Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Terrain: Oasis

I happen to have a desert table. Not a dessert table, mind you, as while delicious, it makes it tricky to play Warhammer. I've been trying to build up a good assortment of the main kinds of terrain (area, linear, buildings, woods, etc), but it's a little tricky to theme pre-made water features to make sense on my board. So I built an oasis. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures during the actual construction, but it's pretty simple, I'm sure you guys can figure it out. It's a board of thin MDF (actually an old forest plate), with a foamcore second layer. The water area is cut out to allow for the depth of the water, and the trees are the Citadel Jungle Trees. A quick coat of sand, and it's on to the paint!
The first step was a quick coat of Tausept Ochre from the spraygun, which is the color I'm planning on using from now on for desert terrain, as the Desert Yellow just doesn't cover well enough.
Not much to look at yet, but I promise, the good stuff is coming. The tree trunks got a coat of P3 Battlefield Brown, as I had some kicking around, and I like the slightly more purple tone that it has as opposed to GW Scorched Brown. The foliage got a coat of GW Foundation Knarloc Green, which is usually my go-to medium green.
That pretty much gets them back to the garish look the bright green and brown plastic had, but now is the fun part. All the foliage gets a coat of GW Leviathan Purple wash. It seems like a funny color, but I really like the dark tone it gets in the veining on the leaves. While that dried, the trunks got a quick overbrush of P3 Bootstrap Brown.
Next, the base and tree trunks got a pair of drybrush rounds, first with Desert Yellow, and then with Bleached Bone. This highlights the sand, and on the trunks works similarly to the Bleached Bone drybrush on the Arcane Ruins- it highlights subtly, and tones them a bit to match the rest of the terrain set. The foliage got a quick drybrush of Knarloc Green to get them back to green, but with the darker veins.
The final touch was the actual water. Over a few days, I did three very thin pours of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water. I am slightly concerned that the second may not have set entirely, as there is still a bit of milkiness to the look of the water, but I'm giving it a few days to cure further before I give up on it entirely. Valten appears again for scale.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Arcane Ruins painting

If you've spent any amount of time painting in hot, humid weather without air conditioning, you may have noticed an interesting phenomenon- the paint starts acting a lot less like paint, and a lot more like glue until you thin the heck out of it, and then it dries super quickly on the palette. Frustrating, no? I was in the mood to paint yesterday, but rather than ruining a perfectly good model, I took the opportunity to work on a piece of terrain that had been kicking around in the bins for a bit.
The Citadel Arcane Ruins are a great utility piece. Super simple to build and paint, and they stack so well, you don't really have to glue anything unless you have something very specific in mind. My set is currently all loose pillars, as I like the flexibility of just setting them up to suit the game, especially with the True Line of Sight rules in 40K.
The first step was a quick blast with the spraygun, coating them with Charadon Granite. I really, really, really like this color for terrain. It's got a ton of subtle tones in it that you can bring out with different color highlights, and it warms things up nicely from black primer so a drybrush doesn't look too stark.
After the spray coat dried, they got a heavy overbrush of Adeptus Battlegrey. Another good utility color, it does suffer from a similar problem to Codex Grey- if you give a model a solid coat of it, it looks kinda like you didn't paint it at all. Problematic.
The solution to the grey problem also helps tie the piece into my desert themed board a little bit. Bleached Bone, while almost completely replaced in my painting by Dheneb Stone, is really good for a toning drybrush, as it's very translucent. Just a light drybrush, occasionally running a thumb or my palm over flat surfaces to wipe up any excess to avoid brushstrokes, and it's all done.
And the whole thing, with Valten for scale:
Also, be careful about the seams on the sides of the pillars, or you'll be like me, and notice just how bad they show up under bright light just as you post pictures on the Internet for everyone to mock you for...

WHFB Battle Report, 6/22/09

I played a game on Monday against Anthony to test out a list for a staff tourney I was invited to, as while I'm not really staff anymore, they needed someone else to beat on (I kid, I kid!). The tournament is 2250 points, which is just a touch larger than I like playing in WHFB (I'm a firm believer that the game is balanced for 2000 points on the nose), but it's not so big as to make it impossible to get at least a good chunk of my Dwarfs sorted before then.

