Painting 101 – Lesson 0 – Picking the models – Practical!

Well, I’m 2 theoreticals in, and not actually made any start at all.  In honour of a hopeful Easter hobby weekend though, I am making a mini start (pun intended), and picking some models to illustrate the concepts I’m discussing.  the final goal is to paint Roboute Guilleman, so that’s one model, but what will our practice ones be?

I’m actually going to do 10 models (including the primarch) in total, but here’s the twist for the other 9.  I’m going to do three more models, but I’m going to do them three times each in different styles to match different armies and concepts.

First off, I’m going to do the plastic Inquisitor Greyfax from the first Triumvirate.  I’m also going to do 2 metal female inquisitors, which I see as similar models in lineage, Greyfax being their spiritual successor.  I’m going to do the armour on all three in the silver and gold of the Greyfax box art, but the robes on the metal Inquisitors will match the 2 armies of sisters of battle I own – green and white respectively.

Second, I’m going to do Canoness Viridya in Resin thrice over.  One version will be an attempt to match the box art/blanche artwork, while the other two will match my sisters armies with white and green on one, and silver and white on the other.

Finally, I’m going to do a new plastic Cypher, as well as two metal Cyphers.  A plastic and metal one will be done to GW imagery, but then the third will be done with a touch more work and made to look like his Inquisitor persona.  I’m thinking I might go silver and gold armour rather than black, and replace the skulls and DA imagery with Inquisition icons.

So why am I doing this?  It should illustrate resin, metal and plastic minis.  It should highlight differences and similarities working with the different models, and show different outcomes to similar starting points!  And the range of techniques should help us prep for the big guy as the finale!

I’m going to revisit this post with some illustrative photos of the models in question, so do check back!

Painting 101 – Lesson 2 – Priming the Model – Theoretical

Well, I’m aware I haven’t done the first practical yet, but some of the points to think about in the first theoretical haven’t really been covered.  We discussed assembling the model in sections based on ease of painting and priming – but we haven’t discussed our basic priming and painting options!  Although this is the second practical stage to implement, it’s something we need to think about before we even put the model together.

Priming (or undercoating) a model

Why do we prime a model?  2 main reasons.  First, it is designed to grip to the surface of the miniature and provide a good surface for the rest of the paints.  A good primer will minimise chipping, and the more “grippy” the primer, the better the paint job will tend to do with the rigours of play.  Why not just use the strongest grip primer?  Well, we’ll discuss the impact of colour later, but some technical effects actually rely on less grippy surfaces.  Most of the “crackle” effect mediums designed to look like broken earth as it dries won’t work well on a very grippy primer – the effect is minimised.  The paint tries to pull apart as it dries, and the primer holds it tight.

Second, the primer offers a consistent colour to layer our paints over.  Because they underlay the others, they subtly affect the overall scheme.  The three most common colours of primer used when miniature painting are black, white and grey.  Black is very common currently, as it leads to slightly muted colours and fits well with a realistic or grim war environment.  White, on the other hand, is a fantastic platform for bright and brilliant colours.  Grey is neutral, allowing you to highlight or darken down, and in my opinion is the best starting point for a miniature with a wide range of colours.  However, grey is also the most common colour of plastic and resin, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell you have really good coverage.

Matt and gloss makes a difference too.  One of my favourite primers is the Vallejo Gloss Black from their Metal range.  Metals painted over the top just amazingly pop!  But for predominantly flesh and fabric models, you may want to avoid that extra touch of shine.

Not all primers are monochrome, and some acrylic sprays are “grippy” enough to function as primers even if technical just a base coat, like the current coloured spray cans provided by Games Workshop.  Spraying your Stormcast or Rubricae with a gold undercoat can really save time, getting much of the base coat down at the same time as your undercoat.  Companies like Army Painter offer a wide range of spray cans, and  for complex models you could prime different chunks in different colours before you glue them together – a great example of this is in White Dwarf with their recommendations or St Celestine, priming the wings white, the body gold, and so on.

As you look at priming a model, then, you need to look at your intended final colours, and the techniques you plan to use to paint the model.  If you have an airbrush, you’ll have much more control than spray cans, and a much wider range of primer colours, in addition to being able to mix them yourself!  If you want to use washes over a plain undercoat, you’ll generally want white (or maybe grey) as washes over black will barely show up.  You might prime with a brush, and carefully define areas exactly in different underlying tones!

If you really plan to push your painting skills to the absolute max, I favour one colour of primer over the main model.  It sets a consistent tone and it means tricky colours can be applied evenly rather than trying to colour match over black and white.   I like the though of starting at one colour and everything else is down to me!  It means it’ll be longer to finish the model, though, and sometimes may need to be varied for technical effects.  If breaking it down, I’d generally look at:

Prime the base with a less grippy primer if using technical effect paints.  I’m going to cover the base in a separate section of these thoughts.

Prime the head in a grey or black for muted matt effect.  The head generally is a separate part.

Prime the weapon in a gloss black for a shinier metal effect, or a grey or even white for bright power weapons.  The weapon is often separate from the body and arms, or with a distinct section like a blade that lends itself to priming by airbrush.

