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.