Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Where there's a WIP there's a way

Now usually I don't do this but, uh, go ahead and break 'em off with a little preview of the remix:

it's payback time

coming out of my shell

bonus: free hugs!

 I'm having a lot of fun with this one. This has been a very experimental project from me and I've picked up some new skills. It should also go a long way toward "modernizing" my miniatures collection so I can hang at competitive events. Next step: continue to restructure my army by completing units to field formations from Traitor's hate!

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Armor is Contempt


I lost track of the link, but my Contemptor made it into the official NOVA photostream. So that's what it's like to stare down the barrel of a Butcher Cannon, if you were wondering.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nova '16

As always, the NOVA Open is the highlight of my gaming year. This year I got to try something a bit different, as Joe, Colin and I joined the NOVA volunteer team to run the Warhammer 40k Narrative tournament. While that meant less gaming overall, it was fun to peek behind the curtain and do our best to make sure the participants had a great time!

Colin and Joe dive into the terrain toybox
 
Tim, Carlo, and I also participated in the popular 40k Team Trios tournament and to our great surprise we claimed second place the army appearance track.
 
My favorite part, though, is catching up with my convention friends across the game table or in the lounge. Getting ready for the convention is always a big effort (to say nothing of the late nights, early mornings, and poor nutritional choices of the event itself) and you'd think some burnout would be natural. I always find, though, that talking with other gamers and seeing their enthusiasm and creativity has a rejuvenating effect. With that said, it's back to the painting table for me. Thanks for another great year, everyone! 
 


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Frogs on the Moon


Five and two, three plus four
six there are, and add one more;
father, will you come?
I'll be with you soon -
I'll see you when there are frogs on the moon.

– Frogs on the Moon, Chalcydonian children's rhyme

Monday, June 20, 2016

Our Lady of Perpetual Horror: Complete!


Curiously, planetary surveys dating to Pre-Heresy times list two small moons in orbit around the planet Chalcydon. It is not uncommon, however, for records from that time to be incomplete or otherwise faulty, as even a casual observer notes the presence of a third moon in the Chalcydonian sky. Peregrinus, the Ghost Moon, features heavily in local lore despite active suppression by the planetary administration, to the extent that the Chalcydonian Ecclesiarchy has grudgingly incorporated the moon into its rituals. It is customary to wait for the waxing of the Ghost Moon to begin new endeavors, and it is said that a priest who takes holy orders beneath the moon can discern the will of the Emperor Himself.

After many layers of foam, clay, spackle, and paint, the display board is ready!

This project really forced me to push some of my hobby limits and I'm extremely pleased with the way it compliments my work over the past two years. Teaser shots below:



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Our Lady of Perpetual Horror, In Progress

I've built up a fairly large collection of painted models over the last few years, and now it's time for a display board. Inspired by my Socratic daimon, I headed out to the craft store and returned with copious amounts of styrofoam, glue, and clay. Over the last few days, I've been laying down obscene amounts of liquid nails and styrofoam blocks to form the main landscape of the base, but in the meantime I also tackled the board's main feature:

a horror from the third moon of chalcydon!

Realizing that creepy faces have become sort of a motif in my Chaos Daemons army, when I saw the styrofoam head, I knew what I had to do. I've used air hardening clay for the sculpt. I started with the lips and worked my way outward, taking about three and a half hours for the whole process. Originally, I wanted to mimic the stone head from Prometheus, but as I worked, little bits of Red Skull and general ad-libbing entered the picture. This was my first attempt at any sort of real sculpting, and the time flew by. Now it's time for the agonizing wait as I continue to add glue and spackle to the board, but I'm looking forward to next week, when I'll be able to start adding the details and get it painted.

As with all of my projects, I only had a vague plan, but you can follow along with my sculpting below:


Monday, May 9, 2016

Buggin' Out

Rahab, Angel of the Depths

When the Traveler came to Chalcydon, Cardinal Absalom was one of the first of the Ecclesiarchs to barter with the Ruinous Powers. It was Absalom who handed over the keys to the ancient bioweaponry vaults beneath the Cathedral of Saint Sebastian Thor, and in recognition of this blasphemous act, was transfigured by Father Nurgle into the daemon prince known as Rahab. Now the Angel of the Depths, Rahab scuttles among the roots of the underworld with an endless hunger, devouring the soul-scraps left by greater beings.