Prime the body appropriately for the brightness of the main colour to be used, and how dull the material of the model should be – I mean fabric, flesh or armour, not plastic or resin there!  If I was painting metallic alpha legion, I’d go black gloss.  Flesh, fabric or matt ceramite, I’d think grey.  Shiny whites and brilliant blues really pop with white.

Sneaky tricks post priming – Preshading

Once a model is primed, particularly in a monochrome shade, there are some useful tricks to preshade a model before you start applying colours.  Fantastic cheats!  But you need to plan them, particular Zenithal Preshading.

With lighter primers, you can add a dark wash, to act at shadows.  This is before painting any colour over the top – with thin coats, you get graduated highlights and dark recesses showing faintly through, even before you do any real shading or highlighting in the painting stage!

You can airbrush preshading onto the gaps between panels on larger models like tanks! A gentle surface spray of the real colour won’t hit the recesses as hard, leaving a gentle shading effect perfect for tanks.

You can drybrush a lighter colour to act as a subtle highlight and help pick out details on darker primers. This both helps show a gentle highlight through the thin coats of paint you’ll be applying, and also gives you targets for your brush – details can be hard to see on black!

Zenithal PresHading

This is a particular sneaky time saving option, though you will need to have at least dry fitted your model together if not glued it.  Ideally, you use 3 shades of primer (black, grey and white classically).  Cover the entire model with the darkest primer.

Next, pick spot that you want the light to be coming from – straight above is a solid option for tabletop, as it’ll look great from the players perspective.  Spray on the medium primer lightly from the point, but circle the can a bit, rather than keeping it fixed.

Finally, get the lightest primer, and give a light spray from that one light source point – no moving.  You’ll now have a range from dark to light on the model, all aimed towards one point – just as if there was one light source shining down creating shadows.

You can do this with just 2 shades, or even go to more shades, reducing the angle from the light source each time you get lighter.

Its very effective, particularly if you then apply washes, glazes, or just thin coats over the top.  I think its a good time saver

Summary

So, priming!   Not just as simple as grabbing a spray can and having at it all the time (though thats still what I normally do!).  We need to pick our primer colour or colours based on our final colour choices and proposed techniques….  so we may have to go another theoretical or 2 before we really work out how to put our models together!   If spraying several different primer colours, we definitely need to assemble in sections to spray easy one.  If using zenithal shading, we need to assemble the whole model (although maybe using temporary connections) or the highlights will look wrong.  If spraying all one colour, the main focus will be assembling in sections to allow easy access for our brush.

Painting 101 – Lesson 1 – Building the mini – Theoretical

Building the miniature

No matter how good your paint job, you are a bit limited by the model you are painting on.  Thats not to say you can’t add detail through painting extra features on, but if your model is badly assembled, that’s going to show through.  A good paint job will highlight a models best features and make a good mini great, or a bad mini look good, but there’s a lot you can do to start from that higher starting point.

How can we improve our work on the build itself?  Well, we can actually do those bits and pieces we sometimes skip out of boredom or laziness!  

Check the mini

Check the minis and sprues, and swap them with the manufacturer if of unacceptable quality (pretty much unheard of with plastics unless somethings missing in packing, but resin can have casting issues).

Clean the minis!  

Wash the resin, metal or plastic, and you can find major differences in priming and painting later.  Some people like to do that on the sprue, to help keep little parts together, while others prefer to do this later on, so any dust from filing or oily fingerprints are removed as well as any oils from the mould removal and packing processes.  Its a matter of preference – I tend to lose little bits so I do this on sprue, but its fractionally better to do it later on.  Just rinse the models off in warm soapy water, then rinse any soap off with clean water.  Simple!

To be fair, its a bonus extra step if using top quality grippy primers.  I’ve seen some people not even clean resin when using sticky car primer and get away with it.  Still, best practise!

Remove bits from sprues

Now, be really careful when cutting the mini from the sprues.  Use a decent set of sharp cutters.  I’ve tried lots of brands, but honestly, the only important thing I’ve found is to make sure the blades are sharp.  The brand doesn’t matter – a cheap set from a hardware store is just as good as expensive fine cutters, if not as pretty, as long as the blades are fresh.  Its amazing how much of a difference it makes.  I’m terrible for using old dull cutters for ages, and it can really impact some of the details on your models.  Check the instructions to make sure you aren’t cutting off attachment pins and that you are keeping the relevant bits together.  If doing a unit, a really nice trick is to get a big egg box and put the bits for each model in each egg section as you cut them off to stop them getting mixed up and you using the wrong bit on the wrong model.  Take your time, and look at how each piece is attached to the sprue.  The force of the clippers can twist the part slightly, so you want to try and cut the piece off in such a way the more delicate parts won’t bear the brunt of the force.  If its a bit difficult, generally cutting any attachments on the more delicate bits first is a good rule of thumb.

