Sunday, January 20, 2013

Being cheap - How many terminators?

Part 1

Hi all,

With a couple of the new Deathwing terminator boxes incoming in trade, I've got a decision to make about what to make ;-)

How many terminators from those two boxes?

The kit gives you five bodies but pieces to make many more terminators as far as weapons etc. go. So with two boxes I get 10 terminators or knights, but I can get a few bodies from a bits website and then we have great success :-) The question is about what I should make.

A - Buy 10 bodies from the bits site so I can make a full 20 terminators / knights.
B - Buy only 5 bodies, but also get some magnets so I can mix and match weapons.
C - Buy 10 AND magnets so I can have a horde of bone armour :-)

What do you folks think? I currently have 25 terminators, plus Belial and a terminator librarian. Is it over the top to have 45 terminators? Should I stick to 35-40 but add magnets to get some variety in the game. Will I go insane from painting more bone armour?

Part 2 - Saving cash.

The Dark Angels have their funky new flier, which is quite a nice model, but very expensive.

Is this chunky model worth ~60 Euros? What about having something that could really fly and would instead set me back ~10 Euros, coming with glue, a brush and paints as a bonus. Add a flying stand and it's ready for 40k.

This is Revell's 1/144 model of an experimental Russian jet, the Sukhoi su-47. There are some great videos of it flying on youtube. It was never equipped with weapons but I think it can be reasonably assumed to have blacksword missiles and some guns in the fuselage somewhere ;-)

Part 3

Sammael, do I go Finecast...?

Or branch out to Scibor miniatures for something of a similar price but seriously sweet looking?

Ahh, decisions.

Let me know your opinions folks.

All the best.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

My worst loss in Warhammer ever :-)

Hi everyone,

So the title really says it all. I played a game of 40k today and I've never lost as badly as I lost today.

I lost Belial and 25 terminators in 5 turns. 

I dealt one wound to one model on the other side. That's it!

Here are the culprits. My opponent brought a Draigowing army list which was just a massive rock to my scissors. 

I brought (after new codex points shuffling)
 -Belial with sword and storm bolter
 - 5 command terminators with TH/SS, Cyclone and apothecary
 - 2x 10 terminators with 3 TH/SS,  Cyclone, Assault Cannon, storm bolters.

My opponent had.
 - Draigo
 - Coteaz
 - 10? Paladins with 4 psycannons, apothecary, banner, a few halberds, a force stave, two daemon hammers, psybolt ammo.
 - Dreadknight with incinerator, psycannon, sword and jump pack.

Essentially what killed me was rock paper and scissors. 

Through stacking psychic powers and Draigo's abilities my opponent had:

 - Rerolls to hit.

 - Rerolls on wound rolls of 1. Since a number of weapons were wounding on 2+, that was nice.
 - Ignoring cover saves (for the rending psycannon shots).
 - Rerolls to hit in combat.
 - Automatic force weapon activation in combat (from the banner) making the apothecary useless.
 - Instant kill on Belial in a challenge for the above reason.
 - Selective look out sir rolls to make it very hard to kill anything.
 - The magic warding stave wand of success. I delivered six Instant Death thunder hammer attacks and all of them were placed on the warding stave model, who made his 2+ invulnerable saves. 

I know that the game rules are an abstraction and can be used in different ways to fluff any semblance of reality but it was annoying as hell to have Draigo able to effectively jump in front of any bullet from side to side to protect his unit, unless he didn't want to, when another guy would step in to be the bullet shield. Then the Deathwing terminators ran foul of a ninja Grey Knight who danced along the front of the melee and intercepted every single hammer blow heading toward his comrades. 

It may be a cinematic game in this edition, but this time I felt like I was the Agent Smiths going up against Neo in the matrix with support from Harry Potter and his wand ;-)

It was a frustrating game because it felt like every advantage was with my opponent. Every failed dice roll was re-rolled. Every attack of mine was shunted to a model who it wouldn't take.

Rant over ;-)

Now I have to admit that my opponent played well, played to his strengths and did nothing that could be construed as bad in any aspect of play. What we had here was simply a case of a Deathwing army lacking the tools to take on a Draigowing Deathstar army and consequently suffering to this mismatch. 

