Friday, July 31, 2009

Tyranid Wishlisting: Troops Edition

Troops are one of the areas that I feel need a lot of improvement in a new codex. Here are my thoughts, piece by piece. Overall, the biggest problem Tyranids have with troops is they need a way to claim objectives without a Synapse babysitter. Genestealers are the only troop that can do this, but they are needed as assault specialists, not campers.

Overall, I think 'nids are still a strong codex and fun to play. These wishlists are simply what I'd like to see fixed or improved in a new codex.

Genestealers: Our most deadly troop unit. However, with the nerf to rending I feel they are somewhat overpriced, especially once you give them extended carapace and flesh hooks. I'd like to see them drop in points a little bit. Other than that the only thing they really need is for Flesh Hooks to not be a "head" upgrade. Currently, they can't take any of the other upgrades ever because Flesh Hooks are so necessary. Imagine if a Marine Assault squad had to choose between giving them all grenades or giving the Sgt. a powerfist. I'd like to see the hooks as a chest upgrade so we can see more variety in 'stealers.

Furthermore, I predict that Stealers will be moved to Elites, and that taking a Broodlord will unlock them as a Troops choice.

Gaunts: Fluffwise, our most numerous critters. However, compared to Ork Boyz they are extremely overpriced. Either their price needs to drop (or Orks need to have a points increase), or they should be given "Without Number" for free. Also, I would really like to see biomorphs like the Strangleweb and the Spike Rifle come back. It would be fun to see those old Brood mutations return. The Strangleweb could be basically a flamer but perhaps use Initiative instead of Toughness to determine wounds, and the Spike rifle could be a low AP weapon since Tyranids have nothing better than AP 4 (I'll go into the weapons and biomorphs in another post).

Hormagaunts: These guys need to be cheaper. As is, they're not terribly effective as assault troops, and they're too expensive to be meat shields. Also, they need to lose the "beast" designation since it means they can't attack upstairs (nor can they deepstrike in Planetstrike).

Rippers: So useless in 5th. They're so useless that you get them free with other models. They can't take objectives, and get destroyed so easily. To make them useful I'd like to see them get an ability to "consume" an objective. This would be done in the assault phase and they would either destroy the objective so no one can get it (perhaps not) or they would form a protective shell around it, increasing their toughness/wounds/armor and holding the objective until killed. This could make them useful again, and remove the need for a Synapse babysitter to claim objectives.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Planetstrike Thoughts

Finally picked up my Planetstrike goodies. I got the book, the Imperial Strongpoint, and the Blastscape. I'll discuss each one of these.

The book/rules: This has been reviewed to death on every 40k blog in the world so I'll cover some things I haven't seen talked about too much. Basically, I'm excited to play a game. Once I get my terrain put together I'll put a couple of games in and see how that goes. Without playing a game, I think the defender has the harder job. It seems a bit too easy to crack a bunker these days with melta being everywhere. Of course not every army has that ability, so some will find attacker far more difficult. Don't forget that flame template weapons can hit the guys inside!

There was much ballyhoo over the strategic asset that gives 2D6 Firestorms being an "auto-win" button but I disagree. First off, only about 1/3 are going to land on target. Of those, only 1/6 are going to penetrate a Bastion's armor. Of those, only 1/3 stand a chance of destroying it. Off the top of my head that's about 18 Firestorms. Of course, a Firestorm is deadly against troops out in the open, and against that kind of deployment you will have an auto-win button. Of course if you deploy out in the open, you deserve exactly what you get.

I also really liked the fluff sections. They expand on the fluff in the Tyranid codex about the Orks vs. Tyranids, and how that war is going. That part always intrigued me and I am glad to see it going somewhere. There was also mention of the Hrud for all those who want to see them made a race, and mention of a race I'd never heard of before.

Finally, the one area I think they dropped the ball was in the race-specific stratagems. The ones they have are nice, but I think they could have come up with quite a few more. I even made some up myself they could have included (Eldar Holo-fields for an Eldar bastion). It seems they want people to do that, as I quote pg. 26, "...we want to encourage our players to be creative, not trammel them with restrictive rules."

