Sunday, November 19, 2017

Noxious Blightbringer and Step-by-Step

I've been chugging along with hobby projects this week - I finished my first Plague Marine character, assembled a third Contemptor dreadnought and have been chipping away at some more Sector Mechanicus scenery. More on the last two another time, for now here's my Noxious Blightbringer.

For Whom the Bell Tolls! This guy is worth it just for all
the bell puns my opponents will have to endure during a game!
Back detail. This cat is crawling with detail. Its nuts to compare
him to plastic kits from years ago.
I decided on doing my nurglings in a brighter color so that they
contrast well with the otherwise drab colors of the Death Guard.

I managed to take some step-by-step photos of this guy while sharing progress over on Twitter. Here they are with some notes of how I got to the final stages.

Step 1. Spray with a Black primer. Over this, I sprayed
the entire model with Krylon Camp Green.
Step 2. I painted the smock in Vallejo Beastly Brown and washed it with Army
Painter Strong Tone ink. Once dry, I added highlights by progressively
mixing GW Ushabti Bone with the Beastly Brown.
The god was painted with GW Retributor Armor washed with GW
Reikland Flesh Shade and highlighted with GW Shining Gold and final
snaps with GW Runefang Steel.
Step 3. I added more gold trim and base coated the plasma pistol's
and the censor's vents with Vallejo Jade Green. The fleshy parts were base
coated withVallejo Squid Pink then washed with GW Reikland Flesh Shade.
Final highlights on the flesh were done with fine lines of Vallejo Dwarf
Flesh. I also stippled some blood onto the smock with a mix
made of 50/50 Vallejo Red and Black.
The horns were base coated GW Administratum Grey and then
washed with Army Painter Strong Tone ink. This was done in two
coats. After the last coat dried, I did a third coat with Army Painter
Dark Tone ink just towards the tips. Final highlights were
picked out with thinned GW Ushabti Bone.
The Green of the armor was washed with GW Reikland Flesh Shade and
then highlighted with Vallejo Heavy Grey. Final snaps were added
with a mix of Heavy Grey and Ushabti Bone.
Step 4. Silver metals were base coated in GW Leadbelcher and then
washed with Army Painter Strong Tone ink. Once dry, highlights were added
with GW Runefang Steel.
The Nurgling was base coated inVallejo Jade green and washed
with Druchii Violet.
Step 5. The plasma vents were highlighted with Vallejo Jade Green
progressively mixed with Vallejo Skeleton White. The Nurgling was
highlighted by mixing in more and more GW Ushabti Bone with
Vallejo Jade Green. Sores were coated with a thinned down layer
of GW Lothern Blue to give a bruised look. 

Then it was just a matter of popping him off the painting stand and attaching him to a base I'd built. He was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to working on more of these dudes.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Pox on Your House! And a Dread...

"My Lascannons! They do nassthing!"
Things are still in the 41st millennium on my painting desk lately. Seems I just can't quit the Dark Imperium box set or the Horus Heresy. First up was another Dreadnought for my Heresy Era Imperial Fists army. For a guy who only wanted to dip his toes in the Heresy pool, I feel like I'm suddenly up to my armpits in it.
This Contemptor is made from the plastic kit from Betrayal at Calth.
I added the twin lascannon arm from Forge World with just a little
conversion work.
The plan is do one more armed the same way - because you can do silly things like take a Talon of Dreadnoughts
as a single choice in the Horus Heresy.
I've also set about knocking out the Death Guard side of my Dark Imperium starter kit. I figure I'll just do that and a tank. I know, I know, I'm kidding myself… Ugh! Anyway, I decided to tackle the Poxwalkers first, as there are so many of them. I figured that I would enjoy them the least because of the shear numbers, but I was super wrong. These models are damn-near perfect - lots of character and individuality, simple construction, and the right amount of details to really make them easy to paint with washes. I'm actually looking forward to doing the next 10.

Sing along now - "I'm a Pox Walker, I'm a Pox Walker!"

