Black Library catch-up

Hey everybody!
It’s day four of my posting-every-day in celebration of 800 posts here on my blog, and today I thought I’d talk about some books along the Warhammer theme – got to keep it all neat and current, after all!

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First of all, I can’t believe I didn’t write up a blog for this one! After the second book in the series, I wasn’t sure if I would still enjoy Gaunt’s Ghosts, as I thought it was a little less than wonderful, but thankfully I was proven wrong with Necropolis!

Set on the planet Verghast, the story involves the clash of two huge hive cities on the world, Vervunhive (still loyal to the Emperor) and Ferrozoica (since fallen to the Dark Gods). Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only arrive to bolster the local militia of Vervunhive, amidst a gruelling siege from the forces of Chaos.

The book is actually really good, with some tremendous set-piece battles taking place. While planetary politics aren’t always the most exciting, it was an interesting change of pace for me to see a battle taking place amid the industrial politics of Vervunhive, and the city leaders jostling for power and money amid the war going on around them. Dan Abnett is obviously a firm favourite for many, myself included, and it felt very much like this book was a lot more firmly on track than the collection of short stories that comprised the second book.

The book, like pretty much all of Abnett’s writing that I’ve encountered thus far, features much that is both grim and dark, and that helps to give Warhammer 40k its distinctive gothic feel. Notable for me is the hive leader, Salvador Sondar, who is perpetually encased in a neurocasket and conducts his dealings with others through servitor-puppets that are decomposing on their wires.

In some ways, the plot reminded me a little of Warriors of Ultramar, although the storylines do diverge quite dramatically. There is something of the feel of impending doom as we wait for the besieging enemy to attack, and it helps somewhat that the story is never told from the point of view from the Ferrozoicans – much like with Graham McNeill and his Tyranids. Even the turning point of both stories involves infiltrating a massive control structure of the enemy…

Anyway! It’s a wonderful book, quite creepy in parts, but incredibly visceral as Abnett usually is with his war stories. Definitely one to seek out and enjoy if you can!

More recently, I read the fourth story in the Space Marine Conquests series, Of Honour and Iron. As with all novels in this series, it deals with the arrival and integration of the Primaris Marines into the regular infantry of the various (currently First-Founding) Chapters of Space Marines. I’d have thought the Ultramarines would have been more receptive to them, given that they were created on Guilliman’s order, but even here, there is mistrust from the regular Marines.

We get Genesis Chapter in this story as well, the first of the Ultramarines’ successor Chapters, and the guys that I had decided to paint up my own Primaris Marines as following the release of Dark Imperium last year!

The story involves Ultramarines and Genesis Chapter fending off an attack by an Iron Warriors warband – at the time, I’d just finished Dead Sky, Black Sun, so felt like I was continuing to read the same story! Clearly there is a lot of bad blood between the sons of Perturabo and those of Guilliman… The Iron Warriors are searching for something among the hive cities of Quradim, a world garrisoned by the Genesis Chapter, and the same world where the Ultramarines, led by Chaplain Helios, arrive on a special mission for Guilliman. Turns out, years ago there was a cache of virus bombs deposited there, and Guilliman wants to use them to kill off worlds to deny them to the Ruinous Powers in a bit to drive back the Cicatrix Maledictum. Or something like that. The Iron Warriors obviously want them to cause havoc, and something of a race across the planet takes place.

I felt like this was very much a story-by-numbers, for the most part, with the Iron Warriors coming across more like stock-villains than anything else. It was cool to see the Genesis Chapter having such a large role, for sure, and I do like seeing the larger 40k storyline advancing, though I similarly feel that it was a little bit pointless, and these books exist more to show the Primaris integrating into the regular Marines Chapters than anything else. (It doesn’t hurt GW to be able to point to these and say, “look! The Ultramarines/Dark Angels/Space Wolves/Blood Angels have now accepted the Primaris Marines into their ranks! Now buy these battle force boxes!”)


So what’s next from Black Library?

Coming up in February is the story of a female Commissar, Honourbound, which looks like it might be quite good. Notably, it’s a female Commissar who doesn’t feel the need to strut about topless or less. At the minute, I’m enjoying anything that involves a Chaos Cult, so it definitely ticks some boxes for me!

