Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Magnets and iPads

With my army list submitted for Convic, I have once again locked myself into using a number of models that are not yet ready for the table. As usual, I find myself using a tournament as motivation to get some more stuff painted. However, this time it feels like I'm cleaning up odds and ends rather than trying to get a whole regiment ready for the event.

My army list contains 8 Demigryph Knights, which happens to be exactly how many I already have painted. Unfortunately, my list contains a musician and no other command models - which means my standard bearer is in the way. The champion can easily pass as just another knight, but the standard is a bit hard to ignore. Something must be done.

I had always planned to paint 10 Wolfygryphs, and to use them in 2 units of 5 (when the points allow). I fell short of this in my initial wave of productivity, largely because I was keen to get them done, but also because I figured the final 2 models were surplus to requirements for most occasions. These last 2 models were to be the standard bearer and musician for the second unit of 5. However, if I assemble them like this now, I still won't have the number of regular guys I need for my Convic list. Good planning, huh?

Enter the magnets.

You see a lot of people using magnets on their models online, in particular where things have different weapon options - so 40K vehicles and dreadnoughts are common targets. Using the magnets allows the player to have the choice of different configurations without having to proxy, and without having to buy and paint up multiple versions of the same thing. It's a very efficient strategy, but one I've never really employed before. I generally just double up on the models, figuring I will hopefully get to use them at the same time at some point. However, the Wolfygryphs are a bit different. I don't need more than 10 of them, so I really just need to make sure that I cover my needs with the models I have already. Time to try my hand at magnetising some models.

My plans are simple - the final 2 Wolfygryphs will be able to be either a standard bearer and musician, or regular knights. I decided the best approach was to make their shield arms interchangeable, so that they would have a weapon regardless of which magnetised arm I was using. It did mean making a left-handed standard, but I can live with that.
My second Wolfygryph standard bearer. His banner is less impressive than the first one, but I'm fine with having a main banner and a secondary one.
Demoted! The same guy, this time with his shield.

My second musician.
And the same guy, having dropped the horn and picked up a shield.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Time to harden up

It's been a long time since I entered a tournament with a serious intention of doing well. When I first discovered tournaments (probably something like 13 years ago now), the natural approach was to enter the thing intending to try to win every game and finish on the top of the pile. After all, it was a competitive environment and everyone else was there for the same reason, right?

Over time I gradually shifted away from this mentality, and found I enjoyed events more when I didn't have high expectations. I fielded armies that conformed to this new approach - ones that really didn't have the tools to win every game. This meant I could still play properly, but know that the forces at my disposal were not going to see me playing on the top tables every round. It was a good compromise, even if at times I overdid things and fielded something so spineless that it was nothing short of frustrating to try to use it (I talked about this here).

As a general rule, using relatively tame army lists has served me well. The comp systems favoured in our part of the world helps this, and often sees me finish quite high up in the standings, despite being unable to win all my games. It's an approach I fully intend to continue with, but for the next couple of months I will have to put it on hold.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Future of an Empire

In my last post I was asked how far I plan to take the expansion of my Empire army. I didn't have an immediate answer, because I don't tend to plot out an army and set a definite limit on how large it's going to get.

I have written before about my love of big games of Warhammer. I have also talked in particular about my plans to recreate certain "legendary battles" in the Warhammer world, most notably the Battle at the Gates of Kislev. These ambitions have been pivotal in my drive to paint a really huge Empire army - the Empire are involved in a large number of the greatest battles the Old World has ever seen, and the lack of other large Empire armies kicking about the club means that if I want it to happen, it will be my problem.

Kislev Cavalry
I posted a picture of my whole army in my previous post. As you can see in that picture, the army is getting pretty big. But it has a disproportionate number of Knights compared to everything else. Below is how the cavalry look when you split them out from the rest of the army.
The large number of cavalry is a direct result of my Kislev ambitions, and needing an entire army of Empire cavalry for the battle. 120 Knights weigh in at about 3000 points, which is a good solid basis for the army. Add in the Wolfygryphs, Steam Tank, Outriders and Pistoliers, and you're looking at 4000 points, plus characters. It's not yet where I'd like it to be, but it's in the right ballpark. Painting the Kislevite cavalry I have managed to acquire and pulling in the odd unit from friends should probably be enough for the effect I'm after.
A very large Empire cavalry army - really where all my army's points come from
Current cavalry (my forces only):
40 Knights Snow Leopard
40 Knights of the White Wolf
40 Venators/Knightly Orders
8 Doggies/Demigryph Knights
5 Outriders
5 Pistoliers
Steam Tank

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Growth of an Empire

The Hoodling's Hole had its first birthday back in April, although it passed without any fanfare because I am a lazy and neglectful blogger. For the entire time that the blog has existed, I have been pointedly focusing my attention on my Empire army in an attempt to keep the army growing. I explained my reasons for this over a year ago, when the project was still in its relative infancy. Somewhat remarkably I have managed to stick with my resolution, which means the army has grown a lot over the last 14 months.