I'm trying to participate in a hashtag on Twitter called #Hobbystreak. The basic premise is to get at least 30 minutes of hobby a day and to see how many days you can continuously go for. I'm on day 4 so far. Let's see how long I can keep it going.

I like the idea of this unit having been an Imperial Hazmat team that got infected during a routine clean-up job.
What's important is they all seem to be having a good time.

Before I jump into the next batch of 10 guys, I'm going to treat myself with one of the Death Guard characters - the guy with the big bell. 


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Aquila Strongpoint Action Playset Complete

Over the course of this week I assembled and painted up the Aquila Strongpoint terrain piece by Games Workshop. This thing is a monster, easily taking up a foot of table space and bristling with guns and all the skulls you can eat. Its a nice centerpiece set and I'm looking forward to playing some games centered around knocking it out.

I love the missile silo look. It screams "Stop the Launch!" scenario to me.
The Macro Cannon that comes with it sockets over the missile bay and is easily interchangeable. 
I kept things pretty simple, since there is so much detail on this thing that you could go nuts if you wanted to, but I
couldn't resist adding little stuff like the hazard striping on the doors.
Reverse of the cannon and bunker. This thing wasn't too bad to paint up. I used a lot of sprays to basecoat it and washes and dry brushing to give it depth.

This blog seems to have gone from a general wargaming blog to a GW blog and now an Imperial Fists blog. I've got to get some other projects in the queue just so I don't get burnt out. But, in the meantime, here's some more Imperial Fists.

The whole army so far, ready to stalwartly defend the Imperium from Traitors and heretics.
"Fortifications are for pussies!" cried the guys on 40mm bases.
The Emperor's Finest laugh at your need for safety!

Terminators wear their bunkers, I guess.

"We'll enjoy our walls and fire support, thank you very much!"
"We only get defensive trench works, because we are just tactical Marines."
And the Vindicator holds the end of the line because nobody thought to build a revetment for it. 

My buddy Marky also got a bunch more 40k terrain and I said I'd paint it up for him. So there is some of this stuff in my painting future, I guess. I really need to do some Napoleonics or something in the meantime, though.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mixed Bag 8 - Mixbo Baggins There and Back Again

The close of this week has seen a lot of little projects getting moved off my desk. Not as many as I'd like, but there is some movement which is nice. First up is Ixion Hale, an exclusive sculpt by Forge World available only at Warhammer World or certain conventions. I picked him up when I was in Nottingham last April - kind of on a whim - and he's a nice addition to my Heresy Era stuff.

Ixion doesn't have any special rules, so I'll end up using him as
a Praetorian with a power axe or some such thing. 
I've also got it in my head to put together some kind of siege scenario for 40k, so I've been picking up some of the Wall of Martyrs kits when and where I can. I finished off the Vengence Batteries and two sets of trench sections this week. These were pretty fun kits - not a lot of assembly and quick to paint. I undercoated the batteries in Retributor spray, gave it wash of Reikland Flesh shade and then dry brushed the metal with Auric Gold and a final dusting of Runefang Steel. Then it was a matter of painting in the grey panels and dark metals and some weathering.

Beeeeg Badda Boom.
I just built them as battle cannons - probably because I didn't relish the
idea of the gatling cannons being used on my Orks.
I really think these models are just cool. It doesn't matter to me that
they are covered in skulls and skeletons - that actually adds to
the coolness for me for some reason.
The trench sections were undercoated in Rustoleum Weathered Bronze (which is a dead ringer for Leadbelcher) and then the dead Cadians were blocked in, washed and highlighted. The gold plates were handled exactly like the gold on the Vengence Batteries. These really didn't take too much time and I try to remember to keep a sort of visual hierarchy in my painting - soldiers and tanks get the most love, scenery can be a little duller and less detailed and finally the board should be reasonably plain. This helps everything separate out as you view it, and makes for things being easily identifiable.

