Eldar and their 'one hit wonders'

Posted by President Evil on Saturday, 8 May 2010 , under , , | comments (0)

3 more units from my Eldar army today. Each illustrate perfectly what makes the eldar unique and often difficult to get the best out of for some players. They are the ultimate 'glass hammer' units. in other words: Brutally efficient killing machines as fragile as a paper hat. Dire Avengers, Fire Dragons and Howling Banshees are all regular features of my eldar armies, and my opponents have rightly grown to fear them. I think the reason for this is that used in the right way, your enemies will usually see 3 of their key units dissapear in 1 turn. Using them requires careful planning, finesse and, like everything in 40k, the right amount of luck.

To Start with i'll go into more detail for each unit and then the overall tactics at the bottom of the page.

Dire avengers:
They were the first unit i painted for this eldar army, and i must admit, i rushed them a bit and regret not spending more time on them. Someday i might have nothing else to paint and decide to tidy them up....

I use this one as my exarch, I wanted to paint a banner... :)

I pretty much always run a farseer with these guys

Dire avengers. A common eldar unit that, if you read many of the internet discussions on their use, seem to be used little more than to make a scoring tank with a minimum squad of 5. I guess this tactic works for some, but dire avengers are capable of brutal killing power. First they get a full squad of 10, an exarch (dual catapaults optional) and the 'bladestorm' ability. Personally i find there are only a handful of eldar units that can be effective without a transport. Dire avengers are not one of these units! So i buy them a wave serpent. My favorite combo is EML & shuriken cannon. This gives you the plasma missile to function as a S4 defensive weapon and its versatile. Then add a guide/doom/spirit stones seer.
Remember they are a scoring unit that is more than capable of wiping out a whole squad with one turn of augmented shooting. A guide and/or doomed bladestorm gives 30 BS4 (3@bs5) s4 ap5 shots with re-rolls to hit and/or wound. I don't always use doom, and i suppose it depends on your target as to whether you need psychic powers or even bladestorm to wipe out a whole squad, but i'm talking about what they are capable of and with this bladestorm bomb, you force so many saves out of your opponent that only the largest or most well armoured squad would have any chance of survival, often with so few wounds left that it can be finished off in an assault (they are I5).

My real assault specialists are the howling banshees:

6 of these feisty females do the job for me. Exarch gets the executioner for S5 attacks. War shout is useful and acrobatic is usually something i buy if i have spare points. 18 Powerweapon attacks on the charge. S3 is a downside but keeping them within supporting range of the farseers 'doom' power is required if the target is high toughness. They always strike first because of their banshee masks, and a failed leadership test will give their targets WS1 (i love it when that happens) from the warshout power. I like Scatter laser falcons for their volume of fire, so the banshees ride in one of those. Again, their potential when augmented by the seer is to carve apart most targets in combat. If in doubt doom the target and unload some laser fire into it from the falcon to thin the numbers before charging in.

Finally the dedicated anti armour: Fire dragons.

I have 6 to fit in a falcon. Usually scatter laser, but as i have magnetised my tanks, i sometimes give it a starcannon as its AP2 compliments the pulse laser and is more effective against heavily armoured troops which are a secondary target of the fire dragons inside. In the squad pictured i have an Exarch with the dragons breath flamer (heavy flamer EQ). Although this weapon has proved useful on a number of occasions, it is not important - 5/6 melta dragons will get the job done.
Pretty much the most straight forward unit in my army, no special rules, no tricks, just a bunch of meltas looking at your tanks exhaust pipe. In my experiance fire dragons die. Opponents hate fire dragons. The most amusing thing is that they are the cheapest (sometimes 2nd cheapest) unit in my army and once they get out and melt that land raider or terminator squad they've killed over 2x their points value. In the following turn these guys will most likely be public enemy number one for your opponent. Although i will try to get them back in the transport safely to turn their weapons on a secondary target, i will not sacrifice another unit to achieve this. After their high value target is turned to slag, they pretty much become the most expendable unit as most other units will still have important roles to play. This isn't always true, but the inevitable return fire from your enemy has to go somewhere...