My problem at the moment is that I do not have the models necessary to change up the list and play with something new so playing against Draigowing just isn't a good game for me now. I'm getting a couple of boxes of the new Deathwing models and with a few bodies etc from a bits website I should be able to field something a bit different. I'm also thinking of getting a proxy for one of the fliers, just to bring something new to the field. More about that in the next post.

All the best folks and avoid those rock and scissor matchups ;-)


Friday, January 11, 2013

Games Workshop should learn to make a deal.

Hi guys,

Since I dropped my camera in a rock pool in England over Christmas I haven't been able to take pictures of my painting and gaming recently. To sum it up quickly: I've nearly finished two more terminators, undercoated three Dreadfleet ships, nearly painted one of those, played 40k vs guard and narrowly won, and played a game of Dreadfleet (narrow loss).

Today I clicked onto Games Workshop's site to see some more pictures of the upcoming Dark Angels, since I'm looking forward to getting some swanky models. Lo and behold, I find that the Space Marines have a whole set of bundles available now.

Curious to see more I clicked onto the pages to look at the pretty pictures and see if there were any interesting deals.

Legion of the Damned kicking butt. I really like these models.

Space Marine heroes. Fun for some painting variety.
Marneus' sculpt is looking a bit dated though.
Stompy dreadnought trio. This is great, especially with the
ornate bits from the venerable to customise the others.

Rapid response force. Getting some scouts on the table
and moving around at speed sounds fun.

Heroes of Rynn's world. Now this is a great idea from
GW, putting fluff behind a collection of models. Love it.

There's also a transport bundle with tactical marines in a drop pod. Overall, it's great to see Games Workshop putting together some packages to get your excitement flowing. In particular, the Rynn's world piece is such a simple, but effective way of making your marines look interesting and themed. Who wouldn't be excited to see something like this put together with Dark Angels (Hunt the fallen? Deathwing and elite veterans?), Blood Angels (Dante's elite guard?) etc.?

Unfortunately, when you check the prices, there is no difference between buying things individually and buying them as a bundle. All it does is save you a few mins (max) clicking the different links while locking you into a very specific set of models.

Where is the incentive?

It makes me sad because I get a feeling that Games Workshop is burning the goodwill it has left among the fans and missing opportunities to get it back. I know they are a big company and running for profit but if you give me a deal, even a slight one it would make a difference. I'm excited by your models but a small gesture on your part would make me both excited and willing to part with more cash.

If the dreadnought deal saved me just 10 pounds over buying three dreadnoughts individually, I'd be thinking about it. If I wanted two dreadnoughts, then persuading me to drop a bit more cash to get three would be a winner. Just look a the way stretch goals for the miniature kickstarters have people upping their pledges time and time again.

As it is, I look at the deals and think, meh. 

Please, Games Workshop, I suspect that just a few baby steps from you would bring a lot of goodwill back to a company that is so frequently vilified and cast aside for other companies that are perceived as being more in touch with their customers.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hi everyone,

So I resisted temptation and did not invest in the rather fantastic looking Kingdom Death Monster Kickstarter, though I wavered more than a few times as I saw more additions being added each time a stretch goal was reached and then smashed. Overall I'm still really keen on the idea of the game but my concerns over the quality of the models in PVC plastic vs hand cast resin as well as the long lead time before the game becomes available stopped me. I think I'll still get into the game but after it comes out properly and I've had a chance to see the pictures, check out reviews and more. 

Another thing that stopped me is knowing that I may head off to other countries to teach English and so far, I'm not decided on where those will be. I'm eyeing Asia, particularly South Korea or Japan but since I'm now engaged, it would have to be somewhere and doing something that my fiancee would agree to. I think I've still got one more big crazy travel adventure in me before we start settling down to raise a family. I decided that while the Deathwing are pretty portable, a big stack of Kingdom Death models with a boxed game and cards would be less practical.

So I've decided to look into the new Deathwing models for a chance to expand the army and get more options. 

I like what GW is doing with the sculpts and the options.  It's good to see all of the possible weapons in one box. I think the plasma cannon looks pretty neat and it'll be a fun addition to the Deathwing arsenal.

The Knights are interesting sculpts too. We'll see how their rules work out. If they aren't inspiring I'll just run them as TH/SS terminators. With the mix of model parts my army has going at the moment, I don't think that throwing in some robed warriors will raise any eyebrows. I'm interested to see what the Watcher in the Dark offers on the tabletop.

