Friday, January 21, 2011

First of the First

Ten milennia ago, the Emperor formed the legions of Astartes that would conquer the galaxy in his name.  The first and greatest of these was known as the Dark Angels.  After the dark days of the heresy had subsided, the Imperium found the Dark Angels in seclusion, with newly-coloured armour, and demanding autonomy according to their charters.  Granted such, the 'new' Dark Angels began a mission that the rest of the Imperium must NEVER know about.

The first company is made up entirely of veteran battle brothers, all versed in the art of war and true history of the legion completely.  Their knowledge is both valuable and dangerous, being the strength and spine of the entire Dark Angel's chapter.  The battle brothers are all trained in the use of the Tactical Dreadnought armor, known more commonly as 'Terminator Armor'.  Their standard tactic is the deep strike, teleporting directly into the enemy's ranks where they can wreak untold havoc and massive destruction.  Their faith is unquestionable, they are fearless, and they are the Deathwing.

Brief History of the Deathwing

The Codex Astartes, the holy tome that organizes all space marine chapters, specifically noted that every chapter shall 'maintain a company of veterans, from which the leadership of the chapter shall arise' and that these veterans would be the only ones able to utilize the new, rare, Terminator suits and Land Raider transport tanks.  The Dark Angels took this a step further, and noted that their veteran company, the first, may ONLY wear Terminator armor.  You'll not find a Dark Angel veteran in power armor at this level.  The codex also states that the veteran company 'shall not go to war as one fighting force, but shall be used to bolster and enhance the rest of the chapter's fighting strength.'  The Dark Angels usually do just that, but are well-known to commonly use their veterans as a singular fighting force.  Most Imperial commanders believe this to be folly, but the motivations of the Dark Angels are already mysterious, and the results of battles involving the veteran company alone are difficult to argue with (as victory almost always is).

At some point, in the deep history of the Dark Angels, a legend was formed.  A librarian and a number of his veteran battle brothers decided to take shore leave to their homeworld, a long-protected recruitment world for the Dark Angels.  Descending to the planet in their gunship, named Deathwing, they found that a xenos invasion had subjugated their world.  Knowing they would not survive the battle, the librarian (named Two Heads Talking) and his brothers painted their terminator armor white and executed a full war against the aliens.  When the Dark Angels chapter came back to retrieve them, they found a planet just freed from dominion and the veterans dead around the slain leader of the invaders.  In honor of the unit's actions, resulting in saving an entire Imperial planet from hostile aliens, the entire veteran company of Dark Angels changed their panalopy to white and took the nomicker 'Deathwing'. 

Modern-day Deathwing

Today, the Deathwing are rightly feared throughout the Imperium. Their leader, Master Belial, is a master tactician and a stern warrior.  Not a glory-seeker, Belial has a record for achieving victory with brutal speed and ferocity, only the disappear in an instant, his objective met.  It's not uncommon for Imperial forces to find hundreds of enemy killed, but find the Deathwing forces were there for only minutes.  The Deathwing are not a siege force or defensive garrison.  In fact, the Dark Angels seem to use the Deathwing in situations where a standard battle formation would suffice. 

In addition, the Deathwing are renowned for their use of Dreadnoughts and Land Raiders.  Most Imperial records observe ONLY this equipment ever in Deathwing forces.  Understanding military doctrine, this means that the Deathwing are very limitted mission role forces or that observations of other equipment are rarely seen.  Most commanders hope the Deathwing are more versatile in their force selection, but don't dare to question Master Belial (or any Astartes, for that matter).

Now right now, you're wondering why I've decided to do a history piece on the Deathwing.  Well, it's because the heavenly host of game designers have finally broken free of the heavens and descended, where they delivered unto us all the blessing of a ......
working Deathwing army!!!!

Of all the forces packed tightly away into figure cases waiting in the deep freeze that is my garage for the day they'll actually be used again, this army had the least hope.  But then there was light... Next blog will be pics of that Deathwing army, and of course, the history of how I brought this collection into existance...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ave Imperator, Black Templars!