When explaining how these units work in my army, it's impossible to describe their roles individually. My tactics involve having all 3 of these units working together to remove 3 high value targets in quick succession. I will spend a turn or 2 moving fast, shruggung of shooting (hopefully) waiting for my opponent to leave their back door ajar. in 90% of games, your opponent will either look to advance across the board or in the case of a gunline, spread their forces across their deployment zone to get the best firelanes.
Either way, it takes a tricky general to deploy in such a way as not to allow your eldar the time and space to perform a surgical strike against a crucial part of their army. By turn 3, you should have a good idead of where your surgical strike will do the most damage for the least casualties. You move your transports (fast) into position, being careful not to expose your rear armour or park your falcons too close to melta weapons, although this makes no difference to wave serpents. Again you ride your luck and hope that the various energy fields and coversaves will not take down your transports. I always give them spiritstones and holofields to ensure that they get to where they need to go. After a turn, you are free to pivot, drop your cargo and shoot or fly off as required. At this point Your focus should be on positioning your transports to block lines of sight to your disembarked units. The passengers inside can, move, shoot, assault as normal. If deployed close enough together you can doom your banshees target after guiding your bladestorming avengers. The odds are strongly weighted for you to erase 3 high value targets in one turn, crippling the core of your enemies force and, with careful positioning, denying LOS to your units enough that they might survive to re-embark, or move on an objective. My army list often includes other units purely to harrass, tie up or otherwise distract other elements of the enemy force. A small unit of jetbikes to boost around and unload shuriken at targets of opportunity, before making a late grab for an objective. A small squad of hawks to pour laserfire into an isolated unit or attach grenades to advancing vehicles. And the all important pathfinders to keep an eye on an objective and generally be an annoying thorn in the side for any footsloggers or lightly armoured vehicles trying to put shots on my skimmers.

The downside to all of this is that once out of ther transports, the eldar are like wet cardboard. T3 4+ save in squads of 6-10 doesnt take alot to kill, so its really important to be aggressive. These units can dish out far more hurt than they can take back, so the key is to deliver it all in 1 decisive attack. When you expose your fragile units, make sure that whatever you leave alive stands a good chance of not wiping you out in the next turn.

That's about it. The glass hammer surgical strike. A good example of why the Eldar are my favorite army in 40k.

Finished Dreadnought

Posted by President Evil on Friday, 7 May 2010 , under , | comments (0)

Hello! Its been a few days of hard work, but the blood angels dreadnought is finished. Wow, its been so long since i painted a dreadnought and i have to say, they're alot of fun. It Makes a change from my recent eldar army to have lots of square armour plates and metal bits to paint. I hope my client is happy with it and it wreaks some havoc on the battlefield with the rest of his army.

I'm pleased with it, theres a whole lot of detail. I think the freehand emblems came out well. The close up of the leg shows the effort put into the mud, scratches and weathering. The legs are dirtier and dustier than the torso to make it look like he's been stomping across a battlefield. Well, like i said: i had alot of fun painting it!

Commission update

Posted by President Evil on Wednesday, 5 May 2010 , under , | comments (0)

Firstly a big thanks for those following and reading my posts in my first couple of weeks of special cases. I'm really encouraged by people finding enjoyment or inspiration in my work. That's exactly the reason i started my 40k blog in the first place. To those people i would also say, keep watching this page, as i have plenty of models to photograph and upload, hopefully more commissions, as well as starting my ravenwing army (when it finally arrives) so there will plenty of regular updates still to come. Also, special mention to my new friend Lucio, who has given me my first commission since starting this blog.
Here are some pictures, i would consider it roughly half-finished, but here are some pictures to see how its going.

Freehand on the left arm needs touching up still and there are plenty of details to paint as well as a bit of weathering to do. For the record, i have charged the rock-bottom price of £10 to paint this model, i will continue to charge very low prices for commission work for the time being. Consider it an introductory offer of sorts. I am in need of up-to-date feedback and the opportunity to continue with this hobby i love while i go through a few financial difficulties in the real world. Commission work is always done to the best of my ability regardless of what i am charging.
Sorry, enough shameless self-promotion :)
Painting this dread brought back lots of memories of my first experiences of tabletop gaming and painting miniatures. It was sometime in about '95. It was blood angel space marines, i remember seeing one of my friends with some little tanks and model soldiers and was hooked from then. I went out and got a few plastic marines, and not knowing how i was supposed to go about painting them, i used my dads tamiya paints to make them red (i was about 11). They didn't look good! How appropriate then, that the first commission job through this website should also be blood angels. I don't think i've painted a red space marine since those days, but it's definately inspired me to get a blood angel codex, so there may be more red marines to come in the not-too-distant future.

A brief guide to painting - my way

Posted by President Evil on Monday, 3 May 2010 , under | comments (1)

I got my first blog comment! Thanks realgenius for your compliment. I was asked for a bit more detail on how i painted my pathfinders.

