Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Steel Falcon Experience - an account of the 2009 WH40K GT

I always look forward to Warhammer 40K Grand Tournaments.

I have been playing 40K for 6 years now and I think I haven’t missed one GT yet (not sure though, as there’s one year’s worth of lost gaming time I can’t account for).

My primary motivation in joining is not the awards – just to be clear, I want to win any of the categories… and it’s obvious I have a preference for a certain category that you can win even before the GT, not dependent on dice rolls or tactics, and the probability for winning it is directly related to the amount of time you spend working on your army. :D Anyways, back to motivation – more GTs means less unpainted plastics in boxes at home. A GT is a “carrot on a stick” for me to be able to finish an army… and we all know the last part in completing an army is painting, basing and flocking, which are all related to the Best Painted Army category.

Each army I have, I build with the GT in mind. After my first GT I swore to myself that from then on I would always work on my army in advance and I would never, ever, stay up late until the morning of the GT to finish painting my army. Now I am thinking, maybe instead of swearing an oath, I could have put a curse on myself as the last minute painting marathon overnight on the eve of the GT sessions never left me… and this year was no exception, only more challenging.

This year was a true test. Below is a brief recap of what I had to go through to get that new Steel Falcon (counts as Ravenwing) army to the table come round 1 :

- The components of the army have been purchased at Neutral Grounds within 2-3 months after the current Dark Angels codex came out. If memory serves me right, that was in 2007. The bikes and speeders were all assembled and primed black within a month. The vindicators were meant for a Black Templar based army, converted much earlier using Empire mortar bits, dreadnought arms and heavy bolter sponsons from the predator kit (this was done when there was no plastic vindicator kit released yet… but still the conversion is 100% GW). This gives you an idea as to how far my painting backlog is. Also, that also means my unit choices were never influenced by the current metagame (just a coincidence I was packing 5 multi-meltas and 3 meltaguns)… well, except for the 2 vindicators.

- I settled on a colour scheme (which is crucial if you are entertaining thoughts on bagging the painting award) about a week after this year’s GT was announced – yeah, the army was in all-black glory for about 2 years, thank you. I basically decided that an all black army was too boring, and that space marines are probably smart enough to wear matte armour (instead of shiny) even if their chapter name was Steel Falcons. Same scheme as the original, but this time with what I call “cheater’s NMM gray” instead of boltgun metal as base.

- I was painting at an ok pace. I remember knowing I would finish with 2 weeks left to spare. I was planning to use those 2 weeks for practice games. I was also aiming for the Over-all championship, you know… and then….

- Ondoy… I wouldn’t discuss this anymore save for saying I lost about 1 month focusing on real life. Played the Ondoy card too many times already.

- Heaven sent assistance – went to NG, saw the citadel spray gun, an angel in the form of Manongguard providing the final words to convince me to buy it. This was about a month before the GT. Saved me time doing one step in my painting process, which was painting on a dark tone of the main colour I am using for shade… this was supposed to be me mixing chaos black and codex grey and painting the mix by hand onto the whole army… would have taken me a week… with the spray gun I did it in 2 hours. Hallelujah!

- Magnificent find number 2 – Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement. I went on a trip to Cubao after a long while to get basing stuff from the hobby store in Ali Mall, as all my mini rocks, modeling sand, flocking materials were washed away. In the display case was the said product. Seals my bases nicely, in matte. Cool. Will be experimenting on this for future projects.

- From then on it was just me, my paints and brushes, discussions with the wifey on staying-up late painting, and trudging on painting shades of grey, shades of red, shades of brown, and black and white. With the ambitious plans in painting the army in a new way for me, I knew about 1 week before the GT that I woudn’t finish the army in time. I had help from what Salubri and I call “painting elves” (painting elves is just me painting overnight without sleep) on GT eve and GT eve plus 1… déjà vu of my first GT.

I’ll try to post some pics here in the next few days. I’ll locate some of the in progress figs left to give you an idea on my step by step process.

Parting shot - you may think from all the things I said that I am just one of them painting jocks. I still don’t consider myself one of the warhammer painting elite. I am not humble, “mataas lang ang standards”… hehe. I was also lucky none of them painting gurus showed up to join. Anyways, I also pack a mean game and a killer smile, so I am a triple threat!!! I think I finished 4th or 5th overall, if my estimates are correct… I am not sure. My only loss was against Patrick.

Kidding aside, I had a great time last weekend. Thanks to Neutral Grounds and the Untouchables (the volunteer judges and photographers) for the well-run GT. This GT may have set a record of sorts in having the most number of player wives, girlfriends and kids in attendance. I think my wife now appreciates why we are what we are, whatever the hell that is :D

Now I am still wasting time doing nothing at home but stare at my new shiny precious trophy. No work being done on any army at all, although I already cashed-in my store credits :D. Hopefully next GT I wont be saying “here we go again”… but, come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind the sleepless nights if that’s what it takes to get another shiny thing.

As always, see you at the gaming tables.

Your friendly neighborhood 40K retired newbie rapist - The Steel Falcon

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