When my game shop closed in Buffalo, NY, some buddies from the Fallout Gaming Group in Erie, PA invited me to a 40k tournament.  Not knowing what the future of my personal hobby was, I vowed to use this as an excuse to ham it up.  I had one month, half a dozen finished armies to choose from, and a group of guys that I only got to see once every couple of months (so I didn't know what was played down there).  All gamers have some superstitions (don't try to lie about it, gamers!), and one beat into me by my gaming group growing up was that you should never take the same army to another tournament.  Well, that ruled out my Ultramarines, my Dark Angels, and my Imperial Guard.  That left me with a brilliant idea.  In the span of four weeks, I would furiously create a space marine army out of the cave of wonders that was my hobby room.  Every day my buddies would come over and see me bent over under a pile of boxes and tupperware full of sprues and bitz and untouched boxes of model glory.  Every night my friends would leave with armfuls of bits snuck out just for helping me find the perfect parts.  But each new day brought the army closer to glorious, elegant completion!
Now, you're thinking to yourself- 'self, why is he going on like this army is some kind of miracle?'  Let me answer that by saying that it was my THIRD miracle in the hobby.  The first being my first trophy, the second being a DA army in a month, and now this.  From the ashes of a bitz room came the vicious, yet barely proper, Black Templar army:
Now, that army list is simple.  It's known in the tournament circles as a 'spam' list.  What's funny is that, at the time, I also made it to represent a Space Marine army with the 'Take the fight to them' trait.  So here's the breakdown (more or less so you can stare at my awesomeness.  Especially when you remember that I did this army in a month with no preparation, from find to build to paint to play, in a month):
Marshall Chamberlain, Lord of the Templars 2nd Crusade Group, the company Reclusiarch, and of course the Emperor's Champion.  They were all decked out and I'd like to personally thank GW for 4th and 5th edition, it made my BT really really mean.

Two Crusader squads.  I made them full strength with 10 initiates (marines) and 10 neophytes (squires), with a melta-gun and power fist issued.  These squads played delivery for the characters and often participated in my dreaded 'split assault' tactic. 

Two of these combat squads as well.  They're composed of five initiates, one wielding a plasma gun and another wielding the lascannon, while accompanied by a Lascannon-turretted Razorback armored transport.  These units served as fire support and objective garrisons.  The irony is that every objectives game I played, I lost because I would righteous zeal off the objective.  I've had many a laugh at that, as have my often victorious opponents.  (also, I would like to note that the camera really enhanced the grey line highlighting on everything.  As I'm not as expert in camera-work, all I can do is assure you that the models look far crisper and subtle in real life.)

Two of these Predator Annihilator battle tanks.  Armed with the heaviest direct-fire weapon in the Imperium, the Annihilator scares everyone with armor.  As the combat squads, these sat rearward and threw sheets of lascannon fire downrange to knock out enemy armored vehicles, heavy assault units, and sometimes even 'hero-snipe'.  (one of my buddies can tell you about a time this pair targetted the muchly-feared Typhus, Bringer of the Hive.  No amount of Nurgle protects you from that much pew-pew, sadly...)

Only one squad of assault marines, armed as normal plus a power weapon and meltabombs.  I can't lie, this squad served no real purpose at all, other than filling points.  They did, however, account for a goodly number of timely interventions, sacraficing themselves so the larger crusader squads could break free and pursue the targets properly.  But that was more about strategy and less about the unit.  Assault marines aren't as special when the whole army is made up of assault marines...

There were even a couple of surprises hidden in the army.  I lent the army to another game shop to display in their figure cabinet.  As happens to all case armies, models get broken and lost.  When, finally, I recieved my army back, some were missing.  Luckily, I still had a handful of Dark Angels leftover from the army I had recently given away.  Remembering the fluffy bit about the Ophidian Gulf incident between the two armies, I figured a couple of DA were stranded with the Templars, equally confused about what had happened.  As any good soldier does, he joins the cause and gets to work...  (If you look closely in the first pic, you'll even notice a Deathwatch brother hidden in there.  The Dark Angels were done fast and well.  The Black Templars were done fast and fun.)

