The Lazy Mini Painter – Technical Pens

Well, the greatest cheat in the history of painting minis is probably … the humble technical pen.  That’s right … forget using a brush at all, and get out your pen!

Not just any pen, of course.  Technical pens are incredibly fine pointed (like 0.05mm) , use a high quality non-fading pigment ink, and are under £2 each.  Is it as fine as the most delicate brushwork by a gifted artist?  No.  Is it as really easy and good enough, and probably better than my normal brushwork?  Hell yeah!

Struggling to dot the centre of eyes without blobbing it?  Technical pen.  

Struggling to write on scrolls and banners?  Technical pen.

Want to do a complex piece of freehand?  Draw it in technical pen, and fill in the lines with the brush afterwards.

Tiny diamonds or celtic designs on Harlequins?  Technical pen.

Imperial Fists logos a pain to paint?  Draw them on.  Technical pen.

Tiny tattoos of Fleur de Lys or Eagles a nightmare by brush?  Technical pen.

Its such a quick, easy, fantastic looking cheat.  And if you practise writing a gothic style of capitals for a bit, its even better.  

Why doesn’t everyone do it, then?  Well, in some ways, this is a bit of a hobby dead end.  The very top end of the hobby goes significantly beyond the effects you can achieve with a technical pen, and unless you keep practising, you won’t get that good.  In addition, it is looked down upon by some others – its not “proper” painting.

Of course, for quick high quality results, we can use this to get minis on the table in a fraction of the time.  Its a easy, quick win.  And if you’re willing to spend a bit of money on it, you aren’t just limited to black pens either!  Its a definite win for the Lazy Mini Painter.

The Cheap Gamer – Picking your Paints

Well, as a Cheap Gamer, picking the paints to use can make or break the costs of a project.  Are there ways of making significant savings?  Of course, though you will need to look beyond the confines of a single provider!

There are three approaches we can take here.  We can:

  1. Simply look for cheaper alternatives for every paint.
  2. Go for the same quality end result, but accept that some things will take longer
  3. Accept a reduced quality end result to save costs.

What do we mean by this?  Well, as an example, lets take priming our models.  

Primers and Aerosols

Lets say we’re painting ultramarines, and usually spray our models with a primer, then a blue aerosol.  We could buy a 400ml can of chaos black or skull white primer for £10.40, and a 400ml macragge blue spray from a GW store at a pretty hefty cost (another £11.75) to do the job right.  We could buy the same cans from an online GW seller at a discount, maybe 10% (say £9.40 and £10.60), but we’ll need to wait for the order to arrive, and might need to put in a combined order with other bits if we don’t lose the saving in shipping costs.  We could look at proper all in one blue primers that aren’t from GW at all, like an Army Painter 400ml, and make a further saving, probably about another 10% on the can, and no need for a separate primer (£8.99).  Or we could really go for savings, and go with a top notch but cheap grey primer (500ml for £7.49) from Halfords, and accept that we’ll have to actually paint the blue onto the models ourselves, not just touch it up.  I haven’t included the cost of the blue pot here, as we’d need it for touch ups any way in all the other cases too.

What option would you pick?  In this case, we need to prime and base coat the model, so there isn’t really a great choice for option 3.  Priming and a basic colour is always going to be necessary!  We can’t easily reduce the quality of our methods (though some would argue the Army Painter primer isn’t as good a spray sometimes.)

The real choice is between option 1 – getting to the same point by looking for cheaper locations for the same paints or a different brand alternative, or option 2 – just priming the models in a standard colour like grey and accepting that we’ll spend more time and paint the base colour on ourselves.  Oddly, option 2 is probably going to lead to a higher quality finished product as well!

In the extreme case of the greatest saving here, we can knock around £15 off the project cost by adding manual painting time and using halfords primer.   In fairness, many people actually use the Macragge blue to prime, even though its not really a fully grippy proper primer, but even in those cases we’re saving a fair few pounds and going for a better colour base for the other colours with the grey.

We’re on our Cheap Gamer journey!

Choosing paints!

Choosing the actual pots of paint to use is a little harder, as we have a much wider range of options.

One of the hardest things here is working out which paints you actually need for the models in the first place.  The best advice I can give is simple.  Don’t worry about cost at this point!  I know that sounds like odd advice for the Cheap Gamer!  The key is making sure we make informed decisions to save money.

Find a paint scheme or recipe that you think will work really well for you.  It might be from a forum, a blog, the pages of white dwarf, whatever.  The exact paint range doesn’t matter at this stage.  The real key is knowing what effect you want to acheive.

