Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We Can Rebuild Him

Space marines, and their distinctive power armor, are without a doubt the most iconic element of Warhammer 40,000 (with the possible exception of skulls). We are told they are 8-foot tall genetically engineered juggernauts. But when you assemble your space marine using the parts that come in the box, and set them next to a lowly cultist model, you may feel a little deflated:

aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?

A few days ago, I got a wild hair to try the popular Stormcast Eternal/space Marine mashup. I'm pretty happy with the outcome. The "Sigmarine" could probably stand to be a little more 40k-ified, and I have some ideas on replacing the greaves to be more in line with standard power armor. Overall, I'm perfectly happy with the plate mail appearance, which definitely fits into my interpretation of the Warhammer aesthetic. Finally, a paint scheme that isn't Iron Warriors, with chipped paint and military decals, would probably help sell the look.

My intention was to use as few components from the Stormcast Eternals as possible. That would mitigate the effect of simply being a knight holding a gun, and give me access to the library of available space marine components. I tried using a modified space marine torso, but unfortunately it's not quite wide enough from shoulder to shoulder.

A more talented sculptor or patient modeler could make a number of improvements to this design, but I'm pretty happy with the time/cash:payoff ratio on these guys. After bits purchases it works out to $4-$5 to upgrade each marine. That's not negligible, but if it's a choice between having a smaller number of models that I enjoy or a large force that leaves me feeling cold, I'll pick the cool models every time. Life's too short to play with boring models.

So the prototypes are a success, and I'll incorporate some improvements into the next generation. I don't think I can go back – it's true scale power armor from this point.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

And Now For a Few Announcements

Hey, how've you been? I know we see each other all the time, but it's always about the minis. No, I know it's all about the minis. It always was. I just feel like we don't talk anymore, you know?

I'm doing ok, thanks for asking. Actually, our gaming group, the Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts, just organized a pretty successful doubles tournament, and it was a blast. We allowed participants to buy free re-rolls in exchange for donations of canned goods, and we ended up with 20 players bringing in over 340 pounds of food for a local food bank. We even had one crew come from four hours away. You should check out some pictures of the event and join us next year.

Oh, and one other thing. I'm happy to announce that Colin and I will be assisting our buddy Joe Kopena in running the Narrative and Trios events at the Nova Open 2016! The Nova Narrative event is, in my mind, the most fun you can have when it comes to organized play and I'm honored and excited to be part of it.

Unfortunately, because of the extra work that goes into this, as well as some other time/resource management reasons, I've decided not to attend Adepticon this year. But that's not a problem, because we're going to have twice the fun at Nova in the fall. See you there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stormcast Eternal by Eve Hallow Miniatures

There's so much amazing brushwork floating around the Internet, and for me, it's not about the quest for the perfect miniature. What I love to see are the little flourishes of personality that distinguish one painter from another. That's why I've decided to start sharing some of my favorite minis from around the Web. With that in mind, I thought I'd start out with the model that inspired this little project  – Eve Hallow Miniatures' Stormcast Eternal.

Stormcast Eternal by Eve Hallow Miniatures

Lately I've been realizing how lazy I can be when it comes to painting metallics. This mini has utterly shamed me. This isn't a plastic model; it's a rock solid, hulking, clanking brute. The subtle brown tones give the model the warmth that's often lacking with metallics, but they're executed with a level of self-control that I find impressive. The armor looks used, but not corroded, and with my own overly-grungy painting style I admire the ability to convey a sense of age while maintaining an overall "clean" look. There is clearly a lot of brush control involved here. It's heavy, worn, and skillfully executed.

Check it out at Eve Hallow Miniatures.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Bronze Bull

My Dreadtober challenge is now complete with two weeks to spare. Hopefully this will go some distance toward clearing my reputation as a slacker... Thanks to Greg for organizing the event, and to Joe and John for the glamour shots!

The Bronze Bull, Relic Contemptor Dreadnought

wash me

The Contemptor Dreadnought sardonically titled "The Bronze Bull" by brothers of the Death Guard was devised by Mortarion not as a means of rewarding faithful service, but as punishment for the legion's worst breaches of discipline. Beyond the standard motive, weapons, and life support systems, the armor carried a compliment of stimulant injectors, neural whips, and other pain inducers, so that every moment inside the suit would be constant agony for its occupant. In addition, the armor was fitted with an enhanced voxcaster that broadcasted the pilot's screams of rage and pain. In order to make room for these modifications, the armor's sensor package was diminished, so that in combat the pilot will tend to engage the enemy directly to his front in a thundering charge.

Not many wore the bull throughout its short history in the Death Guard, for it was a terrible punishment indeed. The armor was occupied at the end of the Heresy, however; abandoned on a backwater world, forgotten for millennia, now become a god of tyranny crusted in the grime of the ages...

