Thursday, 5 October 2017

Painting with an injured hand

Yesterday I somehow cut the side of my right index finger open. Holding a paintbrush hurts like hell right now and delicate work is just impossible. Obviously, that means the Bretonnians and the Tale Of 1 Warden are on hiatus for a week or two. Bretonnians are the very definition of “delicate work” and I am not screwing this project up for anything. So the question becomes: what can I do while this heals?

Let us apply logic (and analgesics) to the problem. A lot of the early stages of painting a miniature are forgiving of mistakes: basecoating, inks, large areas of drybrushing. I can use this time to get a bunch of models started and finish off the details once my finger's better. I have a whole bunch of Flesh Tearers models that are just basecoated in red spray and one of the benefits of their colour scheme is that a lot of it is just two flat colours.

Yes, yes, starting things and not finishing them is a real problem of mine but progress is progress and if that's all I can do I might as well do it without guilt, mightn't I?

Even then, though, after a while the finger starts to really, really hurt. Its the position I have to hold the brush in.

Now, snips and a plastic scraper... those I seem to be able to hold for longer and there are some building projects I want to get to. I ordered some spare sets of legs to make some Sternguard for my Flesh Tearers (“In the grim darkness of the far future there is no job satisfaction”); I have some Eternal Guard I want to hybridise with spare Sister of Avelorn parts to make Maiden Guard; and I have a conversion kit from Grimskull Miniatures for making an amazing Death Guard Rhino.
Yes, it is the cheekiest third party miniature I have ever purchased but screw it look how pretty!

I could also take baby steps in getting over my fear of painting my Lord of Change and get the all-over blue wash and drybrush stages done. That model legitimately terrifies me. Its gorgeous but so very complicated.

I'm bummed that I have to put the Bretonnians on the back burner but I'd rather pause the project than do it badly. 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #7: Qualified Failure

I hit a roadblock a week or so back. The yellow that came out so well on the Archers came out patchy and horrible on the knights so I had to go back to the drawing board on one of the major colours for this army. So I haven't got much more done than the Archers I showcased a while back.

Still, I've managed to get a better yellow now and should the sun ever come out again I'll hopefully get some pictures up soon. It won't take me too long to finish the Battalion, though the peasant command groups are proving a little more challenging than I expected.

As to this coming month's challenge, to be completed alongside the remaining models from the Battalion, I'm going to keep it simple. The challenge is a unit of infantry or cavalry and I'm going to pick cavalry. In fact, I'm going to paint a second unit of Knights Of The Realm. This one won't take so long, hopefully, as I now have the methods for painting horses pretty much down and this unit will be painted in the simpler colour scheme of the Duke of Gisoreux (red and black, very simple colours to lay down). 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #6: The Horse Barrier

Chipping away at the peasant units in my Battalion I was starting to feel confident with the bright colours and basic methods I want to tie these first few units together so I decided to finally tackle the Knights of the Realm. I'd even found the White Dwarf with the best horse painting tutorial GW ever published (May 2013, the 8th edition High Elves release, and it uses the modern paint system if you ever want to track a copy down).

Now, I only have myself to blame for my current fatigue. I have eight knights, the tutorial has eight methods and I forgot just how difficult the horse bit of the Bretonnia Knights models were to paint.
This is how one reaches what I have come to call The Horse Barrier.

There was this facetious comment that did the rounds back when Age Of Sigmar was about to launch about why Fantasy was meant to die: “No one likes painting horses.” Its an extremely over-simplified, sarcastic and downright odd belief but I am starting to sympathise.

Now, I don't usually mind painting horses but Bretonnian warhorses are amongst the most user-unfriendly models in the Warhammer canon. The way the legs are moulded into the barding, not always distinctively, means you're constantly trying to reach your brush through the middle of the model at odd angles.
Oh, and the one I was painting as a light bay went a bit wrong and now I have an orange horse and no motivation to fix it. I just want to move on. Sir Donald that knight will be or whatever medieval French equivalent I can find.

Moaning aside I know there's an element of Half Finished Model Syndrome going on. Right now the models look dispiritingly awful because I've spent several sessions over the better part of a week getting only the smallest element of the model done and the rest is undercoat. They look terrible but once I have some more of the model done, like the big block colours of the barding and knight's tabards, it'll look better even if the horses aren't up to much.

The yellow on the Archers isn't actually that consistent but once its part of a complete model with other colours around it the eye is a lot more forgiving. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

My favourite Elf

There are a few models I really regret not picking up when I had the chance and, thankfully, eBay exists so for the most part I've been able to track them down quite cheaply. One that eluded me until last week was a particular High Elves Mage that I always loved but missed the boat on and finally I've found one for cheap:
(Incidentally, yes, I do have the other arm but he fell apart in transit and I need to acid bath him).

It would probably be easier to explain what I love about this model using a properly painted example so here's the version from (I think) an old Army Book:
Now, I'm no metal snob. White metal was a horrible material that hated undercoat, chipped like crazy and somehow hated glue more than it hated paint so the models would just periodically collapse. HOWEVER, for a while in the early-2000s GW used the material to produce some of the best character models they'd ever put out.

Which is where our elf here comes in. He was one of a set of Mages that came out for the seventh edition and I adore the little guy. He might not be the most dynamic model but I feel that works. He's not floating in the air or throwing out fireballs, in fact he's posed more like an Empire Engineer than a typical wizard which is awfully fitting. Elves are the most magical race in the game, naturally, and to them magic isn't a floaty, wibbly mystery its science. This guy is holding a crystal ball as if it were a scientific device because, to him, it is. His clothing is arranged in enough layers that a two tone colour scheme will still look visually interesting but not so many layers that it looks too hard to paint.