Once we have a list of paints we need, we can then …. go all Cheap Gamer!  We can look for cheaper alternatives for each paint.  We can accept some time compromises – going for standard alternative paints rather than base or foundation paints and putting on an extra thin coat or two.  And we can consider either mixing some of our own highlights rather than buying all the pots (risking a little inconsistency over the army), or just skipping some of the full range of layers for a slightly lower quality finish.  You can also skip some of the “technical” options if you are confident.  Honestly, the GW Drybush range is a bit unnecessary!  You can dry brush with just a little paint on the brush after drying it a bit on a paper towel!

In terms of savings by looking at different paint ranges, Vallejo paints, for example, tend to be around 40p cheaper a pot than the Games Workshop equivalent, and contain 17ml rather than 12ml of paint.  Army Painter tends to be around 70p a pot cheaper than GW, and you get 18ml.  P3 is about the same price as GW, but you get 18ml instead of 12, and they have fantastic coverage as a base coat.

The paint matching chart here is an absolutely tremendous resource.  Simply match the colours you need from your chosen scheme against the other ranges!

If you choose to save money by mixing some of your own highlights by adding white or another colour, there are some really useful tricks.  The first is simple!  record the proportions you are using!  If you don’t, you’ll find increasing amounts of variation of your army.  The 2nd is to use paints like Army Painter or Vallejo that come in dropper bottles, as it is just so much easier to remix the proportions again.  And finally, if doing it for a full army, consider mixing up a full pots worth and labelling it.  That’ll guarantee you consistency without remixing.

Once you have your full list of needed paints, I thoroughly recommend checking the available prepackaged paint sets from the various manufacturers.  They can offer major savings, and if your needed range matches quite closely, you can find targeting a particular set works quite well!  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “ooooh, that’s great value, look at all these paints” though.  Unless you are saving money on the actual paints you need, its a waste for now.

And don’t forget to take your existing paints into account.  Check what you have before you start buying!  Its very easy to forget you have paint X if you haven’t used it for a while, or its in an older box of paints.  Make sure you only actually buy what you need. 

There are times you may want to choose a dearer option.  Some paints are difficult ones to work with, like yellows and metals.  That’s down to you.  The trick really is to plan exactly what you want to work with, and think about how you can minimise the costs.  Honestly, just avoiding a situation where you need a paint that afternoon or waste hobby time, so you run out and pay the top whack, will make a big, big difference.

Do remember that even if a paint isn’t quite as good, or doesn’t have as good coverage, applying multiple thin coats will get you to a great result over time.  It might take a little longer, but generally you can achieve great results with pretty much any paint range.  And we’re aiming for good results at minimum costs!

Imagine if you need 10 pots of paint.  Just switching to Vallejo directly could save you £4 on the project over GW.  Army Painter might save you £7 if you can find all the right colours.  Mixing your own highlights and removing the need for just 2 pots could save you another £3.50 to £4.50.  And if we can find a close paint set rather than buying them all individually we might save another £2 or so.  Its not insignificant amounts, and this is just the paints!  We’re starting to see our Cheap Gamer approach pay off!

Again, this isn’t a criticism of GW paints.  They have a fantastic range of colours, excellent coverage and a tremendous range of technical options too.  They just aren’t the cheapest way to paint.

The Lazy Mini Painter – Highlighting

Well, the current style of painting is massively into edge highlights.  Its a terrific technique that really makes hard surfaces pop … and takes absolutely ages.  Heck, at the peak of the art of edge highlighting, you do multiple thickness of edge highlights moving to brighter and brighter edges as they narrow down.  If you want amazing looking models, wow.  If you have limited time and want models to see the tabletop, how the heck can you get this to work.

Highlights do draw the eye, and make a model pop.  Generally, though, its seen as an all or nothing technique.  You do edge highlights?  You highlight every damn edge on the model.  In many ways we’ve forgotten one of the meanings of highlight – to draw attention just to the important or pretty bits.

However …. we want good looking models for the tabletop, right?  Why highlight all of a model.  Instead, we should cherry pick a few spots where we want the eye to be drawn, where there is other details or natural model complexity.  Pick spot easily visible as if looking down at the model at 45˚ angle – shoulder pads, heads, upper chest, backpack top, maybe the gun.  You can reduce your edge highlighting time by a massive amount, still have figures that pop on the battlefield, and look like they’ve been done in a modern style.  Yeah, the legs won’t look anywhere near as good in an eye level display cabinet.  If you put them in a cabinet, put them on a lower shelf.  They will look cracking on the battlefield.