Prepare the bits

Next, clear off mould lines or any excess plastic (or resin) from where you cut them off the sprues.  It sounds obvious, but honestly, with the decent positioning of mould lines on modern models and the better initial production values, you can often get away without this for tabletop.  I’m lazy and rarely bother unless I’m pushing myself!  But it does make a difference!  Even if you don’t bother for troops, try to make sure you clean up the model right for those special paint jobs.  The GW mould line scraper is great for this, and a small set of decent quality files are great.  Just be careful not to damage any details in the removal.

This is a good point to consider any kit bashing – adding any extra pieces in from for bits box.  You’ve got most of the pieces, but are you happy with the weapons load out?  Would a custom Blood Angels bolter look better than the plain one?  Maybe a headswap?  Maybe think about how the pieces might look with some of the resin bases you have available.  You have all the pieces cut out now, try a few options with blutack if you want.  Get a feel for how it looks.

Fix the bits

Once you have the final set of pieces cut out and cleaned off at this point, you may need to fix or manually alter them.  Resin may have some small bubbles leaving tiny holes – these can be fixed by patching them with GW’s liquid green stuff (or similar product from other brands) if small enough.  If the bubbles are larger than that, then honestly, you should probably have got the mini swapped!  Think about replacing the part from your bits box, or patching it with full on green stuff that you’ll need to roll together.

Resin bits may warp slightly, and these can be fixed by heating them and bending back into shape.  Some materials work best dipped quickly into boiling water then pulled out (carefully, watching your hands), and bending back into shape.  Others respond best to gentle heating with a hairdryer or hot steam over a bowl of boiling water.

Improve the bits

So, we have a full set of pieces, all cleaned up and ready!  What else do we need to do now?  Well, the last bit before any assembly here is to think of adding any more details or improve joints ourselves.  This is the time to add any brass etching pieces to the mix, think about small green stuff additions (like using a press mould to add a logo to a pad or a a gun – tweet or comment here if you want this section expanded).

Its also time to get a little drill out, if appropriate, and do some pinning for larger models (you used to have to pin everything in the metal days!), and maybe drill out gun barrels.  This is a lot easier than it sounds if you have a little hobby drill. (drop me a tweet or comment if you want this bit expanded on).

If you want to customise your models with battle damage, you can etch in bullet holes or damage at this point too.

This whole section is bonus extras, though.  If you just want to take a stock mini as far as you can, you don’t need to improve it.

Plan the assembly

Now, its time to actually build the mini!  So, what can we do to make things easier for ourselves?  Well, not build the mini, for one thing.  That may sound counter intuitive, but think – often there are hard to reach areas on a model.  If you paint individual parts, or assemble a marine but wait to put the gun over the front, you can probably reach those parts much more easily.  Maybe use blutack to fit the pieces together in theory, work out which bits we can assemble now to paint easily, and which bits we should paint separately to make life as easy as possible for us.

If you just want a tabletop quality job, its probably not too much of a drama.  Assemble the minis, get a few games in, paint them up when you can.  But if you want to go all out, taking your time and planning the assembly to take painting into account really helps.

Different glues for different materials

We also need to plan out what we want to use to assemble the model in terms of glues.  Everyone knows this, right?  PVA to glue light basing material on.  Superglue for metal and resin.  Plastic glue for plastic,  Easy!

Well, actually, not so easy if you want to do the very best job you can.  You can get glues in a range of types and viscosities, and the wrong glue for the job will lead to problems.  Its something to think seriously about! 

There’s also a few other glues to consider, and sprays to set glue faster (normally at the expense of generating more heat).  Epoxy resin (normally in two parts that needs to be mixed up, and often referred to as araldite in the UK) is an amazingly solid bond, though takes time to set.  It can be a great way to get metal models with a good connection to be set permanently – though a wobbly connection will be a nightmare to set this way.

Both plastic glue and superglue tend to come in thin and thick varieties.  Thin glues won’t tend to make such a strong bond, but be much easier to place exactly and cause less problems with overflow.  Its generally better for smaller pieces and sometimes for display pieces where you don’t need to stand up to tabletop play.  Thicker glue is great for bigger internal connections, but is often actually quite useful for closing  small gaps too (in the case of superglue or epoxy resin, not plastic glue).  Zap-a-gap glue is particularly good for closing small holes, and more of GW’s green stuff can cover up cracks as long as you are confident the underlying bond is solid.

You can use various fixing sprays to speed up the superglue bond, but this will generate more heat, and some plastics in particular are vulnerable to this (though its fantastic to quickly bond metal to metal). Resin can end up bending with heat, so it can throw your model out of kilter.

Every glue tends to have two times listed – the time to bond, and the time to “cure” or to fully set and reach maximum strength.  Doing a normal model, I don’t worry about it.  If its dry, its on to priming!  For a top notch model, you need to make sure the model has cured too before you do anything else to ensure you don’t get even the slightest movement.

You also need to think about how its applied.  I tend to like brush applicators for a light coat, but they aren’t alway as precise for tiny pieces.  Gel glue has to be squeezed on, by its nature, and can be a bit blobby, but brilliant for core joints.  Gw’s thin glue has a nice tiny applicator, which is really useful.