The Strongpoint: This is a really big box. It's a pretty good deal and fairly easy to put together. There's plenty of customization options, though I wish they had more. Here's an awesome thing- they include support struts in case you want to stack multiple bastions together. I've put together the whole defense line and one Bastion so far. Just be careful of gaps in the joints, I'm going to have to go over it with Greenstuff.

The Blastscape: I was both impressed and disappointed. I was disappointed with the quality. They look like when someone blows up a picture too big with poor resolution; all pixelated and blurry. It looks like someone made a terrific small sculpt and had it blown up farther than it should have. However, most of that detail is going to be obscured by flock and basing, so I will refrain from final judgment until I have painted them.

On the positive side, the pieces are huge. I was expecting small 5" pieces but was very impressed by the size. The laserburn I thought was particularly nice. The meteor one is pretty inaccurate, as meteors that size would leave a far larger impact crater- but since when has 40k forsaken coolness for accuracy?

So was the blastscape worth it? Possibly. Let me get mine painted and ready before I say.

Ok, I won't say anymore about Planetstrike until I have played a few games. Now it's time to get my new terrain painted up.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Completed Deathwing- Lots of Photos

Here are the shots of the completed Deathwing. Click on the images for a larger picture. Here are the links to the tutorial in case you missed it.

Painting Deathwing Part 1
Painting Deathwing Part 2
Painting Deathwing Part 3

Here's the whole army I painted. It adds up to 27 models plus two Landraiders not pictured.

A Thunderhammer/Stormshield Terminator. I used Asurmen Blue wash on the Thunderhammers to make them stand out.

For this guy, I used an experimental technique on his sword. I got the paint really wet on the sword, then swirled in a lighter color. I am still working on the technique, so I'll post some better pictures when I master it.

Here is the Librarian. It is the old model, but still full of detail. I had a lot of fun with this one.

The tricky part was making him look like part of the army even though he has blue armor. I resolved to make his shoulder and gun bone white.

To do the axe detailing I used a slow-dry medium and simply got lighter as I got to the end of the design.

Finally, the Company Master Belial. I know it's not the actual Belial but it still works. I still have to make a banner for him, but I'll do that later.

For the sword, the fluff says that the Sword of Silence was crafted out of part of the same black obsidian as the Lion's, so I went with black and a green highlight. I also tried to make the armor and gun more ornate to make him stand out. When I get around to doing the banner that will help him stand out as well.

You can get a good view of the sword here. It actually wasn't near as tricky as I thought it would be. Just some slow-dry medium and a gradual blending. I tried to keep it subtle as everything else is ornate. I like the effect as its simplicity makes it stand out against the rest of the model.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Staying Motivated

This post is in response to Ron's collaborative post idea. Seeing as I teach high school, half of my job is keeping lazy kids motivated. So here's my thoughts on the subject.

With my students they can be motivated by many factors, the most pressing being grades. However, the best work that I receive is from students who are motivated to create a good project. I have students who will sometimes not move on to the next project because they are determined to make the best work they can on the previous project. Of course I generally let them; I think they learn more from completing a fine piece of work turned in late rather than turning in a half-finished project on time.

Anyway, with Warhammer your best work comes from being motivated. Whether your motivation is a sense of pride, money from a commission, or to outdo a rival, any of these goals will keep you working. If none of those apply to you, take motivation in having a completed army! That's generally motivation enough for most of my projects.

Every project of mine has a different motivation. For the Malanthrope, I'm working out of a sense of pride more than anything else. For the Deathwing, that was for money. With my Titan I was trying to outdo the other scratch builds I saw. For most everything else I have worked on, my motivation was having a finished product looking nice on the battlefield.

So here is my final advice: If you severely lack motivation, you need to experience (or re-experience) the fantastic feeling of seeing your own painted and based units on the field. Chain yourself to your painting table or whatever it takes to get a small unit or model painted. The next time you play, include that model/unit. You'll find yourself a little more motivated after seeing how nice things look finished and on the gaming table instead of the painting table.

Here are some general tips: Remove distractions. I tend to paint a color and then drift over to the TV and play some video games- next thing I know I've lost my free time and am behind. Although research suggests that background music is distracting for normal tasks, I feel that it actually enhances artistic projects. When I try to work in silence I am very easily distracted. Music helps me stay focused.

