Monday, 11 March 2013

Tell me why? I don't like Mondays

This morning my first ever Forge World postal order arrived: two Death Guard Marine upgrade sets, twenty wonderfully disgusting sets of bodies and shoulder pads. Just holding them I felt inspired with ideas for conversions, characters and background, I couldn't wait to get started on them.
Except I can't start until Wednesday because, as with many hobby centres these days, Reading GW closes on Mondays and Tuesdays. Oh well, lesson learned: next time buy the plastic kit at the first opportunity after ordering the conversion set. In the mean time it gives me time to think about what to do with the conversion sets.

The first fourteen will go on making two units of seven Plague Marines. One more will go towards making a Plague Lord along with the vicious-looking power sword out of the new Raptors kit. The final five will go on Possessed which will also have the benefit of giving me two more batwinged backpacks. I already have three of these parts in my bits box so I can use them (and some other Possessed parts) to make some seriously mutated Warp Talons.

I've also gained a second set of Dark Vengeance Chaos Marines. I don't much rate the Chaos Lord as a Death Guard character (quite apart from the fact I'm already making one) but the Hulbrute fits well enough. I didn't get any Cultists in the exchange but I haven't painted the ones from my first set so they can go into the Death Guard army, if I add a couple of the small box sets available in stores I can even make the units fourteen-strong. Come to think of, if I get the plastic Aspiring Champion I can add him to the Chosen to make another seven man unit.

I'm bursting with ideas for this army. I want to make it a real production number, the sort of army you see in White Dwarf's Army Of The Month feature: Chaos Space Marines, Traitor Guard, Daemons, the lot. Conversions galore, as well, I've been making things straight out of the box for too long. My very first army was The Lost And The Damned and ever since I've felt the need to tweak things to add a little extra character.

Now I just have to wait until Wednesday to get started.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Work In Progress

So the next Angels Of Absolution project is a Vindicator. No, I'm not subconsciously avoiding my Dark Vengeance models but I am trying to avoid the usual pattern I suffer with Space Marine armies. Usually I paint a character and maybe a couple of small units before buying and constructing a few more just before I lose interest. This time I'm trying something new.

I hope if I paint a couple of big things to get me started instead of the traditional Captain - Tactical Squad - Terminators combo I'll lock into the project and really make a go of it.

This Marine army will have a distinct purpose. As I've said it isn't my first and I want to break away from my habit of gravitating back to Space Marines. If I can make a go of this army then whenever I get a yen for Imperial power armour I can just add a unit or two to my Angels Of Vengeance and then get back to other projects.

Plus I need to show myself the method I used on the Grand Master can work on a larger scale.
Meanwhile on the Tomb Kings side of the table we have the other half of the Skeleton Warriors regiment, just to get the last of the easy models out of the way. I'll need to work out a new army list, though, as it occurs to me that I went over my allowance for Heroes. Thus finishing this Skeleton unit won't constitute quite half of my army.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Tomb Kings Time Attack end of week 1

(Soundtrack to this week's hobby: Eddie Izzard: Dress To Kill DVD, Ronnie Barker's Lines From My Grandfather's Forehead, The Goon Show: Foiled By President Fred and Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: The Anachronauts.)

I didn't get as much hobby done this week as I intended to, due in the main to having to prepare my flat for a house inspection but I made a little progress. I've also managed to drag my best friend Matt into this hobby challenge business as he now intends to finish a 1,000 points Daemons Of Chaos army over the next month, just as soon as he decides between Tzeentch and Slaanesh. Dave might be getting in on the act, as well, with a Warriors Of Chaos army.
My test skeleton (front rank far right), finished oh so long ago, now has nine little friends to keep him company. Ten models takes me a quarter of the way to my 1,000 points target. Okay, so they're the easiest models in the army but just finishing some models gives me a nice buzz of satisfaction after spending so long faffing around and not really getting anything done.