"Duck behind that golden shield, soldier! No-one will see us there!"
I added grime and rust to the interior sections just keep them a little more interesting. What I really want to know is:
Do the Cadians just throw their dead over the walls between battles? Or do they not get the idea that the wall
needs to be BETWEEN them and the attacker to be worthwhile? Deep questions.
Next on deck is The Emporer's Aquila Action Playset. I hope it comes with a special kind of Cobra Viper inside. I am
unreasonably excited to paint this thing.
Last Sunday I also helped run a game of Muskets & Tomahawks for some friends - a couple of which were new to the rules. The scenery and a bunch of the models were done by my buddy Ron, supplemented by some of my French and Indian troops. We worked together running six players through an action packed game. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I think we may have convinced some new players to collect their own forces at some point.

Even if the players had a miserable tim, who cares? Just look at that scenery! Ron does some quality stuff.
British cavalry attempting to run some Canadian Militia. The British objective was to massacre civilians. 
One of the British flanks was almost entirely First Peoples. The guys in blue were painted by yours truly.
A Provincial Militia exchanged heavy fire with British Regulars in the center.
The British kept up a steady stream of fire, but it wasn't enough to dislodge the Colonists.
At one point, a special event occurred and the Indian force had to contend with a savage bear attack. This gave the
battle the name of "The Battle of Bear Swamp". In the end, the Colonials managed to save their civilians and repel the
better equipped Red Coats and their allies. 

It was really nice to spend a weekend playing games that didn't have robots or lasers in them. I'm still mulling over putting together a Roman force, but I'm not sure what game system I'm going to use at the moment.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Deep Thoughts: Lion Rampant

Sometimes its nice to play a game that has been sitting on your bookshelf (in this case a virtual one) for a while and you just haven't had a chance to get around to trying out. Last weekend, my buddy Ron and I dusted off some medieval-type figures and tried out a few games of Lion Rampant by Osprey publishing. Lion Rampant is a medieval era game focused on what I'd like to call "Grand Skirmish". It's bigger than a skirmish game where every guy matters, but smaller than a traditional mass combat game.  Like a lot of the games that Osprey has done, I feel like there is something at the core of the game that I love but something isn't quite gelling with me. This'll be an attempt at collecting my thoughts on Lion Rampant and maybe thinking what I can do to house-rule the set into something that I could really enjoy.

My fierce Normans carried the day three times! I'm sure I've burnt all my gaming luck for year now.
The Pros

1. Figure Count - with most units being either 6 or 12 models and most "armies" consisting of 5-6 units in a typical game, Lion Rampant hits a really sweet spot for me regarding how many models I need to paint up to play a standard game. Each game we had about 50 models a side, which is perfect for a game that isn't going to end up an obsession. I can commit to these size of forces and it felt nice - the rules give a sort of "Grand Skirmish" feel rather than a full mass combat game or skirmish system.

2. The Combat System - the combat system for Lion Rampant is ridiculously simple and flows elegantly. Full strength units roll 12 dice, half strength or less units roll 6. Count up the number of dice that rolled equal or higher to your Attack score (if you're attacking) or Defense score (if you're defending) and divide the number of successes by the target's Armor. The result is the number of casualties (rounding down). Easy peasy. No cross-referencing, no detailed counting of figures in range, just a simple donnybrook roll to see who kills who. Units generally have different Attack and Defense scores, which adds some nice diversity the roles that different troop types fulfill during a game. Finally, after removing casualties, EACH side that lost soldiers needs to test their Courage to see if they stay in the fight. I like this because it means that the side that "wins" a really bloody scrap doesn't just get to walk away from the consequences.

3. The Scenarios - we got a chance to play three games and they all felt flavorful well-thought out. The system really tries to focus on narratives and for the most part succeeds. There are a few places that it becomes a little heavy with these rules, but its nothing that I don't think couldn't be streamlined.

