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!

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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…

Hobby Progress 38

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!

Hobby Progress 38

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!

Hobby Progress 38

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:

Hobby Progress 38

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!

Hobby Progress 38

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!!

Hobby Progress, week 33

Here we are again, folks! Week 33 of my hobby progress blog, well and truly on the slide down to Christmas! I’m actually really surprised I’ve managed to keep this up all year – not that I really expected to abandon it, of course, but more because I hadn’t thought I would actually be doing something hobby-related for all 33 weeks of the year so far! But anyway.

I managed to get two days off work this week, and the weather was correspondingly awful, so I have quite a lot to talk about!

First up, Deathwatch. It’s on everybody’s mind, no doubt, due to the ongoing releases coming out of GW. I’ve got ten of these guys on the go right now, five from Overkill and the five Veterans from Death Masque. Having primed them Chaos Black, I’ve been intending to follow Duncan’s tutorial and so painted the armour Abaddon Black, then highlighted with Eshin Grey and Fenrisian Grey. First of all, painting black on top of black has always made me scoff – I’ve never had to do it, but I’ve never really seen the point. Having now done this, I am a total convert to this idea! In many of the videos from Warhammer TV, they say how Abaddon Black has a different finish to Chaos Black, but they don’t tell you that Abbadon Black has a much nicer finish, which is what I find. It felt a bit foolish at first, but I could definitely see an improvement after doing just one marine, so eagerly did the others!

Eshin Grey has proven to be an extremely subtle highlight, while Fenrisian Grey has gone over it far too brightly, so I’m really not happy with the look of these. I think I might need to start over, but I might try a much darker grey, maybe Dawnstone, rather than the Fenrisian they tell you to use.

That said, I’ve tried edge highlighting in these as an attempt to begin to level up my painting, and my first attempts have not been a success! A lot of these marines have therefore been carefully, lightly drybrushed to highlight them, trying to only hit the edges and not the whole armour. At any rate, I don’t think they look all that great, so it might be back to the drawing board. We’ll see.

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Next up, the Vanguard Veterans I mentioned last week! Having rescued them with dettol, I’ve re-primed and sprayed them Macragge Blue, then drybrushed with Chronus Blue and washed them with Drakenhof Nightshade, as is my standard Ultramarine scheme. It could be my imagination, but the second paint job here doesn’t seem to have taken quite as I’d expected – the marines appeared to be shiny even after the primer, and I’m not entirely sure why.

That said, I’ve had the worst luck with sprays recently. The weather, as I mentioned, has not been great – it wasn’t too bad when I was doing all my spraying on Thursday, however, but the primer and the spray base colour both came out really powdery and rough on every marine I painted this way. So I’ve taken a toothbrush to them and tried to brush it all off. For the most part, this has worked, but it left a lot of guys – particularly the blue ones – quite shiny, too. Maybe I’ve made a mistake here? I don’t know. I certainly made sure the can was warmed up, and shook it for at least two to three minutes each time. I do wonder, though, if priming them indoors might not be the best of ideas. There was a lot of particulate matter in the air after doing that, and they were in that environment to dry, so maybe I should move them away to dry…

Anyway, onwards!

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The four Alpha Legion guys have been base coated, washed and drybrushed with my usual scheme as well, so they’re coming along nicely. I’ve been thinking quite a bit how I’ve found these chaps really quite painless to paint, but for my Ultramarines, I seem to take a lot longer and agonise over the details – but they’re essentially very similar! Hopefully I can speed up with my Ultras, therefore, as I have rather a lot of them on the go in various stages, and would really like to have them finished soon!

I’ve been building a lot of models this week, as well – Necrons, Terminators, Librarians, and more marines in general. As I said last week, it’s the time of year where I start to plan for the winter and, if I can get stuff primed when the weather is consistently good (well…), I will do! So let’s take a look at some new stuff!

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First of all, more marines – this time, Terminators! I love the Terminator kit, and even though it’s a fairly old sculpt now, I still think it holds up. There’s something of a classic look here that I really enjoy, anyway. They’ve had the same treatment as the Vanguard Veterans, so they’re ready for details to start being added in.

Hobby Progress 33

Last week’s nostalgia prompted me to build up five Lychguard, who also turned out powdery and awful, but I think I’ve managed to save them with copious amounts of Nuln Oil! I think I’ve talked about this before, but as the Lychguard were the first Necrons I’d put together, all of my subsequent builds have seen me try to match that first paint job, and so I’ve never really had the chance to progress. These chaps, however, I’m hoping to see myself do something not necessarily wildly different, but I’m going to really try to make a good accounting of them. I still have five more with warscythes hanging about from earlier in the year that are also unfinished, and five with sword/shield from last year that need some work, so I’m going to be working on those side by side and see how they all turn out. I think I could do with going through a lot of my Necrons and trying to improve them – the Triarch Praetorians, in particular, never ended up exactly as I’d have liked.