Take standard Cadians, for example.  Highlight the helmet, shoulder pads and gun case with a lighter green, and it’ll look modern and pop.  The foot guards?  Man, overkill.  The chest plate?  Much of that will be covered up anyway when the lasguns go on.  In terms of making a difference to the overall effect, you end up putting in huge amounts of time for minimal gain.

Space Marines can be similar.  Backpacks, helmet, weapon case, maybe shoulder pads depending on insignia.  All the other plates?  minimal difference for loads of effort.

You get much better at edge highlights as you go on – I always suggest edge highlighting, then washing, as it unifies the tone a little more, and makes any slight wobbles on the edges less apparent.  It lets you do them faster and less precise.  Again, thats not necessarily a good thing on a single beautiful model you’ve been painting for weeks.  On your tenth tactical squad of marines?  unless you are superhuman, you’ll be painting quick and make a few slips.

Honestly, for a very large army, you can get away with skipping edge highlights entirely.  For a modern looking army on the field, though, cherry picking your edges, and doing a single colour, not multiples, can actually makes the technique look more effective, matches up with other, more time consuming forces on the table, and is a good compromise on smaller elite forces.  Huzzah!  We can knock these out all day!  Armies are possible … the Lazy Mini Painter way!

 Mymeara Eldar!

In an effort to at least pretend to practice what I’m preaching, I thought I’d start posting up some details of current hobby plans for 8th Edition 40K, and take a look of ways of approaching it under both the Cheap Gamer and Lazy Mini Painter philosophies.

I managed to snag a whole batch of Eldar from Doc Bungle which were partially painted in Mymeara colours, and I had already decided that Eldar (or at least Aeldari across the factions) would be my choice for 8th edition, so I’m going to start with these, and build up to a chosen list.  I’m looking to start for a trial game around 50-65PL (probably the upper end of that, as my opponent will be fielding thousand sons and under 65PL is very hard to actually get anything like a test army in!).

I’ll then build to a 100PL list.  At that point … Well, I might go higher, or I might start on a diffferent faction.

We have painted realistic 71 power level:

HQ

Avatar of Khaine (13PL)

Fast Attack

6 Warp Spiders for 10PL (or a unit of 5 for 5PL)

Hornet (9PL)

Troops

10 Dire Avengers (6PL) 

Elites

6 Shadow Spectres (19PL or 5 for 10PL)

Flyer

Hemlock Wraithfighter (10PL)

Heavy Support

Fire Prism (9PL)

Dedicated Transport

Wave Serpent (9PL)

 It makes sense to extend the army and expand out up the detachments to gain a few extra CP!  The next stage is to add another HQ, 2 more troops unit and move up to a Battalion detachment.  We might then look at another HQ, and go for a second detachment if the battalion doesn’t give enough flexibility.

Asurmen (9PL) and 2 squads of 5 Dire Avengers (6PL) would get us into Battalion territory without needing to buy any more troops, and take us to 86PL.

An Autarch (5PL), and 3 warlocks (9PL) would take us all the way to 100PL, and finishing off the remaining 2 warlocks and a farseer would give us some options (up to 112PL).  And a unit of Guardian Defenders (4PL) would take it to 116PL 

Lazy Mini Painter

With our targets in mind, how can we get there the easy way!  Well, a simple spray blue would give us a great undercoat for all those models.  Some artic blue on the plates with a little lighter highlighting, some yellow soulstones, white helmets and gun metal weapons, a simple wash, some quick basing!  We’re going to try to turn them out as fast as possible!

 Cheap Gamer

Well, from a cheap gamer perspective:

  • I’m using all models I already have.  I don’t need to buy any more for this project yet
  • I’m using a macragge blue spray I already have.  It’s the easy option, but I don’t need to spend any more either. Win win!
  • I will need some paints, but I’ve identified a particular range of paints.  I know exactly what I need to get – basically the mymeara arctic and turquoise colours.  I’m also using lazy options to paint them, so reducing numbers of layer paints and things I  biggest expense is I may need to buy GW brand paints for some colours if I want to paint some in store.

And so, it begins!
 

The Cheap Gamer – Plan your buying (and willpower!)

Well, this is the first real post in the Cheap Gamer series, and will focus on ways of saving money as you look at buying models and terrain.  Some of the concepts here will be expanded out in separate articles, like looking at different sorts of terrain available in more detail, and so on, and how to work with 2nd hand models.  However, the core concept we’re going to explore here is a simple one – just planning your buying rather than grabbing things by impulse.

