Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's not my fault

Wow, so a whole week just sort of flew by there. I'll be honest. . .I haven't done any painting since last Tuesday. Ya got me. But, as the title suggests, it's not my fault. Because I have an addiction. . .
That's right. . .Sega Genesis. No, I sadly do not have my old genesis, covered in dust, left long unused and unloved in some dark closet. But in the wonderful world of the interweb, I do have a Genesis emulator. Every year or so I'll fire these bad boys up again, ever since I discovered them my sophomore year of college. Then I'll play some of the great, old classics for a few weeks straight, doing little to nothing else, until I get bored of them again. But that's neither here no there.

Recently, I was in a Shadowrun game that, due to some unfortunate scheduling issues, has been put on indefinite hold. Needing to get my fix of running around with a Ruger Super Warhawk saying "Null sweat, chummer," led me to remember the aforementioned sophomore year where I discovered the Shadowrun ROM for genesis. Prior to this, my only experience with the game had been admiring older scouts in my boy scout troop playing this cool sounding game with weird rams head things on the book covers when I was about eleven. I didn't get much into the game back then, as it's pretty complex, but having a better understanding of the Shadowrun environment, now I'm officially addicted. I mean, come on. . .look at these sweet graphics!
Alright, so maybe the graphics aren't so sweet, but anyone in my age range (mid twenties to early thirties) can join me in remembering a time when games were centered around substance, plot and entertainment value as opposed to being eye candy where the best games are the ones that allow you to kill the most people (I'm not saying shooting people up in video games is bad, but it shouldn't be the entire point of the game). This game is definitely a solid one. You start off in a crappy hotel in the Redmond Barrens trying to get your dead brother's stuff from the hotel owner, but the jerk wants 250 nuyen and you have all of 0. So you find yourself a Mr. Johnson and the fun starts.

This game is great for many reasons. For starters, the game is completely non-linear. I've been playing this since at least Friday, and haven't even advanced halfway through the plot. What do you do in the meantime? Get contracts from Johnsons, earn more cred and buy some whiz gear.

Anyway, my apologies to any of you that have turned to this blog as any source of insight, inspiration, entertainment or simple time killing. I've got another post on deck, about Blood Angels, but I might not get to that until tomorrow night. The wife's going out, so I may crank up some music or put on some 30 Rock and jam out my thoughts on the new 'dex. Oh, and I'm totally stoked -- because my order comes in on Friday!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The First of Many

Well, I played my first Fantasy game in a good while tonight. I even tried out my latest tournament list. My opponent fielded an all-Tzeentch Daemon force, with three big blocks of Horrors, two units of Flamers, a pair of Heralds and one of those big ol' Lords of Change. I had a Dwarf Lord, Thane BSB (without any particularly crazy runes), Runesmith and Master Engineer, a block of Warriors with Great Weapon/Shield, two small units of Quarrelers with shields, a block of Hammerers and a block of Longbeards, and then two bolt throwers, a stone thrower, a flame cannon and an organ gun.

Turn one, his magic didn't do a whole lot, especially because the Horrors were out of range with their 18" magic missile (D6+1 Strength D6+1 hits. . .that goes off on a 4+?), and with six Dispel Dice I was sittin' pretty. His Lord of Change did manage to miscast and wound himself. Sorry to say it wasn't the last time my opponent would shoot himself in the foot. Anyway, my first shooting phase saw an end of that Lord of Change, though it did take a stone thrower and two bolt throwers. Next turn he miscasted again. . .and again. Yes. Twice, and I'm pretty sure one of those casting attempts was with two dice. Long story short, he killed nine of his own Horrors.

The game was fairly even from there on out. I failed again and again to do any serious damage to his units of Flamers (my organ gun misfired turn two and couldn't fire turn three. . .turn four it got charged and destroyed), which managed to take out both bolt throwers and my stone thrower. I failed horribly with a unit of warriors and BSB against a unit of Horrors, ran, rallied and ran again. By the time my Longbeards and Hammerers managed to get into the fight, the two units of Horrors they were fighting were already well under strength, and thus weren't much of a challenge. What I was surprised by was the fact that he managed to do a great deal of damage to me, and very little of it was in close combat! Really, the biggest loss was when my warriors and thane failed to kill ANY horrors, lost combat by a lot and took off. That definitely lost me a lot of points, and also gave him two standards.

Looking back on the game, with my current loadout of five war machines, I'm just not that concerned with Tzeentch Daemons. The units of Horrors have to get close to be really effective, and my shooting can (hopefully) handle the Lord of Change by then, which drops my opponent's dice pool by four. Obviously my opponent had some bad rolls, so I'd like to test my mettle against him (or another Tzeentch Daemon player) again and see how it goes.

