Thursday, 27 October 2011

My first human: the sculpt continues

Painting night was last night, so I had another opportunity to sit down and work on my little man. Progress was not brilliant, but it was adequate.
The development continues. Not one, but two arms!
I started by attacking that over-long left arm. I took to it with a knife and some clippers, and cut a large section out from between the shoulder and the elbow. I then glued the two parts back together, and tried to heal the wound with more greenstuff. It ended up being a bit messy, and I was trying to carve at a combination of hard and soft putty. In the end I left it as being "good enough for now", with the intent of coming back to it later once it's all cured properly. The main thing is that I'm happier with the proportions.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sculpting a human: my first attempt

A WIP: creating my own 4th edition-style Halberdier
I have spoken in the past of the intimidation I feel when considering sculpting models, or even converting them heavily. Sculpting is an art form, and the skill of some people in this field is truly mind-boggling. I have no particular aspirations in this regard, however I resolved a while ago that I would try to get over my fear of wasting time and resources, and be a bit braver with my converting. Since then, I have indeed been a bit braver. In fact, I have fully converted a couple of ogres, and been hatching plans for mass production and multi-pose models. A search of "converting" shows I have been busy over the last half a year.

These things are all very ambitious, however I have largely limited my efforts to Ogres thus far. This is partly because I will only get Ogres to match my units if I do it myself (whereas I have a very large pile of pretty compatible humans), however it's also because Ogres are bigger and easier to work with than their human counterparts. Given I am still learning, I figured I should stick to the simpler stuff for the moment.

Yesterday I decided that I needed to break this trend. In my Empire army I planned to have an entire regiment based around the old single-pose 4th edition plastic Halberdiers. I like these guys - they're chunky and they remind me of the old days when I first started into the Warhammer hobby. Their being identical didn't really bother me - I just saw it as part of their charm. However, having painted up 24 of the models, I ran out of convenient supply. Having realised that even units of 40 Halberdiers are probably not really big enough, I also started to feel that maybe having 40 or 50 of the same model was going to look pretty dull, even if broken up by Ogre unit fillers. So I needed a new plan. I would make my own version.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Duelling Paintbrushes: All done!

Well, today is Day 13 - the final day of the painting challenge. And I'm finished! 
My full quota, ready to go.
The final 7 Kossars are complete.
A close-up of the first 4.
And the remaining 3.
All 35 guys ranked up together.
18 of the models have bows in hand.
The remaining 17 have their axes out.
All laid out in the separate units.
I realised after I took all these pictures that I hadn't added static grass to the bases of the models, but that is really a finishing touch, and one that I often do in bulk. I'll get to it in the end.
So I made it in the end. Ultimately I paced myself reasonably well. I was worried early on, when I spent 8 hours painting in one day and made little progress. However, once I shifted my approach to smaller batches of models, things felt like they were moving along. I will have to bear this in mind for the future.

What else have I learned? Well, challenging a speed painter to a painting challenge is a sure path to humiliation. Not that I'm really sorry about that - I'm glad to see the Chaos production line in full swing.

Would I do it again? Probably. I will not be accused of learning from my mistakes - especially not ones that result in my models getting painted.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Explaining Comp

Cancon is run by the Canberra Games Society. Daisy is their mascot.
Cancon is an annual convention that has been running for many years in our nation’s capital, Canberra. For the last decade or more, a number of us (often around 10 players) have been making the 8 hour pilgrimage from Melbourne in order to take part in the Warhammer Fantasy tournament as part of the convention. At 8 games over 3 days, it remains the only tournament I have ever attended that spans more than 6 games, and is (at the time of writing) the only tournament I have ever travelled interstate to attend.

Relying as they do on volunteers, the organisers of Cancon 2012 were having real difficulty finding someone willing to run Warhammer Fantasy, and it was looking increasingly likely that no Tournament Organiser (TO) would be found at all. With time running out and our annual pilgrimage in peril, we (Hampton Games Club or HGC) decided it was time to take a hand in organising the event.

