Hobby Resolutions for 2018

I have many hobby resolutions for this grand new year, many of which may fall by the wayside!  I’d rather have ambitious targets and get halfway than just potter along though!

First of all, I’m going to take part in multiple hobby challenges through the year, particularly #hobby500, aiming to finish 500 models this year, or approximately 10 a week, and the #painthammer2018 challenge (which is a smaller 365 models but has a few other goals and a really nice painting log involved).  Will I hit them?  With 2 small kids and recently moving house, probably not.  But I’ll give it a damn good try and get properly back into the hobby game!

Second, my hobby purchases are going under review.  I want to finish more of what I have, and I want to focus slightly more of my hobby fund on smaller miniature manufacturers.  Games Workshop is fantastic, and honestly I’ll still buy a chunk of their new releases, but regular small purchases to support independent mini makers like Hasslefree Miniatures, Heresy Minis, Bad Squid Games and the like can make all the difference to them keeping their doors open, and I’d hate to see those fantastic models vanish forever.

Third, I’m going to attend the #parentplayers event towards the end of April, meeting up at Warhammer World with a Fallen Angels army completely painted just for the event.  Its going to be awesome, and a great focus for getting a reasonable chunk of minis knocked out.

Fourth, I want to get some regular games on the go, with my brother and maybe attending some events or a Sheffield gaming club.  it’d rock!

Fifth, I want to keep this blog more active, with painting guides, techniques and the like.  Its great for my reference and a lot easier than working out what paints i used in 2 years time!

It doesn’t sound too unreasonable, does it?   On with 2018!

New 40K – whats the fuss?

I thought in light of the preorder going live tomorrow for 40K, I’d put up a blog post to hopefully foster some common understanding of why the reactions to the new edition of 40K vary so much.  The Warhammer Community has been fantastic, but their posts are focussed around nothing but the positives, can’t take into account the unofficial leaks, and don’t address some of the feelings around the news.

I’m going to look at some of the positions people have taken, and honestly, there is no 100% right or wrong.  A tiny change for one person can entirely break the game for someone else!

Although I don’t like generalising too much, there are a few main positions:

  1. New 40K is going to be the BEST 40K EVAHHHHH!
  2. I like the rules stuff I hear, but some of the leaked lists really worry me.
  3. I like the rules stuff I hear, but some of the fluff changes really worry me.
  4. I really don’t like some of the rule changes, but I’ll give it a go.
  5. I hate it all!  I will burn my models!
  6. Why the hell are we talking about 8th edition and not playing the best version, the original Rogue Trader?

Your gaming situation

Before I get into each of the positions, and why maybe we should be a bit more patient with people taking them, I think its worth a quick talk about what edition changes in general do mean to some people.  The type of gaming you do really scales the level of impact an edition change has.

I play mostly with close friends.  If I don’t like a new version of a game, my friends probably won’t like it either, and we’ll just play the old version.  If its generally good with a glitch or two, we’ll happily house rule stuff.  I can watch a new edition come in and  it doesn’t particularly concern me too much.  I don’t tend to go to tournaments, or play pick up games in store.  I play how I like to play.

Not everyone has this luxury.  If I don’t have any mates nearby who like to play, I have to play in store or at tournaments.  That means, yes, if you want to play at all, you have to play the current version of the game, or you walk away from playing entirely, and the latter options means all the time and money you poured into your hobby may as well have been thrown away.  It also means any recent purchases based on the last version might now be rubbish, and that tends to be more of an issue with strangers in tournaments than rocking up to a fluffy game with someone you’ve known for 20 years.  They genuinely are going to feel they’ve lost something they value, and it makes taking advice like “Just wait and see” a lot harder.

Most people are somewhere in the middle – they play mostly with a group of mates or at a club, but play the odd game in store or with new club members and attend a few tournaments.  They’re more emotionally invested in the new version than someone who just plays with mates, but its not going to be a total nuke to their hobby if they don’t want to play it either.

Your personal situation

Beyond the way you’re involved in a game, people’s personal situations also play a part in how seriously they react to a major change.  If you are moving to a new area, or heading off to uni, dealing with a hobby change at the same time is far harder than it is for someone in a settled job and home.  

If someone sounds like a whiny kid complaining about changes … well, they might be actually be a kid dealing with massive physical changes, trying to keep up with enormous amounts of new information at school, and now trying to absorb huge changes to their hobby as well, without decades of experience in social interaction that buffers the longer term members of the gaming community.  That doesn’t make it right for them to be an arse, but it certainly can explain it.

Others suffer from physical or mental conditions that make dealing with change harder.  The fixed ruleset means that some people with conditions like autism can sometimes use the system as a framework to interact with others, but they are uniquely placed to find this sort of edition change difficult.