I had a lot of fun painting this guy, I learned a lot, and it's my first Chaos Space Marine model, so technically I started a new army. Not bad for a few weeks of painting.

More angles after the jump:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I'm Thinking About Skeletons

I ran across this picture of a skeleton unearthed from the ruins of Pompeii and I immediately thought of miniature painting. For me, this is a good reminder not to take painting shortcuts. If I was to paint a skeleton, chances are I'd pull out an antique white or cream tone and call it a day. The bones in this image have very few of those tones and are much more visually interesting. That's not to say this style of painting would be appropriate for every project – a new skeleton in a dry environment will look different from an ancient skeleton that's been buried for thousands of years, obviously (although to be honest I'm not too bothered about realism; I'd rather make choices based on things like color palette, etc.).

Regardless of painting philosophy, it's good to remember to be careful about relying the way you think something should look, and instead go out and see how things really look.

On a related note: stop looking at painted models in codices and on box covers!

i bet this lady never thought her mortal remains would become a reference for toy soldiers

Sunday, October 11, 2015

(Not Another) Dreadtober Update

Painting continues apace on the first model for my Chaos Space Marines allied contingent. The hull has been painted and I've laid down the first level of weathering. Now it's just the details and another layer to tie the weathering together:

you mess with the bull, fill in the rest

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#Dreadtober Update

I snapped a few pictures of my Dreadtober project this afternoon. I was going to leave the model a secret until the end (not like it's a unique conversion or anything), but since the other participants are sharing their progress, I've decided to do likewise. I opted to go for something simple, classic, and relatively unconverted this time – here's my Death Guard Contemptor.

he doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus

That's my interpretation of a butcher cannon, which sounds to me like it should be a brutal, ugly weapon. The bit itself is from an ork flakk gun, I believe. While I didn't want to go too crazy on conversions, I physically can't put stock models on the board, so in addition to his armament he'll get a new head.

And here's a closer look at the base, also in progress:

I'll spare you the Meghan Trainor jokes

Since I've been antsy waiting for the final parts for the Contemptor to arrive, I took a small detour to work out a basing scheme for 2016's first project. I was so happy with the outcome of the initial test that I started assembly line production:

all hands on deck

That's it for now. back to watching the mailbox.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Some things in the personal sphere have my hobby momentum derailed a bit, but along came Greggles over at FeedYourNerd with the solution to all of my malaise: Dreadtober! Basically, everyone paints a dreadnought or similar model and then we'll compare notes. Not only is it a great motivation to keep working, it's also rather fortuitous as I just recently started not one but two models that qualify for this friendly little not-really-competition.

There are some real heavy hitters in this crew, so no slacking for me. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with. If you're reading this and you're so inclined, check out the guidelines and consider giving it a shot.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Return of the Fly

I'm not going to sit here and tell you how much I enjoy NOVA Open, because if you know, you know. And if you don't know, I'll see you there next year. One of the best things about coming back from a big convention is the aura of hobby zen I tend to experience. There's no compulsion to paint specific models quickly, but I'm still riding a wave of inspiration from all of the outstanding armies I ran across.

While I get ready for the final part of this year's project, here are a few older images you may not have seen.

Be'elzuul the Black Seraph, daemon prince of Nurgle

Warp Anomaly 66/6

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Creeping Death

so let it be written, so let it be done

Currently neck deep in NOVA '15 preparation. In the meantime, please enjoy this complimentary demonic incursion.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Five years of headwound! I should get that looked at...

I'm pretty psyched because headwound! minis is officially five years old today. Granted, the updates haven't necessarily been quite... consistent, but I'm still here, you're still here, and we're still playing with toys.

Happy birthday, headwound. I don't have any cake, but let's turn up that headwound! radio.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Post-Halfway Progress Report

With a little more than half the year gone (but realistically only 1/3 left, due to travel), it's time to take stock of my progress. This year's goal was to build and paint a relatively large army using one or more "battle brothers" codices – any of the various Chaos armies currently available through Games Workshop and Forge World. The idea was to accumulate a large enough army to be able to attend events without having to prepare excessively beforehand. I chose 3,000 points as the goal, and I also wanted to include one super-heavy vehicle/gargantuan creature in order to be able to stomp on things in our yearly Apocalypse game.

I'm currently at a little over 40% with around 4 months left – I'm writing off September. This is actually pretty good. I have another 939 points (including the apocalypse beast) that just need details and basing, and with NOVA coming up in a month, I may end up painting around 1,000 points in the next few weeks alone. By the time I include intangible upgrades (chaos rewards, psychic mastery levels, etc.), I expect to exceed my goal by a few hundred points by December.