This year, HGC members have run a number of Warhammer tournaments: Empire in Flames, Book of Grudges and Axemaster (and Satus Bellum is happening this coming weekend). This accounts for a large chunk (about half) of the total tournaments held in Victoria. As a rule, these tournaments have had a few things in common:
  • They have used the rules in the Warhammer rulebook pretty much without alteration (this seems to be something of a rarity these days in the Australian scene)
  • They have used comp scores, generally determined by a panel of judges
These tournaments have been successful, with Book of Grudges actually ending up the best attended tournament in the country this year (take a bow, Brad). Players had fun and came back for more. As such, the decision has been made to use a similar approach for Cancon.

Within a couple of days of the Cancon player pack being released, I have already received a couple of queries from prospective players regarding exactly what we’re talking about when we discuss composition (or comp). The concept is apparently foreign to some players, or at the very least a bit vague as presented in the player pack. I confess the player pack may have been written in a manner that assumes the player has a certain level of familiarity with the tournament scene. Time to address this, then…

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Duelling Paintbrushes: Day 10

I'm not dead yet! It may be true that Owen has made a mockery of the painting challenge by obliterating his quota in half the time, and now seeks to further humiliate me by painting several other regiments in the time I take to paint my one, but I am persisting. I may not go above and beyond my quota, but I can still meet it.

Over the last couple of evenings I sat down and painted another 8 Kislevites. That leaves only 7 still in my to-do pile, which would suggest I can still make my target relatively comfortably. This is encouraging, and will help with my motivation which took a bit of a hit over the weekend when I got no painting done at all on Days 6 and 7. 
The latest wave of Kislev Kossars emerges
How I will properly integrate these models into a tournament-legal Empire army is a lingering question. No Empire infantry other than Greatswords have great weapons. No units other than Archers have bows. I suppose I could use them as Archers, however with Ogre fillers and command, I really want them ranked up properly, rather than skirmishing. I also don't rate Archers at all, so they wouldn't get the love they deserve. And it feels silly to have Archers (who have no combat ability whatsoever) hefting great weapons. Ultimately most people probably won't care what I use them as, but it would have been nice for them to have a logical niche.
4 of the Kossars, as seen from the front.
The same 4 guys from behind.
The other 4 Kossars.
And again, from behind.
This guy has got to be the worst shot in the unit. His hat is falling forward, making it rather hard to see...
I am already being asked what I am going to paint after this unit is finished, and I have to say that I don't really know yet. I have another 21 Knights Snow Leopard requiring cloaks and paint. I also have 10 half-painted White Wolves. I really need to get organised and put together a full-blown horde (or two or three) of Halberdiers, as they're too useful not to have as an option. To be honest, I think my first stop will be to model up another 2 Kislev Ogres, to properly pad these guys out. That way I will have a goodly unit of 40 or so with no particular use...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Duelling Paintbrushes: The halfway face-off

The weekend marked the halfway point in our Duelling Paintbrushes challenge. Owen issued a challenge of his own - a 2500pt game including whatever we had completed of the stuff we were painting in our duel. I took a number of pictures during the game - not enough to merit a full-blown battle report, but I figured I would put up what I had.

The Empire
Arch Lector on barded steed (enormous doggy) with Mace of Helstrum, Dawn Armour, shield
Wizard Lord (Level 4) with Lore of Shadow, Holy Relic
Captain on barded steed with Battle Standard, Charmed Shield, Talisman of Endurance, full plate armour
Warrior Priest with Armour of Meteoric Iron, great weapon
40 Spearmen with standard bearer and musician
40 Halberdiers with full command, detachment of 15 Halberdiers (my Kislevites)
30 Greatswords with full command
16 Inner Circle Knights with full command, great weapons
28 Flagellants
Great Cannon

Yes, the Kislevites got pressed into service as a Halberdier detachment. There were not any really ideal roles for them, and this did mean that I didn't use any of the command models I had painted, but it was an adequate fit.