The last time I took a "whole army" photo was 6 months ago, so I figured it was time to take stock once more. As usual, I struggled heroically and futilely with the camera, lighting and lack of skill at my disposal in order to take the best picture I could. The result is disappointing, but if nothing else I have another milestone to refer back to if my insanity somehow continues for another 6 months.

Rather than just throw up the new picture, I thought I would chart my progress through the pictures I've got. If nothing else, I find this sort of thing can be motivational for me - to know that I have actually made visible progress over time, and that the time spent painting wasn't for nothing. There's only a few pictures, so bear with me...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Wolfygryphs finished! ARROOO!

 Last night I finally managed to get my White Wolf Demigryph cavalry (converted from Thunderwolves) to the point where I'm happy to call them  finished. It feels like I've been painting these guys forever - 6 of the last 7 nights have been spent on them - but in  truth it only adds up to around 18 hours, which is 2 hours and 15 minutes per model. When I think about that, it's not too  bad. It's probably also true that the time feels greater because of all the time I spent converting them, but thankfully  that's all done now too.

There are things on these guys that I could potentially go back and change, but at this point I think I will leave them  alone. If I get inspired later I might change their claws from black to a bone colour, but I realised this would take an  eternity and decided against it. They may not even look better, against the brown on the bases. I also didn't do any skin  colour inside the ears - I feel like I've left them unpainted, but to be honest a fluffy white wolf probably has fluffy  white fur inside his ears as well, and I'm not sure the skin colour would have added anything.

I've included a couple of close-ups of the banner, to show how it came out. Being a green stuff copy of the original heavy  metal banner, the detail was never going to be perfect. The results are a little rough around the edges, but this effect is  probably accentuated by my slightly rough painting. I tried to repair a couple of ill-formed details with paint, but with  limited success. As usual, I have cheated and not put any text on the scrolls on the banner. Another thing for later, if I  get inspired. The fur could also stand to be cleaned up a bit, but it would take a disproportionate amount of time for little reward, so that may never happen. After all, I'm painting armies - I'm not some Cool Mini or Not artist lavishing attention on individual models.

Anyway, I ended up taking a lot of pictures because I know these guys are of interest to a lot of people. I'll include  further comments in the captions. Right now I'm looking forward to being able to move onto other stuff, as these guys have  absorbed my attention for over a month.
My White Wolf "Demigryph" Knights of Ulric. They don't rank up perfectly in every configuration, but given that I didn't plan it very carefully, it's quite acceptable.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Wolfygryphs almost complete

Well it feels like it's taken me a very long time to get here (no doubt not helped by losing a week to Diablo along the way), but my wolfish Demigryph cavalry are very nearly ready to paint. Since my last update I have finished assembling and converting the remaining riders, given them all shields, and started work on their cloaks. Pretty much all that remains now is to tidy up the cloaks around the shoulders of the models - I want them to have extra fluffy fur around the top of the cloak, and need to be sure I conceal a couple of shoulders where I was too lazy to add shoulder plates (figuring they'd just be covered anyway). So nearly there...

Getting all the riders into poses I was satisfied with was a slow and painful process. Some of them required stupid amounts of cutting and pinning, and a number of them ended up with sections just held together with wire, which I then filled in with green stuff. I think most of the poses are less than perfect, but they'll all come together OK.

The shields were also slightly problematic. I initially thought I would use the shields that came with the Space Wolves on the Thunderwolves - or rather, one shield in particular that included the traditional Space Wolf logo (rather than various strange bone-related symbols). I made a mould and gradually started to copy the shield I liked, but in the end I decided I was not satisfied and scrapped the plan. Instead, I copied the Space Wolf symbol and applied it to a group of the old lion head shields from the 6th edition Empire Spearmen (as per below). This ended up being a lot faster and I am happy enough with the result (which you can see on the models further down the post).
The lion shield from the 6th ed Speamen, and the pick of the shields from the Thunderwolf set
My previous efforts with the Knights Snow Leopard convinced me that creating a single cloak and then copying it and draping it onto the models before the green stuff cured was the best way to go about things, so I went with that approach again. This time I intend to go through the models and add an extra fringe around the top of the cloak once the main part is cured, so that's a bit of a deviation from my other knights, but I think it should work OK. I wanted the cloaks to be heavy and furry, and tried to focus on that when I made my master cloak. I admit that I have in my head the fluffy cloaks worn by the Night's Watch in Game of Thrones, as demonstrated by Jon Snow below. A key difference will be that my cloaks are fluffy all the way down the back and lined, whereas theirs are more interested in being fluffy on the inside and have exposed hide down the back.
Jon Snow from Game of Thrones - the Night's Watch wear only the fluffiest of cloaks
The master cloak, in all its fluffiness
The mould from which all the other cloaks were carefully peeled before they had properly hardened
Below are shots of each of the Wolfygryphs as they currently stand. Hopefully next time you see them, they will have some paint on them. Apologies for the shots. I'm still fiddling with the lightbox and my phone was wigging out over the brightness of it all. I'll get it right eventually...
The champion from the front