Uncompromising and fierce, Commissar Severina Raine has always served the Imperium with the utmost distinction. Attached to the Eleventh Antari Rifles, she instills order and courage in the face of utter horror. The Chaos cult, the Sighted, have swept throughout the Bale Stars and a shadow has fallen across its benighted worlds. A great campaign led by the vaunted hero Lord-General Militant Alar Serek is underway to free the system from tyranny and enslavement but the price of victory must be paid in blood. But what secrets do the Sighted harbour, secrets that might cast a light onto Raine’s own troubled past? Only by embracing her duty and staying true to her belief in the Imperium and the commissar’s creed can she hope to survive this crucible, but even then will that be enough?

Definitely one to keep an eye on, anyway!

Also coming in February is the final novel in the Horus Heresy series, The Buried Dagger, which will draw the series to a close with both sides poised on the brink of Terra. At least, I think that’s where they’re poised. We’ll get to see Mortarion damn his Legion to perpetual infestation, while an insurrection on Terra erupts in advance of Horus’ forces. It sounds like it’s going to be quite explosive, I have to say, and definitely one of those novels that should stick in the mind.

I’d been expecting to see more in the way of Space Marines Conquests books on the horizon, but there’s nothing on the Upcoming page just yet. We do have the Corax novel in the Primarchs series coming out – that’s a series that I haven’t found myself being quite so invested with for the time being, as none of the stories have sounded like they’d really wow me, so I’ve only picked up three of the volumes for the time being – Perturabo, Lorgar and Jaghatai Khan, as they’re all Primarchs that I’m interested in. If they ever do a Horus novel, I’ll likely pick that one up, and I’ll also likely be interested in an Alpharius book, but I suppose we’ll see!

As it is, I still have rather a lot of Black Library novels waiting for me on the shelf, not just Horus Heresy entries but a lot of the books that were released sort of to advance the storyline. I think I’d like to get to some of those, and also continue along with Gaunt’s Ghosts while I’m on this Chaos Cults kick!

For the time being, I’m reading the short story Skitarius, which is inspiring me to continue with painting my Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures – make sure to come back tomorrow for a painting progress update blog!

Dead Sky, Black Sun

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The third volume in the Ultramarines series by Graham McNeill, this one forms a direct sequel to both the previous installment, Warriors of Ultramar, as well as McNeill’s earlier novel, Storm of Iron.

While Uriel Ventris may have played a successful part in repelling the tyranids on the world of Tarsis Ultra, his unorthodox methods were not approved of by the larger Ultramarines Chapter, and so he and his sergeant Pasanius are exiled from the Chapter on a Blood Oath to destroy some daemonic engines that Chief Librarian Tigurius has seen in a vision. All of this is dealt with by the short story Consequences that precedes the main story proper, anyway.

Dead Sky, Black Sun sees Ventris and Pasanius on their way to discover just what this vision could have meant, when their ship is attacked in the Warp by the Omphalos Daemonium, a daemon engine we saw briefly in The Enemy of My Enemy, the short story I’d read following Storm of Iron. The daemon takes the Ultramarines to Medrengard, the homeworld of the Iron Warriors deep within the Eye of Terror, and tells them that the daemon engines they seek are to be found within the stronghold of Khalan-Ghol, but its purpose is hardly altruistic, as it tasks Ventris with retrieving the Heart of Blood from within the fortress – “you will know it when you see it”.

While Ventris of course has no intention of keeping a bargain with the daemon, he nevertheless uses all opportunities presented to him to help fulfill his Blood Oath. And so he and Pasanius begin their journey. Along the way, they meet up with Ardaric Vaanes and his Renegades, and attempt to infiltrate the fortress only to be caught by its lord, none other than the half-breed Honsou!

The Space Marines are given over to the Savage Morticians deep within the bowels of Honsou’s fortress, creatures I’d have expected to be more at home in Commorragh than here, but whatever. Ventris himself, for defying Honsou, is stitched inside the Daemonculaba, a horrific Warp-spawned engine/womb hybrid where the Iron Warriors seek to make more of their kind. Somehow, Ventris manages to escape his grisly fate, and along with significantly less renegades, escapes the Savage Morticians only to find themselves in the land of the Unfleshed – the failures of the Daemonculaba process. These horrific brutes at first fight the Space Marines, though their leader smells the Daemonculaba on Ventris and takes them in as kindred. Eurgh.