He also looks mildly offended, probably unintentionally but that's so very High Elf, isn't it? 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #5: Overdue Showcasin'

Yesterday, all of a surprise, the sun came out. My house is truly the worst place to take photographs. It is literally aligned against the passage of the sun so even the garden doesn't get good enough light half the time (nevermind British weather) and I cannot wait for that light tent to arrive.

Anyway, the first completed models for my Bretonnians: half a unit of Peasant Archers! The rest of the Battalion is in various states ranging from half-finished to barely started but I'm still very much enjoying the project. So, precious, precious photographic evidence:

These were a lot of fun to paint and quite easy once I'd broken down in my head what was hard leather, what was cloth I wanted to be brown and what was cloth I wanted to paint in grubby heraldic colours. Originally the halved yellow and red was going to be the colours of a random knight champion but I like the contrast so much they're going to be the colours of my general's family (and of the Errants and Realm Knights of his household, just to make my life easier).

I was surprised by how well the yellow came out, actually, which I put down more to the Zandri Dust undercoat than any actual skill on my part. Between these and some Skinks I've been painting on the side using Macragge Blue undercoat I finally feel sold on using different coloured sprays.

As to the rest of the Battalion: the remaining Archer are about half done; the Men-At-Arms are just getting started with just some flesh tones filled; and, the Knights are taking a while to start because I'm painting each horse a different colour, partly as a colour test but mostly because since I'm painting them in uniform heraldry I want something to make the models looks more like individuals.

With eleven days of Month One to go I doubt I'll get everything all the way done but I'm making progress I'm more than happy with.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Legion of Substitute Miniatures #1: Female Chaos Marauders

With Warhammer Fantasy no longer being a going proposition I'm always on the lookout for interesting alternative models. The other day I was trawling eBay on my regular trawl for out of production High Elves characters (there are so many great ones...) and after a little link-following stumbled across these:
Shieldwolf Miniatures' Shield Maiden Infantry. Twenty models with options for hand weapons, shields, spears and crossbows. For my purposes the crossbows aren't important but I mention them for completeness.

Now, it may seem unfair to look at these models and see them only as alternatives for another company's models but, to be frank, there's no chance that I'd ever get to play Shieldwolf's own game system so this is the only way they'd get my money.

(Well, that an eBay seller would get my money and they got his money but you know what I mean. Money was got and ultimately it was got because I play Warhammer.)

So, female Chaos Marauders. There's a Kickstarter coming soon for more heavily armoured female miniatures who could easily be their Chaos Warriors. So, if you ever wanted to do Valkia's Horde of Chaos Ladies or just wanted to represent the fact the Norscans are a warrior culture and that maybe their womenfolk might be involved here's a good option.

You could also use them as Kislevite Kossars which would be a good use for the crossbows. I know Kossars are armed with ordinary bows rather than crossbows but they have access to Empire technology so it wouldn't be entirely out of line or you could simply count the crossbows as ordinary bows. Kislevites are quick on their feet it makes sense that they'd have worked out how to walk and aim at the same time.

For my part, though, they'll be Marauders because, as usual, my conception of Chaos is very, very influenced by the less technologically advanced peoples of Game of Thrones so basically a cross between Dothraki, the Free Folk and the Hill Tribes.

Any character I create for them will be less annoying than Ygritte. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

That time I cheated for six years and it never mattered

In my defense no one seems sure how this started but for almost the whole time I used my old Bretonnia army I was cheating with my trebuchet.

In fairness, it wasn't deliberate and everyone seemed to think we were doing it right. You see, back when the 6th ed. Bretonnia book hit the Field Trebuchet was the most powerful stone thrower in the game with its Strength of 5(10). Somehow our entire group managed to convince ourselves that it also used the large round template.

It didn't. It used the small one same as every other stone thrower.

Anyway six years later I'm playing a game with someone who has never played against Bretonnians before (not an uncommon problem, I mean, the only Bretonnia armies I've ever seen in real life are mine and Tom's and half of Tom's started off as mine) and so I had to explain how things worked as we did them. So, when I fired my Trebuchet for the first time I had to read out the rules...

...and found nothing mentioning the large round template.

I'd cheated for six years.

And it never mattered. I had almost never hit anything with the bloody thing. I had been cheating massively, using a template that could easily annihilate an entire ranked up unit of infantry in one round and somehow no one, not one single member of our group, could remember it influencing a game.

If you want a perfect example of my damned luck this is it: I cheated with the unknowing collusion of everyone it effected for six years in a way that should have swung endless games in my favour and it never mattered

Sunday, 10 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #4: Rules Lawyerin'

Its been raining on and off the whole weekend so far and I can't get a good picture of my Archers to save my life. Trust me, I have eight Archers finished aside frim the basing and as soon as light returns to our world photographic evidence will be provided. I absolutely need to invest in one of those light tents people keep talking about and come payday I will.

So instead let's discuss the rules I'll be using to play this army.

The Bretonnia book is fourteen years old and two editions out of date. It isn't bad exactly and its hardly unplayable. Having core troops with a two-plus save does wonders for power creep. The lance formation just doeesn't do much anymore. In a world of supporting attacks a full lance formation of nine knights gets nine lance attacks (including champion) and seven horse attacks. Under the same rules a unit of ten knights in two ranks gets eleven lance attacks and five horse attacks.

