’ed to… the Fenrisian abyss? I would hardly pod the rune priest to jaws anything, unless someone aligns 3 trygons for me (please?).

The TWs+Lord rush to the opponent’s deployment zone, or can take a different flank. Keep in mind each TWs gear and make sure the hammer, meltabomb and wolf lord are in the right side to take on whatever is needed. You can also detach the wolf lord to take on a different unit by himself, just make sure he detaches once you're in the enemy lines and charges something, or will be torrented to death.

What about the 2 rune priests? well they provide long range dakka through Living Lightning, psychic protection in midfield (there goes your fortitude grey knighs!) and can use jaws / murderous hurricane in specific situations to a good end. Jaws is fantastic for taking on Ork nob bikers or MCs alike, and hurricane loves foot eldar councils and other nasties coming your way.

In a nutshell, this list plays like your normal SW army – GH in Rhinos to midfield, Scouts and drop pod disrupting, Long Fangs pouring missiles – with the addition of TWs that spearhead the assault, or go for an enemy flank and contest it.

Possible changes

The list performs quite soundly, clearly above my expectations of a "funny list that autoloses". There are a few clear improvements that I could do:

The drop pod is tasked with providing a disruption so the rest of the units moves forward, and puts pressure on some armies like IG gunlines. They are however too isolated from the rest of the army and likely dead by turn 2/3. A Rhino would be a safer bet.

The wolf lord is a lot of points for what he does, but provides I5 attacks with rerolls and Ld10 with a reroll. Perhaps adding a Saga of the Warrior Born would spice things a little bit.

A new saga begins

Welcome to my blog! I intend this blog to be my contribution to the great -both in size and quality- 40k community and a log of my projects, games and musings about that far, grim dark universe we all know and love.

Some background on me... I've been interested by the hobby side of the game for about 15 years, and only recently I've discovered my lust for the game, the strategy, the social side of it and getting better as a player. My very first miniatures were a metal Cadian squad that I still keep and I have to say, don't look that bad! currently I own some 3k points of Space Wolves and I'm collecting some Blood Angels to go the jumper way. So a painter trying to become a player! I've been doing some progress of lately, although I'm still clearly better with the brush than the dices. Just give me some time!
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