I have found that the Tzeentch power die of doom lists seem to be fundamentally flawed. For starters, the Horror units have shorter-ranged spells. Their nastiest spellcasters (Fateweaver and Lords of Change in general) are all high-cost Large Targets that aren't the greatest in close combat. Horrors themselves are awful in close combat. And lastly, there's always that threat of miscast. Honestly, the worst Daemon lists to tackle have been, in my limited experience, Skittles lists. . .y'know, a little bit of every color. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what kind of turnout, as far as army selection, we get at our upcoming tournament on May 1st.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Long-delayed Step-by-Step

Alright, so I know I promised this weeks ago, but I hit painter's block and didn't pick up a brush for near a fortnight. Anyhoo, I was back in the saddle as of Sunday, and with yesterday off, I hammered out (har har har) a lot of work on my Hammerers. I'm pleased to say that, minus some basing and one or two final bits of detailed, my entire unit of 22 Hammerers is about ready to be Matte Varnished. Alright, and here we go with the long string of pictures. . .

Step One
Cut a hole in a box.

But for serious, I started out by basing all of the cloth with Orkhide Shade. Ordinarily I use Snot Green, but as OS is a foundation paint, it goes over a black primer so much easier.

Step Two
Over this layer of Orkhide Shade, I put a layer of Goblin Green on everything except the recesses. You'll also notice on the cloak I left a bit more of the base coat showing through. On those large, flat surfaces, I wanted something that would add more contrast.

Step Three
As a final highlight, I used Scorpion Green. With this layer, I hit only the edges of the folds on the cloaks, the very top of the shield, and creases on the sleeves (which you can't see, because I apparently only took pictures of the cloak at this point).

Step Four
Then, I hit everything with a wash of Thrakka Green. While the contrast between the colors was decent enough before the wash, this really darkens the recesses, and blends the Goblin Green and Scorpion Green nicely, since it's a pretty big jump from one to the other. The Scorpion Green stays nice and bright, though, which is awesome.

I did make a mistake here. I tried to put too much of the cloak, which is why you can see it really pool at the bottom. I assure you that I was more cautious with the rest of my models. Anyway, after four steps, the cloak was done. That was fast. Now I just have to paint. . .the rest of the model.

Step Five
This is a relatively quick and easy step, but unfortunately it requires more brush control than before. Whereas I was using primarily the Citadel Basecoat and Standard Brushes on the cloaks and cloth, here I switched down to primarily the Standard Brush, with maybe a little work from the Detail Brush. Anyway, on all of the models, I used Boltgun Metal to coat all metals, whether they were going to be bronze or steel. Then, on the areas I wanted to paint bronze, I used a coat or two of Dwarf Bronze. Why the first step? I tend to find that Dwarf Bronze is a bit gloppy straight out of the bottle, but it also seems to have a lot of difficulty coating nicely if you water it down. Putting a metal base (and trust me, Boltgun Metal will go over anything. . .it's the best metallic paint GW produces) underneath it means I don't have to be as anal-retentive when it comes to getting a clean coat of bronze.

The skin is one or two thin layers of Tallarn Flesh, and in the interest of time, I coated both the weapon haft and the leathers with Scorched Brown (ordinarily I'd use Bestial Brown on wood). In this model's case, I used Macharius Solar Orange for the beard and hair.

Also, I almost forgot to mention -- I highlighted both the Boltgun and Bronze with Mithril Silver.

Step Six
For this, I used that miracle product. Perhaps the best product Games Workshop -- nay, any hobby supply company has ever made. Yes, I speak of. . .

I seriously love this stuff. It's amazing. If you haven't used it before, get some! Anyway, I washed the entire model, minus the cloth, with Miracle Mud. If you use it right, it won't alter the color of the paint that much, but will add a nice, shaded contrast to every recess. This is what we all fought so valiantly against the old GW Inks to get them to do. Anyway, here're some pictures after the wash.

And that's pretty much it. I still have to highlight the horns on several helmets (which were based with either Graveyard Earth or Khemri Brown, depending upon when I did it. For a highlight, which you can actually see me start to do in that last picture, I just use watered down Bleached Bone. The first coat still shows a lot of the base color through it, so you move up a little bit with the second coat, and again with the third until you have a nice step-up gradient from brown to bleached bone as you move from the base to the point.

I also have to base these bad boys, but as I glued on the sand and inked it yesterday, that'll take me all of ten minutes. Then it's matte varnish, and on to my next project -- war machines!