I took some advice from a friend and used Lahmian Medium as a matt varnish for the most of the models and 'Ardcoat on the shields to make the black spring out at the viewer. It doesn't come out too well in the photographs but its a nice effect. The Lahmian Medium worked perfectly: I've always preferred the effect of matt varnish but as anyone who has used Purity Seal when there's even a single molecule of moisture in the air it fogs faster than the Thames waterfront. These models I varnished at 3am on the last day of February with the heating off and they came out fine.
Speaking of getting things done these two giant rats have been sitting on my paint station for over a year. Not really relevant to anything but it was nice to get them out of the way.
Another model I've been meaning to finish for a while was my Dark Vengeance Chaos Lord. As you can see I've steered away from the traditional Night Lords lightning bolts, it takes a far better painter than me to make those look good. I tried and it just looked cartoony no matter what I did. The model doesn't suffer from it, with all that fine detail it doesn't need the extra embellishment. I must say that Warplock Bronze goes on a treat in just one coat in marked contrast to the golds I was using on the Tomb Kings.
Yes, I've changed my mind again. This started out as my Guardians Of The Covenant test model but after a few layers I just got so bored of all that metal and resprayed the thing. I might not really be intending to use this army in game but there's no point painting something you're not going to enjoy. By contrast, I had great fun painting it as an Angel Of Absolution. I think the bone armour came out really well, though the highlighting on the cape could certainly use some work.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Taking up Matt Hutson's Hobby Challenge

In this month's White Dwarf Matt Hutson laid down a challenge to the rest of the WD team: to paint a new force in time for the next issue to go to print. Having had no luck at all with the hobby vows I'd been setting myself I thought “If I'm going to fail, I might as well fail to a generous deadline.”.

Optimism, that's what I want anyone who stumbles upon this blog to find: optimism.

The next White Dwarf hits on Saturday 30th March (New Doctor Who Day!) so that gives me thirty four days in which to paint a workable army. For this project I've chosen the Tomb Kings since I have all the miniatures I need already. In my mind the minimum workable army size in Warhammer is 1,000 points so that'll be my goal. Picking and choosing from my original 2,000 army list gives me this tidy little force:

Tomb Prince armed with great weapon and light armour. Army General. 106 points
Liche Priest armed with hand weapon, Level 2 Wizard using the Lore of Nehekhara riding a Skeletal Steed. Heirophant. 115 points
Liche Priest armed with hand weapon, Level 1 Wizard. 70 points
20 Skeleton Warriors armed with spear, light armour and shield, full command. 150 points
11 Skeleton Horsemen armed with spear, light armour and shield, full command. 184 points
3 Skeleton Chariots, Charioteers armed with spear and bow, full command. 195 points.
3 Sephulchral Stalkers armed with halberds.165 points

985 points

40 models in 34 days doesn't seem too much of a challenge and even if I don't quite make it I'll have made a dent in the job. So far I have one skeleton finished and nine others half-done so I'm nearly a tenth of the way there already.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Zandri Blackshields army list

Aims of the army
There's no theme to this army at all. The plan here is to create a general, balanced army with some infantry, some cavalry, some monsters and as many wizards as I can fit in. The basis of the list were the kits I bought when the last Army Book came out: the Battalion (which is great), a couple of the new monsters and twenty Tomb Guard.

The list:

Tomb King (170) armed with great weapon (6) and light armour. Army General. 176 points
Liche Priest (70) armed with hand weapon, Level 2 Wizard (35) using the Lore of Nehekhara riding a Skeletal Steed (10). Heirophant. 115 points
Liche Priest (70) armed with hand weapon, Level 1 Wizard. 70 points
Liche Priest (70) armed with hand weapon, Level 1 Wizard. 70 points
Tomb Herald (60) armed with hand weapon riding a Skeletal Steed (10). Battle Standard Bearer (25) carrying the Banner of Swiftness (15, +1 Movement). 110 points.
20 Skeleton Warriors (80) armed with spear (20), light armour (20) and shield, full command (30). 150 points
20 Skeleton Warriors (80) armed with spear (20), light armour (20) and shield, full command (30). 150 points
11 Skeleton Horsemen (132) armed with spear, light armour (22) and shield, full command (30). 184 points
5 Skeleton Horse Archers (70) armed with hand weapon and bow, full command (30). 100 points.
3 Skeleton Chariots (165), Charioteers armed with spear and bow, full command (30). 195 points.
20 Tomb Guard (220) armed with halberds (40), light armour and shields, full command (30). 290 points
3 Sephulchral Stalkers (165) armed with halberds.165 points
Necrosphinx (225). 225 points.

