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Monday, 27 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 4

The end of another monthly painting challenge looms and how have I done, well not bad at all if I do say so myself!


March of the Machines!
I'm delighted that these guys are finally finished, partly because I really like the models and partly because I want to move on to something else. For anyone who missed it, I've been painting these as part of the Monster March challenge set up by Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast.


As with Squaduary before it, Monster March has motivated me to add another unit to my growing Skitarii/Mechanicus force. I'm really happy with my progress so far this year as the army is going from strength to strength. These monthly painting challenges have shown me what a powerful motivator a blog can be. Knowing I have a weekly progress post to make has pushed me to work through my projects and made me feel accountable. Seeing the great work of the other participants each week is also a great motivator and spurs me on to reach the finish line.


All of this got me thinking, as I don't know of a painting challenge in April I've decided to challenge myself to paint a unit to completion in the month. I've chosen a unit of Kataphron Breachers to add to my Mechanicus force. Look for weekly updates down the line under the banner of Adeptus April!


My favourite is still the datasmith.
Thanks again to Swordmaster for running Monster March; even bigger thanks for letting me paint things that really aren't monsters at all. I promise next year I'll do something big and gribbly to make it up to you. Speaking of big, monstrous things, my Kastelan robots aren't the only thing I've been working on in March, check my next update for something huge!!


If you missed the earlier updates you can find them here. Stay tuned for the inevitable painting disaster of Adeptus April!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 3

We've reached week three and so far, progress has been good. I was hoping to have the last robot finished for this update but unfortunately things rather got away from me over the weekend and I didn't manage to finish.


Close, but no cigar!
As you can see from the above, there is only a final highlight to add, along with finishing out the base and he'll be done. I'm really looking forward to having these guys finished, not just so that I can admire them, but so that I can move on to the next project. I feel like I've made great progress with my Mechanicus in the last few months; in no small part due to painting challenges like Squaduary and Monster March. Hopefully I can continue to work at the same rate and finish up an army within the next couple of months. Does anybody know of a painting challenge for April?!


Dakkadakkadakka.....
I'm also looking forward to getting a few more games in with my Mechanicus. I haven't used them much on the tabletop and have yet to really find my groove with them. I know they've got all the tools but I never seem to be able to use them quite right. This is probably because they're very different to the Tyranids and Dark Eldar which I am more accustomed to. If you're an experienced Skitarii/Ad Mech commander drop me a line in the comments below, I could use some tips!


Once again, big shout out to Swordmaster at Path of an Outcast for running the challenge; it's been awesome so far. If you've missed the rest of Monster March you can scrutinize my efforts here and here.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 2

Well, another excellent week of progress if I do say so myself! These painting challenges seem to do wonders for the old motivation! Behold the first of my completed Kastelan Robots.


Johnny 5 is alive!
Not only have I managed to paint one of the Kastelans, I've also finished off the datasmith to lead the squad.


This model is just amazing.
As far as the painting goes, the Datasmith proved to be a lot more work than the Kastelan. Another incredibly detailed Mechanicus miniature that was an absolute joy to work with. I'm very pleased with the way both miniatures have turned out, even though I wasn't quite sure what to do with the visor on the Kastelan Robot I'm reasonably happy with it.


Note the vial on the top of the backpack.
In the photo above you can see that I've painted the vial on his backpack using the same method I first attempted on my Magos Dominus. It's challenging for mw to paint something so tiny with a gradiated highlight but I think the final effect is well worth it. I've also deviated slightly with this model as it includes slightly more pink than my other Skitarii; I picked out the cable bundles on his back and head and I think it meshes with the scheme nicely.


Phosphor blasters all the way!
For those who don't know what this whole Monster March thing is all about, it's a month long painting challenge run by Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast. I've pledged to paint a squad of Kastelans (only one remaining now!) by the end of the month.


If you missed the first part of Monster March you can find it here. Tune in next time to see if I'm still on target or if my inevitable hobby butterflying has led me to paint something completely different!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Painting Kastelan Robots - Monster March week 1

Following on from Squaduary, another excellent community painting challenge has sprung to life, namely Monster March! The aim of the game is to paint a monster in March, simple right?! Well, as usual I had to make things more complicated. First off, I only really have two choices immediately available, neither of which are monsters from a fantasy setting. The first possibility is my Hierophant Bio-titan, however it is half finished, so would be a bit like cheating and is also enormous and not a commitment I feel I can make right now.


The other available choice is a unit of Cult Mechanicus Kastelan Robots. Robots! I hear you cry, those aren't monsters at all! Well, to be honest, I agree with you one hundred percent but being an enterprising sort, I got in touch with Swordmaster over at Path of an Outcast to see if a pair of robots could be considered a viable entry for Monster March. Luckily for me, the answer was a resounding yes and so, I'm proud to present my first shoddily basecoated Kastelan Robot!


March of the Machines!
I will be following the usual scheme for my Skitarii with these guys. Namely an aqua green colour with lots of brass and a pink spot colour. Hopefully it will translate to a larger, less complex miniature without too much trouble.


Speaking of the miniatures for a moment; I totally adore the Kastelan Robots. I know a lot of people have come down quite hard on them saying that they don't match the rest of the range or that they look to simplistic. For me, that is the charm of these models, they are styled with a real 'atomic era' feel which makes them seem old and anachronistic. Quite a feat in a setting like 40k where styles from various eras clash quite happily. The official 'eavy metal paint job on these guys takes it one step further with the weathering showing layers of old paint beneath. Almost as though the robots pre-date the Imperium and have been stored and used in battle time and again. I really enjoy this concept; that these are something beyond the capability of the Adeptus Mechanicus to create or even properly understand.


At any rate, my goal for Monster March (March of the Machines) will be to paint two Kastelan Robots and their attendant Cybernetica Datasmith. Tune in next week to see if I've progressed any further or if I've fallen miserably into the pits of painting despair!

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.