Archive for May, 2010

Dark (Angel) Conspiracies

Posted in Offline gaming, Tabletop Wargaming with tags on May 31, 2010 by koljarn

My painting continues apace, as I have said before.  I finished two very basic Ravenwing squads, and a Deathwing assault squad.  Now, I have time to have some fun with painting – I’m going to have a crack at the Deathwing standard bearer and Apothecary that I assembled.  I also bought the bits for a Ravenwing Apothecary, but more Ravenwing can wait until I finish with the Deathwing and a new dreadnought.

My chosen chapter of Space Marines is the Dark Angel chapter, and part of their appeal is the mystery and ambiguous character of their background.  Whereas my friends prefer to play chapters such as the Salamanders (known for their protection of the innocent), I enjoy a little bit of mystery.

The “secret” shame of the Dark Angels is well-known to most 40K players.  It has been documented in several versions of their codex, and been mentioned in novels and short stories.  However, there are still several ideas and theories about the Fallen which surface from time to time.  I’ll mention three of them here:

1)      The Fallen are the “good guys.”  The argument has been made that Lion El’Jonson wanted to sit out the Horus Heresy and simply swear victory to the winner.  Most of the support for this idea comes from the book Angels of Darkness.  It certainly appeared to be a strong possibility, as very little had been written about the Dark  Angels’ activities during the Horus Heresy, but recent novels have started to explore their deeds.  In any case, in this theory, the Fallen are loyalists who fired upon the traitorous Lion El’Jonson when he returned to Caliban, thus provoking the Lion to fight them.

Does this theory hold any water?  Well, it is a possibility.  Consider that even if the marines of the Dark Angels were not involved in any command decisions to not get involved in the Horus Heresy, they have been hunting the Fallen for 10,000 years, rather than acting as regular marines and defending the Imperium.  If the Fallen were innocent, that wouldn’t exactly reflect well upon the character of the Dark Angels.

2)      The Fallen are loyalists who made a mistake.  This theory states that the Fallen may indeed be loyalists who fired on the returning Dark Angels in error.  In the book Fallen Angels, Lion El’Jonson makes the choice to deny Horus access to siege equipment rather than to oppose Horus directly on the field of battle.  Unfortunately, the Dark Angels secure the siege engines and turn them over to another legion, not knowing that they have give the siege weapons to one of the Primarchs who secretly swore fealty to Horus.  Outside of Lion El’Jonson’s small strike force, it could certainly appear that the Lion seized the weapons and handed them over to Horus.  Naturally, the loyalists left on Caliban would assume that the other Dark Angels had sided with Horus, and they would open fire on the returning fleet.

This theory is definite possibility.  However, it does not take into consideration any of the activities on Caliban, as they have not been described in the novels in any detail.  The Dark  Angels on Caliban pretty much decided that Imperial rule was harmful for the world.  Luther is dabbling in forbidden lore – but so have countless Inquisitors, so that means nothing on its own.  He may eventually be corrupted by this research, but that is beyond the scope of existing novels.

3)      Cypher is a tool of the Inner Circle.  The novels also shed some light on the character known as Cypher.  It turns out that “Cypher” is actually a name for an official position within the Order.  When one becomes Lord Cypher, one drops all previous names.  In other words, he is appointed, and can be replaced.

Consider: what if the Dark Angels decided that they would divide the legion into chapters, as decreed by the edicts of the Lords of Terra, but they wanted to still be able to act together.  If they could appoint a new “Lord Cypher,” with all of the trappings that he was supposed to have, then they could have this new Cypher pop up wherever they wished to target an area, leak his location to all other Unforgiven chapters, and hit the target marked by Cypher’s presence.  It would also explain Cypher’s continuous escapes and reemergence.  After all, if Cypher is slain or captured, it is no difficult feat to either let him go or to appoint a new Cypher.

As far-fetched as this idea seems, it is a strong possibility based on the Black Library book The 13th Black Crusade.  Cypher appears wherever there are cults and/or unrest, and the Unforgiven pursue him with a vengeance.  Countless cults and resistance cells are crushed in this campaign, and Cypher is ultimately captured, yet vanishes from his cell on the Rock.  It all seems a little too convenient.