On the other side of a social media screen in particular, you don’t necessarily know the person posting their complaints.  Rather than jump to the conclusion it’s someone whining for the sake of it, either respond with positive enthusiasm, or simply don’t engage.  You aren’t obligated to buy into someone else issue.

New 40K will be awesome.  No worries, No doubt.

I’m a bit of a sceptical chap in life generally, so I struggle a bit with this point of view, to be honest.  There’s nothing wrong with being hopeful and positive, of course!    I certainly hope 40K is awesome.  But some people have taken the stance that it definitely is, even before seeing the rules.  

That’s cool.  I think everyone to some degree expected a blend of the older 5-7th era rules with the new AoS model, and people who liked AoS and liked the older 40K are generally in pretty safe territory here!

There’s also the fact that frankly the current models are some of the best ever in many ways (Grognards may argue about the character imbued into the models – I do love rogue trader metals, even if the current plastics are so much easier to convert!), and the plastic materials some of the easiest to work with.  If you like the GW range as is, and love the Gathering Storm triumvirates, you are on pretty safe ground with the direction the model line will take.  Lots of people just paint, and for those people the models will be as good if not better than they are now – the new primaris marines and death guard are pretty damn nice.

If you have doubts, though, its sometimes hard to express them to someone taking a position that the game will be flawless and amazing, and hates whiners who disagree!  I’d ask people who are this enthusiastic about the new version to express the reasons they are looking forward to the new version, not just blanket “Its gonna be great”.  People will go along with specific reasons.  Get people excited for the positives! Blanket statements can polarise things, especially with a game – what people find fun in  a game can be pretty subjective.  I enjoy mathematics.  Reducing the calculations in a game will probably make it more fun for 90% of the people out there – I’ll tend to miss them!

Cool Rules, But whats up with XYZ in the leaked army lists?

Well, until we see the indexes in person and in full, and the main rulebook to fully understand how keywords will tie everything together, I wouldn’t worry too much.  In addition, these are just the holding lists, designed to replicate what you could do in 7th edition.  New codexes will be coming out to really show how the armies will be going forward, and you’ll have to wait for those to really see how armies are going to move forward, not just adapt the models to the new rules.

There do seem to be a few glitches in some of the new model rules, I’m not going to deny that.  My personal favourite is that the only one in an army seems to be missing of the leaked updated celestine, so I may be forced to field all three of mine simultaneously in an outpouring of pure filth 😉

Generally, though, the armies have some more flexible keyword options for taking cross faction armies in detachments, which is cool.  Some depth has been lost with the holding index books – legion customisations for chaos aren’t as deep, and Imperial Agents seem to be a bit screwy unless there is some unlocked or yet to be FAQed updates on how to take you old inquisition war bands in  the modern transports.

Chaos players, though, are likely to feel a bit upset.  They just got a legions book with some real depth, and much of that may have gone until the codexes drop.

I can understand why some people aren’t overjoyed with the leaks, but I think we need to see them in full, in context with the rules, before we can really jump to conclusions … and even then the full codexes are going to reintroduce a lot of the depth that by necessity is going to be skimmed over in the initial lists.

Particularly if you don’t game with friends though, and only game in store or at tournaments, the quirks in the list aren’t something you can overlook or house rule.  If people are in that boat especially, be patient with them – it can mean its going to be months before they can get a fun game again even if they love the general rules!

Rocking Rules, but does it feel 40k?

And by feel 40k, we mean the fluff, the storyline, the overarching narrative.  This is something that causes a lot of confusion when being talked about online.  One person is talking about the story in the universe, while another is talking about narrative play (where you tell more of a story through the battle than a random skirmish).  More narrative play doesn’t necessarily mean that the overall feel of the game universe is better for fluffy players!

A Primarch is back running the Imperium!  A huge rift has opened up, splitting the galaxy!  Orks are heading for Armageddon as their ancestral capital of Ullanor (or because there’s a big fight there.  Hey, they’re Orks!).  Multiple Daemon Primarchs are running around on the Chaos side!  Abbadon has broken Cadia into pieces and unified the forces of Chaos.  Tau are a bit quiet.  Blood Angels and their successors are facing (or will have faced, by the new fluff launch) the Tyranids of Leviathan!  More hive fleets are on the move!  Fenris has been corrupted and pretty much all the potential recruits for the Wolves have gone.  The Iron Hands homeworld was near the now expanded Eye of Terror!  Whole new lines of war machines are launching, tens of thousands of new Primaris marines are running about, Custodes are abandoning Terra and roaming the galaxy on the Primarch’s order, and Sisters of Silence have wandered up from the basements of the Imperial Palace to see what the fuss is about!