Oh, and if you want to see larger pictures of my work, go here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Thousand Sons

I'd like to take a moment and talk about this book. I actually read it over a week ago, and raved to the people in my gaming club immediately, but it didn't strike me to post about it here for some reason. Anyway, A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill is the latest installment in the Horus Heresy series from Black Library. It is excellent. I haven't been overly impressed with about half of the books in the Horus Heresy series (including the one preceeding this, Tales of Heresy, which is a collection of short stories), but this one is vying for my favorite thus far. And to understand what that means, my previous favorite was Legion by Dan Abnett, and he's my second favorite author (the first being Tolkien, of course).

Now, if you haven't been reading the Horus Heresy series, for shame! But seriously, you can read A Thousand Sons without reading, well, any of the HH books and not be completely lost. I would recommend reading Horus Rising, False Gods and Galaxy in Flames first, as they lay down the first steps of the HH cannon plus A Thousand Sons calls back to some of them (and they're good books to boot).

As you may have guessed, if you're into the 40k backstory at all, A Thousand Sons details the fall of the XV Space Marine Legion, the Thousand Sons. As you would expect, you get to meet the Thousand Sons' primarch, Magnus the Red, and everybody's favorite follower of Tzeentch, Ahriman (this is before he's a follower of Tzeentch, of course). It starts during the Great Crusade, when the Thousand Sons are still loyal to the Emperor of Mankind and before the Council of Nikaea. You get to see how the Thousand Sons were organized and how they operated, which is actually pretty cool, and I'm still fighting the temptation to create a pre-Heresy Thousand Sons army.

So let's see if I can describe what I like about the book without giving it away. First, you get a very in-depth look as to how the Thousand Sons were organized before the Heresy, which is very unique and pretty darn interesting. Also, you get to see two primarchs in action, Magnus the Red and Leman Russ, which is awesome. You hear about what primarchs at war can be like throughout the HH series, but now you actually get to see two of them laying in to their enemies.

Perhaps the best part of the entire book is the Council of Nikaea. If you're familiar with the backdrop of 40k, you've probably heard of it (and if you're familiar with history, you've probably caught the connection to the Council of Nicaea). For those not entirely familiar, the Council of Nikaea is when the Emperor, several primarchs and many top administrators in the Imperium met to discuss the issue of psykers and the threat of the Warp. It was also nicknamed the "Trial of Magnus", as Magnus and his legion were the foremost psykers in all of the Imperium. The end result was that psykers were condemned, and using the power of the Warp was forbidden. You actually get to see the Council of Nikaea in A Thousand Sons, and fully realize why people call it the "Trial of Magnus".

Anyway, the book is a fast, great read. I read it in about a day (I couldn't put it down). I even ended up feeling sympathetic, if not for Magnus then for Ahriman, which is odd because I think the rest of the traitor legions are whiny chumps with daddy issues. I highly recommend this book, even if you're not a fan of the HH series or even 40k at all. It's a pretty solid sci-fi novel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Apoc Pics

Finally, here are some pictures from the megabattle!

First, we have two of my intrepid teammates. These are the guys who fought for the shuttle bay with me. Minus a bunch of Terminators, that's our entire 7,500 points!

And there are our opponents, without their army fully deployed. At least you can see the Stompa in the foreground.


The rest of the pictures can be found on my club's photobucket account. So check 'em out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Aftermath

Well, Saturday was quite a day! Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures yet. I forgot my camera at home that morning, but one of our members was definitely snapping plenty of photos. I do, however, have some very vivid memories on the day.

Unfortunately, we had two people bow out at the last minute, both on one side of the battle. So it went from seven Cult of the Weeping Eye (the "bad" guys) players and six Alliance of Tarrion (the "good" guys) players, to five Cult and six Alliance. Still, at 2,500 points per player, with a Gargant thrown in on the Cult side to even things out, there was still 30,000 points on the table. For big nasties, the Cult had the aforementioned Gargant, a Stompa, a Squiggoth and a Necron Gauss Pylon. On the Alliance side, we had three Baneblades, a Stormlord, two Terminus Ultra Land Raiders and a Thunderbolt Fighter. As you might have guessed, four out of the five Cult players were Orks, with all of the Alliance players bringing Imperial armies, five of which were Space Marines (though there was a Dark Angels, Space Wolves and Black Templar player, so it was a nice space marine mix). We used a total of three tables, arranged in an "I" formation. Players could only deploy on the two parallel ends of the I, with No Man's Land going straight across the middle. No one could deploy on the center table. There were also three objectives. One was in the Alliance deployment zone, one in the Cult, and one dead center on the table where no one could deploy.