In addition to these theories, there is, of course, the possibility that Cypher and the Fallen are just what the codex and stories purport them to be – Dark Angels who fell to Chaos.  Personally, I find this unlikely.  I’ve read more than a few strong hints that elements of the Inquisition are aware of the Fallen and the Dark Angels’ pursuit of them.  Almost certainly, if the Inquisition knew about the defection of a large number of Dark Angels to the side of Chaos (even 10 millennia ago), the Unforgiven would have been censured and declared traitors long ago.   Something else is at work, here.

News from the Rock

Posted in Offline gaming, Tabletop Wargaming with tags on May 20, 2010 by koljarn

Been working a bunch of overtime, but I’ve been forcing myself to paint for an hour or two almost every day.  Progress through persistance, and all of that.

So, as promised long ago, here are some of the things on which I’ve been spending my precious free time.

Tactical Squad 1 – rebased, with a new lascannon to compliment the plasma gun,  and with a new sergeant model:

Tactical Squad 2 – identical loadout and the same work:

Here are some different models also rebased, so that I can swap out the weapons in the tac squads as required:

Here’s Devastator Squad 9.  Replaced the four lascannon previously in this squad with missile launchers updated the sergeant:

How about some more ranged firepower?  Rebased sniper scouts with a heavy bolter:

Finally, I really do not like to post work-in-progress shots, but here are the bikes of the two Ravenwing sergeants that I’m painting at this time:

Nerd Rage!

Posted in Background Noise, City of Heroes, Offline gaming, Online Gaming, Tabletop Wargaming with tags , , on May 16, 2010 by koljarn

I’ve stated before that I always try to patronize local businesses rather than using the Internet when making a purchase. As always, Murphy’s Law decided to impose itself.

All I wanted to purchase was some modeling putty, some paint, and some dye. I was flexible about the brand of pain and dye – all that mattered was that the paint be a light brown color and the dye needed to be dark brown. I was informed that they were out of stock on each item, and that they would be willing to do a special order for me instead. OK, I could understand being out of stock on a special model or a limited edition game piece. No big deal. However, common supplies are something that you keep in stock. I might have thought that this was due to a run on the store, except that this was over the course of two weeks, and on each visit to the store they were out of stock. Naturally, I ordered my supplies online, where I received them at a significant discount.

Do I feel guilty about ordering hobby supplies online? Yes, which may strike people as a bit odd. Local businesses are important to me – not the big shops, I mean the small businesses with one or two branches. Restaurants, local hardware stores, and those sort of businesses usually give something back to the community. This particular hobby shop is a great place to hang out and talk to other gamers, but it has pretty poor record about keeping itself well stocked. Frankly, I don’t know how long it will stay in business if it continues this practice.

Enough ranting. I have completed almost all of the power armored Dark Angels in my refurbishment project. I have four Ravenwing bikers to re-base, and I am putting together two new Ravenwing sergeants (when I first put the Ravenwing squads together, there were no mounted models with sculpted robes). When I finally finish the Ravenwing stuff, I’ll try to snap a few photographs. Then, it will be time to re-base a terminator assault squad and paint two more magnetized dreadnought arms. I’ll have to squeeze one more ranged terminator squad in there, somewhere. I have a bunch of stuff to do, but the progress that I’ve made is heartening, to say the least.

Online, I haven’t had much time to do too much. I’ve been tinkering around with lowbies in CoH, trying out the electric tanker build. It is visually appealing, but I don’t know how well it will perform at later levels. As always, blasters remain my favorite archetype.

Mudder’s Day

Posted in Background Noise, City of Heroes, Offline gaming, Online Gaming, Tabletop Wargaming with tags , , on May 8, 2010 by koljarn

Progress on refurbishing my 40K Dark Angels army continues. I have mostly finished painting two veteran sergeants for my two tac quads; they need a squad decal and the bases need to be done. Speaking of bases, both tac squads need to be fully re-based from the static grass and green that they have now to the desert scheme that I used with my Deathwing. After that, I’m not sure whether I’ll start refurbishing my assault terminators or my dev squad. It might be best if I alternate between colors, so I don’t get bored.

