What the New Dark Angel Prices Really Mean

The sky is not falling. Unless you count the incoming Ravenwing fliers – in a narrative sense – that is. Reaction to the new Dark Angels kits has been… polarising to say the least. Love or hate the new models (personally I like them all except Asmodai – yes, even the Landspeeder, but that’s a rant for another day).

One criticism a lot of people have been most vocal about are the new prices. The Dark Angel kits are generally several pounds more expensive than their “vanilla” conterparts. I guess people are worried this is a sign of an incoming price rise. It’s not. Yes, there will be a price rise in the future, but the Dark Angels are not the harbingers of it. They represent something different. Something I think is a logical and sensible move for Games Workshop.

What the new Dark Angel kits represent is a final end to the “Chapter Upgrade kit”.

Until now, if you wanted to make your Dark Angels look like… well… Dark Angels, you likely would have bought the Dark Angels Veterans set and likely some of the upgrade sprue’s from GW Direct. Ravenwing players would have bought the Ravenwing upgrade sprue’s  This is on top of the cost of the standard kits you were customising.

With the new Dark Angels kits you no longer have to do this. Instead, you buy some of the key units for your army – which you’re likely to buy anyway if you’re actually a collector of the army – and you’ll get enough spare bits to spread through several other units. Lets break it down from the perspective of the new Ravenwing Black Knights/Command dual purpose kit:

Ravenwing Command/Black Knights:

  • 3x Space Marine Bikes
  • Biker Command Squad Parts
  • Black Knight Squad Parts
  • Ravenwing iconography
  • multitudes of extra DA parts (shoulders, icons, weapons, helmets…)

Total: £30 (OMGWTFBBQ!!1!!)

Now lets build as close as we can with the “cheaper” vanilla sets:

  • 3x Space Marine Bikes – £24
  • Ravenwing Upgrade kit – £9 (we could just stop here as a minimum, and still be more expensive)
  • Space Marine Command Squad – £15.50
  • Dark Angels Upgrade kit – £12

Total: £60.50

Your honour, the defence rests.

I’m surprised more people don’t recognise this move towards including Chapter upgrade parts in key kits. It started a long time ago, at least as far back as the Blood Angels. Ask your nearest BA player how many extra Death Company kits he’s bought to give his army a more “flavourful” feel. But no, instead we got a knee-jerk reaction, that frankly, was embarrassing to watch.

Maybe it’s my old-timer/non-competitive gamer view of things clouding my judgement, but I just don’t get it. If you stop and think about it logically, these kits are great value to a Dark Angels collector and/or hobbyist. I can only assume those complaining the loudest were looking to jump on Dark Angels as the latest flavour of the month but have been put off by “sticker shock”. If that’s the case then my advice would be to follow the alternative option you always had: don’t buy the new kits.

A Call to Arms: Starting the Flesh Tearers

 

So I’ve got my inspiration, and I’ve got my list – time to get cracking on these Flesh Tearers then!

There’s going to be a lot of kit-bashing going on, to give me a unique, visually interesting army, so I pick up some Death Company, and 2 Assault Squad boxes to begin with. I’ll also raid my bitz-box for more parts. This brings me over the £50 budget we’re supposed to have, but somehow I don’t think the store will mind someone spending extra…

After diving into my bitz-box I have the following pile of sprues stacked on my desk:

SPRUES!

That’s for one Assault Squad…

I decided I’d make the Melta Assault Squad first, as I found a Combi-Melta for the Sanguinary Priest. I started with the priest, building him from a set of Death Company legs, and salvaged parts from the Command Squad kit, Sanguinary Guard, and Grey Knight Terminators.

Sanguinary Priest Parts

I wanted the squad to look like they were charging into the thick of it, so nearly every model is posed to look like he’s running forward. The exceptions are the two Meltagunners, who are laying down supporting fire.

Flesh Tearers Batch 1

I’ve liberally sprinkled Death Company parts throughout – legs and arms mainly.

