April 23, 2009

Back in Black


Im back at last, well at least kind of. My PhD still don’t leaves me time to play/paint. So im really looking forward to my soon to come vacation where I can beat some heads in and see how much the guys have learned while I was gone. ;)

After taking a long sabbatical from blogging i though i drop back by and talk about a topic that has always been of special interest for me, volume of fire.
Since I first started to use Havoc´s with 4 heavy bolters in city fights, I was quite amazed how efficient those guys could be against all kinds of infantry.
I initially used them because I was low on high AP fire power, except for melters. Therefore I used my heavy support choices to suppress the enemy infantry, while my Chaos Marine and Choosen squads moved in with the melters and power fits to kill of the enemy heavy armor.

So I used, unaware of the coming changes, already an army composition a lot of people seem to use nowadays. If you look around you see melters everywhere and the days of double plasma teams seem to be almost over. This of course hasn’t come with out a reason, I think the two most prominent are the ever present cover saves and the raise of the Landraiders in 5th Edition.
So one could say, with the introduction of 5th Edition a lot of people have come aware of the power of volume of fire. Just to give you some numbers, all point costs set aside, imagine I would use my Havoc´s with either 4 heavy bolter of 4 lascannons.

Havoc´s against Space Marines in cover

with heavy bolters
Shots 12
Hits 8
Wounds 5,333333333
Kills 1,777777778

with lascannons
Shots 4
Hits 2,666666667
Wounds 2,222222222
Kills 1,111111111

and against Imperisl Soldiers in cover

with heavy bolters
Shots 12
Hits 8
Wounds 6,666666667
Kills 3,333333333

with lascannons
Shots 4
Hits 2,666666667
Wounds 2,222222222
Kills 1,111111111

I believe it becomes quite obvious that heavy bolters, and high volume of fire weapons per se, are the weapon of choice when confronted with infantry in cover.
The heavy bolters are more then 60% more efficient in killing MEQ´s and 300% as efficient in killing GEQ´s.
This of course assumes that the MEQ´s and GEQ´s are in cover. But come on, who is not in cover these days?

I think that covers my initial thoughts on volume of fire. Ill be back with more, when I get the time to theorycraft for my glorious return!
“For the laughing stock of the 40k Universe!”….err I mean “FOR THE WARMASTER”!


April 18, 2009

Armour Painting: Stormblade

Good evening!

Today I started painting the Stormblade.
Base colour is again Dark Sea Grey from Tamiya, camouflage pattern is done with German Grey.
And that's how it turned out:

I have to admit I'm somewhat in love. This tank is so cool, I can't take my eyes off it...
Ahem ok, enough of my nerdy feelings!

No, I am really happy how it turned out. I have to do a bit more German grey parts on the left flank as I think that looks a bit strange. The lighter grey part in the middle is too much I think, but that is fixable with ease. Tomorrow I will do that and clean up some parts where the masking tape didn't mask well enough.
I'll keep you up to date!

April 17, 2009

Space Marines vs. Tau: How to purge Xenos


Trotzki and me had a game this week which was...pretty interesting to say the least. I wanted to see, how my Tau fare against my Marines. So Trotzki played Marines and I Tau. And that turned out on how to table Tau in 4 turns.
We played following lists:

Librarian in Terminator Armour, Curse of the Machine Spirit, Gate of Infinity
5 Terminators, 1 assault cannon (Librarian is with them)
5 Terminators, 1 cyclone
Dreadnought, multi melta, heavy flamer, extra armour, drop pod, deathwind system, beacon
10 Marines, melta, missile launcher, drop pod, deathwind system, beacon
10 Marines, melta, missile launcher, drop pod, deathwind system, beacon
10 Marines, melta, missile launcher
Land Speeder, multi melta, heavy flamer

1500 points

Shas'O, XV84 suit, plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker, stim injector, 2 shield drones
Crisis suit bodyguard, plasma rifle, missile pod, hard wired multitracker, targetting array
Crisis suit, twin linked missile pod, flamer
3 XV25 suits, burst cannons, targetting arrays
6 fire warriors, devil fish, targetting array, multitracker, smart missiles, disruption pod
6 fire warriors, devil fish, targetting array, multitracker, smart missiles, disruption pod
6 fire warriors
16 kroot
Hammerhead, rail gun, mutlitracker, target lock, smart missiles, sensor spines
Hammerhead, rail gun, mutlitracker, target lock, smart missiles, sensor spines
Sky Ray, targetting array, multi tracker, smart missiles

1498 points

The Marines would hold much in reserve, only deploying the ten lone marines. The Tau would deep strike the crisis and stealth suits, the kroot would outflank.

We rolled for 3 objectives and deploying in table quarters. The Marines have the first turn.

This is when the carnage began... and I won't go into too much detail. Just let me tell how the Tau got wiped out in a few turns.
I bunched up the tanks in my corner, the fire warriors in the ruin and forming a line in front of the tanks.