My list was an expansion of my 1000 point list from the store tourney, adding a BSB, an Organ Gun, a Bolt Thrower, a unit of Longbeards, and a unit of Ironbreakers. Dwarf Battle Standards are absolutely fantastic. The runic item system makes it so that if you want to spend the points, you can make a truly insane swiss-army knife banner that does damn near everything. In this case, the main use for the BSB is to carry the Master Rune of Valaya, which adds +2 to every dispel roll, and also automatically dispels any Remains in Play spell within 12" at the start of each player's Magic phase. The Longbeards are a second line unit, intended to help the Warriors stick in with the Old Grumblers special rule, and do a bit more smashing with their Great Weapons. The Ironbreakers are a bit of a comprimise. I think Hammerers are probably the better unit, but I don't own any, and I don't have the $100 for a unit of 20, so currently I'm using the Ironbreakers as a hard flank to my force. The war machines are also kind of a mixed bag. The Bolt Thrower is arguably my favorite war machine in the army, kitted out with a Rune of Seeking and two Runes of Penetrating, making for a pretty unholy one shot killer for any chariots running around (Black Coaches, I'm looking at you!), and a very reliable shish kabob maker for light to medium infantry. The Organ Gun is a new one for me. I like the idea of being able to shoot the bejesus out of anything that gets close, on the other hand, I'm not sure I like that they have to get close first.

Anthony played a very tough, compact Lizardmen list. One block of Temple Guard with the Slaan Mage Priest, two units of Skinks with a pair of Kroxigors each, a small unit of Skink Skirmishers, and a pair of Ancient Stegadons with Skink Priests riding them.

Initial Deployment:
I ran a pretty classic Dwarf castle formation- pop the war machines up on the hill, park the big infantry blocks in front, and let them come to me. On my flanks were the Slayers, hopefully to stop his Skink Skirmishers off on that flank, and the Thunderers on the other to provide a cross fire, and maybe tempt him to present the flank of a unit. Anthony set up dead hard, with his Slaan hiding off in the woods, and the Stegadons set up inside the Skink units. His Skirmishers are out of the picture to the left, hiding behind the watchtower and waiting to sprint across the board.

Turns one and two were fairly uneventful, the only major casualty being my Organ Gun- to itself. Hard to see what a new unit will do when it blows itself up the first time it's in range of the enemy. Oh well.

Turn three started to see the first few casualties. After pretty much locking down the Lizardmen magic phase, a Skink priest managed to get a bound Thunderbolt off to kill my Dragon Slayer. I didn't have much luck returning fire, most of my shooting bouncing off the Stegadon approaching on my right flank.

Turn four was not good for our vertically-challenged heroes. The Slaan got Spirit of the Forge off, killing 8 of my seemingly invulnerable Ironbreakers, while the Stegadon that the Thunderers failed to dispatch easily killed them off.

Turn 5 saw the other Stegadon finally hitting my lines, running down the unit of Warrors with the Runesmith and running into my Longbeards, which was part of the plan, with my Dwarf Lord set up to smash the hell out of the big lizard. In the bottom of the turn, my Cannon finally saw off the Stegadon on the right, greatly lessening the effectiveness of that group of Skinks, and giving my Ironbreakers a fighting chance to hold the right side. The Lord did a fantastic job, easily wounding the Stegadon 4 times, allowing the Longbeards to hold their position.
Through all of the carnage in the center of the table, Anthony's skinks on my left flank were doing a little dance, trying to bait the Slayers into a fight. Turn 5 was finally their undoing, with the Slayers easily breaking the Skinks, and running them off the table.

Turn Six was mostly mop-up. The Dwarf Lord and his Longbeards finally broke, fleeing off-table, and my two remaining war machines both misfired, bringing the match to a close.

The final score left little question, with the Lizardmen scoring 1602VP to my 678VP, for a solid victory to the Lizardmen.

(How much detail do you guys want to see in batreps? Turn by turn pictures and movement, or just general impressions? Let me know!)

Friday, June 19, 2009


Tiny little post....
What do you guys think of this layout? The only thing I'm not quite so enamoured with is the slightly hidden commenting, you have to either open the full post, or click on the number to the top right of the post to get to the comments. I'm still learning how to do the formatting on Blogger, so please, feel free to make suggestions, tell me the thing is hideous, whatever. And please, comment on everything, it makes me feel less like I'm just shouting into the void, I do that enough on Twitter (@Conspyre, if you're into that sort of thing).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

