So, what lessons did I take away from the Midwest Massacre, especially as regards my Tau?
Aegis Defense Lines are a must-have right now: Easily one-third of all armies at the tournament were running Aegis Defense Lines, and I can't say I blame them. Between the extra cover available, the ability to lay a speed bump across a section of open board, and being able to take a twin-linked double autocannon with Skyfire and Interceptor, the ADL fills several gaps that armies can use to their advantage. Even the Tyranid player that took third place took a defense line (although without taking the gun emplacement) just to get the extra cover. I personally had a lot of trouble dealing with enemy fliers, so having the gun available would make a huge difference, and at only 100 points, it's not horribly hard to shift things around to afford one.
Prescience is totally worth it: Being able to grant re-rolls to any friendly unit within 12" of the psyker is fantastic; between that and Markerlights, I was able to make my shooting very reliable. Well, the hitting, anyway; making wounds stick was something completely different, but that's neither here nor there. I have no regrets taking a Farseer in my army. However...
Eldrad might not be totally worth it: Eldrad's a huge chunk of points, and if that chunk of points runs off the board or dies (which happened more often than not), I'm screwed in any scenario that uses Victory Points. While he brings a nice array of powers, I only ever used two with any frequency - Prescience and Misfortune. I also like Scrier's Gaze, but the timing on that power is wonky, since it conflicts with the rules as written and doesn't appear to actually be usable for Reserve and Outflank rolls. If I'm only using the Primaris power regularly and reliably, having all the extra powers doesn't really help me. Taking a Farseer instead with both Runes and one power costs just under half as much and gets me most of the same utility. I would lack the ability to use a power twice, but I can cope with that. The points saved can go into buying that Aegis Defense Line. I'll play around with lists both with and without Eldrad, and see how the power difference plays out.
Rethink War Walkers: I like the concept of War Walkers, but they're kind of a 6th Edition solution to a 5th Edition problem. Sure, it's easy to glance vehicles to death, but if there aren't that many vehicles on the board, they're less useful. Not useless, just not as useful. More often than not, they end up as a suicide unit, and without Scrier's Gaze or Acute Senses, it's a bit harder to guarantee they'll be on the side of the board where they'll do the most harm to the enemy before dying. I can't help but think that those extra 120 points would be better spent somewhere else. Also, with Interceptor guns on the table, they tend to disappear as soon as they appear. That makes starting them on the table the better option, and at that point I might as well buy a better unit. I'll still give them some more runs on the table, though, to see how they do; they do bring a nice volume of fire, especially against hordes.
Tau Pathfinders are awesome (I finally admit it): I've hemmed and hawed about whether or not I like Tau Pathfinders, but in 6th Edition I finally have to admit that they're the best Fast Attack choice we have, as well as the best way to get Markerlights in volume. In 6th Ed's vehicle-light environment, making your shots more reliable is better than having a pair of suicide melta speeders. I still wish there was a way to take them without the Devilfish, but even then they're still worth the points. Also, they're still helpful with flyers; even though they can't raise BS on snapfire shots, they can still eliminate cover saves, and that includes those Jink saves from flyer evasion.
Friday night, I finished up my painting for the Midwest Massacre, and here's how everything came out. The basing is a bit rudimentary, and not all the details are done, but the minis themselves are at a decent tabletop standard. For a week and a half's worth of nightly painting sessions, I won't complain. I even managed to cram in those 3 Fire Warriors who you can see poking around on the right, so figure that I lost a night's worth of Eldar time to work on more Tau.
I even managed to get my Eldrad to look like this in that time:
And that includes his magic technicolor star coat. He's got talismans to paint, but he's 95% awesome. (And actually, the infantry bases were drybrushed after I took this picture, so they're not so plain as they look here). Speaking of bases, since I switched up my list at the last minute to put in a unit of Pathfinders, I decided that after three years of running around on naked bases, I would give them the love they deserve. It was also an opportunity to try out some of GW's textured paints. Here's the results:
The bases were done in a combination of Armageddon Dust texture paint, Seraphim Sepia shade, and Terminatus Stone drybrush. Working with the texture paint was odd at first. It's very (for lack of a better word) gloppy, and working it onto the bases without obscuring the feet of the minis is a challenge. Remember, it's still a paint, so be prepared to repaint feet even after you clear the material off. When it's wet, it doesn't look like it has much texture at all; it just looks thick and sticky. Once it dries, though, the texture becomes more noticeable (I hit the bases with a hairdryer to speed up the process). Adding a wash and drybrush, though, makes them really pop, and you see the organic earth feel that the texture paint creates. I have to say I'm impressed with the product. It creates a more varied look than the traditional "painted sand" approach to quick basing, and once you get a feel for how to work it around the base, it's not difficult to use at all. Add foliage (flock, static grass, grass clumps, etc.) to taste, and you can end up with a very natural looking base without a lot of work.
That was the end of my painting for the tournament. Next up: the tournament itself!
I've got about 48 hours until the Midwest Massacre, and I'm trying to finish up everything I can in that time. First up are my War Walkers, which are looking pretty solid. I think I just need to paint the bases, and they'll be done. I'm sure there are small details that I could add, but for Saturday I'm not worried about having them perfect. Just good enough. And I did make sure to give the pilots some love too (sorry for the blurriness; camera was a bit too close).