Total: 2000 points

This list gives me a good spread of foot and mounted units, plenty of core troops and a couple of impressive centrepiece units to get my teeth into. Totalled up the army comes to 88 individual models, mostly skeletons, so I should be able to finish it pretty quickly.

As to its tactical usefulness... not a clue. As I've said before this is an army I'm completely unfamiliar with so I'll be learning as I go. As you can see I've hedged my bets by taking a good spread of the Core choices and keeping the monstrous mad shit to a minimum. And Liche Priests, lots and lots of Liche Priests.
My only disappointment was I didn't have room on the list for some Ushabti but I can always swap out the Stalkers for them later or add them to a 2,400 points army list.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Random acts of hobby

Sometimes you just run out of steam and grind to a halt. I failed my first hobby vow which threw me into a bit of a funk, to be honest.

I've decided I can't actually be bothered with the Dark Vengeance Dark Angels, its too many projects at once. They'll get done, just not now.

On the plus side I got enough models painted (well, painted enough) to take part in the first game on my friend Dave's new gaming table. 2,000 points: Dave's Dark Angels (a mere fifth of his collection, he's a dedicated man) versus a Chaos Space Marine alliance of my Night Lords and Matt's Black Legion. Good game, won by my team on objectives and a few lessons learnt:

Cultists are brilliant for holding objectives, especially if you advance them under cover of Terminators. It was the unit led by the Champion in a Commissar's greatcoat, he's getting a character.

Chosen are not as survivable as I assumed they'd be. I really should have bought them a transport.

Power mauls and force staves are worthless! My Sorcerer and Dave's Terminator Chaplain were locked in a seemingly endless duel for four and a half turns. Power axes, by comparison, are amazing. Matt and I need to have a grudge match, though, as his Lord and Chosen were in a perfect position to come to my Sorcerer's aid AND HUNG ME OUT TO DRY! Grudge match, XVI Legion bastards.

It was, however, the first game where I was able to keep my eye on the objectives. Usually I get so into the fight, especially when playing a fun old friend like Dave, that I lose sight of the actual purpose of the scenario.

On an aside I helped my friend Dan paint his new house this past week which meant unlearning the lessons of a lifetime and making sure there was as much paint as possible on my brush.

“Do you need a three-stage highlight on this bannister, Dan, or should I just drybrush it?”

Oh, and before I forget:

This week's hobby vow
Write three army lists so I have concrete plans for my projects.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A theme for my Heretics in Skirts (aka Dark Angels)

This is not a new army project, not yet at any rate. All I want to do with these Dark Angels is paint them, simply because I don't want unpainted models sitting around cluttering up the place. Plus, I managed to score the last limited edition Dark Vengeance in the store so it seems somehow ungrateful of me not to paint it all.

It is the simple reality of this hobby that after a while you'll end up with a pile of unpainted, redundant models: unfinished projects, test models that went nowhere, presents that weren't strictly relevant to any of your projects but your parent were trying. My mate Greg thinks he can avoid this, by the way. He just started collecting his first army and he's determined to buy and paint one unit at time. This first army of his is Warriors Of Chaos so I don't think his illusions will last very much longer.

Anyway, I want a simple but effective colour scheme so I can finish these models quickly regardless of if they turn into an army or not. I want a lazy man's colour scheme basically. So it could only be...
… the Guardians Of The Covenant. Nice and simple: steel grey armour, black shoulder pads, a chapter icon even I can freehand and red robes so I can indulge my urge to paint things in that same cool red I've been using on my Night Lords. This will also give me a chance to test out some more metallic effects in my ongoing quest to learn how to paint.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Hobby Vow the 1st

This week I'm going to start using a motivational techinque taught to me by Dave Palmer, manager of the local GW. He calls them “hobby vows” and they're simple enough: have a stated goal and a time limit for what you're trying to achieve in one of your projects.

I intend to have one every week, just little things to push me forward at a pace I'm comfortable with. I'll work on other things as I go so I don't feel too regimented in how I work but the focus of the week will always be the Vow.

So, to start off simply: firstly, this week I shall finish painting my Chaos Lord.