Since we had so many tanks, my Alliance brethren and I agreed on a two minute bid for deployment, which, against four ork players, obviously won. I think I finished deploying my stuff in about thirty seconds. Which reminds me, I suppose I should talk about my list:

Chapter Master Pedro Kantor
Space Marine Chaplain w/Power Fist
Ten Sternguard Veterans (the Sarge had a power fist)
Ten Vanguard Veterans (the Sarge had a Relic Blade, one vet had a fist, the rest had power weapons)
Land Raider with Brother-Sergeant Chronus
Thunderbolt Fighter

Now you can see why I deployed so fast! I only had twenty-six models, after all. I was accompanied on my end of the table by an Ultramarines player with a LOT of terminators and Calgar, and a Black Templar player with Helbrecht and plenty of close-combat goodness. We squared off against the Necron player and one of the Ork players. We spent the first turn trying to bring down a Stompa as well as a mob of Killa Kanz and Deff Dread. I managed to level a bunch of Necron Warriors with a Baneblade cannon shot and some fire from the Stormlord, but, sadly, the warriors had some crazy upgrade where they all counted as having Res Orbs, so even a S9 template wouldn't keep them down. Most got back up. Still, I was feeling pretty good about it, as we had a lot of nasty ready to rock. We even popped the Ambush strategic asset against a 100-strong Green Tide, and killed about fifty of them. Then disaster struck. Well, it struck me, anyway.

Snikrot snuck onto the table behind us and lobbed a vortex grenade. . .that annihilated my Baneblade! It was my first time using one of those bad boys, and, quite frankly, I was hoping to fire it more than once. In our next turn, however, a group of BT terminators walked on the board and took care of Snikrot and his boys. The vortex grenade scattered once and then disappeared.

The next few turns were full of unbridled destruction. Focused fire from two Land Raiders and a rear shot from a multi-melta dreadnought managed to take out the stompa around turn three. I gave one of my teammates some bad advice, and told him to tank shock the Deceiver (yes, a Gauss Pylon, some crazy Apoc formation AND a C'tan), hoping that he wouldn't stop the Land Raider Crusader and get run over. Sadly, he blew it up. Still, we had Terminators deep striking all over the table, and lots and lots of Orks were dying, so we were in pretty good shape. Then disaster struck again, right about turn four.

My Stormlord, which had held on against Heavy Destroyer fire and shots from the Gauss Pylon, finally fell. And exploded. Apocalyptically (yes, I know that's not a word. . .artistic license). Not only did it explode, not only did it kill eight out of ten Sternguard vets inside of it and the Black Templars sheltering next to it, but it also blew the Demolisher Cannon off of a nearby Vindicator and destroyed another nearby Vindicator. One shot took out nearly a thousand points. Harsh.

By this time, both we and our opponents were running pretty ragged. I ran my Land Raider forward, which was taken out by aforementioned Gauss Pylon, but my Vanguard Vets, Pedro and Chaplain survived the wreckage mostly unharmed, slaughtered about nine Heavy Destroyers, and joined a lone Ultramarines Terminator in clearing an objective of Necron Warriors. Finally having done enough damage to phase those pesky Necrons out, my shattered Vanguard Vets and two characters (all that I had left) huddled on the objective as a Squiggoth trundled towards them. Thankfully, time had run out and my poor squad was saved.

Oh, and the other objectives? Well, the one I helped capture, a shuttle bay, was the one in our opponent's deployment zone. Our foes never really got close enough to the objective in our deployment zone, way across the table. They ran the Gargant at it, which was eventually destroyed (thanks to the Terminus Ultras and a pair of Baneblades, not to mention a suicidal IG Vet squad armed with melta guns), but the few infantry models that advanced were chewed to pieces, and a slew of Deathwing Terminators deep striking on their side of the table slowed any reinforcements. We abandoned the center objective to the enemy, focusing on the flanks, and the necessity of capturing and holding that objective proved to be our best tactical decision.

All in all, it was definitely a great day. I had a lot of fun, rolled a lot of dice (especially when I had to roll 100 sniper shots on Orks), and went from 2,500 points to just four models. My first Apocalypse experience as both a player and an organizer was a very enjoyable one, and I look forward to doing it again. Here's hoping I'll have pictures for you guys soon!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Coming Apocalypse

Tomorrow is going to be a big day for me. For starters, tomorrow is the bachelor party for a college friend of mine, but that's not what makes it a big day nerd-wise (although we are going to play laser tag). No, my friends, tomorrow I am running an Apocalypse megabattle. My first Apocalypse megabattle.