The lance is obviously inferior and it shouldn't be. A Bretonnian cavalry charge should be one of the most terrifying things to face down in the Warhammer World.

Luckily, Mathias Eliasson and his Warhammer Armies Project come to the rescue on a shining steed. I'll be mostly using the eighth edition version of the book (his website now hosts a version compatible with his own 9th edition rules but its essentially the same, as far as I can see).

I love this book, for the most part. There is one area in which I'll still be following the 2003 rules and that's peasants. Eliasson has raised Men-At-Arms and Battle Pilgrims to WS3 and that just doesn't work for me. I see why he did it but I want to maintain a distinction between the disciplined and trained troops of the Empire and the grubby indentured rabble of Bretonnia.

That aside, the book is basically perfect. Eliasson's version of the Blessing Of The Lady is much more fitting to the background with a 6+ Ward in combat and a 5+ Ward at range against the cowards' weapon that kills from afar. His lance formation confers Devastating Charge which adds a welcome element of brown trousers time to my opponent's day whilst maintaining the formation's disadvantages, to wit a narrow frontage that won't get you many attacks back when charged and a flank the size of Wales.

He's expanded the Lores available to Damsels allowing them to take Heavens (previously only available to the Prophetess) and Light. The choices make sense: they're medieval knights so they get the astrology lore and the religion lore. There's also a homebrewed “Lore of the Lady” which I might experiment with down the line.

One of most bitter ongoing gripes with the army has been addressed: Pegasus Knights now have barding like the models do.

There's also the fact that the 2003 book had a rather limited range of units and characters. Its not surprising. It was a lower tier army, it was the sixth edition and so that meant the standard load out of two Lords, two Heroes, four Core choices, four Special, two Rare and an extravagant three special characters.

There are a bunch of old special characters with modern rules in the Eliasson book but what interests me more are the new units: Foot Knights, the Merry Men-esque Herrimaults and Hippogryph Knights. There's even a Robin Hood style character class to go along with the Herrimaults: the Faceless. It might not sound like much but it adds some extra variety to an army I know like the back of my hand.

Now I just have to apply the colour scheme it took me over a week to barely finish eight Archers with onto the other thirty-seven models in that Battalion.

Also to buy some things so I can actually provide pictures. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden pt.3: Colours of Gisoreux

Having now built my Bretonnia Battalion (and crossing my fingers I won't need more than four stands of defensive stakes for this army because they are an arse to build), I went looking for some inspiration on how to paint the models.

For a start I want to recommend Youtube as a fantastic source of battle reports, especially the Miniwargaming channel's Olde World Wars series which has more Bretonnia videos than I expected as one of their employees (Steve, I believe) actually has a Bretonnia army. Having not touched my old Bretonnia army since the early seventh edition its interesting to see how they play in eighth. Not badly, as it turns out, though I still think the lance is no longer as meaningful a tactical choice as it should be in the age of supporting attacks.

Second, I dug through my old White Dwarfs and found issue 290 which has a guide to painting Bretonnian heraldry. I may bend the rules a little but I think I'll mostly abide by them.

For a start you have a palette of five colours: black, red, blue, white and yellow. You don't use purple because that's royal (and too expensive) and you don't use green because that's a commoner colour (and too cheap). Yellow and white stand in for gold and silver and you don't use them together because they contrast badly.

My army is going to be based at Castle Desfleuve, a holdfast guarding the Bretonnian end of the Gisoreux Gap pass through the Grey Mountains.
This is a selection of heraldry examples for Gisoreux from the 2003 Bretonnia army book. Red and black seem to be the main colours, which are always a good contrast and relatively simple to paint, with white and yellow mainly for devices. That's also good because it means painting as little white as possible. The characters who will form the family deMartrand, the lords of Castle Desfleuve, will have yellow and red as their house colours. I'll be using mostly black and red on the rank and file Gisoreux knights so the characters will stand out. Also, I just like the contrast of black and red, there's a reason Flesh Tearers are my favourite Space Marines.

Also, if I follow these colours and leave blue out of the equation, I can use blue as a visual key to denote units that aren't from Gisoreux like the Questing and Grail Knights. I also have this concept of saving up the Knights of the Realm champion heads, which have stag horns, and creating an entire lance with stag helms to be the personal household of Duke Hagen.

For the moment, though, I'm concentrating on my Peasants and using them to test out colour combinations. I'm currently painting some Archers in the deMartrand red and yellow and Men-At-Arms in the Duke's red and black. Results, one hopes, will be in a fit state for posting by Sunday. 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden pt.2: Terms and conditions apply

Just for once it might actually benefit me to go into a project with a plan. That usually doesn't work for me but given that the whole point of this project is to work at a schedule and prescribed goals it might help to decide a few things before beginning. Also, I had forgotten what absolute nightmares the Men-At-Arms models were to build so I need a short break.

September Goals

Okay, so I have forty-nine models to paint this month and, as of today, exactly four weeks to paint them. Considering that's well above my usual speed I need to break this down into smaller tasks. I've got four weeks, sixteen archers, twenty halberdiers, four stands of defensive stakes, eight knights and one Pegasus Knight.

So, the goal for each week will be half a unit of peasants and two Knights Of The Realm.

Bretonnian Units Beyond The Tale

Obviously not a consideration this month, I've got a whole Battalion to do. However, after that the targets are a little more forgiving. Next month's goal is a single unit of infantry or cavalry and if, say, I choose to do a nice little unit of Mounted Yeomen (for which I have seen an awesome conversion online) I could probably polish that off in a week.

