Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Odds and ends

Couple little things here that don't deserve a full post by themselves, but put together will do fine.  First up is a very mini book review.  I finished Savage Scars a few days ago, "A White Scars novel by Andy Hoare" as the cover proclaims.  It was a pretty standard Black Library book in that it had plenty of hack-n-slash action, lots of talk about duty and honor, and an underwhelming grasp of how to write a book of real quality.  Not to say that the book was bad, or the other Black Library books I've read, just that they're no The Sun Also Rises, but then again they don't aspire to capital-l Literature status.  I found two surprises in this book, one a total left-fielder and the other a big disappointment.  The left-fielder is a bit of a spoiler, so I'll do some nifty trickery to obscure it for those who wish to remain pure: the book ends with some Deus Ex Machina in the form of...Tyranids.  Apparently the book is set in the recent past, before the "first" appearance of the Tyranids in the form of Hive Fleet Behemoth and the epic clash on Macragge that broke the fleet, but also dealt a serious blow to the Ultramarines.  After poking around a bit on the interwebs just now I see that if I had a deeper knowledge of all the extant fluff, that is if I'd read other 40k novels before this one, then I would have had a bit of forewarning, but nothing that would have spoiled the surprise.  Black Library loves to do this, sly little references here and there for the folks who have devoured everything GW has ever released.  While I have a long history in the game, being immersed in the universe for something like 20 years now to varying degrees, I'm making my first forays into the novels, so when books cross-reference each other like this I don't always get it.  I suppose that's half the fun though.  My second, even less pleasant surprise, was the reason I moved the book to the top of my reading queue in the first place.  I like the idea of a biker army and have contemplated a White Scars (or Ravenwing for that matter) army on many occasions.  You can imagine my surprise when I turned the last page and did a quick mental count of the number of bikes in Savage Scars: zero.  I didn't expect the whole book to be in the saddle, but I thought a decent part of it would be, perhaps even the majority, considering how the White Scars fight.  To be fair the White Scars squad that was the focal point of the book was mounted in a Rhino, but when a White Scars book has more heavy weapons (1) than bikes (0) then I think there's a problem.  Maybe this book suffered from following Fulgrim in my reading list, which is the best Black Library book I've read thus far, but even in a vacuum the complete lack of bikers would be a disappointment.

Moving on, my birthday was this past Monday.  I've found that the best way to not get what you want (gaming paraphernalia) is to ask for it, but I keep asking anyway.  Figuring that asking for a gift certificate would be better than asking for a Stormraven or Beast 09, I pointed the family towards the Warstore's gift certificate page.  Disappointment followed, but there was a silver lining.  Actually it was more of an emerald lining in the form of a stack of cash.  I took a trip down to the FLGS, where they finally had a copy of Wrath in stock mere weeks after I got tired of waiting for it to show and found it elsewhere.  Finding something to get was harder than I thought it would be.  I'd seen an eVlad or two there in the past, so he was top on my list, but was nowhere to be found.  Kayazys?  Great Bears?  Battle mechanics?  A plastic Khador jack kit?  None of the above.  I did see a Field Gun but it wasn't what I wanted.  Turning my thoughts to the future two player box I took a look for the guys that I figure, with my nigh total lack of Menoth knowledge, will best run the Exemplar heavy list that I'm already thinking of: Reznick and eKreoss.  Skunked on both of those, though they did have more than enough of the High Reclaimer and some pKreoss variants, though I'll get him in the starter box anyway.  I took a look for some merc solos like either Eiryss (no), Aiyana and Holt (nope), or Gormann di Wulfe (strike three).  Then I remembered the Mage Hunter variant that I liked so much, but no dice there either.  It wasn't all doom and gloom though, as I found both the Mercs book and the Menoth book.  The final decision was between those books, the Old Witch, Winter Guard Rifle Corps, a Death Company box, and a Sanguinary Guard box.  I went with the Old Witch and the Mercs book, reasoning that I could do a slow grow, build with the cards approach to Menoth while I can use the Mercs book now as a sort of reference for what solos I'd like to add.  Plus I can finally find out exactly what Kell Bailoch does, and perhaps make a ghetto card for him until I finally put in that order for a mortar spotter spyglass and tack on cards for Kell and Reinholdt.  On the way out I spotted the first two books in the Empire army series, Reiksguard and Iron Company, that would complete the series I've been collecting from the fire sale at Borders.  Had I looked for these on the way in I probably would have gotten those and the Mercs book, as I have yet to dig into the Old Witch to stir up a burning urge to play her right now, but that isn't how things worked out.  Considering how little the GW novels move at the FLGS I don't think I have to worry, and I can always get them (cheaper) through the Warstore.  The end result here is that I finally got some gaming goodness for my birthday, even if it took a circuitous route to get there.  Plus I'll get to see what having an arc node is like.