Together with the Unfleshed, the Marines storm the citadel once more, and all hell breaks loose when they release the daemon bound to its centre, the Heart of Blood. At this point, the Omphalos Daemonium shows up and there ensues a titanic battle between the two, with the Heart of Blood victorious. However, the Omphalos Daemonium’s daemonic engine is left behind, and Ventris, Pasanius and the remaining Unfleshed use it to flee from Khalan-Ghol. Honsou, barely surviving the attack on his fortress, teams up with Vaanes and a grisly by-product of Ventris’ time within the Daemonculaba – what appears to be a Chaos clone of the Ultramarine…


This is one hell of a grisly book!

I know it’s set within the Eye of Terror, so anything goes, but still! There is a lot of swimming through blood and body parts, and various mutant hybrids, and it’s all just really quite grim!

Maybe because of that, I found myself enduring this one rather than enjoying it, as I did with the previous two. I suppose the pared-down nature of the story, with just the two Marines rather than the whole company, didn’t really help there, though. I enjoyed the earlier Ultramarines novels because they showed how the Space Marines fit into the Imperium, and whatnot. There was a really quite nice sense of world-building in that regard there. Here, however, the story felt a little more small-scale, and while I suppose it offers a fascinating look into the worlds of Chaos and what the Iron Warriors get up to on their home turf, I just wasn’t feeling as into it as I had previously.

The way that the novel brings together the Iron Warriors and Ultramarines novel-universes, though, was really very good, and I’m glad I took the time to read Storm of Iron before getting back into this series.

Having briefly looked over the remaining three novels in this series, I find myself a bit dismayed to discover that the next two seem to be dealing with Ventris’ attempts to rejoin the Chapter, as I’d hoped for more general Ultramarines action. It’s not to say Ventris isn’t an interesting character, or that his arc is not worth reading – I think I just prefer to see Space Marines fighting on the larger scale.

But I guess we’ll just have to see!

Know No Fear

Hey everybody!
I’ve been busily reading my way through a few excellent novels of late, so thought it might be time to come here and share my thoughts with you all! First up, it’s time once again to return to the Horus Heresy, and finally get to meet the Ultramarines properly at book 19: Know No Fear!

This novel is basically the start of the famous Battle of Calth. Famous, I suppose in the main, due to the boxed game from Games Workshop back in 2015, which brought plastic Mk IV Space Marines to gaming tables the world over. The battle between the Ultramarines and the Word Bearers has gone down in Warhammer 40k history as one of the most personal, the enmity between the two legions running so deep as to be utterly irreparable. Let’s take a look…

The book reads rather like a disaster movie, as we see the Ultramarines massing at the Calth shipyards for what they think is a joint crusade with the Word Bearers. It has been more than 40 years since the Emperor sent Guilliman’s legion to chastise the sons of Lorgar on Monarchia, and as with everything he does, Guilliman just thinks he was doing his duty and took nothing personally. Lorgar, however, has never forgotten the humiliation he received at the hands of the Ultramarines, and in some respects it can be seen as having caused the entire Horus Heresy. At any rate, the Word Bearers are definitely not about to join forces and fight alongside the Ultramarines…

The book builds tension until about a third of the way through, where a ship crashes into one of the orbital platforms above Calth, and all hell breaks loose as the Word Bearers open fire on their fellow Astartes. Guilliman first thinks it a mistake, that the Word Bearers had thought themselves under attack and, paranoid after Monarchia, have immediately opened-fire on the Ultramarines in self-defence. But no, it doesn’t take long for the Ultramarines to realise that the Word Bearers are hell-bent on the destruction of their legion. Unfortunately, the noosphere has been knocked out by the attack, so vox traffic is halted. With no way to coordinate their defence, thousands of Ultramarines are killed.