So, I've decided to treat the later goals as more of a bare minimum for the month. I will not work on anything else for the Tale until the month's goal is reached but once that's done I'll branch out a little. At the very least I need more characters than the one “mighty hero” who'll be my Month Four project. There's a compulsory Battle Standard Bearer, for a start.

Other Projects During The Tale

Okay, so I am definitely not going to be able to paint just Bretonnians for five months. What I can do is continue last month's work and concentrate on completing more half-finished miniatures. Also, I'll only be working on one of these things to the side at a time. No big sprawl of additional models on my painting table: just the Bretonnian project of the moment and one other thing to give me a little variety without sacrificing my focus.

The absolute only new things I will start whilst this Tale is ongoing is new Death Guard stuff because I've waited too long for them to be an army with an actual product range to put them on hold for five months.

Telling The Tale

I need to write background for this army. Bretonnians are an army who are all about their heroes and I really want to explore that. I have an idea to make the core characters (my general, BSB, some of the Damsels, maybe) members of the same family and have the army be the standing garrison of a particular holdfast rather than a crusading force. I don't doubt they'll end up going on a crusade or two but I want to establish the characters by writing some stories just about them before having them interact (read: beat the stuffing out of) my friends' characters.

Right, now back to trying to hold those halberds in those awful concave joins long enough for the glue to actually take...

Friday, 1 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden pt.1

There was only one choice in the end: I fear painting white more than I fear coming up with individual heraldry schemes and so the project for my Tale Of 1 Gamer is Bretonnia. Ah, fair Bretonnia, my first army, the army that got me into this glorious game, the army that I panic bought so many models for when they briefly came back into production during The End Times (a prescient decision, as it turned out).

Models that included, as it happens, a couple of Battalions so it feels like time to crack one open.
official Games Workshop product image

So, what do we have? There's a lance of eight knights who will be built as Knights of the Realm, a compulsory choice in the 6th edition book (the group is currently debating how much of the Warhammer Armies Project book to adopt); twenty Men-At-Arms; sixteen Peasant Archers with four stands of defensive stakes; and, a single Pegasus Knight who I will build as a unit champion to use as a temporary hero until I have a proper General and the rest of a Pegasus Knight unit completed waaaay in the future.

That's forty-nine models including the stands of defensive stakes. That's a lot but most of them are peasants who I can paint pretty simply using GW's excellent selection of browns which makes it all a lot less onerous. The knights I want to spend more time on and will be painting one or two at a time whilst doing the peasants in batches. What's more, I'm going to plan the heraldry out beforehand so I know exactly what I'm doing.

And I'll build the Men-At-Arms first because for such simple models they are an absolute nightmare to build. The shields do not fit at all! They're getting done right away so they don't become discouraging. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Completed Models for August

My big push to finish old projects in August didn't do too badly: 36 models. Its not a bad total even if a lot of them just needed a few final details and basing to complete them but the motto around here is “Progress is progress”. I finished thirty-six models this month and that's a better total than any month this year.

And here they are...
Already showcased earlier this month are the Dwarf Runesmith and Tomb Kings Necrotect. I'm proud of my work on both even if I'm not sure I could properly replicate the skin method on the Necrotect. Its a couple layers of Athonian Camoshade over Rakarth Flesh which sounds simple but when it comes to inking as a final layer there's a lot of atmospheric stuff that can influence the final effect and I laid that ink down on a particularly hot day. Still, worth trying again for my Liches and Royal characters.

I finally picked out all the fiddly metallic detail on my Angels Of Redemption Captain (aka Legion Praetor in Cataphractii armour). I went for a copper effect rather than gold because a) I wanted to test out a bronze method (that I later decided not to use) for my Death Guard and, b) it felt a little more “antique” than glorious gold. I know Heresy stuff should look more glorious than “modern” 40k because it was the golden age but sometimes what feels right is more important than what is right.

Anyway, I loved painting this guy. If this runs to an army (maybe, maybe not) then I definitely want to use more of the antique armour marks. The particular colours of this halved scheme are quite forgiving and I love how the bronze contrasts with both armour colours. I also, hopefully visibly if my meagre photography skills holds out, managed some recess shading that came out well on the white and okay on the green. I am usually the “lay it on with a trowel” sort when it comes to shading, it has to be said.
I also finally cracked grey basing! Turned out, thank you How To Paint Citadel Miniatures 2012, to ink it Nuln Oil to get a good contrast with the drybrush (which was invisible before).
Next, we have a full unit of Dryads and my Branchwych finished up. Unfortunately, my camera seemed to take particular exception to focusing on these models, I think it might have something to do with the colours and how they contrasted with the background. Like the Runesmith and Necrotect these ladies just needed a few last details picked out and their bases done. So maybe this doesn't seem too big an achievement but it now means that more than half of my Sylvaneth 1000 points army is painted including my Warlord. I am literally nine models (my Treeman, Kurnoth Hunters and Tree-Revenants) away from actually completing all the models I have for this army. Also, its a big block of infantry finished for my Wood Elves. Double achievement!

Shout out to my friend Matt for insisting I mix up the colours of leaves and such in this unit which kept me interested during the most boring phase of the unit. It also gives the unit, which is very brown, some nice visual interest when they're arranged in a block.