Thanks for showing up: Blood Angels vs. Deathwing

Any time now...
Disclaimer up front: I forgot my camera for this report, so all the pics are from my phone.  They turned out ok, but I think I've finally found the application where my point-n-shoot outstrips my phone. I also think I missed some shots so the turn counter might be off a bit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Don't take Bulldoze for granted

Found this on a "my bad" search.  Searching "oops" only gave nip slips...
It's getting late and I'm extra tired for some reason, so this one is probably going to be of a lesser quality than usual.  A fitting 200th post.  Turns out that when I skipped over reading the full text for Bulldoze in the Wrath entries, I missed a subtle change.  Bulldoze is just in activation now it seems, as a poster on the PP boards pointed out, so Black Ivan's heroic breakout from last week shouldn't have worked the way it did.  I think Sorscha could have done the deed herself, but it would have been a closer thing, and it was plenty close already.  Lesson learned here: read the whole page and/or card, even if you already know the stats on a Bombard or what Bulldoze does.

From one mistake to a potential other, I've made a list that the internet will hate for a game of 40k tomorrow.  I have a hard time making a list, or undertaking any enterprise really, that doesn't work as well as it could.  As such, I tend towards running similar lists and units because they're just more effective and/or efficient for their cost.  Unfortunately this means that a lot of things I like never see the table.  In an attempt to embrace 40k as more of a hobby and less of a competitive game, I made a list full of things I like but never play, things like:
  • Chaplain
  • Baal Predator
  • Vindicator
  • Attack Bike
  • Death Company...
  • a Land Raider
And various other things to fill points.  Beyond a pair of Assault squads and Sanguinary Priests, I have no redundancy.  Even the Assault squads are slightly different, so the only spam is the two priests.  I've never run a real hybrid list before, though I've come close once or twice, and I've never used a Land Raider.  I'm not even sure I've played against a Land Raider.  I'm also more excited about running this list than I have been for a while, if only because it's so different from what I tend towards.  Thanks in part to the "hurricane," and also to my faulty memory, I'll be fielding a couple unprimed models, but at this late hour that's unavoidable.  In my defense they're models I never expected to field any time soon, if ever.  I wanted to get a multimelta Dread in but just couldn't make it work in the points, nor could I stomach the idea of proxying a drop pod with a Gatorade bottle.  Will this be the game where EV's Deathwing wins a match?  The stars are aligning for it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Enter the Terminus

EV inquired about a game yesterday and after a few messages we set one up for this (Thursday) morning.  He gave me the option of an old caster or a new one, and the choice was an easy one.  My first thought was to bring a new caster myself, but Harkevich is still unprimed and I just can't make a Strakhov list that I like with the models I have.  Instead I resolved to take a new approach to an old caster.  Attrition is my favorite strategy, so I went with an assassination mindset.  A rushy pVlad list was my first thought, but I've run that before (and recently).  Next up was the caster I had intended to learn first when I started Warmachine: pSorscha.  Stalwart of the battlebox, pSorscha is definitely an assassination caster and, for me, trickier to use than her epic form.  She has to get close(ish) to use her spells, but doesn't really want to get her own hands dirty.  I haven't really used her since my first few games when I was still learning basic concepts like keeping your caster out of easy reach, activation order, what all the pieces do, the rules, things like that.  Thus while pSorscha isn't really a new caster to me, this would be my first game with her where I felt comfortable with the game in general.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I (didn't) feel the earth move under my feet

All but done.
Excitement in the DMV this afternoon: we had an earthquake.  Turns out I'm a unique snowflake as everyone I've talked to in the area felt and saw shaking, whereas I just heard a noise that I thought was the washing machine at first, but soon figured was something more.  Reports have the epicenter near Fredericksburg where Game Vault is, so hopefully everything is ok down there.

