Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why Has The Spring Been Cold? Well...

A squad of Space Wolves led by Geigor Fell-Hand...better check the temperature in Hell...
 *Cough* So, a rather unexpected little 30k project to share today - this is a veteran tactical squad from the Sixth Legion, the Vlka Fenryka, known more generally as the "Space Wolves".  If you are a random visitor to the Fawcett Avenue Blog (welcome if you are!) you will wonder why this might be a big deal.  Well, as fans of a genre, there are things we really, really like, and things we really, really hate, and for just about 15 years or more I have hated the Space Wolves.  In that context, this would be an unexpected addition to my 30k collection, and I await the fully-justified howls of derision and mockery from my gaming friends.

Why the hate at the Wolves? In the Rogue Trader era, they were actually pretty cool (although painting that neat wolf-style crest was just beyond my skills).  But GW has shown at different times that it is not able to keep certain themes within reason (see: Chaos), and the Space Wolves became a prime example of this over time.  It got annoying, but by the time of the Third Edition I found my crayons snapping at the proliferation of special little units and parody Nordic culture under the Space Wolf umbrella.  The theme kept getting more and more overdone...pelts everywhere, nobody wearing their helmets on their power armour, all sporting five-foot-long beards and "absjurd" names.  Certain fans of this specific genre made it worse, and every time you thought GW couldn't make it any dumber, the descent into self-parody continued...just see things like this or like this. Sigh.

And hey, if you love it, more power to you! We should all have different preferences, it helps keep the hobby interesting. But suffice to say it was not my thing at all :)

Mk III power armoured Marines, with one plasma gun visible at the front

As the Horus Heresy products and story really got going, I noted that the Space Wolves and Thousand Sons confronted each other on the XV Legion home world of Prospero, and even though I love the Horus Heresy story I immediately tuned out that part of it.  While I didn't have the same strong feelings regarding the Thousand Sons as I did regarding the Space Wolves, their reputation as great psykers and warlocks didn't really intrigue me - magic is just cheating, in the end. And while concepts of magic/sorcery are so important to so much fantasy and sci-fi writing, those stories are difficult to write well, as the magicians seem to be at once so powerful and, at key times, so useless suddenly that the suspension of disbelief can collapse the book/story/setting is no longer enjoyable for me.

They are Legion veterans, so everyone gets a chainsword (or just about everyone)
In the case of the Thousand Sons, their Primarch, Magnus, is a great and powerful psyker, and has great gifts of foresight, among other things. A significant contingent of his Legion rank and file have these powers as well.  Yet they are taken by complete surprise when the Space Wolves attack them as punishment for their continued use of powers which had been explicitly banned by the Emperor. We are meant to understand this was because Magnus went into a kind of self-pitying funk - he "saw" the Sixth Legion fleet coming to attack, he just didn't warn his troops.  But was pyschic foresight really needed to know this might happen? I mean, the Master of Mankind has a BIG meeting to debate the issue of psyker powers, the outcome of which was a clear ban on their use.  The Thousand Sons flout the ban anyway.  Having seen first-hand how the Emperor handled dissent against his will throughout the many wars of the Great Crusade, did you really need magical foresight to know a smackdown was in the mix, when elementary deductive reasoning would get you there? Seriously the Thousand Sons, meant to be tragic victims, kinda seem like dopes.  Not as stupid as the Ultramarines, but still, come on.

Squad sergeant with plasma pistol and tickle gloves, and heavy bolter

Geigor Fell-Hand, wearing a helmet as he f***ing should
Anyway, all this to say the story where the Legion I couldn't stand got entangled with a Legion that probably had it coming to them didn't intrigue me one bit.  When GW announced a box game for Prospero, I was indifferent until I learned that plastic Mark III power armour would be part of it, at which point I made the purchase as I just love that particular armour variant. I still didn't think I would be interested in the actual battle or game.

My good friend Curt, who has enjoyed/endured many rants at the expense of the Space Wolves over the long years we have known each other, pointed out to me recently that Dan Abnett, my favourite GW author, had written the novel "Prospero Burns".  I was dismissive, skeptical that even Abnett's great talents could make that work, but Curt encouraged me to give it a try...

Another view of the unit Sergeant - love those whacky combs on the Horus Heresy era Marines
And wow, he was right! One of Abnett's best, it is just a fantastic story.  If you are a dope like me and think you already "know" the story, go get this book and read it right away.  Including the post-script! I don't want to give it away here, but Abnett shares some things I can totally relate to as a fan of the genre and how the Space Wolves fit in...anyway, the bottom line is that I was inspired to paint the figures from the Prospero box for their intended purpose - to actually play the game! 

The models seen here are multi-part plastic figures in Mark III power armour from GW's "Burning of Prospero" box game.

Another view of Geigor and his ornate getup
The models themselves are excellent.  There are a few frustrating things - for example, I just cannot see why it was necessary to make the back packs out of two different pieces, and you only have one heavy weapon option, the heavy bolter - but overall if you are a fan of Mark III power armour you will love these sets for your 30k collection.

The collection of stuff on top of the back pack is a bit silly - how does this guy wear this fighting in an urban area? But "silly" is part of what makes 30k fun...
The Space Wolves also get a special character in the game - "Geigor Fell-Hand".  While I enjoyed painting the Mark III Space Wolves, painting this guy was a chore.  On the one hand, the sculpt of the figure conveys an awesome, predatory sense of movement that suits the Vlka Fenryka very well. On the other hand, its numerous small details end up a bit soft in places, an example of a plastic figure which would have been so much better in metal.  But on the plus side, plastic is SO much easier to convert, so I was able to put a proper helmet on the figure, as I still generally can't stand Marines that are not wearing helmets, particularly ones clearly charging into battle.  Space is dangerous! War is dangerous! The Emperor made you armour that is expensive! Wear your damn helmet!

Power claws AND sword drawn, while the bolter hangs at his side...his priorities are clear...
"The Burning of Prospero" comes with 47 models in all.  That's 11 out of the way, and I'm now starting on the Thousand Sons (although I may do a Contemptor Dreadnought for the Wolves) and will do the fancy elite Custodians and Sisters of Silence last.  And hopefully we can get these models involved in some general 30k gaming later in the summer and into the fall!

I await your mockery...    


Iannick said...

I'll start then; I can't stand the Space Wolves either! It's the stupid pelts, they look like douche bags from space!

Very nice work nonetheless! Grey does look cool on MKIII

I'm not angry at your choice btw, just disappointed ;-)

Dallas said...

Great stuff Greg! I had painted some RTB01 Marines as Space Wolves myself BITD, but that was during the Rogue Trader era where pelts and beards were as yet unknown... I think these guys look great!

Moiterei_1984 said...

Cute... wolflings ;-)
Still, very nice painting and I absolutely agree on your view about the SW lore. You can't really get much sillier than SW's... oh wait... have I heard someone saying Blood Angels?

Curt said...

Wonderful work Dude! I really can't mock you as I suggested the book to you in the first place, BUT I have to admit it is fun to see you furiously saw away at a bow you've been happily crowing from these many years. Next you'll be painting X-Men... ;)

JamieM said...

Very nicely done indeed! I'm just re-reading "A Thousand Sons" at the moment after painting them for the challenge so it's a good time to see these.

I also dislike Space Wolves for the record, which is mostly due a gaming chum using nothing but space wolves and all the special wargear and rules (all of which need "Wolf", "Fang or "Claw" in the title) can be extremely annoying.... :)