My colour test Plaguebearer (now complete) has been joined by a trio of Nurgling bases just to reassure me that the colour scheme works on more than one model. Lesson learnt, though: the horns on the Nurglings are very delicate and I snapped more than one during the drybrush layer. I'll be more careful next time but otherwise the method is quick, simple and looks like it'll look good on the whole Daemon contingent for my Death Guard.

Also on the Death Guard front, the first six Poxwalkers finished. I'm painting them in small batches of a couple of designs at a time simply because there are so many differences between the sculpts that doing all twenty in one go would probably be more time-consuming and horribly dispiriting. They aren't the best paintjob I've ever managed but I suspect doing these guys “well” would not worth the time so I went simple with it.
Speaking of things that are hard to paint in a batch, I've decided I have to do the metalics and finishing touches on the Dark Imperium Plague Marines singularly. This also meant I could experiment with the metallic colours on this miniature before committing to what I'd lay down on the rest. I like the finished effect...

which I then applied to my Helbrute to see how it came out on larger models. Again, it looks good. It takes ages because of how much armour trim there is on Chaos models but that would be true of literally any colour I used and I just feel lucky that I largely used pure Balthasar Gold on one layer to finish the models. I decided I just did not have the patience to bring it all up to Sycorax Bronze as I did with the Angels Of Redemption Captain.

(P.S. If you notice the Helbrute is missing components on its arms... it was an eBay job and came like that but I quite like it anyway.)

Anyway, now I have momentum behind me which wrestling commentary tells me is the all-important factor in future success so I feel confident going into next month and my Tale Of 1 Gamer project. 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Tale Of This Gamer?

I'm currently painting a whole bunch of bases. We're nearly at the end of the month and my determination to finish things has reaped... some rewards. I've made more progress the last couple of weeks than I have any month this year. It feels good to be getting things done again.

So next month I want to be a bit more directed in my approach. I want to try something I've wanted to for years: a Tale Of One Gamer series. I'll be using the modern version of the article (since miniature prices are rather too hefty to get much out of the old set budget model) which goes a little something like this:

Month 1: Paint a Start Collecting set
Month 2: Paint a unit of infantry or cavalry
Month 3: Paint a monster
Month 4: Paint a mighty hero
Month 5: Free month
Month 6: Bring the army to battle

So, who's the lucky army? I'm still mulling.

I could do the mounted Chaos horde I was talking about a few days ago but for one there's no appropriate Start Collecting set and for another it is an army heavy on conversions which takes time away from painting. I have a High Elves army I have barely touched with a paintbrush (all... that... white...) for which I could easily source an old Battalion's worth of miniatures or “count as” the Island Of Blood models I own. Then there's Bretonnia. Fair Bretonnia, which I do have an unopened Battalion for as well as a fair number of other models I panic bought (and rightly so, as it turns out) during their all too brief End Times reissue.

Bretonnia scares me. They were my first army before I could really paint or even notice that I couldn't paint. These days I am such a perfectionist that I hesitate every time I even look at the sprues. Still, of the projects here they probably offer the most bang for my blog: interesting miniatures in and of themselves, an army I absolutely adore, plenty of chances to experiment with colour combinations (individual heraldry, I will do it, I will) and some interesting potential conversions courtesy of the Warhammer Armies Project's 8th edition Bretonnia book.

I have, as you can see, all but convinced myself to finally commit to the Bretonnia project I've been psyching myself up to since I started painting again. Indeed, my recent push to better my painting skills has all been in aid of someday, hopefully getting around to this very project.

In all honesty, it just comes down to which is the greater fear: painting white or not being able to come up with enough unique and easy to paint heraldry schemes.

Also, I'd have to work out what could possibly count as a “monster” for Bretonnia. A Grail Reliquae is probably the nearest thing in the official army list though the Armies Project book offers the possibility of Hippogryph Knights. Whereas of course with High Elves you simply have the High Elf Dragon aka the greatest miniature Games Workshop has ever produced.

This is probably going to be a coin flip scenario. 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

So this is what happened (an adventure in rationalisation)

I've been mulling over the Chaos Cavalry Horde concept I outlined a week or so back. The final kick came when I realised I already had a not indecent number of models for it already. I already own a couple of mounted Chaos characters (the mounted Lord with a warhammer and the old Tzeentch Sorcerer on Disc) as well as the Nurglesque Chariot I converted some time ago and a unit of Marauder Horsemen (again Nurglesque as I fancied the idea of Horsemen armed with scythes).

Then my friend Matt found someone on eBay selling units of Skullcrushers for £19 for three, postage free. Good deal so I got two sets. Those Skullcrushers are more than five hundred points just by themselves never mind the exorbitant cost of Chaos characters.

A little finger counting (“more of an art than a science”) says I have something like a thousand points of mounted Chaos already. Not all built, barely any of it painted but there.

And I might as well get some use out of it.

And I have enough spare heads from the Skullcrushers to outfit a five man unit of Chaos Knights with Khorne bunny helmets. Of course, they come in boxes of ten now but that just gives me an excuse to get some Hellstriders, build them with bare heads and use the helmets to make a Slaaneshi unit.

First job, though, decide whether I want two units of Skullcrushers or whether I want to use the second set to make a couple of Khornate Gorebeast Chariots and a Khorne Lord. The answer to this question is probably “yes”. The answer to whether I want to make weird shit instead of the things the kit is meant to make is usually “yes”. I'm just that sort of hobbyist. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Gardener of Nurgle cometh...