Now, I've run many an event in my day, between working for GW a while back, and running a gaming club for the last two years. But this is Apocalypse, man! There will be thirteen players, fielding almost 35,000 points and at least half a dozen super-heavies. Personally, I get to throw down with a borrowed Stormlord and Thunderbolt fighter.

Anyway, you can expect a full battle report from me on Sunday. It might take until Sunday afternoon, as I have that bachelor party tomorrow night. So on to war!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A long time gone

Wow, so almost a week and I posted up nothing. Forgive my laziness. I was hit by a touch of sickness last week, and it had me exhausted and not wanting to do anything. Well, other than lie around and maybe play a few games. The games of last Wendesday that I alluded to in my last post were up and down. The first, I faced the dreaded Dark Eldar once again. This time it didn't go so well.

I fought against the same list as before, but this time I switched mine up a little bit, taking a Vanguard Veteran squad in a Drop Pod, Pedro Kantor instead of a Termie Librarian, and a Thunderfire Cannon. Well, I had forgotten about the Drop Pod Assault rules, and begrudgingly had to land the pod the first turn. They managed to pulp some Warriors that were sitting pretty on an objective. . .but then two Talos came on the board (stupid Dawn of War!), and, well, I think you can guess what happened. From there, it was all downhill. My attempt to rush combat squads across the table to press an assault faltered when one Rhino blew up and the other was Immobilized. My Land Raider was failing like a champ when it came to knocking out open topped, Armor 10 Raiders, and a combat squad of mine decided to become pinned and fail to even shoot at the Warrior squad that was sitting well within double-tap range with no cover to hide them.

Still, my opponent, Kevin, is an amiable sort, and we had a good time. It ended in a Minor Victory, as I managed to keep him from capturing my objective while having nothing remotely near his. Although I did almost managed to kill off the unit that held his objective, between the storm bolter on my drop pod and Pedro Kantor's Chapter Master orbital bombardment.

Game two when much better for me. My opponent had a scary list, all Plague Marines and Berserkers in Rhinos, accompanied by flying daemon princes and two defilers. But I managed to steal the initiative and start popping/immobilizing Rhinos before they moved. One daemon prince never saw the light of combat, thanks to Sternguard Vets and their beloved Hellfire Rounds. The other, with one wound left, assaulted a tactical squad sheltering in the cratered ruins of their destroyed Rhino, and died before getting to swing. Pedro and his company of Assault Terminators also made short work of Plague Marines and Berserkers alike, not to mention a pair of Obliterators that attempted to end their Land Raider. I managed to clear the table by Turn Five.

All in all, it was a fun night of gaming. I wasn't overly impressed by the Thunderfire Cannon. In game one it did chew up Dark Eldar Warriors across the table. . .but it also decided to scatter later on in such a way that one of the template flips actually struck the techpriest. In the second game, well, against power-armored targets (half with Feel No Pain), it didn't fare so well. After it was destroyed, though, the techmarine decided to rip up some Deathguard with his twin-linked plasma pistol.

Sadly, tomorrow night will be the last regular gaming night for our winter campaign. With a record of 4 - 2 - 2, I think I'll have to play a game or two to strengthen my winning percentage. We'll see what a general challenge brings.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oh Washes, How I Love Thee. . .

I've been a fan of washes ever since I discovered how slapping on a basecoat and then following with a wash of Devlan Mud can give you decent tabletop-quality minis in just two steps. I have become an even greater fan of washes after seeing what a wash of Thrakka Green could do as a final layer on my Hammerer's cloaks.

Here is the unit champ's cloak before the final wash.

Not too shabby from a few feet away (i.e. when on a table), but closer up you can see that there are big jumps of color in some places, and my unsteady hand strayed into a fold of the cloak and ruined some of the shadows. So I hit it with a single, straight-up Thrakka Green wash. . .

Note how the recesses are darkened, and those jumps of color are nicely smoothed out. True, I lost a tiny bit of the highlights, but the overall look it, in my opinion, much nicer.

So this got me thinking, maybe I should hold off on doing the washes first, and leave them for last. I've been told that washes can destroy subtle highlights, but as my highlights tend to not be so subtle, it shouldn't be a problem. I have nine Hammerers left, all with cloaks, that I'm currently working on. Unfortunately, I was feeling under the weather last night, and didn't feel much like painting after a two hour nap, so I probably won't get around to painting until tomorrow. Tonight I have two 40k battles scheduled. . .but more on that later.

I'm taking step-by-step pictures of the remaining nine hammerers, so hopefully I can get my lazy man's guide up soon.