Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Lore: Mekidius Sirak and the Avenged (Part Three)

Part one: Fear and vengeance

Part two: Fight for power

Part three: the rebel's failure

Mekidius made it as far as the storm eagle's assault ramp before being struck by a frag missile, fired by the delayed Night Lords reinforcements. They refused to follow their new self-proclaimed leader, and attacked Mekidius and his rebels.

The frag round struck his power pack, the shockwave and flying debris throwing him down and slamming him into the assault ramp of his craft. The blast destroyed his power pack, sending chunks of armour flying. Several shards of power pack sliced the skin of his head. He coughed blood and struggled to turn around, without the power pack his armour became heavy and cumbersome. Blood dripped down his skull, his Astartes biology coagulating his life-blood rapidly, staining his head a dark red. He turned around to see his brothers betraying him.

Most of his followers had made it to the assault craft for extraction. Four members of his squad had been cut down by enemy fire; a fifth was crushed under the treads of a Rhino apc. Now only the Predator tank 'The Harlot's Beast' and the dreadnought Nightmare remained, holding off the enemy until they too were embarked in the Thunderhawk.

A massive mutated beast came lumbering over the brow of the courtyard, an obliterator from the Cult of Sorrow. Large fleshy arms split open, revealing plasma cannons, aimed directly at Mekidius. Two bolts of blue plasma streaked through the air: this was it, he thought. Two twin-suns exploded, filling the courtyard with blinding light. Mekidius opened his eyes, expecting to see the faces of his fickle gods. But no.

The looming shadow of Nightmare filled the assault bay. The silent machine had taken the shots. Molten metal dripped from the armoured sarcophagus, burning away the crafted hellish icons and scorching the blue armour to a flaky black. And yet Nightmare still lived, great plumes of blue tinged smoke erupting from his exhaust stacks as the warrior's adamantium tomb melted away. He braced and fired back, a green plasma bolt striking the enemy obliterator and liquefying the flesh-machine instantly.

The metal doors of the Storm eagle closed, and the craft took off, enemy fire bouncing off its armour. Mekidius dragged himself to a viewing port. He could see the Thunderhawk below. The crew of The Harlot's Beast had secured the tank and boarded the craft. Nightmare was backing up into the craft, shots sparking on its battered armour before going out of sight as the Storm Eagle banked to avoid anti-air fire. Mekidius hoped his silent friend would make it off-world.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Airbrushing Adventures: Part One

It’s finally happened; I am now the proud owner of an airbrush. It has been a long-time coming. I said last year that I would get one, though due to various financial and time issues, I couldn’t. But with the New Year, and fresh income, I have been able to get myself a starting set-up.

I bought this set, retailing at £70. For that low-low price you get two dual-action airbrushes (side-cup and under-jar types) and a compressor (with water trap, very important!), with a hose to add two and two together. I bought it after a recommendation from a fellow gamer. It turned up with no damage, and after initial tests, the set-up works.

As a note to anyone getting this particular set-up; the instructions are appalling. I don’t know if it’s a bad translation or just terrible grammar, but half of it is indecipherable. You are much better off either working it out for yourself or asking a passing tree. But in all seriousness, ask fellow air-brushers when it comes to queries.

My buying spree wasn’t over after this. I needed a few more items, as follows:

-Airbrush cleaner. This is an essential piece of equipment if you want to save both time and money. Proper maintenance of your airbrush ensures it works each time and lasts longer, saving you money in replacement parts.
-Water. Another given when it comes to airbrushing. But the type of water you need is important. Some say you need de-ionised or distilled water to rinse and clean your airbrush. Others claim normal tap water will do. Truth be told, it depends on how hard your water is: that’s how many minerals and other bits are in your water, not if it is frozen. Harder water is bad for airbrushing. I went the safe route and just bought de-ionised.
-Cotton buds. Essential for getting into the nooks and crannies whilst cleaning. Super cheap, I got 300 for 52 pence.
-Paint thinner. This is important when it comes to flow of paint. Normal paint is far too thick to pass through an airbrush, so this stuff is essential. Make sure you are buying acrylic thinner for GW, Vallejo and P3 paints. -Stay away from enamel thinner unless you do actually paint with enamel. I can’t comment on consistency with confidence, as I’m still working it out myself. But a general guideline is that paint should be thinned to the consistency of milk.
-Spray mask. This will not only prevent you breathing in your paints, it will make you live longer…probably. A mix of paint and thinner vaporised is not something you want to be inhaling. Whilst you can get 20 masks at the pound-shop, I strongly recommend you buy something a bit better. At the end of the day, it is your health. I bought a disposable one designed for paint fumes and relatively high humidity. £2.50 a go; expensive for what it is, but you can’t go cheap with this.