A few weeks ago I ran across a preview of an upcoming release from Mierce Miniatures, and as soon as I saw this model I knew it would enter my collection not as Thacaldan Mound-Beetle but as some sort of hideous Nurgle beast. The very nice people at Mierce were willing to sell me a copy before the general release, so I placed an order and the model crossed the Atlantic in record time. I really could not be any more impressed by the customer service Mierce provided – their communication was always prompt and polite, and they were able to manually place my order as the model was not yet available for sale through their website.

Even though I think Mierce has some of the very best sculpts available in the world of miniatures, I wanted a different sort of beetle so I decided to convert the head and forelegs. The model is cast in a sort of rubbery resin that holds detail very well, but is also very light and easy to work with. I was able to pin the arms very easily. Mold lines were minimal and easily removed (although of course I missed quite a few that I only discovered halfway through painting). I had a slight mishap during the early painting stages when one of the legs broke at the knee despite very gentle handling, but I was able to repair the miniature without any difficulty.

This mini was a complete blast to paint and was absolutely worth the time and expense. Sadly, I don't think I'll have the opportunity to the Darklands game any time soon, but I look forward to adding more Mierce creations to my creature collection in the future.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Bronze Bull Charges


During a Maelstrom mission today, my opponents and I determined I'd need a 12 to make the charge across the open ground and through the toxic waste onto the recently-activated objective. A 6 and a 5... but wait, he's Fleet... come on, 6... OH NO!

Even better, the lone Space Wolf on the objective was killed by the Contemptor's Hammer of Wrath. Truly, an EPIC charge.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Works in Progress

I generally don't like to share works in progress, mostly because the Warhammer blogosphere is littered with updates about projects that don't go anywhere. But it's been a while since I've showed my work, so here is a selection of some of the models that have been in rotation on my desk lately:

the maulerfiend: so good on the table, so much trouble to paint!

I really don't need another Great Unclean One, but here we are.

The same thing we do every night... try to take over the world!
 
Come check out the finished models in person at LibertyHammer!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Shout out to Mierce Miniatures!

Mierce Miniatures sold me an as-yet-unreleased model simply because I asked nicely, and they worked with me to manually place my order since the item wasn't yet available in their online store. Their stuff isn't cheap, but their sculpts are amazing and their style is so close to my ideal aesthetic that I can't be sure I didn't design these miniatures in a dream. In fact, the only way I know I didn't dream them up is that I couldn't have imagined a customer service experience like this from a Nottinghamshire-based miniatures company. Go check them out, they have the coolest monsters around.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Review: Curse of the Wulfen

Having made a valiant six week effort, I recently made my first Games Workshop purchase of 2016 – War Zone Fenris: Curse of the Wulfen. Have a seat on the couch as I emotionally unpack this latest adventure.

"You have deeply offended us and our god. And our god is a god of vengeance, and horror... Our god is an Indian that turns into a wolf."
"Yeah, that's the Wolfen, man."
"Well... the Wolfen will come for you, with his razor."

The Physical Product

The War Zone series is most certainly designed to appeal to the collector, that class of miniatures aficionado alluded to in GW's quarterly reports but rarely seen in the wild. Like the others in the series, Curse of the Wulfen is a two-book, hardcover set that comes in a sturdy cardboard sheath. Like all Games Workshop products, it's glossy and beautifully illustrated. It doesn't appear to belong on a shelf so much as a lectern, maybe illuminated from overhead by a single beam of pale light.

As someone who is primarily a gamer and not the aforementioned "collector," this is a bit more than I need, but I'll admit: it's a premium product. The first book in the set deals with the campaign's plot, which features the Space Wolves fighting against a demonic invasion, with guest appearances by the Dark Angels and Grey Knights. The book is very much in Games Workshop's new art style, with lots of high-resolution shots of studio miniatures and bold, comic book-style action scenes. As an older player, I miss some of the wonderful weirdness of John Blanche or Wayne England, and I think the setting is a lot poorer for their absence, but that's obviously an aesthetic preference. Space Wolf fans, completists, and those who enjoy "following" the Warhammer 40,000 storyline will enjoy this book.