Don't look at your whole collection and think about what isn't painted. I suffer from "buy faster than you can paint" syndrome. As a youth, I had very little disposable income but lots of free time so when I bought something, I got it painted. Now I have more disposable income but much less free time, so my pile of unpainted models is growing faster than I can paint. Not to mention, I need to strip the paint off my old projects and get them up to my current standard. So instead of looking at the whole, look at the part. Pick a squad/model and focus on that to the exclusion of everything else. Take a little bit at a time and soon enough everything will be painted. This is working for me as I'm finally starting to catch up on my backlog.

Finally, I set "color" goals to get as much done as I can. When painting a squad, I do one color at a time. To set a color goal, I say to myself I can't get up from the chair until I have finished with the black. Once every model has everything needed picked out in black, I get up and get a glass of water and maybe a small bite, then set the next color goal, and so on.

So find yourself a goal or a reason to paint, and just do it. If you can't find a reason, make one yourself.

Monday, July 20, 2009

For Those of You Who Play the Old Metal Imperial Guard Armies...

I just got back from vacation with the family, and while I was there I decided to hit up the old store where I first bought Warhammer stuff. For a lengthy list of reasons they haven't been successful in the Warhams business so they have a lot of really, really old models at the really, really old prices (including some second edition codexes) that they've never been able to get rid of. Last time I was there I didn't have time to comb through everything, I only managed to find Jain Zair for about $11, cheaper than the online discount Warhammer places. This time I actually was able to go through everything and I found a Biovore for $15. That's half off! This isn't some shoddy painted/assembled/primed Ebay schlock but new in the box. Granted, it's not the most useful unit but the price was right and who knows, maybe they will be useful again.

Anyway, for you metal Imperial Guard players, they have tons of old Imperial Guard stuff. I saw loads of Valhallans and Tallarn, a lot of metal Catachans and Vostroyans and a little bit of Mordians. I even saw a blister of Praetorians. I almost considered buying the Praetorians and selling them on Feebay but I really didn't feel like going through the hassle again as I've been doing that a lot lately, as well as the profit really isn't worth it. I figured I'd spread the word to the general community and hope that someone can get out there and find some stuff they need without having to buy someone's used models with a half-inch thick layer of paint.

Players of other armies may be able to find some classic OOP models. For example, they have the metal War Walkers for $20. I'm not in love with the metal model enough to buy it, but I may consider it as I could make a matching squad.

The store is called "Games People Play" and they are located in the University Mall in Orem, Utah. If anyone who plays those armies is in the area, be sure to stop by there. They keep the Warhammer stuff in the back half of the store, if it's blocked off (for bizarre reasons, I could really rant about this store) just ask the cashier and they might let you back there. Also if you play WFB, they have a lot of really old stuff too but I don't know too much about WFB so I didn't look through it. But they do have at least three times as much WFB stuff as they do 40k. Let me know if anyone ends up going and finding something useful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Malanthrope WIP

Ever since I finished the Deathwing, this is what has been occupying my time. It is still in progress.

I'll post some specifics on how I got certain effects when I finish. If you have any questions post them in the comments. I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming so far, I still have to work a lot on the carapace (it's not even close to done) and some fine tuning the body area.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two Painting Tips

I'd like to share two painting tips that I recently had to learn the hard way. The first I learned years ago in my oil painting class, but I seem to have forgotten. I was working on my Malanthrope the other night and thought it looked pretty good. The next morning it looked completely different! The reason why was at night I paint by warm yellow indoor lighting, and in the morning I get cool reflected skylight through the patio door. I learned this in college but forgot my lesson. So be aware of your lighting as it differs during the day.

Secondly, I was wondering why my paint was coming off in certain raised areas on the Malanthrope. I realized it was because I was handling it excessively. This has never been a problem before because most models have a base that you can handle. Not so with my dear 'thrope. Mine is magnetized to the flying base for ease of transportation. So now I have to paint extra cautiously and slowly as it sits on the flying base to avoid hand contact. Pay attention to how you handle your models, as the oils on your skin can be detrimental to the paint. Sealant can stop this problem, but unfinished models will suffer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tyranid Wishlisting: Elites Edition

The Elites section of the Tyranid codex is where I feel we need a lot of improvement. First off there's not a lot of selection. You can fill an entire FOC with every single unit in the codex. What I love about the Eldar codex is the sheer choice of units- you can never take everything in the codex in one game. Of course Tyranids have a lot of selection with our "build a bug" biomorphs, but I'd like to have more bugs to start with.