The rumbling had an effect on my hobby progress today.  When the quake hit I was working on Orsus, and once I realized what was going on my first thought was "I need to stop painting so I don't get shaken into screwing up my work."  Once I was satisfied that everyone I knew was safe and the house was in tact I sat back down to finish up the metals, but I'd lost enough time to not want to tackle the base today.  As such, the Butcher himself is done, but the ground beneath him is still in need of work.

A new view for non-Khadorans.
I got more done than I expected to, and in less time.  I decided to go with leather for the pants and worked them up from Bestial Brown through Snakebite Leather and to a final ~1/3 mix of Snakebite to Bleached Bone.  (As an aside, all these paints are the Vallejo equivalents, but since I don't know their names and do know the GW versions I use the names I know.)  The wooden stock of the hand cannon got a similar treatment, but I skipped a few layers for a darker finish.  Next I moved on to the fur which got a lightish grey drybrushing.  I had intended to give it a wash, but the results looked good after the initial drybrush, so I left well enough alone.  The cloak got the usual red treatment but toned down a couple steps.  I actually used both Scab Red and Red Gore in the same areas, so I finally got a feel for the difference between the two colors.  They look all but identical in the bottles, but on the palette I could see the difference.  Scab Red formed the base, then mixing up through Red Gore and Blood Red before a final highlight of pure Blood Red.  The metals were Chainmail and a shade of copper with a Sepia wash, also applied to the cloak, the Chainmail again for a highlight.  I also picked out some screws and rivets with the silver.  When I do the base I'll take a look at the copper to see if it could use a highlight, but the weathered, dirty look suits the Butcher, who strikes me as someone not so concerned with making his gear look pretty.

Full disclosure: this paint job is as much to get the mini done as to make it look wonderful.  I started with high aspirations when I did the face, but my steam has diminished somewhat since starting and considering the mountain of plastic and pewter awaiting paint it seemed prudent to get the model done first and worry about how pretty it is second.  That said I'm still pleased with the results.  Orsus has a Terminatoresque "heraldry shield" which hasn't been touched beyond the basic green that I'd like to do something more to, but I'm not sure what.  My first thoughts were to put the Khadoran anvil on it, or perhaps a 5th Border Legion badge, but it's in a tricky to reach spot and I may just leave it as-is.  Now to figure out snow basing...

How long has it been?

Picture unrelated.
Has it really been a week since my last post?  Seems like it has.  I've had a lack of things to post about lately, but perhaps I can dredge something up to break radio silence.  How about a nice, random list.

  • Names withheld to protect the innocent, but I've just spent a couple minutes looking at various commission painting sites  It's amazing what people will pay for and what passes as "pro" painting.  You get what you pay for, so when you troll the cheaper end of the spectrum you have to expect a hit to quality, but mold lines are unacceptable at any price.  Washes seem like the best way to churn out minis, so if it's your business to churn out minis why would you skip washes and go with only base coats?  I'm not a "pro" so perhaps I'm missing the finer points.
  • The 40k itch is back.  I blame Fulgrim, which I finished this afternoon.  It is my favorite of the series so far and the first that made the fall to Chaos believable for me.  The Emperor's Children present an easier nut to crack in terms of motivation, but that doesn't take away from the book as a whole.  This is what I expected the series to be from the beginning, hopefully the books to follow can keep up.
  • Thoughts of armies follows the itch like q does p.  I think I may have found a way to paint a variety of marines while keeping them as part of a whole: a crusade.  This approach lacks the cohesion of a single Chapter army, but does allow for a broad range of schemes.  I think I've had this idea before and discarded it though.  Ultimately I think I want about a company's worth of every chapter, along with pre- and post-heresy traitor legions.  Is that so wrong?
  • This is a larger topic for another day, but I've been rolling around why spam is so dominant in 40k and so (relatively) despised in Warmachine.  While returning to this thought at work today I came to a realization: I like Warmachine as a game because of the lack of spam, but I like 40k as a hobby/platform for art because of the spam.  I have no real desire to collect 100 Winter Guard, but I'd gladly spend the rest of the year (at the least) painting up companies of various Chapters.  Motivations are funny things.
I think I'm going to take a run at finishing Orsus tomorrow.  After that, perhaps the Devestators I stopped working on a while back.  Or perhaps I'll just keep chewing through books tomorrow while pausing to maintain my Tiny Tower.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New painting, old list