It sounds totally obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many hobby purchases are spur of the moment things.  If you’re an experienced hobbyist, look back over the last month.  How much did you buy because GW popped up a preorder?  Or when you saw something cool in a store?

Even planned purchases often break down and don’t work right because of insufficient planning!  Take Blood Bowl, for me.  I have picked up a fair few of the plastic teams released, and it feels like I have a mountain of Blood Bowl stuff to tackle.  It’s actually put me off painting them.  If I’d just bought a team when I finished one, I’d be much further along and not spent any more money.  Saving money on bulk buys only works if it doesn’t put you off tackling them all!  I’ve spent more money, as I’ve ended up picking up other hobby stuff to work on instead!  That’s very much down to the individual, as some people are fantastic at tackling large armies, while others are best of going unit by unit.  Know yourself on that one!

OK, now lets get planning … and we need to plan out more than you might think if we want to maximise our savings!

We need to plan:

  • Our eventual army, and the order we will buy the models.
  • Our gaming table, and the amount of terrain we’ll need to play our chosen game.
  • Our planned model bases, ideally to match our gaming table in style
  • The colours (and quantities) we’ll need to paint all the above.
  • The tools and brushes we’ll need to put it all together

It sounds really obvious, but its actually pretty rare that people do this and stick to it.  If you are a gamer already, you’ll probably have a games table already!  You’ll probably have a fair chunk of terrain.  In that case, its done!  We might add a specific piece if we need to for a narrative game, or as a fortification in an army list, but don’t look to add things for the sake of it.  You might be starting this half way through an army, and need some inspiration – look at ways of using the models you have first.

The more you plan and account for, the less you’ll find yourself buying things urgently – and that tends to mean paying full price for often less choice!

Planning an army

Well, first, one expense you’ll probably have to suck up is the relevant codex or index (or other army list) style book.  You need to plan your army.  If possible, try to borrow one from a friend as you juggle with army ideas.  You’ll need one of your own eventually, but there’s nothing more frustrating than buying a codex, flicking through it, and realising the army just doesn’t do it for you.  If you can’t borrow one from a friend, at least try to pop into a GW and have a flick through a copy first to make sure it looks like the right one for you.

Look at the sort of maximum points or power level you’ll play, and build an army list that you find exciting.  Avoid getting over excited, though!  Don’t think “I’ll build a company of Space Marines!”.  Focus very much on the forces you will genuinely field and probably enjoy playing.

Tools like Battlescribe can help juggle army ideas around here, but pen and paper will generally work fine.

One key question here – do you plan your army around available box sets to save money, or do you plan your army to be your preferred choices, and maybe pay a bit more?  Honestly, thats up to you to some degree, and on how fast you paint!  If you can cope with a bigger chunk of models and not give up, and have the financial reserves to pay up front, it can definitely pay off.  Start Collecting boxes and the boxed games from GW, for example, will save you tons over buying units separately.  On the flip side, buying an army unit by unit is less intimidating, lets you see constant progress with less up front investment, and lets you change tack if the army isn’t quite to your taste as it develops.

The real key either way is having a solid plan to work to.  Once you’ve picked a force, you know exactly what you’ll need to buy.  Avoid just splurging on cool models.  Pick a force you think you’ll enjoy playing – buying and painting models that will only ever sit on the bench may be fun, but it sure isn’t the Cheap Gamer way!

Our Games Table and Terrain

This is often overlooked when planning our hobby spending.  There are loads of terrain options available at a range of different prices, but just like when buying an army, the real key is planning.

You may already have a games table and enough terrain.  If so, great!  Skip to the next stage!  Don’t buy more stuff if you don’t need it!

If you do need a games table and/or terrain, though, plan out how much you need for your chosen game.  Skirmish games like Shadow War will need more terrain than 40k.  There are lots of options for cheap terrain, and you can build your own games table, but you need to know how much you’ll need to buy and paint.

Our model bases

It tends to look a lot better if your model bases resemble, or at least don’t massively contrast, the games tables where you play regularly.  It can make a big difference to how you plan to base your models at low cost, and it’ll certainly affect the paint choices for the bases!  You’ll need to take this into account!

Cork bases are quite popular at the moment, but sometimes looked down on.  Slate bases are always in, but working with the tougher material can be harder and need more in the way of pinning and tools.  PVA and sand or similar is always a classic, and generally looks pretty good, especially with some mud style paints and combined with cheap flock from railway hobby stores.  You can get all the basics for these pretty cheap online or from DIY stores.

Paints!