All adding up to what you see here!  At this current time, the army is worth nearly 1850 points, the normal Grand Tournament size. 
This army travelled with me to Erie, PA.  I was accompanied by a number of my buddies, amongst them a young man named Hoff, new to tournaments and with a newly created army himself.  I had a number of trophies under my belt already, so I gave Hoff all the tips and advice I could.  My army, during the weekend frenzy of playtesting before the tournament, did very well against everything.  Massacred face.  Religiously.  Except Hoff's Tau army.  For some strange reason, that Tau army was my bane.  My Templars didn't care who the enemy were, as long as they weren't those damned red Tau!  The tournament in Erie actually sucked (not at all).  I gave away a whole bunch of shoulder pads (around $600 worth, because I had it 'laying around'), hung out with some buddies (one whom would later come work with me in Illinois!), and watched as Hoff walked out with the trophy!  Dammit Hoff!  I was slightly upset (not really), but that was the start.  I played with my Templars in a GW staff tournament, where they crushed Grey Knights, demolished Necrons, and, going into game 3, were listed at second place (out of 40 or so).  Then it happened- my Templars ran into their primogenitors, the Imperial Fists.  Every plan failed, every initiate faltered, every roll went south.  Again, poor performance.
Then the new 5th edition came out.  The templars were tired of almost winning.  Hoff's Tau had been kicking their butts all over the tables for months, and then the steady progression of other hollow-victories.  Battling the newb, the untested, the unsure, crushing them, waiting for the day...  Then it happened.  Nowicki's Dark Eldar and my Black Templars were the last two undefeated armies in the shop, and everyone demanded an accounting of who's best.
It was a hard game.  Not!  Nowicki was a very good player with a pretty darn good army.  He knew the mission, understood the rules very very well, and had been crushing every opponent.  I thought I was worried.  Until I used the mission rules to 'outflank' his xenos scum.  I thought I was concerned.  Until my lascannon brigade downed all his transports right away.  It was overwhelming force coming from all directions.  Every benefit he had, I eliminated.  Every skill the Dark Eldar claimed to have, the Templars simply crushed out of them. 
The Black Templars went crazy from that point forth.  Marshall Chamberlain commanded his army to excellence and glory, and I lost less than half a dozen games afterwards (out of scores of games with this army).  Eventually, I treated the army as an 'enforcer', bringing it out just to destroy the egos of wargamers that like to win more than play.  It worked.  (ask Hodgy, his sallies still don't know what happened!)

Final stint. I brought them out for a tournament at my local game shop just after I moved here.  Not knowing anything about the area or the gamers, I expected little but hoped for much.  Going into the third game, the army had one win and one draw, and I was in second place overall (go go gadget soft scores!).  Then I played another Black Templar player.  I must admit, in all honesty, he was more Black Templar than I could ever hope to be.  He had oddly shaped squads, Crusaders rolling around the table, and Terminators shredding everything nearby.  I just wasn't Templar enough and he crushed me.  It wasn't a bad result, so I left happy. 
The army is now proudly owned by a gentleman in New Jersey named Jeff.  He was so ecstatic when he finally openned up the cases that he replied immediately.  It sent a tear down my cheek.  Marshall, take care of your troops.  Jeff, take care of my army.
Ave Imperator

2011, A unit a week

This is the start of my resolution.  Each week, I will paint up some kind of wargame unit.  I have hundreds of units for half a dozen different games, so the supply will not be difficult to come by.  Each unit will consist of between one and any number of individual models, all making up a single unit.  Each week will see a unit from possibly the same game/same army, maybe different game, potentially just a different army.  I make no promises for consistency, I have the attention span of a small child.

Without further ado, here's the first week.

I have chosen to finish the Ultramarines, 2nd Company, 1st Tactical Squad.  Here's some information from the current Space Marine Codex:
Squad Leader:  Veteran Sergeant Solinus
Moniker:  the Indomitable
This is for a miniatures wargame known as Warhammer 40,000, produced by Games Workshop.  For more information, you know what to do.
This squad comes armed with standard bolters, the specialist wields a flamer, the heavy wields a heavy bolter, and the sergeant himself is armed with a power fist.  They are not wearing helmets because I imagine this squad, being honored as the first squad of the company, sometimes bravely show the foe the face of victory.  They are also issued with a Rhino armored transport, making them ideally equipped for urban combat.

the Grand Openning of the World Famous Jay's Workshop

So I resisted.  I resisted as hard and for as long as I could.  But eventually, society dragged me along.  I refused to get a pager or cellular phone because I didn't need them.  Now, well, you'll never see me without my little textbox.  I absolutely abstained from myspace and facebook and all that.  I don't need to know people online that I already know in real life.  I actually started this blog because one of my facebook buddies and I were chatting about it the other night.  So finally, knowing the results of all the other resistance I put up, I caved.  I've started a blog.
Here's what this blog is about:  It's about my games and sci-fi interests.  It's about toy soldiers and really cool stories.  It's about my nerd-life.  I have one, like most people I know.  In the open public, I'm a normal, well-behaved, equally dull person as everyone is.  But in my garage/basement/hobby room, or even cooler in my case, my game shop surrounded by hundreds of friends, I am a king.  My toy soldiers worship me.  My models yearn for my attention.  My need to create and imagine finally gets addressed.
Follow my rants about the hobby.  Throw in some feedback and make this blog fun.  I just wanted a place to advertise my nerd-life, now I have, now you get to help me make it cool.  Happy Gaming!