It should be mentioned I don't usually care for Chaos Daemons as an army unto themselves. They're a bit hard to root for, frankly. Now, I'm no stranger to being the bad guy but I usually find a motivation that I can at least invest in: my Traitor Guard want to live free of Imperial shackles; my Orks and Dark Elves are both pirates out for profit; and, at least in their own embalmed minds, my Tomb Kings are genuinely moral and upstanding members of the greatest civilisation the Old Worlde has ever known.

Daemons are just plain evil. That's all they've got, it just comes down to flavour: violent evil, despairing evil, scheming evil or depressed evil. For the most part I find Daemons more useful and interesting as tools for a mortal army rather than characters in their own right.

Aside from Nurgle. I actually quite dig the idea, which I'm not sure how or when it started, that Nurgle's daemons are the bored filing clerks of the daemon world. There's also some whimsy to them, I remember reading this little five minute fiction years ago about how Nurglings like fighting alongside Noise Marines because they enjoy dancing to the “music” of Slaaneshi weapons.
And that sense of whimsy has birthed this fantastic little character.

This is Horticulous Slimux (I think I have that spelt right) “Nurgle's first creation”. He is, essentially, Nurgle head gardener. He is riding a snail that is dragging a plow behind itself. There seems to be a tree growing out of the snail and there's a Nurgling tied in front of its face in place of a carrot. I think his weapon is meant to be a litterpicker. He's just so silly and yet so horrid looking. I'll definitely be trawling eBay for this guy since I he's being included in a bundle so he won't be available on his own for a while, I should think and I don't want the Stormcast Vanguards, though I do see some potential in the Stormcast character who I think would make a good Chaos Lord with some modifications but, again, eBay exists and I just don't like those Vanguard guys. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

In Theory: Dothraki-inspired Warriors of Chaos army

Every season of Game of Thrones brings with it the same thought: “all-mounted Chaos army”. The mental image of waves of Marauder Horsemen and Chaos Knights charging across the board is an arresting one. In the meta sense it presents challenges different to the usual tactics of Chaos Warriors, putting more emphasis on speed and maneouvre than anchoring the battle line around large units of elite infantry.

So what would actually be in this army and how would it work, in theory?

Character Classes

Every character class aside from Daemon Princes have mount options so really the only question is what to mount them on. Your barded Chaos Steed is cheap, allows you to put the character in a unit and can't be shot out from under you. The generic Daemonic Mount has a lot going for it for the price: WS4, Strength and Toughness 5 and 3 Wounds is nothing to sniff at for 35 points.

As to the power-specific mounts, personally I'd say the Palanquin of Nurgle is too slow at only Movement 4; the Disc of Tzeentch 's has Fly so, to my mind, is best used to give a spellcaster maximum mobility; Slaanesh doesn't get a specific mount anymore; and, Juggernauts we'll deal with later.

Chariots (be they drawn by Chaos Steeds or Gorebeasts) have great potential as centrepieces and the extra hitting power will definitely come in handy.

As to monsters, well, that comes down to personal taste. I do want some monsters in the army because monsters are an essential part of any Chaos army. That said, I want the characters to maintain the cavalry theme. Plus, I've never been much for monstrous character mounts, just personal taste.

Cavalry Units

The way I see it, you have two basic types of unit here. First, you have your fast cavalry units in Marauder Horsemen, Chaos Warhounds and Hellstriders Of Slaanesh. What we're talking about here is an army that is super eleite even by Chaos standards so one phase of the game you want to be very dominant in is Movement. You want to be dictating the agenda of the game and luring your opponent into positions where you can really take advantage. Fast cavalry units are great for this. All those free wheels and Vanguard moves mean you can offer a credible threat to your opponent's backfield reallt early in the game so they have to choose between dealing with those units or holding their nerve in the hopes they can take down your heavy hitters before the fast units are in a position to do real damage to them.

Speaking of heavy hitters: Chaos Chariots, Chaos Knights, Gorebeast Chariots and Skullcrushers Of Khorne. Powerful hammer units who can do a lot of damage on the charge, especially true of the chariots with their impact hits. You need to maximise the amount of damage every charge does with an army like this: impact hits, flank charges, multiple charges. Plus, all of these units look amazing. The downside of this, of course, is that all these units are instantly recognisable high priority targets which is why you need the cheaper, faster units to distract your opponent and present them with difficult choices.

Other units

In the main, the other units that fit the theme and have the speed are monsters. Either big fellas like the Slaughterbrute, Chaos Giant and the Mutalith Vorext Beast or monstrous infantry like Chaos Ogres and Dragon Ogres. I certainly want Dragon Ogres, who have the added benefit of standing on four legs so they're basically cavalry, right? Whether the other monstrous units fit your view of what a cavalry army should be is, of course, entirely up to you.

The Warshrine, though, I think definitely works with the theme. True, it isn't pulled by horses unless you make a conversion but it is definitely a mount. I personally wouldn't use it as a character mount because I'm very aware of the importance of not putting too many eggs in one basket with super elite armies

The Challenges
The obvious, foreseeable problem with this army is the problem with all elite cavalry armies: you don't have many guys. Your units are vulnerable when charged because they have zero standing combat resolution unless you sink points into taking a second rank: expensive for the hammer units, practically pointless for the fast cavalry. Add to that the fact that most cavalry weapon buffs only come into play on the charge. You would have to hit hard and early and be take the gamble that you're break the units you were charging to prevent counter-charges in the next turn.