Get to the Good Stuff

In a world where I might need six or seven heavy hardcover books to play my army, I don't want to say that the rules for War Zone Fenris are "conveniently" contained in a second book, but it is handy not to have to lug 120 pages of superfluous background material to the gaming table.

The second book contains a six-mission campaign designed to reenact the events described in book one. As far as campaigns go, it's very basic; there are six fixed missions that will have slight amendments based on which faction won the previous engagement. Generally this would be filler content (as we've seen with uninspired faction-specific missions from past codex supplements), and there is probably not a ton of value here for most players. However, don't skip the missions completely. These missions go beyond the endless variations of the Dawn of War-style deployment. There's a mission played on a 24"x72" area representing a chase in a narrow canyon; a drop zone mission with six separate battlefields to manage (and units can move between the different sites!); and a mission with a risk management mechanic where the demon player can gain unlimited powerful benefits at will, at the increased risk of losing the game. There are some interesting ideas here, and while we won't see them on the tournament scene, these scenarios might inspire the local clubs and garage gamers.

It's difficult for me to truly gauge the extent of the Space Wolf updates as I'm not familiar with the codex, but as an outsider, I'm impressed. There's a detachment similar to the battle company from Codex: Adeptus Astartes, but in addition to a generic "Greatpack" formation, space Wolf players can choose fill out the detachment's core requirements with a number of formations representing specific Great companies within the Space Wolves chapter. It's a great way to provide a little extra character and to allow players to tailor their detachment to their miniatures collection.

The book also allows Space Wolves to take vehicle squadrons, bringing the army list up to contemporary standards. In my mind this is the sort of thing that should be introduced in a FAQ, not a paid product, but it's nice to have. There are also some new formations with reasonable model counts – a nice boost for models that players likely already own. Finally, the Wulfen themselves return. They're a phenomenal assault unit, with a boatload of special rules, two wounds each, access to specialized assault gear, and the ability to run and charge in the same turn.

New units, (apparently) useful formations, and plenty of characterful choices. I think Space Wolf players will be pleased, and I'll admit this had me contemplating some outer space vikings of my own.

Infernal Ambivalence

The demonic half of the War Zone: Fenris rulebook is much more of a mixed bag. There is a demonic decurion, but frankly, the formations are uninspired and unrealistic. The detachment reads like a bizarre "12 Days of Christmas," asking players to spam combinations of lesser demons corresponding to the "sacred number" of the appropriate warp entity. In order to fill out Nurgle's core formation, you'll need some combination of seven squads of either Nurglings or Plaguebearers. Worse, the reward for completing such a feat is rather dubious. For example, Slaanesh's core formation grants +1 WS and +1 I, and allows a herald to project a locus effect out to 12", which is useful, but not an adequate reward for purchasing, assembling, and painting 60 Daemonettes (or 18 Fiends, or some combination thereof). It's not realistic to own these particular combinations of troops, and more importantly, it's not fun. For most daemon armies wishing to use the Daemonic Incursion detachment, it amounts to a lot of dead weight in the army roster, and a hefty tax, where players are punished for choosing to collect certain models. 60 Daemonettes would simply be boring; 70 Plaguebearers would be both boring and a waste of time.

The auxiliary formations are more of the same, but once again, some armies make it better than others. By a strange coincidence I can field the Rotswarm, which grants a nice bonus: +3 attacks per model, on the charge, to a unit of Plague Drones or Beasts of Nurgle. I don't think most demon players would have such an odd assortment of units, but I assembled six Beasts of Nurgle simply because I liked the models, and I have a large unit of Plague Drones. But I feel bad for the player who wants an army devoted exclusively to Khorne, because he better own three Skull Cannons. Or the Tzeentch player, who needs a combination of NINE Burning Chariots or squads of Screamers.