WHFB Tourney Report, 6/7/09

So I'm a little late with the tourney report, but that's still more updates in a week than Tabletop Madness has had, y'know, ever... (nothing like a public nudge to get someone to post, right?) Snarkiness and my horrid showing aside, this was a fun tournament, I've been really enjoying the Sunday games at the Oak Park GW shop. The games are small (750 pts for 40K and WotR, 1000 for WHFB), and the people are mostly pretty dedicated hobbyists, or at least players (We'll get into issues with the hobby side in a minute).
My army:
I ran a very basic "core dwarf concepts" list- 20 Warriors with axes and shields, with full command; 10 Thunderers; a Cannon; 12 Slayers with banner and musician; led by a Thane with runes of Snorri Spanglehelm, Swiftness, and Fury; a Dragon Slayer with three runes of Fury; and a Runesmith with three runes of Spellbreaking. The plan was to use the Slayers as a rock solid flank, anchoring the other end of my line on a board edge with the Cannon, and trying to shoot the bejeezus out of anyone trying to cross the table to come to grips with my forces.

Round 1:
My first game was against Kevin. He's a young kid, but he's a remarkably skilled general in WHFB and WotR/LotR (don't think I've played him in 40K, but I've heard good things about his Templars). He was running a fairly brutal Warriors of Chaos list, pictured below:
With a Khorne-marked Hero, 8 Khornate Knights, 15 Warriors of Khorne, and 28 Marauders, Kevin's army is all about two things: Blood for the Blood God, and Skulls for the Throne of Khorne, and it delivers in spades.
This is just after Kevin's charge moves in Turn 2. Turn 1 was largely ineffective, my Cannon stuck a shell in the mud right in front of his Knights, and while my Thunderers dropped a couple of Warriors, it was mostly a setup turn, getting ready for the logical matchups. Warriors vs. Warriors, Knights vs. Slayers, and the Dragon Slayer squaring off (well, kinda, he's turned sideways so he doesn't fall down the hill) against the Marauders. This is where I really, really, really underestimated the shock power of the Khornate Knights. I'm used to being able to hold a charge from damn near anything with the Slayers, and the Knights tore through them like they weren't even there. They ripped through the Slayers in a round, overran into the flank of my Warriors, demolished them, overran into the Thunderers the next turn, and finally into the Cannon, while the Chaos Warriors calmly wheeled around and killed the Dragon Slayer (though not before he killed no small number of Marauders!) An easy win for Kevin, he tabled me in 4 turns.

Round 2:
The second game was against Paul, the manager of the shop, and his (absolutely lovely!) Chaos army. A little bit tricky as he had to bounce in and out to help customers in the (woefully understaffed) shop, but Paul is a really pleasant guy to play against. Have to put up a couple of shots of models that he didn't run in the game, just because they're fantastic! Here's his Warshrines:
He's also got a very, very impressive conversion of Vilelitch the Curseling:
(not sure my photo does it justice, but it's definitely worth going to Flickr for the full size shot)
Here's the army he ran, along with a dashing grin:
His army was 2 Tzeentch wizards, a unit of 10 (unmarked) Knights, 2 units of 5 Marauder Horsemen, and 2 units of 5 Warhounds. I was a lot happier to see his heroes than Kevin, as his army was a lot more magic reliant, which I was pretty well equipped to handle. Turn 1 was much the same as against Kevin- my cannon stuck a shell right in front of his Knights, and the Thunderers picked off a few Marauders. I shut down his Magic phase, but used two of my Spellbreaker Runes in the process.
Turn 2:
Once again, by turn 2, the battle was properly joined. One unit of Warhounds charged my Cannon after losing one of their number to a (much better aimed) cannonball, the Knights charged the Warriors, and the Slayers were double-charged by Warhounds and Marauder Horsemen. The Cannon crew saw the Warhounds off handily, an extra round of stout for them! The champion of the Knights challenged my Thane, no doubt seeking the favor of his heathen gods, but the finely-crafted armor of the dwarf deflected his blows. The combat was nearly a draw, but outnumbered by the frightful Knights, the Warriors fled, getting cut down easily by the faster Knights. The Slayers easily held against the lighter Chaos units, breaking them in combat during turn 3, while the Knights rode over and slaughtered the Cannon crew. Turn 4 saw the Warhounds and Maruaders rally and start making their way back to the Slayers. In turn 5, the Thunderers fled off-table from the mighty Knights, and finally in turn 6, the sinister magic of Tzeentch killed off the last of the slayers.

