Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thoughts: Supplements n' Expansions

When I first caught wind that Games Workshop was working on a set of expansions and other rules updates, I got excited.  When I heard one of them would center around siege warfare, I started digging trenches in my front lawn in preparation.  Having read through Stronghold Assault and Escalation, and being familiar with the concepts behind the new Dataslates and Formations, I'd like to share my thoughts on them and muse about where the game is going from here.


I more-or-less ignored Escalation until I bothered to read it and my opinion on it remains largely unchanged.  Being able to take Super Heavy units in "regular" games of Warhammer 40,000 is pretty cool and can make for a game that the players will remember for a good long while.

The Imperial Guard get the lion's share of choices from the book in the form of the frillion Baneblade variants.  Many of the other armies get only one choice, which I think was a major ball that Games Workshop dropped.  Having at least two or three would've been better and there are options out there for some of the other armies.  Craftworld Eldar could have gotten access to a Cobra, Orks could have gotten a Mega Fortress tank...  You get the gist.

Luckily, Forge World has picked up the slack and given all of the armies the full range of Lord of War options they deserve.

Others have complained that Escalation being a Supplement (not an Expansion) fundamentally alters the game, but I don't see it that way.  Relatively few players have super heavy units anyway.  They're cumbersome to tote around and are enormous targets on the battlefield.  Many of the options are from Forge World, which adds enormous expense to the pile of issues of bringing a Lord of War to the battlefield.

I think, also, that a majority of players recognize the potential to break casual game play.  Much like win-at-all-costs tournament lists, many hobbyists playing casually will politely refrain from playing with or against Escalation army lists unless both players are up to the challenge, much the same way you might hear "Hey, Dave, I just paid my taxes and can't take getting bent over a table again this week.  D'you mind not bringing out the tourney list with four Riptides?"

The alternate Warlord Traits table is pretty sweet.  Reading through it a second time I had to keep reminding myself that not everyone plays Imperial Guard and other HQ units can make much better use of the traits than a Company Comander or Commissar can.  One of the traits gives your Warlord armourbane and fleshbane in close combat against Lords of War.  Now imagine a base Company Commander pistol-whipping his way through a Baneblade--and destroying it.  Talk about a memorable game!

The missions included with the book also seem like a lot of fun.  I'll have to dust off my Baneblade and actually find time to play.  Busy holiday seasons are always such a joy, aren't they?

Stronghold Assault

As a Death Korps player and lover of siege warfare, this book had me hungrily hoovering up any rumor up until its release and absorbing it all with glee.  Reading the book, I had only minor quibbles, but was very, very impressed with the Expansion.

Stronghold Assault allows players to fight siege battles with one side being the attacking player and the other being the defender.  The book also features three additional missions to take full advantage of the new rules for fortifications in the book.

One of the more interesting surprises was the alteration to building rules.  The new building rules in Stronghold Assault streamline the process of using buildings in games of Warhammer 40,000.  One of the best, in my opinion, was making Battlements a big access point to whichever building it's attached to.  Allowing Jump- and Jet-pack troops to embark into buildings was also a nice addition, though to be honest, I wasn't aware at the time that they weren't allowed to do so.

The choice of fortifications available to players is rather undiverse, representing Games Workshop's buildings available for purchase.  An excellent addition to the book would have been giving each army a few alternate options to the basic structures.  Something like Tau being able to add some sort of drones or letting Eldar replace Imperial weapons and void shields with their own guns and holofields.  I imagine the design studio will probably be releasing separate Dataslates for army-specific upgrades to fortifications at some point in the future.

Out of the two, Stronghold Assault is the book I'm most excited to use in my games of 40k.  It very strongly reminds me of Planetstrike, which I absolutely adored.  Stronghold Assault even utilizes many of the same alterations to the Force Organization Chart featured in Planetstrike.


My friend Ryan is a big fan of World of Tanks and Mech Warrior Online.  Both are shooter games that are free-to-play online, but feature options you can purchase to enhance your in-game experience.  Too often, free-to-play games will suffer from what players call "pay-to-win" syndrome, wherein all of the best items, equipment and enhancements sit behind a pay wall, unavailable to players not looking to spend any money on the game.  Ryan remarked that Dataslates are Games Workshop's experiment with pay-to-win gameplay.

Certainly an apt analogy, but after looking at some of the Dataslates that have been released so far, I'm not getting the impression that there's anything game breaking in them at all.  In all honesty, I really like the concept!  Adding a new dimension to gameplay and encouraging players to consider options they otherwise wouldn't take is almost never a bad thing.

Of course, there are some minor issues: chief among them is the fact that Formations are separate Detachments.  A huge potential for abuse would exist were it not for the enormous number of points one must spend to take any of the Formations that have currently been released.  The Tau Firebase and Space Marine flyer Formations are each in the ballpark of 500 points.  As it stands, it's just a head-scratcher.