I understand the price increase for this box but it is still a bit annoying given that you can only make five models, despite having the weapons and arms for at least ten. This is where my mixed up army works out nicely as I can find a few bodies and legs from bits websites and with only a little work, I'll be able to get ten models out the pieces available. I did something similar with my old Ork Nobz back in the day and that was really fun to do.

I'm also considering adding some Ravenwing buddies to the terminators. The new command squad looks nice and has plenty of options. I'm hoping to nab a set of Dark Vengeance bikes from someone who bought the set and so bring some speedy models to the table as a change from the Deathwing.

I hope everyone's 2013 is starting well and life is good.

Take care.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Kingdom Death Monster Kickstarter - Risks vs Rewards

 Hi everyone,

Given how much I enjoyed my sculpting and painting project (check the post before this one), I've started to think about getting into something that's a bit less model intense than Warhammer and fits well into a limited schedule. It's also prompted a bit by the new Dark Angel models that will officially hit in a few days but, from leaked pictures, are a bit hit and miss. While I like the idea of getting some of the tasty toys, the prices and styling are making me waver slightly.

Then I saw the preview on Bell of Lost Souls about the Kingdom Death Monster Kickstarter (Previews HERE and HERE, kickstarter HERE) and I started to think about this as a game concept. Kingdom Death first really hit the popular game perception when their Wet Nurse was released - be aware that some links from that BOLS article are NSFW. While I'm not a fan of this particular sculpt, the weird, sexually themed, uncomfortable and warped horror style of the company got me intrigued.

Their website has a mix of horror themed pieces and a lot of them feature the same disturbing and effective style of the Wet Nurse (though few go as far). While I find the sexual stuff not that exciting from a miniature point of view, their horror vibe is interesting and fresh. I like the idea of a place where humans are the bottom of a food chain and trying to survive. There is no great human civilisation or army, just a group of desperate survivors trying to stay alive.

This is the kind of thing that Monster goes with, focusing on the cooperative board game side of things.

Here's a view of the boxed game as it looks right now. 

Bell of Lost Souls got some advance copies of the models and I think these starting survivors are a really nice set and really give you a feel of people struggling and working desperately together in the darkness. 

Kingdom Death aims to give you options to upgrade and assemble models based on the gear you find after killing different monsters and assembling gear in your tribe's settlement. It's touted as a strong mix and match system where you can really make the kind of player you want. These are four models made using the rawhide set.

Here are four more using the Phoenix armour set. 

The monsters are pretty neat too. Here's one called the Watcher and I think it represents the final boss of this game, if you don't buy expansions.

There is also a Phoenix winged beast that is, as you can see, pretty big and nasty looking.

So this all looks pretty neat so far. There are a few more days on the kickstarter and it's almost hit the $1 million mark, which is pretty amazing considering the goal was $35,000. There are new bits and pieces getting added for relatively little money, which is a great incentive for the project backers. It'll be a lot cheaper to be in on the kickstarter than buying into this game later on.

For me there are a few things to worry about though. 
  • The game won't be produced until November 2013, if it doesn't slip further, and I'm not entirely sure what position I'll be in at that time with respect to having gaming groups, the time and ability to play as much as I'd like. If I move to another country to keep teaching, will the game be portable and able to come with me? It's a long time with no product basically.
  • There is no certainty from a kickstarter that things will be done exactly as promised. It's not a legal contract and you are not protected in the same way a purchase would be.
  • For price and time reasons, Kingdom Death are looking to make most of the models from PVC plastic rather than their hand cast resin. You can opt for the resin models but there is a reasonable price premium on some (Generally $10 difference for a normal figure but the big Phoenix figure above is $150 total when bought in resin). The problem is only that the backers have to hope the detail won't be lost too much in the material change.

Here's an example of a resin vs a PVC model. At first glance there isn't so much between them. The resin is a bit sharper for sure but overall it's fairly close. The sword is a bit worrying, especially when I saw the following picture from Bell of Lost Souls.

Now the body, head and cloak look pretty good but those arms look pretty bad and lacking in detail. Now this may just be a bad model but who knows what the quality of the final box contents will be. Will it feel like it's worth the price and investment at that point? That's what has me worried at the moment and is tempering my excitement over and otherwise great looking game.