However, the Mechanicum and the Ultramarines resistance soon manage to turn the tide, and Guilliman himself just about manages to thwart Kor Phaeron’s plan to annihilate his legion, but the Word Bearers have already unleashed several bombs on Calth’s star, causing terrible radiation poisoning of the planet, and driving the war into the catacombs and arcologies.

know no fear

I really wanted to like this book. Dan Abnett is, of course, a fan favourite, and I had been looking forward to seeing the Ultramarines properly in the Horus Heresy. However, I felt it was a little bit drawn out in terms of the initial impact of the Word Bearers attacking the orbital platforms, then it seemed to end quite abruptly, with an epilogue set long after the subterranean battle had ended. It was a bit of an odd one, and I can’t quite bring myself to say it was that great a book. I mean, Horus Rising was wonderful, and Legion is one of my all-time favourites, so I suppose I was expecting more. I don’t know.

I did enjoy the disaster-movie-feel that a lot of the novel had, and I think it was done really well to sustain that over the course of almost the whole novel. The initial cataclysm and subsequent scattered resistance was really good, though I think I would have liked to have seen more from the Word Bearers’ perspective.

It’s also worth noting that the novel is told in the present tense, which I always feel makes me read it faster than I would otherwise. Instead of chapter sub-headings, we have the “mark of Calth”, the time-stamp of each action described within said chapter, in relation to the initial attack of the Word Bearers. It gave the novel an added sense of urgency, which I think works really well alongside the disaster-movie approach.

It’s nice to see Guilliman in the Heresy at last, and I enjoyed seeing the Ultramarines at war en masse. A lot of people write Guilliman off as boring, but I’m always fascinated to read about him and his incredibly tactical brain. He’s written as being the tactical genius of all the Primarchs, and that comes out here when we see him digest dozens of battle reports at once, to form a plan of attack within minutes, while everybody is stood around him looking vaguely dumb. Some personality quirks – such as his preference for using a stylus – are carried over by the Dark Imperium novel, which I also enjoyed. He’s definitely a more interesting character than people give him credit for, and I think anybody who is bashing on the Ultramarines should take the time to read something like Know No Fear, to see how effective and badass they can actually be!

All in all, I think I was expecting more from the novel, so felt a little let-down, but still enjoyed a lot of things about this book. Probably not one of the stand-out books from the series, but definitely not one to pass over!

The Fall of Damnos

Damnos

Hey folks!
While I’ve been reading (and re-reading) all manner of stuff at the minute, I thought I’d talk today about a book that I read a few weeks ago, back when I was moving house and all that attendant nonsense. The Fall of Damnos is the main bulk of the Space Marines Battles: Damnos book, which follows the progress of the Ultramarines’ attempt to liberate the populace of the mining world of Damnos from the return of the Necrons.

To all intents and purposes, I should love this book. Indeed, I’ve thought of it for a long time now as the quintessential Necrons novel.

Boy, was I disappointed.

The story follows several of the Ultramarines 2nd Company, under the legendary Captain Cato Sicarius, as they struggle against the reactivated Necrons across the world. There is a token planetary defense force, but the main populace on the world are the miners who seemingly accidentally wake the slumbering Necrons. There are several battles described, but despite Sicarius’ charisma and battle prowess, it seems the Necrons have the upper hand as they attempt to reclaim their tomb world…

The narrative feels like a series of vignettes for the most part, and at one point actually came across like some kind of attempt to describe a tabletop battle. I’m not a huge fan of that sort of thing, as it often feels like the story is going nowhere as we get several descriptions of epic nothingness. Maybe I’m being too harsh…

Confusingly, one battle group of Ultramarines is referred to as the Immortals, which is around the same time we get the Necron Immortals entering the fray. Kyme even uses different words to describe these guys depending on the point of view – to the Ultramarines, they’re “larger warrior constructs” or something, whereas to the Necrons, they are of course Immortals. Necron Raiders are mentioned quite a lot, often in relation to what I assume otherwise to be Necron Warriors. While the use of Raiders might be a nice throwback to fans of 2nd Edition, I can’t say it held much appeal as a Necron fan.

Indeed, there isn’t really much here for fans of the undead space robots. There’s a mad Overlord, a scheming Cryptek, and the usual insane Flayed Ones, then the most part of the army consists of Warriors/Raiders, and Canoptek Scarabs. Monoliths make an appearance at one point, which is nice, and there may have been a Tomb Stalker mentioned for one incredibly brief moment, but otherwise it’s quite a one-dimensional foe for the brilliant Ultramarines to fight.