My other quibble with the Formations are the (so far) lack of restriction on how the units in a Formation must be arranged.  Think of the formations in the Apocalypse rulebook.  When a group of units in an Apocalypse formation maintain some sort of special coherency, they benefit from some special rule.  A better idea, in my own humble opinion, would be to play Formations in standard games of 40k the same way, granting buffs to units that remained in a special arrangement.

Overall, I'm extremely positive about what the deluge of new gaming material means for the hobby.  My sincerest hope is that my regular gaming group doesn't just decide to ignore the expansions.  They all sound like so much fun and I'm chomping at the bit to play all of them.

All the best and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Death Korps Siege Regiment Painting Technique Test Run

The start of something wonderful!

I've purchased quite a bit of stuff from Forge World recently.  It's a solid chunk of the stuff I'll need to build a large Death Korps of Krieg army.  I'm intending that the army will have over 120 guardsmen at 1850pts.  In order to paint that many models, I'll have to rethink the way I paint miniatures, which is where the products pictured above come into play.

Normally, I paint by priming with a color primer, painting on basic colors, washing all or part of the model, finally adding details, highlights, etc and varnishing.  While I could do that for this build, applying the wash by hand is entirely too time consuming, so I bought some of The Army Painter's Strong Tone Quickshade dip.  

Let's see how it works, shall we?

The model--in this case, a Death Korps Grenadier with a hose section--got a hole drilled into his heel and toothpick jammed into the hole.  He then got primed white and had a base coat of The Army Painter Skeleton Bone Warpaint applied by airbrush.  I use a 50/50 paint/water mix.  Works great.

The next step is to apply the layers of paint on the model by brush.  A few basic colors from The Army Painter's Warpaints range, and we're pretty much good to go.  This guy probably took about 45 minutes to paint to the condition that he's in as pictured.  

While the Grenadier was drying, I added some Vallejo Black Lava textured paint to a 25mm MDF base I cut out with my laser cutter.  This was my first time working with textured paint like this, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Oni had very positive things to say about the product, so I figured I'd give it a chance.  

From the one model I've used Black Lava on, I think it's a keeper.  The product does have to get "slopped" on instead of brushed on if you want an even grit across the whole base.

After letting the Grenadier dry for about half an hour, I put the Quickshade dip to the test.  The stuff is pretty much wood stain.  Tons of hobbyists use Minwax instead and save a couple bucks in the process, but I like the way the Strong Tone looks on models and didn't want to spend money and time trying to figure out which shade of stain matched closest.

The entire process of dipping models is new to me.  The dip looks like it coats very heavily and does have to have the excess tapped back into the can and the few drips and such shaken off.  Unfortunately, I neglected to glue the toothpick to the Grenadier's heel, so he flew off while I was trying to remove excess dip.  After his second airborne excursion, I just sopped up the heavier pools of dip with a paint brush.

The thing I like least about the dip is that it requires 12 hours to dry and 24 to cure fully.  While this can be a drag, I imagine it's not such a big deal when you're dipping 20 to 30 models at a time and letting them dry while you work on the next batch.  As was to be expected, the dip dried to a high gloss, which shows off the varnish component of the dip.

And so, after waiting the requisite amount of dry time, I hit the model with my favorite Testors Dullcote.  I can honestly say I couldn't be more pleased with the result.  The camera on my cellphone fails to capture how splendid the model looks for the level of effort I put into it.  I did have to do a tiny, tiny bit of touch up work with Strong Tone Ink, but aside from that, this chap's ready to hit the table top.

The base is my usual desert scheme: Desert Yellow base coat, a drybrush of Skeleton Bone and the lip painted Leather Brown; Warpaints all.  I primed the base white.

The entire Death Korps army will be painted using this technique.  I have some plans for magnetized squad-sized movement trays, just so my opponent doesn't kill me when I tell him I'm playing with more than 100 models, but that's a post I'll get to when I reach that point in the project.  For now, I think we can all call this experiment a resounding success!

All the best,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Howling Griffons Sternguard Squad, Part 5

The last member of the squad, and the most complex, the Veteran Sergeant is complete.

See that guy? F*ck him and everyone nearby

He's armed the exact same way as most of the rest of the squad, as befits a group of Monstrous Creature hunters.

Tonight... You...

A focus shot of some of the detailing.  How many skulls can you count in this picture?

To make for easier storage, the Sergeant's backpack is magnetized.

Next up on the list is getting myself a sheet of printable water transfers and apply them.  I'd also like to take a few scenic shots of the squad on the one piece of my Realm of Battle board that I've actually managed to get done.

More to come,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Howling Griffons Sternguard Squad, Part 4

Four down, one Veteran Sergeant to go!  