The Battle of Pig Pen Lane all set and ready to go. If nothing else, I always know that a game against Ron will
LOOK really nice.
My Norman knights close in on Ron's Foot Sergeants. It was nice to break in my new gaming mat with lovely
The Cons

1. Rolling for Activations - I'm sure that I'm in the minority here, but I feel like these style of mechanics are the absolute worst concept unleashed on the wargaming world in the last 20 years. They really just need to shrivel up and blow away as far as I'm concerned. Lion Rampant's command system works by the player choosing a unit and attempting to roll higher than the score tied to a specific action (such as Moving or Attacking or Shooting) on two dice. Success indicates that the unit can activate and failure immediately ends your turn and passes it to your opponent. In theory, these type of systems are designed so that you take less risky actions first or focus on crucial segments of the battlefield before pressing your luck elsewhere. In practice these command mechanics actually do two things - first, they run the very real risk of unlucky players being unable to anything for long stretches of the game. In our first game, Ron (through some spectacularly creepy luck) failed nearly every test. He spent most of the game just waiting for me to strike when and where I chose. It was boring as sin. In later games, when his luck evened out a bit, it led to the second failing of these types of command tests - predictability. By the end of game two, I knew exactly the order that both Ron and I would activate units when given the chance. We started with conservative rolls and worked our way up to riskier ones. EVERY. TIME. Which sort of begs the question of why do we need this mechanic at all? Why not just assign units a fixed place in the turn? All the friction and fog of war these rolls are supposed to generate either becomes rote activations or total inaction, with almost nothing in between.

2. The 3" Rule - In Lion Rampant, units are required to stay at least 3" from any other unit (friend or foe) unless they are engaging them in melee combat. This is another place where theoretically I can see why this was done - it creates clear zones of control, forces you to play across the entire board, reflects the medieval tendency to fight in long lines of troops rather than in depth, and makes for less visual clutter. Instead, it led to log-jams where single figure can prevent reinforcements (friendly ones at that) from getting to the battle, or strange column formations in tight deployment zones along the short edges. Its just frustrating and I can't seem to find an actual mechanical reason to justify it. Its not like other games where you have random charge distances and the authors want to make sure you might fail on a roll of double 1. Instead, it mostly seems to be about log-jamming your units and it just makes for a less interesting game.

Game 2. Ron's forces attempt to hold a crucial winter food store. My men are out for blood and snacks. 
A Clash of Minor Nobility! Our knights ended up meeting in the center and a might ruck
developed. Unfortunately for Ron, none of his reserves could actually help out because of the
damn 3" zone of control his own guys were creating. 

1. Ditch the Activation Roll - next time I'd like to try eliminating the activation rolls and replacing it with a Command Roll where at the top of a player's turn they roll a d6 and add one to the score if their army leader is still alive. The resulting # is how many units they can activate this turn (with each unit only allowed to activate once per turn). I'll need to rework some of the abilities (like the Schiltron formation or activating Crossbowmen costing 2 activations, for example) but this should keep the friction in the battle without running the chance that one side may simply get to do nothing for a turn (or several).

2. Reduce the the 3" to 1" - or simply ignore it totally. Some friends who've played the game in past simply ditched this rule all together and reported that it didn't negatively impact their games.

3. Re-work a little of the Narrative Stuff - the game has Boasts and Leader Qualities, but there's simply a little too many for my tastes. By game 3, Ron and I had totally forgotten about the Boasts - probably because neither of us wanted to chew through the 18+ list of ones in the book. That stuff needs to be there - it just needs to be presented in a more manageable way.

Ron's Biddowers lured my Lord into a forest and tried to fill him full of arrows. Luckily he and his men rode the filthy
peons down before any real damage was done.
If nothing else, I'm really happy to have another game to use these figures with. I painted them up for SAGA,
played a few games and our group was losing interest in the rules. Sigh.

So there is my huge wall of thoughts on Lion Rampant. Like I said, there is something here I could really, really like - my head was immediately buzzing with building a Roman army for the game system - but some of the core stuff is just getting in the way of a fun game for me. I look forward to tinkering with the system so I can try and get something I'm really excited to play.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Imperial Fists' Contemptor Dread Done!

Whew! I finished up the Contemptor dreadnought that I got from Forge World this week. I think this puts a pin in my Imperial Fists for a little while. I'll try and get a group shot together soon, but in the meantime here is Tribune Aramas in all his glory.

He's coming atcha!
Head and Chest detail.
I'm hoping the firepower of a twin lascannon will help with enemy tanks.
A view of the engine block.
Detail shot from the left side.