Secondly, because I don't want a load of unfinished models lying around, I will make a decision about what I want to do with those Dark Vengeance Dark Angels.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

This week's hobby progress

Just to keep myself motivated (and so any readers I acquire don't get bored by an endless wall of text) I've decided to keep a weekly progress diary of my army projects. Motivation, that's the key.
Tomb Kings
Finished painting a test model for the Zandri Blackshields. The colour scheme for the figure is straight from How To Paint Citadel Miniatures. It was quick, simple and effective, just what I wanted for the project. The figure above isn't varnished. I intend to use gloss varnish on the shield and Lahmian Medium on the rest (apparently it works quite well as a matt varnish but doesn't bleach colour from the metallics).

Night Lords
Making decent progress with the Dark Vengeance Chaos Marines. I'm a fair way through painting the Chaos Lord. So far I've only used base paints and washes but it hasn't come out too badly. As to the rest of the models I've blocked out some of the basic colours on the Helbrute and Chosen ready to get to work on the details. I like how the cape is coming out, makes me want to paint more things dark red.
Death Guard
Not much progress on the slow build project. I bought, built and undercoated the Finecast Nurgle Daemon Prince though I'm dithering on how to paint it, whether to go with the pre- or post-Heresy colour scheme or to go in some other direction entirely.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Introducing the Zandri Blackshields

It occurred to me yesterday that I had themes for both of my Chaos Space Marine projects but not the Tomb Kings. Now, I want the army to be balanced and rather general but at the very least I need a colour scheme. So I cracked open the Tomb Kings book and started to read. On page 36 a small box-out entitled “Amanhotp the Intolerant” really caught my eye:

“During the time of the Desertblood Crusades, a regiment of Bretonnian Knights returned from Nehekhara with the remains of what they believed to be Duke Cheldric, a hero whose daring quest into the Land of the Dead was the stuff of legend. However, the Knights had actually returned to the Old World with the mummified body of King Amanhotep the Intolerant, who awakened after unknowingly being paraded up and down the length of Bretonnia and carried across a score of battlefields by zealous Battle Pilgrims. Amanhotep's wrath was great indeed, and he singlehandedly slaughtered the inhabitants of dozens of towns before returning to his sarcophagus in Zandri.”

The moment I read that I knew I had my army general. I do sort of imagine an undead Victor Meldrew grumbling his way across Bretonnia as he casually slaughters the knights and peasants “selfishly getting in his way”. I used to have a Bretonnian army so I'll be raiding my bits box to furnish my characters with trophies of past victories. I might even be able to find a Bretonnian player and have a grudge match series with them.

There isn't much background for Zandri. Its identified on the map as “the Fleetport of Terror” though that doesn't suggest any particular theme for the army. Of more help is a brief mention on page 17 under Legions of Legend to “the Zandri Blackshields”.

So now I have a general, a name for the army and a unifying colour element. Black is the one colour I feel can still be relied upon and it'll give me an ideal chance to practice highlighting. It should also look nice and stark against the legion of bone warriors, especially if I give the shields a gloss varnish.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Getting my Dark Vengeance on

For the Emperor!

This is the first starter set where I didn't feel even a little cheated that the good guys were More Bloody Space Marines. The last two sets gave us well-made but ultimately very static, blonked out Marines, functional but uninteresting. The Black Reach Tactical Marines looked like they were lined up on parade: standing ramrod straight with their bolters held straight across their chests. With a very small shift in posing the Dark Vengeance Tacticals have a sense of motion and more varied posing through the unit which looks so much more satisfying.

And I like that they're Dark Angels, even though I've never really been a Dark Angels fan. For one thing it means you don't have to paint any fiddly chapter symbols on their shoulders (always a plus). Whether I'll actually get around to painting them is anyone's guess, my dance card already being full of other projects.

The Terminators are fantastic too, again a great advance their Black Reach predecessors. Iconography! Tabards! Assault cannon! Chainfist! Giant bunny ears!


My friend and longtime Dark Angels fan Dave has just informed me via the medium of frying pan that they are not bunny ears but racks of feathers.

… yeah, that's so much manlier...

Greatest advancement on the More Bloody Space Marines side? Bikes that look great. Space Marine Bikes are a divisive subject and I swing back and forth on them: in general I think they look terrible but every now and then I get a yen for a White Scars army which lasts for exactly one model before I realise I cannot and shall never be able to paint white and abandon the project. These bikes however can be painted black (so much easier) and have been posed slanted to one side so it looks more like they're moving at speed.