Free Photos! Smile and Wait for Flash

Just to spice things up a bit and take full advantage of my diverse bits collection, I left this chap holding his bolter down while firing his bolt pistol.  I'm normally not a huge fan of things like this, but it turned out quite well.

Good thing I remembered to keep the pistol holster empty, eh?  The right arm is actually from one of the Blood Angels boxes.  It adds just a touch of detail and blends nicely with the half tabard.

Rear shot of the model.  I made heavy use of the extra odds and ends that are packed onto the Grey Knight strike squad sprues.  Anything that wasn't a book with a sword through it or stamped with the Inquisitorial =I= was fair game.

Next time, Veteran Sergeant,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Howling Griffons Sternguard Squad, Part 3

The first of two regular Howling Griffons Sternguard Veterans.  This guy (and the other) will be toting combigravs.  This squad will exist for the sole purpose of killing Oni's Wraithknight if I ever meet it upon the field of battle.  They will be accepting applications for other Monstrous Creatures as well.

The combigrav consists of a Phobos-pattern bolter, the top half of a Volkite Charger and half of the drum from a Terminator's storm bolter.

The goal throughout this small project has been to spend a little money as possible.  These five guys are made from the various Space Marine bits I've had laying around for years and will serve as a nice interim project until my horde of Death Korps arrive in the mail.  

If you look closely, you can see the occasional Grey Knight and Blood Angel bit on the model.  The bolt pistol holsters are cut from chunks of green stuff and had pistol grips glued in the right place.  This quick idea came from Ron, of From the Warp fame.  Sadly, I can't find the tutorial in his archives.

More to come,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Howling Griffons Sternguard Squad, Part 2

Because somebody has to carry into battle the guns that warp the fundamental constants of the universe.

In my quest to not spend money on this squad, I used a pair of Volkite chargers from the Heresy range on Forge World.  They get the job done.

More to come,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Howling Griffons Sternguard Squad, Part 1

I was under the impression I wouldn't be painting any more Space Marines in a quartered pattern, but I was wrong.  After rifling through the bitz box, I managed to scrape together a 5 man Sternguard squad with two grav rifles and three combi-gravs.

In order to paint the chest eagles, I left the weapons out and am painting them separately.

I used more gold instead of white and silver.  This shows their veteran status, along with the tabard and ornament on the backpack.  I'd considered making the helmets white to show veteran status, but dividing the model evenly into two colors is most impressively shown on the helmet.  I'd also considered painting an olive wreath onto the helmet, but that would have been far too easy to mess up, thus ruining the model.  Know your limits!

The pistol holsters for all of the models, which will be shown in later updates in the series, are all sculpted out of green stuff with a pistol grip added after the sculpt had dried.  They turned out well enough so you can tell what they are, which is the important part.  I added them to the model to add a bit of bulk around the midsection, which always looked far too thin to me.

More to come, stay tuned,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Howling Griffons Tactical Marine

Over the weekend at our post-gaming meal, Oni remarked that he'd like to see someone do a Howling Griffons model.  So I dug up a tactical marine from the 5th Edition starter box that I had primed and had at it.  This is a one-off marine and I don't intend to do any more in this paint scheme.

Anyone who has an entire army of Howling Griffons that looks even halfway decent deserves a round of applause.  This guy took me four and a half hours to get done from prime to varnish.  That being said, I think he looks amazing.  Only thing I would change on the model is using a Sepia wash instead of TAP Strong tone--I think I gave away my last pot of Gryphonne Sepia wash a few weeks ago--and having a water transfer for the shoulder pad.

"Emperor help me, I will end the first Chaos 
worshipping whoreson who scuffs my armour!"
-Brother Tomas, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Terrain: Small Outbuilding, Part 3 COMPLETE!

Building's done.  Intended mainly to test a paint technique for the terrain that will be going with my Realm of Battle game board (that I'm finally getting around to painting).  I'd wanted to make the building resemble light sandstone, and I think I hit the mark.  The bits of pooled sepia wash are there mostly to break the building up and it look more complete.

Rather than leave the upper level of the building a blank slab of plasticard, I ripped apart one of the components of an Aegis Defense Line and glued it up top.  Now it can house a weapon, vox array or similar.

Other projects await.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Terrain: Small Outbuilding, Part 2

The base coat is on.  I airbrushed a handful of layers of TAP's Skeleton Bone over the entire model.  Next comes a Ceramite White drybrush and little bits of sepia wash to resemble grime collection in a few of the recesses.

More to come, as always.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Terrain: Small Outbuilding, Part 1

I'm testing out my airbrush and skills on a small piece of terrain I whipped up earlier in the week.  The plan is to prime white (pictured) then airbrush on TAP Skeleton Bone to a solid coat.  After that's done and dried, I'll drybrush on a coat of Ceramite White to make the detail pop and give the building the look of sandstone.  Finally, there will be a small handful of metallic detail that need to get painted, and I'll add a drop or two of wash and drag it down the surface to make it look like mild grime wear on the outside of the building.