Find that post here.
But before i do that, i feel i must first explain a little about how i paint in general.
There is 1 tool that i simply cannot do without when painting - miniatures or canvas.
That is the wet palette.
Basically its a fairly shallow plastic tub (tupperware style) preferably with an air tight lid. The sort that is normally used to store food. The plastic tubs that often contain takeaway meals (here in the u.k) are a cheap substitute.
The bottom is lined with an absorbant medium. Some people suggest kitchen towel/roll and this works fine, toilet tissue is ok, but not really ideal. Personally, i like to use something re-usable, that doesn't fall apart or get stuck to the bottom of the tub. I find an absorbant cloth or sponge ideal. With the absorbant material in place it's time to add water. Saturate the cloth with a generous helping of water, but only enough to keep the excess water in the tub to a minimum (pour off the extra if there's too much.
Heres mine at this stage:

With this done lay a sheet of Paper over the water. This needs to be paper that wont absorb all the water. People may know it as different things but Greaseproof, parchment, oven paper whatever, its basically the paper you use for baking. This stuff works great. I also have loads of tracing paper and this seems to work ok too.
What i actually use is this 'pallette paper' thats used for oil painting, but only because i was given a load, i wouldn't say it's worth hunting down especially.

Basically thats it. Mix your paints on the paper. With the lid open it will stay wet anywhere from a couple of hours to a whole day. If you put the lid on when you're done, it can last over night, even a few days. Leaving that carefully mixed blob wet for long enough to finish a squad and also saves a ton of waste. Avoid leaving it under a desk lamp, as that will dry it out much quicker.

So i consider myself quite an instinctive painter. This probably comes from a background of traditional painting rather than modelling. Using the Pathfinders as an example.
once the model is built and cleaned up, its primed. I basically have, white, black and a few grey shades. The undercoat is less to do with the final colour and more about the style of model. I think the undercoat very gently affects how the final colour looks, so as i wanted my pathfinders to have a duller, grimy look i used black.
Alot of my eldar were actually done white before a blue basecoat to give a brighter, bolder finish. After being left overnight to dry i production-lined the basecoat for the whole squad. Cloaks & guns were graveyard earth, armour mordian blue, helmets iyanden yellow, backpacks dark angels green and pouches i tried to vary - desert yellow, scorched brown - something like that.
After this stage almost everything is blended. Basically i dump a blob of my chosen 'main colour' onto my pallette. Then a darker and lighter colour each side. then blend the clours into a gradient from dark to light. This way you have your shade, highlight and everything inbetween, you can fine tune the colours to get the perfect shade. For example, the blue armour on the pathfinders (and all my eldar) goes from midnight>enchanted>Ice blue, never actually using the pure colours at either end of the gradient. This enables you to do as many layers of successively lighter hightlights as you wish, working up towards your 'light' colour. Applying these as a light glaze each time gives you a natural highlighting effect, and you can always pick out sharp edges with the extreme light colour for more definition.
So with that in mind:
Helmets: Snakebite leather>golden yellow>sunburst yellow.
Cloaks: Graveyard earth>kommando khaki>bleached bone
Guns: Kommando Khaki>bleached bone>skull white
Armour: midnight>enchanted>ice blue
Leather: scorched brown>bestial brown>snakebite leather
backpack: DA green>Vallejo yellow olive(similar to catachan green)>desert yellow
you get the idea.
I will try to do batches of 5 or so at a time, painting the same part on each model before i start again with a new part on the first. This works for me because i basically apply the shade, main and highlight colour all in the same stage.
Freehand details are painted after. Freehand is something i try to include on all my models. It adds a personal and individual touch to your models that makes them stand out on the tabletop. I'm not sure what advice i can give on this other than practice, practice, practice. Spray up some spare shoulder pads and practice your chapter symbol, even do it small on paper, over and over until you dial it in. when it comes to the actual model try and lightly line it out in 'rough' it doesnt have to be totally perfect, but equally don't make too much of a mess that it will become a pain to touch up after. Then paint it in and tidy up the design with the colour behind the freehand. Another reason the wet pallette is good... you should still have your colour gradient nice and wet enabling you to pick out the required shade to fine tune your freehand. On the pathfinders i wanted them to have 'camo' but not a 'human military style, but a more elegant eldar style so i went with the vines & leaves you can see in the photo. This was scorched brown for the dark ones and bleached bone/rotting flesh for the light. I don't use a particularly small brush, but a totally precise point is vital. I like to have new brushes reserved for freehand, and as they get older a new one will take its place and the old one get relegated to less and less precice tasks over time. This way i have a sort of brush rotation. Be very careful not to use your freehand brush for anything other than freehand and look after it really well otherwise you will go through brushes very quickly.
Weathering. I good meathod for adding mud (like on the bottom of the cloak) is to mix pigment powder with PVA, this creates a gloopy, sticky mud-like consistancy that you can dab on where you need. I also used some 'neat' weathering powder on this model to mimic dirt and grime, as the pathfinders are scouts and spend most of their time on foot sneaking through undergrowth.
Washes. I do use washes, but not always. They are a good 'trick' to make shading easier, but if used too much i think they look a little un-natural IMO. I find them useful for bulding up layers of colour on a model. I will use them after basecoating, but before the main coat goes on, but ONLY where i feel it is required. Again i think this is somewhat instinctive. I tend to use it for armour, but not fabric. Mainly in areas of heavy shadow - in vents, overlapping armour plates etc. often it will be a mix of my 'shadow colour' and a dedicated wash, for example - Gryphonne sepia & snakebite leather for my alaitoc yellow (maybe 2 or 3:1 and a dash of water) this prevents the wash from standing out too much, or being too shiny.
I also use washes to 'knock back' my highlights if i make them too bright. you can use a thin layer of wash to dull the colour before attempting blending again (remember to let it dry properly!). Sometimes you can use a standard wash out of the pot or sometimes a heavily watered version of your main colour will work depending on what colour you require. Thats basically it. I'm not really sure how unorthadox this technique is, but i do know that no-one in my gaming group paints like this, or even knew what a wet pallette was before i showed them, so hopefully from reading this you will have a new technique to try that might help with your painting.

