Saturday, October 18, 2008

Deathguard Dreadnought

The price of this Forge World sculpt may well put off many, but it is an outstanding miniature and one that is bound to get noticed during play. This fact, in my view, makes the cost more than worthwhile. This particular piece formed part of my Grand Tournament (Australia, 2008) Death Guard army (I might post that list in a future posting -- I was very pleased to come 8th overall in that tournament).

Gaming & Tactics.
In almost every game (Grand Tournament and other), it is a fire-magnet and typically the first piece that gets heavily target ted & destroyed! It is rare that the dreadnought makes back its points value in kills, but when it does, it works spectacularly well, especially against elites (e.g. terminators) and medium to lightly armoured vehicles (e.g. troop transports; vindicators). Due to the crazed special rule, I'd council deploying the dreadnought on a flank and reasonably isolated from other components of your army (which goes to explain why it gets blown up rather often without support). The plasma cannon set-up is very flexible: it is excellent against pesky troops with a good armour save (terminators; space marines & equivalents) and the previously mentioned medium-to-lightly armoured tanks -- thus it can be a real threat if ignored for too long. Moreover, the plasma cannon enables multiple kills that a las-cannon set-up will not (i.e. the las-cannon set-up must be treated as a pure tank-hunter dreadnought). This helps in a pure death guard army where there are very few shooters compared to other armies.

Aims & Model.
For such an expensive piece, I wanted to spend a significant amount of time getting it right and themeing it. My Grand Tournament 2008 army list was a Death Guard list. With typical Death Guard painting, it is not uncommon to see oozing, pus, greens, browns and so on. However, for vehicles, we are left with a number of choices such variously described with adjectives like old, decrepit, decaying, rusting and so forth. My aim here was for the latter: rusting.

That raised the first problem: the plasma cannon is not what we have come to expect for Death Guard armies -- it is far too pristine. I did several different conversions on it. Firstly (and most simply), I made a few incisions with a modelling knife to make it look more decrepit and battle-worn. Secondly, I used milliput / green-stuff to create more of a Nurglesque feeling on the surface of the armour to match the other parts. Finally and most significantly, I added a hook (from chaos tanks) to the front of the cannon and two protruding horns to the upper part of the shoulder. For the horns, I drilled small, but deep holes in to the shoulder and glued a plastic horn in to them. Around the edge of the hole, I then used millitput to create a "bursting through" appearance to match other parts of the model where forge world has already sculpted horns bursting through the plated surface of the dreadnought.

As usual, I undercoated this model black. (NB: make certain you've washed your forge world model prior to painting! -- it really helps). Then, I dry-brush the metallic parts in silver. Once you've used metallic paints, you should always ditch your water pot so as not to contaminate your other colours. This is not always true for Nurglesque vehicles however as a little bit of contamination sometimes looks reasonable.
The base coat was an intentional mottled mixture of brown and dark greens. By this, I mean take a large brush and charge it up with brown and dab randomly over the model. Then clean the brush and repeat with dark green. Then, repeat with other colours that complement those! I discovered this technique almost by accident, but I think it really makes all Nurglesque vehicles look great and highly thematic. On top of this, a deep chestnut (with some added black) ink wash was added.

From there, I decided to tackle the sculpted recessed areas (the eyeballs on the right front poking through the armour and the holes / pitted areas at various locations on the armour where fungi(?) can be seen growing. These were given a mid-green coat followed by a deep green wash, then finalized with green highlighting and drybrushing.
The main armour parts were mostly drybrushed progressively lighter to good effect. I paid particular attention to the parts where the horns protruded and the armour appears cracked open -- the rim of these bits were highlighted in cream / off-white to accentuate the appearance.

The final stages took me a long time to complete, but they're really worth while. Firstly, the horns were painted in natural off-white colours. The boils & pus were highlighted in a yellow-orange blend. The Nurgle symbol on the front was painted in a cream colour and highlighted white. The plasma in the plasma cannon was made blue (fitting in with other plasma troops in the army) and highlighted progressively lighter blue and with a small line of white. Finally the eyes were painted yellow and a thin brush used to paint the black slit down the middle of them. Various other minutiae can be seen in the photographs ranging from a red blood-like substance leaking from the plasma cannon arm. Paying particular attention to these small bits and pieces makes the final job look above the norm.

Positives: The additions of the horns bursting through the armour made the plasma cannon arm feel much more chaotic and at home with the rest of the forge world sculpt. I wouldn't have wanted to field this miniature without such modification, especially in the Grand Tournament. The mottled base coat helps at all stages to make the paint job especially Nurglesque. Paying attention to the details is a must for such an exquisitely sculpted miniature and really helps it to shine.
Negatives: If you're going to use a dreadnought in a similar fashion to myself, don't get upset when it becomes the first casualty of the game (despite the hours you've put in to it!). It really is a complement that other gamers see it both as a gorgeous model (i.e. it gets noticed) and a gaming threat (i.e. it gets doubly noticed). I wasn't too happy with some of the Nurglesque additions on the plasma cannon arm (the random green stuff additions rather than the protuding horns).

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