On the plus side...
Low model count means you can dedicate more time to painting and to create interesting conversions. God-specific chariots, for one thing, interest me as a concept. The Gorebeast harness components, I know, can easily be adapted to accommodate a Beast of Nurgle and Juggernauts are about the same size. Then there's the every popular head swap to create God-specific Knights: Skullcrusher helms to create Khornate Knights, Hellstrider heads for Slaanesh and so forth. There are also a number of fantastic Storm Of Chaos era mounted Chaos Lords to choose from.

The only real problem is that it would be a very hard army to learn. Not much of a problem for mebut I can understand how it might put people off. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Finished Models #1 and #2: Makers of Things

August's big drive to finish models... begins. Cold over, I finally had an afternoon to knuckle down and get some painting done. The first two fruits of this labour and, unsurprisingly, the two models I had on the go that needed the least work but there are a few more models sitting in the “out” tray waiting for their bases to be sanded and painted but for the moment here's what we're starting with.

First off, the Dwarf Runesmith sporting a natty blue cape that will also be the unifying character for all my Karak Ziflin regiments. Mostly this guy was a test piece for all sorts of metallic methods I wanted to try out. I usually prefer natural tones because, frankly, you can be messy as you like with those and it actually enhances the effect. Metals, though, those you have to be more careful with.

Mostly it seems to have worked out, though I did just throw my hands up and yell “fuck it” over the filigree on the helmet after the seventh time trying to follow the line with the tiniest brush I have. So I'm just saying that's embossed into the metal, not a seperate material that I need to bother with, thank you.

On the self-critique side: the sand on the base was drybrushed with Karah Stone and it didn't come out as well as the large stone. Probably some more experimentation needed there.

And, second, we have a Necrotect who, again, was painted mainly to test colours I wanted to apply to the rest of the army. Specifically, the green on the hat and the blue on the armour. My Tomb Kings are from Zandri and, according to one of the Nagash novels, the city's colours were sea greens.

The experiments came out okay though I admit I rushed to finish this one. Of all finecast models, this sculpt is one of the most abused with pebbling and rough edges everywhere. Still, this was the best casting I could find and I think he came out okay.

Now I need to get some sanding done to showcase some models with paintjobs more recent than six months ago. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

So, Necromunda, then?

On the one hand, I am disappointed. There were some lovely rumours going around that Steel Legion were getting plastic kits. I've been wanting new plastic Guard for ages and Steel Legion are one of the more interesting designs from the old metal range.

However, I'll take this as compensation. I was never terribly fond of Necromunda as a system back in the day but I hope the simpler, more freeflowing design outlook of 40k 8th and AoS will be informing this new edition. You know why? Because Eschers:

Look at them in all their over-designed 2000AD glory! Hell, even if I don't like the new rules I might buy some on principle and use them as Chaos Cultists or Conscripts. Goliaths have also been announced, the big meaty fellows who, to be frank...
would make awesome Khornate Cultists. They interest me less from a painting point of view (between Poxwalkers and Fyreslayers I have plenty of shirtless dudes on the go). I also hope they plan to do more of the minor factions like the Scavvies, the mutant sewer-dwellers who used to be my gang back in the day. What can I say? I like an underdog.

As I said, though, the great thing about most of the gangs being random Imperial citizens mean you can find a lot of uses for them mainstream 40k armies: Chaos Cultists, Conscripts, Inquisitorial Henchmen, even human citizens of worlds recently absorbed into the Tau Empire.

I look forward to seeing how this all works out, both rules-wise and what gangs are going to get new miniatures.

But, seriously, GW, you need new Guard plastics. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Chaos Lieutenant returns!

Later this week, once I've had time to give it a proper read through, I'll probably do a deep dive on the new Chaos Space Marines codex. For now, though, I want to focus in one thing, one little thing, that pleases me enormously about this latest iteration of the Heretic Astartes:

The Exalted Champion or, as we knew them in the third edition, the Chaos Lieutenant has returned.

I'm an old-fashioned sort who was brought up on Eighties cartoons and a truth I hold to be self-evident is that every great villain needs his scheming, treacherous minion-in-chief. Every Megatron needs his Starscream and so, in the old days, the Chaos Lord had his Chaos Lieutenant. I remember fondly a White Dwarf article where Matt Hudson (I think) started collecting an Iron Warriors army and went to great lengths writing a backstory for his Chaos Lord and Lieutenant including the reasons why the one was constantly plotting against the other.

Sadly, the idea didn't last. The character class disappeared in the fourth edition and was never heard of again until we got the Aspiring Champion model (but not rules) in sixth. Now, the character class is back in full force with rules and stats and a model and everything.

Its also, frankly, a good way to give people a cheap second HQ choice now two are compulsory for the bog standard force organisation chart. He's a solidly average character, in fact he's pretty much an Aspiring Champion from the bog standard Chais Space Marine squad with +1 WS and four wounds. His main benefit is a 6” AOE that allows your units to re-roll failed wound roles in the Fight phase (plus the Champion can re-roll failed hit rolls against other characters).

Its not spectacular and but its nothing to sniff at. To be honest, the main fun of having the character is getting to write a Starscream-esque character in your background which is a benefit in and of itself.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Test Models: Victoria Miniatures kilted legs

I have come to hate the Cadian Shock Trooper. Its not that they're bad models, they're perfectly competent sculpts, pretty user friendly to build and paint. However, they are also immensely boring and I have painted dozens over the years and they are basically designed to be boring. They are literally the “standard issue grunt” recruited in their billions by the Imperial Guard.