In 2016, I'll shift my focus from quantity to quality in an attempt to advance my painting skills. The current plan is to paint a few 1,000 point "modules," smaller projects that will allow me to focus more attention on individual models. There's still plenty of time to think about this, but three modules of 1,000 points each seems reasonable. Some ideas:
  • Khorne Daemonkin – no purchase necessary
  • "true-scale" Grey Knights using the Stormcast Eternals – finally a use for those models, and a great counterpoint to a year of daemons!
  • Ravenwing, because playing an unbound army list just to use the Deathwing is terrible
A lot of this will depend on the answer to 2016's big question, which is Adepticon. Since what I'm calling a module is basically an Adepticon army, though, heading back to Chicago won't really disrupt my plans. Also coming up in 2016: better army storage and transport solutions, and an Infinity starter set.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dark Millennium: The Drop

The miniatures were painted, the board was arranged, the trash was talked. It was time to begin the campaign in earnest.

ready for battle in Battleground Games' private gaming room

We spent the first part of the day generating characters and learning the basics of the Inquisitor rules. Inquisitor is an unusual game – there's no points system, and your character should by all means have access to virtually unlimited resources. At the same time, though, balance is important, and the presence of too much upper level equipment and skills trivializes some of the more characterful parts of the game. What you really need is a group who understands that half the fun is having a character's gun jam when he's pinned down behind a tank of highly explosive promethium. It also helps to have a GM who is experienced with arbitration, and luckily, we did.

In order to make things interesting, we decided to have separate briefings for each player. After our GM had spoken privately with each player, we got a very quick description of the situation: on a planet within the Cetis Sector, on the outskirts of a megacity, there is an area of slums wracked by earthquakes and subsequent riots. Intelligence has indicated that an exchange is about to take place in the slums, and although the nature of the item is not entirely clear, there can be no doubt that this commerce is unwholesome. Enter the Inquisition.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Into the Dark Millennium

Being a miniatures hobbyist is about imagination. For most of us, very little of that creative energy goes toward imagining alien worlds. The vast majority is required to maintain the sort of deluded optimism needed to sustain a myriad of various projects. For example: I imagine I will finish painting these figures before the next big tournament. I imagine I will paint that high-concept counts-as army that I came up with on my drive to work. I imagine it should be possible to paint "just a small starter army" for that sweet new kickstarter whatever.

Well, sometimes imagination becomes reality. Here it is, and it's pretty big: our Inq28 campaign, Dark Millennium!

Dark Millennium is the brainchild of this guy. It's a collaborative campaign (meaning, we'll periodically switch the role of GM) using the Inquisitor ruleset, converted for 28 instead of 54 mm miniatures. It's partially cooperative and partially competitive, not really a wargame but not fully an RPG. It's weird and wonderful and it takes the right group to really make it work, and my fellow players, the Battleground Games crew, are that group.

Our GM Ian took us through character creation and the Inquisitor rules. Other than a few areas that seemed to be lacking (there doesn't seem to be much room for stealth characters), I was very impressed with the Inquisitor rules. It's an action RPG that requires miniatures. No surprise there, but it turned out to be (in my opinion) deep enough to allow a wide range of characters, play styles, and interactions without being too clunky.

Not everyone could make it to our inaugural session, but let's meet a few of our contestants.

class of M.41

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


The seeds that were planted long ago and carefully watered by my buddies Matt and Colin have finally sprouted a tiny, fragile little sapling. I went out at lunch today and picked up a copy of the X-Wing miniatures core set. I don't know how often I'll be able to get it on the table in the next month or two, but I'm looking forward to flying some crazy spaceships around in the relatively near future. I'm a team player, guys!

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his gift card stockpile for his friends.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Final Reckoning for Solypsus 9

The dust has cleared, and the battle for Solypsus 9 is over. This was the final event (or is it...?) in a series of monthly narrative tournaments, and it was a huge success and a fitting end to the series.

Alex's Sons of Dorn stand resolute amidst the fiercest fighting

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Brief Message From Our Sponsors

I came across the following quote today. Andy Chambers, circa 1998:
“The first and most fundamental principles of wargaming rules: They are loose, wooly affairs which never detail exactly what you want to know in any given situation. “Why” I hear you chorus, “Isn’t that your job you charlatan?” (you may want to use stronger terminology here). It’s because wargaming isn’t played on a gridded-out playing area with a set number of strictly defined pieces. Wargaming is about colour, movement and breathing life into the armies you lovingly amass and then drive headlong into your opponent. The number of variables in a normal miniatures game is simply staggering if you consider the diversity of terrain, armies, playing area, dice rolls, points values and all the rest of it.”
When it comes to Games Workshop games, there's been an overwhelming amount of changes in the last few years. Codices are coming faster and faster, we're seeing new armies, there are a million supplements, the line between Forge World and Games Workshop units is basically non-existent – it's all coming so fast that the whole thing can seem a bit sloppy.