Round 3:
Round 3 was against Leo, a High Elf general I'm always happy to play against. He started the hobby about the same time I started my High Elf army, and he's been doing a good job of building up quite a sizeable contingent of the pointy-helmeted blokes. His army for the tourney was built around one of the more interesting High Elven Hero choices, the Dragon Mage:
In addition to the Dragon Mage, he used the modified High Elf organization chart to the fullest, running one unit of Lothern Sea Guard, one of the Phoenix Guard, and a Repeater Bolt Thrower. In turn 1, in a (now-familiar) bit of frustration, the cannonball overshot the Dragon by quite a bit, the dragon cooking all but 2 of my Thunderers in return. Turn 2 was mostly maneuver, apart from the Dragon finishing off my Thunderers, and the Cannon misfiring, leaving it silent until Turn 4. Turn 3, the Warriors and Slayers charged the Sea Guard and Phoenix Guard respectively, locking them solidly in combat. The Sea Guard broke during turn 4, netting me some of the only victory points I scored during the game, as the Dragon Slayer made a mad dash at the Dragon Mage. He found his glorious death, killing the Mage but not the Dragon, while the Cannon managed to miss again, overshooting the Bolt Thrower by mere inches. The game ended early in Turn 5, as Leo had to duck out. The first game where we actually had to count VP, but overall a win for the High Elves.

Despite my horrid showing, the tournament was pretty enjoyable. My one quibble is that in the last couple of weeks, the scoring scheme has changed, and in the process paint has not been being judged (despite being supposedly part of the overall score) because "there aren't enough painted armies". I strongly object to the idea of advertising a tourney where painting is supposedly being scored, yet players that have unfinished armies aren't losing anything for showing up with bare plastic. In the size of games that are being played, there's really no excuse for not being able to get things at least as block-painted as my Warriors and Thunderers, and honestly I think the Slayers took less time than the block painting did. I try very hard to promote the mindset that whatever the size of the tourney, one should treat it like a GT (painted army, printed army rosters for each opponent, proper gaming supplies, etc), and I feel like if everyone in the shop showed up with that level of preparation, then the Sunday tournaments could really build some strong feeling and high-level play in the shop.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book Review: Uniforms and Heraldry of the Empire

The tourney report is still on the way, but I thought I'd take a minute to scoop the local Elector, John from Plastic Legions and get a review up of the new sourcebook.
It's really a nice little book, hardbound, with a sewn binding (lovely in the days of codicies that don't last more than a month before pages start falling out). Full color, and printed on nice (if a little glossy) paper, this is a book that feels like it's worth the $25 (really $24.75 with the new screwy pricing)

Judging books by their covers aside, the content is very nice. Each province has a number of different examples of color schemes on both infantry and war machines, with nice callouts for things unique to each province, like common variants of armor, etc (My personal favorite? Apparently Helblaster crews tend to wear symbols of Morr to show that they're paid up with the priesthood of the god of death). Each province also has a page showing a unique unit for the province, typically an elite regiment, but there are a couple of other nice ones. The TO&E of a Drakwald Patrol is especially cool. I want to call attention to the fact that pretty much every illustration in the book is unique, rather than a recolor of a different one, which is the case in Insignum Astartes, which is more expensive to boot! The pictures in this book do a great job of illustrating the many ways in which the colors of a province can end up on the varied uniforms of Empire troops.

Not everything is perfect, but honestly at this point I'm nitpicking. The book is a little smaller than I'd like, both in length and dimensions. I would love more content, but if it came at the expense of quality, I'm happy with how much is in the book. It does kinda bug me that it is a little shorter and narrower than an army book, but that's mostly shelving OCD. There is also no hobby content in the book, it's entirely in-character. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but with the new Marius Leitdorf model out, and my Averland army gestating, a few tutorials on how to paint different tricky parts of the heraldry (YELLOW!) would not be out of place. Hopefully we'll see more web content as the new wave of models settles on the shelves. My other two nitpicks are entirely fluff-based. They point out that there are eight remaining Steam Tanks, but then only depict three. I know that they're probably leaving the other ones nebulous so that people can design their own, but I'd really like to see the others, to see if there is one that is "historically accurate" to put in my force. Also, in the Dwarf army book, they make a point of mentioning that while the Empire has bigger cannons than the Dwarfs, they are cast from brass rather than forged from steel, which is a technology only the Dwarfs possess. Every single cannon in the book is silver or black, with nary a brass one in sight. Crazy nitpicks from a Dwarf player, I know.