More to come, stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Imperial Fists Legion Master of Signals, Part 3 COMPLETE

Finally finished painting this chap.  He's for a friends Imperial Fists Legion army.

A shot of the washing and light detail work.

Details on the vox backpack.

More projects on the way.  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Imperial Fists Legion Master of Signals, Part 2

So far, so good.  Picked out a few details on the Master of Signals and applied a sepia wash to create depth.  The eyes and other optic bits are a deep red base, brought up to a bright orange highlight.  The sensor nodes on the left shoulder pad are silver washed with the same sepia I used on the rest of the model.  

Vox array backpack and more progress next time,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Imperial Fists Legion Master of Signals, Part 1

A friend of mine lent me an airbrush to try out.  He let me know he was having trouble getting it working, but I figured I'd take a whack at it.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any luck either and rather than buy parts to repair it, I decided to buy a Grex XS from Blick.  With a 40% off coupon, what more could you want?

I still have a lot of experimentation to do with the airbrush.  Getting paints thinned correctly is much more art than science.  Liquitex Airbrush Medium seems to be working well, though so far, it's the only product I've tried thinning paints with.  Citadel paints need more thinning than The Army Painter Warpaints and both seem to cover quite well if thinned correctly and I'm patient in applying the coats.

The Imperial Fists Legion Master of Signals was primed white then airbrushed yellow.  The airbrush works quite well on miniatures and I'm looking forward to using it on future projects.

More to come,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tyrant of Badab, Part 5 COMPLETE!

And at long last, Lugft Huron, Chapter Master of the Astral Claws, self-styled Tyrant of Badab and future traitor to the Imperium of Man is complete!

Painting this guy was actually a lot of fun.  His face turned out well, though not quite like I was hoping.  I had originally been going for a paler look, but the highlights clash with how dark the base skin tone is.  Instead it makes Lugft look like he's got some long-healed burn scarring on his face.  The hair turned out as well as I'd hoped.  I think grey fits.  After all, he is a few centuries old.

The banner features a claw gripping a representation of the Maelstrom, the Tyrant's personal heraldry.  It turned out okay, but I could use more practice free handing.  Along with a few other bits, the original banner was broken, so it got tossed out and replaced with one from the Space Marine Tactical Squad box.

 The gold bits came out just as planned and contrasts well with the oiled steel look of the armor.  The heavy flamer was heavily washed with TAP Strong Tone then hit with some Vallejo Carbon Black dry pigment to show carbon scoring.

The white sections didn't turn out like I'd imagined they would, but I like them.  Instead of using my usual Dheneb Stone foundation paint (what little of it is left), I used Ceramite White from the new range of GW paints.  It's much, much brighter than I'd intended, but it turned out looking more like sculpted marble than the usual parchment color I've used so often before.

The Astral Claws's paint scheme is supposed to be a brighter silver rather than a dark steel.  Bright colors, however are more difficult to paint and end up not looking quite as good as a darker base with brighter highlights.  I toned down the color scheme of the model overall, making him look much more grim.

The original color scheme features much more blue than I've put on the model.  The only actual blue parts are his right knee plate and the optics above his armored cowl.  This again was to tone down the model and keep that grim look that defines the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  It also clashes less with the overall visual flow of the model.  If I decide to do more Astral claws, I'll keep the same dark color scheme.

Hope you guys enjoyed following the blog for this project.  More to come as I continue to paint.

All the best,

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tyrant of Badab, Part 4

Getting there!  Wash has been applied, many of the highlights are on and most of the details I wanted to pick out on the model are done.  All that's left to do after all of this is to freehand a fancy-pants freehand banner.  I'm thinking a stylized warp storm gripped by a lion's claw, kind of like the Astral Claw's chapter symbol.

I'll probably also add more wear to the heavy flamer using some weathering powders from Vallejo.  I've used those extensively on my Vendettas.

More to come!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tyrant of Badab, Part 3

Lugft's just about all painted up.  This is almost all the paint that's gonig on him before I work on the uber-fine details of his face and banner.  Next up is a series of washes and highlights.

More to come!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tyrant of Badab, Part 2

Base is done!  Doing two different dry brush color sets is pretty tough, but I think it turned out nicely.  The sand is my usual: TAP Desert Yellow then drybrush Skeleton Bone.  Rocks are painted with a base coat of Foundation Adeptus Battlegrey, drybrush Citadel Fortress Grey and Ceramite White.

Now onto the man himself, the Tyrant of Badab, Mister Lugft Huron!

More to come, stay tuned!