As for the Ultramarines themselves, they’re a weird mix of politicking folks who seem to be out for personal glory above all else. Weird, right?

Damnos dates from 2011, and feels very much like “the old” Black Library. Sure, they still put out clunkers and filler-type novels, but in the main, they definitely feel like they’ve upped their game since these days, where they were basically a game company tie-in. We may not be getting Shakespeare now, of course, but we’re getting novels that are actually enjoyable to read, and are worth reading for their own merits, and not merely because they describe the deeds of the plastic men we push around on the tabletop. The Necron lore in particular felt badly written in this one, which put me off it pretty much entirely, but even with that aside, I can’t think of any reason why you’d want to pick this one up today.

Space Marines Legends: Cassius

Cassius

Hey everybody!
I’ve been continuing to make my way through some Warhammer 40k novels lately, riding the wave of 8th Edition and general positivity towards the IP, and have recently finished the first book in the Space Marine Legends series. This series began earlier in the year, and has been looking at a different, well, legend of the Space Marines! I’ve not been all that interested in pursuing the others in the series, which include spotlights on Ragnar Blackmane, Shrike and Dante, though the Azrael book may be of some interest. Anyway!

Cassius follows the Ultramarines’ chaplain as he leads an assault of the combined Third and Fifth Companies against the Tyranids on the world of Kolovan, close to Forge World Ryza and the Sol System. The Tyranids are dangerously close to Terra, and the hive fleet must be stopped before it can destroy the heart of mankind. Cassius leads the troops in pushing back the advance, only to discover that the world had already fallen before the Ultramarines’ arrival. However, with the discovery of a Magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus’ bioweapon that could potentially destroy the Tyranids, the Astartes launch an attack on the hive ships themselves in orbit. Ultimately successful, the space marines are nevertheless depleted by their losses, and decry the fact that few, if any, will ever learn of the importance of their sacrifice.

The novel is fast-paced and fairly short, as it happens, running at around 220 pages. This seems to be a bit of a trend these days, and while part of me quite likes the fact that novels of this length feel more like a movie that I’m enjoying, I’m nevertheless saddened by the fact that it’s £12.99 for more a novella than anything. The story is good though, if a little wacky towards the end – though I always find it vaguely silly whenever the space marines board a Tyranid vessel.

The Ultramarines chaplain is front and centre during the book, as you’d expect, and we do get to learn a little of the chaplain’s role within the chapter. Throughout my reading of it, I kept thinking about how much I’d like to get back to painting space marines, and even how much I’d like to start doing something with those Tyranid models from Shield of Baal! More than I think any other Warhammer novel that I’ve read recently, Cassius has made me want to buy and paint miniatures, which I think says it all, really! It was a good read, the only downside for me was the price. But this seems to be standard for hardbacks from the Black Library these days, so I can’t really hold that against it.

Hobby Progress, week 39

Hey everybody!
We’re swiftly approaching the end of the year now, and I’ve been thinking on how I actually want to make some effort to finish off some projects that have been started this year, so that I’m carrying over a minimum of bare plastic, though this hasn’t actually seen much fruition this week! But you should all probably expect this by now!

So what have I been doing since the immensely productive week last week? Well, not a great deal!

First of all, let’s talk about my board for Armies on Parade this month. I’ve been trying to get the effort to paint this bad boy for pretty much two weeks now, having sprayed it Zandri Dust and pretty much done nothing else! While I was off, I painted the cracks with Naggaroth Night, and the metallic circles there with Warplock Bronze, but that had been the extent of my work on the thing really. So after casting about for some inspiration, I recalled that Duncan has done a video on exactly what I’m trying to produce with the exact board! I’ve therefore decided on a bit of a scheme for it, and have now painted all of the paving stone areas with a mix of Karak Stone and Baneblade Brown – that is, some are one colour and some are the other, mainly to add interest. I’ve also shaded the metal areas and all of the skulls with Agrax Earthshade, which alone has allowed me to feel much further along with it than I have been!

Parade Day is less than two weeks away now, though, so I need to make sure I can actually pull my finger out with this!! At least I have some Tomb Kings to put on the board, and the main feature is my Stormcast, which of course have all been finished already! I still have no illusions of winning anything, but I do think my army can look quite effective when it’s all on the board there, so we’ll see!