Nurgley Warriors of Chaos
Chaos Lord with the Mark of Nurgle on a barded steed (Chaos slug) with Chaos Runesword, Armour of Damnation, chaos armour, shield
Exalted Hero with the Mark of Nurgle, Battle Standard, Banner of Rage, chaos armour, great weapon
Sorcerer (Level 2) with the Mark of Nurgle, Infernal Muppet, Dispel Scroll (yes, this is cheating for at least 2 reasons. Oh well)
30 Chaos Warriors with full command, Mark of Nurgle, shields
32 Marauders with full command, Mark of Khorne, great weapons
10 Chaos Knights (on icky slugs) with full command, Mark of Nurgle, Festering Shroud
10 Chaos Knights (on big flies whose wings appear to have been plucked) with full command, Mark of Nurgle
3 Dragon Ogres with great weapons

Owen very rarely gets around to actually playing Warhammer, and his army list was a bit under-strength as a result. It didn't help that he doesn't have a copy of the rulebook, thus denying him about 50 magic items to choose from. He didn't mention this until later, of course. Rules are indeed for the weak, but magic items are for the prepared...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Duelling Paintbrushes: Day 5

I had high hopes for Day 5, as Friday evenings are when our regular painting nights occur. This meant I could be pretty sure to get a few solid hours of painting done - far more than an average evening. Well, I ended up painting for perhaps 3.5 hours, and at the end of it I had this to show for it:
5 more Kislev Kossars, ready for action (after some static grass)
OK, so some of you will probably feel that 5 models in 3.5 hours is nothing special, however given how long the first 11 models took me, I am extremely pleased with this result. It would appear that not having to worry about command models is a big help. It would also appear that painting them in a smaller batch was more efficient - or maybe I just have the rough order of the colour scheme down pat.
Another shot of the same guys. I chose a mix of weaponry to make the batch more interesting to paint
This batch of models includes the only 2 with additional hand weapons. I am currently a little torn as to what I am going to use the Kislevites as in my Empire army, and Free Company seems a fall-back position that most people are comfortable with given their apparent jumble of weaponry. If I do end up going this way, I may need to make some more with additional hand weapons.
Kossars with additional hand weapons - double the chop!
If you count the Ogre unit filler as 4 models (given that's how much space he takes up), I have now painted 20 of the 36 Kossars I am intending to paint in this challenge. Given we're only 5 days in, things are starting to look a little more favourable for me. Especially if we ignore the hippo in the corner, with his paintbrush all a-blur...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Duelling Paintbrushes: Day 4

The first wave of Kislev Kossars are finished! Well, they are almost finished - close enough that I could easily pass them off as such. In truth there remain a couple of minor things still to be done. I have to decide whether I want to highlight the tassels on the larger banner up to gold, instead of leaving them a brassy colour. There is also a little flag on it that I missed when I was painting the other ones - I always miss something. And of course the banners don't have anything on them yet. I will fix that at some point, but that may wait until after the challenge is over - at the moment I don't even know what to paint on them.
All the gang together, close enough to finished
I only did a very small amount of work on the Kossars on Day 3 (maybe an hour), so I didn't bother putting together an update. Unlike some hippos who shall remain nameless, I am not able to knock out a whole gang of models in that time. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Raising the dead

Nice and gloopy - exactly how your paints should not look
I have developed something of a reputation amongst our friends for being the “Paint Whisperer”, and practicing the black art of Paintomancy. This is due to my habit of resurrecting pots of paint that seemed to be on the verge of death, or beyond. Its a source of amusement for some, but it really comes down to being sensible.