Over the last three or four years, my games of 40k have been almost exclusively "competitive," through local tournaments and large national conventions, and when I'm not playing the game I'm reading blogs. The consensus seems to be that there are some serious balance issues facing the game. I agree that's true, and I think the game has probably grown a little too fast and should spend the next year or so consolidating and clarifying. I certainly understand the frustration of having to accept that some armies are just not as good as others, and I understand why many people are now choosing to spend their time and cash on the many high-quality alternatives. So while I sympathize with the GW fatigue brought on by the system's current instability, I'm not too worried about it.

That's because the things that draw me to the game are more abundant now than they have been since second edition. Colo(u)r, movement, and breathing life. That's what I'm here for.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Scabiethrax Conversion Progress

I caught a few seams that I thought I had filled, but beyond that my Glottkin-to-Scabiethrax conversion is just about ready for paint. This should be fun.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Infernal Rites

They moved beneath the shattered hab-blocks, in a labyrinth of sunken chambers and sundered sub-basements. They came hooded and cloaked, their shadows made monstrous by the flickering light of the stolen illum flares. Here they knelt, their chanting almost too soft to hear. The Temple of the Emperor Transfigured.

For six days they chanted, never stirring, never ceasing. Never eating. Never drinking. They died, and new congregants replaced them as word spread among the survivors of the war-scarred world. It did not matter. Soon it would be the seventh day. Solypsus 9 would become a living hell.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rot, Glorious Rot

After months of trash talking, I recently had the very good fortune to host my superfriend Ian for a Nurgle v Nurgle grudge match at Outside the Box Games in Voorhees, NJ. Bring it on!

intense calculations

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Plague Drone

It was a sunny morning so I snapped a picture of the first of my completed plague drones. It didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped but the camera is harsh and the paint job is serviceable in my eyes. No looking back, on to the next model.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bringing Order to Chaos (and Chaos to the Battlefield)

After 15+ years of "the GW hobby," I finally decided it was time to create a dedicated workspace. It's made a huge difference in both my painting/modeling efficiency and my overall enjoyment. The desk, bench, and racks all came from Walmart for around $100 total. My tip to you? Cutlery organizers.

And yes, the shade on that window is down during the day. Direct sunlight is the bane of gamers and pigments alike.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Daemonic Public Service Announcement

This anti-smoking ad is an unlikely, but extremely cool, inspiration for Nurgle daemons:

Keep an eye out I guess, there's cool stuff everywhere.

True Scale Tutorial

I'm not sure I would do it exactly like this, but this is one of the better true scale tutorials I've seen. Saving it for later.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Herald of Nurgle

Aaaaaand here we have the first of many daemons, a Herald of Nurgle:

This is a model that I've had 95% completed for over a year now. Last night I finished him up quickly while I was waiting for another project to dry. Painted with inks (although not zenithal priming) for a jaundiced look. There's some red weathering powder around the sores, and after the matte varnish I added some blood (realistic water + red ink) to the sores and scythe. I think the blood on the base is a little juvenile, or possibly not juvenile enough, but I hadn't used the water effects before this model so it was an experiment. This model will probably never see the light of day outside of a few rare summoning situations anyway, so it's good enough.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Silence the Blasphemous Chanting

Amidst a flurry of activity, we raise a temple to the gods of the warp! We recently had a short but fairly productive meeting for the initial build of our Adepticon '15 display board:

extremely early stage of my chaos portal thingy
the penitent man kneels before (the) god(s)

I've also been progressing with the daemons. I experimented with zenithal highlighting, which is a technique you've probably heard of where you simulate global lighting by priming your miniature black, then hitting it from a 45 degree angle with grey, and then finally from the top with white, to create a gradation that mimics an overhead light source. I was extremely pleased with the initial results. The subtle transitions, grungy contrast, and small amounts of chalkiness really suit my personal aesthetic. It's pretty hard to tell with my cell phone pics, but take a look:

this is like 40% of the army :(
Well, back to the table.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Let the Galaxy Burn

Hey, it's been a while. How's everyone been? Good? Good.

It's been a good year at the club. We had some representation at Adepticon, took home prizes from Nova, and the annual Apocalypse game had a great turnout. Individual members are really finding their groove, with a lot of us moving on to second or even third armies. Everyone's painting is showing dramatic improvement, especially Lovell's, for some reason. I've been winning prizes. Recon Squad is getting a lot of play. We're in great shape.

In fact, we're headed back to Adepticon this year. I still have some work to do on the Imperial Fists, but it's been Imperial Armies for me for the last 15+ years, so this year I decided to change things up:

Raining blooooooooooooooooood from a lacerated sky

3,000 points of Chaos Daemons/Chaos Space Marines by January 2016. That's the goal.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, 1/3 of this goal is due in less than two months. So let's all walk the path of damnation. Here's a WIP Herald of Nurgle which, incidentally, is not included in my Adepticon list so therefore I have no business messing around with:

Pac Man is looking ROUGH these days