This idea of simply fielding massive numbers of the same few types of units is such a strange, boring choice – the requirements are too specific for demon players who have chosen to create a diverse collection, and too model-intensive to be of use to players who have decided to specialize. It's unfortunate, because the command benefits for the detachment are very nice, allowing you to manipulate the Warp Storm table, reroll daemonic instability(!), and the never-before-seen ability to control an objective even after your troops have left the 3" range. These are all of tremendous use to the army list, but unfortunately, I think the detachment will be completely unusable for most players.

In the realm of army selection, it's not completely grim. The three new varieties of Bloodthirster from the Khorne Daemonkin book are now viable for Codex: Chaos Daemons players as well (unfortunately, with daemonic instability instead of fearless), and the Exalted Flamer and Be'lakor make an appearance. There's nothing new, but I suppose it's more convenient this way.

The main point of interest for demon players are the new warlord traits, artifacts, and psychic powers for each of the four Chaos powers. They're very characterful, and a few are quite powerful (Slaanesh can move, run, and assault via a warlord trait; Khorne and Tzeentch both get access to D weapons). A powerful choice for Nurgle involves lowering the Toughness value of nearby units, allowing Great Unclean Ones and Daemon Princes of Nurgle to inflict instant death on MEQ models. Also keep an eye out for the T10 Great unclean Ones (via the expanded Discipline of Plague) and Slaaneshi daemons that regenerate wounds with every kill. These upgrades open up a host of new tactics for Daemons, and most importantly, they're a lot of fun.

Final Analysis

As always, Games Workshop has released a slick-looking product with high production values. At $74 US, it's a bit pricy for a casual interest, but there's a lot here for a dedicated Space Wolves player. Demon players will have to use their discretion. The Sons of Russ are very clearly the stars of the show here, and while there are a few gems for the servants of Chaos, they are an obvious afterthought.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Battle: Rise of the Eldar!

I headed out to Redcap's Corner last night for a 1,000 point game against the ubiquitous Kingbreakers. Joe has been scouring the dark corners of the galaxy for aid, because in addition to a small squad of the Legion of the Damned, he also brought some new friends – an Eldar warhost!

oh what a lovely day

The forces of Chaos:
  • Cerberex, chaos lord of Nurgle with power axe and sigil of corruption
  • The Cauldron Born, 6x plague marines with 2 melta guns and a rhino
  • Vulture Legion, 5x chaos space marines with plasma gun and a rhino
  • Beelzu'ul the Black Seraph, daemon prince of nurgle with daemonic flight and a greater reward of chaos
  • Bloom and Blight, 2 squads of nurglings
  • Gutshot, a giant chaos spawn
  • blight drone
Champions of Order:
  • Captain Nytol and command squad in a razorback
  • Legion of the Damned with combi-grav, plasma gun, and heavy bolter
  • A squadron of Predators with autocannons and heavy bolter sponsons
  • 2x squads of Eldar Guardians
  • Eldar jetbikes with scatter lasers

Due to the small game size, we decided to play the Crusade mission on a 4'x4' board. I deployed first and took the first turn, moving my army up the field. In return, the plague marines' rhino was glanced to death by a tremendous amount of medium-strength dice, leaving them huddling in cover in the center of the table.

top of turn 1

Meanwhile, Beelzu'ul and Vulture Legion continued to push the right flank. The daemon prince destroyed a predator with his strength 8 ap 1 shooting attack, but failed to successfully charge the remainder of the squadron. In return, the scatter lasers from the jetbikes sent the daemonic entity back to the warp while the Legion of the Damned materialized to hunt the chaos lord while Nytol's squad moved forward to reinforce their allies.

 bottom of turn 2

With my push on the right flank mostly evaporated (I would lose the remainder of Vulture Legion later that turn), I turned to defend the central objective. The blight drone finally made its way to the battlefield, catching a squad of guardians with its mawcannon, only to be gunned down by scatter lasers in response. Cerberex, the remaining two plague marines, and the giant chaos spawn assaulted the Legion of the Damned, dispatching the majority of the squad, and finishing them off in the bottom of turn three.

top of turn 3: thank you for joining us, blight drone

My army had taken some hard knocks, but by turn four it was looking like I might have a shot at a very close victory. I was able to catch the jetbikes in an assault, destroying them and then consolidating toward the center objective. Joe cleverly moved the razorback to claim the central objective, forcing me to send the giant spawn to deal with the tank while the chaos lord and the remainder of the plague marines faced down the Kingbreakers HQ alone. Without Gutshot's bulk to lend momentum to the attack, Cerberex and the plague squad were wiped, and the giant spawn fell to enemy fire after taking out the transport. With just five bases of nurglings under my command and Joe's army more or less intact, we shook hands, ending a great game.