The Marines dropped 2 pods right in front of them, ten marines and the dreadnought jumped out and opened fire, destroying the first hammerhead and killing 1 fire warrior.
I then moved all my tanks 12" so that they would only be hit on sixes. I shot the two markerlights of the sky ray on the dreadnought, hitting with one. A seeker missiles shot against the thick armour of the walker and exploded harmlessly. The railgun of the hammerhead missed, of course. All smart missile systems fired at the combat squad with the missile launcher carrying marine, killing four. Great. The fire warriors shot their pulse rifles at the 5 marines with the melta, killing none. (Fire warriors suck in every single game I have played with Tau!).

Next round no reinforcements arrived. The multi melta of the cybot shot the second hammerhead into a burning wreck and the marines wiped out the fire warriors. That was the point, I realised that I couldn't win this game any more (after round two!). No real possibility of harming the dreadnought and the drop pods (they contest) and with 10 terminators inbound are not for the greater good.
The game proceeded as foreseen. The terminators with the cyclone teleported next the third drop pod in the middle of the table where the marines would capture the objective in the mechanicum building, the others with the librarian teleported next to the objective in the quarter where the ten lone marines hold their own objective to fight against the deep striking crisis and stealth suits and later on the outflanking kroot.
A few impressions:

I lost a devilfish to the multi melta of the dreadnought, the disembarked fire warriors would be useless in this position.

The Kroot walk onto the table and rapid fire at the marines, combined with plasma fire and missiles from the commander and his bodyguard the are able to kill 2 (in words: two) marines. The Kroot are then rapid fired which killed 5.

Stealth and crisis suits arrive for assistance, managing to kill 4, then the kroot charged the remaining marines, losing 2 of their number and killing one marine in return. They lost combat, didn't pass their morale check and fled.
In the background the terminators where under fire from the commander with his bodyguard, losing 3 to plasma fire. In return the didn't manage to do any harm to the Tau elites.
In the following assaults the fleeing kroot where caught up and wiped out, the same happened to the stealth suits. So I had no troops at this objective any more.

The core of the Tau hunting cadre is at the brink of destruction. Terminators teleported in to take out the remaining tanks, marines advancing to kill everything that survived the destruction of the skimmers.

So after all tanks where destroyed after round four and me having left only the crisis suits I called the game.
To be honest, this was the best game the Marines ever fought. Following their fluff, they deep struck in the heart of the enemy force and killed everything with ease. That's what I expect of Marines on a mission to purge a Xenos infestation... ;-)

Now let's come to a few thoughts in the aftermath of the battle: I think it would have been better to hold everything in reserve. In this way one would evade the inevitable first turn drop pod attack (the meltas hurt like hell) and should have, when the dice gods are not so cruel, get a round of fire. But that depends on the dices and what arrives in the second turn from reserves. When you are lucky, you get everything or nothing. I think it would be best to get nothing, so you have a higher chance that more of your army arrives together in one turn offering the chance to dictate the battle to yout gusto.
Another thought of mine was, that you deploy everything and use the kroot as shield so that at least the meltas have problems to get into half range. The kroot would be cannonfodder here, but that's what they are for. Trotzki and me will test this in time.
Another word on the Tau. Fire warriors really suck. They miss more than they hit (the NEED markerlights to do anything) and the run when shot at. Maybe a Shas'ui would help against the latter...maybe. I had 12 fire warriors as firebase in earlier games, but that was completely disappointing in regard of shooting. I think they only work with a lot of marker lights.
A different thing is that Tau have in my experience great problems in killing well armoured troops. It took 20 strengt five shots with ballistic skill 4 to kill 4 marines. That's somewhat sparse in my opinion. Wounding on threes is good, that's for sure, but good armour saves negate a lot of wounds. In my experience with Marines I always lost the most to volume of fire or in close combat and the latter is no place for Tau. So remains a high output of fire to bring power armour troops down. At that brings me back to the thoughts on how to deploy against a deep striking army like drop podding marines. When everything is bunched up in one corner and mostly kroot are lost to the first volley of fire, I think Tau would fare a lot better. But in this special case, the threat of the terminators is still imminent. I don't think This list could bring them down and jump/fly out of assault range and so out of harms way.

So I am a little bit helpless now in how to counter that kind of enemy. Hopefully Trotzki has the time to fight again soon so that I or better we can see what could be done against "Drop pod imba marines!"

But at the same time I am happy that Marines aren't that bad after all.
They will get two more drop pods in not so far future and at least two of the announced iron clad dreadnoughts will find their way to me.

April 13, 2009

Armour Painting: Leman Russ pt. II

Good morning!

I managed to finish my Leman Russ at last!
As I told you I coated everything with clear to fix the oily washes. To get a better surface for drybrushing I decided it would be better to have it matt and another layer of purity seal was applied. Then I drybrushed the whole tank with codex grey.
And then it was time for the pigments. Pigments is actually something like a dry paint and you can use it straight out of the box. Another way is to use it with thinner for washes (Mig). And as you can see on the pic below, you can go WAY OVER THE TOP with pigments.