Thoughts and opinions are very welcome.


Secret Christmas Sculpting Gift - Why I've been so quiet :-)

Hi everyone,

I know that I've been very slow with blogging recently and I apologise for that. Lots has been going on and I just got back from twelve days in England with the family. That aside though, why hasn't there been more posting recently on the blog about gaming / painting / collecting?

It's pretty simple really. I've been working on a sculpting and display painted piece that I gave to my girlfriend for her Christmas present. It took a lot of my time as I had to work on this in addition to teaching full time and doing my best to do things when she wasn't home.

Here's where it started. I was sketching out some ideas for a Lord of the Rings diorama and then something completely different came out. I looked around and found some good models to use from Reaper (thanks to Andy Walker at Lair of the Breviks for his advice)

This was my first mock up using the miniatures from Reaper mounted on some pink foam to get an idea of how it would look. I was getting a bit worried about how to make these complex and smooth shapes really work as carving the foam was difficult. My new gaming buddies helped me out though....

...suggesting I use polymer clay to build things up. They gave me a spare box of sculpey to work with and it didn't take me too long to get started. You have to bake at just over 100C so the wood was alright and I used crumpled cooking foil to bulk out the basic shapes and save putty.

And here is the result with the basic shape put in. At this stage I baked it and was ready to add the details so it would really stand out.

Here I started with the stone details. I was planning to make nice, circular stones in the centre but with the knight having stones integrated in his base, I had to go with a more random appearance that better fit in with his sculpt.

After much work and several times considering whether I should just bail out on the project and get her a pair of shoes or something, I managed to get the stonework completed with pathway stones. At this point I knew I needed some more work to get the edging stones for the path done as well as put a ring of frame stones around the whole base.

Here it is after the final baking. At this stage, I'm running short on time, having pulled my hair out more than a few times because of the challenges involved. I'm mostly proud of what I've done, annoyed that not all of the stones are perfectly arranged, impressed by what professional sculptors can do, worried that I'll not get everything painted in time and excited to show it to Edina when I'm done.

Here's a quick break from the sculpting to show the painting as it progresses. Because the stones will be light in colour, I've decided to make the miniatures darker, though hopefully still vibrant. These are the early stages as I start to put on the paint layers. 2-3 layers down, at least seven more to go.

My sculpt looks a lot like chocolate cake with its undercoat added. This part made me feel hungry :-)

Now this is where my sanity started to really go. I drybrushed the basic stone details to break them up away from the flat brown look. Once I'd hit them with a shading wash, the remaining colours weren't bright enough for me. I went over a couple of stones with P3 Menoth White Base and decided that it looked really good. Then I kicked myself because I had to paint each of the hundred plus stones individually to make them look nice, wash them all to keep the shadows, then go over them again with P3 Menoth White Highlight to make them work as a whole. The idea of just getting a necklace for her present was more and more appealing.

Finally finished with the stones, I put down a layer of green under the parts I was planning to flock. I expected some flock to come off in transit and I wanted a neutral colour underneath if and when that happened.

Flocking in front of a youtube debate with Richard Dawkins. It went a lot more quickly than I expected and I was more and more happy with what I'd produced.

Here are the miniatures getting much closer to completion. I'm happy with the woman's dress but the knight needs some more work.

Here is the final piece with a picture taken just before I packed it to travel to England. 

Here's another shot taken in England after I gave the present to Edina for Christmas.

Overall I'm really happy with how it came out. It was a lot of work but I was much happier giving this as one of my presents than something from a shop. It's 100% unique and hand made (as I hope you've seen) and it impressed her. Unfortunately I didn't manage to keep it 100% secret (small apartment, lots of work needed for the project) but she never saw it in its entirety, so I'll count that as a small success.

Big thanks go to Andy Walker (as mentioned above) and Tim at The Tau of War, who posted the pictures up in their early stages to help get feedback and keep the project private. Thank you to all of the people who commented on Tim's blog with advice and ideas for how to make it all work.

And, of course, thank you to Edina for being so great and supportive of what I do and loving the Christmas present.

Hoping you all had a great holiday and New Year's Eve.

Happy 2013

Pete :-)