Look at the materials and joints, and think about the glues you will need to use to do the best job of securing the model together without damaging the details or leaving gluey fingerprints all over the place!  Plan out what you’ll need where.  You might not just use one glue in a joint – in a big metal dreadnaught, I’ve pinned it with a ring of epoxy resin and an outer ring of superglue set with an quick spray of fixer. The superglue held the joint in place while the epoxy resin set and cured and gave a really solid connection.  Generally, though, PVA for the base, and either superglue or plastic glue for the mini are the main focus.

Assemble (or Part Assemble) the mini

Follow the instructions to assemble the mini … in the sections you want for easy painting.  Don’t attach the base, for example – we’ll pop it on a mini holder (like a wine cork!) when we paint it seriously.  We may want to change the angle and get in from underneath, which is tricky with a big base.

Now, we need to talk about which bits to actually assemble!  There are two main goals.  First, we want to put the model into sections that we can prime as one.  If we are building a razorback, we might prime the turret in silver and the main body in a chapter colour, for example.  Some parts of the model might be very bright, and be better primed in white.  Others might be better primed in back.  We’ll cover these ideas in the lesson on priming models, but it helps if you have an idea what colours you are going to paint the model.  There’s a cracking guide to painting St Celestine in February’s White Dwarf that covers building her in bits and priming different sections in different colours

Second, we need to assemble the model in sections that will make it easy to paint, not just prime.  We might prime the whole model in a neutral grey.  We probably don’t want marines holding boaters over their chests so we can’t get at the details.  Work out where there are details that you will want to focus on for the level of painting you want to achieve, and try to make sure you can always get a paintbrush into place.  Trying it out with blutack really helps here!

So … we’ve got all the bits ready to go and sorted out, looked at all the parts, worked out the glues to use on each joints, worked out which sections to build to ease priming and painting.  Now just put them together, and we’ll be ready to move onto priming and colour choices!

Extra Step!

I missed a really useful step, recommended by Leonidas – it can really help to give the model a quick was with paint thinner to break up any remaining oil or soap at this stage!  Make sure you use a thinner compatible with your planned primer!  This really does help make sure the primer gets a good grip, and is particularly helpful if you are just going straight to a base coat or a less grippy primer.  Oddly, I’d say this step is most important if you’ve hand washed the model in soapy warm water – the thinner is particularly useful to help break up any soap remaining.  You’ve probably already got rid of the oils!

Final theoretical

At the end of our first theoretical …. we haven’t done any painting.  But its hopefully a really good reflection on just getting models ready to do our best!  One thing thats sprung out to me is how much the stages of painting inter-relate.  Breaking down the model into sections to prime only works if you know what colours those sections will be.  Often you only pick colours when you see a model assembled.   Which comes first? 

Putting all these preparation notes together really helps you think about the process.   I’ve seen great guides on pinning, on drilling, on using glue x.  Actually putting it together to think about the overall process so you can actively decide which bits to skip for speed, and making sure you cover your bases for your top notch pieces has been really useful.

Painting 101 – Lesson 0 – Starting from scratch!

Well, I’m looking at starting to paint up some minis that are frankly awesome in the new triumvirates, and I thought it might be time to just step back a little from my normal “process” of spraying some primer on, and starting to slap some paint on.  Lets get right back to the very basics, and lets make conscious decisions about the painting choices, and see if that helps us paint them just as well as we can!    This was partly inspired by some recent twitter conversations with some people very new to the hobby as well as seeing some new hobby tools and talking to a few professional painters, way above my skills.  Some things I just took for granted were seen as complicated by those new to the hobby, and deprecated by some of the experts!  Even preparing a model is more than just slapping on some plastic glue, and grabbing a spray can.  We can improve our overall work right from the get go!  I’m not saying we need to push everything right to wire with every model, but its nice to make an informed choice about optimising for speed rather than just forgetting about a step.

As the end goal is painting up Roboute Guilliman, I’m going to break up every stage into two parts – the theoretical, where I talk about what I think about that stage, and the practical, where I go through doing the stage on some minis.  Finally, I’ll actually go through painting the big guy, and hopefully get some really nice results!

 

Political Correctness Gone Mad

There was an interesting conversation on twitter lately, and the whole “Should we have female space marines?” conversation came up again.  My feelings are a little complex on the matter.

Lets face it, the whole thing boils down to a fairly casual choice in the 80’s in the fluff, and I hope the gaming scene has moved on at least a little since then.  People argue that the “science” of space marines wouldn’t work … but the science fiction behind it is quite clearly just that – fiction.  Arguing that its “fact” is just silly.  Another argument is that the background has been consistent for 30 years, so we should keep things as is … except it hasn’t.  The Exorcists were originally ladies in the rogue trader rules.  Zoats and Squats have been written out.  Genestealer cults have been, gone, evolved, come back.  Tau appeared.  Necrons appeared as soulless destroyers of life, then turned into Tomb Kings in space pranksters sending pressies to Inquisitors.  C’tan went from unfettered star gods to enslaved avatars.  Every time a batch of new models appear, the fluff is updated, retconned or altered.  Arguing that this bit of fluff is unalterable just sounds like nonsense.  Even without altering anything that happened historically, it would be fairly easy to have one or both of the 2 missing primarchs be female and their knock on legions full of ladies too.  There are options.