Chaos:
1 objective, linebreaker

Order:
2 objectives, first blood, slay the warlord

Order victory!

Cerberex returns to the plague fleet to lick his wounds... probably literally...

sweet, sweet vengeance

move, move, move!

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 in Review

Having just finished our annual combat patrol/apocalypse weekend, it's time to look back at my year in miniatures, and see what's in store for 2016. Meanwhile, take a look at our 2016 Winter Apocalypse as captured by Joe.


Painting

As far as the hobby goes, 2015 was a personal best. My goal for the year was to build the foundation for a large, cohesive, and completely painted collection of 40k miniatures in order to reduce the overall stress level for future events. I needed to have enough miniatures on hand that I wouldn't be discouraged from attending larger events, and they needed to be painted to a standard that I'd be proud to display, whether in a simple pickup game among friends or at a large national event. I chose 3,000 points as my goal. Here's how I did:

January: 45
February: 200
March: 650
April: 346
May: 0
June: 0
July: 45
August: 692
September: 0
October: 309
November: 90
December: 260

That's 2,637 points of models from Codex: Chaos Daemons and Codex: Chaos Space Marines. This includes WYSIWYG upgrades like special weapons but does not include intangible upgrades like psychic mastery levels, gifts of chaos, and other wargear. This collection could probably field approximately 250 points of such upgrades before starting to feel bloated, so I'm a bit short of the mark. Overall, I'm happy with my progress, though – 2,000 points is typically the largest force I'd need to field, which leaves me in the position of being able to vary my list quite a bit. I also have another 1,500 points (give or take) of models that are painted with at least three colors and based but which I don't consider to be complete.

I won't worry too much about appearance as that's subjective, but I will say that I think I've developed my skills, started to find my personal style, and I'm really happy with my results this year. I appreciate the feedback I've been getting at events as well. If I can make one person say "What the hell is that?" or "Oh my God that's disgusting," it's all been worth it.

Events

The 2015 PAGE apocalypse game. Adepticon. The May apocalypse tournament at Redcap's Corner. Inquisitor 28. NOVA trios. NOVA narrative campaign. Dreadtober, Killa Kanz. New friends (Alex, Greg, Todd, far too many to name), old friends.

We placed in the top half at Adepticon, took home "best theme" in the trios (again!) and raised over 300 pounds of food (and a sizable cash donation) at our first-ever charity event. Another fantastic year.

So What's Next?

Despite the progress on the chaos miniatures collection, I'm looking to finish a few more projects in the first half of 2016:

  • "counts as" Typhus
  • plague zombies
  • corrupted Titus
  • Nurgle possessed marines
  • "true scale" terminators 
  • finish the plague hulk
  • chaos knight
I'm also interested in building a small force for use with the Horus Heresy rules, but I'm not sure where this fits into the overall schedule.

As if all of this wasn't enough to keep me busy, I'm not planning any major projects or new armies. Instead, this will be the year that I poke my head into the non-Games Workshop world. I recently invested in the X-Wing miniatures game and Imperial Assault. I'm also setting a goal of painting a small collection for at least one of the following: Infinity, Saga, This is Not a Test, Bushido, Dropzone Commander.

Unfortunately, we have decided not to attend Adepticon this year. I was ok with that decision initially, but now I'm feeling a little disappointed. That's ok, though, as there are plenty of events that require my enthusiasm both as an attendee and as an organizer.

Alright, holiday break is over, let's get ready to play some games in 2016. And remember, life's too short to play with boring models.