Now, many people reading that will be going “OMG!!! It sounds amazeballs!”  Others will be reading it and thinking “But that’s not the 40K I loved.  How comes a tech priest has done better than the Emperor and Primarch in engineering new marines?  Why would Orks care about a particular world?  Thats not what they do!  I loved the resistance of Cadia and had loads of guard, and they just got blown up!  Why have my Space Wolves been turned into dull Primaris Marines?  If Primaris Marines have been re-engineered so magnificently, why on earth didn’t they increase the pool of recruits and fit them to women too?  And if all these production facilities existed, why weren’t we rolling out loads more older tanks and conquering the galaxy pre Primarch?”

I’m pretty relaxed, myself.  We’ve seen good and bad bits of fluff come and go, and I’m happy to wait and see how the story comes together and what the terrific Black Library authors pull the disparate threads together into.  But I can also understand why people are a bit worried. 

The biggest concern is that its going to turn all the dials up to 11.  Bigger, more awesome!  Spiky haired super saiyans battle titan sized demons.  And in the process, lose the feel of the tragedy of humanity and a galaxy in general collapse.  Its always had a satirical edge … but most fans hope it doesn’t descend into outright parody.

Again, its very personal taste!  One persons awesome is anothers disaster.  I favour Tolkien type levels of magic, and Hobbits and men standing against the dark.  AoS is a bit much for me, filled with demigods and star warriors, a world where vampire troops struggle to even compete against the god warriors of Sigmar and chaos, and Orks have got monstrous and huge.  Even lizard men bleed magical light as star demons.    But loads of people love that level of magic and epic fantasy!  

AoS is a reasonably fun game – I haven’t really got sucked in as the fluff hasn’t grabbed me, so I can understand those who worry that the same epic feel might break 40k for them.  I’m pretty optimistic though, but again, lets try to stay positive and see what happens with the actual released fluff and the first few novels before we declare its all silly.  And remember we’ve let plenty of loopholes and silliness ride in past editions already.

I really don’t like the sound of some of these rules, but I’ll give it a go

Honestly, these are the people I admire the most!  They’ve looked at the announced rules, are a bit worried about x, y or z, but happy to give it go and make a call then.  These are the ones we should be encouraging, helping over the changes, and gushing about how change x will mean a, b and c will improve to compensate.

If they say they are a bit worried though, don’t label them as whiners, as that  will probably flip them over the edge into the next category.  I’m all about encouraging anyone who will give things a fair go.

I hate it all!  I will burn my models!

Now, if you fall in this camp, at least think of eBaying the models off nice and cheap so I can get a bargain rather than burning them!  

I don’t get this group, in the same way I don’t really get the all in on the new edition people, as until we try something properly, I don’t know how you can really feel that strongly one way or another!

If the changes are so big that you feel you have to quit, well, that is a real shame 🙁  I hate it when people drop out of even part of the hobby.  7th edition is hanging around for the Horus Heresy, and you can easily reuse much of any marine forces for HH games if it came down to it.

Please try to explain your specific breaking point, though, and if you are just indulging in hyperbole now, do expect at least some gentle ribbing when we catch you playing 40k in 6 months time.  And try to have an open mind about the bits that have improved!  I get that if you hate the way the game sounds and not taken by a leaked army list, you might be reluctant to update.  Maybe instead of ranting and rage quitting, you think of it as a bit of a sabbatical until we see more of the fluff and the actual codexes.  Keep options open, don’t burn bridges.  And I hope the rest of the community doesn’t burn the bridges behind you, as thats no good either.

Lets all go play Rogue Trader instead

Deffo a good option.  Man, that edition was great for skirmish stuff, and the random equipment lists and chaos war band rules in Realm of Chaos!  Legendary!  Shadow War Armageddon isn’t actually a million miles away 🙂

However you want to deal with the edition upgrade, I hope this helps you understand some of the standpoints and worries others have, and helps us all push forward a bit more positively.  If nothing else, I hope it means I cheap eBay bargains rather than seeing gorgeous minis burned!!!!

And I’m always up for a game of Rogue Trader 😉

Let’s maybe, just maybe, be a little kinder to our fellow gamers

Well, the new edition of 40k is upon us, following the Gathering Storm series of books, which are a close echo of the End Times books from Fantasy Battles.   Some people are excited, some are tentative, and some are worried … and those groups keep shifting as we get more nuggets of information about the new game coming out.

This isn’t a discussion about the new game.  Its a discussion about the levels of vitriol I’ve seen directed at each other by those who are supposed to share a love of the game.  Its really not good!

There are a lot of people who are genuinely upset by the prospect of a major change to the game they love.  Since 3rd edition, the game has gently evolved, rather than radical changes to the game engine.  That’s a long period of stability, and while most people would agree the current rules are overly complex, with so many varied sources for the rules including the main rules, codexes, codex supplements, data sheets, downloads, and errata, it doesn’t mean people are comfortable with change.