As a chap with two little daughters, I’d quite like to get them interested in playing 40K one day, and to be honest, there just aren’t the same powerful female characters in the game for them to look up to.  While a grim dark universe is hardly the place anyone should be looking to learn lessons from in general, there is a fundamental tone that women are less than men when it comes to the game.  You can read books about amazing female Imperial Guard.  You can’t buy the models.  You can read about amazing female Arbites. You can’t buy the models.  Sisters of Battle are normally raised about now, but an army of people who are weaker, worse equipped, wear corsets (or scanty rags if they are naughty), get special powers only through faith in a chap, and are harder and more expensive to buy than marines don’t really level things up.  I love some of the concepts (and have 2 armies of them!), but it doesn’t really level the playing field.  Eldar are thrown up, but there are very few Eldar women available outside of the troop level.  Lilith, Jain Zar, a Succubus, and the new Triumvirate model. There are more male pheonix lords that that alone, and every spiritseer, farseer, warlock, Eldrad, Yriel, Archon, and autarch just tip the scale further.

In some ways I feel the issue is less having to have female space marines, and more a need to have an equivalent powerful force.   It’d absolutely rock if the Astartes were just half of the Emperor’s plan, with implants to augment them physically, with an army of augmented lady psykers and blanks (sisters of silence?) forming the second part of the concept, both sharing some similarities with black carapace interfaces, for example, but their own set of implants and psychic powers, topping the natural born grey knights.  Both strong armies, both stronger fielded together.  Couldn’t hurt.  Women in the guard?  Its there in the fluff.  Heck, producing resin sprues of ladies heads for conversions so people could do what they liked with guard or marines themselves and still turn up to tournaments with a legal army would be enough to keep a lot of people happy.  It’d be a move in the right direction.

Mind you, there are some practical limitations.  At the end of the day, GW is a business, and has to make sales.  If the sales figures of genuinely comparable female to male lines (and I actually can’t think of many easily comparable minis, so its a bit tricky) just aren’t financially viable to run in plastic, then I can’t expect them to go out of business!  It’d be interesting to look at maybe comparing Sisters of Silence to Custodes sales, except the additional forgeworld support for Custodes does skew things towards them already.  The triumvirates have been pretty strong female leads and seem to be flying off the shelves, and Canoness Viridya kept selling out, but special event models are always more popular.  Given the sales of Wyrd malifaux models (and, anecdotally, a larger player base of women there), it doesn’t seem financially unviable from an external standpoint…. and you know, I’d like to be able to one day get my little girls playing rather than Daddy being a bit embarrassed about the fact I can’t buy them an army with strong ladies like them.

I can understand someone playing a historical recreation of waterloo not really wanting half their army to be ladies, as its historically inaccurate.  If you are playing a fictional game, though, there really isn’t any reason why characters can’t be anything the company making them dictates.

My final thought is that every time I hear “political correctness gone mad”, my first thought these days isn’t “Oh god, whats someone else gone over the top with now?”  My first thought is generally “so what group don’t you give a crap about then?”.  Sometimes people do go over the top – it’d be pushing things a wee bit far to demand the entire 40K universe is rewritten to exclude men entirely, and the recent PETA request to demand that tiny plastic models don’t wear plastic fur, my word!  I don’t see requests like that very often though – I generally see enthusiastic gamers upset that they aren’t represented well.

Filthy Ressers!

Normally this sort of post would be my proposed Ressers list, but I’m a total Malifaux beginner, and am struggling for ways of linking my models together.  I thought I’d pop up a list of the models I have, and ask for some suggestions about how to put together a crew from it (or what models would be best to add for a reasonably straightforward crew that plays quite well!).

I think the only obvious starting point is McMourning for the Master and so the Zombie Chihuahua for the totem?  I’m a total novice, but I think avoid the canine remains and flesh construct, and summon them rather than take them in the core crew?

If anyone has any suggestions for starting a crew from this, it’d be gratefully received.   I’ve heard a lot about needing Rotten Belles and maybe Rafkin with McMourning, and I’d be open to getting a new master if it’d be an easier starting point.

I’m not taking credit for the amazing paint job on these minis – I won them from some brilliant painters and players thanks to #WAAC – Wargamers All Against Cancer.  Look out for #WAAC events with @docbungle on Mini Musings of a Bear!

Masters

McMourning (Master)

McMourning

Henchmen

The Valedictorian (Resser, Henchman)

The Valedictorian

Sebastian (Resser, Henchman)

Sebastian

Totems

Zombie Chihuahua (Resser, Totem)

Zombie Chihuahua

Lost Love (Resser, Totem) – unbuilt

Minions

Performer (Arcanist, Minion, Mercenary)

Performer

Nurse (Resser, Minion)

Nurse

Nurse (Resser, Minion)

Nurse

Nurse (Resser, Minion) – Miss Pack Limited Edition

Miss Pack

Canine Remains (Resser, Minion)

Canine Remains

Canine Remains (Resser, Minion)

Canine Remains

Flesh Construct (Resser, Minion)

Flesh Construct

Necropunk (Resser, Minion)

Necropunk

Necropunk (Resser, Minion)

Necropunk

Necropunk (Resser, Minion)

Necropunk

Punk Zombie (Resser, Minion)

Punk Zombie

Enforcers

Johan (Outcasts, Enforcer, Mercenary)

Johan

Bete Noire (Ressers, Enforcer) – Unassembled, transparent red

Carrion Effigy (Ressers, Enforcer) – Puppet Wars Rotten Belle model

Carrion Effigy

 

Plans for 2017!