I’ve conducted a small test, using various bits of junk (i.e. one of those terrible free magazines you get in the post and an empty crisp tube). Initial tests turned out well. I’m slowly getting the hang of flow and pressure.
I also had a go on some models. The first was just a few old fences that I base-coated brown. 

The main guinea pig was this wreck of a Rhino APC. It is fairly un-salvageable, so I’m going to make it a burned out rusted wreck, some line-of-sight blocking terrain. I sprayed the tank with a patchy coat of brown, followed by some patchy coats of orange, to get a worn rusted look. Still a long way to go, but considering It’s my first “airbrushed model” I’m happy with the outcome thus far.

Next up is some more practice, before I actually paint something for use in gaming. Wish me luck

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Power Armoured Theories: What if GW Died?

It could happen. It's happened to other games and companies in the past. What if the worst was to happen: Games Workshop, our price-gouging overlords, suddenly ceases trading? What will the world's WHFB, 40k and Hobbit players do? In today's feature, I share some thoughts on what I would do, mainly sticking focusing on 40k.

First rule of GW club, you do NOT talk about GW club....or their prices

No matter what happens, there will still be people in the world who love 40k, WHFB and the Hobbit/LoTR (don’t laugh!). People are still playing Rogue Trader, space Hulk and Epic, so it's very likely people will want to play 40k to. But this is where it could drastically change. Without a big company dictating the style of play, we could see the game evolve, devolve and change in a matter of years, and here's why:

"My favourite edition"

In every edition of the games there are people who say, 'last edition was better'. With no more support, people might be inclined to revert back to older, preferable editions, depending on what the local groups thought of it. Those hating 6th edition’s randomness may go back to 5th or 4th, whilst veteran players may go all the way back to Rogue Trader or 2nd edition. Without a formal tournament setting (i.e. GW’s rules guiding global tournaments) there is likely to be more variation in the style of play. Whilst this may affect the ‘pick-up game’ it may benefit tighter communities of gamers


Another outcome is that the ‘fan-codex’ will evolve, and flourish into a ‘fan edition’. Whilst editions of 40k have been fun, each one needs some sort of refinement. Players and clubs might take it upon themselves to produce a refined and improved rulebook. It could happen: I’ve seen some very flavourful, fun and balanced fan-codexes, from the Horus Heresy to Chaos Space Marines, everyone’s favourite target when it comes to codex-bashing.

Sod this, I’m playing ‘x’

To a few, the rules for the game are just...wrong. They might find that they have more fun adapting another system entirely. Whilst a number will abandon the game entirely, models and all, some might want to bring new rule-sets to their games.  I have no gripes with 6th edition, but I have considered this path as an experiment. I’ve been toying with the idea of using and modifying the rules from Bolt Action by Warlord Games. The simplicity of the game and a focus on infantry, not tanks and monsters, is a drastic shift, but one which might prove a fun experiment.

What about the models?

Almost entirely made from 3rd party bits, still fits into 40k.
The elephant in the room is of course the models. With no creator, where would you get supplies from? For original kits, it will be down to the second hand market and EBay to keep it alive. Expect to pay higher prices for these now-rare items.

There is another way though: third party sellers and other models companies. Third party groups, in my opinion, would flourish in a post-GW world. There are already tons of ‘not space marines’, ‘not eldar’, and dozens of count-as guardsmen models out there, as well as other sci-fi and even historical models just waiting to be modified. It wouldn't matter if you used them, there would be no GW to tell you off. And lately, there are many models and bits which even surpass GW in terms of quality and design.
On top of that, there are hundreds of amazing sculptors, kit-bashers and scratch-builders who might take it upon themselves to supply the world with fresh models.

