Friday, January 24, 2014

Some painting, some procuring, lots, LOTS of dice rolling!

That was a pretty awesome Hobby Night! Starting off pretty innocently, and in a rather disciplined manner I'd add, with a spot of painting to finish up the Tzeentch Terminator Champion - the last model in the favored terminator squad that's been WIP since before plastic Chaos termies were ever invented, and Codex Chaos 3.5 Rubric terminators were the scourge of the galaxy.

A most fantastic excuse to stop painting came along very quickly when I discovered I had forgotten to pack my favorit old school brown ink to wash all that gold. At any rate, stocks had arrived at Hobby Forge, and I had some procurement business to do in the name of the Emperor. To which a transaction was promptly done, resulting in me becoming the proud owner of the Escalation book (finally) and 2 Land Speeders (for my Ravenwing expansion).

Jo's Grey Knights were up for a game, so I dutifully unpacked my AirCav in an 1850-point Relic mission. The Grey Knights were beautifully hobbied, from the nice paint scheme, to the very liberal use of magnets to ensure that all his models are always able to swap equipment and weapons and turn up WYSIWYG. The battle turned out one-sided, as he had very limited AA capability, but there were many hilarious moments, quite typical of 40k. Like when the surviving 2 Guardsmen in a melee with a GK monster just refused to give up (double-1), or the volley in which snap shots hit twice as much as normal-BS shots. It's clear not that with AirCav, the tendency so far is either they win big, or lose most gloriously.

I've been working on my Tzeentch termies off and on for the past couple of weeks, and assembled the Heldrake too, so I was dead curious how my new Thousand Sons list would do. Enter Dann, with his Deldar, in an urban Scouring. I must say that I'm a little more than out of touch with my Thousand Sons (haven't played them in a year) and made several nube mistakes (like outflanking Rubric squads on foot and realizing they can't run, etc). The battle was actually going not too bad, when Ahriman promptly turned into a Spawn, and I decided that the rest of the Sons should just go home then, as they were way too far from any objectives.

Doc Selvam and his White Scars-Space Wolves coalition came on next, and we duked it out rather bloodily (he did include several Space Wolves) in the same urban setting. The early part of the battle was quite painful for Doc, as his initial wave of drop pod infanry and dreadnought were wiped out by concentrated fire and a spirited Terminator charge. Things started to look better as more loyalist reinforcements turned up, and as my armor refused to work (a touch too many 1's). The Heldrake was amazing, and saved me from being annihilated, even though he arrived late (-1 on my reserve rolls). In the end, both sides were left with very few models (Loyalist survivors: 2 flyers, 3 bikes; Thousand Sons survivors: Ahriman, Heldrake, Predator) and nobody held any objectives, but the Sons narrowly won 2-1. That was indeed epic.

Next time, I'm going to try a list without the Land Raider, and see how annoying outflanking Thousand Sons in Rhinos can be. Or I might just bring in the Brandenburgers, with a Baneblade or three.

On another note, last week was also the first time I had a proper wargame with my son, in a FOW small battle that saw his British infantry tabling my panzergrenadiers.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to the many projects I've set myself up for. Next update, I'll show some newly painted models.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Catachan AirCav in Action!

These are the first-ever pics of my completed AirCav army (v.1). Like my past themed army projects, it took me awhile to get it done. First conceived in late-2009, the very first Vakyrie (#02) was done by the end of that year. West Wind US Army helmet heads and ForgeWorld Vendetta upgrade kits arrived at about the same time. This was followed closely in early-2010 with the first 2 veteran infantry squads. But disaster struck with the first Vendetta (#03) - painstakingly painted inside and outside, I had a matt varnish spray mishap, turning the whole aircraft into a frosty mess. This brought the project to a grinding halt.

Like most wargamers, other distractions quickly filled the void, and the AirCav was left on the shelves, with repeated self-promises of getting back to it. A spate of 40k and FOW leagues and campaigns were a most excellent distraction. Not to mention a brief foray into pre-heresy Thousand Sons. Also, 6th ed came along, and trying out my armies in the new edition took some time, with more dice rolling than painting (it was a lot of work - infantry IG, tank IG, mechanized IG, Ranger Force Eldar, Guardian Eldar, mechanized Eldar, Ravenwing, Thousand Sons, Apoc, etc). On top of that, I took on a new job, which further limited hobby time.

In late-2011, there was a blip of hobby resurgence. Sucking it up, I went back to Vendetta #03 and started fixing the paint-job, which was as time-consuming as the original paint-job. With morale boosted, I proceeded to assemble Straken's squad. Then got promptly distracted by painting up most of the Thousand Sons rubric terminators I converted way back in pre-Legio days. And the AirCav project went to sleep again.

It was left alone throughout 2012, which was largely a FOW year for me, building up both early-war and late-war German armies for some excellent campaigns. 40k hobbying in general was extremely limited.

Then in early-2013, Legio's first 40k Throwdown painting challenge re-ignited the AirCav project. As I've already had 4 units painted up, I had to build a new list to include additional units. And that included the Basilisk and Ogryns (which are in the 2000-pt version of the list), among other things. But the Throwdown really helped get things going again, pushing me to finish another Vendetta, a couple of squads and the Basilisk.

There was a slight lull until the first week of the fasting month, during which I was home alone. That was simply an intense week of hobbying, finishing up almost all the flyers, and Straken's command squad. And on top of that, an Eldar jetbike squad, a warlock and a Crimson Hunter. That was pretty intense. By the next month, all the flyers were ready, and the AirCav were only 2 squads to go before completion. Which I vowed to get done by the end of the year.

Which I did! On or around 30th December 2013, the final basing was completed for the last 23 infantry models, as well as 4 flyer bases, thus completing one epic hobbying journey. And it's only the first leg of the journey - the list was built back in 5th ed, and there will be a new IG codex in a couple months' time, so I am fully expecting the army to evolve further.

Baptism of Fire
II Catachan Air Mobile Detachment saw heavy action last night, rushed into combat against a major Eldar incursion. The AirCav beat off a Dark Eldar/Eldar alliance, was narrowly beaten by another such alliance, and was soundly trounced by an unconventional Craftworld Eldar force. I must say the AirCav makes for some really amazing wargaming.

There were some pretty memorable moments. In the first game, Straken and his entire squad were wiped out when their Valkyrie crashed and burned, shot in the rear by a Guided Ravager. In the second game, 2nd squad made a desperate grav-chute drop in an attempt to claim an objective - with their Vendetta zooming at full speed! Also in that game, Straken's medic actually made 6 or 7 saves with his Imperial-issue flak jacket before running out of meds.In the last game, things were so desperate for Straken's troopers that he, his command squad and 1st squad made an incredibly crazy drop amidst a Wave Serpent, Dire Avengers and Wraithguard - and survived! (and wrecked the Wave Serpent too),

The army's definitely not for beginners and I'm glad to be able to start the learning process of how to handle it. What's for sure is that the Valk and Vend squadrons are resilient - unless you are Tau, it takes a lot to destroy a squadron. I also need to compensate for the fact that the army by nature gives up a lot of the traditional strengths of the Imperial Guard. The AirCav has no massed lasguns, is usually unable to make use of orders, no Leman Russ, etc.

But it's a lot of fun nonetheless, and it's certainly a rush! I am thinking of adding heavy weapons to the squads that have to start on table, and maybe even convert the starting units to regular platoons and leave the Basilisk on the shelf. Anyways, I'm happy to be plugging away with this list for awhile. Looking forward to more epic battles with this army in the coming months.