Well, as anyone following me on Twitter will know, I’ve very excited for hobby in 2017!  I have a dedicated hobby desk set up, I have a whole horde of Bloodbowl models assembled and primed, and made a start painting them!

But thats not a plan – thats the situation!  Whats my overall hobby plan?  More painting and gaming, basically, which is easier said than done!    One key is focus, which isn’t my forte!

40K

Here, I plan on 2 main armies to focus on throughout 2017 (at least until I’m happy with them!)  I plan to work on my Imperial Guard until I can field an infantry army!  I’m enjoying painting them, and there are enough quirks and odd platoons I like to keep them interesting.  In addition, I love Sisters of Battle, and new releases like the Canoness and the rumoured Saint Celestine will keep me busy, together with starting a new army if they actually go ahead with a plastics release.  The mix should be varied enough to be interesting, but focussed enough to make progress.

Blood Bowl

This is the joker in the deck, and may dominate the year if I’m not careful (or heck, if I just enjoy it that much!).  I don’t know what we’ll see in terms of a release schedule, so it may be busy or just occasional flurries of hobby here.  I think this may well end up being my game of 2017 though!  At present, my main goal is to get some key teams painted up that myself and my regular opponent will enjoy, together with humans and orcs for any intro games.

Warmachine

Warmachine is an odd one.  I love the models and the fluff, but I don’t have any regular opponents, and the hardcore gaming nature and new version is a little off-putting when my gaming is pretty irregular.  I suspect if I found a regular group I’d love it, but as it is, I think my Warmachine stuff is going into storage this 2017, with maybe some minor painting for fun!  I quite like the triple Haley pack 🙂  Go swans!  And if there is a army paint and auction for WAAC this year, I’ll probably look at taking part again.  I may look at eBaying my cygnar off at some point if my interest doesn’t take back off.

Malifaux

I really need to study back up on my malifaux!  I have a wonderful set of Resurrectionists that just aren’t seeing action at the moment, though a local gaming group may let me kick off with them!  I have a few other unassembled bits and pieces, but I really need to just try a few games here before anything else.  I may reach out to Twitter and get some recommendations for tweaking my Ressers and target a few upgrades, but I’m not planning on Halifax models particularly at the moment.

Guild Ball

Guild Ball is a bit of an odd one – I’m not sure if it will sink in my hobby year as Blood Bowl fills a similar slot.  I think I’ll get the 2 player starter, and see how that goes before making any decisions.  The teams in the starter aren’t my personal choices though, I quite like Butchers.

Star Wars – Imperial Assault

This is going to be big for me this year!  I’m hyped for Star Wars after Rogue 1, and the minis are brilliant.  I’m booking in some games of this already, and especially if they go well, I think its going to swing in and dominate my painting after the initial Blood Bowl rush.  Loving the models.

Star Wars – X-Wing

I enjoy X-Wing, but I think Imperial Assault is going to be my main Star Wars game going forward.  I’ll fit in any games I can, and the fact I don’t need to paint the models is a big draw with limited time!

Star Wars – Armada

Not sure on this one, oddly.  Minimal painting needed, which is good, but individual games need a lot of space and take a lot of time – I think its going to overlap with 40K.  Its high on my list in theory!

Fantasy Battle/9th Age/Kings of War/Age of Sigmar

Fantasy gaming is an odd spot for me, as I love the armies and battles, but don’t really have much in the way of opponents, and its a slot I struggle fitting in time wise.  I think in terms of fantasy, the focus is going to be individual heroes and undead.

Dungeon Saga

Dungeon Saga fits into the same sort of slot as Imperial Assault, and has the bonus extra of solo play.  There are some cracking models to paint up, and there are some great options for other companies models too.  Its really exciting, especially for Undead, as it goes into the next game

Zombicide Black Plague

This is a fantastic game, lets me use zombies from Dungeon Saga and others, and lets me get some solo games in too.  Going to be big for me in 2017 as a co-op game with a few mates as well.

 

2016 – A Tabletop Gaming Retrospective

Well, with Christmas out of the way, its time to look back at the last year, before we start looking seriously at hobby plans for 2017!  I’ll start with my thoughts on the hobby in general!

Well, the big change in 2016 has to be the sudden change in GW’s approach to community engagement.   Bringing back old models periodically, classic games like blood bowl, opening up multiple routes on social media, a genuine sense of humour in things like dealing with leaks and the regimental-standard.com – its been fantastic.  They aren’t perfect, by any means, by they’ve massively changed their approach from almost actively antagonising wargamers to reaching out, and engaging us again.  With the release of points in the General Handbook, popularity of Age of Sigmar has soared, giving them a credible fantasy alternative again.  I’ve personally been a little disappointed with AoS, both as I find the ruleset a little clumsy with the loss of any speed variable in combat (and I like fast Aelves!), and the lack of any Aelves for about 2 years, to be followed up by essentially just releasing the old starter set.  I’d been very excited by the Mistweaver from Silver Tower and the aesthetic there, so it feels a bit of a cop out.  I still want new pointy ears!

