Thursday, January 27, 2011

Come to Chaos...

Every so often, my text messages go off with an alert.  It's the same message every time, and has been for a couple of years now.  And it always leads to the same conversation, all in texts these days.
"Come to chaos" it says.  "The cookies are better."  is the usual follow-up.  Now, you may be wondering what on earth this has to do with my toy soldiers, and how it's NOT evidence of insanity.  Or paranoia, at least.  I promise, you'll understand in a bit. 
In the hobby, I have the opportunity to know some great people.  Some of these guys (and even gals) have become some of my best friends.  We didn't grow up in the same place, we don't vote the same at election time, and we don't even work jobs that are similar to one another.  But we all share our hobby of little toy soldiers, and the ridiculous amounts of made-up background story.  Some would even call us obsessed.
It's been said that you can tell alot about a person simply by the army he plays.  A tyranid player is typically quiet and unrelenting- you'll never catch a tyranid player flipping out (I've tried, make no mistake), while an Eldar player is typically a little wierd (yes, I mean wierd.  I'm one of them.  I, too, am just 'a little off'.  It happens.)  But most easily, you'll be able to tell if the person is a 'good guy' at heart, or a 'bad guy'. 

This is where the story comes back around.  See, I told you it would all make sense in a bit...
One of my buddies, an avid tournament player and co-organizer of one of the biggest gaming cons in the world, is a chaos player.  In the game, he's totally efficient about utilizing the rules, and he's completely merciless in destroying opponents.  For him, the game is not a matter of good or evil, it's about utter destruction.  Who cares about saving babies?  Especially when they burn so well...  (Neither he nor I are condoning violence against babies of any sort.  So, for all you sue-happy hippies out there, suck it!) 
In all our days, he's shown me his proud Word Bearers army.  In our trend-setting year at competition, he played them beside my Daemon army.  In all these years, he's been completely dedicated to that army, and the Chaos it entails. 

 Word Bearers
These Astartes turned against the Emperor early before the heresy.  Their worship of the Dark Powers of Chaos led them to the 'truth'- that Chaos is all that will be left after all else is gone.  Real power comes from that, and folly is trying to fight against inevitability.  Especially hated by the loyal Space Marines, the Word Bearers are the only renegades that maintain legion strength and combat doctrine.

So guess who the Word Bearers' primary enemy is.  If you guessed anything other than Ultramarines, please go do some research and come back when you know something.  If you guessed correctly, congrats!  You've graduated to knowing a thing or two.  Guess what my favorite army is.  No really.  Guess.  Okay, I know you won't get it, so I'll just tell you....  Ultramarines.  That's right, I love my boys in blue. 
For reasons that will grace the subject line of many blogs to come, I think the Ultramarines are the best force in the galaxy.  Old beyond history, steeped in legend and lore that stretches back to the same days as the Word Bearers themselves, long tallies of victories, all make the Ultramarines awesome.  But above all else, moreso than any other Space Marine Chapter or organization in the Imperium, they are ordered.  Everything about the Ultramarines is about order and efficiency.  There is a lesson in every situation, a rule for every moment, and a way everything works.  To step outside that is to invite Chaos.  To deviate from order is the very essence of chaos.

Remember how I said that you could tell alot about a person from the army they play?  Well, anyone that knows me will tell you that this is how I am.  I am a regimented, responsible, insanely obsessive person.  (but I'm also lazy, so it's a great war of my very own...)  I am the Ultramarines.  I don't need a deep story, even when there is one.  I don't need fancy icons and decoration, even if they're in every box.  I don't need 'creative freedom', as long as the job gets done and I survive. 

As friends have done throughout time with stuff they love, my friends and I have discussed the merits of each of the armies.  We've all discussed our various points of view on the fictional universe and our chosen made-up armies' roles in it.  We've even had heated debates as to the motivations behind these never-even-happened circumstances.  And always, without fail, regardless or original subject, it breaks down into a 'recruitment campaign'. 
I am Imperial through and through.  I have a half-dozen non-Imperial armies and sometimes even enjoy using them (remember, Eldar, wierd, me).  But I fight for the survival and dominance of the human race.  I am all about the homo-sapiens.  And mutant homo-sapiens.  And Astartes.  Okay, I'm all about anything that started human.  Until they start preaching destruction.  And my buddy, the one with the Word Bearers, says being the destructive one is how one gains the power.  Take advantage of weakness so that it may grow stronger, don't protect it.

I resist.  No matter how many times we sit around the bar table waiting for Round 3 to start, no matter how many times my annoying text message alert goes off, no matter how awesome their rules are.  I resist. 
"See" he says.  "You already look good in blue, just like us.  Come on.  Come to Chaos." 
And still I resist.