I’ve been building more than I’ve been painting, otherwise – starting with more Alpha Legion chaps! Last weekend I decided to look at my current batch of legionaries in terms of what I can do with them in the game, and have worked out that I needed the four pictured above in order to create three actual squads of five-man Veteran Tactical Marines:

So, all together I have 610 points of Alpha Legion – or I will have, when these last four are painted. Let’s take it clockwise from the top-left then:

Squad One has the sergeant kitted out with a combi-flamer (+10 points) and another marine has a meltagun (+15 points) Total: 150 points

Squad Two has the sergeant wielding a power fist (+15 points); one legionary carries the legion vexilla (+10 points) and another is wielding a missile launcher (+25 points) Total: 175 points

Squad Three has the sergeant wielding a plasma pistol and power fist (+30 points total), and another marine is using a plasma gun (+15 points) Total: 170 points

The Centurion has been upgraded to a Chaplain, who is wielding a plasma pistol (+15 points) and crozius arcanum (+15 points) Total: 115 points.

I’ve still got the Contemptor Dreadnought waiting in the wings, but that’s roughly 200 points from what I remember, so I’m hoping that by the end of the year I will be able to have 1000 points ready so that I can start playing games with them, so stay tuned for that!

Speaking of buiding more marines:

I’ve had these other five marines waiting in the wings since I built up the five Novamarines at the beginning of the year! So I’ve taken some time to kinda kitbash some really fancy-looking marines together: most obviously, the sergeant out front has got the power fist from the Devastator kit, and the power sword from the Ultramarines upgrade kit. That upgrade kit is widely-used for shoulder pads on the other guys, too. I’ve already talked about using Devastator parts on the missile launcher guy, who has been built up a few weeks ago. The only other bits are a right arm from the Vanguard Veterans kit that allows the marine on the right to wield his boltgun one-handed.

I’ve also finally built up the apothecary that I’d started to work on months ago, but couldn’t find a right arm that I wanted. Well, once again the Devastator kit has come through for me, there! What an awesome and versatile kit that is!

So I have five fancy marines that I’m thinking I might field along with the Novamarines, if they do indeed make a legal squad – there’s every chance they won’t, so more thought might be needed here! But still…

While I’m still on the subject of Ultramarines, I thought I’d share this picture that I put up on instagram last weekend – it’s the tactical squad I posted about last week, but arranged around the novel Nightbringer, which I did purely for a bit of fun, but has swiftly and inexplicably become my most-liked photograph on instagram in the history of me!

So there you have it! Other building projects from the week consist of:

The Genestealer Patriarch from Overkill is a lot of fun, even if it is the third iteration of this pose in, what, eighteen months – I should try to get my Space Hulk and Shield of Baal Broodlords together with him for a comparison… But it’s still a badass model, and I’m looking forward to getting it painted up along with the rest of my cult.

As I said in yesterday’s blog, whereas I’ve dabbled with models like the Electro-Priests or the Grey Knights, I’m actually going to build a Genestealer Cult army, so that will be (eventually) three full armies for 40k. Hopefully, by the time I retire I’ll actually have them painted up, too!

Finally, I started to build some more Tomb Kings last night, after winning some lots on ebay! I’ve got two done thus far, and while they are fairly simple to put together (the horsemen themselves have a body that’s all-in-one, so that’s useful) I’ve only managed this pair. I’ve had to leave the slotta bars on the horse feet, as the surface area is otherwise too small and I’d worry about them. I’m confident that I can built it up with basing material though, so they won’t be obvious! I don’t know if I’ll be pushing my luck to get even these two painted up for Armies on Parade, but it would be kinda cool… We’ll see!

So that’s the extent of my progress for this week! I’m planning to focus my attention on the board, with the Alpha Legion marines for a bit of light relief, so hopefully in next week’s blog, there will be some exciting times to talk about!!

Hobby Progress, week 38

Hey everybody!
I had the week off work this week, and it has been awesome for my hobby-time! Prepare for one of the most exciting and prolific painting progress blogs since I began this series back in January!