The Company Master is a groovy character with a big ass sword and his friend the Librarian looks properly sinister. I even had a stroke of luck and picked up the last limited edition in the store so I got one of those fantastic Interrogator-Chaplains, which is a model I'm really going to have to take my time over whenever I get around to it.

Death to the False Emperor!

But never mind the good guys, I'm a servant of Chaos at heart, always have been. Codex: Eye Of Terror, oh how I miss you, which is why the inclusion of Cultists in this set did my depraved old heart good. Twenty of them, as well! Woohoo! Woot! I shall not squee, I have some shred of dignity.


Yes, the frying pan again, as my co-worker Kerry reminds me I really don't.

Beyond those twenty Cultists the Chaos side is a little sparse: you get a Chaos Lord in that cool pose with a downthrust sword (not enough models like that) and his six mates, a unit of Chosen with various cool weapons options. To be honest the two bolter-armed Chosen are the only time in the set that duplicate models stand out. All the others are hidden in much larger units aside from the Terminators but they're big enough that it's somehow less noticeable. Chosen are supposed to be mini-Chaos Lords so having two identical ones sort of stands out.

The Chosen Champion has this weapon: a maul topped with a head that looks like the Chaos starburst. That and the third eye makes me think he'd make a good Sorcerer but at a pinch I think you could also use him as a Dark Apostle since the Accursed Crozius now counts as a power maul.

Finally comes the Helbrute, the insane mash-up of Dreadnought and Chaos Spawn. It looks great! Great in a disgusting, makes me worry about the sculptor's mental health sort of way, granted. It'll be a bugger to paint, though, as it's mostly flesh and I'm not quite sure where the metal starts in some places. Still, it's a Dreadnought with toenails, I can hardly argue with that.

Oh, and you get some dice and shit but who cares? Cultists! Squeeeeeeee!


Monday, 21 January 2013

Hobby Resolutions 2013: better late than never

So, I decided to start a hobby blog. I've been playing various GW games for nigh on ten years now but rather fell out of the hobby a while ago. This wasn't due to any rancour against GW, just that for a while I didn't have much money and it is an expensive hobby. So for the last year I've been struggling to get back in and I decided I needed a bit of motivation: hence this blog.

Success, failure, victories, defeats, models, ideas, it'll all go on here, a real journal of my progress with a few off-colour jokes thrown in. So what are my goals?

Post regularly, post often
This blog is a motivational tool, I should use it otherwise what's the point? It'll give me a place to document my successes and record my failures so I can learn from them. Hopefully more of the one than the other but I'm realistic.

Learn how to paint
There are new paints and my earliest attempts to use them yielded abysmal results so it seems it's not just the rules I'll have to relearn.

Focus on a limited number of projects
The point of all this is to get gaming again as soon as possible so I've narrowed my focus to just three projects, three armies that I really, really want:

Tomb Kings: This was a no-brainer because I already own the army. I got a council tax rebate last year (yes, folks, it can happen) and splashed out on just about everything I needed for a 2,000 points Tomb Kings army. All it needs is building and painting. Since there's a pretty comprehensive Tomb Kings Army Project in the new How To Paint Citadel Miniatures it'll also be a good place to try out techniques.

They're also completely unlike any Fantasy army I've ever played: magic heavy, can't march, chariot units, huge monsters... just so different from the line infantry armies I've had in the past.

Night Lords Chaos Space Marines: Like the Tomb Kings this will be an army to do straight out of the box, quick and simple to get me back into gaming. It also means I can get some use out of the Dark Vengeance set I bought with my Christmas money. Phase two of the project, once I have a functioning Chaos Marine army, will be to expand into some allied Imperial Guard to resurrect my old Lost And The Damned.

And finally, Death Guard Chaos Space Marines: I have always wanted a Death Guard army ever since I read their Index Astartes article. Unfortunately for me, impatiently trying to finish a project quickly, the Forge World conversion kits are too good not to use. This will be a slow build project, probably completed at a rate of about a unit a month.

Try to paint more than I buy
Every hobbyist does it eventually: gets over-enthusiastic and swamps themselves with minis. However, I have a system. Between Dark Vengeance and the Tomb Kings in my cupboard I have plenty of pre-bought models so I should be able to get more done than I buy. (This last resolution is doomed to failure, I know, but I have to try).