Flesh Tearers Batch 2

As everything is going to be at least base-coated using my airbrush, I’ve kept the heads, jump packs, and shoulder pads off of the miniatures for now (truth be told, at this point I haven’t assembled the jump packs).

Here’s the main parts ready for priming:

IMG_0120

 

A Call to Arms: Starting Your New Collection

If you have an iPad, and have browsed Games Workshop’s digital product line in the iBookstore, then you may have read (or be aware of) the A Call to Arms series. If not, the quick summary is: each month we follow the progress of four gamers as they collect and paint an entirely new Warhammer 40000 army. They each have a fixed monthly budget which they use to expand their forces.

Personally, I’ve always found this sort of article fascinating. I love getting insight into how others go about their hobby – the mental process behind how they choose, model, paint, and game with their collections. I also love seeing “real” armies – not the bog-standard GW Studio armies on display in the Codexes and White Dwarf battle reports. A look at other hobbyist’s collections are always my favourite articles in White Dwarf, and the reason I read many hobbyist forums and blogs.

Call to Arms - Flesh Tearers

One of the Armies we follow in GW’s A Call to Arms book is Stefano Carlini’s Flesh Tearers.

So what has this got to do with me? For one, I think it’s an inspirational and fun way to approach a new army. Secondly, my Local, Friendly, GW Store is running their own version of Call to Arms to kick off the New Year.

Each month until April, participants aim to paint up around £50 worth of miniatures for their new army (any GW game system). Every month the entries will be judged by the store manager, and there will be a prize for the overall winner. The competitive element is a great motivator, and the whole thing should be  sociable and well-spirited. No doubt there will be plenty of games as our armies grow in size, so it will be win-win for me – I’ll get my new army started, and I’ll get to play more games than I’ve managed so far!

I’ve already planned out my army. More details will be posted in the blog over the next few days, so keep an eye out! I’m always looking for feedback, so once I’ve posted the details feel free to give your opinion!

What do you think? Would you take part in a similar challenge? Are you already? Leave a comment below!

On Returning to Warhammer 40000: The Culture

This is part 2 in a look at the changes to our hobby I have witnessed since my return at the start of the year. You can find part one, which looks at the changes in game-play here: On Returning to Warhammer 40000 – The Game. This part is a bit more ranty.

By far the biggest change I’ve noticed is in the general attitude and culture surrounding the game. In many senses it feels less like a hobby, and more like a competition. There seems to be a “win at all costs” mentality in a large section of the gaming community. I don’t want to sound like someone espousing about the “good old days”, but I find, particularly amongst the younger players things are a lot less friendly than they used to be.

Everywhere I look I see people asking for advice on building lists to beat their local “meta” (WTF?) – what happened to playing the game for the enjoyment of playing the game? I get that winning is fun, but it’s not everything in Warhammer 40000. Our game is as much about telling stories as it is about playing to win. It’s why I’m so glad to see the focus on “Telling a Narrative” in the new rulebook.

By all means, play to win, but if your opponent hasn’t still enjoyed him/herself while losing, then you’ve both failed in my opinion.

TrollFace

Trolls. Don’t feed them.

Another cultural change I’m not so keen on is the rumour-mill on the Internet, and the general sense of… entitlement that the more vocal side of the community displays. So you don’t like a miniature? That doesn’t necessitate a profanity-riddled screed about how the model sucks, GW sucks, you’re never going to spend another penny on their products again, an you could have done so much better while blindfolded and with both arms cut off… and so on, and so on. Put your toys back in the pram. Don’t buy the miniature – or, if for some reason you are “forced” to – convert it; change it to suit your tastes. Just stop complaining about it. Likewise, when a rumour turns out to be off the mark, don’t get all tetchy. It was just a rumour, after all!

Relatedly, your army (or an opposing army) is not “broken”. It may need a rules update as we’re in a new rule set, but that doesn’t mean it’s unbeatable, or can’t be won with. Every codex has its faults, for sure, but nothing that can stop you enjoying the game if you don’t let it. View any such “brokeness” as challenges to be met, and a test of your skill as a player. If you can overcome a “broken” army then you can take comfort in knowing you are better than any of the faceless complainers out there.