This pic was the best of the bunch...
Work continues on Orsus.  Today I got the armor done, green and red, and prepared the metal areas with a layer of black.  I had a harder time than usual getting a picture today, and of the four I took the somewhat washed-out on to the left was the best representation.  While I'm settled on the overall red and green scheme there was plenty of debate over what parts should be which colors.  Making sweeping changes would put me back an entire session, so I decided to plunge on ahead with the scheme as it stood.  Starting with the green base, Russian Uniform Green or somesuch, I re-established the base color after the Umber wash that ended the last session.  I mixed in increasing amounts of Bleached Bone, probably ending with about a 4:1 bone to green mix.  I didn't keep a close eye on what the ratios were as there was no need to match other models in a squad.  If the Butcher is a slightly different shade than the rest of the army it will just help him stand out more as an individual.  There wasn't as much highlighting to do as I was anticipating, thanks mostly to the arms-across-body pose that shades most of the gut, as well as the coat.  I broke from tradition a bit with the red.  Previously I would wash a base of Blood Red, then go back with the Blood Red and finish with a slight mix with Blazing Orange.  The base was different this time though, Vallejo's Heavy Red getting the wash instead of the usual Blood Red, so I took a different approach to painting it as well.  Red Gore formed the first post-wash layer, then a mix that I think I'll call Blood Red Gore established the base red.  After that I mixed Blazing Orange in for two sets of highlights.  The result was a darker, richer red than I usually produce, with more appreciable highlighting, all without turning out orange.  The only potential problem, aside from considering swapping how I do red, is that the final product is darker than I expected, which means that it will be more of a challenge to make a darker-still red for the coat.  That coat will be the next item I tackle, along with the metals and the big fur collar.  Though it seems like a stretch, it's possible that I'll be finished after the next time I hoist the brush.  That said I'm not at all happy with the pants, which are in limbo while I decide what, if anything, I want to do with them.  I'd have to introduce another color to make them stand out, though I suppose I could make them leather pants and keep my palette together.  I'll have a bit of time to consider before I have to decide.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Where did the time go?

Color balance is better here, but worse in person.
Turns out I ramble when I write, so my pre-work time cushion has mostly evaporated.  Thus you get a short post.  More work on the Butcher today.  In keeping with the inside-out theory, I started with the face as the innermost element.  A base of Bronzed Flesh with a Sepia wash was established last time, so this session was all base tones and highlights.  I started with raw Bronzed Flesh and added two layers with increasing amounts of Bleached Bone.  Final highlights were pure Bleached Bone as I didn't want to take it all the way up to white.  Teeth are also Bleached Bone.  I don't know that I'm entirely happy with the eyes, and Orsus has a nasty hare lip that I'll have to fix, but other than that the head is finished.  I started blocking in the red to see how the spread looks.  There's too much I think, particularly in the legs, but I have no immediate ideas on how to remedy it.  The cloak will be a darker red to keep it from blending in with the armor, but there's still too much red detailing.  I'll have to dig up some 5th Border Legion Men-O-War to see how others have done it.  In the meantime I put an Umber Shade wash on the red and green so I can get going on the green next time.  As a side note, while my blutac on prescription bottle lids approach to holding models has worked well thus far, Orsus doesn't want to sit on it.  The base is much larger than the blutac and causes the model to shift a lot.  While it hasn't been a problem yet, just a minor annoyance, there's the very real possibility of the model shifting while I'm applying the brush which could end in disaster. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I don't like math, or how I came to want a Marauder