So there you have it; my thoughts on how to survive a less-than-likely GW-pocalypse. Remember that this is only a theory, and remember to enjoy the game how you want to. 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

WIP: The Avenged (Part Four): Reinforcements

Finally: after two weeks of near-solid coursework, I can finally get back to spending some quality time with the Avenged. The two week work placement left me with very little time to sleep, let alone work on the metal-themed war band. However, I did manage to get odds and ends done last weekend. So here is where I am at the moment.

I’m slowly getting enough to field a small army (which is the eventual plan). I have several units in-progress for Path to Damnation, plus a few extras in case I want to play bigger games or swap out units.
The first new unit, and one which will feature in the PtD campaign is this unit of Warp Talons.

I’ve chosen Warp Talons in the hope of being different. You don’t see them on the field that often. But seeing as I’m a “in it for fun” style of player, in they go. The models use the basic Warp Talon kit with a few additions. I’ve replaced most of the helmets with MKIII Iron helmets.

 The champion is the modified MkIII/skull helmet from a Warp Smith,
The models all have MkIII or MkIII-like shoulder pads on the right arm. The left arms have been left blank, as I’m to order some MKIII Night Lords.

An extra unit I’ve been making is a basic Chaos Space Marine squad. But nothing about the models is basic. So far I only have these two models, a Melta-gunner and a unit champion.

The Melta-gunner is made is several components. The body is half Chaplain, half chaos space marine, with a MkIII backpack. The arms, shoulders, Meltagun and head are from the Raptor/Warp Talon kit.

The champion perhaps has more interesting origins. When helping my girlfriend clear out/tidy up the junk models in her Chaos collection, I found an old Tyranic War Veteran model gunked in paint and damaged (we got these models free). Nicely she said I could have it, and after three nights in a Power Spray bath I turned it into this. Very little was done to the model to make it fit in, the alien skulls and swords are cool general icons. I finished filing the left shoulder pad and Ultramarine icons off the model. Part of the right arm was sawn off, and in its place went a Power Fist from the Raptor box. A MkIII backpack finishes the model. The bare chest was given a vent sliced off a standard backpack. This will be connected to the hoses with greenstuff.

The next stage of the army is to finish the squad to make it five-man, and build a Predator for some heavy-armour support. I need some more MkIII backpacks to finish building the squad, so if anyone has some going spare I’m willing to trade! The Predator is an in-progress idea. I may get a Deimos, or I may make use of one of my unused old Rhinos, with an additional turret, perhaps a modified Leman Russ.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Yearly Review: Top posts of 2013

2013 was a pretty good year. The incredible 100,000 views marker was broken, the Thousand Sons got plenty of attention (including a new super-heavy) and I found time to start another game system. Many of you have followed my exploits, and some were far more popular than others. So today, I'm counting down the top five posts of 2013. I'm basing the results on how many views individual posts have got (since Blogger doesn't show how many people viewed posts as they scroll past or through them). The one thing I noticed is that the lowest rated post in this "top posts" post got hundreds more than the highest from last year, so that is amazing feat, and shows how much the blog has grown over the last year. So here we go:

#5 Tactics: Thousand Sons

The list begins with a neat tactical guide I wrote, to help people made better use of what is widely considered to be an ineffective unit. Whilst it will still remain a rarity in tournaments, I like to think more of you are using these units.

#4 Analysis-Forge World Open Day

2013 was a big year for Forge World, and it shows in the amount of coverage this post got. Forgeworld came out with a ton of awesome kits, including more Primarchs and some of the characters of the Horus Heresy. I expect amazing things from them this year too.

#3- Showcase: Thousand Sons Sorcerer in Terminator Armour

 This post is the first one to have passed the 1000 marker (1111 to be precise) and was easily the most popular finished-model post ever on the blog. The sorcerer served me well at the Wartorn 40k tournament, and has since made regular appearances in army lists. I hope to continue this model's legacy at the 2014 competitions. Perhaps the Thousand Sons will finally have themselves a first-place finish,

#2- Tutorial: Improving Obliterators and Mutilators

Second place goes to this tutorial post, in which I shared my top tips for improving the very divisive mutilator and Obliterator kits. I like to think that many of you have since hacked up your models, followed my suggestions, and made far better looking and scarier models. It was an enjoyable post to work on, so expect to see further 'kit improvement' posts like this in the coming months.