I also painted up three Fire Warriors last night, as I realized my collection of painted ones was three shy of what my list needs. The priming job on these was a bit rough, but these have been sitting primed and unpainted in my collection for a few years now. Fortunately, painting these guys was like riding a bicycle; once I started, I remembered exactly what colors to use and where. I even broke out my micron pen to line the armor. One thing that did change, though, was that I used the new Citadel paints, except for the Goblin Green; I don't think Warboss Green is quite the right shade, but fortunately I have plenty of GG left over. I did find that Skarsnik Green is the same color I used to custom blend for doing edge highlights, though, so that was a happy discovery that saved me time.
I will say that the base paints performed as promised. I used Waaagh! Flesh and Mechanicus Standard Grey for the armor and undercloth, respectively, before layering on Goblin Green. I did cheat a bit on the red - I had already painted Mechrite Red on the shas'ui a year or so back so I could mark that mini apart; since the color was already there, I just used it.
Finally, there's my Dire Avengers. This picture is a couple of days out of date, but you can see how my progress was coming along:
I'm in the "bits and bobs" stage of detail painting now. All the little dangly bits on guns, all the belt items (ammo clips, gems, grenades they don't actually use in game) are next on my painting list, but they should go rather quickly. I'm using tonight to finish up what details I can, and then Friday night is painting the bases and calling them done enough for the tournament. They're a few steps beyond three-colors-and-based, and I'll finish all of these little details after the tournament... but probably after I've taken a break for a few weeks so I don't burn out. And then, this winter, it's Templar Time!
Over the last week I've been working on getting my Eldar allies ready for the Midwest Massacre GT, and that's meant painting Eldrad, a unit of Dire Avengers, and a pair of War Walkers. I've been mostly focusing on the first two, as I figure the War Walkers should go pretty quickly (and I've started on them already). Eldrad I've been having some fun with, because I want to keep him somewhat Ulthwe-colored, but I wanted him tied into the blue/yellow/bone that makes up the Alaitoc color scheme as well. What I've gone with is black and bone for his underrobes and helm, and a blue outer cloak with yellow trim, as well as some blue details on the helm.
The outer cloak has been particularly interesting to work on.
I decided to try something a bit different, so I added a starfield look to the outer robes. I started by blending the robes up from dark to light blue, and then using a stippling brush and my thumb to flick spots of white paint onto the robe. It gave me just the effect I wanted; a little bit of blue wash in the folds and crevices of the robe to tone those down, and the results are something I'm very happy with. As far as other details, I'm going with red soulstones and green jade on the staff and sword. I haven't decided on colors for the random bits and trinkets hanging from his sleeves and staff, but I have a feeling that in the end, he'll look almost 2nd-edition-y with his technicolor farseeing dream coat.
In other news, Games Workshop released the next set of FAQs for Sixth Edition, and the Tau FAQs had a couple of important updates. First, Target Locks work again, which is great news for squads of Broadsides. Why they errata'd them to not work before, I have no idea, but it's nice to see that GW regarded that as a mistake as well. The other big change of note was to Disruption Pods, which now grant the Shrouded rule at distances of 12" or greater from their shooter. This beats the old Disruption Pod hands down; sure, you don't get a straight 4+ cover save, but you go from 5+ cover stationary to 3+ cover (thanks to Jink) while moving. Move flat-out, and your Piranhas can get 2+ cover. Disruption Pods went from must-have in 5th Edition, to not all that good in 6th Edition, to absolute must-haves once again. I'm already reworking my lists to get these pieces of wargear back in; I'm thinking about trading off the Blacksun Filters from the mid-range units and saving them for the big guns just to free up the points.
I picked up my two War Walkers yesterday, and purchased a pair of extra Scatter Laser bits as well (since these kits pre-date the days of GW making every possible option available in the sprue), so I am set for right now on my Eldar detachment. Part of me is tempted to also buy a squad of Warp Spiders, as I loved them back in the 2nd Edition days and they look to have gotten a bump up in 6th Edition, to get myself up to 1000 points or so of Eldar, but that's a deal for another time.
The issue now, though, is where does this Eldar addition put my Black Templar project? I want to get these Eldar ready for the Midwest Massacre, which is in mid-September, fully painted and ready to field side-by-side with my Tau. Fortunately, I don't think it'll set me back too far. I think my my goals look like:
- This weekend, build out Eldar (possibly magnet-modding the War Walker weapons if I'm feeling brave)
- Next week or so, prime EVERYTHING. Black Templars, Eldar, and some Chaos Marines and Daemonettes I'm still sitting on. All of it's getting primed black.
- Once everything is primed, paint the Eldar. The model count is relatively low - 20 infantry models and 2 walkers - although there's a fair amount of detail. That pretty much covers me through August.
- September, back to work on the Black Templars, which should be a relatively simple paint job.
For the Eldar, I'm going with an Alaitoc color scheme, as it's one of the two craftworlds near Tau space. (The other's Iyanden, and their army is far too yellow for my aesthetic tastes.) I love the stippled blue and bone scheme that I see on a lot of Alaitoc Eldar, so I plan on following that general look. It's fluffy, it keeps the bright yellow at a minimum, and it will make my Eldar very visually distinct from my Tau. I'll probably paint up Eldrad in Alaitoc colors as well, just for consistency's sake.
I also ordered a set of Raging Heroes' Preying Mantis models. They're basically a new take on the old metal Daemonettes I like, so I'm looking forward to adding them to my Chaos army to break up the blob of semi-identical daemons. I still need to figure out an HQ to take so I can actually run a Daemon detachment. I suppose that an inexpensive Herald would be the way to go. Of course, there's still the wave issue, and I'd hate to have a Herald show up without her Daemonettes to support her. Decisions, decisions...