Well, you have a planned army, terrain and bases at this point.  Now you have to work out how to turn them into glorious colour!  One main suggestion that’s worked really well for me here is …. don’t worry about cost.  Plan it out in the easiest way possible.  If you have GW paint schemes to follow, work out all the GW paints you’ll need.

But that’ll be expensive, I hear you cry! 

There are two responses to that.  The first is that by exactly planning all the paints we’ll actually need, rather than just going out and buying big sets of paints, we’ll probably save money anyway.  The second is that just because we’ve worked out all the colours we need, doesn’t mean those are the ones we’ll actually buy.  If I know I need XYZ, I can use paint colour matching tools to pick up alternatives.  Its a heck of a lot easier to start with known paints and find alternatives than it is to jump into the unknown realm of a million different paint providers and try to work out schemes from scratch!

Planning is also the key.  If we know we need certain paints for the basic units and bases, and others we’ll only need for particular HQ units, well heck!  Lets wait until we buy the HQ unit to get those paints!  Its very true with Space Marine types, for example,  that special characters like librarians (blue), chaplains (black), apothecaries (white) will need certain paint selections you probably won’t need elsewhere. 

You might find that the colours you need do overlap heavily with a particular paint set, and that might save significant amounts.  You won’t know that unless you’ve planned out the complete range of paints you’ll want to use.

If you are going all in on cheap gaming, and just want tabletop standard stuff, you can simplify the range of paints you’ll need by minimising the number of layers and washes you’ll use (like many of the lazy mini painter techniques).  For many though, that reduces the fun of painting, and that’s not what we’re about – we want to make sure we’re as efficient as possible to achieve the results we want, not really about reducing our fun in the game.

Where we will probably compromise more, though, is on things like primer.  Using great, cheap primer is a fantastic cost saver – we’re probably going to have to settle for neutral (grey, black or white) primers and take more time painting colours on.  We’re going to spend time rather than money quite often.

Tools and Brushes!

We’ll explore options for tools and brushes in more detail, but you do need to think about the basic tools and brushes you’ll need to complete the project.  You’ll need tools to cut models off sprues, to strip 2nd hand or old models from eBay or your collection, to clean up mold lines, to apply glue, to pin models, maybe magnets to optimise your weapons load out rather than buying several versions, different glues for assembly.  You’ll need brushes of a decent enough standard to be fun to paint with, and reliable enough to last a decent time.  Buying really cheap brushes isn’t recommended by the  Cheap Gamer, oddly enough – by the time you’ve bought 3 sets, you’ve probably spent more than buying some decent brushes in the first place!

You’ll find decent, cheap, and reliable versions of most of the stuff you need is available from DIY stores.

Again, you may have much of this stuff already.  Great!  We don’t need to go out and buy more.  Go through your tools, and work out what does need to be replaced or added.  If your cutters are rubbish, for example, then it probably is worth spending a few pounds replacing them rather than destroying tens of pounds of minis!  We need to be smart and minimise our overall costs, rather than saving pennies and wasting pounds.

Obviously, you’ll need different tools for some of this stuff depending on how you plan to pick up the minis.  You might be going to eBay to find all the minis, in which case you’ll need tools to repair models and strip paint.  If you are buying new models, you’ll need more assembly tools.  We’ll cover those options in more depth later – the important thing really is getting a feel for what tools you’re likely to need for which units.

The Project

By this sort of point, if you’ve gone through the whole process, you should have a good idea of what models you’ll need, what amount of terrain you’ll need, the paint range you’ll need, and the tools you’ll need to pick up.   Its also worth looking at the different bits and looking at what you’ll need at which stage.   If you stick to the plan, you’ll probably already be saving enormous amounts compared to a standard hobby project where you end up with loads of unessential extras.

No project plan is perfect though.  One really important trick for the Cheap Gamer is to have patience.  If you need an extra paint or tool, wait until you can get a good deal for that paint, or see if a cheaper alternative might work.  Don’t just pop straight into a store in a rush and pay full price.  Be methodical.

We can work with the plan – once we know what units we need, we can start scouring eBay, and then maybe falling back to online sellers at 20-25% discounts.  We might see if anyone on twitter has those models they’d be willing to part with, or check Facebook seller groups.  We can pop to DIY or railway hobby stores to get tools and terrain bits for much lower costs.  We can look at different brushes to get quality for less.  We could look at paint matching tools to get good matches with cheaper (or higher volume) paint ranges – if we pay the same but get 20ml instead of 12ml, we might only need half the replacement pots for the project.  But we need a starting point to maximise this process.