Guildball has continued to expand, though we’ll have to see how it does now a 800 pound gorilla like Blood Bowl is back on the scene.  I’m struggling to keep up with the rule changes every season, but as I’m not actively playing, it may just seem harder than it is.  I don’t find the same issue with Malifaux, though, and I haven’t really been actively engaged in that either.  The horde of gremlin options on the market is particularly fantastic 🙂

Big names have continued to sneak into the war-games market, with Star Wars doing particularly well with Imperial Assault, X-Wing and Armada.  Star Trek and Halo have pretty credible entries too, and Aliens vs Predator is a really solid game, together with the The Walking Dead in the zombie sphere.  Its an interesting time, where major franchises are competing with entrenched systems – I’m worried it’ll hammer smaller systems and model makers particularly hard.

I think one of the trends I’ve seen is a distinct breakdown into 3 types of model buyer.  You tend to see collectors, who either play rarely or just play for fun with fluffy games using some of their more obscure models and have enormous collections.  You see players, who are increasingly moving to skirmish games with much lower model counts.  And tournament gamers, who play the larger systems but with much more focussed armies than ever before. 

Its unusual – in the past, I knew 40k gamers with loads of models and different armies, and I’d see them field a different one almost every game.  Now?  Even if they collect them, they just have one actual force they play with.  Its too much time and effort for them to keep up with the rules otherwise.  Games like Rogue Stars, Open Combat, Frostgrave, Malifaux, Imperial Assault and Kill Team are massively more popular than ever before.  It’ll be interesting to see if this changes up with a rumoured 8th edition this year.

I keep hearing the good thing about AoS is the low cost of entry compared to WFB, but all the games I see people playing and talking about are exactly the same sort of size as WFB ever was – I just hear a lot of current or former 40k players loving the models, collecting and painting them too, which didn’t use to be the case.  Even if I’m not a big fan of the system, I’m glad to see it do well, as I think the market needs a range of different fantasy games.  I hope we don’t see model creep stopping people getting excited for it in the same way we did with WFB, but I think the really well priced “start collecting” sets will help there.

With moving over 150 miles to a new home, all my local stores and clubs are different, so its really thrown my normal gaming options out in the latter half of 2016.  Hopefully I’ll find plenty of options to get my game on in 2017!

Getting started with 40K! (Particularly for Orks and Tyranids)

A couple of cracking chaps (@CronosTweets and @Kevuit on twitter) who are new to the 40K gaming side of the hobby asked a fascinating question – how do you get started in the hobby?  How do you learn the rules, and more importantly, have fun?

Well, thats actually a surprisingly difficult question to answer, as 40K has made itself increasingly hard to get started with.   Its not something I’d noticed until I thought about it, but where you used to have starter sets with increasingly complex missions introducing you to the ruleset, now you chucked a bit more in the deep end.  After silly numbers of years playing, that’s great for me, and starter and campaign sets give me updated rules and cheap minis …. but they aren’t so good at teaching you to play.

So how do you get started, particularly if you like an army that isn’t found in a starter set, like Orks and Tyranids in this case.

Well (and many may disagree …), I’d suggest planning a narrative set of games designed around the models you have that separately explore the different phases of the game to get used to the way your core units move.  Here’s a few examples.

AMMO PROBLEMS!

Running low on ammunition and biological proteins, the orks and the tyranids desperately need to avoid combat, pick up supplies, then get back to the lads/spawning pools.  

Each of you dice for table edge (winner picks, other deploys facing him) pick a objective token, and place it for the other somewhere on a 4x4 board with whatever scenery you choose.  No combat is possible (no psychic, shooting or assault, though you can run in the shooting phase), but you have to run to your token, and back off your table edge.  First one off is the first to rearm, and will get to deploy first in the next mission!
TAKE OUT THE BIG UNS

Both Orks and Tyranids are led by biguns, though it has more of an effect on tyranids.  Pick a small force with a few MCs or walkers and some simple troops, with a range of longer range anti tank weaponry.

Ensure roughly the same points value and numbers of MCs and Walkers, and score a vp for each big un taken down!  This can illustrate the effects of the synapse rule for the tyrannies, and is a fun way to test out the shooting phase.
RIP EM UP CLOSE

Go for 500pt horde type close combat forces, and simply Warrrgh or chitter into it!  remember to try to concentrate your forces and defeat the enemy in detail where possible.  Its especially fun if no ones really shooty - get stuck in lads!

I think you get the idea – the narrative makes the simpler game more fun, and each one teaches you the basics of the game, so as you combine the elements, you don’t slow down too much or feel overloaded.