Lictors: Oh how I love Lictors but are they expensive. Knowing I have a Lictor makes my opponent be a little more careful about parking his vehicles in or near area terrain. The problem is they are glass cannons. Even a 5-man Marine squad can take one out easily (especially if the Sgt. has a powerfist). They'll suffer a few casualties to be sure, but your 80 point Lictor is now gone. Of course Lictors need to be supported, but with rolling for reserves they may not pop up when you need them. What I'd like to see with Lictors are three things: firstly decrease their points, secondly don't make them roll a dangerous terrain check when they pop up, thirdly allow the Tyranid player to choose when they come in. This could be done in a few ways, the first being to simply put them in when you want them. Another could be to write down before the game what turn they are going to appear. Or even use a Spacehulk-type "blips" system to show where the Lictor might be.

Tyranid Warriors: I am actually quite satisfied with these guys as is. In 5th Edition they are one of our strongest choices when kept cheap and armed with Deathspitters. I only give them extended carapace and toxin sacs as far as upgrades go. I don't give them Enhanced Senses because you are simply rolling to scatter. A six man unit can put out a lot of hurt on anything. Even if a lot of shots scatter off, you still inflict a lot of S6 wounds. The one area of improvement for these guys is I'd like to see them get more psychic powers than just Synapse. I can see them using Catalyst to great effect, or even a completely new power.

On a side note, if you arm your warriors all differently, you can pull an ersatz Nobz Bikerz trick. Of course you would have a very ineffective unit, but it is a funny idea.

Elite Carnifexes: I'll go over the 'fex in the Heavy Support edition.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tyranid Wishlisting: HQ Edition

Rumor has it that the Tyranid codex is being "worked on" right now, whatever that means. Here are some of the things that I would like to see in the new one. I'll start with the HQ section.

Hive Tyrant: I pretty much like him as is. His biomorphs are what need improving. The most obvious one is the Bonesword. As is, it's fairly useless and Scything Talons are a better option if you are going for CC. I would like to see the Bonesword go back to its original fluff from Second edition and negate invulnerable saves. That would make the Hive Tyrant even more fearsome.

The other Hive Tyrant option that desperately needs improving is Warp Field. A huge chunk of points for a 6+ inv? Pretty ridiculous. It needs to be at least a 5+ for its point cost. I'll cover this more when I talk about Biomorphs and Psychic powers.

Lastly, I'd like the option for a Hive Tyrant to take a Bio-Cannon. Tyranids need some kind of effective anti-tank weaponry since the VC got nerfed. Make it a S10 AP3 Assault X weapon. To keep it limited, only allow Hive Tyrants to take it.

Broodlord: I love my broodlords but they need two things. They need to be able to fleet, and they need better armor. Perhaps they can have the 6+ inv. I wouldn't mind seeing them lose their infiltrate and keeping Scout, but gaining Fleet. Or maybe they need to deploy like a Lictor does (with some clarification on if they need to roll for Dangerous Terrain). Infiltrate just doesn't cut it for me when they are too slow.

Tyranid Warriors: I'll cover these guys in the Elites section.

Finally I'd like to see another HQ option opened up. What it could be is debateable. If GW keeps up with their current trend of HQ determining army special rules, I can possibly see Genestealers made into Elites choices and taking a Broodlord making them Troops. I don't know if I like that idea, but I can see it happening. Some people have suggested the Malanthrope for HQ, and that is a viable possibility, but he is really just a souped up Hive Tyrant with his current stats.

Speaking of the Malanthrope, I love the model but did they ever get his stats wrong. They made him into a CC machine (and a fast one) but I see it from the description as more of a slow, drifting psychic abomination. Perhaps something like that could be a new HQ- a more powerful Zoanthrope.

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