Monday 27 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary progress week 4

Well, we've come to the end of the month! I'm incredibly proud to say that I've completed my Squaduary pledge of five Skitarii Vanguard. I would have liked to have painted more of the squad but that was always going to be an ambitious target and between playing a few games of 40k and painting other projects it slipped through the cracks.

The finished squad in all their finery.
Painting these guys has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, the models are great and I'm pleased with the overall finish. Hopefully this will spur me on to painting more of my Adeptus Mechanicus minis.

Sorry about the blur.
Speaking of being spurred on, Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast is running an event called Monster March. You guessed it, the idea is to paint a monster in March! The event is really aimed at fantasy creatures but Swordmaster has been incredibly generous and allowed me to pledge my Kastelan robot maniple (they are monstrous creatures after all). So expect further updates here as I attempt to paint both of the robots along with their attendant Cybernetica Datasmith. Will I fall at the first hurdle or will it be another resounding success? Only time, and my battered paintbrush, will tell!

To round off Squaduary, I'd like to say a huge thank you to Rory over at Stepping Between Games, for running and organising the event. I must say that seeing the photos of everybody else's work was enormously motivating and really pushed me to finish the entire squad.

If you've missed out and want to read the rest of the Squaduary journey you can do so here, here and here.

Monday 20 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary progress week 3

Yet another week of good progress, the end is rapidly approaching but I feel like the goal of painting a five man squad is easily within my grasp.

Pink is the colour of warriors!
As you can see from the pictures, I have completed four out of five models and am working on the fifth. So far I'm very happy with the way that the challenge has pushed me to paint the squad (even if a plasma caliver and an arc rifle aren't the ideal armaments!)

The arc rifle in question.

Also, this guy.
As before, I'm in awe of the Skitarii Vanguard kit, the whole thing has been a delight to build and paint. Hats off to Games Workshop for this one.

If you missed the first and second Squaduary installments you can find them here and here. Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion, will I finish the squad? Will I manage to paint any extras?? Only time will tell.

Friday 17 February 2017

Warhammer 40k - Building an Army - Formations and Detachments

This article is partially a response to Nick's discussion over at The Burning Eye and partially a continuation of the thoughts I expressed in my Better Know a Blogger article over at St Andrews Wargaming. As Nick correctly says, the use of formations in army construction is a very polarizing issue within the 40k community. They are kind of like the marmite of 40k with players either using them regularly or shunning them entirely; very few of us are sitting on the fence.

In particular I'd like to take a look at the Necron Decurion Detachment. The reason I'm choosing to look at this in detail is threefold. Firstly, it is a detachment that a lot of people are familiar with so the majority should be able to follow along with my reasoning. Secondly, it is one of the more complex methods of building an army, being a detachment that is made up of formations. Finally, it includes pretty much all of the problems that I have with formations.

Behold! The tome of many sins!
First off, let me say that I'm not opposed to the concept of formations, just the way Games Workshop has chosen to execute them. In my mind, a formation should be used to restrict a player into building a list with a certain background in mind. Offering a player certain rewards for cutting down their list choices and fielding an army with a particular character. This is something that a few (a very few) of the available formations and detachments have managed to do. The realspace raiders detachment from Codex: Dark Eldar for example forces you to take a fast attack choice is addition to the usual CAD and gives you some minor benefits for doing so. It's as though the author is saying "Ok, you're playing in character with the army, here's a little bonus." I have no problem with this kind of thing, it's forcing a player to field a more fluffy army and it doesn't provide any game breaking special rules that an unwary opponent will find frustrating. Furthermore, the restrictions and bonuses suit the character of the army. From a fluff perspective you're fielding a lightning fast raiding force attacking under cover of darkness. The rules reflect this, you're using additional fast attack and you get some minor cover bonuses in the early game.

Moving on to Codex: Necrons and the Decurion detachment. The first problem I have found is that players (particularly those new to the game) find the construction of a Decurion list confusing. More than once I have set up opposite a Necron player who has proudly announced "I'm fielding a Decurion!" and when the models are placed on the table it turns out to be a Reclamation Legion with a couple of random units bolted on the side. Or even worse, they have neglected the Reclamation Legion entirely and tried to make a Decurion out of different formations. I think the confusion here arises from the double stacking restrictions used in the Decurion ie. you must take certain units to make a formation and you must take certain different formations to form the detachment. This isn't my main problem with the Decurion, just something I've observed from across the table.

The main problem I have with the Decurion and the Necron formations in general is the special rules they offer for seemingly no reason. For example, the Reclamation Legion is potentially a very large formation (it has many non-compulsory choices) with comparatively few restrictions (you must take a few units of necrons, an HQ and some jetbikes). As a reward for adhering to this loose structure the entire formation gains relentless, move through cover and a bonus to reanimation protocols. The question I have to ask is why? Why are these rules given to this formation? Essentially the army is a standard CAD plus some jetbikes, why do they now have move through cover? Have their feet been replaced with hoverboards? (note: if somebody converted this I would be totally ok with them using this formation.) Are the jetbikes somehow magnetically towing the warriors through cover? They also have relentless, again, why? What makes them able to fire heavy weapons on the move? Or able to rapid fire and then charge? Personally I can see no narrative reason for these special rules to be granted. The army isn't particularly characterful, it's little more than a regular CAD (why the jetbikes are included I will never understand) so there is no fluffy reason for additional special rules to be granted.

