Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Astra Militarum: Captain America 40K

I've had fun in the past coming up with superhero stats for 40K (just check out the "avengers" labeled posts, though that string also led into Eldar dire avengers, just so you know).  So with the new Imperial Guard / Astra Militarum codex all the buzz, and the new Captain America movie out, I thought I'd revisit and update Cap as a Guard hero (it'll always be Impieral Guard to me, not astro-billirubinemia or whatever).

And for those sticklers, please note that this is just for fun and not meant to be taken too seriously...

Captain America: 


Super-Soldier:  Cap has Eternal Warrior, Preferred Enemy, Rampage, and Feel No Pain, as well as being Stubborn.

Inspiring Presence:  All units within 12” may use Cap’s Leadership score.  In addition, any unit he joins gains Stubborn and Preferred Enemy.

Tactician:  Your army may reroll to determine who gets the first turn.

Armored Costume:  Armor Save of 5+

Vibranium Alloy Shield:  Cap’s shield gives him a 3+ Invuln save.  He may also throw it as a ranged weapon with the following profile:

            Range 12”        S4        AP--    Assault 3, Split Fire, Stun*

* As the shield ricochets around before returning to his hand, he may Split Fire.  Any model that is Wounded but not removed by the shield throw has their Initiative reduced to 1 in the following Assault Phase. 

Shield Bash:  Cap has Hammer of Wrath when charging.  During combat, he can choose to use his shield as a weapon, thus increasing his damage but leaving him more vulnerable.  Shield Bashing in combat gives his melee attacks AP4, but reduces his invuln save to 5+ during that combat turn.

40K Flavor:  I’d have fun remaking Cap as an Imperial Super Soldier.  Rather than the American motif he could have an Aquila on his chest, probably like the carapace breastplates some Impie officer models have, plus lots of belt pouches and straps and holsters and such.  Obviously he’d have a big round storm shield with an Imperial symbol on it and probably a bolt pistol.  He’d be best joined to storm trooper or vet squads. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Signing Success

My "hobby time" gets split many ways (which is why my Eldar jetbikers aren't painted yet and my first warwalker doesn't have legs yet).  Here's another way this limited time slot is spent:

Saturday I held another book signing on Fort Sam Houston, and it was by far the most successful one to date! Thanks to everyone who came out, whether you bought a book (or three), took a free bookmark, or just asked for directions to the bathroom. :)

This was the fourth of my on-base book sales that I've done, third on Fort Sam with the previous one held on Lackland AF Base. All have been one-day events (since I have to go to work five other days in the week), and I generally came away from the first three with mixed feelings. If you have attended or just passed by any non-superstar book signings yourself, you've probably seen the writer sitting or standing alone an awful lot. The experience can be both encouraging and discouraging, depending on how few and far between the sales and signings, or just plain conversations, may be. And if the writer has no interested parties or human contact for the last two or three hours of the day, they leave feeling pretty crappy. But not this past Saturday. That day I left with only a great sense of success and accomplishment! Saturday's sales were triple of any previous signings, spread across the entire day from set-up to tear-down, and I think there were a few key factors involved in making that happen.

One is that I have new cover art on two of my books, which look awesome. Covers definitely help sell books. If your cover looks unprofessional, readers will assume what's inside is unprofessional too. Second, getting the word out ahead of time so those interested can actually plan on attending. About half of those who bought books had already known I'd be there; the other half were spontaneous walkers-by (I think I just invented that word). And strategic site location certainly helps. There are a lot of younger readers on Fort Sam (being a training base there's quite a lot of 18-22 year olds), and of course younger folks are probably more into fantasy books than the older, retired military crowd (lot of those folks here, too).