Save me!
A lot of people seem to give up on their paints too quickly. As soon as it has turned to the consistency of a paste, they decide the paint is a goner and go and get a replacement. I have inherited large piles of other peoples old paint pots over the years, and often a few of them are unusable. However, most of them can be saved.
Collecting your own paints and those of others can lead to some funny stockpiles. Here we have a family of Codex Grey paints. I have at least this many Snakebite Leathers...
In truth, it is not very hard to revive a pot of paint that has turned gluey, or even started to harden a bit. The paints we all use are water-based, so all that is required to save some paint that is on its way out is to add water and stir it. Just how much water and stirring are involved depends upon the state of the paint pot. If the paint is just thickening a bit, you only need add a few drops of water and give it a shake. If its actually started to harden up, you will need to take to it with a stirrer and add plenty of water to have any chance.
...and after

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Duelling Paintbrushes: Day 2

OK, so having started off by cheating and beginning work on Day 0, I then consolidated my efforts by doing nothing at all on Day 1. It actually worked rather well for me, as I got time with my wife on Day 1 that I could not have the previous day, as she was busy. So ultimately I really gained nothing from my cheating, other than stopping myself falling further behind. Of course, I then discover that Owen has commenced work and completed 7 models already. But then, this was to be expected. Owen paints faster, doesn't live with a wife and child, and works fewer hours. Other than that, the advantages are all mine!

On Day 2 I tried a new cunning trick. I went to the dentist first thing in the morning, and walked away with a couple of fillings and a numb face. I considered going into work, but the thought of sitting at my desk, unknowingly drooling over my keyboard with the slack half of my face whilst my colleagues tried to sneak pictures or videos was unappealing. So instead I took the day off and went home to drool over models. Huzzah!

In the end I probably spent close to 8 hours painting over the course of the day. I can't remember the last time I painted so much in one go - I don't normally have the time for such behaviour. It was somewhat novel, and rather peaceful. Well, it might have been if not for my awareness of how painfully slowly I was progressing.

When I saw that Owen was painting models in small batches through to completion, my natural instinct was to do the opposite and paint all of the models at once. I am a contrary sort. However, it occurred to me that this would make for a rather boring set of blog posts. Better to have something finished to show off in each post. It's a good theory. Unfortunately I only decided this after I had already painted the fur onto all of the models, so a fair chunk of my time was spent there. I then decided I would limit myself to 10 models at a time. In keeping with my failure to read the calendar, I then failed to count models properly, and found myself working on 11. I am so clever. I'd love to tell you I got them finished, but I didn't. Not quite.

All of this was after I painted the unit filler, however. After painting fur on all the models, I was enthused to go back to him. I told myself I needed to paint a model up to test the colour scheme, however this is really me kidding myself. I had put in all the time to build him, and now I wanted to paint him. So at least he is finished...
Kislev Ogre unit filler from the front

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Duelling Paintbrushes: It begins...

In wanting to start off this painting challenge on the right note, my first act was to cheat. Actually, it was accidental - I somehow thought the challenge started yesterday, so I have stolen a 1 day head-start on Owen. Were I a Skaven player, I would be especially proud of my duplicity, although I might not be publicly boasting about it on my blog. Not yet. Anyway, courtesy of my abuse of the rules and failure to read the calendar and challenge conditions properly, my victory now is assured. Surely.

Well, maybe not. I really didn't get all that much done. The bases on my models are now painted, but I haven't even gone through and touched up the undercoat on them yet. The fact that getting these bases done took me a couple of hours is an indication of how much I am probably going to struggle in this challenge, but hopefully my determination will see me through. I also wasted a bit of time trying to carve the big Bretonnian shield off the smaller standard bearer's flag, which I managed to neglect to do before undercoating (as would be conventional and sensible). I was partially successful - the curves of the flag make it a little bit difficult. Depending on how I paint the flag, my efforts should be adequate.
My "to do" list, with painted bases...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Keeping up with the Kislevites

