Sunday, July 31, 2011

Open Forum: What's in a Shield

Would a shield by any other name still be as effective? Not so long ago this conversation came up. After much digging around and sorting things out, I've decided to make a post to effectively answer this problem should it ever arise again. What it really breaks down is what makes something "WYSIWIG" and how to effectively represent that.

On one of my previous articles, WIP Blood Angels, someone made an interesting comment that I felt deserved a full article. So it began like this:
Those are not storm shields. They are combat shields. I doubt any one would give you a problem but if your friend goes to a tournament someone could bring up the fact that the models are not WYSIWIG. A member of my gaming group did the same. They look great though!"
 To which I responded,
Actually those are not Combat Shields. Those are the Power Armour Storm Shield as available from the Assault Marine kit that all Assault Marine Sergeants can take. As they do not have the inbuilt Bolt Pistol, they cannot be Combat Shields.
Check the Command Squad Champion for an actual Combat Shield. I know, they look very similar, but the Bolt Pistol is what changes them. So even if someone did bring it up, they would still be wrong. That member of your gaming group clearly needs to be taught a stern lesson.
Just because they aren't in the shape of the Terminator Issue Storm Shield DOES NOT make them Combat Shields. This is important. There are various references throughout various Games Workshop publications that show this pattern of shield as Storm Shields.
If you have the Deathwatch rulebook, check page 168 for the Levin Shield, a relic Storm Shield that uses this pattern.
If you have Imperial Armour 8, check page 108, there's a Raven Guard Storm Shield that also uses that design.
If you have IA9, check page 78, the Katrafrakus Pattern Storm Shield also comes in that shape.
If you have IA10, check page 79, Deliverance Pattern Storm Shield using that design.
So that member of your gaming group can argue they are not WYSIWIG, but I have 4 very heavy, hard cover, GW-approved books to beat some measure of sense into him and prove him very wrong at the same time. Feel free to enlighten him with the knowledge and wisdom you have gleaned here and come back any time if you want a 40K related question answered correctly."
   Now that's not to say I condone the flagrant beating of your fellow wargamers. Although you gotta wonder what all these hard cover books are for. It works for the Orks after all. But I digress. It bothers me that someone would call another player out just because of what they thought should be combat shields rather than storm shields. It makes it look like they just didn't want to face 3+ invulnerable saves and rather see 6+ instead. Especially when there is an established precedence within GW's own books.
    It could be argued that the Forge World graphic artists are just lazy and just copy and paste the same shield image for combat shields and storm shields. This could be the case, but the amount of effort and work that actually goes into their books, it's hard to accept that. All you have to do is look at one of their books and you can tell they really care about doing a good job of displaying whatever armies they're working on in any particular book.

   I will admit, the storm shield that comes in the Assault Marine box and other kits like the Dark Angels Veterans kit is small, it does seem like it should be a combat shield. But this is more for convenience than anything else. A storm shield is just a device that holds a heavy field projectors that more adequately protect the bearer, it is heavier than a combat shield and thus requires a full hand to carry it. It normally takes up one full weapon slot.
   A combat shield holds a much smaller, lighter field projector, having less protective qualities and is able to be mounted onto another weapon with ease. It does not take up a weapon slot like a storm shield does. Since the power armour storm shields that are available are so small, it makes converting them into combat shields that much easier. The hand simply needs to be cut away and mounted onto another weapon, like a bolt pistol or plasma pistol.
   The most obvious unit that makes use of storm shields are Assault Terminators. Terminator Issue storm shields are huge in comparison to other storm shields meant for power armour. Although that Apocalypse release captain with the Terminator Issue storm shield was pretty cool, they really aren't meant for general use by power armoured marines. Not to say you shouldn't or can't use them, only that they don't fit very nicely with the models and end up more of a hassle than a benefit. The nice thing about photographing pieces on the cutting mat is that it's much easier to compare sizes.
   Command Squads are another unit that storm shields are available. The coolest part about them is that Storm Shields are an additional option and can be taken just because. They do not have the option to take combat shields, only the Champion gets one. This does make things a modelling nightmare however. The amount of different possible combinations creates a need for three hands and a jump to Chaos. Any command squad marine can take two special weapons and then tack on a storm shield just because. It's even possible to have a pistol, close combat weapon and storm shield all together, not that he'll get any attack bonuses for two CCWs, but it's still possible. This is the only time that storm shields and combat shields may reasonably get mixed up. Personally, I'd use the Power Armoured Terminator style Storm Shields that GW provides to prevent any confusion. I just don't like the fact they're pewter, but they still look pretty good.
   Vanguard also have access to storm shields and no access to combat shields, but in this case the storm shield does replace a weapon. This is the unit that started this article in the first place. A shield is a shield as far as I'm concerned, there should be no reason to call Vanguard not WYSIWYG because the plastic Power Armoured storm shield is used. As the picture above shows, even the Terminator style power armour storm shield is significantly smaller than that of both the Terminator Issue and the one that comes with the Assault Marine kit. For modelling purposes, I would give the Terminator Style storm shield only to the sergeant, and use the Assault Marine kit's storm shield on the other vanguard veterans simply to have a blank canvas to add my own freehand work to make them look suitably ornate.

   The last squad we'll be looking at are Assault Marines. Here only the sergeant is allowed to swap a weapon for a storm shield or tack on a combat shield with no loss of a weapon. There's not much room for confusion here unless someone puts both a storm shield and combat shield on, but there's no reason to do that. If the sergeant is to take a storm shield, I feel that the plastic one available in the kit is perfectly fine so long as it clearly takes up a whole hand on its own. If it's a combat shield, it should be attached to the pistol in the same way as the Champion's does. This way there should never be any confusion. For modelling purposes, I would personally never use the Terminator style power armour storm shield and would only ever paint on chapter icons or squad markings, nothing fancy.

Player Puppy saw nothing new here.
   I know this isn't a terribly interesting post, it's nothing new for space marine players although I'm sure some of you xenos players will now have an easier time identifying who has what kind of invulnerable save. I'll admit, I haven't been terribly inclined to post anything ever since that huge mess last month with views being all messed up. I'm not gonna hide it, I post articles on here only for the statistics. I like numbers and graphs, seeing what article get how many views and how often. When that goes all wonky, my fun is gone. It seems to finally gone back to normal, so hopefully it stays that way and I'll probably post more often. I'm collecting some stuff to get a few useful articles together so August should be a fun month. Until then!
Signing off,

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