A final tip that I think helped me, something I learned at my last signing event: A woman was checking out my books and after deciding they might be something she was interested in, she asked how much they were. When I told her, she said, "Is that all? Okay, I'll take these two." It then occurred to me that most people seeing someone selling their own books--not from a shelf in a bookstore but right there in person--probably assume the price is inflated. And to a degree, they are correct: it's much more expensive for the individual to have books printed and shipped than for the mega-publishers who are rolling out thousands at a time. We do have to charge a little more to keep from losing our shirts. However, if said self-pub author stays aware of that inherent price hurtle and is committed to keeping theirs modest, if they realize they are a humble newbie in a mega-corp world and price accordingly, they might actually sell a few more books. Right after I sold and signed those two books for her, I went into the PX and bought me some colorful sticky notes, which I then used as price tags. Stick note may look tacky but I think posting the prices for passersby to see helps bring down one perceived barrier between author and potential readers/customers; that being the idea that this person is going to charge too much, so I won't even bother to go over there.

Of course, there's also the perception that anyone who is selling their own books couldn't get really published and therefore must suck. Fortunately, this misperception is slowly fading away as readers discover they sometimes like the self-pubbed work better than those cranked out by the big publishing machines.

(Mine may not be the best possible display, but it gets a little better looking each time. My philospohy is to put colors and information out there for easy access to those stealing a peek as they go by.)

This past Saturday may well be my last on-base event here in Texas. Next month (May 3rd) I am go to appear at Dragon's Lair comics and game shop in San Antonio for their Free Comic Book Day, and I have reserved a table for the Capital City Comic Con in Austin, TX, happening July 11-13. I am also looking into getting a spot at the Texas ComiCon in San Antonio in June. As my wife so thoughtfully pointed out to me, events like these are just the kind of places I should be going, even if I have to pay to be there. While being on training bases gives me access to younger adult readers, which is certainly a big genre-reading demographic, having a booth at a Comic Book Convention is even better: everyone there is a nerd like me, so what better place to peddle my wares and meet and greet?!

If you're reading this in Texas, I hope to see you soon!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Free SF, Fantasy, and Horror Stories on Wattpad

I've recently rediscovered Wattpad and am now trying to make the most of it.  It's a totally free site for reading whatever stories its members want to post.  And I'm really amazed at what I'm seeing there!  I actually signed up on it a year ago February and just now realized it...

I've now posted six short stories and teasers that are all free to read.  (You use Facebook to sign in, I believe... But what do I know, I'm a caveman?)

So check out what I have thrown up, it's all free of charge and obligation!  If you've noticed the book covers in these margins before and been curious, now is the time to investigate and see what you like.

Here's my profile page on there where you can find the freebie reads:


Monday, March 24, 2014

Sod Off! Eldar Jet Bikes WIP #2

Here's some progress pics on where my Eldar Biker Gang is headed.

The above picture shows my mohawk biker expressing himself as he zips by the enemy.  I carved down a hand and added some greenstuff to be the rest of his fingers curled over.  It works but would work better if that middle finger were longer.

Three riders awaiting paint.  They'll be green with black jackets overall.  These are made from various buts from various Ages of the Imperium (I've been in and out of Warhammer since the 80s).

The Rifleman.  I think of him as on the hunt for trophies with his long rifle across his lap.

The unit Warlock.  An old Harlequin High Warlock biker and an old Harlie lead canopy. He has a DE Wych weapon in hand as his singing spear and he steers the bike by sheer willpower.  This model may also double as a Solitaire or Farseer on bike as needed.

Of course, I do have THIS Farseer model.  Or warlock with witchblade, as needed.  This model is truly Frankensteined out with bits.  He's got parts from the guardian bikers, a foot-sloggin' guardian's back, dire avenger sword arm and utility belt (making up his lower back), a DE Reaver head, and a dark elf corsair's chest piece.  And his core is all greenstuff, around which his body's been built.  I like his look, overall, especially the dome head with flailing ponytail.

* * *

It's been great working on minis this week, but Real Life is starting to notice I've been missing, so I'm not sure when I'll get back to them again.  Hopefully in the coming weeks I can at least get them painted up and finished as a unit.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

DragonSlayer! An Eldar Battle Report

Saturday night we played a two vs two 40K game of epic proportions: Space Wolves and Eldar vs Chaos Marines and Traitor Guard, a total of 2500 points on either side.  It was a big fight with way too much going on for me to remember it all.  Therefore, this is going to be a pretty self-centered battle report, mostly me recounting what happened with my own units.