#1 Analysis: 40k psychic powers (biomancy)

This post wins by a massive margin, with over 1,700 unique viewings. This post was part of an ongoing series advising players on how to make the most of the psychic powers disciplines. I intend to continue the series this year, judging by how many of you were interested in this post.

So there we have it: the best posts of 2013. Here's to another great year, let us see if we can top this selection of champions. For those interested, here is a link to the 2012 top five posts.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

WIP: The Avenged Warband (Part Three): Painting and Plans

With only weeks to go before the Path to Damnation Campaign begins, I've been working hard getting my lord, Mekidius Sirak, all painted up. Here is the model currently, about 95% complete.

I've gone for black armour with grey trim, in-keeping with the main colours of Hail to the King's cover. The black has been highlighted using the "blue" method (I.E. highlighting with a grey-blue palette).  the metal were painted with Leadbelcher, followed by a thin wash made up of burnt umber and black oil paints, and white spirit.

The Skin has been done different to normal, as I wanted the lord to have paler skin than my normal method. After getting a good smooth layer of Pallid Wych Flesh, I washed the face with Reikland Fleshshade. Once dry, I redid the face with more Pallid Wych Flesh, before washing again with Agrax Earthshade. to final off, I highlighted once again with Pallid Wych Flesh.

The centrepiece of the entire model is the Storm Shield. I've attempted to replicate the album cover of Nightmare, with a few tweaks. The cemetary cross the skeleton looms over has been replaced with an eight-pointed star. I still need to tidy up the model, and improve the painting of the skull. But considering how small this area in fact is, I'm very happy with the end result.

The model is based on a Mars/red planet base. This was base coated in Mechrite Red. after a Nuln Oil wash, I dry brushed more Mechrite Red, and dry brushed a final layer of Kislev Flesh.

To finish off this model, I plan to add to the details on the base (the pile of books), add some freehand, paint the power axe blade and perhaps add some glow-effects.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

PSA: Happy New Year and New Year Changes

Happy 2014 everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Years Day. So it;s a new year, with so much potential. There couldn't be a better time to announce changes to the blog. I can assure you each one has a positive outcome.

First off, I will be reducing the number of posts, from three per week to two. I'm doing this for a number reasons. As some of you know, I am at university currently, in my third year. This is easily the most intense year of my life. And as a result of the heavy workload, I have less time to dedicate to war gaming. which in turn leads to less to talk about.  However, each post will be more detailed than normal, if I'm doing fewer posts, I have more time overall to go over and add to the remaining ones. So whilst I am cutting the quantity, the quality of the writing should hopefully improve, as I dedicate more time to each post. I plan to post every Tuesday and Saturday, so it's only the Thursday posts that will go.

As well as this, I plan to start doing news posts. These posts will announce upcoming events events, as well as new product releases. I will try to include pictures, as the companies I've spoken to have granted me permission to use their images. They will, for the most part, be bits suppliers, though anyone who has released a game could be covered.

I also want to do more tutorials and reviews. Last year I got good feedback from the few that I did, so I aim to create even more to help you all build, paint or game. On the reviews side of things, I plan to review more products, ideally those from small or emerging bits and models producers.

If all goes well, I'll be developing two of my more recent projects, my small Bolt Action army, and the Avenged, my entry into the Path to Damnation campaign. I quite enjoy Bolt Action, it is a refreshing change from 40k and I'm slowly getting addicted. So expect to see a few more articles on the game, my army, and maybe even a battle report or two if I find a willing opponent.

The Avenged started off as a small project last month, built specially for the Path to Damnation campaign, which begins in a few weeks. I've grown to like the concept, the existing models, and the paint scheme. So perhaps this small detachment will become a small army in the near future. It will take on a different style of play to my Thousand Sons, as I'll be using units such as Warp Talons, Chosen, Noise Marines and some of the other Daemon Engines.

These new changes will take place on Tuesday 21st January, as I have a two-week work placement coming up next week. Again, have a great new year, make 2014 a good one!