I have a BA and not a BS for a reason.
Being knee-deep in Harkevich Theorymachining, I came to a point yesterday where I wanted to have some numbers to inform my list building.  Is a Decimator viable with rerolls?  How often can I expect a Field Gun to crit?  What if Kovnik Joe is calling the shots?  Just how accurate would a full unit of aiming Bombardiers with rerolls be?  The rudimentary cocktail napkin math I can do in my head proved insufficient from the first of the questions, so I decided to seize this learning opportunity and make a probability chart on a spreadsheet.  Fast-forward a few hours and handfuls of hair later and I hadn't made much progress.  The spreadsheet was the first to go, perhaps 20 minutes in.  I don't have the first idea how to use Excel and I'm iffy at best on the math I was trying to use.  Combining the two was a recipe for disaster, so I went back to the pad and pen.  I got the 2d6 chart nice and quick, but the 3d6 chart started giving me fits.  Factor in rerolls, let alone crits, and the red haze was descending.  Picking your fights is a key skill and I recognized the chick I thought I had tapped on the shoulder was actually a dude, and a pocket-sized bodybuilder at that, so I beat a hasty retreat to the interwebs in search of a probability chart.  I thought it would be easy to find.  Turns out I was wrong.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Greener Pastures?

EV has a future as a foot model.
EV and I took a trip to a new(ish) local(ish) game store today, Huzzah Hobbies.  It was a 30(ish) minute drive with little traffic, though a heavier load could easily double that.  In a bit of a paradox, it was a smaller store than the usual FLGS, but they had more of what I was looking for.  After haunting the FLGS since Wrath released, I finally found a copy on my first trip to the new store.  I also got Commander Harkevich, his pet jack Black Ivan, and some snow for basing.  After hearing about Wrath across the internets since it was released, it's good to finally lay hands on it.  Harkevich and Black Ivan are bound to be a pair that sees a lot of action and may well dictate the next additions I make to my collection.  I'm awash with list ideas, especially theme forces.  His tier lists are more or less what I'd be taking anyway, minus perhaps some Greylords and Widowmakers, so the theme forces are pretty painless to conjure and the benefits (upkeeps in place for free on turn 1, placing terrain, cheaper ranged jacks) are enticing.  Things are a bit tight at 35, as what I'd really like is to do WGRC + Joe and three ranged jacks and just don't have the points for it.  Instead I've come up with three off the cuff 35 pointers here in varying flavors.  First is a list of just pieces I have.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Game of Inches

The inches we need are everywhere around us.
Today the ground shook once more as two mighty armies clashed on the field of battle.  Or on plywood with sand glued on top.  Either way you look at it plenty of action went down.  Terrain was a bit sparser than it has been of late and saw the notable return of The Hill That Looks Nice But Is Really A Pain To Put Models On (And Is A Bit Warped Which I Just Noticed Today).  Making matters even better, said hill was the first bit of terrain EV put down.  Right in the middle of the board.  Making matters even more betterer we rolled up Mosh Pit, which meant it would see lots of action.  While looking at the specifics of the scenario I noticed that the text read 14" diameter for the Mosh Pit and the diagram was 16".  I pointed this out to EV and we decided, via the roll-a-d6 method, that the Pit would be a 14" diameter circle of pain.  This would come in to play later, but first the army lists.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Close enough to call it done

Effectively finished.
The Winter Guard are not actually finished just yet.  The first coat of gloss varnish is drying now, which means there's another coat of gloss and a coat of matte still to come.  I also want to put some snow on the bases.  Those two things aside, the Winter Guard are done.  All the paint has been applied, down to bases and arc markings, which makes them finished in my book.  A bit of goading was involved, as the game I had originally scheduled with EV for Thursday I had to move up to tomorrow, but there's nothing wrong with finishing them up a couple days sooner than anticipated.  It just occurred to me that while I have the unit itself done, and at full strength no less, the WGI is more than just the unit.  It's also the UA, Rocketeers, and Kovnik Joe, none of which are painted.  Some of the models have some paint on them, but none are finished or even close to it.  Now that I'm a little more than half way with the group, hopefully I'll be able to keep the momentum going through the rest of the squad.