I dislike “mathhammer” as a way of proving something is awesome or that something sucks. If you’re spending your hobby time working out a stream of maths over the chance or likelihood something will win you your next game, then it’s not a hobby any more. Take what you’re drawn to (my armies mainly consist of what I want to paint), and just play it. Leave the maths for professional poker players!

Right, now I’ve got that out of my system, it’s not all bad, I must say. The hobby is bigger than ever. I can get tips and feedback from like minded people all across the world. I have access to a whole raft of information which just wasn’t available before.

The things I’ve noted a dislike for above are merely the dark side of the passion 40K inspires in its fans. It’s the same passion which drives us to spend hard-earned money and countless hours slaving over our miniatures and army lists. Properly channelled, that passion is what leads to amazingly painted armies and miniatures, brilliantly fun games and camaigns, and what ultimately brings players like myself back to the game after so much time away… and that is no bad thing.

On Returning to Warhammer 40000: The Game

I have been out of the hobby for a long time. This was made clear to me when I realised the majority of the regular players at the local Games Workshop store weren’t even born (or were still in nappies) when I last rolled the dice in anger.

2nd Edition Books

When I last played properly, Warhammer 40,000: 2nd edition was still the dominant ruleset (3rd had just come out when I put down my heavy flamer template). Dark Eldar were brand new. Necrons only had about 3 models in the entire line. Space Marines consisted of: Ultramarines, Blood/Dark Angels, Space Wolves, and miscellaneous. Sisters of Battle had their own codex, and it was good. Templates were bigger. Wargear came as cards. We needed dice with more than 6 sides. The world – and the game – was a very different place.

Change is inevitable, particularly if anything is to survive as long as Warhammer 40000 has. 25 years is a long stretch for what is realistically a niche game/hobby. Off the top of my head, here are just a few things which are entirely new to Warhammer 40,000, from my perspective:

  • Tau
  • Grey Knights having a codex entry (with points costs), never mind an entire codex
  • The Force Organisation Chart
  • Deep Strike/Reserves
  • Missions, objectives, warlord traits, etc.
  • Flyers

Other notable changes include most special rules (sniper, feel no pain, eternal warrior, and so on), completely revamped movement rules, cover working completely differently, close combat (sorry, “assault”) changes… I could go on all day, to be honest!

Some of this change is good. Assault is generally a lot quicker and more streamlined when compared to 2nd edition. No more (as an example) Space Marine assault squads with 10 different weapon combinations, due to itemisation streamlining. Less rediculous weapon effects – prime example being armour penetration against vehicles (D20 + D4 + D6 + 10 for a chainfist… don’t even get me started on lightning claws!). Many parts of the game are more sensible than those of old. The FOC is a brilliant addition to the game in my view.

(from top): 6th Ed. Collectors Edition, 6th Ed. Standard, 5th Ed.

(from top): 6th Ed. Collectors Edition, 6th Ed. Standard, 5th Ed.

Other changes I am on the fence about… generally because it seems at times I’m rolling dice for the sake of rolling dice. Random charge/run lengths are the first thing which comes to mind. The various  terrain tests are another. Random missions, random deployment types, randon warlord traits, random psykic powers, random special rules and effects, objectives… on average I find it can take around 20 minutes of faffing about rolling on various tables and setting up stuff (other than my army) before I actually get to play the game. While on the one hand it leads to more varied games, on the other it takes an unnecessary length of time in my view.

One thing I have an impression of – and correct me if I’m wrong – is that overall, points costs are lower than before. This might be why games seem to be a lot bigger than I remember. Time was you’d have ~2 squads, a character, and a cheapish vehicle in an average game (1000-1500 points or so). Now I’m seeing games with scores of infantry, a couple of characters, multiple vehicles and creatures, all at around the same points level as before. The jury is still out on whether I see this as a positive change.

