Monday, March 19, 2012

Necron Speedpainting- A Battleforce in a Weekend

For the 40K 25th anniversary celebration, our local shop had an Iron Builder going- buy a Battleforce box on Saturday, and have it fully assembled by closing time on Sunday.  I enjoy these kinds of challenges, they get people focusing on getting things done, and being more than a bit mad, I decided to take things just a bit further- build AND paint the thing before 5PM Sunday.  Now, it's important to note that I didn't actually have all that much time that weekend, between helping a friend move, and a Pathfinder session that I had to leave for at about 3:30.  So I picked up the box on Saturday afternoon between other obligations, and didn't get to start until about 11:30PM on Saturday night.

Building the models was pretty straightforward.  Necrons have the distinct advantage of not having a whole lot in the way of options- for the contents of the box, all I had to choose was which vehicle to build, and which weapon option to give to the Immortals.  Being as this was the start of a new force, I decided to keep things simple, building the Ghost Ark as a transport for half of the Warriors, and assembling the Immortals with Gauss Blasters.  Of course, the mathhammering and reading up on the guns on Warseer ate some time, but all in all, I had all of the infantry built by mid-day on Sunday (and no, I didn't pull an all nighter- I worked from 11:30PM-1:30AM, and then started up again around 10AM).  I have some rather copious notes on the order I went in, not really sure why I thought that was necessary, but if you're interested in the exact order, let me know in the comments!  The key to all of this is to be working CONSTANTLY.  There's a number of parts that need to be dry before you can move on (namely torso halves and waist joints), so the smarter you are about bouncing between units, the more efficient you can be.   I started out with gluing the legs to the bases and gluing sand on as a second step, before even clipping out most of the parts, to ensure that the PVA would be good and dry by the time I got around to priming everything.  I also made the decision to mount the Scarabs three to a base instead of four- building them that way gives you a whole extra swarm, and allows them to be a quick reference to how many wounds are remaining (Mine aren't glued to the pegs, so I can pull them off when the swarm is damaged).

I will go into some detail on the assembly of the Ghost Ark, as it was kind of a pain.  I assembled the casualties while working on the Warriors and Immortals, but missed the little spines that help join them to the Ark.  That was a problem later.  I also found that the ribs are not quite symmetrical- they have a slight V shape to the joining surfaces that if you don't notice, can make them a hell of a lot harder to get to fit together.  I built it in assemblies, mostly per the directions, leaving out the pilot and the casualties, and ended up sticking the whole thing together while waiting for the first layer of paint on the infantry to dry.  I figured I could get the casualties in afterwards, which is technically possible, but I don't really recommend it.

Painting the force was easy, and a prime example of what I refer to as "materials-based painting".  The way I like to look at it, you have two choices when painting miniatures- you either look at them as a composition, which is where you will see painters that work hard at using the color wheel and manipulating the attention of the viewer, or you can paint them as though they are a real entity, looking more at what each individual part of the figure is, and painting them accordingly.  There are certainly merits to both schools, but I find it to be easier and faster to do the latter, as you can more easily apply the same scheme to every figure in an army.  Necrons in particular are easy, as you basically have three materials to deal with- the metal of the body, the weapons, and the internal workings of weapons and vehicles.  It is also easily applied to other armies as well- for example, the average Space Marine force has ceramite armor, flesh, exposed metal, and stowage, all of which are easy to standardize.  For the Necrons, I was going for quick and dirty, so I did the majority of the painting with a spraygun.

I based the Warriors, Immortals, and Scarabs with Boltgun Metal, followed by a spray coat of Badab Black wash.  Nice and neat, with the classic Necron look.  The Ghost Ark and the weapons were painted Tin Bitz with a heavy coat of Thraka Green wash, which gives a nice aged patina while contrasting with the silver and giving a bit of complement to the bright green accent colors.  The basing is Tausept Ochre, drybrushed Bleached Bone, with Calthan Brown around the base edges, a nice simple desert scheme that I've used before.  I will likely be going back and adding patches of yellowed grass for some extra detail.  I have seen other painters leave the sand bare for desert basing, and actually did it myself for my Warmachine army for a while, but it just doesn't work right- when the rest of the textures on a figure are being simulated with paint, the sight of a real surface just looks wrong, distracting the viewer and taking away from the scale look of the figure.  The hoses and vents on the weapons and the eyes were painted Scorpion Green, along with the barrels on the Gauss Blasters, which then got a coat of Chainmail on the vented shrouds.  I am a little sad that they did away with the green rods on the Immortals- obviously they wanted to leave things more open for other color schemes, but I just love the look of the rods, it's different from every other faction in the game, and ties the army together really nicely.

Obviously this force isn't going to win me any Golden Daemons, but that's not really the point of the exercise.  I've got entire armies, sitting in boxes, waiting for me to get "in the mood" to paint them (my Vostroyans and Space Wolves are particularly guilty of this).  While that's all well and good for someone like me that has other painted armies to use in the meantime, I have played against a lot of grey plastic, which is sad.  For players that are looking for a strategy game, but not a painting hobby, I am puzzled as to why they're playing 40k- there are much, much better wargames out there that use paper counters instead of staggeringly expensive models.  For those that think painting is "too hard", I would put this out there as the counter-argument- there is absolutely nothing going on with this army that I couldn't teach to a 12 year old in a couple of hours- there's not even that much brush control necessary.  At that point, the only thing left is laziness, and disrespect for your opponents- it is one thing to be working on getting a force completed and playing with it while you're doing so, quite another to build an army with no intention of ever actually getting it done.  In my experience, those sorts of players also tend to be rather unpleasant to play against, and rather quickly find themselves "voted out" of a local player group.

Necrons are the obvious choice for this kind of speedpainting exercise, but they're far from the only ones that it will work for.  Drop me a line in the comments, let me know what you think I should try next, or if you want advice on how to structure your painting in order to speed things up- I'm also considering running a workshop on it, so let me know if it's something you'd be interested in.