So, when I decided to finally revive my old Guard army, the Silvik 23rd / Metellus 5th Tactical Support Detachment, I knew I had to do something to make them a little more interesting to look at and paint.
Enter Victoria Miniatures and their Kilted Legs set. They, in fact, do entire figures “Highland Guard” figures who just happen to dead ringers for the Drookian Fen Guard but I did want to keep some of the outline of your classic Cadian Guardsman. Also, the complete figures come out a little expensive and I want a largely infantry-based force. My background for the army always had them (at least, the Silvik side of the regiment) come from a very mountainous world so tanks and such are at something of a minimum. Lots of Sentinels, though, I like Sentinels.

First, though, I'll be painting this Veteran Squad. They are Sergeant Pertwee and his Particulars, the regimental quartermaster's personal scrounging squad whose... extracurricular activities get a blind eye turned to them by Commissar Foster and Stratego Callum so long as the Sergeant is willing to lend the squad's considerable skills to certain behind enemy lines missions. This would be the reason they're armed the way they are: a nice all-round squad geared up to break bunkers and vehicle armour but capable of going anti-infantry if I have a need.

I'm almost certainly giving them a Chimera. It might not have originally been theirs but you can repaint those things pretty quickly if you feel the need and I don't know what you mean, Commissar, there's always been this many Chimeras in the pool, purely a discrepancy in the paperwork we'll get it corrected, just sign here, sir.

Now I just need to decide how to paint them. I don't want to go historical redshirt on them but I have also painted enough green and grey over the last couple of weeks to last me a while.

Maybe something in blue?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Plaguebearer test model

It would figure that the first model I finish (aside from basing) in my month of trying to polish off old projects would be a new model I was only tinkering with on the side whilst working on my Tomb Guard. Anyway, here it is, the colour scheme for my Death Guard's Daemon allies:

Nice and simple, easy to production line. The flesh is Mechanicus Standard Grey washed Nuln Oil all over and then heavily drybrushed Dawnstone. The inner fleshy bits are just Bigman's Glow washed Athonian Camoshade to darken it a little.

Given how long all the little bits of banding and fleshy mutations are taking me on the Death Guard themselves its nice that one element of this army is going to be simple to paint. Hopefully, anyway, I've already basecoated a set of Nurgling bases to see how it works on a unit en masse.

Then maybe I'll get those Tomb Guard done. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

A Fantasy Renaissance

The last couple of months have seen me, for the first time in years, utterly obsessed with 40k. It has been at least three editions since I was any sort of regular player and I have probably played more games since 8th came out than I have in the last ten years. I adore the new ruleset.

Yesterday, though, our friend Iain came down from Scotland for a visit and he brought his Goblin army. I cracked out the Tomb Kings, Matt and Tom brought their Empire (Nordland and Nuln respectively). We played three games over the course of an afternoon and I remembered how much I adored the Fantasy game.

Which is good, since I want to spend my hobby time this month clearing the backlog of half-completed models and most of them are Fantasy models (with a few AoS for my Sylvaneth and Fyreslayers).

There are some techniques I want to test out that I have more excuse to test with Fantasy models. I want to try a white method that goes up through a grey base and Rakarth Flesh. Actually, a lot of the techniques I want to test out are based on using coloured base sprays to make effects easier.

I also painted a test Plaguebearer for my Death Guard and, I must say, I have missed painting “natural” colours where you can be an awful lot sketchier than lacquered armour. Drybrushing is my friend. After all these years I feel confident I will never have a steady enough hand for line highlighting.

At the end of the day this is all about improving my skills: new techniques, working smarter and faster, finding shortcuts that lead to the same or better results. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

The Auxiliary Support Detachment and you

The Auxiliary Support Detachment is your one-stop excuse to put whatever you like alongside your regular army. Its a single choice from pretty much any battlefield role, which is generous, but just using the Auxiliary Support Detachment costs you one of your Command Points. Its open to abuse, obviously, but it has potential to create some very interesting combinations. Off the top of my head...

Your Secret Masters

Nice and obvious, your Astra Militarum army is secretly being manipulated by the Alpha Legion and now they have chosen to reveal themselves! Personally, I'd do with a fully tricked out unit of Chosen because if you're going to lose a command point over it you might as well go all out.

Fallen are another possibility. Then, of course, there's Genestealers for when you want to have a proper, full-on Genestealer Cult Regiment instead of the dregs represented by the actual Cults list.

Iron Warriors Basilisk Battery

First of all: yes, I got into playing Chaos under the 3.5 codex and thus remember when Iron Warriors could take Basilisks just because. Also, in spite of being weaker than a Vindicator's demolisher cannon, a Basilisk's earthshaker is always D6 shots and you get to roll two dice and choose the highest, which as far as I'm concerned is much better odds for flattening the servants of the Corpse God.

Xenos Mercenaries

Kroot, Blood Axe Orks and Eldar Corsairs (represented by Guardians, I guess?) all have a history of working with Imperial forces when the money's right and the commissars are conveniently dead. Also, Harlequins have a history of just turning up wherever they bloody please.


I think I spelt that right. Basically, humans who have either defected to or grown up in the T'au Empire. Once upon a time they were a Chapter Approved unit made up of basic Guardsmen with the odd pulse rifle. Now, if you want to lose a command point buying a ten man unit of standard issue grunts or marginally superior veterans... well, to be honest, I've done dumber things in the name of fluff.

Just a few ideas to get you started.