The good guys:
   Eldar: Feugan with fire dragons in a wave serpent, rangers, jetbikers with warlock, dire avengers, swooping hawks, striking scorpions, and dark reapers.
   Space Wolves: Wolf Lord (all 295 pts of him) on Thunderwolf with a huge pack of fenrisian wolves, 2 grey hunter units in razorbacks, long fangs, wolf guard in drop pod.

The bad guys:
   CSM: Huron Blackheart with Khornate CSM, Lord on Juggernaught, 2nd unit of Khorne-marked CSM, 2 mauler fiends, defiler, cultists, heldrake.
   Impie Guard: Primaris psyker with command squad, 2 infantry platoons (lots of autocannons in here), Leman Russ executioner (triple-shot plas cannon), 3 armored-up sentinels, Guardsman Marbo.

At least those are the units as I remember them.  It was "big guns never tire" so heavies were scoring units with four objectives and diagonal deployment.  Good guys went first.

Turn One the wolfguard cowboys drop-podded next to the deflier, each packing two plasma pistols, and shot the hell out of the chaos engine--it exploded!  (The first of literally six or more exploding vehicles to come.)  And that was the start of a bloodbath of a game.  The Wolves drove up the middle while their sneaky Eldar allies zoomed in and outflanked as much as possible.  The forces of Chaos came head-on with their possessed daemon engines and the guardsmen defended the home turf while firing great volleys of autocannon rounds and searing lascannon beams down range.

In the end the forces for all that is just and right in the universe (relatively speaking) took the field with a 2 VP advantage.  Each side held an objective but the Wolf-Eldar alliance also had slay the warlord (CSM) and first blood.  The forces of Chaos were non-existent when the game ended on Turn Five, and while the Guardsmen were not going to give up their objective, had the game gone on the long fangs and eldar rangers would likely have claimed two more objectives as they gave up their shooting stances and moved out to do just that.

So now, the selfish Eldar highlights, including the coolest thing ever (at least I was excited about it)...

Jet Bikers:  I usually don't have much luck with these guys, but I beefed up the unit to 5 plus a warlock with conceal, so their jink cover saves would be pretty damn good.  They zoomed up and joined the wolves charge down the middle, shot up some chaos marines, and dodged back.  ...Then they got vector-raked by the dragon (heldrake) and assaulted by Huron's unit.  The CSM champ challenged and though the warlock flicked his witchblade out faster, he failed to kill the chaos marine, who beheaded the warlock and ate his brains, gaining the Witch-Eater chaos boon as a result of his victory.  Huron then killed the rest of the bikers. But don't they look nice charging into the fray??  Unfortunately these are my only shots of the actual battle.

Rangers actually managed to wound the big chaos baddies for change.

Dire Avengers had CSM coming at them.  They fired a volley of shurikens and killed three or four of the enemy, then fell back with their battle focus. It was a very quick-footed, Eldar thing to do, but they then took a lot of impie heavy fire and got shot to hell by the dragon's hades autocannon.  They lasted into turn three I think but didn't do much other than die.

Swooping Hawks had good intentions and I'm still confident I can put them to good use.  They deep-struck in and dropped their large blast (6 hawks = large blast) grenade bundle on the amassed guardsmen, killing 5.  Then they followed with their lasblasters in the shooting phase (wounded 6 but only got 1 cuz they made crazy cover saves), then fell back into the crater left by the exploded defiler.  A great, agile entrance.  But they they got shot to hell, leaving 2 of 6 alive come my turn again.  My plan was to have them then attack the sentinels (cuz killing light infantry and vehicles is their schtick), which I saw no choice but to continue with.  They threw one haywire grenade, hit... and I rolled a 1, so no effect.  Then they charged into melee...  And were shot down by some amazing autocannon overwatch before they could get there.  Hawks snuffed.  The end.