The problem is, it looks great when the thinner is still wet but as soon as it is dry, you see what you actually have done to your model. So lesser is more. And if it is too less, it's really no problem to do another layer. As pigment colours I used Dark Mud (dark), Russian Earth (very dark) and African Earth (quite bright) and I mixed them randomly on the tank. Maybe the darker colours on the lower parts and a brighter mix for the top parts. But again be careful with the amount of pigments.
As this was obviously too much, I needed to get rid of most of it now. That is easier said than done. At first I tried to brush it off but that didn't work out well as it just dispensed the pigments more evenly over the model. Then I tried pure thinner and that was better but it didn't wash off the pigments too. Ok, then, I tried a more aggressive approach and went to the bathroom and "cleaned" the whole tank under running water using an old toothbrush. And that seemed to work out pretty well. The pigments are not water soluble and so I didn't wash off all of it and it remained a thin layer in the recesses and only small amounts on the flat surfaces reproducing a rather realistic look.

Pleased with that I applied more brighter pigments again to resemble dried mud and dust. But as I have learned the hard way, I used really small amounts (when you think you just apply thinner and as good as no pigments, you are going the right way!) And as a side note: a hairdryer works wonders in shortening the drying time to under a minute. that is great for impatient people like me.
So let's take the next step and start with the mud. My tank should fight in an environment pretty much like it is described in Siege of Vraks, a war torn wasteland, shelled for decades, every landmark or vegetation is blown to dust and pulp and when it rains the rain is oily and full of grime and ash. So nothing and no one would stay clean for long especially not when driving through such a quagmire.
There is a wonderful way of making mud: liquid resin (as you might guess again from Mig). You can mix this liquid resin with the pigments for getting the colour you want and it is recommendable to also mix it with sand or something similar to get texture. And you can use plaster for more volume. It is dilutable with water so you can make a mix in any consistency you want. Again I used different amounts of the three pigment colours to get different tones of mud and I used the sand mix I usually use for the bases of my other models. When you are satisfied with your self-made mud simply brush it on with an old brush where mud would naturally collect. (When you are too unsure where this would be, I heard a great advice: go to a construction site and look at the caterpillars and the other machines one can find there as one might guess the least people have active tanks in their surrounding neighborhood.).
So here it is how it turned out with my Leman Russ.

And the finished model, with Death Korps tank commander (actually it's the driver from my stormblade which I won't use).

Now I think I am ready to paint the stormblade. This baby is already assembled and base-coated. So stay tuned.

April 2, 2009

Armour Painting: Leman Russ

Hey folks,

I finally have started with the Leman Russ/Tank painting project. Last week I began with the first steps after the assembly.
I'm going to make pictures from every step and write down a little paint log and I try to keep you up to date.

After a lot of reading in different armour painting forums and a few logs and stuff for how to paint tanks more or less realistically and after watching the Mig F.A.Q. DVD of how to use pigments and weathering powders I took my spray gun and started painting.

Priming the tank with white primer was the first step. I used Army Painter White Primer (first time I used another primer than GWs and I must say GW does a better job, as the Vallejo one seems to have the habit of tightening when drying and that lead to some ugly cracks in some places. But maybe I was too impatient and should have primed a few times more often with thinner layers). After priming I airbrushed Tamiya Dark Sea Grey on the whole tank as the base colour. When the colour had completely dried I masked the parts I wanted to stay dark sea grey with masking tape for the camouflage. I decided that I would paint this tank in the “two tone block disruption pattern” camo. (You can find it in Imperial Armour Vol.5: The Siege of Vraks part I page 187). I used German Grey for the darker grey again from Tamiya.

In the next step I airbrushed several thin layers of clear (Tamiya) for applying the decals and as preparation for the washing and weathering.

I used markings for the Tiger I from Bison Decals and decals from the Forge World Krieg decal sheet. My tanks should definitely be from the Death Korps of Krieg and the German crosses are regarded as unit symbol or something like that. I haven’t come up with the background as this is in a very early state and more thought of as training exercise in painting. But I will think about it.

Back to the decals. A gloss varnish underground is the best basis for applying decals. And I used Microscale solutions as well (this is a two component system of a setting solution Micro Set and a solution for softening the decal, Micro Sol). This offers a quick and easy way to blend the decal into the painting and it really looks like painted on.

After the application of the decals I sprayed two to three thin layers of clear on the whole tank to protect the decals.

Then I pin washed thinned black oil paint around all rivets and in all recesses. Pin washing means you use a small brush and paint only around the details, you do not wash the whole model/tank. I diluted the oil paint with MIGs Thinner for Washes and repeated the washing two times.

After the black I made I mixture of black and burnt umber oil paint, diluted with thinner for washes. I painted this wash more freely around the details and let it dry for a few hours. If you want to proceed faster you can use a hairdryer, this reduces the drying time to minutes.

When everything was dry I cleaned it a little bit with pure thinner for washes. When I was happy with the washing I airbrushed clear again over the whole tank to fix the wash.

Next steps will be dry brushing and application of pigments to give a muddy and dirty appearance.
That's it so far, I think I will have time on the weekend to proceed.