Time for stuff that I’ve built and not yet primed/painted! Let’s start with the Librarian from Dark Vengeance. I’d bought this box back before last Christmas, built the five Deathwing Terminators, and sold the rest. I had thought about keeping the librarian, but didn’t bother in the end, and have periodically regretted it since. So I did a search on ebay for him recently, just out of curiosity, and found I could get one for £3! (I also saw the five Deathwing guys for £8, which bummed me out). Turmiel arrived on Thursday while I was priming guys, so I built him up and primed him, as well. Seeing as how his backpack was completely separate, I decided to make him more Dark Angels-y than he is, and gave him an ornate one from the DA Veterans kit that I’d bought specifically for the censer bits. While I now have a backpack with a librarius skull on it, I feel I may have a use for it further down the line…

Going through the DA Veterans bits had inspired me, however, to start building more Deathwing Terminators! The chap on the left has a storm bolter that has the Deathwing sword strapped underneath it as well as a shoulder pad from the Veterans box, while the sergeant on the right has the power sword, as well as a censer hanging from his belt. The Standard Bearer has a little shield thing with feathers also from the Veterans kit, but is otherwise pretty standard-fare.

My original five Deathwing Terminators I built and painted earlier in the year are a mix of regular guys and Command Squad guys, and reading the DA codex, I think I need to make all five from the Command Squad in order to field it, so I’m trying to build marines that will allow me to bulk those five out into two separate squads. So the plan, ultimately, will be to have three squads of the terminators, one squad of the Knights, Belial, the Venerable Dreadnought, and a Drop Pod and Land Raider. Though I’m seriously thinking about making at least one more dreadnought. I’m not going for the whole Dark Angels force, as I only want the Deathwing because the colour scheme is one of those 40k schemes that genuinely excites me. But anyway!

What else have I been building? Oh yeah!

Having built up three Devastator marines back in the spring, I’ve finally built the remaining two – and the armorium cherub! I don’t know why I seem to build things in threes, though painting the Maximus marines has shown smaller numbers tend to focus me somewhat. Anyway, I’ve finally got the five done, and I have to say, the Devastator kit is absolutely incredible for the number of spare bits you have in there! I put a photo on instagram (if you don’t follow me there, why not?!) that shows the sprues as they are once all five marines are built, and it’s incredible! So many weapons options for the sergeant alone! But so many spare heads, hands, it’s all just amazing! I reckon all you’d need is some legs and backs from a bits seller and you could make at least three more marines out of this kit! Totally awesome!

I have no idea if the Ultramarines use cherubs in the fluff – they always seem to be a Blood Angels thing in the artwork we see – but built one simply because I could. I also want to challenge myself to paint more flesh, so it’ll be a good thing for that.

But speaking of Blood Angels…

I’ve finally started to build stuff from the Shield of Baal box! (Well, I suppose the Genesis Chapter terminators I’d done over the winter were the sprues from here too, but anyway). There’s a lot of convoluted reasoning going on here, so allow me to begin…

Blood Angels have rarely interested me, as a colour scheme. I don’t think I’m very good at painting red, and I find that the colour is far too strong sometimes for its own good. The lore of Blood Angels is somewhat interesting, but I don’t find myself drawn to it in the same way I am to the Ultramarines, which might sound odd to anyone familiar with the lore, but anyway! Reading the Shield of Baal novellas almost two years ago was a lot of fun, though, and given that box came out very soon into my hobby career, so to speak, I do find myself quite nostalgic for Blood Angels because of that.

I’ve also recently found myself thinking about trying a different marine force, just to keep my motivation going. In that respect, the Deathwatch have come along at a good time, as I had been looking at the Start Collecting box for the Blood Angels. Much like the Space Wolves, I like the idea that the kits they have are full of chapter-specific sculpts, rather than the more generic stuff that you can buy upgrades for. It’s really only those two chapters who have this as well, as the Dark Angels, for all the fact they have their own Codex and the like, the marine kits are generally the standard line. Anyway, I’m kinda rambling here. The main thing is, I liked the idea of having a really customised-looking force.

This is kinda what got me looking at the Shield of Baal box, and the Death Company sprue inside. Those marines are basically a Space Marine Assault Squad kit, but totally made for not just the Blood Angels, but very specifically for the Death Company of the Blood Angels. I thought that was incredible at first, and looking over the sculpts, I was blown away at the level of detail on those guys. So I decided to build some up, especially seeing as how I’m already painting black marines for the Deathwatch, and see how they turn out! I think it could be a fun little side project, and might even field them alongside my Ultramarines when the time comes for me to finally get some games in! I’ve got two built so far, so hope to get the rest done soon, and then I’ll probably work on them over the winter…

So that’s been my week! Pretty huge, I have to say, but enjoyable, as well. The primer issues I’ve had have caused me to lose some faith in my painting in general, but I’m powering through those currently. I really want to just keep painting, and try to get to the continuous improvement stage where I can try new things and, as I mentioned, really level up my painting skills.