Stick with small points and fairly plain units to start with.  You want to understand the basic abilities of your units before you start modifying them.  Making a unit invisible can be great … but not if you don’t understand how they move or can be positioned.   Introduce new abilities and phases slowly, and take into account not just your learning speed, but your friends – if you speed ahead, they can be discouraged, or you can actually miss some basic understanding that throws you off.

Formations, data slates and codex supplements offer another layer of complexity – I’d steer clear of this to start with until you have the basics hammered in enough to allow you to actually enjoy expanding the rules.  No one, and I suspect even the games designers fall into this too, can keep up with the complete range of rules, expansions, campaigns, codexes, codex supplements, data slates, white dwarf extras and bonus formations in start collecting packs.  Don’t even try – just remember you can always ask to see you opponents list and codex if something seems very odd!  Just add the bits that seem fun – its a not a prescriptive system (with the possible exception of high end competitive tourneys!)

One thing we introduced in my gaming group at the time was a take back system!   If we introduced a new edition or game, we’d have a number of take backs a game as we got used to it.  We’d drop the take backs down as we played until we didn’t need them any more.  Its a great learning tool!  If you moved a unit and then realised in the shooting phase you actually wanted them to stay still because of a heavy weapon, use a take back to move them back!  We restricted it to your own turn, and started with 6.  If you got challenged on a rule and were in the wrong, you could use a takeback.  It didn’t generally upset the game, but made those silly mistakes from a lack of understanding a lot less fatal and the games themselves more fun.

Big games can be fun, but they are slow, and the less familiar with the rules you are, the slower they are!  Start small.  500-1000 points is a great range for a reasonably battle without packing in every rule in the whole codex!  500pts is particularly good for learning phases, and the Combined Arms Detachment – a HQ and 2 troops minimum is a fantastic starting point for balanced encounters.

The key is to play with enthusiasm, lose with grace, win with humility, and generally just enjoy the whole affair.  Don’t get too hung up on getting the rules perfect game one – learn them over time.  In my case, thats generally just as they update to another edition … 😀

With Orks, you probably want to get used to vehicle and walker rules quite early on.  With Tyranids, monstrous creature rules and synapse rules will be quite important, so narrative games focused around those will help you learn quickly.

Both armies play well hurtling forward, but there can be a surprising amount of positional importance for such brutal forces.  Charge genestealers into flamers and they will be toast. Get them into close combat though, and pretty much any force will get torn up!

Try to avoid very cheap forces, as they’ll bulk out the time of learning games early on.  Hundreds of grots can fit in a 1000pt army.  It won’t be fun moving them all, especially when flicking frantically through rules books.  Keep it small and punchy, and mix it up with different units to get to grips with all of them – that’s when your list building and understanding of how to use units together starts to really get more effective, and formations then start making sense.

High Elves!

In one of my “For later” projects, I picked up a bunch of cheap High Elves from eBay.  In need of some TLC (rebasing, new shields and a few fixes), they do offer a fairly solid base for a classic High Elf army.

I have:

13 Swordmasters (with musician and banner bearer – easy to use one as a champion too)

15 Sea Guard (with musician, champion and banner bearer)

20 Spearmen (with musician, champion and banner bearer, in need of shields and rebasing)

20 Spearmen (with musician, champion and banner bearer, in need of shields and rebasing, champion needs replacement sword)

20 Spearmen (with musician, champion and banner bearer, in need of shields and rebasing)

20 Sea Guard (with musician, champion and banner bearer, in need of shields, rebasing, and 4 models reassembled, champion needs replacement sword)

20 White Lions (10 including banner bearer and musician intact, 6 needing reassembly including champion, and 4 missing heads and arms)

5 Dragon Princes (minor fixes like spear point attachment)

5 old school silver helms

7 Ellyrian Reavers (intact)

5 Ellyrian Reavers (missing heads or arms – horses intact)

5 bolt throwers (no crew)

1 mounted hero with lance (needs shield)

20 or so mixed archers, command, spearmen, wood elves and so on (largely useful for parts, or maybe an impromptu sea guard unit)

I also have some more High Elves from my existing stash, with 2 copies of Island of Blood!

2 x 10 seaguard

2 x 10 swordmasters

2 x 5 Ellyrian Reavers

2 x Mages

2 x Champions on Griffons

Further to GW, I have the 3 light elves from the avatars of war range, with the wood elf archer, a mage and a prince.

I’d like to do the High Elves in silver, white and purple (and offset a dark elf army in silver, black and purple), letting a unified feel for an elf alliance come through.

I’d need around 90 shields (I’m looking at scibor elf shields here), and a selection of elf parts for fixes, maybe from adding a unit box or two and using spare, third party bits, or seeing if bitz sellers have any to hand.  Not amazingly cheap, but awesome looking with gorgeous purple shields painted en mass!

Definitely planning square bases, as I see no advantage to round for me.  AoS doesn’t care if they are square or round, and I can still play WFB 8th, Kings of War, Ninth Age, and games like dungeon saga with squares too.

For 1.99 a set, I can pick up mantic elf crew for bolt throwers that would be quite nice to finish them off, and I think I have more Dark Elf bolt thrower crew than bolt throwers.

Would be really nice to add a few cool bits like a dragon too 🙂

[photos to be added]