I hope this has been interesting.  Willpower and planning are the two main tools of the Cheap Gamer.  We’ll look at specific gains and projects over time, but just working out exactly what you want rather than chasing hobby shiny is really the core of saving your money!

The Cheap Gamer – Introduction

Well, alongside my Lazy Mini Painter posts, I’ve been quite inspired to look at how to hobby without breaking the bank.  You’ll find the two lines of articles will contradict each other quite a lot, though, and that isn’t an accident.  There are probably 5 main factors in the hobby.

  1. The time you have available to hobby.
  2. The money you have available for hobby.
  3. The quality of models and work you are willing to settle for.
  4. The experience you have in the hobby
  5. Your raw talent at the hobby

Generally, its not worth worrying about 4 and 5.  You can’t improve your raw talent at all, and experience just comes with time and practice.  So the first three are the important areas, where you can juggle your priorities.

Normally, you can’t really maximise all of 1 -3.  Its a compromise between time, money and quality.  Take bases.  You can save time on bases by using the GW texture paints and ready to stick tufts.  You can save money on nice bases by using things like sand, slate or cork and raiding DIY stores rather than hobby shops for those elements.  You can go all out for quality with a mix of custom resin bases and a whole range of customisations combined with painstaking paintjobs.

What you can’t do is get the absolutely best golden demon type base done in almost no time for little cost.  Its all about compromise.

This series is going to focus on saving money.  It’ll accept compromises on time, and to a certain degree, on quality (though it will try for a basic decent standard at least). We’re looking at decent tabletop gaming rather than Golden Demon standard hobby.

Its also going to focus on the purchase, preparation, and painting of models and terrain, rather than the actual gaming side.  Gaming is really down to taste, and these articles are going to be focussed on suggestions to game your way, but reduce the cost where possible.  Even minimising costs, it isn’t a cheap hobby! 

What sort of stuff will we cover?  Well, I’m afraid it probably won’t be great for a die hard GW fan – we’re going to be looking at cheaper options for paints, terrain, and ways of saving a little when we buy models.  GW are fantastic … what they aren’t is cheap!  This isn’t knocking them – if money is less important than time and quality, buying a full battle board and GW terrain is amazing to play on!    The GW paint range is top notch, but is also one of the most expensive.  And while we’ll still be looking at getting official models to allow us to go to tournaments and things, we’ll be looking at games stores that give decent discounts or recovering 2nd hand models from eBay.

Hopefully some people will find this a bit useful, and it’ll help me put my own thoughts and concepts into a decent structure for gaming as money gets tighter!

Alternative Models for Eldar in 2017!

Well, unfortunately Space Elves or Eldar are still struggling for models in 2017, though there are rumours of new troops from GW later this year!  There are a few great third party alternatives for a few units though!

Iona Starkiller – Farseer alternative

From HF Minis

Space Elves Bikes Unit – Jet bikes alternative

From Spellcrow

Spellcrow also offer conversion Eldar heads, biker torsos, and defence line parts

 

Warp Stalkers Unit – Howling Banshees alternative

From Chapter House Studios

Chapter House also do conversion kits for Farseer and Warlock jetbikes from GW standard jet bikes.

Light Side Arahnide – Warp Spiders alternative

From Wargame Exclusive

 

Lets get started with … Age of Sigmar – the Combat Phase

OK!  The first brief introduction I wrote to Age of Sigmar was quite popular, but one thing still confuses people …. the combat phase with lots of units in bigger battles.  And to be honest, I totally agree.  Its really not intuitive with the way everything else works.  It grows out of the way Games Workshop games have done close combat for years, but for a newbie?  Its bonkers.

OK, lets imagine we have two armies with three units each, all in close combat!  Its Player A’s turn, and he has 3 stormcast units in close combat.  I’ll call them Stormcast Alpha, Stormcast Beta, and Stormcast Omega.  Player B, on the other hand, has elves – we’ll go with Lion Corsairs, Tiger Corsairs and Panther Corsairs.  Now, lets say SC Alpha are facing the Lions, SC Beta are facing the Tigers, and Omega the Panthers.

You’re Player A.  You’ve done your hero stuff.  You’ve done your movement.  You’ve done you shooting.  Player B is sat around waiting for his go, maybe rolling the odd saving throw.  Its time for close combat … so you go through your close combat attacks, right?  Wrong!

The combat phase works totally out of sync with the rest of the game – I think of it like a mini game in its own right.  Each player takes turn picking a unit and doing their close combat attacks.  The only thing that matters about it being Player A’s go?  He gets to pick first.

He picks the Alphas, and they go ahead and kill off some of the Lions they are facing.  Now, its still the combat phase in Player A’s go .. but Player B picks a unit and rolls their attacks.