This problem occurs time and time again in the various formations that make up a Decurion. The Canoptek Harvest has similar issues, plus some rather nasty additional bonuses. The Royal Court falls into the same boat as the above. But that aside, let's look at the Decurion as a whole. In order to field a Decurion you must include one Reclamation Legion (see rant above) and one other formation or unit from a choice of nine. For doing this, the army is granted yet more reanimation bonuses (above those already offered by the Reclamation Legion). The question once again is why? I can see the justification for the reanimation bonus within the Legion itself, you are fielding a powerful warlord whose abilities allow his warriors to rise from the grave time and again. Personally I think that's pretty cool, it fits from a fluff perspective (if you ignore the jetbikes, relentless and MTC). But why, oh why, should adding a single unit of flayed ones or deathmarks to the army suddenly increase their reanimation ability? What is that extra unit doing to justify the extra reanimation? Do the flayed ones have spanners and greasy overalls to rebuild their fallen comrades? Are the deathmarks somehow cobbling together additional warriors from battlefield salvage? I don't know, and it's questions like this that spoil my immersion in the game and ultimately become annoying.

I feel like I've rambled enough (kudos if you're still reading.) I know I've picked very specific examples above and there are several detachments and formations that don't have these failings. But there are a great many that seem to grant powerful special rules with only the flimsiest of pretexts.


Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I'm bound to have raised a few hackles with this (particularly amongst you Necron players) but it's an interesting topic for the community and one that provokes strong feelings on both sides.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

St Andrews Wargaming - Better Know a Blogger

This week I was lucky enough to be featured in the 'Better Know a Blogger' series run by Michael over at St Andrews Wargaming.

Insert random image!

For those that don't know, this is a fun series of articles that introduces wargaming bloggers from around the world and asks them a series of 'challenging' personal questions.

So, go read the article (and the others in the series) and learn more about yours truly.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary progress week 2

So week 2 is over and yet more stellar progress has been made; I am proud to present, my first two completed Skitarii Vanguard! (Pause for rapturous applause)

Skitarii Alpha ready to lead the soldiers of the Omnissiah!
I'm delighted with the way these guys are turning out. In fact I like them a great deal more than the Skitarii Rangers which the kit also builds. When I first saw the models I thought the Rangers looked nicer but upon building and painting them, I think the Vanguard are a firm favourite. I know it's only a head and weapon swap but sometimes it's these little details that make all the difference.

The Legio Skitarii Needs You!
I know I'm not following the plan set out by Squaduary, but generally I prefer to paint a batch of models to a certain level (basecoats and maybe a basic wash) and then finish them all up individually. Doing this helps keep my motivation going as I get to admire a finished miniature every so often along the way. I have tried complete batch painting in the past and found it soul destroying (looking at you Hormagaunts!)

Plasma caliver!

Ok, I know a plasma caliver isn't the best armament for a Skitarii. Hugely expensive, enormously likely to kill the wielder, not particularly versatile etc etc. But I just love the idea of letting rip with three of these things, especially if the target is a monstrous creature or a group of terminators. Just imagine the look on your opponent's face as nine plasma shots batter away their 2+ saves!

Anything but a 1.....*rolls 3 ones*
Anyway, you can probably tell I'm delighted with how Squaduary is going so far. Many thanks to Rory for running it and motivating me to paint these guys; otherwise they'd probably still be languishing in their undercoat.

Stay tuned for the next update in a weeks time. If you want to read the start of my Squaduary exploits, you can find it here.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Skitarii Vanguard - Squaduary week 1 progress

Well, week 1 of the Squaduary (Squadary?) challenge is over and how have I done? I've done awesome!! Ok, they're only a five man squad and the photography is horrible but in just over a week I've got them built, undercoated, based and made a good start on the painting to boot!

Yeah, the photography could be better....
For those that haven't heard of Squaduary, it's a painting challenge (motivational tool?) run by Rory over at Stepping Between Games. The basic premise is to build and paint an infantry squad in February. It's supposed to be broken down into distinct weekly stages (building, undercoating, basing etc) but given the way things tend to get away from me I thought it best to make progress while I had the chance! After all, if I complete them well ahead of the deadline I can always add more to the squad.

Different stages of painting, the green glaze adds a bit of depth to the cloaks
Once again I'm struck with the quality of these Skitarii models, the detail is incredible and the parts fit together quickly and easily. My eventual plan is to have separate squads each armed with different special weapons but for some reason I've included an arc rifle and a plasma caliver within this batch. Horribly inefficient but oh well, I guess I'll make it work!

Tune in next week to see how much more progress I've made. Will it continue? Or will I slow to my usual glacial pace? I for one can't wait to find out!