Monday, January 24, 2011

First of the First, um, Part 2

It took days to get around to pulling out my army.  The figure case sat under tons of other figure cases, beneath layers of dust, and behind stacks of boxes full of models.  Why?  Because I wasn't going to give second thought to the army.  At least until a couple of weeks ago.
  For some reason, I started to think about selling another army.  Emperor knows I could use the money, and the Dark Angels codex seemed to be a lost cause.  I already have 11 other armies for 40k.  And worse, GW had taken a stance of 'suck it up', meaning that my army probably wouldn't see the light of day for years to come.  But I must've tapped into the collective consiousness (one of those crazy-people theories I like so much) as my thoughts seemed to parallel GW's sudden interest in the Dark Angels.  Finally.
  Now, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that there was finally a rules update released.  Just in case you don't know, I'm gonna post the link again below:

Now for my army.  Why did I create a Deathwing force?  Well, mostly because an all-terminator army is just cool.  If you disagree, then you're an Eldar-loving sissy girl.  Also, because I was charged with building and painting a whole army in a month.  Anyone that knows me knows that I can do that as a matter of habit now, but my job was based on this task.  So why take chances?  Easiest army to paint?  The smallest.  Smallest army out there?  The Deathwing.  Problems solved.  (That's also why I don't claim any credit for finishing this army so quickly.  My wife could've done it.  It wasn't that big a deal.  But don't worry, I'll be fishing for compliments with my next army.  :-) )
So it started with this squad.  Ironically, this squad isn't currently part of the army.  I was sitting in the Chicago Battle-Bunker painting these, trying to get non-metal right on termies (I still haven't finished) when my boss walked by and threatened my job.  I haven't touched these models since, and that was four years ago.  But the seed was planted.  I HAD to make a whole army now.

So then it became these squads.  I did one Deathwing unit with the standard storm bolter/power fist buildout and issued an assault cannon.  This squad lays down massive amounts of bolter shells and rending bullets, and is best used when deep striking.  I did two more Deathwing units with three armed with lightning claws and the remaining two veterans armed with thunder hammer/storm shield.  One of the lightning claws had the honor of carrying the cyclone missle launcher.  Overall, the new rules made THESE units much better, as well as the Land Raider.  The FAQ above doubled the firepower of the missle launcher, while increasing the survivability of the storm shields.  Yay!!!
Of course, no self respecting Terminator Assault squad goes to battle without a Land Raider transport, so I painted two.  The other isn't pictured here, because I've failed to finish painting it in four years.  It's literally not worthy.  Now, some of you gamers out there are wondering why I didn't take the Crusader.   It puts out more firepower and gives the assault units frag grenades, right?  Well, two reasons I chose the Phobos.  One- because the Dark Angels are so old that they probably have standard Land Raiders just stashed away.  You don't need a new version when you have too many of the old ones already.  Two- because the Deathwing don't have alot of anti-tank firepower.  The good 'ol standard Phobos-pattern Land Raider fits in the Deathwing AND fills that weakness.  Oh yeah.

Then came the Commander.  Led by the dreaded Master Belial, this army allows terminators to be taken as Troops units.  I made mine from the following model parts (in case you wanna copy):  Marneus Calgar's terminator torso, St. Celestine's backpack halo, CSM helmet with horns removed, Dark Angel conversion kit terminator legs, power weapon arm, storm bolter arm, terminator shoulder pad, and a studded shoulder pad extended with putty.  (Sorry for the poor picture, I just couldn't get it right).  I must also note that this isn't my first attempt at Belial.  I originally used the GW Terminator Captain model and painted him well.  But that model is outdated and is now significantly shorter than the plastic terminators that made up the troops.  Despite that sentimental value, I had to replace him.  Besides, this new version came out pretty sweet, I must admit...    Also, note that I gave him the Sword of Silence and a storm bolter.  I don't usually care about game effectiveness.  I feel the Captain of the First would be proud enough to use his ceremonial weapons.
Then I had to do the librarian.  I originally couldn't choose between an Interrogator-Chaplain or a Librarian.  I thought about it, and realized that the Deathwing probably need the least help with spiritual purity, but they would like to know what their enemy is thinking.  The Librarian became the obvious choice.  His psychic powers, able to conflagurate his enemies, and his knowledge of the secret targets of the Deathwing, make him ideally suited for the army.
Finally, I added Master Belial's command squad and a dreadnought:

The command squad is little more than a standard terminator squad with the banner from the 'Empire Generals' boxed set and the cut-up parts of an apothecary from the 'SM Command Squad' box.  I added a speartip to replace the hammer on the banner's angel, as I just don't see Dark Angels being 'all about the hammer'.  The dreadnought is the beautiful Dark Angels Dreadnought, from Forgeworld, missing a couple of pieces.  (Remember what happened to my Black Templars?  The Deathwing went with them, and came back in similarly 'used' condition.)  I bought that model very soon after release, and it is amazing!  In fact, I even used the bonus money my boss gave me for painting such a great-looking army to buy another one!  Mmmmmm, full circle, my favorite kinda karma...

Now, the army has been finished for a while, adding up to 2,000 points (the average GOOD game size).  In games, they've decimated Tau (yes, the very Tau my Black Templars couldn't seem to handle), Necrons, Space Marines, and numerous others.  But I can't say it's because the army is THAT awesome.  It is, but only against a select few opponents.  I refuse to play orks, tyranids, or Sisters of Battle, as I know I stand no chance of winning.  But against a goodly number of armies out there, the Deathwing make a great game.  About three years ago, I retired the army.  GW released the CSM book, then the SM book, and then the rest is history, leaving the Dark Angels in the Dark Ages.  It wasn't that Deathwing were terrible, just that they were outmoded.
Here's what the army looked like in its heyday:

Here's what I plan on adding to the force:
That's right, it's another Land Raider, another Terminator Assault squad (with a cyclone missle launcher already tossed in the box for good measure), another FW DA Dreadnought, and a FW Chaplain Dreadnought.  That's right, I'm trying to fill out the force organization chart!  When will I paint it?  Hey, don't be asking questions you don't want the answer to!

But now that GW has actually given me rules worthy of the current game, maybe I'll warm up the bleached bone paint and start that expansion.  Finally, I can be proud to have the Deathwing again.  Maybe, just maybe, they'll live up to being the First of the First again.