This is a key area where tactics leap to the fore in Age of Sigmar.   The order you pick the units really matters!  Imagine you have a small elite unit and a big horde on your side.  If you pick the horde to go first, your enemy will probably target the elite unit to kill some off and reduce their effectiveness before they get a go.  If you pick the elite unit, he might try to finish the small unit off if he can, or he might try to damage the horde instead!

In this example, there is absolutely no advantage to Player B picking the Lions to strike back right now.  Their opponents, the Alphas, have already done their attacks.  Player B can’t reduce their effectiveness.  But if he chooses the Tigers or Panthers, whose opponents are waiting their turn, he can hammer them and reduce the damage one of his units will take.

An interesting side note is that if you can arrange to have an odd number of your units engaged on your own turn, you have an advantage in that you will get at least one extra unit striking before an opponent.  If you have an even number engaged, the enemy can potentially strike the same number of your units back before they get a chance to go.

Does that make sense?  Its player A’s combat phase, but both players take turns.  The Tigers will strike down some of the Betas, The Omegas will then kill some panthers, and then the units who have taken damage will start to be picked for their strike backs until all the units are done.  The sole advantages of it being in Player A’s combat phase is that he’ll have done charges to optimise his numbers, and he gets to pick the first unit to go.

OK, now stay with me…..  there’s a few more complications.  What happens if one player runs out of units?  If a unit was wiped out, and can’t strike back?  or 6 of Player As units are beating up just 3 of Player B’s?  Well, as soon as either player runs out of units to activate, the other player just finishes off going through the rest!

In addition though, you can have more than one unit engaged with another.  Imagine a situation where you have 2 units of elven wardancers beating up a unit of goblins.  If its the Goblins player turn, he picks the goblins.  He might place attacks against one or both of the units of war dancers.  Then the elf player would probably pick one of the war dancer units to go next.  If those are the only units fighting, he’d then get to activate the other unit of war dancers.

If its the other way around through, the elf activates a unit of war dancers and beats up on the goblins a little.  Its then the goblin players turn – if they have any sense, they’ll direct as many attacks as possible against the war dancers yet to go, minimising their potential.  Finally, the elf player picks the war dancers queuing up to attack the goblins.

Once all the units have been activated, and wounds dispensed, the combat phase ends.  Its then back to the players to go on through the phases normally … until the next player’s combat phase where we go into the mini game and both take turns!  

I hope that helps a little!

The Lazy Mini Painter – Proper Priming

OK!  Lets get this series started properly, and where’s better to start than proper priming!  Of course, I mean proper in the Lazy Mini Painter way!  Normally I’ll be posting these on a Monday, but as we’ve just had an introduction and no real content, I thought, what the hell!

Most minis tend to be primed in monochrome – white, black or grey – as a blank canvas for the colours to go on.  If you want to get models that look amazing, where every colour choice is perfectly balanced, thats definitely the way forward.

Me, though, I want to get things on the field ASAP.  They are going to be looked at from 3 feet away.  If the flesh tone is fractionally off, well, hell, no one will notice and people have different skin tones anyway!  Lets look at priming with coloured primer!  Thats a massive chunk of time saved – at least one base coat colour already done!

What colour should we prime models with?  The obvious answer is the one that makes up most of the models area, to save the most time.  However, the obvious answer isn’t always the right one.

The real key to saving time is to think about:

  1. The colour that is in the hardest to reach fiddly places.  Painting fiddly tiny areas actually takes far more time than slapping some more green on easy to reach armour plates.
  2. The colour that is hardest to get good coverage with from  a pot.  You’ve probably heard the phrase “two thin coats” is better than one thick one.  It is, but it takes twice the time.  If much of model is a light colour like yellow, or zhandri dust for Cadians, you can be better off priming with that for a quick, consistent finish, rather than spraying green for the bulk of the armour.
  3. The colour that goes under your other colours best.  I know, we’ve just discounted grey, black and white (well, unless they hit the other criteria, of course!), but the way colours go together is still important.  If you are doing mostly metals, priming in gold or silver is fine.  If you want to use glazes or gem paints, base coating with a metallic look is superb.  But if the model is mostly matt, lighter colours, you really don’t want to base coat with a metal, as you’ll find a slightly higher shine coming through.  If you are painting Cadians with khaki fatigues and bright red armour, you’ll find it hard to cover red with khaki than the other way around.