Hobby Progress 38

To start with, it’s the Skeleton Warriors that have been featured in previous installments! These are the first Tomb Kings models that I’ve actually managed to finish, and while they won’t be winning any competitions any time soon, I’m really happy with them! That said, they are actually going to form part of my Armies on Parade display – my Stormcast will be invading Khemri/Realm of Death!

I think I’ve mentioned some of it previously, but let’s talk about the scheme in its entirety here – mainly because I’ll probably forget otherwise… So the models were sprayed with Corax White, and the bone shaded with Seraphim Sepia. For the gold, I’ve used Balthasar Gold, shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and drybrushed with the new Skullcrusher Brass. The shields were actually more complicated than I’d expected: painted with Teclis Blue, shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade, and lightly overbrushed with Lothern Blue. I’ve then shaded them again with Agrax Earthshade, then finally overbrushed some Macragge Blue at the top near to the gold trim. The result is almost a blending look, though was arrived at pretty much by accident! The headdresses were painted with Macragge Blue, and shaded with Nuln Oil. All of the spear hafts were painted with Dryad Bark and shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and the spear tips were done with Leadbelcher and shaded with Nuln Oil gloss, which hasn’t ended up with as glossy a look as I was expecting. I kinda like the idea of having a more obsidian look to those, so I might go over them again. The strips of cloth on the standard, and trumpet thing, as well as some of the shields, were basecoated with Rakarth Flesh, and then shaded heavily with Reikland Fleshshade – because I want them to look more akin to flayed flesh than cloth. Finally, the bases were painted with Blackfire Earth, which I’m upset to report my pot has dried out, so I had to mash it up with a lot of water to get it going. I think I’m going to have to invest in some more for all of the Tomb Kings I have, though! Also, the rims were painted with Dawnstone.

Phew!

Hobby Progress 38

I’ve also painted up some more Horus Heresy legionaries, further expanding my Alpha Legion! I’ve actually merely finished them off, as the armour and some of the silver had already been started. But it’s always good to get things actually finished! Following the main scheme for these guys, the skin has caused me a lot of trouble. In the novel Legion, the marines are described as having coppery skin, so I’ve wanted to emulate this, but didn’t really have much of an idea of how to do that. So, I initially painted their heads – lightly – with Balthasar Gold. You know, for literal coppery skin. I then went for a bit of an overbrush technique of Doombull Brown and Wazdakka Red in a roughly 2:1 mix. While this worked wonderfully for the chap on the right, the chap on the left didn’t seem to come out looking that great. So I went to the usual Cadian Fleshtone and lightly brushed that onto the one on the left, making him a bit paler than the other guy. But I guess it all adds for the variety! Again, they’re not going to win any awards up close, but I think they look pretty good when they’re in the middle of the other guys!

Hobby Progress 38

I’m really happy with how my Alpha Legion has been growing so far this year, and while it has been fairly slow to get anywhere, I think that’s the best for me!!

On Wednesday, I gave myself a bit of a painting challenge for the afternoon, seeing how far I could get with the unit of Vanguard Veterans. These are the guys, three of which I’d attempted to paint as Scythes of the Emperor, decided better of it, and stripped them before spraying them with Macragge Blue. At some point in this process, the finish on these models has become a bit rough and uneven, and I’m left with some chaps that are less than ideal, if I’m honest, but seeing as how I actually want my Ultramarines to be 4th company anyway, I’m treating these almost as practice miniatures – their armour is sufficiently detailed that I’m trying to make a good job of them with some different effects or whatever, but I won’t be too torn up if they turn into an absolute mess.

The challenge lasted four and a half hours, anyway, and in that time I think I’ve done a pretty good job on them! I have done more work on them since, of course…

While I’m not sure if I’m calling them finished, I think I’ve done as much on them for now that I can. I’m still not happy with them, and I’ve been thinking a lot about stripping them again if/when I get an ultrasound cleaner, as I expect that would be a much more thorough clean. And speaking of models that I’m also unsatisfied with…

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The five assault terminators that I’d started ages ago! I don’t know what it is, but these models just feel really horrible to paint right now, like the previous layers of paint were applied too thickly. If memory serves, I sprayed these with Macragge Blue and, while the original batch of space marines didn’t seem to be too badly affected, it feels a bit like that has obscured too much detail for me. Again, I’m really not happy with these, and if I do go down the route of an ultrasound cleaner, I’ll be throwing these guys in there as well.