I schlepped myself out of the house to see “Kick Ass” yesterday. Decent flick, worth the price of admission if you enjoy subversive humor and over-the-top violence. If you have sensitive ears, or if the sight of blood upsets you, then steer clear.

MMO-wise, I’ve been tinkering around with an electric blaster. He’s ready to take on the Frostfire mission, but he doesn’t have a travel power, yet (level 11). He seems fun enough. Like the ice blaster, electric has some control elements, though not as much. I’ll probably play the electric blaster with my friends until they get to a high enough level that I can use my level 30 ice blaster with them.

And that’s it. Enjoy your Mother’s Day, everyone.

For the Lion and Him on Terra!

Posted in City of Heroes, Offline gaming, Online Gaming, Tabletop Wargaming on May 6, 2010 by koljarn

At last

Belial is completed.  Well, as completed as he needs to be.  I had mentioned earlier that I used rare earth magnets to hold his arms in place, thus allowing me to swap out Belial’s weaponry.  However, I did not complete the storm bolter and power sword, as I really don’t think I would use them.  However, I do have the option of spending a few hours on them and giving Belial a new look, if it ever becomes necessary.
This is not the first independent character in tactical dreadnought armor that I have painted.  I have an older sculpt of a terminator captain and a librarian in terminator armor as well.  As you can see from the captain below, they aren’t the same scale – they are very nicely sculpted, though.

 I will have to purchase the new sculpt of the terminator librarian and paint one of them, just for completeness.  I will probably use him in games over 2000 points.  Now, on to refurbishing older models.  I have a terminator assault squad, a pair of tactical squads, some Ravenwing bikes, and a dev squad all in need of re-basing.  It is tedious, but matching the bases provides a more uniform look, as you can see from this group shot with Belial and some of my old Deathwing models. (note: the Deathwing squad banners are NOT my work, but they are available for download from The Dark Fortress).

So, one small project has spawned many small projects in 40K.   No surprise, as it always works that way.  In MMORPGs, I am still tinkering around with CoH.  There seem to be many improvements since I played last, but there are also fewer players.  What that says for the health of the game, I cannot say.  It’s fun enough, but I hope that LotRO comes out with some better content so that I can head back to Middle Earth.  Paragon City is a nice place to vacation, but Middle Earth is my online home (at least right now).

My Heartfelt Thanks

Posted in Background Noise, City of Heroes, Tabletop Wargaming with tags , , on May 3, 2010 by koljarn

My thanks to the DC Metro, for slowing service to a crawl during this weekend.  They understood that deep inside, I really wanted to stand in a train station for two extra hours on both Saturday and Sunday.  Most organizations wouldn’t do that for you, but WMATA goes that extra mile (though it takes them two hours).

Naturally, this left little free time over the weekend.  I did nip into CoH for about thirty minutes on Sunday, and I stole five or ten minutes here and there to work on my 40k minis.  In general, no time = no progress and no fun.

The Flight of the Albatross

Posted in Background Noise with tags on May 1, 2010 by koljarn

You know, a lifetime subscription to LotRO is a dangerous thing.  It gives you the feeling of freedom to explore other games – after all, it’s not like you will have to pay Turbine to keep your account active.  This has been demonstrated to me as one of my friends decided to try City of Heroes again to see how much it has changed in the several years since we last played.

Airstrike flies again!

There are good things to be found in City of Heroes – the police scanner allows for endless streams of random missions whenever you want one, there have been new zones added (including a zone set in ancient Rome, which is quite cool), new task forces, new costume parts, and lots more.  Unfortunately, there is also the matter of the crafting system, which requires farming for the correct drops (something I universally hate), playing around with power enhancements under the current system of reduced returns for stacking the same enhancement, and general frustration when trying to solo with a Defender or a Controller – the LotRO Captains of CoH.

I’m keeping it casual, which seems to irk other players (Why aren’t you in a Task Force?  You’re wasting time!).  What can I say?  I like flying around and zapping random villains.  I had almost forgotten how much fun it is to spot some baddies on top of a building, fly in under cover of Concealment, and then let loose with a Power Boosted point-blank Nova explosion in their midst.  You can get some damn good distance that way.  Think of it as golf – that’s what I do.