Some of the changes being talked about remove core rules that have been in play since the days of Rogue Trader.  Thats 30 years of experience with those rules in my case.  Its not easy to see some of those changes …. even if they bring improvements.  Its something I have to overcome every day when running projects – fear of change.  This article gives a good idea what people are going through.

In addition, lots of people have significant amounts of money tied up in the game.  Its not an investment in any real sense, but there’s certainly a cost associated to walking away from 40K if the new rules don’t appeal.  Trying a new game?  You’ll need to reinvest in new rules, models, time to learn it, and trust that the new game won’t be changed like 40K was.  The more you have “invested”, both financially and psychologically, in a game, the harder it is to see it change.

There’s always an argument when these changes happen that you won’t lose anything.  You don’t have to play the new version.  You and your group of friends can carry on playing the old version.  Except that’s rarely true for most of us.  If you want to play a pickup game at a club or store, you’ll need to play the current version.  If you want to take part in any tournaments, you’ll need to play the current version.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a small group of friends who will happily play the older version … and even those who are are likely to be a bit torn between people who want to move on and people who want to stay with the older version.

I’m not advocating that the game should remain fixed and unchanging.  We need to recognise that our fellow players are human, and many will have issues with any major change.  And that assumes that those changes are good – a game played for fun is highly subjective.  A change you find speeds the game up and makes it easier and more accessible may feel like dumbing down for kids and losing a lot of the individual feel of the troops on the board to someone else.  And the killer?  Both people can be right for them.

I’ve been around the edition wars of 40K, Fantasy Battle and D&D for some time, and major changes don’t work for everyone.  But they certainly won’t work for everyone if we don’t try to support our fellow gamers.  Rejoicing that people are talking about quitting the game because of the change?  That shouldn’t be a celebration, its a tragedy.  And if the people who leave are the ones being driven out by intolerant behaviour, that doesn’t say much for the community that’s left.

Make the game fun for others when it’s released.  Look at alternatives like the mad range of board games reintroduced by GW and keep people in the hobby. Get people excited for troops that have been obsolete for years and will make a comeback as we find out more about the rules (like space marine devastator Elder Dark Reaper and Chaos Marine havoc squads!)  A large part of people overcoming change is down to the community encouraging them to give the system a chance, to try the new system in a welcoming way, and yeah, walk away if they don’t enjoy it and still play blood bowl with them with a smile later.

Just remember that the person on the other end of the screen screaming about the change may be a kid who has just dropped 3 years savings on a FW model and feels that he might have wasted all that money.  It might be someone who has loved 40k for 30 years and is worried the game he loved is going forever.  Or yeah, it might just be a bit of an arse.  But you?  You’re better than that!  Please?

Every time I see someone laughing about the “tears of the haters”, or good riddance to all those whiners, it makes me want to play games that still welcome players, not drive them away.  And that’s got nothing to do with rules.

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


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.

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!

Is Hobby Creativity on the Wane?

Of late, I can’t help but think creativity in the hobby is at a bit of a low ebb.  I’m not detracting from the amazing painting and techniques I see used on Facebook or Twitter (which are frankly spectacular), but I see fewer and fewer physical changes to models that surprise me.  At best, I see kit bashes, not scratch built pieces or crafted conversions.  The only exception tends to be for diorama or display pieces, not for the tabletop.

Pondering why, I think there are several reasons.  The most positive, of course, is simply that these days the sheer range of models on the market is so broad that there isn’t the need to create things yourself as there was in the 80s or 90s.

While I don’t mean to bash GW, as I understand their business model and it seems to work for them as a company, their policies do impact this a bit at the moment.  They only release rules for models that exist now (due to some copyright entanglements), which means you don’t need to scratch build or convert for them.  Their store and event policy specifies all GW parts – technically even scratch built pieces wouldn’t pass muster, so you can’t go beyond kit bashes with only GW parts.  And the current pace of releases means more involved conversion projects get obsoleted by newer models – I was considering a Deathwatch squad with custom conversions and team members, and a rumoured deathwatch box put me off – I thought I’d just wait and see the new models.  Great for GW sales, not so great for unique pieces!

I’ve seen some weird and wacky conversions for Malifaux, but generally there is a high level of tournament play with the Faux crowd, and that does mean the core of the models are Wyrd standard.  The same definitely holds true for Guildball, and even more so for the prepainted Armada and X-Wing crowd.

I think this is one of the big reason that Frostgrave is hitting so many buttons for so many people.  There are no “official” models.  There’s a strong fluff and theme around it, but the characters are blank slates, letting you convert them however you like, and it means that boards and warbands for this are just all kinds of wacky fun models.  Its definitely the system I’m seeing the most creative modelling for, except perhaps Of Gods and Mortals, which is similarly unfettered.