It often is still the obviously choice.  I’d base coat Sisters of Silence and Adeptus Custodes in gold, Grey Knights in Silver, and so on.  But black goes on really easily, looks nice and glossy over metal, and silver looks good in joints (and is fiddly to reach) with a wash.  You might want to think about using a silver or gun metal primer for Death Watch, not black, even though its mostly just the arm at first glance.  As a rule of thumb, priming with lighter colours will save you more time than darker ones.

So we’ve primed our models, and got a chunk of the base coat down … and the hardest part of the base coat too.  Is there any other ways we can speed things up during priming?

Well, its really a trick during model assembly, not priming.  Build the model in sections, and prime the sections in different colours!  You don’t want to be spending more time doing sections separately than it takes to use a brush, of course – that takes away the whole point!  But there are a few key assemblages that can really save time.

As a rule of thumb for infantry, you can probably assemble the bulk of the model.  There are three bits you might want to look at priming separately:

  1. Heads.  Now, I wouldn’t normally bother for marine helmets – they’ll match the armour (unless its something like blood angels with blue yellow helmets in an assault squad!)  But in the case of armoured models with an unarmored head, spraying the heads separately with a flesh tone, then gluing them in place afterwards, saves buckets of time.  It can be a bit painful to paint lighter flesh tones, and we’re probably going to be looking at dips and washes, and not waste too much time on layering, so lighter tones are what we need!  Its also easier to do different hair shades over a lighter flesh.  Painting blondes over a dark or metal colour is painful!
  2. Backpacks.  Why backpacks, I hear you ask?  Aren’t they the same colour as the rest of the model normally?  Indeed they are, but in 40k, particularly for marine types, they are bulky awkward things that are painful to spray around.  You’ll often find you waste loads of time touching up fiddly areas that haven’t got great coverage because of these.   You’ll probably save more time giving them a quick spray front and back separately (with a blob of bluetack or playdoh to let you glue the contact point).   It also lets you use a different colour if that’s useful – Dark Angel veterans are sometimes easier to base coat for their robes, and then you can save time on the backpacks in dark green.
  3. Weapons.  Why weapons?  Because these are generally gun metal regardless of the rest of the model, and like the backpacks, block the sprays coverage quite a lot if attached.  You can get your weapon base colour down as well as your core models, cover the whole model better with primer, and waste less time touching up fiddly bits that are hard to reach with a brush.

If you do this, priming (and assembly) will probably take a little longer.  But base coating, the dullest part of painting models, will generally be between 50-75% complete before you even pick up a brush.  And if you want to get a game in sooner rather than later, you aren’t fielding grey plastic already or plain black primed models even at this stage.  Even better, unlike brush work, spraying is just as easy with a whole army full of models as doing a unit of 5.  If you have to manually slap one colour of paint on 100 models, it can be soul destroying – most people find doing a unit is about as much as they can cope with at a batch.

We’ve talked about priming in colours – where can we get them?  I love the GW metal aerosol sprays, and the small range of coloured sprays match their paints, of course.  For general coloured spray primers, I get on with Army Painter sprays, though some people don’t like them.  And if you have an airbrush, you can even mix your own coloured primers, as well as exploiting Vallejo’s extensive range.

Fantastic.  Its what the Lazy Mini Painter is all about – getting armies ready to go!

The Lazy Mini Painter – introduction

I often see guides and tutorials on all sorts of techniques to paint minis better and better.  Fantastic convoluted techniques that take you to the golden demon awards and back.  And if you master them, your minis will look truly fantastic.  

That isn’t what this is all about.  Like many gamers out there, my hobby time is limited, and I like to play with armies that look pretty good on the tabletop.  I’m getting better as a painter, and I like to push my limits on occasion, but I just don’t have time to do that on a regular basis.  So how the hell do I get armies out to play?

This is where the Lazy Mini Painter comes in.  There are fantastic techniques to paint models quickly and efficiently, that look at least OK.  These are great tricks to have in your arsenal.  Some people will look down on some of the shortcuts – but as long as you’re ok with a solid tabletop army, who cares!  I honestly believe as long as you do the painting yourself, it’s not cheating – it’s just a different approach.  There’s nothing “better” about doing everything painstakingly with a brush.

Don’t expect anything too revolutionary – a lot of these will be techniques you already know, but applied to minimise the amount of time needed.

Priming, washes, dips, drybrushing, highlighting, quick basing, combining techniques.  It’s all to come.  The plan is to publish a timesaving article every Monday, to inspire those who haven’t achieved a #miniaturemonday tweet this week!  And for those more interested in painting as well as possible, it’s still worth a read.  The theory behind the techniques can still be bloody useful!