Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Adepta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle) Army Commission Project WIP (Part 1)

Sisters of Battle Project is Go

     A few years back, a good friend of mine asked if I would be available for a commissioned army.  He had long been a fan of the Adepta Sororitas (a.k.a. The Sisters of Battle) and had desired to have an army.  A few road blocks presented themselves for him when deciding on this army:

  1. The Codex - At the time they were encapsulated in the "Witch Hunters" codex, which was generally pretty poor performing in Warhammer 40K 5th Edition (which was the new edition on the scene when he and I entered the hobby).  It was badly in need of an update, but no credible rumor foretold of an imminent refresh.
  2. The Price/Kits - The sets up models that you could purchase from GW were expensive.  Generally they were lacking in the specific weapon choices that my friend wanted to run.  This meant that he would have to spend even more to pick up additional models with the proper weapons, and he'd have a pile of models holding weapons he wasn't even interested in running.
  3. The Metal - In addition to these model kits including or excluding options he didn't/did want, they were ALL metal.  Even after Finecast came on the scene, these models remained metal.  Now metal as a medium for delivering a detailed miniature is just fine, but working with metal for extensive conversions or giving you choices for assembly, metal is terrible.  Compare these metal models to one of the modern plastic squad kits and you'll see the obvious short comings.  Among the units he wanted to field there would be a huge number of repeated models.  And if you had a specific look that you wanted, like helmeted heads, forget it.  You got what you got.
     The arrival of their new (digital only) codex brought them a refresh, but not much of one.  They changed the faith powers (making them a bit more "meh") and tweaked around here and there, but that was it.  No new units, no new amazing special rules, and certainly no new models.

So many blister packs!

The Beginnings

     He decided that his dreams of new kits, amazing new codex, and modular plastics as far as the eye could see were a bit of a pipe dream.  Given that the only constant with Games Workshop is "price increases" he would be better off just buying them now before they went the way of the Squats.  He showed up at my house with some very hefty boxes stuffed full of metal infantry and piles of vehicles.  The journey began.  We spent most of a day just filing, clipping and cleaning up the infantry.  If you've never worked with metal, you might not be familiar with the process.  Just like plastic models, mold lines are an issue, but unlike plastic, metal models can have all sorts of "nibblets" poking out (and 'poking' is the right word as these things can be sharp and generally pointed directly outward from the model at your beckoning flesh) as well as some pretty beefy "gates" where the metal has the be clipped and filed in huge chunks.  In addition to all that, pinning is generally a must for a quality long-living model.  If you drop a metal mini that hasn't been properly pinned, expect an explosion of parts.

Heavy Metal!

     I also wanted to be sure to pin all models to their bases, again assuring that they'd weather the wear of time far better.  Pinning mean drilling.  Drilling and filing combine to make some unhappy metal dust that I would recommend avoiding if at all possible.  I might have shortened my life span working on these models.  The work must go on!

Testing the Paint Scheme

     Long before we began the assembly, my friend had carefully thought out his desired paint scheme.  He wanted something unique that would stand out, and colors that he obviously just liked in general.  He ran these thoughts by me.  This is great because I could work with him to figure out what would work best in color theory, and advise about techniques I had tried so I knew what would work and what wouldn't.  He sent me along a reference picture and I grabbed his one extra Bolter Sister and conducted a test run.  Here are the results:

     This first test was painted slightly rough for speed.  No matte coat was applied so some parts of the model are overly glossy, but I wanted to get some idea of how the color scheme would look, and how the model was to paint.  Learning your way around a model is very important.  I have, at times, sat at my painting desk for a good 30 minutes just looking over a model prior to painting just to understand where things were, and what order I wanted to paint things in.

     This first test was pretty good, but it just didn't feel right to me.  My big concern was the reds.  While they looked red, they really didn't pop.  Looking at it now, it seems like the red is very "realistic" which sounds great but this is 40K we're talking about.  Realism is for historics and people making military dioramas.  I wanted to have another pass:

     This pass was much more along the lines of what I thought this bad ass Space Nun should look like.  I used Citadel Mephiston Red base (or 'foundation') paint.  I just painted directly over my previous Reaper Violet Red.  I then used an orange edge highlight with a yellow final highlight.  This really made the model stand out at normal gaming distance, but still looked great close in.  My friend was pleased with this version and now I'm ready to move along.

In grey primer, they almost look plastic!  If only...

Primed and Waiting

     I went ahead and primed all 41 of the infantry models.  I'll be working on them in batches of five.  A five model batch, I feel, is the right volume in order to do some very detailed painting, while still affording you some assembly-line benefits.  The only down-side to five versus ten is that you might still have some waiting to do when applying washes or other slow-drying techniques.  I save the larger batches for things like Ork Boyz.  It also works out that his squad sizes are nearly all five models, so I decided to just do these as squads which also allows me some (limited) variety in the models that I'm painting.  It's good to mix models up just a little bit within the parameters of assembly lining things to give you a little mental relief.

Stacks on stacks on stacks of vehicles.

Get on the Bus

     These lovely ladies need a ride, so my friend purchased seven Immolators in addition to three Exorcists (to provide some vehicle/elite sniping support).  I think that I can now assemble a Rhino chassis in pretty short order.  I would like to take a moment and tip my hat to the Sisters' vehicle kits, because these are amazing.  For the price of a Rhino, the Immolator offers a HUGE amount of decorative elements that are either Sister specific or just Gothic and grim-dark as all get out.  The Exorcist is no exception.  If you can look past the fact that the quarter and front panels are all metal, along with the massive amount of metal on top of the vehicle, there is some stunning detail here.  I think I would describe it as "lavish" and that's no stretch.  The pipe organ is apparently not to everyone's taste, but I can't think of anything more Gothic than a freaking pipe organ on a missile launcher.  The Forge World alternative is boring, dull and boring.  I said 'boring' twice because it's doubly boring.


"Uhhh... Nottingham... We have a problem."

     All is not sunshine and hugs in the land of Sisters' vehicles, however.  There is an error in the instructions.  I've pointed to the error in the above photo.  There are four lengths of tread per side of a Rhino chassis.  A single tread, a double tread, a triple tread, and the enormous long tread length for the bottom.  The instructions show a triple tread piece being used on the rear of the vehicle, on the top of the tread curve.  This is wrong, however, and you should use a double tread piece.  This error would have been easily caught if I was just assembling one Rhino chassis, but when you're batch assembling 10 vehicles, and you've just clipped out all the basic chassis pieces and put them into one box, you might just be dumb enough to follow the instructions.  Thankfully, after contacting Games Workshop's customer service, they have sent out addition double triple tread pieces so I can complete the remaining three chassis.  

     Maybe this bit of text stops someone from making the same mistake in the future, but I doubt it will come up all that often.  How many people do you know are out there assembling 10 Sisters of Battle vehicles?  That's pretty much what I thought.

More to Come

     There will be more updates to come as I complete some painting.  If you have any questions about these models, or if you're interested in the army list that my friend is planning on running, please feel free to comment or email.  You can also see some more pictures of the test model in my Flikr feed off to the right.  Enjoy and thanks for reading!