Next weekend is the Bank Holiday weekend, and I’m hoping for more fun and frolics with painting miniatures there, as well. Then for September, I have a sort of mini-project planned, which I hope will be very exciting indeed! So stay tuned for that!

Battle for the Abyss

Finally! Let's continue the heresy! #HorusHeresy #Warhammer40k

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I’ve been continuing the Heresy this week, with book eight in the series from Black Library: Battle for the Abyss! This book was fairly interesting, though also really quite sad. But let’s talk story first – and please beware, I will be talking spoilers!

The book is the first since Fulgrim to actually continue the story of the Heresy, though rather than returning to any of the Legions we have already been introduced to, we’ve moved to two that are new to the series but, arguably, two of the biggest Legions involved in the Heresy. First of all, the Ultramarines finally make it into the story in a big way, and secondly, we have the original heretics, the Word Bearers. I know First Chaplain Erebus plays a significant role in turning Horus traitor in the first three novels, but we finally get to meet his Legion, and they’re all as crazy as he is…

The book begins with the enormous starship Furious Abyss being launched from orbit around Saturn, with the mission to destroy Macragge. Encountering and destroying an Ultramarines ship at the beginning of its maiden voyage leads to a rag-tag coalition of Astartes from four different Legions following the immense ship into the Warp – World Eaters, Space Wolves, a Thousand Son, and a small band of Ultramarines, led by Captain Cestus. The main part of the book is therefore a short battle, then a chase into the Warp, before another short battle during a stopover, before a second chase into the Warp and a concluding pitched battle above Macragge. I actually thought I was going to be annoyed by this structure, as it seemed to be really narrow in focus, but given the large canvas of characters, it makes for a pretty interesting story!

I’ve mentioned it before, but something I enjoy a lot about these novels is discovering how each Legion is different from the others, despite essentially being a collection of Space Marines. While we don’t really get a lot of that with the Ultramarines, enough is sketched in – along with details of the Space Wolves and Thousand Sons – while the Word Bearers are investigated quite closely.

I’m not a huge Space Wolves fan, and the World Eaters are frankly boring, but something I was hugely interested by was the Thousand Sons lore we get along the way here. The XV Legion, the Thousand Sons are essentially a Legion of psykers, censured under the Edict of Nikea that forbade the use of psykers in battle, and so regarded with some suspicion by their brother Astartes. Mhotep, the lone warrior we follow, says he wishes to re-establish a measure of trust with his comrades, but as the story moves along he is forced to use his psychic ability to save his battle brothers time and again, while being regarded with hostility at best. It’s a deeply sad tale, and I find it interesting when we see the wider lore of the Thousand Sons essentially wanting to be a Loyalist Legion, but being shunned by the rest of the Astartes. Mhotep is a new favourite character of mine, not only because he’s like some kind of Jedi badass, but because of the stoic manner in which he accepts his brothers.

The Ultramarines come across a little, well, boring here. Despite having Cestus as something of the central character of the story, we don’t seem to get a lot of information about them, which is a little symptomatic of the Warhammer universe at large – Ultramarines are so often equated with generic Space Marines that it takes a very specific writer to really make them interesting (that writer is, more often than not, Graham McNeill).

Battle for the Abyss

At any rate, the book feels a little like a slog at times, but the conclusion is just epic! The loyalist band manage to board the Furious Abyss and, after all manner of horrible things happening, destroy the leviathan by blowing its main reactor. I thought it was quite poignant to see the marines whittled down until we had just the captains of the Ultramarines, Space Wolves and World Eaters left, and seeing the three of them work together to destroy the Word Bearer’s plans – knowing the World Eaters are a Traitor Legion – was really intriguing. I believe we get to see more of these types, such as Nathaniel Garro and Garviel Loken, marines who refuse to turn traitor along with the rest of their Legion, so that should be good!

Unfortunately, I felt incredibly bummed-out after finishing this novel. I warned you about spoilers, so don’t blame me when I tell you this: everybody dies in this book. All of the main characters. Some of them quite awfully, as well. Brynngar, the Space Wolf, jumps into the reactor. Skraal, the World Eater, is stabbed through the eye lens (that happens a few times, actually). Cestus kills the Word Bearer admiral, Zadkiel, only to bleed out from several wounds he received during the final battle. However, the saddest of all, for me, was the death of Mhotep, who gave his life to keep the Word Bearer’s Warp-spawned demon Wsoric on the material plane long enough that it was weakened, enabling him to stuff a grenade inside the demon’s body. He dies saving the Imperium from the predations of the Warp-spawn, but nobody he has encountered during the course of the novel is remotely grateful for his intercession. Just so sad!

You should definitely read this if you’re interested in the Horus Heresy, because it’s a great character-study of the different Legions, and sets up the climactic Battle of Calth between the Word Bearers and Ultramarines, famous – among other things – from the recent Horus Heresy boxed game. It’s a bit of a slog, and definitely something of a downer, but it’s one of those books you read for the small things…