The Striking Scorpions outflanked and appeared by a motley crew of cultists.  They fired their shurikens into the mob and killed 2, then had to wait for the return fire (as we can't assault from reserve any more).  The cultists lined up a firing squad with their autoguns and killed 3 of the 6 scorpions, and an impie autocannon killed a fourth.  This left the Exarch with his claw and one buddy.  They fired and charged the next turn, the Exarch gutting the cultist champ in a challenge and the scorp killing another.  The cultists fought back but failed to kill anyone.  Scorps won by 2, cultists failed their morale check, and got caugt in a sweeping advance: two scorpions kill eight in one round of combat!  Then they moved into the cover of some ruins.  Just on the other side of those ruins was the Leman Russ tank who'd been blasting great bursts of plasma fire at our friends.  On their next turn, the scorpions broke from cover and assaulted the tank, the Exarch's great claw tearing a hole in the fuel tank--KABOOM!  But the exarch DIED in the explosion and the last scorp jumped and hid in the crater left behind.  This was swiftly followed by 20-some lasrifle shots into said hole.  Dead scorpion.  But they did damn good while they were alive.

And now for the grand finale, the hero of the Eldar force: Feugan, the Burning Lance, Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragon Aspect.  I actually never liked him much in the last edition, but he's way cooler in this one.

So he and his five dragons were in the wave serpent.  The serpent first moved right and fired shuriken cannons at the Jugger Lord, wounding him where he was infiltrated.  Then they turboboosted the hover tank to the front lines.  It was there that one of the giant mauler fiends charged up, latched on, the pulled the tank apart with its claws.  KABOOM!  Two fire dragons died in the explosion, leaving Feugan and 3 more standing in the crater.  (By the end the board was pock-marked with craters.)  My turn: five melta shots at the offending mauler = KABOOM!  Another dragon dies in this explosion!  (ALL the fire dragons would die by fire this game!)   The Leman Russ tank then shot three bursts of plasma at them, burning another dragon warrior to cinders.  The chaos dragon (heldrake), meanwhile, comes out of zoom to avoid moving off the board and hovers low near by, hoping to shoot down a grey hunter on his way to claim an objective.  This is Feugan's chance, the one he's been waiting for!  He and the last aspect warrior move in.  They could have melta-blasted the hell out of the dragon's rear armor, and no doubt killed it (it had lost one hull point already), but that was NOT what I wanted.  I didn't fire a single shot.  I wanted to kill that dragon with my bare hands!!

Feugan had taken 2 wounds from Impie long-ranged fire now.  The coolest thing about Feugan this edition is his Hulk-like temper: when he gets wounded, his Strength and Attacks go up by the number of wounds he's suffered.  So now he's pissed off and looking for revenge.  And as I've never heard of anyone wringing the life from a heldrake in melee combat before, I damn sure want to make that happen.  Feugan and his disciple charge the heldrake.  He now has 7 attacks on the charge (4 base, +1 for charge, +2 for Hulking out) at S7 (S4 base, +1 for crushing blow warrior power, +2 for Hulk), and his relic weapon gives him AP1 and Armorbane.  Roll 7 attacks: 3 misses!  Crap!  But that's still 4 hits, and 3 of those are penetrating hits!  The dragon rolls his daemonic invuln saves... and makes 2 of them.  Damn!  It takes only one pen, meaning it might very well survive this attack and fly away!  But when I roll for damage...  KABOOM!  The heldrake EXPLODES!  And guess what?  Kills the last fire dragon!  Feugan alone come out of that terrible inferno, carrying the huge dragon's metal skull as a trophy!!!  

So the MVP heroes of my force were the Scorpion Exarch who dismantled a tank with scorpion claw(but died in the resulting explosion), and of course Feugan the Dragonslayer, the only 40K superhero I know of to have ever killed a Heldrake with his own hands!  (Above is my homemade conversion for Feugan using dark eldar parts--and he will soon be getting a dragon-scale cloak as well.)

It was a fun battle with lots of 'splosions.  Doesn't get much better than that.