’s Road to NoVA, part 2: Extremely Cool and Incredibly Good

When we last talked, I was explaining that my approach to competitive 40k was going through what you could charitably describe as a learning process, but that I like to think of more as ego death. In this installment of the Road To NoVA, I’d like to talk about where walking that path of psychic terrorism led me, and where I came out the other side. As always, it involved a bunch of expensive plastic, but we’ll get to that.

Before we get into it, I want to throw a quick shoutout to everyone who had input on this – even if they didn’t always agree on things, and I hate it when mom and dad fight, I wouldn’t be doing this without their help.

2.1: Gotta start somewhere.

The first list I came up with.

This was the end result of a few hours staring at my display cabinet, and much more hours getting yelled at on Discord for being stupid. The Helllbois are merged into one unit, to get more use out of my CP for Weapons of the Dark Ages, and there’s a small unit of Company Veterans because what the fuck else was I going to do with 47 points. I also really wanted to paint the Primaris Apothecary model, so he’s in on that basis alone.

It has 3 detachments, 11 CP, and lots of shit I already painted. Pretty good! I almost put a Dreadnought in there, but then I remembered what I said before about purposeful units. The vets have a purpose, which is to die for me, either as a Look Out Sir! against Azrael getting sniped, or to their own overcharging plasma guns.

2.2: Refinement.

The first hitch I hit with this list was the recommendation to include a Dark Shroud. I was resistant at first, because it looks stupid, but it does give a -1 to be hit aura, and with Speed of the Raven, I could advance and give it a 4++, helping it protect the Battle Pile right up until it explodes and showers my army in flaming debris, killing them.

So, with “fitting in a dumb hovercraft” as the goal, I went back to the drawing board. I started by identifying which bits could be swapped out. Juggling points (more models, or better gear? Which auras/abilities really make the list work, vs just being nice-to-haves?), thinking about detachment limits (there are only so many HQ slots in a Battalion) and benefits (more CP, but at the cost of taking “tax” units when I’m already trying to free up points), etc.

In the end, I settled on three candidate lists, each with its pros and cons:

The original list, as above, with 3 jets and some elite filler (BATT/AIR/VAN):
+ 11CP.
+ Has some ablative wounds for Azrael.
+ Can use the RW detachment on the Air Wing.
+ An Apothecary.
+ I fuckin’ hate the Dark Shroud model.
– It has small marines.

Fitting in a Dark Shroud by dropping the Apothecary and the veterans, and stripping the power fists/swords on my Intercessors. This one was rough. (BATT/AIR):
– 10 CP.
– No apothecary.
– Most expensive, dollar-wise.
– No power fists.
– I’d have to paint more Intercessors, without power fists.
– I fuckin’ hate the Dark Shroud model.

Dropping a jet, in order to add a Dark Shroud and some plasma guns on the Company Veterans (BATT/VAN):
– 10 CP.
+ An Apothecary, again!
+ Don’t have to paint a third jet.
+ Still has ablative wounds.
– Still has small marines.
– I fuckin’ hate the Dark Shroud model.
– Can’t use the Ravenwing detachment in Vigilus.
+ No need to cart around the Vigilus book.

Then I did what I usually do when I have to make hard choices, which is punt on it for a while and supposedly mull over my options, before just randomly picking one and then pretending I put a lot of thought into it.

2.3: Fuck it, YOLO.

Reader, I won’t keep you in suspense: I went with the third one.

The finalized NoVA experience.

It’s fewer models to buy/paint, and I think the Dark Shroud, once I relaxed my rules on Toilet Looking Bullshit, is worth it over the third flyer from list 1. Chucking out the Apothecary and all my power fists didn’t seem like much fun, so list 2 was out. Option 3 left enough points spare to put an Assault Cannon on the Dark Shroud and a couple of Plasma Guns on the Veterans. On balance I’d expect the jet to blow up more stuff, but I just couldn’t say no to the freakout hell speeder, so in it went. I’m not loving the presence of the non-Primaris infantry, but I already had Azrael in there, and anyway my dusty Dark Vengeance bois are the oldest painted models in the army, so they work in my head as veterans, as well as being utterly disposable.

Nothing left to do but grab the last few models, I guess.

2.4: Where does that highway go to?

First things first, I cleared out a shelf and set up the empty bases, so we can gauge progress:

The NoVA Corps

The plan was, and remains, to finish the Intercessors and Hellblasters first, so of course I dove right in and converted a Talonmaster from an old Land Speeder instead.

Left is the Talonmaster, right is his former twin.

I painted these speeders years ago, and while I didn’t strip and repaint the Talonmaster, because I’m lazy, I did fix the highlights, and picked out some more details to break up the black. The extra heavy bolter is from the MkIII marines kit, the Assault cannon is a chopped-down Deathwing bit, and the power sword came from the Dark Angels Primaris Upgrades.

A quick aside here, about progression and the hobby: I look at this, and I’m sure the more judgmental among you do as well, and I wonder at how I ever thought these were good enough. The highlights are chunky, and missing in places (such as a few edges and, I dunno, both of the pilots). I used maybe three colors on the entire model, and it all just looks a bit flat. After retouching, it’s still not what I would aim for, working from scratch on a new model, but I’ve come a long way since I painted these guys. It’s nice to see progress, even if the end result still kinda sucks, is what I mean.

My goal is to have all the models done by the end of July, to focus on practice games for the final run-up to the GT. Unless I get tabled in all of those, and it ends up pointing to an extensive list re-work, I’ll have August to spend reading through the NoVA mission packet and worrying about secondary objectives. If testing does point to a total re-build, or if GW releases anything new this summer, I’ll just ignore it and roll with this anyway. I can’t justify any more buying and painting for an event where, best case, I’m likely to go 1-5 and lose at least one fistfight to a fellow Goonhammer author.