Bottom line is, this is a fantastic book for anyone that is even a little bit interested in the Empire. If you have an Empire army, you really ought to check it out, especially for the unique regiments. I'm really tempted to paint up one of my own, and I finally found a Knightly Order I like in the book. GW likes to talk up how players should identify with Empire provinces like they do with Space Marine chapters, and I think this book is the necessary addendum to the hobby section in the Empire army book for players to find that affinity.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stunty Mayhem!

So, I suddenly found myself with a free Sunday on the WHFB week in the local GW tourney rotation. Now, I am NOT a good WHFB player. In fact, I'm pretty abysmal. However, with a free day, I'm not really one to turn down a game. Or three, in this case. The question, then, was what army to play. I tend to flit from army to army in WHFB, whether that's because of my lack of success, or the cause of it, is up for debate. For this one, I decided to go back to my Dwarfs for a couple of reasons. They're a compact army, so I wouldn't have TOO much painting to do, they're pretty rock-solid in smaller games (the shop WHFB tourneys are 1000 points), and I kinda miss playing the little guys. I've been trying really hard to make sure that I only play fully painted armies in store events, trying to be a paragon of the hobby and all that. If I were smart, I would have played my Skaven, since they're pretty much finished, and I definitely have enough done for a 1K game, but what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment.

The list I planned for the tourney is one of those "so you want to start a army" sort of lists. Warriors, Thunderers, Slayers, a couple of heroes, and the ubiquitous cannon. I'm using mostly Battle for Skull Pass models for a couple of reasons. The most important is that because they're so similar, they're really, really easy to assembly-line paint, even with my color scheme. I also really like building that sort of army out of obvious sets of models- setting the example for someone who's just starting. "Hey kid, look, if you trade for a second Skull Pass set, pick up a Runesmith, and a couple boxes of Slayers, you too can be awesome like me."

Army philosophy aside, here's what I started out with:
All the models have some paint on them, it's just a matter of whether or not it's GOOD paint. The Slayers are priority one, as they're both my favorite models, and the ones that I think most benefit from a decent coat of paint. Plus the Foundation Paints, washes, and the spraygun make them really, really easy to get done to a decent standard.
A quick spray of Tallarn Flesh, followed by Ogryn Flesh wash got their skin sorted, then it was on to the beards. Slayers are notable for their orange hair, so the Mechrite Red I had originally painted them was Not Okay. I went back and laid down Macharius Solar Orange:
followed by a wash of Gryphonne Sepia, and a quick coat of Boltgun Metal on their axes:
I've got fewer pics at this point, but I think you all can figure it out from here. Dwarf Bronze on the remaining metal bits, Khemri Brown on the trousers, and Calthan Brown on leather pouches and shoes, followed by a Devlan Mud wash for those same parts. The Dragon Slayer also got a bit of Mordian Blue on him for woad.
One of my favorite bits of finishing any unit is basing- there's few things that make a unit go from good to great as quickly. Here's the unit after sand, but before paint:
And after:
They got a coat of clearcoat, and then a little bit of static grass.

The next thing on the list was the cannon. I like basing my war machines on the textured movement trays from GW, but the Skull Pass cannon is a little bit smaller than the regular one, so it looks a little lost on that size of base. To eat up some space (and use one of the many Grudge Pony carts I have lying around), I decided to add the cart to the base. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't done that, since it was a pain in my butt to paint. There are a number of small details on the top of the cart that are hard to tell what they are. Here's how they all started out:
And here's the finished product:
This is actually the finished shot of the whole force, as unfortunately I ran out of time because of life getting in a way. Not quite as much as I'd hoped to get done, but at least there's no bare plastic or just-primed figures in the army. Tourney report to follow!

Friday, June 5, 2009

And thus it begins!

So, I've done the whole Livejournal thing, and did a painting log on Warseer for a while, and come to a bit of an impasse. The sorts of things I want to post now are not directed towards the sorts of people that I really want reading my dithering about college relationships, and I don't like dealing with waiting for posts with tons of photos to get approved on forums. I already tend to take a lot of pictures while I'm working on figures (It's all your fault, Martha!), so it's a pretty short hop to the Many Internets to post them for other folks to see. I'd also like to get into a bit of battle reporting, though I'm still a little leery of posting photos of unpainted armies in battle, seems rather unprofessional to me. However, if it works for BoLS, it can't be all bad... :P Anyway, welcome aboard, keep your hands and arms inside the ride, and enjoy the show!