But to finish, I’ve been working on yet more space marines – it’s the second lot of ten from that first batch of marines I built up late last year! Including Captain Ventris and Sergeant Lysane!

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These guys have been a lot better to paint, and over the course of Saturday afternoon, I got them done. The gold bits I’ve done slightly differently to my usual scheme, in that I used Reikland Fleshshade to shade it, rather than Agrax Earthshade, then lightly drybrushed with Golden Griffon. The green trip for 4th company is just three thin coats of Elysian Green, and the bolter casings are done with Abaddon Black and washed with Nuln Oil, as are the silver bits. Ventris’ face has caused me a lot of concern – it’s the usual Citadel scheme of Cadian Fleshtone, Reikland Fleshshade, and Kislev Flesh, but I think that last looks a bit too weird somehow. I’m still learning faces, of course, so I might change this soon. I still want to do something with the power sword, Lysane’s flamer I want to try and do the muzzle burn thing on, and I should probably add some decals to them too, so they’re not quite finished yet, but in the main, they’re done! I think the tactical squad looks great so far, anyway!

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Shamefully, this is the extent of my Ultramarines army right now, also! I do have a lot of half-finished things on the go, of course, but still!

Going back to what I was saying about faces up there, I’ve also been painting a couple of others:

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The two Dark Angels here are probably the easiest to talk about, as their faces are really hidden and stuff, so only the suggestion of skin and they look okay. The Blood Ravens librarian in the centre, however, has been more of a concern because his head is much more prominent! Again, it’s the same scheme as Uriel Ventris described above, as I was doing all of these chaps at the same time, though I’ve also put some Celestra Grey onto his eyes – some figures like the librarian here have more pronounced eye-bumps, while others like the captain actually have pronounced cheekbones, hiding the eyes. For the librarian, I’m going to paint his eyes vaguely glowing, so it isn’t a problem, but I think having the grey there looks a bit weird…

Unless it isn’t obvious, since the last time the librarian appeared in my progress blog, I’ve done a lot of the tan colours on his body – all Zandri Dust, though the tabard and shoulder pad have been shaded Seraphim Sepia, while the purity seals and librarian skulls have been shaded Agrax Earthshade. I’ve also painted his power sword, with a weird mix of Balthasar Gold and Leadbelcher. I basically wanted to see what happens when you mix these two paints, and it looks kinda nice, so I thought, why not?

Finally, I’ve been working on the Knight-Heraldor, who will be joining my Stormcast on the board for Armies on Parade next month!

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He’s pretty easy to paint, actually, for all that he’s a character unit. The armour is Balthasar Gold, shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and drybrushed with Golden Griffon; the silver bits are Leadbelcher, shaded with Nuln Oil, and drybrushed with Necron Compound; the purple bits are Naggaroth Night highlighted with Xereus Purple, and the plume is Celestra Grey shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade. The pennant coming off the trumpet is Thunderhawk Blue, shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade, and lightly drybrushed with Celestra Grey. All I need to do is paint the hilt of the sword, and he’s finished! So that’s been surprisingly easy, anyway – I think it helps I used him to break the monotony of painting so many marines this week, which has certainly helped!

So, all in all, I feel like I’ve made some excellent progress this week!

As I said above, I’m going to abandon those veterans and terminators for the time being, while I figure out whether I want to actually keep them or strip them. It’s currently no great loss, of course, because my Ultramarines are hardly a force that just needed one of those units to tip them over the edge, but still! I think it’s shown me that spraying Macragge Blue might be best left for vehicles or larger things, and otherwise I’m best off just painting it on with a brush.

Getting those five tactical marines finished – pretty much in a day – has got me back in the mood for painting marines. Painting these faces, especially the Deathwatch Librarian, has got me back in the mood for painting more Deathwatch. So maybe next weekend, I’ll have some more of those chaps done! That said, I’m also feeling a bit in the mood for more instant gratification, so I might build some more 30k marines for my Alpha Legion. I really should try to work on my board for Armies on Parade. But all this talk of Genestealer Cults has got me thinking about making a start with those guys, as well! What to do, what to do…

I’ll probably end up painting something completely different to all of that, anyway!!