My Year of the Empire continues. Having forced myself to focus on the one army all year, I have made considerable progress. At last count I can easily field 5,000 points of painted Empire, which is a whole lot more than I had at the beginning of the year. However, I am still managing to distract myself continually, even within the relatively narrow boundaries I have set myself. I have a whole range of half-constructed Ogre unit fillers, I have a Halberdier unit with no command models, a Hellstorm with no crew, half-painted White Wolf knights, partially painted Greatswords... The list goes on. So, in order to give myself even more focus, I have issued a painting challenge to Owen of Terrain for Hippos! It shall be called Duelling Paintbrushes (cue banjo music):
The rules of the challenge are simple:
  • Start painting on October 10th.
  • Finish painting on October 23rd (the day of the Satus Bellum tournament)
  • Paint a unit of 32 figures (or equivalent with unit fillers)- I will paint the Kislevites Owen built for me, whilst he will paint a unit of Khorne Marauders he built some time ago and never got round to painting.
  • Time permitting, you can model and paint any number of matching characters to go with the unit.
It's all pretty simple. Owen paints far faster than I do, so the last item was basically added to keep him interested once he completes the Marauders and wants to move onto other things. It's all in the name of motivation!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Cramping your style

I mentioned in my Axemaster report that my first game was played upon an unusual table, constructed out of the modular cave sections we have at the club. The caves were built years ago, however their use in Warhammer has been limited for a couple of reasons. The first problem was that under 7th edition, the precise 12” squares made it extremely easy to gauge distances, effectively rendering that side of the game redundant. The second issue was that for all that we have at least 36 sections to choose from (giving us a bit to play with, given you only need 24 for a 6x4 table), we were still restricted in terms of the possible layouts. Our collection favours corridors and dead ends more than is ideal for a game of Warhammer. The ability to measure whatever you want under 8th edition effectively eliminated any concerns about the modular sections making estimation too easy, so the only problem that remains is the possible layouts. So we bit the bullet and decided to use the caves for a tournament.

A couple of us (with consultation from a few others) had good fun during the setup for the event, fiddling with the different sections in an attempt to produce a workable table. As I say, were better at walls than open spaces with our collection, so trying to create something that was open enough was a challenge. From memory, the layout we had to settle with in the end looked like this:
A rough layout of the caves as used in Axemaster. I deployed diagonally in the bottom left corner.
My sketch is very rough, however it gives you a general feel for how closed up areas were. The dark areas are solid rock walls, assumed to go all the way to the cave ceiling. Generally speaking, every gap was at least 5” wide, and we agreed that anyone playing on the table should ignore the 1” rule when it came to the walls. This meant units could fit through where they needed to go, but obviously things were a lot more restricted than your average table. We put a very small, low hill and a “forest” of mushrooms in the largest of the tables caverns, just to add a bit more interest.

The two of us who set the table up then agreed to fight a grudge match in the first round on it, to prove to others (and ourselves) that it would work. I did take a couple of photos at the start of the game, and although I showed them in the tournament report I will include them here again so you get a feel for what we were looking at.

I do not pretend that the table we setup was perfect. Even with gaps at least 5” wide, units can find it hard to wheel in tight spaces. If I had based my army around horde units, I probably would have been gnashing my teeth in frustration. However, it was still fun to be able to make use of the caves, and it made the game slightly more challenging. The real question now is: are tables like this appropriate for tournament play?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Living on the edge

I get the impression that GW are currently pretty happy with the current range of armies available in Warhammer. It has been a long time since I heard any real rumours about a new race being introduced to the game. To a certain extent, this is understandable there are currently 15 full-blown races to choose from, and GW seem to be in perpetual catch-up mode to re-release the existing armies in order to try keep things fresh and players interested.

When you think about it, 15 distinct races, each with their own model range, is a lot for a single game. It must be a constant headache trying to juggle them all and ensure that everyone gets their time in the limelight, instead of being forgotten in a dark corner. Im sure most players feel that GW dont always (or ever, depending upon how jaded you are) get these things right. For all that I get frustrated too, I do sympathise. However, as bravely as GW might juggle all these armies, there have been victims along the way.

In the time I have been playing Warhammer, there have been 2 full-blown armies that have been introduced and sustained for a while, before falling by the wayside. There have also been a fairly long list of “temporary” armies that were created as part of campaigns or other devices, and which have outlived their usefulness. And I can think of at least one example of a list that was somewhere in between. All of these things are, for all intents and purposes, dead. But they once lived and deserve more than being forgotten.