Nightfighting I hate with the heat of a thousand burning suns! But that’s just because I’ve never really wrapped my head around it in a way that doesn’t have me reaching for the rule book every 5 minutes.

Originally this post was a lot longer, and took a look at the cultural changes I’ve seen within the hobby since my return, but I decided it would be best to split this off into its own post, which you can read here: On Returning to Warhammer 40000: The Culture.

Angels & Demons Diorama

I’m catching up on a few of my hobby related posts I’ve had kicking around in draft for months, so if you see a flood of miniatures rush by, don’t be alarmed!

Back in March it was the 19th birthday of GW: Aberdeen. As part of the celebrations they held a diorama contest. There were only 2 criteria – it must be a duel, and it must fit on a round, 60mm (Dreadnought) base.

Somehow, as soon as I knew the criteria I was struck by inspiration and instantly knew my theme – an “Angel” vs a Daemon, in the ruins of a church. I could picture it clearly; the angel diving through the  smashed window to confront the daemon lurking within. It was a simple idea that told a story. If I pulled it off I had a good chance.

Picking my protagonists was easy. The Angel would be a Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard, and the Daemon represented by a Bloodletter of Khorne. For the setting I’d use a corner from an Imperial Basilica Administratum kit.

Building the base was easy. I added slate chips of various sizes, from the 40K Basing Kit, to simulate the rubble of the ruined church, and broke off part of the window frame to make it large enough for the Angel to fit through. Sprayed black, drybrushed various shades of grey, and given a couple of washes, and the stonework was done. The edging was picked out first in Tin Bitz, highlighted with Burnished Gold, washed, and then a very watered-down Hawk Turquise was painted into the recesses for weathering.

The Angel was assembled “stock”, with no real modifications needed. He was painted in a non-metallic metal (NMM) scheme. I didn’t follow my old method of NMM gold, and instead followed the Sanguinor guide in in the ‘Eavy Metal Painting Guide book. Personally I think it came out a little dark, but overall the effect worked well enough. White areas were painted dark grey for a base coat, highlighted with Skull White, washed with thinned Space Wolf Grey, then re-highlighted with Skull White.

The Daemon did not go so well. I now hate the Bloodletters kit with the heat of a thousand suns. I could not get the pose I wanted, and the limbs are really thin and spindly – so getting a good join when repositioning was nearly impossible. Not only that, I really could not get the right tone of red. I wanted the Daemon to be a deep red, contrasting with the golden Angel, but everything I tried came out really murky  or too bright. I can’t remember how I eventually got it right by working my way up through every shade of red I could get my hands on, coupled with several washes of various colours, to provide shading.

When I assembled the diorama I discovered the Daemon’s pose didn’t quite work. His outstretched had took him too close to the Angel, throwing off the proportions and balance in the scene. I very (very!) carefully cut and repositioned him slightly, and added a helmet from the basing kit into his hand… as if he’d just dispatched one of the church’s defenders. A few touch-ups with paint and he was as good as I was going to get him.

As for the competition? I came second in the Adult’s category, losing out to a very impressive scene depicting a Pre-Heresy Imperial Fist Assault Marine Vs a World Eater.

Grey Knight Terminator Squad

This is a post I wrote back in February, which I’m just getting around to publishing…

Back at the start of the year I outlined a few goals, including painting at least one Warhammer 40,000 army. Since then I’ve been working away on a few things and finally have completed unit to show – the first of my Grey Knight Terminator squads.

I’ll admit, these guys took a lot longer to paint than I anticipated. I’ll really have to crank up the pace if I’m going to get an army’s worth done this year!

Grey Knight Interceptors

This is a post from earlier this year, which I’m just getting around to publishing…

Just to prove that I can finish off some complete units, here’s my Grey Knight Interceptors. I got quite bored of the non-metallic grey colour scheme part way through, so it’s made me a bit demoralised about adding any more units to this army. I’ll see how it goes…
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