Vroom Vroom here come the... raptorwing!

Posted by President Evil on Sunday, 2 May 2010 , under , , , | comments (0)

It's space marine day here at special cases. After much consideration over which codex was best for a marine bike army, i chose the dark angels book. Basically it came down to quality vs quantity. Vanilla marines are cheaper on points, but the ravenwing are better and fit into the theme of my army. I've chosen to make them 'raptor legion' as i like the logo and colourscheme. I intend to model them as jungle scouts, with generous helpings of packs, rolls, fuel tanks, mud and makeshift armour plates also using the excellent ancient ruins bases and parts from scibor.

Here is the 1750pt list, and a few notes on it's composition:

Master of ravenwing landspeeder
Interrogator chaplain, termintor armour

Terminator squad (5) assault cannon, lightning claws

Ravenwing attack squadron (6), MM attack bike, 2x flamer, meltabombs

Ravenwing attack squadron (6), MM attack bike, 2x flamer, meltabombs

Ravenwing attack squadron (6), MM attack bike, 2x flamer, meltabombs

Fast attack
Speeder typhoon
Speeder typhoon
MM speeder

Heavy support

A few thought on this list:
Scoring, fearless scouts on bikes? yes please. The fact that the attack bikes are also 'scouts', can operate independantly from the squad and still count as scoring makes them miles more useful than Attack bikes in vanilla bike squads. You can really get that multimelta to where it's needed, without wasting the rest of the squads firepower.
14/14/10 TL HB, TL AC speeder is awesome.
The typhoons on the ravenwing speeders are better at the anti-infantry role i intend for them (and are 1/4 of the price) than in codex space marines.
After some research, im still looking for something to tell me i can't drop a teleport homer on a scout move - it says in the DA codex that you can't make a turbo boost in a scout move, but nothing about teleport homers. In the rule book it says that a scout move is a normal movement action taken exactly as in the movement phase, and dropping a beacon is done in the movement phase as far as i can tell, never having used one. This is a tempting strategy to use, considering the deathwing assault rule, so i'd really appreciate peoples thoughts on this, and evidence either way.
Flamers and whirlwind are there for clearing enemy squads out of cover, and because they fit nicely with the theme. Melta bombs give the fast moving bikes a little anti-tank threat.

This is exactly the sort of army i love playing - something requiring finesse and a considered and deliberate application of force.
Anyway, i'll be talking plenty more about this army as i put it together. Today i started working on my Raptors Terminators:

These were made from the black reach terminators and all manner of bits dug out of my bitz box. Still got one to make when i get a pair of lightning claws.

Staying with space marines, i have some conversions for sale on Ebay. I don't need them for my bike army, so i've decided to find them a new home.

I like this one the best :)

Special cases recommends: